5-at-10: Ice Cube’s a genius, $5 million offer to Clark would not end well, NCAA hates player props

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark reacts in the second half of a second-round college basketball game against West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament, Monday, March 25, 2024, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 64-54. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark reacts in the second half of a second-round college basketball game against West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament, Monday, March 25, 2024, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 64-54. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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Big investment

Yes, we have been enthralled by Caitlin Clark's rise to becoming the most popular college basketball player in the world.

Heck, let's roll this back: Who was the last male college basketball to have this kind of cult following and record-smashing success? And not just in the basketball record books, in the popularity areas, because if Iowa gets to the Final Four, it will rewrite every women's basketball TV record ever crafted.

That matters.

Is she the most popular college basketball player since Shaq? (And for those who do not recall Shaq and the nightly threat of tearing down a backboard or doing something you have not seen like blocking a shot into the upperdeck made him strange mixture of The Beatles and Mike Tyson.)


Well, regular J-Mac passed along something I missed Wednesday as he shared the announcement that Ice Cube confirmed his BIG3 summer basketball league has offered Clark $5 million to be the first woman in that league.

Make no mistake the offer to Clark is genius, because she would instantly bring the most attention to the BIG3 ever.

Now, part of J-Mac's question was how would she fare. That's the reason she should not do this, even though I will never truly tell anyone to turn down that kind of money, especially when you are making and plan to make a living in a physical endeavor that could be forever changed by an Achilles' tear or a severe hip injury.

But for all the amazing steps Clark has made — be it purposefully or luckily — on her journey to super duper star status, this would appear to be a short-term cash grab, especially when the WNBA spokesperson Clark could make as much as $3 million as a rookie with marketing deals with the league.

Clark's star is shining as brightly as anyone's across all of team sports right now. And if she played well in the BIG3, well that would be a feather in the cap of women's basketball everywhere.

But as a dad of a female athlete who has coached more than one girls' basketball team in my time, I don't think it would end well, and I am 100% on Team Clark. It would end better in the BIG3 than say major college primarily because the 3-on-3 format would allow her more space to use her 30-plus-foot shooting range.

Annika Sorenstam never made a cut on the PGA Tour, and that's without bigger, stronger, faster folks playing actual defense against her.

I clicked on several of the BIG3 teams and three things jumped out:

First, the collection of coaches is tremendous. Gary Payton, Rick Barry, Dr. J, Nancy Lieberman, George Gervin and more.

Second, every single team has multiple NBA players you have heard of.

Third, Clark, according to the rosters I checked, is the shortest player in the league.

Stage props

Lots happening in the betting world.

First, NCAA president Charlie Baker took to social media to implore legalized online betting operations to do away with college player props.

Does anyone else wonder how much better off the NCAA would be right now if Baker was at the wheel rather than that doofus Mark Emmert from 2010-2023?

For those unaware, player props are like betting over/unders in which you are betting on a player's stat to go over or under a certain total. Jayden Daniels over/under 400 total yards; Caitlin Clark over/under 32 points, etc.

This comes on the heels of NBA player Jontay Porter is under scrutiny from the league because of irregularities in heavy wagers made on several 'under' props in games in which Porter played fewer than 5 minutes for a variety of ailments and reasons.

I think Baker's point has merit. Player props are much easier to be controlled by one interested party, especially to the negative. And as much as I don't want outside parties meddling in free-market business, a scandal or three from now, and the NCAA could very well say no betting on college teams in your state.

And that would stink.

(And so would this: Armando Bacot said he got 100 messages from gamblers after the Michigan State win for not hitting the over.)

More wagering talk

Elsewhere we will continue to monitor the happenings in the Peach State as the legislature looks for an 11th-hour passage for legalized sports betting on the final day of the session.

But before we go any further, we have been happy to celebrate big wins — a 7-0 prop roll on the Super Bowl 14 months ago; crushing the preseason Braves props from last year including Ronald Acuña Jr. as NL MVP at plus-875 — but Wednesday was arguably my biggest gaffe in the 17 months we have shared this space.

We all were holding our breath with Wednesday's plays from the start because every time we get north of plus-100 units, we stumble. Hard.

The Clippers did not cover in Philly, but that was a missed pick. My NIT pick missed on every front.

Sure, my reasoning was sound. Utah is 1-10 straight up in road games since Christmas. However, for the first time since I was 10 and wondered whether Ron Jaworski's Eagles were in Philly or traveling to Atlanta to face Steve Bartkowski's Falcons, I misread the odds sheet.

I thought it said the game was at VCU. It was in Salt Lake, and Utah smoked VCU.

All we have is transparency in this endeavor. We'll hopefully hit some other big picks along the way — and maybe, just maybe we can break through that plus-100 glass ceiling during baseball season — but the conversation about the real stinkers and missteps must be shared too I believe..

This and that

— Thanks for the memories John Anderson, the longtime ESPN SportsCenter host who says he's retiring because "the operation has changed." John you were funny on SportsCenter; you were hilarious on old-school "Wipeout."

— So the Ronna McDaniel era at NBC ended not long after it began. And to answer some of the emails I got blasting McDaniel after I called out super-dolt Chuck Todd, I offer this: That was never intended as a defense of McDaniel as much as it was criticism of Todd, who on an issue like this may be right in assessment and duplicitous and hypocritical for not making the same stink when NBC (and especially MSNBC) hires someone on the opposite end of McDaniel.

— Want the bona fide, no-questions-asked definition that no player is safe from the draw that is the transfer portal? Iowa's Patrick McCaffery will enter the portal for his sixth year of eligibility. Must have been a tough chat breaking it to his coach — his dad Fran McCaffery.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on the Vols first football scrimmage of the spring.

— Speaking of UT football, holy schnikes, cue the Joe Milton Hype Machine, which like the George Michael Sports Machine, only different. Milton at UT's pro day ran a 4.55 40 (at 245 pounds mind you) and delivered this eye-popping throw. Visor tip to Adam Schefter's Twitter.

Today's questions

It's the world-renowned Anything Goes Thursday and we'll start with some off the wall things.

Caitlin Clark would score over/under 7 points in a BIG3 game?

But more importantly for Ice Cube, if Caitlin Clark was in a BIG3 game you would then watch your first BIG3 game?

The NCAA is right to limit prop bets, true or false. Could an alternative be only offering the option to be the overs?

Happy Opening Day everyone. Seems strange to have that on a Thursday, but whatever.

Also on March 28, Rick Barry is 80 today.

If we had a father-son basketball 3-on-3 tournament, who makes the top-four seeds? (I.E. Rushmore, and yes, the hard one is having that third leg.)

Go and remember the mailbag, too.

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