Bill Self’s Coaching Plus Elite Talent is a Scary Proposition

Posted by BHayes on October 9th, 2013

Bennet Hayes (@HoopsTraveleris a national columnist.

Tweets that end with a hashtag of “#RockChalk” are not hard to find in the Twitterverse, but one in particular had to bring a smile to the face of Bill Self and Kansas fans everywhere on Tuesday. Kelly Oubre, one of the top prospects in the prep class of 2014, announced his commitment to Self and KU yesterday morning via social media.

The Findlay Prep (NV) wing, who now looms as the natural replacement on the wing for presumptive one-and-done Jayhawk freshman Andrew Wiggins, is another huge get for several reasons. Oubre (#10 in RSCI’s summer rankings for the class of 2014) is a significant coup for Self, a coach whose recruiting efforts – at least in terms of the star power at the top of the rankings – haven’t always matched up with the prodigious success his teams have enjoyed on the court. This isn’t to say the Jayhawks have been winning multiple Big 12 titles and making Final Fours with two-star recruits from western Kansas, but with the Wiggins/Wayne Selden/Joel Embiid class now on campus and this commitment from Oubre for next season also in the books, Self and Kansas should be taken more seriously than ever as major players in the recruitment of the nation’s top prospects.

Kelly Oubre, A Consensus Top-15 Prospect In The Class Of 2014, Is The Latest Highly Regarded Prep Star To Commit To Bill Self And Kansas

Kelly Oubre, A Consensus Top-15 Prospect In The Class Of 2014, Is The Latest Highly Regarded Prep Star To Commit To Bill Self And Kansas

According to RSCI Hoops, prior to this year’s incoming class, Kansas had landed just two consensus top-20 recruits (Xavier Henry and Josh Selby) since 2007. Of course, that number may as well have been one, as class of 2010 guard Selby never realized the potential he flashed during his high school days, averaging only 7.9 PPG in one disappointing season in Lawrence. For an interesting frame of reference, intrastate rival Kansas State — a program with nowhere near the hardwood history as KU — has recruited just as many top-20 players in that span. For (mostly) better or worse, Self simply hasn’t chosen to draw from that group of elite talents as often as the other national programs — granted, part of the reason for that may be some light reluctance on the side of the blue-chippers — but he has seemed pretty comfortable building winning teams without so many prep superstars dotting his roster.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Ben McLemore

Posted by BHayes on June 26th, 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: Ben McLemore

School: Kansas

Height/Weight: 6’5”/190 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Top 5-10

Ben McLemore pairs jaw-dropping athleticism with a silky-smooth jump shot

Ben McLemore pairs jaw-dropping athleticism with a silky-smooth jump shot

Overview: Ben McLemore’s decision to enter the NBA Draft came as a surprise to no one. After a successful freshman season in which he often found the occasion to flash his massive potential, the time was now for McLemore to make the leap to the pros. Anyone familiar with his game know the knocks – too nice, passive, doesn’t want to dominate. His road to Lawrence, and now the league, has also been well chronicled. McLemore overcame an impoverished childhood and unsteady home life to develop into a prized recruit, and equally impressively, a great young man (by all accounts). Last season, McLemore averaged 15.9 points per game and shot 42% from three-point range for a Kansas team that earned a #1 seed to the NCAA Tournament. Despite the complaints of passivity, McLemore did have a slew of dominant performances as a freshman. They included a 33-point outing and OT-inducing three in a victory over Iowa State, a 30-point effort versus rival Kansas State, and a 36-point explosion in a rout of West Virginia. The challenge for scouts is to determine whether McLemore will ever be able to turn those 40-minute displays into consistent elite play, but if nothing else, Ben McLemore’s freshman season revealed a player with a skill set you don’t often find.

Will Translate to the NBA: McLemore is the best shooter in this draft. Concerns about his willingness to be demonstrative and take over games are well-founded, but if you can get him open looks, he will knock down shots. Everything is picture-perfect mechanically with the stroke, and McLemore is also able to shoot over the top of defenders by getting great lift on his jumper. Athletically, the Kansas product will also prove ready for the league. He’s a smooth but explosive leaper that excels in transition, and his length should assist him in becoming a good, if not great, defender at the next level. All the raw materials are in place for McLemore to be great – what will prevent him from putting them immediately to use will be his youth and immaturity, if anything.

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Ben McLemore Wants to Talk About Third Party Allegations: Where Does This Go Next?

Posted by Chris Johnson on May 20th, 2013

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

Last time Ben McLemore’s name whirled its way into the national sports consciousness, it was for entirely undesirable reasons. We weren’t talking about McLemore’s immense redshirt freshman season, or his sweet shooting stroke and rising NBA draft stock. We were talking about the NCAA, and the possibility of McLemore leaving Kansas in a scurrilous amateurism-violating lurch after USA Today’s Eric Prisbell brought to light comments from the former Kansas star’s AAU coach detailing his alleged acceptance of money and travel benefits from a purported agent. A web of important questions were raised: did McLemore take impermissible benefits? Did he have even the slightest inkling his AAU coach, Darius Cobb, was receiving money and free trips to Los Angeles behind his back? And if he did, what were the punitive repercussions for Kansas’s proud basketball program? Was the NCAA’s biteless enforcement mechanism unequipped to tackle a situation like this? Would McLemore eventually give his side of the story? Could he even stomach the idea his former AAU coach and friend would take a potentially damning impermissible benefits case to the most widely-circulated newspaper in the country?

More clarity on Cobb and Blackstock's malfeasance could be on the way if McLemore speaks with the NCAA (Getty Images).

More clarity on Cobb and Blackstock’s malfeasance could be on the way if McLemore speaks with the NCAA (Getty Images).

Some of those questions were answered last Thursday at the NBA Draft combine in Chicago, where Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis got McLemore on the record. McLemore didn’t mince words – the allegations cited in Prisbell’s report are, true or not, completely over his head. “I didn’t see no money going around. My mom hasn’t seen no money going around. We don’t know nothing about it,” McLemore told Davis. “So it was kind of new to me.”

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Morning Five: 05.20.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 20th, 2013

morning5

  1. It looks like Mike Krzyzewski might not be done adding championships to his impressive resume and we are not talking about Duke. After insisting that he was done coaching the national team it appears that Krzyzewski is now  considering a return to Team USA. With the 2014 World Championships in Madrid just around the corner the Team USA brass will need to start assembling a team (around LeBron) fairly soon and the logical first step would be getting a coach who the players would decide to play for. With his success on both the college and international level as well as his ability to get along with several key players Krzyzewski would appear to be the obvious choice. Now that Krzyzewski is apparently pointing toward the next cycle of international play it seems reasonable to expect him to stay at Duke until that period is complete.
  2. With how Duke was saved  avoided any potential NCAA sanctions as the result of the Lance Thomas jewelry controversy when both Thomas and the jeweler refused to talk with the NCAA we are a little surprised that Ben McLemore has come out and said that he would talk with the NCAA about allegations by his AAU coach than a runner had paid the coach $10,000 to steer McLemore to certain agents. This is not to necessarily say that McLemore had anything to do with it, have any knowledge of it, or that Kansas could be implicated in any way. In fact, based on what we have heard we doubt that any of those are true, but we do not see what McLemore or Kansas have to directly gain by having McLemore talk although as it stands the NCAA could penalize Kansas because the payment would have made McLemore ineligible so perhaps McLemore thinks he could protect Kansas by clearing his name by talking to the NCAA.
  3. After several months of bickering about the terms of his contract buyout Steve Alford and New Mexico have agreed in principle to terms with Alford paying $300,000 in cash and forgoing $325,000 in bonuses that Alford would have been set to receive. For their part UCLA raised some objection to the e-mail release particularly the figure of $625,000 being used since Alford had already agreed to forgo the bonus money. In reality it appears that Alford is set to pay $300,000 instead of the $1 million the school was seeking and the $200,00 that Alford intiailly offered to pay them. As is often the case both sides will try to claim victory, but in reality the best thing may be for two sides to reach a deal before this thing gets any more complicated.
  4. Kansas State fans are going to have a completely different roster next season having lost three players to graduation and three players to transfer, but they are bringing in some new talent including five recruits and now a pair of transfers. The latest addition is Brandon Bolden, who is transferring from Georgetown to Kansas State. Bolden only played in four games as a freshman so we would not expect him to contribute immediately in Manhattan, but there are not many 6’10″ centers floating around with three years of eligibility remaining so it could be a productive pick-up in the long run for the Wildcats. So although next season might end up being a rough transition year for Kansas State they should be rebounding relatively soon.
  5. Lipscomb, the team best known for going 12-18, but managing to beat Florida Gulf Coast twice last season, named Casey Alexander as its new head coach on Saturday to replaces Scott Sanderson, who was 222-201 in 14 seasons, but saw his team’s play drop off significantly culminating in last season’s 12-18 mark. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the hire is that Alexander left Stetson, which finished 11-7 in the Atlantic Sun, to take over at Lipscomb, which finished at 7-11 in the Atlantic Sun. We have no idea how well-financed those two athletic departments are, but we would expect that Lipscomb pays quite a bit more for Alexander to take a step down like that.
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Ben McLemore Allegations More Fodder For a Monotously Grating Debate

Posted by Chris Johnson on May 6th, 2013

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

Maybe the most important question is, “is anyone even the least bit surprised?”

That was the first thought that jostled around my frontal lobe after reading Eric Prisbell’s expose in Saturday’s USA Today detailing St. Louis-area AAU Coach Darius Cobb’s admission to receiving multi-thousand cash payments and free-expenses paid trips in exchange for perceived influence and access to Kansas star and likely top-three NBA draft pick Ben McLemore. Cobb reportedly met with various sports agents and financial advisers looking to steer McLemore to the professional ranks after his redshirt freshman season. Even a cursory knowledge of NCAA protocol would lead you to make the following conclusion without much in the way of deep introspective thought: An investigation of Kansas’, and by extension McLemore’s, alleged impropriety could result in the Jayhawks not only losing their Big 12 title and Sweet Sixteen appearance, but having its entire 2012-13 season expunged from NCAA historical accounting. Everything McLemore touched during his college career could be in danger of sheer obliteration. There would be protest and angst and complaints. It would get ugly.

The NCAA ultimately may not be able to find any wrongdoing on behalf of Kansas or McLemore (Getty Images).

The NCAA ultimately may not be able to find any wrongdoing on behalf of Kansas or McLemore (Getty Images).

Or maybe it won’t: thanks to some quick analysis on the matter at hand from John Infante, the internet’s resident NCAA bylaw expert and author of the famous Bylaw Blog, a completely blood-free resolution of the case seems entirely plausible, even historically prudent. Kansas can look through the superficial ugliness of its star freshman shooting guard and nefarious AAU-circuit go-betweens and financial impropriety, yearn for a punishment-free future and not feel totally nervous about the whole thing. The NCAA, as is all too often the case in high-profile impermissible benefits cases (and as was made glaringly evident in the resolution of the Lance Thomas jewelry fiasco), has no legal means by which to force Cobb, alleged McLemore-invested runner Rodney Blackstock or even McLemore himself, now that he’s declared for the NBA Draft, to discuss his muddy past. The only looming repercussion is if Cobb or Blackstock qualifies as an “agent,” which could very well be the case under the NCAA’s new expansive definition, or – as Infante details in much greater and clearer nuance – if McLemore is proven to have had knowledge and willing acceptance of Blackstock’s (or whoever else was involved) services.

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Morning Five: 05.06.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 6th, 2013

morning5

  1. The NCAA approved legislation on Friday that will allow the first official practices to start two weeks earlier next fall, essentially meaning that we might see Midnight Madness events tipping off in late September rather than the usual mid-October commencement date. The rule allows for 30 days of team practices over a 42-day window, backing up from the date of the first regular season games of the season (next year: November 8). While we’re fully in support of more preseason practice time so that teams have sufficient opportunity to field a good product during the marquee early events, we’re not sold on the idea of having a bunch of Midnight Madnesses while college football is still getting under way, the NFL is only three weeks into its season and the MLB playoffs haven’t even begun yet. It’s not the worst thing in the world if college basketball fans are getting excited about Big Blue Madness, Late Night With Roy, and the rest, for a sliver of a crowded September sports schedule, but if we had been the NCAA, we may have written a clause into the draft that allows for the earlier practice time while mandating that public events cannot go off until the usual mid-October date. 
  2. This article from the LA Times‘ Bill Plaschke isn’t a college basketball piece, per se, but it does start and end with examples relating to the sport. The topic is the difficulty of head coaching positions in the Los Angeles sports scene, and UCLA men’s basketball in particular is featured prominently. He cites the fact that there’s already a Facebook page dedicated to firing new Bruins’ head coach Steve Alford, and of course he makes time to mention former head coach Ben Howland’s three Final Fours during his decade in Westwood. The restlessness that appears to infect the LA sports and entertainment scene is probably not much different than anywhere else — perhaps a bit more hyperactive there because of the importance of style over substance — but Plaschke is absolutely correct when he notes that a certain former head coach went a phenomenal 16 seasons before “finally” winning the first of his 10 national championships. No doubt if John Wooden had coached in today’s era of immediate expectations and returns, he may not have ever gotten the chance to make his unprecedented run.
  3. We’ll have more on this topic later today, but news from USA Today‘s Eric Prisbell over the weekend suggests that the former AAU coach of former Kansas star Ben McLemore took money and benefits from an agent named Rodney Blackstock in an effort to “deliver” the possible overall top draft pick to him. The report revealed three regular season KU games where Blackstock received a complimentary guest pass from McLemore, but as is so often true in these situations, it’s nearly impossible to prove the player or the school knew any such impropriety as alleged by the coach actually occurred. As Gary Parrish at CBSSports.com points out, the NCAA could use Bylaw 12.3.1.2 to declare McLemore ineligible based on what it already knows, but to do so flies in the face of what it just concluded in the Lance Thomas/Duke situation, and begs the tried-and-true question of whether schools should be held responsible for things it simply cannot control in this messed-up system that exists well outside the reach of the NCAA. Gregg Doyel makes a similar argument in this piece, taking the tack that whether we’re talking about the possible ineligibility of Marcus Camby, Derrick Rose or McLemore, the head coach shouldn’t be held responsible unless, you know, he actually had knowledge of, or should have had knowledge of, the events that caused the ineligibility in the first place. Makes sense, right?
  4. There was one notable transfer over the weekend, as Western Michigan’s Darius Paul, the MAC Freshman of the Year last season after averaging 10/6 for the Broncos, tweeted that he would transfer to Illinois after attending older brother Brandon’s postseason awards banquet. He had several high-major offers on the table, but it is becoming clear that John Groce’s fun playing style feeds into a recruiting strategy focused on bringing in a healthy mix of talented freshmen and successful mid-major transfers such as Paul, Illinois State’s Jon Ekey, Seton Hall’s Aaron Cosby, and several others. Paul will sit out next season per NCAA rules but will be ready to contribute in the post for the Illini beginning in 2014-15.
  5. Rick Pitino has had a pretty good spring, but he didn’t add Kentucky Derby champion to his list of 2013 accomplishments. The horse in which Pitino owns a five percent stake, Goldencents, had some trouble getting early traction in the Saturday evening race at Churchill Downs before easing up down the stretch to finish in 17th place. Still, we’re certain that simply having quite literally a horse in the race was good enough for Pitino in this event, as the 60-year old has spent his entire life chasing basketball rather than race track glory. SI.com‘s Pete Thamel interviewed Pitino in this piece that published Friday, and it’s abundantly clear that the two-time national championship head coach thinks he has a great shot at doing it again in 2014.d
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Big 12 Season Wrap: the Highs, the Lows, All the In-Betweens

Posted by dnspewak on April 15th, 2013

In a big-picture sense, the Big 12 provided us with no surprises this season. Kansas won the league again, TCU finished in last place, five teams made the NCAA Tournament, and all was right with the world. It wouldn’t have taken Nostradamus to make those predictions. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an interesting six months, however. There were flops–most notably from the state of Texas. There were overachievers–most notably from the state of Oklahoma. There were thrilling finishes, blown calls, standout freshmen and that one time Kansas somehow lost to TCU. Oh, and one team even won a championship this season in, well, the wrong tournament.

Game of  the Year: Kansas 68, Oklahoma State 67 (February 20)

This showdown in Stillwater was simultaneously the best and worst game of the Big 12 season. How’s that for logic? After the Cowboys stunned Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse earlier in the winter and literally celebrated by doing back flips on the court, this revenge game took on even more importance in the league standings. Had Oklahoma State won, it would have seized the proverbial driver’s seat along with Kansas State and would have made the Jayhawks’ path to the regular season title very difficult. We had drama. We had overtime. Two, actually. And we had a game-winner in the final minute of regulation by Naadir Tharpe, who shook off a rusty performance to hit the go-ahead jumper with 16 seconds to play. Instant classic, right? Certainly. The problem was, it was perhaps the ugliest game ever played by two top-15 opponents on the same floor. Kansas did not make a field goal in the first overtime and it did not make a field goal in the second overtime until Tharpe’s game-winner. That’s almost 10 minutes of basketball without a basket. In overtime! Overall, the two teams combined to shoot five for 32 from beyond the arc. Ben McLemore played 49 minutes, missed nine of 12 shot attempts and finished with seven points after barely touching the ball in the overtime periods. And that’s the best game of the year? We still stand by our decision. This was the game that changed the complexity of the Big 12 title race, and two free periods of basketball is never a bad thing.

Bill Self Won Another Big 12 Title (Photo credit: AP Photo).

Bill Self Won Another Big 12 Title (Photo credit: AP Photo).

Honorable Mentions:

  • Kansas 108, Iowa State 96 (February 25): Asterisk on this one. Kansas beat Iowa State in Ames — where the Cyclones hadn’t lost in more than a year — but it needed a blown call at the end of regulation to get the opportunity. You remember the situation. Elijah Johnson‘s charging toward the basket with five seconds left in the game, his team trailing by two points. Georges Niang sets his feet and takes what appears to be a pretty standard charge. But there’s no call, the ball bounces on the floor and the officials eventually blow the whistle on Niang during a scramble. That allows Kansas to tie the game and win in overtime behind Elijah Johnson’s epic 39-point performance. The Big 12 would later admit its referees should have called a charge, but that’s a moot point right now. It’s a shame we’ll remember this game as the No-Call Game as opposed to the Elijah Johnson Game.
  • Oklahoma State 74, Baylor 72 (March 14): The Bears needed a victory in this Big 12 quarterfinal to give themselves a chance for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. Then they fell behind by 20 points. Dead in the water. Except Pierre Jackson started raining jumpers and floaters all over the place, and Baylor inexplicably tied the game in the final minute of regulation. But the officials made a controversial foul call (that’s a trend this year, across all conferences) and sent Phil Forte to the line, where he made both. That’s an exciting finish in and of itself. But it got even better: Nobody’s quite sure how it happened, but with just seconds left on a desperation, mad-dash possession, Jackson dribbled straight through two Oklahoma State defenders and found himself absolutely, completely wide open from three-point land. He had a chance to win at the buzzer. No hands contesting him, no defender in sight. He missed. That sent the Bears to the NIT, and at least they won that tournament. But Jackson’s failed buzzer-beater signaled the end of Baylor’s tourney chances, and it was another dark moment during an underachieving season.

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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XVI

Posted by jbaumgartner on April 12th, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…. a final game that was so good, so full of quality and runs and drama, that you literally sat in your seat and wondered if it could sustain itself for 40 minutes. The answer was yes, and anyone who wasn’t on the edge of their seat for most of Monday night doesn’t have a pulse. That game was everything we could have hoped for – after an NCAA Tournament that included both upsets and duds to go alongside some raggedy play, this was a title game deserving of the name. What a way to end the year.

I LOVED…. being vindicated in my disgust for Doug Gottlieb. Just take a few quick seconds in case you missed him making a fool of himself on national television (ahem, I mean bigger fool than usual).

I LOVED…. Russdiculousness. You have to give it to Russ Smith – he carried his Louisville team all the way to the Final Four, all the way to the title game with a torrid stretch of scoring, and once he got there he flat-out refused to become a different player. With a lead down the stretch, Russ fouled on the perimeter, dribbled into traffic, took a three-pointer with a new shot clock and 2:30 left, threw crazy passes into the stands and generally tried to give the championship trophy away. But hey, he wouldn’t be Russ if he weren’t a little nutty, and the Cardinals wouldn’t be holding that trophy if he wasn’t on their side.

Russdiculous Lived Up to His Name

I LOVED…. a shootout. It didn’t get any better than that first-half step-off from 22 feet by Spike Albrecht and Luke Hancock. Spike’s might have been more unexpected, but Hancock’s was pure guts in the face of a double-digit deficit with the season on the line. It made for some incredible runs in the first 20 minutes, and it got even better when Albrecht made a cybermove on Kate Upton.

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Big 12 M5: 04.12.13 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on April 12th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. The coaching carousel has been as busy as ever this offseason, and ESPN‘s Jason King takes a deeper look into the resulting coaching changes. Texas Tech made headlines recently when it hired former Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith to replace interim head coach Chris Walker. I had advocated for keeping Walker on past this season, but when you have a chance to hire a coach like Smith, you have to do it. The ex-Gophers coach won a national title at Kentucky in 1998, and he instantly gives the Red Raiders one of the five best coaching staffs in the Big 12.
  2. Here is another way-too-early 2013-14 preseason Top 25, this time from Seth Davis at Sports Illustrated. Not surprisingly, only Kansas makes the list right now. The Jayhawks come in at #13 on Davis’ ballot and here is a big reason for it: “I put them here because of the names on the front of the jersey, not the ones on the back.” The Jayhawks have the roster of a Top 25 team, no question, but Davis is right that his ranking has more to do with Bill Self’s reputation of taking teams with obvious issues and turning them into #1 seeds. You will also notice that there are no other Big 12 teams on the list. If (when) the Jayhawks win their 10th consecutive Big 12 championship next season, they could send thank you cards to the other nine schools in the conference. I’m not saying that next year’s Kansas team couldn’t win a more competitive Big 12, but they won’t have to wonder if they could because the conference on paper appears down.
  3. Another Kansas State player has decided to transfer. Sophomore forward Adrian Diaz follows freshman guard Michael Orris on the way out of Manhattan after both players saw spot minutes last season. While neither player’s career started the way they probably imagined, there seems to be plenty of opportunities next season for Kansas State. The team’s best player, Rodney McGruder, is gone, as are Martavious Irving and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts. But as Joel Wagler points out, the losses of Diaz and Orris won’t have much of an effect on next year’s team.
  4. It’s always nice to hear an NBA scout mirror what you’ve been saying about a player for the last few months, because it doesn’t happen very often (if ever). “McLemore is a better version of Ray Allen,” an anonymous NBA scout told the Lawrence Journal-World‘s Gary Bedore, obviously speaking of Kansas freshman guard Ben McLemore. “He will play shooting guard the way it is supposed to be played.” McLemore can definitely be timid at times, which isn’t a great characteristic in a league filled with assassins like Lebron and Kobe. But I would bet it’s easier to change a quiet demeanor than to give someone McLemore’s outstanding athleticism and shooting ability.
  5. Because news is slow this time of year and most news in Big 12 country has already turned to spring football anyway, I leave you with this: Baylor women’s star Brittney Griner should head to the WNBA and skip any publicity stunts associated with joining an NBA team. We don’t need to waste any time discussing the obvious reasons, like how Griner couldn’t survive in the men’s college game much less an NBA practice. But getting embarrassed by someone like Bernard James on the first day of a Mavericks training camp would only hurt Griner’s and the WNBA’s overall image, not help it. And if the WNBA has any hope of surviving and becoming profitable in the long term, having its best prospect ever looking silly against fringe NBA players in a glorified scrimmage is not the best plan.
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Big 12 M5: 04.10.13 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on April 10th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. In a move that surprised absolutely no one, Kansas freshman guard Ben McLemore announced his intention to enter the NBA Draft yesterday. McLemore apparently told coaches in February that he was coming back, but Bill Self was having none of it. “If he told me he wanted to come back, I would have told him, ‘We need to look at this again,’” Self told the Associated Press. As a near-lock to be a top-three pick, there was little chance McLemore would return for his sophomore season. While it would have obviously helped next year’s team, having a four-star player turn into a top five pick in the NBA Draft will boost Kansas recruiting down the line. Ultimately, McLemore leaving early is a benefit to all parties.
  2. Iowa State has been playing basketball for over 100 years but it wasn’t until this season that the Cyclones led the nation in a statistical team or individual category. They made a remarkable 9.9 three-pointers per game this season, tops in the country, thanks in large part to Tyrus McGee. The senior guard led the country in three-point field goal percentage, knocking down 46.4 percent from deep this season. The Cyclones’ small lineup made them one of the toughest match-ups in the country this season. They spread the floor and could knock down shots from anywhere on the court, making double-teams useless and forcing defenses to defend well past the three-point line.
  3. The final USA Today/Coaches poll was announced yesterday and not surprisingly, Kansas led the Big 12 representatives at #8. The Jayahwks were #3 in the final pre-NCAA Tournament AP poll, but a disappointing Sweet Sixteen loss to Michigan deservedly dropped them a few spots. Kansas State, the only other Big 12 school to make the cut, also dropped from its final AP ranking. The Wildcats were #12 a few weeks ago but a Second Round loss to La Salle dropped them to #20 in this final poll.
  4. Because we can’t get enough college basketball and the dullness of mid-summer baseball is staring us down more with each passing day, the CBSSports.com crew unveiled their way too early Top 25 (And One) rankings. Kentucky, Michigan State and Louisville top the list, but there isn’t much love for the Big 12. Kansas comes in at #20, and it’s hard to argue the Jayhawks should be any higher. All five starters are gone and at least five new freshman are coming to campus. As far as the Big 12 goes, though, that’s it. The conference isn’t supposed to be very good next season as schools like Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and Baylor all lose key cogs from this year’s teams.
  5. One surprise team next year could be the Texas Longhorns, who struggled mightily this season with one of the youngest rosters in the country and spending a large portion of the season without point guard Myck Kabongo in the lineup. With most of the rotation returning — except for Sheldon McClellan, who will transfer — next season likely hinges on the draft decision of Kabongo and whether he will stick around Austin. Most people seem to think he is NBA bound as a likely late first rounder.
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Morning Five: 04.10.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 10th, 2013

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  1. We are entering the early entry period where news about who will be putting their name into the NBA Draft. There will be plenty of time to criticize the players who make bad decisions (usually based on bad information), but we will start off on a positive note with the one player who we knew was going pro and is probably the only player we would have criticized for coming back to college: Ben McLemore. On the selfish side, we would love to see McLemore stay another year (or three), but given the financial hardships that his family faces it would be irresponsible for him to go back to college when he could help bring his family out of poverty with just his rookie contract. As for the other announcement we were in favor of Victor Oladipo will also enter the NBA Draft and his teammate Cody Zeller may be close behind. Now the only benefit we give McLemore over Oladipo (probably) and Zeller (definitely) is that McLemore has to deal with more pressing financial issues that the other two. All three of them could use work on their game and McLemore in particular could improve his draft stock by staying in school, but
  2. We said there would be time to criticize the bad decisions players make we are already here. Today’s candidates are Russ Smith, who is leaving according to his father in a statement that everybody is taking as the truth, and Ricky Ledo, who did not play this year after being declared academically ineligible, but is still entering the NBA Draft. The Smith case is a little more complex because he played phenomenally well for five games of the NCAA Tournament and was probably the best player for Louisville during the NCAA Tournament even if Luke Hancock walked away with MOP honors. Still the bad Russ showed up on Monday night and that should have reminded NBA scouts and executives that he is too much of a gamble to spend a first round pick on. Of course, all this is based on a conversation by his father not the player so all of this could be completely incorrect and Russ might stay for his senior year. As for Ledo, he is a talented played with the frame and game to be a first round pick, but with his time away from the game and his reputation from the summer league circuit we don’t see Ledo making the first round either.
  3. We are not sure how having four players transfer from your program is anything other than a bad thing, but when you look four players who contribute as little as the four that are leaving DePaul it doesn’t seem that bad. Of the four players, Moses Morgan is by far the most productive and even his numbers are not that inspiring (5.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game as a junior last year down from 9 points per game as a sophomore). The moves are expected to open up roster spots for incoming players on a team that finished dead last in the conference formerly known as the Big East so hopefully they can find a few players to put around Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin to make them more competitive in their new/old conference.
  4. We mentioned several players that are leaving their schools–either for the NBA (or attempting to go to the NBA) or to different schools–but at least two players (Julian Boyd and Chris Otule) appear to be sticking around for their sixth year. Boyd, who was averaging 18.5 points and 6.1 points per game for Long Island University-Brooklyn before tearing his ACL last season, was granted a sixth year for medical hardship in what seemed like a near guarantee although you can never say that with the NCAA. The case of Otule is still in limbo as Marquette is waiting to hear back from the NCAA after he missed much of the 2008-09 and 2010-11 seasons with injuries. Otule’s numbers may not jump off the page as he only averaged 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, but he came up big for the team in the NCAA Tournament with two important 11-point performances that helped them advance to the Elite Eight.
  5. The Boise State athletic department can at least say their men’s and women’s basketball teams interact with each other after Kenny Buckner, who played his last game for the school in the team’s First Four loss, and Brandi Latrall Henton, a player for the women’s team, were arrested for reportedly stealing food from a store (apparently a Wal-Mart). The two were charged with misdemeanor petit theft and were released after posting bond with their arraignment scheduled for later this month. This is amusing and dumb on some levels as college students presumably still have cafeterias available to them especially athletes on scholarship and it is not like Wal-Mart carries anything outside of possibly alcohol that college students cannot get in a cafeteria. However Hinton is the first Boise State basketball player to be arrested for theft in 2013 along with four men’s players including repeat offender Buckner who is set to be arraigned on April 16 along with three other players for a January arrest where they are accused of stealing several items including DVDs. This appears to be at least the third time Buckner has been arrested for theft. On the positive side with Buckner having finished his college basketball career so the school does not have to worry about suspending him.
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Rushed Reactions: #4 Michigan 87, #1 Kansas 85

Posted by nvr1983 on March 29th, 2013

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RTC is reporting from the South Region in Dallas, Texas this weekend.

Three Key Takeaways

  1. This loss will be a tough one for Bill Self and the Jayhawks to swallow. The Jayhawks led by 14 with 6:50 remaining in the second half only to see that lead evaporate thanks to some questionable decision-making on their part and some big shots by Michigan. The story will end up being Trey Burke’s shot, but Mitch McGary deserves a lot of credit for his game-high 25 points and 14 rebounds. McGary came into his senior year of high school as one of the top recruits in the country, but slid down the rankings after some weak performances, which led many to question his impact for the Wolverines this season, but he has stepped up his play in the NCAA Tournament and seems to be getting better with every game.
  2. In a NCAA Tournament that has had several memorable moments, Trey Burke may have provided us with the defining moment of the NCAA Tournament so far. His 28-footer with 4 seconds left in regulation seemed to hang in the air forever. From floor level (literally with the raised court) the shot seemed like it would fall short, but it just made it over the front of the rim and dropped in. Whether or not this will propel Michigan into the Final Four remains to be seen, but it is a moment that will last well beyond this year’s One Shining Moment.

    Trey Burke's 28-Footer Will Be Talked About For A Long Time in Ann Arbor (Credit: AP)

    Trey Burke’s 28-Footer Will Be Talked About For A Long Time in Ann Arbor (Credit: AP)

  3. Given the financial situation of his family it seems like a forgone conclusion that Ben McLemore is headed to the NBA Draft. Honestly, most neutral observers would probably tell him it is a bad decision not to enter the NBA Draft. If this was McLemore’s last game as a Jayhawk, it was certainly a solid one, but like much of McLemore’s freshman campaign it left you wanting more. When McLemore finally ended his NCAA drought with a 3-pointer with 8:48 left in the first half he put together a stretch that reminded you he was the best player on the court and he finished with a team-high 20 points, but McLemore seems to lack that killer instinct where he puts teams away and tends to disappear in big moments. McLemore is still young so perhaps he will outgrow that weakness at some point, but it is something that NBA teams will worry about.

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