RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Hassan Whiteside

Posted by jstevrtc on June 22nd, 2010

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night.  There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Hassan Whiteside

School: Marshall

Height/Weight: 7’0/227

NBA Position: Center

Projected Draft Range: Mid First Round

Overview: Hassan Whiteside surprised a lot of people when he spurned several SEC schools to play his college basketball at Marshall University, but his attendance at a comparatively small school didn’t mean the NBA scouts wouldn’t find him.  They didn’t need to search very hard. Whiteside’s impact on the Conference USA landscape was immediate, posting a 14 point/17 rebound/9 block performance against eventual NCAA second-rounders Ohio University early in the season.  He’d end up with three triple-doubles on the year — the first three ever for Marshall — all with blocks as the third statistic.  His 12 other double-doubles helped propel the Thundering Herd to an overall 24-10 record and 11-5 in a very competitive CUSA.  His 182 blocked shots was tops in the nation, averaging out to an amazing 5.4 BPG.  And even though he was only there for the one year, he ended up as the all-time leader in blocked shots at Marshall.  Mind you, we don’t mean for a freshman — that’s for a career.

Defensively, he's ready. And it's funner to learn offense. (C. Jackson/Herald-Disptach)

Will Translate to the NBA: Obviously his shot-swatting prowess is his biggest asset, and will be the primary reason for any early minutes he gets in the league, but he’s no single-note player.  He’s not just a tall, thin, awkward shot-blocking specialist. He’s good at using his size to get in position for grabbing boards, and shows a knack for peeling off more than his share of offensive rebounds.  He has better hops than most players his size, and he gets off the floor quickly.  Hassan is one of those players who, when you see him play, you can tell how much fun he’s having and that will endear him to teammates and fans.  And he knows what it takes to be a professional athlete; his father played five seasons of professional football in the NFL and CFL.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Daniel Orton

Posted by jstevrtc on June 22nd, 2010

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night.  There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Daniel Orton

School: Kentucky

Height/Weight: 6’10/255

NBA Position: Power Forward/Center

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Overview: If you needed any further proof that the NBA Draft selects players on potential and not on actual past performance, look no further than Daniel Orton.  That’s not to say that Orton didn’t produce for Kentucky in his one season there.  He certainly did everything that was expected of him, and did it well.  But we’re talking about a player who averaged 3.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and just 13.1 minutes a game.  That said, Orton was excellent in his role as a backup to DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson as needed, excelling on defense, specifically shot-blocking, and showing enough raw offensive skills to have the scouts salivating. He only hit double-figures twice all season, but that’s just because of the limited minutes.  With talent like this, if he’d have gotten the time (or stayed in school longer) his numbers would have probably been about triple what they were.

An intense, imposing physical specimen, Orton will carve out a living hitting the glass and blocking shots.

Will Translate to the NBA: Orton’s body was NBA-ready by the time he played his first college game.  He frequently uses that size to overpower defenders on his way to the basket and finish with confidence.  Though it could stand a little more arch, his jumper is fairly solid at this early stage.  He is physically imposing but actually has very nice touch on his shot after a post move and certainly as he gets right up to the rim.  On the defensive side, he’s way ahead of the curve in terms of shot-blocking ability, and that skill is evident whether he’s guarding his man straight up or if he’s  leaving his man and helping from the weak side.

Needs Work: Orton played so little compared to a lot of prospects, teams just don’t have that much to go on.  He had surgery on his left knee during his last year of high school, and while he never appeared to be favoring it, there were times when simple post moves or getting up the floor on a break seemed a little harder than one would think.  Because he’s going to make his living down low, he’s going to be getting to the free throw line a lot, and raising his percentage up from the 52% he shot at Ketnucky (to be fair, that was also his field goal percentage) is required.  Finally, it was a single incident, but the in-game sideline spat with coach John Calipari in the SEC Tournament was highly publicized, and Orton didn’t help his image by actually leaving the bench and going back to the locker room, even if he was under orders.  He’ll need to convince teams that his head’s in the right place and he won’t make a habit of openly questioning authority.

Comparison Players: Orton’s use of his physique to do things like create space for shots, set screens, and out-muscle opponents for rebounds reminds us of Leon Powe of the Cleveland Cavaliers.  If a Kentucky example is needed, his physique brings to mind the Rockets’ Chuck Hayes; like Hayes, Orton’s greatest value to an NBA team will come on defense.  Hayes is a little quicker, but Orton actually has a higher offensive ceiling.

Best Case Scenario: The key to Daniel Orton’s success will be patience.  He has the body and all the tools to carve out a very nice decade-long NBA career, if not longer.  But because he’s being drafted largely on potential, the team that drafts him will need to see some of that potential become realized in practice and in limited game time before they’ll really unleash him.  That’s not the easiest thing for young players to accept.  If he can show off his defensive abilities enough through hard work in practice, he’ll get more minutes in games, and then the offensive chances will come.  If he’s satisfied with that, after a few seasons his game could be refined enough to where he’ll find a niche on a team that needs a tough-nosed, hard-rebounding, “glue-guy” type of player that the fans love, the type of player that embodies the hard work coaches would like to see out of their whole roster.

2013 Projection: The process described above will still be happening after three seasons.  We wouldn’t be surprised to see him start to get increased minutes late in his third season and thereafter.  Up to that point, we’d expect Orton to have made an early living as a rebounding and shot-blocking specialist while the full range of his offensive game continues to grow.

Best NBA Fit: Orton will be taken almost right in the middle of the draft, and while Oklahoma City (21st and 26th pick) needs front line help in a major way — and it’s a pick that would land Orton back in his home state — the best fit for him as far as teams in that range is the Boston Celtics (19th pick).  Despite their post-season success, Boston was one of the worst rebounding teams in the league (29th of 30) and averaged a -1.5 rebounding margin.  If Kendrick Perkins‘ knee remains suspect and the retirement rumors about Rasheed Wallace are true, the Celtics would be left without a true center, and the third man on the depth chart at PF would be the unimpressive Shelden Williams.  Plus, you could do a lot worse than to have Kevin Garnett as a teammate and mentor.

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Syracusean Thoughts

Posted by rtmsf on August 4th, 2008

A post today from the most entertaining Syracuse sports blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician got us thinking about a couple of seemingly disparate things today. 

First, is there any more difficult impossible charge for a college athlete to shed than that of some kind of sexual assault?  Similarly, is there any more difficult impossible charge for an institution and the police to prove than that of some kind of sexual assault (eliminating the outright rapes involving DNA, of course)?  Usually all that anyone can seem to agree upon is that something happened involving a player and an unnamed woman.  How far that something went and whether it was consensual or a simple misunderstanding often involves convolution that would make Robin Lopez’s lafro look stick-straight in comparison.

How Twisted and Convoluted?

We can think of a couple of recent examples where the he-said/she-said repartee ultimately resulted in a slightly uncomfortable exoneration of a player’s name, where everyone sorta shrugs their shoulders, looks around and wonders exactly what the hell happened while simultaneously hoping that it doesn’t impact next year’s team.  Kentucky’s Chuck Hayes is but one example.  Kansas’ Sherron Collins another.  Need we even mention Kobe Bean’s douche d’amour  in Eagle, CO?  And now we encounter the trio of Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn, Scoop Jardine and Rick Jackson, each of whom was accused of playing a role in a sexual assault on the Syracuse campus last fall.  Flynn is arguably Cuse’s top returning player, and Jardine/Jackson are both contributors whose roles should increase next season.


Come On Ladies, It Was Only a Kiss…

Reading through the grand jury account (filtered through the Syracuse Post-Standard’s news report) is a lot like watching hockey on tv – you know the puck is down there somewhere, but you can’t really follow it until it hits something.   Depending on who you ask, the accuser is a) not seeking criminal prosecution; b) seeking criminal prosecution; c) is no longer claiming she was a victim of sexual assault; d) is claiming that she was a victim of sexual assault; e) being treated as a pawn amongst her mother and the university.  In other words, about as clear as Mudd.

Ultimately there was a grand jury proceeding, and the accuser testified at the hearing. She must have apparently been laughed out of the room due to the fact that, according to the old legal adage that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich, the accuser’s story did not rise to ham sandwich level.  According to Troy Nunes, Syracuse University will continue with its own internal disciplinary proceedings in this matter (on what evidence, we’d love to hear).

Juli Needs to Put the Screws to Jim Again

The other thing that this post got us thinking about was Jim Boeheim’s program in general.  We’ve a notion that Boeheim should be called Mail It In-heim for the way he’s been handling the Orange in the years since his only Carmelo-led championship.  With his hot MILF wife and his secure ring finger, does Jimmy B. have the drive to push beyond mediocrity anymore (we were going to compare him to Gary Williams at Maryland, but realized quickly that GW deserves his own category of underachievement)? 


  • Three of Boeheim’s eleven 10+ loss seasons in 32 years as a head coach have come in the last three years (12, 11, and 14 losses, respectively).   Last year’s 14 losses were the most for a Jim Boeheim-coached team EVER. 
  • Before last year, the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons were the last period where Syracuse had not gone to the NCAAs in consecutive years.  (granted, Cuse got screwed royally in 2006-07, but they were still a bubble team)  It could have been three in a row if not for G-Mac’s miraculous Big East Tourney title run in 2006. 
  • In fact, Syracuse hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2004, its longest streak of such misery since prior to Boeheim’s arrival in 1976.      
  • Boeheim’s winning percentage from 1976-2003 is .743.  His percentage from 2004-present is .694, and that includes four bogus NIT wins played in the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome. 
  • Honestly, the only highlights of the last five seasons since the national championship were the 2005 and 2006 Big East Tournament titles.  That’s great and all, but it’s not how Syracuse basketball built its name (both of those were Cinderella runs). 

Perhaps this is old news for Syracuse faithful, but it really surprised us when we took a look at the numbers.  With an eligible Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris in addition to a healthy Eric Devendorf, there is potential for Syracuse to break its stranglehold on an NIT bid this season; but we’re not sure that Boeheim is getting as much from his players as he once did.  We’ll definitely be keeping a closer eye on upstate New York this year. 

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Here We Go…

Posted by rtmsf on January 23rd, 2008

We were off the grid last weekend, which figures, because for all intents and purposes the college hoops season got under way while we were gone.  What are we talking about?  Upset Saturday, baby.

A couple weeks ago we pointed out that this season to date has been boring uninspiring due largely to the complete lack of upsets among the top teams.  No more.  Last weekend the carnage in the Top 25 was significant, as nine ranked teams (incl. 3 of the top 10) took a loss.  The most shocking were the twin home losses of #2 UNC and #4 UCLA to unranked conference rivals Maryland and USC, respectively.  Throw in last night’s loss by #7 Tennessee at Kentucky, and we’re starting to see a trend here.

But we shouldn’t be too shocked.   Conference play is tough, no matter who you are or where you’re ranked.  And now that we’re heading into late January, some teams that may have looked like complete garbage a month or more ago are starting to show signs that there was a larger plan after all.  In addition to the Terps and Trojans, take a bow, UConn, K-State, Kentucky and Cincinnati.  Meanwhile, some other teams that looked like worldbeaters in December are now starting to exhibit some mental and/or physical fatigue.  UNC, Texas A&M, Marquette and Ole Miss fall into this category.


Let’s Strap In and Enjoy the Ride.  

We watched the good weekend games on Tivo last night, and what really struck us as impressive was the level of intensity being played by teams on both ends of the court.  For example, we’ve seen Maryland play a handful of times this year, and the Terps have typically looked like they’d rather be somewhere else.  Not Saturday – Maryland may have come into Chapel Hill with a record of 11-7 and a loss to American on its resume, but they played every second of the game as if they belonged on the same court with the unbeaten Heels.  At Florida, the bloody carcass known as Kentucky may have come into Gainesville with a record of 0-3 on the road, but they played as if Chuck Hayes and Tayshaun Prince were once again taking it to Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh (in other words, hard).  To keep the analogy going, USC may have been a meager 1-3 in the Pac-10, but their HS all-americans played as if they were talking smack and running with the older but slower UCLA guys on the Santa Monica courts.

What all this means is that we’re hitting the last third of the season, and teams are, as usual, finding life in conference play to be tough.  For most of the Top 25, there will be far fewer easy victories than before; for the teams that struggled through the first half, seasons can be saved with a few key victories at the right time.  Everyone who follows college hoops rightly loves March for its wild and unpredictable nature, but we shouldn’t sleep on the next six weeks either.  The end of January and all of February is where the seeds of March Madness are sown.  Let’s all strap in and enjoy the ride…

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NBA Predraft Camp Thoughts

Posted by rtmsf on June 5th, 2007

Thanks to the guys over at draftexpress.com, we’re just getting our first look at some of the height/weight and athletic numbers coming out of the NBA Predraft Camp last weekend in Orlando. We don’t put a lot of stock in drafting players based on these measurements – after all, if a guy can play, he can play (tip of the hat to Jonathan Givony for making this very point perfectly on draftexpress.com) – but it’s always fun to see who wins for the “incredible shrinking” award (aka the Lonny Baxter Trophy) as well as who appears to be the top athletes coming out of college this year. Note we said “appears.”


The Logo and MJ discussing the talent in Orlando

Why wasn’t Maryland better this year?

Guard D.J. Strawberry was rated the top overall athlete this year, and Ekene Ibekwe had some of the most eye-popping big man numbers, featuring a 7’6 foot wingspan and a thirty-nine inch veritical leap. This is yet another example of superior basketball skills and IQ (see: Florida Gators) trumping a stable of athletes. Either that, or Gary Williams was too busy resting on his laurels to teach these kids anything the last four years.

Durant needs to beef up

We realize he’s only eighteen and he can score on just about anyone already… but zero bench presses of 185 lbs. is pathetic. That stat, combined with his surprising lack of speed and agility in the drills, may suggest that he’ll face long obstacles in becoming a solid two-way player in the long run. He’s also going to take a beating on drives into the paint the next few years unless he commits himself to a weight training program to improve his strength.

Perhaps not surpisingly, most of the one-and-dones were weaker than their older peers. Durant, Julian Wright (2), Brandan Wright (2) and Daequan Cook (4) combined for a total of just eight bench presses at the 185-lb. weight. Mike Conley, Jr., (13), Javaris Crittenton (11) and Spencer Hawes (9) did better. Greg Oden sat out that event due to his injured wrist.

Lonny Baxter Award

Corey Brewer. Routinely listed at 6’9 at Florida, he came in at just 6’6.75 by the camp measurements. Lucky for him, he’s not a post man, so this won’t likely affect his draft status too much. Another Floridian, Al Thornton, deserves a nod here too. FSU listed him at 6’8, but the measurements put him at a mere 6’5.75. Considering that Thornton logged significant minutes on the interior, this puts him at a major disadvantage going into the draft.

Who Knew?

Aaron Gray is a legitimate seven feet tall, and Joakim Noah is a solid 6’10.5. We would have guessed both were shorter. ACC bigs Brandan Wright and Josh McRoberts are both 6’8.75 tall, but Wright has the slightly longer wingspan and McBob needs to put… the… coffee cupcakes… down (camp high 13.7% body fat).

Guys who’ll get a look based on their measurements alone

SEC big men Major Wingate and Jermareo Davidson. Both measure in the solid 6’9-6’10 range, have extremely long wingspans (7’4) and solid if not spectacular athleticism. Clemson’s James Mays could be a Renaldo Balkman type – a 6’7 jumping jack with a 37″ vertical and long arms (7’1.5″ wingspan).

Major Wingate and Chris Richard

Wingate & Richard battle in the post

Watch for these guys in a future NBA dunk contest near you

  • Al Thornton – 6’6 with a 7’1 wingspan and a 41-inch vertical – wow!
  • Nick Young – 6’5 with a 7’0 wingspan and a 40.5 inch vertical
  • Jeff Green – 6’8 with a 7’1 wingspan and a 38-inch vertical.

Dis-honorable Mention – Jared Jordan, who managed a standing still 14.5-inch vertical (to be fair, he doubled it to 28.5 inches in the running vertical).


Can you outjump this JJ?

Quick bigs and slow guards

  • Greg Oden, Ekene Ibekwe and Chris Richard. We covered Oden yesterday and Ibekwe above, but how about super-sub Chris Richard? He never struck us as very fast. At 6’7.5 he’s a classic tweener, but his length (7’4.5 wingspan) and agility might just get him a spot somewhere eventually.
  • Marcelus Kemp and Sammy Mejia. Both of these guards were slower than big-ass Mario Boggan and a host of other big men at the three-quarter court sprint. Kemp in particular may need to think about heading back to Nevada for another season.

Classic Tweeners

Hard-luck Villanova forward Curtis Sumpter and BC forward Jared Dudley. Both are ferocious rebounders in the paint, but both happen to measure at around 6’6. Their only real chance at the next level is to re-invent their games to face the basket, akin to what Corliss Williamson and more recently, Chuck Hayes, have done.

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