🎁 Happy Friday! This is the last edition of Axios Sports until Jan. 2 (where I'll review the decade). Enjoy the holidays and be safe. Have you ever realized we're kind of like pen pals?
Today's word count: 1,731 (6 minutes).
James Wiseman. Photo: Joe Murphy/Getty Images
Former No. 1 recruit and potential No. 1 draft pick James Wiseman announced on Instagram yesterday that he will leave Memphis, hire an agent and prepare for the 2020 NBA draft.
Why it matters: When the NCAA tournament begins in March, three of the top five American draft prospects will be nowhere to be found, and it's not because their teams won't make the field — it's because they won't be in college.
The big picture: This isn't about the NCAA enforcing its rules and suspending Wiseman (Hardaway should have known better). Rather, it's about the nation's top recruit deciding that five months of training is more valuable to him than playing college basketball, notes USA Today's Dan Wolken.
The bottom line: With the NBA's one-and-done rule expected to be abolished by 2022 and the G League beginning to resemble a true developmental league, college basketball could be in deep trouble once it's no longer a mandated pit stop.
Looking ahead: With built-in student and alumni bases, college basketball has the G League beat when it comes to exposure, but even that benefit may be eroding.
Carson Wentz in college. Photo: David K Purdy/Getty Images
Bowl season starts tonight, which should be fun. But instead of previewing those games like every other sports publication in the world, I'm throwing you a curveball and previewing the FCS, D-II and D-III action instead. Sorry/you're welcome.
Tomorrow, 2pm ET (ESPN2): No. 1 North Dakota State vs. No. 5 Montana State in the FCS semifinals.
Tomorrow, 6:30pm ET (ESPNU): No. 2 James Madison vs. No. 3 Weber State in the FCS semifinals.
Tomorrow, 3pm ET (ESPNU): West Florida vs. Minnesota State in the D-II national championship.
Tonight, 8pm ET (ESPNU): Wisconsin-Whitewater vs. North Central (Ill.) in the D-III national championship.
Photo: Fred Durfour/AFP via Getty Images
Sens. Rick Scott and Josh Hawley have called on NBCUniversal, which has broadcast rights for the Olympics, to refuse to air the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, according to a letter obtained exclusively by Axios.
Why it matters: Consider this the opening shot in the struggle between human rights advocates, who believe that a country currently operating concentration camps should not host the Olympics, and the Chinese Communist Party, which will defend its successful bid to host the 2022 games at all costs, writes Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian.
What they're saying: In a letter dated Dec. 19 and addressed to top NBC executives, Scott and Hawley point to China's "abysmal" human rights record.
The bottom line: The run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics saw global protests against China's human rights abuses. Expect the 2022 Olympics to generate just as much controversy — though this time, China has far more economic and diplomatic leverage to push back.
Here are the 10 most intriguing bowls, in my humble opinion:
And here are some good reads:
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points and a career-best five 3-pointers as the Bucks beat Anthony Davis (36 and 10), LeBron James (triple double) and the Lakers, 111-104, in a battle of the NBA's best two teams.
NEWARK, N.J. — Quincy McKnight scored a season-high 17 points and undermanned Seton Hall used a swarming defense to stun No. 7 Maryland, 52-48. The Pirates blocked more shots (15) than the Terrapins made (14).
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — Former first-round NBA draft pick Jimmer Fredette and Panathinaikos (Greece) fell to former Florida Gators star Scottie Wilbekin and Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel) during yesterday's Euroleague action (highlights).
🏒 30th anniversary
The AHL's Springfield Thunderbirds are changing their name to the Springfield Ice-O-Topes for a week in honor of the long-running TV series "The Simpsons," which is celebrating its 30th anniversary and has used the "Isotopes" name in several sports-themed episodes.
🏀 13 rings
Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh — who combined for 13 NBA championships, three MVPs, six Finals MVPs, 59 All-Star appearances and 40 All-NBA selections — headline the 2020 class of potential inductees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
🕰 5 minutes
After firing executive VP of player development Tom Coughlin on Wednesday, the first thing the Jaguars did was reset the clocks. Known for his strict approach, Coughlin had reportedly set every clock in the building five minutes ahead to prevent tardiness.
98 years ago today, Major League Baseball voted to revert to a best-of-seven World Series after three seasons of using a best-of-nine format. The Fall Classic has remained best-of-seven ever since, and other leagues have followed.
Background: The first World Series in 1903 was best-of-nine, and in 1919, MLB decided to bring it back. But thanks to attendance dips and travel logistics, the experiment lasted just three years.
Go deeper: Who invented the seven-game series? (Grantland)
Photo: Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
No. 4 Wisconsin upset No. 1 Baylor in four sets to advance to tomorrow's D-I women's volleyball national championship, where they'll play No. 3 Stanford, which swept No. 7 Minnesota in the other semifinal.
Go deeper: Bracket
Last night was Giannis Antetokounmpo's 63rd career game with 30 points and 10 boards, passing LeBron James for the third-most such games by a player age 25 or younger over the last 30 years.
Answer at the bottom.
Enjoy the holidays,
Kendall "See you next year" Baker
Trivia answer: Shaquille O'Neal (109) and Anthony Davis (99)
Editor's note: The seventh item has been updated to correct that the New York Giants won the 1921 World Series (not the New York Yankees).