Morant To Undergo Minor Knee Surgery – Murray State guard Ja Morant, the projected No. 2 pick in this month’s NBA draft, will undergo a minor arthroscopic procedure on his right knee Monday, league sources told ESPN. Morant is expected to be fully recovered in three to four weeks, sources said. The scope is designed to remove a loose body in his knee, sources said. Morant, 19, is the Memphis Grizzlies‘ target with the second pick in June’s draft, sources said. Morant’s agent, Jim Tanner of Tandem Sports, informed teams at the top of the draft, including New Orleans, Memphis and New York, of the impending procedure on Saturday, sources said. Along with Duke forwards Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, Morant is one of the dynamic talents on the cusp of entering the league. Morant averaged 24.5 points and an NCAA-leading 10 assists in his sophomore season.
Zion Williamson Chooses Agent – CAA Sports announced Thursday that it will represent former Duke basketball star Zion Williamson, who will likely go first overall in the 2019 NBA draft to the New Orleans Pelicans. According to ESPN, it is expected that Austin Brown and Lisa Joseph-Metelus will serve as Williamson’s agents. Zion joins an impressive stable of CAA clients that includes Joel Embiid, Paul George, Karl-Anthony Towns, Donovan Mitchell, D’Angelo Russell, Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade. After a dominant freshman season at Duke, Williamson was the hottest commodity making the leap to the NBA, and CAA Sports landed a player who is already among the biggest stars in basketball. In his one season with the Blue Devils, Zion averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game while shooting 68.0 percent from the field. As a result, Williamson was named the Naismith College Player of the Year.
Murray State’s Morant Signs Deal With Nike – Murray State’s Ja Morant, the most sought-after guard of the 2019 NBA draft class, wanted to sign a shoe deal with Nike, and he got his wish. After turning pro in early April, Morant insisted on not even meeting or engaging with any other brands during the negotiation process, before signing a multiyear, multimillion dollar footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Nike. The contract was agreed to in advance of the May 14 draft lottery, according to industry sources. “All my life my parents worked for a check,” he wrote on Instagram. “Now I’m proud to say I work for the check. #Nike #NikeBasketball” While he may be “working for” Nike by wearing the brand’s well-established basketball sneakers at the next level, the Memphis Grizzlies are expected to be his NBA employer. Duke’s Zion Williamson is the presumptive No. 1 pick. If drafted at No. 2, as many expect, Morant is projected to earn $39.56 million over a four-year rookie scale contract length, according to ESPN front office insider Bobby Marks. Morant would make $8.72 million during his rookie season, with 5 percent raises the following two seasons. The final year of his rookie contract would see a dramatic 26 percent raise, to $12.01 million.
Assistant: Miller Paid $10K Per Month To Ayton – Federal prosecutors on Wednesday played a recording to the jury of a phone call in which former Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson told aspiring agent Christian Dawkins that Wildcats coach Sean Miller was paying star center Deandre Ayton $10,000 per month while he was enrolled there. Prosecutors played the call, which was intercepted by wiretaps on June 20, 2017, to the jury near the end of their case. Dawkins and Richardson were discussing how to recruit Ayton as a client to Dawkins’ fledgling sports management company. While talking about Ayton, Richardson told Dawkins, “Sean’s got to get the [expletive] out of the way and let us work.” “We’ll see how Sean plays it out,” Dawkins said. “You know what he bought per month?” Richardson asked. “What he do?” Dawkins asked. “I told you — 10,” Richardson replied. “He’s putting up some real money for them [expletive],” Dawkins responded. “He told me he’s getting killed.” “But that’s his fault,” Richardson said. During the same call, Richardson and Dawkins discussed how much Richardson would be paid each month by Dawkins’ new sports management agency. “You already know Sean is taking care of Rawle (Alkins) and them,” Dawkins said. Later on Wednesday, Dawkins was called to testify and said that he didn’t see anything wrong with paying college athletes.
Wake Forest Coach Dave Clawson Agrees To New 8-Year Deal – Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson has agreed to a new contract, sources told Yahoo Sports. It’s an eight-year deal that goes through 2026 and includes a significant pay raise for Clawson and his coaching staff. The new contract is a reward for Clawson, who has led Wake Forest to three consecutive bowl wins for the first time in school history. Wake Forest is 22-17 over the past three years and has beaten Memphis, Texas A&M and Temple in bowl games. The move will likely be the last significant one in the decorated tenure of athletic director Ron Wellman, who has announced his retirement and is stepping down on May 1 after 27 years. Wellman will be replaced by former Kansas State and Tennessee athletic director John Currie. The move illustrates Wake Forest’s commitment to competing in the ACC, as Clawson’s salary, and the pools for on-field and off-field staff are competitive relative to the league. It comes on the heels of a flurry of facility upgrades, including a $21 million indoor facility and a new weight room.
Panthers Sign Undrafted RB Holyfield – The Carolina Panthers are taking a chance on an undrafted player whose father once had the best punch in boxing in their search for a running back to pair with Christian McCaffrey as a one-two punch. Georgia’s Elijah Holyfield, the son of four-time heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, has agreed to terms with Carolina after being bypassed in the draft, the team announced Monday. The elder Holyfield told ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure in February at the Super Bowl that he hoped his son got a chance to play for Atlanta, where he grew up. Holyfield will have to settle for playing the NFC South rival Falcons twice a season if he makes the roster. Holyfield’s draft stock dropped after he posted a 4.78 time in the 40-yard dash and didn’t demonstrate great explosion. Known more for his quickness than speed, the 5-foot-10, 215-pound back may be a better fit to complement McCaffrey than fifth-round pick Jordan Scarlett out of Florida. Holyfield will compete with Scarlett, Cameron Artis-Payne, Reggie Bonnafon and Elijah hood for the spot behind McCaffrey.
Texas Tech Coach Beard Agrees To 6-Year Extension – Texas Tech coach Chris Beard agreed on Monday to a new contract that will make him one of the highest-paid coaches in college basketball. Beard signed a new six-year contract that will pay him $4.575 million annually, keeping him under contract through the 2024-25 season. His annual salary is now the third-highest in the country, behind only Kentucky’s John Calipari and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, according to USA Today’s coaching salary database. Beard was named AP National Coach of the Year this past season after leading Texas Tech to the national championship game before falling to Virginia. The Red Raiders won a share of the Big 12 regular-season title before making the program’s first-ever Final Four appearance. That run came on the heels of Tech’s Elite Eight appearance in 2018. Since the Red Raiders went 18-14 in Beard’s first season in Lubbock, they’ve gone 58-17 overall and 8-2 in the NCAA tournament.