ESPN's NCAA "Way-Too-Early Top 25"

Sports are all about competition, so we like to compare those who were the best, are the best, and will be the best. “Will be” is up for debate.

We are only about a month or two removed from the NCAA Tournament Championship. That said, college basketball fans still need things to chat about, right? Enter the good people over at ESPN, that have compiled a list of which teams will head into the 2019-20 season with the highest expectations.

Not all incoming freshman have committed to their collegiate teams yet, so the list will likely look a bit different by the end of the summer. Many top prospects have committed, so we are finally getting to see lists like this one that are adjusted to account for incoming talent as well as those that have graduated or declared for the NBA Draft.

James Wiseman, who we had the pleasure of covering at the 2019 Tournament of Champions, is the number one incoming prospect in the country. He has helped to get Memphis into the top 25 list below. Though North Carolina lost arguably it’s five best guys, they are still at 12 due to incoming players such as guard, Cole Anthony.

Though they are the reigning champs, Virginia is just at 14 following the loss of three key players to the NBA Draft. The return of Cassius Winston has made Michigan State the consensus number one while Duke is number two despite losing Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish to the draft. Incoming players such as Cassius Stanley will look to keep Duke more than relevant.

Below is the top 25 NCAA rankings for 2019-20 per ESPN:

  1. Michigan State

  2. Duke

  3. Kentucky

  4. Villanova

  5. Michigan

  6. Gonzaga

  7. Ohio State

  8. Louisville

  9. Maryland

  10. Kansas

  11. Seton Hall

  12. North Carolina

  13. Arizona

  14. Virginia

  15. Oregon

  16. Texas Tech

  17. Washington

  18. Memphis

  19. Houston

  20. Utah State

  21. Saint Mary’s

  22. Baylor

  23. Florida

  24. Creighton

  25. Tennessee

A couple of bubble teams that retained most of their core are Creighton and Saint Mary’s, which is why they are on this list. Experience goes a long way in the college game. Seton Hall has some big questions around returning players, but Ohio State is coming back strong.

These rankings figure to shift before the season begins, but it is fun to take a look at where schools are slated so early. College basketball fans have to talk about something! For the fans that are also interested in the NBA, high school ball, and just basketball in general, keep checking back here where hoops are always in season!

Alize Johnson gives back to his community

Ally of The Basketball Movement, Missouri State Alum, and NBA forward, Alize Johnson is using his platform to improve his community and change lives.

At The Basketball Movement, we talk about using basketball to give back to the community quite a bit and we are thrilled to see that our friend, Alize Johnson is doing just that. When he was coming into our facility to get work while he was attending Missouri State, Alize was a bad man on the floor and a good one off of it. Things don’t appear to have changed, which is awesome to see.

The Indiana Pacers signed Johnson to a two-way contract in his rookie season, which means that he played plenty of G-League ball, but was also available to play minutes with the Pacers. Never the biggest player on the court, he still did an excellent job of crashing the glass all season and turned in a nice rookie campaign.

Despite staying plenty busy all season, Alize has still found time to do big things through the Alize Johnson Foundation.

Originally from WIlliamsport, Pennsylvania, Johnson is clearly remembering his roots, as this will be the site of his foundation’s big project. He will be putting in three NBA regulation outdoor courts. The project includes adjustable hoops, lights, fencing, and new bleachers. The courts will have a security guard stationed from 4-8pm to aid in making this a safe space for the youth of Williamsport.

The project is titled WtaWtaW (Where there’s a Will, there’s a Way). The project is also sponsored by PRN Home Health Services and the Pepsi Bottling Group in Williamsport. Their donation page can be found here: https://fundrazr.com/41ShQ7?ref=sh_c7ssh2_ab_319MbZF7yHP319MbZF7yHP

We are proud of Alize for supporting his community in this way. Basketball is obviously his bread and butter, so finding a way to channel that into something bigger is incredible to see.

The Basketball Movement is focused daily on helping players on the court. However, there is nothing better than seeing athletes (especially one’s we’ve had the pleasure of working with) use basketball for an even greater purpose.

Props to Alize for making big moves that will positively affect lives in his community. No doubt he continues the good work through his career and beyond.

Pursue your passion at The Basketball Movement

We encourage everyone to pursue their passion. If yours is basketball: you couldn’t be in a better place.

Each individual is gifted with a unique array of preferences, strengths, and interests. To maximize strengths, cater to preferences, and pursue interests is to seek a happy and successful experience in life. Woah… got deep for a second there. All that is to say that you need to do what makes you happy.

If you are reading this, you likely have some sort of tie to the game of basketball. Noting that it is a game is often important, but at the same time, it is a true passion for many people.

Whether you play the game, watch it, coach, ref, or just like a little 2K action, the game has something for everyone. The back-and-forth action is perfect to get adrenaline pumping. The mix of speed and strength, brute force and finesse, or offensive versus defensive prowess means that no game will be exactly the same. The constant is two teams that want to win and maybe even more so: don’t want to lose.

The Basketball Movement keeps its doors open for all kinds of players. Multi-sport athletes looking to get in shape can certainly come in and get in intense workouts. Players that just need to stay sharp with occasional drills or with our shooting gun are always welcome. Though the facility accommodates so many types of players, it was clearly built for those that are passionate about the game.

Rob Yanders, Founder of The Basketball Movement, is one of those individuals that is passionate about the sport of basketball. It is evident all over the facility. The off-court amenities such as the Chop Shop upstairs, the smart screen in the film room, the embroidered leather seats, everything is all detailed in ways that show Rob’s passion for the full breadth of the sport. Still, the true fire for the game blazes on the courts.

The Basketball Movement, Rob Yanders, and the other coaches are all at their absolute best when they are mixed with other individuals that have a true passion for the game.

A desire to improve is great, but a desire to be one of the best is the kind of all-in mentality that it takes to be an elite player. This facility is built so that you get out exactly what you put in. If you leave it all on our courts during workouts, you will improve without a doubt. The change could be subtle or drastic, but rest assured that the passionate will come away better.

Want to make varsity? Play at the D1 level? Get paid to play professional hoops? We can get you there; you will just have to be willing to put in the time and effort.

If basketball really is your passion, you have to reach out to us at The Basketball Movement. It is a business, but it is one ran by passionate hoop-heads that want little more than to bring others into the fold and maximize their potential on the court or even off of it. You will not regret pursuing your passion for basketball right here at The Basketball Movement.

What team chemistry really means

Coaches, fans, and basketball pundits all love to talk about team chemistry. What does it really mean?

At the risk of starting this off like a middle school essay, let’s just go ahead and state the literal definition of the word “chemistry”. The definition is not as clean and simple as we may like. However, you can see how when broken down, it can be simply applied to the sport of basketball.

Google defines chemistry as “the branch of science that deals with the identification of the substances of which matter is composed; the investigation of their properties and the ways in which they interact, combine, and change; and the use of these processes to form new substances.”

To start, we can fill in a few of the terms with basketball jargon: Identification of the players of which a team is composed. Identifying for our purposes isn’t just knowing your teammate’s names. To achieve ideal chemistry, you must know their strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies.

“…the investigation of their properties and the ways in which they interact, combine, and change…” Once you know them as mentioned above, you can begin to anticipate their actions, while also watching them grow as players and teammates.

Finally, “form new substances” is the resulting team. Players that know each other inside and out, on and off the court form the teams that will have what is referred to as great team chemistry.

Chemistry can be difficult for teams that introduce or bid farewell to players frequently. Still, stressing the importance of chemistry allows our coaches and teams to have a working understanding of what is necessary at all times.

We create a standard for how we want to do things and everyone’s got to buy into that standard or you really can’t have any team chemistry. Mediocre people don’t like high-achievers and high-achievers don’t like mediocre people.
— Nick Saban

When a team has good chemistry, it shows. Chemistry happens in the trenches, such as during practices. It also happens off the court, when teams are able to bond on more personal levels.

This is an important area for teams and we encourage our players to always stick together. Help your teammates up, give them affirmation in real life or on social media, just… be a friend.

For more on teamwork, motivation, and everything else basketball, keep it locked right here!

Around the NBA: Dame time

Now seems like a pretty good time to talk about Damian Lillard, don’t you think?

Many of the NBA Playoffs first round matchups are coming to a close, but none have slammed shut quite like the one between Damian Lillard’s Portland Trailblazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Trailblazers completed a “gentleman’s sweep” last night, besting the OKC Thunder with a 4 to 1 series victory. This one had an exclamation point on it though.

After plenty of jawing between OKC’s Russell Westbrook, and Portland’s Damian Lillard, “Dame D.O.L.L.A.” put his money where his mouth was and scored his 50th point on the night by burying a 37 foot, game winning step-back triple over Paul George. That’s Defensive Player of the Year candidate Paul George, mind you.

The fanfare that followed helped to make this one of the iciest moments in recent NBA Playoff history. After sinking the impossible shot, Lillard’s expression never changed as he politely waved goodbye to the OKC bench before being mauled by his teammates, his brother and sister, and the Blazers’ staff.

He even slipped in a stare-down into one of the cameras during the dogpile. This was some Iverson stepping over Lue-esque bad-assery.

This has been a big season for Damian Lillard - his seventh in the NBA and with Portland. He has led his team to a three seed in the West again, but may actually finally have the brass to take the team to the Western Conference Finals this time.

Lillard was already in the discussion for top-5 point guards in the game, but this series feels like it’s pushed him past Westbrook. We may be talking top-3 now. Kobe Bryant noted back in 2013 that Lillard had that #MambaMentality that made him a killer on the court. He has continued to improve and now owns two amazing game-winners in the Playoffs.

The Blazers get the winner of San Antonio vs. Denver next. The Nuggets won last night to put them up 3 to 2 in the series. The matchups that are in the books so far are: Bucks over Pistons, Celtics over Pacers, Raptors over Magic, 76ers over Nets, and these Blazers over the Thunder. The Rockets and Warriors will look to clinch tonight.

Whatever happens as the playoffs continue, appreciate the moments like these that will be replayed for years to come. The depth of talent in the NBA (and on down) is possibly stronger than it has ever been. We will continue to see titans clash again and again as the NBA Playoffs continue and we can’t wait.

Catch tonight’s games on TNT and keep checking back here for tips and news from prep-to-pro.

Zion Williamson is headed to the NBA

Zion Williamson has officially declared for the 2019 NBA Draft; he isn’t the only Duke Blue Devil either.

A couple weeks ago, we highlighted the early names that had declared for the NBA Draft or were at least testing the waters. That list was headlined by Murray State’s Ja Morant, who figures to be picked in or around the top three. Now, we are starting to see those other names at the top fill in as well.

The list of names of players that have declared has gotten long, so it may not be worth listing here. What you mostly need to know is that Zion Williamson has officially entered the fray.

Duke freshman Zion Williamson has been on this path for years. We started hearing about him from high school dunk highlights, but he really exploded on the national scene while playing for a stacked, but young team for Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Being built like a tank while maintaining athleticism has helped set him apart. We at The Basketball Movement also know that this has taken years of incredibly hard work, so, congrats to Williamson for making his dreams a reality.

As great as Zion is, he not the only Duke freshman looking to explode onto the NBA scene. RJ Barrett has also declared for the draft now and will likely be picked at two or three alongside the aforementioned, Ja Morant. Cam Reddish has also officially declared. While he had a comparatively quiet season with Duke, he is still an undeniable, elite talent.

A standout from the NCAA championship game, De’Andre Hunter of Virginia has declared along with teammate, Kyle Guy. Other big names like Darius Garland, Bol Bol, Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, Romeo Langford, Nassir Little, EJ Montgomery, Kevin Porter Jr., Semisola Shittu, and Coby White, have also declared in addition to some overseas talent.

We will be bringing you draft reports and are as excited as you are to see these guys in action. Until then, the NBA Playoffs are underway, so keep an eye out for more news from all levels of the game of basketball!

WNBA update: Breanna Stewart, 2019 draft

Despite being the offseason, it has been an eventful few weeks for the WNBA, with the future of the league drawing many questions.

First: the good news around the WNBA. The 2019 WNBA Draft is in the books, bringing many exciting new players into the fold. The Las Vegas Aces had the first overall pick and selected Jackie Young of Notre Dame. Interestingly, five Notre Dame players were taken within the first 20 picks. 2018 NCAA Tournament standout, Arike Ogunbowale of Notre Dame was selected fifth by the Dallas Wings.

For more local players, Missouri guard Sophie Cunningham went 13th to the Phoenix Mercury. Missouri State’s tournament opponent, Stanford’s Alana Smith went eighth, also to Phoenix.

Below are the full results of the three rounds of lottery picks as reported by slamonline.com/wnba:

ROUND 1

1. Las Vegas Aces: Jackie Young — Notre Dame

2. New York Liberty: Asia Durr — Louisville

3. Indiana Fever: Teaira McCowan — Mississippi State

4. Chicago Sky: Katie Lou Samuelson — UConn

5. Dallas Wings: Arike Ogunbowale — Notre Dame

6. Minnesota Lynx: Napheesa Collier — UConn

7. L.A. Sparks: Kalani Brown — Baylor

8. Phoenix Mercury: Alanna Smith — Stanford

9. Connecticut Sun: Kristine Anigwe — California

10. Washington Mystics: Kiara Leslie — NC State

11. Phoenix Mercury (from Atlanta): Brianna Turner — Notre Dame

12. Seattle Storm: Ezi Magbegor — Australia

ROUND 2

13. Phoenix Mercury: Sophie Cunningham — Missouri

14. New York Liberty: Han Xu — China

15. Chicago Sky: Chloe Jackson — Baylor

16. Minnesota Lynx: Jessica Shepard — Notre Dame

17. Dallas Wings: Megan Gustafson — Iowa

18. Connecticut Sun (from Minnesota): Natisha Hiedeman — Marquette

19. L.A. Sparks: Marina Mabrey —Notre Dame

20. Minnesota Lynx: Cierra Dillard — Buffalo

21. Connecticut Sun: Bridget Carleton — Iowa State

22. Dallas Wings: Kennedy Burke — UCLA

23. Atlanta Dream: Maite Cazorla — Oregon

24. Seattle Storm: Anriel Howard — Mississippi St

ROUND 3

25. Indiana Fever: Paris Kea — UNC

26. New York Liberty: Megan Huff — Utah

27. Chicago Sky: Maria Conde — Spain

28. Indiana Fever: Caliya Robinson — Georgia

29. Dallas Wings: Morgan Bertsch — UC-Davis

30. Minnesota Lynx: Kenisha Bell — Minnesota

31. L.A. Sparks: Angela Salvadores — Spain

32. Phoenix Mercury: Arica Carter — Louisville

33. Connecticut Sun: Regan Magarity — Virginia Tech

34. Mystics: Sam Fuehring — Louisville

35. Dream: Li Yueru — China

36. Storm: Macy Miller — South Dakota State

Plenty of familiar names here from the NCAA in addition to some intriguing overseas talent. We of course look forward to seeing these rookies in action with their new squads!

Breanna Stewart Injury

Unfortunately, the biggest news from the world of women’s hoops was an injury. Reigning MVP, Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm has suffered an achilles injury while playing in the Euroleague. It is looking like Stewart will not be able to help her Seattle team defend their title next season.

While the injury itself is the real news, the implications also raise some questions that have already been asked for years now. Why is the MVP playing overseas anyway? Simple: she makes more money playing for the Russian team, Dynamo Kursk than she does for the reigning WNBA championship team.

While WNBA health insurance does cover the injury, it clearly highlights an ongoing issue with professional women’s hoops.

The league’s players are not delusional about their monetary opportunities compared to their male counterparts in the NBA. The NBA commands substantially more revenue than the WNBA. However, steps should probably be taken if the league can’t even afford to monopolize what is likely it’s top player.

Everyone accepts that in basketball women will not get paid what the men get paid, at least for the foreseeable future. What the players do want is a piece of the pie that is comparable. Men draw a larger percentage of the league’s revenue than the women do. Whether or not the WNBA can afford to give their players a similar opportunity depends on their overhead but also their willingness to increase player salaries.

Breanna Stewart’s injury will likely become a rallying call for a new collective bargaining agreement between the players and the league. This could be an interesting offseason.

That’s it for now! Keep checking back for basketball news from all levels, tips, and training opportunities here at The Basketball Movement.

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Thriving in the underdog role

With the NBA Playoffs underway, we have had the opportunity to see multiple teams embrace the underdog role and surprise the big dogs.

No-matter your record, seeding, reputation, anything, you can still beat the odds and be the best team for a game. Once you start rolling, you may gain momentum that can help you sustain that success. We have seen it many times before, especially in the NCAA Tournament as we did again recently. In the first round of the NBA playoffs, we have already gotten to see it multiple times.

Despite long odds, the Nets, Clippers, Magic, and Spurs have already pulled off upsets on the road. The biggest one came last night, as the Los Angeles Clippers deafeated the Golden State Warriors in game two of the series.

The Clippers were down by 31 in the third quarter before storming back to defeat the back-to-back NBA champs. Rookie Landry Shamet (formerly of Witchita State) hit a go-ahead three to seal it. Patrick Beverly continued to lock-down Kevin Durant and Lou Williams went on one of his scoring tears to climb back into it. The 31 point comeback marked the biggest comeback in NBA Playoff history.

This seems like a good time to remind you that no team is invincible. There are still plenty of games left in each of the NBA series’ involved in these upsets. That said, the landscape has significantly shifted, stealing confidence from one side and feeding it to the other. Confidence is big in the sport of basketball.

Everything negative - pressure, challenges - are all an opportunity for me to rise.
— Kobe Bryant

For that reason, it is important to approach every game and every moment with confidence. Believe that your shot will go in. Believe that your team can win the game. Believing is clearly not everything, but if you have put in the work, there is no reason that you can’t give it your all and compete. If you do that, then you can shift the odds at any time.

Being the underdog in a game or being overlooked as a player or team often means that you may be underestimated. Use that as fuel. Harness the chip on your shoulder. No one knows what you can do better than yourself. There isn’t much that is more satisfying than defying odds and proving nay-sayers wrong.

So be that team! Be that player! Don’t sweat rankings or records, just control what you can by working as hard as possible, being confident, and not backing down from a challenge.

Remember, to help you work as hard as possible, stay at the peak of your game, and keep raising that peak, contact The Basketball Movement. We believe in you and we can help you be ready for the big moments.

Around the NBA: Playoff time

Much of the madness of the basketball world has subsided, but around the NBA, things are just heating up.

Many of the stories around the NBA recently have been about Magic Johnson stepping down as the President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. There has also been a lot made (deservedly so) about Dwyane Wade’s career reaching its conclusion as well as Dirk Nowitzki, who recently made his retirement official.

As interesting or nostalgic as these happenings are, they are still footnotes to the main story that is unfolding; the 2018-19 NBA regular season has ended and it is time to fight it out to see who is crowned champion.

For several years now, the NBA Playoffs and even the Finals have been predictable. LeBron James would rise out of the East to meet one of the greatest teams in history in the Golden State Warriors. This year is certainly different. No LeBron James means plenty of new faces will be duking it out for a Finals appearance. At least on one side of the bracket.

In the West, it is still the Warriors race to lose. They have appeared vulnerable at times this season with a less enthused bench and more hit-or-miss performances from Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Still, they boast a starting five that consists of five current or recent All-Stars. Big offseason signing, DeMarcus Cousins has looked good considering the achilles injury that sidelined him for so long. Still, he has been a liability at times, unable to mesh with the Warriors offensive and defensive flow.

Teams that could upset the Warriors in the West? See for yourselves what they are up against below:

The Jazz and Nuggets play a different brand of basketball that could potentially mess with the Warriors tempo. The Rockets, Thunder, or Trailblazers have the firepower to hang with anyone, but would need to bring it every single night to have a shot. The Spurs are just inexplicably consistent and therefore tough to get a read on…

In the East, the Milwaukee Bucks appear to have the most clear path to at least the Eastern Conference Finals, unless the Celtics flip a switch that they were unable to find most games this season. The 76ers may be the biggest wildcard, as they likely have the most talented starting five in the NBA, Warriors aside. They will have tough sledding facing the experience of the Raptors, assuming both teams take their first round matchups, which is never a given.

LeBron James fans may be a bit down in the dumps right now, but his playoff absence at least means fresh blood will rise in the East. As usual, the NBA Playoffs are primed to be exciting and engaging. We can’t wait for tipoff.

Stay tuned for coverage, learn how to pronounce Antetokounmpo, and let the games begin!

Yanders Law Blue Elite (16u) - Homegrown, top-tier AAU squad

Today we spotlight the 16 & under Yanders Law Blue Elite team that is living up to their name and putting the AAU scene on notice.

The NY2LA Spring Warm Up over the weekend confirmed what many already knew: the Yanders Law program can claim many of the top sophomores not only in the state, but beyond. Yanders Law Blue Elite defeated the Green Bay Gunners, ET21 Buckeyes, Mac Irvin Fire EYBL, and Team Teague in the 16u platinum bracket.

Blue Elite fell to Meanstreets (another EYBL team), which went on to win the bracket. This Yanders Law squad is a team of guys from Southwest Missouri that have mostly been playing with each other for four or five years. Many of these other teams consist of new, recruited players from a wide area.

For Yanders Law Blue Elite to be able to hang with teams that have shoe deals or NBA players backing them is immensely impressive. With all the noise this team is making after just a couple weeks of practice together, a few of these guys are likely to be more heavily recruited themselves.

Every player on this team contributed in one way or another at the NY2LA Spring Warm Up. Scoring, defending, or being active from the sidelines are all important; we saw plenty of that this weekend. One player that has truly upped his game recently is Zach Howell, and it showed in Milwaukee.

“Zach has improved a ton” said Yanders Law founder and namesake, Rob Yanders. “He hit some huge shots this weekend and showed out.” Another player that was making things look easy against stiff competition was Anton Brookshire.

In a recap of early tournament action, the NY2LA website had this to say about Brookshire:

Brookshire really captains the ship for his team with his play and is efficient in his work. He picked up where he left off last summer with a solid opening game, getting to the hoop and finishing with good control, burying shots from both the mid and long levels and was otherwise operating as a facilitator for his teammates, pushing the ball up the floor and getting his guys scoring opportunities.
— NY2LAsports.com

One more player that has to be named is Isaac Haney. If you were paying attention to his season in Dora, you know that he has taken his game to another stratosphere. The kid can score with ease and had one of the prettiest shots in the whole tournament, regardless of age or association.

Things are just getting started for not only this team, but all of Yanders Law Basketball. To keep track of these guys, make sure to follow along on Twitter @YandersLaw and add them on Facebook.

One-on-One: Chris Ward, new Trainer and Coach

The Basketball Movement and Yanders Law are excited to announce the hiring of Yanders Law alum, Chris Ward as a Trainer and Coach.

The Basketball Movement is selective in it’s hires, and we know exactly what we are getting in Chris Ward. Chris has been coming around the gym and working with Robert Yanders long before Rob bought the facility and turned it into The Basketball Movement. Ward was among the first to play under the Yanders Law banner and has been involved with what Rob has been doing ever since.

“Being on Rob’s first Yanders Law team, it’s great to come back and get to be around the other generations” said Ward. He is not only a Yanders Law alumni, but a familiar face for many area hoops fans as well. Ward’s jersey is retired at Kickapoo High School where he was an All-District and All-State player.

Chris went on to play at Philander Smith College in Little Rock and even played professionally in the Republic of Georgia for a while. He knew that his passion for basketball was well-suited for training and coaching, so he came home and is now back where it all began.

Knowing Rob since he was 10 and playing with him since he was 14, Chris says that it is incredible to see what Rob has built since then. He recalls winning a lot of games with Yanders Law in high school. Those are times you don’t forget - especially with so many takeaways that come from working with Yanders.

Playing for Rob was and is worth it. He teaches you consistency and that hard work can take you lots of places. Summer workouts, everything, it all sticks with you. Rob is all about character and using basketball as a tool to give you a better life. It all stems from hard work.
— Chris Ward

Ward says that he is going to be giving lessons, doing strengths and conditioning, and helping to run clinics in addition to becoming a Yanders Law Coach. “It’s a job, but I get to be working every day with people that want to be better” says Ward. “Basketball is everything to me; it makes it easy to get up in the morning. So yeah, it’s a job, but it doesn’t feel like it to me.”

Asked about his training/coaching style, Chris says that he will naturally emulate Yanders. “I mean, I’m just going to do what I’ve learned from Rob over so many years.” He says that he is loud, energetic, and quick to relate to the players because he has been in their shoes. “As a coach, I like fast pace. I want to really see my players getting up and down the floor.”

Having played for Robert Yanders, Ward knows the meaning of “hard work” and it is probably not a term he would use lightly. Players that get to work with Ward will experience second-hand Yanders intensity, so they will need to come ready.

The Basketball Movement and Yanders Law are thrilled to help Chris Ward bring his basketball journey full circle. Watching players pursue their passion (basketball or otherwise) is one of the greatest feelings for coaches, trainers, and anyone else that is a part of our organizations. He will be another tremendous asset to our team.

Welcome aboard, Chris!

Ja Morant headlines list of players declared for the 2019 NBA Draft

NCAA underclassmen must declare before April 22nd to be eligible for the 2019 NBA Draft.

If these NCAA players opt to withdraw their declaration and return to college, they have until May 29th to do so. The NBA Draft Combine runs from May 16-20. So, we are still early in the window of declaration, but things are getting real with NCAA March Madness standout, Ja Morant throwing his hat into the ring.

As it stands today, Murray State’s Ja Morant would be projected at or around the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The consensus number one pick is still Duke’s Zion Williamson by a decent margin. Williamson has yet to declare, and his fellow Duke teammates have not either. Don’t worry; they will. Fellow freshman, RJ Barrett is projected to be picked in the top three with Zion and Ja.

Those players that have declared have likely signed with agents. How college students can afford professional agents is an article for another day.

Below is the list of declared players as it stands right now (per Yahoo! Sports):

Tyus Battle, Syracuse

Bol Bol, Oregon

Ky Bowman, Boston College

Daniel Gafford, Arkansas

Darius Garland, Vanderbilt

Dewan Henandez, Miami

Nassir Little, UNC

Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State

Ja Morant, Murray State

Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s

Naz Reid, LSU

Simi Shittu, Vanderbilt

Coby White, UNC

Kris Wilks, UCLA

The same Yahoo! Sports page names the following players as still “Testing the water.” This means that the players have declared to gauge interest, but have likely not gone so far as to hire agents and or go all-in.

Jordan Bone, Tennessee

Oshae Brissett, Syracuse

Charlie Brown, Saint Joseph’s

Amir Coffey, Minnesota

Steve Enoch, Louisville

Talen Horton-Tucker, Iowa State

Nathan Knight, William & Mary

Sagaba Konate, West Virginia

Jalen LeQue, N.C. State

Jaden Nwora, Louisville

Miye Oni, Yale

Reggie Perry, Mississippi State

Isaiah Reese, Canisius

Derrik Smits, Valparaiso

Jimmy Whitt, SMU

With the likes of ZIon absent from this list, you know that there are many names still on their way. It is still exciting to see players such as Ja Morant, Nassir Little, and Bol Bol already on here. As we near the April 22nd deadline, many of the names you are hearing amidst the March Madness will start to pop up.

You know we will keep you up-to-date if anything big happens leading up to the combine and the 2019 NBA Draft. Remember to follow us on Twitter @BBall_Movement, Instagram, and like us on Facebook to stay in the know!

It isn't the shoes - The triviality of "drip"

In the world of hoops, shoes are huge. From Converse, to Air Force 1s, to LeBrons, kicks are a part of the culture. Does that mean they are important?

Around The Basketball Movement, you are going to see some shoe game. Many of the players that come through our doors are rocking the latest gear, Owner Robert Yanders has many of his staff in new LeBrons, and Rob himself is always on point. A deal with Nike makes sure of that. Looking the part builds confidence, establishes basketball credibility, and frankly looks good. So, these things are all important right?

Somewhat yes.

The look often comes down to personal preference and the performance of the shoes, shorts, and shirts is what is most important. Are the shoes light enough for hooping? Good grip? Do they fit your unique foot correctly? Are they within your means?

As mentioned, shoes are part of the culture. Having shoe game is nice, but at the end of the day, it is what you do while you are wearing them that matters most. PJ Tucker of the Houston Rockets is one of the NBA’s most impressive connoisseurs of kicks. That doesn’t mean is out there out-performing young players wearing the same plain sneakers each night. Tucker just has an impressive collection. That’s it.

Many of us have played against teams that have impressive warmup gear, expensive shoes, and matching bags. Sometimes those teams are really good. Sometimes they aren’t. Don’t sweat the gear - just play the game.

Don’t feel like you have to have the nicest stuff to be the most impressive on the floor. A player keeping uo with the new wave has nothing to do with their shooting range, handles, court vision… you get it. Respect the culture but make no mistake, drip is trivial next to your basketball ability.

If you are one of those individuals who takes style seriously, it is okay to be confident, but you must remain humble as well. The last thing you want to do is lord your gear over other players are comment negatively about others. Many of those players would love to be rocking Jordans like you, but the price tag is not for everyone. Anything like that costs money, and the situations of others is not for you to judge. Be respectful.

At The Basketball Movement, we don’t only embrace individuals from all walks of life, we encourage that participation. We have well-to-do athletes that may never break varsity as well as low income athletes that have NBA aspirations (and everything in-between). We like to look good, but that doesn’t mean we would ever turn our nose up at anyone. If you walk in with torn up sneakers, Rob is probably already on his way upstairs to grab you something that will hold up for a patented intense workout.

As with many things in basketball or life, just do your best. If style or prestige isn’t important to you, don’t sweat it. If you value your swag, wear it like a champ. We are going to kick your butt in our workouts anyway. Wear what you want and play your heart out.

March Madness: Sweet 16 set to begin for men and women

The Missouri State Lady Bears and Oregon Ducks are the only double-digit seeds left standing for men and women’s Sweet 16 of March Madness.

As natives of Southwest Missouri, the first order of business is to celebrate the Missouri State Lady Bears’ Sweet 16 bid. This is the first appearance at this stage of the tournament for the Bears since the Jackie Stiles days in 2002. To be the top “Cinderella story” at this stage is special not just for the team, but for all Springfield, MO area basketball fans that have been hungry for this kind of success at the national level.

In the same vein, we need to give props also to the Drury Lady Panthers. Drury looked unstoppable all season and made it all the way to the Final Four of the NCAA Division II tourney. They suffered their first loss of the season to Lubbock Christian, but still had an incredible year.

Despite a smattering of upsets, the men’s bracket looks much like how the rankings predicted that it would. The left side of the Sweet 16 bracket has all of the top seeds, 1 through 4 in both quadrants. There were some scares such as Duke’s narrow victory over UCF, but things still shook out predictably.

On the other side, it was almost the same story. The 1, 2, and 3 seeds are still alive in both quadrants. The 4 seeds were the twist, with 5 seed Auburn sliding past Kansas and 12 seed Oregon beating fellow underdog UC Irvine, who knocked off 4 seed Kansas State.

For the women, all four 1 seeds as well as 2 seeds are alive in the Sweet 16 as well. It gets more interesting from there, with Missouri State leading the charge as an 11 seed. Past the Lady Bears, there are just some 5 and 6 seeds making the field interesting.

Coverage begins tonight (2/28) for the men and tomorrow (2/29) for the women. Congratulations to all teams and players for making it to this point. To keep winning through such a grueling and highly scrutinized event is a special accomplishment. Luckily for the viewers it is also one of the most exciting spectacles in all of hoops. Good luck again to the MSU Lady Bears as well! We will all be watching!

Around the NBA: Who will be named 2018-19 MVP?

Tonight’s slate of games features the NBA MVP front-runners squaring off. Will James Harden repeat as MVP, or will we see a new face?

For the last half of the 2018-19 NBA season, the MVP race has been James Harden’s to lose. He rebounds, he assists, and he scores… a lot. Possibly most importantly, he has lead his team to contention in the Western Conference, where they started the season as a non-factor. Chris Paul was hurt, the team was lame, and other stars were shining brighter.

Around December-January, things changed. James Harden has been on one of the most ludicrous heaters in NBA history. He is averaging 36 points per game on the season and is on pace to blow away all other players in that category. He is also finding his way to the line like no other guard has, attempting 11 free throws per contest.

Already acknowledged as one of the most dangerous iso players in history, he has also stepped up on defense, averaging a career high 2.2 steals per game so far. In the state of today’s game though, his competition is still fierce.

Rounding, Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 27/13/6 with 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. The Greek Freak has arguably eclipsed LeBron James to become the most terrifying open-court threat in the game. Where LeBron is a freight train, Giannis is a jumbo jet, soaring over defenders with just a few giant steps. Still lacking a consistent perimeter jumper, he is still able to score at will and has become as imposing on offense as he has always been on defense.

Antetokounmpo’s numbers don’t scare James Harden’s MVP chances, but his team does. The Bucks have the best record in the NBA, clearly led by Giannis’ brilliance. His Milwaukee teammate, Kris Middleton was named an All-Star, but the massive success of one of the NBA’s recently dormant franchises is all due to the Greek Freak.

Any other contenders?

Until the last month or so of action, Paul George of the OKC Thunder had a place in this conversation. He is still having a career year, averaging multiple personal best stats with 28.2 points per game (previous best was 23.7), 6.8 boards, 4.2 assists, and 2.2 steals.

George has been a bit inconsistent of late, which has been an unfortunate pairing with an also inconsistent Russell Westbrook. The Thunder are still a playoff team, but only just barely, hurting and possibly extinguishing PG13’s MVP chances.

We may be jaded by their sustained greatness, but Kevin Durant and especially Stephen Curry have had their usual spectacular individual seasons. The Warriors have been good, but not as dominant as we have become accustomed to seeing.

A few more players worth mentioning are: Kawhi Leonard, Joel Embiid, and Damian Lillard. There are more successful teams and spectacular players, but this late in the season, we are realistically coming down to just two men: Harden and Antetokounmpo.

Houston travels to Milwaukee tonight, so we will get a good long look at a clash between these two titans. The MVP race is a marathon, not a sprint, but games like these may still stand out to selectors of the award. The game will be on TNT at 7:00PM central time. Tune in to see two of the best in the world go toe-to-toe and weigh in on the debate over on Twitter. Follow us @Bball_Movement

All stats from Basketball Reference

March Madness 2019 update

March Madness is half way through the second round of games. Round one featured twelve upsets in two days.

Perhaps the maddest portion of March Madness, the first round features 32 basketball games in a two day stretch. This naturally leads to big moments each year; we see breakout performances, underdog stories begin, and elite teams assert dominance. March Madness 2019 was no different, featuring all of the above.

Perhaps the most impressive individual performance came from Murray State’s Ja Morant, who had the tournament’s first triple double since 2012. Though Murray State upset Marquette as a 12 seed over a 5 seed, this could hardly be considered a breakout game for Morant. He has had the look of a top-3 draft prospect for months.

Murray State did fall back to Earth in round two, losing to Florida State University. We are seeing plenty of the nations top programs plow ahead through the second round such as Kentucky, Michigan, Gonzaga,and Michigan State. Kansas dropped a tough one to a surging Auburn squad, while LSU edged out Maryland. LSU is surprising some doubters after in-season turbulence (death of a player, suspension of their head coach).

Tennessee is underway now against Iowa and are off to a hot start. Other big programs such as Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia tip off this evening.

Villanova will not get to defend their title, losing to Purdue yesterday. All 1 seeds are still alive, but there are many games left to be played. While there have been plenty of upsets, none have been as surprising so far as what we saw last year from UMBC or Loyola. As the Sweet 16 takes shape, that may be subject to change.

Women’s NCAA update

The lady’s bracket only saw five first round upsets to the men’s 12, but still had plenty of exciting games. One of those upsets was the 11 seed Missouri State Lady Bears, who toppled 6 seed DePaul 89 to 78. The Lady Bears play again tomorrow at 8PM Central against Iowa State on ESPN.

A few of the top dogs in this bracket will be tested soon, so there will be plenty of opportunities for more drama. Things have played out as expected so far, so look for change any time now.

UCONN, seeded as a 2 (the lowest they have been in years) plays Buffalo tonight, who had an upset victory in the first round. A chip on the Huskies shoulder could prove dangerous for any team in their way. Will they storm back to the top of the NCAAW world? Or will Lousiville, Baylor, or someone else have their time to shine?

Tune in to find out!

Super sophomores make All-State teams

Anton Brookshire and Isaac Haney top off incredible sophomore seasons with All-State team selections.

We have bragged a lot this season about Yanders Law and The Basketball Movement athletes, Anton Brookshire and Isaac Haney. What began the season as a couple of sophomores that were defying lofty expectations turned into routine torchings of bigger, stronger, and older opponents. What seemed exceptional in the early going became routine for these two athletes.

Anton Brookshire led his Kickapoo team on an incredible stretch that fell just short of a Missouri Class 5 final four appearance. Along the way, Brookshire was named Player of the Year in his conference as well as POY in District 11. His buzzer beater to seal the district championship certainly didn’t hurt his cause for that honor.

Again, only a sophomore, Brookshire has been named to the All-State team for Missouri’s largest class. Anton has already been receiving plenty of interest and offers from good basketball schools, but his stock is undoubtedly about to spike following a fantastic finish to his year two campaign.

Isaac Haney had himself an eventful sophomore season as well. “Ice” Haney was on a heater all season long. Like Brookshire, Isaac was all-conference, all-district, and all-state for class 1 in Missouri. He carried Dora all the way to the state championship game, coming up just shy of a perfect season.

Despite Dora losing their final game, individually, Isaac Haney’s body of work was undeniable and he was named Missouri Class 1 Player of the Year. This is an incredible honor that will also draw the attention of multiple D-1 programs, regardless of class. The size of your school doesn’t matter when you can put the ball in the hole at an elite level.

Congratulations to both of these young men who had exemplary years for their high school teams. We’ve said it before, but their work ethic and dedication perfectly personifies what we strive for at The Basketball Movement and within the Yanders Law program. We could not be more proud and are thrilled to get to see these guys in action for years to come.

2019 NCAA March Madness is here

Perhaps the most exciting stretch of basketball each year is upon us - NCAA March Madness is set to begin.

Get pumped basketball fans! The 2019 NCAA March Madness tournament bracket has been released. Last year’s tournament delivered generous amounts of madness, so hopefully this year can live up to the hype as well. We may not get another 16 seed toppling a 1 seed, but hey, we can hope to get close right?

Of the 68 teams named to the nation’s top collegiate tourney, 32 are conference champs and the rest were selected by a committee using various algorithms as well as a bit of objectivity per usual. We will get things whittled down to a clean 64 squads after the “First Four” which will be played on March 19 & 20. The first round will begin Thursday March 21st.

The top seeds are ACC heavy: Duke, Gonzaga, Tennessee, and North Carolina. One of the more controversial seedings is that Michigan State is a 2 seed, where many believed they should be a 1. Adding insult to injury, they are in the same bracket as overall 1 seed, Duke. Assuming both teams advance all the way (and assuming is a dangerous game anyway), it would certainly make for an interesting Elite Eight matchup.

To go all the way, you have to beat the top teams anyway, so who can really complain? To be the best, you must beat the best. Michigan St. is set to start the tournament facing Missouri Valley Conference champs, Bradley.

An unfortunate trend over the years with this tourney is that mid-majors are overlooked in favor of middling schools from big conferences. This year’s bracket bucked that trend a bit and we see some smaller universities in the mix. Everyone loves an underdog story and this year is providing some interesting opportunities for that.

Here is a link to NCAA.com if you would like to view and/or print a bracket

Filling in a perfect bracket may be virtually impossible, but taking a stab at it is one of the sport’s most fun traditions. Sports fans love competition, so what could be better then putting your opinions into a bracket ready to compare with family, friends, teammates, and coworkers.

ESPN had some notes on the women’s NCAA rankings, but that bracket has not yet been released. Congratulations though to the Missouri State Lady Bears who won the Missouri Valley Conference and will be heading to the big dance! Stay tuned for coverage on the lady’s side of things soon.

Good luck to everyone on your brackets and good luck to all of the athletes looking to make a splash on college basketball’s biggest stage.

Keep checking back with The Basketball Movement for more tournament coverage as well as local teams, NBA news, and action straight from our home courts. Merry Madness!

Don't be like Mike - The beauty of knowing your limits

Most players and fans grow up idolizing players on TV. The superstars carry a lot of appeal, but not everyone can be Michael Jordan.

We saw Kobe Bryant, who clearly modeled his game after Michael Jordan, grow into one of the greatest basketball players ever. Young players everywhere are honing their skills hoping to be just like LeBron James or Kevin Durant. Unfortunately, almost none of them will be. Don't worry! That is perfectly okay.

Everyone is made differently. You can hit the weight room every day,  but you are most likely not going to be able to bang in the paint with Dwight Howard or Shaq. Does that mean you should give up? Does not being Michael Jordan mean you should quit reaching? Heck no.

MJ could jump, handle, guard like crazy, and make defenders looks silly in almost every way. There aren't a lot of people who can be so extraordinary at so many aspects of the game.

So what do you do?

Find your personal strengths and work on them until it hurts. Shore up any weaknesses, but focus even more on what makes you a special player.

Just because you do have limits, doesn't mean you can't raise them. Have a decent jumper? Become a reliable jump shooter. Then, become a dangerous shooter. Always elevate each aspect of your game as much as possible, just don't get frustrated when you aren't the best there is.

If the Bulls had five fantastic shooting guards, would they start five shooting guards?

Every team needs bigs to crash the glass. Every team needs willing defenders who are content being the glue that doesn't stand out on the stat sheet. There are a lot of champions at every level of the game who are there because they put their ego aside and did what made them great for their team.

Don't be defined by your physical limits, but don't be afraid to embrace them either. There is a reason that Kyrie Irving doesn't care about dunking and Tim Duncan never worried about the three point line.

You can be great. Adapt and conquer the game in every way that is available to you. Don't be like Mike, be the best version of you that you can create.

Start by jumping aboard The Basketball Movement.

Around the NBA: Vince Carter won't stop dunking

At 42 years old, Vince Carter is defying norms in a sport filled with the greatest athletes in the world.

Much has been made recently of Tom Brady competing at an elite level at age 40. He looks as sharp as ever and lead his team to yet another Superbowl title. A comparison of greatness may be unfair, but in terms of athletic feats, he has stiff competition from a 40 plus NBA star in Vince Carter.

Debatably, the NBA has the top athletes in the world. The majority of the players are 20-somethings that are in the physical primes of their lives. Vince Carter has been there. During the peak years of his athleticism, he had a multi-year run of what may have been the greatest in-game dunks ever. His legendary athleticism paired with deadly long ball made him a lethal offensive threat.

Despite playing at 42 years old, Carter is still holding his own. He has bounced around a bit these last several years, providing a valuable veteran presence for young teams. His scoring numbers are actually up this year from the last few as he provides a spark off the bench for the Atlanta Hawks. And yes, somehow, he is still throwing down dunks.

With players younger than Carter like Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki singing their swan song this season, he is singing a different tune. In a discussion with ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, Carter said that he would like to keep playing. That would be his 22nd season.

As a mentor and a shooter, there will certainly be a market for Carter’s services as long as he is willing to play. Whether it is another year with the Hawks, an old team like the Nets or Raptors, or a different destination, it will still be fun to see Carter keep lacing up to compete.

He says that he has been taking things one year at a time, assessing how he feels at the conclusion of each season. It does sound like he is prepared to play until at least age 43 though. With Wade and Nowitzki getting honorary All-Star nods this year, we could surely expect the same treatment for Vinsanity at All-Star 2020. That would be the 20 year anniversary of his legendary All-Star Slam Dunk Contest, so that would be pretty legit.

Playing basketball at a professional level is more difficult than many realize. It requires dedication and true passion to play as long as VC has. If he enjoys the grind enough to keep playing and he can get paid good money to do it, this is a great move for Carter as well as basketball fans.

We are lucky to still be seeing Vince Carter in action and look forward to watching him for at least one more season! For more on everything basketball, keep it locked here with The Basketball Movement.