Of course VCU coach Shaka Smart was atop UCLA fans' collective wish list, but he's out. [Smart] and VCU have agreed in principle to a deal to keep the coach at the school, it was reported on Wednesday. In an Associated Press story, VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin says the details are still being finalized, but the majority of changes involve "program enhancements for the student-athletes and coaches." ... [With] news of Smart returning to VCU, the Bruins' list of possibilities will, more than likely, be one name shorter. Expect Butler's Brad Stevens to be the next big name -- aside from Louisville's Rick Pitino and Florida's Billy Donovan -- tossed around in conversation about UCLA's coaching search. (Orange County Register) Comment
It isn't every day scouts treat someone this way. Marcus Lattimore ran football drills indoors Wednesday at the University of South Carolina for representatives of all 32 NFL teams, his agent, Michael Perrett, told USA TODAY Sports. And when he was done showing off the progress in his surgically repaired knee, the room burst into applause. So says Lattimore, the former Gamecocks running back who tore the anterior cruciate, lateral collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee Oct. 27 in a game vs. Tennessee. "It was crazy," he told USA TODAY Sports. "I did not expect that at all. Pretty much every scout came up to me and said that was amazing and inspiring." (USA Today) Comment
As the regular season draws near, it appears more likely that Jackie Bradley Jr. will open on Boston's roster. The most compelling reason not to put Bradley on the Opening Day roster is to prevent him from reaching six full seasons of service time by the end of the 2018 season. If the Red Sox send Bradley to Triple-A Pawtucket for the first nine games of the season, he wouldn't be eligible for free agency until 2019. It appeared at first that a Red Sox team getting back to a long-term approach to team-building would prioritize that extra season over those first nine games. But a Red Sox team that lost 93 games last season and looks to be in the periphery of the playoff race this season appears to feel some urgency to win now. (Providence Journal) Comment
The front page of Thursday's Calgary Herald after the Flames traded Jarome Iginla to the Penguins.
A fan tries to take LeBron James' headband after the Heat's loss to the Bulls.