Monday, June 23, 2008

6/23 - Some Links, Some News

-Over the weekend, and on the heels of Billy Gillespie getting a commitment from 6'4" eighth grader Michael Avery to play basketball for Kentucky, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) announced that they strongly oppose getting any type of commitment from recruits until after their sophomore year in high school.

Rush The Court had an interesting look at this on Friday. The bottom line is, 14 is way to young to be recruiting players, especially when they have yet to decide on a high school to attend. Billy Gillespie has been taking a lot of criticism for this method of recruiting, but he is not alone - Tim Floyd of USC and Bruce Weber of Illinois, to name a few, have both offered scholarships to players before they set foot on a high school basketball court.

I absolutely agree with the NABC's decision. 14 is way too young for a kid to be deciding his future, especially if they have yet to even decide on a high school. And how can the coaches know if this kid will end up developing into a big time player? How will already being committed to a school effect the kids work ethic? How can the coach know that this kid will be strong enough academically four years down the road? Since none of the commitments are binding at that age, if the player doesn't end up developing the way that the coach had hoped, will he withdraw the offer? Imagine how that would make the kid feel.

There is a reason that there are rules in place that restrict contact with players before their junior year. Let's hope that coaches will not only follow the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law as well.

-There is a possibility that Arizona recruit Brandon Jennings could be headed to Europe to play while he waits out the year after high school. Jennings is apparently having problems getting eligible for Arizona due to problems with his standardized test scores.

"The first time I took it I didn't try, the second time I did so I had to take it a third time," Jennings said.

Right now it looks like it is more of a precaution in case the test scores do not come back favorably, partially because the European system is different than the American system - teams are not going to be looking to sign 18 year old americans for one season. There are junior programs set up to develop younger players before they reach the top level club teams. Jennings would also face playing time issues and problems with finding a team to play with. He would need to sign an agent with strong ties to Euro basketball.

Another option that has been mentioned is that Jennings could play in the D-League, where he would be eligible because he is a high school graduate (but he wouldn't be able to get called up to the League). But, again, this doesn't seem like the best option. Hopefully, his he receives good test scores and can play the year out under Lute Olsen, who has sent the likes of Jason Terry, Mike Bibby, Gilbert Arenas, and Damon Stoudamire to the NBA.

-Draft Express and Chad Ford (here and here) keep us updated on the latest NBA Draft rumors. Some of the highlights:
  • OJ Mayo worked out for five teams picking in the top six on Saturday in Chicago. The team with the most interest in him, who Mayo may have the least interest in because of their smaller market, is the Timberwolves. He was given a pretty extensive interview and psychological evaluation by the team, and they came away impressed. The Wolves third pick has also been the subject of many trade rumors, as teams looking to add some star power (the Bucks, the Clippers, the Knicks) have all shown interest in the pick.
  • The Suns (no. 15) and the Blazers (no. 13) have both been involved in trade rumors regarding their picks. The Suns have made Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw available in an effort to either land a veteran or move up in the draft (they reportedly want Joe Alexander, Russell Westbrook, or Brandon Rush - all three look like they will be gone by 15). The Blazers have been rumored to be looking to trade the 13th pick for a while, but may in fact hold on to it on the chance that Alexander or Westbrook happen to fall that far. The Blazers also hold the 33rd, 36th, and 55th picks, and most likely will not want six rookies in training camp (remember they finally get Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez on the court), which means that they will almost certainly be involved in some sort of draft day deal.
  • Speaking of Westbrook, he has canceled his remaining workouts, which means that he most likely has a promise from a team. Ford reports that it may be the Bobcats picking 9th.
  • It looks like Jerryd Bayless may not be as much of a lock in the fourth pick as many people have predicted. The Sonics have been very interested in Brook Lopez, and many GM's have him slated in that spot. Lopez only worked out for the Wolves, the Sonics, and the Grizzlies.
  • Stock Rising - Kosta Koufus, Robin Lopez (he has been invited to sit in the Green Room on Draft Night), Kyle Weaver, Jamont Gordon, Alexis Ajinca, Mario Chalmers.
  • Stock Falling - Brook Lopez, Darrell Arthur, Anthony Randolph, DeAndre Jordan, JaVale McGee.
  • Nicolas Batum has had to cancel a number of workouts after a test in Toronto to measure the strength of his heart came back "borderline". Teams are trying to figure out if the rumor that his father died of heart issues is true.
-One comparison that I've seen made multiple times is the 1994 draft, where Glenn Robinson and Jason Kidd went 1-2, and this year's draft with Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose sitting atop the board. It is a pretty good comparison - Robinson averaged 30 and 10 at Purdue while Kidd averaged 17 and 9 for Cal, both similar numbers to what Beasley and Rose put up. Kidd had the more successful individual career (although the Big Dog did win a title in 2005 with the Spurs, although his career had pretty much been ended by injuries and apathy at that point) making nine all-star teams to Robinson's two. But what made Kidd more valuable was that he was always a team leader - he helped the Mavs improved from 13-69 to 36-46 his rookie year; he led to Suns to the playoffs in each of his five seasons there; he turned the Nets from perennial doormats into perennial contenders taking them to the Finals twice; and his leadership ability was a main reason the Mavs got him back mid-way through last season. True, Robinson was a good scorer in the NBA (20.7 for his career), but he wasn't a winner or a leader. Kidd was and Rose is, and isn't that what the Bulls need - someone to carry and lead this group of young and talented, but often misguided, team? Someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to win, not whatever it takes to put up 20?

-Just a few good reads. Andy Staples from SI wrote an interesting piece and the path that Keith Brumbaugh has taken to the NBA. Sunday's Washington Post had an article about the mother of Carlton Dotson, the former Baylor player who was convicted of killing teammate Brian Dennehey in 2003, and how she is coping. Dave D'Alessandro of the Star Ledger wrote a great piece on the NBA Draft (h/t The Big Lead).

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