NCAA Talk

48 Illinois players on 2017 NCAA Tournament rosters

48 Illinois players on 2017 NCAA Tournament rosters

The NCAA tournament drought for colleges from Illinois will end this season as Northwestern became the first local team to make the big dance since 2013.

The Wildcats making the NCAA tournament for the first time is a great story as Northwestern features a roster full of players who played their high school ball in Illinois.

Much like we see every season, 2017 will feature 48 players from Illinois high schools on NCAA tournament rosters this season. That number is down slightly from last season's total of 51 but there are still a lot of local players to watch this season.

Eight of the last nine NCAA champions have featured a key player on the roster from the Chicagoland area. Only UConn's title team in 2011 didn't have an area player. 

Local stars such as Sherron Collins (Kansas, Crane), Bobby Frasor (North Carolina, Brother Rice), Jon Scheyer (Duke, Glenbrook North), Anthony Davis (Kentucky, Perspectives/MSA), Wayne Blackshear (Louisville/Morgan Park), Ryan Boatright (UConn/East Aurora), Jahlil Okafor (Duke/Whitney Young) and Jalen Brunson (Villanova/Stevenson) have won titles over the past few years.

Will we see that stretch continue? Here are the local names to keep an eye on the next few weeks.

Key Players from Key Teams

Sterling Brown, SMU (Proviso East) -- The senior was one of the most balanced wings in the nation as he put up 13.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

Jalen Brunson, Villanova (Stevenson) -- Brunson emerged as one of the Big East's best players as a sophomore as he averaged 14.8 points, 4.2 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game while also shooting good percentages across the board.

Jevon Carter, West Virginia (Proviso East) -- West Virginia's leading scorer and distributor at 13.1 points and 3.9 assists per game, the junior is a tremendous two-way guard. 

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin (Rockridge) -- Wisconsin's most balanced threat shot 59 percent from the floor while averaging 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. 

Vic Law, Northwestern (St. Rita) -- A perfect three-and-D wing, Law had a good sophomore season after missing last season. Law averaged 12.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

Scottie Lindsey, Northwestern (Fenwick) -- The junior emerged as the Wildcats' biggest offensive threat this season as he averaged 14.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

Ben Moore, SMU (Bolingbrook) -- A double-double threat, Moore shot 56 percent from the field and averaged 11.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

Kendall Pollard, Dayton (Simeon) -- One of the Atlantic 10's better scorers, Pollard averaged 14.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Role Players from Big Programs

Jordan Ash, Northwestern (St. Joseph) -- The sophomore guard saw his minutes decline this season as he appeared in 26 games for the Wildcats. 

Barret Benson, Northwestern (Hinsdale South) -- The freshman has been a reserve for the Wildcats this season as he put up 2.0 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.

Josh Cunningham, Dayton (Morgan Park) -- After missing multiple months with leg injuries suffered on a big dunk, Cunningham is back in the Dayton rotation at the end of the season.

Kyle Davis, Dayton (Morgan Park) -- Valuable two-way guard averaged 8.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in his senior season while shooting 39 percent from three-point range.

Alvin Ellis III, Michigan State (De La Salle) -- Having the best season of his career, the senior averaged 19.1 minutes per game and averaged 6.5 points per game.

Tony Hicks, Louisville (St. Rita) -- Hicks spent his graduate transfer season with the Cardinals after starting his career at Penn. The reserve guard saw action in 21 games this season.

Sean O'Mara, Xavier (Benet) -- The junior reserve big man averaged 5.5 points and 2.8 assists off the bench this season. 

Nick Rakocevic, USC (St. Joseph) -- After helping the Chargers to Peoria in back-to-back years, Rakocevic averaged 15 minutes per game off the bench, averaging 5.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. 

Akeem Springs, Minnesota (Waukegan) -- Springs injured his Achilles during the Big Ten Tournament and will be out the rest of his senior season. He averaged 9.5 points and 3.0 rebounds per game as the Gophers' best shooter.

Nathan Taphorn, Northwestern (Pekin) -- The senior reserve floor spacer will be best remembered for making the full-court pass that found Dererk Pardon to beat Michigan.

Joe Toye, Vanderbilt (Whitney Young) -- As a sophomore, Toye has been a valuable role player for the Commodores as he's putting up 6.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.

Small-School Players to Watch

Jordan Caroline, Nevada (Champaign Central) -- Caroline spent his first two years of high school in Illinois before heading to Montverde as he's one of Nevada's best players. Caroline averaged 14.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this season. 

Steven Cook, Princeton (New Trier) -- Princeton's leading scorer had an outstanding senior season, averaging 13.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for a team that was unbeaten in the Ivy League.

Aldonis Foote, Middle Tennessee (Peoria) -- The reserve senior guard put up 2.2 points and 1.4 rebounds per game as Foote and the Blue Raiders are back in the NCAA Tournament.

Marvin Jones, Texas Southern (Thornton) -- Jones had his best season during his senior year as he averaged 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. 

Tevin King, South Dakota State (Providence-St. Mel) -- The sophomore guard averaged 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game this season off the bench. 

Joe Mooney, UC Davis (Notre Dame) -- Mooney appeared in 16 games off the bench during his redshirt freshman season, averaging 2.3 points per game.

Michael Orris, South Dakota State (Crete-Monee) -- Orris is putting up 8.3 points and 4.0 assists per game this season as he hit the game-winning three-pointer in the Summit League Tournament semifinals.

Devontavius Payne, East Tennessee State (Carbondale) -- The junior guard has been a valuable reserve for the Pirates as he averaged 6.7 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. 

Makur Puou, New Orleans (Mooseheart) -- The 6-foot-9 junior has been a valuable interior presence for New Orleans as Puou averaged 5.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.

Lamont Walker, Texas Southern (Morgan Park) -- The junior wing gets minutes off the bench as he averaged 3.5 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.

Also of Note

Larry Austin Jr., Vanderbilt (Lanphier) -- The point guard transferred to Vanderbilt from Xavier and had to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. 

Michael Ballard, Wisconsin (Fenwick) -- The former Fenwick product is a walk-on at Wisconsin that didn't see game action this season. 

Cullen Barr, Xavier (Carmel) -- The senior walk-on appeared in seven games for the Musketeers this season.

Brennan Besser, Duke (Latin) -- The sophomore walk-on saw two minutes of action in Duke's season opener and hasn't seen the floor since.

Michael Dowdy Jr., Seton Hall (U-High) --The senior walk-on appeared in six games this season. 

Rapolas Ivanauskas, Northwestern (Barrington) -- The freshman redshirted this season to recover from shoulder surgery.

DiVonte Lumpkin, Texas Southern (Harlan) -- The walk-on has not played for Texas Southern this season.

Tito Malnati, Northwestern (New Trier) -- A freshman walk-on, Malnati has not seen the floor this season.

Charles Matthews, Michigan (St. Rita) -- Transferring from Kentucky, the former St. Rita star sat out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. 

Patrick Mazza, Notre Dame (Glenbard West) -- The senior walk-on appeared in four games this season and scored a bucket against Boston College late in the season.

Stuart Nezlak, Iowa State (Fenwick) -- A senior walk-on, Nezlak saw time in four games this season, scoring six total points. 

Zach Norvell Jr., Gonzaga (Simeon) -- The freshman is redshirting this season after offseason knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Before shutting it down, Norvell had 18 points in 23 minutes of a Gonzaga exhibition win this preseason.

Conor Peterson, Xavier (Libertyville) -- A freshman walk-on, Peterson played in seven games this season. 

Tom Planek, Providence (Fenwick) -- The junior walk-on has seen action in eight games this season. 

Matt Rosenwinkel, Northern Kentucky (Rochelle) -- The senior walk-on played in five games this season. 

Gavin Schilling, Michigan State (De La Salle) -- Out for the season with a knee injury, Schilling would have seen a lot of action for Michigan State.

Kendall Stephens, Nevada (St. Charles East) -- Starting his career at Purdue, Stephens sat this season out after transferring to Nevada.

Paul White, Oregon (Whitney Young) -- The former IHSA state champion sat out this season after transferring from Georgetown. 

Teams with no Illinois players: Arizona, Baylor, Butler, Bucknell, Cincinnati, Creighton, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida State, Iona, Jacksonville State, Kansas, Kansas State, Kent State, Kentucky, Marquette, Maryland, Miami, Mt. St. Mary's, North Carolina, North Carolina Central, North Dakota, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Rhode Island, Saint Mary's, South Carolina, Troy, UCLA, UNC Wilmington, Vermont, VCU, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Wichita State, Winthrop

DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto retiring after 18 years at helm

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USA TODAY

DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto retiring after 18 years at helm

DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto informed the university she will retire in the coming months after 18 years at the helm. 

"It truly has been our privilege and the honor of a lifetime to serve DePaul as athletic director and to witness the unprecedented growth from that  ‘little school under the el’ to its current world class University serving students from around the globe," Ponsetto said in a statement.

“The changing times over these past few months has led me to this decision. Having successfully battled two breast cancer diagnoses and currently in treatment for a third, I thought it was time to step away from the long days, working every weekend and the 24/7 demands that being an athletic director requires."

Ponsetto has been a member of DePaul's athletic department since 1974, when she was a four-sport athlete (tennis, volleyball, basketball, softball). After graduating in 1978, she became DePaul's first assistant women's basketball coach. She later spent seven years as the senior associate athletic director before taking over as AD in 2002.

Ponsetto guided DePaul into the Big East from Conference USA in 2003 and helped organize the new Big East in 2013. She oversaw the development of Wintrust Arena, now home to the basketball teams after decades of playing at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

The women's team has made 17 straight NCAA tournaments under head coach Doug Bruno. The men's team hasn't made the tournament since 2004 and has just two winning seasons since (2006-07, 2018-19). Ponsetto has hired three coaches in that span: Jerry Wainwright, Oliver Purnell and Dave Leitao — who is in his second stint as head coach.

The NCAA put DePaul's men's basketball program on probation for three years last summer due to a recruiting violation, of one two controversies to surround the athletic department in recent years. In April, a sports psychologist formerly affiliated with DePaul filed a lawsuit claiming she was terminated after raising concerns of former softball coach Eugene Lenti's abusive behavior towards players. Lenti is Lenti Ponsetto's brother.

Ponsetto will stay in her role and assist DePaul in its transition to a new AD. The university plans to conduct a national search for her replacement this summer.

NCAA to allow student-athletes to make money off name, image, likeness

NCAA to allow student-athletes to make money off name, image, likeness

The NCAA still won’t be paying its players, but it will allow student-athletes to receive endorsements from third-parties.

The governmental body for college athletics has long been a strong proponent of its athletes being amateurs, but this marks a drastic change in that, even if the schools won’t be allowed to pay the athletes directly. The NCAA’s Board of Governors met this week and supported the changes with some caveats.

“While student-athletes would be permitted to identify themselves by sport and school, the use of conference and school logos, trademarks or other involvement would not be allowed,” a press release from the NCAA read. “The board emphasized that at no point should a university or college pay student-athletes for name, image and likeness activities.”

The rule changes aren’t officially in place and must be implemented by the three divisions of college athletics that fall under the NCAA. The next step is for each division to make the actual rules the board of governors supported. The goal is for that to be in place in January and to take effect for the 2021-22 school year.

“The board’s action is the latest step by the Association to support college athletes and modernize its rules regarding name, image and likeness,” the press release read.

The process for this started back in October and has remained on track for January 2021. 

Maybe the next time a player like Zion Williamson gets hurt busting his shoe open on the court, he can switch shoe companies and make some money off it?