New format awaits Westchester Knicks in G League

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Jericho Sims, the New York Knicks‘ 58th pick in the NBA Draft, will have more games to develop with the Westchester Knicks in the reformatted G League season.

The new G League format will feature two tournaments within the season.  On top of the 36-game regular season, a 14-game expanded Showcase Cup will bring the total games to 50 for each team.

The Showcase Cup tips off on Nov. 5 and will conclude at the annual NBA G League Winter Showcase from Dec. 19-22. Meanwhile, the regular season begins on Dec. 27.

The G League Ignite is the pathway program of the NBA for the top high school prospects who didn’t go the college route.

In the Showcase Cup, the 29 regular teams and the G League Ignite will be divided into four regional pods where they will play 12 games against each other in NBA G League markets.

The teams with the best winning percentage in each regional pod and the next top four teams across the league will advance to the single-elimination NBA G League Winter Showcase.

Team records will reset in the 36-game regular season as the NBA G League Ignite and expansion team Capitanes de la Ciudad de México will only play in the Showcase Cup. The top six teams in each conference will qualify for the NBA G League playoffs.

The Knicks will open their Showcase Cup schedule against Capital City Go-Go in back-to-back road games on Nov. 5 and 6.

Their regular season tips off against the Lakeland Magic in similar back-to-back road games on Dec. 28 and 30.

Sims, who signed a two-way contract with the Knicks, averaged 8.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, one assist, and one block in the NBA Summer League. He shot a staggering 81 percent from the field. As a two-way player, Sims is eligible to join the Knicks’ active roster up to 50 games in the regular season.

Joining Sims in the Knicks’ G League team is former UCLA point guard Jaylen Hands, acquired from the Long Island Nets on Monday. The Knicks sent the returning rights of Bryce Brown to the Nets in exchange for Hands, the 56th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Hands played overseas last season, averaging 8.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.5 blocks in 12 games for the FMP of the ABA League First Division and Basketball League of Serbia.

MJ Walker and Aamir Simms, who played for the Knicks Summer League team in Las Vegas, will likely join Sims and Hands in the G League. The Knicks signed both Walker and Simms to an Exhibit 10 deal last month.

Walker averaged 4.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in three games with the Knicks’ Summer League team. On the other hand, Simms posted 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in four games in Las Vegas.

The rest of the Westchester Knicks roster is expected to be announced in the next coming days.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo


Could the Knicks elevate Jericho Sims to the active roster during 2021-22 season?

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The New York Knicks overhauled various positions this off-season but retained multiple players that featured during the 2020-21 campaign. The front office extended two centers: Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson over the next few seasons.

Gibson, who is 36-years-old and played in 45 games last year for the Knicks, averaged 5.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and shot 63% from the field. Ultimately, he is well beyond his prime and offers more mentorship than actual production on the court.

During the postseason, Gibson‘s presence was essential, as he provided energy and defense off the bench. However, Gibson doesn’t offer much in the scoring department and will likely serve as a third-string option on the roster this upcoming season. However, one young rookie could take a spot. The Knicks might want to consider an alternative direction after a strong Summer League performance by Texas product, Jericho Sims.

It is important to keep in mind that the Knicks extended Gibson on a two-year, $10 million deal, with an out after the first season that will cost $4.9 million in base salary. The likelihood of Sims making the active roster is slim, but he will be one of their primary options in case of any injuries or deficiencies at the center position.

While Sims might not be an immediate impact player, he could very well play a part this upcoming year, especially after Mitchell Robinson suffered multiple injuries that forced him out for the majority of last season. In that scenario, Sims could find himself on the bench, picking up minutes over Gibson, who is athleticism is degrading with age.

During Summer League play, Sims averaged 28 minutes per game over five contests. He posted 8.2 points, shooting 81% from the field, including 8.2 rebounds, with 2.2 of them being offensive. He showed unparalleled athleticism getting above the rim and succeeding off the pick-and-roll. With solid point guard play, which Immanuel Quickley provided during his dominance stretch, Sims has the potential to be a great player in the future.

The Knicks signed Sims to a two-way contract as the 58th pick in the draft. At 6’10” and 245-pounds, he seems to be a far different talent compared to the previous players selected at that same spot. Aside from his solid scoring abilities, Sims also seems to be a quality defender, blocking the interior with physicality and anticipation. He only trailed Obi Toppin in rebounds, who finished with 8.3 this summer.

Expect Jericho to be a G-League regular this upcoming year, but with Gibson on a one-year contract essentially, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sims take on a bigger role during the 2022-23 season. In the meantime, focusing on his development and how we can translate his skills for the NBA is a priority.

Can Knicks’ Jericho Sims sneak his way onto the roster for the 2021-22 season?

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The New York Knicks walked away from the Summer League ecstatic about their young talent. Ranging from second-year guard Immanuel Quickley to 58th overall pick Jericho Sims, each individual player offered tremendous production and efficiency.

With expectations being blown out of the water, the Knicks have a few difficult decisions to make, and one of them lands with Jericho, who offered incredible athleticism and physicality in the paint.

At 6″10′ and 245-pounds, Sims averaged 9.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks last season with Texas in the Big 12. Averaging 24.5 minutes per game, he connected on 70% of his shots from the field and 52% from the free-throw line. While there are some categories he needs to improve upon, he averaged 28 minutes per game during Summer League play, contributing 8.2 points on 81% shooting from the field. He also offered 8.2 rebounds per contest and one block per game.

Sims is a long shot to make the active roster, given the existence of Mitchell Robinson, Nerlens Noel, and Taj Gibson. The Knicks are extremely confident that Robinson will make a full recovery from a fractured foot he suffered last season, and retained Noel on a three-year contract. Gibson also completed a two-year, $10.1 million extension with New York at 36 years old.

How can Jericho Sims make an impact with the Knicks?

Sims will have to fight tooth and nail to earn minutes, but the probability is he will land in the G League where he can continue developing and offer value when called upon. The Knicks considered pushing him to a forward spot, but with adequate depth, Sims doesn’t seem like a likely fit. He will offer situational play and youth if need be, especially if injuries begin to arise at the center position.

Jericho’s athleticism around the rim and ability to catch lobs off the pick-and-roll stands out. Sims should focus heavily on his defense, as that is the best way to get in the good graces of head coach Tom Thibodeau. Increasing his timing on block attempts and guarding the perimeter will make him an even more valuable piece moving forward.

The front office did sign Sims to a two-way contract, with the terms of the deal disclosed. However, if he can continue to grow and harness his capabilities, the Knicks could view him as an integral piece after the 2022-23 season. With Noel’s contract essentially a two-year deal and Gibson a one-year deal with no dead money next season, there is potential for him to be elevated after his rookie campaign.

The Knick set themselves up quite nicely for the future, and the emergence of Sims likely has them grinning at their financial decisions. Of course, impressing during the Summer League is exciting, but until he can provide that same effectiveness during live action in a regular-season game, it is all just hype.

Just how great did the Knicks’ rookies look to close out the Summer League?

quentin grimes, knicks

The New York Knicks emerged victorious against the Atlanta Hawks in the final preseason game of the Summer League. The Knicks experienced ebbs and flows as they built chemistry and continuity with one another. Going out in style was exactly what the front office wanted to see from their youngsters, especially with the obvious development of Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley.

However, it was the team’s rookies that stood out in the victory over Atlanta, combining for 51 points and hitting 11  3-PT shots.

The team walked away victorious by a score of 104-85, pummeling Atlanta and showcasing some of their youth talents. After a 28 point performance against the Detroit Pistons, 25th overall pick Quentin Grimes posted 26 points, six rebounds, three assist, and shot 58.8% from the field. He also connected on 50% of his shots from range, displaying his ability to curate shots for himself but also open up the floor for others.

Over six games, Grimes average 32.8 minutes, including 15.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and picked up 0.5 steals per game. With his clear-cut progression as the Summer League chugged along, Grimes’s impact will end up being essential for a team that will ultimately create rotations to help mitigate fatigue for the regular starters over the course of an entire season. Over the final three Summer League games, Grimes combine for 66 points. He showcased solid defense, three-point shooting, shot creation, and even portrayed vision as a facilitator.

However, fellow rookie Miles McBride also had a stand-out performance, scoring 19 points and picking up four assists in the win. He shot 70% from the field and hit five three-pointers, good for a 62.5% three-point percentage.

McBride averaged 27.7 minutes per game, posting 15.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. He also tallied 1.3 steals per game, a solid number that showed his defensive prowess and quick hands. McBride exceeded expectations valiantly, and if he continues to play like this during the regular season, Tom Thibodeau could begin favoring him in specific situations.

It is clear the West Virginia product has plenty of potential as not only a defensive weapon but also a three-point shooter. Increasing his comfort and vision on the court will only make him a more well-rounded point guard. McBride could be the future at the position for the Knicks, despite Immanuel Quickley looking the part, averaging 20.2 points over 33.5 minutes per game. Quickley also posted a fantastic 7.8 assists per contest, showcasing his efficiency as a facilitator.

One low-key rookie who made a name for himself is Jericho Sims, who average 28 minutes per game. He logged 8.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game. His athleticism above the rim and physicality down low could earn him a roster spot.

Overall, the Knicks saw tremendous value from their rookies, displaying potential nobody expected. The Knicks’ coaching staff is already showing how valuable they can be helping players evolve in such a short period of time.

Obi Toppin says Knicks rookies are showing why they should play next season

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The New York Knicks have upgraded their roster via free agency while maintaining their depth to build on the momentum of their first playoff appearance since 2013.

The Knicks went into the NBA Summer League with a primary focus on Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley’s development as leaders, and they are getting more than what they bargained.

Toppin and Quickley have been balling out in their first NBA Summer League after the event was scratched last year due to the pandemic. The Knicks’ sophomores have been included in The Athletic’s NBA Draft analyst Sam Vecenie’s ‘Too Good for Summer League Team,’ while their rookies have shown plenty of promise.

“It’s been great being out there with those guys, leading those guys, and pushing those guys. Everybody on that team has a heart and loves the hustle. When you’re playing with a bunch of dogs, then your team is fun,” Toppin said after the Knicks chalked up their third win in five Summer League games last Saturday.

In a true Tom Thibodeau fashion, Toppin (36.5 minutes) and Quickley (34.5 minutes) lead the NBA Summer League in playing time. Knicks Summer League coach Daisuke “Dice” Yoshimoto has referred to them as leaders of this team.

Toppin has been productive, averaging 23.0 points (no. 4 in scoring), 8.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks while shooting 46 percent from the floor and making 2.2 3s per game.

“Obi put in a lot of time over the summer. And it showed. He’s gonna continue to get better, put time in, and the result will gonna take care of itself,” Yoshimoto said. “This is his chance to showcase who he is. He’s gonna continue to put his time in, work hard, and build the right habits.”

The biggest takeaway here is Toppin can produce when used right. Toppin was able to show his potential as a rim runner, roll man, and pick and pop big man as opposed to his ill-fitted role last season as a floor-spacing big man just waiting in the corner.

On the other hand, Quickley, despite his shaky shooting (38 percent overall, 25 percent from 3) in Las Vegas, has made great strides as a lead guard with his 8.0 assists ranking third behind traditional point guards — Atlanta rookie Sharife Cooper (9.0) and Boston’s sophomore Payton Pritchard (8.7). Quickley also averages 21.8 points (no. 7) to go with 3.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals.

Their rookies Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, Jericho Sims, and their pick-and-stash Rokas Jokubaitis, who left for Spain, have followed their lead.

“All those guys are doing great. Quick (Quickley) has been doing a great job with Deuce (McBride) and Quentin (Grimes). Jericho (Sims) has been doing a great job listening to all of us and doing his part. Every rookie on [our] team is doing good, and they’re showing Thibs why they should be on the court next season,” Toppin said.

Heeding the advice of Allan Houston and Penny Hardaway, Grimes finally looked like the 3-and-D guy the Knicks have drafted in their last two games, scoring 15 and 28 points, after groping for form in his first three games.

McBride has been stellar running the point in Quickley’s absence (due to a sore groin) against the Cleveland Cavaliers. McBride scored a personal Summer League-best 23 points on 9 of 14 shooting and handed out five assists while playing solid defense (four rebounds, two steals, and one blocked shot).

Through five games, McBride, the 36th pick overall, is averaging 14.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 steals with a 50/46/88 shooting split.

Sims has made his first 10 field goals and is leading the Summer League in field goal percentage (88.2 percent) among players who have played at least three games and attempted at least four field goals per game. In four games, Sims has put up 8.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 1.0 blocks.

“They are gonna continue to put their time in and get better. Let’s see where they are at training camp,” Yoshimoto said.

Toppin attributed their great on-court chemistry to the culture they had been building in New York since Thibodeau’s arrival last year.

“I feel like just the brotherhood we’ve built. Everybody on our team is very close. We hang out with each other every single day. And we love to compete. Every time we step on that floor, we give it our 110 percent every game, and we’ve got to continue doing that for the season,” Toppin said.

The Knicks will close out their Summer League play against the Atlanta Hawks at 7 p.m. Monday. Toppin and the Knicks are raring to come out with a bang.

“I think one thing we need to focus on is just lock in defensively — having our best defensive game and just having fun out there,” Toppin said. “So, it’s gonna be our last Summer League game, and we need to make a statement going into the new season.”

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Too Quick, Too Hot: Quickley lifts Knicks past Pacers in NBA Summer League

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After a jittery start to his first NBA Summer League, Immanuel Quickley got the perfect advice from New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau.

“Just be yourself,” Quickley revealed.

And he looked like the Quickley that the Knicks have stolen with the 25th pick in last year’s NBA draft and was named to the All-Rookie NBA Team.

After a brutal 5-for-17 shooting in the Knicks’ 89-79 loss to the Toronto Raptors Sunday, Quickley bounced back strong with a game-high 32 points built around 11-of-21 field goals.

He was perfect six-for-six from the line and added eight assists against a single turnover. The guard out of Kentucky also had two steals in a solid game on both ends of the floor.

“Last game, I was kinda trying to find my way and get everybody involved,” Quickley said. “In this game, I’m kinda trying to do both but just a little bit more aggressive, help my teammates and be more of a leader.”

Quickley did much of the damage in the second half, dropping 23 points and six assists where the Knicks outscored the Pacers by 11 points.

Obi Toppin, who fed off Quickley’s point guard play, had another strong outing with 22 points and nine rebounds but had five turnovers.

Toppin started the game aggressively but a little bit out of control. He committed four of the Knicks’ 10 turnovers in the first quarter and missed three baskets around the rim, including a flubbed dunk in his first attempt. But once he got settled and played in the flow of things, the sophomore forward was a wrecking ball.

Two days after the Knicks lost to Atlanta Hawks in the first round, Quickley and Toppin were reportedly back in the gym.

“That’s what the Knicks culture is — working hard, enjoying the work, and getting better,” Quickley said. “We’re really excited for the Summer League team. We’re really excited for the next season. We just want to continue to get better and take the steps to move forward.”

The Knicks have prioritized getting Quickley more reps as a point guard in his first Summer League play. So far, the 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio had been impressive. He said he’s looking forward to soaking in more lessons from Derrick Rose and the newly acquired Kemba Walker.

Meanwhile, fan-favorite Jericho Sims stayed perfect in the NBA Summer League with an eight-point, nine-rebound effort. He was 4-for-4 from the field after going 6-for-6 in his debut. Sims, who signed a two-way deal reportedly for two years per Keith Smith of Spotrac, has been a revelation.

“He played phenomenal running the floor and catching lobs in traffic,” freelance NBA scout Tony Coleman told Empire Sports Media. “He’s playing solid defense on the other side of the ball. He’s definitely a steal in my humble opinion.”

Coleman is in Las Vegas for his scouting trip.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian guard Rokas Jokubaitis, the Knicks’ 36th pick, finally made his Knicks debut contributing three points and one assist in nine minutes.

Jokubaitis, a healthy DNP in the Knicks’ first game, was given more run this time than Luca Vildoza. Knicks Summer League coach Dice Yoshimoto even experimented with a three-guard lineup featuring Jokubaitis, Miles McBride, and Vildoza, who went scoreless in four minutes but managed to grab a rebound and one steal.

The Knicks’ first-round pick, Quentin Grimes, had another rough shooting game with six points on 2-for-10 shooting in almost 35 minutes. Matched against NBA Draft Day target Chris Duarte, Grimes committed five fouls. Duarte had a solid debut filling up the stats sheet with 14 points, two rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two shot blocks. The 24-year old Duarte played with so much poise and shot 4-of-8 from the field, including 3-for-7 from deep.

The Knicks’ other second-round pick, McBride, put an exclamation point to their win and his impressive game with a dunk.

With Thibodeau in attendance, McBride showed the toughness and tenacity that made the Knicks coach fall in love with his game. He scattered 14 points (5-of-7 from the field), three rebounds, one assist, and one steal.

On Wednesday, the Knicks will return to action against the Los Angeles Lakers at 10 pm ET on ESPN2.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo 

Did the Knicks land a steal in Jericho Sims? | Texas product dominates in first Summer League game

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It wasn’t until late in the draft that the New York Knicks landed Texas big man Jericho Sims, who signed a two-way deal early on Sunday before posting an eye-opening performance in his NBA debut during the 2021 Summer League.

Sims can compete in a maximum of 50 NBA games this upcoming season on his new contract. However, the team might be looking to offer him a longer deal if he continues dominating in the paint and showcasing incredible athleticism.

In the loss to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, Sims played nearly 22 minutes. During his time on the floor, he connected on six field goals, hitting 100% of his shots. He also posted six defensive rebounds, two offensive rebounds, and one block, making him the only Knick to have a positive +/-.

Surprisingly, he dominated the game, at one point landing a beautiful alley-oop from Immanuel Quickley in which he seemed to levitate above the rim before slamming it down on the defender’s head.

“Jericho, man, does he jump really high,’’ fellow dunker Obi Toppin said. “Jericho is a sponge and loves to learn and get better. He’s going to be a really good player.’’

At 6’10”, Sims electrified the team, scoring 12 points. While the entire team shot just 37%, his success elevated that number. He is known as a classic defensive specialist but also has bouncy athleticism that could translate well in the transition game at the NBA level.

Last year with Texas, Sims averaged 9.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. He also connected on 70% of his shots, making him a traditional big man that dominates around the rim.

Sims indicated the Knicks simply want him to be a “rim runner,” hovering in the paint and taking advantage of good point guard play.

“That’s what they had planned for me,’’ Sims said of his contract. “Right now. I can do other things, but [rim-runner] is what they want me to do right now.’’

The majority of scouts coined him a defensive weapon, but it was quite clear he can also contribute offensively, especially when the defense breaks down. The Knicks have a ton of quality shooters who will force defenses to spread the floor, opening up the pick-and-roll game for athletic big men like Jericho.

If he continues performing like this, he could find himself sitting on the bench to open the year, but it would take a tremendous Summer League display to put him in a position of leverage.

Obi Toppin, Jericho Sims electrify in Knicks’ first Summer League loss

New York Knicks, Obi Toppin

New York Knicks couldn’t find their mark from the outside, but Obi Toppin and Jericho Sims provided the highlights in an 89-79 loss to the Toronto Raptors Sunday at the start of their NBA Summer League campaign in Las Vegas.

The Knicks shot an atrocious 7 for 40 from deep, with Immanuel Quickley and Toppin combining for 4-of-21 three-point shooting. Both incoming sophomore players were 1 for 5 from the floor in the opening quarter as the Knicks played catchup the rest of the way.

“I was very curious. So far, it’s been a great experience,” Toppin said after the game. “It would have been better if we got the W. We just didn’t lose but we learned today. We’ll learn from this and get better.”

Toppin’s confidence grew as the game went on as he got comfortable in a go-to guy role in their summer roster after languishing behind Julius Randle last season. He led the Knicks with 24 points, including a breakaway slam in the opening half. He added eight rebounds, a steal, and a block and finished the game on 10-of-21 shooting.

Jericho Sims jumped out of nowhere to steal the show among the Knicks rookies. His energy and athleticism led him to produce 12 points on a perfect 6 for 6 shooting on the floor. He was electric and a human highlight reel with his above-the-rim shots. The Knicks announced during the early moments of the game that Sims had been signed to a two-way contract. He can be with the Knicks next season up to a maximum of 50 games. The 58th overall pick added eight rebounds and one shot block for good measure.

Quickley pushed the pace after his slow start and had the Knicks within single digits, 83-74, on his three-pointer with 2:26 left. But the Raptors answered with back-to-back threes to put the game away.

Quickley played a game-high 37 minutes and collected 15 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and two steals as the primary point guard.

The Knicks’ first-round pick Quentin Grimes opened the game with a three-pointer and finished with nine points, all coming from beyond the arc. He was 3-for-11 overall and 3-of-8 from the three-point line. Miles McBride missed all his four attempts from 3 but scattered nine points, five rebounds, two assists, and one steal while showing some toughness on both sides of the floor.

Luca Vildoza’s shooting slump from the Tokyo Olympics continued, but he drew a charge on his first defensive play and handed out three assists.

Lithuanian Rokas Jokubaitis did not see action, and Knicks Summer League coach Dice Yashimoto described him as situational. Barcelona only cleared him to play three games in Las Vegas. From the looks of it, he’s more likely a pick-and-stash with the Knicks prioritizing Vildoza before him.

The Knicks will return to action on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers at 10 pm ET on ESPN2.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo


Knicks cap eventful NBA Draft Night with athletic big man Jericho Sims

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The New York Knicks selected Texas Longhorns’ Jericho Sims with the 58th pick to complete their haul in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Projected to go undrafted, Sims raised his stock after an impressive NBA Draft Combine. The 6-foot-10 Sims posted an eye-popping 44.5-inch max vertical in the NBA Draft Combine and the No. 8 overall three-quarter sprints.

Shortly after the Draft Combine, he went viral after hitting his head on the rim on a dunk he performed at the Klutch Sports Pro Day.

Sims was named to the All-Big 12 Tournament team after posting 9.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 26 games last season while helping the Longhorns earn their first postseason championship. He needs to improve his free throw shooting (52%) to thrive in the NBA.

The Knicks started the night with a pair of trades moving back in the draft after their targets went off the board. The shrewd moves saved the Knicks some of their cap space and earned them additional assets that may become trade chips down the road.

They dealt the 19th pick to the Charlotte Hornets for a heavily-protected future first-round pick. The selection is Top-18 protected next year, Top-16 protected in 2023, Top-14 protected in 2024 and will become a pair of future second-round picks if not conveyed.

The Knicks then dealt the 21st pick to the Los Angeles Clipper for the 25th pick and a future second-round pick. They used that to select Houston Cougars’ 3-and-D prospect Quentin Grimes who had an impressive Draft Combine by scoring 27 points on seven three-pointers in one of the scrimmages. He shot 40.3 percent from deep last season.

The Knicks weren’t done wheeling and dealing as they flipped the 32nd pick into the 34th and 36th picks they used for west Virginia’s feisty point guard Miles McBride and Lithuanian Rokas Jokubaitis.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo