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.


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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The Effect of a Potential NBA Lockout on NCAA Basketball

Posted by nvr1983 on April 18th, 2010

Since Gordon Hayward‘s half-court heave bounced off the rim in Indianapolis just two weeks ago there has been a spate of early entries. While it is not shocking to see a number of underclassmen enter the NBA Draft before they are probably ready to leave the college ranks, the sheer number of early entries is surprising. As Chad Ford recently pointed out, all 18 of the top-rated prospects on ESPN’s “Big Board” have declared for the first time [Ed. Note: Patrick Patterson has not officially declared, but signs are pointing towards an announcement this week] and all of them still have eligibility left to come back to college (Jan Vesely and Donatas Motiejunas are international players who could have gone to college, but the fact that they opted to enter the draft is not the least bit surprising). Is this just a random occurrence (I mean some year had to have the most underclassman ever declare) or is there something more behind it? It’s true that many of these guys could come back for an extra year or two (or three in some cases), but we have a sneaking suspicion that most of them will keep their names in the draft especially since nearly two-thirds of that group has already signed with an agent or is expected to in the near future.

Cole may or may not be living here next year (Credit: AldrichMansion.com)

The big question for college basketball fans is what caused this mass exodus from campuses across America. College life certainly has not gotten any tougher for these athletes (and that’s for a guy who averaged 2.7 PPG so you can imagine what kind of perks an All-American gets) and while next season’s NBA salary cap is higher than it was expected to be, it is still $1.6 million less than this season’s salary cap. The real reason behind the exodus may have less to do with the college game than a rumor that has been gaining steam over the past six months — there might be a NBA lockout after the 2010-11 season. We would normally dismiss this as purely speculative message board talk, but there have been numerous major media outlets that have published articles recently about the possibility of a lockout:

At this point all of this could just be idle speculation although with the numerous prominent media voices chiming in on it the possibility of a NBA lockout has to be considered. Even though many of these players will have NBA careers that will exceed a decade we can understand their apprehension at having to wait two more years (coming back to college for one year followed by a potential NBA lockout season) before getting an NBA contract. On top of that, there is a good chance that a lockout would result in a significant restructuring of contracts in a way that would not be favorable to the players. Billy Hunter can posture all he wants about the strength and unity of the players, but the owners have much bigger bankrolls than the players do to live off of during a lockout (see Antoine Walker‘s case for a little background on the financial sensibilities of some NBA players) and they also have streams of income coming in from sources outside of basketball. We would not be surprised to see the owners force the players to accept contracts that are more like what NFL players have to deal with — guaranteed up to a certain point with bonuses up front, but the owners having the opportunity to cut the cord at the first sign of a drop-off in a player’s ability.

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08.21.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 21st, 2009

It has been a loooooong week around these parts, but now that we’ve crowned a Team of the 2000s, let’s move on to some other goings-on and nuggets of news floating around the college hoops world…

  • Comings and Goings.  There have been a few announcements of players who are out for the upcoming semester as we’re heading into fall matriculation.  The most notable are Villanova wing Reggie Redding and Florida big men Eloy Vargas and Adam Allen.  Redding was suspended by the university arising out of an incident where marijuana was allegedly found in his car at an accident, but he is expected to return for the spring semester.  Allen recently had surgery for a stress fracture and Vargas is academically ineligible for the fall semester.  Although neither were major contributors for Florida in 08-09, they were expected to provide depth in the frontcourt this season.  On the flip side, former Dookie Elliot Williams received his waiver from the NCAA and will be eligible to suit up immediately for his hometown Memphis Tigers this season. 
  • 2009 NIT Bracket.  The pairings were announced a week ago, but we’re just now getting around to analyzing it.  They’ve seeded the top four teams by region (#1 Duke, #2 UConn, #3 LSU, and #4 Arizona St) in a solid, if not spectacular, field.  But did anyone else notice that they mismatched the seedings?  Take a closer look at the thumbnail below.  If the top eight seeds win their first game, then we should be left with pairings of 1/8, 2/7, 3/6 and 4/5, right?  In this NIT bracket, #1 Duke would play #8 Charlotte, so that’s ok; but, #2 UConn would play #6 Hofstra, #3 LSU would play #5 WKU, and #4 Arizona St. would play #7 TCU.  What’s the point of this?  If you’re going to take the time to seed teams by expectation, you should probably do it properly rather than trying to slot teams based on regional travel convenience.  Sigh…   For what it’s worth, Duke seems to always win this thing, but depending on how quickly replacement players develop on the other top seeds, any of the others could surprise.

2009 NIT Brackets

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Mazel Tov, JT…

Posted by rtmsf on August 13th, 2009

So is it safe to move on from the Pitino-Sypher saga now?  Slowly backing away from the wreckage…

One other piece of news that was released today involved Jeremy Tyler, the 11th-grader from San Diego who decided that playing with high school kids was no longer a sufficient challenge for him.  Having surmised that playing ball in Europe would improve his game and allow him to cash a paycheck in the process, he signed today with Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Premier League.  He’ll earn $140k next season along with the standard housing, auto and airfare allowances made by most European teams, and he supposedly picked the team based on its availability of playing time and the fact that they speak English.

jeremy tyler SD

It seems a decent deal for a kid who otherwise would be playing his senior season for free at San Diego High, but the real question is whether this foray to Israel will actually help his case when it comes time for the NBA Draft in two years.  The word on his game is that he is extremely raw and not nearly as far along as Brandon Jennings was when he went to Europe last year, but big men are notoriously slower to develop and it’s not like Jennings set Europe on fire yet he was still drafted in the lottery.   Of course, Jennings was also the RSCI #1 player in his class, whereas Tyler is more of a mid-teens level of prospect.

Ultimately, it will come down to whether Tyler shows a natural progression over the next two seasons overseas.  There’s no guarantee when it comes to the NBA Draft for any prospect, but there seems to be a strong correlation between HS ratings and draft placement regardless of collegiate output.  From Gerald Wallace to Jrue Holiday, there are many examples of this.  Having never seen Tyler’s game, he may blossom in Israel and put himself in great position for 2011; but we feel that it’s equally likely that he’ll crash and burn, lose focus and never sniff the draft.  We’ll definitely keep an eye on his progress during the coming season (and we assuredly won’t be the only ones).

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Memphis Recruit Latavious Williams Bolts Overseas

Posted by zhayes9 on July 22nd, 2009

First it was Brandon Jennings, then heralded class of 2011 recruit Jeremy Tyler, and now the Rivals.com #17 overall player from the class of 2009 – Latavious Williams.  Therein completes the list of talented individuals that have opted to play overseas in the last year rather than pursue a playing career in college. While Jennings cannot necessarily be blamed for his decision to play in Italy due to a failure to be cleared academically to play for Arizona this past season, the decisions by Tyler (a high school junior at the time of his decision) and Williams leave us scratching our heads.

Sure, Tyler has the potential to be an impact basketball player. He’s 6’11, loaded with upside and will make plenty of money before he would have even received his diploma. But playing overseas, just as Jennings discovered, is much more difficult than anticipated by a confident 17-year old who has never faced such competition in his life.  The odds are that we never hear from Jeremy Tyler again.  As for Williams, the Memphis recruit was reportedly 50/50 to be cleared to play this season for new coach Josh Pastner and the Tigers. This is a different situation than Jennings, a player who entered the final year of high school as the top-ranked player in the nation, who struggled mightily in Italy. Williams is certainly talented, but nowhere near as talented as Jennings, yet reportedly Williams had Jennings in mind when he made his decision.

“It was a difficult decision,” Williams said in his press release. “But after consulting with a number of people, and taking my family situation into consideration, playing overseas is the best move for me.”  According to Williams’ consultant Trey Godfrey, Williams made his decision with money in mind: “He made the decision when taking into account his family situation,” said Godfrey, “He wants to put himself in a situation where he can help out and he saw this as a good opportunity.”  He had been considering the move overseas even during the recruiting process with Memphis and other schools.  China, of all places, is one possible destination for Williams.

The impact on Memphis is glaring. Williams was rumored to be a potential starter for the Tigers due to the departure of both Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggart from the frontcourt. Otherwise, Angel Garcia, Pierre Henderson-Niles and Miami JC transfer Will Coleman will need to lead the way inside. The strength of the Tigers should remain in the backcourt with Duke transfer Elliot Williams, three-point threat Doneal Mack, point guard Willie Kemp and the emerging Roburt Sallie and Wesley Witherspoon.

Josh Pastner Better Get Back on the Phones (photo credit: Arizona Star)

Josh Pastner Better Get Back on the Phones (photo credit: Arizona Star)

As for the impact on Williams, it could be tragic. While he could certainly prove us wrong, it’s hard to see Williams succeeding overseas playing in that type of competition. He’s not a supreme talent like Jennings who can struggle and still maintain his status as a NBA lottery pick due to upside and potential. He could be severely exposed overseas and barely end up a second-round pick in the league, if he’s fortunate.  Due to the complicated eligibility process imposed by the NCAA and the allure of bringing in early cash outside of school, look for this troubling trend to continue as long as only one year of college is required prior to the NBA.

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06.28.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 28th, 2009

Let’s get caught up after a glorious weekend…

  • Elliot Williams to Memphis.  Nothing surprising here, as we reported last week that Elliot Williams was leaving Duke to move closer to home to attend to his mother’s illness.  The only school that made reasonable sense was his hometown University of Memphis, and Gary Parrish reported yesterday that Williams will indeed become a Tiger.  If Williams can get the NCAA to approve his hardship waiver so that he can play next season, he should walk right into a starting position at the PG spot for Josh Pastner’s squad.  While we’re on the subject of Memphis getting new players, former Kentucky player (well, he never actually played) Matt Pilgrim is probably transferring to Memphis with the assistance of new UK coach John Calipari.  Pilgrim, a transfer from Hampton who sat out last season at UK, wasn’t part of the new regime’s plans.  Since he didn’t want to leave Lexington but was no longer welcome, Coach Cal is trying to facilitate a seamless transfer for him.
  • The NCAA Shell Game. Seth Davis wrote an article last week that illustrates just how one-sided the NCAA scholarship system can be.  When new coaches (e.g.,Isiah Thomas and John Calipari) get to their new schools, they often feel the need to run off players (such as Pilgrim, mentioned above) who don’t fit in their lofty plans for the program.  That’s all fine and well for replacing lesser players, but the whole house of cards gets exposed when a coach wants to keep a player who otherwise would like to transfer.  Meet Freddy Asprilla, a 6’10 Colombian center at FIU who had a great freshman year and wants to transfer to a major conference school, but whom isn’t being released by FIU simply because, well, they don’t have to.  There’s an adage about the deck getting stacked somewhere in here.
  • FIU Cheerleading.  We know it’s purely coincidental that FIU is enabling cost-cutting measures by cutting its cheerleaders during the same year that they hired Isiah Thomas to coach their men’s basketball team (Thomas isn’t taking a base salary this year).  Still, the rich irony of FIU wholly dismantling the cheerleading team within months of Thomas’ arrival on campus isn’t lost on anyone.  Sometimes the unintended consequences are more compelling than the intended ones.
  • NBA Draft DetritusGary Parrish: the NBA will find you wherever you play.  Luke Winn: behind the scenes at MSG, and raising legitimate questions as to Ty Lawson and DeJuan Blair’s draft positions.  Jeff Goodman: Brandon Jennings made the right choice to go to Europe.  More Parrish: like RTC, he also thinks Demar DeRozan is going to be a stud.
  • More Quick Hits.  Marquette’s Maurice Acker: done with basketballRenardo Sidney: stop delaying, NCAAJeremy Tyler: headed to Israel Brian Ellerbe: new assistant at GW.  BYU’s Dave Rose: now cancer-free and returning to coach this fall.   William & Mary: considering an asparagus mascotRoy Williams: Aw Shucks… the RW Story, on sale in November.  Antonio Anderson: those Ws are ours!
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