Morning Five: 08.13.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 13th, 2010

  1. Minnesota received good news yesterday when much-maligned forward Trevor Mbakwe finally reached a conclusion in his assault case that will allow him to suit up for the Gophers after over a year in limbo.  He will enter a pre-trial intervention program that will wipe the slate clean so long as he performs 100 hours of community service and pays a $100 fine.  With several solid contributors returning to Minny along with the addition of Mbakwe, Tubby Smith’s team suddenly looks a little better than they did a few days ago in the stacked Big Ten.
  2. Florida, Mississippi State, Dayton, Illinois and Penn State.  What do theses five schools have in common?  Andy Glockner believes that each is ready to make a substantial leap in their luck next season.  He’s not being facetious either.  In using the Pomeroy definition of “luck,” a calculation that measures whether a team is playing above or below its statistical expectations, he finds that the above five teams should show a bump this season if for no other reason than they were fairly unlucky last year.
  3. Mike DeCourcy gives us his five prospects coming out of the July recruiting period who most helped themselves.  Two New Englanders, Maurice Harkless and Naadir Tharpe, were among his list.
  4. An NCAA proposal would require incoming NCAA freshmen to essentially prove their academic worthiness through summer school prior to their first season if their academic credentials were found lacking.  Upperclassmen would also have their academic records reviewed at the end of each school year and determine whether summer classes were needed; if they were, coaches could use part of the players’ summer terms for strength/conditioning and some skill development.  How long until every coach figures out that all of his players (including the 3.0 students) miraculously require the additional summer classwork?
  5. ESPN analyst and former Duke superstar Jay (don’t call me Jason) Williams recently showed that he still has some game, especially the kind suited for summertime street ball.  He played so well at  Dyckman in NYC recently that he earned a new nickname: the Bourne Supremacy.  We’re very anxious to see what the other ESPN analysts and commentators will do with that next season.
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That’s Debatable: Revisiting the Butler-Xavier Fiasco

Posted by rtmsf on December 23rd, 2009

Each week RTC will posit a That’s Debatable question or topic that is relevant to the world of college basketball.  Sometimes whimsical, sometimes serious, we’ll post the thoughts from our core editing crew (in 200 words or less), but we’ll also be expanding to include our contributors and correspondents as appropriate throughout the season.  We also invite you, the readers, to join us as we mull over some of the questions facing the game today.  Feel free to send us your takes and/or leave them in the comments below.

This Week’s Topic: What do you think about the whole Butler vs. Xavier fiasco at the end of their game over the weekend?

Crawford Wasn't Happy About the Decision to End the Game

Crawford Wasn't Happy About the Decision to End the Game

zach hayes – editor/contributor, RTC

When the crazy ending occurred and throughout the interminable review by the officials, I was convinced there was no way the officials could end the game without giving Xavier at least a chance for a miracle shot. For the officials to determine that a certain amount of time came off the clock with a stopwatch and end the game based on that ruling seems like a total reach. But taking a step back and reviewing the rule and the play, the officials did properly end the game. It was simply bad luck on Xavier’s part because if Hayward had released the ball just a split second longer, the Musketeers would have benefited from the rule and a riot may have ensued at Hinkle. It’s unfortunate to end such a dramatic and important game on a controversial ending directly involving the officials, but given the wild circumstances, the referees handled it properly.

john stevens - editor/contributor, RTC

The way I see it, the referees did what they could in that last bit where they got out the stopwatch and tried to figure out how much, if any, time should be remaining.  If the rule book allows them to do that, I realize it’s not a perfect solution but it’s the best way to correct that kind of error.  If they figure that there would have been a negative time balance left had there been “proper” timekeeping, then that’s just how it is.  I wonder, though, how much time is lost in the use of a stopwatch?  An official would have to have perfect reflexes to use a stopwatch and accurately determine how long such a stoppage lasted.  Even if there’s just .01-.02 seconds lost, any team would want any fraction of a second they could get.  Even if Xavier had been awarded the entire final 1.2 seconds to get off a shot, we’re talking about a last-second heave.  But they deserve the chance.  There are ways to prevent this problem in the future, but in this case I think the zebras got it…well, as right as they could get it.

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Morning Five: 11.11.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2009

morning5

  1. Wednesday is the start of the week-long Early National Signing Period for the Class of 2010.  UCLA just got a commitment yesterday from five-star 6’9 F/C Josh Smith from Covington, Washington, and the best big man in Westwood since Kevin Love was throwing in 94-footers at the Final Four.  Six of the top ten are already committed, but two of the jewels — Harrison Barnes and Brandon Knight — are still on the board. scout 2010 top 10
  2. Villanova freshman center Mouphtaou Yarou was declared eligible by head coach Jay Wright yesterday after information from an international basketball site came to light purporting that he may have been much older (25) than his reported 19 years of age.   Jeff Goodman reported later yesterday that the NCAA had previously cleared him and that the school has his immigration papers and passport showing that he is indeed still a teenager.  Maybe Villanova compliance should enlist the assistance of Orly Taitz to track down Yarou’s birth certificate?
  3. Let’s call this officiating rule of emphasis by its real name, shall we?  The Shane Battier Rule.
  4. Illinois guard Jeff Jordan will miss the Illini’s first two games for playing in an unsanctioned 3-on-3 event over the summer (while he was off the team).
  5. Revisiting Jim Boeheim’s 800th victory with some of his former players (a Matt Roe sighting!).  Also, a funny anecdote from Albany head coach Will Brown talking to his point guard during the game with SU:  “I said to Mike Black, `Mike, you’ve got to get the ball to the high post,’ ” Brown recalled. “He said, ‘Coach, I can’t see the high post.’ ”  Yes, that Syracuse zone is long this year.
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Buzz: Hold Those Betting Sheets, Delaware…

Posted by rtmsf on August 24th, 2009

A three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia today heard two hours of oral arguments on the legality of Delaware’s proposed plan to institute sports gambling in time for the opening of football season in two weeks.  Their decision to overturn the lower court’s holding allowing such wagering in Delaware sent ripples through the Northeastern corridor, as gambling savants from Connecticut to Virginia will have to cancel their planned fall weekend trips to Dover.  At issue was the expansion of wagering options that Delaware has proposed, including single-game bets using point spreads in multiple sports.  Under previous interpretation of law, the state is only allowed to offer parlay-style gambling on professional football games – any expansion beyond that is illegal.  Today’s ruling leaves little wiggle room for the state, as an appeal is unlikely to be considered by the Supreme Court.  So… does this mean a Final Four in Wilmington is back on?

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The NCAA Strikes Back at Delaware…

Posted by rtmsf on August 6th, 2009

Last week we reported that the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA teamed up to file a civil suit against the state of Delaware to block its plan to introduce single-game wagering on pro and collegiate sports beginning this fall – on September 1, in fact, just in time for the first college football weekend and the NFL kickoff ten days later.  (Let’s pause briefly to listen to the delirium from every ex-fratboy from North Jersey to DC for dramatic effect.)   Yesterday a US District Court judge in Delaware (who presumably likes the Eagles -6) rejected the cabal’s request for an injunction, effectively giving the First State the freedom to move forward with its plan throughout football season.  Trial, if it ever comes to pass, is scheduled to begin in early December.  Sounds perfect, right?

sports betting 2

Not so fast.  Sensing that the Good Ship Moral Police was taking on too much water, the NCAA today announced that it will no longer allow its championships to be held in states that permit single-game wagering.  What an amazing coincidence!  While this new NCAA policy may hold significant sway in large, multi-faceted states such as California or Florida, Delaware is unlikely to see much of an impact.  According to the AP report on the matter, the state expects to take in approximately $53M in its first year of gaming; how much money could Delaware stand to lose from this policy?  To our knowledge, there’s never been a bowl game or an NCAA Tournament game in Dover, and there are no other cities of the size where the NCAA would host a major event.  The 1-AA playoffs involving University of Delaware?  Sure, but we’re only talking about a couple of games every few years there.  What else – non-revenue sports?  Yeah, keep trying. 

The fact of the matter is that this is a power play by the NCAA to create a precedent should any of its other states (e.g., ones that actually carry and profit from NCAA events) get the notion that they too should look into this sports gambling business.  Frankly, we don’t see how revenue lost could ever match what would pour into a state’s coffers, but that’s another argument for another time.  The important thing here is that the NCAA is not going to win this battle, and the East Coast will actually now have a reason to visit Delaware for more than the 30 minutes it takes to pass through it. 

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06.28.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 28th, 2009

Let’s get caught up after a glorious weekend…

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

Posted by nvr1983 on April 22nd, 2009

Andy Katz wrote in his blog today that the NCAA Legislative Committee voted on Monday to make a rule change effective in 2010 that would shorten the amount of time that an early entry would have to ‘test the waters’ with NBA teams before making a final decision to enter the draft.

If the NCAA board of directors endorses the legislative panel’s decision to reduce the early entry decision window from six weeks to approximately one week, there won’t be any reasonable way for underclassmen to test the draft process. USA Today first reported the panel’s decision, which would make underclassmen decide by May 8 whether they were staying in the draft. The current deadline is 10 days before the draft in mid-June. (The rule would go into effect for next year’s draft class.)

This legislation was the compromise position after the ACC came to the table asking for a ten-day window following the conclusion of the national championship game.  We’ve written about this before, but let us reiterate for those of you who missed our first tirade: this is a TERRIBLE decision.

testing-waters

As Katz points out very clearly in his post, the withdrawal deadline would then become somewhere around the end of the first week of May each year, which would allow players a window of a mere 7-10 days in which to make themselves available for private workouts with NBA teams.  And if you’re like us and your collegiate days are well into the rear-view mirror, you may have forgotten that the end of April/beginning of May also usually coincides with exams for most college students around the country, even those who play basketball on the side.  In other words, the NCAA is making it that much harder for a prospective early entry to get good feedback on his status.

Let’s take a quick look at a system that generally works – the current one.  Last year, there were 69 American players who originally decided to test the waters.  Thirty-five of those players felt confident enough in their standing to stay in the draft, and 28 of those (80%) were actually selected on draft night in MSG (21 with guaranteed money in the first round).   Now we aren’t going to say what was going through the heads of every one of those 34 players who returned to school (guys like Josh Akognon, Chase Budinger, Jerel McNeal and of course the Carolina trio), but we’d absolutely wager that many of them iniitally thought they were ready for the NBA.  It was only after they were able to get objective feedback from NBA scouts and teams as to their projected draft status that they were able to make an informed decision to not cede their remaining eligibility on a gut feeling.

How quick we are to forget our history.  The reason the early entry withdrawal  rule was initially instituted was to allow players like Scotty Thurman and Thomas Hamilton to get good, objective feedback on their draft status prior to making a final decision.  It’s very easy to think you’re a lottery pick when you’re the best player on a successful college team and everyone around you is telling you that you’re a superstar.  It’s less easy to think that when scouts tell you that you’re undersized, need to work on your shooting or you’re slow for your position at the next level (i.e., the truth).   What the NCAA is endorsing here is the opportunity for more of the former and less of the latter, which will ultimately mean that more players are going to make an ill-informed gut-based decision to stay in the draft, only to be surprised when they’re not chosen six weeks later.  It’s bad for the players’ futures, who throw away an opportunity at a degree and further training in basketball; it’s bad for the schools who could benefit in many ways by getting key non-NBA-ready players to return (cough, cough, UNC), and it’s bad for the game itself, which is always enriched when the players who should still be playing at that level are actually doing so.

211090215056_north_carolina_at_miami

Now, we know who is driving this – the coaches (how dare some of these guys complain!).  Despite all the hollow and vacuous lip service they give to being there for their kids and wanting only what’s best for their players, what they’re really doing is making life easier on themselves.  By shaving five weeks from the early entry withdrawal deadline, it will now give Coach Blowhard another month to finish recruiting, shore up his roster and adequately plan for the next season.  There is some merit to this position – some – but by making it eminently more difficult for his players to learn their individual strengths and weaknesses from an objective source prior to the withdrawal deadline (e.g., the NBA Combine, scheduled to start in late May of this year),  they’re much more likely to fall back on gut instincts which will almost always favor the dream of the NBA over taking more exams.  Any benefit to the coach and program by this initiative is more than lost by enabling poor decisionmaking from the players.

From our stance, this is an unconscionable position for the coaches to take, especially given how much they talk about helping their players get to the next level, and we’re extremely disappointed in this decision.  Let’s hope the NCAA Board of Directors shoots it down next week.

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Midight Madness Fatigue

Posted by rtmsf on October 24th, 2008

For the third consecutive weekend we have Midnight Madness celebrations going on around the nation, and frankly, we’re tired of it.  Will the NCAA please dictate that all MMs need to occur on the same weekend, or better yet, the same night?!!?  This is getting ridiculous. 

Anyway, here are the remaining laggards.  As always, we’ll try to have some photos/video up later on this post…

Here’s some pics from Florida’s Dancing with the Stars knockoff, featuring some next-gen Erin Andrews knockoffs and Nick Calathes in some kind of ridonkulous afro wig…  (photo credits:  GatorCountry.com)

The Vanillanova kids looked like they were having a good time last night (btw, it’s sad that we’re scooping not 1, not 2, but 3 VU sports blogs and their student newspaper on coverage of this event…)  (photo credit: Villanova Athletics) ed note: the photo we took directly from the VU Athletics site was from 2007 – we guess everyone at Nova was a little slow after the festivities of Fri. night

Last but not least, Late Night With Roy…  (photo credits:  NewsObserver.com)

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Well, It Kinda Sorta Starts Tonight

Posted by rtmsf on October 10th, 2008

Yep, Midnight Madness is upon us.  Well, at least at the few schools who have flouted conventional wisdom and are using their 2-hr window of practice time this week to get Midnight Madness out of the way earlier than everyone else.  It’ll be interesting to monitor whether this recruiting “advantage,” according to the NABC, will actually translate into anything substantial.  Here’s the weekend schedule. 

We’re interested to see in particular how this Illinois practice in the end zone of their football stadium turns out. 

In Champaign, Ill., the men’s and women’s basketball teams will head onto a court set up behind one of the end zones Saturday at Memorial Stadium after the conclusion of Illinois’ game with Minnesota. The basketball practice, to be held on a donated court, will be canceled if it rains.  “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players to be on this type of stage,” Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber said.

Nevertheless, we shouldn’t get used to this early start.  Word is that the NCAA will enact emergency legislation later this month to put an end to the practice of early practice.  We’ll try to get some photos up as these things happen over the weekend.   

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If You Ain’t Cheatin’, You Ain’t Tryin’…

Posted by rtmsf on October 1st, 2008

Seems Sir Charles was right after all.  Somehow this wonderfully crafted piece by Dan Wetzel at YahooSports got past us for nearly a week before we found it.  Wetzel essentially fires a Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US shot across the bow of the Good Ship NCAA, led by Capt. Myles Brand, for its notably lax invisible investigation and enforcement of NCAA rules among its two revenue cash cow sports, football and basketball.

Doing some solid investigative work himself, Wetzel concludes that it’s been nearly two years since a major college basketball program was hit with a significant violation (Kansas with Ol’ Roy’s largesse in Oct 2006), which is the longest such drought in almost a half-century.  Similarly, it’s been fifteen clean months in college football since the last major violation (Oklahoma in July 2007).  So the reasonable conclusion here is that the NCAA has cleaned up its high-profile sports to the point where schools are by and large playing by the rules, right?  Right?

Wetzel has a slightly different take:

The NCAA has expanded its staff of investigators (its cops) to an all-time high of 20. It now has its infractions committee (its judge and jury) meet as often as seven times per year. Still, it hasn’t been this feeble at catching crooks since a 16-month stretch ending in 1962. Back then, it had one investigator. [...] It never has been so obvious the NCAA is protecting its big-time programs and television money.  It’s gotten to the point where Jerry Tarkanian’s legendary line about the NCAA’s selective enforcement habits – “the NCAA was so mad at Kentucky, it gave Cleveland State two more years of probation” – has become outdated.  These days the NCAA doesn’t even get mad at Kentucky.

Wetzel goes on to describe just how toothless the NCAA investigations staff has become in recent years despite its recent expansion.  Apparently they’re still quite excellent at catching small-school hopscotch coaches who have the audacity to text recruits outside of the mandated contact periods (check the below list from 2008).  But when it comes to the power conference schools who have big money, big boosters, big media and drive the whole ship into port for the NCAA coffers, the investigators are largely missing. 

What a joke.  We harkened back to this problem when the OJ Mayo allegations came out last spring.  With a notorious character like Rodney Guillory hanging around the USC program, how could the NCAA and the LA media have so completely missed it?  We’ll buy the fact that newspapers don’t have the proper resources to perform comprehensive investigative journalism while entire newsrooms are shuttering, but the NCAA still has no excuse.  Especially when we look at the above list and see what those twenty investigators have been so diligently working on for the past nine months.

We made reference yesterday to coaches like Billy Gillispie finding the grey areas of the NCAA rulebook and making those in charge make decisions.  With what Wetzel has shown us, we ask, why even bother with the gray areas?  Why not just start funnelling booster money directly to recruits instead of worrying about impressing them with big extravaganza weekends?  Make it truly an arms race where the most-moneyed always win.  Then at least we can all walk away from the stench without lying to ourselves as to what’s causing it. 

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09.11.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 11th, 2008

It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, and we’re trying to get back into gear here…

  • Reason #73 to love college basketball – apparently, us.  Sweet. 
  • How about reason #70 – Duke is All Things Evil and Sweaty.  We thought that was Sarah Palin, no?  Politically speaking, Washington insider and Terp fan Robert Novak says he will no longer inveigh against Duke after he had his successful cancer treatment at their medical center.
  • Kentucky is using an NCAA rulebook loophole to get a leg up on Midnight Madness this year.  Apparently you can use 2 hrs/week for instruction prior to the traditional mid-October practice starting date, and UK will use their 2 hrs on Oct. 10 to get going early
  • Dickie V. is in the Hall of Fame!  Supposedly his bust will be enshrined perilously close to the Coach K wax figure anus. 
  • Patty Mills is back at St. Mary’s enjoying his lavish praise from the Olympic experience, unless you ask this writer.  Editing, people!
  • All the BracketBuster information you could ever want…  including 102 teams and nine conferences sending their entire rosters this season (MAC, MVC, OVC, CAA, Horizon, Big West, WAC, MAAC). 
  • Kevin Love is the cover boy of 2009 NCAA Basketball (formerly March Madness) for all you gamers out there.

Some older stuff you might have missed…

  • American’s Jeff Jones parlayed the school’s first ever NCAA appearance into a nice contract extension through 2014. 
  • Tom Crean can’t catch a break (other than his new bitchin paycheck).  His only returning scholarship player, Kyle Taber, injured his knee and will be out of action for 10 weeks.   
  • Ty Lawson confirmed that he “probably” would be in the NBA right now had it not been for his “drinking while driving” arrest in June.  If Lawson had left, would Danny Green and/or Wayne Ellington have stayed too?  UNC fans should be thanking their lucky stars for Lawson’s (mis)fortune this season. 
  • Wow, do you think the NCAA micromanages much?  Arkansas recently self-reported six violations, and some of them just seem silly.
  • Oklahoma’s Mr. Dub-Dub, Blake Griffin, was ticketed for outraging public decency, also known as the piss-and-walk
  • Thanks to the SEC’s new comprehensive tv package deal ($2B!!!) with ESPN, there will be two more nights of SEC coverage (in addition to Super Tuesday) on the network starting in 2009-10.  In related news, Time Warner Cable has picked up the Big Ten Network (whew!  glad we’ve got Comcast at the RTC abode!!). 
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05.12.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 12th, 2008

Your weekend news and notes…

  • OJ, OJ, OJ, OJ, OJ
  • In the wake of the Kelvin Sanctions fiasco, Indiana has responded to the five major NCAA allegations and believes that it has already punished flagellated itself enough.  Since IU is painting Sampson as the fall guy, he felt the need to defend himself in a separate letter to the NCAA.  
  • The NCAA is proposing a change to the college goaltending rule to make it mesh with the NBA version – a ball that hits the backboard may no longer be blocked whether it is moving in an upward or downward motion.  Our biggest pet peeve, the lack of a collegiate block/charge restricted area under the basket, was merely “discussed.”  Wonderful. 
  • Orchestration, or tampering, Coach Crean?  Say what you really mean.
  • Kentucky’s Derrick Jasper has decided to transfer closer to home. 
  • Andy Glockner writes that Davidson as the “new Gonzaga” is fraught with challenges.
  • Vegas Watch breaks down odds on who will be #1 in the draft.
  • Speaking of which, one Who? (Missouri’s Leo Lyons) decided to return to school, while another Who? (Duquesne’s Shawn James) decided to stay in the NBA Draft. 
  • STF took a look at the 69 early entries (now 68!) and breaks each player down into a probable spot. 
  • The Anxious Tar Heel has a solid breakdown of the percentages of an early entry a) getting invited to the Orlando Predraft Camp, and b) getting drafted from there. 

 

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