Which Big Ten Player Will Not Make the 2013 AP All-America Team?

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 31st, 2012

The preseason AP All-America team consists of three players from the Big Ten – Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas and Michigan’s Trey Burke. Debates have already begun across every B1G fan forum regarding which players might be overrated or who might not meet their relatively high expectations. Only one player from last season’s preseason list finished the season as an All-American – and it was the Big Ten’s very own Jared Sullinger. Let’s examine which of this year’s elite Big Ten players are most likely to drop off from these lofty expectations that have already been attached to them.

Will Trey Burke and Cody Zeller finish the season on the All-American team? (AP Photo/D. Cummings)

Cody Zeller

Zeller is the best big man in the country. He is also the best player on the #1 team in the nation, so there’s not much to argue about Zeller’s selection to the preseason team. His numbers will be there (15.6 PPG and 6.6 RPG) unless Indiana completely abandons him during certain stretches of the game. But if the Hoosiers commit to running the offense through the post, Zeller will stuff the stat sheet all season long. During conference play, there are very few forwards who can match up with Zeller’s offensive arsenal. Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe has the offensive skills but has yet to show that is committed on the defensive end. Michigan State’s big men – Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne — will play good defense because Tom Izzo demands it, but neither of them have the athleticism to defend Zeller’s post moves. Does Indiana need to win the Big Ten and make the Final Four for Zeller to remain in the national spotlight? Not necessarily. As long as they remain near the top of the league and among the top 10-15 teams nationally, he will get credit for leading IU as a contender. Overall, there is no reason to believe that Zeller might not finish as a first-team All-America selection and he may even finish the season as the National Player of the Year.

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Big Ten M5: 10.16.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 16th, 2012

  1. Indiana legend and college hoops icon, Bobby Knight, is getting rid of some of his jewelery. Knight is auctioning off his three national championship rings and the Olympic gold medal he received from the LA Olympic Committee for coaching the 1984 men’s national team. Knight won titles at Indiana in 1976, 1981 and 1987. One of the best coaches in the history of the game will have his memorabilia auctioned off by Steiner Sports Memorabilia, with the proceeds of the auction going to support his grandchildren’s education and charities.
  2. How will the Illinois’ senior class be remembered by Illini fans? Per Paul Klee, that question will be answered in March. Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and Tyler Griffey came to Champaign in 2009 as one of the top 30 recruiting classes in the nation. They were supposed to help Bruce Weber take the Fighting Illini back to the Sweet Sixteen or beyond. But the Illini missed the NCAA Tournament twice since then and got only one win in the other year. Paul averaged 14.7 PPG and 4.7 RPG last season but has the potential to become one of the best players in the conference this season. Even though the trio have the talent, they’ve never been able to put a consistent season together. Most Illini fans would agree with Klee that an NCAA Tournament appearance this season would help cement the senior class’ legacy as a solid foundation for the future.
  3. Mackey Arena hosted a Midnight Madness event for the first time since 2008 this past weekend. Head coach Matt Painter talked about his team’s summer trip to Italy and its benefits before the scrimmage began. Forward Jacob Lawson wowed the crowd by winning the dunk competition, and even though Lawson only averaged 2.9 PPG last season, he will play a pivotal role in Purdue’s frontcourt this year. The Boilers sported a 27.3% offensive rebounding rate and will need Lawson to hold his own in the paint in an offense that will feature guards Terone Johnson (9.2 PPG) and D.J. Byrd (8.9 PPG).
  4. How will Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan fill Mike Bruesewitz’s slot in the rotation during the first few games? According to ESPN‘s Eamonn Brennan, Ryan may try to use a combination of sophomore forward Frank Kaminsky, sophomore guard Traevon Jackson, and freshman wing Sam Dekker. Bruesewitz hurt his leg while diving for a loose ball during a scrimmage last week. Kaminsky is a 6’11” forward who came off the bench last season and could use some game action before the Big Ten season begins. The son of former Big Ten great Jim Jackson, Traevon Jackson is a 6’2″ combo guard who should earn some playing time after the departure of Jordan Taylor. Ryan has also praised guard Josh Gasser (7.6 PPG) for his improvement during the offseason and will most likely start at the point to begin the non-conference slate.
  5. During this time of the year, the “other” basketball league in the country (i.e. the NBA) is going through preseason practices as well. Former Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger was drafted in the first round by the Boston Celtics and has been prominent so far in preseason action. Even though he dropped to the 21st pick of the draft due to his history of back problems, he is happy to be learning from one of the all-time greats, Kevin Garnett. Garnett will not log heavy minutes until the end of the season due to his knee injuries and so younger players such as Sullinger will be expected to keep the momentum going during the gruelling 82-game season. The 6’8″ power forward averaged 16 points and eight rebounds during the preseason opener in Turkey and will certainly be a focal point of the Celtics’ bench during the upcoming NBA season.
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Big Ten Summer Check In: Ohio State Buckeyes

Posted by jnowak on August 2nd, 2012

Another All-American gone, so who steps in to help fill the void and keep Ohio State as one of the top teams in the Big Ten? Surely it will be somebody — likely Aaron Craft and/or Deshaun Thomas — for Thad Matta, who has done nothing but rebuild and reload during his time in Columbus. He brings in elite-level recruits, they perform quickly and at a high level, then head off to the professional ranks and Matta does it again. Wash, rinse, repeat. So does that mean these summer months are the rinsing stages? There’s no time like the offseason for a captain to grab ahold of his team, and if Craft is the leader we’ve seen over the last two years, he’s probably gearing up for offseason workouts now just as much as he is for the first tip-off.

Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas will be carrying the Buckeyes this season.

  • Evaluating Last Year: The Buckeyes were a primary reason why the Big Ten was held in such high regard last season, making an early non-conference statement by beating Florida and hammering Duke at home. They slipped at Kansas without All-American center Jared Sullinger, but geared up again for Big Ten play. They dropped a contest at Indiana in one of the best conference games of the year, hitting a rough patch that included three losses in six games (including two at home  versus Michigan State and Wisconsin). They lost again to the Spartans in the Big Ten Tournament championship but were the only Big Ten team to make it to the Final Four, where they arguably blew a two-point game to Kansas. There was a brief stretch late in conference play when it looked like the Buckeyes were a bit out of sync, but Sullinger and Matta got them back just in time to finish the year where many anticipated they would be.
  • State of the Program: Under Matta, the Buckeyes have been one of the consistently excellent programs not only in the Big Ten, but also in the country. Matta continues to bring in top-tier recruits and, when many of them leave for the NBA after a year or two, he brings in some more. Matta’s Buckeyes pose a similar problem to the Big Ten schools as John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats pose to the SEC (and the rest of the country for that matter) with their ability to consistently reload with great, young talent prepared to jump right in and contribute immediately. Ohio State and Michigan State have essentially shared the conference’s top perch over the last four years, with each team claiming at least a share of the regular season title every year since 2009 and the last three Big Ten Tournament titles. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten Weekly Five: 07.05.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on July 5th, 2012

  1. There’s been plenty of chatter over the last few weeks about the former Big Ten players headed for the NBA, but what about those who chose to stay behind? The biggest of those names is probably Cody Zeller, who opted to remain at Indiana for his sophomore season. A good choice? Brent Yarina from BTN.com seems to think so. The best way to make this call is to consider his ceiling and also to consider how much worse things could get. He could get hurt, like any player, or his additional time in college could give scouts time to pick him apart. But more time in college also allows a young player to mature, for him to grow into a body more suited for the NBA and for him to raise his draft stock (yes, that’s right, stock can also go up). There’s no way he would have gone No. 1 this year. But right now, there’s a great chance he’ll go No. 1 next year. Seems like a good choice.
  2. Speaking of the NBA Draft, here’s a nice one-stop-shop from the fine folks at Big Ten Powerhouse with all the information you need about the Big Ten hoopsters — Draymond Green, Meyers Leonard, Robbie Hummel and Jared Sullinger — who are moving on to the professional ranks. All of these guys have something to prove. Green dropped further than many predicted but, as he said, it just wouldn’t be right if he didn’t have to work his tail off just a little while longer (and same goes for Hummel, who’s had to work as hard as anybody to get back to this level). Many questioned Sullinger’s health heading into the draft, and Leonard’s production at Illinois led many to doubt his potential. Only time will tell.
  3. Northwestern didn’t have anybody taken in the NBA Draft, but the Wildcats did make an important addition for their future. It landed a huge commitment from Jaren Sina, a four-star point guard from New Jersey. Sina could be the biggest recruiting coup for Bill Carmody in his time as a head coach there. A second-team All-State selection in New Jersey as a junior last season, Sina averaged 20 PPG and 8.4 APG while shooting 42.9% from three-point range. Is he the guy who can finally lead Northwestern to the NCAA Tournament? Stay tuned. But while the Wildcats have had excellent forwards over the last few years, it’s been a while since an elite point guard came their way.
  4. Michigan coach John Beilein knows a thing about recruiting coups, having brought in some top young talent (see: Tim Hardaway, Jr., Trey Burke) over the last four years with headliner Mitch McGary on the horizon for next season. Despite this recent success, Beilein says his recruiting philosophy has not changed, but he admits the scenarios are changing. “(In recruiting) you have to pick your battles,” Beilein told AnnArbor.com. “The battles we’re choosing, they may be a little larger.” Michigan has largely been most successful taking its recruiting out of state, since Michigan State and Tom Izzo has had a strong handle on the Mitten State for more than a decade (that was re-affirmed last week with the commitment of two-sport star Drake Harris). Every coach will tell you in-state recruiting is crucial, but who is to argue with the success Beilein has had at UM?
  5. Here’s a bit of unexpected news that really shouldn’t surprise anybody: Aaron Craft, already known as one of the conference’s premier tough guys, has been playing since high school with a floating bone chip in his left ankle. “If he turned the ankle wrong just a certain way, that small piece of bone would get jammed back on his tibia and it would cause excruciating pain,” Craft’s father, John, told the Columbus Dispatch. The Ohio State point guard had surgery June 18 to remove the chip, and has been in a cast and on crutches since then but is expected to soon begin rehabilitation and be “full go” in 3-4 weeks. I can’t imagine any doubt that he’ll fully heal and get back to the same level we’re used to. In fact, if he’s been reaching that level this entire time, I think it’s safe to say he’ll be even better.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Jared Sullinger

Posted by KDoyle on June 26th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in Newark, New Jersey. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Jared Sullinger

School: Ohio State

Height/Weight: 6’9” / 265 lbs.

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Mid to Late First Round

There Are Plenty Of Questions Around Sullinger Heading Into The Draft

Overview: Whether fair or not, much of the attention surrounding Sullinger leading up to Draft night has been on a reportedly ailing back and the fact that he was not invited to the NBA Draft as reported by ESPN’s Andy Katz. Sullinger is not projected to be a lottery pick by experts, and thus did not receive an invitation to the Prudential Center in Newark. Entering his sophomore year, Sullinger was a consensus top five selection in the Draft as he was—and still is—one of the most polished big men in the country. His low post moves and ability to score within 10 feet from the basket is unparalleled, but then his athleticism and health were questioned. Red flags went up back in December when Sullinger was forced to miss Ohio State’s game against Texas Pan American and the following game against Kansas. Despite coping with this hindrance, Sullinger was still one of the top forwards in the nation averaging 17.9 PPG and 9.2 RPG. When at full strength, like he was during his freshman year garnering the USBWA Freshman of the Year award, Sullinger is an immovable force with exceptional hands and the softest of touches around the basket. Not to mention, his mid-range jumper is pretty darned good for a 6’9: guy. But then again, there are the questions regarding his health. One of the most likable guys in this year’s Draft with a smile seemingly always on his face and a jovial manner about him, no one wishes Sullinger to have an injury-plagued pro career that his predecessor at Ohio State—Greg Oden—has had thus far. One thing is for certain, a healthy Sullinger whose skills continue to develop makes for a real steal in the latter half of the first round.

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Big Ten Weekly Five: 06.21.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on June 20th, 2012

  1. Everyone in the Big Ten has seen what a force Jared Sullinger can be in the post, but some doctors are warning NBA executives about his potential in the professional ranks, according to a report from ESPN.com. Chad Ford writes that some are concerned that Sullinger’s back troubles could shorten his career. The former Ohio State All-American is expected to be taken early in the first round in the upcoming NBA Draft. Also, here’s our take.
  2. Could Michigan State basketball be looking at participating in a throwback game? Retro jerseys are one thing, but how about a retro facility? Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis — the brainchild behind basketball on an aircraft carrier and one of the first to consider playing hoops in a football stadium — is floating the idea of playing a game at Jenison Field House, where the Spartans played before they called Breslin Center home. It may be tough logistically, but it would be a great way to pay tribute to the historic 1963 Loyola of ChicagoMississippi State NCAA Tournament Mideast Regional semifinal game that was notable for Mississippi State leaving the state against court order to play against a team with African-American players on it.
  3. If Nebraska is going to join the ranks of the elite basketball programs in the Big Ten, one key will be to have facilities on par with those other programs. The Chicago Bulls seem to think that is the case. Executives from the Chicago organization toured the Hendricks Training Complex in Lincoln, and were blown away. “That’s one of the highest compliments we’ve had,” Marc Boehm, Nebraska’s executive associate athletic director, told the Omaha World-Herald.
  4. Minnesota‘s new athletic director, Norwood Teague, officially began his tenure on Monday and said negotiations with basketball coach Tubby Smith were in the “eleventh hour.” “I think it’s going really well,” Teague told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “What happens with these negotiations is you get the bulk done and then these little things hold you up and then you worry that they’re larger things – and they’re not.”
  5. Draymond Green was the face of the Michigan State basketball team this season and went on to be named the conference’s Player of the Year while leading the Spartans to a Big Ten championship and No. 1 seed on the NCAA Tournament. As he prepares for the upcoming NBA Draft, the Big Ten accolades continue to pile up for the versatile big man.
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Jared Sullinger’s Medical Red Flags Call Into Question His Draft Status

Posted by EJacoby on June 19th, 2012

Jared Sullinger was one of college basketball’s biggest stars the past two seasons, entering Ohio State as the #2 consensus player in his high school class and consequently producing at an elite level for the Buckeyes from day one. The 6’9″ fundamental machine averaged over 17 PPG and 9 RPG in back-to-back seasons, becoming a First Team All-American in both years. He led OSU to a #1 seed and Sweet Sixteen appearance in his freshman year before igniting the Buckeyes even further in 2011-12 — all the way to the Final Four. Yet Sullinger saw his draft stock slowly drop throughout college, from a potential #1 pick to just borderline top 10 status as of early June’s Draft Combine, due to concerns about his NBA upside stemming from limited athleticism. He failed to impress during Combine measurements and testing, finishing dead last of 52 competitors in the agility and sprint drills while showing up with 10.7% body fat.

Sullinger is now swarmed with obstacles in preparation of the NBA draft (Reuters photo/M. Sullivan)

But things got much worse on Monday, after Sullinger was reportedly red flagged by NBA doctors who have serious concerns about a long term back injury. Team doctors worry that “back issues could shorten his NBA career” and some medical staffs “advised their teams not to draft him in the first round,” according to ESPN’s Chad Ford. This news will make it even more challenging for Sullinger’s professional prospects — somehow, this dominant college big man with consistent professional intrigue may not even get selected as a first round NBA pick. Could Sullinger wind up becoming a late steal (think: DeJuan Blair), or should concerns about his physical condition validate passing on him in this deep draft?

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Big Ten Weekly Five: 06.14.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on June 14th, 2012

  1. The NBA pre-draft combines are in full swing. Illinois’ Meyers Leonard continues to impress the scouts and is consistently shooting up the draft boards. Despite playing a handful of minutes as a freshman, he had a great sophomore season when he averaged 13.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and had a few jaw-dropping blocks to amount to 1.9 rejections per game. Leonard may not have the true post moves to become a dominant scorer at the next level but his physical attributes (7’1″, 250 lbs.) and work ethic are good enough to work as a defensive presence in the NBA. Leonard tries to model his game after defensive studs such as Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler, which is a very reasonable comparison for somebody whose offensive game continues to evolve.
  2. More on the NBA Draft, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger seems to be a consensus lottery pick, but may not be picked in the top five this year. A year ago, he was projected that high after his freshman season but he came back instead to lead the Buckeyes to the Final Four. Sullinger’s scoring remained the same between both seasons (17.5 PPG as freshman to 17.2 PPG as a sophomore) but he was able to improve his rebounding to 10.2 per game and show range in his jump shot after returning to Ohio State. Despite the drop on the draft boards, Sullinger has no regrets about coming back to Columbus. It is still unclear whether Sullinger is a true power forward in the NBA, but adding range to his game along with his tremendous intensity on the court should indicate to several NBA teams that he will improve over the years.
  3. Wisconsin fans can’t wait to see incoming freshman Sam Dekker in action. The 6’8″ forward is the reigning Mr. Basketball in Wisconsin and has been named to the USA Men’s Basketball under-18 roster. Most freshmen that begin their careers in Madison don’t come in with several accolades but Dekker is certainly an exception. If Ben Brust and Josh Gasser can try to take over point guard duties in the absence of Jordan Taylor, Dekker combined with Ryan Evans should form a formidable frontcourt next season for Bo Ryan.
  4. Both Big Ten coaches who were let go after last season have a new home in the Big 12. Bruce Weber took the job at Kansas State but he has company from former Nebraska coach Doc Sadler now at Kansas. Sadler is the new Director of Basketball Operations in Lawrence and replaces Barry Hinson who took the head coaching job at Southern Illinois University this offseason. Sadler was 101-89 at Nebraska but the newest addition to the B1G decided to take a new direction by letting him go last season. Sadler coached in the Big 12 for a few seasons and his experience ought to help Bill Self continue Kansas’ unparalleled dominance in the conference.
  5. Speaking of Bruce Weber, he would have needed a few big men on his roster if he would have stayed at Illinois. Current Illinois coach John Groce considers size a high priority as well and he recently received a verbal commitment from Maverick Morgan, a prep center from Ohio. Morgan is a 6’10” center who is ranked #148 by Rivals as he enters his senior season this fall. Groce’s offense at Ohio has revolved around guards such as D.J. Cooper but Morgan along with current sophomore Mike Shaw will have to play a key role in rebounding, especially during the Big Ten campaign.
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Morning Five: 06.11.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 11th, 2012

  1. After going through the nation’s freshmen earlier in the week, Drew Cannon closed the week by ranking the top 100 players regardless of class. The rankings itself (#1-25, 26-60, and 61-100) should not surprise you, but just how far off the “experts” were in the preseason might. We cannot really fault them because many of us bought into the same preseason hype or overlooked players who turned out to be stars. However, it can be instructive when the same writers do the same thing in back-to-back years on the same player.
  2. Every summer there are a few high school players who make a name for themselves. Sometimes those players turn out to stars, but other times they turn out to be a flash-in-the-pan and do not continue to match that level of performance when they return to their regular environment. Jeff Borzello thinks he may have seen one of those players in Australian prospect Ben Simmons, who he claims could be the #1 prospect in the class of 2015 if he decides to move to the US. We have not seen many foreign-based recruits at the top of the recruiting ratings, but as Steven Adams showed us this year (and will hopefully show us next year at Pittsburgh) we should be on the watch for more elite recruits from overseas. Of course, that should only make things even more difficult for all the writers on the recruiting beat.
  3. Do you remember that minor academic scandal involving several football and basketball players at North Carolina? If you do not, you are about to get a big refresher as new information about the ongoing scandal has come out regarding a class last summer that lacked any instruction and only enrolled football players (18 current and one former player). While this particular class did not involve any basketball players, several other classes that have raised suspicion did. It seems like there needs to be a lot more investigation into this matter before anything can be done (or it can be swept under the rug), but it is worth keeping an eye on throughout the summer months.
  4. All things being equal, we normally support giving a player additional eligibility, but there are the rare occasions where we will question that decision. The decision in favor of Memphis guard Charles Carmouche is one of them. He was suspended for committing an NCAA violation after refusing to pay for a hotel room massage that he received while he was with the team in Maui, then sat out the rest of last season after being taken out of the rotation. He was cleared to play last season with knee tendinitis, but he stayed out anyway — so naturally, the NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility late last week. To top it off, Carmouche, who graduated from Memphis in May, has decided to transfer from the school and will not have to sit out a year because of the graduate transfer waiver. So if you are scoring at home:  He was suspended for committing a NCAA violation; apparently lost his spot in the rotation during the time he was suspended for knowingly committing a NCAA violation; sat out with an injury despite being medically cleared; and he gets to transfer without any penalty. We will let you connect the dots.
  5. Two players who were widely lauded for their decisions to return to school for their sophomore seasons last year learned the hard way that more time in college generally gives scouts and media more opportunities to pick apart their games. Both Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes were preseason All-Americans who were expected to dominate college basketball from the opening tip in November, but despite excellent years from both (after all, Sullinger was a consensus 1st team AA and Barnes made some 2d and 3d teams), their NBA Draft stock indubitably dropped. Despite the criticism, both players are looking forward to proving the naysayers wrong in the NBA next year — Sullinger says that he is used to all the criticism, while Barnes says that his two years weathering criticism of his game at UNC taught him how to be a professional.
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Big Ten Weekly Five: 05.31.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on May 31st, 2012

  1. The IndianaKentucky series just isn’t happening. The negotiations had begun again a few weeks ago but the latest proposal was rejected again. According to reports, Kentucky rejected the four-year extension proposed by Indiana which includes a game at Kentucky and Indiana. The positive sign is that the schools appear to be continuing to try to keep this traditional rivalry alive for the sake of college basketball and the fans of the respective schools.
  2. Illinois‘ decision to hire John Groce was met with a fair amount of friction by some alumni because they had their doubts about his ability to recruit in Chicago. Groce continues to search for a top assistant who would focus on player development but also help him lead the effort to establish recruiting connections in Chi-town. Isaac Chew was brought in as an assistant due to his ties to Chicago but he left Champaign after a short stint to work with Buzz Williams at Marquette. Illini fans can’t be discouraged with this news because Groce understands that the rebuilding effort will need a great coaching staff and is willing to take his time to put it together.
  3. Ohio State‘s Jared Sullinger is considered one of the top ten players in the upcoming NBA Draft. Most of the mock drafts have Sullinger slated to go in the later part of the Lottery. Sullinger may not have a clear position in the NBA but his leadership during his sophomore year to lead the Buckeyes to the Final Four will certainly help his case as the pre-draft workouts will pick up pace over the next few weeks.
  4. While Jared Sullinger may be a consensus pick in the Lottery, IllinoisMeyers Leonard will need to prove his value during the workouts a little bit more. Leonard hopes to be a first round pick in a draft that features several big men such as Thomas Robinson of Kansas and North Carolina‘s Tyler Zeller. Leonard could have used another season at Illinois to polish his post moves but his physical abilities and work ethic ought to help him get to the next level.
  5. Tom Izzo and politics? Why not? Izzo could not have become a great college coach without his abilities to sell the Michigan State program and his brand of basketball. Now, he is trying to translate his leadership experience in public policy as he is one of the key speakers at the Mackinac Policy Conference in Michigan. Perhaps listening to a coach with multiple Final Fours and a National Championship can help build teams outside of the basketball court.
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