From Comcast SportsNetCORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) -- For Ray Lewis III, going to Miami has been a safe assumption since the day he was born.His father -- the newly retired Baltimore Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis -- played for the Hurricanes. His mother went to Miami as well. So when it came time for their son to pick a school, the decision was easy.Lewis III was one of 11 players to send letters of intent back to Miami on Wednesday, joining a group of five more early enrollees in a class that the Hurricanes think can make an immediate impact. Other big additions for Miami included wide receiver Stacy Coley, linebacker Jermaine Grace, safety Jamal Carter, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad and quarterback Kevin Olsen, the brother of another former Hurricane, NFL tight end Greg Olsen.Lewis III sent his letter of intent in very early Wednesday, then with his father at his side, went through a ceremonial signing later in the day at his school, Lake Mary Prep near Orlando, Fla."I made a stand my junior year in college, the year he was born, that it was time for me to go to the league," said Ray Lewis, who helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl on Sunday in his last game. "Now the year that he's walking into college I've made another stand that it's time for me to leave the league. Him being born has been a factor in entering the league and leaving the league."Miami landed several of its top targets, even with the incredibly long NCAA investigation into the school's athletic compliance practices still unresolved.The NCAA was poised to send the Hurricanes their notice of allegations a couple weeks ago -- then, in a bizarre twist, ordered an external inquiry into how its own investigators collected information. At the center of that external probe is the NCAA's relationship with attorney Maria Elena Perez, who represented convicted Ponzi scheme architect and whistle-blowing former booster Nevin Shapiro.Perez has not divulged the nature of her contractual relationship with the NCAA, and NCAA President Mark Emmert wants to know why one existed. Shapiro is serving a 20-year prison term for masterminding a 930 million Ponzi scheme, and the claims he made in an article published by Yahoo Sports have hung precariously over the program for more than two years."We're not just fighting the opposition," Miami coach Al Golden said in a televised interview Wednesday. "We're fighting the term sanctions' all the time. So it's sanctions and the opposition versus us."Once Miami receives its notice of allegations, then the sanction process would begin. That could take several more months unless the NCAA and the Hurricanes settle beforehand, something that would appear to be possible given the college governing body's own acknowledgement that it botched parts of the Miami probe."The sanctions and some of those things, it didn't change my decision whether I wanted to go there or not but it was something I thought about," said Lewis III, who likely will be a defensive back in college. "It is unfortunate, but sometimes it's got to get worse before it gets better."The way Miami sees things, things got better Wednesday.While the Hurricanes missed out on some blue-chip targets like a pair of Miami Booker T. Washington High teammates in linebacker Matthew Thomas (Florida State) and offensive lineman Denver Kirkland (Arkansas), they did make some late splashes, including Coley, a top-ranked player from talent-rich Broward County.Many expected Coley to sign with Florida State. Instead, he pulled out a cap with the word "Swag" and done in Miami colors to announce his decision.Coley's goal at Miami: "Win a national championship."Running back Augustus Edwards of Tottenville High in Staten Island, N.Y. was the day's first commitment, his letter arriving by fax right around 7:01 a.m., one minute after the allowed start time. Edwards likely will be a short-yardage and blocking back at Miami, a key need in the class.Another big need was defensive linemen, and Miami added junior-college player Ufomba Kamalu of Fayetteville, Ga., at that spot. Two of Miami-Dade's top prospects also signed with Miami, as expected -- defensive back Artie Burns of famed Miami Northwestern High, and Carter, who played at Miami Southridge.Grace had people guessing until late in the day, when he announced his intention at Miramar High, the same school that produced 2012 Miami signee Tracy Howard. Grace also said he wanted to play alongside Miami safety Deon Bush, another South Florida product."My auntie, she's in love with coach Golden," Grace said. "That's a big reason why I came, too. He's just a great guy. He's got a great spirit. He's down to earth. That's why I like him."Ray Lewis, the now-former NFL star, has never hidden his affinity for Miami, and said he was doubly proud -- both as a father and a former star Cane -- to watch his son finally put his name on that coveted letter of intent on Wednesday."It's almost overwhelming to try to understand what I'm feeling as a father," Lewis said. "You have to keep your emotions in because it's the unreal part about it, that I walked two days from retiring and winning a Super Bowl to walking in and seeing my son following me to my alma mater. Who writes a storybook ending like that?"
NEW ORLEANS – For years, Gordon Hayward dreamed of this day, of being able to step on the floor and be among the top players in the NBA.
But in all those scenarios that raced through his mind, the idea that his first journey towards official stardom in the NBA – being named an all-star – would come at the same time that Brad Stevens would make his all-star coaching debut too?
“It’s really cool,” Hayward said. “If I were to sit here and say we’d both be at this position seven years ago, eight years ago when I was sitting down with him for a recruiting visit, there’s no way I would have believed you. It’s pretty special that we’re both here.”
Indeed, both Stevens and Hayward have arrived by taking somewhat atypical journeys.
For Hayward, his emergence during the NCAA Tournament showcased a big-time talent at a mid-major schools whose skills, in the eyes of many, could translate well at the next level.
“None of us knew how good Gordon could be at this level,” an NBA scout told CSNNE.com about Hayward. “But he was more athletic than we thought after working him out. And you knew he could shoot, but he can handle the ball a little better, too. And that’s how a lot of us saw him; a good player who had some things going for him early that probably translated better at this level than the average fan might realize.”
Stevens, who led Butler to a pair of national runner-up finishes, recruited Hayward at a time when he was a highly regarded tennis prospect.
He was good enough to where there was a point when Hayward thought about giving up basketball altogether to focus solely on playing tennis.
“In high school, I was 5-foot-10 as a freshman and I wanted to play a college sport,” Hayward said. “There’s not too many 5-10 basketball players that make it, let alone play college but then make it to the NBA. I thought I might have a better chance at playing tennis in college. That’s when I almost decided to go with this full-time.”
Hayward was in the middle of working on a speech to tell his high school basketball coach that he was going to quit the team to focus on tennis full-time.
And then he had what turned into a life-changing conversation with his mother.
“I came up to her, and was talking to her about it. And when I was going to do it, she told me to stick out the year,” Hayward recalled.
She reminded him of all the time he put in to become a better basketball player, and why he wouldn’t want to just throw all that to the side for a sport that they both knew he loved.
“I hit a growth spurt at the end of the year, and gradually got better and better,” he said.
That growth, both in terms of his game and the attention that came with that improvement, has led him to being an NBA all-star, an undeniable acknowledgement that he is among the best in the NBA. And making it all that much sweeter is that he’s getting to enjoy it for the first time with Stevens, a man whose role in Hayward’s life and ascension to this point should not be understated. While Hayward acknowledges the role Stevens played in his steady improvement as a player, the role Stevens played in his life was even more significant in his growth as a person.
The two don’t talk nearly as often as they did during their Butler days or shortly after Hayward was off to the NBA and Stevens was still in the college ranks.
But there is an undeniable bond that will forever link these two with one another, a bond that becomes all that much tighter with them making the unlikely journey from being more than just big-time talents at the mid-major level. They are now among the best in their respective roles, achieving the kind of success so few believed was possible a few years ago.
While Stevens acknowledges how unique and cool it is to be here with Hayward, he quickly shifts the focus to what he has always believed to be the keys to success: team and player, in that order.
“For him to get a chance to be among the elite players in the game is a special opportunity that was earned,” Stevens said. “It’s earned with your individual success and what your team is able to do. Their team is having such great success. I’m happy that he gets a chance to experience this, and that they look like a team that’s going to make a deep run in the playoffs.”
To hear those words is not at all surprising to Hayward.
“He’s such a good coach and such a great guy and mentor to me,” Hayward said. “I’m happy we’re here.”
Jackie Bradley Jr. will likely have a spotless attendance record for White House trips.
The Boston Red Sox outfielder began discussing those championship trips to meet the president after Red Sox chairman Tom Werner referenced the New England Patriots' Super Bowl win at a team get-together on Friday morning.
“If my team is going, yes, I’m going,” Bradley Jr. told WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, adding later, “I don’t like politics, not even a little bit.”
The Patriots so far have six players who have openly stated they will not attend New England's White House trip to meet President Donald Trump. Team leaders like Dont'a Hightower and Devin McCourty are among those unwilling to attend.
For Bradley, the White House trip is not about making a political statement.
“The reason why we’re going there is because we did something together as a team. The White House is cool,” he said. “I’m with my team."
The 26-year-old outfielder has twice attended the championship trip to the nation's capital. In college, he went with the South Carolina Gamecocks after they won the College World Series. He later attended with the Red Sox in 2013. Bradley Jr. said he enjoyed attending the White House to meet Barack Obama, but added he wasn't concerned with which president was hosting the event.
He said: “How many people can say they’ve been to the White House? That alone. There is a lot history there, and I’m a big fan of architecture. I think the whole thing is unique.”