Former Houston Coach Makes Strong Accusations Against Another Big 12 School

Posted by dnspewak on August 2nd, 2012

We’ve got a bit of a whodunnit on our hands this week in the Big 12. In light of the recent Central Florida sanctions, a USA Today article about third-party influences in college basketball quoted former Houston coach Tom Penders of accusing a Big 12 school of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to an AAU coach in exchange for a recruit. Normally, we might skim over this kind of news because it is so commonplace in this day and age of Reggie Bush, O.J. Mayo, Worldwide Wes, point-shaving scandals and god knows what other sorts of shenanigans programs engage in these days. We’ve all seen Blue Chips. We know the world is a dark, dark place.

Tom Penders Made Some Waves on Wednesday

But this accusation by Penders is different, simply because it is so incredibly easy to pinpoint who the culprits may be in this situation. Penders “declined” to name the recruit in question, but read the following quote from USA Today. He basically does our job for us.

Others move in the shadows of the sport. In six seasons as head coach at Houston, Penders estimated, an AAU coach or his agent asked Penders for money in return for the commitment of a prospect at least 25 times. On one occasion, an AAU coach and his agent visited Penders’ office with two offers: Pay tens of thousands of dollars in return for a player’s commitment, or place an AAU coach on his staff to establish a pipeline. “I threw him out of my office,” Penders said. Penders said the player, whom the coach declined to identify, spent one season at a Big 12 school before being drafted in the second round of the NBA draft. Penders said the AAU coach collected “six figures” from the Big 12 school that chose to engage in the scheme.

So we’re looking for a one-and-done Big 12 player drafted in the second round between 2005 and 2010. As fellow college hoops scribe Rob Dauster points out, that leaves us with three possibilities:

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Big 12 Morning Five: 12.08.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on December 8th, 2011

  1. Tonight is it: Bob Huggins returns to the state of Kansas to face Kansas State, which he spurned for West Virginia after the 2006-07 season. Despite the fan outrage– Huggins spent just one year at KSU, after all– there’s no denying he helped build the successful program Frank Martin currently oversees. True, Huggins did not even make the NCAA Tournament in his lone season as the Wildcats’ head coach, but he overachieved with a blue-collar roster and made the NIT. From there, he left his stamp on the program by luring Michael Beasley and Bill Walker to Manhattan, Kansas. As the article points out, he could have easily taken his entire coaching staff and those two star recruits with him to West Virginia. He didn’t, however, and it set up a solid foundation for Martin.
  2. Kansas’s Jeff Withey was once a heralded recruit when he originally committed to Arizona. After leaving for Kansas, Withey toiled in anonymity for awhile, but he’s back in action this season as a key contributor. The junior center nearly tallied a triple-double on Tuesday, and he has started every game so far this season. With Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor the only players on the roster with major experience at the Big 12 level, Withey’s continued production is a must for Bill Self.
  3. We all know the difficult story of Billy Kennedy, who had to take a break as Texas A&M‘s coach this fall due to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Luckily, he’s starting to regain his strength and normal level of energy. That’s great news for the Aggies, who should also get star wing Khris Middleton back from an injury very soon. A&M has lost just one game thus far, and it has handled the inferior opponents on its schedule. From here, the season should only trend uphill.
  4. Iowa State is Newcomer U with so many transfers this season, but freshman Percy Gibson is starting to make a name for himself as well. Gibson started his first game of young career on Tuesday in a win over Prairie View A&M, scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Although he may not stay in the starting lineup, he’s poised to earn major playing time with his performance so far this year.
  5. If Missouri keeps winning, you will probably see quite a few more articles that are basically mea culpas for criticizing the hiring of Frank Haith, which at the time was widely criticized and had little support from fans or analysts. If they did so privately, they certainly wouldn’t have gone public with that opinion. Haith had very little success at Miami, and there was almost nothing to suggest he could succeed in Columbia. That, folks, is why they play the games. Haith’s team hasn’t lost yet, and it looks like the top team in the Big 12 right now with blowout wins over Notre Dame, Cal, and Villanova. 
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Big 12 Morning Five: 12.07.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on December 7th, 2011

  1. The departure of Missouri from the Big 12 raised questions about the future location of the Big 12 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments last month, but league athletic directors now say both tourneys will stay in Kansas City. The city is still a prime location for the tournaments with Kansas and Kansas State located so close, but it’s still interesting to consider that the Big 12 will host a tournament in a state where no member school will be located. As long as the 10 teams in the conference don’t mind, however, Kansas City is a fine centralized spot for fans to travel to.
  2. Soon, Kansas State and West Virginia will meet twice a year, and that means KSU coach Frank Martin will face Bob Huggins, who spurned the Wildcats for his hometown school in 2008. However, there’s a first time for everything – and that first time will take place Thursday night. Eventually the excitement of facing Huggins will wear off for Kansas State fans, but this first meeting will be quite an awkward encounter. Huggins did a terrific job setting the foundation for KSU’s turnaround, in particular by helping sign Michael Beasley and Bill Walker. But there’s still a lot of hard feelings about the way he left after one season too.
  3. In related news, another future Big 12 game happened last night between Texas Tech and TCU, and the Horned Frogs proved they may belong in this league. Jim Christian‘s team is now 7-2 after the six-point win over Tech, and the game drew more than 6,000 fans. That sounds modest, but it’s TCU’s largest showing in a non-conference contest since 2004. That fact alone might be frightening for the long-term viability of TCU’s program and to fellow Big 12 schools, but at least there’s an obvious improvement taking place here.
  4. With the new 18-game schedule, conference play will begin especially early in January this season. Until then, though, Oklahoma State has a tremendous challenge ahead. From now until New Year’s Day, OSU will play against Missouri StatePittsburgh, New Mexico, Alabama, SMU and Virginia Tech. Um, what? That’s all before Big 12 play starts? Good luck, Travis Ford. That’s not an easy road to 2012.
  5. Missouri stayed undefeated by beating Villanova in New York City last night, helped in part by gritty effort by MU senior Kim English. He’s revitalized his game this season after struggling as a junior, and ESPN’s fantastic Dana O’Neil profiled English and his much-publicized bout with a childhood stutter. English is one of the more outgoing players in college basketball, and now that he’s seeing his production skyrocket on the court, it’s hard not to root for him.
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Learning Curve Begins for Kansas State

Posted by dnspewak on December 1st, 2011

After losing star guard Jacob Pullen to graduation, Kansas State was one of the more difficult teams to peg during this preseason. Frank Martin has recovered just fine from past departures from Michael Beasley, Bill Walker, and Dennis Clemente, but there’s no question this 2011-12 team is vastly different than the squad that earned a five-seed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago.

And through three games, Kansas State still hasn’t answered any questions: it overcame sluggish first halves defeat Charleston Southern, Loyola Chicago, and Maryland Eastern Shore. None of the Wildcats’ wins were particularly troublesome, but they weren’t exactly convincing either. They trailed by 14 at halftime to Charleston Southern and led by single digits at the break in its two following wins. What do we make of these Kansas State Wildcats?

Frank Martin Is About to Learn A Lot About His Team

We’ll find out starting tonight, when they host a decent George Washington program at 7 PM. This isn’t the same Colonials team that once ran the table in the A-10 during the middle of the decade, but first-year head coach Mike Lonergan has his team off to an impressive 4-1 start. With a veteran squad returning from a 4th-place team in 2010-11, GW has already knocked off Detroit and Austin Peay, both considered favorites to win their respective conferences.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 10.26.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on October 26th, 2011

  1. Still nothing official on the realignment front… but the rumors are heating up with respect to West Virginia. The New York Times reported Tuesday that a WVU official said the school has gained acceptance to the Big 12. The Mountaineers, of course, would replace Missouri, who according to numerous sources were expected to withdraw from the league earlier this week. That never happened — not officially, at least — but the next few weeks could be a real firestorm. In fact, it’s arguable that these are some of the most important times in college sports history, as the entire landscape could change by Thanksgiving. That’s why we’ll make sure to bring you the latest analysis when this information moves from secret sources and rumors to official statements and press releases.
  2. Sticking with realignment, we’ve already told you of Notre Dame’s interest in the Big 12. It hasn’t exactly been a secret — a document mentioned ND as a candidate last month. But the talk of the Irish is getting louder and louder, and it’s worth mentioning that Orangebloods.com has reported that the two sides are “actively” discussing an inclusion of Notre Dame’s non-revenue sports in the conference. According to the site, the school won’t make a final decision until after football season ends.
  3. One interesting aspect of a possible Missouri departure is what to do with the Big 12 Tournament. It’s slated for Kansas City through 2014, but can you really hold a basketball tournament in a state where no school participates? According to the Kansas City Star, the answer may be “yes” to that question. A Sprint Center official said there is no reason to believe the league would pull the tournament from KC if the Tiger program were to leave for the SEC. With Kansas State and Kansas so close to Kansas City, it would still be a prime target as a central Big 12 location. Still, it might be a bit odd for the city to host a major tournament without a single conference member located in that state.
  4. Also, if West Virginia were to join the Big 12, it would obviously play Kansas State each year. And that means a regular trip back to Manhattan for WVU coach Bob Huggins, who you’ll recall left KSU after just one season as head coach there. In the end, everything worked out for KSU: Michael Beasley and Bill Walker stayed despite Huggins’ departure, Martin continued the school’s success after they bolted for the NBA, and the program appears to be in fine shape right now. Still, it seemed like the end of the world at the time, and needless to say, Wildcat fans were devastated by his departure. Looks like they may get a chance to air their grievances soon, though.
  5. Although we missed this piece of info on Monday, it’s still worth reporting: Braeden Anderson will now attend Fresno State after failing to qualify at Kansas. The 6’9″ forward who was rated as a top-50 recruit could have gone to junior college and joined the Jayhawks as a junior. Anderson told ESPN.com, though, that he did not want to take that route. That means Bill Self will need to find another power forward on the recruiting trail, and with his track record finding talented big men, that probably won’t be much of an issue.
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The Big 12′s New Faces: Kansas State’s Lamont Evans

Posted by dnspewak on October 20th, 2011

Lamont Evans: The Essentials

  • Previous coaching stop: Kansas State, graduate assistant
  • Career overview: Student manager (2008-09), graduate manager (2009-11)
  • Playing experience: Drake University, 1999-2001
  • Accolades: Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Year (1999-00), All-MVC (1999-00)

The Breakdown

Entering his fourth year with the Kansas State program, Lamont Evans isn’t exactly a “new face” in Manhattan. The 2011-12 season marks his first, though, as a full-time assistant coach for Frank Martin. Normally, the promotion of a graduate manager to full-time assistant wouldn’t be especially noteworthy, but in this case, Evans has some large shoes to fill. He replaces one of the nation’s top recruiters in Dalonte Hill, who left for an assistant position at Maryland. At KSU, Hill was the highest-paid assistant in college basketball, pulling in more than $400,000 a year. And it’s not as if he didn’t earn that salary — Hill’s AAU ties landed Michael BeasleyBill Walker, Jacob Pullen, Rodney McGruder and others.

Lamont Evans Landed a Promotion This Summer (photo by Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

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When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go…

Posted by nvr1983 on February 25th, 2010

You may have missed it with all the news about Robbie Hummel‘s torn ACL, but Corey Stokes of Villanova was cited earlier this morning for public urination. The 21 year-old junior who averages 9.1 PPG and 4 RPG for the Wildcats was cited (not arrested or fined) after he was found by police urinating between 2 parked cars outside a bar near the Villanova campus at 3 AM following the Wildcats win over USF. I’ll let you guess why he was in that situation and I doubt it was BPH or Lasix.

At this point we still are not sure if Stokes will play at Syracuse on Saturday (we are guessing he will get a 2-minute “suspension” at the beginning of the game) because the only response we have out of Villanova regarding the incident is Jay Wright‘s generic PR response: ““This was a simple mistake by a college student. Corey regrets it and has apologized for it. We will now deal with it within our basketball family.” We are guessing that more than a few of the NCAA on-campus record 34,616 fans that will attend Saturday night’s game between Syracuse and Villanova at the Carrier Dome will be happy to remind Stokes, Wright, and the entire Wildcat squad about that “simple mistake” during the game.

Corey wants to know how Calvin gets away with it

For our money, Stokes still has a long way to go to catch Bill Walker for sheer brazenness while urinating in public.

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Paul Harris Will Eat Your Food

Posted by nvr1983 on March 2nd, 2009

Jameson Fleming, one of our loyal readers and an accomplished writer himself, sent in this clip that I had missed from Sunday’s action. Apparently, Paul Harris needed a little extra fuel during Syracuse‘s romp over over Cincinnati at the Carrier Dome and a fan was more than happy to oblige although it looks Harris spilled the guy’s popcorn.

I know there have been several baseball players who have gone into the stands chasing a foul ball and grabbed some popcorn from a fan (and Bill Walker famously brought a snack with him when he was sidelined–see below), but I’m pretty sure this is the first time I have seen someone do it while the ball was still in play.

Your move, TO. . .

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2008 One-and-Dones – Was It Worth It?

Posted by rtmsf on July 1st, 2008

Happy Fiscal New Year, everyone! 

Along with the turn of the fiscal calendar, July 1 also represents the turn of the academic calendar.  This is particularly appropriate for hoopheads, as the NBA’s season has ended and the draft madness that dominated bandwidth for the last two months after the Mario Miracle has died down to a whimper (well, there’s always 2009, right?).  All there really is to look forward to until October is the Ego Known as Kobe Bryant’s attempt to restore American hegemony in the international (read: Olympics) hoops realm.  That comes in August. 

So now is as good a time as any to take a look back at the 2007-08 season and once again review how the NBA’s one-and-done rule worked out for the schools that enabled it.  You might recall that we took a look at this last year and concluded: Ohio St., UNC, Texas… good.  Georgia Tech, Washington… not so good.  We also mentioned that several schools – Stanford, Tennessee, Arizona and Kansas included – were hanging onto players who could have been one-and-dones, but weren’t.  With the exception of the often comatose Arizona team, the other three as a result had fantastic squads last year. 

To start it off, let’s refresh ourselves with who the Rivals Top 20 recruits were coming into 2007-08.  As you can see below, we added a few columns that outline the player’s freshman numbers (pts/rebs/assts or blocks) and his team’s record as well as whether he went into the draft or is returning next season. 

So was it worth it?  Our takes:

Kansas St.  - Well Worth It.    K-State rode the best.freshman.ever Michael Beasley and sorta-but-not-really one-and-done Bill Walker (he was a medical redshirt in 06-07) as far as it could, which included a third-place finish in the competitive Big 12, a second-round NCAA tournament appearance and the first home win in twenty-four years over its rival and eventual national champion Kansas Jayhawks.  In other words, K-State’s best season in a generation.  The important aspect of Beasley and Walker’s one-and-dones for KSU head coach Frank Martin is to capitalize on future recruiting from the good will and national notoriety mustered by these players while on campus.  If he does not do so, and it’s soon back to the bottom of the Big 12 barrel for K-State, then the potential positive impacts of these stars passing through Manhattan, KS, were missed. 

Memphis – Well Worth It.  This too is a no-brainer.  #1 overall pick Derrick Rose converted a competitive yet incomplete team that would consistently flame out prior to the Final Four against other elite teams into a team that probably should have won the national title.  Rose led Memphis to a 38-2 record and had the Tigers in the argument for the most dominant season in the post-Wooden era before its epic free-throw meltdown in the championship game.  Even only as a runner-up, a Memphis fan would be hard pressed to find much else wrong with the 07-08 season, and as such, the one-year stopover by Derrick Rose was well worth it. 

Memphis Would Take A Rose Every Year (AP photo/Seth Wenig)

UCLA – Worth It.  This was a tough one, because UCLA came into the 07-08 season already having been to the last two Final Fours.  Anything short of that measure was going to be a disappointment (although Bruin fans might argue anything less than a national title is a disappointment).  We’ll argue, however, that Kevin Love brought a toughness and star-quality to Westwood that had been lacking on Ben Howland’s previous teams.  Not to mention that UCLA last season at 35-4 was simply a better team than the ones led by backcourt players (Afflalo and Farmar).  More than anything, Love’s presence solidifed UCLA again as a marquee destination for top-notch recruits, as Howland has penned five of the Rivals Top 50 in the Class of 2008. 

Arizona – Worth It.  It’s quite possible that Jerryd Bayless last season saved Arizona from breaking its NCAA Tournament streak of 24 consecutive appearances.  Arizona certainly didn’t have a great year amidst all the Lute Olson divorce and feud with Kevin O’Neill turmoils, but with a final record of 19-15, you have to figure that Bayless’ fantastic freshman year was worth a few wins that put the Cats back into the field of 65.  But that’s about all it was worth.  It certainly didn’t make Arizona into a contender of any kind, and it’s doubtful whether there will be any residual effects from Bayless’ time in Tucson.   

Indiana – Worth It.  Eric Gordon‘s arrival in Bloomington was worth it if for no other reason than it gave Hoosier fans something to be excited about for approximately three months (Nov-Jan).  Now that the wheels have come completely tumbling off of the Indiana program, we have to wonder just how long their fans will covet and remember the halcyon days when IU was 16-1 and ranked #7 in the AP Poll.  Of course, E-Giddy was partially responsible for Indiana’s subsequent collapse (18.2 ppg on 37.2% FG/25.3% 3FG shooting in the last 13 games (8-5)), but we put most of that on the ultimate dismissal of Kelvin Sanctions whereupon the entire team simply quit playing.  So in our view, this one-and-done represents the last great season that Indiana will have for a while.  Too bad it couldn’t have worked out better for everyone involved. 

Gordon Left More than a Bloody Tooth in His Wake (photo credit:  Bloomington Herald-Times)

USC – Not Worth It.    For a while during the season, it appeared as if the OJ Mayo one-and-done situation might just work out for Tim Floyd and the Trojan Nation.  Similar to K-State, USC hadn’t seen this much hoops attention in years – with Mayo as the headliner, USC played numerous national television games, beat UCLA at Pauley, and ended up tied for third in the rugged Pac-10.  Of course, the wheels came off when USC failed to show up to its hyped battle against K-State in the first round of the NCAAs and the propriety of Mayo’s eligibility was called into question by ESPN soon thereafter.  Throw in Davon Jefferson (a one-and-done from the Class of 2006 who went to prep school for a year before enrolling at USC) and his foolish decision to enter this year’s draft (undrafted) and we’re not sure just how successful USC can claim 2007-08 was.  After all, the 2006-07 edition of the Trojans, led by Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt, also finished third in the Pac-10 but had a better overall record (23-11) and played into the second weekend of March Madness (giving Carolina all it wanted in the process).  Finally, with another uber-recruit, Demar DeRozan, coming to USC next year, Floyd needs to be hyper-vigilant about those nefarious agents and runners in light of the Mayo debacle because more eyes will be watching.   

NC State – Not Worth It.  Hey, remember all the preseason talk about how NC State was the third best team in the ACC, and a definite NCAA Tournament team?  Yeah, we don’t either.  Actually, we do, and few of the pundits will own up to the fact that it was a terrible prediction.  For the record, NC State ended up 15-16, but the Wolfpack were 4-12 in the ACC (worse than the previous year’s 5-11 campaign that inspired such foolishness) and lost their last nine games.  So what did JJ Hickson’s presence in Raleigh bring to the team?  Other than team chemistry problems, of course?  It doesn’t appear that he brought much else than an ability to get himself drafted.  NC State will likely be significantly better without him next season. 

What Chemistry Problems? 

LSU – Not Worth It.  While we’re in the business of ripping bad teams with one-and-done players, we shouldn’t overlook the LSU Tigers.  LSU seems to have one of these guys about every other year anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter much in terms of long-term effects, but a 13-18 record with a loss at Tulane calls into question the value of Anthony Randolph’s tenure on campus in Baton Rouge.  Certainly the mail-it-in coaching style of Mr. Misty Champagne didn’t help things out much, but even with John Wooden coaching that team, we’re not sure how much Randolph could have lifted the Bayou Bengals.

Others.  These teams all had one-and-dones of questionable efficacy.  Put another way, these teams probably wouldn’t have been much better nor worse had these players gone elsewhere.  Exhibit A is Texas A&M‘s DeAndre Jordan.  TAMU was a tourney team anyway, led by Joseph Jones and Josh Carter, and it’s doubtful that Jordan’s four double-figure points games and two double-figure rebounds games in the Big 12 had much of an effect on A&M’s successful season.  Not Worth It.  Syracuse fans may disagree with us here, but despite Donte Greene‘s exceptional first-year numbers, we find it hard to believe that the Orange would have been any less average than they already were last year (21-14, 9-10 Big East).  After all, Jim Boeheim could take five schoolgirls and make them competitive - he just wouldn’t win the title with them (unless Carmela Anthony was on the team).  The question is whether Syracuse fans are pleased with a third-round NIT appearance, and we all know the answer to that – a resounding no.  For a school with multiple F4s and a recent championship banner, missing the NCAAs completely is a failing season, no matter the reasonable expectation.  Not Worth It.  Finally, we look at Ohio St., who took Kosta Koufos to replace last year’s one-and-donest, Greg Oden.  The answer here once again comes down to the question of expectation vs. reality of the situation.  Without Oden, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook, it wasn’t realistic for Thad Matta to make another run at the F4; but the bar has been raised so high at Ohio St. under Matta that a 24-13 season leading to an NIT championship must necessarily be viewed as less-than-stellar.  Winning the Capital One Bowl doesn’t match the Rose Bowl, does it, Buckeye fans?  We’ll call this one a Push.   

Final Thoughts.  With so many freshmen leaving this year from the top 20 Rivals list, we’d guess only Florida with Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons returning may be a team to really watch closely next year.  Otherwise, keep an eye on UCLA, Wake Forest and UConn, each of which has multiple top twenty players coming onto campus next year. 

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2008 NBA Draft Musings

Posted by rtmsf on June 27th, 2008

Thanks to N-Bug’s liveblog of the NBA Draft last night, we felt like we were almost in the building sniffing David Stern’s manscent and Darrell Arthur’s ire.  What’s the record for lowest pick of someone in the Green Room?  The best we can muster is Rashard Lewis at #32 ten years ago.  Anyone got a lower pick left stewing in the Green Room all night?

Unfounded Rumors of a Kidney Problem Sunk Arthur’s Stock (photo credit: AP)

Darrell Arthur’s Kidney.  The story of last night’s draft, of course, was the unsubstantiated rumor of a serious undisclosed kidney problem that arose during Darrell Arthur’s medical tests.  Luke Winn details the report much better than we can here, but suffice it to say that it now appears that this kidney issue was a complete red herring, and the Memphis Grizzlies (through two subsequent trades) got an absolute steal at the #27 slot.  Winn suggests that the whispers about Arthur’s health could have cost him in the neighborhood of $1.3M over the course of his rookie contract.  Shouldn’t we just go ahead and put Slim Shady at the top of next year’s ROY contenders (Paul Pierce-style) based upon this slight alone?  He’ll have gobs of additional motivation, that’s for sure. 

One-and-Done Redux.  We’ve written about 1-and-dones until we’re blue in the face, but let’s face it, the Class of 2007 is arguably one of the greatest HS classes of all-time.  Four of the top five picks, seven of the top fourteen, and a record ten of the thirty first-rounders were freshmen.  Throw in the eight sophomores chosen in the first round, and that means 72% of the guaranteed contracts that went to American players were to players with 2 years or less of college experience.  Only five seniors were chosen in the first round, and the first at #12 overall, Jason Thompson from Rider, resulted in a perplexed “who?” from much of the crowd and viewing audience.  Again, there is no question that the NBA rule helped in terms of marketing these players.  Thanks to the Season of the Freshman, every basketball fan in America is now intimately familiar with the games of Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, OJ Mayo, Kevin Love, and so on.  If they’d all gone pro after high school, we’d have little to no clue what those teams were getting.

Mayo Posing as Stringer Bell (photo credit: SI.com) 

Beautiful Disasters.  Two of the one-and-dones who were bound and determined to stay in the draft no matter what anyone told them were DeAndre Jordan and Bill Walker.  (note: we were happy to see that our feelings of overratedness (see: HoopsAddict podcast at 34:30) with Jordan and Anthony Randolph were corroborated on draft night, although not so much with Russell Westbrook, chosen fourth!)  Both got drafted in the second round (#35 and #47 respectively) but last night had to be severely disappointing to both players, as Jordan was being talked about as a lottery pick earlier this draft season, and Walker last year (before blowing out his knee again).  Does Walker with his former #1 player in his class pedigree and seemingly constant knee injuries remind anyone else of Randy Livingston?  But the prize for biggest clowns of the draft go to USC’s Davon Jefferson and Mississippi State’s Jamont Gordon, both of whom were undrafted last night.  As for Jefferson, this one-and-done prospect declared early, signed with an agent (assuring he couldn’t return to USC), and then proceeded to float his way through the pre-draft camp.  He was a possible second-rounder at that point, but his uninspired effort in Orlando ensured that he would be left on the outside looking in.  Gordon’s situation was even worse, as he completely skipped the pre-draft camp (incredulously assuming he was a first-rounder), also signed with an agent, and otherwise did nothing to show that he was a serious candidate for the draft.  Ok, we get it, you reallyreallyreallyreally want to play in the NBA, and you reallyreallyreallyreally think you’re good enough… but you guys really need to start doing some listening when people who make these decisions (scouts, GMs, draftniks) are telling you otherwise.  Good luck in the D-League, guys.   

Katz discusses some of the other early entry disappointments in last night’s draft. 

Sideshow Bob Was Drafted by the Suns Last Night (photo credit: SI.com)

Conference Call.  A year ago Pac-10 coaches were telling us that they had far and away the most talent in the nation, suggesting that there are as many as a dozen first-round picks on their squads in 2007-08.  Well, it turns out they weren’t that far off, as there were seven first rounders last night, including three of the top five (#3 Mayo, #4 Westbrook, #5 Love, #10 Brook Lopez, #11 Jerryd Bayless, #15 Robin Lopez, #21 Ryan Anderson), and twelve players chosen overall.  Also keep in mind that several other probable first rounders from the Pac-10, such as Darren Collison (UCLA), Chase Budinger (Arizona) and Jeff Pendergraph (Arizona St.) elected to stay in college another year.  The Big 12 was next with nine players chosen, including four first rounders and five (!!) players – tying the 2006 UConn Huskies and 2007 Florida Gators - from the National Champs (#13 Brandon Rush, #27 Darrell Arthur, #34 Mario Chalmers, #52 Darnell Jackson, #56 Sasha Kaun).  Throw in former Jayhawk JR Giddens (#30) and an astonishing six players passed through the KU program en route to this draft.  The SEC had six draft picks, and the Big East and ACC had four each.  The usually-pathetic Big 10 once again finished last among the BCS conferences with only three picks.  See table below.

 

Not NBA Material.  We reserve this spot to formally bid adieu to some of the notable collegians who have entertained us for the last four years, but whom the NBA has decided are not worthy to play in their league.  Drew Neitzel (Michigan St.), Demarcus Nelson (Duke), David Padgett (Louisville), Josh Duncan (Xavier), and Pat Calathes (St. Joseph’s) are but a few of the names we’ll probably never see again unless they become coaches someday.  The honor of the biggest undrafted name, though, goes to Tennessee star and cancer survivor Chris Lofton, who holds the all-time mark in the SEC for three-pointers, and ranks third in NCAA history on that measure.  If there’s one guy we’d bank on finding his way to an NBA court near you in the next couple of years (even for a cup of coffee), it would probably be this kid.  He stares toughness and grit directly in the eyes before they walk away in shame. 

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2008 Early Entry Winners and Losers

Posted by rtmsf on June 16th, 2008

Whew. After an exhausting day trying to track the news feeds seemingly every minute to figure out who was staying and who was leaving college, we can finally take a deep breath and start to sort out what this means for all the parties involved. Of the 69 early entries of US collegians submitted to the NBA league offices last month, 35 will remain in the 2008 NBA Draft pool. Here are the 35 early entries:

  • Joe Alexander, West Virginia
  • Ryan Anderson, California
  • Darrell Arthur, Kansas
  • D.J. Augustin, Texas
  • Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
  • Michael Beasley, Kansas State
  • Mario Chalmers, Kansas
  • Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis
  • C.J. Giles, Oregon State
  • Donte Greene, Syracuse
  • Kalen Grimes, Missouri
  • Eric Gordon, Indiana
  • DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M
  • Kosta Koufos, Ohio State
  • Jamont Gordon, Mississippi State
  • Shawn James, Duquesne
  • Davon Jefferson, Southern California
  • Brook Lopez, Stanford
  • Robin Lopez, Stanford
  • Kevin Love, UCLA
  • O.J. Mayo, Southern California
  • Richard Hendrix, Alabama
  • J.J. Hickson, North Carolina State
  • George Hill, IUPUI
  • Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA
  • JaVale McGee, Nevada
  • Kojo Mensah, Duquesne
  • Trent Plaisted, Brigham Young
  • Anthony Randolph, LSU
  • Walter Sharpe, Alabama-Birmingham
  • Derrick Rose, Memphis
  • Brandon Rush, Kansas
  • Marreese Speights, Florida
  • Bill Walker, Kansas State
  • Russell Westbrook, UCLA

We’d Be Excited Too, Roy

Today’s Winners

  • Roy Williams. Ole Roy could slip into a coke-induced coma for half of next season and still watch his team win 30+ games and make the Final Four. Why? Because the nation’s top backcourt (Ty Lawson & Wayne Ellington) and sixth man (Danny Green) all decided to return to Chapel Hill today to join forces with the reigning NPOY and a top five recruiting class. Yeah, apparently Roy is living right.
  • Lute Olson. It’s been a rough year for Olson, what with all his divorce proceedings and the loss of Jerryd Bayless to the NBA. The surprising return of the sensational Chase Budinger for his junior season provides Olson a key bulding block to get his program back on track.
  • Mark Few. Few only had to sweat out his beefy point guard Jeremy Pargo’s decision, but this player remains the key to Gonzaga’s success next season. With Pargo back to run the system, interior players such as Austin Daye and Josh Heytvelt can expect the ball in the right place at the right time.
  • Mark Gottfried. Alabama was facing a seemingly unthinkable situation where they would lose their best player from last season, forward Richard Hendrix, while simultanously losing their best player from two seasons ago, point guard Ronald Steele, even though Steele sat out the entire last season due to injury. We’ve shown previously how important a healthy Steele is to the Alabama attack, and with the additional return of Alonzo Gee to help offset the Hendrix loss, Gottfried must feel as if he dodged a serious bullet.
  • John Calipari. Why is he here? Didn’t he lose super-frosh Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts to the NBA? Well, yes, but he also retained the services of Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier, which when combined with incoming stud wing Tyreke Evans, there will be more than enough talent for Calipari to roll through CUSA pretty much unscathed again. Calipari isn’t as big a winner as some of the above coaches, but today was a good day for him.

Tough Day For Howland, But He Knows He’ll Have More Chances

Today’s Losers

  • Ben Howland. There was some talk that Kevin Love may return to Westwood, but that quickly died down. When Russell Westbrook decided to leave as well, few were surprised. Josh Shipp made the wise choice to return, but today’s decision by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to leave early has to leave UCLA fans scratching their heads – he’s unlikely to be drafted in either round, according to some people.
  • Rick Stansbury. It’s bad enough that all-SEC guard Jamont Gordon left Stansbury’s Mississippi St. program, but it’s even worse when there’s a strong sentiment that Gordon may not get a sniff of the second round. This feels a lot like Kennedy WInston from Alabama a few years ago.
  • Bill Walker. Yes, he gets his own mention here. The popcorn munching, towel-pissing, former K-State guard had it in his head all along that he was going League. So even though he sat out the NBA Predraft Camp and then proceeded to seriously hurt his knee during a workout last weekend – giving scouts even more pause about his shaky sticks – Walker decided that he was ready for the NBA and shouldn’t be too surprised if he finds himself in the D-League next season.
  • Bill Self. How bad can it be if you just won the national title? Not very. Still, there was a chance Mario Chalmers would return next season to lead Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and the other Jayhawks back to another F4 opportunity. Only Collins of the quartet of he, Chalmers, Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush is returning, but somehow we think Bill Self is still smiling.
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OJ Mayo’s End of an Era

Posted by rtmsf on April 10th, 2008

Not surprisingly, OJ Mayo today declared that he will be leaving USC after one year, hiring an agent, and entering the NBA Draft.  He is projected to be among the top few selections chosen.  After what seems like an endless biding of time with his ultimate destiny of the NBA, this ends the amateur career of one of the most ballyhooed schoolboy players of the last decade.

 

Mayo in HS at Rose Hill Christian Academy

How long have we been talking about OJ Mayo?  A simple google search reveals that news reports were already discussing the seventh-grade phenom in the winter of 2001.  On a personal tip, we watched him play live as an eighth grader and started out more impressed with Bill Walker than Mayo at the time (until the 4th quarter, that is, when Mayo took over the game, erasing a 14 point deficit by himself to win against a superb opponent).  We followed his every move, from tiny Rose Hill Christian Academy in Ashland, KY, to North Indian Hills HS in Cincinnati, and back to his hometown of Huntington, WV, again.  We read the countless articles in SLAM magazine telling us that he was the Next Lebron, sifted through the message board character assassinations, and often wondered aloud if his buddy Bill Walker’s tribulations and lack of a true father figure would somehow end up destroying Mayo before he ever made it out of high school.

Turns out he did just fine.  He made it through HS without much of a hiccup (there was that simple possession charge during his senior year), and although the recruitment of Mayo was effectively a non-starter because of his pre-emptive strategy to call Tim Floyd out of the blue and commit to USC, there were lingering questions about his ability to be a good teammate and handle authority.  

We’ve Been Reading About Mayo For Years

Mayo’s only season at USC was marked with some basketball ups and downs, but there was nary a peep about his being a bad teammate or issues relating to his character.  He averaged 21/5/3 assts in just under 37 mpg, which are eye-popping numbers for any player regardless of class.  One of the initial concerns was whether Mayo would turn out to be a human cannon, chucking shots at every opportunity without consideration for the team concept.  While his assist numbers weren’t great, Mayo shot good percentages from the field (44% FG, 41% 3FG, 80% FT) and we watched at least a dozen USC games this year and never once thought he was trying to do too much. 

The ups and downs derive from USC’s team success.  In a normal year for a program like USC, 21-12 overall, 11-7 in the hypercompetitive Pac-10, a win over UCLA, close losses to both Kansas and Memphis, and an NCAA bid amount to a great season.  But in a year when USC brought in one of the top five freshmen in America (and easily the most hyped freshman), you have to wonder if Tim Floyd privately thought he could get more from this team.  As an example of what the public thought, USC was a trendy pick to move several rounds through the Tournament prior to the first day’s games, but they crashed and burned 80-67 to Kansas St. and another super frosh, Michael Beasley (Mayo was 6-16, scoring 20/5/2 assts) in the first round.  Should USC have done more that that with an exceptional talent like OJ Mayo running the show?  

Mayo is by no means alone among his fellow freshmen in this regard.  Eric Gordon’s Indiana team collapsed with the removal of Kelvin Sampson and were easily dismissed in the first round by Arkansas.  The aforementioned Michael Beasley at K-State and Kyle Singler at Duke were both defeated convincingly in the second round.  Only Kevin Love at UCLA and Derrick Rose at Memphis, both of whom were surrounded by oodles of talent, were able to take their teams deep into March Madness as freshman leaders.

It’s a Tough Call Whether Mayo Helped USC or Vice Versa

So now it’s on to the NBA for Mayo, where his size, strength and transcendant hooping abilities should provide a natural fit at the point guard slot for an LA Clippers or Seattle (er, Oklahoma City) over the next ten years.  He’s not the next Lebron (and he was never going to be), but his game is reminiscent of a Jason (Jay) Williams before his injury – perhaps not quite as speedy, but a little longer and equally as effortless in his motions.  Given the rocky life and media crush that Mayo has experienced throughout his amateur career, we truly wish him the best as he moves on to the professional ranks.       

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