Former NBA Stars Shine in Indianapolis at the BIG3

By Evan Kinser, June 23rd, 2019 5:09 pm EST


Images licensed by Getty Images and BIG3

The third season of Ice Cube’s BIG3 league made one of its first stops on Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis.

Following an impressive showing in Detroit the night before-14,235 fans made their way to Little Caesars Arena- the league is hoping for an even bigger showing today in Indy.

In Detroit, NBA fans were able to see some of the best players of the early 2000’s lace ‘em up for one more time with stars like Lamar Odom, Baron Davis, Cuttino Mobley, Josh Smith, and Gilbert Arenas all in attendance for Saturday’s games.

The way the BIG3 is set up is that half of the teams (six) will show up to a city on Saturday, and the remaining six will be playing the following day, equaling three games per city. Once a team reaches 25 points, then there will be a halftime break. Once a team scores 50 points, then they are crowned the winner.

The first game featured the Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson-led Triplets as well as the Andre Owens and Greg Oden-led Aliens. The star power went beyond the players, with coaches Nate “Tiny” Archibald (Aliens) and WNBA Legend Lisa Leslie (Triplets) leading the way for their respective teams.

The Aliens started the game out hot, going up 14-2 after former #1 overall NBA Draft pick Greg Oden threw down some monster dunks and former #1 overall BIG3 Draft pick Andre Owens connected on a few shots.  As it looked like the lead may get out of hand, the Triplets started to warm up and were able to get the lead below six, facing just a 26-20 deficit at the halftime break.

After the break, the Triplets went on a 10-0 run to get a 4 point lead with all of the points coming from the two biggest names in the game: Al Jefferson and Joe Johnson. Throughout the remainder of the game, seven time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson continued to put on a show and reminded fans of why his nickname in the NBA was always “Iso Joe,” with several post-ups ending in two points.

To close the game, the Triplets went with Joe Johnson, Al Jefferson, and Alan Anderson, and they were able to get the needed stops to put Joe Johnson in position to close the game out with a three and then scoring the game-winning floater. When I asked Joe if he believed he could finish the game out if the team closed the deficit, he said, “I was very confident. You know, in the first half we had great looks but we just couldn’t make shots. In the second half we kind of settled in a little bit, we knocked down shots, got defensive stops and once we were points from game, I knew we were gonna win.”


In game two, the Killer 3’s and Tri-State faced off, making for another great game.

The Killer 3’s were led by former NBA players Eddy Curry and Josh Powell, and Tri-State featured former NBA stars Amar’e Stoudemire, Nate Robinson, Jason Richardson, and Bonzi Wells.

Both teams were without a player captain, as former Pacers Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson missed the game.

Like in the previous game, the coaches for each team were stars in their playing days: Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Charles Oakley.  Just knowing the names of these coaches can tell you all you need to know about this game: it was scrappy.

Charles Oakley, known throughout his NBA career as a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with, wants to win anyway possible. The same can be said about Dr. J, who won MVP awards in both the NBA and ABA, but also won two ABA championships and one NBA championship.

With the Killer 3’s roster changing dramatically from last year to this year, there was definitely an adjustment period for the team. Last year’s roster featured NBA All-Stars Metta World Peace and Chauncey Billups to go along with Stephen Jackson, but today’s roster did not feature any of those three players.

Though Tri-State struggled early, they were able to close the half strong by going on a 22-7 run  to secure a 26-17 lead at the half. The main catalyst in putting Tri-State in that position was six time NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire. After putting up 8.8 ppg in the BIG3 last year, Amar’e was ready to show that he could still do a lot of the things that made him an elite player throughout his 14 years in the NBA. He finished with 28 points on the day.

The ending of the game was definitely in dramatic fashion as former Sacramento King Donte Green hit the game winning three to give the Killer 3’s the two point victory.  BIG3 rules are that you have to win by 2, and after trailing 52-51, he knocked down the biggest shot of the day to bring his team to victory.


In the third and final game of the day, the Ball Hogs and Ghost Ballers squared off. The stars of the game were Brian Scalabrine (Ball Hogs), DeShawn Stevenson (Ball Hogs), Mike Bibby (Ghost Ballers), and Ricky Davis (Ghost Ballers). Former NBA All-Star Carlos Boozer was not available to play for the Ghost Ballers.

The coaches for this game certainly did not disappoint either, with Rick  Barry and George “The Iceman” Gervin.

This game was tight for the entirety of the first half, with the Ghost Ballers having the slight 26-23 edge, but the Ball Hogs were hampered by injury with Jermaine Taylor leaving in the first few minutes of the game and DeShawn Stevenson, who was limping at the end of the first.

The second half was much of the same, with the teams trading buckets throughout; but there was one difference in this half and the rest of the games that were played today: four point shots. The Ghost Ballers were the only team to attempt a four-pointer, which is one of the special things about the BIG3.  The shot is about 5 feet back from the three-point line, and it can get you back into a game very quickly. Though they didn’t connect on these, it was still a really cool thing to see.

The Ghost Ballers were able to extend the lead to nine with the score being 42-33 after a cold stretch by the Ball Hogs, and were able to hit shot after shot at the end with the game being decided by a put-back courtesy of Jamario Moon. The Ghost Ballers were victorious in the final game by a score of 50-39.


Additional Notes:

*Former Indiana Hoosier and Houston Rocket Eric Gordon was in attendance and was welcomed by the fans with a loud roar.

*Ice Cube was welcomed by Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett and was thanked for bringing the BIG3 to the city.

Daniel Poe Signs With Eastern Kentucky University

Daniel pictured with parents and coaches

By Evan Kinser, April 26th, 2019 10:41 am EST

Powell County High School senior Daniel Poe officially signed with Eastern Kentucky University’s cheerleading team on Wednesday night.

This was Daniel’s first year cheering for Powell County, and it really worked out for him: earning a Division 1 scholarship. This definitely wasn’t easy. Daniel had to put in a lot of hours to get where he is now, and had to attend many open gyms and practices.

Daniel, who is currently playing baseball, never thought that he would be a cheerleader. While he always thought that he would play college sports, cheerleading was a sport that never crossed his mind until this year. “I am really excited for this new chapter in my life. I never thought that I would be signing my senior year to be a Division 1 athlete and I am so grateful for this opportunity that Eastern is giving me.”

His start with cheer began when Daniel was joking around on the sidelines of a basketball game. Cheer coach Kayla Mays noticed him, and asked him to come to a practice. His career really took off once he began practicing with the team.

After getting more and more exposure, he was invited by some cheerleaders at Eastern to come to Richmond and stunt with them. As he kept coming, the cheer coach noticed him and asked him if he would like a scholarship.

Daniel won’t be alone at Eastern next year, his long-time friend and baseball teammate, Nate Skidmore, signed on to play to football for the team a few months ago. Daniel said, “It is great to have another classmate and one of my best friends, going to the same school to be a D-1 athlete as well.” This is a big deal for Powell County to have two students going to play Division-1 sports at the same school. Powell County High School principal Doug Brewer spoke about this when Daniel was signing, and that he will have to catch more Eastern games now instead of Kentucky football games.

Nate is excited that Daniel will be there as well, “I am very excited to have one of my best buddies there to cheer me on every game. I am very proud of him. I never thought he would be a cheerleader, but it all works out and he is a great feller.”

Daniel had thought about signing with a college to play baseball, but knew he wanted to go to EKU. Once he got a D-1 scholarship, he knew that Eastern was his only choice. He is happy with his decision because he loves cheerleading, even though he will always have a love for baseball.

This is a great opportunity for Daniel, and Powell County wishes him nothing but the best. Starting a new chapter in his life, and hopefully opening the doors for more male cheerleaders in the future for Powell County.

Pirates To Face Hazard Tonight

Skidmore looks to push the pace (Image by Rylan Meadows)

By Evan Kinser, March 1st, 2019 5:08 pm EST

The Powell County Pirates boys basketball team is coming off a huge victory over Letcher County Central in their first game of the regional tournament Tuesday night. Now down to just four teams in the tournament, Powell is set for a showdown with regional power Hazard on Friday night at 8 PM.

Hazard is feeling the momentum after their overtime victory over regional favorite Breathitt County. After trailing by 9 points in the third quarter, they responded to keep the game tight for the rest of the way. Perhaps the most impressive part of their victory over Breathitt is how they played in overtime. It is rare for a team to outscore another by 11 points in an overtime period, and Hazard did just that.

Powell County is also feeling momentum after Nate Skidmore’s game winning free throw against Letcher County Central on Tuesday night. With just one second left on the game clock, Skidmore hit a three foot shot and drew the foul to tie the game. Nate knocked down the free throw to give the Pirates the one point edge, and Letcher Central failed to score far on the opposite baseline.

Powell County head coach Blake Williams thinks that the victory over Letcher Central will help them for their next game, “It gave us confidence in that we can beat any team in the region because Letcher was considered a top-5 team.” This added confidence could do wonders for the Pirates.

There could also be added confidence because starting center Chimaobi Ajuonuma-Creed missed the first matchup against Hazard, the third game of the season. To say that Powell County has grown since the last time they played is an understatement.

In the last thirteen games, the Pirates have won ten and a lot of that has to do with coach Williams. “Since coach Williams has taken over, we have a new confidence about us,” said senior Bryce Merion, “He really believes in us and always has us ready to play.” For players to have full confidence in their coach is a testament to the job that Williams has done in his short time as head coach.

Hazard will be a tough matchup for the Pirates because they are strong at each position. Bryce Merion knows this, “Hazard is a really tough team. They have a really solid point guard in Wade Pelfrey, really good slashers in Austin Bennett and Johnson, and two of the best bigs in the region in Logan Hall and Reece Fletcher.” He also knows that Hazard head coach will be a big factor in this game, “They are really hard to prepare for because they execute their plays so well. Of course, everyone knows about their coach Al Holland – he is one of the best coaches in the region and he will have them ready to go.” Coach Williams agrees with this, “You really can’t overthink it against a good scoring team, you just have to have confidence in your player’s defensive ability.

The home-court advantage has played a role for the Pirates this season, winning 7 of their 12 home games. Of their 5 home losses, the largest margin of defeat was just 12 points which was against Lexington school Tates Creek in the second game of the season. Bryce Merion thinks that being at home can have an affect on the game, “I think that since the game is here, anything can happen.”

Going against Hazard will be a tough test for the Pirates, but Powell County has shown recently that they can win these tough games. Expect a close game but also high scoring. The Pirates will try to push and score more points in this game than against Letcher, so that could have a big impact on the outcome of this game.

Regardless of the outcome, the Pirates have played great basketball this season and have excited this community.

Powell County Pirates Defeat Letcher County Central 47-46

The Pirates as they celebrate their win

By Evan Kinser Feb 26, 2019 9:26 pm EST

 

The Powell County Pirates have knocked off Letcher County Central off of a Nate Skidmore and-1 that gave them the one point edge. The game was a thrilling one, with each team going on quick runs throughout the game, but the Pirates found new life late in the fourth.

After Powell County missed two free throws with under a minute left to play, it looked like the Pirates would end their season on a bad note. There was a foul called on the Pirates that put the Cougars on the line with just 22.2 seconds left to play. Hoping for a miss, the Pirates got what they had hoped for. Letcher first shot: good. Letcher second shot: no good.

The Pirates had their unlikely chance down by just one. Letcher Central was not in range of foul trouble so the Cougars decided to foul quickly to get the Pirates out of rhythm and cut down time on the clock. The Pirates saw this and quickly tried to attack and get a shot off, finding the hot hand of Colby Cook in the corner, looking for his fifth triple of the game. Colby had a good look but came up short, right into the hands of Nathan Skidmore.

Nate is a superb athlete, being a star on the baseball team and has also signed to play collegiate football at EKU. He reached in the air, grabbed the ball, looked for his options, and finally as time was running short he scored and drew the foul.

The Pirates tied the game!

Nate has already had his clutch moment this season, with a three-point game winner against Owsley County on January 15th. With the fate of the game in Skidmore’s hands, he calmly drilled the free throw. Pirates by one.

This is where the great coaching of first year head coach Blake Williams comes into play. With the Cougars set to inbound the ball under the opposite basket, Williams instructed his team to pressure the ball but make sure they do not commit a foul. Christian Parks used all of his length to pressure the on the inbound and forced a full court heave at an attempt to win. Senior Bryce Merion deflected the pass and the Pirates walked away with a win.

A great game from the Pirates all the way through, leading at the end of each quarter except the third as the Cougars outscored them 10 to 4. Their struggles in the third quarter did not discourage the team and instead sparked an entertaining fourth quarter.

Colby Cook and Chimaobi Ajuonuma-Creed had great games, Cook drilling down 4 three-pointers and Chimaobi getting scores in the paint at will along with several deflections on defense throughout the game.

Point guard Dashaun Williams and forward Bryce Merion also had great games. Though they did not score the ball all that much, they impacted the game through their leadership, defense, and ball movement.

Overall, this was an encouraging win for the Pirates and only increases their confidence. Winners in 10 of their last 13 games, the Pirates will be a tough out for any team they face in the coming days.

Jon Brooks Signs with the University of The Cumberlands

Jon with family
Jon with Family

By Evan Kinser Feb 26, 2019, 3:20pm EST

The Powell County Pirates have experienced two of their best seasons in the past two years, and part of that is due to the Class of 2019. So far three seniors have signed with colleges to play college football, and it is expected that more will be joining them. The latest to join them in signing on to play college football is quarterback Jon Brooks. Brooks, a starter since his freshman season, will be playing for the University of the Cumberlands next season.

Jon has been the quarterback on two district championship winning teams and his junior year the team was runner-up in the regional playoffs. Success in Powell County for football is hard to come by, but the Pirates have seemed to figure it out recently.

The Pirates record was 9-3 this season, the best mark in school history. Last year they earned an 8-5 record, which is extremely rare for Powell County. When I asked Jon about what was different with this team over previous years, he said, “I really feel like in the weight room this group of seniors really made it their own. Before, I feel like kids would take out reps but this year we really strived in the weight room. We just really had a lot of drive to better ourselves as a team. “

The team’s success was no secret as several college programs took notice of members of the team. Nate Skidmore signed with EKU, Caleb Fraley signed with Pikeville, and there are several still considering their options. Just like in the weight room, these players plan to remain committed and work to improve their skills. Jon in particular, knows that he has a long road to go before he is where he wants to be. “Just signing isn’t where I want to be, ultimately I want to be the starter and just get better while I am there and grow as a person in total. I am excited to be there, it is a great program and a great school.”

Jon’s brother, Matt, played for UC as quarterback so there is a tie to the program in that regard. When asked if his brother has helped him throughout this process, Jon said, “He has probably really been the biggest coach I have ever had. Between him and Coach Wood, they really have taught me most of the things I know and helped me get to the place I am today as a quarterback and as a leader on the field. He has been very helpful and inspirational throughout this process.”

The University of the Cumberlands is getting a player that will work as hard as he possibly can, and Jon has the experience as a four-year starter to turn some heads in the program. All of Powell County will be rooting for Jon as he attempts to improve not only his skills on the field, but also to take that “Pirate” spirit to the UC Patriots. I am sure he will do just that.

Interview with Coach Blake Williams

(Image by Beyond The Light Photography)
(Image by Beyond The Light Photography)

By 

This season for the Powell County Pirates has been up and down, but recently the Pirates have been playing some of their best ball of the season, winning six of their last seven games. They have faced injuries, a tough schedule, and even a coaching change. Through all this, it hasn’t stopped the Pirates on their pursuit of a district tournament championship and a trip to the 14th Region tournament though, as they have locked up the top seed for the district. Through all of their adversities, new Pirates coach Blake Williams has found a way to turn this season around.

Williams, a former Knott County Central assistant coach, has always loved the game of basketball. Though at first he didn’t think he would go into coaching, as he was finishing college he realized he wanted to coach and hasn’t looked back since.

Basketball isn’t the most important thing in his life either. He is a devout Christian and he says his relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important thing in his life.  His wife (Kelsey) and his daughter (Hallie Blake), are his biggest fans and they mean everything to him.

I sat down with Coach Williams recently to discuss his first year in Powell County, here is our conversation below:

 

EK:  Before coming to Powell, you were with Knott County Central for 8 years. What made you want to make the move here?

BW:  I think the intrigue of the possibility of taking over as head coach of Powell County, a school I have always had a lot of respect for. It is a great location in the region and they are always competitive, so it was intriguing all around.

 

EK:  So when you came here, you thought there was a good chance you could one day become head coach?

BW:  I wasn’t really sure about what the exact time frame of that was, but I thought it could be a possibility within a season or two.

 

EK:  You started this year as the assistant coach of the Pirates and have since been named interim head coach. How has this experience been for you so far?

BW:  It has been a great experience so far. We’ve had some success in the last eight games and it’s given me a lot more experience. It’s just been great all around.

 

EK:  There is a big difference in being the lead assistant and in being head coach. How have you handled the extra pressure and responsibility?

BW:  It’s not been so much the extra responsibility and pressure, I’ve been in this situation before. I was co-interim head coach at Knott County Central while the head coach was out for a little while, so I’ve had a lot of experience with that. I use that experience to go with what I’m doing now.

 

EK:  The Pirates struggled to start the season, going 3-11, but since you have taken over you are 6-1. What has changed for the team?

BW:  I think it’s all with the boys. With all our players, they realize what they are capable of doing and actually going out there and proving that to themselves and all the other teams in the region as well.

 

EK:  You had only one loss in district play, and have secured the #1 seed in the tournament. How do you feel about your chances in the tourney?

BW:  Well I really feel like that if we continue to play to the level we are playing at right now and continue to improve our defense, we have a really good shot to win the district this year. 

 

In Williams, the Pirates now have their coach for the future and all signs point to a very successful tenure with the team. He will surely do all he can to turn the Pirates into regional contenders soon and continue to keep them competitive now and for years to come.

 

 

Anthony Davis Requests Trade, Lakers Interested

ANTHONY DAVIS
(Image by Keith Allison)

 

Evan Kinser

1/28/2019

There has been some breaking news in the NBA today! Early Monday morning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski shared a tweet revealing that New Orleans Pelicans star forward Anthony Davis has requested a trade from the team and “has no intention of signing a contract extension.” The Lakers, among almost every team in the league, will undoubtedly pursue a deal for the 25-year old big.

Davis, coming off an All-NBA First Team honor last year, has been linked to the Lakers for a while now, as he and Lakers forward LeBron James share the same agent, Rich Paul. Whether Davis has clear interest in the Lakers or not has yet to be seen, but the hiring of Paul in the offseason has led some to believe he has his sights on a pairing with James in LA.

The Lakers do have the assets to make a splash via trade this season. By signing all free agents other than James to one-year deals this offseason, the Lakers are in position to make some trades at the February 7th trade deadline.

The most likely player to be traded is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who the Lakers signed to a one-year, 12 million dollar deal last offseason. Reports came out earlier this year that the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets could be potential suitors of KCP, as both are looking for added three-point shooting. Keep an eye out for these teams in possible three-team trade scenarios.

Though KCP is an interesting trade candidate, the Pelicans will be wanting a much larger haul for Davis. As Brad Turner of the L.A. Times reported earlier, the Pelicans would want Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, and a first round draft pick to even consider moving Davis to LA. If this deal were to go down, the Lakers would lose almost all of their young players. They could also include Brandon Ingram and/or Josh Hart in a deal, and that seems likely. Just because the Pelicans want Ball and Kuzma, that doesn’t mean the others will stay on the roster. Some could be shipped off as other teams try to join in and even out salaries.

The big question is if the Lakers are willing to go all-in for Davis. Should the Lakers give up the young core for him? Yes. Though this would surely decrease their depth, when an All-NBA player is available and you have the chance to pair him with another star, you do it. They did have a chance to acquire a star player recently when, two years ago, Paul George wanted to become a Laker, they low-balled and didn’t give their best offer. Since the Pacers were forced to look elsewhere, he found a home with the Thunder and signed a four year deal this summer (he will also start in the all-star game this year). Their most recent attempt at a star was with Kawhi Leonard, and we will know in a few months if they played that the way they should have.

The Lakers have drafted very well in the last few seasons and have rarely missed on their draft picks. This is evident, as even former second round draft pick Ivica Zubac is now considered to have trade value. Though the Lakers haven’t drafted a player that looks like a sure-fire star yet, all of their picks look like they at least belong in the league. The only player I would have a difficult time getting rid of is second year guard Lonzo Ball. Lonzo has played defense as good as anyone at his position this year, and he is still just 21 years old. If Lonzo ever develops a consistent jump shot, he could be a perennial all-star. Though Kuzma and Ingram have the more refined offensive game, Lonzo has a transcendent passing ability and would be the perfect guard for a team with elite scorers like LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Whether the Pelicans will trade Davis in the summer or at the upcoming trade deadline is yet to be seen, but we will have the answers soon. Be prepared for an exciting 10 days!