Saturday, April 30, 2011

VIDEO: Austin Rivers is nasty, and Deuce Bello got hops, yo

I love the work that the guys at sites like HoopMixtape and BallisLife do.

I only have a limited opportunity to get out to events to see these high schools kids play, so being able to watch clips of some of the best high school players in the country gives me -- and the rest of the college hoops fans around the country -- a (admittedly, very limited) feel of what these kids can do on a basketball court.

A couple of good mixtapes have popped up in the last few days.

For starters, HoopMixtape put together an awesome video of Duke-bound Austin Rivers:

And we can't forget Deuce Bello, the best dunker in the class of 2011:

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When will Darnell Dodson's name stop being newsworthy?

It looks like we may have finally heard the last of Darnell Dodson.

Once a blue-chip recruit, Dodson has been kicked off of the Southern Mississippi basketball team by head coach Larry Eustachy. Dodson was arrested on Friday after getting caught stealing from a frat house on the USM campus on Thursday. A car that belonged to one of the members of the frat was also broken into. Former USM player Cory Smith was also arrested.

Dodson enrolled at USM in January, the fourth college that he had attended. The 6'7" wing originally went to Pitt, where he was a member of the recruiting class that also included DeJuan Blair, Gary McGhee, and Brad Wanamaker. But he transferred to Miami-Dade JC in October of 2007 as he was awaiting word from the NCAA's clearinghouse as to whether he would be eligible to play. He spent two years at Miami-Dade, redshirting the first season, before committing to John Calipari at Kentucky.

He had one up-and-down year with the Wildcats, averaging 6.0 ppg in 2009-2010, but was kicked off of the team after the season and arrested back in October of 2010 in Lexington.
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Paul Hewitt to George Mason

According to Jeff Goodman, the most connected writer in college hoops (the Wes without the Mess of the media?), former Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt will be taking over for Jim Larrananga at George Mason. (Here's a full breakdown of all the head-coaching movement from this offseason.)

Hewitt took the Yellow Jackets to the national title game in 2004, but he once again struggled this past season. Tech finished the season 13-18 (5-11 in the ACC) and Hewitt was fired.

The situation he lands in at George Mason, however, may actually be better. The Patriots are coming off of a 27-win season and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. They return everyone except for Cam Long and will be the preseason favorite to win the CAA and, in all likelihood, a top 25 team. Georgia Tech almost assuredly cannot say the same thing.

What is interesting about this move is that Hewitt has always had the reputation of being a recruiter more than a coach. He brought quite a bit of talent through Atlanta -- Derrick Favors, Thaddeus Young, Javaris Crittendon, etc. -- but with the exception of the 2004 run, Hewitt seemed more adept at getting his players fast-tracked to the NBA than at winning basketball games.

Also of interest is the ripple effect that Mike Anderson's decision to leave Missouri -- or, for that matter, Matt Painter's decision to stay at Purdue -- has had. Almost assuredly, if that Missouri position was filled, Frank Haith would still be at Miami, Larrananga would still be at George Mason, and Hewitt would be looking for a job as an assistant or a broadcaster.

I guess that's why they call it the coaching carousel.
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REPORTS: UCF used an ex-con to help steer recruits to Orlando

Yesterday, Kevin Ware -- a former Tennessee signee -- officially de-committed from UCF, ending a week's worth of speculation that the commitment was on the rocks.

I think its safe to say we now know why. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution broke the news that Ware was de-committing from the Golden Knights, and Ware was quoted in the story as saying "There's a lot of stuff going on right now, personal stuff that I don't really want to speak about right now. I spoke with my family about everything, and I decided it was time to back off on UCF."

I wonder if that "personal stuff" had anything to do with the fact that Ware would be the focal point of a bombshell dropped by Pete Thamel of the New York Times on Friday night. Thamel meticulously laid out how Ware -- and UCF's other prized recruit, top five center Michael Chandler -- were steered to the Golden Knights by a man named Kenneth Caldwell, a convicted felon with strong ties to Andy Miller and the agency he runs, ASM Sports. Caldwell also helped to steer a star quarterback, and Louisville native, to UCF after convincing him to de-commit from the Cardinals.

Miller denied the claim that Caldwell was associated with ASM Sports, but there were number of comments on social media sites -- including the statement in Caldwell's LinkedIn profile that he worked for ASM -- that would indicate a connection. An associate of ASM confirmed to Thamel that Caldwell does work for ASM.

Pat Forde of was also involved in the story. While Thamel developed the connection between Caldwell and UCF, Forde (and Dana O'Neil) did some terrific background work on Caldwell and Brandon Bender, a former Louisville player that is connected to Caldwell. UCF currently has six players on their roster from Chicago, where Caldwell hails from. Three of them are products of Whitney Young high school -- AJ Rompza, Marcus Jordan, and Dwight McCombs. Caldwell refers to Rompza as his "son".

Caldwell has a son that attends UCF and apparently hosted recruits on unofficial visits to the campus, an NCAA violation. The Times also reported that Caldwell would patch recruits in on conference calls with the UCF coaching staff, another violation.

Bender, according to the ESPN report, was heavily involved in the recruitment of Braeden Anderson, a former DePaul commit that is now headed to Kansas. DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell is quoted in the story as saying that Caldwell and Bender approached him and offered to direct players to him. Purnell cut ties with Bender and Caldwell, which is likely why he lost out on Anderson. ESPN also reported that Anderson, a Canadian attending prep school in Massachusetts, spent two weeks in Louisville visiting cousins that he couldn't name when asked by Forde. A Bender associate, former Louisville football player Rodney Carter, lives in Louisville still.

Its all pretty damning stuff. You cannot paint a much clearer picture of runner than this.

The question is what will come of it?

Yahoo! Sports caught UConn and Jim Calhoun about as red-handed as it gets two years ago with their report on the Nate Miles recruitment, but the Huskies received some recruiting sanctions, Jim Calhoun got hit with a three game suspension, and two assistant coaches were forced to resign.

That said, not only does this story involve Donnie Jones and UCF -- not hall-of-famer Jim Calhoun and the winners of three of the last 12 national titles -- it involves a pipeline that seemingly was established before Jones arrived in Orlando.

Anyway, I strongly urge you to read all three of the articles linked above.

In an age where journalism appears to be dying, investigative reporting does not get much better than this.
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Study: Basketball players at highest risk for Sudden Cardiac Death

File this under things that are terrifying.

Based on a study conducted at the University of Washington, 1-in-3,126 males playing Division I basketball are at risk for dying of SCD, or Sudden Cardiac Death. Often, SCD is the result of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or the thickening of the muscle around the heart. That number alone is scary, considering that, with 344 teams and an average of 13 or 14 players, including walk-ons, per team, there are upwards of 4,500 men's D-I basketball players. Making those figures seem all the scarier is that there is only a 1-in-43,700 that a student-athlete will die from SCD. Males face a 1-in-33,134 risk, and black males chances increase to 1-in-17,796.

And when you think of some of the recent cases in our sport -- Seton Hall's Herb Pope, former Tennessee and New Mexico forward Emmanuel Negedu, forward Vanderbilt player Davis Nwankwo, Jeron Lewis of D-II Southern Indiana, and high schoolers Wes Leonard and Robert Garza -- those figures start to sound more accurate. (Personally, this hits close to home.)

Rush The Court did the legwork, hustling to track down Kimberly Harmon, the primary author listed on the study. I'm not going to repeat too much of what she said to RTC (I strongly suggest reading it, those guys are quite informative), but there are some interesting topics she touched on.

So why is the number so high for college basketball players?

Well, for starters, the obvious answer is that college basketball has a very high percentage of black athletes, and black men are at the highest risk of SCD. But as Harmon told RTC, "the really surprising finding is the risk in Caucasian Division I players (1 in 6,135) is [roughly] the same as African-Americans (1 in 5,284). In every other place there is a race differential."

There is also the stop-and-go nature of hoops. Its a fast paced game with a lot of changes in speed, which can be stressful on the heart.

None of that is what matters right now, however, because its possible to keep the D out of SCD.

If you remember Negedu's story, he was working out with then-teammate Bobby Maze at the Tennessee football facility. When his heart stopped, he was brought back to life by a automated external defibrillator, or AED. The same happened with Pope. And Nwankwo. Their basketball careers may be over permanently, but thanks to the AED being present, all three will live a full life.

These devices cost $1,000-$2,000 a piece, well worth the investment. The problem, however, is that many facilities around the country simply cannot afford them. The other issue is whether or not there will be someone trained on how to use the machine.

You can help that fight by donating to Parent Heart Watch.

You may be saving someone's life.
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Kevin Ware de-commits from UCF

Kevin Ware, make a decision already.

The athletic scoring guard that has cracked the top 50 in some recruiting lists has now, officially, de-committed from Central Florida.

"There's a lot of stuff going on right now, personal stuff that I don't really want to speak about right now," Ware told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I spoke with my family about everything, and I decided it was time to back off on UCF."

This caps off what has been a whirlwhind few weeks for Ware and for the programs pursuing him. Earlier this month, Ware was allowed out of the Letter of Intent he signed with Tennessee after meeting with Bruce Pearl's replacement, Cuonzo Martin. Last week, Ware committed to Central Florida over the likes of Louisville and Georgia, but that commitment always seemed to be on shaky ground. There were reports from guys like Dave Telep and Evan Daniels that Ware didn't appear to be 100% committed. The fact that he was announced at the Derby Classic, a high school all-star in Kentucky last weekend, as uncommitted didn't help matters.

Ware needs to make a decision and stick with it.

I have no problem with him waiting to sign. He has until mid-May to decide. What I do have a problem with is the flip-flopping. Committed, uncommitted, committed, uncommitted. Is he trying to drive up exposure for himself? Does he want to read his name in the paper and on Scout and Rivals? Not all publicity is good publicity. Ware may be a top 50 recruit, but rarely are top 50 recruits program changers. Is this very public indecisiveness really the best way to drum up interest from other schools?

The worst part is that Ware isn't the only one affected here. Central Florida ran-off Isaac Sosa, a junior that averaged 8.0 ppg last season, in an effort to open up a scholarship for Ware.

This is a huge decision for Ware. I fully support him taking the time to make the correct decision for himself and his family.

But he doesn't need to have every thought during the process get leaked to the media.
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Friday Morning Dump

- Best-Read-Of-The-Day comes from Mike DeCourcy. Mike explains how one high school sophomore shot for the stars by applying for the Georgia Tech head coaching position

- The man himself, Jonathan Givony, evaluates all of the early entrant decisions

- Andy Katz reacts to the new names released on the NBA draft list

- Central Florida-commit Kevin Ware has decomitted...again (I hope I never have to hear this kid's name again until mid-December)

- Gary Parrish believes that despite the addition of Colorado and Utah, the Pac-12 will remain the weakest power-six conference

- Discussion regarding the recruiting system is starting to gain momentum

- According to Matt Norlander, who got some numbers from a survey, you are more likely to die playing college hoops than if you participated in the Iditarod

- Adam Zagoria expects Iona's Mike Glover a.k.a Optimus Prime, to have a breakout year next season

- This is what it would look like if Big-12 basketball players were part of the the NFL draft

- In case you are completely out of the loop, here is the complete list of nearly entrants in this year's NBA draft

- John Rothstein provides a list of teams on the rise next season

- Bruce Pearl was fired from Tennessee less than two months ago, and somehow he's already back inside the Volunteers home arena

- Former-Tennessee signee Chris Jones will likely attend Junior College next year instead of going D-I

- New Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson has only been on the job for a couple weeks, but he's already retained the Razorbacks highly-regarded recruiting class

- Kentucky guard Brandon Knight attended a local elemntary school and answered questions from the principal. Knight stated that he is still 50-50 on his NBA draft status

- A Big-12 analysis of the NCAA attendance statistics (Check yesterday's dump for all the Attendance figures)

- An excellent-read on the win-score of Creighton's basketball team. This statistic helps cast a conclusion about a player's individual effectiveness. For stat-junkies, this is pretty neat stuff

- So according to some people close to the situation< Georgetown's Hollis Thompson is likely to pull his name out of the NBA draft

- Hoopsworld has a good breakdown of the top NBA-ready centers

- Rush the Court hands out it's end-of-year conference report card to The Atlantic Coast Conference

- This is totally unrelated to basketball, but it's kinda-completely-ridiculous: Dutch soccer club signs an 18-month old infant to a 10-year deal
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Meet Dan Kelm: the unlikeliest member of the NBA's Early Entry list

Every year, as the early entry deadline passes, a couple of names pop up that just don't seem to fit.

In 2010, it was John Sloan, a member of the Huntingdon University (D-III) basketball team that put his name into the draft. This year, its Dan Kelm, a 6'0" sophomore guard for the Viterbo University Hawks. The Delafield, Wisconsin, native averaged just 1.2 ppg for the 6-25 Hawks this past season.

But that didn't stop him from declaring for the draft. And it won't stop him from keeping his name in once the May 8th deadline passes, officially ending his career at Viterbo. In an effort to expand his career options after he graduates, Kelm will be taking an internship (he's an accounting major) in Milwaukee in the spring. Knowing how easy it was to enter his name in the draft, Kelm figured 'Why not?'

"I had seen quite a bit online that people had been able to relatively easily enter the draft with no fee, nothing too painful," Kelm told me over the phone. "Just fill out a few applications and you're set. So I decided to see what its all about. I sent my declaration to the NBA, I received an application in the mail, I filled it out in about 15 minutes, and I was in the NBA Draft."

Kelm doesn't exactly have the kind of potential that most NBA teams are looking for. 6'0" shooting guards aren't exactly in high-demand in NBA front offices. But what Kelm lacks in tools he makes up for with sense of humor.

"No NBA teams have sent anything to me, I'm not exactly sure that they are interested in a guy that averaged 1.2 ppg at an NAIA school," Kelm said with a laugh. "But you never know, I'm keeping that option open."

If that option does, by miracle, stay open, Kelm knows where he wants his name called.

"I'm a die hard Milwaukee Bucks fan and I've lived in Wisconsin my whole life. The Bucks need a shooter. They got Brandon Jennings, they got Andrew Bogut. I would be the weapon from beyond the arc that they are desperately looking for."

There really is no downside to this decision. While it may be a pain for some of the folks at the NBA offices to deal with the extra paperwork of a kid that put his name in the draft as a joke, its more than worth the laugh for the rest of us.

The worst case scenario? Kelm gets a stronger social media presence.

"My twitter followers have doubled in six hours," Kelm said. (Follow him @danker25.)
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No more testing the NBA Draft's waters

The NCAA has officially done away with the testing the waters process in the NBA Draft.

The NCAA's board director's had the opportunity to overturn proposal 2010-24, a measure approved by the NCAA's legislative council that will move the deadline for declaring for the draft to the day before the spring signing period.

This is, simply put, utter horse shit.

The rule is solely designed to protect the needs of college basketball coaches. These coaches don't want the uncertainty of a prospect with his name in the NBA Draft pool and don't want the headache of having to help that prospect determine his standing on NBA Draft boards.

So what do they do?

Eliminate the process that allows these players to evaluate whether they are ready for the NBA; whether they should give up their remaining eligibility for a chance to pursue a professional career. If you're team makes it to the Final Four, you will have a grand total of seven days to make the most important decision of your life.

And you will be forced to make a relatively uninformed decision.

Like I said, a horse shit decision pushed through by a group of self-serving coaches looking out for themselves.

If you can't tell, this decision pisses me off, so I'm done ranting about this for now before I say something dumb. I wrote extensively on the topic here, here, and here.
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A look at some of the surprising names on the early entry list

Its always good for a laugh when the NBA officially announces the list of early entrants into the NBA Draft. This year was no different.

Among the head scratchers were four players currently (or recently) suspended from their schools (Keion Bell, Desmond Holloway, Willie Reed, and Antoine Watson), two Junior College players (Tiondre Johnson and Roscoe Davis), two members of D-III teams (Dan Kelm, Thomas Tibbs, Jr), and a player at an NAIA school (Jacob Blankenship).

Some familiar names popped up as well. TyShawn Edmundson, a 6'4" from Austin Peay and formerly of St. John's, put his name into the mix after averaging 17.1 ppg this past season. Chaminade's seven foot center Mamadou Diarra, who transferred to the Maui Invitational's host school from USC, declared as well. He made some noise when he had 16 points, 11 boards, and five blocks against Michigan State this year. And Ryan Kelley finally resurfaced two years after leaving Colorado after one season riding the pine.

Also, as you might expect, there were a number of juniors from low-majors around the country that declared to get a feel for what they need to work on to make it at the next level. Yale's 6'10" center Greg Mangano declared after averaging 16.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg, and shooting 36.6% from three. Darrion Pellum put his name in the mix after averaging 17.5 ppg for Hampton while JP Primm of UNC-Asheville declared following his 14.5 ppg, 4.0 apg, and 2.1 spg season. Charlie Westbrook of South Dakota and Brandon Wood of Valpo had already made their intentions known.

Most surprising? Keishawn Mayes of Campbell. He averaged 3.5 ppg in just 10.0 mpg for the Camels last season.

Beyond that, there weren't too many surprises on the official list. Most of the names had already leaked out. But here are four players that you will want to keep an eye on over the next two weeks:

  • Jeremy Green, Jr, Stanford: Green has been a big-time scorer for the Cardinal the past two seasons, averaging over 16 ppg both years. The Cardinal had a very young team this past season, but still managed to win seven games in the Pac-10. There is a promising core, and the Cardinal would be a sleeper in a wide-open Pac-10 should they get Green back. A possible hiccup? Green was hit with an academic suspension by the school for the spring quarter. It doesn't affect his NCAA eligibility, but he was expected to be back at Stanford for summer school.
  • David Loubeau, Jr, Texas A&M: Loubeau is, perhaps, the most important player on this list. With the likes of Khris Middleton, Naji Hibbert, and Dash Harris coming back next season, the Aggies have a shot at finishing near the top of the Big 12 once again in 2012. That is with Loubeau, who was Mark Turgeon's best interior scorer last year.

  • Cameron Moore, Jr, UAB: At times this past season, Moore was a dominating force for the Blazers. The 6'10" forward finished the season with averages of 14.0 ppg, 9.3 rpg, and 1.5 bpg while shooting 33.3% from three. Those numbers are in spite of a foot injury that kept Moore out of the lineup for three games and severely limited his production down the stretch of the season. With Jamarr Sanders and Aaron Johnson graduating, UAB was going to be leaning on Moore heavily next season. The Blazers will have a tough season is he decides to remain in the draft.
  • Tony Taylor, Jr, George Washington: Taylor was the most important piece to a surprising GW team this season. He averaged just under 15 points and five assists while doubling as one of the Colonials' best on-ball defenders. GW was picked to finished near the bottom of the conference, and after rebounding from a slow start to the year, the Colonials ended up tied for fourth in the league standings and earning the fifth seed in the A-10 tournament, their highest finish since 2006. The team will have to deal with a coaching change as Karl Hobbs was fired this week, but with the majority of their roster coming back and the return of Lasan Kromah from a season-ending foot injury, the Colonials have a shot to be very good in 2012. If Taylor returns.
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Saying Goodbye: DJ Kennedy

In this world of NBA Draft early entry and one-and-done freshman, it is difficult to become attached to a college star. They simply don't hang around long enough. But when they do, that player becomes the fan favorite. There is nothing like watching a kid develop from a overwhelmed freshman into star as a senior. Those are the players that the fans connect with.

We reached out to some of the blogosphere's best, and over the next couple of weeks we will be running a series of posts saying goodbye to some of the country's best seniors.

Our fourth installment of "Saying Goodbye" comes courtesy of Daniel Martin, a contributing writer for Johnny Jungle, the ever-popular St. John's basketball blog. You can hit them up on Twitter at @JohnnyJungleSTJ

Over the past four seasons, if there has been one mainstay for the St. John’s, a face of the program who has been the centerpiece of Red Storm basketball, it has been Pittsburgh native DJ Kennedy.

When David J. Kennedy first stepped onto the St. John’s University campus as a freshman, he was six months removed from winning a Pennsylvania Class AAAA state title with his Alma Mater, Schenley High School. Alongside teammate and current San Antonio Spur DeJuan Blair, Kennedy helped avenge a 2nd-place finish his junior year to win the championship in his senior season.
Arriving in Queens, Kennedy did not start out as the focal point, either. After an impressive freshman season by forward Justin Burrell, Kennedy looked to be the swing-man complement to another dominant big man down low. In his freshman year, Kennedy played 27 minutes per game, averaging nearly 8 points and 6 rebounds.

But, after a facial fracture sidelined Burrell, Kennedy had to step into the spotlight in his sophomore season. Playing seven more minutes per game, Kennedy nearly doubled his scoring output, averaging 13 points and almost 7 rebounds. He also began to show his ability to fill up every area of the stat sheet, adding 3 assists per game.

When the dawn of his junior year came, hopes were high and expectations, even higher. Coach Norm Roberts added four quality recruits to the existing class, including two juniors, Justin Brownlee and Dwight Hardy. Kennedy was cut out to be the leader from the outset and, though the team fell short of expectations, the 6’6” swing-man had the best season of his college career.

Averaging 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists, he gained a reputation as one of the most versatile players in the Big East. His length allowed him to not only attack the basket to score points, but he shot a career-high 38% from 3-pt range. When a first round loss to Memphis in the NIT ended the Johnnies’ season, Norm Roberts, who recruited Kennedy and the rest of this large senior class, was fired. Former UCLA head coach Steve Lavin was brought in to replace him.

Under the new Lavin administration, Kennedy moved from the spotlight to a complementary role, alongside Dwight Hardy and Justin Brownlee. His greatest contributions did not come in a starring role, but being a player who was a more-than-viable third option in Lavin’s offense.
His most impressive game came February 10th at Madison Square Garden against UConn, when he scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in an 89-72 victory.

Unfortunately, in the Big East Tournament against Syracuse, Kennedy went down with a knee injury early in the first half, an injury that cut his season short. The Pittsburgh native had successful surgery to repair the knee and now begins the 8 month rehab to come back.

Though he had to watch his team take part in the NCAA Tournament from the sidelines, DJ Kennedy’s mark on this program will be indelible. During the season, he passed St. John’s legend Walter Barry on the Johnnies’ all-time scoring list. He will be put down as one of the integral pieces that helped turn this St. John’s program around. Without David J. Kennedy and the rest of these seniors, the national Red Storm brand would not be what it is today, on its way toward the most recognizable in the country.

More from "Saying Goodbye"

2011: JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore, Purdue
2011: Matt Howard, Butler
2011: Keith Benson, Oakland
2011: Preston Knowles, Louisville

Continue reading...

Tennessee loses another recruit

The first of the now-former Bruce Pearl coaching staff to land another job was Steve Forbes, an assistant with Tennessee.

He landed at Northwest Florida State College, a JuCo.

On Wednesday, Forbes was in Memphis as Chris Jones, a top 50 point guard and Tennessee-signee, looks to be headed to NFSC, according to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal (Jones is a Memphis native):

[Q]uestions remained whether Jones would qualify academically to play at Tennessee.

Johnson said Jones, who attended two prep schools in North Carolina last season before re-enrolling at Melrose last month, would benefit from playing under Forbes at Northwest Florida, formely known as Okaloosa-Walton Community College. Forbes was heavily involved in Tennessee's recruitment of Jones.

"He can concentrate on getting better mentally and physically," Johnson said.
Jones is now the of the two top 50 recruits that Pearl had signed at Tennessee to leave. Kevin Ware is off to Central Florida.

Cuonzo Martin had initially convinced Jones to honor his LOI, but it appears that the coach that had recruited him to Knoxville (Forbes) was able to bring him to Florida.

The question now is whether this will affect the decisions of Tobias Harris and Scotty Hopson to stay in the NBA Draft. Tennessee loses five seniors this season, and while they do return some talent for next season -- Cam Tatum, Trae Golden, Skylar McBee -- the Vols' season hinges on whether or not those two return to school.
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UConn fights academic reputation

Kemba Walker made headlines when he told a Sports Illustrated reporter that during his junior year, he read his "first book", William C. Rhoden's Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete.

As you might imagine, that comment made quite a ripple in the snarky blogosphere.

UConn visited the Connecticut governor's mansion yesterday, and Kemba tried to clarify those comments to The Associated Press:

He said it upsets him that the comment may have hurt the school's reputation.

"That's just what people want," Walker said. "They want to bring us down. Regardless of what they say, I'm still graduating in three years, so that comment means absolutely nothing. I've read a lot of books."

He said he was talking about loving a book so much that he just sat down and read it cover to cover.

"It's a big emphasis on academics at UConn," he said. "They make sure we are student-athletes first. I'm going to get my degree. I will find time to do my work."
He's not the only one worried about UConn's academic reputation. Jim Calhoun stands to lose an $87,500 bonus for winning the national title and will have to donate $100,000 to the University's scholarship fund if the Huskies don't meet the APR.

"Eight straight years, we made the APR," Calhoun said. "If because someone left early or didn't finish, all those various things that get you ... when you have 16 kids leave [for the pros] in a 10-year period, you are more likely to be more open to [a low APR] happening."

That's fair.

But Kentucky was able to convince 80% of the player's that left early for last year's draft -- everyone except for Daniel Orton -- to finish their classes. Shouldn't Calhoun be able to do the same?
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Indiana freshman has a future in the music business?

Indiana freshman guard Victor Oladipo is a talented kid.

I'm not just saying that because he can do this. And this. But because he can also do this:

Now, I'd be more impressed if the Indiana freshman had busted out some of Usher's dance moves while singing, but that may be asking a little much.
Continue reading...

Thursday Morning Dump

- Rush the Court takes a closer look at the NCAA attendance statistics (Must-read stuff). Here is the full list of attendance statistics for the 2010-2011 season. A Villanova analysis of attendance. The same goes for Seton Hall and Maryland

- Jason King continues his 2011-2012 preview with a list of teams who may drop down a peg or two

- Eric Angevine tells us how North Carolina State could seek backcourt help from two Ole Miss graduates

- Doug Gottlieb provides some excellent analysis on the early entry decisions (Insiders only, but if you are, I highly recommend reading this)

- Andy Katz throws us some quick-hitters in his Daily Word

- Doug Haller provides a great off-season round-up of Pac-12 information

- Jim Calhoun and Kemba Walker spoke out to defend UConn's academic standing. if you remember correctly, Walker was quoted during the Final Four saying he just finished reading his first book, despite graduating from UConn in three years. Walker clarifies that it was the first book he enjoyed reading cover-to-cover (I believe him. Reading for pleasure isn't everybody's cup of tea. I didn't read a book on my own personal time until I was probably close to Walker's age). Calhoun is still waiting to learn if he will lose his championship bonus due to his team's academic progress report

- Rick Pitino is backing out of an agreement to coach the Puerto Rican national team in preparation for pre-olympic qualifiers

- Kevin Nickelberry, the head coach at Howard, visited local schools in Washington, D.C. this week to speak out against bullying

- Former-NBA star (and NBA Jam sleeper stud) Kenny Anderson could end up becomming an assistant coach on Jim Larranaga's staff at Miami

- So who exactly is the top recruit in the country? Is it Austin Rivers or Anthony Davis?

- Kansas' senior Tyrell Reed gets high praise from state legislators (Did you know: Reed is the winningest player in KU basketball history? I may or may not have been unaware of that)

- Highly-touted JUCO transfer God's Gift Achiuwa will make his college decision today. But Johnny Jungle is reporting that God's Gift is headed to St. John's

- Bruce Pearl was scheduled to take the Tennessee Volunteers on an overseas trip next fall, but athletic director Mike Hamilton has announced that the trip has been cancelled. New head coach Cuonzo Martin will still take his team to Hawaii to compete in the Maui Invitational

- Illinois will start their rebuilding process with a trip to Italy in August

- In August, Creighton and Louisville will travel to the Caribbean to play exhibition games against teams from the Bahamas Basketball Federation

- The Puerto Rico Tip-Off will feature Maryland, Colorado, Iona, Purdue, Temple, Western Michigan and Wichita State

- Got $100,000 to spend? How about the historic center circle from UCLA?

Continue reading...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Saying Goodbye: JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore

In this world of NBA Draft early entry and one-and-done freshman, it is difficult to become attached to a college star. They simply don't hang around long enough. But when they do, that player becomes the fan favorite. There is nothing like watching a kid develop from a overwhelmed freshman into star as a senior. Those are the players that the fans connect with.

We reached out to some of the blogosphere's best, and over the next couple of weeks we will be running a series of posts saying goodbye to some of the country's best seniors.

Our fourth installment of "Saying Goodbye" is being brought to you by Travis Miller of Hammer and Rails, the fantastic Purdue blog. You can follow the blog on Twitter at @HammerAndRails

This is a bittersweet goodbye, mostly because I always pictured this ending different.

First of all, Scott Martin and Robbie Hummel were supposed to be saying goodbye with these two, not playing for another year at separate schools. Second, It was supposed to be on the floor of Reliant Stadium with a National Championship trophy hoisted above them, cementing their legacy as the team that finally broke through at Purdue.

Instead we’ll remember JJ and Smooge, as Purdue fans call them, as great players that will forever be tagged with the “What If” moniker. They gave Purdue everything they had for four seasons, and for many schools a Big Ten Championship, a Big Ten Tournament championship, and two Sweet 16 appearances would be a great accomplishment. When tiny Butler, less than an hour away, plays in the two National title games these guys were supposed to play in, however, there will always be a what if.

What if Robbie Hummel’s knee doesn’t buckle on February 24, 2010 at Minnesota, derailing a team that was starting to look like a juggernaut with the return of Lewis Jackson from injury? With a healthy Hummel Purdue is a likely #1 seed and might have been able to walk to Indianapolis.

What if Scott Martin hadn’t turned traitor and transferred to Notre Dame after the 2008 season? Martin’s size and ability would have filled in quite nicely for Hummel, and he had a better freshman season than Johnson.

What if Hummel doesn’t tear his ACL again on the first day of practice, ironically as Minnesota was in town for football?

It’s not fair to totally judge JJ and Smooge on these "what ifs", however, Johnson emerged as the player he was this season (Big Ten Player of the Year) mostly because he had to. He became Purdue’s first consensus All-American in 17 years, and will have a banner for that feat hanging in Mackey Arena forever. Moore leaves Purdue third all-time in scoring, hitting a number of huge baskets as a steady producer all four years on campus. He was one of college basketball’s most underrated guards throughout his career, but he leaves as one of just five players in Purdue history to top 2,000 points.

Their career finale’s may not have turned out like Purdue fans pictured, but as individuals they could not have accomplished much more. Both will likely be in the NBA next season. Johnson is expected to be a first round pick, but Moore will likely be more of a second-rounder. That’s fine. The three current Purdue players in the NBA (Carl Landry, Brian Cardinal, and Brad Miller) all exceeded expectations, so Moore can follow the same path.

Purdue couldn’t be saying goodbye to two nicer young men, either. They will be missed.

More from "Saying Goodbye"

2011: Matt Howard, Butler
2011: Keith Benson, Oakland
2011: Preston Knowles, Louisville

Continue reading...

Central Florida and Arizona forced to run-off players: is this really a bad thing?

Donnie Jones took over as the head coach at Central Florida in March of 2010, and since his arrival, he's brought a steady stream of talent into Orlando.

Tristan Spurlock, Josh Crittle, and Jeffery Jordan decided to transfer to UCF from Virginia, Oregon, and Illinois, respectively. He's brought in a very good recruiting class, consisting of Michael Chandler (a four star recruit and one of the best centers in the country), Wayne Martin, Rod Days, and Kasey Wilson. Jones also currently has Kevin Ware committed, although no one seems to know the details of that wacky recruitment.

The problem with bringing in eight players as talented as these eight are is that they make up more than 60% of the 13 scholarships college basketball programs are permitted to use. How did Jones solve this problem? By running off sophomore Dave Diakite, freshman Jarvis Davis, and junior Isaac Sosa.

Arizona finds themselves in a similarly difficult position.

Sean Miller has, for the third straight season, brought a terrific recruiting class to Tucson. Its headlined by five-star point guard Josiah Turner, but Nick Johnson, Angelo Chol, and Sidiki Johnson are all four star recruits that should be able to impact the program immediately. Arizona, who had a scholarship docked for Lute Olson's Cactus Classic shenanigans, had 12 players on scholarship this season and have four recruits coming in this summer. Jamelle Horne graduates and Derrick Williams is headed to the NBA, but that still put Sean Miller's program at 14 players.

In other words, Miller has to trim two kids he had promised a scholarship too. Daniel Bejarano was the first to go, a 6'4" shooting guard that was a top 50 recruit nationally. Next? Who knows. The Arizona Daily Star speculates that junior center Alex Jacobsen, who graduates at the end of the semester and can transfer for grad school without having to sit out a season, and sophomore center Kryrl Natyazhko, who has opportunities to play professionally overseas, could be next on the chopping block.

This is not a new phenomenon. John Calipari made headlines when he took the Kentucky job for essentially forcing the transfer of seven players left over from the Billy Gillispie era. Steve Alford looked bad when Will Brown pleaded -- via a hand-written note sent to the papers -- to stay at New Mexico. Mike Anderson gave two players the boot to make room for some JuCo transfers last season. Buzz Williams trimmed DJ Newbill's scholarship when he had the chance to bring in a former top 50 transfer last summer.

At face value, this seems like a sleazy practice.


I don't necessarily think its bad. Essentially, Dave Diakite, Jarvis Davis, Isaac Sosa, and Daniel Bejarano have been cut.

It happens at every level of every sport. Once you get passed playing CYO ball and being coached by your parents, once you get past your hometown rec leagues, sports get competitive. If you aren't good enough, you won't make the team. If you don't fit the mold for what a coach is looking for, you won't make the team. I feel for the kids that have their dreams destroyed, I do. I've been in their shoes. Its quite unpleasant.

But they still have options. All four of the players listed above have enough eligibility left that they can transfer to another school and finish out their playing career at a level that is better suited to their ability. Or, if they don't want to leave the friends they've made at their current school, they can walk-on to the team and pay their own way for college in an effort to earn a scholarship for the following season.

It sucks. But so does getting cut from your high school team, getting laid off from your job, or seeing that hot shot young assistant get the promotion you've had your eye on for the last four years.

College basketball is a cutthroat business. The immediacy of a fan-base's need to win and the "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" mindset of most sports fans puts a ton of pressure on head coaches. If they don't win and win now, they will end up out of a job, forcing their coaching staff to also have to find new work. As a result, these coaches are forced to do things that leave us squirming, that morally leaves a bad taste in our mouths.

But hey, that is the price of winning. That's what we as fans demand, right? We've made our bed, now we have to sleep in it.
Continue reading...

Wednesday Morning Dump

- Andy Katz explains why Larry Shyatt wanted to go back to Wyoming

- Seth Davis breaks down the best and the worst of the off-season coaching hires. A list of all the coaching changes

- Rush the Court provides an excellent breakdown of the 2011 recruiting class (Must-read stuff right here)

- Jay Bilas fills us in on what teams he believes will be dangerous next year (Insiders Only)

- Fran Frascilla details a few of the coaching hires featuring experienced head coaches (Insiders Only)

- The Ten Twitter Commandments for fan interaction with athletes

- With the departure of Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes, Maalik Wayns is excited to take over the leadership position for Villanova

- Sean Miller may have to do something no coach likes doing. You see, Arizona is set to have 13 scholarship players next season, but they only have 12 scholarships availible. If a player doesn't decide to trasnfer, Miller may have to take a scholarship away from somebody

- Florida is holding off on 2011 recruits in order to stockpile for 2012

- North Carolina has a top recruit in CJ Leslie, but they just found out that former top-recruit Ryan Harrow is transferring. It was also revealed yesterday that Harrow was seen on the Kentucky campus. UPDATE: Maybe KSR was wrong

- Michigan State forward Garrick Sherman has chosen Notre Dame as his transfer location

- It may take Texas fans a while to get over all the departures from their squad

- For the third straight season, Hofstra's Charles Jenkins has been named as the best college basketball player in the metro area

- Jeff Borzello believes Hollis Thompson should return to Georgetown. Ironically, BIAH's Rob Dauster thinks the exact same thing

- Missouri's Laurence Bowers is close to making a decision on his NBA draft future, but it looks like he may return to school

- New Mexico should be the early favorites to win the Mountain West in 2012, and it may be in large part to their success during the spring recruiting period

- A solid update on the assorted mid-major and low-major signings

- has released their final Top-100 rankings for the class of 2011

- Word on the street is that John Calipari may end up coaching the Dominican Republic national basketball team

- New Miami head coach Jim Larranaga believed that Frank Martin would end up getting the job in Coral Gables

- Vermont head coach Mike Lonergan has been granted permission to speak with George Washington about their recent head coaching opening. He may also be a candidate at George Mason. Kansas assistant Joe Dooley may be in the running at George Washington

- The Colonial Athletic Conference released it's conference scheduling format for the next two years

- According to statistics, there was a slight increase in attendance amongst division one basketbzall

- Diamond Leung tells us that the UMass marketing department is trying to generate increased student support

- Wait, Tim Higgins is getting awarded for his service? That makes absolutely no sense

- Some ass-clown poisoned the food of the North Carolina State live mascots

- An artists' rendering of what the UNC-MSU aircraft carrier game might look like

Continue reading...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Who made the wrong early entry decision?: Hollis Thompson should withdraw from the draft

Hollis Thompson's decision to enter the 2011 NBA Draft was a bit of a surprise to all involved.

And its only partly because the 6'7" sophomore averaged just 8.6 ppg and 4.4 rpg this past season.

Thompson is a talented player. He's a small forward with NBA length and athleticism. He is a very good shooter from the perimeter and has shown flashes of being able to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. The problem? Thompson has never had the opportunity to showcase his ability on the offensive end of the floor.

This past season, Thompson spent the first half of the year starting at the four with Chris Wright, Austin Freeman, and Jason Clark logging the majority of the perimeter minutes. Midway through the year, Nate Lubick slid into the starting lineup and Thompson became Georgetown head coach John Thompson III's hired gun off the bench.

There were reports that Thompson was unhappy with that role, which is why he declared for the draft and considered transferring out of Georgetown.

That makes absolutely no sense.

You see, Freeman and Wright both graduate this spring, as does starting center Julian Vaughn. With Vee Sanford transferring out of the program, that means that Thompson, along with Clark, will be the featured scorer in JT III's offensive next season, likely taking over Freeman's role as resident long-range assassin. And with Nate Lubick, Henry Sims, and Jerelle Benimon returning up front -- and a loaded group of freshmen bigs, headlined by top-30 recruit Otto Porter -- back court minutes will readily available.

Thompson showed flashes of being an all-Big East caliber player last year. He had 18 points and nine boards in a win over NC State. He went for 16 points and seven boards against St. John's. And he average 16.0 ppg on 17-26 shooting in the Hoyas final three games, including a 26 point, seven rebound outburst in Georgetown's loss to VCU in the first round of the tournament.

Thompson has a chance to show the country -- and the NBA GM's -- just how good he can be next season.

He should withdraw from the NBA Draft.

Who else made the wrong early entry decision?

  • Ashton Gibbs, Pitt: Entered the draft, no agent

    There are conflicting reports about what Gibbs is planning to do, likely the result of Gibbs and his family having conflicting emotions about the decision. Its obvious that Gibbs wants to -- or is, at the least, trying to convince agents and GM's that he wants to -- become a pro. But the bottom line is that he just isn't an NBA player right now. He's a 6'1" shooter that is a step slow and can't jump all that high. But he is a great college player, and having the chance to prove he can create off the dribble should help his standing as a draft prospect.

  • Malcolm Lee, UCLA: Entered the draft, signed agent

    Lee seems like he was just done being a college student. That is the only explanation for a player that has a chance of going undrafted to remain in the draft. Lee showed some flashes of being a productive scorer this season and he is a terrific defender, but he averaged just 2.0 apg this season and shot 29.5% from beyond the arc. The physical talent is there, but another season in Westwood -- playing for a team that would likely have been the cream of the Pac-10 crop with him -- to develop his all-around offensive game would have helped his stock.

  • Jereme Richmond, Illinois: Entered the draft, signed agent

    Richmond may not have had much of a choice in this situation. Assuming he did, he probably could have used another season of seasoning. Its certainly not an issue of potential. He's an athletic, 6'8" combo forward that can do a lot of different things on a basketball court. He's got the makings of being a terrific all-around player one day. This issue is that some of his off-the-court problems make it seem like he may not ever live up to that potential. He missed a few practices and a game in the middle of the season and was suspended at the end of the season by Bruce Weber. He needs another season to develop as an adult and a professional, not necessarily as a basketball player.

  • Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt: Returned to school

    I don't generally like to criticize a player for staying in school. Taylor is going to earn his degree and get a chance to play with guys like Fetsus Ezeli and John Jenkins for another season on a top ten team. That said, Taylor would have been somewhere in the late lottery or mid-first round of this draft. In a loaded 2012 draft, he'll likely go late in the first round. He may drop even more if he doesn't show improvement in his perimeter skill set.

Continue reading...

Saying Goodbye: Matt Howard

In this world of NBA Draft early entry and one-and-done freshman, it is difficult to become attached to a college star. They simply don't hang around long enough. But when they do, that player becomes the fan favorite. There is nothing like watching a kid develop from a overwhelmed freshman into star as a senior. Those are the players that the fans connect with.

We reached out to some of the blogosphere's best, and over the next couple of weeks we will be running a series of posts saying goodbye to some of the country's best seniors.

Our third installment of "Saying Goodbye" is on Butler's workhorse Matt Howard. It is being provided by Dave McConnell from the fantastic Butler blog Victory Firelight. You can hit them up on twitter at @ButlerVictory

When the name Matt Howard gets tossed around, it can tend to sometimes be a bit of a polarizing topic for those around the Horizon League – and even around the country. Yet for the Butler faithful, the name Matt Howard embodies everything that is exceptional and unique about the Bulldog program, its players and the way it goes about its business.

Sure, plenty of opponents have had their frustrations with Howard. You’ve heard him called a flop. You’ve heard that he plays dirty. He’s everything opponents love to hate about a guy who goes hard for a full 40 minutes and beyond. And that’s just one reason why Butler fans adore and appreciate him perhaps more than any other figure in the school’s history.

Even for those who put Howard on a pedestal, there were some trying times during his career. Most notably, an absurdly frustrating penchant for committing dumb and unnecessary fouls. The kind of fouls that had no affect on a play, the kind that only resulted in putting him on the bench when his value in being on the floor was of utmost importance. But this year more than any other, Howard grew up and grew out of that. He proved everybody wrong, just like he had done in different ways throughout his four years as a Bulldog.

It has been noted time and time again what a quirky, and even odd, individual that Howard is. From riding his bike around campus in sub-freezing temperatures to not giving a damn about his socks that Goodwill wouldn’t put on its shelves, Howard marched to the beat of his own drummer. But for all of his supposed pitfalls, those are exactly what helped him be a cut above the rest. It’s about more than basketball for Howard – part of the embodiment of everything good about the Butler program – evidenced by his three-time honor as an Academic All-America. And that was capped of this season by being named the 2010-11 NCAA Division I Academic All-American of the Year.

On the court, Howard was just as decorated. He arrived on campus as a freshman as a top-100 recruit by several scouting services and joined a senior-laden team while earning the recognition of Horizon League Newcomer of the Year. As a sophomore, Howard blossomed into a star – named the league’s Player of the Year, midseason top-30 for the John R. Wooden Award and first team Mid-Major All-American by while leading Butler in scoring, field goal percentage, rebounding and blocked shots.

Howard’s junior year was maybe his toughest individually, although the team had arguably its most success during his four-year run, and he was still named first team All-Horizon. The aforementioned foul troubled plagued him as he sometimes struggled to fit in as suddenly the third offensive option behind budding studs Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack.

As a senior, and with perhaps lowered expectations by some, Howard showed his value to the team in ways that will never show up on the stat sheet. Simply put, with the team muddling away at 14-9 and gone from the nation’s conscience, Howard put the Bulldogs on his back and willed the team to a highly improbable run to a second consecutive national title game appearance. He was all the guts with little glory. And he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
The experts thought Butler would be crippled by the loss of Hayward to the NBA after the 2009-10 season. They weren’t entirely wrong, but the real test from the program will come next year when No. 54 is no longer in uniform.

More from "Saying Goodbye"
2011: Keith Benson, Oakland
2011:Preston Knowles, Louisville

Continue reading...

In a bit of a surprising move, Karl Hobbs is out at George Washington

In a bit of a surprising move, George Washington head coach Karl Hobbs resigned on Monday afternoon.

"It has been an honor to serve as head coach of the George Washington University's men's basketball team," Hobbs said in a statement. "I am proud of what we achieved here and am grateful to have had the chance to work with and guide the development and accomplishments of so many outstanding student-athletes."

Hobbs, who was Patrick Ewing's high school point guard, was 166-129 in his ten-year tenure in Foggy Bottom. He made the NIT in 2004 before going to three straight NCAA Tournaments from 2004-2006, including a 27-3 season where the Colonial went undefeated in A-10 play and were ranked in the top ten.

But from 2008-2010, GW finished no better than 10th in the 14 team A-10, going a combined 15-33 in A-10 play. Many folks were speculating that Hobbs could be on the way out, but he was able to turn things around this season. Despite losing his best player -- sophomore Lasan Kromah -- is a foot injury in October, Hobbs led GW to a 10-6 finish in the conference and a 17-14 record overall.

With six of his top seven returning, a young roster, and a healthy Kromah in the lineup next season, GW had a promising future.

But new athletic director Patrick Nero, who was introduced on Thursday, didn't see it that way. For what its worth, the higher-ups at GW are calling this a university decision, and that they were simply waiting for a new AD to be in place to lead the search for a replacement.

Kansas assistant coach Joe Dooley, a GW alum, seems to be the popular choice to replace Hobbs. Mike Lonergan, Vermont's head coach and a former Maryland assistant and D-III national title winner at Catholic University in DC, has also been mentioned for the GW (and George Mason) job.

But keep an eye on GW's current associate head coach Roland Martin. He's the uncle of Erik Copes, a top ten center (and top 60 player) in the class of 2011 that has already signed an NLI with GW.
Continue reading...

Brandon Johnson pleads not guilty to sports bribery charges

Brandon Johnson has pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in San Diego on Monday after flying in from his hometown of Houston.

Johnson, the biggest name in the San Diego sports bribery scandal and the all-time leading scorer for the Toreros, is accused of taking a bribe to influence the outcome of a February 2010 USD game. He's also charged with soliciting a member of this year's team to influence the outcome of a game as recently as March.

Johnson was arrested on April 9th in Houston. He's been given a local public defender as, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, he cannot afford his own attorney. Johnson is one of ten defendants in the case, which not only involves fixing games but also marijuana distribution.

For Torero fans, the biggest shame in all of this is that San Diego's biggest win -- their 2008 upset of No. 4 seed UConn in the first round of the tournament -- is now tainted due to Johnson's presence.
Continue reading...

Iowa signs a 26 year old ex-con from the JuCo ranks

I think it is safe to say that we know who the most interesting incoming recruit in the country next season will be.

26 year old Anthony Hubbard, who signed with Iowa on Saturday.

He dropped out of high school in the 10th grade in 2002. One of his brothers was killed that same year. And on December 13th, 2003, was charged with four felonies for breaking into a house and robbing and beating a man in that house. Hubbard turned himself in three days later, eventually getting sentenced to three years and eleven months in prison. He reportedly drove the getaway car.

But that incident, as violent as it seems, was apparently an outlying mistake made by a kid than a precursor to a life of crime.

Once he got out of prison in 2007, the Woodbridge, VA, native went back to school and earned his high school diploma. He never played high school basketball, but after a friend got him hooked up with a spot on the Odessa (TX) Junior College team for a year, Hubbard return to play a season at Frederick (MD) Community College. At Frederick, Hubbard averaged 20.7 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 4.2 apg and shot 64% from the floor while earning second team all-american honors.

"It's breathtaking for me," Hubbard said when he signed on Saturday, nine years to the day his brother died. "I hope that it motivates people to never quit with their dreams, never give up. It's never over. You can do anything that you put your mind to, and I'm a testament of that. I never dreamed that I would playing in the Big Ten or at any school in the nation for that matter a couple years back."

I'm a firm believer in second chances. Everyone makes mistakes, and while Hubbard's mistake happened to involve four felonies, it was a mistake by an 18 year old kid nonetheless. Since his release, he's made the effort to turn his life around. He got his high school degree and became a good student at both Odessa (3.4 GPA) and Frederick (3.2 GPA).

He's also made an effort to help work with younger people that are in a similar position to where Hubbard was eight years ago.

"I have nothing to hide. I've been straight up with everybody," Hubbard said. "What I've been through, it made me grow up. It made me the person I am today."

"I've spent a lot of time the past couple of years working with kids, trying to help them not make the same mistakes I made. If I can help one kid stay out of trouble, it's been time well spent."

Obviously, giving an ex-con a basketball scholarship can be a point of contention for some universities, but credit must be given to FCC head coach Dave Miller and to Hubbard for being straight forward and forthcoming about the situation. It allowed schools like Iowa to do their due diligence, getting back ground checks and talking to the people in Hubbard's life.

"I heard that he was a really good player," McCaffery told the Cedar Rapids Gazette. "I didn't really know anything about him. So of course we followed up on that. His coach (Miller) immediately told me what happened and said, 'What I have to tell you is if he wanted to date my daughter, it would be OK with me. That's how much I think of him. I've never had any problems with him. I recommend him without reservation.'"

"So then of course we made sure folks here were at least comfortable pursuing that. So we needed to do our homework, and we did. We needed to get him here and meet everybody. We were satisfied after we completed our due diligence that he's somebody we'd like to have in our program."

Hubbard is going to have a short leash at Iowa, and deservedly so. I may support the decision to give this young man a second chance, but an ex-con is an ex-con. Even if it was a childhood mistake, when you make the choice to participate in a robbery you permanently give up the benefit of the doubt. That is even more true at Iowa, where fans probably still haven't gotten over Pierre Pierce.

But Hubbard has a chance to prove to the people that believed in him that he has changed. He's already turned his life around, but he now has been afforded an opportunity to earn a college degree and, possibly, turn himself into a professional basketball player.

Here's to hoping he takes advantage of those opportunities.
Continue reading...

Tuesday Morning Dump

- Holy crap, Matt Jones writes about something other than Kentucky? Who knew? The Grand Wizard of Kentucky hoops breaks down the schools which are the most over-valued in the NBA Draft

- Matt Miller provides a list of the winners and losers from the early entry decisions

Luke Winn lists the teams he thinks have the most at stake with the early entry decision, and Kentucky is tops on his list

- Mike DeCourcy lists his four biggest losers from the early entry period

- Seth Davis' "Hoops Thoughts" details the benefits of Perry Jones, Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes deciding to stay in school

- Jay Bilas details the teams that lost the most from the early entry decisions (Insiders Only)

- Not sure if I already linked this, but, oh what the hell: Jeff Goodman hands out grades for the off-season coaching hires

- In the latest edition of Andy Katz's "The Daily Word" He explains why Jim Larranaga has an unique opportunity in front of him

- As you would expect, Jimmer Fredette is getting the star treatment heading into the June draft

- Unfortunately, unless you are a celebrity or member of the millitary, you won't be able to get tickets to the UNC/MSU aircraft carrier game

- Jason King lists the potential impact transfers for next season

- The NFL lockout has ended for now. But the NBA has one on the horizon. provides a good look at how the impending work stoppage will affect the 2011 and 2012 drafts

- Here is an interesting debate to be had: Should Josh Selby bypassed the NCAA and gone straight to the D-League? Some extended thoughts on the matter from the Kansas faithful. Is there a solution the the one-and-done?

- In case you were not aware, there are seven one-and-dones in this year's draft

- Over the past two weeks, we've seen alot of under-developed players "test the draft waters". It's surprising that Renardo Sidney is one of the players not to do so

- With Talor Battle graduating, Penn State is likely to head towards a decline. That was, until Dayton's Juwan Staten decided to transfer to State College. (Hmm, anyone else notice how eerily similar this post is to, say, this one, published mere hours before hand?)

- JUCO-transfer Anthony Hubbard has committed to Iowa. Hubbard is now 26 years old. When he was 18, he was sentenced to four years in jail for his conviction related to an armed robbery.

- For those of you who are still unaware, Temple's Ramone Moore isn't headed to the NBA

- North Carolina State-commit C.J. Leslie has announced that he is firmly commited to playing for the wolfpack

- Karl Hobbs has been let go as head coach at George Washington. Hobbs has been at GW for ten season, and led the Colonials to ten A-10 conference victories last year. A couple reports indicated that Hobbs is resigning, and has not been fired. This all comes on the heels of GW hiring Pat Nero as the new Athletic Director

- Colgate has named Matt Langel new head coach of the Red Raiders basketball team. Langel spent the past five seasons as an assistant under Fran Dunphy at Temple

- Jim Larranaga's decision to levae George Mason was swift, but situations like that happen all the time. Speaking of George Mason, there has been no communication between the school and Bill Courtney, the man believed by many to replace Jim Larranaga. It will be interesting to see how many GMU assistant coaches follow Larranaga to Miami. Does anybody actually know who will be the next head coach of the Patriots?

- Former-Arkansas assistant Tom Ostrom has been hired by Archie Miller to serve as an assistant coach at Dayton

- Kansas State's Frank Martin may or may not have lobbied for the the Miami opening. But despite not getting contacted, Martin remains happy in "The Little Apple"

- Ryan Greene updates us on the status of eight stay-or-go decisions. He also provides a list of eight stay-or-go decisions that were based solely on the money

- Charles Barkley doesn't think Brandon Knight or Terrence Jones is ready for the NBA yet

- Marquette senior Jimmy Butler isn't going to wow you with phenominal athleticisim or talent. Draft Express wonders why a NBA team would spend a draft pick on him? (Why? because the kid can flat-out play)

- God's Gift Achiwu,one of the most highly-touted JUCO transfers availible, will make his decision sometime this week

Continue reading...

Who made the right early entry decision?: Renardo Sidney will be back for another season

Renardo Sidney is the stereotypical one-and-done prospect.

His family moved from Mississippi to LA when he was 15 years old so they could capitalize off of the hype Sidney produced with impressive performance after impressive performance. He was a product of the summer, making his name on the AAU circuit and ABCD camp and infamously telling the Washington Post high school ball is "not that important". His father was employed by Reebok while coaching Sidney's Reebok sponsored AAU team. He was turned down by both UCLA and USC before enrolling at Mississippi State. After sitting out for a year due to illegal benefits that he received while in high school, Sidney tweeted "NYC #2011 Believe Dat" last summer despite still having to sit out nine more games.

It only made sense that Sidney would bolt for the NBA at the first opportunity.

Which why its a mild surprise that Sunday's early entry deadline came and went and Sidney's name was not entered, living up to the promise he made on facebook back in March.

Sidney needs another year in school. Right now, the only thing worse than his reputation as a basketball player is his reputation as a person and a teammate. Sidney was twice suspended for fighting with a teammate (one of those times came in the stands during an ESPN telecast) and was largely ineffective for much of the season due to the fact that he was completely out of shape and lacked the desire to a) change that fact and b) give consistent effort when he did have energy.

While most of the focus on a basketball player's time in college is on his development as a player, its also true that these players develop and mature as people. That is why Sidney needs another year in school. He needs to learn how to be a man. How to be a professional.

Derrick Caracter agrees.

The first step in that process? Making the choice to come back for another year at Mississippi State.

Who else made the right early entry decision? (Looking past the Kemba Walkers and Derrick Williams' of the world)

  • Brandon Knight, Kentucky: Entered, no agent

    Knight is likely going to be a top ten pick in this draft after averaging over 17 points and four assists per game and proving that he had the ability to perform in the clutch in the tournament. But if Knight had returned to school, he likely would have been forced to, at the least, split the point guard duties; most believe that Marquis Teague would have started over him.

  • Jeremy Lamb, UConn: Returned to school

    Lamb was a breakout performer in March. The 6'5" guard with the wingspan of a pterodactyl developed the aggression and the confidence to be a serious scoring threat for the Huskies in the Big East and NCAA Tournaments. But the lack of consistency during the season and a frail frame put doubt into some NBA GM's minds. With Kemba Walker going pro, Lamb will have a chance to prove his mettle as the Huskie's offensive focal point.

  • Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State: Entered draft, no agent

    Leonard might be the best physical specimen in this draft class. He's 6'7" with big hands, long arms, and terrific athleticism and explosiveness. He's relentless on the offensive glass and is a very good defender, both on the perimeter and in the paint. But Leonard's offensive repertoire has a ways to go. He can develop that in the NBA with a guaranteed contract as a lottery pick locked up. Coming back, especially considering the drop off in talent for the Aztecs next season, Leonard risked exposing his faults.

  • Thomas Robinson, Kansas: Returning to school

    Robinson is a terrific prospect based on his size (6'9"), strength, and athleticism. The only thing missing in that equation is consistent production. He was impressive in the short time that he was on the floor, but on the season Robinson only managed to average 7.6 ppg and 6.4 rpg. Coming back for another season with both of The Morrii off in the NBA, Robinson will have a chance to prove what he can do as the go-to option in the post.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Jimmer Fredette is making a movie

I'm of the opinion that college athletes should be paid. The details of how that can be accomplished in a fair and equal manner is another post for another day, but yes, I believe that the stars of college basketball and college football should receive some kind of monetary compensation beyond a scholarship.

That said, the most convincing argument that I have heard against paying players is the amount of attention and free publicity that these kids get during their collegiate days. Its probably fair to say that few prospects would be signing seven figure endorsement deals without the exposure they get from playing in college.*

*(I'd respond with "why not allow them to sign those deals in college and get paid their market value?", but again -- different post, different day.)

Jimmer Fredette has been doing just that. The former BYU standout became a national sensation this season, and now that his collegiate career is finished, he's starting to cash in on that fame. It started with selling posters, but The Jimmer is taking it a step further: he's signed a deal with a production company to chronicle his transition from a student-athlete to NBA player.

From SportsBusinessDaily:

Fredette committed to allow Tupelo-Honey to shoot more than 100 hours of footage over 30 days. The New York-based production company plans to sell online and mobile vignettes and packaged 30-minute TV shows.

No programming has been sold yet, but Tupelo-Honey President Cary Glotzer said he’s already been having discussions and plans to sell footage to several outlets.

Glotzer plans to produce daily two- to four-minute webisodes, a daily video blog and weekly recap features. After the 30 days, Tupelo-Honey will produce a long-form documentary for a TV channel or theatrical release.

He also plans to sell sponsorship around the video content, and said some brands already are showing interest.
Obviously, there would be no interest (ahem, money) in making a documentary about Fredette if he didn't play college hoops this past season.

But couldn't he have made more money if he had been able to market himself during the season, when his face was on Sportscenter every morning? He was a topic of discussion around every water cooler and sports bar in the country during the winter. Now its the spring, and The Jimmer is back to being Jimmer Fredette, the cult hero of the college basketball blogosphere.
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