Athlete Spotlight: Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant!

Photo: Boxing News

“And the NEW!” 

Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant is the epitome of the type of athlete that parents hope their kids look up to. The 26 year-old boxer from Ashland City, TN is the current IBF Super Middleweight Champion of the World, but the path to this point in his career was far from seamless. Born and raised in Ashland City, I, too, have seen first hand, the struggle that most families in this town of 4,600 people (as of 2017) have had in their lives. It’s no secret that Cheatham County, specially Ashland City, is stereotyped consisting of the “blue-collar”, country, uneducated, drug infested, and the list goes on of degrading adjectives by surrounding counties in middle Tennessee. Caleb has embraced that. He has let this negative energy fuel him to want something better for himself, all while still being publicly proud of the town he grew up in. What are the chances of a kid from the “backwoods” that has one of the highest poverty rates, and also one of the highest total drug overdoses per capita in Tennessee, making it out not only to just be successful, but to be the Champion of the Boxing World? I would say very little…

Life tends to test the best of us, and Caleb has received more than his fair share. In January of 2015, Caleb had to do what no father should ever have to do, bury his baby daughter Alia who suffered from more medical complications in her cut-too-short life than most people do in a lifetime. I can’t express the raw emotion and love Caleb had for his daughter in words with the detail it deserves, so the video below is Caleb Plant himself describing just how much she still means to the Champ.

 

 

Caleb plant is the most well-spoken person in the sport of boxing today. He’s humble, but confident. He demands success, but understands the grind. He has worked harder for his accomplishments than anyone else in the sport. Caleb makes no excuses, handles adversity with dignity, respect, class, and always perseveres. I’m not here to knock the leadership and heroism of other super athletes, but how is Caleb Plant not who you want your son’s and your daughter’s to look up to?  There’s nothing worse for an opponent than getting out worked before the main event mentally and physically, and then stepping in the ring only to be dominated in a humiliating fashion. Caleb Plant absolutely knows he’s the best, and he is here to let the world know it.

 

 

Currently, the 6’1″ 168 lbs. Champion is 18-0-0 winning over 50% of his fights by knock-out. Plant is traditionally an orthodox fighter, but has the speed and hand quickness to knock you out upside down, on his head, and blind-folded if he so pleased. His most recent victory was in the Title fight that also featured Jose Uzcategui on January 13th, 2019 which is a day that I’m sure neither Plant or Ashland City will ever forget. Caleb has proved the right to his moniker of “Sweet Hands” by landing 31% of punches thrown in his Title Fight against Jose, according to CampuBox statistics. Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant will soon be tested to defend his newly acquired belt, but with his determination, drive, heart, and Angel Alia looking over him you best believe he will be ready!

Player Spotlight: Sergio Romo

Photo: Marlins Instagram

It was a mid-Summer day in the Bay Area when a young 25-year old stud struck out Dan Uggla and Jorge Cantu of the, then, Florida Marlins and recorded his first career save. That young gun was Sergio Romo, who signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Miami Marlins this spring. Romo has come a long way since his first save, which has included 3 World Series rings and the nickname “EL MECHÓN” with his 2008-2016. He also had a stint with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017 that was cut short when the Dodgers designated him for assignment, which ultimately resulted in Romo being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. Sergio would remain with the Rays through the 2018 season, where he made his first career start on May 19, 2018 pitching a scoreless inning against the Angels. He would also start the next day becoming the first pitcher to start on consecutive days since Zack Greinke did so in 2012. Romo would also record his 100th career save late in the 2018 season. Before joining the Marlins this spring, Sergio brands a 38-31 W-L record, a 2.86 ERA, 109 saves, and 632 K’s through 562.2 IP in 643 games.

Sergio Romo appears to be in the mentor role for the young pitching staff of the Marlins, and the rest of the team for that matter. With his exciting personality and solid pitching, Romo looks to lead a young Marlins staff to their maximum potential with young guys like Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Trevor Richards, Riley Ferrell, Jarlin Garcia, and Jordan Yamamoto. This role also comes with a lot of responsibility, and even Romo gets nervous and excited for playing the game he loves.

Sergio Romo brings a veteran presence to a young Marlins team that finished the year 63-98. Romo is a cast iron skillet that has been well seasoned for a decade among a brand spanking new set of pots and pans that your momma just ordered with your student discounted Amazon Prime. In response to the lowest attendance in the majors by almost 200,000, the Marlins look to form a winning culture with Derek Jeter at the helm. With a revamped organization including stadium renovations, uniform and logo changes, and a dedication to improve the fan experience, the Fish plan to resurge the 305 with this exciting young ball club.

 

 

 

Why BASKETBALL will be the World’s most Loved Sport in the Near Future

Photo: (Yahoo!)

For the history of humanity, soccer (futbol) has been hands down the world’s most popular sport and it really has not even been close, that is until now. Basketball is quickly growing into a sport that is positioned to challenge soccer for the throne. You may be thinking this is because of reasons such as the Colin Kaepernick in the NFL, or the rather boring nature of an MLB game, but neither are the true reason behind surge of basketball fever… It’s China! It may not seem obvious, but its strictly a factor of population. China accounts for 1.37 of the 7.7 billion human beings on Earth which is nearly 20% of the entire population.

 

 

Personally, I always assumed that if you did not live in the U.S., then you were mainly a fan of soccer, but this couldn’t be any further from the truth. This summer I was fortunate enough to travel to various cities in China including Shanghai, and Beijing. What I found out was that the people of China have a tremendous love for basketball, specifically the NBA. I remember walking past the blacktop courts one hot summer day where the temperatures were reaching near 100°F, and there was ALWAYS someone out there getting buckets. By 5 O’Clock the courts were absolutely filled to the brim with hundreds of people playing pickup. Me being me, I thought I would go out there and absolutely dominate and they would see me as the equivalent of Kobe or Jordan… But boyyyy let me tell you the Chinese can straight ball. There is no lack of skill, and no lack of heart when it comes to the blacktop courts in Shanghai!

I asked my fried Liu (native to Beijing) why the people of China had such admiration and love for the game of basketball, and he answered so brilliantly that now it is clear as day. Liu said because the population density in China is so high, the governemnt has to find ways to encourage an active lifestyle, but do so in a cost/space efficient way. Liu asked me how large a soccer, or football field was and then proceeded to ask if I thought either field would fit anywhere in downtown Shanghai.. my answer was obviously no, and then Liu finished by stating that basketball courts are EVERYWHERE in Shanghai because you can fit 6 courts on the same amount of land that you can fit 1 soccer field. so instead of 22 people playing 11v11 soccer, they have 20 people playing half-court pickup totaling 120 people all at once. This was an eye opening revelation to me. There was even a basketball court in the sacred Forbidden City in Beijing!

Photo: (Flickr)

As populations grow (especially in Asia), and social media slowly gets less regulated by Chinese governments expect to see the NBA become the world’s most watched sports organization. The players will follow the money (which China is more than willing to pay a washed up NBA player), and the fans will follow the players. Basketball is an international sport that connects all kinds of races, ethnicity, cultures, and minds with each other, and will continue in a positive and growing way!

 

Twerkin’ Season in Tennessee!

Photo: Sports Illustrated 

 

Going into the 2017-2018 NFL season there was a lot of hope, and speculation that the Tennessee Titans were the team to beat in the AFC South. Sadly, the team finished just 3rd in the South behind the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans with a record of 9-7-0. All season the problem was the offense, as the defense gave up only 18.9 PPG, which was 3rd best in the NFL. So, what’s the problem? Was the problem our O-line being over-rated and all talk… is it Marcus…. or is it something else? The answer is plain and simple. It all comes down to talent. The Tennessee Titans have an offense full of guys who are actually really good football players, but not one that scratches the surface of being great outside of an aging Delanie Walker. For some reason, management feels the need to sign the richest O-Line contract in history by signing Taylor Lewan to a $16 million deal, but they are reluctant to go get a proven difference maker. If the Titans want to win in a division that is only getting stronger, they are going to have to make a big-time move this off-season. What the Titans truly need is to bring the best WR/touchdown celebrator in Antonio Brown, and make it Twerkin’ Season in Tennessee!

 

 

 

With Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers expected to part ways, this presents a prime opportunity for The Tennessee Titans to get a proven play-maker at the WR position that can tremendously help Marcus Mariota. Last season, Brown raked in 1,297 receiving yards, which is 406 more yards than the leading Titans receiver Corey Davis compiled. Brown had a total of 15 TD’s which is 1 shy of the Titans entire team combined who only had a miserable 16 receiving touchdowns all season. Davis and Brown could be a deadly duo if used correctly. Corey Davis is a 6’3″ 209 lbs. strong outside receiver, while brown can play literally every other spot on the field. Seriously, the dude is so versatile. Brown could line up outside, inside, or even in the wildcat. The Titans need to find a way to balance their offense, so they don’t have to ride the tank Derrick Henry every game, and Antonio Brown would do just that. Can you imagine the highlight reel Derrick Henry would have if defenses had to account from Antonio Brown at all times and could not just stack the box on every play?

 

 

 

 

The Titans GM Jon Robinson, from good ole’ Obion County Tennessee, has shown he can bring in big names like DeMarco Murray in 2016 to help this franchise win. With the defense developing young talent like FS Kevin Byard from MTSU, and CB Adoree’ Jackson out of USC, this team will be very one-sided if it is not careful. If Marcus Mariota had a receiver like Brown to go along with Davis, then he would not be tasked with doing so much, and would hopefully avoid the injury bug for a season or two. As of now, Marcus has to evade pass rushers on just about every play due to an under-performing offensive line. This is why the fit between the Titans and Antonio Brown is so perfect. Brown is arguably the best wide-receiver in the entire NFL at improvising which the Titans so desperately need.

 

 

Antonio Brown still has plenty left in the tank to show that “Business is STILL Booming” in Nashville which is one of the biggest booming cities in America. Upon arrival, he would not only be WR1, but he would also be one of the most beloved athletes in a city that is dying for sports success. In 2018, the Tennessee Titans experienced the 2nd lowest average attendance in the past decade, which is troubling for the franchise. Fans familiar with the city understand how the locals have taken to, and embraced the Nashville Predators due to recent success.. and the fans would do the exact same for the Titans if they were to take the next step and make some noise in the NFL Playoffs. The Tennessee Titans need Antonio Brown, and Antonio Brown needs a fresh start somewhere he would not have to take a backseat to anyone. Come on Titans, make this happen!

 

 

 

Player Spotlight: Kevin Byard

Murfreesboro, Tennessee to Nassau, Bahamas, first game to final. Kevin Byard finished his 4 year starter career at Middle Tennessee State University at the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl with 5 tackles and 1 pass defense. KB finished his time with the Blue Raiders with 318 tackles and 19 interceptions for 377 yards and 4 TDs. He currently holds MTSU’s all-time interception record and led Conference USA in INTs in his final 2 years. Despite having a great career, Byard was not invited to the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. Although he was not invited, KB had a great Pro Day. Here’s how he compared to the other defensive backs that attended the combine:

KB was just the 29th out of Middle Tennessee State to be selected in the NFL Draft. The second highest taken Blue Raider behind Tyrone Calico, who was drafted 60th overall by, coincidentally, the Tennessee Titans in 2003. Calico’s career ended early after just 2 years with the Titans due to a knee injury that would force the Titans to cut him in 2005. Byard, on the other hand, has had an electric start to his NFL career earning numerous honors within first 3 years, including First Team All-Pro(2017), Pro Bowl Selection(2017), and 2018 NFL Top 100(80). He has also finished in the top 10 for interceptions in the league, leading the league in 2017 with 8 and 7th in 2018 with 4. Byard also received a nod for 2nd team All-Pro via Pro Football Focus. On top of this, he has also chalked up a 66-yard Passing TD to Dane Cruikshank against the Texans in 2018. 

There have been many comparisons for KB around the world of sports, but I think Byard is going to be a name all to himself. He’s got incredible football IQ, ball-hawking skills that are unmatched, and one of the speedier safeties in the league. As mentioned earlier, Byard was ranked at #80 out of the NFL’s Top 100 players, ranking 5th at Safety behind Earl Thomas, Harrison Smith, Micah Hyde, and Kam Chancellor. Here’s how KB stacks up against those in front of him the past two years.

KB Comparison Snip

In my opinion, Kevin Byard is arguably the best Safety in football, and the only thing stopping him from being the unanimous top safety around the league is KB leading his defense to a deep playoff run. Some may call it a bold prediction, but I think it’s well deserved for the young stud who enters the season at the ripe age of 26 years young. Even Byard has some things to say about others not giving him the credit he deserves including the Pro Bowl snub this past season.

Keep proving them wrong young fella. Byard looks to build on an incredible start to his career as the Titans enter their second season with Mike Vrabel at the helm. After falling from the playoff picture in the last game of the season, KB and the Black ‘n Blue Crew look to build off of their Top 10 rank last year and champion the division for the first time since 2008. 

Featured Image: Dallas Morning News

 

Ranking and Grading the Bengals last 10 draft picks

Image via Elsa/Getty Images

With Draft season underway, let’s take a look at the Bengals last 10 1st round picks and rank them best to worst

Grading system:

Pick after: If player is better -5 points, if player is worse. +5 points, if equal, 0 points.

Need: The teams need of Position (max 10 points)

Production: Stats/play on field (max 10 points)

Still on team: if yes, +5 points, if no -5 points (has to be at least entering 4th year in the league to qualify if this grade.)

Value: Player’s talent in college plus where he is drafted (max 10 points)

10th: 2015, 21st overall, Cedric Ogbuehi | OT | Texas A&M
Pick after: Bud Dupree (-)
Need: 7/10
Production: 2/10
Still on team: yes (not expected to be)
Value: 7/10
Overall grade: 6 out of 409th: 2017,
 9th overall, John Ross | WR | Washington
Pick after: Patrick Mahomes (-)
Need: 8/10
Production: 5/10
Still on team: Yes
Value: 4/10
Overall grade: 12 out of 40
8th: 2010, 21st overall, Germaine Gresham | TE | Oklahoma
Pick after: Demaryius Thomas (-)
Need: 9/10
Production: 7/10
Still on team: no
Value: 7/10
Overall grade: 13 out of 40

 

7th: 2014, 24th overall, Darqueze Dennard | CB | Michigan State

Pick after: Jason Verrett (-)
Need: 6/10
Production: 7/10
Still on team: yes
Value: 6/10

Overall grade: 19 out of 40

 

6th: 2018, 21st overall, Billy Price | C | Ohio State

Pick after: Rashaan Evans (=)
Need: 9/10
Production: 6/10
Still on team: yes
Value: 6/10

Overall grade: 21 out of 40

 

5th: 2012, 17th overall, Dre Kirkpatrick | CB | Alabama

Pick after: Melvin Ingram (-)
Need: 7/10
Production: 8/10
Still on team: yes
Value: 7/10

Overall grade: 22 out of 40

4th: 2012, 27th overall, Kevin Zeitler | OG | Wisconsin

Pick after: Nick Perry (+)
Need: 8/10
Production: 8/10
Still on team: no
Value: 8/10

Overall grade: 24 out of 40

 

3rd: 2013, 21st overall, Tyler Eifert | TE | Notre Dame

Pick after: Desmond Trufant (=)
Need: 7/10
Production: 8/10
Still on team: yes
Value: 7/10

Overall grade: 27 out of 40

 

2nd: 2016, 24th overall, William Jackson III | CB | Houston

Pick after: Artie Burns (+)
Need: 7/10
Production: 8/10
Still on team: yes
Value: 7/10

Overall Grade: 32 out of 40

 

1st: 2011, 4th overall, A.J. Green | WR | Georgia

Pick after: Patrick Peterson (=)
Need: 10/10
Production: 10/10
Still on team: yes
Value: 9/10

Overall Grade: 34 out of 40

Clearly A.J. Green has been the best pick out of the last 10 and certainly one of the best Bengals selections ever, as he continues his Hall of Fame career.

William Jackson has surprised many with his lockdown ability despite missing his entire rookie year but so far this pick looks like a good one.

Although Eifert carries the dreaded “injury prone” label around with him, his talent and red zone threat ability make this one one of Cincy’s better picks. When healthy, he produces on the field and creates space in the middle.

Kevin Zeitler had an underrated stint in Cincinnati and we only realized that after he was gone. The Bengals front office failed to real in their former first-round guard in free agency just a few years ago and his absence is severely missed.

As inconsistent as Dre is, he still holds together a vastly underrated secondary in Cincinnati and is apart of their culture. Dre has made many highlight real INTs, it’s just a matter of staying healthy and being consistent while he is in his second contract in the queen city.

Their most recent pick, Billy Price struggled in his first year in stripes but that’s expected for almost any first-year linemen. He had his moments and showed that he has a promising future.

Impending free agent, Darqueze Dennard has proven to be a solid nickel corner. Yet he hasn’t exactly fit his first-round selection so far. Still, he should be brought back to the Bengals to keep a veteran secondary together.

Germaine Gresham had his moments but never really flashed in Cincinnati. He was reliable but inconsistent and eventually just not what The Bengals needed.

The speedster John Ross has had a frustrating start to his career but he does open up the field for other and is a sneaky red zone target with 7 Touchdowns this season and 5 of them from inside the 20 yard line. I expect him to eventually move up on this list as he continues to grow.

Cedric Ogbuehi, add him to the list of Bengals first round busts. The best thing to say here is that we have Cordy Glenn. We wish Ogbuehi the best on his future.

Overall, the last 10 selections have had their Ups and Downs but fortunately its been mostly Ups, along with a couple newer picks who can’t really be labeled hits or misses yet. Who should the Bengals pick this year to add to the list?

What’s Next for the Magic?

By Payton Beasley

 

 

This very same question is asked at least 10,000 times per year by an Orlando Magic fan. That could be due to the team is nearly always finishing at the bottom of the league. This year just so happen to be a different case. You could credit the GM, John Hammon, as he was assigned as the GM in 2017, and has made 2 crucial draft picks.

Mo Bamba and Jonathan Issac

Most would say Hammond is a fantastic GM. Both Mo Bamba and J two draft picks were very bold but also beneficial. Besides those two, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Vucevic… there isn’t much else! The teams’ bench play has shown to be an absolute atrocity. Now, without further holdup, lets look into how the Magic can fix EVERYTHING.

Find Key Players in Free Agency

This year’s free agency class is HUGE, and with names such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, you MUST, and I mean MUST, grab at least one key asset. Here is who the Magic must acquire for the team to become competitive again:

SF/PF Kevin Durant: 4 yrs/ 145m

I know.. I know, this is a LOT of money. If anybody could potentially afford this, it would be the magic. With this signing, there would not be a whole lot of cap space left.. But do the Magic need that? They already have Mo Bamba at center, Johnathan Issac as forward, positionless Aaron Gordon (will be explained), and not a great SG. That’s where their remaining cap comes from..

SG Eric Bledsoe 3yrs/75m

Eric Bledsoe is such a hit-or-miss player it’s not even funny. I love the guy, but man, he puts up 9 points and then explodes for 32… but whatever. He has been what it has taken for the Bucks to be good. Giannis has done tons, but Bledsoe has been his Robin. Now with this, a starting five of Bamba, Durant, Bledsoe, Gordon, and Issac. Stay tuned.

#2: The Draft…

The season has yet to even conclude yet but am I high on some prospects. The one I have the most remarks on is Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson from Kentucky. Standing at 6’6 while being a shooting guard could develop into a huge scorer… but a bust also. He tends to score from his brain instead of his physics, which could be a potential issue. The jumper on this dude is unheard of. Reminds me of a poor man’s Curry.

#3: Cut The Contracts!

Evan Fournier, SG

Fournier is a great player, don’t get me wrong. He is just so boom-or-bust it’s not even funny. The team should either trade away Fournier or waive him. Either way, that $17 million salary is just unbelievable for a player of his quality.

Terrance Ross, SG

Ross has proven to be not worth the $10 million we owe him. Cut him or trade him away. In my opinion, The Magic should not look to be keeping this guy around.

Timofey Mozgov, C

The best plan for the Magic is to either trade or cut Mozgov, because there is no way a 32-year-old center should be garnering $16 million a year for a player I have never heard of. Next.

DJ Augustin, PG

30 years old and seven million we can gain back by trading or releasing him sounds like a done deal.

Now, you may say, who would we sign back in place of these four?

Here are Four Cheaper Players the Magic Should Pursue:

Kent Bazemore, ATL

Although Bazemore does have an unconventional jumper, he does have the chance to be a great lockdown defender like Patrick Beverley. Speaking of Beverley…

Patrick Beverley, LAC

Beverley is a great lockdown defender, and if anything the Magic need, it is some form of defense. We can get him and Bazemore in return for half of what we are paying for Ross and Fournier.

Marshon Brooks, CHI

A actually great bench player, Brooks has the skillset to excel on a weak Magic bench. Him in Chiraq did not seem to get along because he never got time. In Orlando, the time for him on the bench is his to lose..

Allen Crabbe, BKN

Crabbe is a great player. He is one of piece of Brooklyn and he could be a benfical piece in Orlando. Next..

Luol Deng, MIN

Deng is very old, yes, but he is averaging 15 points a game for Minnesota! I mean, we could bring him back for a cheap contract to Orlando, and he could be a great replacement.

Jamychal Green, LAC

Green is a intriguing prospect. Not because he isn’t good, but because he 29 and we could grab him and have him put up 10 points a game off the bench consistently.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, BKN

Another Nets member, Hollis-Jefferson is a very great player for the Nets. The games I watch of the Nets (not many) he is very good. A intrguing player for ORL if we pay him.

Jake Layman, POR

I’ve heard about this guy. He has been sensational for Portland their last few games and maybe he could be great for us as well.

Enes Kanter, POR

Another Portland player, Kanter is a very good center we can grab. He is very weird… but thats okay. As long as we can maintain him and help him as a team, its good.

Greg Monroe, BKN

Monroe is a reliable bench player who can be brought to the Magic on a relatively cheap contract. Will we get him? Only time will tell.

Nene,HOU

Now now, I know, Nene is 37. But whatever dude. Nene is a BEAST. The man is putting up 12 points a game at 37. Get this man here however you can Orlando.

Nikola Vucveic, ORL

I know, this does not REALLY count. But it would be nice if we could retain him.

 

It’s All About Pride In the North!

Watch out America, because the spotlight in this years 2018-2019 Playoffs is going to be on our neighbors up North…The Toronto Raptors! Canadians may be known for being the nicest people on the planet, and would likely apologize even if YOU bumped into them on the street, but there is nothing “nice” about this years Raptors team lead by Kawhi Leonard. The Raptors of past have continuously came up short in the playoffs, but this team is just built differently. Let’s break down why there’s a good possibility you will be seeing Superstar Drake on the sidelines in the 6 facing off against the Warriors in this years NBA Finals.

The GM of the Raptors, Masai Ujiri, has guts and is not afraid to make BIG-TIME moves. We’ve seen Ujiri bring in huge names like Kawhi Leonard, Marc Gasol, Danny Green, and even Linsanity (Jeremy Lin) all for a chance to win the LeBron’less NBA East. Even if all of these players are just temporary rentals, Ujiri is trying to bring the deserving city of Toronto a Conference Championship this year, and give them the experience of playing in the NBA Finals. Ujiri could have pursed bigger named candidates in his job search after firing the well-respected coach in Dwane Casey, but he stuck to his gut and hired long-time assistant Nick Nurse.

The Raptors, in my opinion, have the BEST home court advantage in the NBA. These fans are loyal beyond belief, loud, and you can almost cook a plate of Canadian Bacon in the arena it gets so hot and tense in there! With LeBron out of the East, teams like the Bucks, Celtics, and Sixers are all gonna have a fair shot at the Finals, but the difference maker just might be the fans in Toronto. Scotiabank Arena holds 19,800 seats and you best believe every one of the will be filled come playoff time. Niagara Falls, the CN Tower, Drake, T-Mac, and Vince Carter…. Toronto has the heritage, has the celebrities, and has the attractions to be the “Main Attraction” in this years Playoffs. You can feel the intensity of the arena in this video….

Lastly, I can finally prove the myth that Kawhi Leonard is a robot! With the infamous laughing video, his quite personality, and dominate play Leonard has moved himself back into a Top 3 player in the world discussion. I don’t just think he is a robot, I believe he is a human super-calculator on the floor. I say this because if you watch Kawhi play you will see he is far from flashy, he’s not Usain Bolt on the court, he’s not Shaq in the paint…. but instead he almost methodically some how bobs-and-weaves himself to the exact spot he pre-planned to take a shot. Take in point his GAME WINNER last night against the Portland TrailblazersLeonardLowry, ***SIAKAM***, Gasol, Green, and Ibaka….. This franchise has a roster built for no other time than NOW. The Toronto Raptors are here ladies and gentleman and Kawhi is ready to feed the NBA East to the HUNGRY Raptors fans in Toronto!

Crunch Time: Cinderella Lookout! The Alabama Crimson Tide

(247Sports/Stuart McNair)

And just like that, it’s the best time of the year to be a sports fan! We’re finishing up the NBA regular season, the MLB is gearing up, the NHL is in will swing, and March Madness is set to arrive in a couple of weeks. Heading into Selection Sunday on March 17, 2019, we at TTSM would like to give you our predictions for potential Cinderella teams in the making. The first featured team has to be the Alabama Crimson Tide (17-11) who Joe Lunardi currently has sitting as a #11 seed in the West Region facing the #6 seed Villanova Wildcats (21-8).

 

 

The Crimson Tide are one of the most entertaining teams to watch in all of college basketball from a pure fan perspective. On offense the players cut with purpose, sprint to set big-time screens, and work hard to get their fellow teammates open which is every coaches dream. Defensively, the Crimson Tide embody their heart-filled coach Avery Johnson’s charismatic, and intense personality by tossing the term personal space out the window. The players are in your grill from the opening jump, and it translates to electric plays in the open court. Who doesn’t like seeing the team with the sickest hair in the NCAA flying up and down the court trying to tear the rim off?

 

 

Now, let’s get into personnel which has to start with youngest player entering D-1 to start the season, Kira Lewis Jr. Kira is a 17 year old phenom guard standing at 6’3″. This dude can flat out ball and his potential is scary. Lewis Jr. is currently averaging 14.3 PPG on 45% of the field which is mind boggling as there are seniors in this league not averaging numbers even close to his… If Alabama does make a run in this year’s tournament I can promise you Kira Lewis Jr. is a name that will steal the spotlight. Mix Kira’s youth with experienced players such as senior forward Donta Hall, Grad Student Avery Johnson Jr., and sophomore John Petty, and you have yourself a roster designed to make some noise when it really counts. I’d expect this Alabama Team to pick up right where alumni, and now Cleveland Cavaliers guard, Collin Sexton left off last year.

 

 

The Facts

The Crimson Tide are still going to need a strong end to the season, and to put up a good showing in the LOADED SEC tournament to safely secure their bid this year. They have quality wins against teams like #4 Kentucky Wildcats, Ole Miss Rebels, and a quality performance (still a loss) against #7 Tennessee Volunteers. The key to this team not only making the Big Dance, but being the next Cinderella team is continuing their relentless pressure filled defense and up’ing their team assists numbers from 12.5 per game to 15+ assists per game. IT’S MARCH MADNESS SEASON BABY!