Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Xavier Henry the latest top 10 recruit to have trouble deciding where to go to school

With Lance Stephenson landing at Cincinnati, you figured the recruiting drama involving the class of 2009 was over, didn't you?


It started with this post from a Kentucky sports blog about a month ago. Was Xavier Henry really considering backing out on his commitment to Bill Self and Kansas? Carl Henry immediately squashed those rumors, saying both his sons were committed to Kansas and would be wearing Jayhawk blue next year.

Then rumors started popping up that Xavier was considering following the Brandon Jennings route and spending his post high school year in Europe, but those, too, were squashed by Pops (apparently, Xavier had offers of $1 million for a season, but Carl didn't want him to go because he didn't know where he would be playing ... wait, what?).

This all seemed like an internet rumor gone crazy. You know, one of those things that makes people hate blogs.

But then Carl Henry decided to do an interview on the "Chris and Cowboy" show on 610 AM in Kansas City. Apparently, Xavier wanted to go to Kentucky all along:

If it wasn't for his momma saying that 'I would not go to Kentucky, I would not move down to Kentucky,' Xavier would have been at Kentucky. He would have been at Kentucky. So Xavier says, 'I'm going to go to Kansas.' Even though that's what he wanted to do is go to Kentucky, play under Coach Cal. That's what he wanted to do. I expressed this to (Kansas) coach (Bill) Self. I told him.
Now, it seems as if Momma doesn't want to be the deciding factor in where her two sons (Xavier and his older brother CJ) go to school:
So guess what? Kid might have a change of mind. That's what I tell coach Self. If he has a change of mind, so what? So be it. He had a change of mind.
Andy Katz picked up on it, and now it seems as if this "rumor" has been certified a "report". Bill Self and Danny Manning went to Oklahoma City to meet with the Henry's on Tuesday night, and many expect a decision to be made by Wednesday. Remember, since Xavier signed a LOI with Memphis (before being released when Coach Cal left for Kentucky), and since you can only sign one LOI, there is nothing keeping Xavier from having a "change of mind."

Needless to say, Kentuckians are going crazy over this (here are some posts: Strait Pinkie, A Sea of Blue, Kentucky Sports Radio, Kentucky Ink, AllKyHoops).

With Jodie Meeks staying in the draft, a lot of minutes have opened up as Kentucky does not really have a true two-guard on their roster. Kentucky also still has a scholarship available, and since CJ is getting his education paid for by the Yankees (who drafted him out of high school), both brothers could theorectically play.

A line-up of John Wall, Xavier Henry, Darnell Dodson, Patrick Patterson, and DeMarcus Cousins, with guys like Eric Bledsoe, Jon Hood, Daniel Orton, Perry Stevenson, and other coming off the bench sounds pretty damn imposing. There could be as many as six first round picks in that bunch.

Kansas would still be loaded. Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Tyshawn Taylor, and the Morris twins still make up a potential Big XII champ and Final Four contender. But Xavier would provide the Jayhawks with a potent scoring punch on the wing, something that they would not have on their roster should he head to Lexington.

Continue reading...


"They've decided. He's off to Cincinnati," said a source close to the family with direct knowledge of the decision. "It's a done deal. I am certain of this."

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Stephenson and his family took an official visit to Cincinnati this past weekend, and by all accounts,it went well. He played pickup with the team and toured the campus.

Lincoln coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton confirmed the commitment via text message. Asked if Stephenson was going to Cincinnati, Morton said, "Yes."
This is a huge signing for Cincinnati, as his gives them arguably the best backcourt in the league with Stephenson joining forces with Deonta Vaughn, Cashmere Wright, and Rashad Bishop.

You know that already though (because I told you yesterday).

An interesting subplot in this decision is that Cincinnati is willing to take on Stephenson, a guy who has a bit of baggage. I know Bob Huggins got a DUI, but wasn't part of the reason he was let go by the school because of his recruiting, specifically the quality of the characters he was bringing in? According to RTC, this may be because Cinci recently found themselves a new president. Continue reading...

Kelvin Sampson: Case Closed

You remember Kelvin Sampson, right?

The guy that was forced out left Oklahoma after making illegal phone calls to recruits?

The guy that was given a five year show cause order (aka the college coaches death penalty) for committing the same violations at Indiana?

Ring a bell?

For all the college basketball fans out there, don't fret if it doesn't, because he will not be relevant until at least 2013.

Earlier today, Sampson, who is currently an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks, had his appeal of the five year show cause order rejected by the NCAA infractions committee. According to an NCAA spokeswoman, this means that the case in now closed.

While I doubt that Sampson's career in the collegiate ranks is completely over (remember, Todd Bozeman, who had an eight year show cause order levied against him for vilations at Cal, is now the head coach at Morgan State), I don't see a big-time program hiring Sampson for a very long time.

So why would Sampson want to get this ruling overturned? He has to know that his transgressions have left him the coaching equivalent of Mark Sanford.

As Eamonn Brennan tells us, it is because the life of a head coach in college is much easier than making the rounds as an NBA assistant:

In college basketball, coaches are king. They're like little mini-dictators lording over their own worlds. They have immense power and influence, both within the locker room and out. Contrast that to an NBA coach, whose job is constantly in jeopardy and who is one highly-paid insubordinate player away from the bread line.
Seriously though, college coaches can get away with doing pretty much anything that they want too, so long as they are not caught holding the proverbial "envelope full of hundreds". It is why guys like John Calipari and Jim Calhoun, who both had their programs accused of major violations in the past three months, not only still have jobs, but are two of the best in the profession.

Continue reading...

"I'll leave you missin' like the f*ckin' O'Bannons"

For anyone that follows The Dagger, they posted their top 10 NCAA Riches to NBA Rags players. Tops on that list? Ed O'Bannon.

The guys at The Dagger weren't the only ones to notice O'Bannon's fall from stardom (although, to be fair, we wrote about this last summer. I'm just sayin').

Lil' Wayne did too.

On a track off of his Dedication 2 mixtape called "Cannon" (lyrics very NSFW), Lil' Wayne gets a shot in against the O'Bannon brothers.

Listen close, I got duct tape and rope, I'll leave you missing like the f-cking O'Bannons.
First things first, the line is pretty clever (for those that only know Wayne through his new music, this mixtape came out in 2006 when he was the best in the rap game and before he turned into a member of Fallout Boy). But it is a bit of a cheap shot.

The guys over at Jerseychaser.com caught up with the O'Bannons recently and asked them about the line:

Charles is still playing ball out in Japan (his reaction to the lyric was pretty funny: "Come see me on the court, lil' fella. I will dunk on you"), while Ed's plight as a car salesman in Las Vegas became widely publicized with this Washington Post article.

Continue reading...

AAU Basketball: About the money, not the kids

Last week, the Wall Street Journal ran a article criticizing AAU basketball. They pretty much got it right - the culture of AAU basketball centers around 1-on-1 play, emphasizes playing games over practicing skills, and rewards selfishness (i.e. scoring 40 on the guy ranked 10 spots above you is more important than winning the game).

But they missed the source of the problem.

AAU basketball has become a business. For many of the AAU coaches at the highest levels of the sport, this isn't just a fun way for them to spend their weekends or something they do because they love the game of basketball. Instead, it is a money-making venture, and for some it is probably their main source of income.

Think about it: between appearance fees for bringing high profile recruits to a tournament, the "sponsorship" these teams get from shoe companies, or the money that coaches make off of trips to elite camps, there is a pretty big chunk of change for these coaches to cash in on.

On paper, the idea of AAU is quite appealing. Essentially, these are traveling teams that play tournaments in and around their region, with the better teams playing around the country. Not only does it give you a chance to play competitive basketball during the spring and summer, the kids get a chance to get some exposure to college coaches and play against the best in your age group.

I played AAU basketball growing up, and while my team had a few kids play D1 (we sent players to two A-10 schools), it was not quite the elite level of AAU hoops. Nobody got paid when I visited Vassar College. But I loved it. We would have practices twice a week where we would scrimmage the entire two hours against the program's alumni playing college ball at the time. We also would travel to tournaments two or three weekends out of the month.

Skill work was done on your own time, as we only had a limited number of hours to use the gym. And that is exactly where the issue lies. Since we only travelled on the weekends, and I wasn't visiting every school in the country, I had plenty of time to work out on my own. If you are playing in a tournament in Vegas one weekend, one at Villanova the next weekend, one in Orlando the weekend after that, then visiting a bunch of campus's the following week, etc., where do you find the time to take 500 shots every day, to lift every day, to do something to improve your dribbling every day.

For these kids, it becomes a vicious circle. If you are working out on your own, you aren't playing games and getting exposure. If you aren't getting exposure, you aren't going to be ranked on recruiting websites. If you aren't ranked on recruiting websites, tournament organizers aren't going to pay to get you to come.

I could go on and on about the things wrong with youth basketball in this country (they start too young, ranking recruits on websites that charge for membership, shoe companies, agents, yada yada yada). But when it comes to AAU ball, the bottom line is this: its not the system that is flawed, it is the way that people abuse the system to make a buck that ruins what could be a fantastic program.

Continue reading...

Tuesday Morning Dump

- Xavier Henry almost went to Europe.

- Kentucky petitions to move the Gillispie case.

- Tim Hardaway Jr, a recruit in the class of '10, has committed to Michigan.

- SLAM caught up with the trick shot guy.

- Luke Winn catches up with Iowa State's Craig Brackins.

- The next one-and-done scandal?

- Story about the CFL player that saved a woman in a car accident.

- Christian Laettner and Brian Davis are getting sued.

- "The thrill of victory, and the agony of the foot." HS pitcher breaks leg celebrating a state title.

- Nice article by Jim Caple about Cameron Dollar's attempt to make Seattle University a D1 program.

- Sad story about a former boxer in New Jersey. Another one about Alex Smith.

- Two idiots ask a cop for a ride home after robbing a house. What did they steal?: "GPS units, cell phones, jewelry and a package of strawberry Pop Tarts"

- Jonny Flynn draft diary six. The most interesting comment comes around the 5:45 mark.

- More crazy bat tricks.

- E:60 piece on Tyreke Evans' from his high school days after the jump:

Continue reading...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Williams to Arizona, Williams to Memphis. Wait, what?

Derrick Williams, a 6'7" combo forward from California who originally committed to Tim Floyd at USC, has decided to remain in the Pac-10 to play for Arizona.

Williams becomes the third former Trojan recruit to decide to attend Arizona, following Solomon Hill and Lamont "Momo" Jones.

As we wrote last week, Williams had been considering Memphis, but evetually decided upon Arizona after visiting the school this past weekend.

This is just another addition to what has become an excellent first recruiting class for Sean Miller. In addition to getting Nic Wise back from the draft (to join returnees Kyle Fogg and Jamelle Horne), Miller now has five freshman - Williams, Hill, Jones, Kevin Parrom, and Kyryl Natyazhko - that can all contribute at this level.

The guy that must be hurting here is Kevin O'Neil. He was supposed to be the coach at Arizona now. But instead he was let go when Lute Olson thought he wanted to come back, eventually ending up with USC. Now, he is forced to coach a team that will struggle in the Pac-10 while Sean Miller will be coaching a roster full of freshman that O'Neil was supposed to coach at the school he was supposed to coach at.

But Derrick wasn't the only Williams in the news this weekend. Elliot, the two-guard and former McDonald's all-american that spent his freshman season at Duke, has decided to transfer to Memphis.

Everyone saw this coming. Williams is from Memphis, and transferred out of Duke to be closer to his sick mother.

It is a big signing for Josh Pastner, and helps to ease the sting of missing on Derrick Williams (who visited Memphis before Arizona). Williams can play both guard positions (although he is more of a two), is an excellent slasher and defender, and if he gets eligible for the season, has a chance to slide into a starting role.

Continue reading...

Lance Stephenson to Cincinnati?

That's what Adam Zagoria is reporting.

And Lance could sign as early as tomorrow. He has been adamant about not choosing a school until after his legal issues are cleared up (his court date is today).

If Stephenson does, in fact, head to Cincinnati (he was on campus for a visit this weekend), it will give the Bearcats arguably the best 1-2 scoring punch in the Big East between Stephenson and senior Deonta Vaughn. Combine those two with sophomore Yancy Gates, Oklahoma State transfer Ibrahima Thomas, and PG Cashmere Wright, who is coming off of a knee injury, and Cinci looks like a team that can compete for the Big East title.

There have been a couple other schools to join into the recruiting process of late, including Pitt, UNC-Charlotte, and Mizzou. Memphis and Arizona are also still possible destinations. Continue reading...

Monday Morning Dump

- Gary Parrish says it doesn't matter where you play, the NBA will find you.

- Ricky Rubio speculation: TrueHoop, Jay Mariotti, ZagsBlog.

- Great article by Eric Crawford of the Courier-Journal ripping the NCAA.

- Seton Hall forward Brandon Walters is headed to Siena.

- Blake Griffin needs a fake ID.

- A minor league baseball game final: 33-18.

- More information is coming out on the Iowa HS coach who was shot last week.

- All you could ever want to know about Michael Jackson.

- 10 reasons to hate hipsters. #1 should be because they're hipsters.

- Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and now Billy Maze?

- This is just insanity.

Continue reading...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sherron Collins is out of shape ... again

Last season, Collins came to campus in August checking in at 220 lb and was publicly criticized by Bill Self for being out of shape.

According to the KC Star, Collins is now up to 229 lb:

This summer, Collins is putting on weight at a more alarming pace — Self said he is around 229 now — but Self is reserving judgment with months to go before KU’s annual boot camp workouts.

“He’s heavy right now, 20, 30 pounds overweight,” Self said. “He’s got some time to get some of it down. It’s going to be a very tough patch for him to get where he needs to be.”
Collins was able to get down to 205 by the time the season rolled around, but his weight fluctuation is a bit worrisome.

And not just for Bill Self.

Do you think an NBA team is going to want a guy that battles weight problems every off-season? Eventually, it is going to catch up with him.

Kansas has a chance to be very, very good next year. But a lot of that revolves around the leadership of Collins. If he is not in shape, will he be able to take this team to where they expect to go (i.e. another national title)?

Continue reading...

MO ACKER WILL NOT PLAY FOR MARQUETTE THIS YEAR: Marquette had a loaded backcourt last season with Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, and Wesley Matthews.

But with all three of those guys graduating, Buzz Williams was likely going to have to count on Mo Acker and David Cubillan for leadership and a lot of minutes this year.

But now it seems that Acker will not be playing for the Golden Eagles in '09-'10. Acker is on track to graduate in December, and will instead be focusing on his studies.

Acker never really seemed to fit with what Williams wanted to do. After transferring from Ball State, Acker had a successful sophomore campaign under Tom Crean, averaging 4.5 ppg and 1.8 apg backing up James. But under Williams, Acker's production declined significantly before James broke his foot.

Williams wanted guys that could play tough, pressuring defense on the perimeter, and the 5'7" Acker apparently wasn't one of them.

Marquette now has just two players (Cubillan and Lazar Hayward) from the Tom Crean era.

Marquette will now be forced to rely heavily on a group of freshman (Dwight Buycks, Junior Cadougan, and Darius Johnson-Odom) to help out Cubillan in their back court.

Continue reading...

Elliot Williams may only have one choice

ELLIOT WILLIAMS MAY ONLY HAVE ONE CHOICE: Apparently, Elliot Williams has cut his list to four schools: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Memphis (all of which recruited him out of high school).

So where will he end up?

Well, if he wants to play right away, Gary Parrish tells up he really only has one choice.

Tyler Smith was the guy that made it trendy to appeal the NCAA's rule of sitting out one year for a transfer. Smith played his freshman season at Iowa, but transferred back to Tennessee to be closer to his ailing father. While Smith was from Tennessee, Knoxville is a good 250 miles from his Pulaski, TN home.

According to a D1 coach Parrish talked to, the NCAA has tightened its guidelines for granting the waiver.

"I know a player who transferred to a school 106 miles from his home, and the NCAA denied the waiver," the coach said. "They wanted to know that the player was going to have 'day-to-day responsibilities' with the family member before granting the waiver, and they said that you can't have 'day-to-day responsibilities' if you're 106 miles away."

Vanderbilt is 212 miles from Memphis. Tennessee is 391 and Kentucky is 423.

Which means that assuming the coach that Parrish spoke too is correct, the only place Williams will be able to play at next year is Memphis.

Continue reading...

Friday Morning Dump

Sorry for the late start today, internet issues.

- RIP Michael Jackson.

- Rumors are flying that Ricky Rubio doesn't want to stay in Minnesota, and this article from Spanish newspaper Marca is the reason why.

- John Wall got a qualifying test score.

- Chase Budinger was a big-time recruit coming out of high school, and considered a possible lottery pick this year. He fell to the second round. TrueHoop explains why.

- Steve Nash to the Knicks? Or maybe Rubio?

- Renardo Sidney's meeting with the NCAA has been pushed back.

- Former Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe joins the George Washington staff as an assistant.

- A second person has been charged in the Rick Pitino extortion plot.

- Former Xavier guard Stanley Burrell goes off on Xavier fans and Sean Miller via Twitter. Bill Simmons goes off on Mike Dunleavy via Twitter.

- Purdue signs a recruit.

- Tom Crean's busy summer.

- I'm not sure this is the best name for a company.

- This is funny.

- This kid has lost his mind. Over World of Warcraft. Yea, the internet's not addictive. My biggest question? WTF is he doing with the remote at 1:12?

Continue reading...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sean Miller lands another recruit

Lamont "Momo" Jones is headed to Arizona. He decided late Wednesday to head to Tucson.

It is a good decision by Jones. Not only will he get a chance to play under Sean Miller, an excellent point guard in his own right, he will spend a year playing behind Nic Wise, a fellow stocky, scoring PG.

Things are really looking up for the Wildcats. Wise decided to pull out of the draft, meaning 'Zona returns a decent core of Wise, Jamelle Horne, and Kyle Fogg. Miller has also a very good freshman class, with Jones joining Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, and Kyryl Natyazhko. Another former USC commit in Derrick Williams is currently on campus.

Cal and Washington will be the Pac-10 favorites, but it is looking like Arizona won't be too far behind them.
Continue reading...

Gotta love Duke fans...

When stuff like this shows up in your inbox:

Bout to go to sleep so I check my sports sites before bed... Oh, hey RedSox.com: Got the W tonight, good news...Oh, hey CNNSI: Shaq got traded, awesome. Go Cavs (unless vs. Celts, naturally)... Oh, hey BIAH: Elliot Williams is transferring. Fuck. Me. "What can you do?" What can you do, Rob? You can visit the sick family member on the weekends or ask Coach K to schedule Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, UT and Chattanooga in non-conference! Dammit, ruined my night with that shit... Now I'm gonna have to be like "Oh, hey random porn site" to calm myself down.

Continue reading...

More on the one-and-done rule

Earlier today, we posted the videos of the Outside the Lines segment which aired over the weekend on the one-and-done players in college basketball.

Both Marc Stein and Pat Forde wrote articles delving further into the issue. Stein supported the one-and-done rule:

Blaming the one-and-done rule for everything is a convenient excuse for college coaches, but doing so supposes that (a) players' leaving school after one season is some sort of new phenomenon and/or (b) college ball's recent scandals at USC (with O.J. Mayo) and Memphis (Derrick Rose) are the first scandals of their kind. Wrong and wrong.
Forde was against it:
That age limit has gone from boon to bust for college basketball. It put Greg Oden and Kevin Durant on campus and in college uniforms for one season, and that was fun. But it also pushed O.J. Mayo and Derrick Rose into situations they seemingly had no interest in, resulting in ongoing scandals at USC and Memphis. It has forced non-students and pseudo-professionals to feign scholarship and amateurism for one season on campus, cheapening the college experience in general and college basketball specifically.
Both sides have legitimate arguments. The one-and-done rule (which David Stern originally wanted to be two-and-done, but was unable to get passed) is a safety net for the NBA. It is purely a business decision. The reason it is in place is because the league got tired of drafting guys that they have not seen play. NBA teams are not allowed to scout high school players. Even if they could, can you really get a feel for how good a high school kid is going up against severely over-matched competition?

So yes, while it is an exploitative rule which allows the NBA (and by default the NCAA) to maximize their profits off of these athletes, it is also a good business decision by the NBA. Like it or not, the NBA is, in fact, a business. And since first round picks get guaranteed contracts, they are, in fact, investments made by these organizations.

Say you owned a restaurant, and you were in the market for a new executive chef. Would you want to hire the person that is responsible for all the food that is served in your establishment without seeing that person in action? Without tasting their food? Without knowing whether they could create a menu that would keep your restaurant in the black while still putting a quality product on every plate in a timely fashion?

No, you wouldn't.

Which is precisely why the NBA has instituted this rule. It is tough to argue with that business sense.

But the rule's detractors also have legitimate arguments. For one, it may actually be unconstitutional to prevent these kids from profiting off of their skills because of their age (although, the NBA would argue that they don't prevent these kids from profiting off of their talents - they are eligible to play in the D-League and abroad, where they can earn an income).

More importantly, however, it forces kids that have no desire to further their education to spend a semester pretending they care about class before completely blowing it off to prepare for the draft. It opens the door for all sorts of NCAA violations; from things as minor as Ohio State losing scholarships due to low APR numbers, to the OJ Mayo/Derrick Rose/Nate Miles debacles.

It is not true for every kid that has been one-and-done, as guys like Thaddeus Young were honest-to-god student athletes. But Derrick Rose couldn't even score high enough on the SAT's to become eligible to play college hoops. Do you think he cared about furthering his education?

OJ Mayo has been a cash cow for those around him since he started shaving. Do you think he wanted to spend another year making a fraction of what he would in the league playing basketball to attend classes for free?

I understand what the NBA is trying to do with this rule, and it makes sense. It really does. But the way the system is set up now just is not working.

Stein argues that we shouldn't blame the recent scandals on the one-and-done rule because college basketball and college basketball recruiting has always been a cesspool. This is true.

There are always going to be recruits taking money. Coaches and players at all levels are going to fudge grades and test scores to get people eligible. Agents are always going to be running around college campuses. Players are always going to cut out on their last semester's classes if they know they are going to be entering the draft.

But I don't see any way you can argue that this rule was not the direct cause for the issues at USC and at Memphis (I'll give you UConn, because Miles was not necessarily going to be a straight-to-the-league guy). Why? Because, as I said before, it forces the kids that have no desire to be in school to attend school.

While the current system is inherently flawed, the biggest problem here isn't the 19-and-1 rule. It is the fact that the NCAA and the NBA are two completely separate institutions. As long as the player does not get caught while he is still in school, he can pretty much break whatever NCAA regulation he wants too without any repercussions. Until the NBA and the NCAA bridge this divide, this problem is not going to be solved.

The question becomes how do you battle this problem?

The Sporting News came up with an interesting theory:
The reason basketball players lose their eligibility when they enter the draft is because they've opted into the process. Hockey and baseball players can be drafted without losing their eligibility because they don't have to opt-in; they're just automatically registered. Michigan hockey alone has thirteen NHL draft picks on its roster. Of course, you're not in the NHL draft and neither am I, so the "automatic registration" is something of a fanciful notion. The NCAA did change its stance before the one-and-done rule was instituted by allowing undrafted players to regain their college eligibility, but why not allow kids who get drafted to keep playing in college? Have them drafted, let them come into camps and play in the summer league, and if they're not ready, send them back for what Stein paternalistically calls "much needed maturity" -- mmmm racial subtext. (Stein's big argument is ... wait for it ... a two-and-done rule.) Clubs love stashing players in Europe for a year or three ... why not the Big Ten?
I've thought about this before, and in theory it works. College recruiting would work the same way. High school kids are recruited and sign with the school that they want to attend. But everyone that has graduated from high school - regardless of their age - is eligible for the draft. If you get picked that year, that NBA team will own your draft rights. The player then will go through the same process of trying to make the NBA team (summer leagues, training camp, etc).

And if he doesn't make the team (or goes undrafted), he will be sent right back to the college he signed with/played for to get another season of development under his belt. You could even expand the draft a few rounds to allow more players to be selected.

While this is a great idea on paper, in practice it would be far more problematic. How long does the NBA team get to keep the player's rights? Does he get paid for going through the summer leagues and training camps? Will the player still be considered an amateur? What about the situation with a cap on the number of scholarship players you can have on a roster? Would the player still be forced to go to class? How would academic eligibility be handled?

While this is an intriguing idea, the likelihood of it actually coming to fruition is damn near zero.

As far as I'm concerned, the only way to fix this issue is to have the NBA institute some kind of penalty for a player's transgressions in college. If OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose had significant cuts to their salaries, or players with below a 2.0 in their final semester were fined, then we may see these problems start to decline.

But alas, the odds of that getting past the player's union is also damn near zero.

The one-and-done rule is working for the NBA, which means that in all likelihood it won't change.
Continue reading...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thursday Morning Dump

- Draft day - the latest rumors from Andy Katz and Draft Express.

- Seth Davis wrote a great article on how college kids get screwed with the current scholarship system.

- Brandon Jennings talks about blazing a trail to Europe.

- Luke Winn dives into the numbers to quell four NBA draft myths.

- Jordan's son quits basketball.

- Ricky Rubio would play for free.

- Top ten T-Will quotes.

- The best player you haven't seen play will be on national television this year.

- More Elliot-Williams-to-Memphis speculation.

- BYU coach cancer free.

- WAC tourney to Vegas.

- Pretty funny post from TrueHoop.

- Tyreke Evans cousin gets time for killing someone in a drive-by.

- Nike is being sued.

- Crazy story about a shooting outside a softball game in Boston.

- Youtube classic: Soulja Girl

Continue reading...

Elliot Williams leaving Duke

According to a press release from Duke University, Elliot Williams, who just finished his freshman season with the Devils, will be leaving the school to transfer closer to his Memphis, Tennessee, home due to "family medical reasons".

Williams will appeal the NCAA's transfer rule that would force him to sit out the 2009-10 season.

Elliot Williams is transferring out of Duke.
(photo credit: Total Pro Sports)

This is a big blow to Duke. After losing Gerald Henderson to the draft, the Blue Devils were going to be counting on Elliot Williams to provide them with size and athleticism on the perimeter. It was the insertion of Williams into the starting line-up, allowing Jon Scheyer to slide over to the point, that led to the Devil's resurgence late last season.

Now, Duke's line-up looks much less intimidating, especially in the back court. Outside of Scheyer and Nolan Smith, who can play back court minutes? Martynas Pocius? Unless they sign another guard late (Lamont Jones?), those will be the only three guards on Duke's roster.

To be fair, they should have a good front line. Kyle Singler and Miles Plumlee will be joined by freshman Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly (a top 25 recruit).

But who is going to get them the ball? Scheyer struggled so much last season when he was forced to play the off-guard. He was not quick or strong enough to score against ACC two-guards. Nolan Smith, who earned the starting spot in the off-season by outplaying Greg Paulus, struggled so much that Paulus, and then Williams, were given a chance as the starter.

Unless the Devils can find another wing, Coach K is going to have his work cut out for him.

Back to Williams, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that he will be transferring to Memphis, where Josh Pastner would gladly add another wing with Williams talent. Now, there are plenty of schools that fit the criteria of allowing the Memphis native to play "closer to home". But Williams took an official visit to Memphis, and according to Rivals it was one of his top four when he decided on Duke.

If Williams does, in fact, transfer to Memphis and become eligible this year, he will be an important piece for the Tigers. Right now, the Tigers really have one guy (Willie Kemp) that is a ball-handler. While Williams is not a true point guard in any sense, he proved last season that he is at the least capable of running the point when necessary.

Given his defensive ability and how effective he was as a slasher last season, Williams could end up being a real difference maker for Memphis.

No matter how you spin it, this is a bad break for the Devils. But if the kid really has a family member that is sick, what can you do?

Continue reading...

NBA Draft: Prospect overview

The NBA Draft is tomorrow, and this year it is as wide open as any that I can remember. It seems like every so called expert differs on everything and everyone except for Blake Griffin.


Because outside of Griffin, every potential lottery pick has some serious question marks. But never fear, I'm here to help you. While I may not technically be as qualified as an NBA GM or, say, Chad Ford, I can guarantee that I can be just as bad.

Let's take a look at this year's class of college prospects.

Most likely to be a star: This is easy. Blake Griffin maybe? Look, the guy is 6'10", a freak athlete, has a pretty well-developed offensive game, and is a tireless worker. Barring injury, I don't see anyway he doesn't develop into a top five power forward for a decade.

Runner-up: I'm going with James Harden on this one. There are definitely players in this draft with higher ceilings, but not many with the all-around skill set and knowledge of the game that Harden has. He really knows how to score the basketball, but generally doesn't force too much. He probably won't ever be a go-to, 25 ppg guy, but I wouldn't put making an all-star team or three while playing a Manu Ginobli/Josh Howard type supporting role out of the realm of possibility.

Most likely to be a bust: Most people would probably say Austin Daye made a dumb decision going pro. I think he made a great (business) decision. Daye oozes potential, but did not show much in the way of improvement from his freshman to his sophomore year. To be honest, I don't ever see Daye developing into much of a pro. He has an attitude problem, does not seem like the hardest worker (how did he not put on any weight last summer?), and simply does not have a frame that can hold the weight he needs to be a successful pro. That said, I still believe this was a smart decision by Daye to go pro. If he returned to school and had another mediocre year, it really would have hurt his draft status. There is only so long you can have potential or a high upside before people realize you just simply aren't that good. He is a first-rounder this year. Why not take the guaranteed money?

Runner-up: BJ Mullens. As you will see in a post tomorrow, Mullens fits the mold of a guy that will never develop as a pro (see Spencer Hawes, Chris Mihm, Darko, etc.). I like what Mullens brings to the table in terms of size and athleticism, but if he could barely crack the Ohio State rotation, how will he be able to contribute in the NBA.

Riskiest pick in the draft: I'm going with Demar Derozan. The kid has a ton of potential, but he had an up and down freshman year. He seemed like it took him a while to get used to the physicality of major college basketball, and as a result he did not really gain his confidence until the end of the season. But he ended the season on fire, nearly averaging 20 and 10 during USC's run through the Pac-10 tournament before playing very well in two NCAA games. But a lot of that late success was a result of his tremendous athleticism. If he puts it all together, he could develop into some combination of Vince Carter and Gerald Wallace. But if not, he could be the next Gerald Green.

Runner-up: Hasheem Thabeet. Yes, Thabeet is 7'3" with all kinds of length and athleticism. He is as good of a natural shot-blocker as there has been coming out of the college ranks. It isn't hard to understand why he draws comparisons to Dikembe Mutumbo. But unless Thabeet develops some semblance of a post game and manages to put on some strength, he may be nothing more than a shot blocker.

Runner-up #2: DeJuan Blair, for one simple reason - the guy has bad knees. He had surgery on both acl's in high school, and when a guy has weight problems and bad knees at 20, it generally doesn't bode well for the future. To be fair, it has been reported that Blair did not miss one practice or game because of his knees in two years at Pitt.

Least risky pick in this draft: Discounting Griffin from the conversation. I don't think Stephen Curry is ever going to make an all-star team. He may never average 15 ppg in the league. But Curry is a smart player, a crafty defender, and an unbelievable shooter. I would be shocked if he didn't hang around the NBA for 12-15 years as a hired gun. Tell me, what's the difference between Curry and a guy like David Wesley?

Runner-up: Gerald Henderson, as long as you temper your expectations. Henderson is long, athletic, plays defense and hustles. His offensive repertoire can still use some improvement, but if you are expecting a Dahntay Jones/Shannon Brown kind of role player - a guy that will contribute in ways that don't necessarily show up in a box score - Henderson should produce right away.

Second round pick most likely to make GM's regret passing on them: I love Danny Green as a pro prospect. Here is a 6'6" wing that can get out and defend three positions on the perimeter, but is also a solid offensive player and excellent three point shooter. Bruce Bowen anyone?

Runner-up: DeMarre Carroll. I just think this guy is cut out to be a pro. He has size, athleticism, and can play inside or outside. Concerns over a liver condition will probably drop him into the 2nd round, but keep an eye on this kid next year.

Five years from now, the top five players from this draft will be:

1. Blake Griffin

2. James Harden

3. Demar Derozan

4. Steph Curry

5. Hasheem Thabeet
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Blake Griffin: Not a shooter

Blake Griffin averaged 22 and 14 last season. He was the national player of the year leading Oklahoma to the Elite 8. He is expected going to be the first pick in tomorrow's NBA Draft.

It seems like Griffin can do it all, right?

Wrong. During his tour of NYC, Griffin spent an after playing H-O-R-S-E S-U-B-W-A-Y with Jared Fogle (no, not this Fogle).

And apparently he lost.

Well, the first game at least. Check out the video after the jump.

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Outside the Lines looks at one-and-done's

For those that missed it, Outside the Lines had a report that aired Sunday on the one-and-done rule. While the debate between Jay Bilas, Phil Martelli, and John Brady was definitely the more interesting video (the second one after the jump), it was intriguing to me that both Thad Matta and Ben Howland, who both have had their rosters devastated by one-and-done players, are willing to keep taking on these guys.

The most interesting point made in this discussion comes at the end of the second video. Bilas says that one of the biggest problems is that coaches, who are generall good influences on the athletes they are recruiting, have very limited access to these kids. But the runners and the agents have unlimited access and start when the plaeyrs are 13 an 14 years old. While it is a bit naive to say that all college coaches are going to act on the straight and narrow if they are given greater access to these kids, it is an interesting point and one worthy of consideration.

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Jodie Meeks may not be done as a Wildcat

Remember Randolph Morris?

He played center for Kentucky for three seasons, finishing his junior year as an all-SEC player.

Awesome. But wait, remind me again why I should care about some kid that ended his collegiate career three years ago, and has been a mediocre-at-best presence in the league since?

Because he entered the 2005 NBA Draft after his freshman season, but went undrafted. Despite having "a relationship" with an agent, Morris was allowed to return to Kentucky (albeit with a 14 game suspension). He ended up playing two more years, but due to a loophole in the collective bargaining agreement, Morris was considered a free agent during his last two seasons in Lexington. Five days after UK lost in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, Morris had signed a two-year, $1.6 million contract with the Knicks.

Once again, why do we care?

Because Jodie Meeks has yet to sign with an agent.

And because Jodie Meeks is projected to go somewhere in the 40's or 50's.

And because it is very possible for a player projected to go somewhere in the second round to end up not getting drafted.

Add that up, and what you get is a scenario where Jodie Meeks could return to Kentucky for his senior season.

Now, this is incredibly unlikely. For starters, I really doubt that Meeks will go undrafted. Remember, we are talking about a guy that was an all-american and averaged some 23.7 ppg. Regardless of how he projects as a pro, Meeks clearly knows how to put the ball in the basket. Someone will almost assuredly take a second round flier on him simply because the entire country knows who he is.

But just for a second, let's pretend he doesn't get drafted. Would he attempt to return to Kentucky, where he would immediately make the Wildcats the overwhelming favorites to win the national title? Or would he try to finish off what he has already started, and try to latch on with an NBA team before heading overseas?

I think he is gone regardless. While I really doubt that he would be able to latch on with an NBA team after not being drafted (especially in a fairly weak class like this year's), Meeks is perfectly suited to the European style of play. A salary of six-or-seven-figures would be a lot to turn down.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wednesday Morning Dump

- Blake Griffin will be the face of NCAA Basketball '10.

- TrueHoop breaks down the numbers of Hasheem Thabeet, Steph Curry, and Blake Griffin. Interesting stuff.

- Andy Katz talks to Doug Gottlieb about the draft.

- Rivals takes a look at the new charge rule.

- Charges were dropped against former USC guard Stais Boseman.

- A fake John Calipari is running roughshod over Facebook.

- Jonny Flynn's third draft diary.

- Ricky Rubio finally works out for the Kings, but it might not have gone as well as people hoped.

- Wizards trade the 5th pick to the Wolves for Randy Foye and Mike Miller.

- Good read on Ndongo Ndiaye, and how basketball molded his life.

- Awesome video. Someone put some of sports most famous interviews into a song.

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NBA Draft Prospects: Patty Mills, St. Mary's

Stats: 18.4 ppg, 3.9 apg, 2.2 spg, 2.9 t/o's, 40.2% FG, 33.8% 3PT, 85.9% FT

Listed Size: 6'0", 175 lb, 8/11/1988 (20 years old)

(photo credit: Contra Costa Times)

About Him: Last summer, Patty Mills was shooting up NBA draft boards. Why? Not only was he the only college guy playing in the Olympics, he also just so happened to be lighting up Beijing - including dropping 20 (along with 3 steals and 2 assists) on the USA team. And while he looked great in the Olympics, when he came back to school, Mills did little to ease the previous concerns about his game. He ended the year by breaking a bone in his hand and sitting out most of the last two months of the year.

In fact, Mills may have actually hurt his draft status this season. But before we get to the negatives, let's look at what he does well. Mills is in the conversation with Darren Collison and Ty Lawson has the fastest guys in this years draft class. He can really get out and lead the break, as he is able to beat defenders down the floor.

His quickness also makes him a dangerous player in the half court as he can (theoretically) turn the corner on most defenders, especially in a pick-and-roll situation. Another aspect where Mills' quickness makes him dangerous is in the passing lanes as he averaged well over 2 spg this past season. This helps make up for the fact that Mills does not project as a great defensive player in a 1-on-1 setting - his size and strength is not quite up to NBA standards even for a PG.

Mills is also an excellent shooter from deep. He has picture perfect form, a quick release, and can hit it from about 25 feet consistently off the dribble or the catch. This is also Mills' biggest problem - he falls in love with this shot, and has a tendency to force tough ones (he led the class of PG's with 3.3 contested threes attempted per game).

Not only does this take away from his efficiency as a scorer (he shots just under 34% from deep), but he means that Mills is not taking advantage of his quickness. You would think a guy with his first step would be able to get into the paint at will, but Mills did not. There are two possible reasons for this: Mills is neither a great ballhandler or a great finisher in the paint. He is not explosive enough to challenge people at the rim, and he has yet to develop a floater (a shot which he must if he ever plans on sticking in the league). Mills did not have the confidence in his penetration ability, and thus settled for tough threes.

Comparisons: Best Case: Less athletic Bobby Jackson, Aaron Brooks; Worst Case: Poor man's Luke Ridnour.

Bottom Line: Mills definitely has some athletic tools that could end up making him an NBA player, but he has yet to learn how to use those tools within his game. Short, scoring PG's that shoot a lot are a dime a dozen. Will he ever learn how to use his quickness? Right now he looks like an early second rounder.


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IF ANYONE HAS THIS VIDEO, PLEASE PASS IT ALONG: In one of the stranger stories I've heard in a while, Eddy Curry and JR Smith were in a car together at 4am when they were pulled over. So what did they decide to do?

Stream it live over the internet. But of course!

From InsideHoops:

Curry was sitting in the front passenger seat of a car, next to a driver and two other guys in the back seat, one of whom was Denver Nuggets shooting guard J.R. Smith (sitting behind the driver). They’re pulled over and being questioned by a police officer. The cop then left their car area. I assume he went back to a police car, perhaps to call in looking for information about the driver, car, etc. For the next 10 or 12 minutes I sat watching in amusement as the four guys sat cracking jokes waiting for the police officer to return. It was like watching a sports celebrity episode of the TV show “Cops.” The webcam, presumably a laptop, was on the dashboard, pointing at the faces of the four young guys. I’m not positive but I believe the officer said something about a suspended licence. One of the men then joked that he’ll pay $1,000 to whomever gets out, runs over and touches the police car. Of course, no one did it.

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Former USC recruits starting to make decisions

With Tim Floyd leaving USC and the wrath of the NCAA descending upon Troy, the Trojans have been hemorrhaging recruits. All told, USC lost three commits from the class of '09 (not including the morally ambiguous Renardo Sidney).

But those three guys have to end up some where, and they seem to be making their decisions.

  • Noel Johnson, 6'7" SF, #53 Rivals, #56 Scout: After flirting with a number of schools, including UNLV, UNC-Charlotte, Xavier, and both Georgia and Georgia Tech, Johnson finally settled on Clemson as his destination. This is a great signing for the Tigers. For starters, Johnson is known for his shooting and scoring ability, and with KC Rivers graduating and Terrence Oglesby headed to Europe, Oliver Purnell really needed a wing scorer/shooter.

    What might be more important is that Johnson is a long, lean, and athletic 6'7", which means that he should fit right into the Tiger's pressing defense (as opposed to Oglesby, who never fit in with Purnell's system). Johnson will compete with Tanner Smith and David Potter to start on the wings alongside Demontez Stitt. With the Tigers excellent frontline (Trevor Booker, Jerai Grant, and Raymond Sykes return, while Purnell added top-25 recruit Milton Jennings and Trevor's younger brother Devin), Johnson may have been the missing piece.

  • Lamont "Momo" Jones, 5'11" PG, #68 Rivals, NR Scout: It seems that Momo has settled on two schools: Florida and Arizona. Last week, he visited both campuses, but he has yet to announce a decision on where he will play (for the record, this will be his fifth commitment - he backed out on Virginia Tech last March, committed and de-committed from Louisville twice, and has now left USC).

    Originally, it looked like Memphis was going to end up being the front runner, but the Tigers backed off of their recruitment of Jones after they signed the Barton brothers. Antonio Barton is a PG, and Memphis's #1 target in the class of '10 is a local kid named Joe Jackson, who is a top 25 recruit.

    This will be a tough decision for Momo. While both Florida and Arizona are excellent programs with a great tradition of winning, both are expected to have a down year next year. But Jones would be a valuable addition to either school. Florida lost Nick Calathes to Greece, which combined with the decision by Jai Lucas to transfer has left Florida a bit shorthanded in their backcourt. Jones would probably see a lot of minutes off the bench as he would back up Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker.

    But the situation could be even better in Arizona. Known as Point Guard U, Arizona currently has a future pro starting at the point and a coach that was a phenomenal lead guard when he was in college. Tell those two wouldn't be great to learn under. And with Nic Wise graduating at the end of the season, Jones stands to inherit the starting job as a sophomore.

  • Derrick Williams, 6'7" F, NR Rivals, #32 PF Scout: Williams was not as highly recruited as Jones or Johnson, as he failed to crack Rivals top 150 and Scouts top 100. But that doesn't mean he can't be an effective player at the next level. Right now, Williams is more of an athlete than a basketball player. He is a versatile wing that can play a little at both of the forward spots. He seems to be one of those guys that gets by right now on instincts and savvy as opposed to being a more skilled player.

    As we speak, Williams is in Memphis on an official visit, although he, too, is also looking at Arizona. I think Memphis would be a much better fit for Williams. I'm not quite sure what to expect from Pastner as a head coach (what kind of system will he run?), but given the make-up of the roster at Memphis, he more than likely will run something similar to what Coach Cal was running. Spread the floor, get out and play tough defense, and let athleticism take over. Williams should be a perfect fit.

    That said, Sean Miller seems to love guys with Williams' skill set (see Derrick Brown or CJ Anderson), and Arizona is much closer to California, where Williams grew up.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Tuesday Morning Dump

- Nice read from TrueHoop on Earl Clark.

- Another great read, this time about Dionte Christmas. Read it, and see if you don't pull for him.

- Seth Davis gives us some insight from the team USA trials.

- A nice look into the growing trend of coaches pulling players out of Africa.

- The guy that Brandon Jennings played behind in Italy think Jennings is better than Ricky Rubio.

- FIU says, again, that they aren't interested in Lance Stephenson.

- Taylor Griffin was the #1 pick in the Harlem Globetrotters draft.

- Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik signed a new six-year contract.

- William & Mary is getting rid of their Indian mascot, and they are taking suggestions. How about the ... asparagus?

- Former USC guard Stais Boseman was arrested on suspicion of carjacking.

- Great article looking back at the NBA Draft when it was as much as 21 rounds long. This best passage:

The defining story, though, from the days of the 10-round draft belongs to Landon Turner, who was paralyzed in a car accident only four months after helping Indiana to the 1981 NCAA championship alongside Isiah Thomas. Unbeknownst to Turner, Hoosiers coach Bob Knight had reached out to Boston's Red Auerbach. The Celtics used the final pick of the 1982 draft -- 225th overall -- to select Turner in recognition of the player he would have been. Turner said the gesture came as a "total surprise." It didn't end with the draft, either. Auerbach sent Turner watches to commemorate the Celtics' championships in 1984 and 1986, watches that Turner still keeps in a safe at home.
- Florida's athletic budget is recession proof.

- Ridiculous shot.

- The top ten dunks from the playoffs:

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Where will Lance Stephenson end up?

One of the most intriguing plot lines of this off-season has been Lance Stephenson's recruitment. If you read this blog, you should know who Lance Stephenson is already - a consensus top 10 recruit that has led Lincoln High School to four straight NYC PSAL titles, is the all-time leading scorer in the state of New York, and is considered by some to be the most talented player to ever come out of Coney Island. He's been on the national radar since he went toe-to-toe with OJ Mayo as a rising freshman in high school.

But no colleges seem to want him, which is incredible considering Renardo Sidney, who has just as much baggage and controversy surrounding his high school days, landed on his feet (for now) at Mississippi State.

Lance Stephenson led Lincoln to four straight PSAL titles
and is the all-time leading scorer in New York.
(photo credit: SLAM)

It is understandable, however. This morning, the New York Daily News had an article discussing the issues surrounding Stephenson, of which there are many. He is not the easiest player to coach (Stephenson was left off last summer's national team because the coaching staff was worried about his ability to be a team player).

That's just the tip of the iceberg.

- Stephenson was filmed in an internet TV show BornReady.tv that was eventually aired on MTV2, which has led to questions regarding his status as an amateur.

- Stephenson and a Lincoln teammate are currently facing sexual assault charges stemming from an incident in October.

- On his recruiting trip to Maryland, Stephenson took a tour of the Under Armour facility, which was led by a Maryland booster and can be considered a recruiting violation.

- Lance Stephenson Sr. has proven to be very difficult to deal with during the recruiting process of Junior.

- There are some serious doubts as to whether Stephenson is even going to be cleared academically by the NCAA.

What does all this mean? Lance Stephenson has lost almost all of his suitors. Maryland, Florida, Arizona, Kansas, even St, John's, all rumored to be recruiting Stephenson heavily, have pulled out of the chase. Memphis is still in the hunt, but rumors have started to surface that the Tigers are pursuing former USC commit Derrick Williams with their last open scholarship.

There are still a few mid-major suitors (Florida International and Isiah Thomas comes to mind), but it is looking more and more likely that Stephenson is going to have to head to Europe for a season.

There are two ways to look at this. First of all, this could actually be a good thing for Stephenson as a player. I have not seen Stephenson play on anything more than a highlight tape (which is not a good way to scout a player), but by all accounts he is a fantastic scorer, and some reports have said he would be the best offensive player in college basketball next season. If he does end up in college, especially if it is a place like Florida International, odds are that Stephenson will dominate. For a kid with attitude and cockiness issues, that is the last thing in the world you want to have happen.

But let's say Stephenson goes to Europe. He won't be playing against over-matched 19 and 20 year olds. Rather, he will be going up against professionals, grown men that have NBA aspirations and would love nothing more than to plant an elbow square on the chops of a cocky young buck like Stephenson. Putting 40 on Jamal Crawford in the Rucker League is much different than trying to learn a system, play within a system, and put up points against a set defense. Stephenson could use a heaping helping of humility, and as Brandon Jennings proved this past season, heading overseas as a 19 year old is a quick way to get humbled.

Stephenson has been in the spotlight throughout his high school career.
(photo credit: gunninmovie.com)

There is another way to look at this. Let's say Stephenson ends up being forced to spend the year abroad because no school will take on his risk (the same goes for Sidney if he is ruled ineligible). Would this not be a great cautionary tale, especially if the year out of the spotlight has negative consequences for either player's draft stock in 2010?

Think about it. If Stephenson dominates the college game for a year, his face is all over Sportscenter every day and the public will be seeing him drop 25 or 30 a night. He will have a profile here, and fans will be calling for their team to pick him.

But if he goes to Europe, has a mediocre season as a reserve (a la Jennings), will NBA scouts still be fawning over him, especially in a draft class next year that looks to be loaded? Maybe, maybe not, but it is almost a guarantee that he will slide a bit in the draft as a result, costing himself a bunch of guaranteed money.

Worst case scenario, Stephenson (or Sidney) goes the way of Lenny Cooke (or Ousmane Cisse).

Who are they?

My point exactly.

Now I am going to preface this by saying the last thing I want is for this to sound like I'm rooting for a couple of 18 year olds to fail, because that is not at all true. But couldn't this be a good thing for the college game? If Stephenson is never heard from again, would he not be the perfect poster boy for the dangers of pushing the boundaries of amateurism as a high school standout?

Think about it like this. Right now, there really are no repercussions for guys like OJ Mayo or Derrick Rose, guys that break the rules (alledgedly) coming up and expect their schools and former teammates to pay the price for them.

Maybe a fall from grace by a "sure-fire" NBA star is what it will take to convince people that it is not a good idea to bend the rules of recruiting and amateurism during their high school years.

Maybe seeing two more of our most talented youngsters showcasing their skills abroad will help to change the one-and-done rule.

Or, maybe it will stay in our collective consciousness for a while before the general public moves on, and five years from now college basketball bloggers will be wary of a misguided young star becoming the next Lance Stephenson.

Lance who?


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More response to the Kevin O'Neill hiring

Before we get into it, one of the knocks on O'Neill has been that he is a bit of an a-hole. He has had 15 jobs in 30 years, and has not left many admirers in his wake. Check out this article from the Memphis Commerical-Appeal for some background.

The bottom line is this: it is clear why USC went this direction with the hiring. O'Neill is a no-nonsense guy who will clean up this program. The last thing USC wants right now is to have some young gun head coach come in here, skirt the lines of recruiting legalities, and get their athletics program in even deeper with the NCAA infractions committee.

I really doubt O'Neill is Garrett's long-term solution (hell, he had the Arizona job handed to him on a silver platter and he managed to botch that). Instead, he seems to be more of a band-aid, a temporary answer that will keep the ship afloat while the Trojans weather the storm brewing with the impending NCAA investigation.

After the jump, some of the biggest names give their take on the hiring.

- Gregg Doyel, CBSSports: "By hiring O'Neill, USC also is dropping to its knees in remorse before the NCAA, which still is looking into the only sport on campus that matters to USC athletics director Mike Garrett, the USC football program. See, Kevin O'Neill is clean. He's not a cheater. Say what you want about Kevin O'Neill -- but don't say that only a stupid dead man could like him; that's piling on -- but you can't say he's dirty. You know what he is? He's Bob Knight Lite. Big jerk. But a big, clean jerk. Hiring O'Neill lets the NCAA know that your school is serious (finally) about having a clean basketball program."

- Andy Katz, ESPN.com: "Arizona interim coach Kevin O'Neill walked off USC's Galen Center floor with the Wildcats leading at the half. He was extremely irritated with assistant Miles Simon, who had stood up to question the officials. O'Neill lit into Simon in the hallway, making sure he knew who was in charge. Arizona won the game. Two days later, the Wildcats were getting blitzed by UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. O'Neill went into the locker room at halftime and ripped into Jerryd Bayless, Chase Budinger and crew for essentially being soft. O'Neill was so upset, he broke a chalkboard into pieces. Arizona didn't come back and win the game. But it was clear who was in control: O'Neill. Love him or hate him, one thing is certain: Few coaches are as intense as O'Neill."

- Gary Parrish, CBSSports: "I know USC athletic director Mike Garrett loves defense (you saw the quote, right?). But hiring a "defensive" coach to work in Los Angeles and across town from Ben Howland is incredibly shortsighted. Understand, the only knock on Howland is that he's a "defensive" coach who doesn't offer his players enough offensive freedom; that's what those who recruit against him try to sell to recruits. Does it work? Not terribly well, it seems. But still, that's the perception and the knock. And rather than try to take advantage of it, USC hired a "defensive" coach who has a history of butting heads with pretty much everybody he coaches or works with. Honestly, does that make any sense?"

- Jeff Goodman, FOXSports: " 'He's a great guy off the court, but he's bipolar or something,' said one of his former players. 'On the court, he's a madman.' I don't doubt that USC is in desperate need of a disciplinarian — and O'Neill fits the bill. But he's also far from the model of stability. Here's a guy who actually admitted to a throng of media that he didn't even talk to his assistant coaches — now Memphis head coach Josh Pastner and former Wildcats assistant Miles Simon — during the games. That's arrogance. O'Neill basically had the Arizona job handed to him on a silver platter. All he had to do was keep his mouth quiet and wait until Lute Olson called it a career. But O'Neill couldn't do it — and instead of being the head coach in Tucson right now, he was run out of town by Olson."

- Scott Wolf, LA Daily News: "O'Neill has developed a reputation as a love-him-or- hate-him coach with an attention to detail that sometimes became overshadowed by his fiery personality. During a game when he coached at Tennessee, O'Neill sent reserve Jason Moore into a game against Arkansas. After Moore made some errors and Tennessee lost its lead, O'Neill screamed at Moore, "You better hope you die before halftime!" Another time, O'Neill became so frustrated with a player during practice he sat in the stands for 15 minutes and booed him."

- Chris Foster, LA Times: "Reached by cellphone, O'Neill declined to comment, but in his statement he addressed the task at hand, saying, "I recognize that USC basketball has been through a tough time lately," and, "One thing I expect people might second-guess me on is whether I made the right call in taking this job." O'Neill, who is to be introduced at a news conference Monday, said he had been following the situation in media reports and hinted that he may have had as many questions for school officials as they did for him during the search process. "USC could not have been more forthcoming and honest answering my questions," he said. As to whether the NCAA investigation would hamper recruiting, he said, ". . . If I thought I wouldn't be able to do my job -- do the job that the university expects of me and equally important that I expect of myself -- I wouldn't have taken the job."

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Monday Morning Dump

- Green Room invitees, Hasheem Thabeet doesn't want to go to Memphis, and all the rest of the latest NBA Draft rumors from Draft Express.

- Tubby Smith is being sued.

- Jonny Flynn draft diary part two.

- Great piece from the NY Times on our favorite mock drafters.

- Is Tom Crean bitter about his situation at Indiana?

- All the NBA Draft top five lists you could ever want.

- Washington State should be pretty good this year.

- Phil Jackson to retire and Coach K to take over the Lakers?

- An interview with the guy who is fast becoming my favorite morning Sportscenter anchor.

- How bad is this year's draft class?

- Minnesota hosted a large (and star-studded) point guard workout.

- Yao to Cleveland?

- Why is this on Craigslist?

- If Gus Johnson announced golf:

- I know it was yesterday, but this one's for you pops. Happy Father's Day!

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

USC hires former Arizona interim coach Kevin O'Neill

USC could not have expected much out of their coaching search. Coaching in the shadow of Pete Carroll's football program and waging recruiting wars with cross-town rival UCLA is not an enviable task.

Now throw into the mix the an NCAA investigation and possible NCAA sanctions. You think the school is going to allow any "pushing of the envelope" when it comes to recruiting?

Don't expect USC to be hosting too many Elite Camps in the coming years or offering AAU coaches any package deals to land a recruit. The typical runners and NBA agents you find on any major college campus? Fat chance any USC official allows them within sight of the Troy campus.

Can you say competitive disadvantage?

USC could not have been expecting to hire a big name coach. They tried, however, and failed. Jamie Dixon. Reggie Theus. Lon Kruger. Jamie Dixon again. To his credit, Mike Garrett did his due diligence, flirting with seemingly every big name out there. But the fact of the matter was that no coach that was even remotely happy with their job was going to take this job.

Garrett had to cut his list to three kinds of candidates. Those currently unemployed, those currently coaching a low-major/low-profile high-major, and assistants (NBA or college) looking to bump their pay.

This list included quite a few quality names, and even more quality coaches: Seth Greenburg, Craig Robinson, Bobby Braswell, PJ Carlesimo.

So who did they settle on?

Kevin O'Neill, the first Arizona interim coach.

The guy that wasn't good enough to get the Arizona job permanently.

The guy that was, well, disliked by Jerryd Bayless and the rest of the '08 Wildcats.

The guy that Gary Parrish has said "almost never leaves admirers in his trail."

A lot of people dislike this hiring (here is Parrish's reaction, here is Goodman's), but I think it is great. O'Neill is really known for two things: he is a disciplinarian, and he is a tireless worker. For a program like USC, that is basically starting over from scratch (yes, you are starting from scratch when Lil' Bow Wow Lil' Mama Lil' Romeo has a chance to start) with the dark cloud of the NCAA hanging over their head, what you need is someone who will take control of the program.

And that is exactly what USC hopes O'Neill will do.

Don't forget, we are also talking about a guy who has a vendetta against Arizona, and to a certain extent UCLA as well. You don't think O'Neill would love to come in here and build a program that will steal recruits, fans, and Pac-10 titles from the Wildcats and the Bruins?

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Friday, June 19, 2009

USA Basketball Teams Announced

Here is the roster for the U-19 Men's World Championship team, coached by Pitt's Jamie Dixon:

DeAngelo Castro, Washington State
Seth Curry, Duke
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh
Gordon Hayward, Butler
Shelvin Mack, Butler
Darius Miller, Kentucky
Arnett Moultrie, UTEP
John Shurna, Northwestern
Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
Howard Thompkins, Georgia
Klay Thompson, Washington State
Terrico White, Mississippi

Here is the roster for the World University Games, coached by Bo Ryan of Wisconsin.

James Anderson, Oklahoma State
Talor Battle, Penn State
Trevor Booker, Clemson
Craig Brackins, Iowa State
Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia
Corey Fisher, Villanova
Lazar Hayward, Marquette
Robbie Hummel, Purdue
Quincy Pondexter, Washington
Deon Thompson, North Carolina
Evan Turner, Ohio State
Jarvis Varnado, Ohio State

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Friday Morning Dump

- Is Memphis the last team standing in the recruitment of Lance Stephenson? ZagsBlog says they are, but the NY Post believes that FIU and Isiah Thomas are still interested.

- Good news for UCLA: Drew Gordon's knee injury is not that serious.

- Can anyone translate this? Apparently, it says Dario Saric, a 15 year old Croatian, signed an $8 million contract with spanish club Tau Ceramica.

- Hawaii landed two transfers - Zane Johnson from Arizona and Aleksandar Milovic from Duquense.

- Jeff Goodman is reporting that Karron Johnson, a top 100 recruit headed to Oklahoma State, has not qualified and will spend the season at Moberly CC in Missouri. He is also reporting that USC went after UNLV's Lon Kruger, but that Kruger turned the Trojans down.

- Musicians love name-dropping Hasheem Thabeet in songs.

- Speaking of contracts, Sean Miller will be getting $8 million over five years.

- We talked a while back about comparing players. Rumors and Rants finds a pretty good one - a combination of Dwight Howard and Tijan Jobe.

- I almost feel bad posting this link (although I respect the site a great deal, internet rumors like this are one of the reasons that blogs get a bad rap), but some of the comments are hilarious. #54 might be my favorite.

- Depressing, but a good story.

- Funny, Hangover-esque post from Elks Are Prevalent. "He was quite swift for a drunken buffoon."

- He hits the ground so hard.

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