LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Catching up with the news:
*Former University of Louisville basketball player Butch Beard said the family of Wes Unseld has plans for memorial services for Unseld in Louisville as well as in Maryland, but the plans remain uncertain because of the novel coronavirus.
Unseld, 74, died June 2 in Maryland. Voted one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, Unseld is also one of four Louisville players whose number has been retired. He won a pair of state titles at Seneca High School before becoming an All-American at U of L. Unseld also led the Washington Bullets to four appearances in the NBA Finals. Unseld was voted the Finals MVP in 1978 when the franchise won its only championship.
Beard said that he expected an announcement on plans to honor Unseld after more restrictions on public gatherings because of COVID-19 are eased.
*Former Louisville star Milt Wagner said that he and his family were honored when ESPN named his grandson, D.J. Wagner, the top basketball player in the Class of 2023 (Link to ESPN rankings).
But Wagner said that he and D.J.’s father, Dajuan, have reminded the youngest Wagner that the rankings “don’t really mean anything.”
Milt said that when he was a freshman at Camden (N.J.) High school in 1978 that he wasn’t ranked by anybody. Wagner said he certainly was not on the radar at Louisville, where he played on three Final Four teams as well as the 1986 NCAA champions.
Wagner said he didn’t become a prospect until the summer between his freshman and sophomore seasons when he played at the 5-Star Camp in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, with Patrick Ewing, the future NBA Hall of Famer.
“That got some attention,” Wagner said. “But I don’t think I was really rated until the end of my senior season when I was No. 11.
“With the social media and all the ratings today, this is a whole different world.
“But D.J. is a smart kid who understands that. He knows it doesn’t really mean anything other than he needs to keep working hard.
“And he’s doing that. He’s got access to a gym so he’s been working on his game with his father and a trainer.”
Wagner is a point guard who is listed at 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 165 pounds. He averaged better than 18 points per game last season at Camden, the prep power than was ranked as high as No. 16 in the nation.
Milt and Dajuan also starred at Camden, as did former Louisville star Billy Thompson. Lance Ware, one of D.J.’s teammates last season, will be a freshman at Kentucky this winter.
Bronny James, the son of NBA MVP LeBron James, was ranked No. 24 by ESPN.
“I’m very proud of him,” Milt Wagner said. “It’s a great honor. But you’ve got to look at the long term and keep working.”
*I thought it was an interesting choice by former Indiana forward Justin Smith to transfer to Arkansas.
After starting 73 games the last three seasons for the Hoosiers, Smith earned his degree from the Kelley School of Business and became a graduate transfer eligible to play from day one.
Smith told Joe Aguilar of the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago that he believed Arkansas coach Eric Musselman could help improve his chances to make it in the NBA, where Smith would have to play small forward.
Although he was Indiana’s third leading scorer last season, Smith must improve his ball-handling, passing and perimeter shooting to become an NBA prospect.
Musselman has a solid record working with transfers. He also gives his perimeter players the absolute green light to shoot from the arc.
Three Arkansas players attempted at least 143 shots from distance last season but all three made at least 32.9% of their attempts.
At Indiana, Devonte Green was the only player to attempt more than 94 shots from distance last season.
Smith took 38 three-pointers, making 10 for a percentage of 26.3. Over his career, Smith was 20 for 80, 25%.
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