NBA Draft Blog: Ed Isaacson took a look at Austin Rivers and his draft prospects. Isaacson sides with a plurality of experts who think Rivers should stick around for another year of school. He also compliments Rivers’ defense. The one thing that he (and I) think is a current issue for Rivers is his turnovers. He still doesn’t have the court vision or the handle to use a similar number of possessions in the NBA. It’s still unclear to me about Rivers’ draft prospects. He’s one of the few guys who has an NBA-ready skill, and I’m not sure he slips out of the lottery. That said, I think another year would help him move to a top-5 level pick. But I’m no draft expert.
Wilmington Star News: Speaking of Rivers, he’s been named ACC freshman of the week seven times (a record). Now he’s been named one of five finalists by the USBWA for the Wayman Tisdale Award. Rivers dominates Duke’s offense and has shown the ability to take over games. In the last 10 years only Luol Deng (2004), Marvin Williams (2005) and Tyler Hansbrough (2006) have won the award from the ACC. I’d still put my money on Kentucky’s Anthony Davis.
ACC Sports Journal: Mark Gottfried is distancing himself from the past at NC State. Not the two national championships, but the school’s recent bout with mediocrity. He rarely talks about last year’s team, opting to call his team of mostly the same players “new” and “different” instead. Gottfried’s tone is serious. He has a job to do. A year of modest improvement doesn’t say much about his future successes, but it’s certainly a start.
Washington Post: Bad news from College Park. Pe’Shon Howard is done for the season. That leaves Mark Turgeon back where he was to start the year. That’s to say he has a hungry Stoglin who struggles to get teammates involved when he plays off the ball, much less on it, or Nick Faust who struggles offensively and with his decision-making. One of them has to play point guard. There aren’t many other options. You know Turgeon can’t wait to get his hands on a recruiting class to deepen that bench that was left bare after Gary Williams departed last season.
Washington Post: You may remember that Jacob Pullen “won’t play basketball in the NIT” (one of the most awesome quotes and follow-throughs since Babe Ruth called his home run). Well Virginia Tech has a slightly different version: the Hokies won’t play basketball in the CBI or CIT. Yeah! Take that! “We don’t need no stinkin’ postseason!” All joking aside, the CBI actually charges teams money to play in it. If the Hokies aren’t selling tickets against conference foes, there’s not much hope for third-tier postseason tournaments. Athletic director Jim Weaver was still optimistic about the team’s chances for the NIT, though I think the Hokies still need a strong run to close out the year.
Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name:Xavier Henry
Height/Weight:6’7″, 210 lbs
NBA Position:Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Projected Draft Position:Mid- to Late Lottery
Overview: When Henry came to Kansas before last season–after initially committing to Memphis before the Billy Gillispie/John Calipari circus came to town–everybody had high hopes for the swing man coming out of high school with a NBA veteran’s physique. Early in the year, Henry’s exceptional performance led one SI/CBS pundit to say that Henry was every bit as impressive as John Wall. As you know that level of performance did not continue for the rest of Henry’s freshman season and his numbers tailed off considerably. Henry was able to occasionally show signs of brilliance later in the season including back-to-back games of 24 points (on 9/16 FG) and 23 points (on 9/13 FG) against Colorado and Oklahoma respectively in late February. However those signs of brilliance were frequently interrupted by games where Henry was a non-factor including the Jayhawks season-ending loss to Northern Iowa in which Henry was physically superior to anybody the Panthers could throw at him, but Henry managed just 8 points on 6 shots (although he did pull down 8 rebounds). While Henry’s play as a freshman is enough to merit first round consideration, it is his immense potential that makes him a lottery pick.
Will Xavier Henry live up to his NBA potential?
Will Translate to the NBA: Just looking at Henry you can see how he would fit into a NBA roster right away. With his strength, fluid game, and sweet left-handed shot he could be a nice change of pace player right away and could develop into an All-Star swing man. If Henry develops the ability to hit his shot off-the-dribble consistently he could become a very dangerous player in a few years. In either case he should be a swing man on NBA rosters for years to come. The question is will he be a complimentary player or will he be the go-to-guy who should be able to score from just about anywhere on the floor.
Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog is reporting tonight that Kyrie Irving, the #9 rated player in the class of 2010 and considered a player with huge upside in the mold of Chris Paul or Deron Williams, has committed to Duke. The 6’2, 175-lb scoring point guard from Elizabeth (NJ) St. Patrick just returned from a recent weekend at Kentucky for its Big Blue Madness event, but he has reportedly been leaning toward Duke for some time.
Irving tonight denied this report, as he stated below on Twitter:
We know Zagoria doesn’t go around making things up, though, and he cited three separate confirmations from assistant coaches at rival schools who claim that Irving’s recruitment is over because Duke has locked him up. We’ll go with Zagoria on this one, as it’s more fun to speculate anyway, but we’ve been saying for a while that if Duke has plans on becoming Duke again, players like Irving and forward Harrison Barnes are must-gets.
Since Luol Deng arrived on campus as the #2 player (Rivals.com) in the class of 2003, the top ten players that Duke has signed are Kyle Singler (#5 in 2007), Josh McRoberts (#2 in 2005) and Shaun Livingston (#2 in 2004, but went NBA), while GregPaulus (#11 in 2005) and Gerald Henderson (#11 in 2006) were near-misses. Of that group, none have had the game-changing NBA-quality ability that earlier-era Dookies such as Grant Hill, Elton Brand, Shane Battier and Jason Williams shared, and not coincidentally, Duke hasn’t sniffed the Final Four since Deng left campus.
Assuming Irving has already committed to Coach K and he manages to lure Barnes to Durham as well (Barnes is expected there this weekend), the 2010-11 Blue Devils could be shaping up as a nasty team, with the following starting lineup:
PG – Kyrie Irving, Fr.
SG – Seth Curry, So.
SF – Kyle Singler, Sr.
PF – Harrison Barnes, Fr.
C – Ryan Kelly, So./Mason or Miles Plumlee, So./Jr.
The weak spot is at the center position, but we’re assuming one of the three-headed monster of Kelly/Plumlee/Plumlee will have stepped up by then. Still, that’s a very powerful projected lineup, and one that with tonight’s news should be sending shivers up and down the Atlantic seaboard for fear that Duke is one step closer to becoming a powerhouse again.
Like the first trickles of a flash flood, the verbal barrage about our beloved sport really started picking up this week. There’s a lot more previewing, interviewing, writing, talking and salivating going on around the college hoops blogosphere. Let’s take a look at some of the items that are catching our interest…
Dissecting Duke’s Recruiting. Gary Parrish wrote an interesting article last week about Duke’s recruiting over the past five seasons and we had to comment on it because it fairly accurately depicts what the substantive problem with Duke has been in the postseason (i.e., away from CIS). We’re on record as saying that Duke hasn’t had a true game-changing stud since Luol Deng graced the gothic campus with his presence for one season in 2003-04. This is not to say that Duke has been without very good players during that time. Shelden Williams, JJ Redick and Gerald Henderson all come to mind as great collegians. But none of those players, and certainly none of the laundry list that Parrish mentions as some of K’s other ’top’ recruits (McBob, Singler, etc.), are the kinds of elite NBA-level talent that gets teams through the regionals and into the Final Four. There are of course notable exceptions (George Mason in 2006 is the most obvious), but this is Duke, and Duke is always taking a team’s best shot. They’re going to be very well coached, but Coach K and his staff know that well-coached moderate talent will lose out to elite talent more often than not. This is why when Parrish says that Duke needs to secure commitments from Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving in order to compete with UNC, Kansas and now Kentucky on the national stage again, he’s right. The Jon Scheyers of the world are great to have on your team, and will win you a lot of games over four years; but they’re not the players who can carry a team through rough spots en route to the Final Four. If you don’t believe us, check out who was the MOP of the 2004 Atlanta Regional, leading the team in scoring in both regional games and literally saving the team on more than one occasion with clutch buckets (hint: it wasn’t the more celebrated upperclassmen). Box scores here and here. If Duke is serious about getting back to the big stage again before Coach K retires, he needs players like Barnes and Irving to get it done. Fundamentally, Duke fans probably realize this, which is why each of these visits makes for tense moments in Durham.
Midnight Madness. So we’re only eight days away from the start of basketball practice, and thankfully the NCAA closed the loophole that meant we were having these things all month of October, like last year. But ESPNU will be back with coverage from 9pm to 1am EDT next Friday, with a simulcast from 8:30-9pm EST on ESPN. There will be coverage from nine schools this year, including Kansas’ Late Night in the Phog, Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness, UNC’s Late Night With Roy, and several others (Michigan St., Duke, Washington, Georgetown, UConn and North Dakota St.). RTC will hopefully provide live coverage in some fashion, but we’re still working out what that will be. Make sure to check back early next week for more details.
As previously mentioned on RTC (and every other decent site that covers basketball), the NBA held its draft lottery last night. Among the luminaries in attendance were the Basketball Jesus himself Larry Bird, Dwayne Wade of “Fall down 7 times, shoot 14 free throws” fame, Jay-Z, Kevin Durant, Mitch Richmond, Fred “The Mayor” Hoiberg, and some lady who has Sacramento Kings season tickets.
As most of you know by now, the Chicago Bulls defied their 1.7% odds to steal the #1 pick. Rounding out the top 3 were the Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves. The losers of the draft were the Seattle Oklahoma City Supersonics who fell from the #2 spot to #4, which I think they deserved after last year (still bitter despite a NBA record 42-win turnaround and a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals).
The top 2 are essentially set in stone although the Bulls lack of an interior scoring presence (not you Joakim) and lack of an elite point guard (sorry, Kirk) means they could go either direction. The Heat will get the “leftovers”. I’m guessing that Pat Riley (still the GM, right?) is hoping that the coachless Bulls take Michael Beasley because it seems like Beasley and Shawn Marion would clash in terms of their inside-outside styles and type of play so he would prefer Derrick Rose, who could be absolutely ridiculous paired with Wade and Marion.
We’ll be putting up draft previews over the next couple of days, but until then we’ll just offer a few thoughts:
(1) If I was the Bulls GM (if Reinsdorf or any one in the organization is reading this, please contact me), I would go with Rose. Even though they lack a great inside scoring threat, I think it’s a lot easier to find a serviceable PF than PG. I also think the impact of a great PG is bigger as Chris Paul and the other great recent vintage PGs have shown everyone the past few years. The Bulls have a lot of talented NBA-quality young guards (Chris Duhon, Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich, Larry Hughes, and Thabo Sefolosha) along with a couple talented unproven youngsters (JamesOn Curry and Shannon Brown). While some analysts may argue that this is a reason to get a big man, I would argue they should take Rose (better than any of the current guards) and make a big package of these young guys to try to get another inside presence to compliment Andre Nocioni, Joakim Noah, Drew Gooden, and Tyrus Thomas along with the team’s only “star” Luol Deng. I’ll have more on this in an upcoming post. . .
(2) I wonder if Mike D’Antoni is starting to think he should have asked the Knicks for more money. He could have had almost the perfect team for his offense if he went to Chicago even before they had the chance to select Rose. I also wonder how D’Antoni is going to handle being on a team that uses its draft pick to select a player instead of selling it for money.
(3) Hoiberg looked like he was going to throw the cancer patient’s teddy bear when the Timberwolves ended up with the #3 pick (falling outside of the Beasley-Rose jackpot). That would have made an even better YouTube moment than it already was (around the 2:20 mark of the clip below).
A couple quick, early links on the NBA Draft:
(1) As always, Chad Ford has a mock draft up with a brief analysis. I swear he must have enough spare time during the year to come up with mock drafts for every possible team draft order combination.
(3) If you want to hate John Hollinger and his ridiculous unproven stats, check out his Pro Potential analysis (ESPN Insider access required). For those of you without access here are a couple of gems:
- Michael Beasley at #1 followed by. . .Blake Griffin at #2 and Danny Green at #4.
- 11 of the top 25 are freshman, which isn’t surprising, but that does not include several notable freshman who didn’t make the list: Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo, DeAndre Jordan, Donte Green, and Eric Gordon.
- The list of freshman that Hollinger considers to have more pro potential than those five heralded freshman: DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh), Dar Tucker (DePaul), Robbie Hummel (Purdue), Andrew Ogilvy (Vanderbilt), and Matt Howard (Butler). The fact that I decided to list the schools these guys play at should tell you how far off the radar most of these guys are as NBA prospects. Hollinger offers an impassioned defense of his system, but I don’t buy it.
With the news Wednesday that Duke whiffed on PF Patrick Patterson (who opted for Kentucky over Duke and Florida), combined with yesterday’s news that Roy Williams has extended his contract with UNC through the 2014-15 season, we started to wonder if we’re seeing an unusual blip in Durham, or if last season and the presumed immediate future signal a larger problem there.
The last time Duke had such a blip was in the mid-90s. In 1995, with Coach K’s back hurting and Pete Gaudet at the helm for two-thirds of the season, Duke went 13-18 (2-14) and did not make the NCAA Tournament. There has been considerable harping over the years about whose record (K’s or Gaudet’s) all those losses should fall on, but at the time, it wasn’t a leap to see that even when Duke was 9-3 in early January 1995, a team led by the likes of Cherokee Parks and Jeff Capel (as opposed to Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley or Christian Laettner) was flawed. This was especially true in light of a stacked ACC that season (Each of Duncan, Wallace, Stackhouse, Childress and Joe Smith were all-americans in 1995).
The next season, when K was back on the bench, shows just how far the talent level at Duke had fallen. The 1995-96 team only performed five games better than its predecessor, going 18-13 (8-8) and losing both its first round ACC Tourney game and its first round NCAA game (by 15 pts) to… Eastern Michigan? The following year, 1996-97, Duke only got marginally back on track. The Devils finished with a 24-9 (12-4) record and won the ACC regular season, but they flamed out early again in the postseason, inexplicably losing to #8 seed NC State in the quarters of the ACC Tourney and barely scraping by Murray St. in the first round before losing to #10 seed Providence (by 11 pts) in the second round of the NCAAs. Does this sound familiar at all? It should, as Duke just finished its 2006-07 campaign with a 22-11 (8-8) record, culminating in a first round ACC Tourney loss and a first round NCAA loss to… VCU.
Is there cause for concern among Devil faithful, or is last year’s mediocre regular season and short-lived postseason just an anomaly?