6/23/12 11:36 PM
S/o to my dudes @JeffWithey and @Jackie_C32 taking another step towards the dream at Amare Skills Acdaemy.
Justin Wesley (@justinwesleyIV)
6/22/12 7:13 PM
Just confirmed with my coaches at kansasUniversity ill be there in a week #RCJH
Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson looked like he’d just taken a shower. Nope, this was all sweat, courtesy of Charlotte Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap’s full-court 3-on-3 drill.
“You’re supposed to get tired. That’s the whole point of the workout,’’ Robinson said. “To see if we can play when we’re tired. I think I handled it pretty well.’’
That Robinson got the nuance of Dunlap’s high-speed testing speaks to his savvy. Of the candidates the Bobcats have auditioned for Thursday’s No. 2 overall pick, Robinson is the most NBA-ready. The big man he was matched against Friday – Connecticut freshman center Andre Drummond – is much more a long-term project.
At 6-10 and 270 pounds, Drummond has a great NBA body. But he’s limited offensively and shot just 30 percent from the foul line his only college season. He has a lot to learn at the next level.
…“We’re friends off the court, but on the court we’re trying to take each other’s head off,’’ Robinson said.
To which Drummond replied, “We’re cool – smiling at each other off the court. But on the court, we go at each other. Try to make each other better.’’
The one way they’re similar is both need to prove they’re better offensively than they’re perceived. Robinson (6-9, 240 pounds) averaged 17.7 points as a junior last season. He asserts that his offensive game is still expanding.
“I’m a little better off the dribble than people think and my shot has gotten better since the season,’’ Robinson said. “I’m learning to read defenses more than ever.’’
SLAM: When you think about the National Championship game, what comes to mind?
TT: The National Championship game was a really good game, man. I feel like if we had about a minute and a half or two minutes left in that game it could have gone either way for sure. I think—obviously, the Kentucky team is really talented and they played really well together, but I love the way our team fought back from a big lead. I was really proud of my guys. It hurt for a little while, but I mean, when you look at the gist of the whole season, it was a good season because we weren’t even supposed to be in that position. Just to get there was a really good feeling.
SLAM: What’s your favorite memory of your time at Kansas?
TT: I mean, making it to the Final Four. I’d been there for four years; we had really, really good teams all three years before that and we fell short. We fell short. So like I said, making it as far as this year’s team did was just amazing, man. This whole season was just an amazing experience.
At the beginning of the year, going to Maui and losing in the championship to Duke, we got so much better after that. Then, going in conference and losing at Missouri… that was a tough one, but we got better after that and we ended up winning the conference.
You know, and then going to the Big 12 Tournament and losing to Baylor… we got better after that and we took it all the way to the National Championship. I think this whole season was something to look back on and it’s definitely something I’m going to remember for a very, very long time.
SLAM: What was it like to play for him? What would you say about your time with him, on and off the court?
TT: I mean… I think coach Self taught me a lot. I really never played the point guard position until I got to high school, so I give a lot of credit to coach Self for kind of transforming me into that position. There were times when I was younger that he and I kind of butted heads because I was just a stubborn kid. I was a stubborn 18-, 19-year-old kid who kind of wanted things to go his way and wasn’t looking at the big picture.
I think my last two years, coach Self would tell you that he loved coaching me. I was very coachable. I worked hard every day… I brought it every day, and so I think overall, my four years I think it’s been really good. I helped win him a lot of games and he helped get me to the player that I’m at right now. I love Coach Self to death and I’m sure that we’ll be in touch for a long time.
SLAM: What has Coach Self been doing to help you through this draft process, if anything?
TT: Not much, actually. Coach Self helped me with the agent thing, but as far as the draft process it’s just something that you’ve gotta go through yourself. You’re flying to cities all by yourself. You rent hotels all by yourself. You go to the workout and then it’s onto the next city, so there’s really not much he can do to help. I’m sure he’s been in contact with some of the other teams. I had a great career playing for him and there were some ups and downs… I’m sure that he had some great times coaching me. So if he’s talking to the teams, I’m sure he’s saying nothing but good things.
SLAM Q & A with Tyshawn Taylor
Latest Draft Express mock has Taylor going #29 to the Bulls
Collins on Saturday said his injury-plagued season in Turkey motivated him to make a run at another shot with an NBA team.
He said the level of competition in Turkey — where some of the players “weren’t that good” — made him realize he shouldn’t be playing there.
Collins, who has battled weight issues in the past, said his agent is talking to “three or four” NBA teams. He is hoping to land a summer league spot and play himself back into the NBA.
Accompanying Collins at Saturday’s book-signing was his youngest brother, 21-year-old Robert Collins, of Chicago.
The younger Collins said he was in Lawrence with Sherron to help keep him focused on his goal of making another run at the NBA.
Robert Collins said Sherron “has been losing about 4 pounds every day” and was down to 211 pounds as of Saturday, getting closer to his 195-pound goal. Collins’ playing weight was about 205 pounds while at Kansas.
While in Lawrence, Robert said, he and Sherron are staying with the family of former teammate Brady Morningstar.
“He’s working out extremely hard,” Robert said of his brother. “He’s running, training, shooting. These are going to be some of his best workouts ever.”
Robert said possible summer league teams for Sherron included the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings.
Robert said he has been working out alongside his brother every day, rising around 6 a.m. to get started.
“That way, he can’t complain,” Robert said with a grin, “because I’m doing it, too.”
In four years at Kansas, Keith Langford scored 1,812 points, won three Big 12 regular-season titles and played in two Final Fours, a remarkable run of collegiate success that earned him a lifetime of free drinks and adulation in Lawrence.
Yet for a long time after his KU career ended, the last place Langford wanted to be was Lawrence. The place where he made a name for himself had become his discomfort zone. The community that embraced him instead made him feel unworthy.
It's not what anyone did. They still treated him the same, asking for his autograph, slapping him on his back.
It's what they said, unwittingly cutting to his core with the simplest of questions:
Why wasn't he in the NBA?
An honest query, those six words instead felt like daggers to Langford because, in them, he heard the implication:
What's wrong with you? You did so much in college. What happened? You're a failure.
"It becomes too much to explain," Langford said. "On campus, in your hometown, you're just so ashamed that, for a while, it's easier to just not be around."
It's ludicrous, really, to think that someone as accomplished as Langford could ever feel like a bust.
Statistics tell us that only 2 percent of all high school athletes earn Division I scholarships. Only 15 will be named All-Americans (that's including first, second and third teams) and only five to an All-Final Four team, like Langford was. Far less will play in a Final Four and an infinitesimal percentage will play in two national semifinals, as he did.
By any normal number crunching, he is the elite of the elite. Yet on the basketball yardstick, which measures one to D-Wade, he felt like he came up short.
…It's easy to understand why. Langford remembers his first day on the Kansas campus. He was playing in a pickup game with future teammates and former pros. He made a sweet pass, one that Drew Gooden immediately labeled a "league pass."
One season and a Final Four run later, Gooden punched his ticket with a No. 4 pick to the NBA. So when the following year Langford helped take the Jayhawks back to the Final Four, everyone assumed his turn was coming.
"The message boards were on fire," he said. "All your peers around you are first-rounders. You're playing against guys like Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony and they're first-rounders, so everyone's like, 'OK, he will be, too.' Then it says you're the 46th pick projected or whatever and people start asking, 'What's wrong with him?' It gets overwhelming."
Langford was never drafted and for a long time believed he was, in fact, a failure, swimming through what he referred to as "basketball purgatory," jumping from D-League teams to the USBL and back again.
He blamed his agent, blamed the system, blamed everyone but himself and, worse, turned up his nose at the thought of playing overseas. He turned down more than one contract in Europe, convinced he could latch on in the NBA.
Finally in debt after taking a loan from his agent, he sat down with an overseas agent and actually listened. He signed his first overseas contract.
"It wasn't until I got over there that I finally bought in," Langford said. "That's when I realized I'm still a professional basketball player."
Not that everyone else sees it that way.
After seven years of sewing together a pretty steady and lucrative overseas career -- he's played in Italy, Moscow and Tel Aviv -- Langford still is treated like a semipro.
"I could walk in to talk to a couple hundred kids and if you picked any guy who was playing for the NBA minimum, he'd be the one, the guy they think they're supposed to listen to," Langford said. "Or someone will ask me if I want to work a camp to make a little extra money. I want to yell, 'Hey, I'm a millionaire, too,' but it's not worth explaining. Guys ask me all the time, 'Don't you want to go pro? I'm like, 'Man, I am a pro.' But it's just NBA or nothing."
Days before the Warriors finalize the rankings on their draft board, they've already made two decisions about the free-agency period that follows Thursday's draft.
Warriors general manager Bob Myers on Friday said the team is unequivocal in its intention to keep restricted free-agent swingman Brandon Rush...
"We have guys that can play different positions, and they're tough minded, and you put them in the right system, we don't view it as a negative," Spoelstra said.
So get used to calling Bosh a center. He apparently already is.
"I kept getting moved around, and I was asked to change quite frequently, but I was with it," he said. "I believed in the coaching staff. I knew that Spo and the coaching staff saw something, saw some way that I could help. After they asked me to move to the five, I didn't fight it."
Just as teammates accept Chalmers for who he is, a combo guard at Kansas who can thrive as a hybrid point guard with the Heat, with James handling much of the playmaking and Wade capable of stepping up defensively against elite point guards.
"It's not easy for most people to come in and whatever role that they're supposed to be in, to not have the role," Wade said. "A lot of times Mario Chalmers don't bring the ball up, and he's the point guard. And then there's other times we depend on him to do it so much, and we want him to make plays for us. I'm sure it's confusing at times. He's out of rhythm a lot.
"But he's a big game kind of player."
Ultimately, these past six months delivered the Larry O'Brien trophy to South Florida. But they also provided something ostensibly just as elusive for the Heat these past two seasons: clarity at center and point guard.
While much of the basketball world discussed (and obsessed with) what an NBA title would do for LeBron James, there were also two Miami Heat players who joined the list of NBA champions with NCAA titles as well.
Shane Battier (Duke, 2001) and Mario Chalmers (Kansas, 2008) can now add their names to the list, and according to the Sporting News 71% of the teams who have won a title have had an NCAA champ on the roster.
Battier became the first Blue Devil to accomplish the feat while Chalmers is the second Jayhawk to do so (Clyde Lovellette).
…Does the experience of winning at the college level prove beneficial at the pro level? The percentage above (along with the number of players who have won both titles) seems to offer evidence that it does help.
Whether it’s college coaches who try to mine successful scholastic programs or NBA teams that like to draft players from winning colleges, adding players who “know how to win” can provide the ultimate reward.
LJW: HORSE, KU style
Big 12/College News
The University of Kansas stands alone among the state's public universities in a quest to elevate admissions standards beyond the minimum required by law.
Neither Kansas State University nor any of four other universities in the Kansas Board of Regents system expressed a desire to follow KU's maneuver to break from the pack.
"We've had no interest with institution-specific admissions other than KU," said Andy Tompkins, the state board's president and chief executive officer.
The 2009 Legislature authorized establishment of differentiated undergraduate student admissions standards.
Nearly a year ago, Gov. Sam Brownback urged the Board of Regents to improve national rankings of the state universities, especially KU and K-State.
University officials have long sought to raise profiles in published rankings, and one method of grabbing attention is to make admissions more selective.
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little packaged the campaign to tighten the roster of entering freshmen students as an attempt to improve the university's retention and graduation rates.
At the same time, she said, the program targeted for initiation in 2016 would help redirect to other colleges the applicants without skills to succeed at the four-year school.
"These new standards will let students and parents know what sort of preparation is needed," she said. "They’ll encourage students to strive for excellence in high school so that they’re ready when they arrive at KU."
With Hubert Davis trading his seat behind the "College GameDay" desk for one on the North Carolina bench last month, ESPN has an opening to fill on its popular weekly college hoops pregame show.
The network has yet to officially announce its choice, but TheBigLead.com reports that Jalen Rose has emerged as the front runner.
Q: I know you aren't having an advanced skills camp this summer. I understand there was some confusion about housing? (Missouri self-reported an NCAA violation in December because campers attending the camp last summer were housed in a different dorm and served breakfast in a different dining hall than the campers who attended the individual camp.) How much does that matter?
A: It doesn't affect you one bit. To be honest with you, I'm not a big fan of the camp anyway, so it doesn't affect us. I'm not concerned with our ability to recruit players. That doesn't hurt us in any shape or form.
Q: Is the camp something you think you will have again in the future?
A: Maybe, but those guys have to convince me of it. Me, personally, I'm not a big fan of it. My staff would have to convince me, because with where we're located, guys getting to us is hard. We could attract local guys, but we're not a place where they could fly in here and get here. It's a hard place to get to.
Columbia Tribune: Q & A with Frank Haith
For a guy who played for a program that has never made the Final Four, former Missouri guard Kim English sure has a lot of confidence in his ex-teammates.
English made a bold prediction Thursday after a workout with the Knicks, telling SNY.tv's Adam Zagoria that he expects the Tigers to cut down the nets in Atlanta next April.
"I can say this now that I'm gone, but I expect them to win a national championship without a doubt," English said. "We should've at least went to the Final Four this past year and it definitely left a sour taste in a lot of guys' mouth out there, but they should win a national championship. They're the best team in the nation heading into next season."
It's admirable that English believes in his former teammates, but they'll have to overcome long odds in order to prove him right. Bovada currently lists Missouri's title odds at 50-1, behind such championship long shots as Florida State (25-1), Stanford (30-1) and Georgetown (40-1).
College basketball attendance averages fell this year for the fifth consecutive season. According to a study conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education, nearly one in five Division I men’s basketball programs saw attendance fall by 20 percent or more over the past four seasons. Including the regular season and NCAA tournament, overall attendance has fallen by an average of 348 fans per game since 2007.
The slide is a growing topic among college coaches and administrators.
“There’s always a concern when you have revenue streams going down,” Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin said.
Sometimes the decline in attendance is based on the product on the court. Otherwise, it’s blamed on the economy, a regular season overshadowed by March Madness or the saturation of games on television, not to mention the HD home theaters that turn a couch into a luxury box. Late-night made-for-TV game times and the transient nature of today’s game also play a role.
…the Atlantic Coast Conference ranked fifth nationally among conferences after falling 12 percent in the past four years to 9,876 per game. The Pac-12 dropped to 7,143 — a 17 percent loss over the same span — in part because of struggles on the court. The Big East and SEC also have seen slight declines, while the Big 12 remained steady.
…“It’s a supply-and-demand thing. There’s a ton of supply out there now,” said new Illinois coach John Groce. “When we were growing up, you saw a Big Ten game, or Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA or North Carolina.”
Groce coached at mid-major Ohio University last season, and the Bobcats were shown on five different outlets.
2012-13 Early Season Events List
USA U17 wins first game, defeats Latvia. Frankamp's shot is off, 2nd in assists.
NIKE Skill Academies rosters, measurements
Video: Jabari Parker talks recruiting
During the college basketball season, Parker said he watched a few of the elite teams to see what they did so well and how he could potentially fit into their strategy.
Kentucky: “Their penetration, it fits my game.”
Kansas: “The way they utilized Thomas Robinson, how they implemented his game.”
Duke: “Austin Rivers, the way they moved him around the perimeter.”
In general, Parker said he looks at each school and what types of players they have had in the past. As a result, he could see what made each school so successful.
Yet despite Izzo's interest in Parker, he can't reach the youngster without going through his parents.
"Everybody doing their job, but they still can’t have Jabari’s number," said his father Sonny, according to Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago. "That ain’t changed.
"We want him to enjoy being who he is. If he wants to talk, we’ll ask him first. Right now, we don’t want him to be over-bombarded because coaches can sometimes be aggressive, and that can be overwhelming."
It's nothing personal with Izzo. Sonny and his wife Lola simply want to rein in a recruiting process that can spin wildly out of control. Along with MSU, Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville have also reportedly offered Parker a scholarship.
For the most part, coaches have stayed within the rules. Not the NCAA's, but the Parkers'.
"It’s okay," Sonny said of the new NCAA rules. "It’s how you handle it. Don’t get overwhelmed, don’t get caught up. They have to do their job. We’re doing our job."
Video: Jordan Mickey talks UK, U of L visits
Allerik Freeman 2013 SG
Freeman appears to have hit a little plateau as of late, but that doesn't mean he isn't still a good prospect. He is a good shooter, but not a great one and didn't shoot well at the camp, aside from a game or two. The 6'4 wing likes to work with the ball in his hands and is effective in pick and roll situations, as he has great poise. Since he does prefer to have the ball a lot, he will need to tighten up his handle even more, but this is something that hopefully shouldn't be a problem moving forward. Freeman should prove to be a productive four year player at a high-level school, but he will need to show that he can continue to improve and not level out as a player.
Anthony Barber 2013 PG
Barber blows by anyone and everyone. The 6'1 lead man is impossible to stay in front of and has defenders on their heels throughout every game. He finishes acrobatically at the rim and was one of the camp's leading scorers. Barber will just need to learn how to be more vocal and lead a team effectively. His top two are Kansas and Alabama.
Brannen Greene 2013 SG
Greene is a stud. He seems to do everything well, and he doesn't force anything when he's doing it. The Kansas commit made everything look easy out there and should become another standout in a Jayhawk uniform.
Billy Donovan admitted his team lacked perimeter shooters, but it didn't matter since his frontline was so dominant.
"We were physically overpowering up front," Donovan said. "From the small forward spot to center we overwhelmed teams."
Donovan's team cruised through the FIBA Americas U18 tournament and earned the gold medal courtesy of a 81-56 rout over host Brazil. Julius Randle, one of the elite players in the Class of 2013, led the Americans with 18 points and 12 boards in the title game. Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee) added 11 points and Oklahoma State-bound guard Marcus Smart added 10 points in the win.
Donovan raved about the potential of Randle. "The last two games, he took his game to another level," he said. "Early on, he was thinking too much."
"I've never seen a guy his size that quick and athletic off the bounce," he added.
Cliff Alexander is one of the top juniors in the country and he’s garnering a ton of college attention.
Last week, the the NBA Players Association top 100 camp, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Alexander called Kentucky a “dream school” and said Indiana was “really recruiting me hard right now.”
But the Wildcats and Hoosiers are not the only schools on the list. Alexander also mentioned Michigan State, Ohio State, Marquette, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Memphis, Kansas, Florida, Florida State, DePaul and Louisville.
“I’m just taking it slow and trying to see what happens,” Alexander said, who attends Chicago Curie High School.
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