Virginia

Four players from this Virginia national championship celebration have made themselves eligible for the 2019 NBA Draft. AP Photo.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Virginia went to the Final Four for the first time in 35 years and finally ended its season atop a ladder.

Texas Tech and Auburn took off their shoulder pads and powered into the final weekend for the first time ever.

The NCAA staged a national championship without Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, Michigan State or other name brands — and people did not rush to change the channel.

But before the confetti was bagged and taken to recycling, the narrative returned to business as usual.

Mike Krzyzewski added another jewel to his 5-Star Emporium, vaulting Duke to the top of the national recruiting rankings.

By 10 a.m. EDT Saturday, 123 players made themselves eligible for the 60 spots available in the 2019 NBA Draft. (The link.)

There haven’t been 123 guys taken in the draft since 1987, when there were seven rounds. Maybe teams have figured out a way to draft 2.05 players with each selection.

A federal judge in New York City ruled that Arizona coach Sean Miller and Will Wade of Louisiana State do not have testify in Part II of the corruption scandal that will unfold in the Manhattan next week.

As one veteran coach told Pat Forde, Pete Thamel and Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports, “If these guys get away with it, I should have cheated my whole career. If they get off in this, it’s just not healthy.”

The NCAA decided not to tighten the rules in the graduate transfer market that has turned low- and mid-major programs into farm systems for Power Five schools that already have every advantage.

And, UCLA, St. John’s, Vanderbilt and other jobs are still listed at Fixer-Upper.com.

Where should I begin?

Undoubtedly with another round of thanks to Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers, who proved a national championship can be won without a Top 30 recruit on the roster.

The celebration has stretched into its second week in Charlottesville, although Bennett has discovered what Jay Wright, Roy Williams, Krzyzewski, Calipari and others learned before him.

The more you win, the more guys log on to their Instagram accounts and leave. Every player wants a revised appraisal of his worth, including undersized centers who averaged less than 8 points and 5 rebounds while starting 22 games.

Best of luck Mamadi Diakite.

And to you, De’Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome.

You’ve earned the chance to do this — and maybe test drive a $300,00 vehicle.

The NCAA and the NBA did the right thing by letting players work with agents and teams to ensure they make wise draft decisions. All it means to those of us on the sidelines is that any attempt to forecast the outlook for next season is useless until May 29, the deadline for staying in the draft or returning to school.

At Duke, the world knows who is staying in the draft — Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish, a trio currently projected to be taken in the first seven picks in June.

I’m not certain if Duke is the first team to fail to make the Final Four with three of the nation’s seven best players, but Coach K is preparing to take another shot at that record.

The Blue Devils shot to the top of the 247Sports recruiting rankings Friday with the news that Matthew Hurt, a 6-foot-9 forward from Rochester, Minn., said he wanted to be the next Jayson Tatum instead of the next great thing at Kentucky, Kansas or Memphis.

Hurt’s arrival gives Coach K a trio of five-stars, a four-star and a formidable supporting cast led by point guard Tre Jones, who announced he is comfortable performing with the stigma of being a sophomore in college basketball.

As a quartet, Hurt, center Vernon Carey, forward Wendell Moore and guard Boogie Ellis give Coach K his fourth consecutive No. 1 class. Coach K was step behind John Calipari to the One-and-Done party but there’s little doubts Mr. Krzyzewski has grabbed the keys.

But remember: As a group these guys are a notch below the Williamson/Barrett (2018); Marvin Bagley/Trevon Duval (2017), Harry Giles/Tatum (2016) and Brandon Ingram/Derryck Thornton (2015) classes that failed to do what Bennett and Virginia did in Minneapolis two weeks ago.

I read the story about Hurt’s commitment announcement at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune website.

He said the deciding factor was the decision by Jones to return for his sophomore season.

Hurt said he would like to be a one-and-done but would certainly return for a second season, if necessary.

He said was excited about the opportunity to play for Krzyzewski, one of the greatest coaches of all time.

He did not say a word, at least not quoted in the story about winning a national title.

But I’m Old School.

Carry on.

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