Basketball Rewind: Watch Tony Fournier throw it down in BioSteel Slam Dunk Contest

Fournier put on a show!

Crestwood Secondary’s (Canada) Tony Fournier not only dunks, but the 6-foot-2 basketball standout makes it look easy—smooth, effortless, and not just on standard dunks.

Fournier put her skills up against some tough competition back in April during the BioSteel All Canadian Dunk Contest, where she faced some of the best basketball stars in the country … from boys teams.

Safe to say, she held her own.

And the results were historical, with the contest crowning two winners—Mambourou Mara and Fournier.

Chauncey Billups using NBA experience at Basketball Without Borders Africa camp

Chauncey Billups has long wanted his first Basketball Without Borders experience to take place in Africa.

When former NBA star Chauncey Billups was approached about participating in Basketball Without Borders 10 years ago, he had interest but needed to put it off due to timing issues. He knew that when he came back around to the proposition, he wanted it to be in Africa.

“I’ve heard so many great things and I’ve never been here before,” Billups said. “I wanted to make sure I got here.”

On Sunday, Basketball Without Borders Africa opened its camp in Cairo, Egypt with Billups among the NBA coaches headlining the event of more than 60 boys and girls athletes from across the continent. With time before the NBA season begins, Billups and his wife were able to make the journey.

During the opening days, the NBA took participants to such attractions as the pyramids, sphinx and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. Campers participated in basketball stations for offensive and defensive drills, measurements, and life and leadership development. On Wednesday, the event will end with playoffs, the championship, a 3-point shooting contest, and an awards ceremony.

“Sometimes they can go out and perform, sometimes they falter a little bit, but man, they’re so excited, they’re so grateful and thankful to be here, you can just feel that,” Billups said. “I love that feeling, I really do.”

Billups is joined by NBA coaches including Steve Kerr, Willie Green, Wes Unseld Jr. and Chris Finch. NBA players coaching at the camp include Udoka Azubuike, Mo Bamba, Malcolm Brogdon and Grant Williams. Dikembe Mutombo is also participating as an NBA Global Ambassador.

In addition to working with the BWB campers, the NBA players and coaches participated in a Jr. NBA clinic for 100 boys and girls in collaboration with Special Olympics.

(Photo: NBA Africa)

Billups’ NBA path provides unique insight for the players. As the third overall pick in 1997, he had been viewed in high regard as a promising prospect, but after being traded three times in his first three seasons, he quickly approached journeyman status. After a successful stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Billups signed with the Detroit Pistons and emerged as Mr. Big Shot, becoming a five-time All-Star and winning Finals MVP.

As a player who has seen each level of success, he shared a key lesson with the young athletes.

“When you have talks with these kids here, you just share with them that it’s not always going to go your way,” Billups said. “You gotta hang in there, you gotta stick to it, you gotta believe in the work that you’re putting in.”

He also reminded them not to skip steps, particularly on the fundamentals of the game.

“Our kids are so talented, they can skip steps sometimes. It’s just not necessary to do so. You gotta get down the fundamentals,” he said.

Billups said that he has had to force himself to slow down while coaching to properly explain and demonstrate his message. It’s partially a lesson he learned over his first year coaching the Portland Trail Blazers — what is instinctual to him might not be to other players — but there’s also a language barrier with some campers here.

Through three days, the lessons translate. He has seen true engagement and buy-in and excitement to be part of the program.

“They all have the same dream that I had when I was a kid,” Billups said.

Duke scores commitment from No. 3 overall recruit Jadyn Donovan

A big get for the Duke women’s basketball team

Duke is building up its recruiting class for 2023 in women’s basketball. On Monday, it was announced that the country’s No. 3 overall recruit in the ESPNW 100 and five-star guard Jadyn Donovan has committed to Duke.

Donovan was also considering offers from North Carolina, Arizona, UCLA, Tennessee and Notre Dame. In the end, she says she chose Duke for academics, according to the Washington Post.

“The basketball program is super serious, but the school and the environment, people are there to get a great education… Duke is just a place for me to honestly just learn literally anything I can.”

It probably didn’t hurt that Donovan’s new coach Kara Lawson also played at Sidwell Friends in the 90s.

Donovan helped lead her school to a perfect 30-0 record last season. She averaged over 15 points, eight rebounds, three steals and nearly two blocks per game. This summer, she helped Team USA win a gold medal in Hungary.

Here are the 4 NBA players coaching Basketball Without Borders Asia camp

Coby White, Jarrett Allen, Josh Green and Cam Johnson are coaches at the Basketball Without Borders camp in Australia.

Basketball Without Borders Asia began its 12th camp on Sunday, and four NBA players are helping coach the youth players during the four-day event.

Chicago Bulls guard Coby White, Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen, Dallas Mavericks wing Josh Green and Phoenix Suns wing Cam Johnson traveled to Australia to help train 60 of the top male and female prospects throughout 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

There were 41 former Basketball Without Borders players who were on the 2021-22 opening-night roster, according to the NBA. Josh Giddey played at this same Asia camp in 2018, and Green, who was born in Australia, was a member of BWB Global in Los Angeles in 2018.

Basketball Without Borders is an international program hosted by the NBA and FIBA. Since its launch in 2001, there have been 64 camps in 30 countries with more than 3,800 participants haling from 133 countries and territories. There have been 105 former members of BWB who went on to play in the NBA or WNBA.

See the full roster of players on the NBA website.

Q&A: Colin Sahlman, Kiki Rice named 2022 Gatorade Athletes of the Year

With championships and records under their belts, Colin Sahlman and Kiki Rice were named the 2022 Gatorade Athletes of the Year.

After announcing winners for individual sports in each state, Gatorade has named its best of the best. On Tuesday, Kiki Rice and Colin Sahlman were named the Gatorade Athletes of the Year.

Over Rice’s four years at Sidwell Friends School (Washington, D.C.), she helped the girls basketball team rise to an unbeatable group. She was the point guard for the 30-0 Quakers, who went undefeated and won the State Champions Invitational, a season in which Rice averaged 15.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.6 steals per game as a senior.

She was named co-MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game and played on the gold-medal-winning U18 national team in the FIBA U18 Americas.

Sahlman continues the legacy of Newbury Park High School track and field dominance. Look in the record book and you will see his name splattered across the pages.

His 5,000-meter time of 14:03.29 set a national high school record. His 3,200-meter time of 8:33.32 set a national high school record. His mile time of 3:56.24 is the third-best in prep history, and his 1,500-meter time of 3:39.59 is fourth-best.

Sahlman will race at Northern Arizona University next season while Rice will head across the country to play basketball at UCLA.

They ended their high school careers at the pinnacle, with championships and recognition as the Gatorade Boys and Girls Athlete of the Year.

Following the announcement, USA TODAY High School Sports participated in a Q&A with the two athletes that centered on sports, the classroom, community service and get-to-know-you ice breakers. Answers are below and have been lightly edited for clarity.

Q: Congratulations on being named the Gatorade Athletes of the Year. Has it been a goal for either of you?

Rice: Yes, it has been. It has been one of mine.

Sahlman: Definitely, for sure. Seeing my teammate [Nico Young] get it two years ago kind of motivated me to try to get it this year.

What’s your best high school memory?

Rice: From a sports standpoint, I’d say one of them would definitely be winning the national championship this past year with my high school team. My freshman year, we started [the season] off, and we definitely weren’t nationally ranked. We weren’t even winning our league. And to now to be national champions, to be playing on ESPN, it was a moment of huge growth and I was super proud of where we got.

Sahlman: Pretty much the highlighted memories that I can think of are athletic achievements. It’s just been non-stop. My favorite memory would be winning the Running Lane National Championships this last year with my team. We went 1-2-3-6 for our top four and it was just cool to share that with them. To have the top three runners in the nation on the same team was pretty cool.

What are your favorite subjects in school?

Rice: My favorite subject is history.

Sahlman: My favorite class I took was a photography class my sophomore year.

What are your go-to karaoke songs?

Sahlman: I don’t do karaoke (laughs).

Rice: I’m not a huge karaoke person either, but maybe “Free Mind” by Tems.

Sahlman: I’m not really a huge music guy, I don’t know.

If there was a movie based on your life or career, who would play you?

Sahlman: Younger Leonardo DiCaprio.

Rice: Maybe Zendaya.

If there was a zombie apocalypse, who would be three pro athletes you would want on your team?

Sahlman: I’d pick some big football players (laughs).

Rice: (also laughs) Conor McGregor, LeBron James and Alex Morgan.

Sahlman: I’d probably have to go with Shaquille O’Neal, Jakob Ingebrigtsen and … I’ll go with Clay Matthews.

I’m surprised you didn’t just go with your teammates and run away from the zombies.

Sahlman: You said professional athletes! I would choose my brother. My brother’s crazy. … He’s an animal.

What are three words to describe your style on the track/court?

Rice: Energetic, competitive and attacker.

Sahlman: I’d have to go with fearless, determined and passionate.

Is there a charity or cause that either you’re involved in or you’d like to get involved with down the road?

Rice: One group that I work with is SportsMom Foundation, a local charity in Washington, D.C. and the DMV area. It’s a charity that helps serve underprivileged minorities, black girls, basically have access to training and basketball equipment and helps fund AAU teams because those are really expensive. It’s something that I donated the money we got for winning the award to.

Sahlman: I’m not currently part of a charity, but if I were to join, it would be animal shelters. I’m a big dog lover, animal lover, so if I were to help with anything it would definitely be that.

If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Rice: I would say to get out of my comfort zone a bit and take some risks. Don’t be afraid to fail.

Sahlman: I wouldn’t say anything to my younger self. I motivated myself through all these years. I developed the character that I am today. I would just let him make the same decisions I did and just be that person.

NIL education, resource platform launched to help navigate recruitment process

With variance in NIL rules state-by-state, Eccker Sports launched a platform to provide information and resources to recruits, families and coaches.

Regardless of stance on whether college athletes should be allowed to profit off name, image and likeness, one facet of the NIL debate is largely agreed upon from both sides: There’s uncertainty in the rules that govern athletes’ allowances, rules that lack structure and vary for high school recruits from state to state.

As it currently stands across the country, there’s widespread variability, with seven states permitting athletes to profit off their name and likeness, 17 states considering changing bylaws and 26 states prohibiting it. The inconsistency adds extra difficulties in recruiting because athletes must know how signing a deal that guarantees college money could affect their high school eligibility.

In Texas, for instance, NIL deals are not allowed for high school athletes. And that restriction — and potentially its lack of clarity in Texas — played a role in the No. 1 football recruit in the class of 2022, Quinn Ewers, skipping his senior year of high school in favor of enrolling at Ohio State early and signing an NIL deal reportedly worth $1.4 million.

“I do think that there’s going to be some lawmakers at some point that are probably talking about it, but it’s going to take years,” said Vandegrift (Texas) High School head coach Drew Sanders. “…Parents want to make sure that they’re not doing anything that would get them in trouble eligibility-wise … This is all brand-new for everybody, so I have really zero experience with this. As a coach, I’m not really sure where to steer them to.”

Uncertainty in the immediate wake of sports legislation is nothing new, whether league-specific like the NFL’s concussion protocol or broad, widespread changes like Title IX.

Ten months since the passage of the NIL policy, the aftermath perhaps most closely mirrors that of the NCAA’s mid-1980s adoption of Prop 48, which mandated a minimum for high school grades and college entrance exams scores. Today, it’s a standard model. But when it was passed, it was controversial.

“It threw the entire market into a tailspin because it really changed the way the NCAA ruled on eligibility,” said Randy Eccker, a longtime figure in the sports digital media and technology landscape. “It completely changed the dynamic, but nobody took the time to go in and educate the high school market on what it meant to them and how to do it.”

While the implementation of Prop 48 lacked the resources for affected athletes, Eccker hopes to lead the charge in this next wave of sports ecosystem education. His platform Eccker Sports announced on Monday the launch of an educational services platform that will target high school students, coaches, teachers and administrators with resources including video curriculum, state-by-state information, tools for coaches to educate their communities and a network of legal, financial and tax experts.

The website is the exclusive high school partner of Game Plan, a platform with partnerships at the collegiate and professional level that provides learning resources, career planning and other developmental programs to athletes.

Pricing for the Eccker Sports resource hub varies state to state, Eccker said.

“Fast-forward even 10 years and this will be a normal part of the athletic landscape and the athletic education landscape, but today, when we’ve gone in and talked to coaches and administrators at the high school level, there’s a lot of fear and trepidation because it’s so new,” Eccker said.

The need for education on NIL is more expansive than finding a deal without affecting high school eligibility. Chuck Schmidt, Vice President and Executive Director of High School for Playfly Sports and the former COO of the Arizona Interscholastic Association, said that high schoolers whose parents’ jobs take them to different states might be unexpectedly affected. Tax obligations must be outlined for athletes. Athletes and families who see a chance for an influx of money but don’t know the laws could be exploited, whether by signing with someone who isn’t qualified, agreeing to have large percentages of money taken by the agent, or accidentally signing a deal to grant likeness to a brand in perpetuity without realizing the long-term implications.

Athletes’ rights took an enormous step forward with the passage of NIL allowances. Still, the lack of structure at a national level is creating confusion and potential long-term, unforeseen consequences. Eccker and Tim Prukop, the Chief Commercial Officer of the Eccker Sports resource hub, hope the new platform can help athletes and families build effective NIL strategies.

“NIL is just thrown around how great it is for kids to be able to do that, but there’s always something else that starts developing after decisions are made,” Schmidt said. “It’s an environment where every state has its own traditions, law, state law and that culture. Education … is going to be very critical to the success of what’s about to come.”

Top shots from the McDonald’s All American Basketball Games

Dereck Lively II and others put on an incredible show at Wintrust Arena.

The top high school basketball players in the country took to the hardwood in Chicago for the 2022 McDonald’s All American Games, and as expected, with such talented rosters—in all the lineups—the highlights hit all night long.

When the final buzzer sounded, the East topped the West in both matchups—95-75 for the girls; 102-75 for boys—with Kiki Rice and Gabriela Jaquez earning Co-MVP’s of the girls game while Dariq Whitehead received the honor in the boys game.

It was high-flying and fun, and nice to see the game back after a two-year hiatus.

Here are some of the top shots captured from all the action at Wintrust Arena.

Related: See the latest USA TODAY Sports Super 25 high school basketball rankings

2022 GEICO High School Basketball Nationals: Boys and Girls brackets are set

Top programs and talent will compete at the prestigious basketball tournament.

College fan bases and teams aren’t the only ones getting excited this week over brackets—now that the fields have been set, much of the high school-hardwood buzz shifts focus to the 2022 GEICO Nationals.

Eight boys teams and five girls teams will compete in the bracket-style tournament, beginning March 31 at Suncoast Credit Union Arena (Fort Meyers, Fla.). And as expected, both fields are loaded with talent for the tip-off, which keeps up with the longstanding distinction the tourney has showcased since its inception in 2009.

Here’s a look at the seeds for both brackets.

Latest Boys Super 25:

USA TODAY Sports Super 25 high school basketball rankings

High School Sports Awards ‘Rapid Fire’ with Arizona basketball commit Maya Nnaji

Meet the 5-star prospect headed to Arizona in 2022.

Five-star basketball recruit Maya Nnaji sat down with USA TODAY High School Sports Awards‘ Randy Buffington to chat about her basketball journey, from prepping her next stop—the Arizona Wildcats—to her 1-on-1 games back in the day with her brother, current Denver Nuggets power forward Zeke Nnaji.

Check out the latest edition of “Rapid Fire” below:

Want to nominate an athlete for the 2022 High School Sports Awards?
Make sure to follow along on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

2022 Naismith Trophy high school girls Player and Coach of the Year finalists announced

The finalists for the 2022 girls high school basketball Naismith Player of the Year and Coach of the Year were announced Tuesday.

The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced the five finalists for the Naismith high school girls basketball Player of the Year trophy and girls Coach of the Year honors Tuesday.

The finalists for player of the year are Grandview (Colo.) forward and Stanford commit Lauren Betts, Winton Woods (Ohio) point guard and Oregon commit Chance Gray, Homestead (Ind.) wing and UConn commit Ayanna Patterson, Sidwell Friends School (Washington D.C.) point guard and UCLA commit Kiki Rice, and Parkway (La.) junior guard Mikaylah Williams. Williams is the lone junior finalist.

Sidwell Friends School’s Tamika Dudley, Saint John Vianney’s (N.J.) Dawn Karpell, Etiwanda’s (Calif.) Stan Delus, DeSoto’s (Texas) Andrea Robinson and Hopkins High School’s Tara Stars round out the coach of the year finalists.

“These finalists represent the nation’s top high school girls players and coaches who have enjoyed remarkable success this season, through their play on the court or their leadership from the sidelines,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “The final few weeks of this season will be extremely competitive among the candidates as it always is, which makes narrowing this list down to one winner for each award an exciting challenge for our voters.” 

“Jersey Mike’s salutes the top five candidates for the Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Girls Trophy. We are proud to be associated with these incredibly talented high school basketball players,” said Rich Hope, chief marketing officer, Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems, Inc. “We also congratulate the five coaches nominated for National High School Girls Coach of the Year for their extraordinary dedication.” 

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