NBA Draft Thoughts From a College Perspective

Posted by rtmsf on June 27th, 2011

The NBA Draft has come and gone with one of the most boring evenings in its televised history.  Maybe it was the arena setting, maybe it was the lack of marquee names, maybe it was the fact that none of the draftees wore anything particularly ridiculous, but the league’s capstone summer event was so uninspiring that even Bill Simmons’ usually-hilarious draft diary felt trite and mailed in.  Still, the draft represents to every major college basketball player the culmination of a lifelong dream to hear one’s name called by David Stern, and it’s worth a quick reflection on how things went last Thursday for many of the players we’ve been watching and tracking for years.

The 1-and-Dones Did Well in This Year's Draft (AP)

The 1-and-Dones.  Generally speaking, the NBA Draft went well for the seven 1-and-done players who declared after their freshman season.  Excluding Enes Kanter, who never played a minute at Kentucky, from the discussion, six of the seven players who left school after one season were drafted, and five of those went in the first round.  Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Texas’ Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, Kentucky’s Brandon Knight, and Tennessee’s Tobias Harris were chosen in the first thirty selections, while Kansas’ Josh Selby was taken in the next thirty picks.  The lone holdout was Illinois’ Jereme Richmond, a player who clearly had a much higher opinion of himself than did NBA general managers (although if you listen to his uncle, delusions of grandeur may extend beyond Richmond to his extended family).  Whether any of the others are “ready” for the NBA is an irrelevant notion in this day and age, but seeing Thompson jumping up to the #4 selection despite not being able to shoot the ball, and Joseph going at #29 despite averaging only 10.4 PPG as a “scorer” has us raising our eyebrows. 

Sneaking Into the First Round... Not Exactly.  We heard time and time again in April that the impetus behind numerous marginal players deciding to enter the NBA Draft this year was because players like Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones and Terrence Jones were not coming out.  The logic was that their staying in school opened up more first round spots for lesser talents, a statement certainly true in theory but in no way a sane justification for a dozen additional players to declare for the draft.  Four doesn’t equal twelve the last time we checked.  Interestingly, three of the four beneficiaries to earn guaranteed first round money were college seniors: Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson, Cleveland State’s Norris Cole, and Marquette’s Jimmy Butler (Texas freshman Cory Joseph was the fourth player to benefit).  As for the players who came out early in an attempt to sneak into the first round of this year’s weaker draft, it didn’t really work out for them.  We’re looking at second rounders like Shelvin Mack (Butler), Jordan Williams (Maryland), Trey Thompkins (Georgia), Darius Morris (Michigan), Malcolm Lee (UCLA), Travis Leslie (Georgia), DeAndre Liggins (Kentucky), and Isaiah Thomas (Washington), as well as undrafted guys like Scotty Hopson (Tennessee), Jeremy Green (Stanford), Terrence Jennings (Louisville), Greg Smith (Fresno State) and Carleton Scott (Notre Dame).  What’s going to be awesome is in future years when underclassmen have roughly two weeks to gauge their draft prospects before having to commit to the draft or heading back to school — we’re sure this will result in nothing but great decisions.

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Around The Blogosphere: May 9, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on May 9th, 2011

If you are interested in participating, send your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com as we will be updating these posts throughout the day.

News

  • Terrence Jones To Return: “Terrence Jones will be returning to Lexington for his sophomore year. That’s good news for the Wildcats’ hopes of winning their eighth national championship, and I think it is the correct decision for Terrence, considering all publicly known factors.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • Jeff Capel headed back home: “The University of Duke has confirmed today that former Oklahoma head basketball coach and Duke alumni, Jeff Capel has accepted an assistant position under his mentor Mike Krzyzewski.” (Crimson and Cream Machine)
  • Texas Guard Cory Joseph To Remain In NBA Draft: Rick Barnes and the Longhorns will have to rebuild next year as they have lost all five starters from this season. (Burnt Orange Nation)
  • DeAndre Liggins Widely Expected To Stay In the NBA Draft: “Jeff Goodman tweeted earlier today that DeAndre Liggins will have a press conference tomorrow at 2:00 PM, where he is expected to announce he will remain in the 2011 NBA Draft. Liggins was said to be amongst the best performers at the New Jersey Combine, and that fact together with the announcement of a press conference almost certainly argue for a decision to move on to the NBA.” (A Sea of Blue)

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Dissecting the Law of Unintended Consequences, Early Entry Style

Posted by rtmsf on May 9th, 2011

Welcome to the law of unintended consequences, folks.

Starting with Jared Sullinger’s surprising decision to return to school in the aftermath of #1 Ohio State’s upset loss at the hands of Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament last month, a number of projected top draft picks have similarly shocked the world by deciding to stick around their college campuses for another season.  Subsequent to Sullinger, Baylor’s Perry Jones — another top five pick — followed that up with his own shocker.  Next, UNC’s Harrison Barnes and John Henson — both projected lottery picks this June — each decided that another year in Chapel Hill was to their liking.  On Saturday, Kentucky’s Terrence Jones was the latest projected lottery pick to spurn guaranteed millions in favor of playing as an amateur for another season (ok, stop your snickering about the word “amateur”).

Counting up the number of lottery pick slots that opened up in the June draft, we come up with a total of five (of 14) and certainly the following early entrants will be this summer’s beneficiaries: Arizona’s Derrick Williams, Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Kentucky’s Brandon Knight, UConn’s Kemba Walker, and Kansas’ Marcus Morris.  Five additional slots in the first round, though, isn’t the same as a floodgate opening, and we fear that the oft-repeated mantra of “weak draft” combined with a lack of an opportunity for players to get good evaluation feedback (thanks, ACC coaches!) has led to a bunch of poor decisions at the back end this year.  Like we said, the law of unintended consequences.

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Around The Blogosphere: May 7, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on May 6th, 2011

If you are interested in participating, send your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com as we will be updating these posts throughout the day.

News

  • Brandon Knight to Stay in Draft: “As expected, star point guard Brandon Knight stated at a press conference today that he will remain in the 2011 NBA Draft and forgo his remaining three years of college eligibility. Knight will almost certainly be drafted in the lottery, and currently signs point to him being drafted somewhere in the 5-7 range.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • Maryland Basketball Clamoring For Series With Georgetown: “A Maryland-Georgetown series is something that has been discussed countless times by many publications, but this is the first time in recent memory that a school official has publicly acknowledged a desire to play the other program.” (Casual Hoya)
  • Former UK Recruit At Center Of Academic Scandal: Washington recruit Tony Wroten Jr. is at the center of an academic scandal. (A Sea of Blue)
  • Terrence Jones Announced His Return On Twitter: The announcement came today, setting up UNC and Kentucky as the twin spires of the 2011-12 hype machine. (A Sea of Blue)
  • A Crushing & Historic Victory for UCLA Students on Behalf of the Bruin Nation: “The result was a smashing victory for current Bruin students, who won it for the entire Bruin Nation. For 37 days we had been subjected to relentless propaganda from UCLA athletic department officials and its sympathizers that the decision to banish our students behind the baseline was done with the support of current students. We have been relentless on our pushback methodically making the point how they were full of lies and contradictions. Now we have a crushing mandate from our student body.” (Bruins Nation)

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Conference Report Card: SEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 18th, 2011

Jared Quillen is the RTC correspondent for the SEC conference. We will be publishing a series of conference report cards over the next week for conferences that got multiple NCAA bids to recap the conference, grade the teams, and look at the future for the conference.

Conference Recap

  • It was a good year for the Southeastern Conference. After a weak showing in the NCAA Tournament last year, the SEC was the only conference with multiple teams (Kentucky and Florida) in the Elite Eight. The SEC also got five teams into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years. It was a major improvement over the sad slump that was 2009 when the SEC only qualified LSU, Tennessee, and Mississippi State at 8, 9, and 13 seeds, respectively.
  • When the season started, I predicted the conference could get five and possibly six teams in the tournament and I still contend that Alabama was snubbed.  But regardless of that, five teams is a good showing and a sign of improvement for a conference that lost a little respect as an elite conference in the past few years.
  • Florida was consistent all year, winning close games by playing calmly even when trailing late, but the biggest turning point for the conference came when Kentucky finally was able to win those same close games.  The Wildcats were sitting at 7-9 in conference play and likely facing a first-round game in the SEC when they won close games against Florida, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee finishing the regular season 10-6 and easily marching through the conference tournament.  Kentucky was the favorite at the Final Four in Houston, but poor shooting likely cost the Wildcats their eighth national championship.  And the debate about John Calipari’s ability to win it all with young teams goes on.
Brandon Knight came up big for John Calipari when he needed the star freshman guard the most.

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Morning Five: 04.07.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 7th, 2011

  1. Most of the news around college basketball yesterday was about players putting their names into the NBA Draft. Some were expected like Kyrie Irving while others were a bit more surprising like Scotty Hopson. Two teams–UNC and Kansas–appear to have done rather well yesterday as each saw a pair of players (John Henson and Tyler Zeller for UNC and Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson for Kansas) who many felt might put their names into the NBA Draft decide to stay in school for at least one more year. Both programs are still waiting for other players to announce their intentions, but should be on the short list of favorites to cut down the nets in New Orleans next April.
  2. Last week we mentioned the interest shown by Oklahoma in BYU coach Dave Rose although the Sooners subsequently signed UNLV coach Lon Krueger. It looks like the BYU administration took note as they signed Rose to a 5-year extension, which is an unusually long contract at the school for a basketball coach. BYU will not be the power it was this season in the near future, but it is seems like they are making basketball a priority and are trying to remain competitive in the post-Jimmer world.
  3. Yesterday, we expressed shock at the fact that Miami had not contacted Kansas State coach Frank Martin about becoming their head coach. As The Miami Herald notes money may be the reason they have not contacted Martin or Alabama coach Anthony Grant. The two coaches earn $1.55 and $1.8 million per year respectively, which is significantly above what Frank Haith made while he was there ($1 million per year). Miami has a history of low-ball offers for football coaches so we would be surprised if they broke the bank to get a basketball coach even he could turn around the program.
  4. You already saw our Way Too Early Top 25 and you will be seeing a many other similar rankings online in the next few weeks. Luke Winn and Jeff Goodman recently put out their pre-preseason rankings which are worth checking out to get a gauge on some lesser-known teams that you should keep an eye on for next season. Of course, you should realize that these are moving targets as players will be going in and out of the NBA Draft everyday so expect to see a lot of changes in the next month or two.
  5. Finally, you certainly remember Karen Sypher, the women convicted of trying to extort Louisville coach Rick Pitino after his very brief encounter with her. Yesterday she reported to prison in Florida, but her attorneys reportedly plan on filing appeals on her behalf so this probably will not be the last we hear of her.
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Around The Blogosphere: March 31, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on March 31st, 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.

Final Four Notes

  • Feinstein On The Brink … Of Encephalic Detonation: “One definition of insanity is said to be doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Whether you agree with that or not, it is commonly used to display the logical flaws in not making changes to a given process when the process doesn’t work. John Feinstein wants to give us yet another common example of how one’s sanity can be questioned: ‘Ignore reality and maybe it will go away.'” (A Sea of Blue)
  • Enes Kanter: For Love of Wildcat-Not: “The tragedy that is Enes Kanter’s Kentucky Wildcats basketball career has gone mostly unnoticed since the NCAA declared, for the final time, that Kanter would never be able to play college basketball in the United States. I say this is a tragedy not because the outcome ruined a promising young career — it didn’t. Kanter will be fine. He will be drafted to play in the NBA in this year’s draft, and he’ll be making millions next year.  He could have already been making millions playing for Fenerbahçe Ülker in Turkey. So I use the term “tragedy” advisedly. It is really a tragedy for Wildcat fans that we didn’t get to see Kanter on the court.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • Before we go forward, a look back: Reflecting on the Huskies historic upset of Duke in 1999. (The UConn Blog)
  • Are we witnessing the final days of Jim Calhoun’s career?: “Up until the time UConn was finishing its five-day March to the Big East championship, I thought there was no chance in hell the Huskies would make a Final Four this year, let alone win the national championship. But then the run through Madison Square Garden happened and it became clear that, with a little luck, this UConn team actually did have a shot at the title. And once I started thinking about that, my mind jumped to the next logical place: What does that mean for Jim Calhoun?” (The UConn Blog)
  • As Huskies rise, Lamb emerges as UConn’s future: “The signs have been there, long before the national hype or the unparalleled postseason success. He hinted at as much early on in the season, his efficiency serving as a glimmer of hope amidst a once-successful season in a downward spiral. And he’s proven as much this March, averaging 16 points over an almost unheard of nine-game run spanning the two toughest tournaments in the nation. Now, it’s a fact: Jeremy Lamb is the next star of the UConn Huskies.” (The UConn Blog)

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XV

Posted by jbaumgartner on March 14th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball. This week, Jesse asks who the best prototype player in the game is, backs the Princeton Tigers, and laments his bad bracket luck. Yeah, Jesse…tell it to Coach Greenberg.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..trying to figure out a unique question. I was having a debate with someone about Connecticut, and in the course of that argument said that “you have to remember, the Huskies don’t have five Kembas.” Well, my buddy (RTC’s own David Ely) asked which player I would take five of in order to form a team that would be the most competitive against a full squad from another school. Think about it, it’s a really interesting question. They have to be able to handle the ball if a team pressed, have to be big enough to compete on the boards (is 6’4 or 6’5 big enough?), have to shoot well enough to keep a D honest, have to be a versatile defender, etc. I think Jordan Hamilton from Texas might be my pick, but here are some of players that came to mind: Harrison Barnes (he’s the prototype you’d think of, 6’8 with some guard skills), Kyle Singler, Derrick Williams, Daniel Hardy, Brad Wanamaker, Scotty Hopson, DeAndre Liggins, Brandon Knight, Cory Joseph. Who would you take?

Is Barnes the Best "All-Rounder" of a Player?

I LOVED…..two perfect buzzer beaters. Kemba Walker and Washington’s Isaiah Thomas gave us a couple of doozies to salivate over this week, and I liked them for different reasons. With Kemba, it was the ridiculous move. Yes, he had a post player on him, but that stepback was so comically absurd (Pitt’s Gary McGhee fell down) that the only critique might be that he exerted too much energy getting more space than he needed. He’s still my POY, by the way. With Thomas, it was the perfect setup. It was an incredible game (a TITLE game), overtime, swings for both teams…and a perfect ending. Thomas played the clock absolutely perfectly, and the backboard lit up just as his J swished through the hoop. Oh, and by the way, Gus Johnson was on the call (watch to get excited for this coming week): “Thomas….shake….crossover….stepback…..AHHHHIAAHHHH!!!!! AT THE BUZZER!!! YOUNG!!!…..ZEKE!!! (someone told Gus that Thomas was named after the NBA great PG)…….. COLD!!!! ….. BLOODED!!!!!”

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Around The Blogosphere: March 9, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on March 9th, 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.

Top 25 Games

  • #18 UConn 97, DePaul 71: “The five-year hex hovering over the Huskies at Madison Square Garden has been lifted. And all it took was playing one of the worst teams in major college basketball. But as is UConn’s tradition when playing in NYC in March, it wasn’t pretty.” (The UConn Blog)

News/Analysis

  • Jalen Rose Discusses Fab Five Documentary: The former Fab Five member talks about the documentary that will premiere this Sunday at 9 PM on ESPN. (UM Hoops)
  • Debunking the conference tournament myth: Questioning some common assumptions about conference tournaments. (Card Chronicle)
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Set Your Tivo: 03.06.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 6th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

What a Saturday it was. The final day of the regular season for BCS teams is today while another ticket will be punched, this time out of the Missouri Valley. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

#22 Kentucky @ Tennessee — 12 pm on CBS (****)

Knight Could ruin UT's Senior Day If He Gets Hot

Tennessee likely locked up a bid Thursday night at South Carolina but a loss today would drop them to 8-8 in the SEC. A win in the conference tournament would be advisable but their solid non-conference resume and strong schedule should probably be enough to push the Volunteers over the top.

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ATB: Jordan Taylor Goes Jordanesque Against Indiana

Posted by rtmsf on March 3rd, 2011

The Lede.  There are only a handful of days left in the regular season.  After 10,000 games, we’ve already eliminated a number of teams from national title contention and we’ll spend the weekend talking about positioning.  Most teams are who we know them to be at this late point in the season — like last call in a college bar, it becomes about finding the best light to present yourself to the evaluators, in this case, the NCAA Selection Committee.  The numbers ultimately will rule the day, but perception and the ‘sniff test’ are things not easily erased from one’s mind.  Let’s see who helped and hurt their positions tonight…

 

Taylor Was Magnificent Tonight (Indy Star/J. Cecil)

Your Watercooler MomentJordan Taylor Dominates Indiana.  The ascent of Wisconsin guard Jordan Taylor from solid role player to unknown good player to rising superstar has been remarkable.  So remarkable, in fact, that the Cousy Award folks had originally left him off its list of the ten best point guards in America despite the fact that he is clearly more valuable than half the finalists on the list (Brandon Knight — is this a joke?).  In watching Taylor blow up Michigan State, Ohio State and now Indiana tonight with a career-high 39 points on 11-19 FG (7-8 from deep), we’re regularly astonished with how well he gets his shots off while defended and they still manage to find the bottom of the net.  Many players can shoot the ball when they’re standing open beyond the arc; Taylor, however, is the best player in college basketball shooting the ball with someone right in his face — he regularly takes jumpers where your initial reaction is “wow — tough shot,” only to be surprised when the ball swishes through.  Wisconsin has gone from an unranked team in the preseason to a top ten mainstay in the latter part of the year, and as good as Jon Leuer has also been, the primary reason is Taylor.  He gives Bo Ryan’s team an offensive option that Madison hasn’t seen since Alando Tucker was residing in Madison; and with the defense that his teams always bring to the table, this makes the Badgers just that much more dangerous this March.  If you’re looking for a Final Four darkhorse, you might want to consider this team — they’re every bit as good as all but a few teams in America this year.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • Emergence of Scotty Hopson.  In the last three weeks, UT’s star wing has been playing as well as he has at any point in his Tennessee career.  In his last six games including tonight’s win at South Carolina, he’s averaging 23.7 PPG on 52% shooting from the field.  While UT’s record hasn’t necessarily improved as a result of his stellar offensive play — UT has gone 3-3 in those games with two one-point losses — the Vols absolutely must have Hopson play like the star he was supposed to be in order for Bruce Pearl’s team maximize its potential this March.  If his recent play is any indication, the athletic guard may have finally figured out his role as alpha dog on this team, high fade and all.
  • A Fourth Pac-10 Team? Washington probably re-secured its Dance ticket with a nice win over UCLA tonight, so we can reasonably expect that those two, along with Arizona, will hear their names called on Selection Sunday.  Is there a chance that a fourth Pac-10 team, notably Washington State, could sneak into the NCAA’s crosshairs in the next week or so?  After tonight’s home win over USC, if the Cougars can also defeat UCLA over the weekend, Ken Bone’s team would sit at 20-10 (10-8 Pac-10) with a reasonable profile head-to-head against other bubble teams Baylor and Gonzaga (both of whom Wazzu beat earlier this year).  Don’t get us wrong — Washington State would still need to make a run in the Pac-10 Tournament to merit serious consideration, but with the right matchups, the Cougars could find themselves in the finals and pushing the Selection Committee to make a difficult decision.
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Set Your Tivo: 03.03.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 3rd, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

It’s a light night across the college basketball landscape but two teams will look to increase their NCAA chances with a win tonight. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

Tennessee @ South Carolina – 7 pm on ESPN (***)

Hopson Should Have a Big Night Tonight

The Volunteers are likely in the NCAA Tournament with their quality wins against the second-ranked schedule, but it would be in their best interest to win at least one of their final two games. It’s possible that Tennessee could lose both and fall to 7-9 in SEC play heading into the conference tournament and therefore need at least a win or two. After tonight, the Vols host Kentucky in the regular season finale on Sunday.

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