RTC NBA Draft Profiles: C.J. McCollum

Posted by BHayes on June 25th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of 20 of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take fromNBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: C.J. McCollum

School: Lehigh

Height/Weight: 6’3”/197 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Lottery

C.J. McCollum looks to be just the second Patriot League player to be drafted in the NBA's first round

C.J. McCollum looks to become just the second Patriot League player to be drafted in the NBA’s first round

Overview: College basketball just wasn’t the same in 2013, as one of America’s favorite players played just 15 minutes of college basketball after the New Year arrived. C.J. McCollum broke his foot on January 5 in a game at VCU, an injury that would wind up closing down one of the most accomplished college hoops careers of recent memory. Loyal college basketball fans have known about the kid making noise in the Patriot League for some time now, but he made his formal introduction to America in March 2012, when his 30-point performance paced #15-seeded Lehigh to an upset victory over the #2-seeded Duke Blue Devils. It was hard not to notice that McCollum was the best player on the floor that night, and in a game against a team full of NBA talent, mind you. His draft stock was off and running at that point, and even the January injury has done little to slow the momentum. McCollum is now fully healthy and teams don’t seem concerned about the foot, leaving the Lehigh graduate poised to become just the second first-round pick ever selected out of the Patriot League. Questions remain about whether McCollum is a point guard or shooting guard at the next level, but one way or another, this silky smooth scorer should be able to find ways to put the ball in the bucket in the NBA.

Will Translate to the NBA: McCollum’s game is NBA-ready in a number of ways, but it’s first worth noting that from a personal standpoint, CJ McCollum the kid is also ready. Every year we see players enter the league who are simply not prepared to be a professional in anything. McCollum’s four years at Lehigh have served him well, and the mature, thoughtful and confident former Mountain Hawk is ready to tackle his next challenge. Oh, and his game is also prepared for the jump. He’s an NBA-ready scorer who can shoot the ball from deep and put the ball on the floor. Unlike many players today, he possesses a nice mid-range game which will only prove more useful at the next level. A high IQ player that uses savvy on both ends, McCollum has a knack for jumping passing lanes and getting out in transition. He is also a tremendous rebounder for a guard (over five rebounds a game in all four seasons, including 7.8 caroms per contest as a sophomore), a fact that has to ease a little of the concern that he is too small to play shooting guard in the NBA. More so than most in this draft, C.J. McCollum is ready for all the rigors the NBA has to offer.

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Morning Five: 06.25.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 25th, 2013

morning5

  1. The news that Kyle Wiltjer is transferring probably should not be that much of a surprise given the high expectations for him coming out of high school and his relatively paltry output, which was due in large part due to be stuck behind more talented players at Kentucky. With next year’s class of NBA Lottery picks coming through Kentucky, Wiltjer decided enough was enough and announced that he is looking at transferring to “play a more significant role”. With the announcement coming as Wiltjer is playing internationally for Canada now some will speculate that someone got in his ear and told him that he could showcase his skills more prominently at another school. Without trying to rile up Big Blue Nation that would probably be true. The speculation we have seen for where Wiltjer is headed seems to suggest Gonzaga as a likely destination, but Wiltjer has not named his top choices although we suspect he will have his choice in where he wants to go.
  2. With more and more coaches utilizing social media John Templon decided to take a look at the tweeting habits of major college basketball coaches. Some of the numbers are not too surprising like the fact that John Calipari has 10 times the number of followers as any other coach (to be fair the average Kentucky fan probably has multiple accounts to yell at the Jeff Goodmans of the world), but the some of the analysis like the most commonly used words is amusing and shows how inane most coaches Twitter accounts are. We would love to see a similar analysis of players although we would assume the most common words/phrases would involve retweeting who said that a retweet would be the best thing that ever happened to them.
  3. We can all get our fill of coach-speak on Twitter, but very few of us will ever be privy to the sales pitch that coaches use in the family rooms of recruits. As Dana O’Neil points out those conversations have changed significantly over the years to the point where coaches have to be careful about how they mention a player getting a college degree because some parties feel that staying in school to get a college degree is not the point of going to college as they are looking for a route to the NBA. This might be true in some cases, but the vast majority will never play in the NBA as the NCAA says they will “go pro in something other than sports”. We would be interested in hearing how parents who had been recruited years ago feel about the way that their sons are being pitched by the same coaches using very different approaches.
  4. One of the interesting aspects of getting to go to games is picking the brains of NBA scouts who often times are seated fairly close to us. Some of the scouts are fairly knowledgeable and seem to have a grasp of the best college players with an understanding of what they do and do not bring to the table. On the other hand we have all seen the scouts that are just there for an easy paycheck and the ability to sit courtside at games for free. Our personal favorite was one who we sat next to at a fairly big game a few years ago on New Year’s Eve and spent the entire game on his phone texting his friends about going to a club in New York City that night and then proceeded to tell us all about his plans. Seth Davis appears to have found a few of the former and put together an interesting breakdown of some of the top prospects in this year’s NBA Draft. The comments are pretty direct as you would expect from someone speaking anonymously, but for the most part they seem to be in line with what we would say.
  5. We have discussed the Ed O’Bannon case much more than we ever wanted to, but we never expected it to affect the NCAA’s credit rating. However that appears to be the case as Moody’s revised the NCAA’s credit outlook to negative in light of its ongoing litigation. It should be noted that the credit rating agencies are a lot less well-respected than they were before the financial crisis. Having said that if the NCAA “only” is taking out $40 million in debt to finance ongoing operations we don’t expect a downgrade would have a material impact on the sustainability of the NCAA as a financial entity.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Alex Len

Posted by BHayes on June 24th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Alex Len

School: Maryland

Height/Weight: 7’1” / 255 lbs.

NBA Position: Center

Projected Draft Range: Top Ten

In his signature performance of 2013, Alex Len dominated Mason Plumlee during Maryland's upset of Duke

In his signature performance of 2013, Alex Len dominated Mason Plumlee during Maryland’s upset of Duke

Overview: Alex Len put together a very impressive sophomore season in College Park. His freshman year may have included (relatively) limited individual production, but it offered plenty of glimpses at the massive upside of the Ukrainian-born seven-footer, and we began to see Len cash in on that potential in year two. He played 26 minutes per game as part of Mark Turgeon’s 10-man rotation and averaged 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per contest. Free throw shooting improved (both percentage and attempts), assist-to-turnover ratio elevated, and offensive-rebounding percentage shot through the roof for Len as a sophomore. All wonderful strides, but the development went well beyond the stat sheet for Len, as anyone consistently watching the Terps this season witnessed a more complete, confident player manning the middle. Len was tougher and more aggressive down low (on both ends) and also more skilled offensively — both with his back to the basket and when roaming the high-post area. Len’s improvement was best highlighted in dominant performances against fellow potential lottery picks Nerlens Noel and Mason Plumlee. In the season opener against Kentucky, Len went for 23/12 versus Noel in a narrow loss. Then, in the February win over Duke, he dominated Plumlee (four points, three rebounds, five fouls) in scoring 19 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Those two performances were as vital to Len’s draft stock as anything, for as far as he came skill-wise in year two at Maryland, he also made it quite clear that he was not ready to back down to anyone – a fearlessness that NBA GMs have to have begun to appreciate.

Will Translate to the NBA: First things first: when it comes to size and athleticism, Len is already working with above-average NBA levels of both. Will he use that raw ability as efficiently as possible? No, but the pure existence of it means he will be prepared to get on the court and not be overwhelmed by the athleticism of NBA opponents. Aside from his frame and athleticism, Len really doesn’t have any other signature attributes that you would term “NBA-ready.” The closest we can come here is probably commenting that his overall offensive game is much further along than that of many of his draft-mates, and unlike most rookie big men, Len may be able to enter the league and flash a little of that offensive skill right off the bat. He has a soft touch down low, an improving mid-range game, and is also a good passer who will move the ball when doubled. None of these traits may be “NBA-ready” on their own, but the overall offensive package is in pretty good shape as Len makes the transition from college to the pros.

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The RTC Interview Series: One on One with Will Wade

Posted by WCarey on June 24th, 2013

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the offseason. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

After a 13-19 campaign in 2012-13, Chattanooga found itself in a coaching search. That search ended on May 13 when the Mocs named Will Wade as the program’s 18th head men’s basketball coach. While Wade is just 30 years old, he has an impressive résumé from working with several established, veteran head coaches. Wade’s coaching career began as a student manager at Clemson where he worked under both Larry Shyatt and Oliver Purnell. After graduating from Clemson in 2005, Wade stayed on with the Tigers for two more seasons – one as a graduate assistant and another as the director of operations. Following his time at Clemson, Wade moved on to Harvard where he served on Tommy Amaker’s staff for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. After his two seasons at Harvard, he then took a position on Shaka Smart’s staff at VCU where he helped coach the Rams to postseason appearances in each of his four seasons in Richmond. Among those four postseason appearances were three consecutive trips to NCAA Tournament and a Cinderella run to the 2011 Final Four. RTC correspondent Walker Carey recently had the pleasure of speaking to Will Wade about his career and his plans for his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

Will Wade

Will Wade Takes Over Chattanooga as One of the Youngest Head Coaches in Division I Basketball

Rush the Court: You have been on the job at Chattanooga for a little over a month. What have you been able to accomplish during that time?

Will Wade: The time has gone very quickly, It has been a smooth transition. In the first month, we have hired a staff, recruited three new players and met a ton of boosters and donors. We have been very active in the community.

RTC: Other than your ties to Tennessee as a Nashville native, what attracted you to the job at Chattanooga?

WW: Tremendous growth opportunity. Chattanooga is a basketball town and we have been very good in the past – we can do it again. We have a great arena, a lot of local interest, our own practice facility, and an administration that wants to win. That is all of the ingredients needed for us to be successful.

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Watching the NCAA Tournament Remains Popular: Duh

Posted by Chris Johnson on June 24th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be found @ChrisDJohnsonn. 

College basketball is an extremely entertaining sport to watch. Starting in November, when non-conference play mashes together different conferences’ best teams in far-flung locations for fun, tropical, typically thrilling elimination tournaments, and on through April at the annual national championship net-cutting ceremony, college basketball is never not awesome. For college hoops diehards, this is one of the most obvious statements of all time. Of course watching college basketball is great. Other North American sports fans will respectfully disagree, instead opting to peek in at college hoops in the early weeks of spring, right as conference tournaments heat up and teams kick into next gear for their last-gasp bubble pushes.

An excellent Final Four brought correspondingly strong TV ratings (AP Photo).

An excellent Final Four brought correspondingly strong TV ratings (AP Photo).

Whether you follow college basketball all year long, or have long since dedicated yourself to becoming a March hoops hanger-on, the fact remains that the NCAA Tournament is unflinchingly popular. No matter your level of interest in the progression of teams and coaches over months of non-conference and conference competition, when the brackets start flying off the copy machine, and C.J. McCollum is leading No. 15 Lehigh to a massive upset of near universally-loathed Duke, you’re TV remote is affixed firmly to your reclining chair arm rest or furniture of choice. When the lights turn on, you’re sitting down, losing valuable time at your day job, anxiously checking scores at every available digital outlet and watching. You’re watching the NCAA Tournament.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Cody Zeller

Posted by BHayes on June 24th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Cody Zeller

School: Indiana

Height/Weight: 7’0”/230 lbs.

NBA Position: Power Forward/Center

Projected Draft Range: Lottery

After an up and down season, Cody Zeller's stock is on the rise again

After an up and down season, Cody Zeller’s stock is on the rise again

Overview: Cody Zeller’s draft stock took a pretty solid beating in February and March, but a head-turning performance at the combine has him rising up draft boards again. Zeller is the perfect example of a player who so many once considered overrated that he has now become underrated. IU’s big man was a presumptive top-five pick if he had entered the draft a year ago, but opted to return for another year of college. He hoped his sophomore year would see his draft stock improve and his team flourish, but despite posting season averages of 16.5 PPG and 8.1 RPG, the latter came to fruition without the former. Teammate Victor Oladipo would become the real beneficiary of the Indiana revival, as the Hoosiers’ 29-win season launched Oladipo from the second round bubble into the top five. Zeller was not so fortunate. A real candidate to be the top pick in the draft back before the season, Zeller rarely dominated (his supporters would tell you he never needed to for IU to be successful) and often looked overwhelmed when playing deep in the post. In what would prove to be his final collegiate game against Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen, Zeller’s performance was a microcosm of the growing concerns scouts have had about him, as he looked very timid down low in a 3-of-11 shooting outing against the Orange’s long, NBA-esque front line. The days after the IU tournament exit marked the nadir of Zeller’s draft stock, but the combine and interviews have helped his stock rebound immensely. He will not be the top pick in this draft, and likely won’t fall within the top five – a different reality than he expected to find here a year ago, but Cody Zeller enters the draft with good momentum and a real ability to immediately help whichever franchise selects him.

Will Translate to the NBA: Let’s take Zeller’s primary strength a step further than “NBA-ready” – he very well could enter the league and immediately be the fastest end-to-end big man in the league. That top spot can surely be debated, but the point is that most NBA post players will find keeping up with Zeller in the fullcourt to be quite a chore. Zeller’s end-to-end speed is truly elite and we have known this for awhile, but the extent of his athletic ability came to light at the combine. Nobody benefited more from the combine than Miami’s Shane Larkin and Zeller, with the former Indiana star testing out like a guard in Chicago. His vertical leap was 37.5”, and both his ¾ and lane agility times beat out most wings and a number of guards. That explosiveness wasn’t always on display in college, and Zeller will definitely need to continue to learn how to best apply it on the court, but the physical tools are clearly there. Furthermore, Zeller is a high-character guy who has shown a willingness to get better, so consider him NBA-ready from a personal maturity standpoint as well.

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Morning Five: 06.24.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 24th, 2013

morning5

  1. North Carolina is not getting the headlines that other programs like Miami and Penn State have received for their respective scandals, but at some point we assume that the NCAA is going to step in on the various scandals surrounding the school. We all know about the academic scandal that the school continues to dig through, but now the school has to deal with the NCAA investigating the potential involvement of P.J. Hairston with an agent. The agent that they are investigating is Rodney Blackstock, the same agent who allegedly paid an AAU coach money to influence Ben McLemore. This only adds to a month that Hairston would like to forget as he was arrested earlier this month for misdemeanor marijuana possession. And of course there was the gun found outside of the car that we think still does not have an owner. Officials are investigating if the rental car Hairston was using at the time was paid for by Blackstock. Given the speed that the NCAA runs its investigations we would be surprised if Hairston was playing for the Tar Heels at the start of the season.
  2. Although his freshman season (0.9 points and 1.2 assists per game) was nothing to write home about (maybe to write home about transferring),the announcement that L.J. Rose was transferring from Baylor to Houston is a pretty big coup for the Cougars. Despite Rose’s meager production the fact remains that he was the #9 rated point guard in the class of 2012 and was stuck behind Pierre Jackson at Baylor, which limited his playing time and hence his numbers, but may also have taught him quite a bit about playing the position at the college level. With the pieces that Houston has put together they could be a dangerous NCAA Tournament team over the next few seasons.
  3. After a rough freshman season where he lost his starting job you would expect that Oklahoma point guard Isaiah Cousins would be working hard over the summer to prove that last season was a fluke. Instead, he was arrested on charges of public intoxication and interference on Saturday morning. For their part Oklahoma says “the matter will be handled internally”. If this is Cousins’ first brush with the law, we expect he will probably get nothing more than a slap on the wrist from the judicial system and the school. Still it cannot be comforting for Sooners fans to hand their team over to a guard. We also doubt that Cousins will be with the team on their European trip that starts on August 6.
  4. With all of the issues that the NCAA is going through some of the issues that their leadership debates continues to be a source of amusement for us. The latest example is the vote to overturn live scouting, which did not pass, meaning that live scouting will only be allowed under limited circumstances. We are not sure what those limited circumstances are (we are assuming teams and coaches can watch other teams play in tournament play before or after their games), but it appears that the original discussion was a question of resources and whether it created on unfair playing field where the more wealthy schools had access to better quality video while the other side argued for deregulation. In the end it seems like a big waste of time for an issue that isn’t nearly as important as many of the other ones the NCAA is dealing with at this time.
  5. In Friday’s Morning Five we mentioned the interesting potential case of the athlete (or athletes) who are involved in the Ed O’Bannon vs NCAA case. We briefly discussed the implications for the athlete and the extra scrutiny that they would be under. Andy Staples took a deeper look at the issue and compared it to the case of Curt Flood who was instrumental in leading a similar change in Major League Baseball and subsequently all professional sports in America. As Staples points out the athlete should ideally be one who is on television a lot to give greater publicity to the cause being championed.
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Morning Five: 06.21.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 21st, 2013

morning5

  1. Billy Donovan did not come out and say that Scottie Wilbekin will be on next year’s Florida team, but his statement regarding the specifics of Wilbekin’s suspension suggest that it should not be too hard for Wilbekin to continue to play in Gainesville. Wilbekin is not allowed to workout with the team, but is allowed to lift weights on his own and workout with the coaching staff. Given those details we would be surprised if Wilbekin is not back with the team next season unless he does something dumb (again).
  2. There was a lot of action in the ongoing Ed O’Bannon lawsuit even if the actual trial has not started yet. You can read an excellent recap of yesterday’s action courtesy of Stewart Mandel. The most interesting aspect that came out yesterday was that there will be current athletes involved in the case. We are not going to go so far as to call these individuals trail blazers, but we imagine that any current athletes that join this lawsuit can expect to have the NCAA investigating everything about their recruitment and eligibility.
  3. You might want to hold back on those WNBA jokes around the new Big East commissioner. That is if the report from ESPN is true that Val Ackerman, the former WNBA commissioner, is in negotiations to become the next commissioner of the Big East. You may have heard Ackerman’s name mentioned recently for her report on how to improve women’s college basketball. Looking through Ackerman’s credentials she appears to be a pretty competitive candidate for the job and would appear to be a good fit for a job in a turbulent market with teams shifting conferences quite frequently although it will be interesting to see how a high-level female administrator would be accepted in an area that tends to be dominated by older males.
  4. When we saw an article about Wichita State beating Gonzaga pop-up in our RSS Reader yesterday we assumed it was some glitch sending an article from March, but it turns out that it was not. Instead, Andy Glockner decided to take a look back at the Shockers ridiculous 23-point outburst in 9 possessions that led to another disappointing early exit for Gonzaga. This sequence will not be talked about for years (most of you outside of the Spokane area probably have already forgotten about it), but it was one of the more remarkable things you will see.
  5. This year’s NBA Finals led to quite a bit of debate about the way that basketball is played/taught in the US and overseas. As you would have expected this led to quite a bit of bitter discussion from certain groups, but in reality is that there is probably something to be gained from exposure to both world. One example of this is Khadeem Lattin, a highly rated recruit who spent his sophomore year of high school in Spain. In the short term, the lack of exposure to US high school basketball scouts led to Lattin’s stock dropping, but as Jeff Borzello points out Lattin’s improved game and increased maturity could lead to bigger long-term gains for Lattin.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Michael Carter-Williams

Posted by BHayes on June 20th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Michael Carter-Williams

School: Syracuse

Height/Weight: 6’6”/ 185 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: Lottery to Mid-First Round

Good things seemed to happen for Syracuse last season when the ball was in Michael Carter-Williams' hands

Good things seemed to happen for Syracuse last season when the ball was in Michael Carter-Williams’ hands

Overview: He only spent one year earning real minutes under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, but Michael Carter-Williams (also known as MCW) showcased his unique skill set during the 2012-13 season. His final stat line does well to express his diverse impact on a Syracuse squad that concluded its campaign in Atlanta and the Final Four: 11.9 PPG, 7.3 APG, 4.9 RPG, 2.8 SPG. The former McDonald’s All-American led the Big East in both steals and assists, and in the process became the key cog on a team loaded with talent. There were bumps in the road – inconsistent shooting, a drop in production during Big East play, that Syracuse mid-season swoon – but Carter-Williams’ frequent dynamic performances still left NBA scouts salivating. Even during a freshman season where he witnessed only 269 total minutes of court time, MCW showed enough to pique the interest of scouts. The sophomore’s emergence was far more confirmation than pleasant surprise, and it now leaves him on the doorstep of the NBA. Much progress still needs to be made when it comes to skill development, but you have to believe whichever NBA team winds up selecting Carter-Williams will have big hopes for the player who may just have the highest ceiling in the entire draft.

Will Translate to the NBA: The reality is that Carter-Williams is a pretty raw prospect at this point. He will need further schooling and seasoning on both ends of the court to get up to speed in the NBA, but he does enter the league with some NBA-ready tools.  First, and most obviously, his measurables are fantastic. He is extraordinarily long and athletic for the PG position, and it will be those traits that help to overcome some of his current skill deficiencies while he adjusts to the league. And while development is needed in a lot of areas, MCW already flashes many attributes of successful NBA point guards. His Syracuse teammates of a year ago can attest to the fact that his floor vision is very good (you are welcome James Southerland!) and despite his unusual size, ball-handling and passing are both plus attributes for Carter-Williams. Early minutes will depend on where he lands of course, but don’t expect Carter-Williams to be overwhelmed with the athleticism of the league, and he could even prove capable of providing a spark to a second unit from day one.

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The Next Step Of The Ed O’Bannon NCAA Trial Is Upon Us

Posted by Chris Johnson on June 20th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

The anatomic framework of college sports as we know it hangs in the balance Thursday, June 20, in the much-anticipated class-action hearing of the landmark Ed O’Bannon trial. Sports trials rarely come this big, or this potentially transformative, and by the time we’re all through here – we’ve still got a long ways to go, mind you – amateur athletics could bear zero resemblance, or very little, to the way it operates today. There is a lot on the line. Thursday’s courtroom meeting, wherein plaintiffs arguing on O’Bannon’s behalf will attempt to have their suit class-action certified by Judge Claudia Wilken, probably won’t render a conclusive verdict. The back-and-forth arguments will merely serve as pieces of evidence in the larger evolution of the case, and if one side’s platform is strong enough at Thursday’s gathering, Wilken could issue a ruling. But she probably won’t, which means we still have time to discuss the pawns involved, what’s at stake, the philosophical and legal implications at hand, and the likelihood college athletics could be completely made over sometime within the next few years.

Getting Wilken to rule in favor of class-certification would put O'Bannon and his plaintiffs in the driver's seat in this critical case (Getty).

Getting Wilken to rule in favor of class-certification would put O’Bannon and his plaintiffs in the driver’s seat in this critical case (Getty).

Before we get started, I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw out one probably unpopular but incredibly important fact: The NCAA isn’t about to vanish into thin air. Mark Emmert’s opaquely tangled amazon of rules and bylaws is here to stay for at least a couple more years. College sports needs a governing body, and the NCAA, for all its flaws, has fulfilled that basic function, with different degrees of success, throughout its existence. More important is whether the NCAA can continue to exist in the same way it always has. O’Bannon and his partners say nay. They believe athletes deserve a slice of the broadcast rights money shared between the NCAA and its members – the same money that pushed the turnstiles of conference realignment, blew the old Big East to smithereens and forced us all to reconsider the concept of athletic conferences in college sports. O’Bannon sees school and conference administrators and the NCAA getting fat off multi-million dollar TV contracts, the athletes whose competitions make those agreements possible in the first place receiving no financial compensation beyond room and board, the archaic notion of amateurism and its dubious historical origins – and he wants something to change. A lot of things, actually.

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Morning Five: 06.20.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 20th, 2013

morning5

  1. Today’s biggest news in the college athletics world is likely to come down from Oakland, California, as a federal judge is expected to rule on a motion from Ed O’Bannon‘s legal team that would certify his lawsuit against the NCAA into a class action. We’ll have more on the importance of this topic later this morning, but the long and short of it is that if the motion is granted it would open the door for literally thousands of past and present athletes to sue the NCAA for the use of their likeness for, oh, the last four or five decades. The experts are mixed in evaluating what this could ultimately mean, but needless to say that the Doomsday Scenario — an end to the NCAA’s amateurism model of business — is on the table here. SI.com‘s sports law expert, Michael McCann, gives a really nice overview of what’s at stake out in the Bay Area later today.
  2. While on the subject of the West Coast, the San Jose Mercury News‘ Jon Wilner published a previously confidential email related to the O’Bannon case that outlines just how much money the Pac-12 stands to make with its television deal with ESPN/FOX. His estimate based on some number-crunching might include a tad of wishful thinking, but between the television contracts and anticipated BCS and NCAA Tournament payouts, as well as revenue from the new Pac-12 Networks, it wouldn’t surprise him if the total annual take-homes for the members approached nearly $40-50 million. Larry Scott may not be winning championships yet, but he certainly seems to be winning the business of college sports. Take that, SEC and Big Ten?
  3. Rick Pitino once wrote a book called “Success is a Choice.” Apparently he chose — or maybe it was the basketball gods he thought were promising him Tim Duncan — to not succeed in Boston as the head coach of the Celtics. Some years later, he went on to say that “the biggest mistake” he had ever made in his career was to leave Kentucky (or, as he called it, “Camelot.”). He now disagrees with himself. Last week Pitino told a group of Louisville local businessmen last week that, actually, leaving Lexington for the Celtics was the best move he ever made because his failure in Boston taught him humility. Of course, nobody knows what he really thinks about much of anything — the guy flip-flops better than the best politicians — but maybe give him a few more years and he’ll tell a group of Providence denizens that he should have never left there either.
  4. We honestly cannot imagine a scenario where Alabama forward Devonta Pollard will be allowed to return to the team next season, but there were dueling reports on Wednesday about whether he was still officially on the team. CBSSports.com reported from a source internal to the program that he was no longer enrolled in Tuscaloosa, while ESPN.com later reported (from presumably a different source) that Pollard is in fact still on the squad until his legal troubles are settled. Given the alleged fact pattern surrounding his charges — that he assisted his mother in the kidnapping of a 6-year old girl — we’re going to go out on a big limb and assume he will not be back. And frankly, if he is convicted of such an irresponsible crime, he shouldn’t get a second chance to play ball anywhere.
  5. They say that you can’t go home again, but that doesn’t stop most of us from trying to remember and, in some cases, re-live the past. New UCLA head coach and Indiana legend Steve Alford manages to find time in his busy schedule each summer to return to the Hoosier State and run a camp for elementary school children at D-III Franklin College. Although the expectations on him at his new job in Westwood are enormous, he is using this week to get back home and recharge his batteries around familiar, and supportive, faces. He won’t have a very long leash at UCLA, even next season, so this is probably a pretty good idea on his part.
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One Name Sticks Out On The Finalized U-19 Team USA Roster

Posted by Chris Johnson on June 19th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Most Team USA basketball gatherings come with a lulling standard disclaimer: we, the United States of America, produce the best basketball players in the world. We’re better than you. I like saying that today, because as the game sinks its teeth into burgeoning hoops hotbeds in far-flung locales across this here planet we call Earth, other nations are catching up. Before you know it, there will be Yao Mings and Dirk Nowitzkis and Tony Parkers sprouting up left and right, and my proclamation won’t sound so secure. Maybe we’ll actually enter international basketball events with serious doubts over our talent and athletic advantages. After all, hastily throwing a group of NBA superstars without a savvy coach to meld them into one consistent whole can, as we learned through humbling defeats at recent Pre-Coach K Team USA Tournament events, pose losing-sized problems and nation-sized freakouts. Not to worry: the day where Spain and Argentina and Russia become our competitive equals on the hardwood are a long way down the road. Our hegemony over Dr. Naismith’s game is safe for now.

Familiar names line the U-19 Team USA Roster. Elfrid Payton is not one of them (AP).

Familiar names line the U-19 Team USA Roster. Elfrid Payton is not one of them (AP Photo).

Ensuring that relative strength extends down on through the youth ranks is especially important, and if you’re interested in seeing at least a prospective few of the next generation of Dream Team legends – some players opted against participating in the Team USA festivities – Tuesday’s announcement of the final cuts on the U-19 Team USA roster might be something worth looking into. Check out that list. Depending on how closely you follow recruiting, most of these names should be familiar to you. The most recognizable name is Marcus Smart, and you definitely don’t need me to tell you why. Rasheed Sulaimon had a nice freshman season for Duke and looks ready to help the Jabari Parker-upgraded Blue Devils make a real run at the Final Four this season. Jerami Grant could be this year’s version of Michael Carter-Williams in that, much like MCW, he is a highly touted recruit who played backup minutes as a freshman (he started a few games while James Southerland was overcoming his mid-season academic eligibility roadblock), but will benefit from a massive spike in floor time his sophomore year. Montrezl Harrell is an electric frontcourt presence you probably remember best for doing this in the midst of the Spike Albrecht-spawned insanity of the first half of the national championship game. For the recruitniks, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow need no introduction. Across the board, even when you account for all the players who opted against participating, there are well-known, well-established, stars-in-waiting talents ready to compete –and hopefully, hammer home the idea that our international hoops dominance, so prominent under Coach K’s guidance, is birthed in the grassroots levels – for national pride against some of the best foreign amateurs in the world.

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