NCAA

UVa advances to finals, a rematch with Vandy awaits

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UVa advances to finals, a rematch with Vandy awaits

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Kenny Towns drove in three runs, including the winner in the seventh, and Josh Sborz pitched four innings of shutout relief as Virginia defeated Florida 5-4 on Saturday night to set up a College World Series finals rematch against Vanderbilt.

Virginia (42-23), which lost 10-5 to Florida on Friday, took two of three CWS games against the Gators (52-18) and now has won eight of its nine NCAA Tournament games. The Cavaliers open the best-of-three finals against a Vanderbilt team that beat them in three games for the championship last year.

It will be the first CWS finals rematch since Oregon State beat North Carolina in 2006-07.

Sborz (6-2) ran his shutout innings streak to 23 since May 15, getting Richie Martin to ground out after Harrison Bader reached on a two-out single in the ninth. Danny Lewis (6-2) took the loss.

After second baseman Ernie Clement flipped the ball to shortstop Daniel Pinero for the final out, catcher Matt Thaiss ran to the mound and embraced Sborz and first baseman Pavin Smith and Towns, the first baseman, dashed across the diamond to do a jumping back bump.

The Cavaliers took the lead for good in a back-and-forth game after Lewis intentionally walked Thaiss to load the bases with one out in the seventh. Towns, Virginia's career leader in NCAA Tournament RBIs who hit a game-winning double against Arkansas earlier in the week, sent a sacrifice fly to right to bring home Clement.

Sborz, who hasn't allowed a run since the eighth inning against North Carolina over a month ago, allowed three hits in relief of Brandon Waddell.

Thaiss' homer in the first inning opened the scoring, but Peter Alonso answered with another majestic homer in the second to put the Gators up 2-1. Alonso, who hit a 421-foot homer against Miami for what was then the longest in TD Ameritrade Park history, sent a Waddell pitch 429 feet over the center-field wall after JJ Schwarz walked leading off.

After Pavin Smith tripled over center fielder Buddy Reed's head and scored on a sacrifice fly for Virginia in the fourth, Bader homered leading off the fifth to make it 3-2 Florida.

The Cavaliers went back ahead in the bottom half, with Thaiss, the catcher, scoring the go-ahead run from first on Towns' two-RBI double down the left-field line.

Florida tied it at 4 in the sixth on Mike Rivera's single off Sborz, who entered with none out after Schwarz singled off Waddell.

Terrapins get huge commitment from 7-foot-2 internet phenom Chol Marial

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Screenshot: Courtside YouTube

Terrapins get huge commitment from 7-foot-2 internet phenom Chol Marial

The Maryland Terrapins just added a huge piece to their 2019 recruiting class. Literally. 

The Terps officially signed 7-foot-1 center Chol Marial (AZ Compass Prep, Chandler, Arizona), the team announced Monday. 

Depending on who you ask, Marial is either a three-star, 210-pound or a four-star, 220-pound recruit (247Sports, ESPN), but he's unquestionably taller than seven feet. He also has a 7-foot-11 wingspan that Maryland coach Mark Turgeon expects will make him "an excellent rim protector."

"I've watched Chol the last three years and I can't say enough about him as both a person and a basketball player," Turgeon said in a release from Maryland, which lists Marial at 7-foot-2 and 230 pounds. 

"One of the top players in his class when healthy, Chol's tremendous size and length make him an excellent rim protector. Chol possesses a humble demeanor and a strong work ethic that will fit well with our family. We can't wait to have him in College Park and look forward to helping him reach his dreams."

Originally from Rumbek, South Sudan, Marial moved to the U.S. as a middle-schooler in 2014. He also previously attended IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. 

ESPN ranks Marial as the No. 2 center in Arizona and the No. 14 center nationally, while 247Sports says he's No. 6 and No. 26 in those two respective categories.

He visited Maryland on April 26, according to 247Sports, and also received offers from Georgetown, Florida State, Arizona State, Iowa, UConn and West Virginia.

"I want to thank Coach Turgeon for giving me this opportunity," Marial said in a release from the school. "Coach Turgeon and I have gotten along really well and I really enjoyed spending time with the rest of the coaching staff and players. Bruno Fernando and I have similar backgrounds and I saw how much he improved as a player at Maryland. I'm looking forward to getting better every day and playing for Terp Nation."

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2019 NBA Draft Big Board 4.0: North Carolina's Coby White, Indiana's Romeo Langford heading in opposite directions

2019 NBA Draft Big Board 4.0: North Carolina's Coby White, Indiana's Romeo Langford heading in opposite directions

Ideally, the Washington Wizards get lottery lucky.

There is the basketball and business dream only Zion Williamson's supernatural gifts could fill.

Murray State’ Ja Morant would provide an electric charge with the injured John Wall idling.

Those fantastical visions, while tangible, do not reflect reality.

Targeting North Carolina scoring dynamo Coby White with their projected slot does.

The 6-foot-5’s rise up draft boards began during the college basketball season. It continues even weeks after the Tar Heels’ campaign concluded.

“I like White a lot,” is what an NBA scout told NBC Sports Washington this week. The sentiment reflects an overwhelmingly positive view on the freshman from league-wide sources.

The Wizards, who enter the May 14 NBA Draft lottery with the sixth-best overall odds of landing the first selection, need to jump up for those Williamson and Morant. There is a 37.2 percent chance of landing a top-four selection. Simply having stronger asset capital would help the yet-to-be-determined general manager.

Landing White seems more and more like a viable fallback.

The all-time leading scorer among boy’s high school players in the state of North Carolina, White averaged 16.1 points, 4.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 35 games for the Tar Heels while shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc.

With his lead guard skills and size to play on the wing, there is a positional case that White is a better fit for the Wizards long-term than Morant. White could play alongside Bradley Beal and John Wall whenever the five-time All-Star returns from his Achilles injury.

The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Morant is strictly a point guard, but also the higher-projected talent. Passing on him, even with Wall’s presence, would be the wrong approach.

Duke guard R.J. Barrett joins Williamson and Morant as the consensus top three selections more than a month out from the June 20 NBA Draft. There is little agreement with prospects 4-8, though the draft lottery will certainly help shape the order. Based on the new draft lottery rules, the Wizards could pick 1-4 or 6-10 depending on how the ping-pong balls bounce.

Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter, Duke’s Cam Reddish, Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland and White typically make up the pool of players immediately outside the top three. White’s insurgent freshman campaign thrust him into the tier.

Maybe there becomes a point where White’s rising rank leads to some brush back. We’re not there yet.

Check out more discussion on White, Zion Williamson and the 2019 NBA Draft on the latest episode of the "Wizards Talk" podcast.

 *Texas’ Jaxson Hayes, Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke, Oregon’s Bol Bol, and international prospect Sekou Doumbouya are the current best bets to enter the 4-8 discussion. Bol’s truncated freshman season factored into a diminished evaluation, but there’s a turnaround in play, a Western Conference scout told NBC Sports Washington even after out previous love-hate relationship article on the 7-foot-2 forward.

*Indiana shooting guard Romeo Langford entered the NBA Draft pool following his freshman season. The sense from scouts is he’s exiting lottery selection talk. One scout told NBA Sports Washington Langford is "dropping." Another said he would be flabbergasted if his organization considered the 6-foot-6 guard with a wonky jump shot in the top 10-14 selections. Langford averaged 16.5 points per game, but shot 28 percent on 3-pointers. Individual workouts and the upcoming NBA Combine offer chances to turn heads and momentum.

*Maryland sophomore Bruno Fernando officially kept his name in the NBA Draft pool this week. According to a source, the 6-foot-10 center signed with Priority Sports and Entertainment, the same agency that represents Wizards’ Bradley Beal and Jabari Parker. Fernando finished his Maryland career ranked second in program history in field goal percentage (.595) and 10th in rebounds per game (8.7).

1. Zion Williamson, PF, Duke

2. Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

3. RJ Barrett, SG, Duke

4. De'Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia

5.  Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech

6. Cam Reddish, SF, Duke

7. Coby White, SG, UNC

8. Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

 9. Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga

10. Bol Bol, PF, Oregon

11. Sekou Doumbouya, PF, International

12. Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas

13. PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky

14. Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC

15. Nassir Little, SF, UNC

16. Keldon Johnson, SF, Kentucky

17. Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga

18. Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky

19. Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee

20. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Va. Tech

21. Cameron Johnson, PF, UNC

22. Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

23.  Goga Bitadze, C, International

24. KZ Okpala, SG. Stanford

25. Ty Jerome, SG, Virginia

26. Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland

27. Carsen Edwards, SG/PG, Purdue

28. Eric Paschall, PF, Villanova

29. Luguentz Dort, SG, Arizona State

30. Louis King, F, Oregon

Next up: Matisse Thybuille, SF, Washington; Talen Horton-Tucker, SF, Iowa State; Admiral Schofield, SF, Tennessee; Daniel Gafford, C; Arkansas; Shamorie Ponds, G, St. John’s

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