Sunday, May 31, 2009

The latest on the Memphis situation

I'm sick of writing about Memphis and Derrick Rose and Kentucky, so I'll just put together some links to get you caught up.

- Is Derrick Rose's image tarnished (Gary Parrish)? Parrish also rips the school for how they handled this entire situation (excellent read here).

- The one-and-done rule is the reason for the Derrick Rose and OJ Mayo scandal. "If they don't want to be in college, don't force them to be there." (Andy Katz)

- The state titles that Simeon won with Derrick Rose are going to be investigated.

- Latavious Williams may reconsider his commitment to Memphis.

- Pastner spoke about the allegations.

- Kentucky's "background check".

- Cal will have to participate in a hearing on the violations.

- Derrick Rose and Coach Cal declare their innocence. In other news, the sky is blue.


And here is the rest of it. Continue reading...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

NBA Draft Prospects: Sam Young, Pitt

Stats: 19.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.4 t/o's, 50.2% FG, 37.2% 3PT, 74% FT

Listed Size: 6'6", 210 lb, 6/1/1985 (24 years old)

(photo credit: Strotty's Blog)

About Him: When talking about Sam Young, undoubtedly the first thing that will come up is his athleticism - the guy is a freak. He is a long 6'6" that is strong as an ox and can jump out of the gym. He has quick feet and moves very well laterally. But there are two unique aspects to Young's profile that make him stand out - he played both the post and the wing in the Big East; and he is always hustling and playing hard (and as anyone will tell you, the most important trait for being a good defender is effort). Put all of that together, and you get a guy that projects very well as a defender on the next level.

Offensively, Young has a much lower ceiling. Surprisingly, his best offensive skill right now is his ability to catch-and-shoot (which is an unbelievable improvement from his freshman campaign). While is form is far from pretty, it is consistent, which is what made him Pitt's best perimeter shooter this past season. His release is fairly quick (he even added the ability to come off of screens and make shots) and he has range out to the college three point line. If he continues to work at it, becoming an NBA three point threat is likely.

Where Young struggles is when he is forced to put the ball on the floor. His handle is pretty weak, and while he was able to get to the rim in the Big East, a lot of that was due to his crazy, but effective, pump fake and his quick first step. He cannot change directions well, and is especially ineffective in situations where he has to create with the bounce (i.e. the pick and roll or leading the break).

Young's strength and athleticism allows him to be an excellent finisher in the paint. For starters, after playing the post for so long, he has an effective back to the basket game. He is also a fantastic finisher at the rim, especially when he gets out on the wing in transition.

Comparisons: Best Case: James Posey, Trenton Hassell with the T'Wolves; Worst Case: James Jones, Tony Allen.

Bottom Line: Young will probably never be a star in the league, but his defensive ability alone should keep him around the league. His work ethic and his ability to hit an open jumper should make him a very effective role player. He might be able to sneak in the end of the first round.

Highlights:





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Friday Morning Dump

- This Derrick Rose story keeps growing. Apparently, he had his grades changed in high school:

Rose, 20, was one of four Simeon athletes whose grades were boosted for a one-month period after their June 2007 graduation and then changed back after the bogus transcripts had been sent to colleges, according to sources and a report by the CPS inspector general.
And here is a picture of the kid that allegedly took the SATs for Rose.

- On a happier note, Gary Parrish says that this Calipari mess shouldn't affect Josh Pastner's 2009-10 Memphis team, which is only fair because Pastner was an assistant in Arizona while all this was happening. Apparently, Pastner had no idea of the pending investigation when he was hired by Memphis.

- Truehoop's take on Derrick Rose.

- Former Cincinnati Bearcat Pete Mickeal, who plays for Tau Ceramica in the Spanish ACB League, sings Ricky Rubio's praises.

- Chad Ford's newest mock draft is out. Not only does he have Thabeet going 2nd and Rubio going 3rd, but he has Jrue Holiday going 4th. Holiday is still officially undecided, but if he is going fourth, then he is gone.

- Draft Express, NBADraft.net, and Andy Katz get you caught up on the first day of the combine. A summary - Jeff Teague looks like he is staying in the draft; Patty Mills looks likely to stay; Jodie Meeks said he is going to come back if he isn't a first rounder (which he isn't); Ty Lawson's stock is falling, as he is currently behind Jonny Flynn and Eric Maynor; James Johnson may go as high as 14 to Pheonix.

- As anyone ever had a more action packed off-season than Kentucky has this year? The school has counter sued Billy Gillispie. From the Louisville Courier-Journal:
According to the suit, "UK contends that the MOU is not an enforceable long-term contract of employment, and that it owes no damages to Gillispie, having paid him for each basketball season in which he coached."
- Yup, there is a song about John Calipari already. "Johnny Calipari" to the tune of the Chili Pepper's singing "Dani California". Pretty funny.

- We talked about it yesterday, but Andy Katz wrote today that Xavier's Derrick Brown will be staying in the draft.

- Finally some good news for USC. UConn transfer Marcus Johnson has been granted an extra year of eligibility. The LA Times tried to catch up with Tim Floyd. It didn't work. Funny anecdote here though:
One morning in March, one of our graduate assistants pulled up three articles that had us ranked fourth, fifth and sixth in early polls for next season. By 1 p.m., DeMar DeRozan, Taj Gibson and Daniel Hackett all declared for the NBA.
- In a cost cutting move, Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin are going to stop printing media guides for their sports team.

- Dino Gaudio has added former Tulsa assistant Dave Wojcik to his Wake Forest staff.

- This kid is ridiculous. So is Trick Daddy. He does the traffic on Dan LeBatard's radio show.

- You may hate Ron Artest, but one thing you can't deny is the guy loves his hood Queensbridge.



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Reactions to Calipari from around the web

Before we get into the links, here is the latest on the John Calipari-Derrick Rose fiasco:

  • Michael O'Brien of the Chicago Sun-Times did some digging, and is reporting that a former high school teammate of Derrick Rose was the one to take the test for him.
  • O'Brien also got a revealing, and possibly damning, quote from Luther Topps, who used to coach Rose during the summer:
    "Tim told me the NCAA kept bothering him," Topps said. "That if he didn’t talk they were going to take away his eligibility. [The NCAA] thinks that [former Simeon player Kevin Johnson] took [the SAT test] for him."

    Simeon coach Robert Smith declined to comment on the situation.

    "[Smith and I] didn’t know anything about his test," Topps said. "Reggie moved me and him out of the way long before that, as soon as the money got involved."
    Money was involved?

    Topps later clarified the quote. From Gary Parrish's "The Thoughts":
    "What (I meant) by 'money involved,' is that (I was moved out) when they started smelling the money as far as (Derrick) getting rich," Topps said. "That's what (I) mean. ... (I) was talking about (money as in) when the kid turned pro."
As we have now had some time to digest the third program to suffer the embarrassment of a major NCAA violation in the three months, lets take a quick look at the reactions from some of the sports most well-known names.
  • Jeff Goodman of FOXSports: If there is any punishment, that burden likely will fall to Memphis, its fans and brand new 31-year-old head coach Josh Pastner, who declined comment. Calipari already has raided his old program and taken two probable starters in DeMarcus Cousins and Darnell Dodson — and also reeled in one of the nation's top point guards in Eric Bledsoe — who chose Kentucky over Memphis. In less than two months, Calipari has put together a team that could go from the NIT to the preseason No. 1 team in the country. He's done it with his unparalleled salesmanship, which helped him persuade big man Patrick Patterson to withdraw from the NBA Draft and helped him lure the nation's top recruit, John Wall, as well as several other impact players. On the same day his old program was hit with NCAA allegations, his new one was in the news as well. Wall, who signed with Kentucky last week, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor breaking and entering on Wednesday. It's been difficult enough for Memphis fans to watch their one-time coach build an instant powerhouse with players who should have been theirs, but now the Calipari regime could bring more pain — in the form of potential NCAA sanctions against Memphis.
  • Gary Parrish of CBSSports: Fair or not, everything the Wildcat's new coach accomplished at UMass and Memphis is now tainted, which means everything he;s about to accomplish at Kentucky will be accomplished while the average sports fan rolls his eyes. This is reality. Because perception is reality. And when a long-established perception is back by allegations of major NCAA violations at two different schools, the general public doesn't care about the off-the-hook letters from the NCAA that a coach might possess. Nobody remembers the details, just the headlines.
  • Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal: Calipari is not personally implicated in any of the allegations. Of course he's not. He wasn't implicated in the UMass fiasco, either. He just happened to be in charge when the bad stuff happened at UMass. He just happened to be in charge when the bad stuff may have happened at Memphis. The man is to NCAA investigations as Joey Dorsey was to bar fights. He's just unlucky, darn it!
  • Luke Winn of SI: In Memphis' locker room shortly after its heartbreaking overtime loss to Kansas in the 2008 national championship game, forward Chris Douglas-Roberts tried to console teammate Joey Dorsey by telling him, "The Fab Five never won a title." Douglas-Roberts' belief was that the Tigers were an iconic team, like Michigan's 1992 and '93 squads, that wouldn't be forgotten despite their lack of title rings. He most certainly wasn't expecting that the Tigers, like the Wolverines, might eventually have to vacate their title-game appearance. The irony in that analogy is now thick.
  • A Sea of Blue: But assuming that no surprises crawl out of the woodwork implicating Coach Cal, I think we should all reread this sage advice and once again, embrace the hate. "Why," you ask? Because if you are honest with yourself, you know as well as I do that if St. Peter himself came down from Heaven and testified in open court that John Calipari was as blameless as a newborn babe in any and all these allegations, it would not matter one iota to this program's detractors, nor to many who find Calipari's occasional close proximity to NCAA violations troubling. That's the way the game is played, and the only antidote is skin as thick as an M1A1 Abrams' armor. Many of us were glad to have Coach Cal, and we got him, warts, baggage and all. So embrace that hate, Big Blue Nation, and take pleasure in the loathing. I know I will. It is fun urinating of the schadenfreude of others, and watching them contort themselves into a tizzy to create self-deluded hopes of NCAA sanctions to come. It makes me laugh out loud to see logic tortured to the point of screaming agony. Parsing Coach Cal's occasional cryptic tweets just adds to the aura of suspicion. Have fun with it. As for the tut-tutting of the mainstream sports media, what the heck is new about that? We had to listen to it during Gillispie's tenure, and we'll have to hear about it during Calipari's. Lighten up and appreciate the irony. My guess is, you'll have plenty of opportunities to gloat in the faces of both rivals and media elites over the next few years, and headlines about UK reaching new heights will no doubt take the sting out of all the hand-wringing and grim pontificating you'll have to put up with over the next few weeks.
  • Rick Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journal: Calipari was available to fill the UK position two years ago when Barnhart hired Gillispie from Texas A&M. Even Calipari has joked that he didn't understand why he didn't get the call in 2007. One reason Cal didn't get the call then was that he has the reputation of a guy who will push, push and push it to the limit of NCAA rules. He's never been tagged with an NCAA violation, but you'll no longer find a record of his Massachusetts team in the 1996 Final Four. The appearance was vacated because of a situation involving center Marcus Camby. UK didn't need a coach on the radar of the NCAA enforcement folks. Barnhart passed on Calipari and hired Gillispie. Gillispie bombed. One year off a national runner-up appearance, Calipari looked better. Much better after UK's NIT season. In fact, Calipari looked so good that Barnhart and UK President Lee Todd hired him — and assured everybody that the hiring had the approval of the NCAA as well as Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive. That was April 1. Oops. It turns out that on Jan. 16 the University of Memphis received a letter from the NCAA alleging three violations in the Tigers' basketball program.
  • Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports: Now Kentucky has its dream coach and its worst nightmare all at the same time. They can wash away their frustrations of defending what did or didn’t happen back in Memphis with visions of clipped nets in the springs to come. That’s what the Memphis fans used to do too.
  • Eamonn Brennan of The Dagger: The biggest fallout here could be related to John Calipari. After all, his hire at Kentucky has made the biggest college hoops coaching splash in recent memory, and the only temper to UK's enthusiasm has been the uncomfortable notion that Calipari's past has its share of clear calls with the NCAA. This is another. Maybe it's nothing; maybe Calipari escapes from this unscathed, just like before. Or maybe not. Maybe this is the one that finally brings Calipari down. That's the outcome Kentucky fans -- and college basketball fans at large, honestly -- don't want to think about.


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NCAA violations at Memphis: Derrick Rose SAT fraud?

John Calipari is one of just a handful of coaches who have taken two different teams to the Final Four.

What makes it all the more impressive is that he did it at two schools (Memphis and UMass) that play outside of the big six conferences.

So yes, Coach Cal has proven himself as a winner.

The issue is now whether or not those wins stay in the record books when he leaves.

In case you missed it, the Memphis Commercial-Appeal broke a story late last night that Memphis was being charged with violating three NCAA rules. Two of them were regarding travel expenses for an associate of a player, but to be fair, that same individual also reimbursed the school for other trips he made. This could be nothing more than an accounting error.

The allegation that is a bit disconcerting is that a player on the 2007-08 team that reached the title game committed

knowing fraudulence or misconduct in connection with his entrance examination. Specifically, on (date redacted) an unknown individual completed (name redacted)'s SAT, with (name redacted)'s knowledge, which was used to obtain his admission into the institution.
The document also says that the player competed for Memphis in the 2007-08 season, but mentions no other year. Who was the only player that played just that season?

Derrick Rose.

Let me preface this by saying that the Memphis coaching staff, including Calipari, is not at risk of being charged with any violations in this case. Just like he was never charged with a violation when Marcus Camby was getting paid by an agent, which vacated the UMass Final Four run from the record books.

But as a Kentucky fan, this has got to worry you. If the NCAA does in fact force Memphis to forfeit their 38 wins from '07-'08, it will mean that Calipari's two best seasons as a coach will have been erased because of the actions of the two best players he has ever coached.

Kentucky just signed one of the greatest recruiting classes of all time. But with all the controversy surrounding a kid like John Wall (or even DeMarcus Cousins, who refused to sign with UAB because they did not put a release in his LOI in case Mike Davis left), how sure can you be that Cal followed all NCAA rules and regulations landing this kid? How comfortable can you feel watching Kentucky win games this year (and trust me, they will be winning a lot) knowing that he has left UMass and now possibly Memphis with a pile of NCAA violations to dig through?

It is sad to say, but, at this point, I almost don't even care about violations of this nature. Recruiting in major college basketball and football is on the same level as steroids in baseball - I just assume everyone is dirty. So what if Tim Floyd paid some guy a couple grand to get OJ Mayo to USC? So what if UConn had some dealings with a rogue, wanna-be agent that was representing high school kids (and stealing millions from Rip Hamilton)? So what if Derrick Rose needed "help" on his SAT's to get into Memphis?

Calling these kids student-athletes is a joke, especially the one-and-done guys. And that is a travesty. Playing sports at that level, representing a school, and sometimes even an entire city or state, is an incredible honor and certainly an amazing experience.

But until the NCAA is willing to actually do something about this problem, we are just going to keep running into the same issues.

Because right now, can you really blame anyone for this? I can't put it all on the kids, who are, in fact, just kids. More often that not, they are being counseled by adults who don't always have the kids best interest at heart. Is it all the coaches fault for partaking in this practice (or in Cal's case, turning a blind eye)? Well, no. College coaching is a ruthless business - if you coach at a big school and you don't win immediately, your job is on the line (ask Cal's UK predecessor Billy Gillispie). If guys like Jim Calhoun and Calipari are winning games and hanging banners by skirting the rules, then everyone is going to be. If cheating is what it takes to win, and winning is what it takes to get (and more importantly keep) a job, then, well, even Derrick Rose could put that one together.

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Thursday Morning Dump

- A lot of people talk about athletes as heroes, but rarely do you come across a situation where an athlete is actually "a hero". Well, Donte Greene of the Kings found himself in that exact situation. From SportsRadioInterviews.com:

What happened, Donte?

“We went down the American River, out there having fun, we were linked up with a few boats and everything. Been out there, basically all afternoon, so we were wrapping everything up, everyone was grabbing their buoys and everything, untying and trying to leave. She had let one of her friends drive her boat so she was at the back of the boat trying to pull her ladder in, and I guess she didn’t know she was back there and hit the engine and she flew off the back of the boat. So, I didn’t know, I thought she could swim, she couldn’t swim, I think I’m a swimmer, I was a lifeguard coming up in high school. So, I guess I just reacted and just jumped in, someone threw her a life preserver and I pulled her in to a boat (someone else’s) - almost got run over by one…”

What was going through your head when you jumped in?

“I didn’t even think about it, it was just instinct. You see somebody in a position and you know you can help them out. The water, I’m not even gonna lie, was freezing, freezing cold, but I was hot anyway so the water cooled me off, so that was good… It was just something that happened.”

Showing his humility about the moment he was asked to come on KHTK:

“I got the text earlier that you guys wanted to have me on and I didn’t even know what was going on, I thought a bad rumor had started. You know, these days everybody’s saying all sorts of things. No problem having me on, I’m just she’s okay and everything.”
- Billy Gillispie has filed a lawsuit against the University of Kentucky for $6 million. Maybe he should have just signed that contract in the first place. He is also selling his house in Lexington.

- The Sports Agent Blog takes a look at the rules regarding college athlete/agent interaction through social networking sites.

- The WaPo catches up with new UVa coach Tony Bennett.

- John Wall pleads guilty.

- Rosters for the U-19 team headed to the FIBA World Championships, as well as the team headed to the World University games. Here is the Andy Katz take on it.

- This looks like it could be pretty good:



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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Greivis Vazquez to Europe?

One of the major factors in the decision of Nick Calathes and Terrence Oglesby to leave school and head to Europe is that they have dual citizenship (Calathes in Greece, Oglesby in Norway), which means that they do not count against the cap of two americans per team.

Thus, both Calathes and Oglesby are going to be valuable assets, meaning they will likely get a fatter paycheck than if they didn't have that extra passport.

There has been speculation that Greivis Vazquez, who is a citizen of his native Venezuela, will follow those two overseas.

Jeff Goodman caught up with Vazquez, and it looks like Maryland fans need not be worried:

"Eventually, I’d like to go overseas, but I’d like my career to start in the NBA," said the talented and fiery 6-foot-5 guard. "But I have no pressure. Let's make something clear: I’m not going overseas."

From the sounds of it, Vasquez is determined to either play his way into a spot where he is comfortable in this year's NBA Draft or return to College Park and spend another season – his senior campaign - with the Terps.
Getting Vazquez back would be huge for the Terps. They only lost one senior (Dave Neal) and one transfer (Braxton Dupree), and would return seven of their top nine players from a team that reached the second round of the tournament.

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RICK MAJERUS: DOUCHEBAG EXTRAORDINAIRE: Lance Allred, a former Utah and Weber State player who had a cup of coffee with the Cavs in '07-'08, has written an autobiography. Doesn't sound like anything special, until you consider that Allred grew on a fundamentalist Mormon (the ones that believe in polygamy - think Warren Jeffs) in Montana, is deaf, and battled obsessive-compulsive disorder. I'm not sure why, but this book intrigues me. Maybe it is because I just read "Under the Banner of Heaven", Jon Krakauer's book about Mormonism. Or maybe it is for anecdotes like this (h/t 64 and Counting):

He had a habit of calling Lance “cunt extraordinaire,” and despite the fact that Lance had hearing aids, Majerus would sometimes spell out “cunt” with his fingers to make sure there was “no miscommunication.”

“Lance, you’ve weaseled yourself through life using your hearing as an excuse,” Majerus once told Allred, as corroborated by some of his teammates. “You’re a disgrace to cripples. If I was a cripple in a wheelchair and saw you play basketball, I’d shoot myself.”

He also insisted that Allred get tested for a learning disability, even though Lance pulled down a 3.8 GPA and received Academic All-Conference awards.
Cunt extraordinaire. That's nice.

Anyway, check the book out. It looks pretty interesting.

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NBA Draft Prospects: Tyreke Evans, Memphis

Stats: 17.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.9 apg, 2.1 spg, 3.6 t/o's, 45.5% FG, 27.4% 3PT, 71.1% FT

Listed Size: 6'5", 195 lb, 9/19/1989 (19 years old)

(photo credit: SI.com)

About Him: Tyreke Evans had a bit of an up-and-down season. He struggled early on in the year, as he appeared to be a bit uncomfortable with his role on the team and the amount that the Tigers relied upon him creating shots. But midway through the season, Calipari slid Evans over to the point (where he played during prep and AAU ball). Evans was much better at the point, and the Tigers subsequently went on a long win streak.

Evans proved himself an effective scorer in his one year at Memphis, but it was not a result of his shooting ability. Not to be harsh, but Evans is a flat out bad shooter from the perimeter. He averaged just .86 PPP (points per possession) in catch-and-shoot situations and .69 PPP in jumpers off the bounce. His form is pretty terrible, and will need to be overhauled once he gets drafted if he wants to ever be an effective long-range shooter. Right now, he shoots from almost behind his head, while having a natural fade (not in a good way) on just about every jumper he takes.

Evans is a pretty creative player getting to the basket. While he struggles a bit in half-court, 1-on-1 situations (just .54 PPP in those scenarios), he is very effective in the open court. Not an overwhelming athlete, Evans instead gets by because he has a crafty handle, full of hesitations and fakes that he is very adept at using to keep defenders off-balance. He also has an insane wingspan for someone his size (over 7 feet), which allows him to finish effectively at the rim despite not being the most explosive leaper.

Evans also proved to be a pretty good creator for his teammates as well, averaging almost four assists per. While he had a tendency to force the issue (not only passing the ball, but off the bounce as well), leading to higher turnover numbers than scouts like, much of Evans inefficiency offensively can be attributed to him being thrust into a tough role with the Tigers - he was the only guy on that team that could create his own shot.

The place where Evans can be a game changer in the NBA is on defense. His length and anticipation make him a terror in the passing lanes, and he is a good enough athlete that he should be able to guard both points and twos in the league.

Comparisons: Best Case: Larry Hughes on a good day; Worst Case: washed up Larry Hughes.

Bottom Line: The biggest question mark regarding Evans right now is the role he will play in the league. He does have some point guard skills, but he was inefficient at Memphis and really dominated the ball offensively. And while he can put points on the board in a hurry (especially if he plays in an uptempo system), his jump shot is not good enough for an NBA two-guard. Evans clearly has a nice feel for the game and how to score - he is very poor fundamentally - and some nice tools to work with. If he puts in the work and ends up in the right system, he could be a solid starter/scorer down the road.

Highlights:







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NBA Draft Prospects: Jrue Holiday, UCLA

Stats: 8.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.6 spg, 2.1 t/o's, 45.0% FG, 30.7% 3PT, 72.6% FT

Listed Size: 6'3", 185 lb, 6/12/90 (18 years old)

(photo credit: LA Times)

About Him: Holiday is a tough prospect to predict. For starters, he played for UCLA, which means that his production is going to be stifled under Ben Howland's slowed down system. But that is less of an issue, however, considering the success that Russell Westbrook had this season.

The bigger issue is the position that Holiday is going to play in the NBA. His size, or relative lack thereof, would probably mean he will be more of a point guard at the next level. But playing alongside Darren Collison, who was one of the best point guards in the country, meant that Holiday did not get much of an opportunity to show off what he could do when running a team. The one real chance we got to see him run the point late in the season was in the Bruins first round match-up with VCU in the NCAA Tournament. Collison was being face-guarded throughout, which meant that a lot of the playmaking opportunities fell to Holiday, who didn't disappoint with a 13 point, 6 assist, and 2 turnover performance in 38 minutes.

The one thing we do know about Holiday is that he is a fantastic defender, which could have only been helped by playing in Ben Howland's system. He moves his feet very well, picked up quite a few steals (his 1.6 spg is all the more impressive considering the slow pace - meaning fewer possessions - UCLA games were played at), and has an excellent understanding of defensive positioning.

Offensively, there are more question marks regarding Holiday's ability. The biggest of those question marks is his perimeter jumper. He shot just 30.7% from beyond the arc, despite taking 2.5 per game, and was not consistent in the mid-range either. Overall, he was not a very consistent scorer, but much of that can, again, be attributed to the balanced UCLA offense he played in (his usage rate was a meager 9.7 possessions per game).

Holiday has shown some solid point guard skills. He can handle the ball pretty well, and he is a good decision maker and play maker. Despite playing off the ball, Holiday averaged a very respectable 3.7 apg with an a:to ratio of 1.75:1; again, very respectable. He has shown an ability to get by his defender and into the lane, but he did have some problems finishing at the rim. While Holiday is an all-around good athlete, he does not possess that Derrick Rose/Westbrook-freakish explosiveness.

Comparisons: The three I've seen the most: Delonte West, Rodney Stuckey, Mario Chalmers. West might be the best given their comparable frames, but I don't love any of the comparisons.

Bottom Line: Any team using their pick on Holiday will be taking a bit of a risk - if he looked like an overmatched freshman at times in the Pac-10, what will happen in the league? What an NBA team will be getting is an intelligent player that is willing to defend, can fit into a system that already has star power, and may one day turn out to be a starter in the league. As far as where he is picked, who knows? Doug Gottlieb at him going third when he did his piece on Sportscenter after the draft lottery was announced, but other publications have put him closer to 20. The back end of the lottery is probably where he ends up.

Highlights:





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Chicago Pre-Draft Combine starts today

The Chicago Pre-Draft combine starts today, and goes until Friday. Unlike previous years, this edition is going to be much closer to an NFL-style combine - measurements, weight tests, physical tests, and skill tests; no 5-on-5.

Without the actual gameplay, most pundits don't expect the testing to have much bearing whatsoever on draft positioning (remember the #2 picks the last two seasons - Michael Beasley measured out at 6'7" and Kevin Durant couldn't bench 185 lb), unless, for example, DeJuan Blair is actually 6'11" or Austin Daye did a few cycles and comes in with Dwight Howard's shoulders.

After the jump, the full list of the 52 participants.

Jeff Adrien, Connecticut
Rodrigue Beaubois, Cholet (France)
DeJuan Blair, Pitt
Jon Brockman, Washington
Derrick Brown, Xavier*
Chase Budinger, Arizona
Nick Calathes, Florida*
DeMarre Carroll, Missouri
Omri Casspi, Maccabi Elite (Israel)
Dionte Christmas, Temple
Earl Clark, Louisville
Darren Collison, UCLA
Dante Cunningham, Villanova
Stephen Curry, Davidson
Austin Daye, Gonzaga*
DeMar DeRozan, USC
Toney Douglas, Florida State
Wayne Ellington, North Carolina
Tyreke Evans, Memphis
Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
Taj Gibson, USC*
Danny Green, North Carolina
Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame*
James Harden, Arizona State
Gerald Henderson, Duke
Josh Heytvelt, Gonzaga
Jordan Hill, Arizona
Jrue Holiday, UCLA*
Joe Ingles, Melbourne South Dragons (Australia)
Damion James, Texas*
James Johnson, Wake Forest
Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech*
Ty Lawson, North Carolina
Eric Maynor, VCU
Jack McClinton, Miami
Jerel McNeal, Marquette
Jodie Meeks, Kentucky*
Patrick Mills, Saint Mary's*
B.J. Mullens, Ohio State
Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State
A.J. Price, Connecticut
Tyler Smith, Tennessee*
DaJuan Summers, Georgetown
Jermaine Taylor, Central Florida
Jeff Teague, Wake Forest*
Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
Marcus Thornton, LSU
Greivis Vasquez, Maryland*
Terrence Williams, Louisville
Sam Young, Pitt
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Wednesday Morning Dump

- Jeff Peterson, who averaged 10.6 ppg as a sophomore at Iowa, is transferring to Arkansas.

- A bit old, but Luke Winn takes a look at Mississippi State and their potential this season. In other MSU news, fans can vote on the Bulldogs new home court design. Yes, I voted. #3 all the way.

- South Florida commit Jarrid Famous wants out of his LOI. He says it is because he hasn't heard from Stan Heath regarding some changes on the coaching staff. But Adam Zagoria says that if he does get out, "Arizona appears to be a likely destination". I'm sure that has nothing to do with it...

- We briefly mentioned earlier that Noel Johnson had backed out on his commitment to USC (given everything, completely understandable). Gary Parrish weighs in: "Only John and Kate Gosselin are having a rougher go of it".

- Coach Cal via Twitter:

Sorry to Landon Slone. Heard he waited to speak to me in my office but I didn't know. Really sorry. We are still trying to get organized!!
Twitter is a great way to apologize for crushing a kids "lifelong dream".

- Watch the whole thing. So worth it:



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Xavier's Derrick Brown to stay in the draft?

It looks like Derrick Brown will not be returning to Xavier.

"Doubtful. There's a slim chance I come back to school", Brown told Jeff Goodman. "I'm in the draft. I'm not even thinking about anything other than that."

An athletic and versatile 6'9" forward, Brown's ability to play inside and outside will make him an intriguing prospect come the June 25th draft. He may end up being a first round pick, but few would be surprised if he slid into the second round.

"Right now I'm not even thinking about the second round," Brown said. "But if it happens, it happens. It wouldn't be the best thing, but it wouldn't be the worst, either."

Brown differs from a lot of early entry candidates in that he has already graduated from Xavier. He redshirted his first year.

If Brown does return, new head coach Chris Mack may have a top 10 team on his hands. Without him, the Musketeers still looks like a top 25 team, adding Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford and "Cheeky" Lyons to an already solid core of Dante Jackson, Terrell Holloway, Jason Love, and Kenny Frease.

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Terrence Oglesby signs agent, headed to Europe

According to numerous reports, Terrence Oglesby's career as a Clemson Tiger is over as he will be signing with an agent to play professional basketball overseas.

He is the third big-time player to leave school early to play pro ball outside of the US - Nick Calathes is headed to Greece, while Ole Miss leading scorer David Huertas will be playing in Puerto Rico. Jeremy Wise of Southern Miss hired an agent, ending his collegiate eligibility, but it is not known where he intends to continue his basketball career.

Terrence Oglesby's career in purple and orange is over.
(photo credit: daylife.com)

According to Gary Parrish, Oglesby is leaving Sunday where he will be making "NBA money".

Jeff Goodman says Oglesby stands to earn around "$500,000" playing in either Italy or Spain.

This is not a terrible decision by Oglesby. $500,000 is a ton of money, and living in Italy or Spain is not would be pretty amazing. The key in this whole deal is that Oglesby was born in Norway - where his father played professional basketball - and holds dual citizenship there. Since teams overseas are only allowed two Americans on their roster, that Norweigan passport immediately increases his value to European teams, as he does not count against the "cap".

Oglesby never really seemed to fit in with Clemson's style, either. For one thing, he is a gunner. Yes, he averaged 13.2 ppg while hitting almost 39% of his three's (and making just under three per). But with talents like KC Rivers and Trevor Booker on the floor, Oglesby seemed to shoot too many threes too quickly, taking Clemson out of a rhythm offensively.

Case in point:



Yes, Oglesby does hit the shot, but he took it with a good four plus seconds left on the clock on a play clearly drawn up to get Trevor Booker a touch in the post.

More importantly, under Oliver Purnell, the Tigers have been a team known for their tremendous full court press, throwing athlete after athlete at you until they wore your guards out. At a lithe 6'2", Oglesby does not really possess the skill set that thrives in this system.

In their article regarding Oglesby, Upstatetoday.com ran this quote from Purnell:
With us not finishing the way we would’ve liked to, certainly, the mix is not necessarily the mix that we’re going to go with next year. As far as I’m concerned, the competition for playing time and starting spots and that stuff is wide open. I see probably (Trevor Booker) being the only guy that’s a lock.
Could this have played a factor in his decision? Did Purnell tell Oglesby that his starting spot wasn't safe?

Quite possibly (I doubt any coach would like this or this).

Regardless of the cause, Clemson is now going to have to deal with losing two of their top three scorers as well as a third starter, which is never easy. All is not lost, however. The Tigers do get Trevor Booker and Demontez Stitt (who is one of the more underrated point guards in the ACC), while bringing two excellent front court recruits - Rivals #25 Milton Jennings and Devin Booker, Trevor's little brother.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Found this gem on ZagsBlog. The following is a quote from Latavious Williams, regarding his decision to go to Memphis.:

“I made a 710 on my ACT and I need a 2.5 GPA. Coach Carlos said I’m good,” he said.
That's a damn good score.

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JOSH PASTNER LANDS FIRST RECRUIT: In today's Morning Dump, we linked an article that said that Latavious Williams, a top 20 recruit according to Rivals, would make his college decision today.

He did, electing to attend Memphis.

And if you believe Adam Zagoria, Lance Stephenson could be on his heels.

It is a big addition for Josh Pastner, who had the recruiting class he stood to inherit gutted by John Calipari. As it stands, the Tigers line-up will probably look something like this (assuming Shawn Taggart pulls his name out of draft consideration):

  • F - Pierre Henderson-Niles
  • F - Shawn Taggart
  • F - Wesley Witherspoon
  • G - Roburt Sallie
  • G - Willie Kemp
  • Bench - Latavious Williams, Angel Garcia, Doneal Mack
Jeff Goodman also expects Pastner to go hard after Noel Johnson, a top 100 recruit recently released by USC.

While Memphis looks like they are once again going to have issues on the perimeter, the Tigers will once again have an excellent front court. Expect another top 25 campaign and C-USA title in Memphis, especially if Stephenson and Johnson sign.

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Kentucky trims three scholarships

With the signing of John Wall last week, Coach Calipari completed one of the best recruiting classes in recent memory. Not only was he able to retain blue chip recruits like Daniel Orton and Jon Hood, but he convinced Patrick Patterson to return to school and got Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Darnell Dodson to follow him from Memphis.

This is great news for Kentucky fans.

Not so great for guys lower on the depth chart. It has been widely reported that Kentucky had 16 players due to receive a scholarship (17 if Jodie Meeks withdraws from the draft).

That no longer will be an issue, as three players have decided to leave the program. Jared Carter, who missed much of his sophomore season with a shoulder injury, will not seek a fifth year of eligibility, while AJ Stewart (who had quit and returned to the Kentucky during last season) and Donald Williams both decided (read as: were forced) to transfer out of the school.

There will be one more head on the chopping block if Meeks does decide to return to Lexington, but as of now it looks like Coach Cal has his roster set for 2009.

And here is the rest of it. Continue reading...

NBA Draft Prospects: Chase Budinger, Arizona

Stats:18.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 48% FG, 39.9% 3PT, 80.1% FT, 2.4 t/o's

Listed Size: 6'7", 218 lb, 12/31/87 (21 years old)

(photo credit: daylife.com)

About Him: Despite having three excellent seasons in Tucson (under three different coaches, I might add), Chase Budinger still never quite lived up to the hype he had coming out of high school (he was a top 10 recruit in a class that has already produced 16 first rounders). But he also never really had too. As a freshman, he had to fit into a system that already had Mustafa Shakur, Marcus Williams, and Ivan Radenovic; as a sophomore, Jerryd Bayless was Arizona's star and go-to player; and this past season, Jordan Hill emerged as a lottery pick while Nic Wise turned into arguably the best PG during Pac-10 play.

This actually was a good thing for Budinger. The knock on him his entire career has been that he lacks the mentality of a go-to scorer. While this did make things tough at times for Arizona (especially when Wise or Hill were in foul trouble), this is a good thing for Budinger as an NBA prospect. Budinger does not project as a superstar at the next level, but rather as a rotation/role player. There's no arguing that he is a talented offensive player, and his team-first (as opposed to me-first) mindset should help him fit in nicely.

Offensively, Budinger is a very well-rounded player. Most people know Budinger for his three-point stroke or for his exceptional leaping ability, but there is much more to this kid on the offensive end. Case-in-point: with as smooth of a stroke as Budinger has (with the range Budinger has), only about a third of his field goal attempts were from beyond the arc. There isn't much he can't do on the offensive end.

His problem, however, is that his catch-and-shoot stroke is the only part of his arsenal that can be considered above-average for an NBA wing prospect (and even that is close - he shot under 40% from three). His handle, especially changing directions, needs work; he elevates well on his pull-ups, but is inconsistent knocking down those shots; his first step isn't overwhelming; he can get to the rim, but can have issues finishing through contact (he lacks some upper body strength).

Perhaps his most NBA ready attribute is his basketball IQ. For starters, he is an excellent passer, averaging 3.4 apg with an a:to ratio of about 1.4:1. He also moves without the ball really well. He knows how to use a screener to get open, and you always need to be wary of the back door lobs, as he can finish well above the rim.

Budinger's athleticism is quite impressive, especially in an open court situation (he runs the floor very well). But despite his athleticism and excellent size, he does not project well as a defender. He is not terribly quick (especially laterally), played almost exclusively zone in college, and is not exactly a weight room warrior. This could be a factor in where Budinger ends up going in the draft - no one wants a defensive liability, especially at a position where big time scorers are a dime a dozen.

Comparisons: Best Case: Jason Richardson, Rudy Fernandez; Worst Case: Brent Barry.

Bottom Line: Budinger will likely never be a star in the NBA. While he does have the tools, he doesn't necessarily have the make-up of a big time scorer. But with his smarts, his all-around offensive game, and his athleticism, he should be an effective role player for a while. Where he goes in the draft will be all about the right fit - someone who needs some offense off the bench, but doesn't need the headache of a primadonna. I've seen him projected everywhere from 10-24.

Highlights:





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Tuesday Morning Dump

- One-armed kid gets a D1 scholarship to play basketball at Manhattan. Pretty inspiring stuff.

- Two great reads on Ricky Rubio as a prospect - TrueHoop's take, and a piece from Scott Cacciola from the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. Don't get too excited if you are a Memphis fan, however. Right now, Rubio does not have to come over to the NBA, and if he is not happy with the team that picks him, he may never make the trip. According to a Givony source, there are really only two factors that are going to affect the decision: the role he will play on the team, and winning.

(photo credit: SportsAlex)

So think about this - if Memphis already has their point guard of the future in OJ Mayo, and all Rubio hears about the city and the organization comes from Pau Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro, is he going to want to be a Grizzly? Doubtful.

What Rubio needs is a place where he can slowly be worked into the line-up, which will allow him to develop as a player without the burden of having to carry an NBA franchise. He is an uber-talented passer, especially in the open court (the Jason Kidd comparisons are perfect), but he is not a great scorer as of yet, and it is going to take him time to adjust to playing against NBA-level point guards.

If you are an NBA fan and your team happens to land Rubio, just remember this - not every 18 year old is LeBron James or Darko Milicic. Believe it or not, most younger prospects will land somewhere in the middle.

Before we move past Rubio, this youtube clip is definitely worth the watch. Think about this while you do - how hard are his teammates cutting and running the floor? That's a sign of a great leader. When you know you are going to get the ball if you are open, you will work your butt off to get open.



- Is Blake Griffin still a lock for the #1 pick? From the Oklahoman:
Hours after last Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery, the official Web site for the lottery-winning Los Angeles Clippers had already plastered a photo of Blake Griffin on its home page in hopes of generating season ticket sales. But by Friday morning, the team’s site had adjacent shots of Griffin and Ricky Rubio, implying this year’s top selection is a debate rather than the no-brainer decision that led general manager and coach Mike Dunleavy to pronounce, "Clearly we’re taking Blake Griffin.”


- For those that haven't heard, Florida's Nick Calathes is headed to Greece. Most in the college basketball community, including myself, were a bit puzzled by this decision, but Jonathon Givony of Draft Express has a different perspective:
Much of the criticism Calathes is receiving stems from the fact that he is considered by many to be a potential late-first round NBA draft pick. If there is anything we’ve learned from covering the draft over the past six years, it’s that it is virtually impossible to project who will ultimately get drafted in the late first round and who will slip to the second. Calathes could very well have gone in the 30’s and ended up with a non-guaranteed contract, only to get cut in training, as many second rounders often are.

If anything, Calathes may have improved his draft stock with this move. There are a number of teams in the late first round—such as New Orleans, Minnesota, Oklahoma City and Chicago who either have multiple picks or may not be interested in adding another guaranteed contract/roster spot to their team at this point. The fact that Calathes will play for one of the most decorated coaches in the world in Zeljko Obradovic on someone else’s coin and come back a much better player in one year has to look attractive. With Sarunas Jasikevicius reportedly on the way out of Panathinaikos, a decent amount of playing time will be opened up for him.

Although Calathes will forgo attending the NBA draft combine and the group workouts he’s scheduled for in Golden State, Minnesota and New Jersey, it’s not a given that he withdraws from this draft just yet. He will reportedly be very selective with the teams he decides to visit and make the call on June 15th based on what he’s hearing. Although he probably would like to go in the first round from an ego perspective, it may make more sense for him financially to be drafted in the second round now, as that would leave more flexibility for his agent to negotiate his rookie contract next season. Lately we’re seeing European players like Victor Claver and Christian Eyenga do whatever they can to avoid the rigid salary structure of the rookie scale and not fall into the trap that Rudy Fernandez and Tiago Splitter fell into—being forced to give up substantial amounts of money for the right to play in the NBA.
- Slow day this morning, so catch up on yesterday's Morning Dump.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

NBA Draft Prospects: Terrence Williams, Louisville

Stats: 12.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 5.0 apg, 2.3 spg, 0.8 bpg, 2.3 t/o's, 43.1% FG, 38.5% 3PT, 58.1% FT

Listed Size: 6'6", 220 lb, 6/28/1987 (21 years old)

(photo credit: StilletoSetSports)

About Him: T-Will is one of the most interesting prospects in this year's draft class because of what he brings to the table as a player. Actually, T-Will is so intriguing because of what he doesn't bring to the table. Simply put, Williams is not a good offensive player, especially when it comes to scoring the ball. I'm not always a huge fan of advanced statistics, but these are pretty startling numbers.

For starters, T-Will's usage rate was extremely low for an NBA prospect - just 14.1 possessions per game (by comparison, Jodie Meeks had a usage rate of 21 possessions per game). He wasn't terribly efficient either, scoring just .87 PPP (points per possession) overall. While Williams proved to be a much improved shooter as the season progressed (he finished the year hitting 38% from deep), he still scored just 1.12 PPP on catch and shoot jumpers and an astonishingly low .58 PPP on pull-ups. He wasn't all that impressive getting to the basket either, scoring just 1.11 PPP at the rim (exactly average for NBA two-guard prospects), scoring just .61 PPP in 1-on-1 isolations, and getting fouled on only 9% of his possessions used. Perhaps the number that stands out the most is his 15.4% shooting when he went to his left (credit for all these stats goes too Synergy Sports).

What does all that tell us? Well, nothing we don't already know. When Williams is selected on June 25th, it is not going to be because he is an excellent scorer. He's not. But he is an incredibly versatile player and a phenomenal athlete (watch his highlights below - the guy is guaranteed to be in a dunk contest one day). Because of his athleticism, his skill that projects the most favorably to the NBA is his defense. He is big and strong with long arms and great explosiveness. He really has a knack for getting into passing lanes and disrupting an offense. We don't know as much about his man-to-man ability (Louisville played a lot of zone), but he should not have a problem at the next level.

The other skill that most scouts will notice is his playmaking ability. T-Will averaged 5.0 apg with an a/to ratio of better than 2:1. He has a great court sense and excellent vision, which meant that he made a lot of gorgeous no-look passes during his time at Louisville. But that did cause some problems, as he seemed to be penetrating to pass way too often. With his size and athleticism, he should have been much more adept at getting to the rim and finishing than he actually was. One of the reasons that Williams didn't attack the basket as much as scouts would have liked is that his handle is not all that great, especially with his left hand. He does not have a lot of advanced moves in his repertiore, and instead relied on his blinding first step to get him by his defender.

The other thing Williams does very will is rebound, snagging 8.6 rpg this past season. He reads the flight of the ball very well, especially on the defensive glass, and his athleticism allows him to get to caroms well out of his area.

Comparisons: Best Case: Andre Iguodala; Worst Case: Tony Allen.

Bottom Line: Unless his offensive game really comes around, T-Will will likely never be a star at this level. But with how much he brings to the table - his versatility as a player and defender (he can guard three spots at the NBA level) - he should be able to hang around the league as a solid role player, maybe even playing some point forward. He looks like a mid-to-late first rounder at this point.

Highlights:





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5/25 - Memorial Day Morning Dump

- Calipari has already solved the issue of too many players on scholarship.

- Latavious Williams is expected to make a decision on a school today.

- Not sure why Fordham is doing this to Jio Fontan. He may go the JuCo route. In other transfer news, Kansas's Quintrell Thomas is headed to UNLV.

- This is where Nick Calathes is headed. And we thought K-Mart's fued with Mark Cuban was bad.

- Ramar Smith has fallen a long way since his days at Tennessee. He was arrested last week.

- Rip Hamilton is suing the guy that is at the center of the UConn recruiting scandal, who also used to be his business manager.

- A blog gets an interview with Dana O'Neil.

- Clark Kellogg's son is transferring out of Providence and to Ohio.

- Dan LeBatard is back from his year-long sabbatical, and with a vengeance. Its long and about Jim Leyritz, and maybe its just the Yankee fan in me, but it is definitely worth the read.

- And they say NBA players have character issues? A Dolphins player is arrested, a Harvard coach tries to run down his pregnant girlfriend, and Jeremy Shockey is found unconscious in Vegas.

- This girl is out of her mind. It gets good at the 1:40 mark.



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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Nick Calathes signs with an agent ... to play in Greece?

Its true.

Nick Calathes is headed across the pond to play for Greek power Panathiakos. They are the reigning Euroleague champion, and currently are battling Olympiakos (who, if you remember, signed both Josh Childress and Jannero Pargo this past off-season).

On the surface, this looks like a simple case of following the money. According to the Orlando Sentinel, who broke the story, he has already signed a contract that will "will pay Calathes around $1.1 million per year, in addition to providing him with a home, car and tax credits". All told, the deal is just about equivalent to the $1.4 million that Anthony Randolph, the 14th pick in last year's draft, made under last season's rookie scale.

Nick Calathes career as a Gator is done.
(photo credit: To The Tin)

The deal is particularly advantageous for Panathiakos. Calathes has dual US-Greek citizenship, which means that he won't count against the limit of two americans per team in the Greek League.

But there seems to be more to this than meets the eye.

For starters, Calathes seemed to be a solidly in the first round, albeit later than the lottery (meaning he will make more money in Greece). He has reportedly worked out for Dallas and San Antonio, and the Mavericks, who pick 22nd, seemed to be very interested. Calathes is a 6'5" point guard with an exceptional ability to pass the ball and lead a break. Playing behind and learning from Jason Kidd would have been the ideal situation for Calathes.

But according to reports, it wasn't Nick that made this decision; it was his father John. A source told Jeff Goodman:
It makes no sense. Nick’s dream, like most American kids, is to play in the NBA. His dad is behind the decision.
Pat Calathes, the former St. Joe's standout and Nick's older brother, currently plays for Maroussi, another team in the Greek League.

Part of Nick's deal with Panathiakos is that he must withdraw from this year's draft and pass a physical in Greece within the next 10 days. While he will be eligible for the 2010 NBA Draft, that class looks to be much stronger than this year's, meaning that Calathes is far from a lock for the first round, especially considering that any team that selects him will most likely have to pay a hefty buy-out.

Personally, I am a bit upset with the decision. Because of his fantastic passing ability (his 6.2 apg led the SEC), Calathes was one of the more entertaining players in the country to watch. I was really intrigued to see what he could do in the NBA. But it is tough to argue with guaranteed money, the chance to compete against your brother, and to play in and represent (he competed with the Greek national team this past summer, although there were reports that he hated it) your country.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

NBA Draft Prospects: Earl Clark, Louisville

Stats: 14.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.4 bpg, 3.2 t/o's, 45.7% FG, 32.6% 3PT, 64.7% FT

Listed Size: 6'9", 220 lb, 1/17/1988 (21 years old)

(photo credit: ESPN)

About Him: There is no denying the potential that Earl Clark has. The kid is a fantastic athlete. At 6'9", 220 lb, he is big and strong enough to bang on the block, but he is also quick and mobile enough to get out and defend guards on the perimeter. And with his frame (big broad shoulders and long arms), he could probably still add 15 pounds of muscle without negatively affecting his athleticism. This versatility is exactly what makes him such an enticing pro prospect.

The issue is that so much of what Clark brings to the table is potential. One of the biggest problems that Clark faced in his time at Louisville was a lack of identity, so to speak - he was always stuck between being a 3 and a 4. This season was a perfect example. Playing alongside Terrence Williams and Samardo Samuels in the front court, it would seem like the four would be the natural fit for Clark. But with the lack of playmaking ability from Louisville's backcourt, Clark (along with T-Will) was forced to be the guy that the Cardinal offense ran through.

This created a bit of a catch-22 for Clark. For starters, he seems to be much more comfortable playing on the perimeter. He does not have a great back to the basket game, and earned a reputation in the Big East for being a bit soft around the rim - for someone with his size and athleticism, you would expect to see him dunking on people more than he did. Clark has a tendency to shy away from the contact, trying to get cute and spin in a ball off the glass as opposed to going through the defender to finish.

While Clark did seem more comfortable playing on the perimeter, it doesn't necessarily mean he is cut out for playing on the perimeter in the NBA. He does have the physical tools, but his skill set has yet to catch up. One major issue is his aggressiveness. Clark is not a good perimeter shooter (streaky, but very inconsistent), but despite that he settled for a ton of threes and deep pull-ups. He seemed at times almost to be afraid of the contact that occurs when he takes the ball to the basket.

Another issue with Clark is that he is not the best decision maker. Yes, he can knock down the occasional perimeter jumper, and yes, he is a good passer when he decides to create (as evidenced by his 3.2 apg), but he also turned the ball over at a high rate (3.2 t/o's). While he does have a solid handle for someone his size, he seemed to get out of control at times, which led to a lot of his turnovers.

Defensively, however, Clark is a pretty good playmaker right now, averaging over a block and a steal per game. One of the reasons that Louisville was as successful as they were in their press this year was his ability to wreak havoc playing the second line in the 2-2-1. Its tough to know exactly what he can do in a man to man situation because Louisville played a lot of zone, his physical tools are good enough that it will be a matter of effort for him. If he is willing to work on that end, he can be a good defender.

But effort is something that Clark does not always put out. As I said, he is a very inconsistent player, putting up 25, 15, and 5 games just as often as he would go for 8 points, 4 boards, and 7 turnovers. He also had a built up a bit of a reputation for dogging it in practice (I remember reading a quote from Pitino somewhere that said, and I'm paraphrasing, Earl Clark is a great player, just not in practice).

Comparisons: Best Case: Danny Granger, Boris Diaw (at his best); Worst Case: Julian Wright, Boris Diaw (now).

Bottom Line: Clark has a world of potential, the question is going to be will he live up to it. But it seems like his "stock" soared and fell on a game-by-game basis. For every Ole Miss (25 pts, 16 bs, 4 asts, 5 blks) and Providence (24 pts, 10 rbs, 7 asts, 2 blks, 2 stls), he had a West Virginia (4 pts, 5 rebs, 4 to's) and a UConn (5 pts, 3 rebs, 2-16 FG's). I've read in a lot of places that he has bust written all over him, mostly because of his lacking work ethic. Based on potential alone, he is probably a lock for the lottery, maybe even sneaking into the top 10.

Highlights:





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5/22 - Some Links, Some News: Morning Dump

- From Hoopsworld:

"I say we made the decision June of 2008 when he decided to go back to Oklahoma," said [Clippers] Assistant General Manager Neil Olshey Wednesday morning. "If we got the number one pick in '09, he'd be the guy. There was no question."
- Draft Express gives us the latest Draft buzz. Of note: Rubio doesn't want to go to Memphis, who has the second pick.

- Jonathon Givony sits down with Blake Griffin.

- The USA team for the World University Games has been selected. Bo Ryan will be the coach, and the following players have accepted invitations to play: James Anderson (Oklahoma State), Trevor Booker (Clemson), Craig Brackins (Iowa State), Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia), Sherron Collins (Kansas), Mike Davis (Illinois), Corey Fisher (Villanova), Lazar Hayward (Marquette), Robbie Hummel and JaJuan Johnson (Purdue), Quincy Pondexter (Washington), Deon Thompson (North Carolina), Evan Turner (Ohio State), and Jarvis Varnado (Mississippi State).

- All you need to know about the May 20th signing day.

- It looks like Latavious Williams is headed to Memphis, and he wants Lance Stephenson to join him. But Lance Stephenson Sr. told USA Today his son has trimmed his list to Arizona and Maryland, and that he would like to hold off on making a decision until after Junior's legal troubles are done.

- The economic crunch hits college sports.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

More Gary Parrish bashing

For those who remember, back in February I wrote a scathing harmless critique of a post Gary Parrish made on his blog "The Thoughts" (he even responded to me).

Here comes another one.

Before anyone jumps down my throat, I have a great deal of respect for Parrish. I believe my exact words were

I like Gary Parrish. In fact, he is probably the college basketball writer that I read the most. Why? Because he and I have very similar viewpoints on most things college hoops.
Faux-hawk be damned, Gary Parrish can write.
(photo credit: CBSSports)

But as in any industry, when you are one of the best, people expect the best from you.

About a month ago, Parrish had a column discussing how pointless it is for juniors with no chance of getting drafted to declare for the draft. Today, he reiterated that point with a post on his blog about BYU's Jonathon Tavernari titled "Tavernari is out, but why was he ever in?"

I've touched on this twice before (here and here), but we'll go for round three.

Before I get into the meat of this post, let me drop some quick knowledge for those that don't know. The way that eligibility and the NBA Draft works right now is that anyone is allowed to declare for the NBA Draft so long as they are 19 years old and one year removed from high school (the rules get a bit more complicated for international players and fifth year high school seniors, but that doesn't matter here). They can withdraw from the draft once and keep their college eligibility intact so long as that player pulls their name out of the draft before the deadline (this year it is June 15th) and he does not sign with an agent, although they are allowed to contact an agent for guidance and advice.

So if you are a junior in college, you have not yet entered your name into the draft, and you have any kind of aspirations of playing in the NBA one day, you should be entering your name in the NBA Draft.

I repeat, every junior in the country with NBA aspirations should be entering their name in the draft.

Why?

Its simple really. Even if there is a "0.00 percent" chance for that player to get drafted this year, he still has an opportunity to get direct feedback from people directly associated with the NBA. Maybe you don't get invited to a workout by any NBA teams, or maybe you get told flat out that you are not good enough to get drafted, but I guarantee that at the very least they will get some kind of critique on what they need to improve on to up their draft stock for next season from someone who is not afraid of hurting the kid's feelings.

This is why the NBA instituted the rule allowing players to "test the waters".

Let's use Tavernari as an example. He is a 6'6" wing player that can score (15.7 ppg), but he relies heavily on his perimeter shot to get his points (38% from three on 6.8 attempts per game, with just 1.7 FT's attempted per). He is not overly athletic and needs significant improvement on his all-around game if he wants a shot at being drafted in 2010.

Jonathon Tavernari has withdrawn his name from draft consideration.
(photo credit: Examiner)

I know this. Parrish knows this. BYU coach Dave Rose knows this. Hell, Tavernari probably knows this.

Even if Tavernari doesn't get invited to any workouts, I guarantee that NBA scouts know who he is and what he can do, especially when he has played most of his career with Trent Plaisted and Lee Cummard. In a worst case scenario, I'm willing to wager all that is holy that Tavernari can get a scout on the phone, and that scout can tell him exactly what he needs to improve individually to get more looks next season.

That is the important part. Individually. What he needs to refine in his game to make himself a better NBA prospect. This is the time (the summer) when basketball players get a chance to develop their game - to make themselves a better shooter, a better ball-handler, a better defender, more athletic. I fail to see any negatives for the players when they get, at the very least, someone telling them what they need to do to make their game more compatible with the NBA style.

So whether or not Tavernari actually believed he had a shot at making an NBA roster come October (he didn't) is irrelevant. Given the way the rules are structured, he played the game to perfection, and hopefully got some useful advice along the way.

On another note, I have absolutely zero qualms with kids like Jeremy Wise from Southern Miss or David Huertas of Ole Miss leaving school to sign with an agent and make money playing basketball (well, one qualm - it hurts the college game I love so dearly). And to be fair, Parrish agrees with me here. If a kid decides he no longer wants to go to school and instead wants to start making more than the boosters pay money playing basketball, who am I to tell him not to? College kids do it all the time, and I bet that Wise and Huertas will be making more than most college dropouts in this economy anyway.

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Outside the Lines profiles High School vs. AAU basketball

In case you missed it, OTL did a piece of the growth of AAU basketball and the influence that AAU coaches now have on the recruiting process.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with this piece. Maybe it is because none of this information was knew to me, but in general I think that OTL usually does a much better job digging up some kind of information that is not already public knowledge.

And don't blame it all on the AAU coaches. The way that the NCAA rules are currently set up, there is very little time when college coaches are actually allowed to go out and watch these kids play. Given the rigorous schedule of these coaches during the season, and the nationwide recruiting searches that the top programs go on in pursuit of talent, it is almost impossible for them to scout the players during their high school season.

It also doesn't help that a top tier prospect (especially big men) rarely go against kids that are up to their talent level during a typical high school season. Can you really gauge whether a kid can play at the high-major level when he is going against a severely undermanned high school opponent?

AAU tournaments and exposure camps are the best chance that a college coach is going to get to see A) the guys that they are recruiting going toe-to-toe against someone with a similar talent level and B) a large number of potential recruits playing in the same place. With the economy shrinking athletic budgets, why waste the money to travel around the country to watch one kid play a high school game when you can spend a week at the Las Vegas Big Time Tournament and see basically every kid you are recruiting play?

That said, it is not necessarily a good thing that AAU coaches wield this much power in the recruiting business. While I'm sure that their are dirty high school coaches (just as there are probably AAU coaches with the best intentions), I think it is fair and probably correct to say that there is a high percentage of club coaches that are more concerned with making a quick dollar than they are about the welfare of their star player (or players).

Video after the jump.








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