Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday Morning Dump

- A thorough list of NBA summer team rosters, while Goodman hits us with the rosters for the upcoming Skills Academies.

- Andy Glockner, our favorite soccer fanatic/LOST enthusiast/bracketologist, makes his triumphant return to SI's college hoops page with not one, but two must read columns -- the first is on the success smaller schools are having by hiring coaches from within the program, and the second is on Dane Fife, who is coaching at one of those alphabet schools in Indiana. For our money, Glockner still has the best lede we've come across in quite some time.

- Adam Zagoria reports on two new east coast transfers, and also put together a nice read on rising junior Perry Ellis.

- Rick Bozich with a good read on what Louisville's hiring of Tim Fuller means for the program.

- Mike DeCourcy caught up with Sean Miller of Arizona.

- Here is Scout's roundup of the Nike Skill Academies.

- Iowa forward Brennan Cougill has been ruled academically-ineligible for next season; Expectations were clearly set too high.

- Alabama's Mikhail Torrence signs as free agent with El Heat

- The WAC will stay with eight teams until 2012

- A Sea of Blue is always a must-read for Kentucky fans, and should be in the cycle of CBB blogs that any fan reads. Here is their take on Coach Cal saying Kentucky is a "players-first program"

- This can't be a real interview, can it? I mean, this has to be a joke, right?

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UNLV's Tre'Von Willis arrested

UNLV was supposed to be loaded next season.

Of the 11 players that were in the Rebel's rotation last season, nine were coming back, including their top eight scorers. Even with BYU and San Diego State returning talented rosters, most expected Lon Kruger's team to compete for an MWC title.

Now, that prospect is looking quite a bit more challenging.

It started in late April when Matt Shaw, the fourth leading scorer on UNLV, was kicked off the team for testing positive for marijuana. A 6'8" jump shooter, Shaw's ability to spread the floor will be missed, but UNLV would have been able to withstand the loss.

A loss they can't withstand is Tre'Von Willis, a 22 year old rising senior and former Memphis transfer.

Tre'Von Willis was arrested on Tuesday morning.
(photo credit: Las Vegas Sun)

Willis was a first team MWC performer after averaging 17.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, and 3.6 apg last season, but it is tough to imagine that he will be allowed to play next season. Willis was arrested Tuesday morning at his Henderson, NV, apartment after allegedly choking his 28 year old girlfriend. He was charged with felony counts of domestic battery by strangulation and grand larceny, as well as one misdemeanor count of coercion.

"We don't know what happened yet," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "We're always looking for our guys to represent each other and their families and our athletic department well. That's a priority for us that will never change."

He's right. We don't know what happened here, and is the Duke lacrosse case taught us anything, it is that we cannot jump to conclusions without due process. Willis deserves to have his side of the story heard as well.

But if the allegations against Willis are true, its tough to imagine him being allowed to return to the UNLV basketball team. It is conceivable that he could face some jailtime as well.

Without Willis, UNLV will be losing their best player and will head into next season without a true go-to scorer. While there is still talent on that roster, its tough to see the Rebels living up to a top 25 billing and competing for a MWV title.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rosters announced for the SJG Greater NC Pro-Am

I guarantee that you are familiar with the SJG Greater NC Pro-Am. Don't think you are? Remember that dunk John Wall had last August? The one where he posterized Jerry Stackhouse, which subsequently caused a couple of youtube videos to go viral?

Yeah, that was at the SJG Greater NC Pro-Am.

It is hands down one of the best summer leagues in the country. Check out the rosters. This year's number one pick, John Wall, is playing with D1 Sports & Charles Ryan. Next year's projected number one pick, Harrison Barnes, is playing with Team Stackhouse/Tobacco Road Sports Cafe. The NBA's 2010 scoring champion, Kevin Durant, is on Team Navy. The 2010 Final Four MOP, Kyle Singler, is paired with all-world freshman Kyrie Irving on Hendrick of Durham.

That's far from it.

Name a current UNC or Duke player, and I bet they are on one of the nine rosters. Tracy Smith and NC State's three talented freshman are just a few of the Wolfpack represented. There are former college stars like PJ Tucker, JamesOn Curry, Jawad Williams, and Marcus Ginyard. There are future college stars like Quincy Miller, Rodney Purvis, and Dezmine Wells. There are current NBA players like Ray Felton, Sean May, Marvin Williams, and Josh Powell.

Like I said, its loaded.

Don't be surprised if you see us embedding another youtube video from "The Rucker of the South" this summer.

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What is UCLA?

We already learned that Jeopardy and college basketball don't exactly go hand-in-hand. To be fair, she did get the question right.

Tonight on Jeopardy, one of the categories was college basketball coaches. The clue? John Wooden (1949-1975). The result? Not pretty.



Now, I know that not all Jeopardy contestants are going to be college basketball fans, which is fine. But we are talking about a legendary coach here, the most successful man to ever take part in one of our country's greatest sporting spectacles. I'm not a movie buff, but I know who Alfred Hitchcock is. I don't read all that much, but I can tell you a number of the books that Shakespeare wrote. And I am terrible when it comes to Jeopardy.

I think its fair to say that Hitchcock is to cinema as Wooden is to college hoops, no? And we have three contestants on Jeopardy that cannot tell you what school John Wooden coached at?

Gameshow Fail!

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Tuesday Morning Dump

- Michael Gilchrist is thinking National Championship, not NBA draft

- We weren't the only ones shocked by how little college basketball factored into decisions regarding expansion. Read the comments in this report from Frank Martin, Bill Self, and Mark Turgeon.

- Eamonn Brennan had a chance to attend the Skill Academies in Chicago over the weekend and put together a pretty good round up.

- Here is a video from the Deron Williams camp:



- Florida may join Oregon as the only states that require colleges to interview at least one minority candidate during a coaching search.

- Dana O'Neil was all over the Big XII yesterday: Colorado and Nebraska will have an awkward season; Big XII coaches would rather have a 16 game schedule than the round robin, 18 game schedule.

- Did Florida-BYU have a larger online audience than US-Algeria?

- This actually sounds like it could be a pretty good movie. Couldn't you see Channing Tatum starring in this?

- Re-shuffling of Maryland Athletic Department won't affect Terps non-conference schedule

- The Charlotte Observer breaks down the changes for Duke this season.

- Boston College transfer Kevin Noreen is headed to West Virginia.

- Kentucky could land another 5-star recruit from the class of 2011

- Chris Coleman is headed to FIU.

- In the wake of the Kansas ticket scandal, the NCAA, the schools, and the ticket brokers look to curb illegal scalping.

- Louisville adds Tim Fuller as an assistant coach.

- New Big-12 means basketball coaches get bumped to second-class status; Coaches preparing for change

Evan Turner sings take me out to the ball game at Wrigley Field. He's terrible, but make sure you wait until the 16 second mark before you turn off the video:



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Monday, June 28, 2010

Roburt Sallie lands at Louisville

By now, you have likely heard that the rumors are true -- Roburt Sallie, the former Memphis two-guard, is transferring to Louisville.

Sallie is leaving Memphis because of "a change in his role next season." In other words, Memphis coach Josh Pastner told him that with a loaded recruiting class coming in, especially in the back court, his services would no longer be needed.

Roburt Sallie should provide a nice shooting touch for Rick Pitino.
(photo credit: Examiner)

Here's the catch: Sallie only has one year of eligibility left. Now as I'm sure all of you know, when a player transfer from one D1 school to another, that player must sit out one season. A basketball vagabond in its truest form (Sallie's story is full of twists and turns. He graduated from the Laurinburg Institute back in 2005 alongside Robert Dozier and Anthony Anderson, among others. He originally signed with Washington, but was ruled ineligible, so he spent a season at Patterson Prep before signing with Nebraska, but again, he was ruled ineligible and was forced to sit out the 2006-2007 basketball season. So Sallie spent a year at a JuCo out in California before finally enrolling at Memphis for the 2008-2009 season.), Sallie doesn't have a year of eligibility to spare. If he sits out a season, his collegiate career is over. He'll be turning 25 turning the 2011 season.

There's a catch.

If a player graduates from one institution with eligibility remaining, they are allowed to transfer to another institution for graduate school without sitting out the mandatory redshirt season. So if Sallie can finish up his credits and graduate this summer from Memphis (he's an Interdisciplinary Studies major), he can apply to Louisville's graduate school, apply for a waiver from the NCAA, and hopefully be cleared in time to enroll in classes.

Its a lot, I know. But I can't imagine that Rick Pitino would formally announce the addition of Sallie if he didn't believe that it was at least plausible that Sallie would be able to contribute to Louisville this season.

Sallie will be a good fit for a Louisville team that loses Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith, and Reginald Delk. He's a big guard -- 6'5", 200 lb -- that can defend and isn't afraid to shoot. Louisville runs a 2-2-1 press that falls back into a 2-3 zone. With his size and quickness, Sallie can play at the top of the zone, or he can slide to a wing with Pitino has Peyton Siva and Preston Knowles on the floor together.

Offensively, Sallie should be a great replacement for Jerry Smith on the wing. He certainly can shoot (ask Cal St. Northridge), and will help spread the floor for some of Louisville's scorers. He also brings experience, having been to an Elite 8 and having started for Memphis last season.

Losing Samardo Samuels will definitely hurt the Cardinals, but with Sallie joining Siva and Knowles on the perimeter, if Terrence Jennings, Raheem Buckles, and Jared Swopshire can live up to their potential, the Cardinals should have a team that will compete in the top half of the Big East.

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On to the next ... college hoops talking point: play-in games

With the expansion talk finally settling down (Dammit, Summit League, will you just make a decision on North Dakota already! You're killing me!), Tom Izzo firmly entrenched in East Lansing, and the NBA Draft over and done with, us college hoops writers essentially have one major storyline to follow that doesn't involve recruiting scandals.

The NCAA Tournament play-in games.

More specifically, who will be playing in these games?

According to an Andy Katz report today, the NCAA Tournament committee met today to discuss the format of the new 68 team tournament. And while no answer is expected until sometime in July, we did get a chance to see the three scenarios that are being tossed around.

Winthrop, from the SoCon Big South, and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, from the SWAC, played in last year's play-in game. Will those leagues be forced to always participate in the play-in games?
(photo credit: CSMonitor)


The first is the obvious -- the 61st-68th teams, or the 16th and 17th seeds in each bracket, would play for the right to take on the No. 1 seeds. The second scenario involves two at-large teams playing for the 10th-13th seeds, respectively. The third scenario is a combination of both of those scenarios, and sounds much more complicated than anything that the NCAA would actually put into place. In all likelihood, those making the decisions will disregard the third scenario, just like I'm going to.

The arguments for, and against, each of these options are obvious and justified. Is it fair for low- and mid-major conference champions to be forced to participate in the "play-in" game simply because they come from a smaller league? Is it better to allow mediocre major conferences teams at the cut line of the at-large pool to avoid the play-in game? Does anyone care that the smaller conferences will get pigeon-holed into automatic play-in game bids?

Giving the smaller schools the chance to take down one of the big boys not only would be in the true spirit of the NCAA Tournament -- every David, in a single game, has a chance to pull off a miracle and beat the Giant (cliche alert!!!) -- but it would also provide a better viewing audience for the first round.

What would more people be inclined to watch: Winthrop vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, or Florida vs. Virginia Tech? Not only would the NCAA be appeasing the college basketball watching public by taking the side of the little guy, they would be doing it while maximizing the number of eyes on TV screens.

That said, the NCAA Tournament, while entertaining, is college basketball's national championship. The best in the nation are supposed to be playing for a title, and the better teams are supposed to be getting better draws. It shouldn't matter what conference you play in or how big your school is or whether or not you won your conference tournament. You're out of your mind if you argue that either Winthrop or Arkansas-Pine Bluff is a better team than anyone near the cut-line in this year's field.

Not to sound like Jay Bilas, but shouldn't these teams be thankful they are getting a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament as it is? Like I said, this is a championship tournament, and as such, shouldn't it consist of the 64 or 65 or 68 best teams? Not the 40-45 best teams, and a bunch of teams that no one has seen or heard before.

And, for the record, if we are ever going to see a No. 1 seed lose their first game, it will be with this format. The 17 seeds will, in general, be the teams that are not all that good, struggled through a weak conference, and then got hot during their league tournament. The 16 seeds will tend to be the teams that won the regular season and tournament championships, but just won't have the non-conference schedule to allow them to be seeded higher.

Like I said, both sides have valid arguments. It will be interesting to see how the NCAA handles it. Will they give in to the pressure of the bigger schools and allow them to avoid the play-in games? Or will they do what the majority of the college basketball fans and writers will want, which also allows them to stack more money?

Personally, I'd be pleasantly surprised if the NCAA forced at-large teams to play in the play-in games, but I have no clue what will happen.

The only thing I know is that regardless of the decision that is made, someone is going to be unhappy about it.

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Enough about Coach Cal's draft comments already

I have largely ignored the comments by John Calipari regarding Thursday's NBA Draft, but it has gotten to the point that I need to make a comment.

If you don't know what I'm referring too, Coach Cal told ESPN's Heather Cox that Thursday night, when five Kentucky players were selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, was the "biggest night in the history of the Kentucky program."

This comment sent the blogosphere into a minor tizzy, blasting Cal for having the audacity to believe that an Elite 8 team sending five players to the NBA (via early entry, none-the-less) was more important than any of their seven national titles.

I agree.

Its ludicrous to think that sending five players to the NBA is more important than winning a national title. Kentucky fans haven't been going crazy over the last two recruiting classes because they want to see former Kentucky players in the NBA. Its because they believe that this is the best way for them to land No. 8.

But anyone that blasted Cal over the last couple of days missed the point: he wasn't talking to you. He wasn't talking to me, or Eamonn Brennan, or Rush the Court, or Jerry Tipton, or Matt Jones, or anyone else that weighed in on Cal's comments.

He was talking to Mike Gilchrist and Marquis Teague. He was talking to Michael Chandler, and Tony Wroten Jr., and Andre Drummond, and every other high profile recruit that is considering going to school at Kentucky. And if you missed it, what he was saying was "come to Kentucky, and I'll get you a guaranteed contract."

And if you think about it from that perspective, maybe Cal was right. Maybe last night was actually the biggest night in their program's history. If Cal can get Daniel Orton, who averaged 3.4 ppg and 3.3 rpg into the first round of the NBA Draft, doesn't that make his program incredibly appealing? Hey, you don't even have to play all that much here and I can get you paid.

Cal already has landed two of the top five players in the class of 2011. If he continues to add to that class, and he catches a break with some of this year's crop of freshman playing more than one season, isn't it feasible that an eighth national title is on the way? And if he can continue to recruit like this, is No. 9 that much further on the horizon?

Let's assume that Cal actually does lead Kentucky to two or three national titles in the coming years, and that he does it with crops of one-and-done freshman.

Would his comment be looked at as negatively then?

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The NCAA may delay the offering of scholarships

With the college basketball season dead and gone, and the NBA Draft now a thing of the past, expect your college hoops news feeds to slow down quite a bit. Now, instead of prospect previews and draft diary's and season recaps, expect quite a bit of talk about the rules and structure of the sport.

Take, for example, this: the Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet, which is a committee reviewing recruiting conduct, has recommended that a rule be put into place that would make it illegal for coaches to offer a scholarship to a player until the summer after their junior season.

In theory, this is a great rule. I think we have all heard the stories of head coaches recruiting and offering scholarships to kids that have yet to decide on a high school. Giving these kids and their families some time to learn the recruiting process, figure out what they are looking for in a school/team/coach, and, you know, take a high school class before allowing them to be swamped by coaches, agents, runners, and the like is a good thing.

That said, is the NCAA really going to be able to police this?

There is a cap on how much coaches can call recruits, but does everyone abide by this rule? Illegal benefits are, well, illegal, but players still get them, right? Who's to say that this measure will actually prevent coaches from offering recruits scholarships?

That, however, isn't the point.

The point is that the NCAA is starting to take notice. They are starting to think about ways to change the perpetually corrupt college basketball recruiting process. There may be no profession as adaptable as college basketball coaches. Regardless of the rules put into place, these guys find the loophole that allows them to, essentially, get away with cheating.

And while that likely won't change, isn't it a good sign that an effort is being made by the NCAA?

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Monday Morning Dump

- Sure, the NBA Draft just happened, but that doesn't mean we can't start talking about the 2011 draft.

- NY Mag on recruiting guru Tom Konchalski.

- Read our NBA Draft Diary. Go.

- How the Tom Izzo saga exemplifies the changing media world.

- More chatter on how the 68 team tournament is going to be run.

- Bobby Gonzalez lost his job, but he's still out of his mind. Oh, and he also had his credential request denied at the NBA Draft.

- Some transfer news -- Jeffery Jordan is headed to UCF, and Roburt Sallie is going to Louisville.

- Actually, Mike, it is.

- Should Kentucky just split up academics and sports all together?

- Gary Parrish thinks the 2011 draft is about as promising as Italy's chance to become repeat WC-winners (Oh wait, too soon?)

- The top 50 draftees for 2011 (Wait just a minute. Gary Parrish said next year's class is going to suck. How can you possibly find the 50 best NBA prospects 364 days away?)

- Andy Katz takes a look at the top prospects for next year's draft (Wait just a minute. Are you telling me Andy Katz and Gary Parrish don't correspond?)

- Sure why not, another top prospects list for 2011 (you call it blog-worthy, I call it summer-fill)

- John Fienstein is alot like me: loves that the Wizard got John Wall, doesn't like Mrs. Maryland Atheltic Director Lady

- The Big Lead provides their list of winners and losers from the NBA Draft

- Rush The Court also put out a "Winners and losers" list

- Early entrant Samardo Samuels was not chosen on Thursday night. but former-Cardinal Derrick Caracter was

- Was DaMarcus Cousins, the 5th overall pick, the "draft steal of the night"?

- NCAA Committee will debate new tournament format next week

- Ex-Dukie Jon Scheyer will be playing for the Wizards summer team

- Yeah, we know, we know. Kentucky made hsitory on Draft night.(P.S. Nobody cares anymore)

- An early preview of the 2010-2011 Marquette Warriors Golden Eagles

- Memphis transfer Roburt Sallie is heading to Louisville

- Utah State is ready to raise the bar next year

Here is the reaction by Greivis Vasquez when he found out he was a first round pick in the draft.




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Saturday, June 26, 2010

The BIAH NBA Draft Diary

Scott Klatzkin is an occasional contributor to BIAH. He was kind enough to put together a draft diary for us and, well, its pretty damn hilarious. Scott won the 2009 Delaware sportscaster of the year award (seriously), but after reading this diary, you may question what 1290 The Ticket was thinking when they hired him.

Ever since I was a little kid, I have always been intrigued by the NBA Draft. It’s a moment in time where you can watch the lives of 18-22 year olds change for the better live on television. I remember watching the 1994 NBA Draft and becoming a Pistons fan for Grant Hill and being thrilled that Eric Montross dropped all the way to my Celtics (This is perhaps the moment that my initial interest in the failures of Tall White Lottery Picks began). I remember making my dad tape the 1996 Draft because I had a Little League All-Star game. And because I was too young to remember some of the Drafts, I spent the last week of my post-NBA Finals depression watching Classic Drafts on NBA TV. (I did turn the channel once on Wednesday night to watch Top Chef and Tosh.0. Why is Tosh.0 not more popular? If I got drafted tonight I would trust fall on David Stern. Before even playing an NBA game I would be a part of the #1 draft moment of All-Time). I love college basketball and I am one of the few people left that loves NBA basketball. Once a year they combine in a magical event known as the NBA Draft. So let’s push our deep rooted hatred for Stuart Scott to the side and get started!

Wizards are on the clock and ESPN just showed back to back to back graphics featuring #1 pick Kwame Brown, Gilbert Arenas’ gun charges, and the trades to give up Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood. Wasn’t this supposed to be a positive night for Washington? Why not rub it in even more and add a graphic of the DC Sniper, Marion Berry and footage of Ty throwing Andrew off the balcony on Real World DC?

1. Washington Wizards – John Wall, Kentucky Fr. PG

Obvious choice here and I feel like the Wizards have just got themselves an All-Star point guard in John Wall. He’s an athlete with great speed and he’s intelligent both on and off the court. Plus, he joins Derrick Rose, Allen Iverson, Magic Johnson and Jerry Lucas on a short list of #1 pick point guards. He definitely should have coordinated a John Wall dance (does it have a name yet?) with Stern on the stage. (I feel like Stern would have gone for it, too. The world’s best commish is feeling especially loose tonight, already calling the Knicks fans “unruly” and lifting a hand to the crowd to encourage the chanting. He’s undoubtedly either on a “Lakers-beat-Celtics-in-highest-rated-Finals-since-Jordan-and-Kobe-won-MVP-and-now-LeBron-will-be-the-talk-of-the-Summer” high or he ran in to Richard Dumas before the draft got underway. Either way, I’m loving Stern even more than usual tonight.)

Finally some hope in the DC sports world, as there’s now a handful of potential superstar talent with Wall and the Nats Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. (Meanwhile Dan Snyder is still signing players to the Redskins like he just got done watching a mid-2000 Pro Bowl marathon on ESPN Classic. “You mean we have a chance at getting Donovan McNabb AND Larry Johnson? I just watched them start in Honolulu! Is Muhsin Muhammed available?”)

Time for the interview segment, always one of my favorite parts of the draft, and Wall does not disappoint at all! In talking about Kentucky’s great history he sites Ron Mercer, Jamal Mashburn and Derek Anderson as his sources. (Note: I thought this was going to be a dramatic mistake, like using Gheorghe Muresan, Mitch Richmond and Larry Hughes as examples of the great Washington basketball history, but as it turns out, there really haven’t been any great UK players in the NBA. Sadly enough, Mercer – or Not Tim Duncan, as Celts fans refer to him – Anderson and Monster Mash are pretty high up on the list of Wildcat NBA careers.)

No debate about it, John Wall will have the best NBA career of any player selected tonight and certainly a better career than…

2. Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner, Ohio State Jr. SG

I get it. If the 76ers take Derrick Favors they have to overpay Elton Brand to sit on the bench and by taking Evan Turner, the Sixers can ship Andre Iguodala somewhere. Still, I think Favors has the better career in the long run and should have been the pick here. He’s only 18 years old and by the time he’s ready to be an All-Star, no one will be concerned about EB. The pick, though, is Turner and I do believe he’ll have a solid NBA career, as he is a well rounded player and can defend several positions, but his ceiling is much lower than Favors and even Cousins. I fully expect Turner to make All-Rookie Team, but in 3-4 years Favors will be on his way to becoming one of the top Power Forwards in the league.

3. New Jersey Nets – Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech Fr. PF

The Nets may have lost out on the Wall sweepstakes, but they still got the 2nd best player in this draft and put him into a great situation. There are plenty of teams that Favors could have gone to that would have forced him to play center, but with future All-Star Brook Lopez, Derrick can stay at his natural position in New Jersey. Favors and Wall will be the top players from this year’s draft.

Favors sits down for his interview segment and a graphic pops up that reads “Started playing basketball at age of 10 after watching Kobe Bryant.” (Would we see the same graphic if this was a draft for a Prison Basketball League? “Started committing adultery at the age of 19 after watching Kobe Bryant.” – Yup, that was a forced and below the belt shot at Kobe Bryant from a Celtics fan that is still depressed and upset about the NBA Finals. He shot 6-of-24! Can the Jordan discussion be over at least?)

4. Minnesota Timberwolves – Wesley Johnson, Syracuse Jr. SF

Real quick. Wesley Johnson will never be an NBA All-Star. He’ll be 25 when/if Rubio comes over. If you have the 4th pick in the NBA Draft your goal should be to draft a player with All-Star potential and Johnson is not that. I don’t like this pick. Now, on to the important matter at hand:

I was all set to rip Wesley Johnson when he first stood up and I saw the yellow shirt with white collar that looked like a turtleneck, horrible red tie and a blazer that had more buttons on it than something out of Steve Harvey’s closet. And then he got on stage and I saw the pants. He’s dressed like Andre 3000 had a yard sale! Horrible. Congratulations, Wes. When you’re out of the league in 6 years after averaging 7-4, at least this moment will be replayed every season along with Jalen Rose’s red pinstripe suit and Karl Malone’s tie.

5. Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky Fr. C

So much happening around this 5th pick, I’m really starting to feel the NBA Draft excitement! First off, ESPN just ran a commercial for the night’s big sponsor, EA Sports’ NBA Elite 11. Seriously? EA Sports thinks that by changing the name of NBA Live that everyone is going to forget how horribly the game has sucked and been second best since the NBA 2K franchise began? (That’s like Lindsey Lohan changing her name to Lindsey Smith and expecting everyone to forget what a drunken pirate hooker she is. “Herby Fully Loaded? Drug Rehab? Lesbianism? Horrible parents? No, no, no. That was Lindsey Lohan, I’m Lindsey Smith, you must be mistaken.”)

DeMarcus Cousins gets selected, puts on his Sacremento Kings hat and it matches perfectly with his purple shirt. Rarely does a player outside of the top 3 get to match his suit with his hat, so Cousins is already one up on the competition. (Also, they just showed Cousins stretching out a tape measure as part of his highlight package and Jay Bilas had to think about baseball to keep from screaming out “He’s LONG!”)

Cousins was the biggest question mark heading in to the draft and still remains a big “what if” for the Sacramento Kings. If he gets his head straight, he could be a 20-10 guy and an unstoppable force underneath. If he continues to be immature, he could be starring alongside Dog the Bounty Hunter and the Snapple Lady on VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club 13” in a few years.

Naturally, John Calipari has to be interviewed and he delivers the best quote of the night up to this point by calling this pick the “greatest moment in Kentucky Basketball history.” Adolph Rupp just pick and rolled over in his grave! The school has won SEVEN National Championships and Calipari just said that the selection of this fat goofball is the greatest moment in Kentucky basketball history! Even more reason that I cannot wait for UK fans to turn on him faster than Diddy turned on Shyne once he continues to turn their program into an EZ Pass lane for the NBA and never delivers a title.

6. Golden State Warriors – Ekpe Udoh, Baylor Jr. PF

To best describe my thoughts on this pick, I feel the need to quote the great Lil’ Jon: “Whhhhoooooooowhat? WHAT??! Whhhhooooowhat?” A team that already pays Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph has just selected another skinny kid that won’t provide anything on offense and will block a couple shots. I’m lost right now on how Udoh gets in the Top 10 of any draft. If Baylor plays in any other bracket and doesn’t make the Elite 8, this guy is a late first rounder.

In other news, Jay Bilas just used the word “long” to describe Udoh, which puts the count at 4 of the first 6 picks. He said Wall had “long arms”, while Johnson had “super-long arms”, Cousins was “long and incredibly strong” and now we come to “long armed” Udoh. (Do you think during the days leading up to the draft that Bilas just blacks out and uses the word long to answer all his questions? Hey Jay, how about that Isner-Mahut tennis match? “It was long.”… J.B., you ever seen that Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee sex tape? “He’s long.”… Bilas, you excited to work with Stuart Scott? “It’s gonna be a long night.”)

7. Detroit Pistons – Greg Monroe, Georgetown So. PF

At this point, the John Wall ReeZig commercial has led off every break of the draft thus far. I was unaware that Reebok still made things, but I like the cartoon commercial and award bonus points for the Iverson cartoon cameo mid way through the 30-second spot.

Of any players outside of Wall-Favors-Cousins-Turner (in that order) that can make an All-Star team, I feel like Monroe has a chance to sneak in one season. Regardless of if he ever gets to play in the Mid-Season Classic, this is an excellent pick at #7 and Monroe will have a consistently solid career. The guys on ESPN seem to agree, as well. There’s been more talk about Monroe’s passing than Manute Bol’s. (Quick moment of silence for the 7’7” big man. Sorry, no jokes being set up here, Bol was just the man.)

8. Los Angeles Clippers – Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest So. SF

Stern paused as he looked at the name and then realized he hadn’t accidentally grabbed a card from the US Terrorist Watch List pile. That would have been the best part of this selection if Aminu hadn’t stood up wearing Jaleel White’s spectacles. Just because Jay-Z can pull it off doesn’t mean you can, Al.

Glasses aside, I like Aminu’s athleticism and he is now a part of a young and exciting nucleus in Los Angeles along with Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon. (Don’t get too excited Clippers fans… both of you… May I remind you of the young and exciting nucleus of Elton Brand, Lamar Odom, Darius Miles, Corey Maggette and Keyon Dooling? Besides the back-to-back championships they won in Career Mode on my Dreamcast and the Darius Miles swingman Nike jersey I purchased, those Clips accomplished absolutely nothing.)

9. Utah Jazz – Gordon Hayward, Butler So. SF

Loving that the Jazz went back to the musical note logo! They should go one step forward and not allow shorts to reach within 4 inches of the knee cap. Furthermore, Mark Eaton, Jeff Hornacek and John Stockton should all be hired as the halftime trampoline act for all games in the Delta Center Energy Solutions Arena.

The Jazz acquired this pick along with one of three all-time “Tall White Lottery Pick” All-Stars, Tom Gugliotta, so how fitting that they use it to select the first Caucasion of the night. (Unfortunately, Hayward will not count toward future TWLP stats because he’s not a Power Forward or Center. He would, however, have helped defend my thesis since there is not a chance this kid succeeds in the NBA. That’s exactly what you want from your small forward, right? An unathletic kid that can’t shoot 3’s. This future Mormon will average more wives per season in Utah then he does minutes.)

Meanwhile, Larry Bird is going crazy in the Indiana Pacers war room. “Hayward’s gone? What other white people can we get to join Hansbrough, McRoberts, Foster, Dunleavy and Murphy? Who’s his teammate? Can we draft Matt Howard? Is Luke Harangody on the board? What do we do?”

10. Indiana Pacers – Paul George, Fresno State So. SF

Indiana is where solid NCAA players go to be forgotten (Hansbrough, T.J. Ford, Dunleavy, Brandon Rush, Roy Hibbert), so it’s good that no one really knew who George was in the first place. Doesn’t Danny Granger play for the Pacers? You have ONE good player on your team, Indiana. Take any player that doesn’t play his position! I totally blame this pick on a hectic 5 minute scramble that included a 4 minute phone call to Eastbay to cancel an order of 600 Hayward customized jerseys and 60 seconds of rock-paper-scissor.

In a hilarious “We are all thinking it” moment, ESPN cut right to Cole Aldrich as soon as the Paul George interview was over. You could almost hear Bird in the background screaming “Aldrich was available!!??!!” and proceeding to fire every single person in the Pacers draft room.

11. New Orleans Hornets – Cole Aldrich, Kansas Jr. C

And we have the newest member of the Scott Klatzkin Tall White Lottery Pick team. (I feel like Todd Fuller should have handed Cole his hat proceeded by Chris Mihm shaking him by the cheeks and advising “Cherish it. You gotta cherish it,” like Billy Madison coming back to the 5th grade.) Aldrich will join the likes of Joel Pryzbilla, Bryant Reeves, Raef LaFrentz and other TWLP busts, but based on his upbeat interview alone I am bumping up his career stat predictions by 2.3 points and rebounds per game.

12. Memphis Grizzlies – Xavier Henry, Kansas Fr. SG

Tons of impressive moments coming from this Xavier Henry pick to the Memphis Grizzlies. First, Jon Barry didn’t realize his microphone was on and mumbled “Guess Rudy Gay’s not coming back.” As a broadcaster, I absolutely love “I forgot my mic was on” moments. This one certainly doesn’t reach Lee Corso dropping a hard F levels, but at this point in this somewhat boring draft I am easily amused.

Second questionable broadcasting moment of this pick comes when Jay Bilas describes Henry as “somewhat left handed.” What exactly does that mean, Jay? The kid shoots with his left hand. Would you describe Stuart Scott as “somewhat left eyed.” Just because he has another eye ball doesn’t mean that there isn’t a distinct strong eye.

Henry also provided us with the first draft interview tears of the evening. He was able to wipe most of them away, though, as the standard “Your dad played basketball so we need to interview him” segment went down.

Finally, this guy has his name pronounced “Zah-vee-ay.” This bothers me. If you want your son to be called Zavier, name him that. Don’t pick another word that is already established and decide you want it pronounced differently. I’m going to name my son Robert and have it pronounced “Roo-bee-air-tay” and then get pissed when people say it incorrectly. (Ed. Note: I always find myself pronouncing his last name "On-Ree". I mean, if you're going to be a fake frenchman, you may as well go all the way, right?)

13. Toronto Raptors – Ed Davis, North Carolina So. PF

Ed Davis spent the last 13 games of the disastrous UNC season on the bench, watching a coach he dislikes yell at a bunch of players that couldn’t get the job done. He couldn’t wait to declare for the draft and now his day finally comes and he has to go to Canada. I actually feel bad for the guy (A very seldom Duke fan feeling for UNC guy moment. I actually like Ed Davis, because he ruined UNC’s chances of making a run at the ACC title in 2011 by entering the draft.) At this point in the draft, you’re looking for complimentary players and Davis will be a good guy to come off the bench and grab some boards.

Stuart Scott just said that “Ed Davis became a superstar on the 2009 UNC Championship Team.” Really, Stu? And Rob thinks I’m a Duke homer?!? Stuart just called a guy that averaged 6.7 points and less than 20 minutes a superstar.

14. Houston Rockets – Patrick Patterson, Kentucky Jr. PF

I really like this pick. Patterson is mature, and a guy that will have a solid career as a come off the bench and grab some rebounds type of guy. How did ESPN drop the ball on another Calipari interview? Or was he already back in Kentucky burning the 1951 Championship Banner? “Won’t be needing this anymore, we just got 3 players picked in the Top 14! Greatest day in Kentucky history!”

With Patterson going up on stage that gives Luke Babbitt the 12th Annual Rashard Lewis Award for staying in the Green Room the longest. Not a trophy anyone wants to take home.

Meanwhile, Stu is starting to lose it. He follows up his Ed Davis superstar comment with this following unprovoked exchange:

Mark Jones: “Stu, this guy only has 5.6% body fat”

Stuart Scott: “Well, Mark he sure is unlike us. He’s a big soccer fan and he hated the fact that Landon Donovan scored a goal for the win the other day because he can’t stand this country. Patrick roots for Spain in the World Cup. Not the USA! How about that, Jeff, this guy hates America…”

Jeff Van Gundy: “(long pause, beginning to realize he takes Mark Jackson for granted)”

15. Milwaukee Bucks – Larry Sanders, Virginia Commonwealth Jr. C

Bilas just described Sanders as a “great kid” with “lots of potential” (totally dropping the ball by not describing him as long, the guy has a 7’5” wingspan. C’mon Jay, pay attention, we aren’t even out of the lottery yet!). Anytime your top two descriptions have nothing to do with anything accomplished on the court, you aren’t worthy of being a lottery pick. This is like being set up late night at a bar with a girl that is “smart” and “has a great personality.” Sure, those are both great attributes, but at this point they sure as hell better come after she’s described as “sooo hot” and “she’s wassssted, dude.”

The Bucks were being set up and took the chick with the good personality. Look at your other options, Milwaukee, it’s not even last call yet! You’ve got the slutty chick that scores a lot (James Anderson, 22.3 ppg), the MILF (Damion James, a Senior), the foreign chick that doesn’t speak too much English (Kevin Seraphin, France) or even the fat chick that will try harder (Dexter Pittman, 303 lbs). Even if you told me that one of the chicks came at a high risk (Daniel Orton) of catching something, I’m double wrapping, bringing aluminum foil, cellophane wrap and a lamination machine and picking her before I go on a date with Ms. Personality. Milwaukee, you didn’t just let your team down, you let mankind down.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves – Luke Babbit, Nevada Jr. SF

Lottery is over, so the draft becomes more of a battle to watch and enjoy at this point. I’m also currently in “I’ve been sitting in front of the computer for a long time” mode and trying to fight all my urges to see if any repeats of “The Office” are on TBS.

Rashard Lewis should be at every draft from here until eternity and the last guy invited to the draft that comes up on stage should shake his hand instead of Sterns. Since Rashard is still in Orlando looking for his jump shot (“I know I put it somewhere. What did I do with it after the Finals last season? Shit, Hedo must have borrowed it and took it to Toronto! Dammmit, I knew I was missing something this year!”) This was not a possibility this season.

17. Chicago Bulls – Kevin Seraphin, France PF

Another Stuart Scott highlight. As he was listening to the producer in his ear and not anything Jeff Van Gundy was saying. Jeff finished his analysis off with “…the Chicago Bulls could play for it all” and then Stu picked up and said “…the Bulls playing for it all. Remember, Jordan won 6 championships. Here’s David Stern.” Here’s a little broadcasting secret. Anytime an announcer starts their sentence by repeating the last thing their broadcast partner said, they were staring at a cheerleader for the past 2 minutes and didn’t hear a word. (My freshman year of college, I worked with a broadcaster that would zone out like that. I would say things like “So, Brendan, our point guard is probably going to be really tired since he was banging your mother all of last night. Also, one of the keys would be for Brendan not to pee his pants, since he’s a bed wetter. But it looks like it’s going to come down to who can defend the 3.” He would chime back in with, “exactly right, Scott, defending the 3.”)

18. Oklahoma City Thunder – Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky Fr. PG

Cut to Calipari live via satellite pissing on a Dan Issel jersey and proclaiming himself at President of Kentucky.

19. Boston Celtics – Avery Bradley, Texas Fr. PG
20. San Antonio Spurs – James Anderson, Oklahoma State Jr. SG
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Craig Brackins, Iowa State Jr. PF
22. Portland TrailBlazers – Elliot Williams, Memphis So. SG

It was announced on the air that Portland GM Kevin Pritchard was fired but told that he still had to conduct the draft. If I’m Kevin Pritchard, the 22nd pick would have gone a little like this.

David Stern: “With the 22nd pick, the Portland Trailblazers select Deez Nuts, Go Fuck Yourself University”

23. Minnesota Timberwolves - Trevor Booker, Clemson Sr. PF

Our first Senior! Up to this point the NBA Draft had been one long Anti-Stay in School campaign. I’ve seen more educated people on E! reality shows. So thank you Trevor for being drafted way higher than you should have been.

24. Atlanta Hawks – Damion James, Texas Sr. SF
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Dominique Jones, South Florida Jr. SG

Is Jeff Van Gundy on some type of tape delay? He’s answering questions like he’s reporting the news on location. He waits about 3-4 seconds before going in to his response. Maybe he is trying to figure out exactly who Stuart Scott is talking to. (“He’s looking at Jay, but I think he said Jeff. But he’s definitely not looking at me. Shit, I’m just gonna start talking.”) I’ve noticed this several times already but it’s starting to become a trend.

26. Oklahoma City Thunder – Quincy Pondexter, Washington Sr. SF
27. New Jersey Nets – Jordan Crawford, Xavier So. SG

I’ve never wanted LeBron James to go to the New Jersey Nets more than I do right now. Can you imagine the rookie hazing LBJ would impose upon the guy that barely dunked on him and caused a national stir? The King would go Diddy Making the Band on the rookie and make him walk from the Prudential Center to the new Barclays Arena in Brooklyn to get him a sugar cookie (Sugar Cookie? I am no sugar cookie getter! Who are the 5 best rookies in the League? Jordan. Jordan. Jordan, Jordan and Jordan!)

Damn, Andy Katz just made my penis soft by telling us that this pick will be traded to the Hawks. The idea was fun while it lasted, though. I would have paid good money to watch Bron Bron go at Crawford in practice.

By the way, how do you pronounce his college? Xavier Henry has me so confused.

28. Memphis Grizzlies - Greivis Vasquez, Maryland Sr. PG

I hate this pick. It’s all that remains from the R. Kelly style molestation that got the Lakers Pau Gasol and 2 NBA Championships in exchange for Javaris Crittenon, 45 bucks in Disney Dollars, Kwame Brown, a DVD of “Eddie” starring Whoopi Goldberg, and this pick. This pick represents the child-like yelling, screaming, superstition and depression that I have gone through over the past 3 weeks thanks to the Lakers beating the Celtics.

I already hate this draft spot and now out of absolutely nowhere Jon Barry says “how about Greivis Vasquez at this pick?” and my ears perk up. Back in February I made a 20 dollar bet with my friend Donnie that Vasquez wouldn’t be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. Anyone that knows me, knows that I am against gambling and I don’t make bets unless I am at the very least 90% sure I will be the winner. I was 99% sure of this one. Then Barry opens his mouth and not only do the Griz pick Vasquez here, but the bratty point guard magically appears in the stands. Jon Barry owes me $20.

Vasquez then proceeded to bear hug David Stern and refers to Xavier Henry in his interview as “the guy that just got drafted.” Well, Greivis, in a few years Xavier is going to be referring to you as “the guy I just gave $2 to for a bag of Doritos, a Taco and Pepsi.”

29. Orlando Magic – Daniel Orton, Kentucky Fr. C

Cut to Calipari standing at the bow of a ship sailing down the Mississippi River and yelling “I’m KING OF THE WORLD!!” while throwing Kentucky history books in the water and defecating on a picture of Tubby Smith.

30. Washington Wizards – Lazar Hayward, Marquette Sr. SF

The first round is officially over and I am in full flipping channels and browsing Facebook mode. At this point the draft can be summed up perfectly by my friend Mark’s status: “No softball… The nba draft should be called, who gives a shit…ps stuart scott kill urself”

Not going to begin to analyze all the 2nd Round picks, but here are my highlights:

• Those in attendance that have stayed to watch the draft are becoming more vocal and cheers are becoming louder. My favorite cheers of the 2nd Round were “Sexy-Sil-ver”, “Tiny-Gall-on” and of course “Jeff-Van-Gundy.”

• Hassan Whiteside fell harder than Gary Coleman and ended up in Sacramento at the 33 spot. I saw him ranked as high as Top 5 in the 2011 Draft at one point during the season, so the Kings have a duo of young guys that could easily be busts, but if these kids figure it out then Sac Town may have gotten the steal of both the first and second rounds.

• It’s announced that the Wizards are making the 35th pick for Minnesota. How does that work? This happens all the time and the announcers never really explain the concept and how it works. Why doesn’t a team just pick a shitty player? (You sure you want Samardo Samuels? “Sure, we’re picking for Minnesota, I don’t care.”)

• Rachael Nichols finally gets on television for her interview with Mike D’Antoni. Is it just me or does Nichols always have an “I just H.J.’ed the head exec at ESPN” type smile on her face whenever she gets on camera. She said to D’Antoni “you’ve gone all in to the free agent market, if that’s the case, how’s your hand?” and I swear D’Antoni almost fired back “how’s YOUR hand, Rachael? Was that “The Stranger” technique?”

You’ve also got to think Nichols sat at home with a pint of ice cream and yelled obscenities at the TV when “Dancing with the Stars” came on. 10:1 odds she drilled that hole in Erin Andrews’ hotel wall and if she is ever in the same place as Andrews, she would Tonya Harding the shit out of Erin’s leg. These are the thoughts that run through a person’s mind after 3 hours of NBA Draft coverage. I can’t imagine what Stuart Scott could be thinking – or looking at.

• The Celtics chose Luke Harangody! So glad I kept watching! I am buying a Scalabrine home jersey and Harangody away jersey for the 2010-11 season. No team will have better High-Fives given out next season than the Boston Celtics. And to have a bench mentor like Brian Scalabrine to teach Luke how to pass water, how to keep KG’s seat warm and how to keep the guys loose during warm-ups, it will be big for Harangody’s career. I can’t think of a better situation for the guy.

• Stuart Scott just informed us that Willie Warren is scared of spiders. He then looked right in the camera (or as close as he could get), shrugged his shoulders and waved his arms as if to say “I don’t know what the hell I’m saying at the point. I blacked out after Gani Lawal.” If Donnie was answering his texts I would have gone double or nothing that Scott is 5 minutes away from just screaming “Booooyeah!” at Jon Barry.

• Someone yelled “Scheyer!” before the final pick was made. That made my night!

So that will do it for NBA Draft 2011. I must say it was pretty darn boring. Not a whole bunch of exciting trades, not too much controversy and not a whole lot of All-Stars. Still, it provides us all with one last connection into the world of college basketball until Midnight Madness. It’s been fun, but I’ll wrap it up before Stuart Scott tells me another fun fact about a long armed player I’ve never heard of.


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Friday, June 25, 2010

Looking back at the NBA Draft

Best Picks:

  • Sacramento: The Kings may have had the best draft in the league. For starters, DeMarcus Cousins, the only player outside of John Wall with real star potential in this draft, falls into their lap at the 5th pick. Cousins has his issues -- he needs to continue to get into shape, he needs to mature, he needs to learn to control his emotions -- but he may be the only NBA ready center selected. With the 33rd pick, the Kings landed Hassan Whiteside, a potential lottery pick from Marshall. Whiteside has a long way to go if he is going to reach his ceiling as a prospect. If he does, the Kings just landed the next Marcus Camby at 33rd. Both Whiteside and Cousins are going to need some babysitting and coddling as they mature into professionals, but can you imagine the Kings front line in three years? And they have Tyreke Evans? Here's to hoping they can develop talent in Sacramento.
  • Houston: The Rockets got a gift with Patrick Patterson falling to 14th. Patterson is not going to be a star, but he's a big, strong, meat-and-potatoes kind of player. He'll rebound, he'll defend, and he's got enough talent offensively to contribute 12-15 ppg. The Rockets always seem to have excellent drafts.

  • San Antonio: James Anderson may end up being the best perimeter player taken in this draft. He's a legit 6'6", he is a lights out shooter that can carry a team when he gets it going, he's a much better athlete than people once believed, and he got picked up by a team that will be able to use him. The Spurs are another team that always seem to have great draft classes.

  • Dallas: Dominique Jones was sent to Dallas by Memphis, which is a great pick for the Mavs in the 25th spot. I think Jones has a lot of value here. He's a scoring guard that is strong and aggressive going to the rim and drawing fouls. He's also a tough defender. I definitely think he will be a rotation guy for this team.

  • New Orleans: New Orleans sent the 11th pick, Cole Aldrich, to OKC for the 21st pick, Craig Brackins, and the 26th picks, Quincy Pondexter. I don't love the Craig Brackins pick, as I've never really thought he was going to be much of an NBA player. But I'm a big fan of Pondexter. He's an athletic 6'6" wing who can efficiently create his own shots and will defend, rebound, and play hard. He'll hang around the NBA for a while.

  • Pheonix: The Suns gobbled up Gani Lawal and Dwayne Collins late in the second round. While neither will be able to replace Amare Stoudamire should he decide to leave, both players are big, strong, athletic forwards that play hard, rebound the ball, and could eventually make the rotation down the road.

  • Toronto: Dallas traded the rights to their 50th pick, Solomon Alabi, to Toronto, which is a great pickup for the Raptors. Alabi isn't a potential all-star because of a lack of offensive potential, but he was in the first round of most mock drafts (he dropped because of something that came up in his physical). I can see Alabi being another Samuel Dalembert, which is a pretty good pickup this late.

  • LA Clippers: I'm not a huge fan of Willie Warren. He's a 6'3" shoot first point guard that isn't all that great of a shooter and that turns the ball over too much. That said, here's a kid that might have been a top five pick in the 2009 draft have he decided to leave, and the Clippers got him 54th. In the second round, you look for value picks and you looks for steals, kids that have slipped throught he cracks for whatever reason. Warren is well worth the risk that late.

Head Scratchers:
  • Minnesota: The T-Wolves had four of the top 35 picks. They took Wes Johnson, traded for Martell Webster, and then added Lazar Hayward and Nemanja Bjelica. All four of those players are small forwards. After taking all point guards last year, the Wolves should have a full team in three years.

  • New York: The Knicks picked Andy Rautins and Landry Fields at 38th and 39th. Don't get me wrong, I like both of those players. I think both could one day be contributors in the NBA. But the Knicks could have had them as undrafted free agents. Instead, they skipped over a number of kids that could have been first round picks. I'm not sure what the Knicks were doing here.

  • Washington: The Wizards really had a chance to do big things in this draft. They started out correctly, picking John Wall first. But after that? They added Kirk Hinrich's contract to get Kevin Seraphin at 17th? They traded the 30th and 35th picks to get Trevor Booker at 23rd?

  • Oklahoma City: Indiana made this pick for the Thunder, who wanted Ryan Reid? Reid was a decent role player at Florida State, averaging 6.8 ppg and 4.0 rpg. But why was he drafted? This makes no sense.

Other thoughts:
  • Last night, Kentucky had five players get drafted in the first round. They were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the Elite 8 by West Virginia. The Mountaineers had two players taken in the second round. The only player that saw action in the Final Four to be taken in the first round was Gordon Hayward. I make this point not to pick on John Calipari or Kentucky basketball. I make this point because its becoming more-and-more clear that to succeed in college basketball, loading up on talented freshman isn't the way to do it. (Right, Paul Hewitt?) Land the talented players that will hang around for a few years, mix in an early entrant every now and then, and you very well may find yourself in the Final Four in a few years. We will have a much more in depth post on this in the coming weeks.

  • As a college basketball fan, I understand that some of the best and most beloved players aren't talented enough to make a big splash in the NBA. But it still saddens me to see guys like Sherron Collins, Scottie Reynolds, Jon Scheyer, Jerome Randle, Matt Bouldin, and Omar Samhan go undrafted. It wasn't unexpected, but when head cases like Lance Stephenson, Tiny Gallon, and Derrick Caracter are getting scooped up late, I really start to wonder what the NBA teams are looking for in the second round.

  • Chris Bosh is gone from Toronto. Why else would they pick Ed Davis and trade for Solomon Alabi?

  • Has anyone made a worse decision than Willie Warren to return to school? The kid went from a high lottery pick to a low second rounder in the span of 12 months. That's brutal.

  • Nevada was one of nine schools to have multiple players taken in this draft, with Luke Babbit going 16th and Armon Johnson going 34th. Yet the still couldn't win either the regular season or tournament title in the WAC?

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Some dreams turned into nightmares last night

Yesterday, Dana O'Neil posted on the ESPN CBN blog with a couple of memories from covering players in past NBA Drafts. One of those players was Matt Walsh, who left school as a junior to enter the NBA Draft. Walsh wasn't drafted, and based on O'Neil's story, it seems like Walsh was devastated and embarrassed he wasn't drafted.

That was the point of the story. Last night was great for kids like Quincy Pondexter, Trevor Booker, and Lazar Hayward, who worked their tails off over four years to earn a guaranteed contract, or kids like John Wall, Derrick Favors, and DeMarcus Cousins, who realized their NBA dreams.

Remember Matt Walsh? No? That's the point.
(photo credit: as.com)

But what about Samardo Samuels? Manny Harris? Sylvan Landesberg? AJ Ogilvy? Those are four kids that were stars at the college level, and all of them had eligibility left.

Call me a college basketball apologist if you want to. Point out that Matt Walsh is living a pretty good life overseas, winning the Belgian League MVP in 2009. Great. I'm happy for him, truly. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that all four of the guys listed above will be cashing pretty sizable checks overseas come wintertime.

That isn't the point.

Matt Walsh didn't leave school early to become the Belgian League MVP. He was a 21 year old kid that listened to some bad advice, entered his name in the NBA Draft, and threw a party at his house -- which included members of the media -- because he thought he had a first round guarantee. Instead, he probably had the most mortifyingly embarrassing night of his life.

Did Manny Harris leave Michigan with visions of Serbia dancing in his head? Do you think AJ Ogilvy wants to play pro basketball anywhere other than the NBA? You don't think that Samardo Samuels would have loved to get that guaranteed contract to help out his family?

I understand there are mitigating circumstances in many of these decisions. I also understand that many of these kids just aren't cut out for college.

But as we celebrate kids like Paul George and Jordan Crawford, Gordon Hayward and Luke Babbitt, keep in mind that not every kid in the draft had their dreams fulfilled last night.
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Friday Morning Dump

- Did you guys know the NBA Draft was last night? Yea, it was. We'll have a couple of posts coming on it later today, but to get you started on next season, take a look at Jonathon Givony's top 30 for the 2011 draft.

- The ESPY's nominations were announced yesterday as well. Here is a list of all the potential college basketball winners. Personally, I hope that Montana's Anthony Johnson, who scored 34 second half points to lead the Grizzlies to the NCAA Tournament, gets a win.

- We talked about this last week, but its worth repeating: Santa Clara's Kerry Keating is organizing a campaign to get coaches off their phones while driving.

- The Big East's basketball schedule was released yesterday.

- Seth Davis ripped the blog Waiting For Next Year, the guys that "broke" the story of Tom Izzo leaving for the Cavs, a while back. Then Davis granted WFNY an interview and discussed blog ethics and the like. We've always liked Davis, and found him incredibly supportive of blogs, as well as an avid reader. Kudos to both parties for not taking anything to personally, and we wish we could have sat in on that conversation.

Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry share a moment:




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Thursday, June 24, 2010

NBA Draft Prospects: Daniel Orton, Kentucky

Click here to find all of our 2010 NBA Draft prospect breakdowns.

Stats: 3.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 13.2 mpg

Size:

  • Listed: 6'10", 260 lb, 19 yrs old
  • Combine: 6'9 3/4" (with shoes), 269 lb, 7'4 1/4" (wingspan)


About Him: With DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson dominating the minutes in the front court, and with John Wall and Eric Bledsoe hoisting up their fare share of shots during the season, Daniel Orton didn't get much of a chance to show himself during the season, averaging just 3 points and 3 boards in 13 minutes.

Its not difficult to see why Orton is such an intriguing prospect for NBA teams. At 19 years old, he is nearly 6'10" with a wingspan of more than 7'4". While most raw big man prospects are trying to put on strength and weight, Orton is already checking in at a solid 269 lb and sporting above average athleticism. He also runs the floor well, has quick feet, and excellent hands. In other words, his physical tools are ideal for an NBA post player.

That said, we have very little indication of what Orton can do with those tools. His most NBA ready skill is probably his shot blocking ability. His length and athleticism, combined with good timing and instincts, made Orton a defensive force down the stretch of the season.

Offensively, we have a very small sample size to base an opinion on for a variety of reasons, the biggest of which is that Orton's role was basically to crash the offensive glass. That said, there were glimpses. He's a capable finisher around the rim thanks to his length and strength. He's can use his size to carve out space in the paint, and does have some (emphasis on some) footwork and post moves once he makes a catch in the post. And, like I said, he can go get an offensive rebound. There is reason to believe he could eventually be a good player on the offensive end of the floor in time.

Having said all that, its all still potential as Orton is raw in both his skills and his understanding of the game on the offensive end. He still doesn't quite know how to use his tools effectively, and could stand a healthy dose of toughness as well.

The question teams are going to have to ask themselves is how long it will take Orton to fulfill that potential. Is it worth a 1st round pick if he won't be ready to contribute until he's under contract with a different team? One aspect that could contribute here is Orton's inner circle. His father was reportedly involved heavily in Orton's recruitment, and now there are reports saying that Orton and his agent have had a falling out and that the player is once again taking the advice of his father.

Comparison:
  • Best Case Scenario: The two players that come to mind when discussing Orton are JJ Hickson and Marreese Speights, although both were much more accomplished at the collegiate level.
  • Worst Case Scenario: Isn't it obvious? Any draft out of the league in three years.
Outlook: Orton is all over the board. Some him at the back end of the 1st round, some have him dropping into the second round, and there are still reports that he could go 10th to the Pacers. For my money, Orton seems like to big of a risk without enough upside to warrant a 1st round pick. If you are picking outside of the lottery, there are plenty of players that can contribute immediately to an NBA team in playoff contention.

Highlights:



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NBA Draft Prospects: Quincy Pondexter, Washington

Click here to find all of our 2010 NBA Draft prospect breakdowns.

Stats: 19.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg (3.0 off), 1.3 spg, 1.9 t/o's, 52.3% FG, 82.7% FT

Size:

  • Listed: 6'6", 220 lb, 22 yrs old
  • Combine: Did not attend the combine


About Him: Quincy Pondexter was a highly sought after recruit coming out of high school, but through the first three years of his career at Washington, he was unable to fulfill that lofty potential. The reasons Pondexter was so highly regarded are evident in simply looking at any youtube clip of him -- Pondexter is a well-built 6'6", 220 lb wing with long arms, solid perimeter skills, and excellent explosiveness.

As a senior, Pondexter's game and the work he has put in to develop his game really began to show. The most effective part of his game right now is his ability to attack the basket as a scorer. Averaging right around 20 ppg for the entire season, Pondexter got the majority off his offense in isolation situations where he proved to be a very difficult matchup. Showing a solid -- not flashy, but serviceable and effective -- handle and a quick first step, Pondexter really attacked the basket well this season. He's an excellent finisher around the rim, using that athleticism to dunk over defenders and his strength to absorb contact. He took more than six free throws a game as a senior, which goes to show his aggressiveness attacking the rim.

While Pondexter made some great strides as a slasher in his four seasons at U-Dub, he still has a way to go to improve his jumper. To be fair, Pondexter is without a doubt a better shooter than he was when he entered school. He has developed a decent little pull-up jumper, and he can knock down some floaters and runners in the paint, shots that weren't in his arsenal a few years ago. From three, Pondexter did shoot over 35%, but it was on a very limited number of shots.

Another interesting aspect of Pondexter's game is his efficiency. For someone who took as many shots as he did in an isolation situation, Pondexter had a low turnover rate and a high field goal percentage. He doesn't jack up a lot of shots, he doesn't force the issue offensively, and in general, he seems like a good decision maker.

This is one aspect of his game that he will need to continually improve. Pondexter got a lot of one-on-one opportunities playing in Lorenzo Romar's spread offense this season, but he doesn't necessarily project as a guy that is going to dominate possession of the ball in the NBA. In other words, he's going to be a role player. That means that Pondexter will be forced to develop an NBA-caliber perimeter shot if he wants to have a long career in the league.

One aspect of Pondexter's game that I really like -- and that I think will help him latch on to an NBA team -- is his motor. He plays the game very hard. He attacks the offensive glass, using his length and athleticism to grab three offensive rebounds a game this past season. He was always moving, cutting, and coming off of screens on the offensive end. Defensively, he is active and intelligent, seeming to understand helpside defense. He leadership on this end of the floor seemed like it really helped a Washington team that, in general, regarded defense as an afterthought this year. His physical tools should allow him to be a very good defender at either the two or the three at the next level.

Comparison:
  • Best Case Scenario: If Pondexter can improve his jump shot and become a respectable spot-up shooter, I don't see why he can't be a starter, a la Michael Pietrus, in the NBA. I think a more likely role will be a Travis Outlaw kind of player, potentially with a career arc similar to that of James Posey.
  • Worst Case Scenario: I think Pondexter will, at the least, hang around the NBA as a defender and hustle player. Think Trenton Hassell.
Outlook: I like what Pondexter brings to the table. He's an excellent athlete with pretty ideal physical tools that plays the game hard (on both ends of the floor), is a capable scorer, and understands his limitations offensively. Its possible that he slips into the early second round, where I think he will be a steal.

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NBA Draft Prospects: Soloman Alabi, Florida State

Click here to find all of our 2010 NBA Draft prospect breakdowns.

Stats: 11.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 53.4% FG, 79.4% FT

Size:

  • Listed: 7'1", 251 lb, 22 yrs old
  • Combine: 7'0 3/4" (with shoes), 237 lb, 7'5" (wingspan)


About Him: Solomon Alabi is your typical, raw college big man. He has ideal height and length for an NBA center, checking in as a legitimate seven-footer in shoes with a wingspan of 7'5". But as far as NBA readiness is concerned, his size is about the only aspect of his game that can translate to the NBA right now.

For starters, Alabi needs to add some weight, some muscle, and quite a bit of lower body strength. Right now, he has a great deal of trouble holding position on the block on both ends of the floor, even against smaller opponents. It also hurts him on the glass, where he is an alarmingly bad defensive rebounder, in part because he gets pushed to far under the rim. He is a pretty offensive rebounder, however.

While Alabi's size makes him a good shot blocker, in both one-on-one situations and when rotating from the weak side, Alabi does have some bad habits defensively. He goes for far too many steals on entry passes, he has trouble defending the perimeter, and he needs to improve how well he steps out on a pick-and-roll.

Offensively, Alabi has made some strides, but he still has a long way to go. Alabi isn't much more than a catch-and-dunk center right now, but there are some signs that a back to the basket game could develop. As he has added some strength and coordination in his time at Florida State, Alabi's ability to finish through contact and use his left hand has continued to get better. He has a decent and improving little half-hook-half-jumper over his left shoulder, and was able to use his height to get off a shot over his right shoulder this past season. A nearly-80% shooter from the line, Alabi has a soft touch, which is a good sign for the development of his turn around and midrange jumpers.

One concern with Alabi is his age. He's 22 years old already, which means that his ceiling may not be as high as some of the seven footers that are younger than him. That said, he also has not been playing organized basketball as long as some of the american kids in this draft (Alabi is Nigerian), so some believe his development could come quicker.

Comparison:
  • Best Case Scenario: Alabi's size alone should allow him to be an effective player on the defensive end of the floor, which is why I like the comparison with Samuel Dalembert. Dalembert had a couple years where he averaged nearly a double-double while blocking a couple shots a game. I also think that Sagana Diop is a good comparison as well.
  • Worst Case Scenario: How many big men drafted on potential have been flops? Saer Sene? Patrick O'Bryant?
Outlook: Alabi is going to be a contributor on the defensive end of the floor if he can add 20-30 pounds of muscle. He's too long and too good of a natural shot blocker not to be a defensive addition to any roster. The question is going to be how well he develops as an offensive threat. If he can learn how to run the floor in transition, add a consistent 15 footer, become a consistent finisher at the rim, and add a jump hook and turn around jumper, he may one day be a starting center in this league. If you can land a starter with a pick in the 20's, that's a good pick.

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Thursday Morning Dump

It's draft day. One of my favorite days of the year. After today, some of these now-former college hoopers will become NBA stars, a larger portion will become role-players/benchwarmers, and others will, as Mike Tyson so eloquently stated, "fade into Bolivian".

I don't love doing Mock Drafts. I don't know enough about the NBA teams to make a good guess as to who they pick. I leave that to Draft Express, Chad Ford, and the rest of the draftniks. I will, however, link the mock draft Scott Klatzkin did for us a month ago. Seriously, give this a read, its worth it.

- If you read anything today, check out this piece of Tom Konchalski. More required reading -- Gene Wojciechowski on Coach K's basketball camp.

- Basketball Prospectus released their NBA Draft comparison list this morning. Some of these are spot on, and some leave you scratching you head.

- Dana O'Neil details how the new Appalachian State head coach, Jason Capel, is trying to uphold his family name

- That is UNC recruit PJ Hairston. Wow.



- TrueHoop discusses William Wesley

- 2011 prospect Tyler Harris wants to be more than just Tobias' younger brother

- James McAdoo spoke with Mike DeCourcy about his decision to finish up high school. He seems like a good kid.

- Remember Latavious Williams? He struggled to qualify, so he joined the D-League before entering the NBA Draft.

- Marcus Camby will be inducted into the UMass Hall of Fame

- Ball Don't Lie with an awesome post on the style of some of the potential picks. Cole Aldrich = AMAZING.

- Memphis transfer Roburt Sallie is interested in Indiana

- Louisville fans are pissed at Jeff Goodman for not giving them a prize they won (I'll be honest, I've been thru the same thing. I'm still waiting on a pair of Dockers khaki pants from Rush The Court for a twitter contest back in April. Not mad, I'm just saying.)

- Cornell big-man Jeff Foote signed a deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv

- Former Wildcat Ramel Bradley reflects on Big Blue Nation and their five draft entrants

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

NBA Draft Prospects: Larry Sanders, VCU

Click here to find all of our 2010 NBA Draft prospect breakdowns.

Stats: 14.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg (3.0 off), 2.6 bpg, 53.4% FG

Size:

  • Listed: 6'9", 205 lb, 21 yrs old
  • Combine: 6'10 1/2" (with shoes), 222 lb, 7'5 3/4" (wingspan)


About Him: Larry Sanders development as a player has been striking. Having only started playing basketball as a sophomore in high school, Sanders came to VCU without much in the way of basketball ability. That's not to say he didn't have potential. He's athletic, nearly 6'11" in shoes, has a wingspan of 7'5 3/4", and can run the floor. Throw some more meat on his bones, and he has almost an ideal physical profile for a big man in the NBA.

As a freshman, Sanders' game revolved around his ability to catch-and-dunk (which was never a guarantee), block shots, and grab some rebounds. While he is still a long ways from being a finished product, he has made some real strides at the offensive end of the floor. He's become a much better finisher around the basket, as he has developed a better left hand and some increased strength has allowed him to better go up strong through contact. While his back to the basket game is still developing -- his coordination and footwork is not yet good enough to take advantage of his quickness -- he does have a couple of moves that allow him to take advantage of his length. That said, those moves came against CAA competition, which is a far cry from NBA post play.

Another area that Sanders has improved is from the line, as he is now knocking down free throws at a 64% clip. He clearly has an increased confidence in his ability to shot from the perimeter, as he took some three pointers this season. While he didn't hit many of the jumpers he took, the fact that he was shooting from the perimeter during games means he likely has been developing a jump shot. If he can translate that jumper from practice into a game situation, it will greatly benefit him as a player, especially if he ends up playing the four in the NBA.

Defensively, Sanders is a good shot blocker, although his numbers have dipped every season. That can, in part, be explained through scouting reports -- opponents know that if they drive, there will be a shot blocker at the rim. That said, Sanders at times looks lackadaisical defensively, not always rotating and getting over late to block a shot.

The biggest issue for Sanders on both ends of the floor is going to be increasing his strength and his weight. Offensively, he is not yet strong enough to back down defenders. Defensively, he allows offensive post players to establish position way too easily. If he can put on 20-30 pounds of muscle, and improve his lower body strength, it will help him immensely.

Comparison:
  • Best Case Scenario: I think Larry Sanders could be another Theo Ratliff. Ratliff never really developed an offensive game, but he was one of the best shot blockers in the NBA for a few years. (He even earned himself a massive contract. Its all about getting paid, right?)
  • Worst Case Scenario: Poor man's Joe Pryzbilla, a few inches shorter.
Outlook: Larry Sanders clearly needs a couple of years before he can be a rotational player. On the bright side, the fact that he has gone from not playing basketball to a potential lottery pick in five years is impressive, and bodes well for future development. If he can add strength and improve his offensive game, I think Sanders could one day be a starter in the league, maybe even an all-defensive team player. Not bad for someone picked in the mid-to-late first round.

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