Doc’s Kid to Duke: Austin Rivers Commits

Posted by rtmsf on September 30th, 2010

Big news on the recruiting front today, as the nation’s top player in the Class of 2011 according to Rivals.com has committed to Duke.  Austin Rivers, a 6’4 whirlwhind of a point guard and the son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc, made his decision on Wednesday night and informed coaches Bill Self and Roy Williams at his other two finalists, Kansas and UNC, this morning.  Rivers cancelled on-campus official visits with both schools, as UNC was set to welcome him with open arms this coming weekend and Kansas was scheduled for later in October.  If Rivers’ ranking holds through his senior season, he will be the first top overall recruit that Duke has inked since 2005 (Josh McRoberts) — let’s hope for Rivers’ sake that he turns out a little better in a Blue Devil uniform than McBob did. 

Nobody Should be Surprised at This Decision

It was an open secret that Coach K was considered the favorite to land Rivers, as he regularly was spotted sporting Duke gear in the last year or so (the above photo may or may not be real).  Krzyzewski certainly has plenty of success to hang his hat on, but we wonder if his “coolness” factor has translated better with the younger generation of recruits since he took on the reins as the head coach for the US National Team.  For better or worse, 16- and 17-year old basketball players are going to be more impressed by stories about coaching LeBron James and Kevin Durant in the Olympics than they are about seemingly-ancient tales regarding Christian Laettner and Grant Hill.  Rivers originally committed to home school Florida as a high school freshman when the Gators were still awash in the glow of back-to-back titles, but he re-opened his recruitment a year later and says that he fell in love with Duke during a visit there last fall.

Coach K’s greatest teams always have elite point guards, from Tommy Amaker in the 80s to Bobby Hurley in the early 90s to Jason Williams a decade ago.  While last year’s national champion Blue Devils assuredly had stellar point guard play from senior Jon Scheyer, he wasn’t the caliber of player of the others on this list.  This year’s incoming lead guard, Kyrie Irving, and presumably next year’s (Rivers), most certainly are.  In 1991, Duke won the national title somewhat accidentally; UNLV was far and away the best team (34-0 and defending champs), but the Devils caught the Runnin’ Rebs on the right night and ultimately cut down the nets “a year early.”  Their 1992 team was the dominant one, and it’s entirely possible that we could be looking at a similar situation for Coach K in 2011 and 2012.  So long as the Plumlees and Ryan Kelly can maintain the paint on defense and the boards, the next two years of Duke backcourts with Irving/Rivers, Nolan Smith (2011), Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins looks phenomenal.  Just imagine if Coach K can convince Irving that two seasons in Durham is a good thing — the 2011-12 backcourt of he and Rivers could be one of the most talented the game has ever seen.

Uber-recruiters Thad Matta, John Calipari, Roy Williams, Billy Donovan, Bill Self and others should be on notice — Coach K never really left the recruiting circuit, but with Irving and now Rivers coming to Durham, the 63-year old coach has once again served notice that he will continue to be reckoned with.

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Morning Five: 09.30.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 30th, 2010

  1. Jamie Dixon may have lassoed the highest-rated recruit in the history of Pittsburgh basketball yesterday, as 6’9, 200-pound junior forward Khem Birch verbally committed to his Panther program.  The athletic player originally from Canada is rated in the top five in both the Rivals and Scout rankings for the class of 2012, and he will undoubtedly be a force in the Big East in a couple of years.  Anyone expecting Pitt to “come back to earth” anytime soon is dreaming — so long as Dixon is there, the Panthers are going to remain a force not just in the conference but nationally.  We shudder to think what Dixon will be able to do if he starts getting top ten players at Pitt on a regular basis.
  2. Tomorrow is October, and these player profiles will be everywhere soon enough.  Here are a few to whet your appetite.  UNC’s John Henson (whom Gary Parrish expects to become the biggest breakout star of the year), San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard (whom Mike DeCourcy reports is in much better shape than his freshman year, where he still averaged 13/11), and Florida State’s Derwin Kitchen and Michael Snaer (whom Jim Henry suggests will be the keys to FSU’s third straight NCAA Tournament bid).
  3. Mike DeCourcy points out that the Big East was a ridiculously tight league last season, with over a quarter of its games coming down to a single possession.  That may not mean much until you learn that a league like the Big 12 had similarly close games only half as much last year.  Marquette in particular seemed to have had a lot of those games, and it turns out that 13 of their 21 Big East games last year were three points or fewer (including four OT contests).  What we wouldn’t give for a single Marquette-Notre Dame game right now…
  4. Here’s a look at two coaches in vastly different situations at their respective schools who are using the art of recruiting blue-chip prospects to substantiate their coaching existences.  John Pelphrey would appear to be on the hot seat at Arkansas after three lackluster seasons, but according to Gary Parrish, he’s bought himself at least two more years with a strong incoming class that will arrive in Fayetteville in 2011.  On the flip side of things, Ohio State’s Thad Matta is in no danger of losing his job in large part because he continues to haul in fantastic players to his program year after year (Jared Sullinger only the latest stud of many).
  5. Former UNC head coach and Hall of Famer Dean Smith made an appearance at the Charlotte Bobcats’ training camp on Wednesday.  One of his former pupils, Larry Brown, is currently the head coach of the team and, of course, His Airness is the majority owner of the club.  This was the first public appearance for the legendary coach since the summer release of information from his family that he was suffering from a degenerative memory disease, but the 79-year old Smith was in good enough condition to keep up appearances — he made sure to wear a bright Carolina blue jacket to the camp (ed note: send us a photo if you’ve got one).
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Bost Isn’t Lost, Will Play Partial Season

Posted by jstevrtc on September 29th, 2010

The NCAA has reinstated Dee Bost back to the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a move that has surprised almost every follower of college basketball.

Bost, who averaged 13.0 PPG and 5.2 APG in 2009-10 — submitted his name into the NBA Draft after last season, then decided to return to college after he realized that he was unlikely to be drafted in either of the draft’s two rounds. He then missed the withdrawal date by less than a day, using a defense of “I didn’t know,” meaning he wasn’t aware that the NCAA had moved the draft-withdrawal deadline up by a week to May 8th, effectively giving early-entry prospects a mere one week (sort of limits the number of workouts a kid can schedule, eh?) to make the decision to jump to the NBA or stay in school. He also claimed lack of knowledge of a new NCAA rule that prohibits collegians from declaring for the draft but then returning to school if they weren’t picked. The old rule that allowed this doesn’t exist anymore.

Bost Is Back, and a Partial Season Beats No Season At All

In our view, the NCAA has set a very interesting precedent here, and is acknowledging that the moving up of that draft-withdrawal deadline isn’t in the best interest of student-athletes.

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Two Michigan State Players Guilty of Poor Judgment, Possibly More?

Posted by rtmsf on September 29th, 2010

We’ve blathered on and on about this before, but year after year it never fails to amaze.  Anecdotally at least, it seems that the months of August and September every single year are marked with college basketball players filling up the police blotters.  Why can’t guys stick to getting ready for the upcoming hoops season rather than involving themselves in all sorts of other nonsense?  Our theory is that players get back to school and have nothing going on for the first time in quite a while.  Summer camp and international team obligations are over. Individual workouts won’t start for another month, and the formal start of practice a month after that.   The demands of classwork haven’t really kicked in yet.  The weather is still hot, and guys are looking to cut loose.

A Different Kind of Madness Every Fall

In other words, all of the pieces of the common aphorism that “idle hands are the devil’s playthings” are in place, and just as consistently as sundresses on the quad in August, players around the nation cannot seem to avoid the early fall tendency to put themselves in situations where trouble finds them.   We’re not being accusatory here — we fully allow and understand that players are often victims of false accusations and overzealous police and prosecutors as a result of their local celebrity — but that’s why they need to be careful to stay out of risky situations.  And yet, year after year, they don’t. 

The latest and greatest case comes from Michigan State.  You know, Tom Izzo’s superb program that has been to the last two Final Fours and is an odds-on favorite to reach a third next April.  According to a report released today by the Michigan Messenger, two high-profile (unnamed) MSU players were accused of a serious sexual assault in a dorm on the night of August 29-30.  The details of both the police report, much of which was corroborated by the alleged victim and one of the two players, paint a horrific picture. 

Once in the room, the three started playing basketball using a mini-hoop. When the victim missed a basket, one of the men told her she had to remove an article of clothing. The victim agreed and removed her t-shirt because she had a tank top on underneath.  At this point, the victim says, the players began to deliberately miss baskets until they were stripped “completely naked.” One of the men allegedly blocked the doorway to the room, while the other “cornered” the victim in the room.  “[The victim] explained to [detectives] that the body language of [the players] suggested she was not free to leave,” the report says. “[Redacted] was blocking any escape path to the exit of the dorm room. [The victim] stated that after [redacted] approached the door he turned the lights in the room off and the room went completely dark. At this point, the sexual assault began.  The victim told police the players penetrated her in various positions. The victim told detectives the players allegedly asked her “how does that feel?” and “how do you want it?” The victim says she told the players she didn’t want it and gave “other indicators she was not a willing participant.”  The victim told police that the players pinned her down, but at one point she freed her arms momentarily and struck one of the players in the face. The player was on top of her and in response to her hitting him, he allegedly said, “Don’t. Just relax. C’mon,” as he continued to assault her, the report says.

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Gus Johnson Wants to Do a Final Four — Please Let Him

Posted by rtmsf on September 29th, 2010

Gus Johnson, doing his best to look like Fifty Cent’s dad in this video clip from Dime Magazine, riffs on numerous items including college basketball in this interview.

You can see the excitement beaming like laser beams from Johnson’s eyes when he mentions the unbelievable near-make by Butler’s Gordon Hayward at last year’s Final Four.  Can you imagine all the CBS suits checking their work-site insurance policies to make sure that massive strokes by on-air talent are covered if Johnson had gotten the call to do that game?  Maybe that’s why they will continue to stick us with the exceptionally pleasant but soporific Jim Nantz as the play-by-play man — they want to keep Johnson around for a few more years to continue analyzing games in numerous sports in his unique and entertaining way.

We can’t really blame them — cost-effectiveness and all that — but man-oh-man, just to hear Gus make the call in one epic championship battle would be well worth the risk.

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Morning Five: 09.29.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 29th, 2010

  1. And so it begins…  Michigan State’s Korie Lucious will miss two to six weeks as a result of knee surgery to repair a small meniscus tear in his left wheel.  It’s a relatively minor injury that Lucious should expect to be recovered from prior to the Spartans’ home opener versus Eastern Michigan on November 12, but MSU fans have to wonder when the nagging injuries with their players will end.  It seems that over the last few years Tom Izzo’s team has often represented the walking wounded, which makes you wonder how good the two-time defending Final Four squad could be if they were ever playing at 100%.
  2. Stony Brook got terrible news earlier this week when forward and America East POY candidate Tommy Brenton dislocated his knee during workouts, an injury that may result in him missing the entire 2010-11 season.  Brenton, at only 6’5 and 210 pounds, might just be the best inch-for-inch rebounder in the nation — he averaged 8.9 RPG his freshman year and 9.6 RPG last season despite his smallish stature.  According to Ken Pomeroy’s database, he corralled over a quarter of the available defensive rebounds while on the floor last year, and you’ll note that he kept great company with many names of players much bigger than he.  Huge loss for the Seawolves if Brenton is indeed out for the year.
  3. The Eric Bledsoe saga is officially, finally and mercifully over.  Yesterday the NCAA confirmed that there is no further cause to keep the inquiry open with no new high school transcript generated for the former Kentucky guard.  Procedurally, this is the correct call — the NCAA doesn’t need to get into the business of sniffing around the transcripts of players certified by their local school boards, especially well after the fact as in this case.  But from a eyebrow-arching perspective, the whole thing smells like corruption and rot gone unpunished.  We tweeted it out on Friday, and we’ll repeat it here — had someone like Larry “Mr. Fix-It” Webster been around to change seventeen of our twenty-four recorded grades in some of our own (ahem) lesser-performing classes, those Stanford and MIT applications we so carefully drew up may not have ended up in the circular file so quickly.
  4. Fanhouse has been churning out some great original content lately, and this article looking at the Second Generation Team is no exception.  They created three teams of historical players who were second-gen guys, including such stalwarts as Jalen Rose, Mike Bibby, Kevin Love and Stephen Curry.  It was also great to see a little dap come our way based on previous criticism of their exclusion of Arkansas stud Scotty Thurman from their College Forever team; they included Thurman on this team (his father was Lavell Thurman from Grambling), and agreed with our indelible memory of the silky smooth guard as an “absolute assassin!”  Great job, fellas.
  5. You might recall a couple of weekends ago that several coaches gathered together to roast Bob Huggins in Morgantown.  One of those coaches, Duquesne’s Ron Everhart, managed to hurt himself while he was trying to spoof Huggins’ widely-reported fall the WVU coach suffered earlier this summer in Las Vegas.  It wasn’t just a strain or a pull either — he broke his toe!  We’re not sure we’ve seen a greater case of the basketball Weauxfgods pre-emptively smiting down someone in quite some time.  Here’s the video link (start at the 1:30 mark).
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UNLV Announces Its Punishment for Tre’Von Willis

Posted by nvr1983 on September 28th, 2010

For the past 3 months, much of the college basketball world has speculated about how Lon Kruger and the UNLV administration would punish Tre’Von Willis following his arrest on a charge of domestic violence stemming from an incident where he allegedly strangled a woman on June 29th. Earlier today Willis reached a plea agreement with local law enforcement authorities where he could face the following penalties:

  • Suspended 90-day jail sentence
  • 100 hours of community service
  • $340 fine
  • 6 months of domestic violence counseling
  • No contact with his accuser
  • Suspended at least 3 games

While the punishment sounds serious it is unlikely that Willis will have to do much other than pay a relatively small fine, do some community service (probably show up at a few basketball clinics), and try not to break the law until the end of the season. If he does get into trouble with the law, Willis could be forced to serve the rest of the suspended 90-day sentence (assuming he has probably only spent one day in jail at the time of his arrest).

Willis Appears to Have Gotten Off Easy

For his part Willis released the following statement, where he said:

I want to apologize to my family, the university, my coaches, my teammates and to the community of Las Vegas. I feel awful and embarrassed. I used extremely poor judgment, made a mistake and take responsibility for what happened. I will work hard to earn back the trust and support of the fans and those close to me.

Now for the part that most of you are interested: his suspension from the Rebels. In a statement to the media, Kruger said:

Tre’Von made a mistake and feels horrible about it. He let a lot of people down. With any mistake there are consequences and he is accepting responsibility for what he did. In addition to the legal-system penalties, he is also being penalized by the program to address the mistakes he made and will miss at least the first 10 percent of his senior season.

Although the media and UNLV’s official site are reporting that this means that Willis will miss at least three games if we are being technically correct (and since UNLV is an institution of higher learning they should be ok with basic math), the Rebels play 32 regular season games (counting the 2 exhibition games, which should count since they are counting it in his suspension), so Willis should miss more than three games (or at least four if Kruger isn’t trying to pull a Rex Ryan / Braylon Edwards suspension). According to UNLV’s schedule, the three games that Willis is scheduled are two exhibition games (against Grand Canyon and Washburn — yeah, we never heard of them either) and one regular season game (against UC-Riverside), all of which are at home. If UNLV is following Kruger’s statement to the letter (or number) they should also suspend Willis for their next game, which they play at home against Southeastern Louisiana. This would mean that Kruger would technically be able to bring his star guard back in time for the Rebels’ game against Wisconsin (surely a coincidence). The match-up of two potential top 25 teams would certainly be intriguing and making that the first game back for Willis would give Kruger and the Rebels a built-in excuse to lobby the NCAA Selection Committee in March to give them a break because the team would be readjusting to playing with Willis in case the Rebels lose to the Badgers at the Thomas & Mack Center. This isn’t to say that Kruger is trying to a Bobby Bowden by announcing  a delayed suspension that would allow his players to play against a tough team first and then suspend them for a subsequent game against a cupcake, but it is interesting to say the least.

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Enberg’s Play About McGuire Still Going Strong

Posted by jstevrtc on September 28th, 2010

Are you a college basketball fan, but also long to be a patron of the arts? Well, get yourself to a performance of Coach: The Untold Story of College Basketball Legend Al McGuire, a one-man  play written by none other than  the inestimable sportscaster Dick Enberg about the former Marquette coach. McGuire, who died of leukemia in 2001, was a good friend of Enberg’s as well as his former television broadcast partner. Enberg debuted the playat Marquette in 2005 and it’s been traveling the country since then, but we mention it now because two of its upcoming performances have special significance.

During its run, the play has garnered praise both for the personal and touching nature of Enberg’s tribute to his friend as well as the portrayal by actor Cotter Smith, an award-winning stage actor who you may remember most recently from the HBO movie about the life of Jack Kevorkian entitled You Don’t Know Jack.

The two upcoming performances we mentioned above are the ones taking place at Belmont Abbey College on October 9th and at Indiana University on October 23rd. As just about every college hoophead knows, McGuire led Marquette to the 1977 national championship in his final season as a head coach. Before he took the head coaching position at Marquette in 1964, though, he spent seven years at Belmont Abbey, the site of his first head coaching job. Enberg is an undergraduate alum of Central Michigan University, but holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Indiana in the field of health sciences. The two shows at those venues will be special, indeed. Mr. Enberg — who we should actually refer to as Dr. Enberg, though he’d probably be the first to quell that notion — is scheduled to appear at both of those performances.

McGuire debuted as a college basketball analyst for NBC in 1977 with Enberg and Billy Packer, and is seen as the first real “character” in the realm of basketball broadcasting. He was always insightful and interesting, but the guy could be downright zany, to put it mildly. Who could ever forget this:

Enberg is one of many sportscasters who sees McGuire as having paved the way for future commentators to have fun and show more of their true personalities (we’re lookin’ at you, Mr. Vitale) on the air. Understandable, then, is that tagline on the playbill — a quote from Enberg about his subject: “He’s the most unforgettable human being I’ve ever met, and there’s nobody in second place.”

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In Their Words: Life at the Mid-Major Level (part two)

Posted by rtmsf on September 28th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences and an occasional contributor.

To read the entire In Their Words series, click here.

Part Two: RECRUITING

Over the summer, we’ve spent time hearing about some of the next big-name recruits on their way to college basketball: Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist. We’ve heard the big-time schools announce their high profile games on their upcoming schedules: Kentucky going to the Maui Invitational and visiting North Carolina, Michigan State hosting Texas and going to Duke. But for the vast majority of Division I programs, they’ve been flying under the radar. There are at present 73 teams that participate in basketball in the six BCS conferences, but there are 347 total programs in Division I. Of those other 274 programs, there are certainly quite a few big-name programs: last year’s national runner-up Butler comes to mind immediately, as does Gonzaga, Memphis and a handful of other schools in conferences like the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West. But, we were also interested in how the other half (or really, how the other three-quarters) lives, so we spent some time talking to coaches, athletic directors and other people around the country affiliated with some of those other schools — those non-BCS schools, those “mid-majors” — and we asked them about how they recruit, how they create a schedule, how they market their programs, and quite a few other things. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll let them tell you their story, in their own words.

To begin, let me introduce and thank this week’s cast of characters:

  • Tommy Dempsey, Head Coach, Rider – Dempsey enters his fifth season as the head man at Rider, following two seasons as an assistant. He has compiled an 83-75 record over that time and coached NBA lottery pick Jason Thompson during his time there.
  • Jason James, Head Coach, Tennessee-Martin – James enters his second season as the head coach at UT-Martin following eight seasons as an assistant coach there. His first season was rough, to the tune of 4-25, after he was appointed head coach in the wake of scandal with the previous head coach. But James, the recruiter who brought Lester Hudson to UT-Martin, has plans to begin to turn things around this season.
  • Todd Miles, Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations, Long Beach State – Miles starts his third year in Long Beach following a seven-year stretch at Boise State where he was the primary media relations contact for the basketball team.
  • Eric Brown, Assistant Coach, Long Beach State – Brown enters his fifth year as an assistant on head coach Dan Monson’s staff, after previously having spent time on coaching staffs at Cal-State Northridge, USC and Iowa State.
  • Chris Caputo, Assistant Coach, George Mason – Caputo is entering his sixth season as an assistant coach for the Patriots after spending the previous three seasons as an administrative assistant and video coordinator under head coach Jim Larranaga.
  • Murry Bartow, Head Coach, East Tennessee State – Bartow is entering his eighth season as the Buccaneers head coach, after having previously succeeded his father Gene Bartow as the head coach at UAB. Bartow has posted a 118-72 record in his years at ETSU and has racked up 241 total wins and four NCAA appearances in his 13 seasons as a head coach.
  • Dale Layer, Head Coach, Liberty – Layer enters his second season at Liberty after having spent a season as an assistant at the university in 2007-08. In between, he spent a year at Marquette and previously he spent seven seasons as the head coach at Colorado State. He has compiled a 118-122 record in his eight seasons as a Division I head coach.
  • George Ivory, Head Coach, Arkansas-Pine Bluff – Ivory enters his third season in Pine Bluff, where he has turned the Golden Lions into winners. UAPB turned around an 0-11 start last season by finishing 18-5 over their last 23 games, winning UAPB’s first SWAC tournament title in 43 years and advancing to the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual national-champion Duke.

Last time around, we heard about the challenges mid-major schools face in competing for recruits and the importance of player development at the mid-major level. This time, we’ll look at some of the more practical questions to be answered when recruiting, such as what types of players coaches are going to be looking for and where they are going to find them. If you’re in a talent-rich area, you may not ever need to go outside of your region to find players, but the bigger pool of talent from which you are able to draw, the more likely you are to be able to land talented players.

Tommy Dempsey, Head Coach, Rider: We’re in a great location. We sit right in the middle between Philadelphia and New York City. We’re about 35 miles from Philadelphia and about 50 miles from New York City, which also puts us two hours from Baltimore, maybe three hours from Washington DC, within three hours of Virginia, we have a couple of kids from Delaware, so again we’re in a location that allows us to recruit regionally. I think most coaches will tell you that they want to take care of their back yard, but how big your back yard is changes for everybody. If you’re in the Midwest and there are not as many players within a two-hour radius of your school, then obviously you have to change your approach. But in our situation we are able to do the majority of our recruiting close to home.

Locating Talent is Extremely Important

Jason James, Head Coach, Tennessee-Martin: As far as location, we try to bring in student-athletes within about a six hour radius from us, we’ve been more successful doing that, but saying that, we kind of go where we know people, where people can help us and we’ve been able to be successful because of our contacts.

Todd Miles, Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations, Long Beach State: Coach (Dan) Monson’s goal is always to get the best player in Long Beach. That’s his number one goal. That’s how we got Larry Anderson. Casper Ware is a local kid, T.J. Robinson happened to come from Connecticut, but he came because we were recruiting Larry Anderson who was at a prep school and we saw T.J. But, with this team this year we had a lot of returners, so they were trying to find pieces that would fit with this team, with all these returners they had certain needs and they may have been a little more particular about who they wanted. Three years ago when Coach Monson and his staff came here, they needed players, and it didn’t matter what position. And I think this year maybe more they wanted to recruit to a position or to a skill set.

Eric Brown, Assistant Coach, Long Beach State: We prefer to recruit locally, but really, it is all based on need. Certain classes are stronger than others: 2012 looks to be stronger than the 2011 class, as an example. And then there might be times when you have to recruit for need, like you need a point – it’s not just about recruiting a position, like you need a guard or forward – you might have more specific needs, like you need an athletic, guard-the-rim post-player, they may not need to be a great offensive post player. Or you might need a post player who can pick-and-pop and hit the three, but isn’t that great on the block. Or you might have a bunch of 6’4/6’5 athletes who are drivers/slashers, but you need to find a guy that can hit the three. If a player can do it all, they’re not going to come to our level. Sometimes we just need to find guys that can fit a need. In this case, we got some really good kids out of state and if we have a need and don’t think that need can be best filled out of the local area, we go to wherever it is we can get it.

Chris Caputo, Assistant Coach, George Mason: There are some years where we sign a number of guys from the area and other years where it’s a little bit different, but yeah, our base is the local area. Last year we brought in two kids from the DC area. Obviously we want to stay with that as much as possible, but there are times when there is just not enough volume in your area when you’ve got to get five or six kids in a year, which we’ve had to do. You know, we had to get 10 guys in two years and so sometimes when there’s not as much in the area and you’ve got to get quality, you’ve got to go to places out of the area, and I think that’s where TV has helped us as well.

Schools like Long Beach State and George Mason have easy access to major metropolitan areas. Obviously, not all schools enjoy such a location, and as a result cannot rely entirely on getting recruits from their local area.

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Morning Five: 09.28.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 28th, 2010

  1. Former Michigan State star and 1979 national champion Jay Vincent pleaded guilty to falsifying his tax return and mail fraud on Friday as part of an Internet scam that defrauded investors of over $2M from 2006-09.  The ruse he and an associate pulled on people involved convincing their clients to become home inspectors, undoubtedly trying to cash in on people’s blind greed as a result of the national housing bubble during those years.  For some reason, every time we hear one of these stories about former stars doing the wrong thing (and there are plenty of them), it makes us sad.  It shouldn’t, but it still does.
  2. Wouldn’t it be great if Butler’s Brad Stevens ultimately decided to stay in Indianapolis for the next thirty-odd years and built Butler into a national powerhouse who competed with the likes of Duke, Kentucky, UNC and Kansas for the top recruits and slots in the Final Four every year?  To say Stevens will never leave Butler for another job at a high(er)-major is unlikely — after all, never is a long time for a 33-year old — but according to this article by Seth Davis, it certainly appears that the coaching wunderkind is awfully comfortable with his office in Hinkle Fieldhouse, and we’re rooting for him to be in the old barn for a very long time.
  3. Nolan Smith is the Dookie who’s hard to hate, and this story by David Steele at Fanhouse helps to illustrate why.  We all know that Nolan and his father, Derek, are one of the few father-son duos to have ever both won a national title.  Can you name the other duos?
  4. Blue Ribbon has announced its first-team All-Americans for the 2010-11 season, and the list is heavy with Big 12 players…  Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn, Kansas’ Marcus Morris, Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen, Duke’s Kyle Singler and BYU’s Jimmer Fredette.  You know what’s especially interesting about this list?  Four seniors and one junior.  Do you think that Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes might have something to say about that?
  5. We’re definitely late on this one, but we had to make mention of it.  LSU walk-on Andrew Del Piero spent last year in the LSU band playing tuba; he’ll spend this year trying to harness the 7’2, 286-pounds of flesh and blood that he has been blessed with on a basketball court.  Tigers coach Trent Johnson has his work cut out for him, but Del Piero at least has some basketball bloodlines of some sort — his pops played at Dartmouth a number of years ago.  Here’s some footage of him playing in the LSU marching band last season — he’s fairly easy to spot near the end of the clip.

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Enes Kanter Isn’t The Only One Who Needs Freeing

Posted by jstevrtc on September 27th, 2010

It looks like some Kentucky students (we’re assuming) had a little fun with GarageBand recently and put together a little tune and, um, rap “video” about Kentucky freshman-in-limbo Enes Kanter and the desire to see his eligibility confirmed by the NCAA:

Now, we don’t imagine a certain Mr. Mathers is shaking in his sneakers at the prospect of a showdown versus “Rich Breezy,” but we salute the creators of the “Free Enes” video, since it’s certainly better than this particular RTC contributor could do.

The video did remind us, though, of that wonderful annual ritual of sweating out tardy eligibility determinations by the NCAA, that seemingly endless process that players, coaches, and fans must endure before each season. We  are still awaiting final eligibility decisions on three players in the 2010 Rivals top twelve — specifically Kanter, Missouri commit Tony Mitchell and top-ranked Josh Selby at Kansas. Last year, Deniz Kalicli, another extremely talented Turkish player, had to sit out 20 games before making his debut at West Virginia. Kentucky’s John Wall wasn’t cleared to play until late October. Lance Stephenson didn’t know if he was eligible at Cincinnati until November 5th, and Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney missed all of last season (his situation was admittedly a tad more complex than the others, we should note).

We assume that the NCAA adjudicates these matters as quickly as it can and is reliant upon the timeliness and veracity of the information they receive, but it seems like these decisions get handed down later and later each season. The final decision on Kanter was due almost a week ago, and we’re unaware of a timeline regarding a call being made for Selby, and for Mitchell’s chances to play in the second semester this year (he’s ineligible for the first). We all agree that in the end the most important thing is that the fairest decision be made for each kid, and that the NCAA’s calls are consistent. Unfortunately, with practices officially starting in 17 days, it’s about as likely that all of these issues will be ruled on by the time basketballs hit hardwood as it is that Rich Breezy is a pseudonym for Pete Thamel.

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Recruiting Rumor Mill: 09.27.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 27th, 2010

After a prolonged absence from the summer circuit it appears like Sonny Vaccaro, who was once quiet possibly the most powerful man in AAU basketball, is making his triumphant return. As Gary Parrish notes, Vaccaro should make things more interesting.

  • It’s already almost a week old, but ESPN released its team recruiting rankings and you will be shocked to see who is #1.
  • Arizona was able to land some big names like Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson over the past few weeks, but as we pointed out last week their haul would be coming to an end soon due to the Lute Olson-era sanctions against the program. Now we see the results as Sean Miller has told super recruit LeBryan Nash that there isn’t any room for him in Tucson.
LeBryan isn’t welcome in Arizona
  • Speaking of the Wildcats, last week we mentioned the refreshing case of Norvel Pelle who was just starting to do in-house visits, but now Pelle has moved ahead to planning official visits as he recently expressed interest in St John’s, UTEP, UConn, and “the whole PAC 10 except Arizona according to a phone interview with Adam Zagoria, although Pelle has not committed to any official visits yet.
  • In yet another reaction to Arizona’s filling its scholarships already . . . Quinn Cook, who had been high on Arizona before Turner’s surprise commitment, is now considering Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Villanova, and UNC. In a rather unsurprising surprising comment, Steve Smith, his new coach at Oak Hill, says Cook is “comparable” to Rajon Rondo, Ty Lawson, Marcus Williams (hopefully leaving the laptops out of it), and Brandon Jennings who all played at Oak Hill. Cook is a talented prospect, but outside of Williams I think Smith might be stretching the truth a bit. To be fair, I can say my paycheck is comparable to John Paulson’s paycheck, but Paulson made way more than I did (at least before the RTC royalty checks get processed).
  • Last week we noted that Austin Rivers had taken Florida off his list of potential schools and now it seems like he has set dates for his official visits: UNC (October 1st), Duke (October 15th), and Kansas (October 22nd). You can guess that the basketball coaches will be especially interested in the football team’s performances those weekends against East Carolina (could be challenging for the depleted Tar Heels), Miami (this one could be ugly), and Texas A&M (depends on the week for the inconsistent Jayhawks).
  • Read the rest of this entry »

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