Morning Five: 04.21.11 EditionPosted by rtmsf on April 21st, 2011
- It wouldn’t be a random mid-April Wednesday without NBA Draft comings and goings, and not one, but two, SEC teams announced the draft intentions of three of their stars yesterday. First and foremost, John Calipari’s talented trio of Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight and DeAndre Liggins are all going to test the waters over the next few weeks, and by all indications, it appears that next year Kentucky fans will face a third straight season of uber-talented but inexperienced freshmen leading their team. Knight and Jones are projected as lottery picks, whereas Liggins, a second rounder if chosen at all, probably wouldn’t be in any better position after returning for his senior season. Jeff Goodman argues that, despite all of Calipari’s martyrdom last year about his five first-rounders (“best day in Kentucky history” and all that nonsense), he actually wants his players to return. It’s no leap of faith to state that a coach, if forced to do so, would admit to wanting his best players to stick for two, three, or even four years, but Calipari certainly didn’t expect them to — after all, why recruit a Marquis Teague if you already have a Brandon Knight; or, why recruit a Michael Gilchrist if you already have a Terrence Jones? The truth is that those players are going to Kentucky with an expectation that minutes at their positions will be available, and they didn’t get those impressions through a careful reading of the tea leaves.
- Moving on to the SEC team that announced on Wednesday that its three stars would be returning, Vanderbilt’s all-SEC trio of Jeffery Taylor, John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli will be back in Nashville next season. The Commodores went 23-11 overall and 9-7 in the rugged SEC East before losing a heartbreaking opener in the NCAA Tournament against a much-lower seed for the second straight year. Kevin Stallings’ team will have the weight of enormous expectations on it next year, as this news gives him as talented and experienced a team he’s ever had in his twelve seasons at Vandy.
- We’ve got space today for one piece of significant transfer news — Wake Forest’s Ari Stewart will reportedly resurface at USC in the 2012-13 season. The 6’7 Demon Deacon forward suffered a bit of a sophomore slump in his first year under Jeff Bzdelik, but he has the tools and the jumper to become an all-conference level player at his next destination. USC picked up a good one as Kevin O’Neill continues rebuilding with his own players in Troy.
- Princeton again decided to keep it within the family by reaching out and hiring Class of 1998 graduate Mitch Henderson to take over for the departed head coach Sydney Johnson. Henderson has spent the last eleven years working under Bill Carmody at Northwestern, and said upon his hiring that when junior Doug Davis’ shot fell through in the Ivy Championship game this year against Harvard, he “jumped off his couch” with excitement. His era as a player (1994-98) was one of the best in program history, as the Tigers made three NCAA Tournaments, reached #7 in the national polls in 1998, and defeated defending national champion UCLA in his sophomore year. As with Johnson, it’s a lot to live up to for a fan base with rather big expectations.
- Just when you thought you couldn’t be more impressed by Derrick Williams’ sophomore All-America season, we learned Wednesday that his “sprained right pinky” had actually been a broken one all along. Yep, a broken digit that he decided to tough out and play with after suffering the injury in a late January game against UCLA. Without question, Williams’ field goal percentages of 59.5% and 56.8% (from three) must have really taken a hit by virtue of D-Will’s injury — he likely would have been in the mid-60s in each metric had he not been hurt (we’re only partially kidding). This exhibited ability to play through pain can only serve to elevate his draft stock come June.