NCAA Talk

Loyola is getting the headlines, but here are five other local Final Four angles

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Loyola is getting the headlines, but here are five other local Final Four angles

Loyola has dominated the local Final Four talk over the last several days. But while the Ramblers have taken the Chicago sports scene by storm, there are still plenty of other angles to keep an eye on during this weekend's action in San Antonio—especially if you’re a Bulls fan.

The Bulls have two first-round picks in the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft and there are also plenty of Chicagoland area players and coaches who are contributing to Final Four teams.

Here's a look at five local Final Four angles outside of Loyola to keep track of this weekend.

1. Bulls NBA draft prospects

One of the main reasons for Chicago fans to watch the Final Four this weekend is to see some of the potential targets the Bulls could be looking at in the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft.

Most of the elite one-and-done prospects have been eliminated from the field. But there are still some intriguing future first- and second-round picks to keep an eye on in San Antonio.

Villanova junior Mikal Bridges is the most highly-touted NBA draft prospect in the Final Four as the versatile 6-foot-7 forward projects as a perfect "three-and-d" prospect at the next level. Shooting 43 percent from three-point range and sporting a 7-foot wingspan, Bridges has some intriguing intangibles that could make him worth a serious look with the Bulls' first pick in the lottery. Bridges currently projects as a potential top-10 pick.

Besides Bridges, there isn't a first-round lock playing in the Final Four this year but a few others could sneak into that range over the next few months. Wildcat junior point guard Jalen Brunson (more on him in a moment) is a potential late first-round pick if he decides to go pro after this season. The son of former NBA veteran Rick Brunson is a lethal perimeter shooter and a crafty floor general with a knack for winning big games.

Kansas has a trio of players in Devonte' Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman who could get 2018 NBA Draft looks. Graham, a point guard, and Mykhailiuk, a wing, are both experienced four-year players for the Jayhawks. Both are viewed as potential second-round picks at the moment. Newman, a redshirt sophomore and former McDonald's All-American, has generated national attention with a red-hot recent stretch. The 6-foot-3 Newman could play himself into the 2018 draft if he continues to knock down perimeter shots at a high level.

Most of the 2018 NBA Draft prospects are on the right side of the bracket but Michigan junior big man Moritz Wagner is also an intriguing NBA draft prospect. The 6-foot-11 Wagner stretches the floor and he's also improved defensively during his time at Michigan.

2. Jalen Brunson gets another shot at a title

Local audiences should already be familiar with Jalen Brunson thanks to his prolific high school career at Stevenson.

During his four-year varsity career with the Patriots, Brunson won an IHSA Class 4A state title, Mr. Basketball in Illinois honors and he was selected as a McDonald's All-American.

Brunson has continued his winning ways at Villanova as he already helped the Wildcats win a national championship in 2016. Also named national Player of the Year from some publications, Brunson has been arguably the best overall player in college hoops this season.

With three straight IHSA Final Four appearances and two NCAA Final Fours in three seasons, Brunson has been to the Final Four in five of his last six seasons of competitive basketball.

3. Charles Matthews gets a chance to shine at Michigan

Former St. Rita star Charles Matthews is making the most of his new opportunity with Michigan this season. After starting his college career at Kentucky during the 2015-16 season, Matthews opted to transfer so he could get more stable playing time.

Sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer regulations, Matthews returned this season as a key two-way wing for the Wolverines. Putting up 13.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, Matthews is perhaps Michigan's best athlete.

Matthews will be a key for the Wolverines on the defensive end as he'll likely be asked to defend multiple perimeter threats for Loyola during the Final Four.

4. Familiar faces on the sidelines

The Final Four will also feature some familiar faces on the sidelines. Kansas head coach Bill Self and assistant coach Jerrance Howard both spent time coaching at Illinois earlier in their careers.

Howard, a Peoria High grad, played four years at Illinois as well.

Michigan assistant coach Luke Yaklich also has local connections. The LaSalle-Peru graduate coached at the high school level at Joliet West before moving on to the college ranks before the 2013-14 season. Yaklich spent four seasons on the Illinois State coaching staff before taking a job with the Wolverines before the 2017-18 season.

5. Kansas redshirt guard Charlie Moore awaits his chance

He won't be participating in the Final Four this weekend, but Kansas guard Charlie Moore has been a valuable member of the team's practice squad during his redshirt season.

The Mr. Basketball in Illinois winner in 2016, Moore played at Cal last season before transferring to Kansas last offseason. The former Morgan Park star had to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Moore should be a key player for the Jayhawks next season as he'll be asked to help replace senior starting point guard Devonte' Graham.

Jalen Rose: Fab Five beef squashed with Michigan hiring Juwan Howard

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Jalen Rose: Fab Five beef squashed with Michigan hiring Juwan Howard

The Michigan Wolverines are hiring former Fab Five star Juwan Howard as the head coach of their basketball team. Aside from being a part of that prolific college basketball team, Howard is a two-time NBA champion with the LeBron James-led Miami Heat.

And he is a former local basketball hoops star at Chicago Vocational Career Academy, where we was named an All-American in 1991.

But the Fab Five have not been on the best of terms over the years, particularly current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose and Chris Webber. With Howard back in Ann Arbor, all beefs are officially over.

“It squashes any drama or any beef because we’re not going to bring that to Ann Arbor’s campus with Juwan Howard as our head coach," Rose told Mike Greenberg when asked about the beef Thursday morning on ESPN's Get Up. "The one thing that we both know is his success turning around the University of Michigan is first and foremost about him and about the players that he’s going to influence. Then it’s about us being there to support him, not being drama, not being splintered, not giving any indication of dysfunction.

"We’re going to move as a family and we’re going to do what we can to build on what John Beilein has established in Ann Arbor.”

Rose reiterated this point later in the day during a segment with fellow Michigan alum Adam Schefter.

Let's wait and see if Howard brings winning ways to Michigan to make this honeymoon period last, otherwise it could be back to business as usual.

Also, does Chris Webber feel the same way? Has Rose already talked to Webber to clear the air? Or is Rose just saying it's over on his side in the hopes Webber follows suit?

Both Webber and Rose made it clear that Howard was their preferred candidate, so they seem to be on the same page.

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Porter Moser announces he's staying at Loyola

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Porter Moser announces he's staying at Loyola

Porter Morter isn't going anywhere.

After reports circulated that St. John's offered him a long-term contract worth north of $2 million per year, the 50-year-old head coach has decided instead to stay at Loyola. He's led the Ramblers to three 20-win seasons in the past five years, and guided the program in 2018 to their first Final Four appearance since 1963 — a span of 55 years.

Moser released this statement on his Twitter account on Tuesday:


Dear Rambler Nation,

I know there have been a lot of things swirling out there the past few days. Because I have coached and coached with some amazing young men, and because I have had the support of the University, friends, family, and the loyal Loyola fans; opportunities have arisen. I know that is part of the business, but it doesn't change the fact that I'm humbled, grateful, and grounded with what comes my way.

People in business say I'm crazy for passing up opportunities and the money. But what they don't know is the amazing young men I coach and the culture we have built. What they don't know are the amazing young men who are committed to come to Loyola and wear the Maroon and Gold. What they don't know are the people and friends that make up the Loyola community. And what they don't know is what makes me tick.

So what I do say to Rambler nation is ... let's keep building this culture and making a difference. Let's keep chasing championships. Let's do things better than we have ever done before.

With that said ... I'M ALL IN!