Alonzo Spellman, who played the defensive line for nine seasons in the National Football League, has been released from jail in Tulsa, Okla., after pleading no contest to a variety of charges, multiple sources reported.Online court records indicate Spellman, who was in Tulsa County Jail, pleaded no contest on Monday to 10 counts filed in 2008. They include eluding a police officer and assault with a dangerous weapon, both felonies, plus obstructing an officer and public intoxication, both misdemeanors.The 40-year-old Spellman was sentenced to one year in jail and was released after receiving credit for time served. David Phillips, Spellman’s attorney, has said that Spellman has a mental illness. Spellman, who played at Ohio State, was the 22nd pick in the 1992 draft by the Chicago Bears, and played for them through 1997. He also was with the Dallas Cowboys (1999-2000) and the Detroit Lions (2001).
Kobe Bryant had the stitches removed, is out of the cast and faces nearly six weeks of rehabilitation since completing surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon in his left leg. After all that, Bryant is still hoping for a return by the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2013-14 season opener.“I hope so,” Bryant said in a sit-down interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com on Monday. “That’s the challenge. With the tendon, there’s really only but so much you can do. There’s a certain amount of time that they deem necessary for the tendon to heal where you don’t overstretch it and now you never get that spring back.“So, you just have to be patient, let the tendon heal, and then when that moment comes when they say, ‘OK, we can take off the regulator so to speak and now it’s on you to train as hard as you can to get back to where you want to be,’ that’s going to be a good day.”Before that day is likely to occur, there will be another date on the calendar that holds particular significance for how Bryant’s Lakers will look next season: July 1, the day Dwight Howard can begin to hear competing offers as a free agent.While Howard reportedly has strong interest in the Houston Rockets and could be courted by Dallas, Atlanta, Golden State and Cleveland, Bryant is in no rush to be the first to pitch the All-Star center to come back to L.A.“For me, you kind of let him do his due diligence and then move in and talk to him and figure out if this is a place he wants to be,” Bryant said. “We all want him here. But then that’s when the selling begins [after Howard is courted by other teams]. You don’t start the selling process right before he goes and does all this stuff. You want to get the last word. You want to have the final word and the closing argument.“I’ll give him a little opening statement, but then I have to make sure I have the final word.”If Howard ends up being a one-year rental rather than the face of the franchise moving forward, Bryant is confident the Lakers, with 16 championships to their credit, will still find a way to thrive.“This franchise is a franchise that you really don’t have to worry about too much, because no matter what happens, whether it’s a year from now, two years from now, whatever the case may be, they’re always going to find a way to have an impact on this league,” Bryant said.Should the Lakers resort to a Plan B if Howard walks, Bryant said he will make his voice part of the process.“It’s gotten to a point at this stage in my career where those lines of communication are more open and we talk more frequently both with [general manager] Mitch [Kupchak] and [vice president of player personnel] Jimmy [Buss] and [vice president of business operations] Jeanie [Buss] to a certain extent,” Bryant said. “Those lines of communication are open.”Bryant has already communicated with Jeanie Buss’ fiance and his former coach, Phil Jackson, over what Jackson wrote about Bryant in his recent book, “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success.” In the book Jackson gave the nod to Michael Jordan when comparing the two shooting guards.“I talked to Phil about it,” said Bryant, who added that he has not read the book. “I said, ‘You know, you can’t compare me at [age] 21-22-23 to Michael at 28-29-30. That’s not a fair comparison.’ But, you know, I’m comfortable at resting on my five [championships] and what I had to do for this team to be successful.“We both had different roles, and [Jordan] had his level of frustration coming up as a young player and challenges that he had to deal with, and I had mine in playing a different role to what I thought naturally I could do. We had different career paths, man, so it’s kind of tough to [compare]. At least for me it is, anyway.”While Jordan holds the edge in championships (six to Bryant’s five) and career points (32,292 for third all time to Bryant’s 31,617 for fourth all time), Bryant said he has already accomplished what he set out to achieve when he was drafted into the NBA as a 17-year-old out of high school in 1996.“When I came into the league, I wanted to win multiple championships,” Bryant said, appearing in good spirits and clean shaven after growing a beard for nearly a month following his Achilles surgery. “As a young kid, it was like, well, this is what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to win five, six, seven championships, because that’s what Magic [Johnson] did. That’s what [Bill] Russell did. That’s what Jordan did. I feel very comfortable with my career and what I’ve been able to accomplish in that regard.”Read more: ESPN.
LeBron James (Keith Allison/Flickr)In a year full of bold political moves by athletes, LeBron James and several of his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates are refusing to stay at Trump Soho in New York City. The hotel, though not owned by President-elect Donald Trump, is branded with his name and caused a few of the Cavs to seek other accommodations as they prepare to take on the New York Knicks Wednesday, Dec. 7.According to Cleaveland.com, Cavs’ general manager David Griffin said arrangements are being made for what could include up to seven of the 14 traveling teammates to stay at another unnamed hotel. Trump SoHo had been booked ahead of the 2016 presidential election and Griffin noted it is the only NBA-quality hotel that could guarantee rooms for the team’s family and friends in case the Cavs make the postseason.James’ endorsement of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton explains his unwillingness to stay at the hotel. In October, Atlanta Black Star reported the power forward believed Clinton was the only candidate who understood the struggles of oppressed Americans.In the wake of the Nov. 8 election results, many Cavaliers players have expressed their disappointment. On Instagram, shooting guard J.R. Smith questioned how he would explain the outcome to his young daughter. Echoing ESPN analyst Jalen Rose’s proclamation that NBA teams will stop visiting the White House, reserve forward Richard Jefferson made the same statement on Snapchat after the Cavs met with Obama to celebrate their championship in November. While speaking to Complex last week, Iman Shumpert declared he would not visit the White House under the Trump administration.“I can’t get caught up in the racial, sexist bull—- he’s got going on,” Shumpert said.” That’s his personal thing.”The Cavs join at least three other NBA teams that won’t stay in the Chicago and Manhattan hotels bearing Trump’s name, ESPN reported. They include the Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies. The Illinois-based hotel, in contrast to the one in New York City, is owned and operated by Trump’s company.
After missing out on some of the other big names that moved this offseason, the Boston Celtics snagged Gordon Hayward, signing him as a free agent this week. In the video above, Neil Paine discusses how Hayward may help the Celtics and whether this latest addition will be enough to help Boston beat the Cleveland Cavaliers.Read more: Gordon Hayward Is Exactly What The Celtics Needed
OSU Redshirt Junior Quarterback J.T. Barret (16) drops back into the pocket for a pass during the game against Northwestern on Oct. 29, 2016 at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes won 24-20. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo EditorThe sixth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes square off in the biggest home game so far in 2016 against the No. 10 Nebraska Cornhuskers in primetime in Ohio Stadium on Saturday. The Scarlet and Gray are honoring the 1916 Big Ten championship team and Chic Harley, who served during World War I, with a special-edition, throwback uniform.The jerseys will be a new look for OSU, but many rather witness a change in the style of play than what the Buckeye offense has displayed the past four weeks. Enhanced by excellence at times, and marred by stagnation on other occasions, the passing game for OSU has been riddled with inconsistency, which has kept fans on edge. At Wednesday’s press conference, Meyer indicated that a breakout in the downfield passing game is coming from redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett.“I’m ready if you are,” Meyer said.In last week’s 24-20 victory over Northwestern, OSU attempted just a handful of passes downfield and only registered one completion over 20 yards, which set up the game-winning score. Barrett said that it’s difficult for the receivers to run past defenders when they’re playing 10 to 12 yards off the ball — a look that Northwestern often showed the Buckeyes.One of OSU’s touchdown drives against Northwestern took just nine plays to go 94 yards in under three minutes. Two drives later, OSU milked the clock for more than eight minutes and scored after 15 plays. Meyer said whether it be up-tempo or wearing a defense down throughout a drive, he just cares about scoring.“If we’re getting certain defenses that we don’t like (in up-tempo), then you get stuck in a bad play,” he said. “Throughout the course of the game we can go to tempo any time that we want.”Barrett might face his toughest challenge of the year going against a Nebraska secondary that has ball-hawking tendencies. Nebraska leads the NCAA in interceptions with 15, including two returned for touchdowns. Safeties Nate Gerry and Kieron Williams lead the team and the Big Ten with four interceptions, making the Cornhuskers one of the most difficult teams to throw downfield against.Nebraska allowed one pass for more than 20 yards in its loss to No. 8 Wisconsin the previous week. However, The Cornhuskers surrendered 5.9 yards per carry on the ground against the Badgers. Redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber and junior H-back Curtis Samuel have been heavily involved in the passing game and have been given a combined 25 to 30 carries each game.Establishing an effective running game with Weber and Samuel might force Gerry and Williams to play up, therefore opening up the second level for receivers like redshirt sophomore Noah Brown.“We definitely work on the deep ball every week in practice. We try to put it in the game plan every week,” Brown said. “We’re very confident in the deep ball and we’ll get it done.”Kickoff is at 8 p.m.
Freshman forward Nichelle Prince (7) celebrates a goal with her teammates during a match against Michigan State Oct. 12 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU won, 3-1.Credit: Daniel Rogers / Asst. sports editorThe Ohio State women’s soccer team (8-3-3, 2-2-2) had failed to score since a 3-1 victory against Indiana Sept. 26, but that scoring hiatus ended Saturday as three different Buckeyes found the back of the net on their way to a 3-1 win against Michigan State.“It felt good to get some goals after struggling for the past three games,” sophomore forward Michela Paradiso said. “It feels good, just to remember what (winning) feels like.”Coach Lori Walker said she was also pleased with the effort from her team offensively.“We’ve got the right people in the right places, and (Saturday) we were able to just have the confidence to find the back of the net,” Walker said.The offensive control for OSU started early, outshooting the Spartans 9-3 during the first half.The Buckeyes were able to capitalize on that advantage in the 38th minute, as a header from junior midfielder Ellyn Gruber put OSU on the board first with an assist from Freshman forward Nichelle Prince.“Nichelle got end-line, and that’s what we’ve been working on all week. She played a great ball in the air and I just knocked it in,” Gruber said.Prince would get her own goal in the 72nd minute, giving the Buckeyes a two-goal advantage.The Spartans edged closer with a goal from junior midfielder Nicole Caruso in the 76th minute, assisted by redshirt-sophomore Kirsten Evans.Paradiso put Michigan State (7-5-2, 1-5) away just minutes later, scoring the games final goal in the 80th minute.“I was able to spin the (defender), and then I got the ball back and caught the ball back against her, and toe-poked it with my right foot in the corner (of the net),” Paradiso said.Paradiso said she was also happy with her team’s performance offensively.“It felt much better … we got the ball wide and were able to go end-line on them, and I think we connected a lot better,” she said.A road match against Penn State is up next for the Buckeyes, scheduled for Thursday at 3 p.m in University Park, Pa.
OSU redshirt-freshman H-back Jalin Marshall (17) carries the ball during a game against Kent State on Sept. 13 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 66-0, thanks in part to Marsahll scoring his first touchdown as a member of the Buckeyes.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorWhen Jalin Marshall sat down for questions after Ohio State’s 55-14 win against Illinois, he was calm and collected. But when more reporters trickled toward him, stuck microphones in his face and asked him about his performance in the game, he got antsy.Once the swarm dissolved and just a few recorders were left lying in front of him, Marshall started to crack jokes. He was more at ease, more comfortable.It’s the same nervousness under pressure Marshall needs to overcome for him to be called on to take more snaps.The redshirt-freshman H-back — who played quarterback at Middletown High School — lined up at quarterback on two different drives Saturday in OSU’s wildcat package. The first instance, about halfway through the third quarter, he burst through the Fighting Illini defense for a 30-yard touchdown.His next stint — which ended after five yards rushing and an incomplete pass to redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas — was less successful.But Marshall — who redshirted last season to mature on and off the field, coach Urban Meyer said — had reason to be pleased postgame. After turning down opportunities to play quarterback in college, he finally got his chance to throw the ball.“I just tried to throw it up there, let my receiver make a play, I just wished for him to catch it but he didn’t,” Marshall said. “It was definitely a big step for me throwing a pass in the game, not having thrown a pass in two years.”He also had a newfound level of comfort in playing quarterback at the collegiate level. “I’m getting more confidence,” he said.But when asked if he knew what was next for him — whether he’d be called upon to take a snap again — Marshall said he doesn’t know, but he’ll do whatever the coaches ask him.So a reporter — by that time, one of only about four surrounding him — pushed and asked whether he didn’t know or wouldn’t say. Then, the reporter asked if there was anything people hadn’t seen yet from Marshall that he was hoping they might get a chance to witness.“For the sake of accuracy, I can’t tell you that,” he laughed.This season, Marshall has played in every game. He has 14 rushing attempts for 88 yards, an average of 6.3 per carry. Saturday was a night of career highs: 42 yards on five carries.While he’s been used in the wildcat and was allowed to throw the ball, Marshall isn’t officially considered a quarterback option. But Meyer said he wants Marshall ready as a backup plan.“We’ve been working on Jalin playing quarterback, first, because he’s very talented. Second of all, whenever you start getting, you hear these stories, I’ve never been down to our third- and fourth-string quarterback, but you always try to be ready in case something happens,” Meyer said.“And he’s a gifted guy. So we’re going to expand his package each week.”Marshall said he knew ahead of time he’d be asked to be a signal caller against Illinois.“I knew it was coming, we worked on it during the week,” he said. “He (Meyer) said he was gonna need me to do that and I told him, ‘I got you, coach, I’ll do whatever you need me to.’”He also hopes there’s more coming for him, but for now, he seems to be staying calm out of the limelight and stepping up as needed.“If they call my number,” Marshall said, “I let it fly.”
Head Coach Chris Holtmann tells Ohio State redshirt junior guard Keita Bates-Diop (33) to head back into the game in the first half in the game against Michigan State on Jan. 7 in Value City Arena. Ohio State won 80-64. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThere was no reason to believe Ohio State would stand a chance against Michigan State when the season began. At least, that’s what many in the college basketball world believed.But on Sunday, in a season that has continued to defy preseason expectations, the Buckeyes beat the top-ranked Spartans 80-64. Following the win, Ohio State remained in first place in the Big Ten standings with a spotless 4-0 record, and its 13-4 overall record is tied for fourth-best in the conference.No one anticipated the season would turn out the way it has for the Buckeyes. But why was that?Part of the concern was that last season was abysmal by Ohio State’s standards. Its 17-15 overall record and 7-11 Big Ten record was its worst since the 2003-04 season. When the team fell behind to opponents, it struggled to make comebacks, and it lost to opponents it held a clear advantage over teams like Florida Atlantic, Illinois, Nebraska and Rutgers, the latter of which had come in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. Another avenue of concern for Ohio State was that it lost three of its five most productive players from the year prior with Marc Loving graduating, JaQuan Lyle quitting and transferring and Trevor Thompson forgoing his senior year to go to the NBA Draft. All three were in the top four for points and were regular starters.And while redshirt junior forward Keita Bates-Diop was returning from injury, his health was going to be an unknown for the team, as was his production considering he only averaged 9.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while healthy in 2016-17.There also were the depth concerns. Head coach Chris Holtmann brought in three recruits — guard Musa Jallow, center Kaleb Wesson and forward Kyle Young — as well as graduate transfer guard Andrew Dakich, all of whom were expected to be the primary bench players. It appeared Wesson would have to play plenty of minutes given the shallow depth at center, with sophomore Micah Potter the only returning center, and Dakich would spend plenty of time relieving junior C.J. Jackson, the only true point guard on the team. Many of these concerns have been alleviated to this point.Though it lost three key players, Bates-Diop and Jackson have stepped up and become the two most productive offensive players for the team, with the former emerging as a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate. Last season’s most prolific scorer, senior forward Jae’Sean Tate, has continued to produce for the Buckeyes at a similar rate (12.9 points per game this season compared to 14.3 last year) while not being as heavily leaned on by the team. The freshmen trio have all played key roles for the team this season. Wesson filled in as the starter at center while Potter dealt with a lingering ankle injury, and ran away with the job, averaging 11.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Jallow has occasionally started at shooting guard in place of redshirt senior Kam Williams. And while his offensive production is not impressive to this point, Jallow has played strong defense while on the court. While Young has not had a ton of minutes, he is an accurate shooter when he gets his chance (41.4 field-goal percentage) and has been able to eat minutes for any of the forwards or centers on the team. The result has been a team that has vastly exceeded preseason expectations. It has not lost to any team it should have and has defeated half of the top-100 opponents it has played this season, including its most recent win to then-No. 1 Michigan State.A team that entered the season ranked as the 78th-best team in the country by Ken Pomeroy now ranks No. 33 on his website. It ranks as both a top-40 offense and defense this season after ranking No. 60 in offense last year and No. 99 in defense, according to Pomeroy. The Buckeyes are currently projected to finish with a 22-9 record, 13-5 in conference play. However, they are favored to win all but three games in a game-by-game breakdown.The college basketball world had every reason to doubt Ohio State before the season. But as the season wore on and the only losses came to top-tier opponents, it began to appear Ohio State might be a better team than many expected.Now that Ohio State has upset the top team in the nation, it is fair to think the Buckeyes are better than most expected.
Ohio State redshirt freshman linebacker Tuf Borland (32) prepares to defend a USC possession in the third quarter of the 2017 Cotton Bowl against University of Southern California on Dec. 29 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Ohio State won 24-7. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorPrior to the start of last season, there was not much question as to which linebackers would start. Playmaking Jerome Baker and a fully rehabbed Dante Booker lined up at outside linebacker and Chris Worley slid inside to replace the outgoing Raekwon McMillan.One year later, everything that was once clear has become jumbled with no clear starter at any position. Worley appeared in 50 games and started the past two seasons before graduating, taking his versatility and 154 career tackles to the NFL. Baker decided to forgo his remaining year of eligibility and declare for the NFL draft after patrolling the second level of the defense the past two years, totalling 158 tackles, seven sacks and two interceptions.In their place, a bevy of linebackers — Keandre Jones, Malik Harrison, Baron Browning, Pete Werner, Tuf Borland, Justin Hilliard and Booker — are engaged in a battle for playing time. Even freshmen Teradja Mitchell and Dallas Gant have a chance to break into the rotation early. For the first time in years, the Buckeyes do not have a single linebacker returning who started every game the prior season — though Booker started six games before suffering an injury. “You’ve got some good bodies. We’re not ready to say who is going to be in what position. It’s our job to get the best of them out there,” Meyer said. “The good thing is there is some opportunity, like you said, for someone to step up and go. That position, once again, they’re not perfect and they don’t have to be, but they’re trying. I kind of like that position right now.”Meyer might say he likes the competition, but it’s hard to believe he enjoys the uncertainty, even if the season is more than five months from kicking off.Ohio State senior linebacker Dante Booker (33) attempts to sack Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley in the second quarter in the game against Penn State on Oct. 28. Ohio State won 39-38. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThe situation became murkier Monday when Meyer announced Borland, who started nine games at middle linebacker last season, suffered an Achilles injury and would miss time. Of those fighting for one of the three starting linebacker spots, Borland has the most experience. Meyer even said Borland was locked into a starting role.Despite the injury, Meyer said he’s not too worried about Borland missing an extended period of time, hinting at a quicker-than-usual recovery.“He’s a little bit like J.T. Barrett,” Meyer said. “You say he’s out for a while, but he’s not going to be out for that long.”Borland will likely remain a starter when he returns, but the absence gives the opportunity for a duo of intriguing linebackers to step up.Browning and Hilliard have filled in for Borland during spring practice despite neither former five-star recruit having played meaningful defensive snaps with the Buckeyes. Both were ranked as top-three outside linebackers in their respective classes by the 247Sports composite rankings, but both their careers have taken different paths since they arrived in college. A physical freak who Meyer called “as talented a linebacker as has ever walked through these doors,” Browning has the size and athleticism to play all three linebacker spots and pushed for playing time as a freshman after getting over early-career hurdles.“[Browning] did not play well early in the season. Just was out of his comfort zone,” Meyer said. “By the end of the season he was really contributing in a lot of areas on special teams and should have played some defense, but he just didn’t earn that yet. But he’s got it all now.”Ohio State sophomore linebacker Malik Harrison (39) attacks USC quarterback Sam Darnold in the second quarter of the 2017 Cotton Bowl against University of Southern California on Dec. 29 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Ohio State won 24-7. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorHilliard, on the other hand, has been kept off the field the majority of his first three seasons due to a multitude of injuries that put him behind his linebacker counterparts. A hard hitter and special-teams ace when healthy, he has suffered multiple bicep injuries. However, Hilliard has a chance to see the field if he can take advantage of Borland’s absence and prove he has the ability to both stuff the run and succeed in pass coverage.“He’s one of my favorite guys because he just goes as hard as he can,” Meyer said. “He’s a guy that’s made some mistakes on defense when he’s in there, and he’s just fighting through. The light is coming on, and he’s doing pretty good.”On the outside, Jones and Harrison have worked with the starting unit. Werner and Browning also are pushing for playing time at outside linebacker. Booker will miss spring practice due to two shoulder surgeries, but is expected to compete for a starting role in the fall.Harrison and Booker have the most experience of the group, but neither are locked into starting positions. Booker started the opening games in 2016 and 2017, then dealt with season-ending injuries in both campaigns and will not be healthy until spring practice concludes. Harrison replaced Booker in the starting lineup for a couple games, but was moved out of the lineup later in the season. Werner played mostly special teams last year, but Meyer raved about him in the fall and said he is having an “excellent spring.” Ohio State will not have a problem filling three linebacker spots. The only question that remains is who will take advantage of the wide open situation and burst onto the scene.Still, Meyer is confident in the linebacker coach Bill Davis-led unit.“Linebackers? I’m not concerned,” Meyer said. “Coach Davis is doing a good job, and there are some talented cats.”