Handicapping Lillard’s NBA Chances: How Have Prospects From Mid-Majors Fared in the Pros?

Posted by EJacoby on June 28th, 2012

Looking at the upcoming NBA Draft’s projected lottery picks, most of the players represent the big boys around the nation – Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, Connecticut. But smack in the middle between guys that played in a Final Four is a kid from Weber State. Anybody who follows college hoops or draft scouting surely knows about Damian Lillard, but it’s still surprising to see a player ranked so highly who most fans have never seen play a minute of college basketball. Will Lillard, who is projected to go in the top 10 as the draft’s top point guard, struggle to adapt to the massive increase in competition from the Big Sky Conference to the NBA? We researched lottery picks over the past 15 years from mid-major conferences to judge how successful they were in their transition to the league, grading success based on extended NBA productivity in the form of minutes played and value added. We considered all conferences outside of the top six power leagues as ‘mid-majors,’ so even the Atlantic 10, Conference USA and Mountain West qualify for our criteria.

Will Damian Lillard struggle in his transition from the Big Sky to the NBA? (US Presswire/K. Terada)

Taking a look at recent history, names like Jimmer Fredette and Stephen Curry came from smaller schools yet were still some of the most popular collegiate players in the nation. Just because a player hails from a mid-major school doesn’t necessarily mean he was an unheralded prospect. Nonetheless, the point of our analysis is to determine what, if any, crutch comes along with stepping up from such a wide gap in competition for lottery picks. Even though Fredette was a National Player of the Year winner, he still faced relatively weaker competition on a nightly basis at BYU. Is it more difficult to scout and project success for a mid-major prospect? Let’s take a look at how these players have fared historically. You’ll notice a trend that suggests Lillard should have a great chance at NBA success.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Terrico White

Posted by rtmsf on June 23rd, 2010

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night.  There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Terrico White

School: Mississippi

Height/Weight: 6’5, 203

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Overview: Combo guard Terrico White stepped onto the Ole Miss campus with a top 100 ranking as a high school senior, the Tennessee AAA Mr. Basketball crown, and the hope of Rebel supporters that he’d inject a little hoops excitement into Oxford.  He didn’t disappoint during his freshman year, taking over at point guard after teammate Chris Warren was injured — a move that definitely suited his game — and won SEC Freshman of the Year honors.  Many fans were disappointed in his sophomore campaign, citing decreased numbers across the board, but that has to be attributed to going back to playing shooting guard, and to the presence of a returned Warren and a couple of improved teammates in Murphy Holloway and Eniel Polynice.  He will play mostly SG in the NBA, but his turns at PG really showed off his entire game better.


Will Translate to the NBA: He’s got great pace bringing the ball up the floor on the break, and the one of the best parts of his game is that he’s able to pull up and drain a jumper or juke his defender and drive to the basket with no fear.  He gets down so low when he breaks down a defender, we mean it as a compliment when we say that he may be 6’5, but at times plays shorter than that.  He knows how to use a screen to his advantage and loves coming off the curl to go straight up or use his quick first step to dart by his defender.  Also, he has great one-on-one skill, which only increases his NBA marketability.

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In 1-and-Done Era, Experience Wins Championships

Posted by rtmsf on April 16th, 2010

(special h/t to Luke Winn for inspiring this analysis with his article here)

You may have heard  in recent days that Kentucky’s John Calipari has been filling up on the tasty nougat that has risen to the top of the Class of 2010 high school basketball recruiting lists.  Five-star prospect Brandon Knight followed an impressive chorus line of 1-and-done Calipari point guards (D. Rose, T. Evans, J. Wall) by committing to the Wildcats on Wednesday, and Doron Lamb,  another five-star combo guard ranked in the top 25, committed today.  Turkish stud Enes Kanter committed last week, and there are rumors that others, including versatile top 15 forwards Terrance Jones and CJ Leslie, could be next.  All this, and we haven’t even mentioned yet that Michael Gilchrist, the consensus top player in the Class of 2011, has already verballed to go to Kentucky after next season.

Knight is a Great Talent, But Will He Take UK to the Final Four?

The point here is as clear as Ben Roethlisberger’s analgesic salves – high school prospects with dreams of NBA riches a year from now view John Calipari as the pied piper of the NBA Draft.  Follow him down the primrose path, and you will end up playing in the League one year later.  John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton are the trailblazers here.  With all four projected as first rounders in June, the hype of Calipari’s flute-playing squares nicely with reality.  And Kentucky’s regal basketball program is the beneficiary.

Or is it?

We’re big believers that there are external benefits to programs who recruit and enroll 1-and-done players beyond wins, losses and NCAA Tournament success.  In fact, every year we do exactly such an evaluation that includes criteria beyond that scope.  For example, it is our view that the Texas program is still benefitting today from its one year of Kevin Durant on campus in 2007 even though UT only made the second round of the Tournament that season.  The same goes with Michael Beasley at Kansas State in 2008.  Call it the Jordan Effect.  Even if the players who are later inspired to follow Durant and Beasley to those campuses aren’t as good as those two were, there is a significant residual ‘coolness’ effect in recruiting those younger players who can help sustain the quality of the program over time.  To put it in terms of Kentucky, a 12-year old right now may spend the next few years idolizing John Wall in the NBA, and when it comes time for him to make his school choice in five years, the Wildcats and Calipari would have already have an inherent advantage over other schools.

With that said, we know what Kentucky fans hope to get from all of these 1-and-done types, and it’s not just a bunch of springtime recruiting victories.  Eventually it needs to translate to wins, most specifically those in March and April as Winn alludes to in his article.  The question then that we analyze here is whether a focus on recruiting 1-and-doners will get a team to that goal.  The available evidence we have, using admittedly a very small sample size, says that it will not.

Take a look at the table below, which lists all sixteen Final Four teams from the 1-and-done era (2007-10).

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Morning Five: 12.16.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 16th, 2009

morning5

  1. Will Brandon Knight become the next Derrick Rose Tyreke Evans John Wall for John Calipari at Memphis Kentucky?  One of the top players in the Class of 2010 has, according to Zagsblog, listed his final four schools:  Kansas, Kentucky, UConn and Florida.  He’ll sign in the spring, but you have to believe that with Wall leaving Lexington in April, the Wildcats would be very well situated for another one-and-done point guard prospect to enter the school.
  2. Arkansas can’t seem to get anything right lately.  It’s a small violation, but the Hawgs self-reported a violation involving photo images of players in a magazine.
  3. This was rumored last week, but it became official yesterday.  The Big Ten will formally explore the option of adding a twelfth team to its mix, ostensibly to have a football championship game.  We hope to have an analysis up later on this, but how will it affect basketball?  John Gasaway thinks it will come down to Pittsburgh or Missouri.
  4. Do you know anything — anything at all — about the Western Carolina Catamounts and their star player Jake RobinsonEducate yourself.
  5. Roy Williams explained himself further on his radio show Monday night.  Let’s just say that he didn’t apologize for overreacting, instead choosing to contextualize his thinking of the incident to excuse his behavior.   Here’s the relevant excerpt, but we suggest you read the entire thing here.

Saturday night, all of a sudden, some guy stands up and starts yelling at Deon and it came from behind our bench. And you know how when some things happen, you instantly think of something? My first thought was, ‘Now our parents are having to listen to somebody else, and it’s in our own building.’ And so I turned around and I said, ‘Who said that?’ And about 40-50-60-70-80 people started pointing up at this guy. The guy gets up and starts gyrating with his arms and everything like, ‘Yeah, it was me,’ and that kind of thing. And it really did tick me off. I turned and said something to the ushers behind the bench and they started up through there, and I turned around and coached the game. I have no idea what happened. I never turned around to the guy again. But my feeling was immediately that our parents who sit right behind our bench have to put up with that stuff again in our own building. So that was it. And after the game, they told me that they had escorted the young man out. Supposedly what had happened was they had asked him for his ticket and he didn’t have a ticket or wasn’t supposed to be sitting in that seat. Supposedly, and I want to emphasis the word supposedly, he didn’t cooperate as much as they wanted, and they chose to take him out.

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RTC 09-10 Class Schedule: Kentucky Wildcats

Posted by zhayes9 on August 22nd, 2009

seasonpreview 09-10

Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.

Just a mere five months ago, the once proud and feared Kentucky basketball program was mired in a state of chaos. The Billy Gillispie era at the university turned out about as well as the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination. Mystifying losses at storied Rupp Arena to such powers as Gardner-Webb and VMI, puzzling interviews with ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards making the blog rounds and exposing Gillispie as a clown, point guards refusing to enter games, rumors of bar scenes of an inebriated Gillispie making a mockery of his reputation and, worse of all, the Wildcats missing the NCAA Tournament in 2009 only to falter in the NIT. After Gillispie was fired, both parties sued each other and now Gillispie is releasing a book that nobody will read. It’s been a whacky offseason in Big Blue Country, and even though their new savior has some issues of his own, the Kentucky basketball program has experienced an unfathomable turnaround over the summer from the laughing stock of college basketball to a legitimate contender to win a national title.

The hiring of John Calipari and the return of forward Patrick Patterson has rejuvenated Kentucky to the point of being widely considered the favorites in an improving SEC this season. The addition of two top-five recruits- point guard John Wall and power forward DeMarcus Cousins- along with Gillispie’s recruits staying on board and a decent core returning from last season’s squad means expectations are once again sky-high in Lexington. Nobody is thinking about Billy Gillispie but rather the school’s first Final Four berth since the Jeff Sheppard era of 1998.

4380904013555_John_Calipari[1]

Here’s the official schedule for a Kentucky team that may be the most exciting to watch this season in all of college basketball:

Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 7. The non-conference schedule in John Calipari’s first season features some big names and decent tests, but no overwhelmingly challenging road games are included on the slate. The only true road game is a trip to Bloomington in early December to take on a rebuilding Indiana squad that Kentucky should run out of the building. Emotions will be high for both the North Carolina and Louisville visits during the non-conference season. North Carolina has embarrassed Kentucky handily in two previous meetings and the Wildcats will be eager to exact revenge on their rival Cardinals following last season’s Edgar Sosa miracle (not to mention the coaches aren’t exactly best friends). The schedule also includes a trip to Cancun to take on Cinderella Cleveland State and the Stanford/Virginia winner, none of those teams posing close to a threat. One team that could surprise Kentucky is their opponent in the SEC/Big East Invitational in New York: the Connecticut Huskies. UConn did lose a boatload of scoring and rebounding, but Jerome Dyson, Kemba Walker and Stanley Robinson could be enough to hang with Kentucky’s immense talent. At least for a while.

Cupcake City: While Gillispie was prone to the shocking early-season upset, we suspect Calipari will have his team 100% prepared offensively and defensively every single night throughout the campaign. Kentucky has eight games at home against mid-major or low-major competition this season and one visit to Louisville to take on UNC-Asheville. They should sprint through this slate and remain a decent bet to run the table in non-conference play.

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2009 One-and-Dones: Was It Worth It?

Posted by rtmsf on June 30th, 2009

It’s no secret that the high school Class of 2008 was one of the weakest in recent memory.  Coming into the 2008-09 regular season, could you realistically point to any one player who would impact their team enough to become another Derrick Rose or a Michael Beasley (class of 2007), a Greg Oden or a Kevin Durant (class of 2006)?  No way, right?  The consensus #1 player, Brandon Jennings, high-tailed it to Europe when it became apparent he wasn’t going to become eligible to play college ball at Arizona, where he proceeded to burn up foreign nets at the clip of 6 ppg and 2 apg in limited action (17 mpg).  The rest of the elite remained stateside, but from Jrue Holiday on down to his teammate Malcolm Lee at UCLA, the collegians too had middling degrees of success.  We use the RSCI top 20 ratings provided by Statsheet for our table below.

2008 top 20 recruits

The last two summers (here are 2007 and 2008), we’ve taken it upon ourselves to review how these one-and-dones did during their freshman year to determine whether their presence on campus for a mere 6-8 months was worth it for the schools involved.  As it turned out this time around, only four college freshmen (+ Jennings) thought they were ready for the NBA Draft after only one season, so let’s take a look at how things turned out for them and their teams last year.

2009 One-and-Dones

Memphis – Worth It. After losing three starters from their 2008 national runner-up team, Memphis could have slid back into relative mediocrity by Tiger standards – very good, but not great.  One-and-doner Tyreke Evans prevented that from happening.  He averaged 17/5/4 assts/2 stls in 29 mpg and was the most efficient player on the team.  He also showed that he was a gamer, dropping 33 huge points in the Tigers’ loss to Missouri and leading a furious comeback from 24 points down in that contest.   More importantly,  Memphis was 6-3 and ranked #24 in the nation when Evans moved from the shooting guard to the point guard slot; the Tigers then ran off 27 straight wins en route to a #2 seed and another Sweet Sixteen appearance, much of it due to Evans’ command of the team.  Furthermore, prior to John Calipari’s departure, Memphis was building a pretty impressive reputation as a successful stopover for NBA-level point guards.  Is there any coincidence that John Wall followed Calipari to Kentucky after seeing what Evans and Rose were able to do at Memphis?  We’d have to say that Tyreke Evans coming to Memphis for one year was most definitely worth it for that program.

tyreke evans memphis

USC – Worth It. USC knew when they signed Demar DeRozan that they were unlikely to have this acrobatic swingman on campus for more than one year.  For much of that year, however, it wasn’t looking like a good fit.  Three points in a loss vs. Seton Hall.  A 2-9 shooting night against Missouri.  Six turnovers and fouling out of another loss at Washington.  But around midseason, as things began to click in DeRozan’s game, USC benefitted.  He provided a consistent threat on the wing and may arguably have been the Trojans’ top option in the last six weeks of the season.  His season numbers were good – 14/6 on 52% shooting – but his stats from February on were better – 16/7 on 54% shooting with 22 of his season-total 51 assists coming in the last nine games.  USC rode DeRozan’s playmaking abilities to win its first-ever Pac-10 Tournament and a convincing win over BC in the NCAAs before succumbing to national runner-up Michigan St in the second round.  Or, in others words, more than what OJ Mayo was able to produce as a one-and-doner in 2007.  Notwithstanding all the choas that has enveloped this program in the interim, we’d have to say that getting DeRozan to USC for one year was worth it.

Ohio St. – Not Worth It. For the third year in a row, Thad Matta lost a one-and-done player whose actual performance during his only season in Columbus didn’t really mesh with what you might expect from an elite prospect.  He lost Daequan Cook in 2007 (along with stars Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr.), Kosta Koufos last year, and BJ Mullens this season.  To date, we’ve yet to see any indication that Mullens has any discernible basketball skill other than being big (7’0).  He averaged 9/5 in about 20 mpg with only two starts over the course of the season, but as an indication of how much Matta ultimately valued him, Mullens’ minutes tailed off considerably in the last 6-8 games.  His defense was often considered suspect (37 blks all season) and he earned a reputation for loafing and failing to get back downcourt after an offensive possession.  OSU had a solid season, mostly on the back of super-soph Evan Turner, but it’s difficult to construct an argument that Mullens brought much of anything to the Buckeye program other than an ability to get drafted in the first round.  Ultimately, that may have been all Matta wanted to get from him, as he’s shown a substantial willingness to take one-and-dones every year that he can.  Still, we don’t think that Mullens was on balance a good pickup for the Buckeyes, so we’re saying that he wasn’t worth it.

UCLA – Not Worth It. After Kevin Love’s departure from Westwood as a one-and-done, we thought UCLA might continue that trend this season with another superb guard ranked #2 in his class named Jrue Holiday.  We were wrong.  Holiday is exceptionally athletic, but he never seemed to ‘get it’ with respect to how Ben Howland runs his team and expects his players to execute.  When we watched Holiday play, we saw a player who had a tendency to play out of control and get frustrated when things weren’t going his way (in other words, like most freshmen).  Had Holiday stuck around for another couple of years at UCLA, he probably could have tamed his tendencies to become an elite guard in college basketball, but we’ll never know.  After averaging a mere 9/4/4 assts as a starter who seriously tailed off down the stretch (single figure points in 10 of his last 13 games) ending in a second round NCAA blowout loss to Villanova, Howland may be questioning why he bothered to take this player for only one season.  His contributions to the program were minimal and his general unhappiness with the program could actually end up hurting UCLA’s recruiting in the future more than it ever helps to have gotten him.  Unlike Demar DeRozan across town at USC, Holiday wasn’t worth it.

jrue holiday ucla

*Brandon Jennings – Push.  Of course, this is a weird situation because Jennings didn’t play for an American college last season, instead deciding to go to the Italian leagues and get paid for his services.  He would have been drafted higher last season had he been eligible to come out, but then again, so would have all these one-and-doners except for Evans (who at #4 is about where he would have been last year).  Playing in Europe didn’t hurt him very much despite his paltry stats, but it didn’t appear to help him, either, in any way other than financially.  It’ll be interesting to watch how he develops in the NBA now.  You’d have to believe that Jennings’ previously indomitable confidence would be somewhat tempered after spending a year as the backup-cum-waterboy.  We’re quite certain he had images in his head of going to Italy and winning MVP in his rookie season, but the broken American basketball system doesn’t exactly inspire schoolboy humility.  Will that carry over to his development as an NBA player, or will he be able to accept his European comeuppance and use that to improve his game in the next few years?  There’s no way of knowing at this point.

One-and-Dones: Historical Snapshot

1-and-done v.2

As stated above, RTC has done this for the three years in which the one-and-done rule has been in existence.  We’ve made a qualitative determination as to whether recruiting a particular one-and-done was worth it for each program, and what we’ve found is that so far it’s been a roughly equivalent proposition.  Of the 24 one-and-dones in three years, we’ve found thirteen instances (57%) where the player in question was either worth it or well worth it, “it” being the trouble of landing a top player and dealing with the disruption and potential hole he leaves in the program after one season.  Additionally, in seven of the thirteen ‘worth it’ instances, we found that the player was such a great boost to the program in terms of success and marketing that the residual effects of his presence there will be felt for many years after he’s gone (e.g., OSU and Memphis making it to the NCAA Championship Game).  On the other hand, we can only count ten occasions (42%) where a one-and-done player wasn’t worth the trouble of getting him into the program.  So let’s look at it this way…  if you were a college coach and you knew you had a historically better than even chance that recruiting a John Wall or Derrick Favors would end up making your program better, and a 25-30% chance of truly elevating your program into an elite echelon, there’s no question you do it, right?   What’s the downside?  Your player doesn’t do a whole lot, leaves after one year and you end up where you were before he got there.  Exactly.  Not only is recruiting one-and-dones worth the risk (so long as you’re doing it legally, Tim Floyd), but if you’re not doing it then you’re putting yourself at a serious competitive disadvantage.

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Boom/Bust Cycle

Posted by rtmsf on June 25th, 2009

It’s a little less than an hour before tonight’s NBA Draft, and this should have probably been done days ago, but we wanted to use our undeniable RTC expertise when it comes to projecting college hoops talent to the pros so we can say “told ya so” when the one undervalued player we said would be a star pans out (while the other ten we said would be don’t, but let’s not quibble).  We’ll use Andy Katz’s final mock draft from this morning, and we’re only going to evaluate college players (because we’ve seen them play for at least one year).  The criteria is BOOM or BUST – either that player is undervalued or overvalued based on his selection.  That’s it.  Here we go…

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1.  Blake Griffin, Oklahoma - BOOM, although the fact that he’s going to ClipperLand means drug addiction and/or horrific injury.  Bill Simmons agrees

2.  Hasheem Thabeet, UConn – BUST, his offensive game won’t develop any further and he’s no Dikembe.

4.  Tyreke Evans, Memphis – BUST, not seeing it at this selection; opposing defenses can lay off of him out to 18 feet. 

5.  James  Harden, Arizona St. – BOOM, a Joe Johnson/Monta Ellis clone.  Kid can really play.

6.  Stephen Curry, Davidson – BUST, limitless range but really, #6?  Too many question marks to be this high.

7.  Jordan Hill, Arizona – BUST, nice player but he’s not even as good as Big Baby.

8.  Jrue Holiday, UCLA – BUST, classic example of being a better athlete than player. 

9.  Demar DeRozan, USC – BOOM, DeRozan really came on at the end of the season and appears poised to break out.

10.  Jonny Flynn, Syracuse – BUST, is Flynn really the best true point in this draft?  No way. 

11.  Terrence Williams, Louisville – BUST, seems like the kind of player who will be out of the league in 3 years (does everything well, nothing great).

12.  Gerald Henderson, Duke – BOOM, second best guard in the draft behind Harden.

13.  DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh – HEDGE, this is about the right position for an undersized beast like Blair. 

14.  Earl Clark, Louisville – BOOM, should have been higher but has a reputation for being lazy.  Will shed that and become an excellent NBAer.

15.  Austin Daye, Gonzaga – BUST, we used to love this guy, but he hasn’t shown much improvement in two years of college.  We don’t believe in him.

16.  BJ Mullens, Ohio St. – HUGE BUST, this is a joke.  Either he’ll be washing cars in two years with Patrick O’Bryant or turn into Chris Kaman, who knows?

17.  Ty Lawson, UNC – BOOM, he’s proven that he’s a winner and has improved his game substantially.  Could be TJ Ford w/o the back problems.

18.  James Johnson, Wake Forest – BOOM, has a reputation for being lazy, but he’s silky smooth at his size and will succeed in this league.

19.  Tyler Hansbrough. UNC – HEDGE, we all know what kind of player he’ll be.  Average at best.

20.  Sam Young, Pittsburgh – BOOM, an absolute steal at this pick; Young could end up being a star.

21.  Jeff Teague, Wake Forest – BOOM, would have been a lottery pick had he not packed in the second half of the year; the talent and athleticism is apparent.

24.  Eric Maynor, VCU - HEDGE, nice pickup for this position. 

25.  Jon Brockman, Washington – BUST, sorry, but Brockman just isn’t NBA material in the long run.

26.  Toney Douglas, Florida St. – HEDGE, could go either way here, but we’d expect Douglas to find a niche in the League.

27.  Darren Collison, UCLA – BUST, Collison has always struck us as someone who should have been better than he was. 

29.  Nick Calathes, Florida – BOOM, Calathes will find a way to make himself a good pro if he decides to play in good ole USA instead of Greece.

30.  DaJuan Summers, Georgetown – BUST, but it’s worth a gamble given his natural abilities.  Could become a defensive stalwart at some point if he tried.

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04.21.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 21st, 2009

There are only FIVE DAYS left to declare, kiddies!  Get your early entry paperwork in NOW!!!

  • At least one report states that Duke’s Gerald Henderson will enter the draft.  And we thought we already knew this (about Tyreke Evans).
  • Xavier’s Derrick Brown, Georgia Tech’s Gani Lawal and Mr. Game Winner, Scottie Reynolds, will all test the waters.   All three should be back in college next season. 
  • Steph Currystill thinking
  • One dude who will not go pro this year is John Wall.  Luke Winn dissects his recruitment, while Gary Parrish all but pushes him down the aisle to explore the opportunity for him to go pro.  In a separate article, Winn discusses how John Calipari’s move to Kentucky impacted numerous top players in this year’s top 50.  Speaking of which, the final Scout top 100 list is out.
  • Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct for his now-admitted verbal and physical abuse against a Cincinnati cabbie in late December.   What did it cost him?  40 hours of community service and no further “enrichment” of his current contract with Ole Miss.  Interesting.  The civil cases should be phenomenal theater. 
  • What’s going on in Gator-Land?  Alex Tyus‘ departure (transfer, not NBA) is the seventh player Billy D. has lost in the past calendar year.   
  • Purdue’s starting PG Lewis Jackson got community service and will await his punishment from Matt Painter for his recent DWI arrest on April 12. 
  • Jason Whitlock nails at least one part of this Isiah to FIU piece – the part about the strip clubs
  • Andy Staples takes a look at the boxed-in problem that side deals to the NCAA’s National Letter of Intent are causing.  Paging DeMarcus Cousins…
  • Gary Parrish believes that the 09-10 season will be much stronger across the board thanks to the return of numerous lottery picks as well as an influx of prep talent who will have instant impacts (unlike this year, for the most part).
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Official Word: “The Squid” to UK…

Posted by rtmsf on March 31st, 2009

(h/t to L4B for Calipari’s new nickname… but, um, will it stick?)

John Calipari Headed to LexingtonOfficially.  What does this hire by Kentucky (at a reported $5M+ per year) do?  It makes the Wildcat program nationally relevant again.  Instantly.  With a single stroke of the pen (still pending), every major recruit from 9th to 11th grade (and several in the 12th) who has visions of wearing a hideous suit to meet David Stern on Draft Day suddenly has Kentucky back on their radar screens.  At the McD’s game practice today, Xavier Henry has already made it clear that his recruitment is open “to everybody and anybody.”  Another Memphis commitment, DeMarcus Cousins, may feel the same way, and who knows where this leaves John Wall (a strong Memphis lean)?  With arguably the strongest recruiter this side of Roy Williams and Ben Howland vacuuming up numerous kids with serious dreams of the L, and the commitment to resources that a school like UK brings to basketball, is there any doubt whatsoever that The Squid will have the Cats hunting for Final Fours again very soon?  The pressure to win and win big will be gargantuan, but Calipari is one of the few coaches with enough ego to handle it. 

Coach, this is Jeff from down in Hyden.  Now, about the team’s free throws…

calipari2

Domino, Motha____ers!  And like Doughboy so eloquently stated in BnTH, the dominoes are already falling elsewhere.  Georgia reportedly offered over $2M per year to Missouri’s Mike Anderson (although others dispute that) to take over the chronically underachieving Bulldog program, but now there is chatter that Anderson might have an interest in the newly-opened Memphis positionUpdate: Anderson is staying at Mizzou for a payday nearly doubling his annual salary.  Some other names being thrown around for the Memphis job are Tony Barbee from UTEP (former Calipari assistant) and even former Arkansas Razorback coach Nolan Richardson, who regularly mined the playgrounds of Memphis for his stellar 40MoH teams.  Whoever takes over this job, a top 20 destination, will be without the services of Tyreke Evans, who also announced his decision to go pro today

The Other Ego in Kentucky.  Louisville figures to be impacted heavily by the arrival of Calipari at Kentucky, if for no other reason than to escalate a rivalry between coaches that goes back to the early 90s and into the NBA (Celtics vs. Nets).  Can you believe that two titans of ego coaching such as Pitino and Calipari – both hot-blooded Italians – will be battling for bragging rights in the same basketball-nutty state?  Still, if you believe in rumors that won’t die, there is speculation that Rick Pitino is a legitimate candidate for the open Arizona job, vacated by Lute Olson and seat-warmed by Russ Pennell this year.  Seth Davis wrote today that he doesn’t believe this rumor for a second, and neither do we, but we could definitely see the other name mentioned for this job, Gonzaga’s Mark Few, getting into the mix down in the desert. 

Final Question.  It’s not like Billy Gillipie was completely shamed out of Lexington, although it certainly played out so.  Still, the guy has a relatively strong coaching resume, and unlike some other epic failures at regal programs (Matt Doherty at UNC; Steve Lavin at UCLA), he’s proven that he can build a program and recruit players to fill those spots.  So where will Billy Clyde end up?  You have to figure that he’ll be back in coaching next year, and if you saw his interview on ESPN with Jimmy Dykes yesterday, it was painfully apparent that he’s angling for another position with the ‘aw shucks’ persona.  Just so long as he doesn’t have to give any advice, cuz, you know, he’s not an advice-giver. 

Dykes: Do you think not signing a 30-page contract is gonna affect what you feel is fair to you at this point?

Gillispie: Oh, I have no idea. I mean, I think it’s all gonna work out fine, and I’ve never been involved with too many things that didn’t.

Dykes: What advice would you give to John Calipari if the deal goes down?

Gillispie: I’m not an advice-giver. I heard a long time ago, “The worst advice is bad advice … or giving advice.” And so, I don’t really have a whole lot of advice.

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Calipari to Kentucky

Posted by nvr1983 on March 30th, 2009

After a weekend full of speculation about who would replace Billy Gillispie as the next head coach at Kentucky it looks like we finally have our answer in the form of John Calipari. Our sources had been mentioning Calipari as a potential replacement for Gillispie as early as a week ago, but that was obviously delayed by the fact that his Memphis team was still playing in the NCAA tournament. Fortunately, for the administration at Kentucky, even after last year’s title game collapse against Kansas, Calipari still didn’t think it was worthwhile having his team work on free throws and as a result they were bounced by Missouri in the Sweet 16 (their lack of defense against Missouri didn’t help their cause either).

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Although the details of the deal have not been released yet, it would be safe to assume that Calipari is at around the $3 million/year figure that our source was saying it would take to lure him away from Memphis (9pm update: ESPN is now reporting the offer is 8 yrs/$35M). In addition, Kentucky will have also have to come up with the money to compensate for the $5 million bonus Calipari would have collected had he finished his contract at Memphis, which ran through the 2012-13 season at $2.5 million/year. (Break open those checkbooks Wildcat boosters!).

What might be even bigger than the physical switch of Calipari for Gillispie on the sidelines is the potential chain reaction this could have on the Memphis/Kentucky recruiting classes and Tyreke Evans. Going into today, Kentucky only had one 5-star (Daniel Orton) and one 4-star (Jon Hood) recruit who had signed a letter of intent to play in Lexington. With the addition of Calipari, the Wildcats would almost certainly get DeMarcus Cousins (the #2 overall recruit) who has committed to Memphis, but did not sign a letter of intent, and potentially Xavier Henry (the #3 overall recruit) who signed a letter of intent at Memphis, but could petition the NCAA for a release (4-star recruit Nolan Dennis has stated that he has an agreement with Memphis that he will be released from his letter of intent if Calipari leaves). In addition, they would suddenly be in the running for John Wall (the #1 overall recruit) who has not committed to a school yet, but is said to be very high on Memphis Calipari. Adding 2 of those 3 to a Kentucky lineup that leaned heavily on Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks this year would almost certainly make the Wildcats go from a NIT participant to Final 4 favorites. If Calipari were able to pull off a miracle and get Henry released from his letter and bring all three with him to Kentucky to go with Patterson, Meeks, and Orton, the Wildcats would suddenly emerge as the prohibitive favorites and the fans in Lexington might start having visions of the 1996 Kentucky team running through their heads for the next six months.

What would happen to Memphis? Disaster. Tyreke Evans, who has seen his NBA draft stock rebound after slipping during his difficult adjustment to the college game, would most likely head to the NBA leaving the Tigers without a true star for the first time in years (Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson are both seniors). Losing such a great recruiting class (one of the best since the Chris Webber-led “Fab 5″) would be a crushing blow to a program that has risen up from playing in Conference USA to become one of the premier programs in the nation in the past 5-10 years. The next question for Memphis is who will replace Calipari on the sideline. Current reports indicate that Calpari is pushing for his long-time assistant Tony Barbee to be named as his successor, but it’s likely that the Memphis AD will look to lure big-names such as Mike Anderson or Tim Floyd to what has become one fo the premier coaching destinations in the country.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: Regional Semifinals Day One

Posted by rtmsf on March 26th, 2009

dynamite

Hello everyone, it’s been a long four days since the last games ended on Sunday evening, but we’re back in earnest and ready for what should be a tremendous set of regional semifinals over the next two nights.  Out of the top sixteen teams entering this Tournament, only two have been dismissed.  The “upstarts” are Big 10 Tournament champion Purdue and a little school from the desert you might have heard from before, Arizona.  We’ll be providing you with all the coverage as the weekend progresses…  here’s tonight’s schedule:

7:07 pm.  #5 Purdue vs. #1 Connecticut
7:27 pm.  #4 Xavier vs. #1 Pittsburgh
9:37 pm.  #3 Missouri vs. #2 Memphis
9:57 pm.  #3 Villanova vs. #2 Duke

9:07 pm.  Apologies to everyone, but real world got in the way and we’re just now getting to where we can start the BGTD tonight.  Hopefully you’ll join us for the rest of the evening.

9:08 pm.  What have we missed.  Two good games, apparently.  UConn-Purdue is nearing the finish line, and it appears the Huskies are going to advance.  We thought there was a possibility of an upset there, but Hasheem showed up tonight for 15/15 and when he puts up those kinds of numbers, there are only a handful of teams in America that can compete with UConn.  Pitt has been fighting off Xavier all night long, only recently getting the lead back for the first time in a while.  From what we’ve seen so far, Pitt continues to shoot threes (not their strong suit and miss FTs.  Xavier is doing enough to pull this upset if they can continue to keep Blair in check (8 pts).

9:14 pm.  Jamie Dixon was right to complain about that shot clock violation there – it was still in XU’s hand when the clock turned to zero.  But what is going on with Pitt’s shot selection?  A fadeaway 18-footer from the corner is NOT their strength…

9:17 pm.  And then a timeout on the throw-in…  this team appears out of sync to us.  UConn is finishing off Purdue on the other channel.

9:19 pm.  Blair got the putback tip to go in there, but can you believe he’d miss such a point-blank shot; and then Jermaine Dixon barely drew iron on a dunk attempt?!?  My God, if Pitt survives this game, it’ll be miraculous.

9:21 pm.  Wow, these two teams are hitting 20% and 25% this half (Pitt higher).  SCORCHING.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: NCAA Tournament Day One Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2009

dynamite

IT’S. FINALLY. HERE.

If there’s one thing in life you can count on, it’s that every spring the Taxman will ask for his pittance and the NCAA Tournament will have you screaming at the top of your lungs with excitement. There is no more compelling annual event in all of sports. Every year, schools you’ve never heard of take on the ones you’re sick of hearing about and, for just a moment, a mere sliver of time, they stand as equals, where how well you play the game is all that matters. No computers, no RPIs, no BCS, no BS… just an orange ball and five players a side battling for the same goal – to survive and advance. This is why we’re all here. Let’s tip it off…

If you’re just now managing to get caught up to the fact that the Tournament starts today, get a life make your way over to the RTC 2009 Tournament Portal, which has all the information you’d ever want on the games and to watch for. Game previews, team previews, columns, etc. It’s all there.

Mike Lemaire will start the madness with the first group of games at the Noon hour, beginning with two difficult-to-read 8/9 games. Nvr1983 will be back in his usual spot in the cockpit for the second block of games at 2pm. Schedule below (all times EDT):

Noon Block

12:20 pm – #8 LSU vs. #9 Butler
12:25 pm – #2 Memphis vs. #15 Cal St. Northridge
12:30 pm – #8 BYU vs. #9 Texas A&M – RTC Live is there!

2 pm Block

2:30 pm – #5 Purdue vs. #12 Northern Iowa
2:50 pm – #1 UNC vs. #16 Radford
2:55 pm – #7 California vs. #10 Maryland
3:00 pm – #1 Connecticut vs. #16 Chattanooga

Bridge Game

4:55 pm – #4 Washington vs. #13 Mississippi St.

7pm Block

7:10 pm – #7 Texas vs. #10 Minnesota
7:10 pm – #7 Clemson vs. #10 Michigan
7:20 pm – #3 Villanova vs. #14 American
7:25 pm – #4 Gonzaga vs. #13 Akron

9pm Block

9:40 pm – #2 Duke vs. #15 Binghamton
9:40 pm – #2 Oklahoma vs. #15 Morgan St.
9:50 pm – #6 UCLA vs. #11 VCU
9:55 pm – #5 Illinois vs. #12 W. Kentucky

Let’s get it started….

12:07 pm. Hey All, its your faithful RTC intern here, and this will be my first attempt at Boom Goes the Dynamite. I may have technical troubles so bear with me, but I am diligent, and I will be watching all the games starting with Butler and LSU.

12:10 pm. Questionable music selection, but if you aren’t excited by CBS’ tournament memory montage, then there is something wrong with you. Quick update on point guards Ty Lawson and Chester Frazier: Neither player is 100% healthy, but I seriously doubt those two guys will miss a game, they are just too competitive.

12:22 pm. The tip is up and we are under way. Quick start for LSU and Bo Spencer as the Tigers are up 9-0 zip already and Spencer hit a three, then stole the ball and made a layup. Good timeout by Butler coach Brad Stevens, the last thing he wants is for LSU to take off.

12:30 pm. Since the early flurry by LSU both teams have settled in 11-3. It looks like the Bulldogs will have a tough time on the glass. Matt Howard is going to need to play a huge game if they want to win. In other news, Cal. State Northridge has an early 7-2 lead on Memphis…..upset anyone?

12:35 pm. Quick tangent, I know this Tournament is an advertising bonanza, but do the commerical breaks seem longer than usual or is it just me? Its been 13 minutes since the start of the game and they have played less than four minutes of basketball.

12:38 pm. The Bulldogs don’t have anyone that can match-up with LSU’s Tasmin Mitchell, especially now that Matt Howard is out with two quick fouls. It just seems as if LSU is more physical right now. Score checks: 14-6 LSU, 11-11 CSU v. Memphis, and 11-5 TXAM.

12:43 pm. Important things to know from the first few minutes. Matt Howard has two fouls, so do Robert Dozier and Tyreke Evans of Memphis. Texas A&M has come out on fire and is up 18-7 early on BYU.

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