Local Sports News: March 20, 2024

Mackenzie Holmes Named Second Team All-American by the USBWA
Graduate Forward Mackenzie Holmes has been named to the 2023-24 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) All-America second team, announced by the organization on Tuesday. Holmes and the Hoosiers will be a No. 4 seed in the upcoming 2024 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, which begins on Saturday inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. They will face off against 13-seed Fairfield (31-1) at 1:30pm on ESPN2.

Holmes earns her second-straight All-America honors from the organization, as she was a first team selection in 2022-23. A unanimous All-Big Ten First Team and All-Big Ten Defensive team selection this season, the Gorham, Maine native leads Indiana (and second in the Big Ten) in scoring with 20.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and shooting a nation’s-best 66.7 percent from the floor in 29 games. She has scored in double figures in 27 of those 29 outings including 16 20-point games and two 30-point efforts along with a team-high six double-doubles. Nationally, Holmes also ranks 14th in field goals made (238) and 22nd in points per game. The honor is her seventh All-American accolade in her Indiana career, earning two USWBA All-American nods (2023, 2024), two AP All-American selections (2021, 2023), two WBCA All-American honors (2022, 2023) and The Athletic All-American honors (2023).

Indiana University Men’s Basketball Guard C.J. Gunn Enters the Transfer Portal
Indiana Sophomore Guard CJ Gunn will enter his name in the NCAA transfer portal. A 6-foot-6 product of Lawrence North, Gunn played two seasons for the Hoosiers and appeared in 49 games. He scored a career-high 17 points in IU’s season-ending loss to Nebraska in the 2024 Big Ten tournament quarterfinals but all of his minutes came after the game was already decided.

A class of 2022 recruit, Gunn originally committed to Indiana under Archie Miller. Following the hiring of Mike Woodson, Gunn affirmed his commitment to the program in the spring of 2021. His career as a Hoosier was largely a disappointment. Known for his 3-point shooting out of high school, Gunn shot just 19-for-74 (25.7 percent) from distance in two seasons at Indiana. He also shot the ball poorly inside the arc. Gunn was just 39-for-101 (38.6 percent) on 2s over two seasons. During Indiana’s five-game winning streak late in the season, Gunn played a total of four minutes and did not play at all against Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State. As a high school recruit, Gunn was ranked the No. 178 player nationally by the 247Composite. He will have two seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school. The transfer portal opened on Monday and will close May 1.

Indiana University Football’s Phillip Blidi is entering the Transfer Portal as Graduate Transfer
Indiana defensive lineman Philip Blidi announced on social media Monday night that he’s entering the transfer portal. Blidi will be a graduate transfer, allowing him to transfer for a second time in his college career with immediate eligibility. He transferred to IU from Texas Tech in spring 2023. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound lineman started 11 of Indiana’s 12 games last season and was a key veteran presence in the defensive line room. Blidi finished the year with 30 tackles, including four tackles for loss, along with two QB hurries and one pass breakup.

As of January 26, Indiana was three players over its allotted scholarship amount, so Blidi’s departure helps the Hoosiers get closer to where they need to be. It does, though, leave the team thinner at interior defensive line for spring football. It bumps IU down to five scholarship players at the position — and head coach Curt Cignetti said in February that one of those five, James Madison transfer James Carpenter, won’t participate in spring ball after undergoing postseason surgery.

Indiana University Men’s Basketball Forward Payton Sparks Enters the Transfer Portal
Indiana Junior Forward Payton Sparks will enter his name in the NCAA transfer portal. A 6-foot-10 native of Winchester, Indiana, Sparks appeared in 24 games during the 2023-24 season for the Hoosiers. He scored a season-high 10 points against Kennesaw State on Dec. 29. His role, however, was minimal as he averaged just 2.1 points and 1.8 rebounds in 7.3 minutes per game.

Originally a member of the 2021 recruiting class, Sparks transferred to Indiana last spring from Ball State. As a freshman for the Cardinals, he started 31 games and averaged 13.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. In his second season at Ball State, Sparks averaged 13.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He was a two-time All-Mid-American Conference performer and was the 2022 MAC Freshman of the Year. Sparks will have one season of eligibility remaining at his next school. 

Notre Dame Stadium to Host International Soccer on July 27th
International soccer is coming to Indiana this summer. The University of Notre Dame will host a match between England’s Chelsea FC and Scotland’s Celtic FC on July 27, 2024, the school announced Monday. The exhibition game will be played at Notre Dame Stadium.  “The opportunity to play in front of our fans at the University of Notre Dame is one we are really excited by,” Chelsea CEO Chris Jurasek said. Chelsea is a two-time Champions League and six-time English Premiere League champion, who was the first club to win all four major UEFA club competitions – Champions League, Super Cup, Europa League and Cup Winners’ Cup – twice. Celtic has been named Scottish Champions 53 times and was the first British Club to win the European Cup (now known as the Champions League) when it claimed the title in 1967.

The stadium previously hosted international soccer in July 2019 when Borussia Dortmund defeated Liverpool, 3-2.  “I cannot wait for fans across the world to be able to visit and enjoy Notre Dame and the South Bend community while cheering on their clubs,” incoming Notre Dame Director of Athletics Pete Bevacqua said. Tickets for the match will go on sale Wednesday, March 27 at 10 a.m. Fans can register for an exclusive 24-hour presale at FCSeries.com. “We are so fortunate to have such a strong support worldwide and particularly right across the U.S., so our visit I am sure will allow our fans a great opportunity to see the team in action, and in turn, we really look forward to seeing our fans there,” Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said.

Indiana University Men’s Basketball Forward Kaleb Banks Enters the Transfer Portal
Indiana Sophomore Forward Kaleb Banks will enter his name in the NCAA transfer portal. A 6-foot-8 native of Hampton, Georgia, Banks appeared in 45 games over two seasons for the Hoosiers. He scored a career-high 12 points in 24 minutes in a 100-87 win against Kennesaw State on Dec. 29. But Banks saw his role vanish when Big Ten play resumed in early January. Over Indiana’s final 20 games, he logged a total of 44 minutes. In 12 of those contests, Banks did not play at all.

A class of 2022 recruit from Fayette County High School, Banks committed to Indiana on July 23, 2021. He was the No. 92 player in the class of 2022 and a four-star recruit, according to the 247Composite. But his potential as a high school player never led to consistent production in Bloomington. Banks averaged just 2.3 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.6 assists in eight minutes per game at Indiana. He shot just 45 percent from the field and 28 percent on 3s. He will have two seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school.

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