Meltdown in Lawrence Imminent?

Posted by rtmsf on June 30th, 2009

12am Update: 610 Sports in Kansas City is reporting that the Henrys are sticking with their commitment to KU.  Bill Self must have brought in the heavy hitters for this one.  Breathe a sigh of relief, KU fans.

8pm Update: Bill Self and Danny Manning are reportedly meeting with the Henry family in OKC tonight to make presumably a last ditch effort to keep them at Kansas.  We should have this all sorted out by tomorrow.

Honestly, we read some buzz about this yesterday, but it sounded so ridiculous we simply continued on down our reader.  Then we read Andy Katz’s report this afternoon and suddenly it appears that what we thought was a cockamamie rumor (see: Coach K to Lakers) has some serious legs.  If the reports are true that Xavier Henry and his brother, CJ, are waffling on their commitments to Kansas for the 2009-10 season, and instead are going to end up in Lexington as part of John Calipari’s GCOAT (greatest class of all-time), then the torches and pitchforks in Kansas may already be en route to the Bluegrass.  According to the Henrys’ father, it appears to be a done deal.  From a similar Gary Parrish report:

“If it wasn’t for his momma saying that ‘I would not go to Kentucky, I would not move down to Kentucky,’ Xavier would have been at Kentucky,’” Carl Henry said during the radio interview. “He would have been at Kentucky. So Xavier says, ‘I’m going to go to Kansas,’ even though … what he wanted to do is go to Kentucky, play under Coach Cal. That’s what he wanted to do. I expressed this to [Kansas] coach [Bill] Self. I told him.”  Carl Henry said his wife no longer wants to influence her son’s decision.  “So guess what? Kid might have a change of mind,” Carl Henry said. “That’s what I [told] coach Self.”

henry bros

Notwithstanding what his mother thinks of moving a couple of states away, the only reasonable explanation for this (since the Henrys have been re-assessing their situation for two weeks) is that Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks somewhat unexpectedly opted to stay in the NBA Draft.  Given that Xavier Henry is a shooting guard, he likely didn’t want to go to UK to play behind Meeks for one season, but with Meeks out of the picture, he would now have the opportunity to play for the coach he originally committed to.

If this ends up happening, John Calipari would have an embarrassment of riches in his first season at the helm at UK – quite possibly on paper the greatest incoming class of all-time, eclipsing the 1991 Michigan quintet of Webber, Howard, Rose, Jackson and King.  Of course, this group of young Cats will be measured by their accomplishments in college and not their paper rankings, but Wildcat fans must be multi-orgasmic at the potential of this group – three of the top six and four of the top twenty players in America.

John Wall – PG (#2 overall)
DeMarcus Cousins – C (#3 overall)
Xavier Henry – SG (#6 overall)
Daniel Orton - C (#19 overall)
Eric Bledsoe - PG (#52 overall)
Jon Hood – SF (#66 overall)
CJ Henry – PG (walk-on)
Darnell Dodson – SF (juco)

As for KU fans, they’ll still have plenty of returning talent in Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Tyshawn Taylor and the Morris brothers, but they could have really used the explosive scoring from the wing that they currently lack.  Their message boards are already apoplectic, but as one guarded commenter noted, ‘you think this is bad… check back tomorrow.’  Oh we will.

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Buzz: Coach K Staying at Duke

Posted by rtmsf on June 30th, 2009

Coach K must be angling for another raise, because the cyclical Lakers rumor has reared its ugly head again, almost five years to the day after their last dalliance.  Did anyone anywhere at any point in this silly rumor’s life cycle believe for a split-second that Coach K might actually take that job?  Last we checked, the Lakers had a pretty darn good coach (you know, he of the ten rings) and they’re not exactly coming off a down time in franchise history (you know, 65 wins and a world title).  Furthermore, the Duke coach is a competitor if nothing else, and he’s been getting his butt kicked all over Tobacco Road by that other school six miles down 15-501 since Huckleberry Roy came to town (3-7 since 2004-05).  Coach K ain’t going nowhere until he proves that his blue-blooded program hasn’t been overtaken by his bitter rival, and the way things are going lately, he’ll need another ring himself (at the college level) to ensure that.  (h/t 850 the Buzz).

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2009 One-and-Dones: Was It Worth It?

Posted by rtmsf on June 30th, 2009

It’s no secret that the high school Class of 2008 was one of the weakest in recent memory.  Coming into the 2008-09 regular season, could you realistically point to any one player who would impact their team enough to become another Derrick Rose or a Michael Beasley (class of 2007), a Greg Oden or a Kevin Durant (class of 2006)?  No way, right?  The consensus #1 player, Brandon Jennings, high-tailed it to Europe when it became apparent he wasn’t going to become eligible to play college ball at Arizona, where he proceeded to burn up foreign nets at the clip of 6 ppg and 2 apg in limited action (17 mpg).  The rest of the elite remained stateside, but from Jrue Holiday on down to his teammate Malcolm Lee at UCLA, the collegians too had middling degrees of success.  We use the RSCI top 20 ratings provided by Statsheet for our table below.

2008 top 20 recruits

The last two summers (here are 2007 and 2008), we’ve taken it upon ourselves to review how these one-and-dones did during their freshman year to determine whether their presence on campus for a mere 6-8 months was worth it for the schools involved.  As it turned out this time around, only four college freshmen (+ Jennings) thought they were ready for the NBA Draft after only one season, so let’s take a look at how things turned out for them and their teams last year.

2009 One-and-Dones

Memphis – Worth It. After losing three starters from their 2008 national runner-up team, Memphis could have slid back into relative mediocrity by Tiger standards – very good, but not great.  One-and-doner Tyreke Evans prevented that from happening.  He averaged 17/5/4 assts/2 stls in 29 mpg and was the most efficient player on the team.  He also showed that he was a gamer, dropping 33 huge points in the Tigers’ loss to Missouri and leading a furious comeback from 24 points down in that contest.   More importantly,  Memphis was 6-3 and ranked #24 in the nation when Evans moved from the shooting guard to the point guard slot; the Tigers then ran off 27 straight wins en route to a #2 seed and another Sweet Sixteen appearance, much of it due to Evans’ command of the team.  Furthermore, prior to John Calipari’s departure, Memphis was building a pretty impressive reputation as a successful stopover for NBA-level point guards.  Is there any coincidence that John Wall followed Calipari to Kentucky after seeing what Evans and Rose were able to do at Memphis?  We’d have to say that Tyreke Evans coming to Memphis for one year was most definitely worth it for that program.

tyreke evans memphis

USC – Worth It. USC knew when they signed Demar DeRozan that they were unlikely to have this acrobatic swingman on campus for more than one year.  For much of that year, however, it wasn’t looking like a good fit.  Three points in a loss vs. Seton Hall.  A 2-9 shooting night against Missouri.  Six turnovers and fouling out of another loss at Washington.  But around midseason, as things began to click in DeRozan’s game, USC benefitted.  He provided a consistent threat on the wing and may arguably have been the Trojans’ top option in the last six weeks of the season.  His season numbers were good – 14/6 on 52% shooting – but his stats from February on were better – 16/7 on 54% shooting with 22 of his season-total 51 assists coming in the last nine games.  USC rode DeRozan’s playmaking abilities to win its first-ever Pac-10 Tournament and a convincing win over BC in the NCAAs before succumbing to national runner-up Michigan St in the second round.  Or, in others words, more than what OJ Mayo was able to produce as a one-and-doner in 2007.  Notwithstanding all the choas that has enveloped this program in the interim, we’d have to say that getting DeRozan to USC for one year was worth it.

Ohio St. – Not Worth It. For the third year in a row, Thad Matta lost a one-and-done player whose actual performance during his only season in Columbus didn’t really mesh with what you might expect from an elite prospect.  He lost Daequan Cook in 2007 (along with stars Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr.), Kosta Koufos last year, and BJ Mullens this season.  To date, we’ve yet to see any indication that Mullens has any discernible basketball skill other than being big (7’0).  He averaged 9/5 in about 20 mpg with only two starts over the course of the season, but as an indication of how much Matta ultimately valued him, Mullens’ minutes tailed off considerably in the last 6-8 games.  His defense was often considered suspect (37 blks all season) and he earned a reputation for loafing and failing to get back downcourt after an offensive possession.  OSU had a solid season, mostly on the back of super-soph Evan Turner, but it’s difficult to construct an argument that Mullens brought much of anything to the Buckeye program other than an ability to get drafted in the first round.  Ultimately, that may have been all Matta wanted to get from him, as he’s shown a substantial willingness to take one-and-dones every year that he can.  Still, we don’t think that Mullens was on balance a good pickup for the Buckeyes, so we’re saying that he wasn’t worth it.

UCLA – Not Worth It. After Kevin Love’s departure from Westwood as a one-and-done, we thought UCLA might continue that trend this season with another superb guard ranked #2 in his class named Jrue Holiday.  We were wrong.  Holiday is exceptionally athletic, but he never seemed to ‘get it’ with respect to how Ben Howland runs his team and expects his players to execute.  When we watched Holiday play, we saw a player who had a tendency to play out of control and get frustrated when things weren’t going his way (in other words, like most freshmen).  Had Holiday stuck around for another couple of years at UCLA, he probably could have tamed his tendencies to become an elite guard in college basketball, but we’ll never know.  After averaging a mere 9/4/4 assts as a starter who seriously tailed off down the stretch (single figure points in 10 of his last 13 games) ending in a second round NCAA blowout loss to Villanova, Howland may be questioning why he bothered to take this player for only one season.  His contributions to the program were minimal and his general unhappiness with the program could actually end up hurting UCLA’s recruiting in the future more than it ever helps to have gotten him.  Unlike Demar DeRozan across town at USC, Holiday wasn’t worth it.

jrue holiday ucla

*Brandon Jennings – Push.  Of course, this is a weird situation because Jennings didn’t play for an American college last season, instead deciding to go to the Italian leagues and get paid for his services.  He would have been drafted higher last season had he been eligible to come out, but then again, so would have all these one-and-doners except for Evans (who at #4 is about where he would have been last year).  Playing in Europe didn’t hurt him very much despite his paltry stats, but it didn’t appear to help him, either, in any way other than financially.  It’ll be interesting to watch how he develops in the NBA now.  You’d have to believe that Jennings’ previously indomitable confidence would be somewhat tempered after spending a year as the backup-cum-waterboy.  We’re quite certain he had images in his head of going to Italy and winning MVP in his rookie season, but the broken American basketball system doesn’t exactly inspire schoolboy humility.  Will that carry over to his development as an NBA player, or will he be able to accept his European comeuppance and use that to improve his game in the next few years?  There’s no way of knowing at this point.

One-and-Dones: Historical Snapshot

1-and-done v.2

As stated above, RTC has done this for the three years in which the one-and-done rule has been in existence.  We’ve made a qualitative determination as to whether recruiting a particular one-and-done was worth it for each program, and what we’ve found is that so far it’s been a roughly equivalent proposition.  Of the 24 one-and-dones in three years, we’ve found thirteen instances (57%) where the player in question was either worth it or well worth it, “it” being the trouble of landing a top player and dealing with the disruption and potential hole he leaves in the program after one season.  Additionally, in seven of the thirteen ‘worth it’ instances, we found that the player was such a great boost to the program in terms of success and marketing that the residual effects of his presence there will be felt for many years after he’s gone (e.g., OSU and Memphis making it to the NCAA Championship Game).  On the other hand, we can only count ten occasions (42%) where a one-and-done player wasn’t worth the trouble of getting him into the program.  So let’s look at it this way…  if you were a college coach and you knew you had a historically better than even chance that recruiting a John Wall or Derrick Favors would end up making your program better, and a 25-30% chance of truly elevating your program into an elite echelon, there’s no question you do it, right?   What’s the downside?  Your player doesn’t do a whole lot, leaves after one year and you end up where you were before he got there.  Exactly.  Not only is recruiting one-and-dones worth the risk (so long as you’re doing it legally, Tim Floyd), but if you’re not doing it then you’re putting yourself at a serious competitive disadvantage.

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NCAA to Former Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Indiana: Get Bent!

Posted by rtmsf on June 30th, 2009

Today the NCAA rejected former Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson’s appeal for leniency with respect to his existing moratorium on coaching at a member institution (technically, Sampson can be hired somewhere, but the institution hiring him must show the NCAA that it understands the recruiting penalties he’ll be working under and outline how they will monitor him – a rather burdensome process).  In his appeal, Sampson argued that 1) the NCAA’s finding that he “knowingly violated [NCAA] penalties” from the Oklahoma probation while coaching at Indiana was meritless; and, 2) that the NCAA is biased against him for some reason.  The NCAA quickly brushed aside these points by merely stating that it finds “no basis” on which to conclude their findings were “contrary to the evidence.”  Well, now. 
What About This Former Head Men's Basketball Coach at IU?

What About This Former Head Men's Basketball Coach at IU?

What’s odd about this report is that nowhere in the entire ten-page document is Kelvin Sampson actually named.  For some reason, the NCAA repeatedly referred to Sampson as “Former Head Men’s Basketball Coach” at Indiana University.  The only other identifier is the infractions report number (287), so how can we be certain that they’re imposing these restrictions on Sampson?  What if Bob Knight tries to return next season?  Or Branch McCracken?  Everett Dean?  Will they too have to carry the weight of these penalties as a “Former Head Men’s Basketball Coach” as well?

All kidding aside, let’s all agree to not talk about the Current Assistant Basketball Coach for the Milwaukee Bucks ever again.  Or at least until some snivelling school desperate for Ws gets it in their heads that, “hey, we can hire a second-rate F4 coach for peanuts and all we have to do is track his phone calls!  We can do that!”  RTC sets the over/under on a collegiate job offer for the CABC of the Bucks at two years (2011). 

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Buzz: UK Petitions to Remove Gillispie Case to Friendlier Territory

Posted by rtmsf on June 29th, 2009

 

UK today petitioned a federal court in Dallas to dismiss or remove Billy Gillispie’s $6M case for breach of contract against his former employer to a more relevant jurisdiction.  To be precise, the Bluegrass State.  What say ye, lawyers, were there minimal contacts to establish jurisdiction in Texas?  Gillispie did reportedly accept the Kentucky job offer within the state of Texas.  Is that enough? 

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Cue the Next 1-and-Done Scandal: Lance Stephenson at Cincinnati?

Posted by rtmsf on June 29th, 2009

If the report is true that Cincinnati is going to pull the trigger (Russian Roulette style) this week and offer a scholarship to NYC legend and phenomenal talent, Lance Stephenson,  let’s take a short trip in our RTC time Maybach to peek at what things might look like a year from now.  Fast forwarding…

lance stephenson

Born Ready For Ineligibility?

Dateline: June 29, 2010

The University of Cincinnati and Mick Cronin were rocked by allegations that surfaced over the weekend that their one-and-done star, Lance Stephenson, may have been ineligible during his only season in the Queen City.  In a YahooSports report, Stephenson, a third-team All-American and the third pick in last week’s NBA Draft, is alleged to have been paid handsomely during his junior year of high school for his role on an internet reality series called “Born Ready” that aired last year on MTV2.  Rumors have followed Stephenson for years as to the propriety of that arrangement, and his father has steadfastly repeated that his son’s income from that series was $0, but the report indicates that Stephenson’s handlers funneled cash from the production through his extended family members so as to keep his amateur eligibility intact.  After committing to UC last summer, the NCAA Clearinghouse verified Stephenson’s eligibility, but assuming the allegations are true, the key issue now is whether Cincinnati’s 27 wins from a Sweet Sixteen season should be removed for competing with an ineligible player.  You may recall that Memphis faced a similar situation with Derrick Rose last summer (his eligibility was compromised based on his entrance exam even though the Clearinghouse admitted him).  This makes the third consecutive offseason where an elite one-and-done player and NBA Draft pick has left a wide swath of NCAA rules-oriented destruction in his wake – the NCAA needs to address this problem, and SOON.

Note: the above account is a satirical fiction, fyi, for any idiot who tries to cut/paste it out of context. 

Clearly we don’t see this going well. 

According to Zagsblog, Stephenson will learn his fate today on a criminal matter relating to the alleged groping of a 17-year old girl last year (presumably not bad), and he will use that jumping point to commit to the Bearcats tomorrow.  In an odd coincidence, Nancy Zimpher, the UC president who famously stood down head coach Bob Huggins and had him ousted in 2005 over years of renegade behavior and recruiting, recently took a position as the Chancellor of the SUNY system (effective June 1, 2009).  Could it be that the new president, Monica Rimai, is friendlier to the athletic interests of the university? 

One thing is for certain, as BiaH outlines in his post today, with Stephenson in the mix along with Deonta Vaughn and others, Cincy could be in a position to compete for a conference title in a shallower Big East next year.  For Cincy fans, that should be very exciting; it’s just any fallout the year after next that should worry them.

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06.28.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 28th, 2009

Let’s get caught up after a glorious weekend…

  • Elliot Williams to Memphis.  Nothing surprising here, as we reported last week that Elliot Williams was leaving Duke to move closer to home to attend to his mother’s illness.  The only school that made reasonable sense was his hometown University of Memphis, and Gary Parrish reported yesterday that Williams will indeed become a Tiger.  If Williams can get the NCAA to approve his hardship waiver so that he can play next season, he should walk right into a starting position at the PG spot for Josh Pastner’s squad.  While we’re on the subject of Memphis getting new players, former Kentucky player (well, he never actually played) Matt Pilgrim is probably transferring to Memphis with the assistance of new UK coach John Calipari.  Pilgrim, a transfer from Hampton who sat out last season at UK, wasn’t part of the new regime’s plans.  Since he didn’t want to leave Lexington but was no longer welcome, Coach Cal is trying to facilitate a seamless transfer for him.
  • The NCAA Shell Game. Seth Davis wrote an article last week that illustrates just how one-sided the NCAA scholarship system can be.  When new coaches (e.g.,Isiah Thomas and John Calipari) get to their new schools, they often feel the need to run off players (such as Pilgrim, mentioned above) who don’t fit in their lofty plans for the program.  That’s all fine and well for replacing lesser players, but the whole house of cards gets exposed when a coach wants to keep a player who otherwise would like to transfer.  Meet Freddy Asprilla, a 6’10 Colombian center at FIU who had a great freshman year and wants to transfer to a major conference school, but whom isn’t being released by FIU simply because, well, they don’t have to.  There’s an adage about the deck getting stacked somewhere in here.
  • FIU Cheerleading.  We know it’s purely coincidental that FIU is enabling cost-cutting measures by cutting its cheerleaders during the same year that they hired Isiah Thomas to coach their men’s basketball team (Thomas isn’t taking a base salary this year).  Still, the rich irony of FIU wholly dismantling the cheerleading team within months of Thomas’ arrival on campus isn’t lost on anyone.  Sometimes the unintended consequences are more compelling than the intended ones.
  • NBA Draft DetritusGary Parrish: the NBA will find you wherever you play.  Luke Winn: behind the scenes at MSG, and raising legitimate questions as to Ty Lawson and DeJuan Blair’s draft positions.  Jeff Goodman: Brandon Jennings made the right choice to go to Europe.  More Parrish: like RTC, he also thinks Demar DeRozan is going to be a stud.
  • More Quick Hits.  Marquette’s Maurice Acker: done with basketballRenardo Sidney: stop delaying, NCAAJeremy Tyler: headed to Israel Brian Ellerbe: new assistant at GW.  BYU’s Dave Rose: now cancer-free and returning to coach this fall.   William & Mary: considering an asparagus mascotRoy Williams: Aw Shucks… the RW Story, on sale in November.  Antonio Anderson: those Ws are ours!
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Welcome Team Narcissism: Class of 2009

Posted by rtmsf on June 26th, 2009

Well, the 2009 NBA Draft has come and gone, and hundreds of players are waking up to the soul-crushing wreckage that inevitably follows.  For thirty players last night, hummingbirds are carrying $100 bills around the hotel room, there’s a case of empty Cristal at the foot of the bed, and the debilitating headache you’re sporting today is a badge of honor – Welcome to the Show.  For another thirty players, there’s a melancholy tease of ‘what could have been’ as you realize your dream is only marginally within reach – no guarantees from here on… you’re just a day-to-day wage-slave like the rest of us.  For the remainder who were waiting on that siren’s call from D. Stern last night, replace the Cristal with Boone’s and the tease with ‘what went wrong… I thought I was pretty good,’  and you have what we like to call Team Narcissism.

narcissismTeam Narcissism is filled with players who thought they were something they weren’t: draftable.  Or if they were draftable, they thought they were first-rounders when they were really second-rounders.  These are players who left college early based on the tenuous premise that they were ready for the NBA, and that the NBA would welcome them into its arms…  but… it didn’t quite work out that way.  Now they’re left with the option of scratching and clawing their way onto a team for a minimum salary, or heading overseas to try to catch on somewhere else.  Some of these players had absolutely no business declaring early, while others were victims of unfortunate timing and stock slippage.  Still, Scotty Thurman says hello.

Team Narcissism

  • Dar Tucker, Depaul (undrafted) – the 6’5 Blue Demon thought because he could score 18 ppg on a terrible FG% (39%) that this made him a draft pick?
  • Shawn Taggart, Memphis (undrafted) – Taggart should be a gearing up for a senior season as a featured player in Josh Pastner’s new offense.  He never had a chance at getting drafted this year.
  • Brandon Costner, NC State (undrafted) – never had a chance, so why not stay in school for one more season and get your degree (see: Taggart)? (correction: stay in school and improve your game?)
  • Paul Harris, Syracuse (undrafted) – the first of two Syracuse clowns who were egregiously fooling themselves into believing they had a shot to get selected last night.
  • Eric Devendorf, Syracuse (undrafted) –  it’s true, he probably had nowhere else to go, but given what we know about Devo, he also probably saw himself as a lottery pick.
  • Daniel Hackett, USC (undrafted) – can’t blame the kid for jumping off a sinking ship, but he probably could have returned and dominated on that team next year (plus get his degree).
  • Patty Mills, St. Mary’s (#55) - this was a free-fall last night.  Mills was a borderline first-rounder but his stock fell significantly in the last month, and he probably should have listened to the right people and returned to SMC for an injury-free junior all-american campaign.
  • Jodie Meeks, Kentucky (#41) - no surprise here, as Meeks was expected to go in the second round.  Still think it was a poor decision, though.
  • Chase Budinger, Arizona (#44) - another free-fall player, as Budinger was a lottery pick not all that long ago.  Don’t really blame him much for leaving early, though, as his fall was swift and recent.
  • DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh (#37) – good decision for an undersized Big Baby clone to leave early?  Probably depends on whether he makes the team or not, right?  Definitely a gamble.
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Boom/Bust Cycle

Posted by rtmsf on June 25th, 2009

It’s a little less than an hour before tonight’s NBA Draft, and this should have probably been done days ago, but we wanted to use our undeniable RTC expertise when it comes to projecting college hoops talent to the pros so we can say “told ya so” when the one undervalued player we said would be a star pans out (while the other ten we said would be don’t, but let’s not quibble).  We’ll use Andy Katz’s final mock draft from this morning, and we’re only going to evaluate college players (because we’ve seen them play for at least one year).  The criteria is BOOM or BUST – either that player is undervalued or overvalued based on his selection.  That’s it.  Here we go…

SKU-000062925_COVER.indd

1.  Blake Griffin, Oklahoma - BOOM, although the fact that he’s going to ClipperLand means drug addiction and/or horrific injury.  Bill Simmons agrees

2.  Hasheem Thabeet, UConn – BUST, his offensive game won’t develop any further and he’s no Dikembe.

4.  Tyreke Evans, Memphis – BUST, not seeing it at this selection; opposing defenses can lay off of him out to 18 feet. 

5.  James  Harden, Arizona St. – BOOM, a Joe Johnson/Monta Ellis clone.  Kid can really play.

6.  Stephen Curry, Davidson – BUST, limitless range but really, #6?  Too many question marks to be this high.

7.  Jordan Hill, Arizona – BUST, nice player but he’s not even as good as Big Baby.

8.  Jrue Holiday, UCLA – BUST, classic example of being a better athlete than player. 

9.  Demar DeRozan, USC – BOOM, DeRozan really came on at the end of the season and appears poised to break out.

10.  Jonny Flynn, Syracuse – BUST, is Flynn really the best true point in this draft?  No way. 

11.  Terrence Williams, Louisville – BUST, seems like the kind of player who will be out of the league in 3 years (does everything well, nothing great).

12.  Gerald Henderson, Duke – BOOM, second best guard in the draft behind Harden.

13.  DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh – HEDGE, this is about the right position for an undersized beast like Blair. 

14.  Earl Clark, Louisville – BOOM, should have been higher but has a reputation for being lazy.  Will shed that and become an excellent NBAer.

15.  Austin Daye, Gonzaga – BUST, we used to love this guy, but he hasn’t shown much improvement in two years of college.  We don’t believe in him.

16.  BJ Mullens, Ohio St. – HUGE BUST, this is a joke.  Either he’ll be washing cars in two years with Patrick O’Bryant or turn into Chris Kaman, who knows?

17.  Ty Lawson, UNC – BOOM, he’s proven that he’s a winner and has improved his game substantially.  Could be TJ Ford w/o the back problems.

18.  James Johnson, Wake Forest – BOOM, has a reputation for being lazy, but he’s silky smooth at his size and will succeed in this league.

19.  Tyler Hansbrough. UNC – HEDGE, we all know what kind of player he’ll be.  Average at best.

20.  Sam Young, Pittsburgh – BOOM, an absolute steal at this pick; Young could end up being a star.

21.  Jeff Teague, Wake Forest – BOOM, would have been a lottery pick had he not packed in the second half of the year; the talent and athleticism is apparent.

24.  Eric Maynor, VCU - HEDGE, nice pickup for this position. 

25.  Jon Brockman, Washington – BUST, sorry, but Brockman just isn’t NBA material in the long run.

26.  Toney Douglas, Florida St. – HEDGE, could go either way here, but we’d expect Douglas to find a niche in the League.

27.  Darren Collison, UCLA – BUST, Collison has always struck us as someone who should have been better than he was. 

29.  Nick Calathes, Florida – BOOM, Calathes will find a way to make himself a good pro if he decides to play in good ole USA instead of Greece.

30.  DaJuan Summers, Georgetown – BUST, but it’s worth a gamble given his natural abilities.  Could become a defensive stalwart at some point if he tried.

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06.24.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 24th, 2009

What’s this?  Two days in a row with FBs?  Indeed.  There’s a lot to get caught up on…

  • Duke Downer.  The biggest news today was the news that Duke point guard Elliot Williams (he of the happy, happy feet) will be leaving the Duke program so that he can move closer to Memphis, his hometown.  Reportedly his mother is facing a life-threatening illness there and Williams wants to be nearby for support as she battles her disease.  He plans on petitioning the NCAA to waive the one-year transfer obligation so that he will be able to play immediately at his new school (presumably Memphis).  This is undoubtedly a major blow to Coach K’s backcourt in 2009-10, as he’ll now be left with only Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith to log minutes there.  Big things were expected of Williams based on his insertion into the starting lineup at midseason and his excellent all-around play down the stretch.  Duke fans are largely crushed by this news, given the unfortunate circumstances causing it as well as the huge, gaping hole in the backcourt it leaves (while, ironically, the perfect fix named Seth Curry can only wait and watch next season).  In other Duke news that came out today, Coach K is the highest paid Duke employee by far ($3.6M last year) – no surprise there.
  • Like Father, Not Like Son.  A bit of a surprise today is that Jeffrey Jordan (you know, that Mike guy’s son) is ending his basketball career at Illinois to focus on his studies.  This comes on the heels of news from earlier this year that Jordan’s hard work and commitment to the program had resulted in a scholarship for the rest of his time at the school.  Guess he’d had enough.  Actually, we can totally understand this.  Jordan was undeniably under more pressure to perform than any walk-on turned scholarship player in the history of college basketball, and although it made for nice copy, it’s safe to say that Jordan probably didn’t love the sport anywhere near the same as his famous dad.  He probably reached a personal epiphany of some kind that included a heart-to-heart with pops, and once MJ gave him the blessing, he’s now free to pursue the activities he truly enjoys.  Good for him.  And good for him for working his tail off in his two years at Illinois to go from walk-on to scholarship to expected contributor, despite limited talent.
  • Vegas, Baby.  The WAC has followed its mid-major brethren WCC and Mountain West Conferences by moving its postseason tournament to Las Vegas, where the Orleans Arena will host beginning in 2011.  This comes on the heels of a very successful WCC Tournament at the Orleans last year, where a sold-out, raucous arena was shown on national television for St. Mary’s vs. Gonzaga.  The MWC already holds its conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center down the street, and this move by the WAC means that Vegas will become the basketball destination for every legitimate conference (save the Pac-10) west of the Rockies every March.  Sounds like a really fun environment for fans of these leagues.
  • No, No, NoEveryone got this wrongDerrick Rose wasn’t flashing a gang sign in the below pic, he was practicing universal remote hand signals for the letter “B” on the SAT exam.

derrick rose hand signals

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06.23.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 23rd, 2009

Yes, friends and neighbors, it’s nigh time for another edition of Fast Breaks, about the only thing worth doing this time of year…  We’re going to spruce this one up with a little more commentary than the norm, and we’ll be back tomorrow with some other backlogged news.

  • USC basketball is in the news seemingly every day.  You know about Kevin O’Neill already – but did you know that one of the Trojans’ top recruits, Noel Johnson, a 6’6 forward from Georgia, is now headed to Clemson?  Or ditto for Derrick Williams, who was granted a release from his LOI?  Or that former hoopster Stais Boseman (1993-97) was arrested for taking part in a carjacking in LA last week (charges were dropped, however)?  Jumping back to the O’Neill hire, neither Jeff Goodman nor Gregg Doyel believe this is a good hire, for a number of reasons.  Couldn’t agree more – O’Neill and his sub-.500 collegiate coaching record will rebuild USC into permanent middle-pack status in the Pac-10.  Maybe that’s all they want.
  • Come Thursday night, there may be a record number of viewers tuning in from the Bluegrass State for the 2009 NBA Draft.  The reason?  Wildcat guard Jodie Meeks made himself eligible for the draft, but with projections from the mid-40s to 50s at present, there’s a distinct possibility that Meeks will not be selected on draft night.  Utilizing the Randolph Morris Loophole, Meeks could then choose to return to Lexington because he hasn’t signed with an agent.  This is definitely a subplot to keep an eye on later this week, as it could seriously impact next season’s outcomes.
  • If you want a good look at some of next season’s breakout stars to watch, keep an eye on the players selected for the World University Games (James Anderson, Talor Battle, Trevor Booker, Craig Brackins, Da’Sean Butler, Corey Fisher, Lazar Hayward, Robbie Hummel, Quincy Pondexter, Deon Thompson, Evan Turner, Jarvis Varnado)  and the Under-19 (DeAngelo Casto, Clay Thompson, Seth Curry, Ashton Gibbs, Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack, Darius Miller, Arnett Moultrie, John Shurna, Tyshawn Taylor, Howard Thompkins, Terrico White) USA teams.  Both teams will compete internationally during the first two weeks of July.  Seth Davis wrote that OSU’s Evan Turner and Purdue’s Robbie Hummel impressed him the most, while Luke Winn focused on Butler’s Gordon Hayward.  And who says there’s no talent in the Midwest?
  • Sad news that BYU head coach Dave Rose has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  As far as cancers go, this is one of the worst types someone can get.  RTC wishes him and his family the best during this trying time.
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USC Hires Kevin O’Neill

Posted by nvr1983 on June 20th, 2009

I’m beginning to think that there is some bizarre Arizona-USC connection going on after USC announced that former interim Wildcat  coach Kevin O’Neill was going to take over as the Trojans new head coach. You may remember O’Neill from the Lute Olson fiasco after the 2007-2008 season, but O’Neill also has prior coaching experience at the college (171-180  in 12 seasons) and pro level (helpful if you’re running a program like the one Tim Floyd apparently ran in LA the past few years).

kevin o'neill

To recap the action at Arizona and USC the past two years:

  • O’Neill takes over for Olson on an interim basis, but then Lute stabs him in the back and comes back for a short period before eventually retiring. O’Neill goes to work for the Memphis Grizzlies for a season.
  • Arizona hires Russ Pennell to take over for Olson after O’Neill is let go.
  • Tim Floyd guides the Trojans to respectability before O.J. Mayo comes to town. The Trojans manage to make it back to the NCAA tournament the year after Mayo leaves.
  • Arizona decides not to renew Pennell’s contract and starts searching for big name to take over. They decide on Floyd, who briefly decides to take the job before changing his mind. Arizona eventually hires Xavier head coach Sean Miller.
  • Floyd resigns leaving USC scrambling to find a head coach as it loses multiple recruits who decide to go to other programs. USC gets turned down by several big names including Jamie Dixon and Reggie Theus before selecting O’Neill.

O’Neill led the Wildcats to a 19-15 record and yet another NCAA tournament bid in his single season in Tucson, but according to some sources had difficulty connecting with the Wildcat players. While that may be a problem at some programs, I’m sure that the administration at USC will appreciate having a coach of one of their two major programs who follows the rules. While we would normally consider USC one of the best positions in the country, O’Neill has his work cut out for him with recruits leaving in droves and NCAA sanctions on the horizon.

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