NCAA

NCAA coach Majerus dead at 64

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NCAA coach Majerus dead at 64

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Rick Majerus, the jovial college basketball coach who led Utah to the 1998 NCAA final and had only one losing season in 25 years with four schools, died Saturday. He was 64.

Utah industrialist Jon Huntsman, the coach's longtime friend, confirmed in a statement released through The Salt Lake Tribune that Majerus died of heart failure in a Los Angeles hospital.

Majerus said Nov. 19 that he wouldn't return to Saint Louis because of the heart condition. He ended the school's 12-year NCAA tournament drought last season with a 26-win team that won its opening game and took top regional seed Michigan State to the wire. The Billikens were ranked for the first time since 1994-95.

Majerus was undergoing evaluation and treatment in California for the ongoing heart trouble and the school announced he was on leave in late August.

Majerus had a history of heart problems dating to 1989. He had a stent inserted in August 2011 in Salt Lake City and missed some games in the 2011-12 season after gashing his leg in a collision with players.

Majerus was 95-69 in five seasons at Saint Louis and had a 25-year record of 517-216. He had his most success at Utah, going 323-95 from 1989-2004. He was at Marquette from 1983-86, and Ball State from 1987-89.

He took 12 teams to the NCAA tournament and four to the NIT, with the 1998 Utah team losing to Kentucky in the NCAA championship game.

Howard makes a massive jump in preseason KenPom rankings after Makur Maker commitment

Howard makes a massive jump in preseason KenPom rankings after Makur Maker commitment

The Howard men's basketball program was forever changed once 2020 five-star recruit Makur Maker announced his decision to play with the Bison next season

While this is a monumental step for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as a whole, this is also a really big deal for the current Howard program. 

Last season, Howard was 4-29 (1-15 MEAC). Only three of those wins were against Division I opponents. Literally they were one of the worst teams in college basketball.

But with Maker that will change things. Not only will they vault to title favorites in the MEAC, but their national profile and coverage will greatly improve. Already Ken Pomeroy, who is the developer behind one of the most trusted metrics in the sport (KenPom), has the Bison taking a huge step by simply adding the five-star center. 

RELATED: ARE TOP PROSPECTS GOING TO HBCUs A NEW TREND?

That meant Howard was going to be second-to-last in Division I for Pomeroy's preseason rankings this year. Going to 252nd gives them a 27% jump by the addition of a single player. 

That will be the largest jump by a player - ever, according to Pomeroy. 

Makur is a 6-foot-11 player that is projected to be a lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. His cousin, Thon Maker, plays for the Pistons in the NBA.

All signs point to Howard being the class of the MEAC next season, but overall the quality of the league as a whole will improve with Maker. 

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2020 five-star recruit Makur Maker commits to Howard

2020 five-star recruit Makur Maker commits to Howard

When five-star big man Makur Maker announced his final four schools Thursday and Howard University was on the list, it certainly raised some eyebrows. Now, it appears Howard has landed one of the biggest recruits in its history. 

Maker tweeted early Friday morning that he had committed to Howard and head coach Kenny Blakeney over UCLA, Kentucky and Memphis.

"I was the first to announce my visit to Howard & others started to dream “what if,'" Maker wrote. "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."

Top high school recruits such as Maker and 2023 five-star Mikey Williams are the first to show real interest in playing their college ball at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Maker is the first of his caliber to make a commitment amid a worldwide movement against the systematic oppression of Black people. 

RELATED: RANKING THE CBB COACHES IN DC, MARYLAND, VIRGINIA

Maker, the brother of Pistons big man Thon Maker, is the 18th-ranked 2020 recruit in the nation according to 247sports. The 6'11, 235-pound big man is known for his blend of size, mobility and perimeter skills at the center position.

Maker was born in Kenya and immigrated to Australia when he was one year old. He then played high school basketball at multiple schools in California before playing his final season at Hillcrest Prep Academy in Phoenix, AZ. 

Maker will join a program in need of a boost in talent. Howard went 4-29 last season and will surely improve with their newest addition. But perhaps Maker's decision will have a bigger impact on college basketball moving forward. As top recruits begin to consider avenues outside the traditional powerhouse programs, the game's landscape could look a lot different in a few years.

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