Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has been majorly impressed by rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder, who looks like an inevitable starter.
After trading away Matt Ryan, the Falcons are entering a new era with huge question marks around the quarterback position.
They brought in Marcus Mariota as a presumptive starter but the future likely belongs to third-round draft pick Desmond Ridder.
The Cincinnati product was the second quarterback taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, though he had to wait until the third round to hear his name called.
A third-round selection certainly doesn’t guarantee a starting job. The way the Falcons are talking about Ridder, it just feels like he’s heading in that direction.
Falcons head coach loves Desmond Ridder’s brain
“He’s light years ahead of most other young quarterbacks from the neck up,” head coach Arthur Smith said per the Associated Press.
Smith highlighted Ridder’s intelligence saying, “Behind the scenes there are things he has done that have impressed me as a rookie.”
Specifically, the rookie quarterback is impressing coaches with his walk-throughs and installations while showing good command.
Ridder’s brain is guiding him through the early part of the offseason but his body will need to be up to the task once training camp gets underway.
“You’re betting on some of the physical things you’ve seen in time to catch up,” Smith said.
Rookies impress during OTAs and minicamps all the time. The true mark of a future start comes later in the process. Still, it should be encouraging to Falcons fans to hear so many good things about their new quarterback’s processing during one of the most mentally strenuous times in their career.
No. 1 recruit Williams commits to Mulkey, LSU
Mikaylah Williams, the top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2023, according to ESPN HoopGurlz, has committed to Kim Mulkey’s LSU program, she announced Friday.
Williams, a 6-foot-1 guard from Bossier City, Louisiana, chose LSU over Ole Miss, Baylor, Duke and Texas A&M.
“In order to take my game to the next level and to continue to learn and grow as a young woman, there’s only one place where I’ve wanted to be. Home,” Williams said in her video announcement. “I’ve decided I’ll be attending the Louisiana State University.”
Grateful for the process and excited to announce where I will be playing college basketball! @playerstribune pic.twitter.com/eWRqa6R7YU
— Mikaylah Williams (@mkwill12_) June 24, 2022
Williams won gold with Team USA in the 2021 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup, where she was MVP, and recently earned a spot on the U.S. team for the FIBA U17 World Cup, which will compete July 9-17 in Hungary.
She was named the Gatorade Louisiana Girls Basketball Player of the Year in March after averaging 22.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.2 steals as a junior at Parkway High.
With Mulkey in her second season in Baton Rouge, the Tigers are looking to propel themselves back into the conversation as title contenders and to return to the Final Four for the first time since 2008. LSU fell to Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA tournament last season.
With a host of seniors departing the program, Mulkey was active in the transfer portal, bringing in Angel Reese from Maryland, LaDazhia Williams from Missouri, Kateri Poole from Ohio State, Jasmine Carson from West Virginia and top juco transfer Last-Tear Poa from Northwest Florida State College to join a 2022 recruiting class ranked No. 17 in the nation by ESPN.
Sources: Five-star Buzelis picks G League Ignite
11:04 AM ET
Adrian WojnarowskiSenior NBA Insider
- Host of The Woj Pod
- Joined ESPN in 2017
Five-star recruit Matas Buzelis — the No. 11 player in ESPN’s Top 100 for the Class of 2023 — has committed to the G League Ignite for the 2023-24 season, sources told ESPN on Friday.
Buzelis, a skilled 6-foot-10 forward, will bypass college basketball and sign into the NBA’s professional pathway program once he graduates from Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas next spring, sources said.
Buzelis, an Illinois native who starred for Brewster Academy in New Hampshire last season, had narrowed his college choices to Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida State and Wake Forest.
The G League Ignite program is based out of Northern California and constructed to prepare young players ahead of NBA draft eligibility. Former NBA guard Jason Hart is beginning his second season as the program’s coach, and several recent players, including the No. 8 pick Dyson Daniels (New Orleans) and No. 24 pick MarJon Beauchamp (Milwaukee) on Thursday, were first-round draft choices.
Buzelis participated in the Nike Hoop Summit in 2022, and a USA Basketball minicamp at the site of the Final Four in New Orleans. He led powerhouse Brewster Academy to a 31-8 record and a New England prep school championship.
Excel Sports represents Buzelis in name, image and likeness deals.
WNBA union decries overturning of Roe v. Wade
1:39 PM ET
ESPN News Services
The Women’s National Basketball Players Association reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion by focusing on voting rights and urging people to “vote like our lives depend on it. Because they do.”
In a statement, the WNBPA said, “This decision shows a branch of government that is so out of touch with the country and any sense of human dignity.”
“We must recognize that when we cast a ballot it is to elect officials and to connect the dots to policies and legislation that align with our values,” the WNBPA said.
The Supreme Court on Friday voted 5-4 to overturn Roe v. Wade, a decision expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. The ruling came more than a month after the leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step, and it was supported by the court’s conservative majority.
Alito, in the final opinion, wrote that the original 1973 decision on Roe and a 1992 decision reaffirming it (Planned Parenthood v. Casey) were “wrong the days they were decided and must be overturned.”
Alito wrote that the authority to regulate abortion rests with the political branches of government and not the courts. The decision leaves it up to the states.
“We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito wrote.
Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas joined the majority. Chief Justice John Roberts voted to uphold a Mississippi law that banned abortion after 15 weeks and prompted the case to get to the Supreme Court, but he didn’t vote to overturn Roe.
The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half of the states, some beginning immediately.
“It’s just incredibly disheartening. There are an infinite amount of reasons why a woman chooses to do what she does with her body or what they do with their body — none of which are anybody else’s business.”
USWNT star Megan Rapinoe
Three of the court’s liberal justices wrote in a joint dissent that the decision would bring “sorrow” for the many millions of American women who will be losing a “fundamental constitutional protection.” The WNBPA statement said an abortion ban “could lead to higher rates of maternal mortality while eviscerating rights to reproductive freedom for everyone.”
In September, a number of prominent women athletes, including soccer star Megan Rapinoe and basketball standouts Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, joined 500 athletes and groups who signed a friend-of-the-court brief to the justices. The group included 26 Olympians, 73 professional athletes and various athlete associations. They argued that abortion rights have helped the growth of women’s sports and expressed concern that future athletes would suffer without those protections.
Rapinoe on Friday called it a “really sad, sad day” and said the ruling is “completely misguided and wildly out of touch with the desires of the country.”
“The right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness and liberty is being assaulted in this instance,” Rapinoe said. “And it’s just incredibly disheartening. There are an infinite amount of reasons why a woman chooses to do what she does with her body or what they do with their body — none of which are anybody else’s business.”
Rapinoe’s U.S. women’s national soccer teammate Lindsey Horan said, “I’m still a little bit shocked and trying to take it all in. But I do feel like this is taking a step backwards for our country.”
In a statement, the National Women’s Soccer League wrote that the ruling “denies individuals in this country the full liberty and equality that is the cornerstone of a just society.”
The statement added: “Reproductive rights are human rights. Until every individual has the same freedoms as their neighbor, our work is not done. We will continue to make our voices heard.”
Bird, who is engaged to Rapinoe, took to Twitter to react to the Supreme Court’s decision.
— Sue Bird (@S10Bird) June 24, 2022
Bird’s WNBA team, the Seattle Storm released a statement on Twitter that also referenced the Supreme Court’s Thursday ruling on gun rights.
Furious and ready to fight. pic.twitter.com/6fdEHUd4pM
— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) June 24, 2022
NBA commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert issued a joint statement Friday afternoon.
“The NBA and WNBA believe that women should be able to make their own decisions concerning their health and future, and we believe that freedom should be protected,” the leagues said in the statement. “We will continue to advocate for gender and health equity, including ensuring our employees have access to reproductive health care, regardless of their location.”
The much-anticipated ruling, applauded by pro-life conservatives, was decried by a number of prominent athletes on social media.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King wrote: “This decision will not end abortion … it is a sad day in the United States.”
Wrote Portland Trail Blazers guard Josh Hart: “To the women in this country … I’m sorry.”
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.
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