Thursday, March 31, 2011

Previewing the 2011 NCAA Slam Dunk Contest

If you've frequented this site before, then you know that we have an affinity for anything and everything above-the-rim. The culmination of a season's worth of hard work takes place in Houston this weekend. For four teams, that means a chance at being crowned 2011 NCAA National Champions. But for eight seniors, it will mean being crowned the 2011 NCAA Slam Dunk Champion.

Since we are the leaders in collegiate dunking knowledge and information, we consider ourselves the perfect candidates to preview the contenders as well as explain the flaws in this contest and detail what our perfect Dunk Contest would look like.

So after the jump, get all in info on the 2011 NCAA Slam Dunk Contest


Meet the Field

The Fan-Favorite: Jacob Tucker, Illinois College (D-III)

You don't have to be a fan of college hoops to know who this kid is. The 5-foot-11 guard with a 51-inch vertical became a YouTube sensation last month, when a mixtape of his dunks went viral. He petitioned to be in the contest and after some marketing and promotional tactics on behalf of the contest organizers, Tucker landed himself a spot in the field.



Like any undersized guard in a dunk contest, the fans and judges will obviously lean in his favor. But with a 51-inch vertical, he may not need any help in wining the contest and making history.


The Masked Dunker: John Williams, UNC-Asheville

B.I.A.H's favorite dunker, John Williams aka @JumpinJohnny21 aka "The Masked Dunker" is not only college basketball's first superhero, he's also the game's best leaper. The 6-foot-4 forward is the Big South leader in blocks, as evidence by a rejection he had in the Big South tournament finals in which he grabbed a shot out of the air.



But Williams isn't just a cult hero. He's a damn-good dunker too, maybe even the best. Nobody can jump higher than him off of two feet, and his creativity is unrivaled. If there is any reason to watch the dunk contest this year, it's "The Masked Dunker".


Mr. 360: Justin Tubbs, East Tennessee State

Unless you are an avid fan of ESPN3.com, the chances that you saw Tubbs play this season are not great. The Atlantic-Sun's resident high-flyer is the foremost expert in 360-jams, having thrown down two this season.



The 6-foot-3 guard can get up in a hurry, will more than likely pull out the 360-jam at least once. After all, his trademark dunk has gotten him on SportsCenter's Top Plays twice this season. Look for him to spin like Shaun White in a super-pipe contest.


The Physical Specimen: Will Coleman, Memphis

Will Coleman is chiseled like a bodybuilder. He has the biceps of a professional wrestler. He is the type of guy who I would not want to draw a charge against. But this physical specimen isn't just strong. he can dunk too.



Coleman's combination of power and grace make him one of the more formidable challengers in this year's contest. He's a true showman who can excite the crowd but also tear the backboard down.


The Fire-Starter : Justin Burrell, St. Johns

Burrell is a 6-foot-8 power forward with go-go gadget reach and long limbs. Burrell is the perfect candidate for "Duck Contest dark-horse". There was a reason he was named Big East "Sixth Man of the Year": He can ignite the crowd with one play. He can get up in a hurry and can throw down just as quickly. While there may not be a lot of video evidence of his dunking prowess, trust B.I.A.H when we say Burrell is a force to be reckoned with. We have seen him dunk in-person, and the guy is scary-good.


The Garbage Man: Darnell Wilks, Cincinnati

There aren't many guys who cleanup the offensive glass as well as Wilks. His resume is as robust as any of the entrants, and while his creativity may not be overwhelming, he has the tools to get the job done. We would not be surprised at all if Wilks ended up winning the whole thing.


Mr. Everything: Gilbert Brown, Pittsburgh

Now, while we haven't seen alot of tape of Brown from this season, we must remember that all the contestants are seniors, and this experience is a reward for four years of hard work. Brown has certainly thrown down numerous dunk during his tenure at Pitt, none more evident than last year's "Poster of the year" candidate dunk against Cincinnati. But Brown isn't just a dunker. He is a solid defense stopper, and played a large role on the offense for Pitt the season. he is certainly capable of doing anything and everything.


The Enigma: Billy White, San Diego State

Billy White was a key cog on SDSU's dominant front-court this season, which was one of the nation's best. He is a lean power forward with long limbs and a bunch of athletic talent. White has thrown down a huge dunk on more than one occasion . However, White also does have a documented unPOSTERIZATION on his resume, so we can never be too sure what he is capable of.


The Fantasy Slam Dunk Contest

The one flaw the Dunk Contest has is that they only allow seniors to compete. This is more than understandable, as it is a privilege to be able to participate at Final Four weekend, and seniors have put in four years of hard work. But that being said, not all of the best dunkers in the country are seniors. In fact, this year, the majority of the country's elite rim-rockers are underclassmen. In order to crown "The Best Dunker in the Country" the field needs to be made up of the absolute best there is, and while this field is good, it's not great.

Allow us to provide the entrants to the 2011 Slam Dunk Contest if class year was not an issue. We are certain that this field would feature the best and most elite dunkers in the college game today.

Keion Bell, Pepperdine (Jr.)
Kyle Kuric, Louisville (Jr.)
Travis Leslie, Georgia (Jr.)
Tony Mitchell, Alabama (Soph.)
Shay Shine, High Point (Jr.)
Derrick Williams, Arizona (Soph.)
John Williams, UNC-Asheville (Sr.)
Rodney Williams, Minnesota (Soph.)


But nonetheless, the 2011 NCAA Slam Dunk Contest is going to feature some of the best dunkers in the country, and is an event that any dunk-enthusiast should not want to miss.

Continue reading...

Thursday Morning Dump

- Tons to read on Matt Painter: Gregg Doyel says if you want your coach, you have to pay up. Jeff Goodman praises Painter's loyalty. Brennan says that it doesn't matter whether or not Painter bluffed, he got what he wanted.

- I'm still saying Missouri got duped.

- Yes, Mike Vorkunov, this is AWESOME.

- We mentioned it in an article earlier, but Buzz Williams got a new deal to stay at Marquette. Louisiana Tech picked up a head coach today as well.

- Reggie Jackson has declared for the NBA Draft. He hasn't hired an agent, but after averaging more than 18 points, four boards, and four assists per game and proving to scouts that he has NBA Athleticism and playmaking ability, Jackson looks to be a late first round pick. He hasn't signed an agent, but don't expect him to return to a rebuilding program.

- Interesting idea brought up by Stewart Mandel

- Trey Bowman and Taran Buie, Penn State hoopers, were arrested after a fight. Buie is Talor Battle's cousin.

- Andy Katz gives his take on who could end up replacing Jim Calhoun at UConn. The guy he picks? I actually remember him playing college basketball. That makes me feel old.

- There is a lot of talk about the NCAA taking advantage of its athletes, but Matt Norlander had a new angle on the story that I enjoyed.

- I haven't listened to Jason Whitlock's podcast with Sonny Vaccaro, but I can tell you that I am really looking forward to it. A lot of people hate Whitlock. I love him.

- Jonathon Givony over at Draft Express takes you through everything you need to know about the early entry draft process. It appears that there may be a group workout in the one weekend that NBA Scouts will actually be able to attend. I'll try to get some reaction to this up tomorrow.

- Oregon tied up Creighton in the CBI series final.

- Santa Clara won the CIT.

- The NBA is looking into Jay-Z's venture into the Kentucky locker room after they made the Final Four. It doesn't look like UK can get in trouble for this.

- Roy Williams accepts a commitment from a recruit who will be taking his mormon mission before heading to Chapel Hill?

- The chick from the Kansas ticket scandal? 37 months in prison.

- Cuonzo Martin has brought along an assistant from Missouri State with him to Tennessee.
Continue reading...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jamie Skeen's winding road to the Final Four

This post can also be found at Beyond the Arc.

It changed all the way back in November.

Prior to VCU's Preseason NIT consolation game against UCLA, VCU center Jamie Skeen said at a team dinner that he wasn't getting the ball enough.

"We were at dinner. I just made a joke about it at first," Skeen said with a laugh after that game in November. "My coach took it seriously. He said 'Okay, we're going to get you the ball for real.' I said that would nice."

The 6'8" Skeen would score 10 points in the first five minutes of that game, finishing with 23 points and nine boards as VCU knocked off the Bruins. He's barely slowed down since, leading the Rams in both scoring and rebounding. Most recently, he had 26 points, 10 boards, and hit four threes as VCU knocked off Kansas in the Elite 8.


It hasn't always been this easy. Skeen's college career has been a long and winding road, one that has required as much patience as anything.

Back in 2006, Skeen was the reigning high school player of the year in North Carolina. A top 100 recruit, he was headed to Wake Forest. He started 24 games as a freshman in 2006-2007, averaging 7.6 ppg and 4.6 rpg playing along side Kyle Visser. As a sophomre, Skeen saw his minutes cut, but much of that was due to the addition of James Johnson, an eventual first round pick. With Jeff Teague also on the roster, Skeen started just six games and averaged only 5.6 ppg and 4.1 rpg, but he was a key piece of the front court rotation.

In 2008-2009, Wake Forest was loaded. Teague and Johnson carried the Demon Deacons, at one point being ranked as the No. 1 team in the country.

Skeen was supposed to be on that team, but he wasn't. He had to sit out the first semester at Wake Forest due to some academic problems he had at the school, and instead of appealing he decided to transfer to VCU. He wouldn't get eligible until the end of the fall semester in 2009-2010, which means that Skeen was forced to sit and watch both his old team and his new team take part in the NCAA Tournament.

When he finally was allowed back on the court in December of 2009, Skeen didn't immediately see the court. He was stuck behind yet another future first round pick in Larry Sanders.

It wasn't until this season that Skeen finally got his chance.

And he has shined. Skeen averaged 15.4 ppg and 7.4 rpg, leading VCU in both categories. Not just on the court, but in the classroom as well, where Skeen is scheduled to graduate this spring.

"He's come a long way, a long way," VCU head coach Shaka Smart said earlier this week. "He's matured. He's developed as a person. He's done a really good job of putting himself in a position where he's on track to graduate this spring. His attitude is one of humility and wanting to be coached and to get better."

On the court, Skeen has been arguably the most important piece for this Rams team. While VCU has a couple of other options in the post, Skeen is the only one that is any kind of scoring threat. In fact, VCU is at their best when they surround Skeen with four guards that can shoot. It creates space for him to operate inside, and with his ability to shoot the three, he makes VCU a very difficult team to defend.

"He became our go-to guy," Smart said. "He was going to get as many touches as he could handle. Now we've been able to go to him over and over and over again, and he's responded. He's led us in scoring, rebounding. He's been at times a point forward for us. We can play through him."

"I'm just so happy for him because he did go through some adversity earlier in his career. Really happy that it's finishing the right way."

The most ironic part in all of this?

Skeen left a Wake Forest team that had Final Four potential. He went to VCU and has led a team that barely got into the NCAA Tournament to the Final Four. He's put himself on the radar of NBA teams.

Who would have thought that transferring to a team in the CAA would have ended up being the best move that Jamie Skeen could have made?
Continue reading...

Matt Painter is staying at Purdue; Missouri is embarrassed again

Matt Painter is staying at Purdue. So sayeth Jeff Goodman, Gary Parrish, and Andy Katz, which means that it is true. (They all made the same report within the span of no more than one or two minutes. I wonder who sent the mass text? Maybe Painter himself?)

Whew. Anyone else glad that's over?

Painter's statement: "I am extremely excited about continuing my career at Purdue. I believe we have built something very special. At the same time, I feel we have much more ahead of us to accomplish.

"There's a lot to be excited about right now with Purdue basketball. We are moving into our new offices and locker room complex over the next couple of weeks. Our program is built on hard work, and we are ready to get back to improving as a team and a staff."

"At the end of the day, my heart is at Purdue, and this is a place where I want to win a national championship."

According to Parrish, Painter decided to return because Purdue offered him more money. (UPDATE: He also got an eight year extension.) In his previous contract, Painter was making just $1.3 million a year (although Goodman's initial report says Painter made $1.9 million), which was the eighth highest for basketball coaches in the Big Ten. Painter has won at least 25 games the past four seasons, he's rebuilt the Boilermakers into a force in the Big Ten, and he's been named conference coach of the year three times in that span.

I'd say he was probably due for a pay bump.

And that is exactly what he used Missouri for. He forced Purdue's hand.

It wasn't just for his salary, however. Painter's staff all got raises. But more importantly, the school's budget for things like recruiting was increased. One of the biggest knocks on Purdue as a basketball program is that they are not willing to spend the money to make their program nationally competitive. That is what Painter was asking for. That's what he would have gotten at Missouri.

And that is what he was given by Purdue.

There is more to this story, however. For the second time in the span of two weeks, Missouri was completely fooled by a coach trying to decide where he would end up next season. At first, it was Mike Anderson, who eventually left for Arkansas but managed to convince everyone at Missouri -- and the reporters that cover Missouri -- that he would be staying. Painter did the same.

And before that, it was the Big Ten. If you remember, during expansionocalypse last summer, Missouri was convinced that they would be leaving the Big 12, but instead it was Nebraska that was scooped up by the Big Ten.

The folks in Columbia, MO, appear to be quite gullible.

So where does Missouri go from here?

Well, it won't be to Buzz Williams. As I was typing out this post, news came out that Buzz has inked a new deal with Marquette for around $2 million a year. Chris Mooney signed a 10 year deal with Richmond earlier in the week, which means that three very good coaches have leveraged the Missouri, NC State, and Oklahoma job openings into a raise and a longer contract.

It also means that all Shaka Smart or Brad Stevens has to do is right a number on a piece of paper, and they will probably get that much to fill one of those three voids.
Continue reading...

POSTERIZED Awards: "Dunk of the Year"

B.I.A.H has spent the whole season documenting the best dunks, posters, gym-jammers, rim-rockers, tip-dunks and alley-oops. With the Final-Four upon us, it is time to decide what dunks were the best of the best.

Over the course of the week, we will announce the finalists for each category, and you, the viewers, will be given a chance to vote for the winner using the interactive poll at the bottom of each post. We will also have a panel of experts vote, and the dunk with the most overall votes from judges and viewers will be declared the winner.

The time has come for us to decide on the "Best Dunk of the Year"

The Other Categories

Best Two-footed Dunk
Best P-b-P Call
Best 'Chestnuts' Dunk
Best Highlight-Reel Dunk
Best Tip-Dunk
Best Alley-oop
Best Poster-Dunk
Dunker of the Year



We have documented close to 100 of the best dunks of the season. Thanks to your help, and a lot of YouTube searches, we have an adequate pool of candidates to choose from.

Without further ado, it is time for you to vote for the 2010-2011 B.I.A.H "Dunk of the Year"

Here are the Nominees:

CJ Fair, Syracuse





Drew Gordon, New Mexico




Scotty Hopson, Tennessee





Brady Jardine, Utah State





Kyle Kuric, Louisville





Dwayne Lathan, Indiana State





Brandon Paul, Illinois





Tom Pritchard, Indiana





Shannon Sharpe, Colorado





Will Sheehey, Indiana





Shay Shine, High Point





Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt





Derrick Williams, Arizona





John Williams, UNC-Asheville









Continue reading...

POSTERIZED Awards: "Dunker of the Year"

B.I.A.H has spent the whole season documenting the best dunks, posters, gym-jammers, rim-rockers, tip-dunks and alley-oops. With the Final-Four upon us, it is time to decide what dunks were the best of the best.

Over the course of the week, we will announce the finalists for each category, and you, the viewers, will be given a chance to vote for the winner using the interactive poll at the bottom of each post. We will also have a panel of experts vote, and the dunk with the most overall votes from judges and viewers will be declared the winner.


It is now time to determine who should be named as the 2010-2011 B.I.A.H POSTERIZED "Dunker of the Year"

The Other Categories

Best Two-footed Dunk
Best P-b-P Call
Best 'Chestnuts' Dunk
Best Highlight-Reel Dunk
Best Tip-Dunk
Best Alley-oop
Best Poster-Dunk
Dunk of the Year


A great dunk can take place at any time. But it takes a certain individual to be able to do it over and over again. There are not too many college players in the country who have the athleticism, talent, and moxy to throw down a show-stopping dunk when it matters most. But there have been a small contingency of players who could be counted-on on a week-to-week basis to put on a show for the fans.

The nominees for "Dunker of the Year" have both quality and quantity. Take a look at the videos and links to properly decide who should be named B.I.A.H POSTERIZED "Dunker of the Year".

Here are the nominees:

Terrence Jones, Kentucky

- Dunk 1

- Dunk 2

- Dunk 3





Travis Leslie, Georgia

- Dunk 1

- Dunk 2

- Dunk 3

- Dunk 4






Tony Mitchell, Alabama

- Dunk 1

- Dunk 2 & 3





Shay Shine, High Point

- Dunk 1

- Dunk 2





Derrick Williams, Arizona

- Dunk 1

- Dunk 2

- Dunk 3

- Dunk 4





John Williams, UNC-Asheville

- Dunk 1 & 2

- Dunk 3

- Dunk 4





Rodney Williams, Minnesota

- Dunk 1

- Dunk 2

- Dunk 3








Continue reading...

Jacob Pullen tribute

Here at BIAH, we have not been shy about the fact that we were huge Jacob Pullen fans.

The kid was a competitor, and a talented one. Players like that are always fun to watch and easy to root for. We already wrote a post about him when Kansas State was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament, but that post was nothing compared to the tribute mixtape that made the rounds on twitter today:

Continue reading...

POSTERIZED Awards: "Best Poster-Dunk of the Year"

B.I.A.H has spent the whole season documenting the best dunks, posters, jim-jammers, gym-rockers, tip-dunks and alley-oops. With the Final-Four upon us, it is time to decide what dunks were the best of the best.

Over the course of the week, we will announce the finalists for each category, and you, the viewers, will be given a chance to vote for the winner using the interactive poll at the bottom of each post. We will also have a panel of experts vote, and the dunk with the most overall votes from judges and viewers will be declared the winner.

It's time to determine which poster-worthy dunk should be named B.I.A.H POSTERIZED "Poster-Dunk of the Year"

The Other Categories

Best Two-footed Dunk
Best P-b-P Call
Best 'Chestnuts' Dunk
Best Highlight-Reel Dunk
Best Tip-Dunk
Best Alley-oop
Dunker of the Year
Dunk of the Year


A poster-dunk is the ultimate display of hardwood embarassment.

We have compiled more than ten of the best poster-dunks from this seasond for you to decide on. Watch the videos and make your choice at the bottom of the page. We are counting on you to provide poster-worthy judgement. After all, this is what we pride ourselves on. We wouldn't have called this POSTERIZED if we didn't take true poster-dunks seriously.

Here are the nominees for the B.I.A.H POSTERIZED award for "Best Poster-Dunk of the Year":

Markel Brown, Oklahoma State





Miles Cartwright, Penn





Jamelle Horne, Arizona





Joe Jackson, Memphis





Brady Jardine, Utah State





Marcus Jordan, UCF





Tim Johnson, Wofford





Travis McKie, Wake Forest





Anthony Nelson, Niagara





LaMarcus Reed, UT-Arlington





Will Sheehey, Indiana





Shay Shine, High Point





DJ Stephens, Memphis





John Williams, UNC-Asheville





Rodney Williams, Minnesota












Continue reading...

Matt Howard's value goes beyond the box score

This post can also be found at Beyond the Arc.

Matt Howard's value to this Butler team cannot be quantified by the numbers that he puts up.

Normally when you say that about a player, its because they are a role player. Because they are one of the guys that collect floor burns and takes charges. Its rare that the leading scorer and leading rebounder for a team in the Final Four can be undervalued, but that is the case with Matt Howard.

Howard is averaging 16.7 ppg and 7.7 rpg on the season, shooting 42.6% from three. While his scoring has been a bit down in the tournament -- he's averaging 15.8 ppg while Shelvin Mack has climbed to 21.3 ppg in the four games -- Howard's contribution to this team hasn't diminished in the least.

Howard is Butler basketball.


He stands 6'8" and 230 lb, but calling him unathletic would be a compliment. He's not successful because of his outrageous vertical or overwhelming quickness or blazing speed. He's successful because he knows how to play and, more importantly, because he is the hardest working player on the court just about every time he sets foot on one. And that determination rubs off on his teammates.

"He makes you play hard. I’ve never seen him take a play off – in a game, practice or even an open gym," Andrew Smith said of Howard.

"You don’t want to let him down," Shawn Vanzant said.

"Otherwise he looks at you with those eyes," Ronald Nored said.

All of those quotes were given to Jeff Goodman at the Southeast regional in New Orleans, and all of them are completely accurate.

One of the things said about Howard is that he always seems to find himself in the right place at the right time. Its true, and its not because he is lucky. Howard gets himself into the right position. Its a manifestation of his desire to never quit on a play. And its won the Bulldogs two games in this tournament. In the round of 64 against Old Dominion, Howard grabbed a loose ball and scored on a layup as time expired. In the round of 32 against Pitt, it was Howard boxing out Nasir Robinson and drawing a foul that resulted in the game-winning free throw.

Its more than just the attitude, however. Howard actually is a very talented basketball player. He can score in the post. He's added deadly three point range to his arsenal. He's left the foul issues that plagued him last year behind. And he's become a solid inside-out combination with Smith.

Howard's role on this team as a scorer and a post presence makes him an important piece.

But his work ethic and leadership is why the Bulldogs have made their second straight Final Four.
Continue reading...

Wednesday Morning Dump

Final Four Humpday is going to be especially light. I apologize, but unfortunately managing a blog isn't a six-figure job. Hell, it isn't a five-figure job either. Since we are headed to Houston this weekend, I kinda gotta show the execs that I actually contribute to the company.

- Andy Staples put together an excellent timeline of Kemba Walker's ridiculous March

- For the final time folks, Butler isn't a mid-major. Or at least that's what David Steele says

- With an #8-seed and an #11-seed in the Final Four, it may seem like a good time for reseeding, but Jeff Eisenberg explains why that's just not true

- Just because the 68th team selected into the tournament made the Final Four doesn't mean we should reconsider tournament expansion. Seth Davis elaborates on this in his weekly "Hoop Thoughts"

- Mike Miller explains why the duo of Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb have been March Madness' best

- Speaking of Kemba Walker, the New York Daily News had an interesting article about his recruitment process


- The Horizon League profile should benefit from Butler's post season success

- John Gasaway wonders if Butler's late game success is due to high levels of clutch or just a lot of luck?

- Walter King, the grandfather of VCU coach Shaka Smart, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 90

- Matt Painter will make a decision on Wednesday as to whether or not he will stay at Purdue or leave for Missouri

- Josh Pastner has signed a five-year extension with Memphis to remain their head coach

- Louisiana Tech has named Ole Miss assistant Michael White as their new head coach. White repalces Kerry Rupp, who was fired last week

- Syracuse center Baye Moussa Keita will undergo undisclosed surgery next week

- Pitt's floor general Ashton Gibbs is going the test the NBA draft waters

- Jordan Williams, the leading scorer for the Maryland Terrapins, has decided to test the NBA draft waters but won't hire an agent

- Malcolm Lee has become the second UCLA player to announce his intentions to test the NBA Draft waters. Forward Tyler Honeycutt announced his intentions on Monday.

- This should come as no surprise, but West Virginia's Danny Jennings is transferring. You remember Jennings, right? He was the player who decided to get up off the bench during the middle of the game and exit the arena.

- Jacob Tucker, the D-III internet dunk phenom, has qualified for the 2011 NCAA Slam Dunk contest. The event will be held on Thursday night in Houston, and will feature some of the best senior dunkers in the country

- Lost Letterman provides a top ten list of the unlikeliest Final Four pairings since 1979

- Apparently Melvin Goins suited up for a Tennesse football practice this week

- Some dude in New Jersey picked the correct Final Four

- Prosecutors are seeking jail time for the people involved in the Kansas ticket scam

- I swear we haven't gone a single week this season without dropping Karen Sypher's name at least once, and we ain't about to end the streak now



Continue reading...

Tony Mitchell's Florida high school gets exposed

There were plenty of issues regarding the eligibility status of top flight recruits this season.

The obvious one is the Enes Kanter saga that continually made national headlines, in large part due to the fact that Kanter went to Kentucky and was slated to play for John Calipari. That alone was enough to overwhelm the casual college hoops fan. But Kanter was not alone in his quest to play at the collegiate level. Josh Selby, the jewel of Bill Self's recruiting class, had his own issues getting cleared at Kansas, eventually being forced to sit out the first nine games of the season. All of this game as Renardo Sidney was finishing up his year and a half long suspension.

So we can forgive you if you suffered from eligibility overload.

But there was another story that flew under the radar.

Tony Mitchell, a top 20 recruit that was slated to attend Missouri, never got cleared by the Big 12; the league does not accept partial qualifiers. Much of that was due to some questionable happenings during his final high school season in the Dallas area. But the root of Mitchell's problems started when he attended high school in Florida. (For what it is worth, Mitchell ended up at North Texas, where he will be eligible to play in December.)

Yesterday, the Miami New-Times published an investigative piece on the high school that Mitchell attended when he was in Florida. Its an absolutely fascinating read -- a story in which Mitchell is only briefly mentioned -- but it helps shed some light on the corruption involved in amateur basketball. I strongly, strongly urge every one of you to go read the story.

After reading this, you may never again want to use the argument that high school coaches have a better moral compass than AAU coaches.

And you may also start to question why some of these start athletes are actually being ruled ineligible. Was it really due to their academic failings, or did they succumb to the allure of a coach trying to take advantage of them?
Continue reading...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The NCAA's deadline for early entry withdrawal needs to get pushed back

Today, Ashton Gibbs, Malcolm Lee, and Jordan Williams all announced that they would be entering the NBA Draft.

But none of them signed with agents, meaning that they will be able to pull their name out of the draft field and return to school. For Gibbs and Lee, that would mean coming back for their senior seasons. For Williams, he would be returning for his sophomore year.

All three of these kids are making the correct move.

With the NCAA's rule that allows a player to "test the waters" of the NBA Draft -- declare once and withdraw by a specific deadline to retain their eligibility -- I don't think it is a stretch to say that every single junior in the country that has a glimmer of hope of being drafted should put their name in the mix.

Worst case scenario? The player doesn't get a single nibble from an NBA GM, they get no advice on what part of their game to improve, and they head back to school in exactly the same situation as they were when they declared.

For Lee and Williams, the correct decision may end up being to stay in the draft. Both of them have a shot at getting picked in the first round. If they can get a guarantee from a team in the first round, then they should probably remain in the draft, unless like college enough that they'll risk the guaranteed millions. If Gibbs is smart, he'll be withdrawing his name by the May 8th deadline. Right now, he is not an NBA player. He's only 6'1", he's not a point guard, and he's not all that quick or explosive.


The goal of this process, the whole reason that players have the ability to "test the waters", is so that these players can get the feed back they need to make an informed decision on their basketball future. Its so players like Ashton Gibbs will know whether or not leaving school early will result in them needing a passport to play professionally.

But that isn't the way it works anymore.

Not with the NBA Draft's withdrawal deadline moved up to May 8th. Players now get all of two weeks to schedule workouts with teams and gather enough information to make what may end up being the most important choices of their lives, one that could be life-altering in a positive or negative way.

It wasn't always this way. The rule used to be that the players had until mid-June to pull their name back out. But thanks to the complaints of coaches and a push from the ACC, the deadline was moved up. Their beef wasn't exactly wrong, either. You see, the late signing period in college basketball ends on May 20th, which means that just about every recruit in the country will know where they are going to college by May 20th.

With the later withdrawal deadline, it put the coaches in a bad spot. Is he staying in the draft or coming back to school? Do they recruit to fill that player's spot? What happens if they fill that scholarship spot but the player makes a surprising decision to return to school?

Its a tough position for a coach to be in.

But moving the deadline up is not necessarily the answer. It puts the kids who have their future on the line in an even tougher spot.

Players are always going to make bad decisions regarding their draft standing. There are always going to be players that leave school with almost no shot of getting drafted and players that return to school and pass on being selected in the lottery. There are a lot of knuckleheads out there that are either delusional about their abilities or spend too much time listening to the wrong people.

The point isn't necessarily to try and keep players from making the wrong decisions.

The point is that whatever decision is made, it will at least be an informed one. How they decide to use and interpret that information is irrelevant. The ability to obtain that information is what matters.

Will these players really be able to schedule enough workouts and interviews in less that two weeks time with teams that are not yet worrying about the draft? Will they be able to do it without missing class time, without the help of an agent, and without the ability to have their travel reimbursed?

Not likely.

And again, the people that pay the price are kids who are supposed to be making the decision.
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POSTERIZED Awards: "Best Alley-oop of the Year"

B.I.A.H has spent the whole season documenting the best dunks, posters, gym-jammers, rim-rockers, tip-dunks and alley-oops. With the Final-Four upon us, it is time to decide what dunks were the best of the best.

Over the course of the week, we will announce the finalists for each category, and you, the viewers, will be given a chance to vote for the winner using the interactive poll at the bottom of each post. We will also have a panel of experts vote, and the dunk with the most overall votes from judges and viewers will be declared the winner.

The 2010-2011 B.I.A.H POSTERIZED Awards continue with the "Best Alley-oop of the Year"

The Other Categories

Best Two-footed Dunk
Best P-b-P Call
Best 'Chestnuts' Dunk
Best Highlight-Reel Dunk
Best Tip-Dunk
Best Poster-Dunk
Dunker of the Year
Dunk of the Year

There is no "I" in "team", and likewise, there is no "I" in "alley-oop". Selflessness and teamwork and timing are needed to pull this dunk off. When executed properly, an alley-oop can be the ultimate showstopper. Alley-oops come in all shapes and sizes: lob passes, full-court heaves and fast-break exclamation points.

Here are the nominees for "Best Alley-oop of the Year":

Laurence Bowers, Missouri





Kenny Gabriel, Auburn





Tony Mitchell, Alabama





Terrence Ross, Washington





Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt





Derrick Williams, Arizona








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POSTERIZED Awards: "Best Tip-Dunk of the Year"

B.I.A.H has spent the whole season documenting the best dunks, posters, gym-jammers, rim-rockers, tip-dunks and alley-oops. With the Final-Four upon us, it is time to decide what dunks were the best of the best.

Over the course of the week, we will announce the finalists for each category, and you, the viewers, will be given a chance to vote for the winner using the interactive poll at the bottom of each post. We will also have a panel of experts vote, and the dunk with the most overall votes from judges and viewers will be declared the winner.


The 2010-2011 B.I.A.H POSTERIZED Awards continue with the "Best Tip-Dunk of the Year"

The Other Categories

Best Two-footed Dunk
Best P-b-P Call
Best 'Chestnuts' Dunk
Best Highlight-Reel Dunk
Best Alley-oop
Best Poster-Dunk
Dunker of the Year
Dunk of the Year


Not enough players work hard for offensive rebounds. But the ones who do are often rewarded with a trip to SportCenter's Top Plays. Tip-jams are raw, they are powerful, and they are absolutely electrifying.

here are the nominees for "Best Tip-Dunk of the Year":
(NOTE: Voting begins at the bottom of the post)


Jared Cunningham, Oregon State





Keith Gabriel, VMI





Drew Gordon, New Mexico





Travis Leslie, Georgia





DJ Newbill, Southern Mississippi





Tom Pritchard, Indiana





Shannon Sharpe, Colorado





Derrick Williams, Arizona







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POSTERIZED Awards: "Best Highlight Reel Dunk"

B.I.A.H has spent the whole season documenting the best dunks, posters, gym-jammers, rim-rockers, tip-dunks and alley-oops. With the Final-Four upon us, it is time to decide what dunks were the best of the best.

Over the course of the week, we will announce the finalists for each category, and you, the viewers, will be given a chance to vote for the winner using the interactive poll at the bottom of each post. We will also have a panel of experts vote, and the dunk with the most overall votes from judges and viewers will be declared the winner.


The 2010-2011 B.I.A.H POSTERIZED Awards continue with the "Best Highlight Reel Dunk of the Year"

The Other Categories

Best Two-footed Dunk
Best P-b-P Call
Best 'Chestnuts' Dunk
Best Highlight-Reel Dunk
Best Tip-Dunk
Best Alley-oop
Best Poster-Dunk
Dunker of the Year
Dunk of the Year

Not all dunks have to be about power and authority. Given time and space, a dunker's creativity can be put on display. This B.I.A.H POSTERIZED Award goes to the dunk that best exhibited creativity and execution.

Here are the nominees:

Travis Cohn, Jacksonville





Elijah Johnson, Kansas





Travis Leslie, Georgia





Peyton Siva, Louisville





Justin Tubbs, East Tennessee State





Derrick Williams, Arizona




John Williams, UNC-Asheville












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Tyler Honeycutt enters the draft, signs an agent

Tyler Honeycutt, the UCLA small forward, made the announcement yesterday that he would be declaring for the NBA Draft and signing with an agent.

Its not a terrible decision for the 6'8" sophomore. He has tantalizing tools, as he is athletic and has terrific length while also being able to knock down a three. He has a way to go in his development, but the potential is there. And that potential is what could very well get Honeycutt into the first round.

But what kind of damage does this do to UCLA's hopes for next season?

With Honeycutt, they were going to be the Pac-10's heavy favorite.

Without him?


The Bruins will still have a terrific front line, probably the best in the conference. Reeves Nelson may look like he belongs in Anthony Keidis' crew in Point Break, but he's developed inot a blue collar workhorse on the block. He averaged 13.9 ppg and 9.0 rpg this season, numbers that are sure to rise if he returns.

Nelson will be joined along the front line by Joshua Smith. Smith still may decide to leave Westwood for the NBA, but if he does come back and he can shed some more of that excess weight, he has a chance to be the most dominant big man on the west coast. Ben Howland will also be adding the Wear twins to the mix, as the North Carolina transfers will be eligible to play next season.

On the perimeter, losing Honeycutt will hurt some of UCLA's versatility, but it will also make them a better defensive team. Honeycutt led the Pac-10 in blocks, but he was never great at staying in front of his man. With Malcolm Lee returning, Honeycutt's departure will give guys like sophomore Tyler Lamb or freshmen Norman Powell and De'end Parker a shot.

Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson will both also return for their senior seasons.

Obviously, there was a chance that Honeycutt could have made a big jump this season. But if he is UCLA's only early entry loss, it shouldn't have too much of an effect on the Bruins.
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Tuesday Morning Dump

I hope you are ready for five days of never-ending articles about the unlikelihood of a Final Four like this actually happening, why VCU shouldn't be headed to Houston and the potential for a lull in TV ratings. Not to mention George Mason's influence, the rise of Shaka Smart's street value, VCU's lack of rioting etiquette , and just about anything else a worn-out columnist can muster up at this point. Oh yeah, the Cubs want Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens to sing at Wrigley Field

- You should just stop reading anything basketball-related unless it's written by Luke Winn. Seriously, he provides one of the best Final Four team-breakdowns I have ever read

- Dennis Dodd tries to label the Final Four, but the ingredients just may be too different

- Matt Norlander breaks down the ten best games of the 2011 tournament

- Andy Katz provides an awesome list of memorable moments from the tournament thus far

- Eamonn Brennan fills us in on ten things we should know about this year's Final Four

- Former-UNC guard Larry Drew II has enrolled at UCLA. The budding rapper left UNC right around the time that the Tar Heels began to find their groove. But UCLA fans may not be too happy about his arrival. Speaking of UCLA, the Bruins six-foot-eight forward Tyler Honeycutt has decided to sign with an agent and enter the NBA draft. But depsit everything that is happening with the program, coach Ben Howland remains optimistic about the future. Jeff Eisenberg agrees that the future could remain bright without Honeycutt

- Garrick Sherman is transferring from Michigan State. The big-man had an underwhelming season and has been granted his release from the school

- After transfer speculation arose, Villanova guard Dominic Cheek went on twitter to reaffirm his allegiance to the Wildcats

- Georgia Tech found their new head coach on Monday in Dayton's Brian Gregory. But the Yellow Jackets also found out their best player, Iman Sumpert will be testing the draft waters

- Kent State has named assistant coach Rob Senderoff as the interim head coach for the Golden Flashes following the departure of Geno Ford (who took the job at Bradley)

- Cuonzo Martin was introduced as the new head coach at Tennessee. He's a good candidate but definitely has his work cut out for him. However, the new head coach is not worried about the possible sanctions looming over the Tennessee program

- It is being reported that Monmouth will hire Vanderbilt assistant coach King Rice as their next head coach

- Why would Matt Painter want to leave Purdue for Missouri?

- The recent hiring of Brian Gregory and Cuonzo Martin hasn't exactly "wow'd" the home-fans

- Memphis and Xavier will begin a home-and-home series starting next season

- Your 2011 high-major and mid-major All-Americans, provided by College Hoops Net. but here are the actual All-American teams

- A top ten list of Final Four storylines

- Chandler Parsons blogs away about his last days as a collegiate athlete (must-read stuff)

- A brief stock report from the first two weekends of tournament action

- Sean Keeler of the Des Moines Register believes Harrison Barnes should return to North Carolina for his sophomore season in order to cement his legacy

- If college players stayed in school all four years, this Final Four may have been one of the most talent-laden of all time

- Deadspin provides more than enough information about that guy in the Jayhawk costume who got caught crying after VCU knocked off Kansas

- VCU wasn't the reason my bracket was busted. But they certainly didn't help


Make these stop



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Monday, March 28, 2011

The 60 Minutes segment on Bob Hurley was fantastic

For those that missed it, the segment has made its way to youtube.

Give it a watch and tell me you aren't rooting for Hurley and St. Anthony's.


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Four teams, four cinderella stories

I don't think it would be fair to call the 2011 NCAA Tournament the greatest tournament of all-time. At least not yet.

The first half of the first day was outstanding. There were a couple of classics during the tournament's round of 32. The Sweet 16 featured plenty of intrigue, and the Elite 8 was as good as any Elite 8 since 2005.

But does that make the best NCAA Tournament of all-time?

Who knows. That answer is far too subjective -- and far too reliant on where you happened to attend undergrad -- to ever have a definitive answer. It also depends on your definition of great. There are plenty of fans out there that probably think that the 2008 Final Four, in which all four No. 1 seeds advanced for the first time, was the greatest Final Four of all time. There is an equally large faction that considers this year's Final Four, in which we don't have a No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the first time ever and have the highest total seeds in tournament history, to be the greatest ever.

Arguing greatness is, in the end, pointless. Everyone has a different definition and a precious few will be convinced to change their opinion.

But I think the one thing that we can all agree on is that this NCAA Tournament may be the most unexpected and unconventional. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that each of the four teams in this NCAA Tournament can be considered a cinderella of sorts.

None of the four teams headed to Houston were supposed to here.


East region champ: No. 4 Kentucky

This wasn't supposed to be the year that Kentucky made the Final Four.

The was supposed to be their in between season, with a loaded recruiting class coming to campus next year.

Kentucky sent five players to the first round of the NBA Draft in 2010. Everyone knew that John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were going to be gone after one season. Big Blue Nation probably got two extra years out of Patrick Patterson, who could have been a lottery pick as a freshman. But two of those first rounders, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton, were surprise departures. Combine those losses with the decision by the NCAA to render Enes Kanter permanently ineligible, and this Kentucky team was left with just a six man rotation.

Three of those players were highly touted freshmen. The other three? DeAndre Liggins, Darius Miller, and Josh Harrellson. Liggins and Miller were top 50 recruits that had underperformed in their two seasons in Lexington. Harrellson was a JuCo transfer that was known more for being a fan favorite and the team's resident jokester than an interior force.


And while Big Blue Nation would probably disagree with me, the fact of the matter is that the Wildcats probably deserved their four seed. This is a group that underperformed throughout the regular season, struggling away from Rupp Arena and finishing at 10-6 in a weak SEC.

But something happened in March.

Something clicked.

Josh Harrellson has become a monster in the paint, using every bit of skill in his 6'11", 250 lb frame to become a blue collar workhorse. DeAndre Liggins has developed into a defensive stopper that, at 6'6", is to the Wildcats what Chris Kramer was to Purdue and David Lighty was to Ohio State. Darius Miller has become a knock down shooter with a knack for making a big play.

It feels weird touting Kentucky as an underdog, but that is what they were just three weeks ago. The NCAA Tournament is all about matchups and who gels at the right time.

And this Kentucky team has gelled. They are playing their best basketball of the season, they are getting significant contributions from everyone on the floor, and they are in the Final Four after beating both Ohio State and North Carolina despite not having gotten anything close to their best player's (Terrence Jones) best basketball.


West region champ: No. 3 UConn

Back in May, when UConn received their Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, I questioned whether it would be the death penalty for UConn basketball.

And while it looks quite silly now, based on what has happened in the last 10 months -- well, the last month -- knowing what I know now, my opinion would not have changed.

That should tell you just how impressive this run has been for the Huskies.

UConn was picked 10th in the Big East in the preseason, and rightfully so. They were a team with NCAA sanctions hanging over their head, with a head coach that appeared to be one step away from a convalescent home, and with a young and unproven roster surrounding a 6-foot-nothing point guard that still had a ways to go before his skill set caught up with his tools.


After a terrific non-conference portion of the schedule, which included a Maui Invitational title and a win at Texas, the Huskies came back to earth in Big East play. They went 4-9 against the 11 Big East teams that made the NCAA Tournament, lost four of their last five games in the regular season, and finished ninth in the Big East and playing on the Big East Tournament's first day.

That's when this magical run started.

UConn won five games in five days in New York City, winning the tournament title and earning that three seed. And after winning four games over the past two weekends, the Huskies are now headed to Houston for their second Final Four in three seasons.


Southeast region champ: No. 8 Butler

It may be unfair to call a team making their second straight Final Four a cinderella, but everything about this Butler team screams cinderella.

They finished in a three-way tie for first place in the Horizon League at 13-5. To do so, they had to bounce back for a stretch of four losses in five games, which was capped with the Bulldogs fell at the hands of Youngstown State, a Horizon bottom-feeder.

Butler came into the NCAA Tournament on a roll, winning their last nine games (two of which came in the Horizon Tournament), earning an eight seed and a date with Old Dominion in the first round of the dance. That roll didn't slow down in the dance, as the Bulldogs won four more games to get to the Final Four.

Those wins, mind you, weren't blow outs.


Like any cinderella, Butler has had to scrap and claw to get where they are, taking advantage of some lucky bounces along the way. In their first round game, Matt Howard happened to have a loose ball land in his hands before scoring the buzzer-beating layup in the first round win over Old Dominion. The Bulldogs nearly blew a second round game against Pitt on a silly foul by Shelvin Mack, but thanks to a missed free throw from Gilbert Brown and an even sillier foul by Nasir Robinson, Butler once again advanced.

The Bulldogs managed to avoid blowing a 20 point lead to Wisconsin before taking on Florida in the Elite 8. More magic was in store against the Gators. Seldom-used freshman Chrishawn Hopkins made two plays in the second half to help erase an 11 point deficit and swing the tide of momentum in the Bulldogs' favor before some questionable late-game shot selection from Florida put Butler in another Final Four.

In some ways, Butler's run to the Final Four this season is much more of a cinderella story than last year's. The Bulldogs had some expectation last year. They were a preseason pick to make the Final Four. They struggled through non-conference play, which put a damper on their seeding and their status nationally, but that was still a team with a lottery pick that defended as well as anyone in the country.

This year? They have no such lottery pick, and probably don't have an NBA player on the roster. They don't play an elite level of defense. Yet, here they are.

Back in the Final Four.


Southwest region champ: No. 11 VCU

The Rams may very well be the biggest cinderella of all time.

Very few people thought that the Rams had a shot at making the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday. Not after they lost their last four games in Colonial play. Shaka Smart was so convinced that his team wasn't going to get a bid that he didn't even get them together for the selection show. Brad Burgess went to Five Guys. Ed Nixon watched cartoons. Brandon Rozell did his homework. Joey Rodriguez was the only player that actually watched.

And he was rewarded.


VCU got in, but just barely. They were going to have to take part in the first ever at-large play-in game. The Rams locked up USC defensively, advancing to face Georgetown in the round of 64. They ran the Hoyas and then Purdue off the court with a barrage of three pointers, following that up with a nail-biting, overtime win against Florida State.

Up next was powerhouse Kansas, who was staggered by a series of haymakers thrown by the suddenly-confident rams early in the game. VCU answered a 6-0 start by the Jayhawks with a 19-4 run that was pushed to a 39-15 surge. Kansas was never able to take the lead back, and VCU was headed to the Final Four.

What makes VCU's run so incredible is that they are playing, without a doubt, their best basketball of the season.

The Rams are undersized, but they are loaded with shooters and difficult matchups for teams with more traditional lineups. They also like to press and get their opponents out of an offensive rhythm. And that is precisely what they have done in their first five games of this tournament. For a team that barely cracked the top third in defensive efficiency in the regular season, they have been one of the best defensive teams in this tournament. Even their shooting from beyond the arc is at a level that the Rams have not experienced this season. VCU never hit more than 11 threes in a game in the regular season. They have made 12 in a game three times in five NCAA Tournament games.

VCU has already set a record of sorts.

After Saturday's national semifinal against Butler, VCU will become the first team to ever play in six NCAA Tournament games without having played in the national championship game.

It doesn't get more cinderella than that.

Even this year.
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