Bill Self’s Coaching Plus Elite Talent is a Scary Proposition

Posted by BHayes on October 9th, 2013

Bennet Hayes (@HoopsTraveleris a national columnist.

Tweets that end with a hashtag of “#RockChalk” are not hard to find in the Twitterverse, but one in particular had to bring a smile to the face of Bill Self and Kansas fans everywhere on Tuesday. Kelly Oubre, one of the top prospects in the prep class of 2014, announced his commitment to Self and KU yesterday morning via social media.

The Findlay Prep (NV) wing, who now looms as the natural replacement on the wing for presumptive one-and-done Jayhawk freshman Andrew Wiggins, is another huge get for several reasons. Oubre (#10 in RSCI’s summer rankings for the class of 2014) is a significant coup for Self, a coach whose recruiting efforts – at least in terms of the star power at the top of the rankings – haven’t always matched up with the prodigious success his teams have enjoyed on the court. This isn’t to say the Jayhawks have been winning multiple Big 12 titles and making Final Fours with two-star recruits from western Kansas, but with the Wiggins/Wayne Selden/Joel Embiid class now on campus and this commitment from Oubre for next season also in the books, Self and Kansas should be taken more seriously than ever as major players in the recruitment of the nation’s top prospects.

Kelly Oubre, A Consensus Top-15 Prospect In The Class Of 2014, Is The Latest Highly Regarded Prep Star To Commit To Bill Self And Kansas

Kelly Oubre, A Consensus Top-15 Prospect In The Class Of 2014, Is The Latest Highly Regarded Prep Star To Commit To Bill Self And Kansas

According to RSCI Hoops, prior to this year’s incoming class, Kansas had landed just two consensus top-20 recruits (Xavier Henry and Josh Selby) since 2007. Of course, that number may as well have been one, as class of 2010 guard Selby never realized the potential he flashed during his high school days, averaging only 7.9 PPG in one disappointing season in Lawrence. For an interesting frame of reference, intrastate rival Kansas State — a program with nowhere near the hardwood history as KU — has recruited just as many top-20 players in that span. For (mostly) better or worse, Self simply hasn’t chosen to draw from that group of elite talents as often as the other national programs — granted, part of the reason for that may be some light reluctance on the side of the blue-chippers — but he has seemed pretty comfortable building winning teams without so many prep superstars dotting his roster.

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NCAA Tournament Game Analysis: Sweet Sixteen, Friday Night

Posted by KDoyle on March 29th, 2013

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We continue the Sweet Sixteen tonight with games from the South Region in Arlington, Texas, and the Midwest Region in Indianapolis. Here are the breakdowns for tonight’s games.

#1 Louisville vs. #12 Oregon Midwest Regional Sweet Sixteen (at Indianapolis, IN) – 7:15 PM ET on CBS

It's Russ' World, We Just Live In It (Credit Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

It’s Russ’ World, We Just Live In It (Credit Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The Midwest Regional descends on Indianapolis this weekend, with Louisville and Oregon kicking off the action in a matchup of red-hot teams. If not for Florida Gulf Coast’s otherworldly Tournament performance last week, we would likely be looking at the two most impressive teams of the first weekend. As the top overall seed in the Tournament, Louisville’s tour de force in Lexington may not have been unexpected, but it did drive home the notion that the Cardinals are still the team to beat – in this region, and beyond. On the flip side, Oregon’s pair of resounding victories were not expected (despite getting significant play as the most underseeded team in the field on Selection Sunday), but have quickly afforded the surging Ducks a lot of respect. They will head into a virtual road game as massive underdogs on Friday, but the last two weeks have proven that this is a talented and tough basketball team.

Do not expect Oregon to struggle with the aggressive Louisville defense as much as North Carolina A&T and Colorado State did. A quick briefing of the Oregon statistical profile may suggest otherwise – the Ducks are 264th nationally in turnover percentage – but that number is a bit misleading. For one, quick tempo teams are generally going to turn the ball over more, and Oregon plays fast (48th nationally in possessions per game). Also remember that starting PG Dominic Artis (I know, I know — how could we forget at this point?) missed more than half the Pac-12 season, and that backup PG Johnathan Loyd is just now beginning to hit his stride. These two guards will come as close to replicating the quickness and athleticism of that Louisville Siva-Smith combo as any duo the Cardinals have seen all season. Throw in athletes almost everywhere else on the floor – Emory and Dotson on the wings, Kazemi and Woods in the post – and there can be reasonable expectation that Oregon might actually be able to weather the turnover storm that has felled many Louisville foes.

If Oregon can manage that turnover battle, expect this to be a 40-minute game. Points will not come easily for the Cardinals against a well-school (and athletic) Oregon defense, and the Ducks are also a better rebounding team — at least on paper. Dana Altman’s X-factor will be the burgeoning freshman Dotson. If Dotson and others – here’s looking at you EJ Singler — can replicate the three point barrage that undid Saint Louis, Altman’s group has a legitimate change to swing the upset. Too much to ask for? Probably. This is not your typical #12 seed (how is Oregon a #12 seed again?), but they have run into a #1 seed that is playing its role all too well. I expect Oregon to prove a worthy challenger in all facets – managing turnovers, defending the dynamic Louisville backcourt, finding ways to score themselves – but ultimately they run into a team that is just a little better across the board. The Ducks will hang around, but Louisville should be safely bound for the Elite Eight.

The RTC Certified Pick: Louisville

#1 Kansas vs. #4 Michigan – South Regional Semifinal (at Arlington, TX) – 7:37 PM ET on TBS

The last time Michigan advanced this deep into the NCAA Tournament was all the way back in 1994 with the Fab Five coached by current San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher. Ranked in the Top 10 for much of the season, John Beilein’s team certainly won’t be content just advancing to the second weekend; it is Atlanta or bust for the young Wolverines. To advance to Sunday’s South Regional Final, they will have to knock off a team with a wealth of NCAA Tournament experience in the Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas advanced to the championship game last season losing to Kentucky, but are missing two key components of that squad—Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. While Bill Self has led Kansas to another very successful season—a Big 12 regular season and tournament championship and 30+ wins for the fourth straight year—this edition of Kansas basketball is lacking a rock-solid point guard and dominant scorer. One could certainly make the argument that freshman Ben McLemore is that scorer, but he has largely been a no-show in Kansas’ first two games scoring just 13 points on 2-14 shooting from the field. The combination of Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe at point guard has dished out 11 assists to ten turnovers. Nobody will argue their frontcourt dominance anchored by the defensive prowess of Jeff Withey, but seniors Kevin Young and Travis Releford are prototypical role players and not go-to threats. As such, when looking up and down the roster, this has been yet another good coaching job by Bill Self. If Kansas is to defeat Michigan and advance to Atlanta, Ben McLemore must play up to his Top 5 NBA Draft pick ability. Kansas’ most glaring weakness happens to be Michigan’s clear strength: point guard play. This game will be decided in the backcourt, and Trey Burke along with Tim Hardaway Jr. are simply playing much better basketball than Elijah Johnson and Ben McLemore. Also, let’s not forget the emergence of freshman Mitch McGary who has stepped up in a big way with Jordan Morgan’s nagging ankle injury. Morgan may return to the regular rotation tonight, but he is just 6’8” and would struggle handling Jeff Withey on the insdie. John Beilein doesn’t expect McGary to have a double-double kind of game like he had against Virginia Commonwealth, but if he is able to neutralize Withey then it is mission accomplished. Kansas would be the first one to tell you that they played just 20 good minutes of basketball in their first two games. If they get off to another slow start out of the gate like they did against Western Kentucky and North Carolina, they’ll be hard-pressed to climb their way back into the game.

The RTC Certified PickMichigan

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Big 12 M5: Black Friday Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 23rd, 2012

  1. Billy Gillispie is long gone from Texas Tech, and it’s doubtful his name will ever arise again in Big 12 circles for as long as he’s alive. And yet he’s still having an enormous impact on our game, even as he sits at home without a head coaching job. As CBS’ Gary Parrish astutely points out, Gillispie is almost solely responsible for the new preseason tournament formats in college basketball. After his Kentucky team lost to Gardner-Webb in the regional site of the 2K Sports Classic at Rupp Arena, GWU advanced to Madison Square Garden and left thousands of UK fans scrambling to cancel flights and sell tickets. Since then, only the Preseason NIT Tip-Off has kept the old format– you know, the one where the team that actually wins advances to the Garden. Parrish interviewed Delaware coach Monte Ross about his team’s experience in the Garden after knocking off Virginia in Charlottesville, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who thinks his squad didn’t deserve to make the trip to NYC this year. Tickets and flights be damned.
  2. Speaking of New York City and that NIT Tip-Off, there’s a biggie tonight at the Garden between Kansas State and Michigan. After dispatching a really good Delaware team with difficulty, the Wildcats get to throw down with a top five team on national television in perhaps the most historic venue in basketball. Tell us, guys. How do you feel? “We’re privileged to be playing in Madison Square Garden… We came here to prove a point, me and my teammates and our coaching staff. We’re just ready to play,” guard Angel Rodriguez told The Wichita Eagle. If Kansas State wins, it’ll be near impossible to leave this team out of the Top 25.
  3. After Maryland and Rutgers announced their departures from the ACC to the Big Ten earlier this week, it started up the whole Realignment Apocalypse firestorm again. Kill us now. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, there’s some sort of rumor the Big Ten might now try to complete its conference by adding North Carolina and Kansas. That’s a rumor Bill Self laughed off immediately. “I don’t even think that’s worth discussing,” he told the paper, adding that the idea of North Carolina playing in a conference without Duke “makes no sense.” Which is hilarious, because Kansas and Missouri no longer play in the same conference either.
  4. There’s no Marcus Smart or Le’Bryan Nash in this class, but Oklahoma State officially announced its 2013-14 recruiting class on Thursday. It ain’t bad. Headlined by four-star Detrick Mostella, Travis Ford signed four prospects with some size (relative to their positions) and promise to them. Mostella, a 6’3” combo guard with major potential, might be the centerpiece, but Jeffrey Carroll and Leyton Hammonds are both solid wings who might be able to make up for the expected loss of Smart and Nash (whenever that may be). Ford also added some much-needed size with 6’10” juco center Gary Gaskins.
  5. This article’s a little old, and it’s the 800th story written about the tragic situation former Kansas forward Thomas Robinson faced, but it’s worth your time. Very well-written, and unique compared to some of the other pieces on Robinson. He may not play for the Jayhawks anymore, but as his NBA career begins to soar, it’s always nice to keep an eye on a guy like this.
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The RTC Interview Series: One On One With Clark Kellogg

Posted by KDoyle on November 20th, 2012

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the year. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

This time our interview subject is Clark Kellogg. Most of you probably just know Clark from his work at CBS first as a studio analyst, but eventually as their lead college basketball analyst during March Madness. While that is impressive by itself, just saying that would be selling Clark’s on-court accomplishments short. Clark was a McDonald’s All-American, All-Big Ten, and was the #8 overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft. In his rookie year, he averaged a ridiculous 20.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game while being named All-Rookie First Team, but his career was cut short due to knee injuries. Clark joined us to talk about the new season of college basketball and his association with the Capital One Cup.

Once known for his skills on the court, Kellogg has now become one of the more recognizable faces in the sports broadcast industry (OhioDominican)

Kevin Doyle: How long have you been with the Capital One Cup and, in your opinion, what does the Cup stand for?

Clark Kellogg: This is year three for the Capital One Cup and my involvement as an advisory board member. To me, when you look at what the Capital One Cup represents—recognizing the top Division I athletic program on the men’s and women’s side over 39 total sports for cumulative on-field performance—the recognition not only comes in the reward of a Capital One Cup trophy, but also in $400,000 in total scholarship money for student-athletes. This combines the best of both worlds. Recognition for on-field and on-court performance, as well as supporting academic pursuits and achievement; I don’t know if you can get any better than that. The way the sports are recognized and the point system is tallied, there is a premium for winning national championships, but a school gains points for finishing in the top 10 in the end of season polls for the respective sports. So, there is yearlong involvement and opportunity to earn those points from the fall sports season through the spring sports season. When you are able to combine recognizing excellence for on-field and on-court performance with supporting and fueling academic pursuits and scholarship, that speaks volumes.

KD: The Capital One Cup is so unique because it doesn’t place a premium on one sport versus another. We see in the national media football and basketball primarily takes precedence, but the Cup doesn’t favor any sports. How much does a school’s success in the Capital One Cup standings speak to the strength of their programs across the board?

CK: The points you just made are good ones because all sports are involved, and men’s and women’s sports are of complete equal value to each other.  The fact that you separate and have recognition for a winner on the men’s side in Division I athletics over multiple sports, and one on the women’s side is fantastic because all of those student-athletes get a chance to contribute to their program and school. This is what makes it so unique and comprehensive in its approach. I love the fact that student-athletes who sometimes don’t get the same recognition that high-profile and revenue-generating sports do have a chance to feel like they’re contributing to something that’s bigger than themselves.

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RTC Top 25: Preseason Edition

Posted by KDoyle on November 9th, 2012

And so it begins. The time of year where we hear familiar voices on the television, faces on the floor, and our teams finally playing games that count in the standings. It is a beautiful time, indeed. With the games commencing in mere hours, we officially unveil RTC’s Preseason Top 25. In the future, you can expect our poll to come out every Monday morning. Along with the rankings will be the usual quick ‘n dirty analysis that takes a deeper dive into how the teams shake out #1-#25. To see how we did last year, check out our 2011-12 preseason poll—some right on the money (North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State), and others not so much (Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M). The QnD after the jump…

 

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Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #10 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. Enjoy!

#10 – Where End of an Era Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

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Oregon State Week: Breaking Down An Unreleased Schedule

Posted by Connor Pelton on August 26th, 2012

Oregon State’s schedule for next season has yet to be released, but through past contracts and other team’s schedule releases, we’ve been able to piece together most of it. There are still times and television schedules that need to get cleared up, but for the most part we now know its opponents. Below, we’ll highlight a handful of games and stretches of the season that could determine the eventual fate of the 2012-13 Beavers. For the purpose of this exercise, we won’t speculate and include games that haven’t been given a date yet.

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Early-Season Tournament: While we don’t know Oregon State’s exact opponents for the 2K Sports Classic Regional Round, they will face two of the following – Niagara, Bucknell, South Dakota State, and Hofstra. The Beavers should win both games no matter who they face, but all four opponents won’t be pushovers. Once they make the trek across the country to New York City, things become much more interesting. They’ll open the elimination portion of the tournament with a Alabama team that loses its top two scorers from a year ago before facing either Villanova or Purdue in the next game.

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Big 12 Summer Update: Kansas Jayhawks

Posted by dnspewak on July 12th, 2012

In an effort to remind you that college basketball does in fact exist during the summer, Big 12 microsite writers Danny Spewak (@dspewak) and Jeremy Pfingsten (@jeremylp21) will roll out three summer updates per week during the next month. The goal is to compile every bit of news and information from the summer months for each team and package it into neat, easy-to-read capsules for your convenience. Next on the list– Danny’s update on Kansas. 

Kansas Jayhawks

2011-12 Record: 32-7, 16-2 (1st place)

Fresh off a Final Four appearance and an eighth-straight season with a shared or outright Big 12 title, life is good for Bill Self. In June, he watched the Sacramento Kings draft his star forward Thomas Robinson with the fourth overall pick, and he saw Tyshawn Taylor selected in the second round. It was a banner night for his program. Plus, to help reload after the loss of those two stars and others, he made a few late additions to his 2012 freshman class by signing Milton Doyle and Anrio Adams. So all is great in Lawrence, Kansas — for the most part. There is a small developing scandal right now after prosecutors claimed an alleged drug deal gave pot to some members of the 2010-11 squad. Nobody’s talking yet, but this is a story that could drag out for awhile and may not have any immediate (or significant) effects. Still, it’s probably not the kind of thing Self envisioned himself talking about in the summer months after nearly winning a National Championship.

Jeff Withey Is Prepared To Wow People During His Senior Year

Summer Orientation: Self’s freshman class grew in numbers this summer after the signing of Doyle, a 6’4″ combo guard out of Chicago, and Adams, a 6’3″ guard from Seattle, Washington. They’re both solid additions to this six-man class, but everybody’s waiting to see how five-star stud Perry Ellis fares as a freshman. Ellis arrived in Lawrence in early June, and he’s already acclimating himself on campus by attending children’s camps and rooming with walk-on Evan Manning (Danny’s son, of course). Power forward Zach Peters is also getting used to life as a Jayhawk. He and Elijah Johnson attended a camp at nearby Washburn, and he was quoted as saying he’s already indoctrinated into the culture of Kansas basketball. The other guy in this class to keep an eye on is Andrew White, a big-time wing from Virginia. He accompanied teammates, too, at a camp for kids. If you haven’t noticed, camps are a theme for KU this summer. The fullest summer scouting report available belongs to another player in this freshman class– big man Landen Lucas. According to Jeff Withey, Lucas has already impressed him in workouts with his ability to run the floor and rebound. Also, stuck in that gray area between “newcomer” and “returnee” are two players: Jamari Traylor and Ben McLemore, who both sat out last year because of eligibility issues. McLemore has already made an impression on Bill Self this summer, whereas one writer says it’s “conceivable Traylor could have the biggest impact” of any KU newcomer. As he points out, though, closed practices haven’t allowed us to get a great glimpse just yet.

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Big 12 Weekly Five: 06.28.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on June 28th, 2012

  1. We haven’t been able to talk college basketball for months, not since Kentucky cut down the nets in New Orleans. Thursday night, however, the NBA Draft will allow us junkies to get our college hoops fix by watching all of our former stars learn their fate. We’re always ready for surprises on draft night, but the endless number of mock drafts gives us a vague idea as to where the Big 12 standouts will go. One mock draft predicts Thomas Robinson at the number two spot, which has essentially become the consensus among all the draft “experts.” Kansas teammate Tyshawn Taylor is slotted as the last pick of the first round there, and Quincy Miller (#18), Royce White (#19) and Perry Jones, III (#20), are on the list, too. Many other players should hear their names in the second round, which is admittedly a bit more of a crapshoot.
  2. Kansas did just fine for itself last season, winning another Big 12 championship and reaching the national title game. But it wasn’t the easiest year for coach Bill Self, who had to mix and match with a short bench and only a handful of reliable contributors outside of the main nucleus. That’s why Self is excited about adding more depth in 2012-13, and he’s especially excited about the progression of sophomore guards Naadir Tharpe and Ben McLemore (ineligible last year). With those two expected to contribute more as well as the arrival of star freshman Perry Ellis, Self believes he should have more options.
  3. It’s hard to believe, but once the summer ends college basketball will be right around the corner. So it’s never too early to talk about non-conference schedules. Texas Tech will apparently add three major home games to its schedule next year: Alabama, Arizona, and Arizona State. That should give Billy Gillispie a decent idea as to how much his team has improved after a fairly disastrous first season.
  4. Oklahoma State has also announced it will host Gonzaga at Gallagher-Iba Arena on New Year’s Eve in 2012, an exciting match-up for those of us who’d rather watch hoops than college football during the holidays. Interestingly, OSU claims this could be the biggest non-conference home game at Gallagher-Iba in more than a decade, which sounds a bit like hyperbole but could certainly be true. And frankly, college basketball is better when that historic arena is rocking, which means the Cowboys better get their act together and string a few wins together before that December 31 game. There’s reason to believe Travis Ford’s team could get better too, especially if freshman Marcus Smart finds a way to co-exist with Le’Bryan Nash.
  5. Baylor is no stranger to scandal, and it’s happening again. In a strange twist, a former basketball player has been charged with extorting Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Richard Hurd is accused of telling Griffin he would disclose some sort of dirt on him to the public if he did not receive a sum of money, which  actually makes us more than a little curious as to what Hurd “had” on Griffin. We didn’t recognize the accused’s name when we saw it, but apparently he was a walk-on at Baylor who actually averaged 17 minutes per game in 2004-05.
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Morning Five: Draft Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 28th, 2012

  1. For those of you just getting back from your annual vacation in Bora Bora, tonight is the 2012 version of the NBA Draft, also known as the reason that every single NCAA Division I men’s basketball player gets up and brushes his teeth in the morning. Alright, we’re guilty of hyperbole here. Every single high-major NCAA Division I men’s basketball player. Only 60 names will be called by David Stern and Adam Silver at the dais tonight, but the dream of each player to hear his name uttered and placed on the big board still motivates. When John Calipari infamously said at the 2010 draft that it was the greatest night in the history of Kentucky basketball, he knew that he had already set the wheels in motion from a recruiting standpoint to win a national title (remember that Anthony Davis, the cornerstone of last year’s championship team, verbaled to UK a mere seven weeks after that night). Oh, and he’s still doing it, for the record. It might be the NBA’s night, but it has a substantial impact on the college game in numerous ways. To that end, here are the latest and greatest Mock Drafts from around the web: DraftExpress, NBADraft.net, CNNSI (Sam Amick), ESPN (Chad Ford), CBSSports.com (Jeff Goodman and Matt Moore).
  2. As many as nine one-and-dones could be chosen in tonight’s draft, no doubt setting off another cacophonous round of complaints about how the NBA is ruining the college game. We’re certainly not indifferent to the one-and-done issue, as we’ve written about it many times before, but until the NBA finally realizes that pushing the league minimum to the age of 20 is in its own long-term best interests, nothing is bound to change. ESPN.com’s Myron Medcalf takes a detailed look at how we got here — from the Korleone Youngs and Taj McDavids of the preps-to-pro days on through the present and future, which at least one prominent coach figures could get considerably more muddled by 2016 as the NCAA implements its progressively tougher entrance requirements. Check out part one and part two of the piece before you watch the latest crop of one-and-doners including Anthony Davis, Quincy Miller, Tony Wroten, and the others walk the stage tonight.
  3. Recognizing that there’s probably a lot more of these stories than are ever publicized, we still appreciate it when we read one. Kentucky forward Terrence Jones isn’t even a draftee yet but he’s already giving back to his fans and the community that supported him for two years in Lexington. A UK fan named William Bolden who met Jones while playing pickup basketball near the student dorms was in dire need of some dental work, so Jones paid out of pocket for the repairs. And when we say dental work, we’re talking about 12 cavities filled, two teeth pulled, and three new front teeth — a rather significant expense. Players are often (and rightfully in many cases) ripped apart for blowing through their newfound riches when they go pro, but we’re glad to hear at least one story involving a player not even 21 years old yet doing something positive for someone not as fortunate as him.
  4. To that end, there are always a number of stories on draft day about players who persevered through life’s crappy hands to get to that exalted point in their lives. In this year’s draft, though, nobody has had to deal with as much personal adversity as Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, which is one reason so many people in this business have rooted so hard for his success. If you don’t know the details, the LA Times revisits the tragic 25-day stretch in Robinson’s sophomore year when he lost his grandparents and his mother, leaving his 9-year old sister, Jayla, frightened and for all intents completely alone back in DC, some 1,100 miles away. Robinson’s driving force in life is to take care of that little girl, and you can count us among the many who will feel a real happiness when he becomes an instant millionaire tonight.
  5. The stars of tonight are today’s high school unknowns (at least to most of us). CBSSports.com’s Jeff Borzello looks to the future and rank-orders the top 14 players in the next three years of high school basketball (2013-15) as of right now. We really don’t know enough about any of these players to make any intelligent observations, but it’s certainly interesting that the player whom Sports Illustrated just put on its cover as the best prep player since LeBron James — Jabari Parker — is #2 on this list. Borzello has 2014′s Andrew Wiggins, a small forward and native Canadian who plays at Huntington (WV) Prep, as his top overall player in high school as of right now. See how it works? The biggest and best thing ever… until the next biggest and best thing ever… followed by the next biggest and best thing ever…
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Thomas Robinson

Posted by dnspewak on June 27th, 2012

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in Newark, New Jersey. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards, so for the next week or two we’ll present you with players who are projected near the end of the first round, and we’ll work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Thomas Robinson

School: Kansas

Height/Weight: 6’9”, 245 pounds

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: High Lottery

Robinson Was a Year-Long NPOY Candidate

Overview: After spending two years as a reserve to the Morris twins at Kansas, Thomas Robinson grew into a Player of the Year candidate and one of Bill Self’s most coveted NBA prospects ever in his junior season. With a motor that never seems to quit and the strength of an NFL defensive end, Robinson bullied his way through elite big man after elite big man. He became a double-double machine in 2011-12, not infrequently finishing with over 17 rebounds in a game and blowing up for 25+ points on more than one occasion. Although his team featured elite point guard Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, and a few other key contributors, Self’s team wasn’t very deep and it relied heavily on its horse. Robinson didn’t disappoint, carrying the Jayhawks all the way to the National Championship game. By the time it was all over, Robinson turned in one of the finest performances of any player in college basketball. On the season, he averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, clearly defining himself as the nation’s toughest, most rugged and most feared power forward. Off the court, his tragic personal life has been well-documented by nearly every major media outlet. So when Robinson left school a year early, it was hard to criticize him after the loss of his mother and grandparents — especially with a young sister to care for and support.

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Re-Drafting the NBA Draft: Top 10 Players From Recent Years

Posted by EJacoby on June 25th, 2012

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

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

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

2001

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

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

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