Reported adidas Deal With Andrew Wiggins Sets Precedent Very High

Posted by David Harten on October 17th, 2013

According to various media reports on Tuesday, adidas is already stocking up to make a play on current Kansas star Andrew Wiggins, with the shoe giant ready to the throw a 10-year, $140 to $180 million contract at him when he goes pro after this season. Wiggins is widely touted as the top prospect in the 2014 NBA Draft, so let’s move past any issues or claims of amateurism and instead look at the how and why of this supposed deal. Looking at the immediate future, when Wiggins is selected in the first round of the draft next June, he will get the guaranteed four-year contract that comes with selection as a first round pick, per the NBA’s recent collective bargaining agreement. Breaking it down to a simple annual take of salary ($4 million-plus per year) plus endorsements, Wiggins will make a minimum of $18-$22 million per year beginning next summer, assuming of course that he lives up to the overflowing hype while passing through Lawrence.

Why Is This Man Smiling? Nine Figures Waiting Helps

Why Is This Man Smiling? Nine Figures Waiting For Him Helps

For comparison’s sake, let’s look at some of the more lucrative endorsement deals offered to young professional basketball prospects in the last decade. It’s tough to find a good benchmark, but you have to start with LeBron James’ deal with Nike in 2003, which was reportedly worth over $90 million at the time. In terms of one-year collegiate wonders, Kevin Durant signed a seven-year, $60 million deal with Nike when he came out of Texas, and lest we forget, Derrick Rose signed a monster “lifetime” (actual: 14-year) contract with adidas last year worth $260 million.

And yet, none of those deals are as important as the one that Wiggins could reportedly sign. There are certain number of factors that go into it. First, a company being publicly locked and loaded with such a deal (of course, neither adidas nor Wiggins can confirm it) could set off a behind-the-scenes bidding war and set the stage for preemptive moves like this in the future. Everyone around the game knows that the business of basketball begins when top players are still in the AAU ranks. With the shoe companies having such deep and prolific roots in the summer circuits and associations with the major prep schools, it’s easy to understand how and why many players are predestined for adidas, Nike, Reebok, and so forth from the beginning. Kansas is an adidas school. Wouldn’t it make sense for Wiggins to represent the shoe company on the court this season with such a tremendous payoff waiting for him in the wings? Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, Dream Vision and adidas all say hello.

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Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun – Are Package Deals With Top Recruits Just The Flavor Of The Day Or Are They Here To Stay?

Posted by BHayes on September 25th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.

With the recent news of a potential Cliff Alexander-Jaquan Lyle package deal, can we officially label the recruiting season of 2013 as the summer of bromance? An Alexander-Lyle pairing would mark the second duo of top-25 recruits in the class of 2014 to make the college decision a joint one, as Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones (both top-five recruits according to a number of outlets) have long marketed themselves as a package deal for college recruiters. We may not be witnessing Bigfoot here – package deals like this have certainly gone down in the past – but are these examples proof of an emerging trend? The most frequent iteration of the phenomenon in years past had to be the brother package – see Harrison, Andrew and Aaron (Kentucky) or Barton, Will and Antonio (Memphis) – or if we were stretching, close friends who either grew up together or played their high school ball with one another. But now we are beginning to push the definition of proximity even further, as high school basketball players from completely different parts of the country are forming relationships strong enough to consummate these package recruitment deals. It’s a testament to the growing reach of the AAU circuit, the increased facility of long-distance communication in today’s world, and last, but not least, an eerie imitation of the current dynamics within NBA free agency – the professional equivalent of the recruitment process.

Kentucky Has A More Common Version Of The Package Deal Arriving On Campus This Fall In the Harrison Brothers --Emphasis On Brothers

Kentucky Has A More Common Version Of The Package Deal Arriving On Campus This Fall In the Harrison Brothers –Emphasis On Brothers

The modern high-major college recruit simply isn’t afforded the same summer vacation  he used to have. Even a decade ago, there simply were not as many mandatory (in the sense that every other high-level recruit will be there) camps, AAU tournaments, and international competitions as there are today. We could spend a lot of time discussing the many negatives of this current grassroots setup, but one positive to grow out of the arrangement is that recruits have the chance to spend more time with their peers from across the country. Especially for kids not playing their high school ball at the hoop factories (Findlay, Oak Hill, Huntington, etc.), I would imagine finding peers in your native surroundings can be a challenge, so having the chance to spend time with those facing the exact same circumstances as you has to be a welcomed opportunity for these star recruits.

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Ohio State and LeBron James Sort of Like One Another

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 4th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

Back when he was Cleveland’s homegrown basketball superstar, leading the Cavaliers to 60-win seasons and stoking hopes of a cathartic end to the city’s tortuously long championship drought, arguably no professional basketball player identified with his home state more conspicuously than LeBron James. LeBron wasn’t just the Cavaliers best player – he was a prodigiously gifted Ohio-born talent, a player no Cleveland fan could possibly dislike, whose selection as the No. 1 pick to Cleveland in the 2003 draft felt equal parts suspicious and fortuitous. Then, the relationship between state and player was severed on contentious and disdainful terms; James, an unrestricted free agent following the 2009-10 NBA season, went on national television and spurned his hometown team in favor of joining the Miami Heat, where he would go on to win two (and counting) NBA Championships. The antipathy seems to have receded with the perspective of time – people aren’t burning LeBron jerseys in parking lots anymore, for starters – and reasoned fans (there are outlandish exceptions, to be sure) have seemed to come to grips with the basketball-related motivations for James’ decision. There is even speculation LeBron would return to Cleveland if he decides to leave the Heat in free agency next summer. His ties with Cleveland, and the greater Ohio basketball scene, were never completely broken, in other words. James always had a soft spot for Buckeye State hoops. Which leads us to Tuesday, when Ohio State – the state’s premier Division I college hoops program – treated a score of media to a tour of the Buckeyes’ freshly renovated practice facility, where a soon-to-go-viral LeBron-related surprise was lurking amid the locker room nameplates:

Another symbol of LeBron's OSU love, placed prominently in the team locker room, isn't a bad way to boost coach That Matta's recruiting efforts (Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland Plain Dealer).

Another symbol of LeBron’s OSU love, placed prominently in the team locker room, isn’t a bad way to boost coach That Matta’s recruiting efforts (Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland Plain Dealer).

Just one more little recruiting flourish for a program already pulling in top Midwest talent on an annual basis? That’s the most obvious explanation. But the nameplate represents something larger than mere prep prospect eye candy. LeBron and Ohio State basketball have forged an interesting relationship over the years, a link that runs deeper than sheer geographical commonality. In 2007, when Nike created a James-Branded apparel line, Ohio State became the first program to swap Nike logos for the King’s unique emblem. James has openly discussed his Buckeyes fandom, and repeatedly said he would have chosen to play basketball at OSU, were the NBA’s 19-year-old age limit – which forces otherwise pro-ready high school players to play somewhere other than the NBA (re: college, but for a few exceptions) for one year after high school – imposed three years earlier. The bitter taste James left in plenty of Cavaliers fans’ (and, given the location and lack of local professional alternatives, probably a few Buckeyes fans’) mouths when he “took his talents to South Beach” did not ruin his relationship with Cleveland, much less OSU, and so he continues to share a special relationship with the program. From attending Buckeyes home games, to receiving an honorary No. 23 Buckeyes jersey, to earning the praise of football coach Urban Meyer – LeBron has made no secret of his affinity for all things OSU, and the program has reciprocated his attention and support not only with public praise and courtside seats, but also by serving as a court-stomping billboard for his trademark footwear, including this season, when the Buckeyes plan to sport this collection of flashy kicks for games. When the best basketball player in the world has cast his lot with your basketball program, a relationship encompassing everything from public endorsements to live appearances to custom gear, slapping his name above a locker and discussing his ability to help your team on the court this season faux-hypothetically is a small price to pay for his continued support.

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Morning Five: 09.04.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 4th, 2013

morning5

  1. Labor Day is in the rear-view mirror now, so prepare yourselves for two solid months of preview material from the college basketball writing industry. Frankly, in the need to fill space with relevant content, we all probably overdo it a tad, but with the start of practice mere weeks away and preview magazines already hitting the newsstands, it’s hard to not get excited. SI.com‘s Andy Glockner has put together his third annual “non-conference primer” for us, which, if you’re not familiar, breaks down the slates at a number of the top programs in America. He slots 13 schools into four separate categories ranging from “This is how you do it” (Kansas) to “Not good enough, given context” (Louisville, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and UCLA), and there’s not much room for disagreement. Even more agreeable is that simply reading about some of these games is more than enough reason to start daydreaming.
  2. One of the schools that falls into Glockner’s “Certainly acceptable” category is Michigan, which boasts non-conference games with Duke, Stanford, Arizona, Iowa State and possibly a rematch with VCU in the Puerto Rico Shootout. The rise of John Beilein’s Wolverines over the last few years has been well-documented as a trademark success story where great coaching, recruiting and player development all intertwined, and now Michigan fans everywhere can get the inside scoop on the progression with former walk-on Josh Bartelstein’s new eBook, “We On.” Bartelstein originally started blogging behind-the-scenes for MGoLive.com with his “Bartelstein Blog” while Michigan was sitting at 1-6 in the Big Ten during his sophomore year. The Wolverines went on to make the NCAA Tournament that season, following it up the next two years with a Big Ten championship and a trip to last year’s national title game. With a courtside seat for all the fun, Bartelstein’s documentation of the rise of Michigan basketball will sell for $7.99 and is sure to inspire some copycats along the way. Does Andrew Wiggins blog?
  3. One basketball player who wouldn’t have trouble finding a willing readership if he ever decided to blog is LeBron James. The two-time NBA champion never attended a single day of college, but when you’re as marketable as he is, you don’t have to. The Ohio State University has already claimed James as its own (remember, James’ talents are originally from Akron), wearing his line of basketball shoes and gear since 2007. Never one to miss a great recruiting opportunity, Thad Matta has decided to dress up the Buckeyes’ locker room with a nameplate and locker filled with James’ OSU product line. This is simply brilliant — we’re guessing that most 16- and 17-year olds don’t realize that James was a prep-to-pros kid a decade ago — so, in the worst case, recruits are impressed by the school’s association with the World’s Best Player; in the best case, they might believe he actually played in Columbus. That sound you just heard was John Calipari getting out his hammer to nail a photo montage of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett on the wall of the locker room at Rupp Arena. Hey, friends of the program…
  4. One of the nastiest rumors of the summer involved Louisville hardwood hero Kevin Ware, he of the gruesomely snapped leg against Duke in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. We won’t lower ourselves to discuss the content of the Kentuckiana rumor-mongering other than to say that his head coach, Rick Pitino, summarily dismissed any accusation that Ware had been suspended from the team. Pitino also said that Ware was recovering nicely but he is still a month to six weeks from getting back onto the basketball court, and even then, he’s likely to have some issues trusting his body for a while. With all the depth that Louisville will have in this year’s backcourt, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to foresee a redshirt year for the junior should he take a bit longer to come around after what was such a devastating injury. And who would blame him (other than the conspiracy theorists, of course)?
  5. We’ll end with a sad note today as Butler’s friendly canine mascot, Blue II, passed away over the Labor Day weekend. The English bulldog became synonymous with Butler basketball as the school spent the better part of his nine-year lifespan rising from the role of plucky mid-major to that of a national program. His final blog post located here, entitled “I Leave You With ‘Thanks,’” is pretty much the tear-jerker that you’d imagine it would be, inasmuch as you can suspend reality to give the slobbery mascot his own voice. That suspension of belief wasn’t very hard for this writer, nor would it likely be hard for many millions of other dog owners who too consider man’s best friend an indispensable part of the family. A snarky commenter on Twitter yesterday suggested that, given the short life span of dogs, it’s best to consider them merely as pets and remain “detached” so as to not suffer after they’re gone. To that we say, that’s no way to live, sir, no way to live at all. Rather, we should strive to attach with all your heart’s desire — these furry little creatures will never let you down. RIP, Blue II.
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Goodbye and Good Riddance to Rutgers Coach Mike Rice

Posted by mlemaire on April 3rd, 2013

In a move that everyone seems to agree probably should have happened back in December, Rutgers finally fired basketball coach Mike Rice for everything from demeaning his players with gay slurs to winging basketballs at their heads. The school’s announcement bases the decision on recently revealed information, which is really just PR-speak for “that damning video we have already seen that has finally been broadcast to a national audience,” and after watching the video multiple times, it is hard to believe that the Rutgers athletic department had previously let Rice off with a short suspension and fine in December.

No One Will Be Sad To See Mike Rice Go

No One Will Be Sad To See Mike Rice Go

When the suspension was announced in December and athletic director Tim Pernetti explained that it was because of a pattern of abusive behavior from Rice, it shouldn’t have surprised many who have observed him patrolling the sidelines. The Pittsburgh native and former Robert Morris head coach quickly developed a reputation based on his fiery coaching style and general hotheadedness but those traits were usually cleverly disguised as “energy,” “passion,” and “competitiveness.” Just look at what some of the sport’s most recognizable names had to say about Rice after Rutgers hired him away from Robert Morris (Bill Raftery’s remarks about Rice understanding “what the kids need after the game and during the week” are especially unfortunate in light of recent events). There were definitely some raised eyebrows when the stories of Rice’s abusive behavior and basketball-throwing tendencies started to leak, but it wasn’t until people actually saw the video that the outrage became a dull roar.

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Who Won the Week: Duke, UC Irvine and Texas (sorta) …

Posted by Kenny Ocker on December 21st, 2012

wonweek

Who Won the Week? is a regular column that will outline and discuss three winners and losers from the previous week. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), an Oregon-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game.

WINNER: Duke

Mason Plumlee has led Duke in rebounding 10 times in 11 games as the Blue Devils are 11-0 while ranked third in strength of schedule. (AP Photo)

Mason Plumlee has led Duke in rebounding 10 times in 11 games as the Blue Devils are 11-0 while ranked third in strength of schedule. (AP Photo)

The week couldn’t have gone much more perfectly for the Blue Devils than it did. Achieve top ranking? Check. Land a top recruit? Check. Win both games handily? Check and check. Yes, Duke should probably send some flowers to Butler for knocking off preseason favorite Indiana, but who would have looked at the two teams before Saturday and thought the Hoosiers were better? Outside of the state of Indiana, I’m guessing few would. The Blue Devils (11-0) have the nation’s best body of work, and have dominated it in such a fashion that they look to be the nation’s top team convincingly, and this is before prized prospect Jabari Parker picked Mike Krzyzewski’s squad over Michigan State and BYU. On the court, Mason Plumlee, who has led Duke in rebounding 10 times so far, carried his team to an 88-47 win over Cornell with 18 points and nine rebounds Wednesday and followed that up the next night with 21 points and 15 boards in a 76-54 win over Elon. And as an added bonus, the youngest Plumlee, freshman Marshall, already made a brief return to the court against Cornell coming back from a foot injury.

(Related winners: Mason Plumlee, Butler. Related losers: Indiana, Michigan State, BYU, Cornell, Elon, and especially North Carolina – more to come.)

LOSER: Eastern Kentucky

The Ohio Valley’s Colonels started their season off hot, winning nine straight games before a weekend matchup at also-undefeated Illinois. The major-conference team expectedly pulled Eastern Kentucky apart, winning 66-53, but it was what happened next that wrapped up a bad week in Richmond, Ky. On a rare road trip to a MEAC school, the Colonels were tripped up by North Carolina A&T, who pounded the ball inside while shooting 55 percent from the field and stifling Eastern Kentucky’s guard-oriented offense by holding it to 40 percent shooting. The Bulldogs also nearly doubled up the Colonels on the glass, sealing the game. So much for a hot start.

(Related winners: North Carolina A&T, the 457 Bulldogs fans who watched the game in person. Related losers: Murray State and the Ohio Valley Conference, which both need every break they can get come March.)

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ACC M5: 10.24.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on October 24th, 2012

  1. USA Today:  Miami Heat forward and former Duke star Shane Battier, recently offered some very high praise for his teammate, LeBron James. Battier said, “LeBron could have played at Duke, and I don’t say that about a lot of guys.” What Battier means is that few NBA players, particularly those of James’ caliber, would have been mentally tough enough to play for Coach K. Even though LeBron would likely have played at Ohio State if the one-and-done rule had been in effect when he was entering the professional ranks, it certainly can’t hurt Duke that one of its all-time greats is considering the game’s best player an honorary Blue Devil.  Additionally, James and Krzyzewski have enjoyed a great relationship during Coach K’s seven-year stint as the head coach of Team USA.
  2. Washington Post:  Despite Virginia Tech only having eight scholarship players this season, first year-head coach James Johnson is still intent on running an up-tempo offense. This would be a massive change from the Seth Greenberg era, when Virginia Tech regularly played one of the slowest paces in the ACC (aside from Tony Bennett’s glacial Virginia squads). During the team’s opening scrimmage, a larger percentage of the offense came in transition than from half-court sets. While it may be difficult for Virginia Tech to have success with this style in this season, Johnson wants to make this a long-term staple of his system. With some success this year, this could become a great recruiting tool up in Blacksburg.
  3. ESPN:  From the world of the bizarre: While on their overseas trip to Paris this offseason, most of Virginia’s basketball team managed to get trapped in a hotel elevator. In something that seems ripped from a bad movie or a claustrophobic person’s worst nightmare, head coach Tony Bennett narrates a video that describes this ordeal. It appears as though the players didn’t realize that the elevator capacity needed to be taken seriously, while also failing to adjust for the fact that basketball players are generally quite a bit larger than the average human. At the very least, it should have been a bonding experience for the team.
  4. Raleigh N&O:  The saga involving Tyler Hansbrough’s mother, Tami, continues. The university’s audit of Hansbrough (the former gifts officer) and her boyfriend and former boss, Matt Kupec, who was the head of UNC’s fundraising department before his resignation, has been completed. North Carolina determined that Kupec misspent $17,000 on a total of 13 trips under investigation, with much of it used on trips that he took with Hansbrough. Some of these trips were to go see the Tyler’s younger brother, Ben, play at Notre Dame, and several involved the use of UNC Medical Air planes. Kupec could potentially face criminal charges for his misconduct, and this scandal was just one of many likely responsible for UNC chancellor Holden Thorp’s recent resignation.
  5. Sports Illustrated: SI ran an interesting piece about the most influential college basketball teams of all-time.  Following the usual suspects (Texas Western in 1966, and the 1979 Michigan State and Indiana State teams led by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, respectively), only one ACC team made the cut:  the 1974 NC State national champions. This team, led by David Thompson — the player who introduced otherworldly athleticism to college basketball — Tommy Burleson, and Monte Towe, broke UCLA’s streak at the time of seven straight national titles. NC State hopes to rekindle some of its past glory with this year’s squad.  Even if they can make a run, they will obviously not hold a candle to the unbelievable team that brought the Wolfpack its first national title.
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NCAA Investigators Sniffing Around Texas

Posted by dnspewak on October 11th, 2012

There may not be a more valuable player to his team in the Big 12 than Myck Kabongo. He’s not Texas’ leading returning scorer — that’s Sheldon McClellan — nor did he play flawlessly a year ago as a freshman. Regardless, he played a major role in helping the Longhorns sneak into the NCAA Tournament with his improved point guard play and defense during the final month of last season, and the Longhorns will likely live and die with their stud NBA prospect in 2012-13.

That is, if he’s even on the team. A school spokesman told the Associated Press yesterday that the NCAA has questioned Kabongo about his relationship with agent Rich Paul, who represents LeBron James (as well as former Texas players Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph). The investigation centers around two aspects: 1) Paul’s communication with NBA teams before Kabongo decided not to enter the 2012 NBA Draft; and 2) his role in Kabongo’s all-inclusive trip to Cleveland a year ago. These are not the most serious allegations we’ve ever seen. There are no wire transfers involved, no big bags of money or sketchy suitcases transferred from an agent to a player, no criminal action. This isn’t a Reggie Bush situation, a Fab Five situation or any of the other blatant cheating scandals in the grand history of college sports.

Texas Cannot Afford to Lose Myck Kabongo

That hardly matters, though. If true, Kabongo’s relationship with this agent would compromise his amateur status, and he’d become ineligible to play for Texas. Kabongo would land on his feet and surely jump to the NBA at some point, but his loss would devastate Rick Barnes’ team and set the program back. After relying almost exclusively on J’Covan Brown for offense in 2011-12 and overcoming a lack of depth in the frontcourt, Barnes finally assembled a team with major forces in the paint and several scoring options. This team was built for Kabongo, who won’t need to be a primary scorer. He’s the facilitator of this offense, the guy who can break down defenses and open scoring opportunities for, say, McClellan, or super freshman Cameron Ridley. Without Kabongo, however, this team will have serious issues competing near the top of the Big 12. On a team consisting of almost all freshmen and sophomores, his mere presence keeps the Longhorns running. If he’s ineligible, Barnes might be looking at another difficult season on the NCAA Tournament bubble. That’d be a real shame for a coach who combined such terrific freshman and sophomore classes on this roster.

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Morning Five: 08.16.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 16th, 2012

  1. As we’ve discussed in this space all week long, the Big East has a new negotiating team and a new commissioner, both brought on board with one clear goal in mind — to get the best possible television deal for its member institutions during the upcoming TV negotiation window. Mike Aresco was introduced as the new commish at the New York Athletic Club on Wednesday, and his overarching theme in his opening speech was one of stability and unity. With a ragtag group of schools playing different sports in different leagues all over the country, he certainly has his work cut out for him; but, the good news for Aresco’s vision of conference stability is that there aren’t all that many valuable and poachable schools left in his league. Only two-sport schools Connecticut (ACC) and Louisville (Big 12) could reasonably be expected to receive future offers, and although either would jump at the chance, at least Aresco will have an opportunity to put all the Big East’s financial cards on the table before those offers come to pass.
  2. Julius Peppers has been the topic du jour in the ACC this week, and prominent writers from around the country continue to weigh in on the depth and the breadth of the developing scandal. Mike DeCourcy is the latest to note that UNC absolutely must take the lead in thoroughly investigating and extensively reporting the situation, dating back as far as it needs to go (translation: even before 1998, if the evidence points in that direction). This statement says it all: “It is essential North Carolina commence the sort of comprehensive self-examination Penn State undertook in regards to the Jerry Sandusky scandal. For all the pain and embarrassment that resulted from the Freeh report, Penn State is much closer to recapturing its soul today than Carolina.” And therein lies the rub. Like Penn State before it, UNC has long been quick to tell anyone who will listen that it does things differently. The evidence that we’ve now seen suggests otherwise — Carolina must get its head out of the sand and show that they’re serious about finding the truth here, even if that veracity stains the very premise of sanctity on which the whole house was built.
  3. CBSSports.com’s survey of coaches has caused quite a bit of buzz over the past 10 days, but its most recent key question resulted in nearly as many different responses as their were respondents. Well, not really, but asking coaches an open-ended question about what rule they’d like to see changed was certain to produce a great deal of variance. The most popular response was a desire to reduce the 35-second shot clock to something approaching the NBA’s 24-second limit, but eight different answers received at least five percent of the vote. John Infante at the Bylaw Blog broke down each of the prominent responses (our favorite: “No postseason ban for APR: That tells me the penalty is effective.”) but his greater point is that college basketball coaches, unlike other sports, have no consistency in their message because they’re not even sure what they want as a group. He suggests that the NABC should make itself useful by putting together a comprehensive and logically consistent platform about how to regulate the sport of college basketball. It’s a good read, and makes too much sense for it to actually happen.
  4. Have you guys heard that Indiana is back? Apparently the students of IU have gotten the memo, as the Indianapolis Star reported this week that the school has already sold out its entire allotment of student tickets for the 2012-13 season. A total of 12,400 tickets were sold for the largest student section in the country of 7,800 seats, ensuring that every student ticket-holder will be able to attend at least 10 of the Hoosiers’ 16 home games. This is all fine and well, but at a school like Indiana with its extremely rich history and an ingrained statewide basketball culture, it shouldn’t take 10 years for student seats to sell out (the last time was 2002-03). We understand that demand always rises with winning, but the fact that it’s been since before the Iraq War started for the students to fully support their team is just shy of ridiculous. We expect fair-weather that stuff at places like Auburn or USC, not Indiana.
  5. In the 1982-83 and 1983-84 seasons, Jim Boeheim‘s Syracuse Orangemen matched up against Dean Smith’s North Carolina Tar Heels two times, and the results were not pretty. UNC spanked Boeheim’s team twice, coincidentally by the same score, 87-64, each time. A guard by the name of Michael Jordan led the Heels in both games — dropping 18/7/4 stls in the first game (in Charlotte), and 19/5 in the second (in Syracuse). Perhaps Boeheim has never forgiven His Airness for those dual beatdowns, as he recently gave an interview to Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio where, in light of his experience with Team USA and LeBron James, he dared to say that he’s “not so sure anymore” that Jordan was the best player he’s ever seen. We’re only being silly about Boeheim holding a grudge against MJ 30 years later, but there’s no question that King James has had a fantastic 12 months — the question that needs to be answered, though, is whether he will sustain it.
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Re-Drafting the NBA Draft: Top 10 Players From Recent Years

Posted by EJacoby on June 25th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft takes place this Thursday, June 28 in Newark, and now that the NBA Finals has come to an early conclusion (just five games), New Jersey becomes the center of the basketball universe. No other professional sports amateur draft can have as much immediate impact as the NBA’s, witnessed by Oklahoma City’s rise to prominence with a core consisting of four first-round picks from the previous five years. While we await Thursday’s selections, the words ‘upside’ and ‘potential’ run rampant, as teams are selecting from a pool filled with unrefined prospects. Lottery picks (top 14 selections) are mainly underclassmen who scouts hope evolve into long term superstars, and that’s why the draft presents so many early busts and late sleepers that evaluators miss out on. The NBA Draft is more art than science, and that is no more evident than when you look back at many of the selections made in previous drafts.

After slipping on draft night, Tony Parker has led the Spurs to multiple championships (AP Photo)

Today we take a look at four recent NBA Drafts to give you a clear idea of how difficult it is to nail the top picks. We wanted to choose mostly older drafts whose players’ careers have longer sample sizes to evaluate, but also included a more recent draft since the implementation of the current ‘one-and-done’ rule that disallows high school players from the pool. Here are our revised top 10 picks from 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2006, with each player’s original selection in parentheses. Who ended up becoming the best players from drafts of the 2000s, and where were they selected?

2001

  1. Tony Parker (28, San Antonio)
  2. Pau Gasol (3, Memphis)
  3. Joe Johnson (10, Boston)
  4. Zach Randolph (19, Portland)
  5. Gilbert Arenas (31, Golden State)
  6. Gerald Wallace (25, Sacramento)
  7. Jason Richardson (5, Golden State)
  8. Tyson Chandler (2, LA Clippers)
  9. Shane Battier (6, Memphis)
  10. Richard Jefferson (13, Houston)

A fairly strong draft, 2001 is also scarred by the fact that #1 overall pick Kwame Brown was an enormous bust. Brown, selected first by Michael Jordan out of high school, is a great example of why it’s risky to draft young, unproven bigs. But that was also during the era when high school players were eligible for the draft, which is no longer the case today. Even though the current ‘one-and-done’ rule makes it difficult to assess young prospects, at least we get a full season to watch players compete at the highest level. The 2001 draft was full of quality sleepers late in the draft, highlighted by the three-time All-Star, Arenas, and three-time NBA champion and four-time All-Star, Parker, both falling past pick #27. Parker likely fell because he was such a young, foreign player; yet Gasol was a similar prospect who scouts nailed with the #3 overall selection. The 2001 draft proves how difficult it is to differentiate players of varying positions, ages, and levels of play.

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NBA Finals Features Plenty of College Stars

Posted by EJacoby on June 12th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat begins tonight in a dream matchup of star-studded teams that is sure to draw huge viewer ratings. The major media narrative of the series centers around the two superstars — LeBron James and Kevin Durant – and all basketball fans should enjoy watching them battle at the highest level. But digging deeper, diehard college hoops supporters are in for a real treat as each team features veteran players that were once stars at the collegiate level for Final Four-bound squads. Thought the Fab Five was a distant memory? Juwan Howard, former Michigan star from 1992-94 and current Miami reserve forward, thinks otherwise. Before the current John Calipari era, Kentucky’s last run of glory came in the late 90s, during which Nazr Mohammed was on the star-studded 1996 championship team before playing a much bigger role on the 1998 championship team. Fans surely remember Mario Chalmers‘ performance during the 2008 National Title game as well, featuring arguably the biggest shot in recent NCAA history. Chalmers is Miami’s starting point guard who will have to knock down some more big shots in order for the Heat to win. There are plenty of other players in this championship series that will bring college fanatics down memory lane.

Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich were stars for Kansas before being drafted by Oklahoma City (C. Landsberger, The Oklahoman)

The rosters of the Heat and Thunder combine to feature 12 (!) different players that once played in a Final Four during their college careers. Oklahoma City’s Final Four attendees include Cole Aldrich, Nick Collison (twice), Daequan Cook, Royal Ivey, Russell Westbrook (twice), and Mohammed (three times). Miami, meanwhile, features Shane Battier (twice), Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, Howard (twice), and Chalmers. These 12 players combined for five National Titles. Miller and Haslem were teammates at Florida for the 2000 Gators team that lost in the Championship Game to Michigan State. And this list doesn’t even include Durant, who won the National Player of the Year award in his only season at Texas (2007). Battier was also a NPOY winner at Duke during his accomplished college career. March Madness fans probably remember Derek Fisher, Eric Maynor, and Norris Cole, too, each of whom led small schools to the NCAA Tournament through leading point guard roles. Now they are all valuable reserves for potential NBA champions, though Maynor has missed this season with an ACL tear in his knee.

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Anthony Davis Named a Finalist for USA Olympic Team: Should He Make It?

Posted by EJacoby on May 3rd, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

As international basketball continues to gain steam, so does widespread intrigue in the Summer Olympic Games. The upcoming 2012 London Olympics will include some tremendous competition for the heavily favored United States, such as a Spanish team that can boast a monster front line of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka. To counter that front line, and as a side effect of several unfortunate injuries, the Americans are in need of some serious size of their own. As a result, college basketball’s reigning National Player of the Year and projected No. 1 NBA draft pick Anthony Davis has already been named as one of the 20 finalists for Team USA this summer. Would Davis be a good fit for this team, and could “The Unibrow” possibly make the cut? Historical precedent says it could happen, and a roster breakdown shows that Davis might just be the big man inside that Team USA is missing.

Anthony Davis is now Shooting for a Spot on Team USA (AP Photo)

The USA Basketball Committee, led by chairman Jerry Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski, already selected the 20 finalists for the team back in January but several significant injuries has left Team USA in need of more bodies to compete for the final 12-man roster by the June 18 deadline. Specifically, there is a glaring lack of healthy size on the roster given injury troubles to Dwight Howard (back) and LaMarcus Aldridge (hip). The only true center currently on the roster is Tyson Chandler, with power forwards Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Chris Bosh, and Lamar Odom in the fold as well. But there are issues with all of these forwards — Odom was released by the Dallas Mavericks after a terrible season, Griffin brings more ‘flash’ than production as an interior player, and Love and Bosh both thrive offensively on the perimeter. There is an absolute need for an interior presence to back up Chandler.

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