Minor League, Major Changes
Daily Newsletters

Minor League, Major Changes

Nathan Baugh
Blake Wynveen
Ryan Marks
Nathan Baugh, Blake Wynveen, Ryan Marks
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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.
The 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.
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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?
  1. LeBron James
  2. Kobe Bryant
  3. Dwight Howard
  4. Kwame Brown

NBA
Remix to Ignition
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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 their affiliates.
The crazy part?
The most interesting team isn’t even associated with an NBA organization. Behold a new exhibition team: the G League Ignite.
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...
  1. Play for the Ignite
  2. Earn salaries in the six-figures
  3. Sign endorsements
  4. Get mentored by NBA veterans
The roster: Headlining the Ignite are three future NBA stars who held scholarship offers from top universities across the country:
  • 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 (4-0).
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 (or overseas).
Adam Silver, the best commissioner of any pro sports league, continues to innovate to provide a better product for both athletes and fans.

AROUND THE LEAGUES
All-Star Update
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 76ers.
  • 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.
NCAAM
(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.
NCAAW
(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.
NHL
(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.
Today's watchlist
NBA:
Grizzlies (11-11) vs. Pelicans (11-15) - 7:00 ET on TNT
Nets (16-12) vs. Suns (17-9) - 10:00 ET on TNT
NCAAM:
#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 Johnson opted 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.

TRIVIA ANSWER
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 Lakers.