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MAGIC at GRIZZLIES | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 5, 2022

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UCF Knights

UCF Knights Secure Centerpiece Big Man for 2024-25 Season

UCF’s men’s basketball team has just secured the service of a big-time talent after blue chip big man Moustapha Thiam decided to reclassify for 2024-25 season.

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Moustapha Thiam

UCF’s men’s basketball team has just secured the service of a big-time talent after blue chip big man Moustapha Thiam decided to reclassify, making him eligible to play for the Knights this coming college basketball season.

Thiam, the No.1 center in ESPN’s class of 2025, will anchor the Knights’ defense in their second season in the Big 12.

The 7-foot-2 Senegalese impressed scouts with his terrific play at the Adidas 3SSB circuit, serving as the focal point of Austin Rivers SE Elite in the tournament. In 28 minutes per game, he averaged 5.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.7 blocks and 1.0 steals.

 

 

With Thiam joining a roster of seniors and promising young players, Johnny Dawkins’ UCF Knights is expected to outperform their surprising 7-11 record in their Big 12 debut last season.

UCF has retained the service of Jaylin Sellers and Darius Johnson, the two top-scorers from last season, and secured commitments from a slew of transferees such as JJ Taylor and Mikey Williams from Memphis, Keyshawn Hall from George Mason, and Deebo Coleman from Georgia Tech.

The program has successfully recruited Cameron Simpson, a local standout from Oak Ridge in Orlando, Florida.

Scouting Report Provides Things to Expect from Moustapha Thiam

Moustapha Thiam is an enticing prospect because of his large 7-foot-2 size, impressive length, and quick-twitch movement.

As a true center, he can open his hips, glide laterally, and recover from switches.

While he has to gain muscle, especially considering his slight foundation and narrow shoulders, he is an excellent rim protector who can influence ball movement and play from the weak side.

Thiam possesses a nice touch for pick-and-pop jumpers with his feet set and good hands for passes at chest level or higher.

As he continues to develop in each game, he will improve his decision-making skills. His size and physical tools set him apart from his contemporaries.

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High School

FHSAA Board approves NIL for Florida Student Athletes in unanimous ruling

Robert Brumfield

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In a unanimous 13-0 ruling yesterday, a Florida High School Athletic Association board voted to allow high school student athletes to receive NIL payments beginning this fall. The move comes almost three years after the NCAA finally cleared the way for college student athletes to receive NIL money.

NIL, the abbreviation for name, likeness, and image, permits student athletes to seek out businesses and/or individuals to help with financial needs, similar to a sponsor. While there will be no shortage of outcry that the move will further divide the talent gap in some situations, the decision was, in this writer’s humble opinion, the right way to go.

Raising money for high school athletes is difficult. Long gone are the days of car washes and candy drives to help young athletes finance their dreams. Average families feel the hurt on their bank accounts when they have a young football player, let alone more than one, that has a multitude of needs entering a sports season. Healthy food, supplements, training equipment, trainers/independent workout coaches, cleats, and even weights have all surged in price. The student athlete’s ability to pay for these things without the financial strain affecting their families is invaluable.

The new rule goes into effect just in time for the 2024-2025 year, but it is not without rules and restrictions. Students and their parents are solely responsible for securing NIL arrangements. Student athletes will not be allowed to use their school’s image, name, or logo in connection to their NIL deals, creating separation between the deal and the school itself.

An important note: The FHSAA NIL Guidelines will not allow “NIL collectives”, an obvious decision to try and stop organized groups with private donors/collection efforts to mass raise money with the intent to hoard disproportionate numbers of top tier recruits. The rules also prohibit high schools from using NIL money to lure athletes to their programs. Athletes transferring mid-year will not be the wild west landscape that it is in NCAA, requiring high school athletes to obtain a “good cause exemption” before receiving NIL deals after an in-season transfer. Violations of the rules of Florida NIL will result in a formal warning and termination of the agreement on a first offense, and a one-year ban in the event of a second offense.

As with any new system revolving around young athletes, it will take time to round out the rough edges and fine tune the details. There are surely going to be entire coalitions of high school coaches and administrators that do not want to see Florida High School athletics become the chaos the NCAA has seemingly become. For every detractor, though, there are many more in favor of this decision.

Board member Sara Bayliss, a counselor at Saint John Paul II Catholic in Tallahassee was quoted after the ruling; “It’s not pay-for-play per se, but I think we’re trying to avoid what’s happened on the collegiate side.” She continued that she didn’t “think it would be used widely” and if the time came that NIL became a recruiting problem “we’ll deal with it”.

Within hours, student athletes were cashing in on their newfound ability to earn from their personal brands.

Some coaches are, understandably, nervous and uneasy by the decision. One Florida football coach said he could see the potential of “if there is a star player and there’s a university out there that wants him, now that university has the ability to funnel money to that kid, to get him to whatever university”.

There was also significant outcry from many online that the way for NIL had been cleared for high school athletes, yet coach and teacher pay was still stagnating, which is a fair argument in most cases. Notably, the Florida Coaches Coalition Twitter/X account posted how the coaches seemed to feel overall.

That is a real concern and one that will be incredibly tricky to navigate and police. There will be bad faith actors involved at some point. There will be violations. There will be mistakes made, both by student athletes and sources of NIL money. However, the benefits to these young people will far outweigh the drawbacks. The ability to provide themselves with the best nutrition, training regimen, and equipment will not only reduce strain on families and bolster the athlete, it will increase the quality of the sport being played across the board.

There are certainly challenges ahead as the Florida High School athletics landscape adjusts to this landmark ruling, but overall I would say this is a big win for high school student athletes.

Thanks for getting your Florida high school sports news here at Sports Club Florida! Make sure to check out our other great contributors for more on your favorite Florida sports teams.

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High School

Building Relationships with the Community: Gus Malzahn Winning Strategy

Tramayne Wright

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Coach Lo discusses how Gus Malzahn identifies the key figures within the local community in Central Florida.

 

Gus Malzahn had a vision. He saw the potential in the local sports scene and knew he had to seize the opportunity. Coach Lo Wood vividly remembers the strategic move that set Malzahn apart: reaching out to key figures in the community.

“The first thing I recognized about Gus was how he instantly reached out to the guys in the community,” Coach Wood shared. “He called me up and said, ‘I want to be in a relationship with you.’ And it wasn’t just talk. Gus meant it. He wanted to build something real.”

Mazzone’s approach wasn’t just about forming superficial connections. He sought out genuine relationships with influential community members. Soon, other notable figures like AG Waseem and Ellis Danley were echoing the same sentiment. “Next thing you know, there’s AG Waseem saying the same thing, ‘I want to be in a relationship with you.’ Then he calls Ellis Danley with the same message. It was clear that Gus was building a network of trust and cooperation,” Coach Wood explained.

These were not random choices. The individuals Malzahn reached out to were deeply embedded in the community, and respected for their roles and commitment to the local youth. “Who are all these guys he’s been in a relationship with?” Coach Wood asked. “They’re the guys from the community, the ones who have the kids with them every day. They’re the mentors, the coaches, the father figures.”

Malzahn vision was to ensure that talented athletes didn’t feel the need to leave their hometown to find success. “I knew right then that a lot of athletes were going to stay home and be hometown heroes,” Coach Wood stated. “That’s the way to do it.”

He elaborated on the significance of this approach. “When you have someone like Gus, who invests in the community and builds these relationships, it creates a support system for the kids. They see that they can achieve their dreams right here, with the people who have always been there for them. It’s about pride, it’s about belonging, and it’s about giving back.”

Coach Wood believes this method will have a lasting impact. “What Gus is doing isn’t just about winning games. It’s about building character, fostering community spirit, and creating a legacy. These kids are not just athletes; they’re future leaders, and Gus is showing them that they can lead from their own backyard.”

Malzahn efforts are not just about creating successful athletes; they are about nurturing future leaders who can lead from their own community. By building a strong foundation within the local sports scene, Gus Malzahn is making a lasting impact that will benefit the community for generations to come.

 

 

Coach Lo talks about The Importance of Building a Strong Community for the UCF Knights

 

 

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