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DeJuan Blair wins The Basketball Tournament with Overseas Elite

The Pitt product was making his case for an NBA return

Former Pitt Panthers star DeJuan Blair just wrapped up a month’s work at The Basketball Tournament as a member of Overseas Elite, and he earned $147,000 for his troubles.

On Friday night, Overseas Elite completed a TBT three-peat, topping Challenge ALS 86-83 in the tournament championship. It was a back-and-forth affair with plenty of lead changes, but Overseas Elite pulled ahead with about seven minutes to go in the second half and never let up after that.

Blair, who spent seven seasons in the NBA after leaving Pitt, contributed three rebounds and six points to the win, shooting 2-of-7 from the field. It wasn’t one of his best games, but he did have three memorable outings in the tournament.

He had a decent all-around game on July 8 against the Chattanooga Trenches, amassing seven rebounds, six points, two assists, one block and one steal. And he did even better against the Matadors on July 9 and Ram Nation on July 23, scoring 15 and 10 points, respectively.

However, he also had three off games, including the championship, and that doesn’t bode well for his overarching goal of returning to the NBA, which he shared with the Washington Post on Friday.

“I’m definitely trying to get back into the NBA,” Blair said. “The back door is always the hardest one, so you just got to keep going and keep grinding until something happens.”

Aside from The Basketball Tournament, Blair played his most recent basketball in the NBA’s G League (formerly known as the D-League), and his minutes and production have been in fairly steady decline since his third season in the NBA.

While there were moments when he shined over the last month, his lingering inconsistencies might ultimately hamstring his efforts to make the leap back onto an NBA roster.

New Cardiac Hill Staff Announcements

You may have noticed a new post went up today from an unfamiliar name. Fact is, we've got a few new contributors on board as we gear up for football season.

First, Mike Wilson, who posted today's article about Scott Orndoff, is joining us as a regular writer. He was previously at the Pitt News as an editor and will be writing on a variety of news topics. You give Mike a follow on Twitter, @xmikewilson.

Next is HokieMark, who you may have seen here before. As you might have surmised from the name, Mark is a Virginia Tech fan. So why is he here? Simple. He's got great insight into the ACC as a whole, as demonstrated on his blog, ACC Football Rx, which has been operating for several years. For a while, I've been wanting to get an ACC person in here to give takes on what's happening within the conference. I try to hit some of that but really need someone that has more expertise in that area, and that's him. He'll be writing several ACC-related pieces for us.

Finally, Jeff Ahearn will be joining us as a photographer. Matt Hawley, who has done some great work for us, is still around. Jeff will be photographing football games while Matt covers the basketball side.

Glad to have all of these guys on board. They are super talented and will be great additions.

Former Pitt tight end Scott Orndoff waived by Pittsburgh Steelers

The ex-Panther was waived Wednesday and replaced by Jake McGee

Former Pitt tight end Scott Orndoff was waived by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday afternoon, per an announcement from the team on Twitter.

The former Panther and his family were also the victims of some unfortunate timing.

“Just after noon Wednesday, Scott Orndoff was beaming about how his parents were planning on coming to Latrobe for the first time to watch him practice Thursday at training camp,” said Chris Adamski of TribLive.com.

“No more than an hour later, Orndoff was informed he won’t be practicing with the Steelers anymore.”

Orndoff was not selected in this year’s NFL draft after a standout senior season with the Panthers, but he was picked up by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in late April.

In his final season at Pitt, he pulled in 35 receptions for 579 yards and five touchdowns, ranking second on the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. The only Pitt receiver to outplay him in terms of stats was Jester Weah, who enjoyed a breakout season.

Orndoff suffered a soft-tissue injury on Sunday, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, and it appears that injury was the deciding factor in the Steelers’ decision to part ways with him.

The team signed tight end Jake McGee, who played his college ball at Virginia before transferring to Florida, to replace him.

From the Steelers’ point of view, McGee should fill the void left by Orndoff, as they’re both primarily blocking tight ends. However, McGee has proven to be more limited as a receiver, never reaching the 400-yard mark in any of his four seasons in college.

Orndoff, on the other hand, emerged as a downfield option for quarterback Nathan Peterman last year, and it would have been interesting to see what he could accomplish with Ben Roethlisberger, who also has an affinity for the deep ball.

Beyoncé interested in buying share of Houston Rockets, report says

Singer-songwriter Beyoncé is interested in buying a stake in the Houston Rocketsaccording to a Bloomberg report.

>> Beyoncé’s wax figure restyled and ‘adjusted’ after criticism

The Houston native is mulling an investment in a franchise that owner Leslie Alexander announced last month that he was planning to sell. Alexander paid $85 million for the Rockets in 1993. Forbes valued the organization at $1.65 billion earlier this year.

>> Read more trending news

Beyoncé's representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more here.

Pat Signal: Cameron O’Neil commits to Pitt

Pitt lands a wide receiver from Alabama

PITT IS IT!! #L1TS8URGH #H2P— Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB) August 1, 2017

The Pitt football program received some good news this afternoon, as Cameron O’Neil committed to the Panthers. Jerry DiPaola of the Tribune Review was the first to be able to verify that O’Neil was the commit following Pat Narduzzi’s “Pat Signal.” O’Neil is a 6’3” 190 pound wide receiver from Phenix City, Alabama. He chose Pitt over additional offers from Virginia, Illinois, and Wisconsin, along with a slew of mid-major offers.

O’Neil plays for Glenwood High School, and helped lead his team to an 8-4 record in 2016 and a trip to the AISA class AAA state semifinals. This marks the second straight recruiting class that Pitt has landed a player from Alabama, as he joins linebacker Cameron Bright from Montgomery in the class of 2017. Here is a better look at O’Neil on the gridiron.

In an article for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer in May, Glenwood High School head football coach, Jason Gibson, praised his star wide receiver, and gave a description of his play,

“He’s the best player on the field,” Gibson said. “He can run, he catches the ball better than anybody in this area, he’s physical and he can block. He’s the prototypical Division I football player. He’s what you’re looking for.”

O’Neil will likely be the only wide receiver in the class of 2018. Pitt has added three receivers in each of the past two recruiting classes, and this class is not expected to be very big, thus wide receiver is not a high priority.

Cameron O’Neil is the 12th player to join this class of 2018. Pitt won’t be taking many more, some are expecting a class size of about 16-18, and the numbers suggest that’s probably the case. This may not be the last recruiting news before the season. Brian Asamoah, a highly touted linebacker from Ohio, announced he will be making his college choice this week, and many feel he is between Pitt and Oklahoma.

Secondary news on first day of Pitt football training camp

With the first day of training camp, there was a lot of news from head coach Pat Narduzzi. Several things related to the Panthers' secondary.

The biggest question, from an eligibility standpoint, is regarding Paris Ford, who is trying to get eligible. Ford isn't quite there yet and, as a result, isn't practicing with the team. But he and Narduzzi are hopeful that he'll get academically cleared before the season.

"We’re obviously in constant contact with him," Narduzzi said. "He’s doing well. He’s doing better than expected at this point, and we’ll just wait for a decision to be made. I am hopeful with him and so is he.”

Then, there's the case of one of the Panthers' suspended players, Jordan Whitehead. If you were hoping to hear from Whitehead about his recent suspension, well, think again. Arguably the team's best defensive player, Whitehead wasn't at camp and a clear reason wasn't given. Narduzzi's only explanation was that he is dealing with some stuff from a 'university standpoint.' Not only was Whitehead not there today, but he will apparently be 'in and out' for the next two weeks.

There was also some news regarding players who were actually in camp. Prized recruit Damar Hamlin, who had a disappointing first season last year, was there and is going to be playing some safety in addition to cornerback.

“He’s played a little of both," Narduzzi said. "He ran a lot of the stuff with the corners in the summer. I didn’t get to see much of it. He’s going to meetings with the safeties, but he’s getting the mental load back there. I think that there is more mental in the safety area, but he can line up and play corner. So we expect him to play both. We want him to be a utility guy depending on how healthy he really gets, but we’ll decide that when it comes.”

Hamlin at safety is still a big question mark to me. What Pitt has really needed are corners and if Ford can gain eligibility, he would bolster the safety unit even more. Part of this could be to help cover things while Whitehead is suspended for the first three games but part of me also wonders if we're going to see him end up at safety as Whitehead did, even though Whitehead was expected to be a corner.

If Hamlin turns out to be as good at safety as Whitehead has been, it's hard to argue. And if Whitehead leaves at the end of this season for the NFL Draft as some have projected, the Panthers will need help there. Plus, right now, Hamlin seems buried on the depth chart not even cracking the two deep. If this is a way to get him on the field then maybe it's the best way to go.

But Pitt really needs to find some corners. That's especially true as Maddox, who will have started for most of his four years at Pitt, graduates after this year.

Speaking of Maddox, Narduzzi also casually mentioned the struggles of being in camp and also taking classes at the same time.

“Everything is sped up here with our kids going to classes and writing papers," Narduzzi said. "Avonte [Maddox] was up until midnight worrying about a poetry class. The issues that we are dealing with here are not just football. It’s university-related, which is great, but we are a week early, so it’s like spring ball. We’re practicing in the morning and have the afternoon off.”

Just another reminder that these kids have more on their minds other than football.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt Football Training Camp: Qadree Ollison continues to lead Pitt's crowded backfield

As we've reviewed a few times this summer, one position of strength for Pitt seems to be at running back. The Panthers lost James Conner but returned a stable of capable backs, including Qadree Ollison, the 2015 ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Ollison struggled to gain any traction last year. Part of that was because of the return of Conner but part was simply being beaten out on the depth chart. Ollison wasn't only topped by Conner for carries and yardage, but also by backups Darrin Hall and Chawntez Moss.

This year, though, Ollison seems to have the edge to be the team's starter. First, he looked good in spring practices. He was listed as the starter on the team's initial depth chart at ACC media days, earlier this month.

And at training camp, head coach Pat Narduzzi confirmed that (for now, at least), Ollison is the guy.

“We’re obviously excited," Narduzzi said. "We have a great backfield replacing James Conner. We’re looking forward, whether it’s Darrin Hall or Chawntez [Moss]. [Qadree] Ollison right now is leading the way I believe, at least after today. We’ll see what he did after today from the video, but I’m excited with what they are doing.”

We'll see how this plays out. I honestly thought that Moss was Pitt's top back early in the year until Conner got going. Moss did slow down a bit later but it's still surprising to see Ollison leapfrog both he and Hall when he (Ollison) was the fourth back last year.

All of that sort of speaks to the fluidity of the situation. When Conner was out in 2015, Narduzzi went back and forth quite a bit with Ollison, Hall, and Chris James, who was still here. I'm not still not sure we'll see a stranglehold on the job like Conner had when he was here and healthy but for now, Ollison is getting rave reviews. It will also be fun to see if one of the two freshmen, A.J. Davis and Todd Sibley, can get into the mix for carries.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt Football Training Camp: Pat Narduzzi discusses recent suspensions

Pitt football's training camp opened today so we'll have a pretty busy month. Head coach Pat Narduzzi still isn't opening up the bulk of the practices to the media so any hopes to hear about how guys are doing will be extremely limited.

But the coaches and players will be available to talk after practices and, of course, Narduzzi was asked about Pitt's recent bombshell suspensions from last week.

If there was one theme from the head coach, it's that his team will be disciplined.

“First thing, this is going to be a disciplined program," Narduzzi said. "We’re going to go by details inside too. I was a coach’s kid growing up and if I was one minute late, I’m not going out for the next month. That’s just the way it is. We’re going to be disciplined. And as soon as you lose your discipline, you lose your credibility as a football coach and as a program. And we’re going to have discipline. It’s going to be little things and it’s going to vary from time to time, but that’s all in the accumulation of pride.”

He added a little more to the credibility thing, also mentioning something I said when this news happened - these aren't rookies.

“I think it’s just being consistent," said Narduzzi. "I think you have to be consistent with what you are doing."

It’s consistent to what we have done in the past. Those are older guys and we hope they make smarter decisions than some of the other guys.”

One interesting thing that Narduzzi hinted at was while it was a first-time deal one of the two players suspended for three games (Jordan Whitehead and Quintin Wirginis), the other seemed to have multiple offenses.

“Maybe one of them is a one-time deal and one is a few different things," said Narduzzi before adding, "It is what it is.”

I'm not going to get into the speculation of who did what or who was the multiple-time offender. But you can gather from that statement is that one of the two guys has been in some trouble before or had several issues with this specific incident.

Either way, Pitt will be disadvantaged in their first three contests this season.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pete Rose accused of sex with underage girl in 1970s in court filing

Via a court filing in a lawsuit, Pete Rose has been accused statutory rape.

>> Watch the news report here

WCPO reports that lawyers for John Dowd obtained a sworn statement from a woman claiming she had sex with the former Cincinnati Reds star player and manager in the 1970s when she was under 16, the age of consent in Ohio.

>> On MyDaytonDailyNews.com: Rose’s lawsuit against Dowd allowed to move forward

According to court documents, Rose admitted to a sexual relationship with the woman but claimed it did not begin until she was 16 or take place outside of Ohio, another accusation leveled against him. Rose was 34 and married with children at the time.

>> Pete Rose's record-breaking ball sells for $403K

Rose filed a defamation suit against Dowd after Dowd told a radio station in 2015 that Michael Bertolini, Rose’s business partner and alleged bookie, told him he used to arranged relationships with underage girls for Rose during spring training.

Bertolini has denied saying that to Dowd, who compiled the report that led to Rose accepting a ban from baseball in 1989.

Rose denied that allegation and filed a defamation suit in federal court in Pennsylvania. Earlier this month, a judge ruled the suit could proceed.

>> Read more trending news

Dowd, a longtime high-powered lawyer who joined President Donald Trump’s legal team in June, is reportedly intending “to discredit Rose as a serial liar and a womanizer who regularly had sex with teenagers,” according to WCPO.

Martin Garbus, a lawyer representing Rose, told WCPO that the woman lied in her statement and “Dowd has sent out a number of investigators, and he has spoken to many, many women in an attempt to get them to falsely claim that Pete had statutorily raped a girl.”

Los Angeles to host 2028 Summer Olympics; Paris wins 2024 Games

The city of Los Angeles will host the Summer Olympics in 2028 instead of the 2024 Games, as previously considered, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday, citing an unnamed source. 

It will be the city’s third time hosting the event. Los Angeles previously hosted the Games in 1932 and again in 1984.

>> Read more trending news

According to the Times, an International Olympic Committee is expected to make an announcement later Monday.

The last time the Games took place on American soil was in 2002, when the Winter Games took place in Salt Lake City. Before that, the most recent Games hosted in the U.S. were in Atlanta during the summer of 1996.

The following cities have won bids for upcoming Olympic Games: 

  • Pyeongchang -- Winter Games 2018
  • Tokyo -- Summer Games 2020
  • Beijing -- Winter Games 2022
  • Paris -- Summer Games 2024
  • Los Angeles -- Summer Games 2028
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