Morning Five: 08.05.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 5th, 2013

morning5

  1. One of the more secretive parts of college athletics (and there are many such areas) is how schools go about looking for coaches and administrators. In the past they were largely just given through what can best be described as an old boys network. Today, these decisions are largely made through executive search agencies. Dana O’Neil was able to go inside Parker Executive Search, the most well-known firm, to see what exactly it is that they do. According to Parker, they simply collect data and help arrange for meetings despite all of the rumors that they essentially pick out who should be the choice. While this is all nice in theory it should be obvious to everybody that they can only search so deeply and occasionally miss things that others might consider fairly obvious like the accusations against new Rutgers AD Julie Hermann.
  2. It will not be “The Decision II” in terms of being a media spectacle, but when Jahil Okafor and Tyus Jones announce where they are committing you can be sure it will be a big day at least in the college basketball world. Okafor, the #1 recruit in the country, and Jones, a top-5 player, are reportedly a package deal and according to Mike Irvin, Okafor’s AAU coach, Duke appears to be the leader for the pair. This is backed up by sources close to Jones saying Duke is the leader for him too. Of course, Okafor’s father denies that anybody is in the lead, but we doubt that he would come out and say that with so many schools in pursuit. The fact that Duke could land such a significant pair of recruits is not really shocking, but it has been a while since Duke landed two such highly regarded players in the same class.
  3. Jeff Goodman may have left CBS for ESPN, but apparently CBS got to keep his transfer list. Although he does not include every single transfer out there Jeff Borzello put together a summary of the biggest transfers separating them into those that can play immediately, those that will have to sit out a year, and those that are in limbo as well as those that just needed a change in scenery. With all the attention paid to the top high school recruits coming in a lot of people gloss over some pretty high-impact transfers and Borzello’s list does a great job at reminding you of the most important transfers so if you are unclear on where everybody transferred (and it is almost impossible to keep track of everybody) this is a great place to start.
  4. He may have not been a successful head coach (honestly, we had almost forgotten he was a college coach) so we cannot say that we are shocked that Corliss Williamson has left Central Arkansas to become an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings. Williamson is best known as the star of the Arkansas teams that made back-to-back national championship games winning the title in 1994, but he also went on to have a successful NBA career winning NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2002. Unfortunately Williamson’s college coaching career was not as successful as he went 26-62 in 3 seasons. Still he will have his name to fall back on if and when he decides to move on from his new job in Sacramento.
  5. Normally this space is reserved for fairly light material, but when a former Division I assistant coach is labeled as “Islamic jihadist” it catches our eye. Such is the case of former Northern Colorado assistant Christopher Craig who has reportedly threatened Catholics and Mormons in both Arizona and Colorado. As a result authorities in Colorado are warning churches in the state to be on the lookout for Craig. Now we do not want to get into geopolitical/social issues and a loaded term like “Islamic jihadist” will certainly make this story become a bigger point of discussion than if they had chosen any other religion. Based on the reports it appears that Craig’s threats were limited to primarily verbal, which certainly does not excuse them, but hopefully someone reaches Craig before he goes beyond a point that he cannot come back from.
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RTC Conference Primers: #23 – Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 12th, 2010

Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish

East Division

  1. Southeastern Louisiana (13-3)
  2. Nicholls State (10-6)
  3. Lamar (9-7)
  4. Northwestern State (6-10)
  5. McNeese State (5-11)
  6. Central Arkansas (3-13)

West Division

  1. Stephen F. Austin (13-3)
  2. Sam Houston State (12-4)
  3. Texas State (9-7)
  4. UTSA (7-9)
  5. A&M-Corpus Christi (6-10)
  6. Texas-Arlington (3-13)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • Anatoly Bose (F) – Nicholls State (21.1 ppg, 86 three-pointers made)
  • Gilberto Clavell (F) – Sam Houston (17.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
  • A.J. Stewart (C) – Texas State (5.7 PPG in 2008-09 for Kentucky)
  • Anthony Miles (G) – Lamar (14 ppg, 3.0 apg)
  • Devin Gibson (G) – UT-San Antonio (12.5 ppg, 4.4 apg)

Sixth Man

  • Cameron Johnson (F) – Texas State (14.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg)

Impact Newcomer

  • A.J. Stewart (F) – Texas State pulled in several transfers, but none bigger than the 6’9 Kentucky transfer. Having played in 29 games for the Wildcats as a sophomore, Stewart could have a big impact in a league not known for fielding a plethora of big men. Stewart led Arlington Country Day (Fla.) High School to three straight state championships.

A.J. Stewart, formerly a bench player with Kentucky, hopes to celebrate an expanded role with Texas State. (ukwildcatcountry.com)

What You Need to Know

  • The Southland is a two-division league and made a change during the offseason. Stephen F. Austin moved from the East Division to the West and Lamar jumped from the West to the East.
  • The Merrell Center in Katy is the site of the 2011 Southland Conference Basketball Tournament. This is the third straight year the tournament has been played at a neutral site.
  • The five-year transition process for Central Arkansas‘ athletic department is over. The school has now gained Division I active membership and will be eligible for postseason play in the Southland Conference and at the national level.
  • There was a shake-up on the coaching front of a couple of teams in the offseason. Central Arkansas hired former Razorback great Corliss Williamson as its head coach, while Sam Houston State promoted assistant Jason Hooten after longtime coach Bob Marlin took over the helm at Louisiana-Lafayette.

Predicted Champion

Stephen F. Austin (NCAA seed: #15). The Lumberjacks were beaten in the tournament championship game by rival Sam Houston State last year. Head Coach Danny Kaspar always has his team in contention and this year his team-oriented style of play could reap benefits as the conference is void of any big-time NBA caliber talent. It could be a toss-up with Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston, but both teams should come out of the West bloodied, but not beaten.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Summer School in the Southland Conference

    Posted by Brian Goodman on August 14th, 2010


    Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

    Around The SLC:

    • Back To School: Former NBA lottery pick Corliss Williamson was hired as head coach of the University of Central Arkansas on March 12. Williamson was an NCAA All-American at the University of Arkansas and an NBA champion with the Detroit Pistons. Williamson coached the last three years at Arkansas Baptist.
    • Out With The Old, In With The New: Sam Houston State University hired assistant coach Jason Hooten to run the Bearkats’ operation after long-time head coach Bob Marlin fled to greener pastures as he accepted the job at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. ULL hired Marlin after he led SHSU to the NCAA Tournament, where the Kats lost a close game to Baylor. Marlin coached the Bearkats for 12 years.
    • UTSA Sticks With Thompson: The University of Texas-San Antonio decided its program is in good hands with Brooks Thompson at the helm and gave him a three-year contract extension through the 2014-15 season. Thompson has coached the Roadrunners for four years and checks in with a career mark of 37-51, but posted a winning campaign of 17-12 in 2009-10.
    • Called Up: The wait is finally over for Central Arkansas, which was notified in mid-July by the NCAA that the school achieved Division-I active membership after a five-year transition process.
    • Latching On: After concluding their basketball careers, former SLC players Patrick Sullivan (Southeastern Louisiana) and Kevin Palmer (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) both found their way onto NBA Summer League rosters in July. Sullivan played for the Memphis Grizzlies, while Palmer ran the court for the Washington Wizards.
    • Parlez Vous Francais: Former UT-Arlington guard Marquez Haynes signed a contract with Chalon in the French First Division to begin playing in 2010-11. Haynes averaged 22.6 points per game last year.

    Corliss Williamson takes the reins at UCA, but is he ready for the challenge? (ucasports.com)

    Power Rankings:

    EAST

    1. Nicholls State (11-19, 7-9): The Colonels had an up-and-down season, but finished strong with a close 62-57 loss to SLC champion SHSU in the conference tournament. The big news for the Colonels is that they didn’t have a single senior on the roster, therefore, all five starters return, including first-team all-SLC pick Anatoly Bose (21.1 PPG). This will be a big jump for Nicholls, but they definitely have the offensive firepower to make a run.
    2. Southeastern Louisiana (19-12, 10-6): The Lions only lost one star player, but Patrick Sullivan is a huge loss. The 6’9 Sullivan led SELA with 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last season and could find himself on an NBA roster when the season begins. The Lions will have their next six top scorers returning, but will have to find someone to man the middle. Read the rest of this entry »
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    Morning Five: 08.12.10 Edition

    Posted by rtmsf on August 12th, 2010

    1. Nothing is ever easy with this guy, who now may hold the honor for the longest short consultancy in the history of professional basketball.  Isiah Thomas announced on Wednesday that he would rescind his new contract with the New York Knicks, largely to avoid the conflict of interest inherent in coaching collegiate players while working for an NBA franchise.  Getting bored yet, Isiah?
    2. You may not be able to see LeBron James there anymore on a regular basis, but you can still see the MAC Tournament at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.  The league announced yesterday that the tourney will be held there through 2017.  MAC faithful are no strangers to the venue, as the league has already held its marquee event there since 2000.  For a look at how the MAC looks heading into the 2010-11 season, check out our Summer School post on the league from this week.
    3. The UNC reclamation project began last night in Nassau, Bahamas, as Roy Williams’ team played its first of a two-game set in the Caribbean paradise.  The early return on #1 recruit Harrison Barnes — 21/8 on 8-15 shooting in 29 minutes of action.  He also fouled out of the game, so that’s something to watch in the coming months.
    4. Former Arkansas star Scotty Thurman joins his fellow Hawg All-American Corliss Williamson in taking up the coaching reins this summer.  Thurman is joining John Pelphrey’s staff at Arkansas just months after Williamson became the spanking-new head coach at Central Arkansas.  If either of those  nascent coaches can instill the all-out effort and tenacity in their kids that they both played with as Razorbacks, expect both to be very successful in this next step of their careers.
    5. Kansas State’s Frank Martin got philosophical yesterday during a motivational speech for Wichita-area teachers when talking about whether kids have changed from previous generations.  His essential take:  kids haven’t changed, but the expectations from adults for them has.  Check out the entire clip below…
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    Where are they now? (Championship Edition)

    Posted by nvr1983 on March 24th, 2008

    We found an interesting piece in ESPN.com’s Daily Dime last week. They decided to list players from recent championship teams that are still in the NBA. They happened to miss a few players who we added. We might have missed a player here and there. If we did, leave a comment with an update on their status since it’s hard to keep track of all these leagues around the world.

    You may notice that the number of NBA superstars from championship teams has decreased in recent years with the exception of Carmelo Anthony. We feel it is pretty clear that this is becasue a lot of guys who are NBA stars decided to skip college or not stay around long enough to win a title. We’re pretty sure Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Dwight Howard (he would be a senior now!) would have affected the NCAA tournament a little.

    The list:
    2006-07 Florida: Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Taurean Green, & Chris Richard.
    -All of the UF guys seem like they could end up being solid pros. Even Richard who is spending time in the NBDL could end up being a decent bench guy. Horford has exceeded expectations and is challenging the much more hyped Kevin Durant for Rookie of the Year honors. The real question is whether any of them other than Horford will become stars in the league. Noah and Brewer have a chance, but we aren’t sold on them yet. We think Noah will end up being a solid contributor if he can keep his mouth shut.

    2005 North Carolina: Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton, Sean May, & Marvin Williams
    - All of the Tar Heels have turned into respectable NBA players, which isn’t surprising to anybody who say this team play. May hasn’t played this year due to injuries, but was putting up respectable numbers when he was healthy. Felton and Williams are definitely the studs of this group although McCants does show flashes of brilliance up in Minnesota not that anybody sees the Timberwolves play.

    2004 Connecticut: Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone, & Charlie Villanueva
    - While this group has turned out 3 solid NBA players (Okafor, Gordon, and Villanueva), we get the suspicion that none of these guys will turn into the superstars they were expected to be. It seems hard to believe that a lot of people thought Orlando made a mistake drafting Dwight Howard ahead of Okafor in 2004. However, this is a solid group of pros that will probably end up being the equal of the last 2 championship teams (UNC and UF).

    2003 Syracuse: Carmelo Anthony & Hakim Warrick
    - While Melo has lived up to the hype and is a perennial All-Star, it appears that Warrick is going to stay in the 10 PPG and 5 RPG range, which is probably worth a $8 mill/yr contract or a max contract if Warrick can wait for an offer from Isiah. Having seen this team play at the East Regional in Albany that year, this is one of our favorite championship teams particularly because they were the last team that was a big surprise winning the tournament. We knew that Gerry McNamara’s game wouldn’t work at the NBA level, but we always liked him and often thought that he was closer to Jameer Nelson in college than a lot of analysts were willing to admit.

    2002 Maryland: Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, & Chris Wilcox
    - The players from this team, which won the ugliest Final 4 in recent memory, have done just about what we expected as pros. Dixon has been a solid player who is often underappreciated by his team and has floated around the league but contributed everywhere he has gone. Steve Blake has provided solid if unspectacular point guard play and won a starting job in Portland for a time over the uber-hyped Sebastian Telfair. Wilcox has been somewhat of a disappointment. He puts up solid numbers, but has never turned into the star that his athletic ability suggests he could be. Of course, he was the same way in college so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

    2001 Duke: Shane Battier, Chris Duhon, Carlos Boozer, & Mike Dunleavy
    - It amazing that on this team with several college superstars (including Jason Williams), that Boozer turned out to be the stud of the group. While Casey Sanders’s lack of development forced him to play the center position more than he probably should have, he was a guy who was routinely abused by Brendan Haywood. Somehow, Boozer grew a pair of huevos; so much so that he stabbed a blind man in the back. Just imagine what Boozer could have become if he had stayed in Cleveland to play with Lebron James. Battier, Duhon, and Dunleavy are all solid NBA players even if they haven’t lived up to their draft status (Dunleavy) or hype (Duhon-”What a man!”). To be fair, Battier was selected after Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry, so maybe he wasn’t taken too early. The most disappointing thing about this group is that we never got to see what Jason Williams could have become. Although he struggled adjusting as a rookie with the Bulls, he showed flashes of brilliances including a triple-double against a still-in-his-prime Jason Kidd.

    2000 Michigan State: Charlie Bell, Morris Peterson, & Jason Richardson
    - Jason Richardson has put up solid numbers even if we have a hard time considering him a star. He’s a phenomenal athlete who has never really made the transition to the superstar (except in fantasy basketball) that many projected for him. Morris Peterson had a solid run as a consistent double-figure guy in Toronto before going to New Orleans this year. As for Bell, we never expected much out of him, but he has had a nice little career and actually averaged 13.5 PPG last year. That championship team’s heart and soul was Mateen Cleaves who had a couple of nice seasons where he was one of the top cheerleaders in the league particularly when he was on the Kings. However, he never stuck and according to Wikipedia he is now playing for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBDL.

    1999 Connecticut: Richard Hamilton & Jake Voskuhl
    - This team, which we ranked as the best team of the past 10 years, knocked off an unbelievably loaded Duke team that might have been in the top 10 of all-time had they won that night in St. Petersburg. While Hamilton has been an excellent NBA player and one of the few guys in the league who can hit a mid-range jumper, the rest of this team has been a disappointment. We had no idea that Voskuhl was still in the league and barely noticed him when we knew he was in the league. The team’s other star Khalid El-Amin played for a short time in the NBA before finding his way to the CBA and Ukranian Basketball League before end up with Türk Telekom B.K. of the Turkish basketball league. We weren’t able to find much information about Ricky Moore, the star of the title game. We’re assuming that he had a rather undistinguished career after that night in St. Pete.

    1998 Kentucky: Nazr Mohammed & Jamaal Magloire
    - The Wildcats, who weren’t expected to win the title this year, were fueled by a big comeback against a very young Duke team in the South Regional finals. Looking back at this team’s roster, we couldn’t see anybody else on this team making a big impact in the NBA. Magloire had a run from 2002-2006 where he averaged around 10/10 and made an All-Star team (more the result of the lack of centers than his exceptional play) while Mohammed has had a slightly less distinguished career. His most notable achievement was helping the San Antonio Spurs win the 2005 NBA Championship (with an assist from Isiah Thomas).

    1997 Arizona: Mike Bibby & Jason Terry
    - Both Bibby and Terry have had excellent careers as was expected for them coming out of college. The more intereresting story is that of the team’s star Miles Simon. Simon was never considered a top NBA prospect, but we at least expected that he would stick around the league because he could make plays. Instead he spent a year in Orlando then traveled across the globe, before ending up in the CBA where as his Wikipedia page states he became “the most decorated player in CBA history”. Not exactly what we expect out of the MOP.

    1996 Kentucky: Antoine Walker, Derek Anderson & Nazr Mohammed
    - This was likely the last of the all-time great teams. This team was incredibly deep with 6 guys who had significant NBA careers (including Tony Delk, Ron Mercer, and Walter McCarty). This team just crushed the teams they played utilizing Pitino’s press with their superior talent and athleticism. None of the players ever became a superstar, but all of their studs had solid NBA careers including a handful of All-Star appearances and awards. We’ll leave Rick Pitino’s stint in Boston for another post.

    1995 UCLA: N/A
    - This team didn’t really have as many superstars as other championship teams did, but they played very well together finishing an impressive 32-1. They had 2 first-round picks (Ed O’Bannon and George Zidek) who had short-lived NBA careers. The team’s other stars were Tyus Edney, Toby Bailey, and Charles O’Bannon, but none of them ever did anything notable in the NBA.

    1994 Arkansas: N/A
    - Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” team used a late Scotty Thurman rainbow 3 to knock off Grant Hill’s Duke team, which basically consisted of Hill and a bunch of nobodies. Corliss “Big Nasty” Williamson had a nice career first in Sacramento then in Detroit even winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2002. Thurman ended up leaving school early, going undrafted, and playing in the CBA.

    1993 UNC: N/A
    - This team didn’t really have any guys we considered potential NBA All-Stars back in 1993. Of course, we were 10 at the time and were already learning to hate the Tar Heels. We’ll let you look at the starting lineup and make up your mind: Eric Montross, Brian Reese, George Lynch, Donald Williams, and Derrick Phelps. Not exactly a murderer’s row of talent there. To be fair, Montross, who hails from the same high school as Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. (Lawrence North in Indianapolis), was selected 9th overall by the Celtics and had a decent rookie season before falling off the map. George Lynch was also considered a solid prospect coming out as 12th overall to the Lakers. He only had a mediocre pro career never averaging over 8.6 PPG and his main NBA achievements on Wikipedia are wearing 3 numbers (#24, #30 and #9) while with the Lakers and being traded to the Grizzlies to clear up cap space (and buffet space) for some guy named Shaq. Phelps played briefly in the NBA. And when we say briefly we mean 3 games and 1 shot, which he missed. Donald Williams, who is best remembered for being the MOP and having a huge game against the Fab 5 in the title game, spent his professional career floating around every league on the planet except for the NBA. The more interesting thing is that the Tar Heels actually had more talent the next year when they added Jerry Stackhouse and a young Rasheed Wallace (who in a sign of things to come got tossed from the McDonald’s All-American game) to this nucleus. However, the 1994 team never really came together and lost to Bill Curley and the Boston College Eagles, which was famously captured on this SI cover.

    1991-92 Duke: Grant Hill
    - Along with the 1996 UK team, Christian Laettner’s Blue Devils were the last of the teams that we consider truly great. To consider how big/great this team was, you have to remember that before this team, Mike Krzyzewski’s boys were the lovable losers who couldn’t win the big one despite multiple Final 4 trips. After this team, Duke became Duke. This team was really built around their 3 superstars: Laettner, Bobby Hurley, and Grant Hill. Everyone knows their college accomplishments: Laettner (#12 on ESPN’s list; maybe the top college player since 1990); Hurley (NCAA all-time assist leader); and Hill (also led Duke to the title game with a YMCA team around him in 1994). Laettner actually had a decent pro career, which most people would realize if he hadn’t been so great in college or if he wasn’t the most hated college player of all-time (multiply Joakim Noah by 100 and you get Laettner). His career highlights include an All-Star appearance as well as being an original Dream Teamer (ok, I can’t type that with a straight face). Hurley was selected 7th overall by Sacramento, but had his career derailed early with a car accident (signs of things to come for another great Duke point guard). However, we don’t think he would have ever become a great NBA PG as evident by how Jason Kidd destroyed him in the 1993 NCAA tournament. Hill actually had the best NBA career of the bunch and was considered one of the top 5-10 players in the league before multiple foot/ankle injuries eventually turned him into a shell of the player that he once was. Antonio Lang was taken 29th overall by Phoenix, but never did much in the pros. Brian Davis played a season in the NBA before floating around the basketball planet and settling on running a Duke-based group that tried to buy the Memphis Grizzlies with Laettner (the deal fell through). Thomas Hill (best known for being the guy crying after Laettner’s 1992 East Regional shot) was drafted 39th overall by Indiana, but never played in the NBA as he played in the Australian National Basketball League for a few years.

    That’s all I have on these guys/teams. If you have any more information or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section.

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    Welcome Back, Big Nasty!

    Posted by rtmsf on September 26th, 2007

    When we saw the news today that the “Big Nasty” is retiring from the NBA and returning to the college ranks to become an assistant coach for Arkansas Baptist College, our easily distracted brains floated back to reflect on what we believe was one of the top half-dozen or so college careers of the 90s. 

    Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” Arkansas teams of Corliss Williamson, Scotty Thurman, Corey Beck (who in completely unrelated news, was shot on Sunday!) and others represented more than a gimmicky name, they represented an ethos.  An ethos mandating that they would run and substitute and run some more with the express purpose of ramming the ball down your throat until you got so tired from the harassing and pressing and constant stream of 6’5 defenders hawking you all over the court, that you simply succumbed to their collective will and gave it up.  They could make excellent teams look downright silly when the 40MoH avalanche gained momentum – ask Richard Williams (Feb. 20, 1993 – Arkansas 115, Mississippi St. 58) or Norm Stewart (Dec. 2, 1993 – Arkansas 120, Missouri 68) about that.  In those days, Arkansas basketball was absolutely must-watch tv for fans because if you watched Frasier instead, you might miss a display of Al Dillard 35-foot bombs and Big Nasty’s pirouettes into a timeout after a patented 11-0 run by the Hawgs.  These were also Nolan’s last great teams before he deteriorated into a paranoid and raving lunatic retired.   

    Corliss Williamson 

    This take-no-prisoners attitude derived as much from the Big Nasty as it did from the coach.  One look at his shaved dome and lips curled into a snarl as he sought to molest another rebound or eviscerate another defender in the post (using every inch of his 6’7 frame) was all you needed to see that this guy meant business.  When a bucket was needed (he was a career 58% shooter), the ball would enter into his surehanded mitts, who, for those short on memory, had the touch and agility of Glen “Big Baby” Davis with a far greater passion and understanding of the game (this is one case where given nicknames seem appropriate).  We’ll never forget how he utterly abused the much-taller, longer and athletic Rasheed Wallace in the second half (19 of his game-high 21 pts) of the 1995 national semifinals, leading the Hawgs from seven down at halftime to a seven-point victory.  It was the kind of performance that separates champions from pretenders at that level, and Big Nasty backed down to nobody. 

    In three seasons at Arkansas, Corliss and friends won the national championship in 1994 and lost to the eventual national champions the other two years (1993 – lost to UNC in OT; 1995 – lost to UCLA in the title game).    They went 85-19 including a sparkling 13-2 NCAA record during this period.  Big Nasty was the team leader and best player, averaging 19 ppg and 7 rpg in just under 30 minutes.  He was drafted in the first round of the 1995 NBA Draft, and re-focused his game on the perimeter to utilize his stature and quickness over the next several years.  He ultimately played twelve seasons in the L, garnering a reputation as a great locker-room presence, and earning Sixth Man of the Year in 2002 plus an NBA title with the Pistons in 2004.  We’re not completely sure, but we think he is one of only three players so far who won NCAA titles in the 1990s and later won an NBA title (Rip Hamilton – UConn (99), Pistons (04) and Nazr Mohammed – UK (96, 98), Spurs (05)).

    Welcome back to the college game, Big Nasty.  We wish you well.   

    Update:  Always a nice guy off the court, we found this clip of Big Nasty playing along with the interviewer (and rockin’ the fly Jesus shirt) at a charity bowling tournament.   One question – who is the white guy and who is the black guy here?

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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.”

    mj-and-jw.jpg

    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).

    jared-jordan.jpg

    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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