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Mark Byington To Speak At Roanoke Sports Club April 19

First-year James Madison men's basketball coach Mark Byington, who was scheduled to speak to the Roanoke Sports Club prior to the season, will take advantage of the recent loosening of COVID restrictions on social gatherings, and make his first appearance before the group April 19 at the Salem Civic Center.

The Dukes finished 13-7 this past season under Byington, who took over for Louis Rowe, who was not retained after JMU went 9-20 in 2019-2020 and posted a 43-85 record over four sub-.500 seasons.

Matt Lewis, a 6-5 senior from Bishop O'Connell, had a team-high 19.7 points per game this past season and was first on the team in assists, as well as second in rebounds per game and steals.

After a 3-4 start, JMU won 10 of its next 11 games. Byington, the state player of the year when he was a senior at Salem High School, previously had gone 131-97 as the head coach at Georgia Southern before accepting the job at JMU.

Recruiting

Gonzaga, which was on the brink of an NCAA championship after going undefeated in its first 29 games, received a late March commitment from the nation's top-rated point guard for 2021-22, 6-5 Hunter Sallis from Omaha, Nebraska.

According to Rivals, Sallis had 31 Division I offers. Rivals lists him with offers from two ACC programs -- North Carolina and Florida State -- as well as such national powers as UCLA, Kansas and Ohio State.

More On The Portal

Two-year Virginia point guard Casey Morsell has been joined in the Transfer Portal by Maryland guard Darryl Morsell (no relation). … Chris Lykes, sidelined by a knee injury this year after scoring more than 1,200 points in three seasons at Miami, is transferring to Arkansas.

Lykes' choice came down to Arkansas and Southern Cal. He'll be joined in Fayetteville by Au'Diese Toney from Pittsburgh. University of Miami head coach Jim Larranaga earlier had reported that Lykes was planning to go directly to the NBA.

Projections

Gonzaga, unbeaten until its loss to Baylor in the NCAA championship final, heads a list of preseason projections on the 247 Sports site.

Duke is No. 9 on that list, followed by Florida State at No. 14 and Virginia  at No. 15. That site thinks that top returning scorer Trey Murphy will test the NBA waters but eventually stay at Virginia and that UVa is likely to add a transfer, with 6-7, 235-pound Jayden Gardner from East Carolina getting a lot of mention.

Gardner averaged 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds for an 8-11 ECU team.

Coaching Carousel

Maryland-Baltimore County basketball coach Ryan Odom, best known for guiding a No. 16-seeded team to its first victory over a No. 1 seed (Virginia) in the NCAA Tournament, has accepted an offer to become the head coach at Utah State. Odom, named coach of the year in the America East this past season, is the son of former Wake Forest head coach and UVa assistant Dave Odom.

Connection

The family of former Virginia Tech basketball star Dell Curry was on display at the NCAA women's basketball Final Four, where Stanford freshman Cameron Brink took the floor against South Carolina. Sonya Curry, Dell's wife, is Brink's godmother.

“I’ve been teasing on our (combined) family group chat that Cameron is the most successful athlete in our family, at least collegiately,” Sonya Curry was quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Stanford was a 66-65 winner over the Gamecocks in the NCAA Women's semifinals, then beat Arizona 54-53 for the title.

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