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UC Irvine hopes to upset Kansas State with roster full of NBA bloodlines

SAN JOSE, Calif. — UC Irvine senior guard Spencer Rivers scanned his staff’s rowdy locker room on the SAP Heart on Thursday morning, and far and wide he seemed there was once an NBA pedigree.

On his left doing interviews was once beginning guard Max Hazzard, whose grandfather, Walt Hazzard, was once a part of UCLA’s first championship staff and later performed for the Los Angeles Lakers. To his proper, sitting in a stall, was once freshman guard JC Butler, whose father, Caron Butler, performed 11 seasons within the NBA. Immediately forward was once redshirt freshman Collin Welp, whose overdue father, Chris Welp, performed 3 seasons within the league. After which there was once Rivers himself, the son of Los Angeles Clippers Trainer Document Rivers.

“Me, JC, Collin, Max, we’ve all been across the recreation of basketball for goodbye,” Rivers stated. “I believe it does give us an working out of what that is, and maintain positive scenarios.”

What that is, consistent with Rivers, is a chance to constitute UC Irvine within the faculty’s 2nd look within the NCAA event — the No. 13 seed Anteaters will meet No. four seed Kansas State within the South Area on Friday — in addition to to replicate at the legacies left through their very own households. Rivers talked together with his father this week, and to his brother Austin, now with the Houston Rockets. However he additionally sat in his apply uniform and chuckled as he advised tales about following his different brother, former Georgetown guard Jeremiah Rivers, throughout the Hoyas’ Ultimate 4 run in 2007.

“I communicate to him one of the most, him and my Dad essentially the most. I communicate to them about, ‘Good day, benefit from the second. Don’t be happy the place you’re at,’ ” Rivers stated. “Simply attempt to make this final so long as conceivable.”

UC Irvine is regarded as a classy dissatisfied select over Kansas State, one thing the staff’s trainer, Russell Turner, was once pressured to deal with Thursday. The Anteaters haven’t misplaced since January, profitable 16 directly. They received a school-record 30 video games a 12 months after completing with 18 victories, a margin that’s absolute best in faculty basketball. They completed with 13 highway wins, tied for many in Department I. And so they’re enjoying as regards to house.

“Our guys are lovely sharp. They’re sensible and so they’re aggressive,” Turner stated. “So they would like badly to be perceived as excellent.”

The 4 avid gamers have all taken their very own routes up to now. Hazzard leads the staff in scoring with 12.five issues in step with recreation, whilst Welp is 1/3 at eight.nine. Rivers has established himself as a job participant, whilst Butler had an up and down 12 months whilst finding out the varsity recreation. After now not being recruited out of Racine, Wis., Butler selected UC Irvine, which he stated is the one faculty that might give him an opportunity to play faculty basketball.

Butler grew pissed off together with his loss of enjoying time early within the 12 months and was once pressured to lean on his father for lend a hand.

“He all the time offers me recommendation, guidelines. At the start of the season I wasn’t enjoying as a lot. He advised me I had to step it up in apply and assert myself extra, be extra competitive and that might lend a hand me,” stated Butler, who averaged simply five.five mins his first 19 video games however has transform a key piece off the bench down the stretch. He’s averaged eight.7 mins in that point, key mins that experience helped him be informed the sport. That finding out curve was once speeded up through his father’s make stronger, however being amongst avid gamers with identical pedigrees has helped, too.

“We have now more than one avid gamers with NBA connections,” Butler stated. “It’s cool to be round that.”

Learn extra at the 2019 NCAA event:

Maryland escapes Belmont and lifts off its NCAA event weight

With Justin Robinson again, Virginia Tech eyes first NCAA event win in 12 years

The March Insanity oddities that might if truth be told occur this 12 months

Brewer: What made Tony Bennett’s Virginia staff susceptible may be what makes it resilient

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