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Good morning. Our athletic careers were cut short,
not by injury, but by ability. These guys didn't let that happen.
Underdog Newsletter is a weekly email breaking down the
best underdog stories in sports – in 5 minutes or less. From high school to
the pros, they celebrate the longshots, rejects, and misfits beating the
odds and overcoming adversity. Get the next issue by signing
up here at jokermag.com.
In today's Sprint:
🏀 Straight to the pros
🏒 First-ever series
🏈 UCF gets a new coach
Trivia: Only three NBA players
were drafted first overall straight out of high school.
Which one of these guys was not?
The NBA minor league (known as the G League) kicked off its season last week
in a Florida-based bubble, with most of the NBA teams represented through
The crazy part?
The most interesting team isn’t even associated with an NBA organization.
Behold a new exhibition team: the G
The incentives: The Ignite was formed as an option
for high school prospects who want to forgo a season of college basketball
and head straight to professional ball. They’ll have the opportunity to...
Play for the Ignite
Earn salaries in the six-figures
Get mentored by NBA veterans
The roster: Headlining the Ignite are three future
NBA stars who held scholarship offers from top universities across the
Jalen Green: No. 2 prospect
Jonathan Kuminga: No. 4 prospect
Isaiah Todd: No. 20 prospect
So far, these guys have led the Ignite to an undefeated G League record
Looking ahead: In times past, high school
prospects either went to college or went overseas to play professionally
(think LaMelo Ball playing in Lithuania). Now, guys like Green, Kuminga, and
Todd have a legitimate in-country option to make money and prepare for life
in the NBA.
Will this become commonplace? We certainly think
so, at least for the top prospects. It strikes a good balance between going
straight to the NBA from high school and being forced to play collegiately
Adam Silver, the best commissioner of any pro sports league, continues to
innovate to provide a better product for both athletes and fans.
Staying in basketball, the NBA announced plans to hold the 3-point
competition and Skills Challenge during the All-Star pregame on March 7th,
and the Dunk Contest at halftime.
To relive the best Dunk Contest in recent memory, click here. Now, let’s get
to the games:
(23-5) Utah Jazz 134
vs. (18-10) Philadelphia 76ers 123
Despite huge games from Ben Simmons (42 pts, 9 reb, 12 ast) and
Tobias Harris (36 pts, 10 reb), the Jazz were able to overcome the
It’s important to note that the 76ers’ MVP-candidate Joel Embiid
missed the game with an injury.
(8-17) Washington Wizards 131 vs. (11-16) Houston Rockets 119
Bradley Beal (37 pts, 8 reb, 3 ast) did it all, outdueling former
teammate John Wall (29 pts, 11 ast) in his homecoming game and
acting as a ball boy
in the process.
(12-3) #16 Florida St. 81 vs. (15-4) #7 Virginia 60
The Seminoles cruised past the Cavaliers to win their 24th straight
ACC home game.
(19-2) #6 Stanford 63
vs. (12-5) #13 Oregon 61
Kiana Williams (20 pts, 5 ast) led the Cardinal past the Ducks in a
game that came down to the final minute.
(7-6-2) Arizona Coyotes 1 vs. (9-5-2) St. Louis Blues 0
In the first “seven-game series” of an NHL regular season, the
Coyotes had the last laugh after breaking the 3-3 tiebreaker.
Grizzlies (11-11) vs. Pelicans (11-15) - 7:00 ET on TNT
Nets (16-12) vs. Suns (17-9) - 10:00 ET on TNT
#20 Missouri (13-5) vs. #24 Georgia (12-8) - 6:30 ET on SECN
Florida (10-5) vs. #24 Arkansas (16-5) - 7:00 ET on ESPN2
Champions League - Round of 16:
Barcelona vs. PSG - 3:00 ET on CBS Sports
WATER COOLER TALK
🏈 UCF announced
the hiring of former Auburn coach Gus
Malzahn as their new head football coach. Malzahn called
it a “top-20 coaching job.”
🏈 Three-time Pro Bowler Vincent
Jackson was found dead in a hotel in Bradenton, Florida.
The police are still investigating at this time.
🏀 Anthony Davis will be reevaluated
in 2-3 weeks after aggravating his calf in Sunday's loss to Denver.
Until then, it's the LeBron show in LA.
🏀 Blake Griffin is expected to sit
as the Pistons explore
trade and buy-out options for the former All-Star forward.
🏀 Duke freshman Jalen Johnsonopted
out of the rest of the season. A projected lottery pick,
he’ll start preparing for the NBA draft as the Blue Devils look
likely to miss March Madness.
🎾 #3 Naomi Osaka cruised to the
Australian Open semifinals, setting up a massive match against
either #10 Serena Williams or #2 Simona Halep.
B. Kobe Bryant was the 13th overall pick in the
1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. Then, in a move that shaped the
league for the next twenty years, Charlotte traded Kobe to the Los Angeles