Morning Five: 06.28.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 28th, 2013

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  1. One of the worries that NBA teams have when one of their players participates in an international tournament is that the player will get injured. As a result many NBA teams have insurance policies taken out (often financed by the national team’s federation). While NCAA teams are unable to take out similar policies since their players are not paid (not getting into that debate here), many schools have similar worries. It has been a while since we have seen a significant injury to a college player in international play, but we may have that as Rodney Hood reportedly suffered an unspecified Achilles injury during Wednesday night’s practice. Without further information (we aren’t even sure if Hood knows the extent of the damage) it is hard to say how long Hood will be out as recovery could range from a few days to the entire season. If Hood is out for a prolonged period it would be a big blow for a Duke team looking for him to provide an additional scoring punch to pair with Jabari Parker.
  2. Conference realignment has had more than its fair share of entries in the Morning Five, but one area of realignment that we have not talked about as much is the ongoing sports network battle between ESPN (the old guard) and Fox Sports 1 (the new kid on the block). Most of the moves have not registered with us mainly because they have been for day-time TV talent and we are never home during the middle of the day to watch any of these personalities. However, Fox Sports 1 stealing Bill Raftery away from ESPN certainly caught our attention. Many college basketball fans will miss the three-man booth of Raftery, Sean McDonough, and Jay Bilas we figure they will get over it with the new team of Raftery and Gus Johnson although we have our reservations about a booth with that much energy. We will always maintain that there is not a single announcer that can get us to turn on or turn off a game that we otherwise would not or would be watching, but at the very least Fox Sports 1 is making the competition with ESPN more compelling.
  3. With Andy Enfield’s arrival at USC you would expect many players who were interested in transferring become more excited about the possibility of playing for Dunk City West. It appears that all was enough (or maybe it was a move to LA) to get Darion Clark to transfer from Charleston to USC. Clark, who averaged 18 games and averaging 6.2 points on 54.2% from the field and 4.6 rebounds in 17.6 minutes per game, as a freshman will have to sit out next year and will have three more years of eligibility left. Given his production and efficiency as a freshman we would expect that Trojan fans can get used to seeing him on the court quite a bit.
  4. It appears that Billy Donovan is building quite a collection of point guards at Florida. While he may have issues getting them to play in the short term given Scottie Wilbekin’s ongoing behavioral issues and Kasey Hill’s academic issues, he should have a surplus for the 2014-15 season as he added Brandone Francis, a top-25 or -35 player in the class of 2014 depending on which service you follow, to a class that already includes Chris Chiozza, another top-100 player. Francis projects as more of a shooting guard especially with Chiozza in the same class, but he can play both positions so the Gators should have a dynamic backcourt for years to come.
  5. Over the years many of Rick Pitino‘s books have become the subject of numerous jokes including “Success is a Choice” that became the subject of countless jokes by Bill Simmons. On the heels of winning a national title at Louisville Pitino is ready to venture back into the book business with his latest book titled “The One-Day Contract: How to Add Value to Every Minute of Your Life.” The book will reportedly focus on Louisville’s championship experiences and Pitino’s life experience. As the Kentucky fans out there would note every minute of your life could include four 15 second events.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Nerlens Noel

Posted by BHayes on June 27th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and 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. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Nerlens Noel

School: Kentucky

Height/Weight: 6’11”/205 lbs.

NBA Position: Center

Projected Draft Range: Top Two

Is Nerlens Noel deserving of the top pick in Thursday's NBA draft?

Is Nerlens Noel deserving of the top pick in Thursday’s NBA draft?

Overview: Nerlens Noel’s freshman season was cut short by a February ACL injury suffered in a game at Florida, but he still had plenty of time to stake his claim to the #1 pick in this draft. Unlike other names mentioned as a possible first pick in this year’s draft last summer (Muhammad, Zeller names that pop to mind), Noel’s individual season did little to take the luster off of his draft stock. Sure, Kentucky endured a historically bad season and Noel won’t be ready for live action until at least December, but when it comes to his future, this season went pretty well for Noel. He showed off the shot-blocking prowess that made him the most sought-after recruit in the country a year ago (4.4 blocks per game), rebounded at an efficient clip (9.5 boards a game), and even found ways to contribute on the offensive end, averaging double figure in the 24 games he played. Throw in an impressively high steals number – 2.1 a game – and you can begin to gather just how disruptive Noel was when healthy. Now, disruptive is great, and NBA teams can expect that defensive activity to continue at the next level for Noel. But with the specter of the top pick potentially looming over his early years in the NBA, there will be plenty of pressure on Nerlens to become more than just a great defender. Only time will tell if he has room for growth on the offensive end, and let’s remember – he did only turn 19 two months ago. For now, Noel has plenty of that one thing that teams crave and analysts blabber about this time of year – upside.

Will Translate to the NBA: Don’t hold your breath: Nerlens Noel is going to have himself a block party or two when he finally makes his NBA debut. With pogo sticks for legs, Noel became one of college basketball’s premier rim protectors a season ago, filling the space that Anthony Davis vacated in Lexington quite nicely. And like Davis, Noel’s length and timing will allow him to continue his shot-blocking ways in the NBA. Noel is a more explosive athlete than Davis, owner of a suddenness that will surprise even NBA-caliber athlete. Shot blocking is Noel’s one bonafide elite skill at this point, and you better believe it will be on full display from day one on.

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NCAA Still Cleaning Up Last Season’s Misconduct

Posted by Chris Johnson on June 27th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

So much ridicule and scorn has been shoveled on top of the NCAA in recent months that it almost feels redundant to criticize at this point – like a Ferrari-wielding millionaire challenging his Prius-owning cousin to a street race, or the O’Doyle family ribbing Billy Madison through grade school, or USC fans simmering over Wednesday’s news of the congratulatory back slap Oregon received for illegal payments to a recruiting handler. The harsh tones of NCAA critiques have coursed through every contingent of college sports media at one phase or another this offseason, and today, after going down that path on several occasions myself, I’m just not feeling up to it. Sorry.

The punishments handed down to Self and Marshall will be forgotten by the start of the season (AP Photo).

The punishments handed down to Self and Marshall will be forgotten by the start of the season (AP Photo).

But if you got me in the mood, I might be able to talk about how profoundly funny it was Wednesday to learn the NCAA had issued a public reprimand of Bill Self for a scoring table fist palm during Kansas’s third-round NCAA Tournament match-up with North Carolina that was so destructive he needed to be reminded of his unseemly game behavior three months after the fact. I can picture Self now, watching Andrew Wiggins do ridiculous free-throw line dunks from a comfortable lounge chair, smarting in the Kansas basketball offices while counting his nine Big 12 championship rings. “Ouch, that really hurt!” Self’s sideline demeanor was too publicly unbecoming – because coaches showing emotion during a game is a really bad thing; the NCAA says it, and so it shall be – and too tawdry for a coach who, by all accounts, is one of the purest and most morally pure sideline presences not just in college basketball, but any college sport.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Otto Porter

Posted by BHayes on June 27th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

 

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and 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. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Otto Porter

School: Georgetown

Height/Weight: 6’9” / 200 lbs.

NBA Position: Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: Top Five

John Thompson's loss will be one lucky NBA franchise's gain

John Thompson’s loss will be one lucky NBA franchise’s gain

Overview: Most of the hardware awarded to the top college basketball player in the country goes to the “player of the year”, unlike in the NBA, where the top individual prize goes to the “most valuable player”. If such an award existed at the college level for this past season, it would be hard to think of a better candidate for it than Otto Porter. The Missouri native did a little bit of everything for a relatively undermanned Georgetown team leading the Hoyas to a Big East regular season title and a #2 seed in the Tournament. He averaged 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game on the season, but tended to outperform even those lofty numbers in the biggest games. There was no better example of Porter’s knack for the moment than his effort at the Carrier Dome where his 33 points vaulted the Hoyas past Syracuse in a game where points were at a true premium (a 57-46 final). His heroics would continue just four days later, when a late Porter running layup allowed Georgetown to sneak out of Gampel Pavilion with a one-point overtime victory. Of course, the Georgetown season will now largely be remembered for the emphatic upset to Florida Gulf Coast in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but Porter’s breakthrough campaign should not be lost in the Lob City fanfare. Rest assured it was not lost on scouts, as Porter is a coveted asset here at the 2013 NBA Draft. Read the rest of this entry »

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Victor Oladipo

Posted by BHayes on June 27th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and 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. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Victor Oladipo

School: Indiana

Height/Weight: 6’4”/215 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Top Five

Are you the GM of an NBA team looking for a jolt of energy and athleticism? Do I have the guy for you...

Are you the GM of an NBA team looking for a jolt of energy and athleticism? Do I have the guy for you…

Overview: No player saw their stock rise more in 2012-13 than Victor Oladipo. This time last year, Oladipo was a fringe second-round prospect at best. Now it appears he will be a top-five pick at worst, and he is still in play to be the #1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft just days from draft day. What a journey it has been. Along the way there were clutch moments (on both ends of the floor), copious Indiana W’s, and even some, gasp, MJ comparisons thrown Oladipo’s way. While that sort of talk may include a bit of hyperbole (just a little!), there can be no denying Oladipo’s impact on the Hoosiers last season. The stat sheet won’t blow you away – 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 steals a game, but Oladipo did shoot 60% from the field (44% from three point range) in the toughest conference in America. Let’s also remember that this is a 6’4” guard grabbing those six rebounds a game; if not for Jamaal Franklin, a case could be made that Oladipo was the best rebounding guard in the country last season. But Oladipo’s case to be one of the first players off the board has to do with a lot more than his numbers. His tireless work ethic, which helped spike this surge in both production and draft stock, is relevant here. Or how about the energy and leadership that was on constant display a season ago? You better believe NBA teams are salivating at the thought of inserting that kind of player into both their rotation and locker room. The intangibles are there for Oladipo, and his athleticism and work ethic seem to have built in a significantly high floor for him at the next level. The question becomes how high do those things make his ceiling?

Will Translate to the NBA: Oladipo will be a defensive stopper from the moment he steps on the floor in the NBA. His defensive metrics don’t align perfectly with his reputation as a stopper, but few scouts have any concern that he won’t be ready to guard NBA wings right away. His athleticism and competitiveness combine to make him a scorer’s nightmare. In college he proved capable of guarding anyone from point guards to power forwards; the scope of his duties will narrow in the NBA, but one NBA coach will have the luxury of Oladipo to throw on opposing perimeter scorers. Beyond his defense, Oladipo’s athleticism translates well into a transition, up-and-down game – another area where his relentlessness and passion will aid him in being effective in the league from the get-go.

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Val Ackerman The Right Pick To Head The New Big East

Posted by mlemaire on June 27th, 2013

In a landscape where powerful state universities and brand-name colleges feverishly chase the big TV money pouring out of college football, the schools in the new Big East announced to the rest of the conferences that things were going to be different in their league when they hired former WNBA president Val Ackerman to be the conference’s first commissioner Wednesday. The schools in the Big East don’t really care about college football money, because their conference was built on the principle of basketball above all else. The “Catholic 7″ defected from the Big East in December 2012 primarily because they felt their football-first partners didn’t have their best interests in mind, and you shouldn’t need to review recent NCAA Tournament results to understand that strengthening the conference’s basketball profile was the driving motivation behind the additions of Creighton, Xavier, and Butler.

Ackerman Has Been Successful Everywhere

Ackerman Has Been Successful Everywhere

If the then-Big East and now-American Athletic Conference hired former CBS Sports Executive Mike Aresco to land a lucrative television deal that would help the conference keep up with the Jones’, then the new Big East hired Ackerman because they saw the Jones’ adding a guest house and decided they would rather pick up their basketball and head to the playground instead. Let’s be clear, the schools in the Big East didn’t lark out on their own for any altruistic reasons and they aren’t exactly rebelling against the establishment because they need television revenue to survive just as badly as the schools and conferences do. They just recognized that the path to enriching themselves involved becoming the biggest and baddest basketball conference in the country, and the 12-year deal from Fox Sports that followed the arrival of Creighton, Xavier, and Butler proves that in 500 million different ways.

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Morning Five: 06.27.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 27th, 2013

morning5

  1. It’s NBA Draft day, and we here in college basketball land will once again watch the proceedings to bid adieu to the one-year wonders and four-year plodders alike. Weak draft or not, the harsh reality is that most of these players will never be heard from again by any of us, but there’s always the hope that the next Kawhi Leonard or Paul George is hidden somewhere among the busts. One of the interesting notes with this year’s draft is that there’s no consensus on which player will be the first chosen — as many as seven individuals, Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, UNLV’s Anthony Bennett, Maryland’s Alex Len, Kansas’ Ben McLemore, Michigan’s Trey Burke, Georgetown’s Otto Porter, and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, appear to be in the mix. The smart money probably lies with Noel heading to Cleveland to join Kyrie Irving, but it’s highly likely that a redrafting of this group in five years would look very different. For additional prep for tonight, check out the mock drafts at NBADraft.net, DraftExpress, and Chad Ford’s Insider; as well as our own RTC Draft Profiles series, and the RTC Offseason Podcast: NBA Draft Edition, featuring draft profiler and columnist Bennet Hayes. Plenty of great material there. 
  2. We’ve been waiting on this series to finish up before linking to it, but the Emory Sports Marketing Analytics group has been rolling out some data and related conclusions examining power conference schools’ ability in putting players into the NBA Draft (the entire series of posts is here). The one thing we will laud them for here is controlling for the incredibly important factor that the bigger and better schools recruit the best talent — a bit of a chicken-and-egg argument always ensues. Does Duke, for example, put a bunch of players in the NBA because they recruit great players, or because they develop and therefore produce great draft picks? The truth is both, but ferreting out how much of each input should be allocated is the hardest part. These guys try to explain away that issue with their analysis, but the time frame chosen (2002-11) creates another confounding issue. How important is the school — in other words, the brand and the physical university — versus the head coach when it comes to recruiting and player development? In our opinion, that distinction is significant. Tubby Smith was great at developing players at Kentucky; but John Calipari is great at recruiting them. In this analysis, Kentucky the program gets credit for both, and falls to third in the SEC as a result. Is Vanderbilt (and by proxy, Kevin Stallings) the best program in the SEC at “converting” talent to the NBA Draft? It seems a specious argument based on essentially one group of players, but we’re withhold a longer criticism until we see the next steps they have planned with this data set (which does look promising).
  3. We may have found our next Russell Westbrook in this year’s NBA Draft, and he goes by the name Trey Burke. No, we’re not suggesting that the NPOY has the explosiveness or all-around game that the NBA All-Star for the Oklahoma City Thunder has, but he may be very well on his way to matching Westbrook’s oft-ridiculous but always-talked about style. GQ Magazine chose the Michigan star as their top style pick in this year’s draft, and we have to say from our view that we’ll remain happy seeing the cocksure point guard in his jersey and basketball shorts. If he’s lucky, maybe he’ll get some run on Inside the NBA next season for more than just his play, though.
  4. The Big East got its (rumored) woman, as former WNBA commissioner Val Ackerman was announced as the league’s new boss Wednesday. With the league formally opening up operations on Monday and in desperate need of a manager who can get things done — like, say, building a fall sports schedule — this appears on its face to be a strong move. Ackerman is widely respected within the basketball community, having played at Virginia, helped to found and build the WNBA in the mid-1990s, and acted as the president of USA Basketball for a successful period during the last decade. We’ll have a bit more on this on our Big East microsite later this morning, but it goes without saying that a bright, basketball-centric person with significant organization and business experience is a superb hire.
  5. Finally, the NCAA was busy handing out reprimands on Wednesday, as Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson, Kansas head coach Bill Self, and a Wichita State associate athletic director named Darron Boatright were all censured for incidents during the NCAA Tournament. Henderson’s one-gun salute to La Salle fans after his team’s loss in the Round of 32 warranted his reprimand, while Self’s slamming of the scorer’s table during the Jayhawks’ win over UNC in that same round was cause for his. The Wichita State official’s reprimand was the most peculiar, as Boatright apparently got into a confrontation with a Staples Center security officer prior to the Shockers’ Sweet Sixteen contest against La Salle. It’s a good thing that the NCAA enforcement staff is all over these incidents, that’s for sure.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Ben McLemore

Posted by BHayes on June 26th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and 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. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Ben McLemore

School: Kansas

Height/Weight: 6’5”/190 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Top 5-10

Ben McLemore pairs jaw-dropping athleticism with a silky-smooth jump shot

Ben McLemore pairs jaw-dropping athleticism with a silky-smooth jump shot

Overview: Ben McLemore’s decision to enter the NBA Draft came as a surprise to no one. After a successful freshman season in which he often found the occasion to flash his massive potential, the time was now for McLemore to make the leap to the pros. Anyone familiar with his game know the knocks – too nice, passive, doesn’t want to dominate. His road to Lawrence, and now the league, has also been well chronicled. McLemore overcame an impoverished childhood and unsteady home life to develop into a prized recruit, and equally impressively, a great young man (by all accounts). Last season, McLemore averaged 15.9 points per game and shot 42% from three-point range for a Kansas team that earned a #1 seed to the NCAA Tournament. Despite the complaints of passivity, McLemore did have a slew of dominant performances as a freshman. They included a 33-point outing and OT-inducing three in a victory over Iowa State, a 30-point effort versus rival Kansas State, and a 36-point explosion in a rout of West Virginia. The challenge for scouts is to determine whether McLemore will ever be able to turn those 40-minute displays into consistent elite play, but if nothing else, Ben McLemore’s freshman season revealed a player with a skill set you don’t often find.

Will Translate to the NBA: McLemore is the best shooter in this draft. Concerns about his willingness to be demonstrative and take over games are well-founded, but if you can get him open looks, he will knock down shots. Everything is picture-perfect mechanically with the stroke, and McLemore is also able to shoot over the top of defenders by getting great lift on his jumper. Athletically, the Kansas product will also prove ready for the league. He’s a smooth but explosive leaper that excels in transition, and his length should assist him in becoming a good, if not great, defender at the next level. All the raw materials are in place for McLemore to be great – what will prevent him from putting them immediately to use will be his youth and immaturity, if anything.

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The RTC Offseason Podcast: NBA Draft Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 26th, 2013

The RTC Podcast crew hopes that you’re all having a good early summer out there in America-land. With a little over 24 hours left until the 2013 NBA Draft goes down in Brooklyn, we decided to come in with our takes on the draft from the perspective of guys who have analyzed many of these players very closely for the last several years. To provide the usual duo with a third voice of reason, we invited RTC columnist Bennet Hayes (@hoopstraveler), who has been putting in yeoman’s work the last couple of weeks in profiling many of the top stars who will hear their names called by David Stern tomorrow night. As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) is our host, and the rundown of topics is listed below. We’ll see you again sometime in July!

  • 0:00-5:51 – What Separates NBA players and college players
  • 5:51-10:53 – Your #1 Overall Pick
  • 10:53-15:55 – Late Lottery Love
  • 15:55-20:22 College Star NBA Guys Are Overlooking
  • 20:22-22:50 – Potential Busts
  • 22:50-26:10 – College Coaches Beaming With Pride Thursday Night
  • 26:10- 29:04 – Draft Picks That Will Leave the Biggest Hole on Their College Team
  • 29:04- 31:28 – Players That Can Be Replaced
  • 31:28-38:17 – Can Alex Len and Ben McLemore Come Out of their Shells?
  • 38:17-41:51 – Picks to Look For in 2014
  • 41:51-43:09 – Who Will Go #1/Wrap
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Trey Burke

Posted by BHayes on June 26th, 2013

nbadraftprofiles

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of a number of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and 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. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Trey Burke

School: Michigan

Height/Weight: 6’1” / 190 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: Top Ten

Will Trey Burke bring his winning ways with him to the the NBA?

Will Trey Burke bring his winning ways with him to the the NBA?

Overview: After flirting with the NBA a year ago, Trey Burke had almost no choice but to take the plunge this go-around. When you lead your team to the National Championship game, collect a smorgasbord of National POY trophies, and produce one of the most indelible March moments of recent memory, your draft stock can’t really get much higher. Burke’s stellar season is well-documented at this point, but it’s worth noting the drastic improvement in efficiency for Burke between years one and two at Michigan. He cut his turnover rate from 18.6% to 13.4%, increased his assist rate, and shot the ball better from the free throw line, two-point range, and beyond the arc. Oh, and he did all this in one of the best conferences college basketball has seen in years. Burke did everything he could on the court to impress scouts, but there are still concerns about his viability as an NBA point guard.  His height (barely six feet) scares a lot of teams, and both lateral mobility and overall athleticism has come into question with Burke. Some of the concerns are not dissimilar from those scouts had with Chris Paul before he entered the league, and Burke’s fiery demeanor and leadership also conjure up memories of a young Paul. But Burke is well behind where Paul was as a prospect, and if he ever hopes to come close to making the kind of impact Paul has made in the league, he will have to provide resounding answers to the questions that currently surround him. A tall (no pun intended) task ahead, but anyone who watched Trey Burke for the past two years knows better than to count him out.

Will Translate to the NBA: There may be some athletic limitations in play with Burke, but the diminutive point guard’s offensive game is quite evolved. He shoots the ball extremely well – both off the dribble and in catch and shoot situations – and gets teammates involved by driving and kicking. He is a great decision-maker who limited turnovers last season despite having the ball in his hands all the time. The length of NBA defenders will test Burke, but there are very few holes in his offensive game. Burke is also a winner, through and through. He wants the ball in clutch situations, demands the most from his teammates, and works tirelessly at his game. There is no player in this draft better suited to step in and lead a team from day one than Burke.

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Morning Five: 06.26.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 26th, 2013

morning5

  1. A Bronx cheer rose up throughout the land on Tuesday as the NCAA approved changes with two of the most confounding rules in college basketball. Perhaps the one that caused the most consternation among pundits and fans on social media last year was the “elbow above the shoulders” rule. Originally intended to cut down on dirty play, the rule mandated that a flagrant foul had to be called in any such instance; this predictably led to numerous situations where not-dirty but standard basketball plays were ruled flagrant fouls simply because a defender stuck his nose too close to the body of his man. The new rule, revealed Tuesday, will allow officials considerably more discretion in making the call, giving them an opportunity to review the video monitor to determine both the blow’s severity and inadvertence, presumably resulting in a much more equitable interpretation of the rule. The rules committee also changed the block/charge rule yet again, now mandating that a defensive player must already be in good position before the offensive player starts his upward motion with the ball. Like the Euro step and jump stop before them, expect an entirely new offensive move to become predicated on starting the ball on its upward trajectory as soon as possible in an effort to catch the defender off balance and earn that elusive whistle.
  2. Will he or won’t he? On Monday Kentucky’s Kyle Wiltjer and John Calipari both announced in separate UK media posts that the rising junior forward is planning to transfer for the remainder of his collegiate career. It seemed as if he was already out the door, but somewhat peculiarly, neither explicitly said that he was leaving. On Tuesday, his head coach said that he does in fact plan to leave Lexington, but he’d be welcomed back if he ultimately decided to change his mind. ESPN.com is now reporting that the top suitors for the sharp-shooting stretch four are Gonzaga, Portland, Texas, Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State — the heavily-Pacific Northwestern flavor derives, of course, from proximity to Wiltjer’s hometown of Portland, Oregon. With an abundance of high-level talent coming into Lexington next season — not to mention two significant frontcourt returnees in Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein — it makes a lot of sense for Wiltjer to consider a transfer for more playing time. Still, 6’10″ players who shoot a legitimate 39 percent from distance are tough to find, so even with all that superstar talent Calipari has at his disposal next season, it wouldn’t hurt to offer Wiltjer a redshirt season to get stronger in 2013-14 and a much bigger role on the following year’s squad.
  3. This news was hinted at in last week’s announcement about Kansas‘ expansion of its third-tier media rights, and yesterday the second part of the deal was unveiled. Depending on whom you ask among Jayhawks faithful in the comments of this Lawrence Journal-World article, this is either a “as bad as I expected” or a complete “travesty.” Although KU officials are lauding its deal to provide 70 live events on ESPN3 as only the second of its kind between a Big 12 school and ESPN (the Longhorn Network being the other), the reality is that only six men’s basketball games will be shown as part of the agreement, and many fans of a nationally-relevant program like Kansas do not belong to a cable network that offers ESPN3 as part of its package. For a decent metric of the temperature of the fan base, take a look at that comment thread (189 and going strong at the time of this writing) — this isn’t a group that suffers fools lightly.
  4. Despite the mood of Jayhawks fans about this newfangled streaming deal with ESPN3, SI.com‘s Andy Staples makes some excellent points in his feature analysis suggesting that such deals may in fact be the tip of the next iceberg that changes how college sports is packaged and sold. Admittedly, we’re still a number of years away from an Internet-dominant model becoming completely mainstream, but as Netflix, Google and Apple continue to redefine how we consume media, and as the non-sports fan public pushed back against astronomical bundled rights fees for cable sports (see: Time Warner’s lawsuit about the Lakers/Dodgers), it’s worth consideration. And as we remarked frequently when the ‘number of local eyeballs’ metric worked to justify nonsensical conclusions such as Rutgers joining the Big Ten, it will eventually come to pass that the a la carte penetration of a market (i.e., the number of people who actually care and watch the games) will matter far more than the overall size of it. Then much of this latest round of conference realignment will look somewhat silly; that is, to everyone who didn’t line their much deeper pockets in the color of green.
  5. How’s that for a prelude? While on the subject of the conference realignment, the new Big East is set to open its doors for business five days from now. Except that there are no doors to actually open. Nor is there an address, a commissioner or even a fancy new logo. As Dana O’Neil writes, the new league is getting directed by its nine university priests and one president, and nobody can seemingly come to an easy decision on anything. Or any decision. Paralysis by analysis, she terms it, and quite unsurprisingly, the athletic departments at Providence, Georgetown, Butler, Creighton and the rest are wondering what exactly they’ve all signed on to here. Hopefully once a commissioner is named — Val Ackerman has been suggested, via Andy Katz and other media reports — but until then, this new basketball-centric league is floating rudderless with a captain. Our email address, in case they need it: rushthecourt@yahoo.com.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Anthony Bennett

Posted by BHayes on June 25th, 2013

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The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 27, in Brooklyn. As we have done for the last several years, RTC will provide comprehensive breakdowns of 20 of the top collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards and work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take fromNBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation. This post was contributed by RTC’s Bennet Hayes. He can be found on Twitter @HoopsTraveler.

Player Name: Anthony Bennett

School: UNLV

Height/Weight: 6’7”/240 lbs.

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Top 5-10

Anthony Bennett was an imposing presence on the UNLV front line last season

Anthony Bennett was an imposing presence on the UNLV front line last season

Overview: Anthony Bennett needed just one season at UNLV to prove he was ready for the next level. Dave Rice assembled an amazing collection of talent in Vegas this past season, and despite the team failing to find success commensurate with the sum of those pieces, their freshman star rarely failed to impress. Bennett averaged 16 points and eight rebounds per game in a brutal Mountain West Conference last season, and proved equally capable of stepping out and knocking down the three (over one make per game on 38% shooting) as he was throwing down a thunderous dunk down low (there were 42 of those). He is slightly undersized for a post at 6’7”, but a 7’1” wingspan and great athleticism eases any concerns about Bennett finding a home down low in the NBA. A shoulder injury has limited his recent availability, keeping him out of the combine, but the injury itself should not be an issue moving forward. Of more concern is the fact that Bennett has put on some 20 pounds since the end of the season – one of the few red flags (albeit a small one) for a player many consider to be the most talented in the entire draft. The top of the 2013 NBA Draft class has taken its share of pummeling over the last two months, and in most regards, deservedly so. In a draft devoid of elite talent, Bennett is one player with explosive, exciting upside – something college basketball fans bore witness to last season.

Will Translate to the NBA: Bennett often looked like a man among boys in the college ranks last season, where he was at his ferocious best grabbing rebounds and attacking the rim. While he is undersized for an NBA power forward at 6’7”, don’t expect that to stop him from having a similar impact on NBA backboards. His motor is nonstop, and he shows no fear around the rim. And let’s not forget about the massive wingspan, freakish athleticism, and soft hands that make him such an efficient finisher. We can’t be sure if he will be ready to guard in the league from day one, but his raw tools and polished finishing ability should allow him to have an offensive impact from the get-go.

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