Five-Star Recruit Makur Maker Picks Howard Over UCLA – Five-star senior Makur Maker announced his commitment to Howard on Friday morning, becoming the highest-ranked college basketball prospect to commit to a historically Black college or university since the ESPN recruiting database started in 2007. Maker chose the Bison over UCLA, although Kentucky and Memphis were also on his final list of four schools. “I was the 1st to announce my visit to Howard & other started to dream ‘what if,'” Maker wrote on Twitter. “I need to make the HBCU movement real so that others will follow. I hope I inspire guys like Mikey Williams to join me on this journey. I am committing to Howard U & coach Kenny Blakeney.” Maker visited Howard last fall during the same month when five-star guard Josh Christopher took an official visit to the school. Christopher ultimately committed to Arizona State. Maker, a versatile 6-foot-11 frontcourt player, is ranked No. 16 in the ESPN 100 for 2020. He also entered his name into the NBA draft, but he is likely to withdraw if he’s not expected to be a first-round pick. Maker is ranked No. 75 in ESPN’s NBA draft rankings. There have been links between Maker and the G League, but sources have told ESPN he isn’t interested in going that route. Maker is the first five-star prospect to commit to an HBCU since the ESPN recruiting database began, and if selected in the NBA draft, he would be the first such HBCU product since Kyle O’Quinn (Norfolk State) in 2012. But over the past couple of months, HBCUs have become more assertive in recruiting top-tier high school talent, especially in the 2021 and 2022 classes. Maker, the cousin of Detroit Pistons forward Thon Maker, was born in Kenya before moving to Australia. He moved to California in 2015. Makur Maker averaged 14.7 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting 73% on 2-pointers last spring and summer with Dream Vision on the Adidas grassroots circuit. (Jeff Borzello/ESPN)
Kobe Bryant July 23rd Auction – If you’d like to watch what amounts to nearly an entire day’s worth of Kobe Bryant high school footage, it will cost you. The Associated Press (via ESPN.com) reported Profiles in History is auctioning off a video library that includes clips from Bryant’s performances and interviews during his time at Lower Merion High School outside of Philadelphia. The library is pulled from the series High School Sports Show and boasts more than 130 total hours of various athletes. At more than 22 hours, Bryant is the star featured most prominently. Footage of Shaquille O’Neal, Tom Brady, LeBron James, Wayne Gretzky, Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony is also available as part of the lot. Profiles in History estimates the bidding could reach between $250,000 and $350,000. Prior to enjoying a legendary career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant was a star at Lower Merion. He helped the Aces win a state championship in 1996, the school’s first in 53 years, and was a McDonald’s All-American as a senior. (JOSEPH ZUCKER)
UH Stops Workouts After Six Athletes Test Positive – The University of Houston has suspended voluntary workouts for all student-athletes after six symptomatic student-athletes in various sports tested positive for the coronavirus as the Houston area has seen a recent surge of positive tests. In a statement Friday, the UH athletic department said it was suspending the activities “out of an abundance of caution.” The school said the symptomatic student-athletes had been placed in isolation and contact tracing procedures have been initiated. Houston did not test all athletes when they returned to campus, only those who showed symptoms of having the coronavirus, according to the Houston Chronicle. Any athlete having a temperature above 100.2 degrees, the current guideline set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was immediately put into isolation, evaluated by team doctors and quarantined until test results come back, according to the Chronicle. Houston is the first school to suspend athletic activities after bringing student-athletes back to campus following a shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “As was contemplated prior to the return of student-athletes on June 1, UH Athletics is adapting its protocols to include repetitive COVID-19 testing as a component of any resumption of workouts on campus,” the statement said. “During this pause in voluntary workouts, UH Athletics will continue its stringent cleaning and sanitization protocols in all facilities. UH Athletics will continue to partner with university officials, UH team physicians and local health professionals to determine best practices as it considers a return to workouts.” (Mark Schlabach/ESPN)
Dak Prescott Offered 5-Year, $175M Extension – The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly offered quarterback Dak Prescott a five-year contract extension that would make him the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL annually. During an appearance on 105.3 The Fan’s K&C Masterpiece show Tuesday (h/t SI.com’s Mike Fisher), Pro Football Talk’s Chris Simms reported what he has heard on the Prescott contract front: “From what I know of the situation, and I know from some people who are in the know that he’s been offered five years, $175 million. He wants a four-year deal. If they do agree to a five-year deal they would like a really big number at the end of that fifth year to cover their butts for what the market might be at the position five years from now. And I’ve heard he’s asking for somewhere like north of $45 million in that fifth year.” Prescott is set to be the seventh-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL in 2020 since the franchise tag will pay him over $31.4 million if he doesn’t agree to a long-term deal, but a five-year, $175 million contract would pay him even more at $35 million per year. The 26-year-old Prescott has far outplayed the contract he signed as a rookie fourth-round pick in 2016. Since entering the league, Dak has started 64 of a possible 64 games, been named to two Pro Bowls and won the 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year award. A deal figures to get done at some point, but with Prescott and his camp understanding what type of value a young Pro Bowl quarterback has on the open market, the Cowboys probably won’t keep him at much of a discount. (MIKE CHIARI)
Tour de France Postponed, No New Dates Set – After weeks of holding out hope the Tour de France would be able to go ahead as planned despite the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s most famous cycling race was finally added to the list of sporting events called off. It might still take place this year, but it’s clear the three-week race won’t start as scheduled on June 27 in the Riviera city of Nice. French President Emmanuel Macron effectively made that decision in his speech to the nation on Monday when he announced that all public events with large crowds have been canceled until at least mid-July. “Given that it’s now impossible that the Tour starts at its planned date, we are consulting with the [International Cycling Union] to try and find new dates,” race organizers said Tuesday. The last time the Tour was not held was in 1946, with the nation still emerging from World War II. It was also stopped during World War I. While cycling’s biggest event could be scrapped altogether, organizers are discussing potential later dates. New plans could be announced before the end of April following discussions between organizer Amaury Sport Organisation and the International Cycling Union. Holding the race without legions of fans on the roadsides and mountain passes of France — an idea previously proposed by French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu, s not something organizers are likely to favor. Millions of fans watch each year’s race in a festive atmosphere across many regions. This year’s event has 21 stages, with the longest of them stretching 135 miles. Thousands of police officers are needed to keep crowds under control and help negotiate safe passage for riders. Riders, too, have to be physically ready to tackle the grueling race. After weeks of confinement, competitors would likely need several more weeks to get into racing shape. Borders would have to be open, too, so racers like last year’s winner, Colombian rider Egan Bernal, can travel to France. (Associated Press)
Bulls Fire GM Gar Forman Amid Front-Office Changes – The Chicago Bulls fired general manager Gar Forman on Monday after 10 years in the role and 22 years with the team. The move came soon after the Bulls confirmed the hiring of Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas as the franchise’s executive vice president of basketball operations, which ESPN reported last week. “Gar Forman worked tirelessly for the Chicago Bulls organization, first as a scout and then as an executive,” team owner Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. “He made many significant contributions during his time here and helped to bring some of the brightest young basketball talent to our team, from Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson to Jimmy Butler and Coby White. He has been a trusted advisor and friend to me over the years, and on behalf of everyone I want to thank him for his commitment to the organization. Gar will always be a part of our Bulls family.” Forman was named the 2011 NBA Executive of the Year. The Bulls reached the playoffs seven times during his tenure as general manager. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work for the Chicago Bulls for more than two decades,” Forman said in the Bulls’ statement. “There is no better ownership group in professional sports than the Reinsdorfs, and I want to thank Jerry and Michael for their support during my tenure. The Bulls organization will always hold a special place in my heart.” Karnisovas is planning to start discussing Chicago’s GM job with candidates soon, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week. The pool is expected to include several assistant GMs: Calvin Booth (Denver), Marc Eversley (Philadelphia), Mark Hughes (LA Clippers) and Matt Lloyd (Orlando), among others. (ESPN)
Bills Add Former Jaguars RB Yeldon To Backfield – The Buffalo Bills signed former Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon to a two-year contract on Monday. He joins a Buffalo backfield that already includes veteran running backs Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy. The Bills have been active in free agency, adding several new offensive players, including Gore, wide receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley, tight end Tyler Kroft and offensive linemen Mitch Morse, Spencer Long and Quinton Spain. The Jaguars drafted Yeldon in the second round (36th overall) of the 2015 draft and he led the Jaguars in rushing as a rookie with 740 yards despite missing four games with an injury. He finished his four years in Jacksonville with 1,892 yards and six rushing touchdowns and 171 catches for 1,302 yards and six touchdowns.
UPDATE: Williams Fined $17K For US Open Final Violations – Serena Williams was fined $17,000 for three code violations during Saturday’s U.S. Open final that caused the tennis player to be penalized a game when she criticized the chair umpire for a controversial call and labeled him a “thief.” The tournament referee’s office announced Sunday it docked Williams $10,000 for “verbal abuse” of chair umpire Carlos Ramos, $4,000 for being warned for coaching and $3,000 for breaking her racket. The money comes out of her prize money of $1.85 million as the runner-up. Williams suffered a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Naomi Osaka, who became the tournament’s first female Japanese champion. Williams was going for her 24th Grand Slam title. Saturday’s match was shrouded by controversy after tense arguments between the 36-year-old tennis player and chair umpire Ramos during the second set. Williams, who was visibly emotional after the heated exchange, pleaded her case on the court and accused the umpire of sexism. At a news conference after the match, Williams said she will keep fighting to remove the double standard in the sport.
UPDATE: Nationals Deal Reliever Kelley To A’s – The Washington Nationals traded reliever Shawn Kelley to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday evening, officially ending his three-year tenure with the team. Washington announced the move following Sunday’s 2-1 victory over the Reds. In exchange for Kelley, the Nats received international slot money and cash considerations from Oakland. The move comes five days after Kelley’s tenure in D.C. unofficially ended once he threw his glove down on the mound and glared into the dugout in frustration in the ninth inning of a 25-4 blowout win on Tuesday, a move the Nationals interpreted as disrespectful to his manager. The next day, the Nats designated Kelley for assignment, for what general manager Mike Rizzo called a selfish act. Kelley has refuted that assertion, citing the fact that he has never shown up a manager in his 10-year career or refused to pitch in any situation this season.
Trotz Resigns As Capitals Head Coach – Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz has tendered his resignation from the team, becoming a free agent after leading the franchise to its first Stanley Cup on June 7. “After careful consideration and consultation with my family, I am officially announcing my resignation as Head Coach of the Washington Capitals,” Trotz said in a statement Monday. It was believed that Trotz did not have a contract after this season. According to multiple reports, there was a two-year extension on his contract if Trotz won the Stanley Cup. That extension was negotiated in 2014, at a time before head coaches like Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks exploded the coaches’ salary market with blockbuster deals. The Capitals and Trotz attempted to renegotiate an extension on better conditions for Trotz, but were unable to come to terms.