2011 RTC Mock Draft: Final Version

Posted by zhayes9 on June 21st, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Morning Five: 06.13.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 13th, 2011

  1. One of the main topics of discussion that has come out of the NBA Finals has been the continuing confounding play of LeBron James. There have been several theories proposed about why James has apparently failed to live up to the hype on the NBA’s biggest stage. Some of the theories are personal (founded on such flimsy rumors that we won’t even reprint them here) while others are about his willingness to assert himself as the dominant presence on the team. One of the more controversial (yet non-libelous) theories from this weekend was that LeBron’s failures are due to not having learned under the crucible of the NCAA Tournament. The theory, which was proposed by Mike DeCourcy, sparked a minor firestorm on Twitter over the weekend. Although another editor on the RTC Twitter feed appears to have agreed with DeCourcy, the opinion is not universal among the RTC chiefs. While I can agree that James and some other prep-to-pros might have had improved areas of their game playing at the college level I have a hard time using a sweeping statement that says that everybody (or even James) would necessarily have been better off having experienced college basketball (yes, it hurts to say that as a college basketball site). For every flaw in LeBron’s game that we can see (there aren’t many) we can point to twice as many in most four-year college players who played under some of the finest coaching minds that college basketball has seen. While DeCourcy’s argument will spark some debates it is too simplistic to really capture the difference between the prep-to-pros and the 4-year players.
  2. Speaking of college players making the transition to the pros, it appears that several of the biggest names in college basketball last season are having difficulty adjusting to the rigors of the NBA Draft work-out sessions. We have heard many reports of prospects dropping out of workouts followed by reports that the prospect had already been given a guarantee at a higher spot. Unless those prospects are Kyrie Irving or Derrick Williams don’t buy into any reports of a guarantee this year. The post also has some interesting notes on Kawhi Leonard and Brandon Knight as well as a few other players.
  3. The saga of Tony Woods seems like it won’t end. The former Wake Forest forward who was dismissed from the team after a domestic violence charge has been drawing a lot of attention from some big names like Kentucky, Louisville, and Texas. However, some analysts (Rick Bozich in particular) think that the hype for Woods has been way overblown and some teams will be lucky to have not signed him. Any team would welcome some with the talent of Woods, but the question becomes is whether the potential off-court trouble is worth it. That is a question the various coaching staffs will need to answer themselves.
  4. Tennessee went before the NCAA over the weekend and one of the people called to speak was former coach Bruce Pearl. The testimony, which is essentially sealed for now, will be the only meeting between the two sides before the NCAA hands down its penalties later this summer. This was important not only for the entire Tennessee athletic department, but also Pearl, who many expect will receive the show-cause penalty, which has served as the death knell for many promising coaching careers.
  5. Just when you thought all of the recruiting for the class of 2011 was done it turns out that yet another previously committed player has reopened his commitment. This time is was Merv Lindsay, who had orally committed to Texas Tech back in April before Pat Knight was fired. Lindsay visited Kansas on Friday and reportedly enjoyed his visit there. Although Lindsay doesn’t have the typical pedigree for a Jayhawk recruit (wasn’t even in the Rivals top 150) Bill Self has an open scholarship after DeAndre Daniels decided to go to UConn so Lindsay may end up playing in Lawrence if he decides the place is right for him.
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Who’s Got Next? Illegal Benefits, Kentucky Spotlight, Shabazz Muhammad and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on May 27th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Twice a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

Well, if you haven’t learned yet after the Kevin Ware situation or the Tony Wroten, Jr., drama, the world of college basketball recruiting is nothing without another scandal to fill headlines. It’s also nothing without a big-time commitment happening soon after a de-commitment and the recruiting world certainly can’t live without more news about top five prospects and the rippling affect of other commitments. If you haven’t been able to tell yet, a lot happened in just the past few days in the recruiting world… and we haven’t even started previewing one of the most significant AAU events that will happen all summer.

What They’re Saying

Rodney Purvis tweeted about Ryan Harrow's transfer.

  • Junior Rodney Purvis (#6) on Ryan Harrow’s transfer to Kentucky: “Harrow’s decision doesn’t change my outlook on UK at all. Unless coach tells me otherwise!”
  • Junior Kyle Anderson (#22) on Harrow transferring to the Wildcats: “Ryan Harrow not going to St. John’s keeps them on my list.”
  • Mauricio Ducuara, the head of a basketball foundation in Bogotá, on Hanner Mosquera-Perea (#23) receiving illegal benefits: “People with whom I have spoken said he has received lots of gifts [and] things. If you knew how Hanner grew up the people don’t even have shoes. Hanner came home at Christmas with iPods, iPhones, [Bose] headphones digital cameras. Things that for a kid are impossible.”
  • Baylor assistant coach Mark Morefield : “I guarantee u if he (Perea) does [commit to another school] he will be in Colombia for the spring and summer and next year. Don’t forget it.”
  • Junior Justin Anderson (#45) on why he committed to Virginia: “The Cavaliers were always my second choice behind Maryland. Also, my family lives in Virginia. After the departure of Coach [Gary] Williams and Coach [Robert] Ehsan, it just feels like the right fit.”
  • Junior Archie Goodwin (#19) on other top prospects’ effect on his recruitment: “My friends that are top players are: Rasheed Sulaimon; Shabazz Muhammad; Isaiah AustinRicardo Ledo… [and] Rodney Purvis. When it comes to colleges, we’ll talk about what the coaches told us and see if anything was said different by each other. We’ll compare them that way, but I don’t think it’ll make us decide then and there what we’re gonna do with that school.”
  • Omar Calhoun Sr., junior Omar Calhoun Jr.’s father, on Jim Calhoun potentially retiring: “We believe in UConn and it’s still going to be UConn. We still feel like Coach Calhoun is still going to have a major part still in the development in the program even if he’s not the head coach.”
  • Junior Ricardo Ledo (#9) on the current state of his recruitment: “I don’t have a list, it’s not down to four, I am wide open.”
  • Sophomore Isaiah Lewis on Kentucky and his list: “I really like Kentucky a lot. I think I can play at UK under Coach [John] Calipari and the rest of the coaching staff. I think they can do a great job of coaching me up and getting me to the next level; but I also like other schools, like UConn, Arizona, Kansas, West Virginia, Florida and Florida State right now.”

What Shabazz Muhammad is Saying

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RTC 2011 NBA Mock Draft: Version 1.0

Posted by zhayes9 on May 19th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an RTC contributor, columnist and bracketologist.  For the next six weeks, he’ll also be our chief draftnik, mocking up the place with his first round selections.  For additional detail, be sure to also check out our 35 draft profiles of the top collegians that we are rolling out over the next five weeks. 

As a college basketball fan, the NBA Draft has always represented a final sendoff to the previous season and for the players we’ve followed religiously over the course of their collegiate careers. Even though some stops (Derrick Rose, John Wall, Greg Oden) have been shorter than others (Tyler Hansbrough, J.J. Redick, Evan Turner), each player has provided a long list of memories while making their individual imprint on the college game. Similar to a parent sending their kids off to school for the first time, the draft in late June serves as one last chance to say goodbye.

It's 2003 All Over Again For the Cavs... Sorta

Now that the lottery order has been unveiled, it’s time to introduce our first ever 2011 NBA Mock Draft here at RTC. As someone who annually follows the happenings surrounding the draft for weeks leading up to the big night, hopefully my mock selections will provide both insight and expectation into what will transpire in around five weeks time, although with this year’s weak draft class we could see more trades than ever with teams looking to exchange picks this year for 2012 selections.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers- Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke.  In a point guard heavy league where a gifted court general is essential for any team with championship aspirations, Irving makes the most sense of any single pick in the draft. Irving has tremendous playmaking ability at the position both setting up teammates and generating his own offense.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Williams, SF, Arizona.  The most efficient player in college basketball who possesses phenomenal athleticism and excels in isolation, Williams is the clear cut choice if Minnesota hangs onto this pick. Although Williams is a bit of a tweener, an improved mid-range game will render Williams a matchup nightmare for opposing threes.

3. Utah Jazz- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky.  This pick could certainly go in a different direction if the Jazz head honchos feel Devin Harris is their point guard for the foreseeable future. Even if Harris sticks around, Knight needs some grooming as a distributor before he’s ready to shine. Knight is already a capable shooter and offensive threat.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey.  After selecting Irving, it only makes sense to grab the best available big man and pick Kanter. A supremely skilled 7-footer with advanced footwork and scoring ability in the post, Kanter’s ceiling is very high. Kanter hasn’t played outside of a Kentucky practice in over a year, so there’s risk in this selection.

5. Toronto Raptors- Jonas Valanciunas, PF, Lithuania.  The Raptors have never been bashful about selecting international players and there’s certainly a need for more athleticism in the low post for Toronto. If the question marks surrounding Valanciunas’ buyout can be resolved, the Raptors are nabbing a projectable low-post threat who can really rebound.

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Around The Blogosphere: May 11, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on May 11th, 2011

If you are interested in participating, send your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com as we will be updating these posts throughout the day.

News

  • Erik Murphy, Cody Larson Have Charges Reduced From Felonies To Misdemeanors: ”That’s likely very good news for both young men’s futures, especially Murphy’s. Though there’s still some expense and punishment involved in dealing with misdemeanor charges — and, though this isn’t a court of law, I think most of us suspect there is a good chance Murphy and Larson are guilty — it is a far better scenario than a felony charge.” (Alligator Army)
  • Ralph Sampson III Stays: “After much debate and drama it is official that Ralph Sampson III will return for his senior season as a Minnesota Golden Gopher.” (The Daily Gopher)
  • Guerrero Officially Surrenders to Bruin Nation, Restores UCLA Students’ Sideline Seats at Pauley: After a lot of fighting the students were able to get their spot on the sidelines back. (Bruins Nation)

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Early Entry Winners & Losers

Posted by rtmsf on May 9th, 2011

Now that the NBA Draft early entry withdrawal has passed (Midnight ET on Sunday night), it’s time to take a look at who the winners and losers were from this year’s process.  Of the nearly 70 players who declared as early entrants for this year’s NBA Draft, we count a dozen or so who will return and make their teams significantly better next year.  The biggest impact will be felt at the following places…

The Winners

Jones Fills Out a Ridiculous UK Lineup in 2011-12

  • Kentucky.  How do we figure that a team that ends up losing its best scorer and best perimeter defender is a winner?  Because of who they didn’t lose.  Terrence Jones will team with Kentucky’s fabulous duo of incoming forwards — Michael Gilchrist and Anthony Davis — to produce the most dynamic and talented front line college basketball has seen in some time.  As good as Brandon Knight was in a Kentucky uniform, his loss to the draft also ensures that there’s no question as to who lead this team next year, as incoming superstar Marquis Teague will take over the reins from day one.  The loss of DeAndre Liggins was surprising and will hurt, but on balance, the player UK most needed to return did.
  • The Big East.  With the notable exception of NPOY candidate and Final Four MOP Kemba Walker and the somewhat shocking departures of Notre Dame’s Carleton Scott and Louisville’s Terrence Jennings, the Big East avoided losing three of its better returning players for the 2011-12 season.  Georgetown’s Hollis Thompson, Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs and West Virginia’s Kevin Jones will all return to teams that could not afford to lose them; with so many talented seniors leaving the Big East, it was imperative for the league’s overall health that these talented upperclassmen come back.
  • Missouri.  A very early Christmas came for new Tigers head coach Frank Haith as two of his best returnees, Kim English and Laurence Bowers, made smart decisions to return to Columbia for their senior seasons.  With leading scorer Marcus Denmon already back in the fold, Haith is walking into a situation where his top six players will be back next year.  So long as he can enable his more methodical system with a group that loves to run and press, Mizzou fans should be excited for the possibility of something special in 2011-12.
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Dissecting the Law of Unintended Consequences, Early Entry Style

Posted by rtmsf on May 9th, 2011

Welcome to the law of unintended consequences, folks.

Starting with Jared Sullinger’s surprising decision to return to school in the aftermath of #1 Ohio State’s upset loss at the hands of Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament last month, a number of projected top draft picks have similarly shocked the world by deciding to stick around their college campuses for another season.  Subsequent to Sullinger, Baylor’s Perry Jones — another top five pick — followed that up with his own shocker.  Next, UNC’s Harrison Barnes and John Henson — both projected lottery picks this June — each decided that another year in Chapel Hill was to their liking.  On Saturday, Kentucky’s Terrence Jones was the latest projected lottery pick to spurn guaranteed millions in favor of playing as an amateur for another season (ok, stop your snickering about the word “amateur”).

Counting up the number of lottery pick slots that opened up in the June draft, we come up with a total of five (of 14) and certainly the following early entrants will be this summer’s beneficiaries: Arizona’s Derrick Williams, Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Kentucky’s Brandon Knight, UConn’s Kemba Walker, and Kansas’ Marcus Morris.  Five additional slots in the first round, though, isn’t the same as a floodgate opening, and we fear that the oft-repeated mantra of “weak draft” combined with a lack of an opportunity for players to get good evaluation feedback (thanks, ACC coaches!) has led to a bunch of poor decisions at the back end this year.  Like we said, the law of unintended consequences.

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Around The Blogosphere: May 7, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on May 6th, 2011

If you are interested in participating, send your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com as we will be updating these posts throughout the day.

News

  • Brandon Knight to Stay in Draft: “As expected, star point guard Brandon Knight stated at a press conference today that he will remain in the 2011 NBA Draft and forgo his remaining three years of college eligibility. Knight will almost certainly be drafted in the lottery, and currently signs point to him being drafted somewhere in the 5-7 range.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • Maryland Basketball Clamoring For Series With Georgetown: “A Maryland-Georgetown series is something that has been discussed countless times by many publications, but this is the first time in recent memory that a school official has publicly acknowledged a desire to play the other program.” (Casual Hoya)
  • Former UK Recruit At Center Of Academic Scandal: Washington recruit Tony Wroten Jr. is at the center of an academic scandal. (A Sea of Blue)
  • Terrence Jones Announced His Return On Twitter: The announcement came today, setting up UNC and Kentucky as the twin spires of the 2011-12 hype machine. (A Sea of Blue)
  • A Crushing & Historic Victory for UCLA Students on Behalf of the Bruin Nation: “The result was a smashing victory for current Bruin students, who won it for the entire Bruin Nation. For 37 days we had been subjected to relentless propaganda from UCLA athletic department officials and its sympathizers that the decision to banish our students behind the baseline was done with the support of current students. We have been relentless on our pushback methodically making the point how they were full of lies and contradictions. Now we have a crushing mandate from our student body.” (Bruins Nation)

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Morning Five: 05.04.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 4th, 2011

  1. Chalk this one up as weird, but one of Gonzaga’s returning players, Demetri “Meech” Goodson, is giving up his senior season in Spokane to transfer back home to play… football?  You read that correctly.  The junior guard from Spring, Texas, and younger brother of Carolina Panther running back Mike Goodson, will have two years of NCAA eligibility remaining upon his arrival on an undetermined campus (likely Texas A&M) next season.  Goodson started all of Gonzaga’s 35 games last year, but he’s consistently struggled with shooting the ball and his departure will represent the seventh Zag transferring out of Mark Few’s program in the last two years.  Everyone of course remembers Greg Paulus’ one-year stint as the quarterback at Syracuse after a four-year basketball career at Duke, but it’s not often that you see a player transfer to play a different sport midstream through their career (it helps that GU doesn’t have a football team).
  2. As everyone is well aware, the NBA Draft withdrawal deadline is next Sunday, so decisions from players on the fence will be trickling out all week.  Two players Tuesday announced that they would be staying in the June draft despite currently facing a second round (if any) projection.  Louisville forward Terrence Jennings and Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert must have coaches at both schools shaking their heads, as neither appears to be a first round lock even in a weak draft.  Shumpert was second team all-ACC last year, going for 17/6/4 APG in a dreadful Yellow Jackets season, but Jennings in particular is an interesting case. His collegiate numbers of 10/5 last season were not exactly dominant in the Big East, but he says that he’s getting good feedback from scouts and thinks that the NBA will have a place for him.  This has been a tough week all around for Rick Pitino, as he not only learned that Jennings was officially leaving school, but elite 2012 recruit Rodney Purvis rescinded his verbal commitment to the Cards on Monday.
  3. New Pac-10, er, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott must know how to turn water to wine in light of news breaking on Tuesday that his conference has inked the most lucrative television deal in college sports history with Fox and ESPN for twelve years beginning in 2012-13.  The twelve western schools (now including Colorado and Utah) will average approximately a quarter-billion dollar payout every year over the life of the deal, out-distancing the recent Big Ten ($220M), SEC ($205M), ACC ($155M) and Big 12 ($130M) mega-deals.  The league will also go the Big Ten route with its own Pac-12 Network, and the rest of the games will be split between the two other national networks — now that ESPN will be showing Pac-12 basketball four days a week in addition to all of its other commitments, we wonder if there are plans for a few more ESPN channels.  There simply isn’t enough space on the existing family of networks to cover everything they have in the stable.  You might be wondering how Scott pulled this off given that many national viewers never see a Pac-10/12 football or basketball game all season long — the answer is in the numbers.  Eight of the top twenty-seven US media markets are within the Pac-12 regional footprint, the best such aggregate total in the nation (we shudder to imagine if Scott had pulled off getting Texas too!).
  4. Taking a page from the “pro day” that some major football programs have held in the past for their professional prospects, Kentucky held a similarly-styled event for its three early entries Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and DeAndre Liggins, in addition to graduating senior Josh Harrellson.  All thirty NBA teams were invited to the event to have an opportunity to observe the UK players going through workouts at least once prior to the deadline on Sunday, and a good number of those showed up for at least one of the two sessions this week.  Knight told a reporter that he was still at “50/50″ on a final decision, but he is expected to leave; Liggins, on the other hand, is expected back next season, while Jones’ decision will no doubt be predictably unpredictable (see: his recruitment).
  5. Tennessee forward/impresario Renaldo Woolridge was feeling particularly patriotic on Sunday night after the news about Osama bin Laden’s capture was released, so the junior who only scored 13 points in eight games last year did what he does best — he wrote and produced a new rap video.  “Thank You (USA Troops)” was released Monday afternoon, and as Mike DeCourcy points out, the line packing a punch comes at the 2:20 mark: Almost 10 years/feeling kinda alone/But the fact is/Osama is gone.  Full video below.

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Around The Blogosphere: April 27, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on April 27th, 2011

If you are interested in participating, send your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com as we will be updating these posts throughout the day.

News

  • Wally Judge Visiting Maryland, May be Leaning to Rutgers: The former Kansas State forward is a Terrapin target, but he may end up in New Jersey. (Testudo Times)
  • Video, notes from Pitino’s press conference: Some key points from Rick Pitino’s conference yesterday. (Card Chronicle)

Analysis

  • Are Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones NBA Ready?: “Charles Barkley apparently opined yesterday that he didn’t think Brandon Knight or Terrence Jones were ready for the NBA. In fact, Barkley described both Knight and Jones as “not even close.” I think that in an absolute sense, Barkley is exactly right.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • Could/Should Selby have gone to the NBA Development League instead?: Looking at the pros and cons of a touchy subject in college basketball circles. (Rock Chalk Talk)
  • The Point Guard Conundrum and What Can We Learn From the 2010-11 Gopher Backcourt: Reflecting on Minnesota’s problems this season and how they can address them next season. (The Daily Gopher)

 

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Around The Blogosphere: April 22, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on April 22nd, 2011

After a brief hiatus we are back with our ATB2 feature. We will probably be doing these posts on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule although that is a moving target and will be related to the amount of newsworthy material. If you are interested in participating, send your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com.

News

  • Sources: Tristan Thompson To the NBA: “Thursday afternoon, Statesmen hoops writer Mark Rosner tweeted that a source close to Texas forward Tristan Thompson’s family and an NBA scout told him that Thompson will enter the NBA draft.” (Burnt Orange Nation)
  • Darius Morris To Enter NBA Draft Without Hiring Agent: The full text statement from the University of Michigan. (UM Hoops)

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Morning Five: 04.21.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 21st, 2011

  1. It wouldn’t be a random mid-April Wednesday without NBA Draft comings and goings, and not one, but two, SEC teams announced the draft intentions of three of their stars yesterday.  First and foremost, John Calipari’s talented trio of Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight and DeAndre Liggins are all going to test the waters over the next few weeks, and by all indications, it appears that next year Kentucky fans will face a third straight season of uber-talented but inexperienced freshmen leading their team.  Knight and Jones are projected as lottery picks, whereas Liggins, a second rounder if chosen at all, probably wouldn’t be in any better position after returning for his senior season.  Jeff Goodman argues that, despite all of Calipari’s martyrdom last year about his five first-rounders (“best day in Kentucky history” and all that nonsense), he actually wants his players to return.  It’s no leap of faith to state that a coach, if forced to do so, would admit to wanting his best players to stick for two, three, or even four years, but Calipari certainly didn’t expect them to — after all, why recruit a Marquis Teague if you already have a Brandon Knight; or, why recruit a Michael Gilchrist if you already have a Terrence Jones?  The truth is that those players are going to Kentucky with an expectation that minutes at their positions will be available, and they didn’t get those impressions through a careful reading of the tea leaves.
  2. Moving on to the SEC team that announced on Wednesday that its three stars would be returning, Vanderbilt’s all-SEC trio of Jeffery Taylor, John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli will be back in Nashville next season.  The Commodores went 23-11 overall and 9-7 in the rugged SEC East before losing a heartbreaking opener in the NCAA Tournament against a much-lower seed for the second straight year.  Kevin Stallings’ team will have the weight of enormous expectations on it next year, as this news gives him as talented and experienced a team he’s ever had in his twelve seasons at Vandy.
  3. We’ve got space today for one piece of significant transfer news — Wake Forest’s Ari Stewart will reportedly resurface at USC in the 2012-13 season.  The 6’7 Demon Deacon forward suffered a bit of a sophomore slump in his first year under Jeff Bzdelik, but he has the tools and the jumper to become an all-conference level player at his next destination.  USC picked up a good one as Kevin O’Neill continues rebuilding with his own players in Troy.
  4. Princeton again decided to keep it within the family by reaching out and hiring Class of 1998 graduate Mitch Henderson to take over for the departed  head coach Sydney Johnson.  Henderson has spent the last eleven years working under Bill Carmody at Northwestern, and said upon his hiring that when junior Doug Davis’ shot fell through in the Ivy Championship game this year against Harvard, he “jumped off his couch” with excitement.  His era as a player (1994-98) was one of the best in program history, as the Tigers made three NCAA Tournaments, reached #7 in the national polls in 1998, and defeated defending national champion UCLA in his sophomore year.  As with Johnson, it’s a lot to live up to for a fan base with rather big expectations.
  5. Just when you thought you couldn’t be more impressed by Derrick Williams’ sophomore All-America season, we learned Wednesday that his “sprained right pinky” had actually been a broken one all along.  Yep, a broken digit that he decided to tough out and play with after suffering the injury in a late January game against UCLA.  Without question, Williams’ field goal percentages of 59.5% and 56.8% (from three) must have really taken a hit by virtue of D-Will’s injury — he likely would have been in the mid-60s in each metric had he not been hurt (we’re only partially kidding).  This exhibited ability to play through pain can only serve to elevate his draft stock come June.
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