In the effort of full disclosure, I’ve known Tharpe for about six years. He grew up about 30 miles away in Worcester, Mass., and spent three years at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. I was with Tharpe the first time he ever tried Chinese food in Las Vegas and have seen him play countless occasions.
That’s why I was so concerned when he committed to KU.
Tharpe had put up impressive credentials. He started for three seasons at one of the nation’s top programs. He was the player of the year in the NEPSAC and helped the program win both a league and a national title. He’d run the show for the New England Playaz, a team that featured older and more heralded guys such as Erik Murphy and Nate Lubick.
…Kansas coach Bill Self told me in July that Tharpe was battling with freshman Frank Mason, a former Towson signee, for the starting point guard spot. Tharpe had the slight edge at the time, but only because he had two years of experience on Mason. Three months later, there is no longer any competition. Tharpe not only has a firm grasp on the starting job -- he also clearly has become the leader of this young team.
…There’s no one more important on this team than Tharpe. Self knows it, and Tharpe is certainly aware of the expectations.
“He’s certainly our most valuable player, especially this early in the season,” Self said. “He knows what we’re doing and has more of a grasp than anyone else on the team.”
Tharpe looks as though he belongs now, carrying himself with swagger while zipping passes downcourt to Wiggins and in the paint to Black and Embiid -- and also knocking down 3s with regularity. The grin is gone -- at least on the court, where now Tharpe is all business.
“There’s nothing to smile about,” Tharpe said. “I’m angry. I want to play. I want to win.”
10/16/13, 4:53 PM
#Nodaysoff is getting better in every aspect of the game learning your spots and your teammates. #AutoMaticForThePeople #FILM
Saturday's Open Practice Info
CBS Top 100 Players (#1 Wiggins, Embiid 28, Selden 31)
"Everybody is excited about (Wiggins') talent," a source associated with Under Armour said. "From everything you see or hear, he's the next kid coming into the NBA that's going to demand, on talent alone, a significant amount from a brand. That type of commitment and interest for a rookie has really died down since LeBron and maybe Kevin Durant being the last one."
Overall, next year will present a special class of sneaker free agents, as the Nike contracts of NBA stars Durant, Kyrie Irving and Paul George are expiring, according to Nick DePaula, the editor-in-chief of Sole Collector magazine. And then there's Wiggins, who could steal the thunder from everyone.
Three sources told Bleacher Report that Adidas has pegged Wiggins as their prime target—and they would be willing to open up the bank for him. Of course, no meetings or official offers can be made until Wiggins declares for the 2014 draft after his season at Kansas.
"(Adidas) is easily the front-runner, 100 percent," said Rich Lopez, the publisher of the popular sneaker website KixandtheCity.com.
"From what I'm hearing, (Adidas) is really high on him," an industry source said. "I've heard a range for sure, from like $140 to $180 million for like 10 years. That's a big deal for a kid coming out of school because most rookie deals are probably like four years."
"I'm hearing from people at Kansas that he's got a $180 million offer supposedly coming from Adidas," a source close to Wiggins' inner circle said. "But I also heard that Nike is going to match anything."
There's no question Nike, the world's leader in footwear and apparel, will place a bid for Wiggins, who's unanimously projected to be the top draft pick next June. Wiggins wore Nikes growing up, according to two sources, and his former Ontario-based AAU team, CIA Bounce, was sponsored by the company.
In addition, Nike could eventually have an "in" with Wiggins through Rich Paul, who has been James' agent since last September. Paul is also connected to Mike George—the former director of CIA Bounce, which featured Wiggins' friends and fellow Canadians Anthony Bennett, Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson, all of whom are now in the NBA—and one NBA agent said he'd "be surprised" if Wiggins didn't end up with Paul. In fact, the source close to Wiggins' inner circle said Paul and Wiggins met last summer in Ohio, where James was working out with Durant.
… "Nike's motivation to bring in Wiggins could be to replace Kobe because he's on his way out," Lopez said. "So I assume if they were to give Wiggins a big deal and his signature sneaker, that's their motivation."
At this point, Adidas has the upper hand because they sponsor Kansas, so the company's reps can be in direct contact with him and outfit him with customized game sneakers during the season. Derrick Rose played college ball at Memphis, which was in partnership with Adidas, and the company "was able to massage him early," Lopez said, before signing him as a rookie in 2008.
Nike and Jordan Brand, on the other hand, have to tread carefully behind the scenes so they don't get in trouble for tampering. The source close to Wiggins' inner circle said a Nike rep was recently on the Kansas campus to take in a scrimmage.
"It's interesting because (Wiggins) has been a Nike guy his whole life, and then he goes to Kansas and they're an Adidas school," the NBA agent said. "That sends a message to Nike that it's not a done deal yet, so now both of these companies are going to have to cut a check. Going to an Adidas school is kind of like a statement to Nike saying, 'Hey, if you want to get me, you don't already have me. You've got to cut the check and make some things happen.' "
…Beyond the money and Wiggins' talent, the sneaker companies are also going to explore the value of his personality. Arkell Bruce, one of Wiggins' close mentors and his former assistant coach at Huntington Prep in West Virginia, said Wiggins is a "family guy" and prefers to keep a low profile.
"Andrew is really private. He doesn't like a lot of his business out there," Bruce said. "He has a tight-knit circle, like real tight. He doesn't really mess with a lot of people; he doesn't trust a lot of people."
Could Wiggins' privacy affect how much he earns? Well, in the case of Rose, who has similar character traits to Wiggins and disconnects himself from the celebrity status of the league, it didn't seem to matter. But business reps will still need to work with Wiggins regardless to help him develop a persona the public will admire.
"I think Andrew is going to be talented athlete, but at the end of day, he's going to have to open up his personality," the source close to Wiggins' inner circle said. "So in order for him to be that quality pitch guy, he's going to have to go through media training. All that shyness and bashfulness that he has in him right now, he's going to have to get that out of him."
Bruce believes Wiggins' experience at Kansas will help him prepare for all of the attention, which he expects to "hit the fan" when the season starts.
"The coaches are great and I'm pretty sure they're going to do a great job of handling it," Bruce said.
10/15/13, 1:45 PM
Randle. RT @nick_giard: @GoodmanESPN who do you think will have a better year - Wiggins or Randle?
Andrew Wiggins and Derrick Rose are both extremely shy, but Wiggins takes it to a different level.
Former KU guard Jo Jo White, 66, is back at work as a community ambassador for the Boston Celtics three years after undergoing eight-hour surgery to remove a brain tumor.
“I thank God every day for being here, but I haven’t turned the corner,” White told Yahoo Sports. “I’m still dealing with the circumstances of what I had to go through: Not being able to walk. Not being able to run. Remembering things. Eating.”
After surgery, White had to re-learn how to walk, had trouble eating, experienced double vision and still has some short-term memory loss, Yahoo Sports reports.
“I went through a tough time,” White said. “I appreciate all my supporters. All my fans. My precious wife and my kids were right there for me.”
Link to recovery article
Former KU guard Elijah Johnson, who recently left Anwil Wloclawek, a pro team in Poland, has now signed with Polish League team Rosa Radom, Eurobasket.net reports.
Tyshawn Taylor admits it. The first time he went down to the D-League last season he didn’t take it seriously.
He got a taste of the NBA, and the 23-year-old point guard is certainly confident in his abilities at the highest level. So during a rookie season in which he rarely played with the Nets, Taylor just started hoisting shots for the Springfield Armor.
He scored 32 points on 28 shots the first time he was called down. Springfield lost.
“When you see the difference (in the D-League) – the travel, you see the difference of the hotel, even the plane. It’s kind of like, ‘I don’t really want to be here, it’s not the best thing,’” Taylor said. “But it’s good experience when you’re not getting the kind of time you feel you should or you deserve or whatever the case may be, or you’re just in the wrong position. It’s always a good thing.
“So after my first time I went down there I took it more seriously. I think the first time I went down there it was kind of like, “Ok, I’m going to shoot all the balls, everybody get out my way.
“But after the first time I went down there I had a better attitude about it and just really tried to work on what my coaches wanted to see from me if I was in the NBA setting, not just in the D-League trying to score points. I think I got better because of it because I took more advantage of trying to pace myself and trying to be a better player.”
Taylor now has a better understanding of what the Nets need from him, and he’s working on that – taking care of the ball and energy on defense. Unfortunately, he sprained his ankle in the second preseason game, and it’s an opportunity missed because starter Deron Williams is also out with the same injury.
Taylor had been the backup to Shaun Livingston.
“My biggest thing is obviously taking care of the ball,” said Taylor, who committed seven turnovers in the preseason opener while scoring a team-high 16 points. “But another thing people want to see from me is just playing hard, my energy. They want me to keep my energy up, being a defender. Those are the things that I’ve been constantly thinking about, trying to work on so, as far as those two things, I think I’ve been doing really good.
NY Daily News
A state appeals court said a Missouri man who roots for the University of Kansas Jayhawks may keep his personalized license plate expressing disdain for the University of Missouri Tigers.
The Administrative Hearing Commission last year rejected an effort by Missouri’s Revenue Department to recall Toby Gettler’s plate, which reads “MZU SUX.” The Revenue Department had issued the plate but tried to recall it on the ground that “SUX” is obscene.
Gettler presented evidence, including a dictionary definition, that the word has gained common usage as slang for “subpar or inadequate.”
The Missouri Court of Appeals’ Western District on Tuesday upheld the hearing commission’s decision in Gettler’s favor. The appellate court said there is evidence to support the commission’s determination.
Big 12/College News
If you want tickets for Iowa State's men's basketball home games against Michigan, Iowa or Kansas, you'll have to find them on the secondary market. The Cyclones announced Wednesday that those games were sellouts.
Heading into the 2013-14 season, with tip-off a mere three weeks away, fans will get a taste of the best teams in the country today at noon ET when the preseason top 25 teams are unveiled in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll.
How will this preseason's top 25 shake out? Once again, the spotlight shines brightly over the state of Kentucky. Ushering in perhaps the greatest recruiting class of all-time — boasting six McDonald's All-Americans — Calipari's reloaded Kentucky team is positioned to get back to title form. The heavily-favored Wildcats should again earn a high preseason ranking thanks to an influx of talent, including returning sophomores and de facto veterans Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein, to go "40-0" as Calipari isn't shy in suggesting.
The Wildcats — and 10 other SEC teams — were shut out of the NCAA tournament last season. Now, the coaches are predicting a resurgence, and John Calipari's newest crop of highly touted recruits appear to be at the forefront.
It can't get much worse for either the league or Kentucky, thanks to that program's unforgiving standards.
Florida was the only one of the three SEC participants to survive the NCAA tournament's first weekend. That poor performance came four years after SEC teams went 1-3 in the tournament but was still unusual.
Thus came the league's offseason focus on enhancing NCAA resumes, including tougher nonconference schedules.
Duke's Mike Krzyzewski is again coaching the team picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Hall of Famer knows it's going to be a lot tougher to live up to the preseason prediction with the addition of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame to the ACC.
…The Blue Devils earned 50 of 54 first-place votes from media members at the league's "ACC Operation Basketball" media day. Syracuse was picked second and earned three first-place votes, while North Carolina was picked third and earned the last one.
All three new arrivals were picked to finish the top half of the 15-team league, with the Fighting Irish picked fifth and the Panthers picked sixth.
It marked the 10th time in 17 years that the Blue Devils were picked to finish first in the league, though the first since before the 2010-11 season following Krzyzewski's fourth national championship. This year's team returns starters Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon from a 30-win team that reached an NCAA regional final before falling to eventual champion Louisville, which joins the ACC next season.
That duo will join with highly touted freshman Jabari Parker, picked as the league's rookie of the year, and Mississippi State sophomore transfer Rodney Hood to form Duke's core.
Both Parker and Hood were picked to the preseason all-ACC team, joining Fair, Virginia senior guard Joe Harris and Notre Dame senior guard Jerian Grant on the five-man squad.
“This may be the strongest collection of basketball programs ever assembled in one conference,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said Wednesday at ACC men’s basketball media day. “Competition within the league will be brutal.”
“It’s a little scary,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.
The ACC’s basketball reputation took a back seat to the Big East and the Big Ten in recent years.
The ACC reaped only four NCAA tournament bids last season.
But Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt all received NCAA bids in their Big East swan song last season, with the Orange advancing to the Final Four.
With that trio joining a league that includes Duke and UNC, the 15-team ACC is now arguably the best league in the land.
"Whenever a youngster comes in with outstanding talent like he has, but a learning curve like all of them do, they would always benefit from going to a veteran team," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "That's not going to be the case for Jabari.
"He has a lot to learn, and he wants to learn. But who he is initially will not be as good as he will be later in the year. I just want him to not feel the pressure of trying to be a completed product right away. Because that's not going to happen."
Still, guard Tyler Thornton described Parker — voted Wednesday to the preseason All-ACC team and named preseason rookie of the year — as "really special." Hood labeled him a "phenomenal talent." The former Simeon star and No. 4 recruit in the Class of 2013 apparently has been effective at the point, from the wing and in the post in workouts.
Parker can do it all, but the next step is learning when not to.
"We're just trying to teach him to take what the defense gives you," Thornton said. "At this level, you don't really have to make something happen. We're going to have a lot of possessions. Coach wants us to score a lot. But (Parker is) really good and has done a great job of adapting."
A video was sent out to all Division I coaches last week with all the rules changes. Art Hyland, the secretary rules editor of the NCAA men's basketball rules committee, highlighted the proper enforcement of hand-checking rules, which has been moved from a guideline into the official rule book.
"It requires fouls to be called when such action occurs against the player with the ball," Hyland said.
These rules include:
• Keeping hand or forearm on an opponent.
• Putting two hands on an opponent.
• Continually jabbing an opponent by extending an arm or placing a hand or forearm on the opponent.
• Using an arm bar to impede the progress of a dribbler.
NCAA director of officials John Adams told ESPN.com that it will take time for coaches, players and officials to adjust. The changes could well result in an increase of fouls early in the season and also could force star players to the bench with foul trouble.
"The best way to increase scoring and make the game better is to create situations to get more shots," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "More free throws doesn't make the game better."
…Another rule that should clearly benefit the offense and is likely to increase scoring is the block-charge call, which now states that a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has begun his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or a pass. Previously, the player had to be in legal guarding position when the offensive player lifted off the floor.
"There will be no more flopping," Calipari said.
Adams said that the referees get more than 90 percent of all calls correct, but that number was at about 65 percent last season with regard to block-charge calls.
"It's a tough play and it happens incredibly quickly," Adams said. "A big reason for the change was aimed to help the officials get the call right."
Not only will it give the referees a little more time, but it should also favor the offensive player.
However, the most discussed topic remains hand-checking calls on the perimeter.
Pitino has said his players will continue to press on defense and that he feels quick players such as Russ Smith will be "unguardable" with the new rules.
"Does it guarantee that we're better off just because we're putting more points on the board?" said Self, who is concerned about an increase in free throws. "I'm worried there will be less flow."
Said Adams: "The idea is to make the game better, not call more fouls."
USA Today Countdown: #18 Wichita State
He has played in more than 100 games. He has been a full-time starter since he was a sophomore. His basketball coach says Kansas State’s hopes for a successful season start with him.
And he might also be the most overlooked player on the Wildcats’ roster.
Welcome to the life of Will Spradling. Even though he has helped K-State reach the NCAA Tournament in three straight seasons and share a Big 12 championship last season, Spradling, a 6-foot-2 guard from Shawnee Mission South, is still able to walk around campus in virtual anonymity weeks before the start of his senior season.
“If we walk into places the guys that don’t play as much as Will get noticed before he does,” senior guard Shane Southwell said. “It is, honestly, hilarious. It has been like that for four years.”
Forward Wanaah Bail has been granted full eligibility by the NCAA to play the upcoming basketball season for UCLA after the freshman's waiver was approved.
Big XII composite schedule
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 Early-season events schedule
Five-star shooting guard Rashad Vaughn has postponed his visit to Baylor that was scheduled for this weekend. Working on a new date.
Okafor and Jones could not take their KU visit during the weekend of Late Night in the Phog, when more than 20,000 Kansas fans lined up outside Allen Fieldhouse to watch a night of dancing and scrimmaging on Oct. 4. So Self and Kansas are playing host to another open scrimmage that figures to draw in thousands.
“We didn’t show much at all during Late Night (in the Phog) other than 20 minutes of bad ball,” Self said earlier this month. “This way KU fans can come see us before heading to the football game.”
Kansas landed the first commitment of its 2014 class on Oct. 8, when shooting guard Kelly Oubre, Rivals’ No. 12 overall recruit, picked the Jayhawks after visiting on Late Night.
For now, Okafor has reportedly focused his attention on a group of schools that includes Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky. Okafor and Jones have already taken a co-visit to Baylor in late September, and Baylor coach Scott Drew pulled out all the stops. The coach, according to Jones’ official blog, arranged a feeding with some live Bears that apparently live on campus. Self will probably keep the Fieldhouse free of live animals during KU’s open scrimmage. But a few thousand Kansas fans showing up for a practice seems like a solid substitute. (Okafor and Jones also plan on visiting Duke, according to Rivals.)
Prime Prep's Midnight Madness is gonna have more stars that the BET Hip Hop Awards! #DoingItMajor
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