High School Basketball Prospects Changing College Paths

NCAA sports do not pay their student-athletes. A topic that has been up to debate the last few years. The argument that NCAA profits off its players, but players can be punished for making money off their talents. Arguments include that elite players already have a free scholarship. One of the sports that comes into question is basketball. Over the years, the NBA has put rules in place that players have to go to college for at least one year, before being drafted. Now, there are ways around this. Players can go play internationally, like LaMelo Ball. However, a new opportunity is presenting itself here in America.

The NBA G-League, formerly known as the D-League, before Gatorade became an official title sponsor. The G-League is now a minor league that farms athletes for NBA teams. The concept is similar to minor league baseball. The G-League has become more prominent in the last decade, with now every NBA team being affiliated with a G-League team. Contracts are around $30,000 to $40,000.

Jalen Green is the top high school recruit and the first to sign with the G-League. The image is taken from NBA.Com. All rights reserved to NBA.com.

However, that is being changed. The league can now offer up to $120,000 for select prospects. The prospects in question? The top high school players. Three of the top players in high school, who would have spent next year in the NCAA, before being drafted into the NBA, have decided to sign with the G-league.  Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd, and Daishen Nix have all signed with the G-League.

Todd had committed to Michigan. Nix was signed by UCLA. Both decided to negate their commitments to sign with the G-league. Nix is highly considered to be the top point guard for the 2021 draft after his one year NCAA eligibility. Todd is a big athletic power forward. Green is the cream of the crop. He is expected to be the number one draft pick in 2021.

This changes the landscape for players in basketball to become professionals and enter the NBA. Complaints about the huge turnover due to NCAA basketball players of elite talent going to the NBA after a year is ruining college basketball. Now, with the G-League offering higher contracts, college basketball might lose the opportunity to even signed elite high school players.

Duke’s coach Mike Krzyzewski was interviewed about it on NBA.Com. ““It’s affected our game,” Krzyzewski said. “Really, anybody can win. I’m not saying that’s bad. I’m saying that’s what happened. … If you look at this as a business, the amount of guys going (to the NBA), the amount of guys testing (the NBA waters), the amount of guys transferring, whoa. Whoa. It’s a lot. It’s a lot.”

Recently, the NCAA has decided to have each division write their own rules on how to allow college athletes to make money off their names and talents.  The president citing that times are different and they [NCAA] have to change with it. The NCAA will have to wait on each state legislature before moving forward with it, but this is a win for college athletes, who bring in millions for their schools. For college basketball, this is an important change that needs to happen as the rise of the G-League continues to become a threat.

The Lakers Returns Loan

Lakers Logo Stock Photos & Lakers Logo Stock Images - Alamy
Image taken from https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/lakers-logo.html.

On April 27, the NBA reported on its website that the Los Angeles Lakers return the $4.6 million they received from the stimulus loan program. The program was meant for small businesses but was depleted by large businesses like Shake Shack.

The Lakers are worth $4.6 billion according to Forbes in a February report by azcentral.com.

Small Businesses, often consider to be the heart of the economy, were not able to receive the loan they desperately need because of corporations like the Lakers and Shake Shack being able to draw upon the package.

To note, as of the writing, it appears the Lakers were the only NBA team to apply for the loan. The Lakers organization is one of the biggest markets in the NBA. In 2019 their operating income was $178 million dollars. They average around $54  in revenue per fan. They spend $120 million on player expenses.  Their revenue is 434 million. They are also sponsored by the likes of American Express, Delta Airlines, Nike, Staples, Toyota, and Verizon Wireless, amongst others.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting every company, especially those of the entertainment variety like the NBA. The Lakers is an organization that doesn’t need to take part in a small business loan program.

However, the Lakers issued a statement on Monday, saying that they qualified for and received the loan under the Payroll Protection Program. When they heard the funds were depleted, they felt the financial support would be directed to those most in need.

According to NBA.com, the Treasury Department issued further guidance for the loan program, asking larger companies not to apply if they don’t need the money for survival.

One of the reasons the Lakers qualified is because they only have 300 employees, but are the NBA’s second most valuable franchise. No one has been fired at the time of this writing.

For more on the story, visit the NBA website.

Jameis Winston Signing

Jameis Winston has signed with the New Orleans Saints. He will be a back up to Drew Bress and possibly Taysom Hill. After a lackluster three seasons with Tampa Bay, Winston has the chance to learn from Drew Brees, one of the most accurate passers in the NFL last year.

According to his interview with Jeremy Bergman, writer of Around the NFL, he seems excited about the opportunity. Winston considers Brees to be someone he has always looked up too and admired. He views this as preparation for the next phase of his career.

Las Vegas Raiders Draft Results

The Raiders finished 4-12 two seasons ago and improved to a 7-9 last year in John Gruden’s sophomore year as head coach. They had glaring positional needs this year, chief among them being is improving the wide receivers and corner-backs.position. In the 2020 draft, the Raiders impressed with their picks and look ready to take another step towards their division rivals and reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Henry Ruggs III - Football - University of Alabama Athletics
Henry Ruggs III making a play in college. Image taken from https://rolltide.com/sports/football/roster/henry-ruggs-iii/5465

In the first round, the Raiders chose with the 12th pick wide receiver Henry Ruggs III from Alabama. This reunites Ruggs with the Raiders running back and college teammate, Josh Jacobs. Ruggs dedicated the night to his dead friend who encouraged him to pursue football. Ruggs is a speedy receiver that will compliment Tyrell Williams. With Williams’s questionable durability, Ruggs could be primed to become Derek Carr’s number one choice. He stretches the field which will allow newcomer Nelson Agholor to play slot receiver and open up Williams more.

With the 19th pick of the first round, they chose Damon Arnette from Ohio. A physical cornerback that helps improve their defensive backs. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder, from the answer he gave Coach Gruden on draft night, about not being the first cornerback chosen in the draft. The Raiders made the most out of this pick that came from Chicago.

The Raiders had three third-round picks at number 80,81 and 100. They drafted versatile Lynn Bowden Jr., from Kentucky who can play wide receiver and running back, giving the Raiders more flexibility to their offense and helping Josh Jacobs who had to carry the ball most of the time. Then they drafted Bryan Edwards a wideout from South Carolina. Edwards is a big, strong target that again gives Carr more weapons on the offense. Tanner Muse, a safety from Clemson, promises to make an immediate contribution to the defensive backs and special teams.

In the fourth round with picks 109 and 139, the Raiders drafted John Simpson and Amik Robertson. Simpson is a big guard that will be groomed to take over for the aging Richie Incognito. Giving the offensive line a younger, more dynamic future. Robertson broke into tears when he received the call from Gruden. Robertson is a cornerback from Louisiana Tech and will help improve defense and has great instincts.

The Raider’s improvement last year is thanks to a highly talented rookie class led by running back Josh Jacobs and defensive end Max Crosby. The Raiders improved both their offense and defense with their picks this year as they try to win the division from the Kansas City Chiefs.

WWE News & Results: April 28, 2020

  • WWE releases former UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez. Reported by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Cain debuted on the first Fox network episode of Smackdown and enter a world championship feud with then WWE champion Brock Lesnar.
  • WrestleTalk reports that Gerald Brisco was released by WWE. WWE released 40% of its entire workforce over a week ago. Gerald Brisco has been with the company since 1984 and responsible for seeing talent in Brock Lesnar.
  • The former WWE tag team, The Revival, were released from their contracts before WWE released their workforce. The Revival, now going by The Revolt, tried leaving back in January 2019. It’s rumored that they are seeking a deal with AEW that will allow them to wrestle with AEW and other promotions. This would be the same contract that AEW’s Chris Jericho, John Moxley, and Kenny Omega have with the company.

WWE Monday Night Raw Results for April 27, 2020:

  • Samoa Joe is back on commentary.
  • Money in the Bank Raw participants Apollo Crews, Rey Mysterio, and Aleister Black appeared on the MVP Lounge. They were interrupted by Zelina Vega’s faction consisting of United States Champion Andrade, Angel Garza, and Austin Theory

    Image and rights belong to WWE.
  • Rey, Black, and Crew defeated Andrade, Garza, and Theory. After the match Apollo slap Andrade to set up a United States champions match as the main event.
  • There was a video package for Triple H’s 25th anniversary.
  • Nia took out both her opponents resulting in a no-contest with Asuka and Shayna Blazer.

    Image and rights belong to WWE.
  • Bobby Lashley convinced his wife, Lana, to stay backstage. He went on to defeat Denzel Dejournette.
  • Liv Morgan defeated Ruby Riot for the second straight week.
  • The Viking Raiders challenged the WWE Raw tag team champions, The Street Profits.
  • Jinder Mahal returned to defeat Akira Tozawa.
  • Apollo injured his knee in his match with Andrade forcing the referee to stop the match. Apollo will be pulled from the Money in the Bank match later this month.
  • Cedric Alexander and Ricochet defeated Ever-Rise. They accepted MVP’s challenge after the match.
  • In the main event WWE Champion Drew Mcintyre and number one challenger, Seth Rollins had their contract signing. Drw smashed Seth Rollins’s head into the table before being attacked by Murphy. Embracing Murphy, Rollins avoided a claymore from drew that connected with Murphy.

Mamba Fury

Nike’s Mamba Fury

Kobe’s passing has left a void in the hearts of his fans and the game. Coming soon will be the release of his next signature shoe, the Mamba Fury. With three color selection:black/red, black/white, and white/silver, Kobe fans will be able to carry on his Mamba mentality.
MambaFury
The Mamba Fury is the latest of budget friendly shoes. Fans will enjoy its sleek and technical style. Kobe’s own logo embroiled into the tongue. Along with a low-top cut and snake pattern on the toe, the shoe is the Zoom air cushion on the forefoot and mid sole.
Kobe’s mentality, his legacy, will last forever. Show your Mamba mentality. Show your FURY.

Coming Soon

Another Month of Quarantine

April is almost over and it looks like we have until mid-May or June before the economy reopens. According to several news sources such as Fox News and CNN, President Trump is leaving it up to the governors. Even though President Trump has a federal guideline, most states are going to go by a case by case basis.

I’m in New Jersey, one of the hotbeds for Covid-19. Worse, I’m in Willingboro, one of the rising epicenters. Staying at home has become routine and I stated before April on Facebook you should spend the 30 days improving yourself.

I started a new routine which included daily devotionals, working out, and focusing on my multimedia career. Now, I’m not going to lie to you. I failed to keep the routine and changed the focus of my “classes.”

Overall, I managed to finished the redesigns of the characters for a video game project. I also completed my graduate work for the week. I’m eating healthier these days. My finances are looking better and I’m learning more about investing than I did before.

In May, my goals, because I don’t think Jersey will open up until June, will be to focus on my writing, editing, and illustration skills. I’m going back to my military days with an early 6:30am wakeup. Then I go into my devotional using the Our Daily Bread website and Tony Dungy’s The One Year Uncommon Daily Life Challenge.

During the course of the morning I’m changing my time from 8:45 to 6:45am. That way I’m done at 1:55pm. I want to make sure I invest time for both schoolwork and my writing before I return to my job at Hyatt Place.

During those hours, I’m using a block scheduling setup. Each block is 90 minutes, except for my lunch block which is 49 minutes. There is a five minute break in-between each block, again except for lunch.

I decided to focus on expository, persuasive, fictional, and personal writing. In each block I will focus on working on an additional skillset. For example in one block, I will focus on grammar.

During the five minute breaks I will do a workout I found in Men’s Health. The workout goal is to develop a lean, toned physique. Focusing on one exercise for the chest, back, abs, legs, and arms. The routine calls for three sets of five reps. I chose pushups (chest), back (prone back extensions), basic crunches (abs), ski-hops(legs) and dips (arms). By the end of my work day I will complete around 60 reps. Each exercise is bodyweight and I can do them anytime.

With 90 minutes for each writing block, I will get back into providing content again. The schedule also gives me time to work on my graduate studies.
-Narrative: screenplays, journals, novels
-Expository: technical writing, grammar, how-to articles, sports
-Persuasive: media reviews and copywriting
-Art: drawing, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign

Staying discipline is the key, which is getting harder for some reason being quarantine. There will be more content my graduate classes come first, however. Stay tuned as I will be updating my YouTube, Patreon, and Fiverr pages.

Be Terrific!

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Film Review: Wreck-it Ralph

Amazon.com: Wreck-It Ralph and Ralph Breaks the Internet Duopack ...

Who is the protagonist? The protagonist is Ralph.

What is the protagonist’s character flaw? His character flaw is being unhappy. This is because he is the antagonist of FIx-it Felix, a video game.  He doesn’t get medals, the citizens treat him badly, and he sleeps outside in bricks. All of this has made him a jaded character who wants to be more than a bad guy. 

What is the character’s physical goal? At first, it seems he just wants to fit in and be invited. Ralph has a confrontation with Gene. This results in Ralph choosing to go get a medal to prove he isn’t a bad guy.

What is the character’s emotional goal? Ralph’s emotional goal is to be happy. He feels that having a medal will allow him to achieve that goal. 

Who is the antagonist for the protagonist? The antagonist for Ralph is Turbo. Turbo was another character who became unhappy with his role. Turbo caused his game to become unplugged by attempting to go into another game.  He succeeded in becoming The Candy King of the Sugar Rush game and will do anything to keep his appearance and past secret. When Ralph befriends Vanellope, he becomes an obstacle for Turbo/Candy King. 

Who is the reflection character for the protagonist? Vanellope serves as the reflection character for Ralph. At first, they don’t seem to have anything in common. Ralph watches he other racers mistreat Vanellope. This is an emotional moment of his character. When he goes to stop the racers, it is because he is mistreated by the people in his own game. The two agree to help each other and during the process, Ralph learns that she sleeps in a dump like him.  This makes their connection stronger because of their outcast status.

Who, if anyone, is the romantic interest for the protagonist? There is no romantic interest for Ralph. 

What is the A-Story? [This is the main storyline of the hero which is to win, stop, escape, or retrieve something against a specific nemesis.  The goal must be something that can be seen on-screen. It is not an emotional goal.] The main story is about Ralph retrieving a medal. This goal is what moves the narrative forward and everything that happens revolves around getting the medal.

What is the B-Story? [This is a supporting story to the A-Story that may initially seem separate from the A-Story plotline.] The B-story is about learning to be happy with himself. This is brought up in the beginning by Zangief and the other villains. Ralph doesn’t understand this and continues to be unhappy. After his confrontation with Gene, he feels he needs the medal to be happy and to gain positive attention from the others. 

What happens in stage I, which presents the ordinary world of the story: In Ralph’s ordinary world he is the bad guy. He wrecks the buildings that Felix can fix.  When Felix “wins” Ralph is thrown off the roof and into the mud. He is also forced to sleep outside by a stump and uses bricks for covers. He is also physically different from the other citizens. He is big, with overgrown arms and fist.   

What is the inciting incident of the plot? The inciting incident occurs during the anniversary party of their game. Ralph awkwardly manipulates his way in. The other citizens, afraid, belittle and ignore him. He tries to put his figurine on top with Felix. Trying to make everyone understand that he isn’t a bad guy. The others refuse to see him as anything but a bad guy. The voice of the citizens, Gene, keeps antagonizing Ralph, causing Ralph to boast that he will find a medal that is better than any medal Felix has. Gene retorts that “bad guys don’t get medals.” Ralph leaves, mad and determined to get a medal. 

What is the turning point #1 choice the protagonist makes regarding the inciting incident? The turning point is when Ralph goes to Tappers to find information on where to go to get a medal. He is rejected by the barkeeper. He runs into Markowski, who is from Hero’s Duty, a first-person shooter game. He infiltrates the game as Markowski. This symbolizes Ralph leaving his ordinary world into an unordinary world.

What is the new situation for the protagonist to deal with in stage 2? His new situation occurs when he realizes new games are violent. After surviving the bug-fight, he goes to retrieve the medal. In the process, he accidentally frees a cy-bug that attacks him. They land in a jet and take off arriving in Candy Rush. He ends up losing his medal to Vanellope and spends the rest of the act trying to get it back from her. 

What is the turning point #2 choice the protagonist makes regarding the new situation of stage 2? The second turning point is when he finds out she has to win a race to get his medal back, he chooses to help her in building a new kart. 

What happens in stage 3 that challenges the protagonist even more deeply than in stage 2? Ralph wants to help Vanellope but feels he is only good at wrecking stuff. He ends up helping build a new kart for Vanellope. Then he learns that she doesn’t know how to drive.

What is the turning point #3 choice the protagonist makes that deeply commits the protagonist to the goal?  He makes a commitment to her by helping her learn to drive. They grow closer and learn together.

What happens in stage 4 that complicates the plot and raises the stakes? Turbo/Candy King finds them and gives Ralph his medal back on the condition Ralph stops Vanellope.

What is the turning point #4 choice that leads to a major setback? What is the setback?   Ralph tries to convince Vanellope not to race. He has what he wants, but he feels bad about lying to Vanellope.

What is the final push that occurs in stage 5 of the plot? Ralph chooses to destroy the kart, but in the process, Vanellope discovers Ralph betrayed her. She calls him a bad guy. Ralph returns to his game, but there is no celebration, even with his medal. He looks at Candy Rush and learns that Vanellope is a main character for the game.

What is the turning point #5 choice that shows the protagonist overcoming the protagonist’s character flaw that leads to the climax of the plot?  Realizing that she is supposed to be part of the main roster for Sugar Rush. He also realizes that his medal didn’t change his life like he thought it would.  He decides to find Vanellope and help her win to take her rightful place in the game. During the climax, Turbo is revealed and Ralph sacrifices himself to save Vanellope and the Sugar Rush game. 

What is the aftermath of the climax? Vanellope learns to control her glitches and saves Ralph as Turbo and the other cy-bus are destroyed. Vanellope is revealed to be the princess of Sugar Rush and Ralph is treated better by the citizens of his game.  He helps build homes that act as bonus levels for other homeless characters in his game. 

How has this analysis helped your understanding of screenplay structure?   This analysis helped me have a better visual of how to tell a story. 

What insights into structure, inner and outer motivations, and/or theme do you see now, that you may not have noticed in the past?  Please be detailed. All of Ralph’s actions all come from his inner motivation which is driving the outer motivation. He chases Vanellope because she had his medal, the item he thinks will change his life for the better. He befriends her because they are both mistreated and by helping her he will be able to get the medal back. When he gets the medal, he is more than willing to leave Vanellpe. His inner journey connects with the theme which is stated by other villainous characters. Labels don’t define you. His whole journey is learning that he isn’t a bad guy and that he doesn’t’ need a medal to prove it. 

Game Review: Grandia II, Part 1

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I hope you’re doing terrific today,

I spent my free time during my first semester at school playing Grandia II, instead of studying.  The game was not only fun to play, but the story was interesting.  Grandia II was the first roleplaying game I played that utilized a real-time, turn-based system. The characters instead of performing actions and waiting, could run around and attack or evade. This mechanic made it fun, but the characters and the story are what make Grandia II a great narrative game. 

In reviewing Grandia II’s narrative structure we will see how the narrative enhances the game. Often, a narrative could make or break a game, regardless of mechanics and graphics. 

Fans of real-time roleplaying games (RPG’s” would be interested to know that this game received positive reviews for the Sega Dreamcast version. Receiving a 5/5 from Gamepro Magazine, receiving 5.0 for graphics, 4.5 for sound, 5.0 for control, and 5.0 for fun. The game also received 8/10 from GameInformer.

 I played relentless hours playing this game when I first bought it. Forgoing parties to kill goblins and monsters. I even bought the Playstation 2 version after the Dreamcast became obsolete. 

We will go over the background, characters, plot, and production of Grandia II to see how the elements come together to build a narrative.

Image result for grandia 2 gameplay
All rights reserved to GameArts. The battle screen allows characters to move instead of standing. 

Background

Grandia II was released in North American on December 6, 2000, by GameArts. The game had CG story sequences, anime-like designs, and the visuals for the attacks are amazing. Grandia II’s story revolves around the death of Granas. A Christ-like figure, who died in battle with Valmar, who is the antichrist. The result was that part of the land was split and Valmar was also killed.  However, Valmar’s darkness still looms and the Church of Granas is trying to perform holy ceremonies to keep the darkness sealed.  

Grandia II is a fantasy-based world that is similar to other RPG’s with its sword and sorcery background. The characters do fit archetypes but are different enough to provide comedy and drama. The plot is also a typical hero’s journey to defeat the villain. However, the themes and story propel the plot forward for a fun and entertaining game.

Image result for grandia 2 gameplay
Example of dialogue in-game.

The game is not a direct sequel to Grandia, with the idea being a more “mature” product that the previous title. This is evident by the protagonist of the game, Ryudo, a geo-hound (bounty hunter) who will be discussed later. For now, think of him like a Han Solo from Star Wars or Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He has issues with the church but is brought into this battle between good and evil.  Along with a very loose seven deadly sins theme, the writers do a wonderful job in crafting a narrative. 

In the next part, we will discuss the characters of Grandia II. Until then…

Be Terrific