Friday, July 30, 2010

Northern Illinois won't allow Sean Kowal to pursue a graduate degree in Theology

Sean Kowal is an example of what is right in college athletics.

The 6'11" big man originally enrolled at Colorado, but after seeing limited minutes in his one season with the Buffaloes, he transferred to Northern Illinois. After redshirting the required one season, Kowal became a very effective part-time starter for the Huskies, averaging 10 ppg and 6 rpg the last two seasons.

But Kowal is also a good enough student that he was able to earn his undergraduate degree in four years. Coming to the realization that he likely won't be playing for pay once he collegiate career comes to an end, Kowal is looking to attend graduate school for Theology.

"After I realized I was going to graduate," Kowal told KSDK in St. Louis, "I've kind of thought about life after basketball. I'm not going to sacrifice my education for basketball."

The NCAA has a rule in place that allows a player to transfer to another institution for graduate school and skip the required redshirt season as long as the program he is taking isn't offered at his current school. Northern Illinois doesn't offer Theology, so one would think that Kowal would currently be looking for a school with the right Theology program.

Except there's one problem -- NIU won't release him from his scholarship:

Now here is what I don't understand.

In an idealistic world, the reason for athletic scholarships is that kids with superb talents in a certain sport can capitalize on that talent and receive a very expensive education for free. Kowal did just that. He's a "student-athlete" by every definition of the word.

And now he wants to be able to use his talent to further his education, to help him earn a graduate degree is Theology. But since the NCAA allows NIU to "handcuff" Kowal, he is either going to have to change the course of his studies and take a graduate program offered at NIU, or he is going to have to pay out of pocket for his education.

Student loans are miserable to pay back. Kowal has an opportunity to avoid those loans and that debt and still pursue the education and the career that he wants.

NIU wont give him that opportunity.

Which is ridiculous.

NIU won't grant Sean Kowal a release.
(photo credit:

Now, I don't the exact details of the relationship between Kowal and NIU's head coach Ricardo Patton, but he says in the interview has had no issues with the coach or the athletics department. Which makes me wonder -- what does Patton really care about here?

Does he truly care about Patton's education? Does he want his players to pursue a fulfilling career path? Or does he see a 6'11" center that averages double figures -- those don't exactly come around too often, especially at the mid-major level -- getting ready to walk and figure that his team, and by extension his coaching ability, would be that much better with Kowal on the roster?

If Patton really cared about his players, he would be applauding Kowal. We all should be applauding Kowal. Being a college basketball player and a student is not easy. Unline baseball and football, basketball season extends through both semesters, meaning that for at least half of every class a basketball player takes in college, he is going to be dealing with road trips, practices, film sessions, weight room sessions, etc., all while handling the same course load as the kids that have to budget their time between smoking weed, getting drunk, and banging out a paper or problem set.

People bitch and they moan about the issues with one-and-done players, and how poorly Kentucky did in the class room this year, and the APR. How many times have you heard someone make some remark about how college basketball players aren't "student"-athletes?

Well, here we have a real, live, honest-to-god student-athlete. Here we have a kid that graduated from school on time, and is looking to further educate himself. Instead of rewarding that, instead of helping him, the NCAA allows rules to be in place that can feasibly make it impossible for Kowal to receive an athletic scholarship to pursue the degree he wants to pursue.

And you wonder why people think the NCAA is a farce.

If Patton had any class or any sense, he would release Kowal from his scholarship. If Kowal wants to move on with his life, if he wants to attend school elsewhere, and if there are NCAA rules in place that would allow him to receive a graduate degree for free, than Patton should allow him to leave.

Because the only person getting hurt here is the student-athlete.

Do the right thing, coach. Let Sean go.
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Friday Morning Dump

- More on Rick Pitino from KSR -- part 1 and part 2. Warning: this is guaranteed to make you sick. Rick Pitino is actually kind of a dirtbag.

- RTC makes a very, very interesting point that no one is mentioning: the timeline here. Based on this post by KSR from the opening arguments, Pitino and Sypher had sex on July 31st, and by August 21st Sypher not only has determined that she is with child and that child is Pitino's, but she has already signed a document at a Women's Clinic saying she wants an abortion. That's rather quick, no?

- Knowing about this, this, and this, reading Tim Floyd say this kind of turns my stomach. I know there is no proof of anything, but I get the feeling this guy is about as clean as Rick Pitino's pants leg.

- How does the new Arizona sanctions effect Lute Olson's legacy? Personally, I say they don't. Moving on.

- Although it would create massive amounts of confusion, it only makes sense for the Big XII and the Big Ten swapping names because, well, one league has ten teams and the other has twelve. And not the right ones. Doesn't seem like it is going to happen, however.

- Gary Parrish on Ohio State for CBSSports' best football and basketball school series.

- The Kings have hired DeMarcus Cousins' high school coach Otis Hughley as an assistant. Now, this isn't totally out of the blue, as Hughley has coached at some high level camps as well as with USA Basketball, but still, this is a reach. The NBA package deal? Not so much. Hughley is going to be less of a coach and more of a babysitter for Cousins.

- Kodi Augustus, a forward on Mississippi State, made a quick appearance on the Real World. I haven't watched that garbage since Danny got his face smashed in on Austin -- to be fair, the Real World/Road Rules challenges were always awesome -- but The Dagger's Jeff Eisenberg took one for the team and gives us a thorough breakdown.

- Read this Zagoria article on Travon Woodall's fear of leprechauns, and tell me you don't immediately think of this.

- Scout's Evan Daniels was able to land an interview with Tony Wroten. I'm not sure how well Wroten comes off here. Confidence is a good thing. Cockiness ... thats a different story.

- Coach K went on PTI:

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

The latest in meaningless NCAA punishments

Some of you may have forgotten about this, but back when Lute Olson was still considering whether or not he was going to continue his coaching career, Arizona was facing some fairly serious NCAA violation.

The NCAA's case centered around the Cactus Classic, and other on campus events between 2006-2008 that involved prospective student-athletes, and whether or not Olson asked and/or received financial contributions from boosters. Apparently, Olson sent a letter with his digitized signature to the Rebounders Club asking for donations.

Arizona self-imposed some sanctions, but today the NCAA handed down their ruling. From Jeff Goodman's blog:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Two years probation from July 29, 2010 through July 28, 2012. That was self-imposed by the school. (Arizona self-imposed).
  • Reduction in number of official visits in men's basketball from 12 to six for the 2010-11 academic year and six for the 2011-12 recruiting year. (Arizona had self-imposed 11 for 2009-10 and eight for 2010-11).
  • Reduction in the number of "recruiting-person days" from 130 to 120 during the 2009-10 season and 130 to 100 during the 2010-11 academic year. (The committee added 10 days to the institution's 20-day reduction for 2010-11).
  • Reduction in the number of "recruiting-person days" by eight during the 2010 summer evaluation period. The institution had imposed.
  • Reduction by one in scholarships from 13 to 12 in the 2011-12 academic year, which was already imposed by the institution. The committee also determined the school shall reduce by one in the 2012-13 academic year.
  • Two men's basketball players competed while ineligible during the 2007-08 academic year, based on their receipt of impermissible benefits in conjunction with the 2006 Cactus Classic. The institution will vacate all wins in which those players competed while ineligible.
  • Disassociation of the promoter from the institution's athletic program based on his involvement in violation of NCAA rules. (Institution had self-imposed).
The irony in all of this (other than the fact that these violations landed Arizona Jamelle Horne and Zane Johnson)?

These punishments essentially mean nothing. We've said it a thousand times, and I'm sure you've read it a million more, the vacation of games means absolutely nothing. This is real life, we're not erasing a season on NCAA 2K10.

If this same principle applied to my life, then would I allowed to sleep around behind my girlfriend's back? Once she found out I was "cheating", couldn't I just vacate my "victories"? Then is all forgiven? (Maybe we should ask Rick Pitino.)

This punishment won't ruin how fans and media think of Lute Olson. He will forever be known as the coach that built a national power in Tucson. The only "tarnish" on his legacy is the way his career ended, but much of that involves his personal, and mental, health. Hell, it isn't even Olson's wins that are being vacated; they are Kevin O'Neill's. Olson didn't coach the 2007-2008 season. Once again, O'Neill is paying for another coaches crimes. (O'Neill is just a glutton for punishment, isn't he?)

(A bit off topic, but I wonder if Arizona State's 2008 squad is upset. The Wildcats are now the second tournament team to have their season vacated (Memphis), and if you remember, many believed that the Sun Devils -- who had a better league and overall record, and who beat their in-state rivals twice -- should have gotten an at-large bid.)

The recruiting penalties are the only place that Sean Miller and company are going to feel any pain, but it will be minimal. This team isn't going to need to do all that much recruiting this year or next year. There is only one rising senior on the roster, only two rising juniors got significant minutes last season, and both the freshmen and sophomore classes are deep and talented. If he can keep those kids around for two seasons (and all signs point to Miller being able too -- Derrick Williams isn't on the 2011 Mock Draft at Draft Express), can't he focus the leftover resources on bring in a few talents to fill needs?

There is only one question I am left with -- what happened at FedExForum on December 29th, 2007?
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Looking Back: The class of 2005

We have now officially entered the dog days of summer. As the temperature rises, news in our college hoops universe comes to a standstill. Recruiting news, on the other hand, doesn't. There are two extremely important observation periods during the month of July, and more than a few scholarships, and spots on top 100 lists, are on the line. Unfortunately, BIAH doesn't pay the rent (click on some ads people!!!), which means we can't be out on the road at events like Nike's Peach Jam. In other words, we won't be putting out top 100 lists for the class of 2013. But since it is July, and since basketball in July is dedicated to recruiting, we are going to spend these next few weeks looking back past recruiting classes and rankings. Some of the results will surprise you.

Class of 2003

Class of 2004

Class of 2005:

The Class of 2004 was as strong at the top as it was deep, with a number of quality pros -- not too mention Florida's class that won two national titles -- coming from way beyond the top 20, the top 50, and even the top 100. The Class of 2005 is the opposite. There may never be an NBA all-star from this class (although, Monta Ellis is getting close). There is still time to turn it around, considering these kids are just 23 and 24 years old right now and a number of the higher ranked players have become decent contributors at the NBA level. That said, the top two of the 2005 class have been massively disappointing.

One thing to note about the Class of 2005 -- it was the last year that high schoolers could enter the NBA Draft. In 2006, the one-and-done rule officially went into effect.

Click the chart to enlarge.

1. Gerald Green: Green went straight to the NBA out of high school, and while many expected the insanely athletic, 6'8" Green to be picked early, he fell to 18th to the Boston Celtics. Green played sparingly as a rookie in Boston, but in his second season, he managed to work his way into the starting line-up due to injuries. He wound up averaging 10.4 ppg, but was traded during the off-season to Minnesota as a part of the deal for Kevin Garnett. Green would bounce from Minnesota to Houston and then Dallas over the next two seasons, before spending the last year in Russia. This summer, Green played with the Lakers.

1. Josh McRoberts: McRoberts spent two seasons at Duke, where he made the all-ACC freshman team in 2006. And even though he improved as a sophomore, McRoberts never quite lived up to the hype he left high school with. McRoberts left Duke after his sophomore season, getting drafted 37th by Portland. After one season with the Blazers, McRoberts was traded to his hometown Indiana Pacers. He's played a grand total of 83 games in his three seasons in the NBA.

3. Monta Ellis: Monta Ellis originally committed to Mississippi State, but he instead went directly to the NBA where he was picked 40th overall by Golden State in 2005. After a slow start during his rookie season, Ellis really developed in his second season, earning the NBA's Most Improved Player award, upping his numbers to 16.5 ppg and 4.1 apg. Ellis became a starter, and eventually developed into one of the most explosive scorers in the NBA. This past season, he averaged 25 points and 5 assists.

4. Martell Webster: Webster decided to forego college, going sixth in the draft to Portland in 2005. Webster was a part-time starter in his first two seasons, eventually becoming a full-time starter and double-digit scorer in 2007-2008. It was enough to earn him a four-year, $20 million contract from he Blazers. After missing all but five minutes of the 2009 season, Webster returned to form last year. During the summer, he was sent to Minnesota for the right to pick Luke Babbitt.

5. Andray Blatche: Blatche is another guy that went straight to the 2005 NBA Draft, getting picked 49 by the Wizards. His career was a bit bumpy at the start -- he was shot before training camp his rookie season during an attempted carjacking, he got picked up for attempted solicitation in 2007 -- but Blatche has continued to improve every season. He became a starter by the end of this season for the Wiz, averaging 14.1 ppg and 6.3 rpg.

6. Louis Williams: Williams had a storied career at South Gwinnett High School, becoming the second all-time leading scorer in Georgia history and twice winning state player of the year. Originally committing to Georgia, Williams went straight to the NBA. He was picked by the Sixers, and after struggling to find minutes backing up Allen Iverson, Williams was sent down to the D-League. After tearing up the competition, Williams was eventually recalled, and became a dynamic scorer off the bench for the Sixers. He's averaged double digits the last three years, with career highs of 14 ppg and 4 apg in 2009-2010.

7. Andrew Bynum: Bynum committed to UConn out of high school, but instead decided to enter the 2005 NBA Draft at the ripe age of 17. He was picked 10th by the Lakers, becoming the youngest player ever to be draft, and eventually the youngest to ever play in an NBA game. Bynum was able to break into the Lakers starting lineup by his second season in the league, and by his third year he was averaging double figures. Since then, Bynum has been battling injuries to his knees, but when he is healthy, he is capable of averaging a double-double.

8. Julian Wright: Wright headed to Kansas out of Chicago's Homewood-Flossmor High School where he was voted the Big XII's preseason freshman of the year. While he didn't quite live up to the hype, he did manage to make his way into the starting lineup and average 8.5 ppg and 4.6 rpg for a team that won both the Big XII regular season and tournament titles. Kansas lost in the first round of the tournament that year, but Wright came back for his sophomore season. Wright would average 12.0 ppg and 7.8 rpg as the Jayhawks went 32-5, again winning both Big XII titles and reaching the Elite 8. It was enough for Wright to earn third team all-america honors and head to the NBA Draft, where he would become the 13th pick by New Orleans. Wright has spent three seasons with the Hornets, and while his career averages are 4.0 ppg and 2.3 rpg, he has become a part time starter.

9. Tyler Hansbrough: If you read this blog, than you know the career Hansbrough had at North Carolina. Four time first team all-ACC. Four time all-american. 2008 national player of the year. 2009 national champion. He went 13th to the Pacers in the 2009 draft, and averaging 8.5 ppg and 4.8 rpg in a season cut short by inner ear problems.

10. Richard Hendrix: Hendrix started all but nine games in his three year career at Alabama, developing into one of the best big men in the South. His sophomore season was when he really broke out, posting 14.8 ppg and 8.9 rpg. As a junior, Hendrix averaged 17.8 ppg and 10.1 rpg, earning first team all-SEC honors. He entered the draft, getting picked 49th by Golden State, but was cut midway through his rookie season. He spent some time in the D-League before heading to Spain last year.

11. Keith Brumbaugh: Brumbaugh is an interesting story. As chronicled in this excellent Andy Staples piece from 2008, Brumbaugh initially tried to enter the 2005 NBA Draft, but after finding out that he would not be a first round pick, he decided to enroll at Oklahoma State. An arrest for shoplifting and a low score on an ACT retake cost him his scholarship there. After spending some time back in Florida, and some time in jail after being arrested six times in 26 months, Brumbaugh cleaned up his act with John Lucas, dominated at Hillsborough Community College, then entered the 2008 NBA Draft. He would go undrafted, spending the last two seasons putting up solid numbers in the D-League.

11. Brandon Rush: Rush arrived at Kansas with Julian Wright, averaging about 14 points and 6 boards in his first two years. Rush had every intention of entering the 2007 NBA Draft, but he tore his acl in May of that year, forcing him to return to Kansas for his junior season. It was a good decision, as Rush continued the produce, despite the Jayhwaks loaded roster, and helped Kansas win the 2008 national title. Rush went pro after his junior year, getting picked 13th by the Blazers before eventually being traded to the Pacers. Rush became a starter by his second season, averaging 9.4 ppg and 4.2 rpg.

13. CJ Miles: Miles committed to Texas, but decided to go straight to the NBA, where he was picked 34th by the Jazz. Miles bounced from the D-League to the NBA and back for his first two seasons, becoming a permanent member of the Jerry Sloan's rotation. Miles moved into the starting lineup in 2008-2009, and while he was back into a spot-starting role last season, he averaged a career-high in points and minutes.

13. Greg Paulus: Paulus was a storied high school athlete, earning Mr. Basketball in the state of New York as well as becoming a prized quarterback recruit. Paulus started for three seasons with the Blue Devils, but he was quite inconsistent. His numbers were far from terrible -- he averaged 11.4 ppg as a junior, was a good three point shooter, and picked up a fair number of assists -- but he had a knack for untimely turnovers and mistakes. As a senior in 2008-2009, Paulus was benched in favor of Nolan Smith, playing limited minutes. After he used up his eligibility in basketball, Paulus transferred to Syracuse and played quarterback for the Orange. He got a couple tryouts with the Saints, but it is looking more and more likely that Paulus is going to get into coaching.

15. Mario Chalmers: Chalmers, an Alaskan native, came to Kansas with Rush and Wright. As a freshman, he started out on the bench, but by conference play he had earned a starting spot. As a sophomore, Chalmers developed into one of the better point guards in the Big XII, being named to the all-Big XII third team and the co-defensive player of the year. Chalmers junior season was his best, as he played a vital role in the Jayhawks run to a title, hitting the three that forced overtime in the title game against Memphis. Chalmers entered the draft, and was the 34th pick by the Heat. He started all 82 games as a rookie, averaging 10.0 ppg and 4.9 apg. He was limited last season to due an injury to his thumb.

16. Tasmin Mitchell: Mitchell had a very solid five year career with LSU. He started immediately as a freshman, averaging 11.4 ppg and 5.6 rpg on a team that made a run to the 2006 Final Four. LSU would never find that much success as a team, but Mitchell would individually. Mitchell missed the 2007-2008 season due to a stress fracture in his ankle, but would come back to average over 16 ppg in both his junior and senior seasons. Mitchell went undrafted this past June, but he latched on with the Cavs in summer league play and will attend their training camp this fall.

17. Magnum Rolle: Rolle went with Mitchell to LSU, where he would see limited minutes in two seasons. He decided to transfer to Louisiana Tech after his sophomore season, sitting out 2007-2008. In two seasons at Tech, Rolle put up solid numbers, averaging 13 points, 8 boards, and 2 blocks per. He graduated with a degree in sociology, and was picked 51st in the 2010 NBA Draft, eventually ending up with Indiana.

18. Shawne Williams: Williams was a talented player, but he could never seem to steer clear of the law. After averaging 13.2 ppg and 6.2 rpg as a freshman at Memphis, Williams went pro, getting picked 17th by Indiana in 2006. He played limited minutes as a rookie, and before the start of his second season, he was arrested when a car he was driving was found to have weed and a stolen handgun in it. In January of 2010, Williams was arrested on felony charges of selling codeine cough syrup. And just this past week he was again arrested, and again it was because a car he was driving had weed and a gun in it. Williams has spent time with New Jersey, Dallas, and Indiana in the NBA.

18. Byron Eaton: Eaton was a big time recruit in both football and basketball in high school, but he chose to run the point for Oklahoma State. Eaton had a solid career in Stillwater, averaging 10.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, and 3.0 rpg in his four year career, capped by a 14.3 ppg and 5.7 apg senior season. Eaton wasn't drafted, in large part because he has always dealt with a weight problem. He lost a good deal of weight before his senior season, but packed it all back on, and more, after he graduated. The 5'10" point guard played just two games with the Tulsa 66ers last season before being cut.

20. Amir Johnson: Johnson, originally a Louisville commit out of LA's Westchester high school, has the dubious distinction of being the last player ever drafted straight out of high school. He was picked by the Pistons, and spent most of his first two seasons in the D-League. During the 2007-2008 season, Johnson was able to crack the rotation, and by the end of the 2009 season, he had worked his way into the Piston's starting line-up. Detroit traded Johnson to Toronto prior to last season, and Johnson averaged 6.2 ppg and 4.8 rpg. It was enough to earn himself a five year, $34 million contract from Toronto.

Other Notable 2005 Prospects:

29. Jon Brockman: Brockman was a force in the paint in college. He played four seasons at Washington, becoming the school's all-time leading rebounder and second all-time leading scorer. He was picked 38th in the 2009 NBA Draft, and averaged 2.8 ppg and 4.1 rpg last season as a rookie in Sacramento.

33. Eric Devendorf: The tattoed and chin-strapped Devo quickly became one of the most hated players in the country, in part because of how much trash he talked on the court, and in part because he was a 17 ppg scorer that had a reputation for knocking down big shots. Devo missed his junior season with a knee injury, and was nearly kicked out of school the next season because of an incident with a female on campus. He is currently playing in the New Zealand professional league.

35. Tyler Smith: Smith started out his career at Iowa, but was allowed to transfer back to his native Tennessee to be closer to his ill father. Smith became one of the most versatile forwards in the country as a Vol, but his career was cut short as a senior after he was arrested for being in a car with weed, vodka, and a gun. He finished last season playing in Europe.

36. Devan Downey: The 5'9" Downey began his career at Cincinnati before transferring back to South Carolina, where he became arguably the best pound-for-pound scorer in the country. He averaged 22.5 ppg as a senior, which included an incredible performance he had against Kentucky this past season.

44. Wilson Chandler: Chandler went to DePaul, where he was a good player for two seasons, averagign 14.6 ppg and 6.9 rpg before heading to the 2007 NBA Draft. He was taken 23rd by the Knicks, where he worked his way into the starting lineup. Last season, Chandler averaged over 15 points and 5 boards.

47. Jeff Adrien: Adrien played limited minutes as a freshman on a loaded UConn team before becoming their star and workhorse over the next three years. He helped lead the Huskies to the 2009 Final Four, but was not drafted. He's played in NBA summer leagues the past two seasons, and has a contract with a team in Spain.

55. Terrence Williams: T-Will is an incredible athlete with an excellent all-around game. After helping lead Louisville to a Big East regular season title, a Big East tournament title, and the No. 1 overall seed in 2009, Williams became a lottery pick, going to the Nets. He had a solid rookie campaign, averaging 8.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, and 2.9 apg.

Derrick Brown: Brown redshirted his first season at Xavier, but over the next three seasons, he slowly developed into one of the more dangerous players in the A-10. He graduated after his junior season, entering the NBA Draft in 2009. The Bobcats picked Brown 40th, although he saw limited minutes as a rookie.

Darren Collison: Collison had a tremendous four year career at UCLA, making three Final Fours and multiple all-american teams. He was picked 21st in the 2009 draft as a backup to Chris Paul, and he proved himself more than worthy. On the year, Collison averaged 12.5 ppg and 5.7 apg, but in 37 starts with Paul out with injury, Collison averaged 18.8 ppg and 9.1 apg.

Chris Douglas-Roberts: CDR has an unorthodox game, but it was effective in John Calipari's dribble-drive offense. He developed into an all-american by his junior season, although it was his missed free throws that helped cost Memphis a national title. CDR went pro, and was picked 40th in the 2008 NBA Draft. He moved into a starting role in New Jersey this season, averaging 9.8 ppg.

Tyree Evans: Evans was a troubled youngster, bouncing around from school to school before finally landing at Kent State, when he graduated this past spring. Read this excellent profile by Dan O'Neil on him.

Jimmy Graham: Graham is quite an interesting kid. He was a double major at Miami in business and marketing. He played four years of basketball there, developing into a solid big man off the bench. He then played one season of football for the 'Canes, finishing with five TD's. He was then taken early in the 2nd round by the New Orleans Saints.

Wes Matthews: Matthews, a former Mr. Basketball in Wisconsin, was a starter from Day 1 at Marquette. He played four seasons, becoming an all-american and 19 ppg scorer as a senior. Matthews would go undrafted, but he signed with the Jazz and developed into a talent and valuable rookie, starting and averaging 9.4 ppg. He signed a five year, $34 million contract with Portland.

Emanuel "Tiki" Mayben: You know who Tiki Mayben is for all the wrong reasons. Originally at UMass, Mayben bounced around for a while before eventually landing with Kevin Broadus and Binghamton. It was here that Mayben was arrested for dealing crack, an arrest which essentially sparked the collapse of the Binghamton program. Mayben plead guilty to the charge and got five years of probation.

Jerel McNeal: Like Matthews, McNeal was a four year starter for Marquette, becoming a Big East player of the year candidate after averaging 20.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, and 3.9 apg as a senior. McNeal wasn't drafted, either, but has played in NBA summer leagues the past two years and spent last season in Belgium.
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Thursday Morning Dump

- Sad news coming out of Memphis, as the body of Lorenzen Wright, who has been missing for over a week, was found in a wooded area of Memphis yesterday, reportedly with a dozen bullet wounds. Wright played two seasons for his hometown Memphis Tigers before heading to the NBA, where he eventually played five seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies. Check out this great tribute from the Commercial Appeal.

- Huggy Bear is out of the hospital.

- Earlier this week, Seth Davis published an article where he caught up with 11 coaches out in Vegas. Yesterday, we got his article evaluating some college and high school kids he got a chance to watch. Definitely worth the read.

- This Rick Pitino trial keeps getting better/creepier. Kentucky Sports Radio has all the recapping you can handle. Our thoughts? Well, I think Quicky Ricky is really going to regret his "15 seconds" comment. I think this is one instance where no one would blame him for perjuring himself. Twitter has been fantastic as a result, and my bet is that Louisville is going to have some interesting road trips this year.

- I don't necessarily think that Rick Pitino needs to resign right now. If he can continue to recruit I see no reason for him to leave. That is a big "if", however, and if he can't recruit, he won't be able to win. If he can't win at Louisville, its time to move on.

- Here is Gary Parrish's take on the Kevin Coble situation. I agree with Parrish that this is the very problem with coaching at Northwestern -- your stars quit because they don't want to play basketball anymore -- but I have to disagree with him that Coble did anything wrong by quitting. He didn't want to play basketball anymore, is that really so terrible? If Parrish decided to stop writing for CBS, instead focusing on his radio show and spending time with his family, would we be allowed to be mad at him? Regardless, this talk about Northwestern not having a chance anymore is crazy. John Shurna is better than Coble, and they play the same position.

- Andy Katz on Tony Barbee and the uphill battle he faces at Auburn. He's already landed top 50 recruit Luke Cothron, a Huntsville native. That is a good start.

- Mike Rosario talks with Adam Zagoria about his future at Florida. Can you imagine a back court of Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton, Brad Beal, Mike Rosario, and potentially Austin Rivers? Yikes!

- Providence lands 7'3" center Blake Vedder, and also is reportedly close to landing former Tennessee signee Daniel West, who spent last season at a Juco.

- It seems as if Jimmer Fredette's return to Glen Falls, NY, to play Vermont is going to be a big deal, especially for those folks in upstate New York.

- Roy Williams thinks Harrison Barnes could be a harder worker than Tyler Hansbrough. That's actually kind of scary.

- Who knew Kyle Singler was artistic?

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday Where Are They Now?: Taylor Coppenrath, Vermont

Ever wonder what happened to those college stars that couldn't catch on in the NBA? The guys that put up the great numbers or the guys that left early, and were never heard from again? Every Wednesday, we at BIAH will take a look at a former college star that never made it in the NBA, and we will update you on where he is playing or what he is doing. We're guessing the results will surprise you. To request a player, hit us up on twitter @ballinisahabit or via email at

Taylor Coppenrath, Vermont:

Taylor Coppenrath was a late bloomer in high school. The state of Vermont isn't exactly known as a hoops hot bed, and Coppenrath, who would eventually become the state's player of the year, didn't even make the varsity until he was a junior. Coppenrath would end up going to UVm, where he would have a great career.

Coppenrath took a redshirt in his first season at Vermont, meaning he didn't suit up for the Catamounts until the 2001-2002 season. It didn't take long for him to show what kind of player he was going to be, either, averaging 16.6 ppg and 7.0 rpg in his first season en route to earning second team all-America East honors. Vermont would win a share of the conference regular season title in 2002, but the Cats would lose to Maine in the semifinals of the conference tournament.

As a sophomore, Coppenrath would win the first of his three America East player of the year awards. Vermont was not near as successful in the regular season, finishing just 18-11 and 11-5, but the Cats would go on to win the America East Tournament before losing to Arizona in the NCAA Tournament. Coppenrath averaged 19.5 ppg and 6.0 rpg on the year.

Coppenrath's junior year was memorable. He averaged 24.1 ppg and 7.2 rpg en route to his second consecutive POY award. But midway through the season, Coppenrath broke his wrist. He missed a number of games, including the first two rounds of the league tournament, but he would return for the Finals, and in a big way. Coppenrath went for 43 points and 13 boards as the Cats advanced to the NCAA Tournament, where they would get knocked off by eventual national champion UConn.

As a senior, Coppenrath teamed up with point guard TJ Sorrentine to become one of the best inside-outside combos in the country. Coppenrath averaged 25.1 ppg and 8.9 rpg, becoming a finalist for just about every national player of the year award. Vermont would have their most successful season in history, winning 24 games and both the America East regular season and conference tournament titles. They would earn a 13 seed in the big dance, drawing Syracuse in the opening round. The Cats, along with the help of Sorrentine's "parking lot" three, would upset the Orange before eventually succumbing to the Michigan State Spartans.

After graduating from Vermont, Coppenrath went undrafted. He briefly flirted with the idea of playing with Vermont's ABA team before making the move overseas. In his first season abroad, Coppenrath spent the year with the Greek team A.E.K. He would average 10.4 ppg and 5.3 rpg with A.E.K.

After the season, Coppenrath moved onto Italy, where he would suit up with Biella during the 2006-2007 season. Playing alongside former college hoopers Reece Gaines and Taquan Dean, Coppenrath would once again have a relatively mediocre season, averaging just 7.6 ppg and 4.8 rpg. After the year, Coppenrath was once again on the move, heading for Spain.

He's spent the last three seasons in the Spain's LEB Gold league, the Spanish second division. For two seasons, Coppenrath played with Meridiano Alicante, where he would average 10.5 ppg and 4.4 rpg in 2008-2009. Last season, Coppenrath spent the year with Melilla Baloncesto, averaging a European high 12.6 ppg and 5.9 rpg. It was enough to earn him a contract with C.B Murcia, the third LEB Gold team he will play for.

With Murcia, Coppenrath will be suiting up along side Michael Umeh of UNLV, Josh Asselin of Michigan, and Chris Moss of West Virginia.
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Wednesday Morning Dump

- Today's must read comes from Seth Davis, who had a chance to catch up with a number of coaches.

- A fantastic read from CAA Hoops. Seriously, read it.

- KSR was once again in the courtroom for the Karen Sypher trial, and once again Matt Jones put together a fantastic recap of the day's events. Things went well for the defense yesterday, as a couple government witnesses were crucified on stand. It gets really juicy today as Rick Pitino will likely be testifying.

- USA Today catches up with Arthur Agee, one of the kids from the movie 'Hoop Dreams'.

- North Carolina recruit PJ Hairston is a gunner, which is a good thing when you are 6'6" and have a smooth jumper. He also has some hops...

- The Pac-10 is making some changes. They will become the Pac-12 once Colorado and Utah become a part of the conference (here's to hoping the name is officially changed to the 12-Pac. That would be awesome). They also unveiled a brand new website, which clearly needs some work done. The conference has also changed their logo:

- We posted our take on Kevin Coble last night. Here is John Gasaway's, which as you might imagine, is spot on.

- Ray McCallum and Troy Zeigler, the two five-star recruits that decided to play mid-major basketball for their fathers', will face off on December 18th this year.

- Jeff Goodman says that Gary Williams got a new lease on life when the former Maryland AD left.

- The WAC is changing their conference tournament format. Instead of having a regular tournament break down -- 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, etc. -- the top two seeds will receive automatic byes into the semifinals and the third and fourth seeds will receive a first round bye. It is the same format as the WCC. Its interesting to see other conferences adopt a double-bye for their conference tournament when the Big East decided to get rid of it this very same summer.

- Big XII Hoops tells us which coach got the most money per win in the conference.

- Hofstra player may be done for the year.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kevin Coble will not return to the Northwestern basketball program

Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody cannot catch a break.

Just one season after finding out that star forward Kevin Coble would miss an entire year with a foot injury, Carmody will once again be forced to play without the 6former second team all-Big Ten selection. Earlier this evening, Coble announced that he will not be rejoining the Wildcats this season.

"The recovery of my foot is most important and extends far beyond my basketball career," Coble said in a press release. "I will continue to follow my surgeon's rehabilitation schedule and have been told by my surgeon that I will have a full recovery. I will not be transferring to another school and with that, will be finishing the last of my classes at Northwestern this fall."

Coble will finish up his classes at Northwestern, graduating in December with a Political Science degree.

Kevin Coble will not finish up his final year of eligibility at Northwestern.
(photo credit: Daylife)

By all accounts, this was really a punch in the gut for Carmody, who had no idea Coble was considering leaving the team. (Ed. Note: My twitter feed lied; Carmody was expecting it.)

"We wish Kevin nothing but the best in his future endeavors," Carmody said. "We want to thank him for his contributions to the program over the past four years."

The Wildcats are the only team from one of the Big Six conferences that has never played in the NCAA Tournament. Last season was going to be the year they finally broke through. They were bringing back quite a bit of talent from a 2009 team that won 17 games, including eight of their last 14 in Big Ten play, and knocked off the likes of Minnesota, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Purdue. But before the season even started, second team all-Big Ten selection Coble went down with a foot injury that would sideline him for the year.

Even without Coble, last season was about as close as Northwestern has ever gotten, winning 20 games and staying in bubble consideration until the final weeks of the regular season. This led many, including us, to believe that next season would finally be their year to go dancing.

Not only do the Wildcats return five of their top six scorers -- including rising junior John Shurna, who averaged 18.4 ppg and 6.2 rpg last seasons, and rising senior Michael Thompson, one of the more underrated point guards in the Big Ten -- but Coble was supposed to finally be healthy and ready to join Shurna in what was going to become one of the most versatile front courts in the conference.

Instead, Northwestern will once again be without Coble, but that does not mean that the Wildcats season is over. Shurna and Coble are essentially the same player -- 6'8" forwards that can shoot, get to the basket, and pass, a perfect skill set for a forward in Carmody's Princeton-style offense. Shurna is a bit thinner and rangier, more athletic, and probably more perimeter oriented than Coble, but there are no promises these two would have complemented each other on the court.

Shurna is also well on his way to being one of the best players in the Big Ten, and he should continue to develop given he spent last week in Vegas with the national teams. Thompson is an underrated player at the point. Drew Crawford was selected as the Big Ten freshman of the year. Luka Mirkovic and Alex Marcotullio also return, while freshman JerShon Cobb, a top 100 recruit, should be able to fill in Jeremy Nash's shoes.

This is essentially the same Northwestern team, just a year older. They weren't that far away last season. The Big Ten is loaded this year, with three or four top ten teams, so the Wildcats will have their work cut out for them if they do want to go dancing.

But don't consider it a lost cause.

This is the part where we speculate as to why Coble decided to leave.

Its possible that he was concerned about how he would project as a pro playing alongside Shurna, and I don't think it is out of the question that Coble has an eye on Europe after he graduates in December. Another thing to notice is that Coble thanked the university, the administration, the fans, and his teammates in his statement, but made no mention of the coaching staff. I'm sure there are those who will question his decision to make this announcement at such a late date as well.

But isn't it possible that Coble simply didn't like basketball all that much? I mean, this is a kid that has a PoliSci degree from Northwestern, so he clearly has enough brains for a career outside of hoops. He also spent the first nine games of his sophomore season in 2007 with his mother back in Arizona while she battled breast cancer.

This kid is more than just a basketball player. Maybe he felt that it was time to move on, that he wasn't willing to risk further injury to his foot.

Maybe it took him until the end of July to finally make that decision.

And if that is the case, is it really all that bad?

Kevin, we wish you the best wherever life takes you. Hopefully, you'll be supporting your former Wildcat teammates along the way.

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The Ivy had a great year, but it is still the Ivy

With Cornell's run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, and Jeremy Lin's performance in the Summer League and subsequent contract with the Golden State Warriors, the question that is going to start being asked is whether or not the Ivy can consistently produce NCAA tournament winners and NBA players.

In other words, does this boost in profile make the league more attractive to recruits?

As they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Jeremy Lin went from Harvard to the NBA.
(photo credit: ESPN)

Cornell became the darling on the NCAA Tournament, putting together some of the most impressive offensive basketball I've ever seen in their two wins during the first weekend. And while that team had plenty of talent -- Ryan Wittman, Louis Dale, and Jeff Foote probably all could have started at BCS programs by their senior seasons -- their success was as much about coaching and the ability of that team to play together as much as it was individual talent.

In other words, that team was a fluke team. Steve Donahue landed three guys that could have gone to bigger schools, surrounded them with solid role players, and developed a system that allowed each of those three players to maximize their ability. It was a perfect storm and a testament to the job Donahue did. That's why he got the head coaching job at Boston College.

As for Lin, he was just a guy that the bigger schools missed on. It happens -- ask the Curry brothers or Adam Morrison. Maybe it was because he was too slow, or couldn't jump high enough, or didn't have perfect form on his jumper, or his height, or his ethinicity. Whatever it was, Lin slipped through the cracks to become one of the best guards in the country last season while playing for a school known for brain power, not athletics. Lin, like the group at Cornell, was a fluke.

Look, I don't mean to discredit what the Ivy League did last season. It was impressive. It was fun to watch. But that doesn't change the fact that it is the Ivy League. There is a much smaller pool of prospects for schools in the Ivy League. They need players that not only can afford to pay for school (not always the case, as financial aid can be given to athletes), but can hold their own in the classroom as well.

That is what an Ivy League coach needs to sell recruits on. "Come here, play a lower level of D1 basketball in a league that doesn't have a conference tournament at a school where you will need to work as hard, if not harder, in the classroom than you do on the court."

That is a tough sales-pitch to a BCS-level kid. Its also why a coach like Steve Donahue, who was able to successfully make that sales pitch to three potential high-major players, gets scooped up by a school like Boston College.

The Ivy is like any other low- or mid-major conference. It goes in cycles. They've have been very successful the last year.

But one year, one Sweet 16 trip, and one undrafted free agent earning a contract is not going to make anyone forget that this is, in fact, still the Ivy League.

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Malcolm Armstead is the latest transfer from Oregon

You should be able to forgive Oregon fans if they don't recognize anyone on the Ducks next season.

Gone is Ernie Kent, replaced by former Creighton head coach Dana Altman. Gone is leading scorer TaJuan Porter, who graduated. Also gone are Drew Wiley, Josh Crittle, Matt Humphrey and Jamil Wilson, all of whom left the Ducks program for a variety of reasons.

And now?

Reports are coming out that Malcolm Armstead has asked for, and received, his release. Armstead averaged just over 10 ppg last year as the second leading scorer for Oregon. With five players transferring out of the program, Altman is going to have his work cut out for him in his first Pac-10 season. He is down to just nine scholarship players, and with Porter and Armstead both leaving, the Ducks are left with a very limited back court.

It is going to be a long first year in Seattle Eugene. (Yikes!)

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Tuesday Morning Dump

- Today's must read comes from Jason King over at Yahoo!, who published an interesting article on becoming the No. 1 recruit in your class.

- Bob Huggins, who tripped and fell in Las Vegas on Saturday, actually broke seven ribs, not four. He is still laid up in the Las Vegas hospital.

- Tom Izzo believes that Purdue is the favorite to win the Big Ten. I don't necessarily disagree, but I do believe that Sparty is much more likely to advance deep into the tournament.

- The name is corny as all hell, but the 'Flourishing Five' series at CBS is pretty good.

- Mike DeCourcy has been doing some great work helping up get to know some of the best reruits in the country. Here, he writes about Brad Beal, a 6'3" shooting guard on his way to Florida next season.

- IUPUI's Ron Hunter talks with Jeff Goodman about the Jaguar recruit that died of cancer over the weekend.

- God Shamgod, the former Providence point guard, is playing next season in China. He caught up with Lost Lettermen. How many players do you know with a move named after him?

- This is why we are hoping Kentucky and Washington will play in the Maui Invitational.

- Isiah Thomas, back to the NBA?

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Karen Sypher's trial began today

Its been 15 months since we first heard rumblings of Rick Pitino being extorted, and today seemingly marks the beginning of the end of this ordeal.

Karen Sypher's trial began today. She is being charged with three counts of extortion, two counts of lying to the FBI, and one count of retaliation on a witness. (Kentucky Sports Radio has a thorough breakdown of each side's opening argument argument.) The trial promises to be quite interesting (and x-rated), although it is far from an open-and-shut case:

OWill Karen Sypher end up having an effect on Pitino's ability to run the Louisville program?
(photo credit: Lexington Herald-Journal)
Sypher could win an acquittal — at least on the extortion charges — if she can convince the jury that she was wronged by Pitino on the night of Aug. 1, 2003, at Porcini Restaurant, and that her attempts to obtain compensation were justified.

"The defense will try to make it out to be a civil case — that Pitino harmed her, that she consulted an attorney (Kolter) and that he made a demand for her," said Louisville lawyer Mark Chandler, who defends white-collar crimes and drug cases.

Kristin Logan, another Louisville defense lawyer who specializes in white-collar crimes, said that when "an individual seeks out an attorney for help with a legal issue, one presumes that attorney will act within the bounds of law."
I'm not a legal expert. In fact, I find the nuances of legality -- the details that drive people to go to law school -- to be rather boring. Rick Pitino is not being charged with anything in this case, and the outcome itself is unlikely to effect his status as the head coach at Louisville. This case itself doesn't interest me much more than Lindsay Lohan's DUI trial.

What does interest me, however, is the reaction to the case; specifically, that of the Louisville Cardinals fan base and the kids that Pitino is recruiting.

Its not a secret that Pitino is far and away the second most popular coach in the Commonwealth right now. John Calipari is leading Kentucky's program is on the way back to where it was in the mid-to-late 90's, while Louisville is looking more and more like a Conference USA team, not the tournament's No. 1 overall seed, which they were is 2009.

How long is a diehard fanbase like that of Louisville going to stand for mediocrity, considering the man leading the program has admitted to what Pitino has admitted to? Very few coaches would be able to survive having information like this become public knowledge. Is Pitino one of that minority?

He may not be.

It was widely publicized when Pitino lost Marquis Teague to Kentucky. It didn't make as many headlines, but Pitino also lost Michael Chandler this summer. What was one of the best 2011 recruiting classes has lost much of its luster.

Having said that, Pitino still has a chance to put together a great class. Wayne Blackshear, a 6'5" two guard and consensus top 20 recruit, has remained loyal to the Cardinals. He's landed landed commitments from Zach Price, a 6'8" center, and Ryan Taylor, a 6'6" small forward, who both make appearances on top 100 lists. A recruiting class with three top 100 players, including a guy that could very well be a McDonalds all-american, is by no means a terrible class, but it is far from as good as it seemed just three months ago.

Louisville is also still in the hunt for a number of high-profile recruits. Quincy Miller, a 6'8" small forward who could very well end up the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2011, is heavily involved with Louisville, as is high school teammate Deuce Bello, a high-flying 6'3" guard considered a top 50 recruit. The two could very well end up a package deal.

The Cards are also still heavily involved with Kentucky native Chane Behanan, one of the hottest recruits of the summer, and have an outside shot at landing a couple of other fairly well-known recruits -- Johnny O'Bryant, Jabarie Hinds, Jakarr Sampson, Remy Abell, Nick Johnson.

The bottom line is this: Pitino's ability as a coach has not changed, and likely will not change. The question is whether or not he is going to be able to land the talent, size, and athleticism necessary for his system to be effective. In other words, is he going to be able to go into the living of a recruit's parents and tell them, straight-faced, that he will be able to teach their son how to become a man?

Rick Pitino has enough pull that he will be able to land some recruits based on the fact that he is Rick Pitino. But continues to lose out on the Chandler's and the Teague's -- especially if they head to Kentucky instead -- how understanding is Louisville going to be?

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Two Drexel basketball players wanted for armed robbery (UPDATED)

Jamie Harris, Drexel's starting point guard and leading scorer last season, and Kevin Phillip, a back up forward, are both being sought by Philadelphia police for a botched robbery on Wednesday night.

Harris and Phillips, along with a third man -- Devon Bond -- who has already been caught and charged, hatched a plan to break into the apartment of a Drexel student to steal cash. From the

Bond rang the doorbell, and the woman answered. Walker said that the woman recognized Bond from Drexel - they both took the same business class - and as a friend of her male roommate, who wasn't at home. She invited him in, and the plan started to kick into gear. As Bond entered the apartment, he was shown on surveillance footage sticking a piece of paper between the door frame and the lock, preventing the door from locking, Walker said. Bond and the female student made small talk for a few minutes, and then he announced that he was leaving. He didn't get far. The woman told investigators that Bond marched back into her apartment moments later, trailed by Harris and Phillip, who were both brandishing handguns, Walker said. Bond was forced to the ground by one of the robbers in an attempt to make it look like he was a victim, too. It was all part of the plan. One of the Drexel basketball players began pointing at the woman's bed and ordering her to hand over cash, Walker said. She stammered that she didn't have any. The robbers grabbed her iPhone and warned the woman that they would return if they found out that she had been lying about the money.
When contacted, Bruiser Flint claimed he had no idea the police were after two of his players.

Warrants have been issued for the arrest of Harris and Phillips. Police believe the two may have fled to their native New York.

UPDATE: Both players surrendered today.

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USC's punishment worse than it looks on paper

Over the weekend, Fanhouse published an article claiming that USC basketball got off light for the violations they committed during the Tim Floyd and OJ Mayo era.

They do have a point -- Floyd recruited Mayo through Ronald Guillory, a known runner who had already gotten the USC basketball program in trouble. Their punishment -- the loss of a few scholarships, some hours recruiting, and last year's postseason ban -- seems relatively benign compared to the book that was thrown at the Trojan football program.

OJ Mayo will be whitewashed from the USC program.
(photo credit: LA Times)

Having said that, the article seems to gloss over a few important details. First and foremost, they fail to mention that the USC athletic department, in an attempt to protect their football team, essentially threw the basketball program under the bus. All the punishments listed above? Those were self-imposed, six months before the NCAA's ruling came down.

The other issue I have is with the way the writer ignores what last season could have been. Sure, the Trojans ended up a mediocre team in a terrible Pac-10. They lost their head coach, their three best players, and their top four recruits as a result of the NCAA's investigation. New head coach Kevin O'Neill was playing against a stacked deck with the 2009-2010 Trojan team, and he was winning.

When news of the self-imposed sanctions came down on January 3rd, USC was he best team in the Pac-10. They had beaten two ranked teams in Tennessee and UNLV (the only non-conference wins over ranked teams for any Pac-10 team), they had just swept the Arizona schools, they were in the midst of an eight game winning streak, and senior point guard Mike Gerrity had just gotten eligible.

Its feasible that USC could have own the Pac-10 last season had they had something to play for. But without the Pac-10 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament to look forward too, how hard could one really expect the Trojans to play?

I'm not saying USC was a Final Four team. I'm not saying they could have made the Final Four of the Pac-10 Tournament. What I am saying is that the school, in an effort to save the football program, effectively ended the 2010 basketball season in early January.

Last season could have been memorable to USC. Not a soul believed that this team, which had been decimated by players, recruits, and coaches abandoning ship, had a shot at any kind of success last year. As of early January, USC was the best team in the Pac-10.

That is a story good enough to be a movie's plot line. Think about it -- vagabond coach takes over a program everyone's written off; injuries pile up early in the season; but something clicks, players start believing in the program; vagabond point guard playing at his third school in his last semester of eligibility then joins the team, and provides the spark to get the team from competitive to the favorite.

We all missed out on that.

And while the punishments, on paper, don't look over whelming, let us not forget how disappointing it was when we found out USC was banned from the postseason last year.

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Monday Morning Dump

- By now, you have surely heard about Bob Huggins and the nasty fall he took in a Vegas hotel room this weekend. He broke four ribs, and may have even hit his head on the way down. Huggins has yet to be released from the hospital, as doctors are concerned about bone fragments doing internal damage.

- Last week, the ruling came down that Marist had actually won a lawsuit against James Madison and Matt Brady because, among other things, Brady had continued to recruit players once he left Marist, a breach of his contract. Andy Katz believes that the only change as a result of this ruling is that we will never see a clause like that in a contract again.

- The USBWA has decided to name their freshman of the year award after the late Wayman Tisdale. Tisdale, who was a first team all-american in each of his three years at Oklahoma in the mid-80's, passed away in May of 2009 after a battle with cancer in his leg.

- 6'7" Travis Taylor, who averaged 17.6 ppg and 7.8 rpg as a sophomore at Monmouth, has decided on transferring to Xavier. Taylor originally committed to BC, but the Eagles backed out once they found out he had been suspended seven games for a violation of team rules.

- Karen Sypher's trial starts today.

- I doubt that I was the only one excited to see Mike Gilchrist -- the No. 1 recruit in the country -- go up against Austin Rivers today in an AAU game that is to be televised on ESPN U. But alas, Gilchrist won't be playing. According to his mother, the Nike Peach Jam was his last AAU event of the season, and Gilchrist will be taking the rest of the summer off to rest. Regardless, there will still be coverage from 7-9pm tonight and tomorrow night on ESPN U.

- Indiana guard Maurice Creek, who was averaging 17.6 ppg when he suffered a gnarly knee injury last December, is back out on the court. Good for him. I'm sure I am not the only one excited to see what a full season of Creek, Verdell Jones, and Christian Watford is like.

- Is it just me, or does it seem like the NCAA is really trying to clean up the sleaze and gain control of the agents, runners, and all those who profit off of amateur athletes? (Well, except for themselves. And for the coaches. But that is a whole different issue.) Next on the chopping block -- the Pump Brothers. They used to run a coaching search firm which will effectively be eliminated as the NCAA ruled college cannot give the twins any money anymore.

- Great profile of Matt Howard from Rivals. Apparently I'm the only one that feels this way, but I think its a good think Matt Howard is doing away with the 'stache. That thing was hideous.

- Another D1 recruit passes away, this time out in Indiana. Steven Jamison, a 6'6" guard that averaged a double-double, lost his fight with cancer over the weekend. He was committed to IUPUI.

- Virginia's Sylvan Landesberg has signed with Maccabi Haifa. Speaking of UVa, 6'8" freshman forward Tristan Spurlock has decided to transfer to Central Florida.

- As the Mercury News points out, the biggest issue when it comes to splitting up the Pac-10 divisions is access to the fertile recruiting grounds in SoCal. Nine of the ten teams in the Pac-10 have a player from that region, and 33 of the players in the conference -- nearly a quarter of the entire league -- is from the area. The thinking is that the teams that travel to USC/UCLA every season (in the same division) will have a distinct recruiting advantage over everyone else.

- Washington's Isaiah Thomas seems like he is excited for the season to start. Here, he raves about how good some of the incoming freshman are.

- Jimmer Fredette, who will be somewhere on just about everyone's 2011 preseason all-america team, got a chance to play with the big boys at the Team USA training camp in Las Vegas.

- Maurice Harkless, the former UConn commit, has been having a great week out in Las Vegas. According to Adam Zagoria, Harkless is now being pursued by, well ... everyone.

- Former Memphis players Shawne Williams and Kareem Cooper were arrested after some pot and a gun were found in the car they were driving.

- More Chris Allen chatter -- Derrick Nix believes he will be back.

- Kansas State really does have some great t-shirts:

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Looking Back: The class of 2004

We have now officially entered the dog days of summer. As the temperature rises, news in our college hoops universe comes to a standstill. Recruiting news, on the other hand, doesn't. There are two extremely important observation periods during the month of July, and more than a few scholarships, and spots on top 100 lists, are on the line. Unfortunately, BIAH doesn't pay the rent (click on some ads people!!!), which means we can't be out on the road at events like Nike's Peach Jam. In other words, we won't be putting out top 100 lists for the class of 2013. But since it is July, and since basketball in July is dedicated to recruiting, we are going to spend these next few weeks looking back past recruiting classes and rankings. Some of the results will surprise you.

Class of 2003

Class of 2004

The Class of 2004 didn't see many of their best players ever make the collegiate ranks. The top six players, and eight of the top 15, went directly to the NBA. Of the guys that went to college in the top 50, quite a few developed into good NBA players, but the impressive part of this class was the number of guys that fell through the cracks and turned out to be pretty damn good basketball players. Oh, and 2004 produced arguably the best single season recruiting class for one team this decade. Can you guess who that is? I'll give you a hint: none of the four players were ranked in the top 30, but three ended up as lottery picks.

Click the chart to enlarge.
Top 20

1. Dwight Howard: We all know who Dwight Howard is, right? The consensus No. 1 player in the class went straight to the league and was the first pick in the 2004 draft. He would go on to average a double-double as a rookie and developing into arguably the best center in the NBA today.

2. Shaun Livingston: Livingston, a 6'7" point guard that went straight to the pros and was selected by the Clippers with the fourth overall pick, was on his way to developing into a dangerous NBA player. He was averaging 9.2 ppg and 5.1 apg for the Clippers in 2007 when he suffered one of the worst knee injuries I've ever seen. (Warning: I'm sure most of you have already seen that clip, but if you haven't, beware -- it is brutal.) Livingston missed the entire 2007-2008 season, earning a few ten day contracts over the last two years before finally latching on with Washington at the end of last season. The 9.2 ppg and 4.5 apg he averaged was enough to earn him a two-year, $7 million contract from Charlotte.

3. Josh Smith: Smith, who played for the Atlanta Celtics with Howard and Randolph Morris at the AAU level, was the 17th pick in the 2004 draft. He immediately made an impact in the NBA, especially as a shot blocker. Smith has played with the Hawks his entire career, utilizing his length and athleticism to become a potential all-star and one of the better all-around defensive players in the game.

4. Al Jefferson: Jefferson originally committed to Arkansas, but opted to go pro and was the 15th pick in the 2004 NBA Draft by Boston. He battled issues with injuries and playing time during his first two seasons, but in 2006-2007 he got a chance to play big minutes and delivered. His performance that season was enough to make him the centerpiece of a deal that sent Kevin Garnett to the Celtics. While playing with the T-Wolves, Jefferson has developed into a consistent 20-10 threat.

5. Sebastian Telfair: Bassy, a cousin to Stephon Marbury, was a sensation in Coney Island in high school, going to NYC's Lincoln High School. He committed to Louisville before going pro, getting picked 15th in the 2004 draft by the Blazers. Telfair bounced around the league for a while, and had a couple of run-ins with the law. Last season, he played with the Clippers for 39 games and with the Cavs for four games.

6. J.R. Smith: Smith was the 18th pick in the 2004 draft, going to New Orleans. He played for two seasons in New Orleans before being traded to Denver by way of Chicago. Smith has developed into one of the better bench players in the league, averaging 14 ppg in his four seasons in Denver and becoming a dangerous three-point threat. Smith has had quite a few run-ins with the law, especially regarding his driving. It came to a head when he spent 24 days in jail and was suspended for seven games when a friend of his died as a result of an accident when Smith was driving.

7. Rudy Gay: Gay, a product of Baltimore's basketball hotbed, chose to go to UConn over Maryland in a controversial bit of recruiting by the Huskies. The "Rudy Gay Clause" is a rule implemented that disallows teams to pay to scrimmage AAU programs. UConn spent $25,000 on a scrimmage against the Beltway Ballers, an AAU team from Baltimore. Gay spent two years at UConn, including the 2005-2006 season when he was the best player on a loaded Husky team that saw five players get drafted. He was the 8th pick in the 2006 draft, going to the Memphis Grizzlies. Gay has averaged around 19 ppg and 6 rpg the last three seasons, which was enough to get him a 5 year, $82 million contract from Memphis.

8. Marvin Williams: Williams went to UNC, where he came off the bench to average 11.3 ppg to help a very talented team win a national title. Williams would go on to become the second pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, going to the Atlanta Hawks. He hasn't quite developed into a star, but Williams has turned into a solid starter, averaging 12 points and 5 rebounds in his four seasons.

9. Malik Hairston: Hairston went to Oregon, where he averaged 14.1 ppg and 5.1 rpg over his four seasons there. Hairston would go on to be the 48th pick of the 2008 NBA Draft by the Spurs. In his two seasons as a pro, Hairston has bounced between the Spurs and their D-Leauge affiliate.

10. Glen Davis: Big Baby, a native of Louisiana, made a name for himself in high school when he body slammed Shaq on LSU's campus, but it was his play for the Tigers in 2006 that got him noticed by the NBA. Davis was the 2006 SEC player of the year as a sophomore, helping to lead the Tigers to the Final Four that season. He would eventually go pro, getting picked 35th by the Celtics. In his three seasons in Boston, Big Baby has turned into an important reserve, playing a role in the 2008 title and last year's trip to the Finals.

11. Randolph Morris: Morris has two claims to fame, neither of them good. He was the "other guy" on the notorious Atlanta Celtics team in 2003, joining Dwight Howard and Josh Smith. He didn't go pro out of high school, but he did after his freshman season. He didn't sign an agent, and after Morris went undrafted, he was allowed to return to school, technically as a free agent because he was not allowed to enter another draft. Five days after his Kentucky team was eliminated in his junior season in 2007, he signed with the Knicks, becoming the first player to play in the NBA and the NCAA in the same season. Unfortunately, in four professional season, Morris has yet to become a player of note.

12. Dorell Wright: Wright initially committed to DePaul before opting to go straight to the draft. He was picked by the Heat with the 19th pick. He played sparingly his first few seasons, but he did pick up a ring in 2006. Since then, Wright developed into a solid reserve for the Heat, before signing with the Warriors back in June.

13. Robert Swift: Swift, the last player in our rankings to go straight to the NBA, was drafted with the 12th in 2004 Draft by the Sonics. But he was never able to really find a role in the NBA. He played in just 97 games, partly due to injury and partly due the fact he just wasn't that good. After Oklahoma City released him in 2009, he played two games in the D-League before leaving the team for personal reasons. It looks like Swift, just 24 years old, may be done with basketball.

14. LaMarcus Aldridge: Aldridge made an immediate impact as a freshman at Texas, but it was the 15 ppg, 9 rpg, and 2 bpg that he averaged as a sophomore that got the attention of the NBA. Aldridge was the second pick of the 2006 NBA Draft, and after Joel Pryzbilla was injured in February of Aldridge's rookie season, the Blazers started to realize just how good this kid was. Since then Aldridge has developed into a consistent 18 and 8 power forward.

15. Joe Crawford: Crawford originally committed to Michigan, but eventually headed to Kentucky where he got stuck on the bench during his freshman season. He initially asked for a release from his scholarship, but eventually decided to finish his college career in Lexington. After a solid, if unspectacular, four year career, Crawford was picked 58th by the Lakers. He's played all of two games in the NBA.

16. D.J. White: White was the Big Ten freshman of the year in 2005, but he missed 2006 with a foot injury. After returning to form as a junior, White became the Big Ten's player of the year as a senior. He would eventually get picked 29th by the Pistons in the 2008 NBA Draft, but has spent his two professional seasons with Oklahoma City. Both seasons were cut short due to surgeries.

17. Jordan Farmar: After a storied high school career in Southern California, Farmar headed to UCLA, where he was named the national freshman of the year. After an even more impressive sophomore season, which saw Farmar lead the Bruins to a Final Four, he entered the NBA Draft, where he was selected 26th by the Lakers. Farmar had four productive seasons in LA, playing a vital role of the bench and winning two titles, before signing a three year, $12 million deal with the Nets this offseason.

18. Jawann McClellan: Despite being one of the most highly touted recruits in the country. McClellan never really developed at the collegiate level, as he failed to ever average in double figures. McClellan has bounced around professional leagues since.

19. Rajon Rondo: Rondo went to Kentucky, where he spent two seasons. Many believed that Rondo was not going to be a great NBA player, and some were surprised when he was taken with the 21st pick in the 2006 draft. Nonetheless, Pheonix traded Rondo to Boston on draft day, and Rondo has since developed, alongside the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, into one of the best point guards in the NBA.

20. DeMarcus Nelson: Nelson had a storied high school career in California, becoming the state's all-time leading scorer. He played four seasons at Duke, eventually becoming a 14 point scorer as a senior. Nelson wasn't draft, but he did sign with the Warriors. He went up and down between Golden State and the D-League in 2008-2009, and after being waived by the Bulls, Nelson bounced around Europe before spending this summer with the Milwaukee Bucks in Summer League.

Other Notable 2004 Prospects:

23. Arron Afflalo: Afflalo, an LA native, was spent three seasons at UCLA, twice being named first team all-conference and, as a junior, being named Pac-10 player of the year and first team all-american. He would go 27th to the Pistons in the 2007 Draft, spending two years in Detroit before being traded to Denver, where he would move into the starting lineup.

25. Daniel Gibson: Gibson spent two seasons at Texas, twice being named third team all Big XII, before entering the draft. He would end up going 42nd to the Cavs, where he has played for four seasons.

31. Kyle Lowry: Lowry joined a Villanova back court that also included Randy Foye, Allan Ray, and Mike Nardi. After a sophomore season that saw Lowry explode onto the national scene, he went pro and was selected with the 24th pick in 2006. He spent two and a half seasons with the Rockets before being traded to Houston, where he recently signed a four year, $24 million contract.

32. Corey Brewer, 34. Al Horford, Joakim Noah, and Taureen Green: Did you get it right? Brewer, Horford, Noah, and Green came into Florida as an unheralded recruiting class, playing limited minutes in their first season. As sophomores, they began the season unranked, but ran through the SEC to earn a three seed, eventually winning a national title. Noah, Horford, and Brewer all could have been lottery picks in 2006, but they decided to return to school, where they went on to win a second straight title. In the 2007 draft, Horford went third to Atlanta, Brewer went seventh to Minnesota, and Noah went ninth to Chicago. Green went 52nd, but his NBA career only lasted 17 games. He's playing in Spain and Greece.

33. AJ Price: Price had a storied high school career in New York, but it took him two years to get on the court at UConn, as he dealt with a life-threatening battle with bleeding in his brain and a punishment for stealing lap-tops. In his three seasons with the Huskies, Price eventually developed into one of the best point guards in the country. He would go 52nd to Indiana, and in his rookie season last year, he eventually became the Pacer's backup point guard.

57. Nick Young: Young had academic troubles in high school, flunking out of two schools and needing three attempts to get a qualifying score on the SATs. He eventually landed at USC, where he played three years and was twice names first team all-conference. Young would go pro in 2007, getting pick 16th by the Wizards. In three years in Washington, he worked his was into the starting lineup and has averaged 9.1 ppg.

Anthony Morrow: Morrow had an up and down college career, averaging 14.3 ppg as a sophomore and then 16.0 ppg as a senior. He would go undrafted in 2008, but he was signed by Golden State, who saw him set a record for undrafted rookies by scoring 37 points in a game. Morrow would eventually lead the league in three point shooting at 46.7%, and last seasons averaged 13.0 ppg as a part-time starter.

Toney Douglas: Douglas committed to Auburn out of high school, scoring 16.9 ppg as a freshman. But after declaring for the draft and withdrawing, he transferred to Florida State to play the point. After sitting out a season, Douglas would play three years for the 'Noles, averaging 21.4 ppg as a senior. He was picked 29th by the Lakers and traded to the Knicks, where he would start 12 games as a rookie.

Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert: Both Hibbert and Green committed to Georgetown under Craig Esherick, but never played a game for him. Fortunately, John Thompson III got the job, and his Princeton offense allowed Hibbert and Green to show off their all-around games. Green would go fifth to Oklahoma City via Boston in 2007, where he is now a 15 ppg scorer and a starter. Hibbert was picked 17th in the 2008 draft, and has become the starting center for Indiana.

Courtney Lee: Lee played at Western Kentucky, where he was a four-time all-Sun Belt first-teamer and the 2008 Player of the Year. He would eventually go 22nd in the 2008 draft to Orlando, where he had a successful rookie season. Lee was traded to the Nets, where he became a started and a double digit scorer.

Tyrus Thomas: Thomas was a late-bloomer, just 5'10" as a freshman in high school. He only played two years of high school basketball, but as he continued to grow, he became an all-state player and got offered a scholarship by LSU. Thomas redshirted his first season in Baton Rouge, but in 2005-2006 was named SEC freshman of the year after he averaged 12 points, 9 boards, and 3 blocks. He would help LSU get to the Final Four before becoming the fourth pick in the 2006 draft. Thomas has been an effective pro, averaging 10 points and 6 boards in 2008-2009 as a starter with the Bulls. Midway through last season, he was traded to Charlotte, where he resigned this offseason for a $40 million contract.

Chris Lofton: Lofton was named to multiple all-american teams his first three seasons at Tennessee, but he had a disappointing junior season. It would later come out that throughout the season, Lofton was battling testicular cancer. Only his coach and his parents knew about it. I can never get enough of that story.

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