Around The Blogosphere: July 7, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on July 7th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Tony Jones to be named head coach at Alcoa High School: “”Former Vol assistant and interim head coach Tony Jones will apparently be sticking around the Knoxville area: Alcoa High School will hire him as its next head basketball coach as early as tomorrow, according to sources within Alcoa City Schools.” (Rocky Top Talk)
  • USA Squeezes by Lithuania, Takes Control of Group F: A recap and statistical analysis of Team USA’s close victory over the Lithuanians. (Villanova by the Numbers)
  • USA Loses by Two to Croatia: Team USA was not as fortunate the next day against Croatia as they were unable to hit the necessary shots at the end up, but will advance to single-elimination play. (Villanova by the Numbers)
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Who’s Got Next? UConn Grabs Calhoun, Tough Week For Tech, & Teague Carries Indiana…

Posted by Josh Paunil on June 14th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Twice a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

Freshmen and sophomores dominated in Colorado Springs last week during the USA U-16 developmental team training camp while the best point guard in the Class of 2011 hit a buzzer beater to win a fiercely competitive interstate all-star game. A few top ten stars in the Class of 2012 also announced new lists, new visits and new favorites as Jim Calhoun and the Connecticut Huskies continued their dominance on the recruiting trail. An article on the fastest rising junior in the country was another must-read as we take you into this edition of Who’s Got Next?

What They’re Saying

Kaleb Tarczewski (#6) spoke about his Kansas visit. (NY2LA Sports)

  • Junior Kaleb Tarczewski (#6) on his Kansas visit: “It was really good, I really like it there. This trip was really for my mom. She hadn’t been there yet and I wanted her to see it.”
  • Sophomore standout Allerik Freeman on some schools on his list: “Florida is a great program with a great staff. NC State is on the right tracking trying to get back to the national spotlight. Georgetown has a rich tradition, and great staff with a nice offense. Tennessee is a place where my game fits in great.”
  • Omar Calhoun, Sr., on his son, junior Omar Calhoun, Jr., committing to Connecticut: “After spending time with [head] coach [Jim] Calhoun and the rest of the coaching staff, we felt it was a place we needed to be. He believes he fits well… coach Calhoun has had a tremendous amount of success with NYC guards.”
  • Junior Ricardo Ledo (#9) on what’s factoring in on his decision: “I want to go somewhere I can win. Playing time is also important.”
  • Junior Rodney Purvis (#7) on his Missouri visit: “It was great and fun. The visit was not what I expected!”
  • Junior Archie Goodwin (#19) on Kentucky head coach John Calipari: “He’s just a great person. He helps people excel and fulfill their dreams.”
  • Junior Jordan Price on his commitment to Auburn: “I just felt like it was the best fit for me and my family. It’s not too far away from my home so family and friends can come watch.”
  • Class of 2012 center Landen Lucas on his Kansas visit: “Loved it! [Assistant] coach [Danny] Manning stood out because of how well he develops bigs and gets them to the next level.”
  • Don Showalter on players who stood out at the USA U-16 Developmental Team tryouts: “[Class of 2013 Watch List power forwards Jabari] Parker and [Aaron] Gordon really stood out, they are really, really good players. They are going to be the best players in the tournament, no question. We started there and built around them.”
  • Senior Norvel Pelle on why he committed to St. John’s: “I wanted to get the best of both worlds. It’s a perfect opportunity with their new class of freshman and being in New York. I have a good relationship with the whole coaching staff and we try to connect on a daily basis. They’re all down to earth and chill.”

What We Learned

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Who’s Got Next? Illegal Benefits, Kentucky Spotlight, Shabazz Muhammad and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on May 27th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Twice a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

Well, if you haven’t learned yet after the Kevin Ware situation or the Tony Wroten, Jr., drama, the world of college basketball recruiting is nothing without another scandal to fill headlines. It’s also nothing without a big-time commitment happening soon after a de-commitment and the recruiting world certainly can’t live without more news about top five prospects and the rippling affect of other commitments. If you haven’t been able to tell yet, a lot happened in just the past few days in the recruiting world… and we haven’t even started previewing one of the most significant AAU events that will happen all summer.

What They’re Saying

Rodney Purvis tweeted about Ryan Harrow's transfer.

  • Junior Rodney Purvis (#6) on Ryan Harrow’s transfer to Kentucky: “Harrow’s decision doesn’t change my outlook on UK at all. Unless coach tells me otherwise!”
  • Junior Kyle Anderson (#22) on Harrow transferring to the Wildcats: “Ryan Harrow not going to St. John’s keeps them on my list.”
  • Mauricio Ducuara, the head of a basketball foundation in Bogotá, on Hanner Mosquera-Perea (#23) receiving illegal benefits: “People with whom I have spoken said he has received lots of gifts [and] things. If you knew how Hanner grew up the people don’t even have shoes. Hanner came home at Christmas with iPods, iPhones, [Bose] headphones digital cameras. Things that for a kid are impossible.”
  • Baylor assistant coach Mark Morefield : “I guarantee u if he (Perea) does [commit to another school] he will be in Colombia for the spring and summer and next year. Don’t forget it.”
  • Junior Justin Anderson (#45) on why he committed to Virginia: “The Cavaliers were always my second choice behind Maryland. Also, my family lives in Virginia. After the departure of Coach [Gary] Williams and Coach [Robert] Ehsan, it just feels like the right fit.”
  • Junior Archie Goodwin (#19) on other top prospects’ effect on his recruitment: “My friends that are top players are: Rasheed Sulaimon; Shabazz Muhammad; Isaiah AustinRicardo Ledo… [and] Rodney Purvis. When it comes to colleges, we’ll talk about what the coaches told us and see if anything was said different by each other. We’ll compare them that way, but I don’t think it’ll make us decide then and there what we’re gonna do with that school.”
  • Omar Calhoun Sr., junior Omar Calhoun Jr.’s father, on Jim Calhoun potentially retiring: “We believe in UConn and it’s still going to be UConn. We still feel like Coach Calhoun is still going to have a major part still in the development in the program even if he’s not the head coach.”
  • Junior Ricardo Ledo (#9) on the current state of his recruitment: “I don’t have a list, it’s not down to four, I am wide open.”
  • Sophomore Isaiah Lewis on Kentucky and his list: “I really like Kentucky a lot. I think I can play at UK under Coach [John] Calipari and the rest of the coaching staff. I think they can do a great job of coaching me up and getting me to the next level; but I also like other schools, like UConn, Arizona, Kansas, West Virginia, Florida and Florida State right now.”

What Shabazz Muhammad is Saying

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An Early Look At North Carolina vs. Kentucky 2011: #1 vs. #2

Posted by zhayes9 on May 12th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

Let the anticipation begin. Let the hype build. Let the #1 vs. #2 talk commence.

Okay, so the annual Kentucky vs. North Carolina clash is still a distant seven months away. But as soon as Harrison Barnes turned down lottery millions to return to a loaded roster at North Carolina, and fellow first round guarantee Terrence Jones followed in his path, every college basketball fanatic had an identical epiphany: UK vs. UNC, 2011 edition, could be the biggest non-conference clash since Memphis battled Tennessee in February of 2008. From a pure talent level, nothing has approached it since Memphis battled UCLA in a national semifinal (Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Darren Collison, Chris Douglas-Roberts) or Carolina met Illinois for the title in 2005 (Deron Williams, Raymond Felton, Marvin Williams, Sean May, Luther Head, Rashad McCants).

Granted, success at the professional level isn’t guaranteed, but Kentucky vs. North Carolina in December could produce seven lottery picks and ten total first-round selections: Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Kendall Marshall and James McAdoo from the Heels and Anthony Davis, Michael Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb from the ‘Cats (if only DeAndre Liggins or Brandon Knight had opted to return). In a one-and-done era where coaches are often hesitant to pit their teams against other loaded contenders early in the season, that type of talent accumulation in one game is extremely rare today.

Terrence Jones surprising return to school boosted UK's chances of another FF

To conjure up our collective college hoops juices at the start of a painfully long offseason, here’s a glimpse at what we can look forward to in early December from a matchup-by-matchup standpoint, followed by an initial verdict in the ongoing debate over who should be considered the premiere team in the land for 2011-12.

Point Guard: Kendall Marshall vs. Marquis Teague

The point guard matchup is the standout reason why this game has so much appeal. Marshall and Teague are extremely similar in their styles, strengths and perceived weaknesses. Both operate effectively in the open floor where they can push tempo.  Teague should mesh seamlessly in John Calipari’s dribble-drive attack and Marshall in Carolina’s favored secondary break. Born floor generals blessed with advanced court vision at such a young age, both will be asked to remain in their comfort zone and play the role of creator for the multitude of talented weapons each has at their disposal. Marshall and Teague will also defend each other in similar fashion by sagging defensively and forcing jump shots. Marshall receives the edge mainly because we’ve seen his magic on full display at the collegiate level already, but while Teague won’t be quite as explosive or dynamic as his predecessors at the position under Calipari, his importance is no less vital to the success of Kentucky next season. Edge: Marshall.

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Morning Five: 04.21.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 21st, 2011

  1. It wouldn’t be a random mid-April Wednesday without NBA Draft comings and goings, and not one, but two, SEC teams announced the draft intentions of three of their stars yesterday.  First and foremost, John Calipari’s talented trio of Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight and DeAndre Liggins are all going to test the waters over the next few weeks, and by all indications, it appears that next year Kentucky fans will face a third straight season of uber-talented but inexperienced freshmen leading their team.  Knight and Jones are projected as lottery picks, whereas Liggins, a second rounder if chosen at all, probably wouldn’t be in any better position after returning for his senior season.  Jeff Goodman argues that, despite all of Calipari’s martyrdom last year about his five first-rounders (“best day in Kentucky history” and all that nonsense), he actually wants his players to return.  It’s no leap of faith to state that a coach, if forced to do so, would admit to wanting his best players to stick for two, three, or even four years, but Calipari certainly didn’t expect them to — after all, why recruit a Marquis Teague if you already have a Brandon Knight; or, why recruit a Michael Gilchrist if you already have a Terrence Jones?  The truth is that those players are going to Kentucky with an expectation that minutes at their positions will be available, and they didn’t get those impressions through a careful reading of the tea leaves.
  2. Moving on to the SEC team that announced on Wednesday that its three stars would be returning, Vanderbilt’s all-SEC trio of Jeffery Taylor, John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli will be back in Nashville next season.  The Commodores went 23-11 overall and 9-7 in the rugged SEC East before losing a heartbreaking opener in the NCAA Tournament against a much-lower seed for the second straight year.  Kevin Stallings’ team will have the weight of enormous expectations on it next year, as this news gives him as talented and experienced a team he’s ever had in his twelve seasons at Vandy.
  3. We’ve got space today for one piece of significant transfer news — Wake Forest’s Ari Stewart will reportedly resurface at USC in the 2012-13 season.  The 6’7 Demon Deacon forward suffered a bit of a sophomore slump in his first year under Jeff Bzdelik, but he has the tools and the jumper to become an all-conference level player at his next destination.  USC picked up a good one as Kevin O’Neill continues rebuilding with his own players in Troy.
  4. Princeton again decided to keep it within the family by reaching out and hiring Class of 1998 graduate Mitch Henderson to take over for the departed  head coach Sydney Johnson.  Henderson has spent the last eleven years working under Bill Carmody at Northwestern, and said upon his hiring that when junior Doug Davis’ shot fell through in the Ivy Championship game this year against Harvard, he “jumped off his couch” with excitement.  His era as a player (1994-98) was one of the best in program history, as the Tigers made three NCAA Tournaments, reached #7 in the national polls in 1998, and defeated defending national champion UCLA in his sophomore year.  As with Johnson, it’s a lot to live up to for a fan base with rather big expectations.
  5. Just when you thought you couldn’t be more impressed by Derrick Williams’ sophomore All-America season, we learned Wednesday that his “sprained right pinky” had actually been a broken one all along.  Yep, a broken digit that he decided to tough out and play with after suffering the injury in a late January game against UCLA.  Without question, Williams’ field goal percentages of 59.5% and 56.8% (from three) must have really taken a hit by virtue of D-Will’s injury — he likely would have been in the mid-60s in each metric had he not been hurt (we’re only partially kidding).  This exhibited ability to play through pain can only serve to elevate his draft stock come June.
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UK Trio Puts Their Names In The NBA Draft

Posted by nvr1983 on April 20th, 2011

After several weeks of speculation Kentucky freshmen Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones and junior DeAndre Liggins have put their names in the NBA Draft although none of them has signed with an agent yet, leaving open the possibility that they could all return to Lexington next season. Although we noted the interesting trend (is three players a trend?) of several of this year’s top freshmen deciding to stay in college at least one more year, it appears that will not be happening in Lexington. The allure of NBA riches has been tempered for some potential picks by the impending NBA lockout, which from what we have heard is more a matter of when than if, but many have speculated that agents will help the players get through the lockout without any financial difficulty.

Will Jones, Knight, and/or Liggins end up leaving Kentucky?

Knight and Jones are both predicted to be lottery picks this year after solid freshmen campaigns. Knight averaged 17.3 points and 4.2 assists per game while leading the Wildcats to the SEC Tournament title and a Final Four appearance. Knight was also named as a freshman All-American and the East Regional Most Outstanding Player. Jones, who started off extremely well with a spectacular performance at the Maui Invitational then saw his production taper as the season progressed, averaged 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. Like Knight, Jones also picked up several individual awards along the way as he was named a freshman All-American and SEC Freshman of the Year. Liggins is a slightly more interesting case as most mock drafts have him going in the second round if he is even drafted. As a junior, Liggins averaged 8.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, but his biggest contribution to the Wildcats this season came on the defensive end as he received recognition from several media outlets for his defensive play as he was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and to several national All-Defensive teams.

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Who’s Got Next? Reviewing the Jordan Brand Classic

Posted by rtmsf on April 18th, 2011

 
Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Each week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

Throughout the past week, there have been many great performances and match-ups at high school events such as Austin Rivers (#1 – Duke) and Bradley Beal (#6 – Florida) at the Jordan Brand Classic; there have been numerous developing stories such as where Oklahoma is on Perry Ellis’ (#20) list and what Greg Whittington’s (Georgetown) impact on Otto Porter’s (Georgetown) commitment to Georgetown will be; there’s been a key commitment which will make a big impact on the ACC; the New York Times did an interesting article linking Facebook and recruiting; a West Virginia commit joined the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard; and much more.

Austin Rivers (#1 – Duke) and Bradley Beal (#6 – Florida) fought for the #1 spot at shooting guard in the Jordan Brand Classic. (Credit: ESPN)

What We Learned

The Best SG in the Class of 2011. Going into the Jordan Brand Classic on Saturday night you knew that the battle between Rivers and Beal would be the primary match-up to watch. Both of these guys are great scorers and can hit shots from anywhere on the floor. They also have excellent three-point range and finish well above the rim. In this game, Rivers got the best of Beal as he finished with 16 points, six rebounds and four steals (the steals being very impessive due to the lack of defense in all-star games) whereas Beal had 15 points and eight rebounds.  Neither player shot the ball very well, combining for 11-32 shooting from the field and 1-8 shooting from the three-point line. However, the bad three-point percentage is in large part due to both guys taking very long threes that they wouldn’t normally take in a serious game. Look for these two guys to be two of the best scorers in college basketball starting next season.

Perry Ellis Likely Not Oklahoma-Bound. From what Fonda Ellis, Perry Ellis’ mom, told me (see full quotes from her in the “What They’re Saying” Section, below), it seems as though Oklahoma is losing ground in the Ellis sweepstakes (#20). This loss of interest looks to primarily be a result of the Sooners’ coaching change from Jeff Capel to former UNLV head coach Lon Kruger. Although Kruger said in a phone call to Ellis last week that he was still the Sooners’ top priority and that he wanted him to take an official visit to the OU campus, Ellis will have to get used to an entirely new coaching staff there. Ellis is also considering Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Memphis and Wichita State and told me in an interview last month that he’s looking to “be comfortable, have a good relationship with the coach and be in a system I like.”

Greg Whittington and Otto Porter’s Commitments. According to what Greg Whittington (Georgetown) told me Sunday after The Capital Classic, he is the one who got Otto Porter (#40 – Georgetown) to become a Hoya this past week (see full quotes from Whittington in the “What They’re Saying” Section, below). Whittington was able to convince Porter to commit to Georgetown due to the conference they’ll be in, among many other things. However, one thing that seemed to really help the Hoyas was the coaching change at Missouri since the Tigers were believed to have been the frontrunners. According to an ESPN source, the new staff at Missouri did not even have a chance to meet with Porter and his family before Porter made his decision to attend GU. Porter was a big-time pickup for the Hoyas since he is very long and has one of the best mid-range games in his class. He is a match-up problem for almost everyone he faces due to his height and he rebounds the ball and runs the floor well too. He is also good on the defensive end on the floor and is a solid ball-handler. Porter needs to improve on his strength more than anything else but his all-around game is solid and he should make a positive impact at Georgetown next year.

What You Missed

Anthony Davis (#4 – Kentucky) and James McAdoo (#7 – North Carolina) were the Co-MVPs at the Jordan Brand Classic.

Power Forwards Dominated Jordan Brand Classic. Anthony Davis (#4 – Kentucky) and James McAdoo (#7 – North Carolina) were the co-MVPs in the 10th annual Jordan Brand Classic Saturday with Davis recording 29 points (second highest in event history to LeBron James’ 34 points) on 13-15 shooting from the field and 11 rebounds, and McAdoo tallying 26 points on 10-16 shooting from the field and 14 rebounds. Davis also added four blocks and McAdoo hit the game-clinching free throws with 1.6 seconds left which gave the East a 113-109 victory over the West. Both players ran the floor well and were able to knock down the perimeter shot. Although Davis had the better overall game, McAdoo was more impressive since he showed the ability to not only score in the paint, but he also made several nice mid-range jumpers and multiple three-pointers which showed off his range. Both showed good court vision and passing skills as well as an ability to  make the pass in transition or out of the low post when double-teamed. Kyle Wiltjer (#26 – Kentucky) also brought back his sky hook from the McDonald’s game to this event and Johnny O’Bryant (#28 – LSU) consistently knocked down a turn-around jumper that will be deadly if he adds other moves to his arsenal.

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Who’s Got Next? A Recruiting Notebook…

Posted by Josh Paunil on April 11th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru.  We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information.  Each week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport.  If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

With this past week full of events such as the All-American Championship, Nike Hoop Summit and Nike EYBL that displayed top high school talent, there were a lot of chances to watch, analyze and talk to some of the best high school basketball players in the country of all grade levels. We were able to watch more than half of the top-50 prospects in both the classes of 2011 and 2012, and saw great match-ups such as the two best guards in the class of 2012 in Rodney Purvis (#9 – Louisville) and Ricardo Ledo (#10) going at it in the EYBL. We also saw Anthony Davis (#4 – Kentucky) go up against one of the top international big men in Bismack Biyombo (Fuenlabrada, Spain) in the Hoop Summit and two class of 2011 top-five point guards in Josiah Turner (#10 – Arizona) and B.J. Young (#22 – Arkansas).

What We Learned

Rodney Purvis, the #9 overall prospect in the class of 2012, was the best player at the Nike EYBL this past weekend in Virginia, and often required two defenders. (Credit: National Recruiting Spotlight)

Rodney Purvis Elevates to Top Guard. Purvis clearly established himself as the best guard in his class during the EYBL as he out-played the second-best guard in Ledo, hit clutch shots and scored prolifically from everywhere on the court. He is a big-time scorer who can shoot the lights out from behind the arc or take it to the rim where he can finish through contact. He is also a good ballhandler and applies great pressure defense at times which results in turnovers for his opponents. Purvis is able to keep his opponents in front of him as well on defense and has good anticipation which results in steals and easy transition baskets on the other end. Expect him to move even further up the rankings since he has started to consistently get into the lane where he can finish or dump it off to a big man. Purvis is an elite level talent who will make an immediate impact for Louisville in a couple of years.

Anthony Davis Rises to #1 Player (coming soon).  Like Purvis, Davis staked his claim as the best player at his position during the Hoop Summit. However, he went one step further and seized the title as the number one prospect in the country (our new rankings will be out next week). Saying Anthony Davis is versatile at 6’11 is an understatement. The former guard is a force down low as a tremendous shot-blocker and rebounder and is very good at guarding the perimeter against smaller players. He can also handle the ball well and is a deft passer.  Additionally, he can score off the dribble and can play either with his back or facing the basket. He is a very tough match-up due to his versatility. His shooting is respectable and he is a dominant offensive rebounder which allows him to get a lot of easy putbacks. Davis’ potential is unlimited and the sky is the limit for him, which is why he is the best player in his class. Look for Davis to dominate at Kentucky next year and to be an impact player in the NBA down the road.

A Duke Version of the Fab Five? The Fab Five documentary got a lot of press and media attention due to Jalen Rose’s remarks and Grant Hill’s response, but Duke-commit Rasheed Sulaimon took something else away from it. “I saw it and thought it would be a cool idea and I know Duke is recruiting [#5] Shabazz [Muhammad], [#19] L.J. [Rose] and [#15] Tony [Parker] hard so I thought why not put another one together,” Sulaimon said when I asked him about it. L.J. Rose also had some remarks about Sulaimon’s idea, “Him and Alex Murphy have been recruiting me, Shabazz [Muhammad] and Tony Parker hard. It would be fun, it would be a lot of fun.” Parker also smiled at the thought of the idea, “It would be fun,” he added.

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Morning Five: 01.17.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 17th, 2011

  1. When we reported on Angel Garcia leaving Memphis to pursue a professional career in Spain approximately a month ago, we jokingly noted that it could be the start of a new trend. It turns out that we may be onto something as Kansas State recently announced that Freddy Asprilla, a transfer from Florida International, had opted to leave the school to pursue a professional career overseas. While it appears that Asprilla was having some difficulty to adjusting to playing under Frank Martin, his AAU coach states that the real reason he turned pro was to earn money to support his ill mother. We wish Freddy the best of luck in his professional career (particularly if the latter is true).
  2. We usually don’t pay attention to mock drafts or player ratings until the end of the season when players are deciding whether or not to go pro, but Chad Ford’s most recent Top 100 caught our eye because of how the top players are rated: (1) Perry Jones (talented, but very inconsistent — four points in a loss at FSU followed by zero points in a close win over Texas Southern); (2) Kyrie Irving (phenomenal, but injured with a toe injury that apparently cannot be described); (3) Harrison Barnes (the preseason #1, but very disappointing so far); (4) Enes Kanter (a talented inside player, but banned from playing this year); (5) Terrence Jones (phenomenal this season); (6) Jared Sullinger (your current national player of the year favorite). Outside of the dominance of freshman in the top six, we are struck by the fact that the two most productive players are rated below an inconsistent big man, a point guard with an injury that nobody can figure out, a massively disappointing freshman, and a Turkish big man who was given the NCAA’s equivalent of an individual death penalty.
  3. The New York Times takes a look at something that we mentioned earlier this season and we expect that many of you have also considered–the Kalin Lucas you see post-injury is not the same player you saw last year. We aren’t sure if it was just poor editing on the part of the The New York Times, but we were surprised by the fact that Tom Izzo was, in fact, surprised to realize that Lucas wouldn’t have the same explosiveness he had last year after a relatively short period of rehab. Our question all along has been how long will it take Lucas to return to a reasonable representation of what he was last year. The answer to that will likely hold the key to whether or not the Spartans can turn around their season in time.
  4. It technically isn’t college basketball, but we are assuming many of you tuned into ESPN2 on Friday night to catch Michael Gilchrist and Austin Rivers square off. Both players had solid games, but in the end Gilchrist and his St. Patrick team (ranked 2nd nationally) were too much for Rivers and his Winter Park squad. We are assuming that plenty of Kentucky and Duke fans tuned in to watch two players who are expected to be the next superstars for their programs. One thing that struck us was how so many of the St. Patrick players looked to at least be college players at some level while the Winter Park players looked more like high schoolers.
  5. Finally, in light of the struggles of many highly ranked teams on the road this season, we found the question — How many points is Cameron Indoor Stadium worth? — posed by Gary Williams to reporters on Friday to be particularly interesting. We know that the Vegas odds-makers probably have a number at least for general home team advantage if not team-specific home court advantages. So our question to you is how many points is the home court worth at some of the toughest places to play in country?
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In Their Words: Life at the Mid-Major Level (part two)

Posted by rtmsf on September 28th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences and an occasional contributor.

To read the entire In Their Words series, click here.

Part Two: RECRUITING

Over the summer, we’ve spent time hearing about some of the next big-name recruits on their way to college basketball: Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist. We’ve heard the big-time schools announce their high profile games on their upcoming schedules: Kentucky going to the Maui Invitational and visiting North Carolina, Michigan State hosting Texas and going to Duke. But for the vast majority of Division I programs, they’ve been flying under the radar. There are at present 73 teams that participate in basketball in the six BCS conferences, but there are 347 total programs in Division I. Of those other 274 programs, there are certainly quite a few big-name programs: last year’s national runner-up Butler comes to mind immediately, as does Gonzaga, Memphis and a handful of other schools in conferences like the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West. But, we were also interested in how the other half (or really, how the other three-quarters) lives, so we spent some time talking to coaches, athletic directors and other people around the country affiliated with some of those other schools — those non-BCS schools, those “mid-majors” — and we asked them about how they recruit, how they create a schedule, how they market their programs, and quite a few other things. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll let them tell you their story, in their own words.

To begin, let me introduce and thank this week’s cast of characters:

  • Tommy Dempsey, Head Coach, Rider – Dempsey enters his fifth season as the head man at Rider, following two seasons as an assistant. He has compiled an 83-75 record over that time and coached NBA lottery pick Jason Thompson during his time there.
  • Jason James, Head Coach, Tennessee-Martin – James enters his second season as the head coach at UT-Martin following eight seasons as an assistant coach there. His first season was rough, to the tune of 4-25, after he was appointed head coach in the wake of scandal with the previous head coach. But James, the recruiter who brought Lester Hudson to UT-Martin, has plans to begin to turn things around this season.
  • Todd Miles, Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations, Long Beach State – Miles starts his third year in Long Beach following a seven-year stretch at Boise State where he was the primary media relations contact for the basketball team.
  • Eric Brown, Assistant Coach, Long Beach State – Brown enters his fifth year as an assistant on head coach Dan Monson’s staff, after previously having spent time on coaching staffs at Cal-State Northridge, USC and Iowa State.
  • Chris Caputo, Assistant Coach, George Mason – Caputo is entering his sixth season as an assistant coach for the Patriots after spending the previous three seasons as an administrative assistant and video coordinator under head coach Jim Larranaga.
  • Murry Bartow, Head Coach, East Tennessee State – Bartow is entering his eighth season as the Buccaneers head coach, after having previously succeeded his father Gene Bartow as the head coach at UAB. Bartow has posted a 118-72 record in his years at ETSU and has racked up 241 total wins and four NCAA appearances in his 13 seasons as a head coach.
  • Dale Layer, Head Coach, Liberty – Layer enters his second season at Liberty after having spent a season as an assistant at the university in 2007-08. In between, he spent a year at Marquette and previously he spent seven seasons as the head coach at Colorado State. He has compiled a 118-122 record in his eight seasons as a Division I head coach.
  • George Ivory, Head Coach, Arkansas-Pine Bluff – Ivory enters his third season in Pine Bluff, where he has turned the Golden Lions into winners. UAPB turned around an 0-11 start last season by finishing 18-5 over their last 23 games, winning UAPB’s first SWAC tournament title in 43 years and advancing to the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual national-champion Duke.

Last time around, we heard about the challenges mid-major schools face in competing for recruits and the importance of player development at the mid-major level. This time, we’ll look at some of the more practical questions to be answered when recruiting, such as what types of players coaches are going to be looking for and where they are going to find them. If you’re in a talent-rich area, you may not ever need to go outside of your region to find players, but the bigger pool of talent from which you are able to draw, the more likely you are to be able to land talented players.

Tommy Dempsey, Head Coach, Rider: We’re in a great location. We sit right in the middle between Philadelphia and New York City. We’re about 35 miles from Philadelphia and about 50 miles from New York City, which also puts us two hours from Baltimore, maybe three hours from Washington DC, within three hours of Virginia, we have a couple of kids from Delaware, so again we’re in a location that allows us to recruit regionally. I think most coaches will tell you that they want to take care of their back yard, but how big your back yard is changes for everybody. If you’re in the Midwest and there are not as many players within a two-hour radius of your school, then obviously you have to change your approach. But in our situation we are able to do the majority of our recruiting close to home.

Locating Talent is Extremely Important

Jason James, Head Coach, Tennessee-Martin: As far as location, we try to bring in student-athletes within about a six hour radius from us, we’ve been more successful doing that, but saying that, we kind of go where we know people, where people can help us and we’ve been able to be successful because of our contacts.

Todd Miles, Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations, Long Beach State: Coach (Dan) Monson’s goal is always to get the best player in Long Beach. That’s his number one goal. That’s how we got Larry Anderson. Casper Ware is a local kid, T.J. Robinson happened to come from Connecticut, but he came because we were recruiting Larry Anderson who was at a prep school and we saw T.J. But, with this team this year we had a lot of returners, so they were trying to find pieces that would fit with this team, with all these returners they had certain needs and they may have been a little more particular about who they wanted. Three years ago when Coach Monson and his staff came here, they needed players, and it didn’t matter what position. And I think this year maybe more they wanted to recruit to a position or to a skill set.

Eric Brown, Assistant Coach, Long Beach State: We prefer to recruit locally, but really, it is all based on need. Certain classes are stronger than others: 2012 looks to be stronger than the 2011 class, as an example. And then there might be times when you have to recruit for need, like you need a point – it’s not just about recruiting a position, like you need a guard or forward – you might have more specific needs, like you need an athletic, guard-the-rim post-player, they may not need to be a great offensive post player. Or you might need a post player who can pick-and-pop and hit the three, but isn’t that great on the block. Or you might have a bunch of 6’4/6’5 athletes who are drivers/slashers, but you need to find a guy that can hit the three. If a player can do it all, they’re not going to come to our level. Sometimes we just need to find guys that can fit a need. In this case, we got some really good kids out of state and if we have a need and don’t think that need can be best filled out of the local area, we go to wherever it is we can get it.

Chris Caputo, Assistant Coach, George Mason: There are some years where we sign a number of guys from the area and other years where it’s a little bit different, but yeah, our base is the local area. Last year we brought in two kids from the DC area. Obviously we want to stay with that as much as possible, but there are times when there is just not enough volume in your area when you’ve got to get five or six kids in a year, which we’ve had to do. You know, we had to get 10 guys in two years and so sometimes when there’s not as much in the area and you’ve got to get quality, you’ve got to go to places out of the area, and I think that’s where TV has helped us as well.

Schools like Long Beach State and George Mason have easy access to major metropolitan areas. Obviously, not all schools enjoy such a location, and as a result cannot rely entirely on getting recruits from their local area.

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In Their Words: Life at the Mid-Major Level

Posted by rtmsf on September 21st, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences and an occasional contributor.

Part One: RECRUITING

Over the summer, we’ve spent time hearing about some of the next big-name recruits on their way to college basketball: Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist. We’ve heard the big-time schools announce their high profile games on their upcoming schedules: Kentucky going to the Maui Invitational and visiting North Carolina, Michigan State hosting Texas and going to Duke. But for the vast majority of Division I programs, they’ve been flying under the radar. There are at present 73 teams that participate in basketball in the six BCS conferences, but there are 347 total programs in Division I. Of those other 274 programs, there are certainly quite a few big-name programs: last year’s national runner-up Butler comes to mind immediately, as does Gonzaga, Memphis and a handful of other schools in conferences like the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West. But, we were also interested in how the other half (or really, how the other three-quarters) lives, so we spent some time talking to coaches, athletic directors and other people around the country affiliated with some of those other schools — those non-BCS schools, those “mid-majors” — and we asked them about how they recruit, how they create a schedule, how they market their programs, and quite a few other things. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll let them tell you their story, in their own words.

To begin, let me introduce and thank this week’s cast of characters:

  • Murry Bartow, Head Coach, East Tennessee State – Bartow is entering his eighth season as the Buccaneers head coach, after having previously succeeded his father Gene Bartow as the head coach at UAB. Bartow has posted a 118-72 record in his years at ETSU and has racked up 241 total wins and four NCAA appearances in his 13 seasons as a head coach.
  • George Ivory, Head Coach, Arkansas-Pine Bluff – Ivory enters his third season in Pine Bluff, where he has turned the Golden Lions into winners. UAPB turned around an 0-11 start last season by finishing 18-5 over their last 23 games, winning UAPB’s first SWAC tournament title in 43 years and advancing to the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual national-champion Duke.
  • Chris Caputo, Assistant Coach, George Mason – Caputo is entering his sixth season as an assistant coach for the Patriots after spending the previous three seasons as an administrative assistant and video coordinator under head coach Jim Larranaga.
  • Tommy Dempsey, Head Coach, Rider – Dempsey enters his fifth season as the head man at Rider, following two seasons as an assistant. He has compiled an 83-75 record over that time and coached NBA lottery pick Jason Thompson during his time there.
  • Eric Reveno, Head Coach, Portland – Reveno heads into his fifth season at Portland having turned around a program from a team that was 18-45 in his first two seasons to a team on the rise with a 40-24 record over the last two seasons. Reveno spent his previous nine seasons as an assistant at Stanford, his alma mater where he was a Pac-10 Conference All-Academic Team selection as a senior.
  • Eric Brown, Assistant Coach, Long Beach State – Brown enters his fifth year as an assistant on head coach Dan Monson’s staff, after previously having spent time on coaching staffs at Cal-State Northridge, USC and Iowa State.
  • Jason James, Head Coach, Tennessee-Martin – James enters his second season as the head coach at UT-Martin following eight seasons as an assistant coach there. His first season was rough, to the tune of 4-25, after he was appointed head coach in the wake of scandal with the previous head coach. But James, the recruiter who brought Lester Hudson to UT-Martin, has plans to begin to turn things around this season.
  • Dale Layer, Head Coach, Liberty – Layer enters his second season at Liberty after having spent a season as an assistant at the university in 2007-08. In between, he spent a year at Marquette and previously he spent seven seasons as the head coach at Colorado State. He has compiled a 118-122 record in his eight seasons as a Division I head coach.
  • Gregg Bach, Assistant Athletics Director for Communications, Akron – Bach was named to his current position this past summer after having spent the previous eight years on the media relations staff in the Akron athletic department. His new job makes him the spokesperson of the athletic department.

First up: recruiting. This is the biggest, most pressure-packed area in college athletics. No matter how good coaches are at the X’s-and-O’s, they need players to execute their plans. At the mid-major level, the likelihood of a coach winding up with a ready-made pro is minuscule, so coaches have to find diamonds-in-the-rough, and, perhaps more importantly, develop their players over the course of their careers. Not only do schools at this level have to compete with other schools of similar size, if they find themselves competing with  a higher-level school for the same prospect, they may have to make a decision as to whether or not continuing to recruit the player is a worthwhile use of time. And the schools have to make the most of every advantage they can find in order to land the best student-athletes for their institution.

Recruiting Players Takes on Many Forms

Murry Bartow, Head Coach, East Tennessee State: Obviously, if you’re a college basketball coach, the most important part of your job is making sure that you’ve got good players.

George Ivory, Head Coach, Arkansas-Pine Bluff: There are a lot of things that go into recruiting. It comes down to what that kid is really looking for and what that kid wants out of college.

Bartow: There are so many things that go into it. There is no question that the relationship is critical, whether that’s with the head coach or an assistant coach. But that is very pivotal in the decision, building the relationship with not only the prospect, but a mom or a dad or whoever is going to be helping them make that decision. And certainly the product you’re trying to show them is important. Fortunately, I think I’m in a situation where I think we’ve got a good product, but there are a lot of things that are important: the school, the community, the housing, the fan’s support of your program, how many times you’re potentially going to be on TV and what conference you’re in, your history, the success you’ve had and how many times you’ve been to the NCAA tournament recently. So there are a lot of things and certainly different things are important to different players. For instance, we’ve been to the NCAA Tournament the last two years, and for some prospects that is very, very critical and important, and for others that might not be so important. So there are different things for different prospects.

When George Mason broke through to the Final Four in 2006, they were the first big mid-major success story in the NCAA Tournament since, arguably, Larry Bird’s Indiana State team made it there in 1979. Sure, there have been other non-BCS schools to get to the Final Four (Memphis ’08, Louisville ’05 and Marquette ’03 all came out of Conference USA, and Utah ’98 out of the WAC are all examples of non-BCS teams advancing to the Final Four, but none of those teams can really be considered a mid-major given their substantial basketball budgets), but Mason, an 11-seed and one of the last teams into the tournament that season, is clearly the first “modern” mid-major Cinderella story. While their success opened some doors recruiting-wise, new challenges arose as well.

Chris Caputo, Assistant Coach, George Mason: I don’t think anything has gotten easier since the Final Four, but it has been different for sure. I think we’ve gotten some good players, but you’ve got to caution yourself against those with superficial interest, people who will put you on their list because it sounds good, but they’re really not considering you because they are too far from home or whatever. You still want to make sure you’re getting guys that really want to be there and they’re hungry. Sometimes when you have success there are certain kids who are really attracted to the success and maybe not as attracted to working, almost like they’re feeling, “hey, if I get a scholarship over at George Mason, that’s it, I don’t have to work anymore.” But the guys that helped us get there, they signed with George Mason when it wasn’t as fashionable and they were driven to succeed. The one thing that the Final Four appearance has done for us is that it has helped us get involved with guys who maybe we previously couldn’t have gotten involved with. It helps us get into homes in different areas. You know, our school is much more of a household name nationally, and we’ve become a stronger name in our area as well. I think it has been good, but you also have to be careful with it too.

For mid-majors, a lot of the big-name recruits (McDonald’s All-Americans), are out of the question in all but the rarest of circumstances. This season, point guard Ray McCallum, Jr. chose Detroit over BCS schools like Arizona, Florida and UCLA, a decision which would have been startling were it not for the fact that his dad is the head coach there. For most mid-major programs, these players aren’t even in consideration. To make up for that, mid-majors have to find players that fly under the radar of some of the bigger schools and guys who are willing to put in the hard work to improve.

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Is Michael Gilchrist Waffling on His Commitment to Kentucky?

Posted by rtmsf on August 27th, 2010

Update: Coach Calipari must have taken our advice, as Gilchrist’s follow-up tweet later this evening said, “Just had a long talk to Coach Cal.. Ill be on campus next weekend.”  If Calipari knows one thing, he knows how to protect his assets.  That didn’t take very long at all.  Still, it doesn’t settle the issue of if or why Gilchrist wants to take three official visits.

Perhaps superstar recruit Mike Gilchrist is just playing with us on a late summer Friday evening, or perhaps he’s having some second thoughts about his early commitment to play his college ball at Kentucky.  Either way, the below tweet (now deleted), sent at around 9 pm ET tonight, is sure to set the recruiting world afire short of a strong statement to the contrary by the consensus top five player in the class of 2011.

Kyle Anderson, a star forward from North Bergen (St. Anthony’s), NJ, in the class of 2012, asked Gilchrist directly on Twitter whether he had de-committed from UK, to which Gilchrist responded with a simple “no.”  But there are hints that the rising senior may be having some cold feet, given the above quote referring to taking three official visits (we have to assume he’s not talking about Kentucky, Transylvania and Lexington Community College) in addition to some other chatter on his Twitter page about not leaving his mother by herself [presumably in New Jersey].

Paging Coach Calipari… coach John Calipari.  You may want to keep Gilchrist handy on your speed-dial.  Stay tuned on this one…

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