Examining The Most Intriguing NBA Draft Storylines

Posted by EJacoby on June 1st, 2012

The conclusion of Wednesday’s NBA Draft Lottery means that the 2012 order has been decided (outside of potential trades), and we can officially start breaking down the potential scenarios come Draft Day on June 28. There are plenty of mock drafts available at this time, and we are compiling our own scouting reports of the top prospects as well. But besides the tough decisions that general managers have to make in comparing and contrasting players, what are the major storylines of this particular draft? What moves will make off-court headlines in addition to adding talent on the court? Today we take a look at some of the most interesting stories that could potentially play out on June 28.

Could Harrison Barnes End Up Back in Carolina, With the Charlotte Bobcats? (AP Photo)

  • The Hornets won Wednesday’s lottery, which means consensus top prospect Anthony Davis is surely headed to New Orleans, the city where he just finished winning a National Championship with Kentucky. Davis recently led the Wildcats to two wins in New Orleans in early April while being named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and he appears excited to be heading back for good. “I won a national championship in New Orleans, so why not win another one in New Orleans,” he said on Wednesday. “This can kind of bring joy back to New Orleans, I guess I get lucky when I go there.” The honor, opportunity, and paycheck of a number one overall pick is plenty enough to get a player excited, but not all teams are an ideal fit for each year’s top prospect. Davis, though, is quite comfortable with the idea of being the Hornets’ franchise player, where he will man the middle for a team with a nice young roster and brand new ownership.

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Complete NBA Draft List: After NCAA Deadline, Who’s Staying and Who’s Going?

Posted by EJacoby on April 10th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

In a rule that makes absolutely no sense, today (April 10) marks the new official date that college players had to withdraw their names from the NBA Draft pool if they wanted to return back to school with eligibility and had previously declared for draft entry. It’s the NCAA’s deadline. That means that all of the guys who declared since the end of the season (Kendall Marshall, Jared Sullinger, and Meyers Leonard to name a few) had to decide by today whether to forgo their NCAA eligibilities. But the NBA’s own deadline isn’t until April 29, meaning that players can still declare for the draft, but just can’t withdraw anymore and retain college eligibility. Essentially, it just means that “testing the waters” is now done, so if a player enters the draft from here then he is gone for good. Yes, it’s confusing and makes zero sense, but that’s an issue for another day. Today, we wrap up all of the players who are officially sticking in the NBA Draft, those who decided to return to school, and those that are still undecided until April 29. Here’s the status of all the top non-senior players of college basketball:

After Some Debate, Jared Sullinger Declared for the NBA Draft (AP Photo)

DECLARED – These players have entered their names into the NBA Draft and no longer have college eligibility.

  • Harrison Barnes, North Carolina (Sophomore) – The super-hyped prospect had a strong two seasons but perhaps underachieved in the eyes of many UNC fans. He is a surefire lottery pick and could go in the top five so it’s a smart decision to leave.
  • Jared Sullinger, Ohio State (Sophomore) – Dominant as a Buckeye from day one as a freshman, Sullinger’s NBA stock has slowly dropped over the course of two seasons. It’s his time to go now, but he may be slipping out of the top 10. Everyone seems torn on him, but Sully is too talented of a player to fall out of the lottery.
  • Thomas Robinson, Kansas (Junior) – No-brainer. Robinson was a NPOY candidate, accomplished great things in three years at Kansas and will be a top-five draft pick.
  • Kendall Marshall, North Carolina (Sophomore) – Despite being a stacked draft, this year’s pool severely lacks point guards. Marshall lacks athleticism at the position but is a solid height (6’4”) and has elite passing skills and floor awareness that will translate at the NBA level. Could be a surprise top ten pick, and will probably go in the lottery.
  • Austin Rivers, Duke (Freshman) – Another player that scouts are torn on, many believe that Rivers could have used another year of seasoning at Duke. But his scoring prowess is undeniable and someone will grab his talents likely between picks 10 and 20. Read the rest of this entry »
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2011-12 Season Recap: The 12 Most Iconic Moments of the Season

Posted by EJacoby on April 5th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

A season in sports often gets remembered by a handful of different memories that fans can recall when thinking back on that year. Sometimes it’s a scene from the regular season, such as the 2004-05 NBA year that included the ‘Malice at the Palace’ brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. Other times it’s the final play in the championship, such as the 2001 baseball World Series walk-off base hit by the Arizona Diamondbacks. So what will it be for the 2011-12 year of college basketball? Here’s a reminder of the top moments from the season, which certainly did not lack drama. Which ones will you remember when thinking back on this season? We give you the 12 most iconic moments from 2011-12, in no particular order:

Anthony Davis Blocks Henson at the Buzzer (December 3) – Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis was perhaps the biggest story of this entire season. Taking home nearly every Player of the Year award, Davis’ domination at this level as a freshman was must-see television every time he stepped on the floor. But his rise to true stardom perhaps began when the Wildcats defeated then-#5 North Carolina early in the season at Rupp Arena on a last-second block by the lengthy forward. Davis rejected UNC star John Henson’s final shot attempt to seal the one-point win for Kentucky.

Austin Rivers Silences Carolina Crowd (February 8) – One of the two best buzzer-beaters of the season was Duke freshman Austin Rivers’ silencing of the Dean Smith Center in early February. Down by two at Chapel Hill on the final possession, the freshman knocked down a long three over Tyler Zeller to beat North Carolina and send the Tar Heel crowd into a state of utter shock.

Robinson Rejects Mizzou in Border War (February 25) – In what was the final matchup between Kansas and Missouri as rivals in the Big 12 Conference (Mizzou is off to the SEC next year), the two teams put on a classic showdown in Allen Fieldhouse. Missouri dominated the game until a late KU charge, and it was the All-America forward Thomas Robinson’s rejection of Phil Pressey with seconds left in regulation that sent the game into overtime. Kansas won the game in the extra session to cap off a tremendous game between two top-5 teams.

Watford For the Win! (December 10) – One of the great stories of the season was Indiana’s resurgence as a top team. The Hoosiers had a tremendous year that was highlighted by their victory over #1 Kentucky at home to improve to 9-0 in December. Trailing by two on the final possession, it was this shot by Christian Watford that beat the buzzer and provided us with one of the most memorable shots, and calls, of the season.

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Morning Five: 04.04.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 4th, 2012

  1. Syracuse will play San Diego State on the USS Midway Museum on November 9. This event is similar to the Carrier Classic from last November except that it is being run by a different corporation and will not be on an active duty carrier. We have not heard how tickets will be allocated as the security presence at the event should be significantly less than what was seen last year as this is not an active duty ship and is in fact a museum that you can visit on a regular basis. We are also not sure if President Obama, who may or may not be returning to Washington for another term depending on the outcome of a small straw poll a few days earlier, will be coming to the game.
  2. There are conflicting stories on the report that the Sun Belt Conference would be adding Georgia State to its conference. A report filed early yesterday suggested that the move was imminent, but a subsequent report including a quote from the Sun Belt Conference’s commissioner appears to indicate that the decision is still very much up in the air. Given our history of hearing conflicting reports we are going to side with the initial report as it is more likely that Sun Belt is trying to conceal its hand until everything is certain and also to potential build up some buzz about the new announcement well at least as much buzz as a Sun Belt Conference move can have.
  3. The 2012 NBA Draft will not be short on point guards as two more probable first round picks–Tony Wroten Jr. and Damian Lillard–put their names into the Draft. For Washington the loss of Wroten is compounded by the loss of Terrence Ross will leave them significantly weakened as they try to rebound from a disappointing season. For Weber State the loss of Lillard will likely take them off the national radar for the time being. To us the interesting thing with these announcements is just how much talent there will be available to the NBA with Wroten and Lillard joining Kendall Marshall and Austin Rivers (ok, maybe he is a stretch as a point guard) as almost certain first round picks who have left school early. Will the presence of four such highly coveted point guards lead other point guards, who might have otherwise considered leaving (like Marquis Teague) to stay in for at least another year?
  4. Derrick Nix‘s offseason got off to a bad start as the Michigan State rising senior was suspended indefinitely following an arrest for marijuana possession and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs. Nix probably will not miss any significant time for the Spartans, but the arrest may indicate a lack of maturity and leadership for the Spartans as Nix was their lone rising senior. Tom Izzo says that he wait until the legal process works out before making a decision on Nix’s punishment. We would be surprised if the punishment is anything more than missing a game or two.
  5. There were a lot of “way too early” 2012-13 preseason polls released yesterday, but there was one poll that was different from the others–the final ESPN/USA Today Poll. The rankings are not particularly surprising, but they do place a heavy emphasis on the NCAA Tournament. With few exceptions teams are ranked based on how they finished in the NCAA Tournament. The big moves (up and down) were the “Cinderellas” that made deep runs and the highly ranked teams that were upset on the opening weekend.
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ACC Morning Five: 03.26.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 26th, 2012

  1. Washington Post: This isn’t directly linked to the ACC (if you’re looking for a more explicit, albeit indirect connection, be my guest), but I think John Feinstein hits the nail on the head regarding officiating. Officials are refereeing too many games. Period. I thought the officiating in Sunday’s Elite Eight games was no different: travels went uncalled and charges and blocks felt decided by reputation. Feinstein argues the NCAA should pay officials more and mandate fewer games. I whole-heartedly agree, though I think the hardest part is how to regulate the regular season pay of officials, especially those from smaller conferences. This is a problem, and I expect the NCAA to at least look into it over the offseason.
  2. Tobacco Road Blues: Amidst many (including myself) calling for Mike Krzyzewski to win ACC Coach of the Year, at least one Duke fan thinks the polar opposite. The argument: (1) Coach K refused to change his defensive system despite knowing his team’s weaknesses (very similar to the criticism Roy Williams took during 2009-10 for not adapting following Ty Lawson’s departure); (2) he didn’t give Michael Gbinije enough run; and (3) Krzyzewksi didn’t give Quinn Cook enough run. I’m going to have a longer response to this later, but I can see the arguments.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: With reports piling up that Austin Rivers will be leaving Duke for the NBA draft, Rick Bonnell hypothesizes that Rivers may be better off in the NBA anyway. I’m not sure I agree that Rivers’ personality caused problems in Durham. It’s clear he clashed at times with Coach K, but nothing ever really boiled over. I also agree Rivers’ game is very suited for the NBA — especially if a team gets someone to reconstruct his jumper during the offseason.
  4. Testudo Times: I think this is a pretty reasonable look at Alex Len and his future, though I think Dave Tucker is underselling Len’s shot-blocking ability and its importance going forward (he could be a John Henson type of player as he gets more acclimated and stronger). I also think it’s important to temper expectations about Len’s offensive production. Yes, bigs generally make a huge leap between their first two seasons, but Len never struck me as a dominant offensive player. He’s definitely a guy who can average 10 points per game (give or take a couple — many coming off rebounds), but he’s got to develop a reliable 15-footer before he’ll be a serious offensive threat.
  5. Yahoo! Sports: North Carolina played 32 minutes of great basketball. Somehow the Tar Heels managed to run the offense smoothly without Kendall Marshall. Sure there were signs like blown fast breaks and intercepted passes, but for the most part the Tar Heel offense ran very well, that is, until Bill Self switched to a triangle and two defensive scheme. The hybrid defensive scheme simultaneously locked down Harrison Barnes and Reggie Bullock, while causing Tyler Zeller and John Henson to virtually disappear. A lot of people will rip Roy Williams for his team’s inability to deal with the switch. But this team doesn’t have elite shot creators (despite what Barnes’ projected skills were). They kill you in transition and with unparalleled passing from Marshall. Without him, it’s pretty surprising Williams had his team playing as well as they did. Still it was fascinating how effective the defensive switch was (only allowing three points in the last eight and a half minutes of play).
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Morning Five: 03.26.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 26th, 2012

  1. Duke could be in some trouble next year as Austin Rivers is deciding on whether or not to declare for the NBA Draft. On some level (a very selfish one), we would like to see Rivers stay in college to round out his game, which for all his talent and pedigree still has some holes in it. In the end, he is a definite lottery pick with good source of NBA intelligence on where he would get drafted (his father) so we can’t criticize his decision if he decides to leave. We will note that this could be the second year in a row that Mike Krzyzewski has had a star point guard go one-and-done, which is something a certain coach in the Final Four gets criticized for all the time.
  2. Rivers grabbed most of the early entry headlines over the weekend, but Damian Lillard is certainly worth some attention as the Weber State point guard will attract a lot of attention from NBA teams in the  mid- to late first round as the junior appears to be on the verge of entering the NBA Draft. While he lacks the amazing scoring ability of Rivers, he does have a point guard skill that Rivers lacks–passing. If Lillard enters the Draft, there will surely be some team interested in picking up a quality guard even with the relatively high number of quality point guards already in the NBA.
  3. After a relatively brief search, Nebraska named Tim Miles as its new head coach. Miles, who was most well-known among casual college basketball fans for tweeting at halftime of games while at Colorado State, signed a five-year deal with an option for a sixth year that starts at $1.4 million and goes up by $75,000 per year. Interestingly, one of the things that helped convinced Nebraska to hire Miles was that he choose to take less money for himself so he could have more to spend on assistants. Miles will need all the help he can get competing in the Big Ten with a team that will probably be worse next season than the one he left behind at Colorado State.
  4. The writing was on the wall when three players announced that they were transferring and on Friday Duquesne fired Ron Everhart after six seasons. During his tenure, Everhart went 99-89 after inheriting a program that went 3-24 the year before, but in a letter to the school’s board members that was leaked the school cited concerns about hitting a plateau and how the transfers indicated the program was not moving in the right direction. Although Everhart has never made the NCAA Tournament in 18 seasons he does have a 273-261 career record so we would be surprised if he did not at least end up with a solid assistant coaching spot if not a head coaching position in the near future.
  5. Shabazz Muhammad, one of the top two recruits in this year’s class, has set his decision date for his college choice on April 10. The date is significant for a couple of reasons. The main one is that Signing Day is the next day and it is also the day the using the new conventional method that early entry applicants for the NBA Draft will have to announce their status. While Muhammad would appear to be a prize recruit, there are still questions about his eligibility with regards to his interaction with two independent financial advisers, who assisted him with unofficial visits and supported his AAU team.
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ACC Morning Five: 03.20.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 20th, 2012

  1. Miami Herald: In case you missed it, Miami‘s season ended with a bunch of bricks and a quiet crowd of 1,649 people ready to watch in person. The Hurricanes got throttled by Minnesota, giving up easy baskets on one end before settling for low-percentage jumpers on the other. There’s always a danger in the NIT that teams won’t get up for the games, but I thought Miami had something to prove after narrowly missing the Big Dance. Instead, Kenny Kadji played horribly (he’s combined to go 5-27 from the field in the postseason), Reggie Johnson only managed to grab two rebounds, and only Rion Brown provided much energy. Assuming everyone returns and stays eligible, next year is Miami’s year.
  2. Oxford Public-Ledger: This article does a great job capturing the ups and downs of March Madness, juxtaposing the NCAA’s money-maker and its suddenness with the journalists hoping to cover it. Austin Rivers‘ quotes from after Duke’s loss to Lehigh are tough to read. This is a unique article and is worth a read.
  3. Independent Weekly: For a more long-winded take on the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and media involvement, look no further than Adam Sobsey. He captures the rollercoaster of emotions the North Carolina team rode following its easy win over Creighton. He also rips the NCAA’s media policies and rightly so. After opening the North Carolina locker room to the press, Roy Williams sent the media out to tell the team about Kendall Marshall‘s injury. Needless to say the group was shell-shocked. But because of the NCAA rule, Williams had to re-open the locker room to the “vulturous mob rapacity” (Sobsey’s style is always easy to spot) for another 10 minutes.
  4. TarHeelBlue.com: Speaking of Marshall’s injury this article offers a great tribute to the Tar Heel point guard.

    It’s more than that because it impacts a person we’ve grown to love. It helps that he throws head-shaking passes, but that’s not all of it. He’s someone who occasionally hangs out in the Carolina Basketball Museum, just to soak in some Tar Heel history. He signs every autograph after every game at every hour into the night, and somehow even seems to enjoy it. He came to Carolina basketball camp as a kid and cherished the pictures, just like so many of us have done. We know we can’t pass it like him. But maybe, watching the way he plays, you can believe that we might appreciate it like him, if we were wearing that jersey.

  5. Associated Press (via Washington Post): The news isn’t directly related to the ACC anymore, but former Georgia Tech great Bobby Cremins announced his retirement from the College of Charleston. Earlier this year, he took an indefinite medical leave for exhaustion. Coaching always took a toll on Cremins, which likely led to the six-year hiatus he took between being pushed out at Georgia Tech and returning to the Southern Conference for an encore (he started his coaching career at Appalachian State).

EXTRA: Joe Posnanski took some time to absorb the first weekend of the NCAA tournament from the neutral confines of Las Vegas. He chronicles one of the two biggest events (with the Super Bowl being the other) for most sports books, talking with oddsmakers and bettors alike.

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ACC in the NCAAs: Scouting Duke vs. Lehigh

Posted by KCarpenter on March 16th, 2012

Nate Wolters of South Dakota State and De’Mon Brooks of Davidson both got their chances to make their name known on Thursday, but both failed to lead their teams to the upset. On Friday, another batch of one-man offenses get their shot at making an impression. For Lehigh, C.J. McCollum is the guy. He takes 33.7% of the Mountain Hawks shots and thankfully converts the shots at a very efficient rate. He’s not just a scorer, though he does average 21.9 PPG, and he manages to pitch in with most statistical categories, averaging 3.5 APG, 2.6 SPG, and 6.5 RPG, which is all the more impressive when you consider that McCollum is only 6’3″. He’s a stud, completely capable of carrying his team when it needs him, and his team is going to need a lot out of him when Lehigh plays Duke.

Lehigh's C.J. McCollum Is an Elite Guard

Lehigh hasn’t beaten a single team that made the tournament. The Mountain Hawks’ best wins are a pair of wins against Bucknell, the regular season champions of the Patriot League. That’s it. The best that Lehigh can do, when trying to present evidence that the Mountain Hawks can hang with the Blue Devils, is mention that they lost to Michigan State and Iowa State by only nine points apiece. Lehigh has yet to beat, or even closely lose to a tournament caliber team. There is little reason to think that Duke won’t pummel the hapless Mountain Hawks. Yet, for the sake of argument, if Lehigh were to beat Duke, let’s think about what that victory would look like.

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Bracket Prep: South Region Analysis

Posted by KDoyle on March 12th, 2012

Throughout Monday, we will roll out our region-by-region analysis on the following schedule: East (9 AM), South (11 AM), Midwest (2 PM), West (4 PM). Here, Kevin Doyle breaks down the South Region from top to bottom. Also, be sure to follow our RTC South Region handle on Twitter for continuous updates the next two weeks (@RTCsouthregion).

You can also check out our RTC Podblast with Kevin breaking down the South Region here.

South Region

Favorite: #1 Kentucky (32-2, 16-0 SEC). Shouldn’t really need much of an explanation here. The most talented team in the nation — unquestionably — the Wildcats will be the odds-on favorite to not just emerge from the South Region, but also to cut down the nets in New Orleans. Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones spearhead a terrifyingly good starting five.

The Length And Athleticism Of Terrence Jones and Kentucky Are Just One Of Many Issues That Teams Face

Should They Falter: #2 Duke (27-6, 13-3 ACC). Austin Rivers does not play like a typical freshman and while Duke has its flaws on defense (perimeter defense, especially), the Blue Devils are more apt to make a run to the Final Four due to their balance on offense. Rivers and Seth Curry are prolific shooters/scorers in the backcourt, while the Plumlee brothers make for a formidable frontcourt. Much of Duke’s success hinges on junior Ryan Kelly’s health (sprained ankle). Kelly, while not a lockdown defender by any means, is 6’11″ and really helps in defending the three-point line for Duke. Even without a healthy Kelly, Duke still has an easier road to the Sweet Sixteen than other contenders in the South Region.

Grossly Overseeded: #11 Colorado (23-11, 11-7 Pac-12). Clearly, the committee thought higher of the Pac-12 than many others did. First, there was much debate whether this power six conference — far from “powerful” this season — would even receive an at-large bid, but they did in California. Secondly, Colorado was not on anybody’s radar prior to the Pac-12 Tournament as it stood at 19-11 with seven losses in conference play. Yet, winning the conference tournament propelled Colorado to a very respectable seed at #11. Many prognosticators had the Buffaloes at a #13 seed going into Selection Sunday.

Grossly Underseeded: #14 South Dakota State (27-7, 15-3 Summit). It is too big of a stretch to say that South Dakota State is “grossly” underseeded, but I do believe they were worthy of a #13 seed. When comparing the Jackrabbits to the #13 seed in this region, their resume is every bit as good, if not better, than New Mexico State: SDSU has a better overall record, higher RPI, more wins against the Top 100 RPI, and a more challenging non-conference schedule. Not to mention South Dakota State’s thrashing of Washington 92-73, even though the Huskies are not a Tournament team, is very impressive.

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ACC Tournament: Three Thoughts From Duke – Virginia Tech

Posted by mpatton on March 9th, 2012

Duke ground out a 60-56 win over Virginia Tech, giving the Hokies their twelfth loss by five points or less this season.

  • This game was nearly as ugly as the Miami-Georgia Tech slugfest last night. Tyler Thornton and Austin Rivers combined to take 57% of Duke’s shots. And while it wasn’t pretty, both guys came up with the big plays when Duke needed them. Rivers kept the team in business at the beginning of the game before letting his frustration get the better of him. It was his full-court sprint for a tipped ball that iced the game after he completed the and-one. Thornton was more important defensively, coming up with three steals, but he also deserves credit for knocking down a very big three to put Duke’s lead back at eight when it looked like the Hokies were making a push.

    Ryan Kelly Is Critical For Duke's Success This Month

  • Virginia Tech’s offense needs work this offseason. A lot of it. The Hokies waste way too much time on offense. Duke played decent defense, and Seth Greenberg mentioned slowing the game down as part of the game plan. But successful clock-chewing teams squeeze 25-30 seconds out of every possession and take good shots (see: Wisconsin). Robert Brown’s 3-3 halftime stat line, and offensive rebounding were the only bright spots. The Hokies’ defense was very effective though. It forced Duke’s offense to flow through Thornton, and made it very hard for Duke to get the ball inside (though once the ball got into the lane, the Blue Devils were effective scoring).
  • The Blue Devils really need a healthy Ryan Kelly to make a run in March. Without Kelly Duke’s bench only managed six points. His absence also spotlights frontcourt depth issues. Mason Plumlee played a very “intelligent” game according to Mike Krzyzewski, but both Plumlees are liable to pick up fouls. Kelly’s ability to stretch the defense would’ve opened up the lane a lot more for Rivers to drive and the Plumlees to post.
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