Friday, July 31, 2009

UCLA withdraws offer to Kendall Williams

Over the past week, there has been a lot of negative talk about Josh Selby's decision to de-commit from Tennessee. Dana O'Neil even wrote a piece that came damn near criticizing recruits who change their minds.

Sometimes, it goes the other way as well.

Kendall Williams, a rising senior from Rancho Cucomunga Los Osos High School, committed to UCLA after a stellar freshman season. But he never quite developed into the player that Ben Howland thought he would turn into, and this past week Williams ended his commitment.

Kendall Williams committed to UCLA after his freshman season.
(photo credit: PE.com)

Now, the article does not specify exactly how the commitment ended. Ben Howland could have told Williams that he did not want the 6'3" PG anymore, or Williams could have figured out on his own that he was not talented enough to be the Bruin's PG of the future. Williams went on record saying that there are no hard feelings between him and Coach Howland. Howland was on the road during July recruiting some of the top PG's in the class of '10 (namely Ray McCallum of Detroit Country Day).

And its not like Williams will end up without a scholarship. Fellow Pac-10 schools Stanford and Cal (among others) are still recruiting Williams.

For the record, this isn't the first time Howland has parted ways with a committed recruit. Taylor King committed to UCLA after his freshman season at Mater Dei, but ended up going ot Duke under similar circumstances (maybe Kevin Love?).

But the belies the point. This is precisely why it is not a good idea to recruit kids that are that young. Boys grow and mature physically so much between the ages of 14-18. If a kid is a star when he is 14, you really don't know how he is going to develop.

Is he really that much more talented than his peers? Did he just happen to hit puberty and a growth spurt early? Will he still be as dominant when everyone else catches up with him in size and athleticism?

The other issue that arises is work ethic. If you are a recruit and you have yet to commit to a school, there is always going to be that motivation to improve. If you are getting letters from the SoCon, you want teams like East Carolina and Charlotte to take notice. Once those schools start sending coaches to games, you want ACC schools to notice. If NC State offers a scholarship, you want UNC and Duke to offer.

Once you commit to a school, it is only natural to feel a bit of relief, and the danger is that a kid can become a bit complacent, feeling that he has "made it". When you are 17 or 18 you should be mature enough to understand that in order to succeed at that level, it is going to take hard work.

But a 15 year old committed to UCLA?

When I was 15 I thought I was the man when I made varsity. The risk is that the recruit becomes too complacent, too cocky, and believes that he does not need to improve anymore.

I'm not saying that this is what happened to Williams, but you never know.

The best advice I could give any elite prospect is this: take your time. If the offers are there at 14, they will be there at 16 and 17.

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College basketball odds

Sportsbook.com has released their odds for the 2010 National Championship. No surprise at the top, as Kansas and Kentucky lead the way.

Here is the top 10:

  1. Kansas - 4:1
  2. Kentucky - 5:1
  3. Texas - 10:1
  4. Louisville - 12:1
  5. Duke - 15:1
  6. Michigan State - 15:1
  7. North Carolina - 25:1
  8. Purdue - 25:1
  9. Villanova - 25:1
  10. West Virginia, Wake Forest, UConn, Missouri, Gonzaga, Washington - 40:1
No argument here over the top 3. Those are probably the three best teams in the country. But Louisville and Duke are the 4th and 5th most likely teams to win it all? I don't think I would put either of those teams in the top 10 right now.

A couple teams at the bottom of the list I like - Butler, Oklahoma State, and Florida State are all getting 100:1 odds.

Just don't bet in Delaware.

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Friday Morning Dump

- Cameron Indoor vs. the Dean Smith Center.

- Delaware vs. the NCAA - The Dagger, RTC.

- Reggie Redding arrested for possession.

- Georgetown's non-conference schedule gets tougher; Seton Hall gets transfers Herb Pope and Keon Lawrence eligible.

- Norm Roberts on the recruiting trail.

- Taylor Mays facts.

- Could you survive without money?

- Two years after a nasty spill that knocked off his shoes, skateboarder Jake Brown won X-Games gold:


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Thursday, July 30, 2009

DAHNTAY JONES DOES PUSH-UPS: It is finally up on youtube!!

One of my favorite dunks of all-time came from Duke's Dahntay Jones against Virginia. The dunk isn't even the best part. It is his ... celebration? Just watch:



Vicious.

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Patrick Patterson: Ready for a breakout season?

Well, maybe breakout season isn't the correct term. Is it really possible to "breakout" when you averaged 16 and 7 as a freshman and 18 and 9 as a sophomore?

No one is saying that Patrick Patterson is not already a beast. Standing at 6'9", 240 lb of muscle, Patterson has become arguably the best power forward in the country and will be the focal point for a team that many expect to make a push for the Final Four.

18 and 9 (and 2 blocks, I might add) is a pretty impressive stat line. Enough to have made him a lottery pick had he left Kentucky after last season.

Why, given the influx of talented newcomers to Lexington, should we expect Patterson to explode this season?

Patrick Patterson has spent this summer working out with Blake Griffin's trainer.
(photo credit: Kentucky Sports Radio)

It's simple really. Patterson, and freshman teammate Daniel Orton, are spending the summer working out with Frank Mastriciano. That's the same guy that Blake Griffin worked out with last summer, and we all know how that turned out.

So should we expect a player of the year type season out of Patterson?

It wouldn't surprise me, but I wouldn't bet on it either. There are two major differences between Patterson and Griffin. For starters, they are a different breed of power forward. Griffin is more coordinated and has better ball skills, which allows him to play some out on the perimeter. No knock on PP, but he is not the athletic specimin Griffin is. Griffin's offensive repertoire was, as a result, much more diverse - he could score in the paint, he could hit a 17 footer, he could face up and blow by on the perimeter, and he could run the break as a wing or leading it. Patterson is more of a strictly post-up, pound-it-down-low kind of guy.

The other, and probably more important, factor is what the two players have surrounding them. Until Willie Warren came on at the end of the season, it was basically the Blake Griffin show in Norman. Austin Johnson, Taylor Griffin, Tony Crocker - these guys were good role players, but none of them really had much NBA potential.

Now look at UK's roster. John Wall could have been the first pick in this year's draft. DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton, and maybe even Darnell Dodson are legitimate NBA prospects. It doesn't take a genius to figure out Kentucky has talent from top to bottom.

And with that talent comes the need for shots and for playing time. Is Patterson going to get 36 minutes a game with Orton, Cousins, and Perry Stevenson joining him up front? Is he going to get enough post touches with talents like Wall, Dodson, and Eric Bledsoe on the perimeter?

The answer? Probably not.

But just because he doesn't post 22 and 13 doesn't mean Patterson isn't the best four in the country.

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Thursday Morning Dump

- ZagsBlog lands an interview with Sean Miller.

- East Tennessee State sophomore Seth Coy was killed in a single car accident.

- NCAA steps up investigation of Renardo Sidney.

- UConn offers rising junior Angel Nunez from Winchendon.

- Coaches are talking about trying to get some of April's recruiting period back.

- UNC traveling to Charleston this season.

- Isiah Thomas looking to prove his doubters wrong at FIU.

- Wooden voted greatest coach in the history of sports. No argument here.

- Birmingham's fake international basketball tournament.

- Look at the mug shot, then read the story. Seems about right...

- Drew Brees mother is a nut bag. Make sure to read the whole thing.

- Erin Andrews 911 call. Pretty depressing.

- Creep.

- The sportswriting industry really is struggling.

- Three second knockout:


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BASKETBALL PROSPECTUS: HOW DID THE NEW THREE POINT LINE CHANGE THINGS?: The answer?

Not all that much.

A lot of interesting number crunching from John Gasaway in that post. The most interesting stat for me was that the three-point percentage in league play for teams in the six major conferences went up from 2008 to 2009.

Easy explanation: by moving the line back a foot, the only real change was getting guys that were marginal three point shooters to be convinced not to take the shot. At that level of basketball, anyone that is considered a "shooter" from 19'9" is going to be a "shooter" from 20'9". And since conference play starts midway through the season, coaches had a chance to identify who their "shooters" were, and who was no longer allowed to take the occasional open look from three. With a smaller number of threes being taken by decent shooters, the overall percentage went up.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kenny Boynton will need protective custody in Lexington

SLAMOnline has a nice profile up of Kenny Boynton, the latest Mickey D's all-american to head to Florida to play for Billy Donovan.

All things considered, this kid seems like he has his head screwed on straight. During high school, he would get to the gym at 6am every morning to get an extra work out in with his coach. He would work out between the end of school and the start of practice. And the whole time, Boynton (who played off the ball at American Heritage High School) was working on his point guard skills in order to better transition to that spot at Florida.

Kenny Boynton, one of the best shooting guards in the country, is headed to Florida.
(photo credit: High School Hoop)

Keep in mind, this is a kid that was a top 15 recruit, a McDonald's all-american, averaged over 30 ppg as a senior, and finished his career as the third leading scorer in Florida basketball history.

Talented and a hard-worker. That's a great combination to have.

But Boynton may need to learn a thing or two about being humble. Towards the end of the article, Boynton reels off this locker room gem:
To tell you the truth, I’ve thought about it and on paper they look good, but I think we match up with them. I think we have a better team. It’s going to be a real good game when we play, but I don’t think they’re as good as everyone says they are.
There is nothing wrong with feeling this way. In fact, it is a good thing if Boynton feels that Florida is a better team than Kentucky. Having confidence in one's self and in one's team is a necessary trait in a "winner".

But do you really think it is a good idea to spout off in an interview with SLAM?

John Calipari is arguably the best motivator in college basketball. When Kentucky is good and Rupp is packed, it is one of the toughest places to play in the country. And Big Blue Nation is as passionate, vicious, and blood thirsty as any fan base for any team (pro or college) in the US (the thread on CatsPause.com has already reached 127 replies).

Why make it easy for them?

Ashley Judd is one of Big Blue's most famous and most faithful.
(photo credit: Sparty and Friends)

Boynton is correct about one thing - Florida looks pretty good on paper this year. Take a look:
  • G - Erving Walker
  • G - Kenny Boynton
  • F - Chandler Parson/Dan Werner
  • F - Alex Tyus
  • F - Vernon Macklin
  • Bench - Ray Shipman, Kenny Kadji, Erik Murphy
That could end up being a top 25 team. I love Walker in the back court. Both he and Boynton are combo guards - meaning they can play on or off the ball, play as a scorer or a playmaker - and should complement each other well. Tyus should get a little more help on the interior with the addition of Georgetown transfer Macklin (another former Mickey D's all-american) and freshman Murphy (what's the over-under on Entourage jokes he hears this season?) and the development of Kadji. If Parsons develops into a legitimate inside-outside scoring threat, don't be surprised to see Florida in the mix with Kentucky and Tennessee atop the SEC East down the stretch.

Anyway, we'll send you into the night with a nice Boynton mixtape:



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TIM FLOYD DISCUSSES RENARDO SIDNEY: As you should know by know, Renardo Sidney is currently awaiting word from the NCAA on whether or not he will be eligible to play the 2009-2010 basketball season for Mississippi State. One of the main issues the NCAA is looking at (and what seems to currently be the sticking point of the investigation) is how the Sidney's paid for the house they rented in Southern California.

Talentwise, Sidney was one of the most coveted recruits in the country as a senior, but neither UCLA or USC wanted the Fairfax HS product.

Speaking with Kyle Veazey of the Jackson (MS) Clarion Ledger, Tim Floyd spoke for the first time about why USC stopped recruiting Sidney:

"Our school was reacting to an article that was going to be written in the L.A. Times," Floyd said. "Given the fact that the institution was involved in an institutional control investigation, they viewed it as preventive management. They could not put their finger on anything."
Probably was a good decision by USC. With the Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo scandals still hanging over them, the last thing they needed was another high-profile recruit carrying baggage.
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Marist sues former coach and current James Madison coach

Matt Brady coached the Marist Red Foxes from 2004-2008, where he had some success, including sending point guard Jared Jordan to the NBA Draft.

But Brady left for James Madison in March of 2008, bringing with him four guys he recruited to Marist - one had already signed an LOI (Julius Wells), two were orally committed (Andrey Semenov and Trevon Flores), and the fourth (Devon Moore) had been recruited heavily by Brady and his staff. Wells, Semenov, and Moore all played for JMU's 20 win team this season, while Flores will be enrolling this year.

Pretty standard stuff. These days players commit to coaches, not schools.

But Marist is suing Brady for bringing along those four recruits.

Why? How can they?

You see, every coach at Marist has a clause in their contract that says if the coach leaves Marist, they cannot continue to recruit the players they were recruiting at Marist.

Do I really need to say how ridiculous this is?

I am far from what you would call a legal expert, but I don't see any way that Marist can have any control over a third party (the recruits) when they sign a contract with a coach. Brady has obviously built a strong relationship with these four kids. When he left Marist, they decided that it was no longer where they wanted to go to school, because they wanted to play for Brady.

Is it really fair for Marist to provide any kind of resistance to these kids having the best experience possible while in college?

I understand why Marist has this clause. When a coach leaves, it can all but destroy an entire recruiting class (see Memphis for evidence). When you are a school like Marist, a mid-major that develops players over four years (as opposed to landing one or two talented players that stay for a year or two), losing a recruiting class can be so detrimental to your program's success. The clause is just an attempt to create a disincentive for coaches that leave to bring their recruits along.

But is this a road we really want to go down? Is it really a good idea to give one school any influence on where a kid can go to school? If you were a parent, would you want a coach saying he can't allow your kid to play for him because of a minor clause in the contract with his former school?

Its ludicrous and just another case of schools trying to hold too much power.

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How often do you see this?

Jayvaughn Pinkston is a a top 100 recruit out of Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn. At 6'6", 240 lb, Pinkston is a forward that can play both inside and outside, drawing comparisons to Jamal Mashburn.

He has a skill set that could make him a match-up nightmare at the collegiate level.

But Pinkston's summer has been much different than that of most other top 100 recruits. You see, there have been some concerns over whether or not Pinkston was going to be able to get NCAA eligible as he missed a chunk of his junior season due to academics. He even toyed with the idea of transferring to Oak Hill Academy.

Jayvaughn Pinkston had a great tournament in the Adidas Super 64.
(photo credit: FiveBoroSports)

Instead, Pinkston decided to skip the All-American camps, instead deciding to attend summer school to help boost his grades before finishing up his senior year at Loughlin.

From Zagsblog:
"Yes, it is," Pinkston said when asked if sitting out was hard. "I was looking forward to coming out and playing against some of the top players in my class."

"I'm trying to become a better student-athlete, so that's why I decided to go to summer school."
Pinkston did play in the Adidas Super 64 in Vegas last week, and really opened some eyes. He scored 19 points (while holding Texas-bound Tristan Thompson to just 9) as his New Heights team upset a loaded Grassroots Canada team. The most interesting part? Pinkston was doing homework before, after, and in between games throughout the week.

It was originally thought that Pinkston was destined for St. John's, but Pinkston's list has grown a bit of late. There are currently eight schools still in play, with four (Tennessee, St. John's, Villanova, and Xavier) having offered scholarships, according to Rivals.

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Wednesday Morning Dump

- Yup, John Calipari is going to have a lot of weapons this year.

- Marcus Jordan's year is starting off well at UCF.

- Goodman thinks Purdue is going to be good this year.

- Former Marquette forward can current Minnesota recruit (he transferred to a JuCo) is facing felony assault charges.

- The best players from Vegas 2009.

- An arrest in the shooting of Antonio Burk.

- The #3 PG in the class of '10 has cut his list of schools to 16. It was at 30.

- Bobby Knight's DVD is out.

- Rapper beefs compared to world politics.

- RTC's take on the Delaware gambling issue.

- Buerhle on Letterman's Top 10.

- The soundtracks for Madden, Live, and NHL '10.

- Can someone explain to me why Stephon Marbury is crying?



- Some Video Blogger got up close with David Beckham's fan interactions in Kansas City.


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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A POSSIBLE CHANGE TO THE SIGNING PERIOD: With all the hub-bub from Josh Selby's decision to back out of his commitment to Tennessee, it seems like the NABC may be on its way to making a change. This from the latest Andy Katz blog:

How to hold on to commitments continues to be a pressing issue and has resurfaced yet again with the high-profile decommitment of Josh Selby from Tennessee. One idea that circulated Monday night that might be of interest to the National Association of Basketball Coaches to pursue is to get rid of the signing periods and allow a player to sign a binding national letter of intent within 30 days of giving a verbal commitment. The 30-day window would give the player a bit more time to ensure he has made the right decision. The other component that should be included in the letter of intent to get the document up to the current era is an out for the player if the coach leaves the school. Schools are less likely to fight a player's decision to ask out of the letter of intent if the coach is no longer at the school. The most recent example involved Xavier Henry. He signed with Memphis, but once Calipari left for Kentucky, Henry asked out of his letter and went to Kansas.
Please let this happen.

DeMarcus Cousins originally committed to UAB.
(photo credit: NBCSports)

For starters, the system would probably flow much more smoothly if recruits were allowed 30 days to sign an LOI after committing to a school (although, the NCAA would have to establish some way to officially "commit" to a school). Waiting until designated signing periods seems arbitrary and allows much more time for a recruit to be persuaded to change his mind.

But the rule involving the coaching changes is much more relevant and significant. LOI's right now are outdated. Players don't sign with a school anymore; generally, they are signing with the coach they want to play for. If that coach leaves, it is only fair to allow the player to leave as well. Often times, a recruit will have this clause in his LOI. Other times, the school won't agree to it.

Take DeMarcus Cousins as an example. The Birmingham native originally committed to UAB because he wanted to play for Mike Davis, but he asked for a clause to be put in the contract that would allow him out of his LOI if Davis were to leave or be fired. UAB didn't agree, which means they missed out on what would have most likely been the best recruit they have ever signed.

If a coach is allowed to leave a school after signing recruits without any penalty, it is only just if the recruits are allowed to as well.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: From Mick Cronin, the head coach of Cincinnati:

He said the strength and conditioning coaches tried to bring him down, but "he didn't throw up or pass out. They were impressed with his level of toughness."
I like this move. Stephenson's rep coming in is that he's a bit of a primadonna.

So what's the first thing you do?

Show him he isn't going to get babied. Show him he isn't different than any of the other players on the team. Show him you are going to need a serious work ethic if you want to play for Cinci.

How do you do that?

By busting his ass with tough workouts the first few days.

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Rick Majerus must have really liked Public Enemies

Do you remember the name Anthony DiLoreto?

He is a 7'0" recruit from Minnesota that had committed to Cal Poly San Luis Obisbo. But he never enrolled.

Why?

Because he was arrested ... for robbing a bank!

This is what happened. DiLoreto and a friend drove 125 miles to Wisconsin, and while DiLoreto sat outside in the getaway car, his friend went into the bank to rob it. But DiLoreto got scared, left the bank, and began driving home. His friend was caught 45 minutes later walking along the side of the road. He spilled the beans, and the seven-footer was arrested back in his Minnesota hometown.

Anthony DiLoreto has been offered by Rick Majerus
despite the fact he hasn't settled the charges against him.
(photo credit: BIAH)

Yes, this is a serious crime, but that doesn't mean this kid doesn't deserve a second chance. We all make poor decisions growing up, and whether it is smoking a little reefer, getting in a fight, or cheating on a test, high school debauchery does not an evil person make.

DiLoreto, who reneged on his commitment to Cal Poly, has been receiving some interest from A-10, Big Ten, and WCC schools, and when he gets all these legal issues figured out (assuming he keeps his nose clean), I see no reason why he shouldn't get a shot at turning his life around. Hey, Zack Randolph and Allen Iverson both did time in high school, and while they are far from model citizens, both have ├╣somewhat managed to stay out of trouble.

Here's the issue: DiLoreto's next court date is August 7th, and the case could be settled by then. But according to Gary Parrish, he has already been offered a scholarship by Rick Majerus at St. Louis. I mean, the kid is still facing serious jail time - he tried to rob a freakin' BANK - and you've already offered?

That's the coaching world we live in these days. The "what have you won for me lately" mentality has made it a necessity for coaches to toss their scruples out the window. And we all know what a stand-up guy Majerus is.

Parrish got a great quote from one coach:
I'll take him right now, or in three-to-five years.
Sounds about right.
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Bruce Pearl is none to happy about the Josh Selby situation

Yesterday, we talked about Josh Selby, the PG recruit that de-committed from Tennessee to re-open his recruiting under somewhat shady circumstances. Dana O'Neil wrote a piece about players backing out on their commitment to a school. In it, she says that there is an unwritten rule in the coaching ranks - once a guy has committed somewhere, you stop going after him.

But it doesn't always work like that.

At least that's what Bruce Pearl seems to believe.

Josh Selby has de-committed from Tennessee to the ire of Bruce Pearl.
(photo credit: Strait Pinkie)

In an interview yesterday with ESPN's Andy Katz on ESPN U (h/t Zagsblog), Pearl had this to say:
I think as coaches, we want to ethically make sure that if a guy’s got a commitment, leave him alone,” Pearl told ESPN’s Andy Katz on Monday in Orlando in a segment that appeared on ESPNU. “Now, student-athletes have a right to do what’s in their best interests.

“And if they think it’s in their best interests to open up their recruiting and look at something else, then they should do that because I don’t want somebody that doesn’t want to necessarily play for us. And I think every mother or father wants what’s best for their kids.

“And if I’m not what’s best for their kids…then that’s fine. Then you go find somebody that is. I think the big thing is…Once I see a guy committed, that’s it. No more phone calls. You don’t put it out there, ‘In case we had interest, would you open up your recruiting?

“It’s over, leave him alone.”
A little bit of sour grapes? Probably. But he has a point - it does go against the practices of the coaching fraternity.

When it comes down to it, however, he shouldn't be surprised that his peers have questionable ethics. Have you not read this blog the last two days?

Bottom line - once a kid has committed to a school, if he actually listens to other coaches talking to him, he probably isn't fully committed to going to your school. If you start dating a girl, but she keeps cheating on you, then odds are she doesn't really want to be in a relationship - be committed to you.

You move on and find someone else.

Hey Bruce, there's a stud PG in your home state by the name of Joe Jackson. He is still interested in Tennessee. Go land him.

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TWO MORE THOUGHTS ON RECRUITING CORRUPTION: Yesterday, we wrote about how many stories involving sleaze going on behind the scenes during the recruiting process. Late last night, Dana O'Neil had an article posted to ESPN.com that said the NCAA sent out a mass email telling coaches that it could be a violation if they attended a dinner for Grassroots Basketball of America, which is headed by Sonny Vaccaro. Apparently, some coaches still attended, but they simply did not pay the $800 price tag.

O'Neil also said there was a $160 fee for the GBOA showcase.

Is this a sign the NCAA is cracking down?

You know, with at the legal ways to funnel money to AAU coaches, handlers, and the players themselves, if amazes me that some guys (Tim Floyd, I'm looking at you) still allow themselves to get caught.

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Tuesday Morning Dump

- Gregg Doyel takes a look at UCLA's $500,000 seats.

- Tough situation for these two kids.

- ESPN won't credit NY Post.

- Crazy knockout.

- 14 foot python caught near pre-school.

- Chris Webber talks to with a blog.

- USC football team gets hypnotized:


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Monday, July 27, 2009

AAU Coaches: Always hustlin'

There has been a lot of talk this summer about the corruption that goes hand-in-hand with youth basketball these days. Not only are these AAU coaches slowly destroying the concept of fundamental basketball in our nation's youth, but squeezing every dime they can out of their connections has become the norm at the elite level of AAU ball.

First came the Charlotte Observer's report on online recruiting service's. Basically, the hustle is that AAU programs will start, or become "affiliated" with, a recruiting service that charges for a yearly subscription; the thought is that yearly subscription also doubles as a fee for admission into the recruiting carnival of the player's in their program. Then came the Wall Street Journal's article criticizing the way youth basketball is run in this country.

And now? Pete Thamel of the NY Times takes us through what might be the most brazen hustle of them all.

This is basically how it works. The NCAA sanctions certain tournaments that AAU coaches are allowed to attend. The price of admission is, say, $10 to get in. Perfectly acceptable. These tournaments have sunken costs - it isn't free to rent the gym time, to pay for the refs, etc. What isn't acceptable is the $275 it costs coaches to buy the packets containing such information as player's names, their contact information, and - something just a teeny bit useful - the number they are wearing.

These packets are mandatory for coaches to buy.

Say you are a coach and you are out on the recruiting trail to watch a player you know. He is playing in a tournament within driving distance, and you decide to swing by to see him play and, more importantly, have him see you seeing him play. You are there for one game, know the kid you are there to see, and have no need to spend that much money on a packet of printed paper.

You are still going to have to drop a few benji's.

Or you won't be watching the game.

Just ask Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings:

Just after sitting down with some fellow college coaches, two tournament employees told Stallings that he had to pay $295 for a packet of rosters and information that doubled as an admission fee for college coaches. The coaches in attendance told him that they had been required to do the same thing. Stallings said he had paid a $10 admission fee and did not want or need the packet, so he hit the road out of principle.
Or Yale's James Jones:
James Jones once paid $350 to watch one player play a single game in South Carolina. His other option was to buy the tournament organizer Jeff Schneider’s $600 recruiting service.
Tom Izzo has a horror story as well:
Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo refused to pay $100 for admission to the Summer Jam tournament in Milwaukee earlier this month after one of his assistants had already paid $250 for the packet that doubled as an entry fee. Izzo said the tournament director should visit him if he had a problem.
The sleaze involved in high school and college basketball, and the corruption of the process of getting high school hoopers to the next level, almost makes the sport unbearable for me to watch. Knowing that a recruit will decide where he will attend based on someone associated with a shoe company; watching what is a beautiful game when played correctly degenerate into a glorified Rucker League game; seeing "recruiting experts" rate the best 11 and 12 year olds and seeing coaches offer scholarships to kids that have yet to even decide on a high school.

I can handle all of that.

I'm not naive enough to think that cheating doesn't happen, or that in an industry worth billions of dollars there aren't going to be some shady people with questionable ethics.

But this?

Forcing coaches to pay that much for a scouting service or an identification packet, with the the prize being the ability to talk to a 16 year old kid?

That's extortion.

And, as Rick Pitino will tell you, extortion is a pretty serious crime.

The worst part is that the NCAA not only allows it, but they enable it by not changing the rules. Nothing these tournament organizers are doing is a sin in the eyes of the NCAA - only to those of us with a moral compass. And it would be so simple for the NCAA to fix. All they have to do is make a rule that you can charge X amount of dollars for a recruiting service or for a player's program at an AAU Tournament. If it is more, they pull the college coaches from the tournament. If there are no college coaches there, why will the big name recruits and AAU teams want to play there? If no one wants to play there, how does the tournament make its money?

It really that simple.

But the rules won't change unless the big name coaches speak out against them. The Bill Self's or the Jim Calhoun's or the Ben Howland's. The coaches with the clout to make a change.

The odds of that happening? Almost none.

These are the guys that are either cheating effectively or winning without cheating. Why would they want the system changed? They have their connections. They don't want to ruin friendships with the AAU programs.

Awesome. We've traded our favorite sports integrity for wins and dollars. Excuse me while I bathe with my toaster.

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JOE JACKSON TALKS RECRUITING: We mention Joe Jackson, a top 15 recruit from the class of 2010, earlier today in our post about Josh Selby. Word is that Jackson is considered a lock to stay close to home and head to Memphis.

Last week, TheShiver.com landed an interview with Jackson where he talks recruiting. His top five right now? UConn, Kentucky, Tennessee, Memphis, and Kansas.

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The Super 64 AAU Tournament was played out in Las Vegas last week, which attracted all of the big time college basketball coaches, as well as many of the big name college hoops writers.

Joe Jackson, a top 15 recruit in the class of '10, led the Memphis Magic to the title on Sunday. But that was far from the biggest news story coming out of the Sin City.

In case you missed it last week, Josh Selby, another top 15 point guard in the class of '10, decommitted from Tennessee while Bruce Pearl was coaching the US in the Maccabiah Games. There is a bit more of a back story here. Selby decommitted after the LeBron Skills Acadamy, where his mom reportedly spoke with William Wesley aka "Worldwide Wes". For those that don't know who he is, Wesley is a basketball power broker with strong ties to Nike and, among other, John Calipari.

Kentucky is a Nike school. Tennessee is Adidas.

Now, this does not necessarily mean that Selby is a lock to replace John Wall next year. If you were to take a look into the stands at anyone of Selby's games in Vegas, you would get a glimpse of a who's-who of the coaching fraternity - Gary Williams, Jim Calhoun, Josh Pastner, John Calipari. Word travels fast through the coaching ranks when it is assumed a kid is destined for a certain school (coaches have stopped recruiting Jackson because it is widely felt he is not leaving Memphis), so the fact that they are still involved means the coaches believe they have a shot at landing him.

That isn't to say, however, that any rumor involving the Wildcats and Coach Cal is unsubstantiated. Take a look at this quote from Selby's mom:

Anybody with a basketball brain and knows what John Calipari has done - you have to consider Kentucky. It doesn't mean its a done deal, but you have to consider Kentucky.
Dana O'Neil wrote a column on ESPN taking a look at players who back out of commitments to schools. Personally, I don't have much of a problem with a recruit backing out of a verbal commitment - it isn't binding, basically all the kid has done is say he wants to play for that specific school. Now I can't speak for anyone else, but I am 24 years old and still have trouble settling on a team to be in Madden or Fifa.

You expect a 16 or 17 year old kid to decide where he wants to spend the next 1-4 years of his life? With so much riding on their decision, should you not expect the kid to waver?

And do I even need to mention that coaches have no problem taking commitments from players only to bounce to a higher-paying job?

The real trouble arises the players decision is influenced by an outside source based on something other than basketball or academics. Now, I don't want to make any assumptions as to why Selby is backing out on his commitment. It is just as likely that Selby was concerned about only seeing two schools (which is what he and his mother have been saying all along) as it is that Wesley has influenced the decision (Selby's mother has said that her only conversation with Wesley was receiving a recommendation that he work with a track coach to prevent leg injuries, but an Andy Katz source said that his mother is the one that approached Wesley).

Hopefully, it is not the latter, and Selby truly was just concerned with his decision. But knowing how college basketball recruiting works, it would not surprise me if Wesley had a hand in this decision.

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Monday Morning Dump

- Adam Zagoria sits down with Bill Self.

- Great read on a former White Sox pitcher that took HGH.

- College coaches must pat "admission fees" at these tournaments.

- Derrick Rose's brother lost it at the Vegas AAU Tournament.

- Memphis Magic win Super 64.

- Paparazzi ask LeBron about covering up the dunk.

- Tragic way to end a bachelor party at a baseball game.

- Who could be on the 2012 Olympic team?

- Lamar Odom to the Heat?

- Another great read on a homeless man from DC pushing for a College Football playoff.

- The title of this article is worth the click.

- Craziest hole in one I've ever seen.



- Remember this guy? He's back.


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Friday, July 24, 2009

SI ARTICLE ON DUNK VIDEOS: First of all, did you ever think you would see a page full of youtube videos on SI.com? I didn't.

Second of all, if you are going to post (and I'm quoting here) "some of the top dunks in college hoops history", you should at least make sure that you actually put up "some of the top dunks in college hoops history."

Seriously, they should have consulted me before posting this nonsense. I think I've established myself unequivocally as the intraweb's leader in dunk vids.

I have all sorts of issues with this list, and it is more than just the fact that they called Bambale Osby "Barnable". My biggest problem is the Russell Westbrook dunk they chose to use. They didn't choose this one or this one, they chose this?

Really? One of the best of all time?

The same could be said for this Dwayne Collins dunk on Greg Paulus. Paulus getting dunked on does not an"all-time great" make.

Looking at that list, I think that whoever made it simply typed "NCAA basketball dunk" into youtube and chose all the videos that showed up on the first page of results.

You really want to see the best dunks of all-time? Go here. Its our list (albeit a year old). Continue reading...

Friday Morning Dump

- Another Dana O'Neil story. She's swell.

- Adam Zagoria catches up with Gregory Echenique.

- Jim Calhoun is a tough guy.

- D-Will has been popping into some of the AAU games in Vegas.

- Murry Bartow gets an extension at ETSU.

- More on the Josh Selby decommitment.

- Gotta love New Jersey.

- The white cop that broke into a black Harvard professor's home to arrest him tries to prove he isn't a racist by telling the story of how he performed CPR on a dying Reggie Lewis.

- I'm not really sure what this mascot is trying to do:


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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dickie V's All-Rolls Royce Teams released

And it begins...

Last week, we wrote a piece about who we would want to build a team around, referencing articles from FOXSports and Rivals regarding, in some way, who the best player in the country is.

And today we get Dickie V's all-american teams (all seven of them ... seriously). Overall, there aren't really a ton of surprises. His first team is pretty standard; Cole Aldrich, Kyle Singler, Luke Harangody, Sherron Collins, and Kalin Lucas.

To be honest, there really aren't all that many changes I would make. I probably would slide Patrick Patterson up onto the 1st team in place of Kyle Singler. I also would drop Damion James while moving both Evan Turner and Craig Brackins (who will both be top 10 picks next year, watch) up one spot each.

One player that Vitale whiffed on (which is surprising given his affinity for this team and this conference) is UNC sophomore center Ed Davis, who made his sixth team. Davis is being mentioned as a possible top 5 (maybe even #1) pick in the 2010 Draft. He is long, tall, athletic, and is tough at both ends. With all the Heels lost, there should be plenty of shots (and minutes) available for Davis. Expect a year similar to Aldrich's breakout '08-'09 season - 15, 10, and 3 blocks.

Another player to watch next year is Raymar Morgan, who Vitale listed as an honorable mention. Morgan was a beast as a sophomore, but battled through injuries and illness last season. Expect him to return to form.
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Randy Culpepper can fly

For the casual college hoops fan, the name Randy Culpepper is probably an unfamiliar one. Culpepper is a 6'0" PG for UTEP that averaged 17.5 ppg as a junior. For the avid Sportscenter watchers, you may actually recognize him for this piece of aerial artistry that reached #1 on SC's top 10.

This will probably not be the last time you see Culpepper on Sportscenter. Not when he can do things like this:



Look at where he takes off from. That is absurd. He actually looks like he is flying.

Assuming Derrick Caracter can get into shape, UTEP will have themselves a nice little inside-outside combo. With all that has happened at Memphis, including losing their top recruit to pro ball overseas, could UTEP be the team that unseats the Tigers atop Conference USA?
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Thursday Morning Dump

- Ebaumnation has a better video of LeBron getting dunked on.

- St. John's Anthony Mason Jr. gets an extra year of eligibility.

- The St. Paul Pioneer Press is reporting that Ames, Iowa product Harrison Barnes is leaning towards Duke or UNC.

- Kevin O'Neil lands his first recruit at USC.

- The Charlotte Observer takes a look at Coach K's decision to return to Team USA.

- WCC tourney staying in Vegas.

- Josh Selby's first game since decommiting from Tennessee drew some big names: Calipari, Calhoun, Self, Donovan, Stansbury, Pastner.

- Wooden Classic participants announced.

- Freedom Hall or Rupp Arena?

- Michigan State, Rutgers, Florida, and UMass will be hosts for the Legends Classic.

- In depth piece from Sports Business Journal on the decline of beat writers.

- ESPN cuts ties with NY Post over the Erin Andrews pictures they ran Tuesday.

- Not sure how I feel about this mash-up...:


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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jordan Crawford's dunk on LeBron

TMZ has the video of it. To be honest, not that impressed. Its a grainy video from the other side of the gym, and the dunk wasn't even that nice. LeBron was late rotating after Crawford beat his man on the perimeter before giving a half-hearted attempt at blocking the dunk.

For all the hoopla surrounding this video, I'm sure everyone is going to come away just as disappointed. They should have just left this video underground and allowed the dunk's legend to continue to grow.

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DERRICK CARACTER INTERVIEW: Everybody remembers Caracter.

He was the first 14 year old ever invited to the Nike Camp back in 2002. He was supposed to be the next great big man.

The problem is he stopped growing in 8th grade, and eventually everyone caught up to his size and athleticism. Caracter never learned how to work hard (because he never needed to, he was always just bigger and better growing up). He went to Louisville, but ended up getting run out of town by Rick Pitino for a myriad of reasons - from his behavior to being out of shape.

Well, Caracter is back on the map again. He will be suiting up for UTEP this season. The blog for IMG Academies, where Caracter has been working out, posted an interview with him last week. Based on the pictures (see below) and some of Caracter's quotes, it seems like he has turned himself around.



Caracter is a talented player. We wish him the best as a Miner.

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Maybe if Coach K wasn't heading to the 2012 Olympics...

JP Giglio covers the ACC for the Raleigh News & Observer, and also runs their ACC blog ACCNow. They are currently running a Summer Hoops preview over there, and while reading it over, I stumbled upon this little diddy: Giglio's pick to win the ACC this year is Duke.

Huh?

His argument is basically this - Duke's experience will make up for a relative lack of talent, and the fact that the Blue Devils currently have just two guards (three when Andre Dawkins is officially accepted) on their roster is mitigated by the ACC's lack of perimeter star power.

Again, huh?

Can Duke win the ACC?
(photo credit: You got dunked on)

I don't want to come off like a Duke hater - because I'm not - but this is a bit crazy. Duke the ACC champs? I really don't see it happening. There are just too many question marks on this team.

Who is going to run the point?: Nolan Smith may be a junior, but he has yet to prove himself as anything close to an elite lead guard. Scheyer excelled when he ran the point last year, but that is not an option this season due to Duke's lack of perimeter depth.

Do they have a go-to scorer?: Last season, Gerald Henderson emerged as the guy that Duke turned to when they needed a bucket. Who will it be this year? Jon Scheyer struggled to score consistently when he was guarded by bigger, more athletic two-guards last season. Kyle Singler is by far their best player, but can he handle being "the man"? He seems to me to be more of a complimentary player (albeit a great one).

Is their size any good?: Duke's post rotation will consist of Brian Zoubek, Lance Thomas, the Plumlee brothers, and Ryan Kelly. What will happen when they go up against frontlines like UNC (Ed Davis, Deon Thompson, Tyler Zeller), Georgia Tech (Gani Lawal, Derrick Favors), Clemson (Trevor Booker), or Florida State (Solomon Alabi, Uche Echefu, Ryan Reid, Chris Singleton)? Isn't their advantage supposed to be on the inside?

Sorry Duke fans. I see this Blue Devil squad being very similar to your 2007 team, the one that went 22-11 (8-8 in the ACC) and lost to Eric Maynor and VCU in the 1st round of the dance.

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Ed O'Bannon suing the NCAA

Last summer, we did a Where Are They Now? piece on Ed O'Bannon, the former UCLA standout turned Las Vegas car salesman.

I don't think anyone is going to be asking that question again anytime soon.

Yesterday, Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports broke the story that Ed O'Bannon will be the lead plaintiff (on behalf of all current and former DI football and men's basketball players) in a class action lawsuit against the NCAA. The case centers around the fact that the NCAA can cash in on the likenesses, the accomplishments, and the memorabilia sales of former players (be it via video games, commercials, jersey sales, etc.) in perpetuity without those players seeing a dime.

Apparently, they have a case (for those better versed in legalese than I go read what Michael McMann has to say about the case at SI - he breaks everything down for you). I'm no lawyer, but I can tell you that when you are represented by a firm that won reparations for Holocaust survivors, price fixing cartels, and benefactors of slave labor, there is a good chance a large amount of money can be made.

Ed O'Bannon is the lead plaintiff in a case against the NCAA
involving their use of a players likeness after graduation.
(photo credit: lowposts.com)

Do I need even need to mention how big of a deal this case is?

Seriously, think about what this covers - ESPN Classic replays; a Carmelo Anthony Syracuse jersey; those Pontiac game changing performance commercials; any copy of NCAA video games.

In fact, the video game is where the entire case originated. From the Wetzel article:
Last winter, Ed O'Bannon discovered that a couple of kids down the street didn't just know the star of the 1995 UCLA national championship team as a friend of their dad, a really tall neighbor or even as a guy who shows up on ESPN Classic every once in a while. They knew O’Bannon – his tendencies, his number 31, even the mechanics of his lefty jump shot – from playing a video game that featured classic college teams. "They literally played me on a video game," O'Bannon told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday. "You could play the '95 Bruins. It didn't have my name, but it had my number, left-handed, it looked like me. It was everything but the name. My friend kind of looked at me and said, 'you know what’s sad about this whole thing? You're not getting paid for it.' I was just like, 'wow, you're right.' It just kind of weighed on me."
An interesting side note to this case is that they are not pushing for athletes currently on scholarship to get paid; only that they players see a cut of the profits from collegiate licensed merchandise once they move on from the NCAA.

According to Wetzel, collegiate licensed merchandise is an estimated $4 billion industry. These are rough economic times for the NCAA and its member institutions, and if O'Bannon happens to prevail, the NCAA may be forced to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

Don't cry for the NCAA. They make money hand over fist off of these kids while they are in school. OK, I get it, the NCAA is technically a non-profit organization and these kids are technically amateur athletes. While I may not completely agree with the current structure, I can tolerate it simply because I love the ideal of a "student-athlete" representing his school.

But why shouldn't former players like O'Bannon get a taste once their collegiate careers come to an end?

The guys over at RTC say it best:
Frankly, it’s about effin’ time. As Dan Wetzel poignantly notes in his article breaking the story today, the players are painted into a (legally unrepresented) corner at 17 or 18 years old when all they’re really worried about is getting their eligibility to play college sports. We understand why the NCAA doesn’t want its current players profiting off of their likenesses while an amateur, but why does the NCAA retain 100% of those rights for the rest of those players’ lives? Why does Texas Western profit off of 1966 jerseys of #14 Bobby Joe Hill, but not the player (or the estate in Hill’s case) some 40+ years later? Same thing with Jerry Rice’s MVSU #88 jersey? Or, as O’Bannon stated in his complaint, why doesn’t he see a dime for an EA Sports video game licensed by the NCAA that clearly shows his silky smooth left-handed collegiate “self” running around making shots and ripping down rebounds as a 1995 UCLA Bruin? It’s absolutely ludicrous, and we’d really like to see the NCAA take it on the chin this time around.
One last note - O'Bannon explains his rationale for becoming the lead plaintiff over at Lost Letterman.

Continue reading...

Wednesday Morning Dump

- According to an adviser, money was a major factor in the decision of Latavious Williams to go abroad.

- CoachCal.com - coming soon.

- Randy Hill with a surprisingly good take on the one-and-done rule. the best part:

Well, based on NCAA workout restrictions and most coaches game-planning themselves to death during the season to survive in a brutally fluid job market, players have less school-year time than you could imagine to eliminate individual weaknesses. In college, you're an investment in a coach's ability to win games. That's just fine; it shouldn't be his job to prepare you for an NBA career. Doing so within the context of winning games can make recruiting a lot easier for the college coach, but he has more than your bank account to worry about. Yeah, with an 82-game schedule, NBA coaches have very little time to teach and refine team concepts, but actual time spent on improving skill work — especially for young players — can be relatively enormous. You are an investment for the pro team; it's their business to make sure you can make plays.
- Good read on Lance Stephenson from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

- The CBS College Sports channel is re-airing the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

- Coach K to lead Team USA again in 2012. Is his commitment hurting Duke? They are just 5-4 in the tournament since he took that job.

- MWC commissioner gets his contract extended through 2012.

- The SEC to launch a syndicated network with ESPN.

- Seth Davis takes a look at Hoop Dreams, 15 years later.

- Centenary to move from DI to DIII.

- Effing hilarious.

- What your favorite athlete's twittering says about their sexuality.

- Boy drinks gasoline to become a Transformer.

- Formula One driver killed by a loose tire:


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Who would you pick to build a team around?

During the last couple of days, two of the biggest media outlets have weighed in (albeit from slightly different angles) on the debate over who will be the best player in college basketball next season.

Over at Rivals, they pose the question "Which player in the best to build a team around?" Both writers went with centers - one picking Cole Aldrich and the other Ed Davis. Josh Herwitt from FOXSports made a list of the top 10 returning players, which was capped off by Luke Harangody.

Look, you may not like him, but it is very tough to argue with Herwitt's decision to name Harangody the best returner in college hoops. The guy is coming off of his second consecutive 20 and 10 season (averaging 23.3 ppg and 11.8 rpg in last year's brutal Big East). 'Gody worked his tail off while testing the waters of the NBA Draft and is now checking in at a svelte 245 lb. From what I've read about his pre-draft workouts, Harangody is getting off the floor much better than he was early in his career and has improved his jumper to the point that he can consistently hit NBA three's (watch this video).

Harangody tops the list of preseason Player of the Year candidates.
(photo credit: Daylife)

Combine that with his ability to nimbly score in the post, and Harangody is near unstoppable at the college level. With the graduation of Kyle McAlarney, the Irish are going to rely even more on Harangody at the offensive end. Would it surprise you if he finished the season averaging 26 and 12?

It shouldn't.

And if averaging 26 and 12 wouldn't surprise you, than that player has to be in the conversation as the best player. Its that simple.

But just because an argument can be made for Harangody as the best player in the country doesn't mean he is the guy that I would want to build a team around.

Think about it. Last season, Harangody was the focal point of an experienced team with two wings that could go for 25 on any given night (McAlarney and Ryan Ayers) and one of the most underrated point guards in the Big East (Tory Jackson), and the Irish had an incredibly disappointing season, missing the NCAA Tournament.

The way I see it, there are two schools of thought here. You either A) pick a talented and experienced point guard or B) choose a center that can dominate a game offensively and defensively. Lucky for Kansas, regardless of which theory I follow, I'm picking a Jayhawk - Sherron Collins or Cole Aldrich.

Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich will lead Kansas to their pursuit of a second title in three years.
(photo credit: ESPN)

Cole Aldrich is the total package at center. While he is not quite at the level of a Jarvis Varnado or Hasheem Thabeet, Aldrich is able to dominate the paint on the defensive end of the floor, blocking and changing shots while controlling the defensive glass. Offensively, he averaged 14.9 ppg as a sophomore, but most of those points came off of face-up jumpers or dunks. With his height, length, and strength, Aldrich has the potential to become a go-to scorer in the paint with an off-season of hard work.

Collins was very impressive as a junior in his first season as a go-to guy for the Jayhawks. His numbers were fantastic (18.9 ppg and 5.0 apg), but Collins brings much more than stats to the table. Whenever Kansas needed a big play, Collins was the guy that stepped up. And it wasn't just hitting big shots (which he did quite often), it was making the smart play in the big moments. He wasn't afraid to dump the ball off the Aldrich or hit one of the Jayhawk wings spotting up if he was covered. A leader and big-time scorer that makes the right plays and has championship experience - what more can you ask for?

With Collins and Aldrich leading a talented group of freshman and sophomore role players, and a star in the making in freshman Xavier Henry on the wing, is it any wonder Kansas tops most pre-season top 25's?

Continue reading...

Latavious Williams headed to ... China?

That's what Rivals is reporting.

The jewel of the 2009 Memphis recruiting class, and Josh Pastner's first signee as the head coach of the Tigers, is opting to head overseas. Williams, a top 20 recruit nationally, was quoted as saying that it is a "done deal" and that he is "trying to work something out in China".

Memphis commit Latavious Williams seems to be headed to China.
(photo credit: College Basketball 365)

This is a devastating loss for the Tigers. With all they lost to graduation last year and Shawn Taggart's decision to skip his final year of eligibility, the Tigers will now head into the season with some serious question marks across their front line - can Pierre Henderson-Niles stay in shape? How good is JuCo transfer Will Coleman? Can the unproved Angel Garcia contribute?

Williams, an athletic 6'7" combo forward with a similar skill set to Robert Dozier, would have provided some versatility to the Tiger's frontline as he is mobile enough to play some on the perimeter.

Tigers fans better hope Elliot Williams, a two-guard who transferred from Duke, is granted eligibility this season. Without him, this is what the Memphis starting five looks like:
  • F - Pierre Henderson-Niles
  • F - Will Coleman/Angel Garcia
  • F - Wesley Witherspoon
  • G - Roburt Sallie/Doneal Mack
  • G - Willie Kemp
Does that look like a top 25 team to you?

UPDATE: Gary Parrish is reporting that it was unlikely that Latavious Williams' transcript would have been cleared by the NCAA.
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ATER MAJOK TO STAY AT UCONN: After sitting out last year, testing the NBA Draft waters this past spring, and flirting with the idea of playing professionally overseas, Majok has finally settled on UConn as his destination for the upcoming season.

Majok will be a welcome addition to a UConn front court that will be severely depleted with the loss of Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet.

Majok will become eligible after the first semester, joining a front line that will include seniors Gavin Edwards and Stanley Robinson and freshman Alex Oriahki.

How good Majok will end up being is debatable. While testing the waters, the word was that he looked fantastic in individual workouts, but in live-action (both 3-on-3 and 5-on-5) he seemed a bit out of place. His skill set is impressive. He's a long and athletic, albeit slender, 6'10" with a nice touch on his jumper, but it may take him awhile to adapt to play in the Big East.

Personally, I think Majok has Ajou Ajou Deng written all over him. Deng, who was also a Sudanese refugee, had tons of hype coming into Storrs (during the 1999 Final Four, when UConn won their first title and before Deng was eligible, Khaled El-Amin called Deng the "best player on the team"), but turned out to be a monumental bust before transferring to Fairfield.

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Tuesday Morning Dump

- Gary Parrish gives us four reasons to love summer basketball. And you thought reading these stories about Renardo Sidney and Josh Selby were bad.

- Arizona State loses a commitment from Josiah Turner, a top 100 recruit from the class of '11. Andrew Nicholas, a wing from the class of '11, has signed with Rutgers.

- Andy Katz catches up with Ole Miss guard Terrico White, who had a great U19 tournament after winning SEC Freshman of the Year. I remember him for this dunk.

- Jio Fontan has decided to return to Fordham.

- 2004 Conference USA Player of the Year Antonio Burks is in critical condition after being shot.

- The Dodgers Matt Kemp played high school ball with Shelden Williams at Oklahoma powerhouse Midwest City.

- Top 10 recruits in July.

- Due to the success of ESPNChicago, the WWL is launching local sites in NYC, LA, and Dallas. Also, the WWL looks ot single-handedly destroy print journalism.

- By now you had to have heard about Larry King's interview last night with Joe Jackson. Creepy:


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Renardo Sidney: Still ineligible

Last week, the LA Times reported that Renardo Sidney (you remember him, don't you?) still had his amateur status under review by the NCAA. Apparently, the current issue is that Sidney's family had yet to turn over information regarding the collateral used to acquire one of (at least) two loans the family received.

NCAA rules strictly forbid "reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete" to be used in order for an amateur athlete to receive a loan.

Renardo Sidney may never set foot on a college basketball court.
(photo credit: LA Times)

In the article, the LA Times cited a Mississippi State official as saying that the loan "could be an issue" and that it was "50-50" that Sidney would ever play for Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs.

But this news is a week old, which is like 50 in blog years. Why do I (and, more importantly, why should you) care?

There has been a bit of grumbling about whether or not Stansbury made a good decision when he signed Sidney. Personally, I believe he did.

With Sidney in their line-up, the Bulldogs would immediately become not only the huge favorite to win the SEC West, but would probably start creeping up onto the list of Final Four contenders. This is a team that returns their top five scorers from last season, which includes a young, talented, and deep back court. Combining Sidney, a big man known for his ability to score in a variety of ways, with defensive stalwart Jarvis Varnado gives Stansbury a coach's dream tandem up front.

That is a huge reward for what seems to be a situation with very little risk to Stansbury and his program.

Mississippi State began recruiting Sidney very late in the process, and really only became a serious contender to land the Mickey D's all-american after USC became the second of the two SoCal schools to pass on him. That means that they probably were not involved with him while he racked up a slew of possible NCAA violations, jeopardizing his eligibility.

So the worst case scenario is that Sidney is found ineligible and never suits up for the Bulldogs. That leaves them exactly where they would have been if Sidney hadn't signed. Best case? Sidney is granted eligibility and helps lead the Bulldogs to their first Final Four since the Dontae' Jones era.

Yes, there is an argument to be made about the type of teammate Sidney will be, the distractions that could be caused by Sidney's eligibility remaining in question, and the fact that Sidney is clearly a one-and-done guy (are those ever good for a program?). But this is how the world of college basketball operates under the current rules. For the basketball schools not named Kentucky or North Carolina or Michigan State, going out and renting (which is essentially what happens) an all-world talent for a year is an easy way to .

Like it or not, this will probably be the best team Stansbury will ever field in Starksville.
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