Kansas men's basketball will continue its tradition of NBA Draft success when guard Andrew Wiggins, center Joel Embiid and forward Tarik Black look to join elite company on Thursday, June 26. The trio will await their names being called in the 2014 NBA Draft live on ESPN at 6 p.m. CT, from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Wiggins and Embiid are unlikely to have a long lull as both have been projected top picks, while Black, who is also being looked at by NFL teams, is a late second-round choice. Should Black not be selected in the two-round NBA Draft, he would plan on competing in upcoming the NBA summer league. Wiggins will be attending the NBA Draft in New York, while Embiid will not be at the Barclays Center.
Last season, Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey were the 15th and 16th, respectively, players drafted during the Bill Self era at Kansas. McLemore's seventh overall pick was the highest Jayhawk taken since Thomas Robinson was selected fifth overall the year before in 2012. Last year, Withey was the 39th overall pick in the second round.
With Wiggins and Embiid as first-round selections, it will be the seventh time Kansas has had multiple NBA first round picks in the same year: 1997 (Scot Pollard and Jacque Vaughn), 1998 (Raef LaFrentz and Paul Pierce), 2003 (Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich), 2008 (Brandon Rush and Darrell Arthur), 2010 (Xavier Henry and Cole Aldrich) and 2011 (Markieff and Marcus Morris).
Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996-97, KU has had 25 players drafted to the NBA in the 17-year history of the league, which is the most of any league member. Texas is next with 16. KU has sent 29 players to the NBA during the past 21 years, which is third most among all NCAA Division I schools in that span and only trails Kentucky (32) and Duke (31).
What they're saying about Andrew Wiggins…
"Wiggins possesses arguably the greatest upside of any player in this draft. Elite quickness, a 44-inch vertical and 7-foot wingspan make the Canadian the most physically gifted player in the class. He averaged 17 points as a freshman without an extremely diverse offensive skill set, dominating in the open floor and also being effective on the offensive glass. A great first step lets him get past defenders, and there's talk of Tracy McGrady-like upside if Wiggins continues to develop. With his tools, he's ready to step in on the defensive end from Day 1 and make an impact, even if his shooting and ball skills are still catching up. Wiggins, who is set to be a top three pick, could become an elite two-way player with the right development."
Anthony Bennett, the first Canadian to go be the No.1 overall pick:
"It's history, man. Hopefully we can repeat it next year with Andrew Wiggins coming in."
ESPN's Chad Ford:
"He's in the best shape of the three prospects right now and showed off terrific athleticism, and improved shooting and ball-handling mechanics in the 45-minute workout with Drew Hanlen."
NBCSports.com's Dan Feldman:
"Wiggins definitely holds a perceived edge. He possesses elite athletic traits – from his lengthy wingspan to his ridiculous vertical. He must become more aggressive and a better ball-handler to capitalize offensively, but his defense – while it comes and goes – looks excellent at times."
What they're saying about Joel Embiid…
"Finch" from SI.com (via Seth Davis):
"He's more athletic than Greg Oden was. His upside is ridiculous. He's been playing for four years, and he has moves that 12-year vets don't have."
ESPN's Jay Bilas:
"Jabari Parker is the best player in the freshman class, Joel Embiid is the best prospect."
ESPN's Chad Ford:
"A week ago, Joel Embiid looked like a lock to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. News of a stress fracture in his right foot sent the Cavs spinning. Now the Cavs are wrestling between three options: draft Jabari Parker, draft Andrew Wiggins or trade the pick."
"While the draft is loaded with tall, fast, athletic swingmen like Wiggins and Parker, Embiid is one of a kind."
What they're saying about Tarik Black…
Tyler Jamieson, Yahoo! Sports, The SportsXchange
"Black was mostly a role player in his time at Memphis and Kansas and at 6-8 is a bit undersized, but his strength and athleticism stand out, which will get him NBA looks."
Memphis coach David Joerger following a Black workout with the Grizzlies (source: Memphis Commercial-Appeal:
"He can take a hit. He can finish around the rim. It's not like a 'put-the-ball-up-at-12-feet' kind of finish. It's a little similar to Zach (Randolph, Grizzlies) where he keeps a guy on his body and just gets it off the glass before somebody can come over and block it."
Kansas' All-time Drafts
Year – Name (Overall Pick)
1948 – Otto Schnellbacher
1952 – Clyde Lovellette (10)
1953 – Dean Kelley, Gil Reich
1954 – B.H. Born (22), Alan Kelley (56)
1957 – Maurice King (48)
1958 – Wilt Chamberlain
1959 – Ron Loneski (134)
1961 – Wayne Hightower (5), Bill Bridges (32)
1963 – Nolen Ellison (29)
1966 – Walt Wesley (6), Al Lopes (106)
1967 – Ron Franz (33)
1968 – Roger Bohnesnstiel (120)
1969 – Jo Jo White (9), Dave Nash (48), Bruce Sloan (153)
1971 – Roger Brown (64), Dave Robisch (44), Pierre Russell (207)
1972 – Bud Stallworth (7)
1975 – Rick Suttle (110), Roger Morningstar (144)
1976 – Norm Cook (16)
1977 – Herb Nobles (124)
1978 – John Douglas (118), Ken Koenigs (99)
1979 – Paul Mokeski (42)
1981 – Darnell Valentine (16), Art Housey (47), John Crawford (160)
1982 – David Magley (28), Tony Guy (46)
1984 – Carl Henry (80), Brian Martin (185)
1986 – Greg Drieling (26), Ron Kellogg (42), Calvin Thompson (71)
1988 – Danny Manning (1), Archie Marshall (75)
1990 – Kevin Pritchard (34)
1991 – Mark Randall (26)
1993 – Rex Walters (16), Adonis Jordan (42)
1994 – Darrin Hancock (38)
1995 – Greg Ostertag (28)
1997 – Scot Pollard (19), Jacque Vaughn (27)
1998 – Raef LaFrentz (3), Paul Pierce (10)
1999 – Ryan Robertson (45)
2001 – Eric Chenowith (42)
2002 – Drew Gooden (4)
2003 – Kirk Hinrich (7), Nick Collison (12)
2005 – Wayne Simien (29)
2007 – Julian Wright (13)
2008 – Brandon Rush (13), Darrell Arthur (27), Mario Chalmers (34), Darnell Jackson (52), Sasha Kaun (56)
2010 – Cole Aldrich (11), Xavier Henry (12)
2011 – Markieff Morris (13), Marcus Morris (14), Josh Selby (49)
2012 – Thomas Robinson (5), Tyshawn Taylor (41)
2013 – Ben McLemore (7), Jeff Withey (39)
Wiggins on Embiid: "JoJo is my best friend. He's doing great. We joke about the number one pick a lot. He wishes he could be here."
Wiggins on Self: "we just talked yesterday. He had a tremendous impact on me. I'll never forget what he taught me."
Wanna say good luck to them KU guys tonight @22wiggins @JoelEmbiid @TarikBlack25 #DreamsReallyComesTrue
Good luck to my young boys
Can't wait to see my brothas names called 1 & 2...I still believe but regardless I'm praying for you guys @JoelEmbiid @22wiggins
One thing that hasn’t changed all that much has been Wiggins status among his peers. There was never much doubt he was headed to the NBA. The question was how soon and how high he would be drafted.
Nik Stauskas of Michigan by way of Mississauga and Tyler Ennis of Syracuse by way of Brampton – expected to be drafted in the 9-to-12 and the 12-to-23 range respectively – were to quick to recognize that Wiggins was different.
“I remember playing AAU with Andrew when he was 13 years old and the first time I ever saw him he did a 360 [degree] behind-the-back dunk and I was like, ‘I think this kid is going to the NBA,’” said Stauskas.
Ennis saw it even earlier: “First time I watched him I was maybe 10 or 11 and he’s a year younger and we played and then watched him and he was way more athletic and taller than everyone else and then he came over and played with us when were 15-and-under and his talent – you can watch him for a few minutes and see how good he is and how natural he is.”
Wiggins rocketed to the top of his draft class on the strength of a legendary AAU showdown between his CIA Bounce team – with Ennis running the point – and Julius Randle’s Texas Titans. Randle, a star at the University of Kentucky, is also expected to be a lottery pick tomorrow night.
Wiggins scored an easy 28 points and frustrated Randle — who fouled out with a miserly 15 points.
“It was awesome,” said Ennis.
…“He’s just a great teammate,” says Ennis. “A lot of people who got that kind of hype could have let it go to their head and changed the way they acted and changed the way they approached the game, but he’s the exact same as he was when I met him.”
Wiggins has been on the radar for nearly seven years, even if he is just 19 years old. A YouTube video of him tearing up competition as a 13-year-old is approaching five-million views.
That was the beginning and Thursday night marks the end of a chapter that’s been years in the making.
He’s excited. As he talked about where he’s been and where’s he’s going, his knees were jiggling. He was hunched forward, as if he was anticipating his future rushing toward him. It’s been for a long time, and now it’s here.
“You always want to be the best,” he said. “In high school there were people above you, so you wanted to be No.1. Going into college you want to win national championships and be the best. In the NBA you’re playing the world’s best, not in your area or region.”
“So that’s motivation to conquer being one of those elite players at the highest levels of basketball.”
Andrew Wiggins, Canada’s first ever basketball prodigy, gets his chance to deliver on all that promise starting Thursday night.
Wiggins said that he and Embiid both owe a lot of their success to their time under coach Bill Self.
Self’s traditional high-low offense suits a player like Embiid more than it does a guy like Wiggins who needs room to operate and use his athleticism. However, Wiggins doesn’t think Kansas’ system was a detriment to him at all.
“Kansas is one of the best basketball programs in the country,” Wiggins said. “My time at Kansas was great, I bought into the system right away and it made me a much better player.”
Wiggins had nothing but great things to say about Bill Self: “Coach Self is a legendary basketball coach. We just talked yesterday actually. He’s had a tremendous impact on my career and where I am today.”
LJW: Wiggins keeps calm
Late Wednesday evening, in the dying light of lower Manhattan, Steve Nash stepped onto a soccer field at Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Nash, a former NBA All-Star and a Canadian basketball icon, began to lace up his soccer cleats for an annual charity soccer match as a few dozen fans milled around the pitch.
Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki stood 20 feet away, juggling a soccer ball, while French star Thierry Henry prepared to coach. But for a moment, Nash’s thoughts drifted away from soccer and back to basketball and his home country. Earlier in the day, he’d exchanged texts with former Kansas star Andrew Wiggins and former Michigan standout Nik Stauskus, fellow Canadians who had arrived in New York for Thursday’s NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“I feel like a proud uncle or something,” said Nash, who grew up in the Vancouver area. “I’m fired up for tomorrow.”
…In Canadian basketball circles, perceptions have turned into familiar stereotypes. Wiggins, the 6-foot-8 swingman, is too nice. Stauskas is just a jump shooter. The competition just doesn’t measure up to the States. And so on.
“Maybe Canadians are just nice,” Stauskas said. “Maybe we’re just a little too nice. We all grew up and we were humble and hungry, and I think being from Canada, we’ve always had a chip on our shoulder.”
Now comes draft night, million-dollar contracts, and the next step in a basketball life. Wiggins dreams of a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. For years, Wiggins was pre-ordained to be the Canadian LeBron James. He was nicknamed “Maple Jordan,” the hype swelled, and everyone expected him to spend one year at Kansas and go No. 1 in the draft.
Some of that hype faded. But Wiggins might still go first overall — unless the Cavaliers opt for Duke star Jabari Parker, a native of basketball hotbed Chicago.
You don’t get much more American basketball than Chicago, of course, and it’s led to a natural rivalry. There is Wiggins, the prodigy from the great white north, and Parker, the son of Chicago. Only one can go No. 1.
“It’s never a rivalry,” Wiggins counters. “The media portrays it to be something like that, but we’re all friends.”
VIDEO: Draft Express - Wiggins NBA Draft Media Day Interview
Here are five spots to watch for potential deals on Thursday night:
▪ No. 1: The Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly trying to decide between Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker for the first overall pick. They also are taking calls on trade offers and are looking to make a splash in an effort to entice LeBron James to come back home. The Cavs were interested in dealing for Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love, but Love has given them the cold shoulder so far.
▪ No. 3: The Philadelphia 76ers have two picks in the top 10 and GM Sam Hinkie already has a reputation as a wheeler and dealer in just over a year on the job. If the Sixers decide to pass on Joel Embiid, the Kansas big man who just had foot surgery, they could be looking to move up for Wiggins, or down to accumulate assets and continue their rebuild.
▪ No. 5: The Utah Jazz have a frontcourt stocked with good, young talent. And by the time they land on the clock, the best players available figure to be power forwards like Indiana's Noah Vonleh and Kentucky's Julius Randle. That has prompted speculation that the Jazz will try to move up for a chance at grabbing Parker.
▪ No. 6: The Boston Celtics have two picks in the first round and also covet Love. But the Wolves have rebuffed their advances so far. Would packaging Nos. 6 and 17 be enough to get the No. 1 pick from Cleveland, which they could in turn try to flip to Minnesota for Love?
▪ No. 11: The Denver Nuggets are coming off a disappointing season in GM Tim Connelly's first year on the job. They want back into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, and the 11th pick in a deep draft is one of their more attractive assets to help Connelly make something happen.
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Get ready to root for Kansas at the World University games next summer: The Jayhawks will be Team USA
The opportunity to represent the USA in the world university games is historic. We are honored and proud. Rock Chalk
Kansas men's basketball will represent the United States at the 2015 World University Games, July 3-14, in Gwangju, Korea, KU officials announced Tuesday.
The Kansas basketball team was selected by the United States International University Sports Federation (US-IUSF) to represent the United States in the World University Games. Kansas was selected as the team to represent the U.S. from the schools that expressed interest.
"We are thrilled to have this opportunity," KU head coach Bill Self said. "It is a unique opportunity where a school will represent our country in the World University Games as opposed to a select team. I can't seeanything but positives. We as an amateur basketball team could not get better competition. Our players are really excited about getting the opportunity to represent our country in games basically against professionals from around the world."
Twenty-four teams will compete in the 2015 Games. There will be four pools of six teams each. Following pool competition, the teams will be seeded for bracket play with the top two teams from each pool battling for a medal.
I will take my first official visit to the University of Nebraska June 26th-27th
Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur and guard Nate Robinson have exercised their contract options for the 2014-15 season, General Manager/Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.
More than two months removed from a pair of surgeries, Xavier Henry was back on the Los Angeles Lakers’ practice floor Friday.
He’s still far from being back 100 percent after physicians corrected a torn ligament in his left wrist and a bone bruise and abnormality of the meniscus in his right knee.
Henry said team doctors estimate it will take another five to six weeks of rehabilitation to get to that point, but he feels good about his progress nonetheless.
“I’m happy with that,” Henry said. “I’ve gone through this since April. I had my surgeries in April, so it’s been a long time. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I feel good.
“So I feel like I’m heading in the right direction. I’m all right.”
Globetrotters draft Wiggins’ bros
The Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 have formed a women's basketball challenge that will last at least two years beginning this fall, the leagues announced Thursday.
Each conference will field two teams that will participate in the first two years to help promote the 2016 Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship to be played in Oklahoma City and the 2015 SEC Women's Basketball Championship, which will be played in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
SEC assistant commissioner Leslie Claybrook said the leagues formed the event to exhibit the talented programs of each conference.
"The SEC is excited about the formation of the SEC/Big12 Challenge with the Big 12 to create a unique event for women's basketball," Claybrook said. "The challenge will be a premiere showcase event promoting several teams from two of the top women's basketball conferences in the nation. This will be an exciting event for our institutions, student-athletes and fans."
“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Big 12 / College News
But life suddenly changed its tune.
"I just want these young kids out here to understand that you don't take anything for granted. It can be taken away from you with the snap of a finger," Austin said, looking over his shoulder at the court with about a dozen highly-recruited teens working out... just like he did when he was their age.
Austin played high school ball for Grace Christian Academy in Arlington, then college ball at Baylor. He worked out with Portland Trail Blazers guard Mo Williams at the Mo Williams Academy in West Dallas.
Austin decided to leave Baylor and go pro. He was projected as a second or third round pick in Wednesday's NBA Draft. But he had to undergo a series of medical tests before the NBA would clear him.
On Saturday night, Austin got word that his basketball career was over. He has Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that puts his heart in serious jeopardy during intense physical activity.
Austin said he sees the diagnosis as a blessing, because the disease could have already killed him during his basketball career.
Isaiah Austin is still flying to New York as he had planned. And he'll still be honored during the NBA Draft.
"That's going to be the happiest day of my life," he said. "Even though I'm not going to be able to participate in games in the NBA, it's going to be a blessing for me. And I'm thankful for it."
A string of underwhelming NCAA tournament performances made many forget that the Big 12 was perhaps the best league in the country in 2013-14.
A flurry of moves in the past two months should help keep the Big 12 stocked with talent for next season.
Texas recently signed the nation's top remaining recruit in forward Myles Turner. League champion Kansas added point guard Devonte Graham following the departure of Naadir Tharpe last month, and Iowa State replaced DeAndre Kane with former UNLV star Bryce Dejean-Jones.
Though Oklahoma already has an impressive roster, it's also hoping to add an impact player for next season. Standout Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas joined the Sooners three weeks ago but will need an NCAA waiver to be eligible right away.
It's no coincidence that the Longhorns, Jayhawks, Cyclones and Sooners will be among the favorites in a conference that should again be loaded in 2014-15.
"There are a lot of teams in the league that have signed players in the late signing period that I think will maybe make a difference," said Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith during the Big 12's annual summer teleconference. "It's hard to believe, but I believe the (Big 12) could be better."
The Longhorns were already expected to be one of the deeper teams in the country since most of their starters will return next season. After adding Turner, they might now be one of the best teams in the country heading into November.
…Though Tharpe's departure won't hurt the Jayhawks as much as losing Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, it still left a hole in the backcourt.
Coach Bill Self believes that Graham — who initially committed to Appalachian State and was widely considered the best point guard left unsigned — should help fill that void.
"Devonte's a point guard, but probably the best term is a lead guard," Self said. "He doesn't have to have the ball in his hands, but he thinks like a point guard. He can be like an extension of the coach. He certainly has the intangibles to lead and get guys to follow him."
In sum, a shade over 25 million people paid to watch college basketball in 351 D-I barns last season, according to the NCAA's recent release of its attendance records. Given the different shapes, sizes and capacities of the biggest (Cuse's Carrier Dome, which holds in the neighborhood of 33,000) and the smallest (USC Upstate's G.B. Hodge Center lists its capacity at 818) the average college basketball crowd at a given game was 4,817 people.
Not great, but not terrible. Remember, we're dealing with an array of arenas and gyms here; this is a very different sport to judge off attendance than football. The 4,817 is a somewhat signifanct dip from a year ago, though. An average of 104 fewer people attended college basketball games last season, with a total of 353,532 fewer tickets sold than what the 2012-13 season offered.
Suprising and a little curious, given there more were games in college basketball last season than ever before, and the 2013-14 barnstorm was expected to be the best season for the sport in more than five years. And that was the just the regular season; the NCAA Tournament -- which has long underperformed in attendance -- dipped more than 61,000 in tickets sold compared to 2013. (Part of this amounts to the phasing out of using stadiums for regional sites, though.)
The Final Four totaled 158,682 in attendance, which did set a record. The gargantuan alien rotunda in Arlington, Texas, is to thank for that.
In terms of who played in front of the most souls at their home venue, the top two are no surprise. For what must be the hundredth year in a row, Syracuse and Kentucky occupy the top spots.
Here are the top 10 teams in home attendance, by average:
1. Syracuse: 26,253
2. Kentucky: 22,964
3. Louisville: 21,282
4. North Carolina: 18,025
5. Creighton: 17,896
6. Indiana: 17,359
7. Wisconsin: 17,104
8. Ohio State: 16,474
9. Kansas: 16,437
10. Memphis: 16,121
CBS Sports (Still contains the fatal flaw of not giving venue capacity/% of capacity)
The Big Ten said Tuesday that it supports guaranteed four-year scholarships and improved medical coverage for its athletes.
The league announced in a statement signed Tuesday by its 14 presidents that it proposes working within the NCAA structure to provide greater academic security for its athletes by guaranteeing scholarships for four years, even if an athlete can no longer compete or has left for a professional career.
The Big Ten also said the NCAA must do "whatever it takes" to compensate athletes for the full cost of their college education as defined by the federal government — rather than just tuition, fees and room and board.
The conference also said it would like to review the NCAA rules on medical insurance and provide more consistent coverage.
Honestly, the first night that coaches could call us (June 15) I was actually asleep at midnight. My mom had to wake me up and let me know that it was about time for coaches to be calling. Then the phone starting lighting up!
The first coach that I talked to was Coach (Tom) Crean from Indiana. We had a really good talk for about 10 minutes and after that I talked to Coach (John) Groce from Illinois for a good while. The next call was with Coach (Kim) Anderson from Mizzou and we had a really good talk too. Coach (Bill) Self told me about how he was headed to the NBA Finals to watch the game. He called it; he said the Spurs would win, so I've gotta give it to him.
…I just got back from Kansas. My high school team was there this weekend for team camp and I got to get a visit in while I was there. It was cool; I played games with my team, talked to the Kansas coaches throughout the weekend and saw the players walking around the gym. Before I left, I had a meeting with Coach (Bill) Self and we talked about his plan for me if I went there. He told me about the new dorms they're building for the team and how much he'd love to coach me.
I don't have any other visits planned right now.
Most of the schools are recruiting me as a wing and some are recruiting me as a point guard. I think I like mostly wing, but I wouldn't mind bringing the ball up too. Right now I'm working on my conditioning.
USA Today Jayson Tatum blog
It comes as no surprise that the best programs in the country are in hot pursuit of Bragg, with Kansas, Kentucky, Arizona, Ohio State and Illinois all making serious pushes for the 6-foot-8 power forward from Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Ohio).
“It's very difficult, but I'm just going with what's best for me,” Bragg said on the recruiting process.
Bragg said he plans on cutting his list to six or seven schools in September – with Illinois, Kentucky and Kansas the only locks to make the final list.
His relationship with Illinois head coach John Groce will be a major factor.
“Coach Groce is my man,” Bragg said. “The way he comes at me, he gets the conversation going. We talk about other stuff than basketball. He gets to know me as a person.”
Kentucky made waves when it offered Bragg back in January, ad the Wildcats are still very much a factor.
“I like everything about them,” he said. “How they develop players and get them to the next level.”
The development of Joel Embiid at Kansas was attractive to Bragg, as he feels he can play a similar role to the future lottery pick.
“The way they did with Embiid,” Bragg said. “I love his game. They see me as him, a stretch five.”
Louisville is another school on his list.
“Terry Rozier was a former player in Ohio with me, I played against him,” Bragg said. “He gives me some input. I love their style too. Plus they're Adidas, so I love them. I love Adidas.”
Bragg wants to take all five of his official visits, and doesn't have much planned right now. He intends to go to Big Blue Madness at Kentucky, while also taking trips to Ohio State, Illinois and Louisville.
Making a fresh start: Mayor Chagai with his team of Sudanese youth at Kevin Betts Stadium, Mt Druitt. Photo: Steve Lunam
This is a story that will challenge your concept of right and wrong.
It's in the sports section because it revolves around basketball. But it's about much more than that.
The characters include people from various layers of Australian basketball, from governing bodies and local associations, to another group you almost certainly haven't heard of. It centres on two people.
One is an enthusiastic but polarising coach named Edward Smith, apparently an Australian of African-American heritage, who, it is understood, has since 2005 taken eight children from migrant backgrounds to the US, promising big things - after they signed over their guardianship to him.
The other is his latest project, who, if you believe the hype - and it's hard not to when you see the online videos - could become a superstar. Thon Maker is a 214 centimetres - that's 7 foot in the old scale - 16-year-old from Sudan. His illiterate parents live in a village in what is now South Sudan.
His uncle, a local administrator, organised for Maker, his younger brother and aunty to escape the civil war to Uganda when Thon was five, from where they were accepted as refugees by Australia. They settled in Perth.
The story is complex, like the issues it raises. We'll pick it up in 2009, after Smith had been working with Ater Majok, also a Sudanese refugee. Majok had joined University of Connecticut but, after missing a season due to visa problems, played poorly and the pair fell out.
Smith asked Mayor Chagai, who runs the South Sudanese Australian National Basketball Association in western Sydney, to help mediate.
But it was too late.
''It was all over the NCAA (college system),'' Chagai says. ''Ater was very upset. And Ed was angry because he put so much into Ater. He knew Ater had huge potential.'' Majok later told friends Smith had been controlling and had challenged the UConn coach on his training methods. Majok left UConn - against his will, he said later - and left Smith. He played one summer league game for the Los Angeles Lakers and, later, for the Perth Wildcats and Gold Coast in the NBL. He now plays in Belarus. It was the closest any of Smith's ''foster kids'', as one insider described them, came to the big time.
Smith was frustrated but inspired. Another US-based Sudanese Australian, Majok Majok, told Smith of potential recruits in Perth. Smith told Chagai he wanted to start a development program for Sudanese kids from across Australia.
…Smith returned to Perth. This time, it seems, he wasn't going to make the same mistake. He found Maker, then 14, playing soccer and offered his illiterate aunty to feed, clothe and educate the boy in Sydney.
However, throughout 2010 and 2011, Chagai claims, Maker was not enrolled in school.
''I said to coach Smith 'Let him go to school','' he says. ''Ed's wife did some tutoring for Thon at home, but he needed to go to school.'' C hagai says, above all, Sudanese families want their children to be educated - to the point that they would endure family break-ups, as Maker's had.
Smith persisted. He went to St George Basketball Association, paid the fees and enrolled Maker. The boy soon dominated on the court and made friends off it. However, just before the team's play-offs, the pair suddenly left to attend a talent camp in Texas.
Over the next 18 months, Maker attended three schools, two in Louisiana, and is now at Carlisle School in Virginia. It is believed Smith has moved his family to the US.
Maker is rated the No.2 pick in the 'class of 2016' and is already fielding college offers.
…Chagai fears if Maker tries to break free of Smith's control, he will meet the same fate as Ater Majok.
''It is emotional, psychological. He had issues as a child [from the war], like all of us, which affect him, and then this. Thon has no one at all, really. He's totally separated from his parents.'' After making enquiries, Fairfax Media received an email from Smith answering questions, including one about his mixed reputation.
He said Maker's progress had been ''astounding'' and ''his adaptation, assimilation and implementation of my development program has been far more rapid than any of my past pupils'', which he listed as including forwards Aleks Maric, Ater Majok, Martin Iti and Majok Majok.
''Thon is beyond happy. It is a dream come true for him to train and compete at this level,'' Smith said.
…''It's a fantastic story,'' Catarino says. ''Ed was like a full time coach as well as a guardian. Thon had never played but he started to be coached three, four, five times a week through Ed. He was able to do a lot of training away from our twice a week training. You can already see he'll play in the NBA.'' Some others are less optimistic. The gist from those who didn't want to be quoted was that Smith is a dedicated coach with a good heart, who gets his students fit and strong. However, against better competition in latter stages, their fundamentals fall down.
Logistically, he has little understanding of the proper pathway to elite sports levels and doesn't listen to those who do. He has been barred from at least two local associations for bad behaviour and antagonised many in the Sydney basketball community.
The biggest concern, however, are the contracts he has families sign.
One insider said arrangements were often that Smith would be he paid sums as the child reached each level, such as college or further.
''We're all entitled to carve out a living, but this is a real grey area,'' one source said. ''There are many Eds around offering the bright lights of the US. But none of them seem to know the true requirements.'' Another said: ''I've dealt with him and I don't see him as a negative person. He will make money from Thon, for sure, but why not? He's helped him a lot.'' Basketball NSW chief Daniel Martinez wouldn't single out Smith but issued a warning to parents.
''I'd say to all parents, if your children are being offered opportunities in the USA or anywhere else through agents or managers, you should do due diligence and check with BNSW as to whether or not it's a good thing.'' But that's not so easy for people like Maker's illiterate aunty.
Sydney Morning Herald from August 2013
Just spoke w/Thon Maker guardian Edward Smith both Kansas and Missouri visits went well. Kansas Strength and Conditioning. Was very impressive also a great film session with coach Self and staff
Thon’s mentor, Ed Smith, told JayhawkSlant.com that Thon was impressed with KU’s plan to use the versatile Australian center on both the inside and outside. He also was reportedly impressed with strength coach Andrea Hudy’s weight program.
Thon Maker was recently named the top center prospect at the NBPA Top 100 camp, according to ESPN recruiting director Paul Biancardi.
“Maker is a true 7-footer with agility, extra-long length and excellent running speed while showing the understanding and determination to change ends of the floor,” Biancardi writes at ESPN.com.
“Maker nails the face-up jumper all the way out to the arc, as he is a legitimate three-point threat as well as a driver from the perimeter, especially against slower opponents his size. He is improving at scoring inside but easily finishes dump-off passes. He’s a mindful shot blocker and rebounder who will give any team a unique combination of a center’s height and a small forward’s skill set.”
Maker plans on making an unofficial visit to Duke on June 30.
Kansas has offered 2016 PF Harry Giles of CP3 All-Stars (NC).
Temple basketball will hire Rick Brunson as an assistant (Jaylen Brunson’s dad)
GOLD!!! #USABMU18 def CAN 113-79 to win the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship! #RoadToGoldComplete pic.twitter.com/HgYQvdSLui
For two straight years, Tom Izzo swung for the fences.
And for two straight years, he collected a few singles — maybe a double — but came up short in his bid for the home run.
For the Michigan State basketball coach who has tirelessly pursued a second national championship to go with the one he captured in 2000, chasing the top recruits was the plan of attack for both the 2013 and 2014 classes. In both cases, the Spartans missed out on their targets.
In 2013, it was about one player for one opening — Jabari Parker. The Spartans were a finalist right up until Parker donned a Duke cap and headed to play for Mike Krzyzewski. In 2014, there was a much larger crop of potential Spartans, Cliff Alexander, Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis among them. All considered Michigan State but ultimately ended up at other basketball powerhouses, including Duke, Kansas and Kentucky.
“We had two tough years,” Izzo said Wednesday, speaking to a group of sports editors at the Michigan High School Athletic Association building. “I guess that’s a bummer in some ways. Some of that was my fault, too. There were reasons we did what we did, there were educated reasons. It wasn’t like we were just pie in the sky, let’s go after this guy.”
The result, Izzo says, has been a new focus on the recruiting trail.
“We’ve kind of relooked at things like I’ve done a couple of times in my career,” he said. “Not to try to get a smaller guy, (but) just to know who you’re recruiting against, what you’re doing, and I kind of like the direction we’re heading right now. I think we could be really good next year and then down the road really, really good and that’s kind of the way we’re trying to do it.”
2014 Peach Jam Schedule
adidas Uprising Spring/Summer Events
2014 Spring/Summer AAU and camp schedule (compiled by CBS Sports)
NBC College basketball fan’s guide to current grassroots basketball scene
WITH THE ADOPTION OF RWG-14-1, the legislation governing all-star games was eliminated. Consequently there is no longer a two game limit for prospects, so in this scenario it would be permissible for Slam to participate in all three games.
This piece of legislation is effective August 1, 2013, so it will apply to all prospects that enroll at your institution on or after that date.
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