Monday, May 31, 2010

NBA Draft Prospects: Matt Bouldin, Gonzaga

As we get closer to the NBA Draft, we will be reaching out to fellow bloggers for scouting reports on some of the top prospects in the upcoming NBA Draft. Today, we bring you Lazar Hayward, courtesy of The Slipper Still Fits, on twitter @SlipperStillFit

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

Stats: 15.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.3 TO’s, 36.5 3PT%

Listed Size: 6’5”, 224 pounds, 22 years old

About Him: Even in his first couple games at Gonzaga University, it was clear that Matt Bouldin was going to be the next great guard to filter through the school. After an excellent performance against North Carolina in Madison Square Garden early in his freshman season, Bouldin moved into the starting lineup and would spend the rest of his career as an elite combo guard in the Gonzaga back court.

The first thing that most observers note about Bouldin is his elite combination of size and court vision. Bouldin is a legitimate 6'5" and has the unique ability to see over most of his defenders and locate the open man in the offense. Bouldin is a very unselfish prospect and is an excellent distributor in both the half court offense and on the fast break. While he improved his scoring each year at Gonzaga, he does not have the mindset to be a #1 scoring option in an offense, and is much more comfortable playing as a secondary option who can utilize his high basketball IQ to find open looks against the defense. Due to his size and strong build, he is an excellent rebounder from the perimeter, and is very comfortable finishing at the rim.

While Bouldin does a lot of things at a high-level, I'm hard pressed to name anything that he does great. When evaluating NBA prospects, I tend to have the belief that someone needs to be "great" at something to have a niche in the NBA. Bouldin does not possess NBA-level athleticism and will almost certainly be a liability on the defensive end. While he has the size and strength to guard an opposing PG, he does not have the lateral quickness to stay in front of a guy like Derrick Rose or Rajon Rondo. Throughout his career at Gonzaga, Bouldin struggled when facing elite BCS competition and athleticism, as he couldn't use his size and strength to get to the rim and finish. There is no doubt that his basketball IQ and the pace at which he plays the game is NBA quality, but his lack of athleticism and quickness is something that he might not be able to overcome.

Comparisons: It is really difficult to come up with a comparison for Matt, because most guys with his skill set tend to make their living playing in Europe. However, the one guy that I think Bouldin could resemble as an NBA prospect is Carlos Delfino. I think Delfino is a better shooter at this point, but the ability to rebound from the perimeter and also the high-level passing ability makes this the best comparison I could think of. If Bouldin can develop a little bit of the grittiness and toughess that Delfino has shown throughout his NBA career, he could definitely have a chance to fill that type of role for an NBA team.

Outlook: While I wouldn't bet on hearing his name called when the draft rolls around, Matt does possess the combination of size and basketball IQ that could cause one team to fall in love. If he is drafted, it will almost certainly be by a team that runs an offensive system that prefers the bigger PG's (think Ron Harper in the triangle offense with Phil Jackson) and can surround him with elite athletes. Bouldin is not the type of guy that will change the course of a franchise, but he does have the skill set to fit in as an excellent role player or option off the bench in the NBA.


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Monday (Memorial Day) Morning Dump

- How many times will Calipari say "I didn't know"?; a response from the Bluegrass State

- Andy Katz details the potential impact this may have on UK; How we got here

- Big Blue Nation plays the waiting game

- Calipari's mother diagnosed with cancer

- Abolish the NCAA (Now w/ reasoning!)

- DaMarcus Cousins is going to have to answer some questions about his physique

- Keith "Tiny" Gallon says his mom got loans

- NCAA will release USC investigation results on Friday

- Another set of pre-preseason rankings

- An interview with Lance Stephenson from the combine; John Wall combine interview

- A mock draft where John Wall doesn't go first

- Don't be silly, it's never too early for a DePaul season preview; The same goes for the SEC West

- Transfer Justin Knox has a better chance of going pro by attending UNC, or so he thinks

- 6-foot-10 forward/center Daniel Ochefu is starting to gain suitors

- Another wrap-up of the Tournament of Champions

- Jeff Borzello provides a breakdown of day 3 from the T.O.C

- Lil' Romeo takes a shot at USC on the way out

- wrap-up of The Tournament of Champions

- A history lesson on why blacktop ballers can't shoot

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekend Dump

I really don't condone extensive internet-browsing during holiday weekends, especially not on a holiday weekend chalk-full of good sporting events.

But, if it happens to rain (which it is, like, everywhere) then I wouldn't mind at all if you wasted your brain-cells parusing the weekend's worth of links.

- Many early entrants will go undrafted. It is unfortunate that this will happen, but with an impending lockout looming over the NBA, many players are willing to take the risk now as oppose to staying in school and waiting till a weaker draft class.

- This draft class features a record number of entrants. For some, going back to school is not an option, so it is a low-risk/high-reward situation. For others, bad advice or inflated value can cloud the vision of talented youngsters to make them believe they can get drafted in the first round. Oh well, if they don't get drafted, there is always Europe.

- Where have I heard this before? NCAA is looking into one of Calipari's "former" players

- Andy Katz on Jim Calhoun and the state of UConn basketball; A quick rundown of all eight violations; Chalk this one up to awful timing

- Video from the UConn press conference; How much trouble are they really in?

- Gary Parrish explains how Jim Calhoun is staying calm; failure to monitor

- Dana O'Neil reminds us why Tom Herrion is more than just "that guy who got hit by a coin during Pitt/WVU game"

- Chad Ford details the entire combine (insider)

- USC head coach Kevin O'neill discusses the departure of Lil' Romeo; This doesn't help his cause

- ACC schedule-makers favor Virginia Tech

- Jeffery Jordan transfering Central Florida to play with brother

- Ten freshman who must produce immediately

- The five best seniors of 2010-2011

After the jump, more links and an epic college basebrawl

- Fran McInerney, the man who hired Calipari at UMass, passed away on Tuesday

- Duquesne's Melquan Bolding is transfering to FDU

- It's never too soon to start preparing for next season

- Well done Purdue, well done

- New Oregon assistant coach brings positive attitude

- Austin Rivers schedules five visits

- Shooting drill results from the NBA draft combine

- 2009-2010 Patriot League post-mortem

- Making a case for the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten

- Hahaha....the Wears of Westwood....thats a good one

- George Mason is unable to sign Canadian recruit George Mason (How unfortunate...); GMU might also lose their top assistant coach

- A history lesson about stadiums and arenas

- Some info about new Cornell player Anthony Gatlin

- A couple of ACC recruits were in-action at the Tournament of Champions

- Get to know Creighton's new strength and conditioning coach

Elon and The Citadel engage in an old-fashioned donnybrook

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Did Eric Bledsoe receive improper benefits in high school?

Late last night, Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans of the New York Times broke a story involving Eric Bledsoe. According to the report, Bledsoe was the beneficiary of potential NCAA violations while still in high school in Alabama.

  • Brenda Axle, the landlord for the house where Bledsoe and his mother moved for his senior year of high school, said that Bledsoe’s high school coach paid her at least three months’ rent, or $1,200. By moving there, Bledsoe was eligible to play for Parker, which he led to the Alabama Class 5A title game. Maurice Ford, the coach, denied paying the money.

  • A copy of Bledsoe's high school transcript from his first three years reveals that it would have taken an improbable academic makeover — a jump from about a 1.9 grade-point average in core courses to just under a 2.5 during his senior year — for Bledsoe to achieve minimum N.C.A.A. standards to qualify for a scholarship.

  • A college coach who recruited Bledsoe said that Ford explicitly told his coaching staff that he needed a specific amount of money to let Bledsoe sign with that university. The coach, who did not want to be named out of fear of repercussions when recruiting in Birmingham, said Ford told him and his staff that he was asking for money because he was helping pay rent for Bledsoe and his mother. Ford denied this, saying, "I don't prostitute my kids."

    He said he had done nothing wrong, adding: "I'm a poor black man. And when one black man tries to help another black man, there’s always something wrong."
Shortly thereafter, ESPN filed their own report, contributed to by investigative reporter Mike Fish. Fish's involvement has helped fuel speculation that this story has been in the works for months.

The biggest question now becomes whether or not Eric Bledsoe was actually eligible to play college basketball. The NCAA cleared him as a result of his marked improvement during his senior year, but was that improvement legitimate?

Bledsoe was forced to transfer from Hayes High after his junior year because the school closed, and he ended up at Parker High. Steve Ward was the head coach at Hayes High, and he spoke to

"When he was at Hayes he was borderline," Ward told "When he left me I don't know what happened." Asked if he was surprised that Bledsoe qualified, Ward said: "Not really. I knew if he applied himself he would have been able to. So I wasn't totally surprised."

Is it possible that Bledsoe actually put in the work in the classroom to get eligible? Absolutely. Is it possible that his grades were tampered with to get him to Kentucky? Absolutely. I have no idea.

What I do know is that this is now the second time in the span of two years that John Calipari has used a potentially ineligible player. Let's say the NCAA investigates Bledsoe (as of now, Kentucky hasn't been notified by the NCAA of an investigation) and discovers that what the New York Times reported is, in fact, true, then Kentucky's season is at risk. It doesn't matter that the NCAA had already cleared Bledsoe, they made it incredibly clear when they vacated the 2008 Memphis Final Four season that taking a risk on a potentially ineligible player can cost the school.

If a player is found to have been academically ineligible, the NCAA can retroactively punish the school for using an ineligible player. Every game that player participated in can be vacated. There is a chance that UK2K will happen all over again.

As far as Calipari is concerned, a vacation of the 2009-2010 Kentucky season will be the third time in his career he has had a season erased from the record books. How long is Kentucky going to put up with this? Could we relive this entire soap opera again next summer if news leaks that Enes Kanter was a professional in Turkey?

As Gary Parrish rightfully pointed out, the ability of a college basketball coach to survive depends on how well he is able to avoid the hammer when it drops. Calipari is hands down the best in the business at keeping his nose clean. His middle name is plausable deniability. I find it difficult to believe that as the head coach of a college basketball team, he was unaware of what was going on with Marcus Camby at UMass or Derrick Rose at Memphis. If it comes out that Bledsoe was also ineligible, only the simplest of the naive would maintain Calipari's innocence.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will Bledsoe be found ineligible? Will Kentucky face sanctions? Will it be enough to send Calipari to the NBA?

The other part of this is the quote that the Times has from an unnamed college coach saying that he was told Bledsoe had to be bought. Did Calipari buy Bledsoe? Before you answer that, take a look at this quote from Bledsoe:
If Cal had stayed in Memphis, I would have signed with Florida. I wanted to play in the SEC.
So all that talk about Billy Gillispie recruiting Bledsoe can be put aside. Cal brought him to Kentucky.

We'll see where this goes. Nothing has been proven yet, but Kentucky fans should be concerned.
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Did UConn just get the death penalty?

On Friday afternoon, the UConn athletic department and coaching staff addressed the notice of allegations they received from the NCAA and the eight major infractions that were found.

They all revolve around UConn's recruitment of Nate Miles, which was exposed in an article by Dan Wetzel and Adrian Wojnarowski for Yahoo! Sports back in March of 2009. Essentially, Calhoun's staff was caught making impermissible phone calls to Miles and, through Josh Nochimson, a former UConn student manager-turned-agent, providing Miles with impermissible benefits.

Its already cost two UConn assistants, Beau Archibald and Patrick Sellers, the father of former UConn star Rod Sellers, their jobs, and potentially their careers. Jim Calhoun avoided the heavy artillery, getting grazed with a citation for "failure to monitor" the program. (The ironic part is that Calhoun actually succeeded in doing what the best in his profession do -- "monitoring" from a safe enough distance that sh*t hits the fan, none of it lands on his shoes. Ask John Calipari about that.)

Jim Calhoun waits for his turn to speak at a press conference addressing the NCAA's allegations against him.
(photo credit: AP/Jessica Hill)

The question now becomes how much of a punishment is UConn going to face. UConn will have until August 20th to self-impose sanctions on the basketball program, and then will face a COI hearing on October 15th and 16th.

"If it's a recruiting case, then you look for recruiting sanctions," Rick Evrard, UConn's legal counsel in NCAA-related matters, to Dave Borges of the New Haven Register. "If it's a competitive-advantage case, where a student-athlete has competed while ineligible, then you look for vacation of contests, wins, participation in NCAA tournaments. If it has to do with academic fraud, you’re going to look institutionally at the systems in place."

Since Miles never played a game for UConn (In fact, the kid that Calhoun risked his legacy on lasted only weeks on campus before being expelled for violating a restraining order. Think about that. In a matter of weeks, he was not only able to get a restraining order against him, he was able to violate it as well. Real winner, that kid.) they aren't at risk for having any wins vacated, but they will likely face some recruiting sanctions. Limits on the amount of time they can spend on the road, the number of phone calls they are allowed to make, and even the reduction of a scholarship or two are likely punishments.

In and of themselves, they are nothing that a healthy program cannot survive.

But the problem is that right now, UConn is not a healthy program.

They are a program that, despite being only 14 months removed from a Final Four, is on its last legs.

Jim Calhoun is UConn basketball. There's no other way to put it. When he left Northeastern for Storrs in 1986, UConn was coming off of a 9-19 season and had made just one NCAA Tournament appearance since joining the Big East in 1979. Within four years, he had led UConn to a Big East regular season title, a Big East Tournament title, and a trip to the Elite Eight. In the 20 years since, UConn has become one of the country's premiere basketball programs, winning two national title, making a third Final Four, competing year-in and year-out atop the Big East, and routinely sending players to the NBA.

Calhoun did that. He put UConn on the map.

Despite signing a five-year, $13 million extension earlier this spring, Calhoun's tenure at UConn is winding down. He's 68 years old. He's been battling health problems -- he's a three time cancer survivor -- and missed part of the 2009 NCAA Tournament as well as seven games this past season. He's in the twilight of his career.

On the surface, that isn't a death knell for UConn basketball. Legends can be replaced. It took a while, but UNC was able to survive Dean Smith's retirement, winning two titles in the last six seasons. Sean Miller eventually took over for Lute Olson and has the Arizona program poised for a return to glory. Its not easy (ask Indiana), but its possible.

But UConn is in a much different situation than any of those programs. The Huskies have lost a ton of talent the last two seasons -- AJ Price, Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien, Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson, Gavin Edwards -- and haven't done much to replace them. Their 2008 recruiting class consisted of Kemba Walker and not much else, unless you count Ater Majok, who didn't step foot on the court until midway through the '09-'10 season.

Their 2009 recruiting haul featured Alex Oriakhi, who started for UConn this season, but of the three perimeter players Calhoun brought in -- Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, Darius Smith, and Jamaal Trice -- Coombs-McDaniel was the only one that was able to earn any minutes. This year, UConn was in the mix for seemingly every big time prospect -- Brandon Knight, Josh Selby, Cory Joseph, Doron Lamb, CJ Leslie -- but the only top 50 recruit they were able to land was Roscoe Smith. Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier are four star recruits according to Rivals, but so were Darius Smith and Jamaal Trice.

The past two seasons, UConn's recruiting has essentially been Kemba Walker and Alex Oriakhi.
(photo credit: Rush the Court)

Simply put, UConn is getting beaten on the recruiting trail, and it isn't difficult to see why. There's uncertainty about the longevity of Calhoun's career, as well as his health. There's uncertainty about the sanctions UConn will be hit with. There's uncertainty over how good this program is going to be in the not-so-distant future.

And you better believe that every coach recruiting against UConn, and every member of a recruit's inner circle, is making sure that recruit is well aware of those question marks.

How many elite recruits are going to want to play for a school dealing with those issues?

Making it worse is the loss of Archibald and Sellers. Right now, most schools have already targeted who they are going after in the class of 2011, have assigned assistants to their recruitment, and ideally have established a strong relationship with those targets. UConn now has to fill two holes in their coaching staff, reassign recruiting responsibilities, and then send out these new coaches to try and convince some of the best players in the country that UConn is, in fact, still an elite basketball program.

They'll have their work cut out for them.

Safe to say, it doesn't look like things are going to be getting better for the Huskies anytime soon. Its difficult to see a scenario where UConn is back competing for national titles before Calhoun calls it a career. If that is the case, what happens to UConn post-Calhoun?

Are they going to be able to land a premiere head coach? Like I said, UConn isn't historically a basketball powerhouse pre-Calhoun. This isn't North Carolina or Kansas. Players don't go to UConn because of its history, they go there because Calhoun has a reputation for developing pros; for turning guys that were somewhat overlooked in high school -- Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton -- into NBA stars.

Are recruits still going to want to go to the woods of Storrs, CT, without Calhoun's coaching?

I hope UConn fans enjoyed that 2009 Final Four run. It may be a long time before you see another one.
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NBA Draft Prospects: Lazar Hayward, Marquette

As we get closer to the NBA Draft, we will be reaching out to fellow bloggers for scouting reports on some of the top prospects in the upcoming NBA Draft. Today, we bring you Lazar Hayward, courtesy of Cracked Sidewalks, on twitter @CrackedSidewlks

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

Stats: 18.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.9 spg, 34.9% 3PT

Listed Size: 6'6", 225 lb, 23 years old

About him: Lazar Hayward enjoyed a remarkable career at Marquette, finishing as the school's second all-time leading scorer (1,859 points) and fifth all-time leading rebounder (910 boards). Hayward's four years at Marquette were marked by both selflessness and toughness. Originally recruited as a guard/small forward the Buffalo native was forced to play out of position for his entire career in Milwaukee, and in his first three seasons at MU he was never more than the team's fourth option. Not one to complain, the hard-nosed Hayward developed the skills and versatility to compete successfully in the BIG EAST as a power forward and over time his perimeter skills made him one of the toughest matchups in the country.

Recently at the NBA draft combine Hayward measured out at about 6'5" with a wingpan of nearly 7'1". Hayward's skill and wingspan are the ideal complements to his toughness -- I don't know how else to explain his productivity for the Warriors.

That said, Hayward might be a player without a natural position at the next level. He has the size of a two-guard but the game of a small forward. His enviable shooting range (career 35% shooter from 3-point range) is compromised by a lack of lateral quickness which could make it tough for him to defend shooting guards or small forwards at the next level. Hayward is an able defender in the post however, and led Marquette in steals as a senior by showing quick hands and a knack for keeping his opponent off-balance in the lane.

Offensively Hayward is not the type of player who can put the ball on the floor to get his own shot, nor will he consistently beat his defender off the dribble. Hayward is a terrific spot-up shooter and takes advantage of open looks in transition. If he can demonstrate improved skill off the dribble, perhaps his offensive game will open up even more. Hayward performed well last month at the NABC All Star Game in Indianapolis, highlighted by ridiculous range on his jumpers and a few aggressive moves to the hoop off the dribble.

The one constant for Hayward at Marquette was improvement. Year-to-year his game rounded out with new skills and improved productivity, and I'd expect that to continue as he moves onto the professional ranks where he is required to demonstrate the skills that will help him pay the bills. Realize that for three years he was the fourth option at Marquette, yet he ended up as one of the school's most productive players; he finds ways to contribute. Hayward's motor never slows down on the court and his consistent productivity bears this out.

Comparison: Kyle Korver for shooting range, Chuck Hayes for body type and toughness. Paul Pierce for the "I have a dream" section of this preview (here's hoping Lazar can perfect the Pierce pump fake/step back repertoire).

Outlook: A mature player and leader on the court, Lazar Hayward is an able rebounder and at the very least a terrific spot-up shooter. I've been reading that Hayward could be selected in the second round or go undrafted. For a guy like Hayward, who projects to be a role player, the free agent route might work out best. Having the freedom to hook up with a franchise that fits his skill set could enable him to sneak onto a roster on opening night this fall.


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Friday, May 28, 2010

Louisville lost Michael Chandler, but is he headed to Kentucky?

Washington isn't the only school that Kentucky is raiding recruits from.

All the talk recently has been about Terrence Jones and his decision to go to Kentucky over Washington, but don't forget about Marquis Teague. Teague is one of the top five recruits in the class of 2011, and after a long flirtation with Louisville, Teague also switched gears and committed to Kentucky.

Well, Teague may not be the only one.

Michael Chandler, a five-star center also in the class of 2011, committed to Louisville as a sophomore, but he reopened his recruitment back in mid-April. And now? According to Jerry Meyer, Kentucky is leading for Chandler's services. What's more is that it appears that he isn't even considering Louisville anymore. He told the Indy Star that his list is now Georgetown, UConn, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, and Purdue.

The question that must be asked is how long Rick Pitino will hang around Louisville. Kentucky is on the rise, he's getting killed on the recruiting trail (remember he also lost Fab Melo to Syracuse), his players can't keep out of trouble (Terrence Jennings and Jerry Smith were in that bar fight last summer, and Preston Knowles gave his girlfriend's father a couple of black eyes), and he is still dealing with the fallout form the Karen Sypher fiasco.

Things have definitely been better in Louisville.
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Friday Morning Dump

There is no better time than the off-season to remind you and all your friends that we want to make the Morning Dump as robust as possible.

We want to be the pulse of the college basketblog-o-sphere.

So if you have a link, or if there is a site you think we are missing out on, hit us up at or @BIAHtheTrizzle

- So those UConn violations have officially cost two assistant coaches their jobs. At 10am today there will be a news conference discussing the notice of allegations UConn received. Hopefully, this doesn't get too ugly.

- Gary Parrish scolds Brandon Reed

- Eric Gordon, Jordan Crawford And Kelvin Sampson in the same post? Again?

- Andy Katz gives us three draftees who aren't worried about hype

- We all want to get a view of the new "KFC Yum" Arena (God, that really just might be the WORST.Arena.Name.Ever.)

- Six Jayhawk staffers linked in ticket scam

- Malcolm Lee of UCLA will be out 4-6 months

- Gonzaga fans are hoping Sam Dower is the answer to their problems

- A good-read on Daniel Orton and Hassan Whiteside

- Ed O'Bannon and the NCAA are still going at it

- Coaching updates provided by Jeff "Two Scoops" Goodman

- The 2010-2011 Big East power poll

- NC State could very well have one-hell-of-a schedule next year

- Tracking the draft stock of Greivis Vasquez

- A good interview with UW coach Lorenzo Romar

- Sometimes, it is good to be overshadowed

- So apparently Preston Knowles was swung at first

- Some WAC player updates

- You really ought to know more about Paul George

- St. John's gets another big-name assistant coach

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tiny Gallon speaks about the NCAA investigation

We've all heard about the allegations involving Tiny Gallon and Oklahoma.

In short, Gallon was wired $3,000 by a financial adviser in Florida. Former Oklahoma assistant coach Oronde Taliaferro's phone records show 41 calls and 25 texts between the two. Generally in situations like this, where there's smoke, there's fire, and there is enough smoke here for Gregg Doyel to call for Oklahoma's basketball program to get the death penalty.

Tiny Gallon finally spoke about the allegations he is facing.
(photo credit: NewsOK)

Gallon hadn't commented on the allegations until today, when he spoke with Adam Zagoria.

"Oak Hill wouldn't release my transcript under no circumstances and my mother had to do what she had to do," Gallon told Zagoria. "It wasn't an agent, it was a financial adviser. She got the money from him, got my transcript out of Oak Hill Academy. I got a single mother. When she got the money, she paid the financial adviser back through my freshmen year."

"Oak Hill gave my mother a bill for $3,000," Gallon said. "Until she paid, I couldn't go to school. It wasn't like I was getting the money and paying it to everybody. Three thousand dollars, that's nothing to get my transcript ... She paid the man back over the course of my freshman year."

Gallons also said that the scandal was the main reason he decided to leave school after his freshman season, in large part because of how long it was taking the NCAA to respond to him.

Gallon makes it seem as if this was a loan, which is very well may have been. But from what he is saying, it doesn't seem like this was anything official; I doubt his mother would have been able to get a loan via any legitimate means if she had accrued $3,000 in tuition payments. (According to a Zagoria source, Gallon's mother didn't pay her tuition bills all year long.)

And if this was simply a loan, there's no way that the relationship and phone calls between Taliaferro and the financial advisor were mutually exclusive events from the "loan". Its not a leap of faith to assume that Taliaferro orchestrated the money exchanging hands.

Regardless of what that money was used for, an assistant coach going through back channels to get $3,000 into a recruit's bank account is a pretty serious violation, even if it was done with the best of intentions.

As far as the NCAA investigation, Gallon said "I'm really not sure but shouldn't nothing happen."

I'm going to go ahead and disagree with you there, Tiny.

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NBA Draft Prospects: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech

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

Stats: 12.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 61.1% FG

Listed Size: 6'10", 246 lb, 18 years old

About Him: Derrick Favors was one of the most sought after recruits in the class of 2009, and with that came quite a bit of expectation heading into his freshman season at Georgia Tech. While his averages of 12 points, 8 boards, and 2 blocks are far from poor, given the success that freshman have at the collegiate level these days, its hard to say he wasn't a bit of a disappointment.

Some of that wasn't all his fault. For starters, he played on a Georgia Tech team that struggled offensively in the half court, that lacked a true point guard, and that also boasted Gani Lawal in the front court. As gifted as he is, Favors only got 8 FGA per game.

'Gifted' is really the best way to describe Favors right now. He is still just 18 years old, and that youth shows through when talking about his skill set. In other words, Favors has a long way to go on the offensive end before he is much more than a catch-and-dunk kind of player. He doesn't have much of a back-to-the-basket game, and while every once in a while he would hit a pretty looking turnaround or jump hook, he really lacks any semblance of a go-to move. His left hand needs work around the rim, and his ball-handling and jump shot will take some time to get better.

But what makes Favors so enticing is that he is absurdly athletic. He's been compared to Dwight Howard when it comes to his tools, and that may not even be a reach. Favors is 6'8 3/4" without shoes (just 1/4" of an inch shorter than Howard), has a 7'4" wingspan (just a 1/2" shorter than Howard), checks in at 246 lb, and has a frame that can certainly put on quite a bit of muscle (to say he has broad shoulders would be an understatement). Beyond that, Favors can also get off the floor, as his maximum was 12'1 1/2". That's insanely high. Once he adds a bit of muscle to his frame, he should be able to play some center in the league.

Favors is mobile, he has quick feet (although his footwork is still a bit choppy), he can run the floor and finish in transition, and he looked good in the pick-and-roll in the limited opportunities he got with the Yellow Jackets this year. When you are looking for a prototype NBA big man, Favors is the mold you make.


  • Best Case Scenario: Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudmire, and Chris Bosh, although I've seen him compared to Antonio McDyess in his prime, Emeka Okafor, and Al Horford, as well, and I think those may be more accurate.
  • Worst Case Scenario: How many big men have we seen drafted based on potential that never live up to the hype in the league? Tyrus Thomas works for me.
Outlook: Derrick Favors has the potential to be a 24-12-3 player in the NBA, but he has a ways to go before he gets there. If he works hard and ends up in a place that allows him to flourish, there is no reason he can't end up as one of the top five big men in the NBA. But like I said, that is going to take quite a bit of work and a whole lot of coaching.


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Duke visits the White House

The national champion Duke Blue Devils had their annual visit to the White House Rose Garden this afternoon, and Barack Obama got a couple of good jabs in there. Full video below:

There were a couple of things that cracked me up about this speech.

For starters, watch Nolan Smith. He looks absolutely miserable throughout the entire proceeding. To be fair, it was in the low 90's in DC today, and he was stuck outside in a full suit. I also found it quite humorous when Obama called Jon Scheyer his "homeboy". That word just doesn't sound right coming from the president.

The funniest part, however, was Obama's line about Reggie Love, where he essentially said that Love was a gunner when they play pick-up. The line alone is not all that funny, but there is a back story. You see, I play in a men's league down in DC, and the guy who ran our team worked in the White House. For one of our games, he brought Love in to play, and I kid you not, Reggie took upwards of 30 shots, with at least half of them coming from beyond the arc.

So take it from an eye witness, Obama wasn't kidding when he said Love has gone from a walking floor burn to a Kobe Bryant wannabe in his post-Duke days.
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Great Alaska Shootout announces their field

It wasn't that long ago that the Great Alaska Shootout and the Maui Invitational were the two early season tournaments that everyone cared about.

Kentucky won it in 1996, a season in which they made a run to the national title game. Duke suffered their only regular season loss to Cincinnati in 1998 in the Shootout's title game. Dwyane Wade and Marquette were champs in 2001, just a year before they made a run to the Final Four.

This year, the Shootout will be lucky if they host one team that even makes the field of 68.

Yesterday, tournament organizers announced the Great Alaska Shootout's field of eight teams. Arizona State and St. John's headline the event, with Drake, Houston Baptist, Ball State, Weber State, and Southern Utah joining the host, Alaska-Anchorage, as the other six teams.

Not exactly a premiere event.

How exactly does an event go from one of the best early season tournaments to a consolation prize in less than a decade?

It was all the result of a rule change back in 2006. As we wrote back in November:

Two rule changes - the NCAA doing away with the limitation of two multi-team events in four seasons and the decision to reduce the red tape involved with hosting a tournament - have had a huge effect on the structure of college hoops in November. Essentially, it allowed ESPN to operate their own tournaments instead of having to purchase the rights to televising events such as the Maui Invitational and the Great Alaska Shootout.

Why do you think tournaments like last weekend's 76 and Old Spice Classics had all 12 games televised on ESPN? And why do you think they were conveniently scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, leaving open the lucrative college football Saturday?
Now, I'm not going to go into massive detail here (we already did right here), but as much as I hate seeing the Great Alaska Shootout go by the wayside, the excitement that arises with the plethora of games shown on ESPN during Feast Week is a good thing for college basketball. Early season college basketball is an after thought as the football season comes to a close. Anything that can bring the sport to the forefront when people aren't usually paying attention to it is hardly a negative.

Business is business, and once you cut through all the legal mumbo jumbo, the bottom line for any business is the bottom line -- making money, and making as much of it as possible. ESPN has taken advantage of a rule and capitalized on it. While I feel for the organizers of the Great Alaska Shootout, I find it difficult to view ESPN in a negative light.

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NBA Draft Prospect: Scottie Reynolds, Villanova

As we get closer to the NBA Draft, we will be reaching out to fellow bloggers for scouting reports on some of the top prospects in the upcoming NBA Draft. Today, we bring you Scottie Reynolds, courtesy of and @brianisawesome.

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

Stats: 18.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.7 apg, 38.5% 3PT, 45.7% FG

Listed Size: 6'2", 195 lb, 22 years old

About Him: Here is the short analysis of Scottie Reynolds’ draft prospects: not much. Coming out of an all-American career in college, the draft buzz over the Villanova superstar appears to be lacking. He is listed at 6-foot-2 inches, but that number may actually be padded by an inch or two, and that is ultimately what is holding him back. If Reynolds were 6’5” or taller, teams in need of a shooting guard would be salivating over the possibilities.

The undeniable fact about Reynolds is that over the past four years, very few players have been as prolific at putting the ball into the basket. He scored 2,222 points in college, and in addition to some shifty moves to penetrate the lane, Scottie could shoot the three and shoot a high percentage from the free-throw line as well.

In college, Scottie played most of his minutes as a point guard but there are doubts about his ability to play that position as a pro. His point guard skills and instincts remain an area in need of improvement. He needs to learn to dribble less and pass more, but in the right system, he could be a good fit.

Critics have also lately criticized Scottie Reynolds’ athleticism. He’s not John Wall, but if you saw him running the court (and running circles around defenders) in college, you’d know that he doesn’t belong in the special Olympics either. Not only does he score a lot of points, but as a senior he began to do so efficiently, raising his PPS from 1.38 to 1.52 in his final year. Defenders were not his kryptonite.

Defensively, Reynolds has good lateral quickness and hand speed and his high basketball IQ allows him to read his opponents and generate turnovers at a good rate. He may have difficulty matching up with bigger players at the next level, however, due to his size. He should have no problem matching up with opposing point guards, however.

Most NBA teams will be looking for Scottie to play point guard, and unless he can show them that he has the skill set to play there at an elite level, he will not be considered a valuable commodity. The pre-draft workouts will give him an opportunity to do so, as will any summer league action he may see.

Comparisons: The obvious comparison here might be Eddie House. As a 6’1” shooting guard, House is comparable in size and skill set to Scottie Reynolds. House was asked to develop his point guard skills in Boston, but is most notable for his ability to put the ball in the net. House is perhaps a better three-point shooter than Reynolds, while Reynolds would top his ability to dribble-drive. As a shooting guard, House was most effective defensively when paired with a taller point guard. Another comparison would be Randy Foye, a guard out of the Villanova system who found himself caught between positions in the NBA. Randy is a few inches taller than Scottie and unlike Reynolds, Foye was primarily lined up as a 2, 3 or even 4 at Villanova. Both guards left Villanova with questions about what position they would play in the NBA.

Outlook: Reynolds probably won’t hear his name called in the first round, and if the latest mock drafts hold up, he might not want to hold his breath for a second round pick either. Despite that, some team will surely be interested in signing a player who had Scottie’s prolific college career. As a rookie he may be deployed as a ‘sparkplug’ off of the bench and could be asked to work on developing his point guard skills as a longer-term project. Depending on how he develops as a pro, he will either become a good contributor on an NBA squad or a star in Europe.


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And the award for the worst offseason goes to...

Its has to be Tubby Smith, right?

First, it the disintegration of his roster.

Royce White, arguably the most highly touted recruit Tubby has landed at Minnesota, has dealt with legal issues since he arrived on campus and likely will not be on the team next season. Trevor Mbakwe, another big forward with legal problems, is eyeing a transfer as well and may never suit up for the Gophers. Junior Paul Carter has transferred to Illinois-Chicago. Freshman Justin Cobbs is headed back to Cal to continue his career on the west coast.

Lawrence Westbrook, Damian Johnson, and Devron Bostick all graduated, while Al Nolen, a junior, missed the second semester last season as a result of poor academics.

That is quite a bit of overhaul for a team that many considered to be on the brink of competing for a conference title prior to the start of last season.

Its gets worse for Tubby.

Yesterday, a jury award Jimmy Williams $1.25 million for an aborted hiring at Minnesota. You see, back in 1986, Williams was suspended for two years by the NCAA after getting caught handing out illegal financial aid to a couple of players while he was an assistant at Minnesota. Tubby didn't realize this, and made Williams believe he had a position with the Gophers in 2007. Williams quit his job at Oklahoma State and put his house on the market, only to have Minnesota AD Joel Maturi rescind the offer.

For a program with as many black eyes as Minnesota basketball has, this is another hit they didn't need.

Jim Souhan, a columnist for the Star Tribune, ripped Tubby and Maturi:

The hiring of Smith, even if it was really Smith doing the hiring, offered the promise of on-court success without embarrassment, the promise of clean victories and a classy power coach in whom we could believe.

It turns out Smith looks better on paper than in person. His résumé is impeccable. His work in Dinkytown is spotty.

Smith has returned the basketball program to relevance, and to the NCAA tournament. He has not, however, become the ambassador for the program or the university that we assumed he would be. He has not been as visible or as charming as many of us expected.

His program might have already peaked. And, in the attempted hiring of Williams, he did so little due diligence that he didn't know about Williams' past involvement in scandals.
While I don't necessarily agree with what Souhan is saying, that's not the point.

The point is that the local media, the guys you want in your corner in case something like this happens, seemingly has already turned on Tubby.

I think Smith is an excellent basketball coach. I think that he can make this Minnesota program into one that competes in the Big Ten. Hell, if he had his whole team this year, they very well could have competed this season.

But the way this offseason is going, it may be a while before the Gophers get back to that point.
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Thursday Morning dump

- The ticket scalping scandal at Kansas was blown out of the water by Yahoo! Sports yesterday. Here is a copy of the findings of their internal investigation

- Gary Parrish explains why we shouldn't get upset when mid-major all-stars transfer to BCS schools

- A bunch of news & notes from Andy Katz

- Arizona State and St. John's will headline 2010 Great Alaska Shootout; Remember when the G.A.S actually meant something?

- Shelvin Mack will elevate his game, says Andy Glockner; He also provides his list of mid-major stars in 2010-2011

- Will Brown's letter couldn't save him at New Mexico

- The Ed O'Bannon lawsuit isn't over yet

- Rush The Court provides their ten instant-impact-freshman next year

- Jeff Goodman says new Clemson coach Brad Brownell has 'his priorities straight'

- Seton Hall recruit will stay at prep school

- A good-read on new Central Florida coach Donnie Jones

- Ticket scalping hits big in the weak economy

- Tubby Smith loses $1.25mil in lawsuit

- Tony Barbee is trying to re-ignite the basketball flame at Auburn

- Providence may lose assistant coach to Big East competition

- New Mexico's Will Brown will lose scolarship
- Kentucky adds another new peice to the puzzle, this time an assistant coach

- If the hype hasn't died already, what makes you believe it's going to die any time soon?

- Jeff Capel is trying his best to 'cleanse" the hoops program

- Patrick Patterson 'spits hot fire'

- Louisville's Preston Knowles may or may not have punched his stepfather in the face

- The Big East is being proactive about it's future

- Mississippi State and Virginia Tech will meet next year

- A bunch of interviews from the combine

- I want one of these (the one with a Hoya squeasing an orange...)

- A summer update From The Barn

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

NBA Draft Prospects: Evan Turner, Ohio State

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

Stats: 20.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 6.0 apg, 1.7 spg, 4.4 t/o's, 51.9% FG

Listed Size: 6'7", 205 lb, 21 years old

About Him: Evan Turner seems destined to be the second pick in this draft, and rightfully so. There haven't been many players in recent draft history to have his all around skill set. It isn't easy to average 20-9-6.

Its Turner's skill set that makes him such an enticing prospect. Turner can just about do it all on a basketball court. He's an instinctive scorer, using his array of hesitation moves and ability to change speeds to keep defenders off balance. He's not an above the rim kind of player, but his size allows him the ability to finish around the rim. Turner also has a developed mid range game, knocking down pull-up jumpers with a good deal of consistency.

But perhaps his best attribute on the offensive end is his passing ability. He can draw a defender and find the open man, he can lead a fast break, and he can run a pick and roll. He's also unselfish and more than willing to rack up assists instead of forcing up tough shots. He's an excellent ball handler with good footwork and a variety of moves offensively. There are times when he gets turnover prone, but given what else he brings to the table, a couple of turnovers aren't a huge problem.

Turner is also a very good rebounder for his size, especially on the defensive end of the floor where he can start a fast break without the benefit of an outlet pass. He's been lauded for his ability on the defensive end, being called "
one of the best perimeter stoppers in this draft" by Draft Express, as well despite having a relatively small wingspan and being just an average athlete.

One of the bigger questions about Turner is the position he will eventually play in the league. He played the point for Ohio State this past season, but at 6'7" in shoes, he isn't exactly the typical size for a point guard. But he doesn't have a consistent three point shot (something that I believe he can develop at the next level -- he is a good free throw shooter and can knock down mid-range jumpers) and that average athleticism has given some doubts as to how effective he can be playing on the perimeter in the NBA. Can a team (the Sixers?) find a role for him as a point forward?

Comparison: A lot of places have compared Evan Turner to Brandon Roy, which I don't necessarily disagree with. I've seen a rich man's Anthony Parker listed as well. Personally, I like comparing Turner to Hedo Turkoglu minus the jump shot.

Outlook: Turner doesn't have the upside of a John Wall, but that doesn't mean that Turner won't be a good player in the league. He doesn't have otherworldly tools, but the talk about Turner being a subpar athlete has been a bit overblown -- he's not exactly Shawn Bradley. I think a best case scenario for Turner is a couple of all-star teams and 8-10 years of 20+ points, 8 boards, and 5 assists. Not a bad career.


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Cliche title of the week: "Say bye bye to the double bye"

Since the Big East expanded their conference tournament to 16 teams, one of the biggest points of contention has been with the format.

As most of you should know, the way the tournament is set up pits the teams seeded 9th-16th on the opening day. The winners face the 5th-8th seeds on the second day of the tournament. The top four teams all get double byes, as they are automatically slotted into the quarterfinals.

While this sounds like an ideal setup, five of the eight teams that have earned double byes the past two seasons have lost their opener. #2 Pitt and #3 UConn lost in 2009, while #1 Syracuse, #2 seed Pitt, and #4 seed Villanova all were bounced after one game this season. (To be fair, #1 seed Louisville won in 2009 and #3 West Virginia won this year.)

Well, you can say buh-bye to the double bye.

On Tuesday, Big East coaches unanimously voted to do away with it.

By getting automatically slotted into the quarters, the top four teams are at a disadvantage because their opponents have been able to get into a rhythm and have adjusted to playing at Madison Square Garden.

I'm not sure a totally believe that reasoning.

For starters, was there a problem when the league had a 12 team tournament? The current format is no different from the 12 team format for the top eight seeds. The top four still have to win three games, and the next four still need to win four straight. The only difference is for the teams in the bottom half of the conference, and even then the only teams where that difference is going to have a tangible effect are for potential bubble teams, usually teams in the 9-11 range.

Instead of having a first round game against a 6/7/8 seed -- in the Big East, that's a tournament team more often than not -- you have to play a game where a win doesn't really help your tournament chances before getting a shot at a quality win. If UConn, an 11 seed this year, had knocked off Louisville and West Virginia, getting to the semifinals of the Big East tournament, they likely would have been dancing. They never got that chance, as St. John's smoked them in the first round.

Beyond that, any change that keeps the tournament at 16 teams would put the top four teams at less of an advantage than they currently have. The only option is to set up the 16 team tournament as the standard 1-vs.-16, 2-vs.-15, etc., bracket. And if that is, in fact, the Big East tournament's bracket, than the only realistic option is to allow the 1-4 seeds to play their first game on the Tuesday and get Wednesday off. (Unless, of course, they decide to play eight games in one day. That would need two different locations, or a 7am start at the Garden. That ain't happenin'.)

In fact, the new format would be exactly the same as the 12 team format, with the only difference being that the 1-4 seeds would have to play an opening round game before getting a day off.

In this format, the 1-4 seeds have less of an advantage, but they still get one. Besides the obvious -- playing the worst teams -- they also get that Wednesday off, meaning they have to win four games in five days instead of four games in four days.

While that is a slight advantage, it doesn't match the advantage the top four teams had with a double bye. But the coaches didn't like it, instead complaining about how their team wasn't ready to play.

So the tournament format will be changed.

Until the coaches start complaining about it again.

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The Wear twins land at UCLA

Ben Howland has added two more McDonald's all-americans to his roster at UCLA as the Wear twins both signed grant-in-aid papers.

Its a nice pickup for Howland, who has lost a few players during the off-season. J'Mison Morgan, a top 25 recruit coming out of high school, was never able to crack the UCLA rotation and decided to transfer to Baylor for his final two years of eligibility. Mike Moser followed in the footsteps of Chace Stanback and moved on to UNLV after a disappointing freshman season.

One of the questions many people are going to ask is how good the Wears can really be. They are versatile, 6'10" forwards who are going to have a year to improve their game. Ask Wesley Johnson or Ekpe Udoh if that year off helps you.

But also keep in mind that the Wears only managed to play a combined 20.8 mpg last season. While I'm fully aware that North Carolina's front court was jam packed, that was still a team that went to the NIT and dealt with a couple of major injuries to Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller. It will be interesting to see if the Wears simply add depth in Westwood, or if they can develop into stars.

One of the most interesting parts of following college basketball during the offseason is watching how rosters develop.

If you remember, the Wears left UNC in somewhat surprising fashion a few weeks back. With Ed Davis going pro and Deon Thompson graduating, it left Roy Williams with just two big men on his roster.

UNC pursued a couple of options since then, but yesterday they landed former Alabama big man Justin Knox. Knox, who will be eligible immediately after graduating from Alabama in three years, isn't a star by any stretch of the imagination (he averaged just 6.3 ppg for the Crimson Tide), but he will provide the Heels with some much needed front court depth.

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Wednesday Morning Dump

- Eamonn Brennan reviews the past 50 days of the off-season

- Gregg Doyel thinks Oklahoma should get the "NCAA death penalty". Here's the AP article on it

- projects their 2010-2011 All-Sophomore team

- These dudes are enormous

- Preston Knowles of Louisville got in a fight with his girlfriend's stepfather over a hairbrush (what?) and did this to him

- Adam Zagoria chronicles the busy month of Hamady N'Diaye

- Jeff Goodman's updated transfer list

- ACC expansion should focus on basketball and not football

- Austin Rivers will visit UCLA

- Carrick Felix has other options besides Duke

- Walter Berry graduated

- The Wear twins are transferring to UCLA

- Iowa State loses another player as forward LaRon Dendy is transferring

- Gordon Hayward is undervalued in mock drafts

- Ryan Wittman received "Outstanding Varsity Athlete" award at Cornell

- Former Wofford standout Shane Nichols joins coaching staff

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Coach Cal speaks on Terrence Jones

John Calipari has stones. There's no arguing that.

He went on the radio in Portland, Oregon, to discuss the recruitment of Terrence Jones. You remember Jones, right? He's the 6'9" uber-recruit that committed to Washington back in late April, but almost immediately regretted his decision. After a three-week saga that left more than a few people sick of hearing about this young man, Jones finally signed a financial aid agreement with Kentucky just hours before the early signing period ended.

Safe to say, Coach Cal is not the most popular person in the Pacific Northwest these days.

Regardless, Cal went on the radio in Portland. Sports Radio Interviews was posted the transcript of this chat:

Well we thought that he was coming with us and when he said 'Washington' we were like 'what just happened?' That was the first thing. Then he called about an hour later and said 'Cal, I made a mistake. I don't know what I was doing. That is when the thing went like 'You what?' So we talked to him and said that we are going to do whatever you want. I am holding your scholarship. At one point I said, 'Look, if you want to go to Washington then go to Washington, and if you want to come with us, come with us. Just make a decision so that we can all move on.' But I felt bad for him to be honest with you. Because he is 6'9" everybody thinks that this guy is a grown man. They have emotions and they still, the peer pressure wanting to please everybody.
He also addressed the critics saying he shouldn't have recruited a player that was committed to another school:
I agree, but when the young man calls you and says that I made a mistake, 'Coach, I want to reconsider this' it changed everything. If he had committed to Washington and that was the end of it then we wouldn't have done anything. But this was a unique situation now. I have never been in anything like this where within an hour… I didn't see the press conference but I had people tell me that at the time they looked at it and said, 'Wow' and then after he went with his parents. But I didn't see it all. I mean I didn't watch it, but it was unique. I don't mind that Washington fans are upset and upset with me. That is part of what we do here but the reality is that I think, Lorenzo knows and their staff knows this was not our doing. I mean it was this young man and at the end of the day it is about him. It is about him reaching his dreams. It is about him making a decision that was best for him not for fans and teammates. It is about what is best for Terrence Jones and being selfish in that. I think at the end of the day that is what he tried to do.
Calipari is correct. This really is not about anyone else except for Terrence Jones. He needed to make a decision that would make him happy, and after taking the time to count his Ricky Roe money weigh his options, Jones decided to play at Kentucky.

Washington fans are allowed to be mad at Jones for drawing out this process. At the end, he seemed much less like a torn teenager and more like a teeny-bopper trying to up his twitter followers. But Washington fans shouldn't take it out on Jones from deciding to go to a different school.

Its like breaking up with a girlfriend. She can decide to flirt with someone else while you two are dating, and if she decides to leave you for this other guy, you can either be bitter and upset about getting dumped, or you can realize that there are quite a few other fish in the sea. Washington still has a team that will be in the top 15 next season. They still should be the early favorite to win the Pac-10. While adding a talent like Jones is never a bad thing, its time to focus on the fact that a perimeter consisting of Isaiah Thomas, Abdul Gaddy, and Terrence Ross is a scary thing.

As far as Calipari goes, well, its the same as it always is with him. He's certainly not completely innocent here. I think only the most naive college basketball observer would take him at his word. But if Terrence Jones truly did call him and say that he wasn't positive he wanted to be at Washington, what is Cal supposed to do?

What would you do in that situation?

My guess is the exact same thing.

Only an idiot would turn down a chance to date a supermodel just because she has a boyfriend.

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Tuesday Morning Dump

- Coach Cal makes his statement on the Terrence Jones fiasco; Cal steals the show at V-Foundation Gala

- Doug Gottlieb breaks down the ten most interesting incoming freshman

- Gary Parrish talks about break ups

- Andy Katz follows up with Texas A&M

- Huge get for UNC as they land Alabama transfer Justin Knox, who should be eligible right away. The Heels needed Knox, as Tyler Zeller and John Henson were the only big men on the roster. In other transfer news, Texas A&M got Washington transfer Elston Turner

- JUCO transfer Felix Carrick will not be attending Duke in the fall

- The odds are in for next year's National Champions

- Alabama will play Oklahoma State in the All-College Basketball Classic; More match-ups announced

- Kadeem Jack to South Kent

- Billy Donovan is expecting a lot from his team next season

- Judge denies request to move Rick Pitino extortion trial

- This just doesn't seem fair at all

- It didn't take very long for Jeff Goodman to recover from his journey

- A great-read on the long road back for Bobby Hurley

- Adam Zagoria reports that Tyrone Johnson is trimming his list

- I'm not exactly sure why Iowa fans are commenting on Tyler Smith
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What expansion did to Conference USA

For those that have been ignoring the possibility of the Big Ten expanding to 16 teams, take a look at Conference USA.

I know that doesn't make much sense on the surface, but stay with me here.

Back in the early 2000's, Conference USA was all but considered a major conference, especially in basketball. With teams like Memphis, Cincinnati, Marquette, Louisville, and DePaul, there was legacy, there was talent, there was great coaching, and they annually had success in the NCAA Tournament.

That was before Miami got fed up with playing football in the Big East.

As the Hurricanes pushed harder and harder to join the ACC, the ACC pushed harder to get three Big East schools to join their ranks. They initially wanted Syracuse and Boston College, but after quite a bit of politicking and negotiating, in 2005 it was Virginia Tech, and not the Orange, that switched conferences.

This left the Big East in a tough situation. Already a league known more for their basketball than their football -- and we all know football is the real moneymaker -- they were left with just four schools that had D1 football teams. UConn decided to bump their football program up from D1-AA, but the Big East still needed to add three more football programs to their conference to remain in the BCS.

So they raided Conference USA.

Louisville, Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquette, and South Florida all went to the Big East, giving them three football playing schools (Louisville, Cinci, USF) and two basketball-only schools in untapped markets -- DePaul in Chicago and Marquette in Milwaukee. Charlotte and St. Louis both decided that with all the defections, they would be better off in the Atlantic 10.

Conference USA was left with Memphis ... and not much else. Houston, East Carolina, Tulane, UAB, and Southern Miss. To combat their defections, the league added Marshall, Central Florida, Rice, Tulsa, UTEP, and SMU.

Not exactly a murderer's row.

We all know what happened after that. Memphis dominated the league for four seasons under John Calipari. But when Cal bolted for Kentucky, Josh Pastner was left with a depleted roster and an NIT team. Gone was the league's shining star, replaced atop the conference by a UTEP that went 15-1 during the regular season. To get a feel for how strong the conference was this year, that UTEP team was a 12 seed, barely sneaking into the NCAA Tournament.

UAB beat Butler, Cincinnati, Georgia, and Arkansas, climbed to as high as 20th in the RPI before league play started, and after going 11-5 in the conference, the Blazers missed the NCAA's altogether. So did Memphis and Tulsa. Conference USA got two bids for the first time since 2006 for the simple fact that, with Memphis having a down year, someone was able to pull an upset in the conference tournament.

Elijah Millsap and UAB missed the tournament this season.
(photo credit: The Birmingham News)

Dan Wolken, a fantastic reporter for the Memphis Commercial-Appeal who has been extremely vocal (well, on twitter) the problems with this league, penned a great article on Sunday detailing precisely how bad things have gotten for Conference USA:
A year ago, UAB put together perhaps the most impressive non-conference resume (outside of Memphis) since the league reorganized in 2005 with victories over Cincinnati, Georgia, Arkansas and Butler. The Blazers entered conference play with a 12-2 record and an RPI of 20. After playing (and beating) East Carolina, Tulane and SMU to start the league schedule, UAB's RPI dropped to 35. When UAB played Tulane for a second time in late February, its RPI dropped from 32 to 37.
With poor performances in the non-conference season, teams like SMU (208), ECU (231), Tulane (282) and Rice (311) have created a power-ratings drain on the league's top teams, to the point that RPI guru Jerry Palm came to Florida last week and told the coaches that UAB and Memphis would have likely been in the NCAA Tournament if the bottom of the conference wasn't so bad.
Those are pretty staggering numbers for a league that just six years ago was routinely considered on a par with the six power conferences. To get an idea of just how far this conference has fallen, Wolken lists four teams from the league (a third of their membership) that were ranked outside of the top-200 in the RPI. The six power conferences, combined, had four teams ranked outside of the top-200 -- DePaul, Iowa, Indiana, and LSU.

All four of those teams were truly horrific this season. None of them play in the Pac-10, either.

How does the league plan on fighting this problem? Wolken explains:
There's not much C-USA can do about the quality of teams in its league; that's on coaches to go out and recruit and players to go play.

But what it plans to do, if last week's meetings are any indication, is clamp down on how its teams are scheduling in the non-conference season. In an attempt to manipulate the RPI to its advantage, the league is telling its coaches to build schedules for which they can win 70 percent of their non-conference games.

For ECU, that means don't schedule almost-certain losses to Wake Forest, Tennessee, Northern Iowa, Charlotte, Clemson and Virginia Commonwealth, as the Pirates did last season.

To enforce, or at least encourage, better scheduling, Banowsky said C-USA has created a formula to distribute its postseason revenue on the basis of winning percentage. The more Division 1 non-conference games a team wins, the more money it gets from the league.

Moreover, the league is going to review all non-conference games and give feedback on whether schools are scheduling at the appropriate level. If the directives are ignored -- for instance, if an athletic director at a bottom-tier program starts taking multiple paydays at power-conference schools just to help balance the budget -- C-USA may seek even more control.
Wait, what?

The conference is paying schools that load up on teams like East West State University for the Deaf and Blind?

I'm not exactly sure that makes a whole lot of sense.

For starters, the way quite a few of the schools -- especially the ones near the bottom of the league, the schools that the league is trying to get to turnaround -- fund their athletic program is by cashing in on the paydays from high-majors. Are they really going to scrap the high-five, low-six figure payout they get to let a Duke beat them by 50? If they don't, than doesn't this new rule only make the rich get richer? Won't a school like Memphis, who rarely is going to finish with a non-conference winning percentage below 70%, be the school that benefits from this rule?

The other problem is that these teams aren't guaranteed to win these games. What happens in ECU goes 3-9 against teams like Arkansas-Pine Bluff and High Point? What does that do to the conference RPI?

I understand what Conference USA is trying to do. Improving the competitive balance between the best teams and the bottom teams is one way to boost the conference RPI. But trying to get teams to play weak schedules to make the league look better is like putting a band aid on a stab wound.

It doesn't fix the problem. It doesn't make SMU or Tulane more competitive. Its not going to actually make Conference USA any better. And until the bottom of Conference USA actually does get better, they are going to continue to have these same problems.

Would the league have been in this position if it didn't lose all of their best teams to the Big East and Atlantic 10?

That right there is the problem with expansion.

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