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As Mekhayia Moore accepted her MVP award at the 2022 Texas state tournament, her basketball trajectory appeared limitless. The unmistakable star of Brownsboro High School’s state championship team — “Our offensive plan was to get the ball to Mekhayia and everybody else get out the way,” her coach said —collegiate stardom was well within Moore’s reach.

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Few knew, as Moore accepted her MVP plaque, that she had made the decision to end her basketball journey.

“Basketball has been my entire life since I was eight,” Moore said. “I missed vacations with my family, I missed hanging out with friends, I missed a lot.

“I just wanted to be a normal student.”

Moore’s journey to normalcy took her to Texas Christian University where she focused on her pre-med studies as a molecular biology major.

Then her college life, after a year and a half, took an abnormal turn last week — in Norman, Oklahoma —when Moore found herself checking into a Big 12 game as a member of the TCU women’s basketball team.

“Oh, my gosh,” Moore remembers thinking to herself as her name was called to enter the game. “This is really happening.”

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TCU guard Mekhayia Moore (center) looks on during a timeout against Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma on Feb. 7.

TCU Athletics

It happened, for Moore, because of injuries to the TCU program. After starting the season with 14 straight wins and a No. 23 ranking, TCU was suddenly left with six players — four who could play with no restrictions—that led to the team forfeiting two games in mid-January.

As the team faced a crossroads, Moore was, for the most part, oblivious while enjoying the time she spent with friends going to dinner and movies and, “basically doing what every college student does.” The college life was everything Moore imagined when the Brownsboro, Texas, native was accepted to TCU as part of the school’s prestigious Chancellor’s Scholars Program.

“She was a great student, and she was excited to earn that academic scholarship,” said Jeremy Durham, her coach at Brownsboro. “But I was really pushing her to play college basketball because she was also a phenomenal player.”

A phenomenal player who shined at multiple positions.

Need a big rebound? Moore grabbed it. A big shot? Moore drained it. Moore’s performance in the state championship game where she played her typical three positions — 19 points and 14 rebounds — helped Brownsboro win its first girls state basketball title in school history.

Then Moore pulled a Barry Sanders, opting to leave the game in what appeared to be her prime. While she occasionally went to the gym and got up shots by herself in her first year and a half as a college student, she hadn’t played in a game as simple as 3-on-3 in that span.

And had no desire to do so.

Then her AAU coach sent her a flier announcing TCU’s open tryouts in an attempt to salvage the season derailed by injuries. That flier, announcing open tryouts on Jan. 18 and 19, was sent out on the afternoon of Jan. 17, just hours after it was announced that the game that night as well as the Jan. 20 game were forfeited.

The parent of one of Moore’s high school teammates emailed the TCU coaching staff, writing “You have a kid on campus who had a lot of honors as a basketball player in high school.”

Moore, initially, was uninterested.

“I texted my AAU coach and told her I was rusty, and I wasn’t about to go out there and embarrass myself,” Moore said. “And then I changed my mind. I decided to do the tryouts to have some fun.”

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TCU guard Mekhayia Moore is one of four walk-on players who joined the Horned Frogs in February.

In between the “rusty” and “have some fun” moments was Moore’s trip to the gym to see if she still had it. On the evening day the flier went out she found herself in the gym with other students who were also intrigued by the rare opportunity to walk-on to a major college team.

“We played a few quick games and I was winded and out of shape because I hadn’t played in a year and a half,” Moore said. “But while playing with them was when I changed my mind.”

The tryouts were held over two days with about 40 women, most of whom considered their competitive days of basketball over. Candidates were observed shooting and put through various drills before the women played pickup.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what they were looking for,” Moore said. “I was nervous that the entire team would be there watching us, and I’m glad they weren’t.”

The next day, Moore got an email from one of the coaches asking for her high school coaches’ contact information.

“They asked about Mekhayia, and what kind of kid she was,” Durham said. “When they told me they were going to offer her a spot, I was happy for her. She’s special, and nothing that she accomplishes would ever surprise me.”

When the TCU coaching staff called Moore into a meeting, she still didn’t know where the journey was leading her.

“I’m thinking, ‘oh my gosh, I’m sitting in front of the coaches of this team,’ ” Moore said. “I haven’t been that nervous for an interview since my Chancellor’s Scholar interview, which is the most nervous I’ve ever been.”

Four women made the team: Sarah Sylvester, a sophomore who played on the volleyball team; Ella Hamlin, a TCU freshman who turned down several D-II offers to study nursing at TCU; Piper Davis, who helped her team win a state title in Idaho; and Moore.

“These four young ladies said, ‘whatever we need to do to help the team, let us know,’ ” said Mark Campbell, TCU’s head coach after his team’s recent win over UCF. “This is a dream come true to have an opportunity to be part of a college basketball team.”

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TCU guard Mekhayia Moore runs upcourt against Oklahoma on Feb 7. in Norman, Oklahoma.

TCU Athletics

The first practice for Moore…let’s just say it wasn’t as second nature as riding a bicycle.

“These girls are fast, these girls are D-I athletes and I’m a year and a half without basketball,” Moore said. “It’s gotten better and everyone on the team has been supportive.”

Also supportive have been family and friends who have rolled out to games — 20 deep at times — since Moore joined the team.

“They’re all wearing matching shirts with my jersey number on it, they’re in the crowd yelling,” Moore said. “And they’re loving it.”

On the night Moore played in her first game at Oklahoma — the last two minutes of a road loss— her posse bombarded her cell phone with videos of her grand entrance.

“At times, I really can’t believe this is happening,” Moore said. “It’s an amazing feeling. It’s surreal.”

Enough to persuade her to continue basketball after this unconventional occurrence where walk-ons were summoned to save a season?

“I don’t know what this means, really, so I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Moore said. “My goal is to just help this team with anything they need and to be one of the best supporters.”

A supporter still in disbelief about the revival of a career she thought she had put to rest.

“In that Oklahoma game, we were on the bench cheering and weren’t really expecting to go in even though the coaches tell us to be ready at all times,” Moore said. “Then it happened. It was amazing, and it’s a moment I’ll never forget.”

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By: Jerry Bembry
Title: Mekhayia Moore decided she no longer needed basketball. At TCU, the game needed her.
Sourced From: andscape.com/features/mekhayia-moore-decided-she-no-longer-needed-basketball-at-tcu-the-game-needed-her/
Published Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2024 16:40:57 +0000

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Nikola Jokic Shares His Thoughts On The NBA MVP Conversation

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Nikola Jokic Shares His Thoughts On The NBA MVP Conversation – originally posted on Sportslens.com

The end of the NBA regular season marks the close of the individual award races around the league. Many of the 2023–24 awards have long been locked up, at least based on their betting odds, and there are just one or two that still have to be decided. The odds for MVP are heavily in the favor of Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić, though the superstar doesn’t seem to buy in to any conversation regarding the honors.

Jokic Comments On The NBA MVP Discussion

It has been Jokic’s award to lose since Joel Embiid went down with an injury in late January. It would be the third time that he has earned the honor of being named the most valuable, as he has averaged a near triple-double yet again this season, and has his team in position for another deep playoff run.

During his post-game press conference following Denver’s big win over the Timberwolves on Wednesday, Jokic was asked about his thoughts on the MVP discussion happening as the season comes to a close:

I think the whole MVP conversation is getting out of control. I think I’m playing good basketball, the team is playing good basketball. If I win it, great. If I don’t win it, congrats to the other guy. I think there’s a lot of players playing really good basketball in the league.

Gilgeous-Alexander & Doncic Have Been The Other Candidates Lately

The other two players that have been garnering the most attention in MVP talks down the stretch have been Luka Dončić and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The latter has been in the conversation for much of the season, as the Thunder guard has led the league in scoring and has had his team at the top of the standings throughout the year.

Doncic has been arguably the best player in the league over the past couple of months. Not only has he been putting up impressive numbers, but his Mavericks have been on fire as of late, having won 16 of 18 to catapult into the top-5 in the West.

Jokic was the winner of the NBA MVP award in both 2021 and 2022, and there were some who believed that he should have taken home the hardware last season as well. Had be topped Embiid in 2023, he would be on the brink of an unprecedented fourth straight MVP win.

From Sportslens.com – NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB News, Rumors & Betting Picks

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By: Anthony R. Cardenas
Title: Nikola Jokic Shares His Thoughts On The NBA MVP Conversation
Sourced From: sportslens.com/news/nikola-jokic-shares-his-thoughts-on-the-nba-mvp-conversation/
Published Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2024 20:43:13 +0000

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Did you miss our previous article…
https://mansbrand.com/bulls-coach-billy-donovan-is-a-candidate-for-the-kentucky-head-coaching-job/

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Bulls Coach Billy Donovan Is A Candidate For The Kentucky Head Coaching Job

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Bulls Coach Billy Donovan Is A Candidate For The Kentucky Head Coaching Job – originally posted on Sportslens.com

College basketball is coming off of a weekend in which they owned the sports landscape. The women’s Final Four set viewership records and the men’s side saw UConn pull off back-to-back championships, but some of the biggest news came off of the court, when it was announced that John Calipari would be leaving Kentucky after spending the last 15 years as the head coach. There has already been plenty of speculation about who will take the high profile job, and Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has been one of the names most often floated.

Is The Bulls Head Coach A Candidate For Kentucky Job?

While he has been in the NBA ranks for the past nine years, most of Donovan’s success as a head coach came during his days at the college level. He is best known for being the head coach at the University of Florida from 1996 until 2015, a span that saw six Elite 8 appearances and back-to-back National Championships in 2006 and 2007.

But his first ever job as a coach of any kind came at Kentucky, where he worked as an assistant under Rick Pitino. So a connection between Donovan and the program exists, which make him one of the assumed leading candidates for the job.

Does Donovan Want To Head Back To The College Ranks?

Would he leave the Bulls and the NBA in order to move back down to the collegiate ranks? His name is brought up nearly every time there is a prestigious NCAA job opening, though this particular program might be more enticing to Donovan than openings in the past. But despite Chicago’s struggles this season, it appears that his job with the Bulls is safe, as he recently signed a multi-year extension with the team.

Kentucky can certainly offer more money, though, and as The Athletic reports, the Bulls likely won’t be interested in getting into a bidding war. They instead could be banking on the fact that coaching the Wildcats brings far more pressure than coaching the Bulls does, which may be a reason for the 58-year-old Billy Donovan to stay put in Chicago.

Other names that have been mentioned as possible Calipari replacements are Baylor head coach Scott Drew and Nate Oats of Alabama.

From Sportslens.com – NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB News, Rumors & Betting Picks

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By: Anthony R. Cardenas
Title: Bulls Coach Billy Donovan Is A Candidate For The Kentucky Head Coaching Job
Sourced From: sportslens.com/news/bulls-coach-billy-donovan-is-a-candidate-for-the-kentucky-head-coaching-job/
Published Date: Tue, 09 Apr 2024 15:18:30 +0000

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James Harden Can Reach These Two NBA Career Milestones During Final Week Of The Season

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James Harden Can Reach These Two NBA Career Milestones During Final Week Of The Season – originally posted on Sportslens.com

James Harden and the Los Angeles Clippers still have plenty to play for over the final four games of the regular season. While it is unlikely that they are unseated as the 4th seed in the Western Conference, they still have to stave off the surging Dallas Mavericks if they want to keep home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They’ll play back-to-back games against the Phoenix Suns to start the week, and Harden will be setting himself up to chase a couple of NBA career milestones.

Harden Is On The Doorstep Of Two NBA Milestones

He is one of the most statistically accomplished players that are active in the league today. He is #3 on the list of three-pointers made all time, and should be passing Ray Allen for the #2 spot early on in the 2024-25 season. He is 20th on the all-time scoring list as well, and should pass Kevin Garnett within the first few games of the next campaign as well.

But there are a couple of marks that he is threatening going into the final week of the season. The first, and the one that he is highly unlikely to reach, is the 26,000 points mark. Harden will enter the week needing 119 points to hit the milestone, which means that he would have to average 30 points per game over the final four, a total that he has reached just once this season while averaging 16.7 per. It is likely that he will eclipse the 26k points mark in the second or third game of next season.

The Steals Mark Feels More Achievable Over Final Week

But the steals milestone feels very achievable. Harden has a while to go until he is ranked in the top-25 all-time in number of steals in NBA history, coming in at #37. But he is coming up on a personal milestone in the category, as he needs just 3 steals during the final week of the season in order to hit 1,600 for his career. He may even pass Jason Terry for #36 on the list if he somehow nabs 7 defensive takeaways over the final four games, though that will likely come next season as well.

He has averaged better than one steal per game in essentially every season of his career, and 2023-24 has been no different. Harden is stealing 1.1 balls per game this year, and should be able to hit the 1,600 mark in his 4 games to wrap up the NBA season.

From Sportslens.com – NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB News, Rumors & Betting Picks

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By: Anthony R. Cardenas
Title: James Harden Can Reach These Two NBA Career Milestones During Final Week Of The Season
Sourced From: sportslens.com/news/james-harden-can-reach-these-two-nba-career-milestones-during-final-week-of-the-season/
Published Date: Mon, 08 Apr 2024 22:48:54 +0000

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