Morning Five: 07.01.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 30th, 2010

Happy Fiscal New Year, everyone.  We hope that your 2010-11 is filled with great financial security and hoops hysteria.

  1. Here’s some somewhat dated news, but it didn’t seem to get much attention until this week, which is that Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney evidently sees himself as a 1-and-doner when he finally gets to play this coming season.  Sidney tweeted during last week’s draft the following: “NYC #2011  Believe dat.”  The big man who sat out the entire 2009-10 season over concerns with his eligibility certainly has the ability to become a top prospect, but he may want to check next year’s draft location before he makes his reservations.
  2. It was an odd summer day for comings and goings yesterday, but Michigan dismissed junior guard Laval Lucas-Perry from its team for an undisclosed violation of team rules, while Oregon forward Jamil Wilson is transferring back east to Marquette for his final three years of eligibility.  Lucas-Perry was a sometime starter for John Beilein’s team, now facing a huge rebuild after losing his two stars and another key contributor in LLP.  Wilson was a starter at Oregon, averaging 5/3 in just under 17 minutes per game — nice coup for Buzz Williams to grab the talented forward from nearby Racine.
  3. Insert New Jersey chemical plant joke here…  Rutgers will offer naming rights to its football and basketball stadiums (“the RAC”) as a way to offset some of the expense of a recent renovations.  Some RTC ideas: The Honeywell Hive?  The Prudential RAC?  Toys R Us Arena?  Campbell Soup Bowl?  We could go on…
  4. An interesting discussion over at Fanhouse as to whether, with John Wooden’s passing, if Coach K is the best coach alive.  He’s certainly on the short list, but it’s hard to believe that he’s above Phil Jackson or Scotty Bowman, much less Pat Summit or Geno Auriemma in his own sport.
  5. At the Under-19 World Championships, Team USA led by Duke’s Kyrie Irving (21 pts) and rising prep senior Austin Rivers (19 pts) won the gold medal when Quincy Miller (another rising senior) hit a three with 25 seconds remaining to give the Americans a three-point lead that stuck.  Good job, fellas.
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Morning Five: 06.30.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 29th, 2010

  1. This is around the time of the year when the felonies start.  We guess that players get out of school, start feeling the summer heat and lose their minds.  Or something.  UNLV’s Tre’Von Willis, a first team all-MWC junior guard last season, was arrested Tuesday on felony charges of domestic battery by strangulation and grand larceny.  The person Willis allegedly strangled was his 28-year old girlfriend, which begs the question whether Willis may have been watching old Chapelle episodes before the incident.  There’s been no comment from UNLV head coach Lon Kruger yet, but obviously Willis is a big part of what he is expecting to put on the floor next season.  It’ll be interesting to see how he handles this one.
  2. We figure that you’ve been on pins and needles all summer waiting for this decision, but the WAC announced yesterday that it will not expand in 2011.  What does this mean?  Well, with the loss of Boise State to the MWC after the 2010-11 season, the WAC will operate as an eight-team league for at least one year.  How quaint — an eight-team league.
  3. What, no Craigslist?  This AP report examines the secondary market for tickets to NCAA events in light of the recent Kansas scandal.  Although we didn’t know that the NCAA had embraced Razorgator as its online ticket broker, it’s nice to see folks waking up as to how many people acquire ducats to these events.
  4. So how much will Colorado have to pay for the privilege of leaving the Big 12 and moving to the Pac-10?  Probably about $10M more than they expected (had the Big 12 dissolved, as they undoubtedly thought would happen).
  5. Coach K will talk one-on-one with Alabama football head coach Nick Saban on Wednesday night on Sirius XM radio, and we’re half tempted to listen to it just to see if the irresistible force/immovable object thing is really true.  Well, that and to see if the Russian spies show up.
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Duke-UNC Coming To Prime Time

Posted by nvr1983 on June 29th, 2010

For nearly two decades the Duke-UNC rivalry has been the de facto national showcase game for college basketball. While many fans appreciate the skill of these two teams and the passion of their fans there is also a sizable group that has become disenchanted with the way that certain entities (notably ESPN) obsessed over the two (or more) games per year between the teams instead of talking about the other compelling rivalries in college basketball. The fans that fall into the latter group might want to skip to another article because earlier today CBS announced that it will be broadcasting the second game of this year’s rivalry (on March 5, 2011 from Chapel Hill) during prime time for the first time. The game is expected to be the feature game of the regular season for CBS, who is celebrating their 30th year covering college basketball. The match-up between the two schools (winners of 14 of the past 15 ACC Tournament championships, 12 of the past 14 ACC Regular Season titles, and 7 of the past 20 NCAA titles) who are separated by less than 8 miles will be the 231st between the schools with the Tar Heels holding a 130-99 advantage coming into the season.

Next Stop: Prime Time

The Blue Devils should be loaded for this match-up returning much of the nucleus from last year’s championship team including Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith while adding freshman Kyrie Irving and transfer Seth Curry. If the Blue Devils sweep the regular season series this year, Coach K will finally get over .500 against the Tar Heels (34-35 all-time coming into this season). While the defending national champion Blue Devils should be favored against a young Tar Heel squad, we expect the Dean Dome to be a tough place to get a win in March with Roy Williams (8-10 all-time versus Duke including 7-7 while at UNC) having almost a full season to work with Harrison Barnes, the presumptive #1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, and home court. And if you are one of the people who cannot stand all the hype this rivalry gets, we do have one small nugget of good news for you: CBS is broadcasting this game so you will not be subjected to over 2 hours of Dick Vitale mentioning how all these students got 1500s on their SATs, which incidentally is pretty mediocre now that the SAT is on scored a 2400-point scale.

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SEC Media Notes: 06.29.10

Posted by nvr1983 on June 29th, 2010

As part of our attempt to continue to provide you with the best independent college basketball information on the Internet we will periodically bring you information from conference media calls. Today’s entry comes from the SEC, which amazingly was not affected what could have been a massive conference shake-up.

Ed. Note: The conference call actually took place on Monday, but I had an ophthalmologist appointment and I’m pretty sure that they used just about the entire bottle of eye drops to dilate my eyes so I’m just starting to see straight again. The below entries are my some of the key points the coaches made, but are not direct quotes. If you want to listen to the coaches speak directly, click on the link next to their name.

Anthony Grant (Alabama)Audio
– Defense: Last year their defense gave them a chance to be in every game that they played, but they had to have that solid defense because their offense was not always there.
– Returning players: Senario Hillman one of elite athletes in the SEC and can guard multiple positions. He will need to improve shot selection and decision-making, but is making strides. JaMychal Green adds size and strength to the frontcourt, which is as good as any team in the SEC. Should improve with an extra year of experience. Tony Mitchell had a very good freshman year and being named to SEC All-Freshman team was an accomplishment. Grant is looking for the players to make a jump between their first and second year in the Alabama program.

Tony Barbee (Auburn)Audio / Key Quotes
– Lack of Experience: Starting over is exciting because you get to mold a new group of players. It will be hard to judge what he has until he sees the team together in the Fall.
– Plan: Focus on defense because they could be “offensively challenged” because they don’t know what they have outside of Frankie Sullivan. Given their lack of size on the inside they might have to focus on their offense around the 3-point line.

John Pelphrey (Arkansas)Audio
– Frontcourt: They have Marshawn Powell on the inside, but will need to develop more on the inside to help support him.
– APR: We’re all working very hard. We want to see these young men improve in the classroom and on the court. He isn’t sure statistics over the short-term can adequately reflect the academic performance of a program, but is open to more long-term measures.
Andre Clark: Aware of the transfer to TCU and does talk with players who have transferred if they contact him about an issue.

Billy Donovan (Florida)Audio
– Backcourt: Didn’t know what to expect coming into last season having lost Nick Calathes. Irving Walker played his freshman year at 2 guard spot. Kenny Boynton came in with huge reputation out of high school, but you’re never sure with them making the jump. Limited depth in the backcourt meant those two played more minutes than they probably should have, which meant they couldn’t do some of the stuff they would have otherwise done such as press. Coming into this year with the experience should be helpful for those two coming into this season. Still some issues with depth in the backcourt this year although they are adding freshmen Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather to the backcourt.
Alex Tyus: First UF player to put his name in the NBA Draft and return to UF. It was Alex’s decision. He worked out with a couple of NBA teams and listened to what NBA had to say about where he might go. No pressure from UF to come back. Donovan feels that process is only going to help the Gators going forward.
Patric Young: Very physical and aggressive player, but needs some work on the inside. In the near term he will bring energy and a great rebounding presence to the Gators.

Mark Fox (Georgia)Audio
Marcus Thornton: Really big boost after picking him up following his release from his letter of intent from Clemson. Gives Georgia a lot of options because of his versatility.
Trey Thompkins: Had discussion with family and got info from NBA. Felt it wasn’t appropriate. Only would be able to work out for 1 or 2 days due to final exams and the new NBA Draft withdrawal deadlines.
Turnovers: Feels they will take better care of the ball and they should also be able to create more turnovers on the defensive end, which should create more easy baskets.

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Morning Five: 06.29.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 28th, 2010

  1. Coach K is showing no signs of slowing down as he prepares for his summer stint leading the US Men’s National Team again.  The FIBA World Championships take place in Turkey in mid-September, and the team will be chosen from a pool of 27 players next month.  We’re guessing that the names might include the following: Kobe, LeBron, Dwight, Melo and Kevin.  As for Duke, even though K has to replace three starters, his team next year is probably more talented.
  2. In this report, Big 12 coaches talk about their feelings as it appeared their league was going to dismantle last month as a result of the almighty football dollar.  Mark Turgeon and Frank Martin’s comments about how NCAA Tournament revenue finances the rest of the NCAA’s championships is the salient point here.  The NCAA needs to figure a way to get in front of the next round of massive expansion or face the ugly specter of eventually getting crowded out completely.
  3. Former Memphis guard Roburt Sallie, a player who averaged just under six PPG yet famously dropped ten threes and 35 total points in the 2009 NCAA first round against Cal State Northridge, is transferring to Louisville for his senior season.  If he finishes his undergraduate degree this summer, as expected, he will be eligible to play immediately for Rick Pitino’s team.  His 11/4 averages and 44% three-point shooting will help UL immediately, a team reeling from losing its top four scorers from last year.
  4. If you had to guess the game with the largest online viewing in history (subject to change annually, we’re sure), would you choose the US-Algeria World Cup game (during work hours on a Thursday morning) or… Florida-BYU from last year’s NCAA Tournament (incidentally, also on a Thursday during work hours).  Each game had over 1.1M online viewers, but the hoops game had slightly more.
  5. Speaking of World Cup, this is great.  We have a rule around here that any and all Freddy Brown (Georgetown ’84) references will make it onto the site in some capacity, so we couldn’t resist when a comparison was made between Mexico’s Ricardo Osorio’s boneheaded pass to blow the game on Sunday and Brown’s gift to North Carolina’s James Worthy some twenty-eight years ago.

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Morning Five: 06.28.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 27th, 2010

  1. We mentioned this on Twitter over the weekend, but this is scheduled to be a huge week for the future of the NCAA Tourney.  How to deal with the four play-in games is on the agenda at this week’s meeting of the NCAA men’s basketball committee, and any hope that this would be a relatively simple decision has been thrown out the window with the realization that despite additional dollars available, nobody wants to play in these games.  The small conference teams from weaker leagues do not want to be pigeonholed in those games on an annual basis, and the BCS league teams don’t feel like they should have to play the extra games.  Well, if anyone over at the NCAA is reading this, we certainly have our opinion.
  2. This had been rumored for some time, but MJ’s progeny will be playing together beginning in 2011-12 as Illinois transfer Jeff Jordan will join little bro Marcus Jordan at Central Florida.  Marcus was a standout freshman at UCF last year, averaging 8/3/3 assts and making the all-CUSA freshman team, while Jeffrey has made a name for himself during spot minutes as a hustling, defensive-oriented type of player.  The two last played together four years ago in high school.
  3. And you thought that conference realignment was finished this summer?  Pfshaw!  The Summit League is considering adding North Dakota to its nine-team conference, which would help bring the two Peace Garden State schools into the same fold (North Dakota State is already a member).  There’s no timetable on this possibility, but a reasonable expectation would be two or three years.  UND is currently a member of the Great West Conference, which does not have an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
  4. Mike DeCourcy asks if Oregon is ready to take control of the Pac-10 with Dana Altman on board and a strong commitment from the UO administration.  It’s really not far-fetched.  It’s no secret that the league has been way, way down the last two seasons, and UCLA and Arizona are struggling to get back to where they were.  The additions of Colorado and Utah are not threatening in the short term on the hardwood, and as DeCourcy states, there is a good amount of talent coming out of that area seemingly every year.
  5. Gary Parrish takes a look at his top thirty prospects for the 2011 NBA Draft here.  His top six players are projected 1-and-doners next year.  We really can’t wait until the NBA institutes a two-year minimum on its draft eligible players.
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Coach Wooden Farewell: “One in a Billion”

Posted by rtmsf on June 26th, 2010

Former UCLA head coach and legend  John Wooden was honored at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday afternoon for nearly 100 years of life that impacted tens of thousands of people, both sports fans and otherwise.  Despite direct competition with the US-Ghana World Cup match and the Bruin baseball team’s victory to get to the championship of the College World Series, approximately 4,000 people including Jerry West,  Marques Johnson, Derek Jeter, Al Michaels, Bill Walton, Joe Torre, Antonio Villaraigosa, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and many others paid tribute to the man’s life and teachings during a 90-minute ceremony.  Wooden died nearly a month ago in Los Angeles at the age of 99.

The Current UCLA Coach Paying Homage to the Former One (LA Times/A.Schaben)

Former UCLA forward Jamaal Wilkes used his time at the podium to describe Coach Wooden as “one in a billion as a coach, mentor, and friend.”  The only beef we may have with that statement is that Wilkes may have sold the legendary Wooden short by a few billion.  Another UCLA forward, John Ecker, related a story about how Wooden needled him well into his 90s about whether he was loved, another valuable insight into the brilliance and cognitive abilities of the man.  Throughout the last month, we’ve learned an awful lot about Wooden as a man — we were already well aware of his records and accomplishments as a coach — but we hesitated to try to put into words our feelings for him because it felt awkward.  Nevertheless, we know enough to know that it’s very difficult to find people on this earth who nobody has anything negative to say about his character, and Wooden appears to be one of those few.  We’re only sorry that we didn’t get a chance to meet him while he was here.  RIP, Coach.

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2010 NBA Draft Winners and Losers

Posted by zhayes9 on June 25th, 2010

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

Now that the Draft is complete, time to look back at Thursday night’s winners and losers, from coaches to NBA teams to players to conferences and everything in between:

Paul George saw his stock skyrocket all the way to #10 and the Pacers, Al Bello/Getty Images

Winners:

Big 12 – One of the premier college basketball conferences has gained quite a surge of momentum in the last few weeks. Big 12 commish Dan Beebe convinced Texas it was in their best interests to keep the league in tact even after the defections of Colorado and Nebraska, two of the more downtrodden BCS-conference hoops programs in the country. After chopping off those two anchors, a ten-team, 18-game round robin format has been agreed to starting in 2012. The Big 12 momentum only continued at the draft on Thursday where an astonishing seven of the top 24 selections reside from the conference (and Kentucky isn’t even a member). Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh, Kansas’ Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry, Texas’ Avery Bradley and Damion James, Oklahoma State’s James Anderson and Iowa State’s Craig Brackins, not to mention Cyclone transfer Wes Johnson, were all nabbed in the first 24 picks. The Big 12 barely trailed the ACC in terms of overall conference strength last season and the results of the first round only confirmed those numbers.

John Calipari - As Fox Sports Jeff Goodman astutely pointed out, expect plenty of John Calipari mug shots in near future drafts unless he bolts for a dream NBA job. Five of his Kentucky Wildcats from one recruiting class were taken in the first round on Thursday, from John Wall at #1 overall to Daniel Orton at #29. Next year could see two more Kentucky players announced early in the draft in center Enes Kanter and point guard Brandon Knight with forward Terrence Jones another potential first rounder. In 2011-12 when Marquis Teague, Michael Gilchrist and another top ten recruit TBD join Big Blue Nation, it’ll be the same Calipari hugging his revolving door of players on a June night in NYC. Don’t think this is just Calipari doing this for his departing players or that recruits are not noticing. He’s fully aware of what his face constantly showing up on ESPN’ s cameras means: furthering his reputation of sending talented players to the riches of the NBA. And quickly.

Paul George - It’s been a quick ascension for George, a workout wonder who saw his draft stock shoot up in the last few weeks until he landed to Indiana at #10. It’s doubtful even George saw this coming after being lightly recruited out of Palmdale, Calif, and settling on Fresno State for his college choice. George saw both his FG% and 3pt% plummet from his freshman to sophomore seasons and he only upped his PPG by 2.5 and RPG by 1.0 along with very low assist totals. He also played for a 15-18 WAC team against far more inferior competition than, say, Kansas’ Xavier Henry, who went one pick later to Memphis. Henry averaged 13.5 PPG, shot 46% from two and 42% from three on a team filled with players who needed touches.

Greivis Vasquez’ reaction - I don’t think anyone who watched Greivis Vasquez play four years at Maryland was surprised when they saw the emotional Venezuelan surrounded by family and friends in the crowd at Radio City Music Hall waiting for his name to be chosen. Vasquez has been projected as an early-to-mid second round pick- a scorer, leader and improved floor general that simply lacks the lateral quickness to defend NBA guards. Yet rumblings surfaced that Memphis loved Vasquez at #28. Sure enough, when he was pegged at that exact spot, the only outward, raw emotion we saw Thursday night emerged as Vasquez pumped his fist, hugged his family and practically sprinted to shake David Stern’s hand on the draft stage. Congratulations to Greivis.

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Calipari: Draft Night = Championship? Is This What It’s Come To?

Posted by rtmsf on June 25th, 2010

Last night’s NBA Draft was pretty boring from start to finish (Wes Johnson’s pants generously excepted), but there was one moment that resulted in our jaws on the floor at the RTC West Coast Compound, and it didn’t even involve one of the players (or random “USA”  chants from drunken New Yorkers).  We’ve been unable to find the video of this yet (let us know if you have), but at some point during the middle of five Kentucky players being selected in the 1st Round, ESPN interviewed John Calipari, who had this to say about the grand evening:

This is the greatest night in the history of Kentucky basketball.

Seven Better Nights Than Last Night

Now, we’ll excuse Coach Cal’s uber-salesmanship and a bit of hyperbole while getting caught up in the moment, but c’mon Coach…  we can think of at least seven nights that were probably a tad better for the Big Blue faithful than June 24, 2010 (see above).  And if we’re being honest with ourselves, many more than that.  In fact, while UK fans as a whole seem genuinely happy for Wall, Cousins, Patterson, Bledsoe and Orton as individuals for fulfilling their lifelong dreams, there is still a lingering sense of what could or should have been for the team, especially if some of the players stuck around.  This sentiment is heavily anesthesized by the fact that another truckload of blue-chippers are already en route to Lexington for 2010-11, but rival blog Card Chronicle nails the reality underlying this situation:

If in the next two years Cal continues to dominate recruiting and continues to produce first round NBA Draft picks but doesn’t lead the Cats into the final week of the season, watch how drastically the tide will turn.  Success for Kentucky fans means national championships. This current wave of insanity excitement might seem to be the product of last year’s success or all the top-rated recruits or all the national attention, but really it’s all driven by the feeling that national title No. 8 is right around the corner. [...] On the flip side, you get the feeling that Calipari feels like this is succeeding. Kentucky basketball is back to being a mainstay in the top ten, they’re being talked about on the news on a regular basis, he’s got celebrities showing up at Rupp Arena, he’s getting the top prep talent in the country to come to Lexington and then he’s getting them in a position to make millions before they can drink legally. [...] But if Calipari isn’t able to turn status into championships within a reasonable (to Big Blue Nation) amount of time, watch the relationship disintegrate. Kentucky fans will start to debate whether or not all this glam is good for the program and Cal will become (understandably) bitter.

Which makes Calipari’s comments today on the Dan Patrick Show (audio link) all the more intriguing.  According to Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader, when Patrick pointedly asked Calipari how last night’s draft could be the best moment in such a proud program’s history, Calipari answered that it “depends on your frame of reference” before explaining how UK is a players-first program.  When asked again whether a national title or a night like last evening was better, he similarly dodged the question by saying that you need the latter to win the former.  Fair enough, but these feints in the light of day certainly give credence to what CC was saying above.  No matter how much he may want it to be true, Calipari’s success at UK will ultimately not be measured by the number of draft picks he puts into the first round — it’ll be measured by the number of banners he puts in the rafters.  Surely he knows this.  Right?

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Morning Five: 06.25.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 25th, 2010

  1. Did you catch that NBA Draft last night?  We’ll have much more up about the 2010 version in a post later today, but for now we’ll just say that even though we know that college stars cannot always translate to the professional level, it still bothers us to see tremendous collegians like Scottie Reynolds, Omar Samhan, Jon Scheyer and many others left on the outside looking in.  Best of luck in wherever your careers take you, fellas; we really enjoyed watching you play.
  2. Why wait to start projecting for the 2011 NBA Draft, though?  DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony lists his top thirty prospects for next year’s draft and it has a particularly Duke and Carolina flavor in it.  And Georgia?  Yes, Georgia.
  3. Kansas is putting an end to a rough school year by hiring a new auditor to oversee its athletic department in light of the ticket-scalping scandal they endured earlier this year.  Probably a good idea.
  4. This is intriguing.  The NCAA is proposing to make a rule that high school players cannot be offered scholarships until the summer between their junior and senior years.  It’s not a bad thought.  Coaches could still get wink/nod/secret handshake agreements with players well before that time, but at least from a public standpoint, it would take away some of the insanity with the recruitment of players who are barely old enough to drive (or younger if you’re Billy Gillispie).
  5. ESPY nominees relating to college hoops:  1) Best game – Duke vs. Butler (odds: 35%); 2) Best Breakthrough Athlete – John Wall, Kentucky (odds: 40%); 3) Best Championship Performance – Anthony Johnson, Montana (odds: 5%); 4) Best Upset: Northern Iowa over Kansas (odds: 75%); 5) Best Coach/Manager: Coach K (odds: 15%); 6) Best Male College Athlete: Evan Turner (odds: 25%) & John Wall (odds: 40%).  Get over there and vote.
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Morning Five: 06.24.10

Posted by rtmsf on June 24th, 2010

  1. It’s NBA Draft day, which means we get one last chance to talk about players such as Tiny Gallon, Jerome Randle, Manny Harris and Derrick Caracter before they fade off into basketball oblivion.  Be sure to check out our mock draft and each of our draft profiles for the projected first round collegians to get ready for tonight.
  2. The NCAA’s Basketball Focus Group: an interesting idea.  Just give it some teeth, gumshoes.
  3. Just to ensure that Texas the remaining Big 12 doesn’t get too big for its britches, Oklahoma president David Boren confirmed yesterday that the Sooners had an invitation on the table to join Texas A&M as members of an expanded SEC.  Boren said that the school wanted to stay with its group and keep its traditional rivals Oklahoma State and Texas nearby (keep your enemies closer, perhaps?), though, so they turned down the offer.
  4. This is a pretty strong article from New York magazine that just came to our attention recently about the last great basketball scout, Tom Konchalski.  For some reason, in the real-time twitter/blogger/facebook era, the fact that his scouting only comes via US Mail on paper is cool, in a retro sorta way.
  5. YABB’s the State of Coaching post is out, and very well done as always.  Seriously, spend fifteen minutes with this thing and understand what he’s doing there.  It’s very good stuff.
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Official RTC 2010 NBA Mock Draft

Posted by zhayes9 on June 23rd, 2010

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

I love the NBA Draft.

The Stage Rarely Changes, but the Players Do

There’s something gratifying and enjoyable about seeing the college players that we discuss, watch and evaluate move on from the collegiate game and find a home at the next level. There are no cliffhangers when it comes to the NBA Draft. Barring late summer dealings or undrafted snubs, Thursday will be the day we’ll find out where each of our favorite elite college players are going to play pro ball next winter, almost like watching your kids go off to school for the first time. It’s a grand conclusion to a celebrated (albeit, in plenty of cases, very short) college career and a transition to the riches of the NBA.

We’re all prognosticators and experts on Draft night. Opinions are thrown around as David Stern announces each choice. Emotions are prevalent when your favorite NBA squad picks, those moments and heartbeats before the selection that could change the course of a franchise forever. Or it could be Renaldo Balkman. Either way, Draft night for us hoops nerds is one of intrigue and interest.

Here’s my best shot at forecasting how the first round will play out. As someone that has watched these players intensely at the college level, someone that pays attention to the strengths/weaknesses of each NBA club and has been soaking in all of the Draft info since the Final Four ended in April, I’m honored to bring you the official Rush the Court 2010 NBA Mock Draft (RTC draft profile linked to each name):

1) Washington Wizards – John Wall, PG, Kentucky

The Consensus #1 Pick (WaPo/J. Newton)

This was a lock the moment the Wizards won the Lottery in mid-May, a stroke of unexpected luck for a city on the sports rise and the perfect face of the franchise-type player to lead this team out of the cellar. Wall could pair with a focused Gilbert Arenas in a potent backcourt and the Wiz may even shell out some money to bring in an intriguing free agent wing. He may be a top-five point guard in the NBA in only three years time if the jump shot improves. He’s that skilled and talented.

2) Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State

I’m hearing the Sixers front office is enamored with Turner while newly minted coach Doug Collins would prefer big man Derrick Favors. In the end, I see Turner as the surer prospect emerging as the pick, and even the Sixers website prepared for that very possibility last Friday. Philly won’t trade the pick unless some team agrees to take on Elton Brand’s contract, an unlikely scenario. Turner could be the next Brandon Roy, a prospect just too mouth-watering to pass up on.

3) New Jersey Nets – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse

Nets fans were positively crushed on Lottery night when they lost a chance to nab Wall. An underwhelming workout for Derrick Favors, one in which he was thoroughly outplayed by DeMarcus Cousins, gave the Nets brass pause after it was assumed for months Favors would be the selection at #3. The Nets have needs at both forward spots, so it would make sense for them to peg Johnson here and go after one of the big free agent power forwards with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s checkbook- Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer or Chris Bosh.

4) Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech

This is a tricky situation for the Wolves. With Al Jefferson and Kevin Love already in the fold, the last thing Minnesota needs is another power forward. They covet both Turner and Johnson, so it’s extremely likely they try to persuade either Philly or New Jersey to let them move up a few spots in exchange for their pick at #16. It’s rumored the Minnesota brass isn’t too high on Favors, but Cousins has publicly expressed displeasure with playing in the Twin Cities.

5) Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky

Cousins has sent hinted messages that he wouldn’t be too thrilled if Sacramento (or Minnesota or Golden State) calls his name and he’d much prefer to end up in Detroit. The Pistons could very well move up a few spots to grab Cousins, but the workout Cousins just finished in SacTo apparently convinced ownership that his game outweighed any character concerns. I would take Cousins over Monroe (and maybe even Favors) in a heartbeat, and it’s my feeling that the Kings agree even with the recent Sam Dalembert acquisition.

6) Golden State Warriors – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown

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