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It’s a sunny Big West season, so far, for Anosike and Cal State Fullerton

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It’s a sunny Big West season, so far, for Anosike and Cal State Fullerton

Cal State Fullerton played at Northern Arizona in December, on one of those days when it seemed like the North Pole.

E.J. Anosike shivered and looked at the sky. Snow was imminent. Anosike remembered how nice it looks until it starts invading your socks. He gave the side-eye to CSF coach Dedrique Taylor.

“I didn’t come out here for this,” Anosike told him.

He came “out here” from Tennessee because he wanted a bonus year of college basketball, wanted to wave goodbye in a meaningful way, and without gloves.

He is the leading scorer in the Big West and a main driver of Cal State Fullerton’s 4-0 league record. The Titans won, 65-63, at UC Irvine Thursday night.

Anosike played three years at Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Conn., not terribly far from his home of East Orange, N.J. He went to Tennessee last year. Along the way he got a bachelor’s degree and an MBA.

Vincent Lee, Anosike’s partner in the post, came from Nevada. Tray Maddox Jr. came from Oakland U., near Detroit. Damari Milstead came from San Francisco. There are freshmen, too, but this is what college basketball is now. With no mandatory sit-out year, players are flying off the shelves.

A school like Cal State Fullerton and a league like the Big West wasn’t supposed to thrive this way. The case of Elijah Harkless, who went from CSUN to Oklahoma, was far more likely.

But players have their own motivations. They aren’t just names on a greaseboard.

Anosike knew the Titans because he knew Kyle Allman, the leader of the 2018 Big West championship team. And he knew that people often wear shorts on campus in January.

As Lute Olson said when he came to Long Beach State from Iowa, “I don’t have to scrape any of that ‘fair and warmer’ off my windshield.”

“I didn’t know anything about E.J. but when he became available we dug in our heels and looked at him,” Taylor said. “Location is important. We sell it. You can go an hour and a half one way and be in the snow if you want to, or you can go a half-hour the other way and be in the sand. Very few places can say that.

“The transfers bring maturity and professionalism. You see E.J. and he’s the same every day. He works. Our whole team is now emulating him.”

The Titans have the biceps and the composure of grown men. Anosike, at 6-foot-7 and 236, averages 18.7 points and 7.9 rebounds. As they got acquainted during non-conference season, they realized their wins would happen in the lane. They average about seven more foul shots than their opponents. At UCI they shot the first 16 free throws of the game.

But then Anosike had over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds at Sacred Heart, which plays in the Northeast Conference, a rough equivalent of the Big West. He also graduated in three years with a 3.57 GPA.

Tennessee was a natural next stop. Anosike’s sister Nicky was a teammate of Candace Parker’s in Knoxville and went to three Final Fours, winning two, while graduating with a triple major.

E.J., 12 years younger, was a ballboy for the Lady Vols. Nicky became a WNBA All-Star at Minnesota and was an L.A. Spark in 2012, and also played on national teams.

But E.J.’s year at Tennessee wasn’t as eventful. COVID-19 barred the fans, and Anosike averaged 8.6 minutes and 1.7 points.

“It was a great experience being around Nicky’s teams,” E.J. said. “I got to see what (coach) Pat Summitt was like. My mom saw a lot of herself in Pat, and they were close. I got to see what a woman’s empowerment can look like in a male-dominated industry.’

Nicky was a high school coach in Anderson County, Tenn. but resigned after a dangerous and difficult pregnancy.

“She’s the one who put the basketball in my hand,” E.J. said. “We’d go out to the park every Saturday. I finally sneaked a win against her when I was 14. After that, she didn’t want to play me anymore.”

But how disorienting are three different programs in different locales with different pressures and coaches?

“I’m just grateful to get to play five years,” Anosike said. “You find a family wherever you go.

“I’m not looking for the flashy, big-name stuff. You tune all of that out and you just focus on the actual playing, getting better on a daily basis. It’s really not that different. Just a different level.”

Wherever you go, there’s a trophy to win. Anosike wants sunshine to reflect off his.

 

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Orioles reach two-year agreement with left-hander John Means to avoid arbitration

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Orioles reach two-year agreement with left-hander John Means to avoid arbitration

The Orioles agreed Saturday to a two-year, $5.925 million contract with left-hander John Means to avoid arbitration, an industry source with direct knowledge of the agreement confirmed.

Means, 29, was in his first year of arbitration eligibility and was due to go to a hearing with the Orioles to determine his 2022 salary, deciding between the team’s $2.7 million figure and his suggested $3.1 million. The per-year average of Means’ deal, first reported by The Athletic, is slightly above the midpoint of those values.

Means was the Orioles’ opening day starter this season but made only two starts before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery. He is expected to return sometime in 2023. He will have one year of arbitration eligibility remaining after this contract.

In addition to calling up top prospect Adley Rutschman, the Orioles on Saturday also reinstated first baseman Ryan Mountcastle from the 10-day injured list, recalled right-hander Mike Baumann and optioned right-hander Logan Gillaspie and left-hander Nick Vespi to Triple-A. Gillaspie and Vespi did not allow a run across their collective first three major league appearances.

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Giants WR Kadarius Toney underwent minor knee procedure, will be ready for camp: sources

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Giants WR Kadarius Toney underwent minor knee procedure, will be ready for camp: sources

Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney had a minor arthroscopic knee procedure, sources say, which is why he’s been in a red jersey on the side at spring OTA practices.

But he is expected to be fine and ready for training camp.

Toney, 23, was on his feet on the sidelines at Thursday’s open practice. He caught some balls off the JUGS machine before practice with fellow rehabbing wideout Sterling Shepard (Achilles).

Veteran receiver Kenny Golladay also wore red and didn’t practice. Head coach Brian Daboll wouldn’t disclose why but suggested that everyone other than O-linemen Nick Gates (leg fracture) and Matt Peart (ACL) is on track for the start of camp.

“I think everybody is moving in the right direction,” Daboll said. “They’ve done a good job. The training staff has really done a good job… I’d say [Gates] and Matt Peart, they’re rehabbing every single day, getting better each day. So we’ll see where they’re at.”

Wide receivers coach Mike Groh said Thursday that Toney is “not running around full speed right now” but assured “he’ll be ready to go” for real football.

Toney missed a lot of time during his rookie offseason last year due to a contract holdout, COVID and foot and hamstring injuries. Then he dealt with a laundry list of injuries in season: a second COVID positive, the hamstring, and an ankle, thumb, quad, oblique and shoulder.

He had encouraging production against the Saints and Cowboys, but he got thrown out of the Dallas loss for throwing a punch and struggled to stay healthy.

The Giants made calls looking to trade Toney in April — and drafted undersized gadget receiver Wan’Dale Robinson in the second round — but the former first-round pick remains on the team.

Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said Thursday he has enjoyed working with Toney and views him as a playmaker in the Giants’ offense.

“He’s a dynamic player,” Kafka said. “He has play-making ability on the perimeter, inside, downfield, in short area. He’s one of those guys that you look for to make plays for us.”

The team’s offseason program started on April 4. The Daily News reported the team was exploring a trade on April 22. Several outlets confirmed Toney was available. Toney flew into the New York/New Jersey area that weekend and first reported to the facility on April 25.

GM Joe Schoen then said during the NFL Draft that the Giants were not shopping Toney. Now he’s dealing with a minor issue that is not expected to jeopardize his start of camp.

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MN Legislature’s proposed deal eliminates taxes on Social Security

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MN Legislature’s proposed deal eliminates taxes on Social Security

The Minnesota Legislature appears ready to eliminate all taxes on Social Security benefits while boosting credits for renters and slightly lowering the first tax tier rate.

Those are all included in a tentative proposal posted online by the bipartisan conference committee of House and Senate members working to finalize how to divide $4 billion in tax breaks. The deal would stretch over the next three years and tap the state’s budget surplus to pay for the loss in revenue.

Under the tentative plan, the first tier tax rate would fall to 5.1 percent from 5.35 percent. It would impact the first $28,080 in earnings for single filers and $41,050 for couples.

Lowering the rate would reduce revenues by an estimated $272 million next year and about $200 million annually.

The plan also eliminates state income taxes on Social Security. Doing so reduces revenue by about $510 million next year and roughly $550 a year going forward.

Renters would also benefit from increased tax credits worth about $373 million annually.

The tax conference committee met briefly Saturday morning to discuss policy provisions and is expected to reconvene this afternoon to talk about tax breaks.

Lawmakers have until midnight Sunday to finalize $4 billion in tax cuts and $4 billion in supplemental spending. With fewer than two days left, deals appear to be coming together, but so far, none have been completed.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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