Morning Five: 06.23.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 23rd, 2011

  1. It’s NBA Draft day, and depending on where you stand in the American basketball landscape, one of the best or worst days on the calendar.  As college hoops fans, we’re obviously very disheartened to see players we’ve watched closely for the last one/two/three/four years moving on to the next phase of their lives, but as people who like to root for good kids following their dreams, we have nothing but love for the players who will hear their names called by David Stern or Adam Silver tonight.  Hopefully every one of them will realize just how amazing an opportunity they’re receiving to play this beautiful game for big-time money and will make the most of it.  The very best of luck to all the draftees tonight.
  2. To that end, here’s a link to our 35 NBA Draft profiles of the top collegians who are most likely to hear their names called tonight.  From Kyrie Irving to Iman Shumpert and everyone in-between, they’re all there.  We break down their games, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, predict how they’ll be doing in three years, and project which teams would be best served picking them.  As writers who have followed these players as closely as anybody the last several years, we bring a somewhat different perspective on these prospects than your typical NBA-centric sites.  Take a look.
  3. If you don’t like our profiles, or don’t have the patience to wade through nearly 25,000 words this morning, head on over to Seth Davisannual breakdown of the top 40 prospects as relayed to him from six anonymous NBA scouts and one coach at the next level.  As always, there’s some insightful stuff in this piece, but it’s up to the players to perform — not the scouts to evaluate — after tonight.
  4. Former Binghamton head coach Kevin Broadus has found a place to land after his ugly resignation in the wake of a program meltdown under his watch in 2009 — John Thompson, III’s Georgetown staff.  Previously an assistant under JT3 from 2004-07, he will become the Hoyas’ fourth “assistant coach” even though his actual title is “aide” and he won’t be able to “coach, attend meetings involving coaching activities, or scout opponents.”  What exactly Broadus will be doing other than acting as a “sounding board” to Thompson is currently unclear, but the local product who grew up in the DC area will undoubtedly help the Hoyas work the fertile talent pool there.
  5. Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar stated unequivocally to Percy Allen on Wednesday that he is not a candidate for the Minnesota Timberwolves job despite persistent rumors to the contrary.  With the talent pipeline and relative job security that Romar has up in Seattle, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for him to take a dead-end NBA job like Minnesota, unless, of course, he has lingering memories of Kevin Love spurning his Huskies for the sunnier skies and warmer climate of southern California and wants another shot to coach him.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Complete List

Posted by rtmsf on June 23rd, 2011

We’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating here.  NBA Draft day represents a great deal of bittersweetness around the RTC compound.  On one hand, we want nothing but the best for every single one of the kids we’ve enjoyed watching over the last few years on campuses around the country.  For most of these guys, tonight is the single greatest moment of their lives, and represents a crowning achievement they’ve dreamed of for many hours, days, weeks, and years.  On the other hand, like caretakers at the end of the annual summer camp, we’re sad to see the next crop leave us.  When we think back to specific instances, such as when we interviewed an uncertain and unknown yet clearly talented Arizona power forward as a freshman two Januarys ago; or, when we watched a likable yet overlooked Providence senior drop 52 against Notre Dame last February; or, when we started crushing on the jumpshot of a funny-named guy from BYU back in 2009; or, when we shook our heads in wonder and amazement that the same player who looked so lost for Jim Calhoun in 2010 became the best player in America (and a national champion) in 2011.  We nod our heads to honor and say goodbye to every one of these guys, and we certainly hope that they’ll take advantage of the tremendous opportunity that they’ll be afforded in just a few short hours.  Godspeed, fellas.

The Jimmer Jumper Will Be Missed

Over the last six weeks, we put together a draft profile of the 35 collegians who we feel have the best chance of a first round selection tonight.  Since we focus exclusively on college basketball around here, we believe we bring a slightly different perspective to these things.  Although we take time to project out each player’s skill set for the significantly different NBA game, we also have the experience of watching these players very closely as collegians (rather than as future pros) to discuss their strengths and weaknesses.  Each player we did a profile for is listed below, in alphabetical order by last name.

* RTC correspondents Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Zach Hayes and Brian Goodman contributed to these draft profiles.  Additional thanks to Chris Denker of NetScouts Basketball for his scouting breakdowns of each player profiled.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Brandon Knight

Posted by rtmsf on June 22nd, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Brandon Knight

School: Kentucky

Height/Weight: 6’4/180 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: High Lottery

Overview: It may have only been a single-season college career, but what a season for Brandon Knight. By leading his team in scoring (17.3 PPG), assists (4.2 APG), minutes (35.9 MPG), and late-game NCAA Tournament heroics (just ask Princeton, West Virginia and Ohio State), Knight did something nobody thought he could ever do when the 2010-11 season started: erase the collective longing of the Big Blue Nation for John Wall to have stayed for his sophomore year. The comparisons stopped just a few games into the season, and for good reason — the two are (gasp) quite different players, which most observers deduced early. But for all the strengths Wall had as a collegian, one of the areas where Knight was more effective than his predecessor was perimeter shooting. It might be called the Dribble Drive, but John Calipari’s system works best when the point guard can shoot. Knight’s ability to keep defenders honest and drain outside shots may be one of the biggest reasons he has something else John Wall doesn’t: a trip to the Final Four.

With Improved Decision-Making, Knight Has All-Star Potential

Will Translate to the NBA: There’s no need to save Brandon a seat in the green room on draft night. He might as well just stand, since won’t be there very long. Even with such a diverse skill set, there are three things (above all others) that his new employers will love. First, he’s got a sweet first step that he uses when defenders get a little too honest. Second, he’s got that great combination of intelligence and coachability that instructors at the next level salivate over. Finally, he’s 19. Brandon Knight is already a top-flight prospect and he’s not even close to realizing his full potential. This is all on top of the aforementioned reliable outside jumper, a genuine concern for his own defensive prowess that belies his age, and a love for stepping up and making big plays at big moments.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Kyrie Irving

Posted by nvr1983 on June 22nd, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Kyrie Irving

School: Duke

Height/Weight: 6’3/190 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: #1 Overall

Overview: Irving opened his career at Duke playing about as well as anybody could have expected a freshman point guard to play so early in his career even considering the ideal situation he joined (playing on a defending national champion with two of its top players — Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith — returning). Irving was playing so well that by the time Duke’s national championship game rematch against Butler rolled around on December 4 he had established himself as the top player on a loaded team and the runaway choice as national player of the year. Then Irving injured his toe and appeared lost for the season but made a return in the NCAA Tournament where he was solid, but clearly not playing like he had before the injury (excepting one half against Arizona in the Sweet Sixteen). Despite his abbreviated season, Irving showed more than enough to NBA scouts and executives to make him the clear-cut #1 choice to the Cleveland Cavaliers in this year’s NBA Draft. Although his lack of world-class athleticism makes many observers question whether he will ever become a true star in the NBA, there is little doubt he will be a solid player based on his already well-developed all-court game as he appears to have no real weakness in terms of his skill set.

Irving is the clear #1 pick in this year's NBA Draft

Will Translate to the NBA: A point guard that everybody on his team will love playing with. One of the most interesting aspects of Irving’s single season at Duke was not his impressive early-season performances, but instead it was his ability to take command of a senior-laden team without any evidence of a fracture in team chemistry. The freshman guard will be a good starting point guard in the NBA for years and his ability to hit from outside and penetrate will make him a coach’s dream. The big question with Irving from an NBA standpoint is what his ceiling is. Ten years ago this probably would not have been an issue, but with the recent point guard renaissance and the appearance of ridiculously athletic point guards like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook in the NBA, it becomes a significant issue for a #1 overall pick. Kyrie will probably never contend for an MVP award and might not even make many All-Star teams, but he is one of the most complete point guards you will find coming out of college and maybe the most complete freshman point guard in years.

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Morning Five: 06.22.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 22nd, 2011

  1. Jimmer to the infinite power.  Everyone has an opinion on where the RTC NPOY will be drafted and how he will do as a professional basketball player.  NBADraft.net has The Jimmer going at #13 to the Phoenix Suns; DraftExpress has him going at #7 to the Sacramento Kings; HoopsWorld has him going at #12 to the Utah Jazz.  The mid-to-late lottery seems to be a lock, but the question that really matters is how good will he be at the next level?  Two of our favorite writers did a little interplay on the topic Tuesday, with CBS’ Gary Parrish arguing that Fredette will become a solid, productive point guard in the NBA, nowhere near El Busto, while  Jeff Goodman contends that The Jimmer will struggle mightily at the next level.  Our take?  A little more Parrish and a little less Goodman.  Fredette’s knack for scoring and distributing in different ways will keep him on the court until such time in his career that he figures out how to become at least a competent defender.  He doesn’t have to stop Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook — nobody stops those players — but he’ll need to ensure to his coaches that guys like Jarrett Jack and George Hill aren’t going for 25 points on him on a regular basis.
  2. It’s draft week so there’s a good amount of marketing of players going on right now.  In one interview sent to us with Kemba Walker reppin’ for Axe Lounge, the national champion tells us who is the UConn Husky he most admires (hint: Jesus Shuttlesworth), the player in history he’d most like to run a pick-and-roll with (hint: 10,000 ladies can’t be wrong), and the team that UConn played in last season’s NCAA Tournament that he feels has a great chance to get to the Final Four in 2012 (hint: they’re in everybody’s top two).  The link to a .wmv download of this interview is here.
  3. There are currently 73 BCS schools in college basketball among the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, Pac-10 and SEC.  That number will soon increase to 74 with the addition of Utah to the new Pac-12.  According to research done by the Wall Street Journal, there are only four BCS-level schools that have never been found guilty of a major NCAA violation in any sport.  Can you name the four?  If you said… Boston College, Northwestern, Penn State and Stanford, give yourself a fortune cookie.  Four of seventy-four — that’s 5.4% for the schools the WSJ is calling “the Innocents.”  We also like to call it completely pathetic.
  4. Speaking of one of those “innocent” schools, former Penn State and current Navy head coach Ed DeChellis appears to be fitting in nicely in Annapolis.  He’s met all of his players, hired his staff (a combination of assistants from PSU and retainees from Navy), and reached out to many people to learn about the culture of the place the locals call “the Yard.”  Whether his first year will be successful at the USNA depends largely on the implementation of all-Patriot League rising senior Jordan Sugars and ROY JJ Avila into his system — the Middies were 6-8 in the Patriot last season, but possess two of the better building blocks in the conference going into next season.
  5. Everyone knows that the 2011 NBA Draft will commence Thursday night at The Rock in Newark, New Jersey, but few are likely aware that the Harlem Globetrotters held its annual collegiate “draft” as an appetizer on Tuesday afternoon.  Normally, this sort of thing wouldn’t merit a mention on the M5, but this isn’t a normal “draft” class for the eponymous barnstorming troupe.  For one, the Globetrotters picked YouTube dunking sensation Jacob Tucker, the 5’11 pogo stick from D-III Illinois College who inspired a generation of suburban shorties with his ridiculous 50-inch vertical leap.  With another of its six selections, Harlem picked 7’8 former Mountain State (WV) center, Paul Sturgess, a figurative mountain of a manwho is believed to be the tallest college basketball player at any level in history.  You see the obvious shtick here — having Tucker throw down Vince Carter-style with Sturgess playing the hapless foil of Frederic Weis.  In case you missed Tucker’s original “mix tape,” here it is…

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Kenneth Faried

Posted by jstevrtc on June 21st, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Kenneth Faried

School: Morehead State

Height/Weight: 6’8/228 lbs.

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Overview: We certainly hope you’ve heard by now… Kenneth Faried is the all-time leading rebounder in college basketball history. He might have played at a little school in a relatively little conference, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this fellow displays less than anything but a rapacious attack on the boards at all times. The only year of his four-year career as an Eagle in which he didn’t lead the OVC in rebounding was his freshman season. In 2007-08, Faried averaged — heh heh — a mere 8.0 RPG (it would eventually become 13.0, 13.0, and 14.5 over the next three seasons) and finished third in the conference. He must have been slacking.

It's Hard To Pass Up (Or Root Against) a Player With a Specific Skill

Will Translate to the NBA: Besides the rebounding, Faried showed a penchant for blocking shots, which should not surprise anyone since both of those skills are based on timing and vertical speed. He led the OVC in blocks in his senior season and finished in the top three in the conference in that statistic in his sophomore through senior years. Faried has a rock-solid physique that helped him body up to anyone defensively that he faced in college, but that outstanding hand speed also helped him finish in the top three in steals in the OVC in each of this last three seasons. His dedication to excelling on the defensive side plus his commitment to glass-cleaning are traits that have several coaches rubbing their hands in anticipation.

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2011 RTC Mock Draft: Final Version

Posted by zhayes9 on June 21st, 2011

Zach Hayes is a editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

One final stab at how Thursday night will play out before we finally send off some of our favorite college players to the next level:

1 ) Cleveland Cavaliers- Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke. Any Derrick Williams-to-Cleveland rumor is searching for intrigue that’s simply non-existent. Irving was the pick the night the Cavaliers struck gold at the lottery and remains the pick today. Irving is  a safe bet to develop into a dynamic player at such a vital position on the floor.

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Kyrie Irving appears to be the near-unanimous choice at #1

2) Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Williams, SF/PF, Arizona. Ideally, Minnesota would be eyeing a 2-guard, but they’ll have to swing a pre-draft deal to fill that need, as no shooting guard is worth taking this high. My money’s on GM David Kahn holding on to the pick and trying to trade Michael Beasley later. Williams has all of the skills to be an eventual All-Star.

3) Utah Jazz- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky. The Jazz are fairly set up front with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors waiting in the wings, so look for #3 to come down to either Knight or Kemba Walker. Given Knight’s shooting ability, size and character, I see the former Kentucky point as the most likely choice.

4) Cleveland Cavaliers- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey. Rumors are spreading that Cleveland is looking to trade #4 for more picks to fill multiple needs, but passing up on Kanter here could be a grave mistake. The young Turk has a great attitude, impressed at the Chicago combine and could mold into the best post player in the entire draft.

5) Toronto Raptors- Jan Vesely, PF, Czech Republic. Toronto has a major need at power forward and worked out both Vesely and Bismack Biyombo this past weekend. The Raptors have been connected with Vesley since the first draft prognostications began and we see no reason to change our minds now. Vesley is a high-level athlete with commendable versatility for his size.

6) Washington Wizards- Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State. Washington could be a candidate to move up to either #4 or #5 and take Kanter or Vesely. If they hold fort here, look for Leonard to be the selection. The former Aztec is a phenomenal rebounder and athletic freak that can instantly boost a position of dire need for the Wizards.

7) Sacramento Kings- Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut. The Kings wouldn’t mind if Leonard fell to them at #7, but if Washington grabs him, point guard is the next choice with Tyreke Evans more suited as a scoring guard. This pick will come down to Walker, Alec Burks and even Jimmer Fredette. Walker could instill some character to a shaky locker room and can contribute immediately.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Tristan Thompson

Posted by rtmsf on June 21st, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Tristan Thompson

School: Texas

Height/Weight: 6’8/230 lbs.

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Overview:  The dreaded “tweener” label.  Given to players who have the size for one position but whose game is better suited for another position, Tristan Thompson appears to be one of these guys.  The Canadian import has a lot of things going for him — his explosiveness, lateral quickness, length and energy around the basket are tools that make him an intriguing prospect for a number of NBA squads in the low lottery picks.  But his small forward size and a complete inability to shoot the ball with a semblance of a post move or facing up with any kind of consistency is a serious problem.  Already 20 years old, Thompson has a significant learning curve ahead of him in terms of finding scoring opportunities apart from what is inarguably a great motor — the mechanics on his shot are poor, as evidenced by his 48.7% performance last year at the free throw line, and the athleticism advantage he enjoyed in Austin will be marginalized by equally strong athletes at the NBA level.  His calling card in the League might eventually come at the defensive end, what with his seven-foot-plus wingspan, strong physical base and above-average lateral quickness.  His bounce off the floor and anticipatory skills led Thompson to lead the Big 12 in blocks last year with 2.4 per game, and his containment of Arizona’s Derrick Williams (4-14 FG) in the NCAA Tournament showed that he can defend elite scorers.  Based on his athleticism and effort, Thompson is certain to be picked in the top half of the first round, but the team that gets him is buying a mixed bag of future possibilities with this player, from future All-Star to out of the league in three years.

Thompson Has Tweener Written All Over Him

Will Translate to the NBA:  His body and athleticism translate well to the NBA, although he’s not exceptionally built compared to the level of athlete he’ll find there.  His energy and effort, though, are areas where he may be able to separate himself.  Motivation and desire are intangibles that are an underrated aspect of this game, but Thompson may be able to make up for several of his shortcomings through sheer will.  As mentioned above, Thompson could also become an exceptional defender, one capable of guarding both power and small forwards if he eventually chooses to focus on becoming an elite player in that regard.  

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Morning Five: 06.21.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 21st, 2011

  1. Consider this a cautionary tale in terms of trusting online entities claiming to have primary source information, especially when it comes to recruiting.  Meet Jonathan Paige, the recruiting guru who wasn’t.   In just two short months, Paige, a pseudonym for someone claiming to follow “AAU basketball all summer every summer,” gathered over 500 Twitter followers, was cited on numerous reputable blogs and team message boards, and generally became an up-and-coming “name” within the sometimes-shady scouting and recruiting information industry.  In his words, all he did to develop his growing profile was to tweet and re-tweet confirmed information from other sources, mine the major message boards for rumors, tailor his posts to specific fanbases, and make up the rest.  There’s no telling how much further he could have taken this should he have chosen to do so, but we should all learn from “Troll’s” deception — not in the sense of thumbing our nose at the guy, but rather to remind ourselves that anything read or viewed online needs to served correspondingly with a healthy dose of skepticism.
  2. It’s been a tough several days for San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher.  Last week, several establishments including RTC noted that Fisher’s 400th career victory, achieved on January 12 against UNLV last season, was not in fact a milestone win given the NCAA’s new “Calipari Doctrine.”  Over the weekend, former SDSU transfer commitment Kevin Young announced that he would instead attend Kansas for his final two seasons of eligibility.  As a result, Fisher vented to the San Diego Union-Tribune that he was angered that Kansas (and by proxy, Bill Self) had recruited someone  he says had “made an eight-month commitment” to the Aztec program but had been swayed in recent months to view Kansas as an alternative.  Self, to his credit, claims that Young had already “de-committed” from SDSU before KU got involved, but the fact remains that Fisher will enter 2011-12 not only a few years away from that elusive NCAA-verified 400th win, but also without a roster (including Young) prepared to re-build from the loss of his top four players.
  3. When we read something like this article outlining the mammoth salaries that the six BCS conference commissioners make as CEOs of their leagues, we really start wondering just how much longer the NCAA as we know it will continue to exist.  From Jim Delany’s $1.6M Big Ten salary (2009) to John Marinotti’s $366K prorated pay (half of 2009), it’s easy to forget that these organizations supposedly looking out for the best interests of their student-athletes are 501(c) non-profits.  As anyone who knows anything about the world of non-profits, when they are run like profit-making entities, the clients that they purport to serve are usually the first ones left by the wayside.
  4. The long Fayetteville nightmare is over, as Arkansas guard Rotnei Clarkewas finally given his release by the school to transfer wherever he likes.  As reported by several outlets over the weekend, Clarke had asked for his release several times but new head coach Mike Anderson appeared to be stonewalling his best returning player in an attempt to keep him around for his senior year.  The 6’0 all-SEC second team guard is originally from Verdigris, Oklahoma, a town just outside of Tulsa, which makes us wonder if Travis Ford, Lon Kruger and Doug Wojcik already have the prolific scorer on their speed dials.
  5. We missed this over the weekend, but June 19 wasn’t just Father’s Day it was also the 25th anniversary of former Maryland forward Len Bias‘ tragic death in 1986.  Bias is on a short list of players whose mythology over the intervening years has probably outgrown his proven abilities, but make no mistake, the guy was a stud in college and could have become an NBA superstar in the right situation.  His shocking death, a mere two days after he had been drafted by the then-NBA Champion Boston Celtics, carried repercussions beyond sports that are still felt to this very day in America’s criminal justice system.  As Salon’s Jonathan Easley outlines in an interview with the House counsel that helped write the shameful 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, a law that Congress passed that summer that would ultimately result in an explosion of America’s prison population for drug-related crimes and utilizing an arbitrary and racially-tinged “logic” behind making the distribution of crack cocaine more “criminal” than that of powder cocaine.  The death of Len Bias, a seemingly innocent and well-spoken young man by all accounts, helped to drive this legislation in the Nancy Reagan-led Just Say No era.  It’s a very interesting read, and one you probably won’t hear when watching sentimental testimonials to Bias such as this one from ESPN’s John Saunders last week.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Alec Burks

Posted by rtmsf on June 20th, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Alec Burks

School: Colorado

Height/Weight: 6’6/195 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Overview:  Alec Burks is as prolific a scorer on the wing as you’ll find in the 2011 draft class.  In just two seasons at Colorado, he scored nearly 1,300 points, averaging 19.0 PPG and leading the Big 12 in scoring last year.  He hit for 20+ points in 24 games last season, coming up big when it mattered most, contributing 29, 24, and 23 in the Big 12 Tournament, and 27, 25, 25, and 20 in four games in the NIT.  He has a prototypical NBA shooting guard’s body, standing at a lean 6’6 with long arms and an adequate , if not explosive, jumping ability.  He can score in a variety of ways, but his most proficient skill is his pronounced ability to slash to the basket and convert difficult shots in traffic.  Scorers like him have a knack for finding seams where lesser talented players do not, and Burks is exceptional in this regard.  His jumper is still a work in progress (29% from three last season), although scouts have noted that his misses both from length and the mid-range are perhaps more because of inconsistency in his fundamentals (fading, leaning, failure to sufficiently square his body) rather than an inability to make those shots.  In other words, they believe that this problem is fixable through proper coaching and repetition.  If this is indeed the case, we expect Burks to make a significant impact on the NBA within three to five years as he works into his frame and builds a complete offensive arsenal to complement his already-prodigious slashing talents.

Alec Burks Has Tremendous NBA Upside

Will Translate to the NBA:  His ability to score is what will translate to the NBA immediately.  Scorers are born, not made, and Burks has an uncanny knack for finding ways to put the ball in the basket even when there’s no good shot available.  This skill will endear him to coaches at the next level always looking for quick, easy buckets from players coming off the bench.  Even if no other part of Burks’ game ever develops, he should be able to survive a number of years on this ability alone.    

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Best Dressed: Marquette Warriors/Golden Eagles

Posted by rtmsf on June 20th, 2011

John Gorman is an RTC contributor. Every week throughout the long, hot summer, he will highlight one of the iconic uniforms from the great history of the game. We plan on rolling out 24 of these babies, so tweet your favorites at us @rushthecourt or email us directly at rushthecourt@yahoo.com. This week, we go modern with a superb uniform that is as interesting as any you’ll find throughout the annals. To see the entire list to date, click here.

Milwaukee might seem at first to be an odd city to be lumped in with London, Paris and New York City as a fashion mecca, but for the past half-century, it’s been just that. Marquette is the fifth avenue of college basketball, a place where color and design mingle with the backdoor cut and alley-oop.  I delved into the Golden Eagles’ uniform history enthralled, as many are, by their present-day powder blue alternate jerseys, a dynamic marriage of soft color and psychedelic accent. Anyone who watches college basketball can’t help but marvel at the joyous cocktail party of navy, gold and white flourishing at the fringe of the powder blue canvas. But to assume Marquette’s foray into uniform utopia is a recent development is to ignore the school’s trend-setting tradition.

Marquette Has Long Been a Uniform Trendsetter

Starting with the arrival of Al McGuire, a colorful coach with an eye for detail and an independent spirit, the basketball team continued to find new and inventive ways to separate itself from other hoops havens by virtue of their visual appeal. Twice in their history, Marquette’s jerseys were too bold for the NCAA, leading to bans on their outrageous fashion sense.

The bumble-bee jerseys of the early 70s, which disoriented opposing players to the point of delirium, and the un-tucked jerseys (designed by starting guard Bo Ellis) that bore an uncomfortable resemblance to baby bibs, were both outlawed in a span of less than a decade. McGuire’s fashion sense sought a competitive advantage on the court, both in recruiting and at the merchandise counter. The Golden Eagles were the hottest act in college basketball, a must-see TV spectacle due as much in part to their colorful uniforms as much as their multi-hued (and successful) brand of basketball.

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Morning Five: 06.20.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 20th, 2011

  1. From the In Case You Missed It file, late last week we published a piece analyzing the weird NCAA/Kentucky/John Calipari love triangle that occurred as a result of the school honoring Cal’s 500th win last season.  If you were on vacation or otherwise pre-occupied last week, the synopsis goes like this: Everyone is aware that the NCAA has vacated  42  of Calipari’s wins at UMass and Memphis because of the use of ineligible players (Marcus Camby and Derrick Rose).  Recently,  though, the NCAA learned from a “rival fan” that Kentucky’s official media materials still included the 42 wins as a part of Calipari’s aggregate total, thereby resulting in a “500th win” celebration that occurred late last season after a game against Florida.  The NCAA requested that Kentucky make good on reconciling its win total with their own, and, after some lawyerly back-and-forth over the issue, Kentucky eventually acceded to the governing body’s request rather than face a hearing in front of the Committee of Infractions.  As we stated on Friday, this is all fine and well — the win total should be the one recognized by the NCAA — but we’re not sure that the NCAA recognized the bag of worms centipedes it was opening with this very issue.  In our analysis, we found three examples of active coaches who “boast” vacated wins themselves — Steve Fisher at San Diego State, Todd Bozeman at Morgan State, and Mike Jarvis at Florida Atlantic — as but three more situations where their schools’ media guides represent a picture different than one warranted by the NCAA.  Will the NCAA begin knocking on those schools’ virtual doors in coming weeks as well?  We can’t imagine that the NCAA really wanted to waste its scarce and valuable resources on something so fundamentally trivial, but if the organization doesn’t step up and take responsibility for the mess it’s created here, then what little credibility it might have had pertaining to accusations of selective enforcement will be completely lost amidst a pile of balloons and confetti.
  2. They all come home eventually.  Former Indiana superstar Calbert Cheaney, still the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer nearly two decades after his graduation, will return to Bloomington to become Tom Crean’s Director of Basketball Operations next season.  Arguably the last great player Bob Knight coached, Cheaney was a three-time All-American at IU, culminating in becoming the consensus NPOY during the 1992-93 season.  When the old-timers talk about “Indiana Basketball,” Cheaney’s Hoosier teams are the most recent version of what they have in mind — during his junior and senior seasons at IU, Indiana went 58-11 while making a Final Four (1992) and Elite Eight (1993) under his on-floor direction.  Cheaney spent 13 seasons playing in the NBA and the last couple of years working as a special assistant in player development to the Golden State Warriors, but with a strong sense that the Tom Crean era in Bloomington is reaching a now-or-never point, Cheaney may be well-positioned to move up the ladder there quickly if he shows any coaching acumen at all.
  3. Bill Self picked up an impact player over the weekend who should be able to contribute to his Jayhawks immediately next season in the form of 6’7 Kevin Young, a former Loyola Marymount wing who spent last year getting his grades in order as a volunteer assistant coach at Barstow (KS) Community College.  The bouncy swingman is a great last-minute addition for Kansas, who even with its prolific depth of talent will still have some trouble absorbing the loss of seven players next season.  Young presumably could step right into a starting role next year, having performed at a high level (10/6 in two seasons) at LMU and possessing more experience than anyone else on the 2011-12 roster at his position.  KU fans are likely feeling considerably better today about their upcoming squad than they did just a few short days ago.
  4. We mentioned a little over a week ago that USA Basketball’s World University Games training camp roster included 22 current collegians in the hopes that next year’s NPOY wouldn’t end up riding the pine as former Ohio State superstar Evan Turner did on 2009’s team.   We’re still waiting to hear how those selections turn out, but the USA Under-19 three-day training camp concluded this weekend, and a lucky 13 rising freshmen and sophomores will represent the United States in international competition beginning in June 30 in Latvia.  The roster includes:  Keith Appling (Michigan State), James Bell (Villanova), Anthony Brown (Stanford), Jahii Carson (Arizona State), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Michigan), Joe Jackson (Memphis), Jeremy Lamb (UConn), Meyers Leonard (Illinois), Khyle Marshall (Butler), Javon McCrea (Buffalo), Doug McDermott (Creighton), Tony Mitchell (North Texas), and Patric Young (Florida).  The two biggest surprise omissions were the reigning Pac-10 ROY, Allen Crabbe (California) and all-ACC rookie Travis McKi (Wake Forest).
  5. It now appears all but certain that the November 11 Veteran’s Day game between Michigan State and North Carolina will take place on the USS Carl Vinson, the same aircraft carrier that — how should we put this? — disposed of Osama bin Laden’s body a little over a month ago.  The game will take place on the flight deck, and since it’s usually 70 degrees and clear in San Diego regardless of the time of year, the odds are that this thing will go off without a weather hitch.  Still, it would be amusing if a few light breezes blew in during the second half to make the shooters adjust on the fly, a little like this.  We can always dream.
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