Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Morning Dump

- Its official, 68 teams

- Terrence Jones announces at 6:30 (3:30 in Portland) tonight

- There is a good chance we will never see Dicky V call a Final Four

- New NCAA president addresses the "one-and-done"

- More on Brandon Knight and the lack of an LOI

- Jeff Eisenberg provides a good list of surprise early entries

- San Jon State's CJ Webster is staying in the draft, in part because he had a daughter in February

- Edwin Ubiles believes he will be drafted

- The Jimmy V Classic double header has been announced: Kansas plays Memphis in the opener, followed by Michigan State and Syracuse

- Oklahoma loses another assistant

- Contract extension for Tom Moore at Quinnipiac

A few days old, but holy WOW that is a cool dunk

Continue reading...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The new early entry deadline sucks

At midnight on Sunday night, the NBA Draft's early entry deadline came and went. Earlier today, the full list of 80 college players that had officially declared for the NBA Draft was released.

There were few surprises on that list, and only one (Tracy Smith of NC State, but he said via facebook that he would be returning to school) was a player with any real significance.

But that doesn't mean today didn't have any significance.

As you should be well aware, the deadline for underclassmen that haven't hired an agent to pull their names out of the draft is May 8th, which is all of nine days away; next Saturday.

What you may not know is that underclassmen are not allowed to begin scheduling workouts with NBA teams until after the official list is released, which happened today. They are also not allowed to workout with an NBA team if it conflicts with a class schedule, which basically rules out all weekdays.

What that means is that unless an underclassmen can schedule a workout with an NBA team for this weekend -- without the facilitation of an agent, mind you -- that player basically has next Friday and Saturday to workout for the 30 NBA teams.

Keep in mind, most of the teams picking at the end of the first round -- where the players still deciding on whether or not to remain in the draft are hoping to be picked -- are in the middle of the playoffs right now. The draft is the furthest thing from their mind.

The whole reason that the process of testing the waters was first implemented was to allow underclassmen an opportunity to gauge where their draft positions stands, get feedback from NBA GM's, and make a decision of whether or not they will be drafted high enough to warrant giving up their collegiate eligibility.

Sometimes players make the right decision, and sometimes they make the wrong decision, whether it is pulling their name out when they are a lottery pick (Willie Warren) or keeping their name in when most teams believe they will go undrafted (Jamont Gordan).

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.

Is a player really going to be able to get a good feel for his standing based on one or two workouts?

Is he really going to be able to make an informed decision that can so dramatically impact his future and his earning potential in a period of less than a week-and-a-half?

I understand the argument in favor of this rule change. NBA teams have a chance to watch these kids all season long. There are hours and hours of game tape available that allows scouts to breakdown what each and every prospect can do on a basketball court. NBA scouts are at seemingly every single college basketball game involving a potential NBA prospect.

There is much more that goes into picking a player than just breaking down game film. Maybe in a workout, a team finds out that Big Man X has a better face-up game than he was able to display during the season. Maybe Point Guard Y shows that he has a better understanding of how to run a pick-and-roll than he showcased during the season, a play that is much more prevalent in the NBA than at the college level.

NBA teams get a chance to interview these kids. They get a chance to see what kind of work ethic they have. They get a chance to see if they have improved on any of their weaknesses since the season has ended. So much more goes into the process of determining who to pick in the draft than simply studying the x's-and-o's of what a player can do on the court.

"Houston does a combination of physical, athletic & psychological testing that far exceeds what most other NBA teams do," Draft Express tweeted over the weekend. "You can see the results they've had in the Draft the past few years-- Aaron Brooks, Carl Landry, Budinger, etc. Their work clearly pays off."

The kids are the ones being hurt here. Their futures are the ones that are being toyed with.

And it is all so that college coaches can rest easy at night, knowing who they will have and who they won't have on their roster. Remember, this rule was changed last season at the behest of the ACC's coaches, who were tired of waiting until the middle of June -- last year's deadline was June 15th, 10 days before the draft -- to know who was staying and who was leaving.

I don't exactly understand the problem. Its not like these coaches are going to be able to recruit replacements. As we mentioned yesterday, only five players on Rivals top 100 are still undecided on where they want to attend school. More than half of the 80 players that declared for the draft have yet to sign with an agent.

You needn't have taken calculus to realize those numbers don't add up.

The draft process was working. North Carolina won the 2009 national title because three guys pulled out of the 2008 draft. Scottie Reynolds, Patrick Patterson, and 24 other players pulled their names out of last year's draft.

Look through the list of players currently with their names in the draft.

Think about how different the college basketball landscape will be next season when -- not if, when -- kids on that list make the wrong decision to stay in the draft because they couldn't gather enough information.

Continue reading...

Chris Wright must be reading BIAH

Earlier today, the NCAA released the list of the 80 players that had declared early for the NBA Draft. The list wasn't a day old before Dayton's Chris Wright heeded our advice.

This afternoon, Wright announced his intentions to return to Dayton:

I have decided to return to UD for my senior season and have pulled my name out of this year’s NBA draft. When I announced I was investigating the draft, I said my three main goals as a Dayton Flyer were to graduate, to raise the national profile of our program, and to put myself in position to play at the highest level. I'm excited about accomplishing these three goals.

Going through this process was a learning experience for me and I really appreciate the advice I received. I also want to thank my family and coach Gregory for the support and guidance they gave me as I came to this decision. I love the University of Dayton and where our program is headed. I can't wait for next year.
For our thoughts on what a return would mean for Wright as a player, read here.

The bigger question is what it means for the Flyers as a team.

With Wright returning, Dayton now brings back their top two scorers -- Wright and Chris Johnson, a talented wing that averaged 12 and 7 while shooting 35% from three -- as well as their head coach Brian Gregory, who spurned offers form a couple high-major programs.

But the Flyers are not a team that thrives on scoring to win. Their style of play is best described as a street fight -- they are going to fly around defensively, playing tough, physical man-to-man defense. And with the seven seniors that graduate this year (which includes back court players Rob Lowery, London Warren, Mickey Perry, and Marcus Johnson), the Flyers lose much of the depth, and a number of the defenders, that allowed them to play that style.

Its not all bad. Gregory is bringing in five recruits, of which all five can play on the perimeter. Two of those recruits -- Juwan Staten and Brandon Spearlman -- were sought after by a number of high majors. Staten is the best of the bunch. He's a true point guard, a good decision maker that can use the bounce the create and score and is a willing and able defender. He also excels getting out in transition. He should be a good fit for this Dayton team.

Dayton returns quite a bit of size, as Luke Fabrizius, Josh Benson, and Matt Kavanaugh all return. Kavanaugh and Benson were both freshmen this season and saw limited playing time, while Fabrizius was a sophomore that averaged just 9.4 mpg in the 25 games he saw action. While that young and inexperienced front line struggled to see consistent minutes, there is some potential there. Fabrizius is probably the best shooter on the Dayton roster, and Kavanaugh and, to a lesser degree, Benson were both fairly highly-regarded recruits.

But clearly, the biggest piece of news the Flyers got, or will get, this offseason is the return of Chris Wright.

Without him, they are a team that might be looking at their second straight NIT. With him, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Flyers make a run at both an A-10 title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Continue reading...

UPDATE: BYU's Michael Loyd, Jr., to transfer

Anyone that watched BYU beat Florida 99-92 in double overtime in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament this year knows that Cougar sophomore Michael Loyd, Jr., can play.

Anyone that watched the Cougars throughout the year knows that that game was no fluke.

And today, BYU head coach announced that Loyd will be leaving the BYU program.

Michael Loyd, Jr., is transferring from BYU.
(photo credit: Daylife)

"Michael and I have met several times and we have mutually decided he will continue his education and basketball career in another program," Rose said in a news release. "He has been a significant part of our success the last three seasons and we are grateful for his many contributions. As a staff, we wish him the best and will do all we can to help Michael find a great situation."

Loyd spent the last two seasons backing up Jimmer Fredette, averaging just 5.1 ppg as a sophomore. Those numbers, however, were more a result of a lack of playing time and shots to go around. Fredette is scoring point guard, the kind of player who dominates possession of the ball.

The same with Loyd. Fredette missed a lot of time this year, and when given the opportunity, Loyd didn't disappoint. He scored 17 points against Eastern New Mexico in a game Fredette sat out. He went for 19 and 18 against New Mexico and Utah, respectively, when Fredette was battling his myriad of injuries and illnesses. And, of course, there was the 26 point outburst against Florida.

Loyd is a lightening bug of a point guard that can score in a hurry, can get into the paint, and has range on his jumper. And while his production off the bench is going to be missed, perhaps it is a positive sign for Cougar fans. Fredette currently has his name in the pool for early entry into the NBA Draft. Could Loyd's defection signal a return to school by Fredette? (For what its worth, Fredette has made it fairly clear that he is returning. But until those paper's are signed, anything is possible.)

Whatever the case may be, the one thing I know for certain is that the team that lands Michael Loyd, Jr., is going to be getting a talented player.

UPDATE: Apparently, this decision is catching everyone by surprise. A source that Yahoo's Jeff Eisenberg spoke too wasn't even aware of Loyd's decision to leave until Eisenberg told him.

What makes it all the more puzzling is that Loyd is a redshirt sophomore, which means that the year he sits out as a result of that transfer will cost him a year of eligibility. Wherever he ends up, Loyd will only be playing one more season of college basketball.

We'll be keeping an eye on this over the coming days.

UPDATE II: From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Insiders say Loyd was finding it harder and harder to fit in his third year than it was his first or second, for reasons probably only he can address. And BYU coaches were finding it harder and harder to look past some of Loyd’s actions.

Loyd wasn’t forced out, but he was given some ultimatums in regards to behavior, dress and appearance that he apparently decided he just couldn’t abide by.

Let’s put it this way: showing up on national television with a mohawk haircut for BYU’s NCAA Tournament games, or playing against Utah with a tongue piercing, probably didn’t help his cause.

Continue reading...

Thursday Morning Dump

- In case you missed it, John Feinstein remembers Jim Valvano

- Herb Pope collapsed at a workout yesterday and was rushed to the hospital. A source told that Pope is in serious condition

- DeShawn Sims is a tough kid. His father and a brother are locked up, another brother and a close cousin were both murdered

- Mark Macon got a two year deal as an interim coach with Binghamton

- Updated transfer list and coaching carousel list

- Andy Katz on why the early entry deadline is unfair. More on this from the News & Observer.

- Comparing anything to the Nazis is a dumb idea

- Bruiser Flint upsets Jay Wright as college basketball's best dressed

- More collegiate early entry

- Could Emmanuel Negedu be headed to Indiana?

- White and Blue Review on Greg McDermott and more Dana Altman fodder

- No more LOI?

- This is an excellent time waster

Continue reading...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CJ Leslie is headed to NC State, only Terrence Jones is left

CJ Leslie, a 6'8" forward and a top 20 recruit, and finally decided on where he will go to school.

And it was a bit of a surprise.

The Raleigh, NC, native will be staying at home and playing for Sidney Lowe and NC State. Leslie committed to NC State back in 2007, but reopened his commitment as he began to garner more interest. He picked the Wolfpack over UConn and Kentucky.

CJ Leslie is now a member of the Wolfpack.
(photo credit: News Observer)

"It's a great school, they have a great coach, and I think we can do some things next season," Leslie told Jeff Borzello of March Madness All Season shortly after his commitment. "I think I can make a major impact next season. Coach [Sidney Lowe] was excited when I told him."

All of a sudden, NC State looks like they may be a factor in the ACC. They return Tracy Smith, their leading scorer and rebounder last season, as well as Javier Gonzalez and Scott Wood. Leslie joins what already was a good recruiting class, as Lowe has already signed Ryan Harrow, a 6'0" point guard and top 25 recruit from Georgia, and Lorenzo Brown, a 6'4" four star recruit (top 50 according to most outlets) from Hargrave Military Academy.

While there are a few red flags -- it will be interesting to see how NC State handles having three point guards that will deserve minutes, and it is always risky to rely on freshman for major minutes -- this Wolfpack team has the talent to compete for a spot in the NCAA tournament.

With Leslie's commitment, there is now just one five star recruit left uncommitted. Terrence Jones, a 6'8" power forward and a top 15 recruit, is still undecided. He visited Kansas earlier this week, but some believe he may follow high school teammate Terrence Ross, himself a top 50 recruit, to Washington, where he committed on Sunday night.

According to Rivals, there are just five of the top 100 recruits left for the taking -- Jones (#13), Luke Cothran (#33), Shaquille Thomas (#77), Julian Washburn (#95), and Neiko Hunter (#96).

Below are mixtapes of CJ Leslie (top) and Terrence Jones (bottom):

Continue reading...

Big XII/Pac-10 series schedule

The matchups for the Big XII/Pac-10 challenge have been released:

Nov. 27
-USC at Nebraska

Dec. 2
-Missouri at Oregon
-UCLA at Kansas
-Arizona State at Baylor

Dec. 3
-Kansas State at Washington State

Dec. 4
-Oregon State at Colorado
-California at Iowa State
-Texas Tech at Washington

Dec. 5
-Texas at USC
-Oklahoma at Arizona

Dec. 11
-Washington at Texas A&M

Dec. 21
-Stanford at Oklahoma State

There aren't a lot of overwhelmingly good games here.

Kansas State at Washington State should be entertaining, as the Wildcats are expected to be around the top 10 and the Cougars return a lot of talent. Arizona State at Baylor should also be a good game.

The most interesting matchup could be Missouri at Oregon, as Mike Anderson makes a trip to Eugene, where the Ducks pursued him for a while as a potential replacement for Ernie Kent. there is no way that UCLA can be as bad as they were this year, and they travel to Lawrence to take on fellow blue blood Kansas, who will also be a top 10 team.

That said, I doubt that anyone, except for the writers, bloggers, and most die-hard fans in the midwest and on the west coast, will even know this series is taking place next season.


Because the games are so spread out.

Part of the reason that this series was put into place was to try and capitalize on the success that the ACC-Big Ten challenge has had, while also guaranteeing every team in both leagues an out of conference game against a power conference team. But the Big XII/Pac-10 series will never, ever reach the level of the ACC-Big Ten challenge if they keep the games so spread out.

The ACC and the Big Ten do it right. The 11 games in that challenge take place over the course of three days and they are shown on the ESPN networks. It drives interest, and people actually care about who wins the challenge. While is carries the same amount of significance as a win in a preseason tournament -- which means basically none -- it does provide some bragging rights. The Big Ten won for the first time this season. I wrote about it here, as did just about every other college basketball media outlet and blog.

In the early part of the college hoops season, when it is difficult to generate interest with football season coming to a close, the ACC-Big Ten challenge provides a reason for casual fans to tune in.

The Big XII/Pac-10 series will never generate that interest under the current format. In the age of the internet, the average attention span of a sports fan is pretty damn short. When the entire NCAA Tournament takes three weeks to play, and every preseason tournament, with the exception the Preseason NIT and the Coaches vs. Cancer, which are played at multiple sites, is finished within four days at an absolute maximum, the Big XII/Pac-10 series takes almost a month to complete?

There is the potential to build some interest in this event, but that will never happen if the series can't be completed within a week.

Continue reading...

Wednesday Morning Dump

Oh, god. Things are not looking good at UConn. The WSJ is reporting more violations, and that Jim Calhoun hasn't actually signed his contract extension.

- Fred Hoiberg is hired as the head coach at his alma mater, Iowa State. Gary Parrish compares it to Sarah Palin.

- So by virtue of NCAAlgebra, a Missouri Valley job is better than a Big-12 job? At least Iowa State got his name right.

- Dominique Jones, broken down by Jonathon Givony of Draft Express.

- Despite the rumors, Mike Brey is still the head coach at Notre Dame

- This is pretty funny. RTC had it days ago.

- Glenn Braica will be the new St. Francis head coach

- RTC on conference realignment

- Colorado guard Keegan Hornbuckle is transferring

- UNLV's Matt Shaw will be suspended all of next season because of a banned substance

- Kevin Dillard and Anthony Booker both leave Southern Illinois. The Salukis entire 2008 freshman class, which was ranked among the best in the country, is now gone.

- South Carolina's studs are looking to make it in the big leagues

- A new NCAA chief executive

Continue reading...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2010 NBA Draft Early Entrants: Who helps themselves the most by returning to school

The NBA Draft's Early Entry deadline came and went on Sunday. Today, we will provide you with a bit of fodder over how some of this year's decisions could sway the 2010-11 college basketball season. For a complete list of this year's crop of early entrants, click here.

I am not opposed to early entry into the NBA Draft. In fact, I often support the decision of many of these kids to enter the professional ranks. When the opportunity to become a first round pick presents itself, there is no reason for me to protest against a kid pursuing his dream and making a (substantial) living. If you are blessed enough to be an NBA-worthy talent, there is no reason not to cash-in on your ability.

The issue I have is with the kids that stay in the draft when it would suit them best to go back to school for a year. I understand that this season is unique, with a potential NBA lockout looming, but there are still players who may be able to move up draft boards -- and possibly earn themselves a guaranteed contract -- by returning to school.

While it is a less-than-ideal format this year (and believe me, that is putting it lightly, but that is another post for another day), the ability to test the waters is great for these kind of players. In a perfect world, they can work out for NBA scouts, see where they stand in terms of the NBA Draft, and either continue on with their efforts to lock up a guaranteed contract or return to school and work on the specific aspects of their game that need improvement to up their stock as a draft pick.

Which players should pull their name out of the draft? Note that we are only considering guys that we deem potential first rounders one day. There are a lot of players with their names in the draft that clearly need to head back to school, or simply tested the waters because they are a junior.

Chris Wright, Dayton, junior: Wright has always been a sensational athlete. You don't get the nickname "Top Flight" easily. Wright is 6'8", strong, athletic, and built in the mold of the power wing/combo forward that has become a trend in today's NBA. As a junior, Wright finally started to show some flashes of a developed perimeter game, which he will need in order to become an NBA player. Every player in the NBA is an elite athlete. To warrant a first round pick, you need to bring something else to the table.

Chris Wright, if he's smart, will return to Dayton and get up a lot of jumpers this summer.
(photo credit: Dayton Daily News)

But Wright isn't quite there yet. He jump shot, ball-handling skills, and instincts on the perimeter still need some work. If he can put in the work this summer, and develop himself like, say, Quincy Pondexter did this year, he should be able to work his way into next year's first round. This season, it is very likely that he will fall into the second round.

JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore, Purdue, juniors: Moore is the obvious one here. While he is a very good player at the college level, he lacks the ideal size and athleticism of an NBA two guard, and he isn't a point guard. Simply put, I'm not sure if the NBA is in Moore's future.

Johnson, on the other hand, has the potential to be a first round pick if he comes back. 6'10" and athletic with a soft touch on the perimeter will catch a lot of eyes. But Johnson's issue is his strength. He's just a slender guy, weighing right around 215 lb with a frame that doesn't exactly look like it can add a lot of size.

Johnson isn't a first rounder this year. If he decides to stay in the draft, he will be in that mix of guys looking to steal one of the last 10 picks of the draft. Given his limitations and the quality of talent in the 20-45 range, odds are good that he slips into the second round. But if he spends a summer in the weight room and showcases a better low post game next season for what should be a very good Purdue team, he would likely be a first round pick in 2011. Johnson has gone from the JV for his high school team as a junior to a potential NBA pick in four years. He clearly works hard and is willing to put in the effort to make himself better. The NBA can wait another year.

Keith Benson, Oakland, junior: Benson, like Johnson, is a borderline first round pick this year. Like Johnson, he is tall, long, and athletic with a soft touch on the perimeter. And like Johnson, Benson lacks the strength that is required to be a post player in the NBA.

The talent is there for Keith Benson.
(photo credit: The Oakland Press)

Benson averaged 17 ppg this past season, but too much of that came from the perimeter. While he does have a foundation that should lead people to believe he can improve -- he has excellent footwork, for example -- he needs to get stronger and tougher. In a lot of cases, he is forced to be a perimeter shooter and a face-up big man not for a lack of post moves, but because he lacks the strength and the toughness to hold position on the block and finish those post moves. The strength and toughness issue shows through on the defensive end as well. Benson has first round potential, but he is much more likely to realize that potential if he waits for the 2011 draft.

Samardo Samuels, Louisville, sophomore: Samuels was a top five recruit coming out of high school, and certainly hasn't failed to be a very good player for Rick Pitino. I don't think anyone can complain when they are getting 15 and 7 out of a sophomore.

The problem is that Samuels doesn't really project as an NBA player. He is only 6'8" (and that may be generous) and is comparatively an underwhelming athlete -- he isn't overly quick or explosive. Samuels can survive at the collegiate level because he is strong, understands how to hold position, and has some effective post moves. But with his lack of a perimeter/face-up game, a 6'8" low post player is a long shot at getting picked in the first round, if at all. If Samuels decides to return to Louisville, he could very well be the best post player in the conference, if not the Big East player of the year.

Devin Ebanks, West Virginia, sophomore: Ebanks is a bit of an enigma. Standing 6'9", he is long and pretty athletic. But the issues with Ebanks aren't his tools, it is how he uses them. At times, he looked like he was capable of taking over games this season, but there were also times he looked absolutely lost.

I don't think Ebanks really understands how to play basketball. There were a number of times late in the season where he simply lost track of how much time was left on the clock, or looked completely lost on the offensive end. There is also the issue of an early season suspension and a perimeter game that is really lacking. Ebanks came into the season as a potential lottery pick, and his stock only dropped during the year. Leaving now, he may even end up in the second round. If he can come back and get people talking about his strengths, not his weaknesses, then he may boost himself back into the lottery next season, especially with the likelihood that his role will be expanded without Da'Sean Butler.

Other notable names who could benefit from an extra year in school:
  • Avery Bradley, Texas, freshman: Everyone knows how good Bradley can be defensively, but he had an up and down season on the offensive end. With Damion James and Dexter Pittman graduating, Bradley would have the chance to be the focal point offensively. Its a double edged sword, because another inconsistent year could end up the label of strictly a defender.
  • Terrico White, Ole Miss, sophomore: There is a lot to like about White. He has two guard size and athleticism, and has shown the ability to play the point (as a freshman, when Chris Warren was injured). He's a potential late first rounder this season, but could move up into the lottery if he goes back to school and has another good year.
  • Manny Harris, Michigan, junior: Harris has first round talent, but it is tough to warrant using a first round pick on a guy that couldn't lead his college team to many wins, especially when the late first round is so loaded. Harris has a variety of skills, ut is still maturing as a player and a person as well as learning the game.
  • Kenneth Faried, Morehead State, junior: I really like Faried's game. He's 6'8", he's athletic, he's energetic, he plays hard, he attacks the glass. He's the kind of blue-collar player that is going leave everything he has on the floor. Faried is probably never going to be a go-to scorer, but he doesn't need to be to find a spot in the league. He may not improve his stock all that much if he comes back, but he would likely go higher in the draft next year simply because there won't be as many people in front of him on draft boards.

Continue reading...

Tuesday Morning Dump

- The year in pictures. Awesome

- Dunk of the year tournament, Elite 8

- Dayton coach Brian Gregory not interested in Rutgers job

- The new Cornell coach believes "best is yet to come"

- Big Red hire assistant coach, son of George Mason's Larranaga

- Va Tech to play a tougher schedule next season

- Jim Boeheim is no fan of conference expansion. Maybe this is why

- Mississippi State's Dee Bost and Ravern Johnson are testing the waters

Hit the jump for all of last night's recruiting updates

- Terrence Ross to announce Friday

- Sterling Gibbs is going to Maryland

- Duke lands commitment from 2011 recruit Tyler Adams

- Central Florida gets JuCo transfer

- Gary Bell Jr. commits to Gonzaga

- Ex-Bruin Mike Moser commits to UNLV

- Former-Bruin J'mison Morgan is transfering to Baylor

- highly-touted 2011 recruit Jaylen Bond verbally commits to Pittsburgh

- Jelani Hewitt commits to Georgia Southern

- A look at some 2011 prospects from the King James Classic

- A heated peice about Calipari's triple-A squad

- College hoops stars are coming to a baseball diamond near you

- Now this is pretty funny

Continue reading...

Monday, April 26, 2010

2010 NBA Draft Early Entrants: So who came back?

The NBA Draft's Early Entry deadline came and went on Sunday. Today, we will provide you with a bit of fodder over how some of this year's decisions could sway the 2010-11 college basketball season. For a complete list of this year's crop of early entrants, click here.

You wouldn't be wrong if you said it seems like half of the college basketball ranks declared for the 2010 NBA Draft. Believe it or not, there were some NBA prospects -- fringe or otherwise -- that decided returning to school was their best option. Now this was nothing like last year, when guys like Cole Aldrich, Willie Warren, and Greg Monroe decided to go to school for another year. There really was only one surprise. But that doesn't mean there isn't some talent that will be hitting the books next season instead of cashing checks.

Keep in mind, this list will (hopefully) grow as players come to realize their true standing in regards to this year's draft class.

So as of today, who's coming back?

Kyle Singler, Duke, forward: Singler was the one surprise that I was referring too. After struggling to acclimate to a more perimeter-centric role with the Blue Devils early on, Singler went crazy over the last six weeks of the season. He capped his junior year off with a fantastic performance in the NCAA Tournament, culminating in the Final Four MOP award as Duke won their fourth national title under Coach K.

Can Kyle Singler win another one?
(photo credit: B/R)

Singler likely would have been a first round pick if he had gone pro. Instead, he decided to return to school to try and lead the Blue Devils to a second straight national title. While the decision was a great one from the perspective of a Duke fan (or a college basketball fan in general, regardless of your feelings about the Blue Devils), it probably won't hurt his potential NBA career all that much. While his stock may never be higher than it is right now, the thing about Singler is that he is a known commodity. Nothing he can do next season is going to hurt his draft stock, and likely won't improve it all that much. He's a combo-forward that is going to play hard and compete, can knock down a jumper, and may be big versatile enough to create mismatches is a team decides to go small and use him at the four.

Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt, sophomore: A lot of fans don't know who Jeff Taylor is, but it is a safe bet that NBA scouts do. Taylor has all the makings of a guy that can develop into an impact small forward in the NBA. He's an explosive athlete with good size (6'7") and length that can defend and rebound. His is still a bit raw on the offensive end, but a jump shot and ball handling can be developed. Tools cannot.

Taylor probably made a good decision to return to school With Jermaine Beal graduating and AJ Ogilvy entering the draft and hiring an agent, Taylor is going to be Vanderbilt's first option next season. If he puts in the work this off-season and can up his production, there is no reason he can't vault himself into the back end of next year's lottery.

Kemba Walker, UConn, sophomore: Walker plays a different position than Taylor -- he is a diminutive point guard as opposed to a "power wing" -- but he is facing a lot of the same problems that Taylor is. Simply put, Walker relies far too heavily on his absurd quickness and ball-handling ability but doesn't quite understand how to run a team. He can lead a fast break as well as anyone at the collegiate level, but can he get a team into an offense and run a system. Next season, Walker will have a chance to work on that as UConn will need to play as much more of a team with talents like Stanley Robinson and Jerome Dyson graduating.

The other thing Walker will have a chance to work on next year is learning his limitations. There are few players that can keep Walker out of the paint, but quite a few that can block his shot or force him into a tough layup at the rim. If Walker wants to be a successful NBA point, he is going to need to learn how to score in the mid-range; to learn when he should pull up for a 10 foot jumper or a short floater as opposed to trying to finish around the rim in traffic.

Elias Harris, Gonzaga, freshman: Harris wasn't considered an NBA prospect when he arrived in Spokane, but he certainly is now. He reminds me a lot of Josh Howard. What I mean is that he is a four at this level, but he has the athleticism and the ball skills to project as an effective three at the next level. Harris is explosive enough to dunk over you and strong enough to bully his way through you, but he also has a finesse game, showing an ability to weave his way through traffic, and can knock down a three.

Elias Harris surprised a lot of people this season.
(photo credit: ESPN)

Harris was a bit inconsistent this past season, which probably had more to do with the fact that he was the third or fourth option most of the season than any knock on his game. With Matt Bouldin gone, it is going to the Harris and Steven Gray show for Mark Few next season. Expect big numbers ffrom the 6'8" 20 year old, and if he can show some development in his ability to play on the perimeter, Harris could be a lottery pick next season.

Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers, Michigan State, juniors: Both of these guys made the right decision to come back to school. Neither had a great junior year, and it wasn't just an issue of their basketball ability. Lucas was the 2009 Big Ten player of the year, but he dealt with leadership and injury issues throughout the season and is currently laid up with a torn achilles tendon. Lucas likely isn't going to be a lottery pick or a primetime player in the NBA, but if he can lead the Spartans to a third straight Final Four, you don't think NBA teams are going to take notice? He's a point guard that can create his own shot, can make a play for a teammate, and is a proven winner. Leadership aside, Lucas seems like he is going to be the kind of player than hangs around the league for 12-15 years as a solid back up point guard.

Summers has a much higher ceiling than Lucas, but it just seems like he doesn't want to tap into that potential. He looks almost apathetic on the court at times. He proved what kind of player he can be as he stepped his game up in the NCAA Tournament without Lucas, earning the Midwest Region's MOP, but one good month doesn't make up for a career's worth of inconsistency.

Other notable names back for another season:
  • Scotty Hopson, Tennessee, sophomore: A big time recruit coming out of high school, Hopson needs to prove that he is more than an athlete that can hit a jumper.
  • Chris Singleton, Florida State, sophomore: Singleton might have been able to sneak into the first round this season, but like Hopson, he still relies too heavily on being toolsy.
  • Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State, freshman(?): Sidney never saw the court this season due to issues with being an amateur. But a 6'11" big man with his talent will always be a prospect.
  • Aaric Murray, La Salle, freshman: Murray is a big man with a jump shot, but he needs to prove he can also play in the paint.
  • Malcolm Lee, UCLA, sophomore: The Bruins just didn't have a good enough season to warrant anyone going pro. Lee is a gym rat, however. I expect him to come back much better next year.
  • Trey Thompkins, Georgia, sophomore: I know I wasn't the only one that was impressed by the big man's play towards the end of the season.

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Greg McDermott is headed to Creighton

Its not often that you see a head coach go from a power conference team to a mid-major team willing, but that is exactly what Greg McDermott is doing.

The now-former Iowa State head coach is headed to Creighton, filling the void left when Dana Altman decided to take the Oregon job.

He may not have had a choice.

Greg McDermott is head back to the Missouri Valley.
(photo credit: Iowa State Daily)

McDermott was able to land the Iowa State job after turning around the Northern Iowa program. In 2000-01, the year before McDermott got there, the Panthers finished last in the MVC. After sub-.500 seasons in his first two years, UNI won 20 straight games the next three seasons, making the NCAA Tournament each season.

But McDermott failed to equal that level of success in Ames. His first season was the only year he finished better than 10th in the Big XII, and the last three seasons have seen the Cyclones muster just 12 total league wins. With his two best players -- Craig Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap -- going pro and the defections of Lucca Staiger (who left mid-season to go back to Germany), Chris Colvin, Justin Hamilton, and Dominique Buckley, the Cyclones were left with just six scholarship players.

Simply put, things weren't going to get better next season.

And another year like the past four likely would have ended up with McDermott getting fired.

So he made the smart career move.

He left arguably the worst job in the Big XII for arguably the best in the Missouri Valley. Have you ever seen the Qwest Center, the 18,000 seat arena in Omaha where Creighton plays their home games, when its packed and rocking? There are schools in the power conferences that don't have the kind of following that Creighton does.

He also earned himself some job security. A 10 year contract worth $9 million is about as secure as a job can get in this business.

If you ask me, McDermott made a pretty smart move.

At Creighton, he will have a bigger, better fan base and he may even be taking over a better basketball program. I'm sure that I'm not the only one that believes Creighton has a better shot at being an NCAA Tournament staple than Iowa State.

McDermott has built one MVC program. There's no reason to believe he can't resurrect another.

As an interesting side note to all of this, Greg McDermott's son, Doug, has signed a letter of intent to play at Northern Iowa. The elder McDermott said that his son would be joining him in Omaha, but apparently that isn't quite true yet.

For what its worth, Ben Jacobson, the UNI head coach, is best friends with Greg McDermott, which probably means that Doug will be granted his release once the request is put in.
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Jan Vesely will not be entering the NBA Draft

I know what your first thought was after reading the title to that post: who the hell is Jan Vesely?

Vesely is a 6'11", 20 year old from the Czech Republic that currently plays for BC Partizan in Serbia. He is also one of the top NBA prospects in Europe. Incredibly mobile and athletic for his size, Vesely is still quite raw, but has all the tools that would make him an ideal for the NBA. He is a combo-forward through and through, with the size of a four but the physical gifts of a three. At 6'11", he plays at the top of his team's press, can knock down a three, and has enough handle to go coast to coast. (Read Draft Express's scouting reports on him for much more thorough and knowledgeable analysis.)

Most outlets had Vesely projected has a possible top ten pick, and many considered him a lock for the draft. In comparison, this would be like Greg Monroe (another guy projected in the 8-18 range in this year's draft) opting to keep his name out of the draft.

Vesely only averaged around 8 ppg this season with Partizan, but watch this mixtape and tell me he doesn't have the potential to be an impact player in the league:

Vesely currently plays professional basketball in Europe, meaning that he will never be allowed to set foot on a collegiate court, but his decision to keep his name out of the NBA Draft could send some pretty significant ripples through college basketball.

You see, Vesely would have been a certain first round pick. Without him in the mix, that means that a guaranteed contract has opened up. As a result, there will be some border line first round picks that are going to be sliding up the draft boards.

Take Devin Ebanks, for example. Ebanks and Vesely are similar prospects. Outstanding physical gifts -- height, length, athleticism -- that need to be developed. Right now, Ebanks is projected to go in the dreaded 20-45 range.

Will Devin Ebanks move up enough draft boards to force his decision?
(photo credit: WVU Sports)

But with Vesely gone, does that mean that Ebanks becomes a more coveted prospect? Ebanks has yet to sign with an agent. Does Vesely's decision influence whether or not he decides to remain in the draft? Are Ekpe Udoh and Al-Farouq Aminu now locks for the lottery? Maybe the team that would have fallen in love with Vesely instead decides to go a different route, and takes a guy like Gordon Hayward or Jordan Crawford, which results in those players deciding to keep their names in the draft.

Whatever the case ends up being, Vesely's decision not to enter the NBA Draft this season will open up a spot in the first round. After spot in the first round only makes it more likely that some of the player's that have yet to sign with an agent will keep their name in the draft.

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Where should the Play-In games be held?

In a strange turn of events, the NCAA has decided NOT to add 32 at-large teams to next year's college basketball tournament, thus saving all of us the pain of filling out a 96-team bracket on a 18x11 sheet of paper. Instead, only three at-large teams will join the dance, meaning each region will have it's own play-in game.

Instead of debating what method of expansion is more tolerable, lets get realistic and start looking towards March Madness 2011. Here's my off-the-beaten-path question: Where exactly are they going to play these four play-in games?

This might not have too much relevance in the overall scheme of tournament expansion, but I mean, aren't we all sick of debating the same thing over and over? This might have little importance to the actual tournament, but it's the off-season and the topic-well is starting to become dry.

The UD Arena, home to the Dayton Flyers, has been the site for the play-in game since 2001, and will continue to do so until 2013. The arena was renovated prior the 2001 season and seats roughly 14,000 people, which is the ideal number of fans for a NCAA opening round game. After all, Play-in games won't draw big crowds, so large-capacity stadiums are unnecessary (there is nothing worse than watching a tournament game and seeing an empty upper-deck).It would be pointless to hold the game at say, the un-affiliated, 21,000-seat Quick N' Loans Arena.

Now, while it would be logical to place all four play-in games in Dayton over the course of two days, I'm not sure this would be the most logical decision.

More than likely, the four play-in games will feature the eight weakest automatic qualifiers, so the teams would probably come from different corners of the country (Big Sky, NEC, MEAC, Southland, Summit....). So it would make more sense to designate an arena in each part of the country as the play-in host for that particular region. After all, there are a handful of very good arenas between 8,000-18,000 that would work well as host sites for a NCAA play-in game.

First let's take a look at what sites would work for the Midwest play-in game.

Obviously, The UD Arena is the top draw. It will host a play-in game until 2013 when the contract expires. It is a large, very clean and attractive arena. It is located in a large college town, and is with-in close travel distance from most Midwest hubs and other Ohio colleges.

The Qwest Center, home of the Creighton Blue Jays would also serve as a great site for a opening round game. Creighton fans are a passionate bunch and I am sure that season ticket-holders would go to this game even if their Blue Jays aren't playing.

The 18,000 seat arena in Omaha, Nebraska would be ideal because it has been renovated recently (2006) and would be a quick plane flight away from regional sites like Kansas City, St. Louis, or Oklahoma City. I've watched many a game played at the Qwest Centre and I can tell you that the atmosphere is one to remember.

Not too many gyms in the Midwest, let alone the country are as old or as legendary as the Hinkle Fieldhouse, home to the Butler Bulldogs. While the Hinkle has much more wear-and-tear than the newer arenas, the size (roughly 8,000) and the location (Indianapolis) make it a good fit.

Plus, it is a great draw for local fans because the place inspires so much history. If I was a fan of the IUPUI Cougars and they won the Summit League, I'd sure as hell make the weekend trip to Indy for the play-in game.

These would work too:
The BOK Center - Tulsa, OK - 16,000
Hilton Coliseum - Iowa State - 15,000

In the west, The Thomas & Mack Center, home to UNLV, would be a solid location for the play-in game. First off, it's Vegas, so obviously it's a no-brainer. With a capacity of roughly 18,000, it might be a bit too large for a opening round game, but it is a 5-star venue, hosting events such as NBA All-Star Weekend, numerous WWE pay-per-views, and of course, the Pro Bull Riding Championships.

How about New Mexico's University Arena?, also known as The Pit. It is one of the best venues in all of college basketball. It is true that the atmosphere for the play-in game would be much different than a Lobos home game, but The Pit has something special about it.

The Pit seats 16,000, and is a single-bowl arena, so even if it isn't filled to capacity, it will look more-filled than an arena with two or three bowls. Plus New Mexico would work for West Regional sites like San Antonio, Denver, Phoenix, or Salt Lake City.

These would work too:
Viejas Arena - San Diego State - 12,000
Hec Edmundson Pavilion - Washington - 11,000

There is only one place on the East Coast (not including MSG) that I want to see the East Regional game played: The Palestra. The home to the Big-5 in Philadelphia, The Palestra is known as the College Hoops Cathedral.

It is small (8,000) and old (broke ground in 1926) but you won't find a more intimate college hoops setting. Any game played at The Palestra is sure to be really loud. Also, it would be an added bonus for mid-major teams to be able to play a NCAA tournament game at The Palestra. Because after all, it's very unlikely that any teams playing an opening round game will make it past the first round.

If the Palestra was unavailable, I would also consider using The Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. It's the perfect size (12,000) and has hosted previous tournament games. Providence Is an ideal setting for single play-in game.

Plus Southwest Airlines has flights from Baltimore, Manchester, Boston and Rochester for Around $150 round-trip...(that's what happens when you go to boarding school. Instead of living in different neighborhoods, your friends live in different states.)

These would work too:
The RAC - Rutgers - 8,000
The Patriot Center - George Mason - 10,000

Our final region, the South, features a handful of good venues in metropolitan areas accessible to large fan bases and other regional sites. The O'Connell Center at Florida, more appropriately known as "The O'Dome" would be a perfect site. It's got perfect size (12,000), is in an accessible part of Florida to the rest of the South, and is a nice-enough arena to be used by the NCAA, even if it is just for one game.

"The O'Dome" has gained a huge reputation for being a rowdy place to play. Obviously, a play-in game would not be as rowdy as a Gators home game, but nonetheless, I think "The O'Dome" would be a good choice.

A venue in the deep south that doesn't get nearly enough attention is the Thomas Assembly Center and Karl Malone Court. The home arena for the Louisana Tech Bulldogs is an underrated venue, but is ideal size (9,000). Having recently been rennovated thanks to the generous donations of "The Mailman", it would serve as an interesting candidate for an opening round host site.

I am well aware that Ruston, the home to Louisiana Tech, is in the middle of nowhere. But the Ruston Regional airport does service flights to New Orleans, Shreveport, Little Rock and Dallas. Come on people, work with me a bit here.

These would work too:
The Sun Dome - South Florida - 10,000
Lawrence Joel Coliseum - Wake Forest - 15,000

So in review, next year's tournament will feature four play-in games instead of one, but atleast it's not 96. We already know one game will be played in Dayton, Ohio. It is very possible that all four get played in Dayton, but hopefully somebody on the selection committee will have read this and decided to use some of these fabulous arenas to hold play-in games.

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2010 NBA Draft Early Entrants: The biggest impact

The NBA Draft's Early Entry deadline came and went on Sunday. Today, we will provide you with a bit of fodder over how some of this year's decisions could sway the 2010-11 college basketball season. For a complete list of this year's crop of early entrants, click here.

While we all have issues with the earlier withdrawal deadline, the good news is that there actually is an option to withdraw from the draft. As you all know, players are allowed to test the waters one time -- they can enter the draft, go to some of the workouts with NBA teams, get a feel for where they would be getting drafted and what they can do to improve that standings, and then return to school to improve their overall game.

Who are the guys who can change the landscape of college basketball if they decide to return?

Jordan Crawford, Xavier, sophomore: Crawford had the kind of NCAA Tournament performance that makes a player an NBA Draft prospect. He was nothing short of incredible has he averaged 29.0 ppg in leading a young and relatively inexperienced Xavier team into the Sweet 16. The Muskies return most of that young talent as well, with power forward Jason Love the only player that is graduating.

Jordan Crawford could make Xavier next year's Butler.
(photo credit: Indy Star)

If Crawford stays in the draft, which is something many expect him to do -- he has a shot of going in the first round -- Xavier still should end up being a tournament team. A back court of Terrell Holloway, Mark Lyons, and Dante Jackson combined with a front line anchored by seven-footer Kenny Frease should be enough to get the Muskies an at-large bid. But with Crawford on the roster, is it too much to say that Xavier would be the hands down favorite in the Atlantic 10, and a team that may sneak into some top 10's?

E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, Purdue, juniors: Both Moore and Johnson said back in March that they would be returning to school next season, and like we said back then, you always need to take that kind of statement with a grain of salt. Both juniors have declared for the draft, but both would be better suited by returning to school for their senior seasons.

E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson could lead Purdue to heights they didn't reach this season.
(photo credit: SLAM)

Moore will likely not be drafted. As good as he is at the college level, he lacks the size and the explosiveness of an NBA two-guard. Johnson has some potential, but he still has quite a thin frame and settles too much for perimeter jumpers. Johnson has a better shot of going somewhere in the second round than Moore, but with the amount of talent available in this year's class, Johnson would probably have a better chance of getting that guaranteed contract if he came back.

Purdue has a chance to, once again, be a Final Four contender. With Robbie Hummel coming back from knee surgery and guys like Lewis Jackson, Kelsey Barlow, John Hart returning as well, the Boilermakers have a solid core. If they can get Moore and Johnson back, this is a team that can compete for a Final Four and potentially a national title. If they don't, Purdue may struggle to even make the NCAA tournament.

Gordon Hayward, Butler, sophomore: Butler became the feel good story of the decade in college basketball when they made their run to the national title game in their home city. The crazy part about that run was that it was made a year early. In other words, with the youth on Butler's roster, they have a chance to be even better next season, pending Hayward's NBA Draft decision. Willie Veasely and Avery Jukes both graduated, but the rest of Butler's roster will be back next season, including Matt Howard, Shelvin Mack, Ronald Nored, and even Brad Stevens.

If Hayward does return, Butler could end up being a top five team in the preseason. But he has a realistic shot at being a mid-to-late first round pick. It will be interesting to see what Hayward does.

Demetri McCamey and Mike Davis, Illinois, juniors: Illinois has a chance to be very good next season. The only player of significance that they graduate is Dominique Keller, they return both of their vaunted freshmen in the back court, and bring in a very good recruiting class. This is likely a tournament team if McCamey and Davis stay in the draft. But neither player is a lock to be a first rounder. Davis isn't even a lock to be drafted, while Draft Express is predicting McCamey to go somewhere in the second round.

McCamey really came on down the stretch last season. He has always been a talent at the point, McCamey's problem was shot selection and decision making. He's also had an attitude problem, at one point this season storming off the floor and bumping Bruce Weber as he walked by. Davis simply is not strong enough yet. A 6'9" forward, he does most of his damage on the offensive end with his jumper. That isn't going to cut it in the league.

With these two back in the line-up, Illinois has a chance to compete in what should once again be a top heavy Big Ten. And if McCamey can continue to improve from where he left off last season, seeing Illinois as a potential Final Four team is not out of the question.

Samardo Samuels, Louisville, forward: Let's face it: Samuels is not yet ready for the NBA. He's a bit undersized and not quite as athletic as NBA teams would like. While he does have a pretty advanced post game, he just simply doesn't have the tools that an NBA team is looking for in a post player. He's around 6'8" and 250 lb, but he's more of a center than a power forward. 6'8" centers don't last in the NBA.

Louisville certainly could use him. They lose Jerry Smith, Edgar Sosa, and Reginald Delk, Terrence Jennings has yet to prove he can be a consistent post presence, and Rick Pitino is hemorrhaging recruits. With Samuels, Louisville might be able to steal one of the four byes in the Big East tournament. Without him, they very well could be playing on the tourney's first day.

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2010 NBA Draft Early Entrants: The biggest mistakes

The NBA Draft's Early Entry deadline came and went on Sunday. Today, we will provide you with a bit of fodder over how some of this year's decisions could sway the 2010-11 college basketball season. For a complete list of this year's crop of early entrants, click here.

The way I see it, there are four legitimate reasons for a player to leave school early:

  1. He is ready. He is a lock to be a first round pick (its even better if he is projected to go higher than that) and get a guaranteed contract. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to develop at the NBA level. If you are able to develop while making a couple of million dollars instead of studying for exams, I say go for it.
  2. Financial issues. If you are good enough to think that you have a shot of getting drafted, odds are in your favor that you are good enough to make money playing basketball somewhere. If a kid comes from a family in dire financial straits, every one should support his decision to become a professional.
  3. He graduated. Like Derrick Brown last season and Eniel Polynice this year, if a player has earned his undergraduate degree, whether that is a result of redshirting a season or graduating in three years, I have no problem if he decides to go pro instead of using up his eligiblity as a grad student. Along those same lines, if a player is older than his class -- a 23 year old junior, for example -- I also think it makes sense to go pro. The older you get, the lower your ceiling for potential becomes.
  4. He's a "hot" prospect. If a player's stock is high -- whether that is a result of outstanding potential (think Hassan Whiteside) or he simply had a great NCAA Tournament (think Joakim Noah after the first Florida title) -- but that player is a fraud, so to speak, then it makes sense to capitalize on that higher stock. As they say, you strike when the iron is hot.
For those of us that love the game of college basketball, there is nothing that we hate more than to see a kid that had a chance at becoming a star at this level waste his eligibility by declaring for the NBA Draft (and signing with an agent) before he is truly ready to leave. It happens far too often. What players made the biggest mistakes in this year's draft?

Tommy Mason-Griffin and Keith "Tiny" Gallon, Oklahoma, freshmen: Oklahoma had an incredibly disappointing season in '09-'10. Granted, no one was expecting the Sooners to win a national title, but with Willie Warren deciding to return for his sophomore season and the addition of two McDonald's all-american freshmen coming in, OU seemed like they were capable of, at the very least, competing amongst the best in the Big XII. For a variety of reasons, that didn't happen. And for a completely different set of reasons, both TMG and Gallon have entered the draft and hired agents.

Tiny and TMG both should have stayed at Oklahoma.
(photo credit: Red Dirt Sports)

Gallon's hand may have been forced. Thanks to a report by TMZ Sports that a financial advisor in Florida had funneled money to Gallon, he may not have had much of a say in the matter. Gallon is 6'9", an underwhelming athlete, heavier than the ideal is for NBA fours, and far too perimeter oriented for someone of his size. When he actually decided to play this year, he was far too willing to hoist jumpers and far too unwilling to throw his ample weight around on the block. The trend in the NBA these days is fours in the mold of a Lamar Odom or a Shawn Marion, not the second coming of Oliver Miller.

TMG is not much of an NBA prospect either. He is small, looks for his shot first, and didn't really start to show his talent until Warren and Gallon were firmly entrenched in the dog house. He does have some talent -- he can put up points in a hurry, he has deep range on his jumper, and he may have had the nastiest cross over in the country this past season -- but he seems better suited for the And-1 mixtape tour than he does for an NBA roster.

Courtney Fortson, Arkansas, sophomore: Like TMG, Fortson has enough talent to be a star at the collegiate level, but his game doesn't exactly translate to the NBA. He's quick, he has a nice handle, and he is capable of creating off the bounce. But he is also smaller than an ideal NBA point guard, he doesn't have a jump shot, and he is a poor decision maker both on the court and off of it. Between his off-the-court issues at Arkansas and his 5.1 t/o's per game (he averaged more turnovers than most point guards average assists), odds are good that Fortson doesn't get drafted and you never hear his name again.

Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati, freshman: I think we all knew this was coming, but that doesn't mean that "Born Ready" is ready for the league after one year. There is no questioning his talent or his ability to score, but there are quite a few aspects of Stephenson's game that could have made him a much more ideal prospect if he had the chance to work on them. In terms of being a one-on-one player, Stephenson's ability to create is impressive. But he doesn't quite understand when is the correct time to attack, shot selection, or the workings of help side defensively. And while that ability can be developed as a professional, it is unlikely that he lands a guaranteed contract. Wouldn't it make more sense to work on his game playing in the Big East, where he will be on national television and sportscenter regularly, than in the D-League or overseas?

Will Lance Stephenson go the way of Lenny Cooke?
(photo credit: BearcatsSportsPage)

AJ Ogilvy, Vanderbilt, junior: Ogilvy's biggest mistake may have been going back to school after his freshman season. There was a chance he would have been a first round pick in 2008, but since then he has done nothing to improve his profile as a potential pro. Yes, he is crafty in the post, he can rebound the ball, and he has a nice touch from the perimeter, but his flaws are still his flaws. He can't pass out of the post, he can't defend anyone, and he lacks a degree of toughness that he will need banging against NBA centers. In other words, Ogivly is still the same player he was two years ago, which is disconcerting for NBA teams. I'd be pretty shocked if he went in the first round.

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Monday Morning Dump

- The NBA Draft's early entry deadline came and went at midnight last night. For a complete list of the early entry candidates, go here (Draft Express put together a nice little working database as well).

- The last potential first rounder to declare was Solomon Alabi, who entered the draft on Friday.

- Are we going to see a trend of early entry into college now as well?

- Last note on early entry: this is old, but a good read on Jahmar Young, the New Mexico State guard that went pro. This is the type of kid that may not get drafted, but that I support in his decision to become a professional.

- Gregg McDermott, who took the job at Iowa State after taking Northern Iowa to the NCAA Tournament for three straight seasons, is reportedly replacing Dana Altman at Creighton.

- New unis in East Lansing

- A little bit of doom and gloom for your Monday morning

- The NCAA Tournament = American Idol. Umm, no.

- Terrence Ross to Washington?

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

One more high profile recruit selects his school

Part of the reason that Brandon Knight's announcement of where he would be attending college was so important was that it could influence where the rest of the uncommitted players in the class of 2010 would end up.

Knight chose Kentucky. Later that week, Josh Selby settled on Kentucky while Doron Lamb followed Knight to Lexington.

Cory Joseph is headed to Texas.
(photo credit: DeportivoDigital)

The latest piece fell into place on Friday, when Cory Joseph, a consensus top ten recruit, finally decided on Texas.

"Coach [Rick] Barnes and the staff, we have a good relationship," Joseph told Adam Zagoria. "The style of play, they go up and down. I really feel like it can excel my game to the next level there. It was the best fit for me."

Joseph, who led Findlay Prep to their second straight National High School Invitational title, follows in the footsteps of Texas Longhorn Avery Bradley, another former Findlay guard who is currently an early entry candidate in the NBA Draft.

Joseph also joins fellow Candians Tristan Thompson, a teammate at Findlay, and Myck Kabongo, one of the top recruits in the class of 2011, as commits to Rick Barnes.

Joseph is a very important get for Barnes. Assuming Bradley keeps his name in the NBA Draft pool, he joins Damion James, Justin Mason, and Dexter Pittman as key losses for a Texas team that struggled this season despite lofty expectations. One of the biggest issues for the Longhorns this year was point guard play. Bradley and Mason weren't true point guards. Dogus Balbay was an offensive liability. J'Covan Brown couldn't defend a plastic bag.

The 6'3" Joseph is a talented scorer and playmaker that works on the defensive end of the floor. He will have some competition for minutes in the backcourt -- along with Brown and Balbay, Texas also returns Varez Ward and Jai Lucas -- but the freshman may be the best of that group.

Texas likely won't be a preseason Final Four favorite this season, but if Barnes can manage to keep Joseph and Thompson around for a few seasons, the future looks bright in Austin.

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Oregon has finally ended their coaching search

The longest running joke in college basketball may finally be over.

Almost two months after news first broke that Oregon was going to fire Ernie Kent, the Ducks have finally found a willing replacement.

According to Jeff Goodman, Oregon reached a deal with Creighton head coach Dana Altman (assuming he doesn't pull another Arkansas). Altman has been with the Bluejays for 16 seasons and led them to seven NCAA Tournaments between 1999 and 2007. Prior to this year's 18-16 campaign, he had a string of 11 consecutive seasons of 20 plus wins.

Dana Altman is headed to Oregon.
(photo credit: BlueXU)

This is a solid hire for the Ducks. Its not the big name that they had been searching for, but Oregon isn't a good enough job to pull a big name coach away from a good job. And by all accounts, Altman is one of the better coaches around. You aren't going to find many basketball minds that understand the "x's and o's" better than Altman.

But coaching isn't what Altman is going to need to worry about.

At a school like Creighton, you can win games and league titles with coaching. At a power conference school like Oregon, success lies in recruiting.

Altman's success in Eugene is going to be determined by how well he can recruit.

At Creighton, Altman was able to land kids from Chicago and Detroit that flew under the national radar. And at Creighton, that is all you need. The Missouri Valley isn't exactly known for putting out NBA caliber players.

But in the Pac-10, a league that had 21 players taken in the 2008 and 2009 NBA Drafts, Altman is going to need to start landing some blue-chippers. He can start by making a last ditch effort to bring in Portland natives Terrence Ross and Terrence Jones. It may be too little too late -- Ross alluded to the fact that he would be committing to Washington on an upcoming visit on his facebook page, and Jones heads to Kansas today (Sunday) for a visit at Kansas.

Oregon has already had three players announce their intention to transfer out due to the coaching change, but the news isn't all bad for Altman as Dwayne Polee, an athletic 6'7" small forward that was considering St. John's and Georgia (among others), has decided to hold off on a commitment until after he makes a visit to Oregon.

Oregon's coaching search took 37 days. They embarrassed themselves with the pursuit of coaches that had no interest in Phil Knight's Nike cash.

But the Ducks ended up with a pretty good hire in Dana Altman.

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Weekend Dump

After weeks and weeks of ragging on Oregon and Phil Knight, they finally got option #9 their guy. Below is two-days-worth of Oregon-related links

- Who will Oregon try to hire next?; Gary Parrish thinks it could be Dana Altman; Oregon's nightmare might soon be over; UPDATE - Oregon hires Creighton's Dana Altman; Recruit delays decision

- The perfect tool to help you sort out early entries

- Top point guard recruit Corey Joseph chooses Texas

- Washington's Isiah Thomas has toe surgery

- Virginia Tech forward Allan Chaney collapsed after a workout

- Florida State's Solomon Alabi is going pro

- Temple's Lavoy Allen will test draft waters

- Iowa's Aaron Fuller is transfering to USC

- Kentucky's Patrick Patterson declares for the draft

- Your "head-scratching decision" of the weekend: Northern Arizona's Cameron Jones delcares for the draft

- Former UCF head coach hired as assistant at Iowa

- Virginia Tech assistant Bill Courtney is named new Cornell head coach

- Iowa State career scoring leading is hired as assistant coach at alma mater

- Jeff Bzdelik is off to a fast start at Wake Forest

- Michigan State unveils new jerseys

- People in North Carolina still don't like J.J. Redick

- A full recap of the McDonalds AA game

- A scouting report from the Nike Hoops Summit

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