In his ballot for the Naismith Award, ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb said he voted for Thomas Robinson of Kansas over Anthony Davis of UK.
"How successful would Kentucky be without Anthony Davis?" Gottlieb asked. "Kentucky would still be a top-25 team (and) still probably contend in the SEC.
"But take Thomas Robinson off, Kansas is Tyshawn Taylor and nobody else."
Gottlieb said he had no complaint with those who voted for Davis.
"Because he dominates," the ESPN analyst said. "There's something about getting a shot blocked and getting dunked on that makes you uncomfortable as a player. ... It rattles people."
As we anticipated in the preseason, Kansas's Thomas Robinson seemed primed for a breakout junior campaign in 2011-2012. After a productive sophomore season playing limited minutes, as well as some impressive summer showings, NBA scouts were anxious to see how Robinson handled a larger role this season following the departures of the Morris Twins, who played the majority of the minutes at the big positions for the Jayhawks last year.
Through the regular season, Robinson has exceeded all expectations, making a seamless transition from bench player as sophomore to one of the most dominant players in all of college basketball as a junior. He's led Kansas to a surprising top five national ranking, while establishing himself as one of the frontrunners for National Player of the Year honors, along with Kentucky's Anthony Davis.
Much of the intrigue with Robinson prior to this season revolved around his outstanding physical tools for an NBA power forward prospect. Listed at 6-10 this season (he measured the same in shoes at the LeBron James Skills Academy over the summer) with a 7-1 wingspan, broad shoulders, and a chiseled frame, Robinson also possesses excellent quickness and explosiveness for a player his size, which he further enhances by playing with tremendous energy.
These traits are on full display when watching Robinson on the glass, as once again as a junior he was second amongst all players in our database in rebounds per-40 minutes. His size and strength enable him to get good position inside, and his length, athleticism, and energy allow him to go get rebounds out of his area. This is an area where he can make an impact immediately at the NBA level, giving him a skill to hang his hat on while he continues to polish some of the other facets of his game.
While Robinson's ability to affect a game with his energy and rebounding likely won't be in question by NBA scouts, his upside as an NBA player will likely depend on how he improves his skill level on the offensive end. What he's shown this season, though, as the leading scorer and focal point for one of the nation's top teams, is certainly encouraging.
…While many saw a big season coming from Robinson, the extent of his individual and team success has been very impressive. Scouts may differ on just how much upside he has to tap into, based on the polish he can add offensively, but Robinson has certainly elevated his draft stock into the mid to high lottery with his decision to return for his junior season. His incredible motor and the enthusiasm he plays the game with are extremely appealing to NBA teams, and his combination of physical tools and production at the highest level of college basketball should earn him a very high draft pick this June.
Self, for one, isn’t a big believer in the importance of seeding, using his Elite Eight run at Tulsa as an example.
“When I was at Tulsa,” he said, “I think we were a seven seed and I was like, ‘How can we be a seven? God, we’re better than that.’ But it worked out pretty good for us. Sometimes when we’ve been a one, match ups don’t work that well either. I think it’s more about match ups than seed line.”
…After the Big 12 championship game, Missouri’s English finally made a case for his team.
“Joe Lunardi give us a one, man,” English said on ESPN. “Come on Joe Lunardi. No nonconference losses. Come on Joe.”
Major respect to Mizzou for winning Big 12 tourney---but you did not win the Big 12,only true Round Robin--KU won it--I have to seed ahead
“We don’t know what the committee is going to do. We can’t dictate that,” said KU senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor. “I don’t think we’re going to be on pins and needles. Even as a No. 1 seed like we hope for, if we don’t get that, it’s not the end of the world because we’ve still got something to play for.
“Honestly, I’ve been a No. 1 seed two years in a row, and I don’t have a national championship. It doesn’t mean that much.”
Taylor said he wouldn’t be stunned if the Jayhawks were awarded a No. 1 seed despite the fact Missouri, which is 30-4, won the Big 12 tourney title.
“I don’t know how they pick it,” Taylor said. “I think the overall conference season is what determines who is best in the conference. We are the Big 12 champion, not the Big 12 tournament champion, but we are the Big 12 champion. I think they (committee members) will see that. It’s really not that big a deal to me. It looks good being a 1, it’s nice, but in the NCAA Tournament, it doesn’t matter.”
Senior Conner Teahan said he believes KU deserves a 1 seed, “just because we played some great teams and won some big games and showed we’re a tough team. At the same time, 1 or 2 seed ... I heard Tyshawn say earlier we’ve been a 1 seed the last two years, and it didn’t get us too far. We’ve just got to face whoever they put in front of us, respect them and be aggressive.”
…KU assistant coach Joe Dooley has been listed as a possible candidate for the head coaching position at Rhode Island, according to CBSsports.com. Other possible candidates: Dan Hurley (Wagner), Steve Pikiell (Stony Brook), Jim Ferry (Long Island), Andy Toole (Robert Morris), Jim Christian (TCU), Al Skinner (formerly of Boston College. Christian played at URI.
When the NCAA selection committee reveals its bracket Sunday afternoon, there are very few sure things. But based upon the committee's history of placing top seeds close to home, you can bank on the Border War rivals beginning the tournament in Omaha.
A historical quirk suggests that's a good omen for the Jayhawks and Tigers. Nebraska has hosted NCAA tournament games five times; four times the champion began its run here.
Who else might land in Omaha? Forget Kansas State and Iowa State (two Big 12 schools is the limit). Forget Wichita State (the seeds won't match up). Maybe South Dakota State, the Summit League champ. Maybe a big name like Connecticut, Notre Dame or Gonzaga.
Beyond KU and Mizzou, it's a guessing game.
Omaha World Herald
Big 12/College News
Well, as subjective as the process appears, the No. 1s really do rule. Over the past five years, nine top seeds have made the Final Four compared with four two seeds, two three seeds, one four seed, two five seeds, one eight and one 11.
And since the NCAA started seeding all teams in 1979, 18 No. 1s have won the championship, compared with six No. 2s and five No. 3s. But you never know. Last year, Connecticut, a No. 3, was the top seed in the Final Four. Kentucky was a four, Butler was an eight and Virginia Commonwealth was an 11.
Political pollster Nate Silver, who also dabbles in sports probability, makes the case that the 10 through 14 seeds are all preferable to the 8 or 9. While the 8-9 winner has to play the No. 1, the 5-12 survivor faces the 4-13 victor.
Wouldn’t you rather take your chances with the 5 or 4 than the 8 or 1? Or maybe you’d rather I stop with the confusing numbers altogether and let you find a nice golf tournament on TV.
Whatever, here’s some additional March Madness information, hardly any of it vital to the national security. --Bracketologist Joe Lunardi makes Iowa State a No. 9, playing No. 8 Cincinnati in Greensboro on Friday. Not bad. A victory would mean a Sunday meeting with North Carolina and Ames High grad Harrison Barnes. Cool, but not 50 miles from Chapel Hill.
--Jerry Palm, meanwhile, has Iowa State an eight seed, facing No. 9 Xavier on Thursday in Pittsburgh with the possibility of playing Syracuse two days later. Syracuse is a six-hour drive. Maybe Xavier should just play Cincinnati again (without another brawl) to decide things once and for all.
--Baylor caused quite a stir in Kansas City with its blinding new uniforms from Adidas. Before donning black-and-green camouflage unis with neon green numbers against Kansas, the Bears opened the tournament resplendent in tennis ball yellow. Perry Jones III looked like Big Bird.
Look for Mizzou and Kansas to be No. 2 seeds when the field is announced on the program that begins at 6 p.m. EDT.
For the Jayhawks, that would be new territory for coach Bill Self. Odd as it seems, a Self-coached team has never been a No. 2 seed. They've danced as 1s, 3s and 4s at Kansas and Illinois and his first NCAA Tournament team was at Tulsa as a No. 7 seed.
This may be the year Self draws the deuce, and given the coaches' superstitious nature, that may not be a bad thing.
KU has been to the tournament as a No. 1 seed in four of the previous five years, but reached the Final Four only once, the 2008 national championship year.
A day after the Arizona Wildcats lost their first exhibition game, a defeat that had the college basketball world in a tizzy, Sean Miller wrote the words “Seattle Pacific” on the locker room wall, a centimeter above the carpet.
On the top of the wall he wrote “NCAA Tournament,” a message to his team about how hard it needed to work to reach its goal.
It will sting when the Wildcats are reminded by the selection committee Sunday that their aspirations fell short.
And man, are they crushed. In fact, the scene after Arizona’s 53-51 loss to Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament title game at Staples Center on Saturday was surreal.
Players were devastated. Senior Kyle Fogg sat in the locker room with his head down and wouldn’t talk. Junior Solomon Hill was nowhere to be found.
In the postgame news conference, Miller was asked if there was any chance his team would land an NCAA Tournament invitation.
“No,” he said.
Mark Vaughan, executive vice president of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, attended the Southeastern Conference Tournament. He made no secret of his wish that UK play in the South Regional the week after next.
"There is a buzz and a high level of anticipation they will be there," Vaughan said of the Cats and their fans. "And there's a desire from hotels and restaurants."
UK's fan following was on display at the SEC Tournament in New Orleans. "It's literally all Kentucky," said Vaughan, who incidentally is a Lexington native (Henry Clay, Class of 1979) and Eastern Kentucky graduate.
Vaughan used the term "Cat-lanta" in describing UK's possible participation in the South Regional this year. That event serves as a test run for the 2013 Final Four.
…Here are the five games that drew the highest ratings on ESPN: 1. North Carolina-Duke, March 3; 2. North Carolina-Michigan State, Nov. 11; 3. Duke-Ohio State, Nov. 29; 4. Kentucky-Indiana, Dec. 10; 5. Duke-UNC, Feb. 8.
Here are the five games that drew the highest ratings on ESPN2: 1. Ohio State-Indiana, Dec. 31; 2. Michigan-Indiana, Jan. 5; 3. Syracuse-N.C. State, Dec. 17; 4. St. John's-Kentucky, Dec. 1; 5. Michigan State-Gonzaga, Dec. 10.
When you field the most decorated high school basketball player in Kansas history, there is little sense in telling him to sit.
Perry Ellis never left the court Saturday in the Class 6A championship game at Koch Arena.
Some of his Wichita Heights teammates were removed in the final seconds. Ellis, however, never took a bow. Instead, he was just steps away from coach Joe Auer when the final buzzer authenticated a 67-60 victory against Blue Valley Northwest and a fourth straight title for the Falcons.
Immediately, the two embraced.
“I love him. He’s like a son to me,’’ Auer said. “You spend that much time with someone and you set so many goals with him ... he sat down in my living room at the beginning of this journey and I asked, ‘What are your goals?’ The first thing he said is ‘I want to win four straight championships.’ Not in a boasting way.’’
Never. When Perry Ellis becomes a Jayhawk, and soon, Kansas will be getting a treasure.
…Ellis netted 11 fourth-quarter points and finished with four three-point plays. He scored 29 points on 8-for-12 shooting and went 13 of 17 from the foul line. That pushed his career scoring total to 2,231 points with 78 in the tournament.
Just one number mattered, however.
“This was the goal, to win four,’’ Ellis said.
At half the score was tied 30-30, and BV Northwest super-sophomore Clayton Custer was dictating things from his point guard position. He was driving into the lane and wreaking havoc on the Heights defenders.
He went 9-for-9 in the first half from the free throw line and had 14 points. “The problem he presented was getting to the free throw line,” Auer said. “That is what we talked about at halftime. He is going to make plays, but we don’t his plays being at the foul line. The kids did good job of keeping him off the foul line the second half.”
Heights allowed Custer seven more points from the free throw line on his way to a game-high 32 points, but the Falcons responded in a big way with Ellis and fellow senior Terrence Moore to finally create distance in the final quarter.
…For Auer, he is ready for his relationship with his McDonald’s All-American to move on to its next phase.
“I am so happy right now that as of this moment I am now becoming his (Ellis’) greatest fan. I am really looking forward to the change in our relationship,” Auer said. “I am looking forward to cutting him loose on the Big 12.”
Ellis finishes his career as the City League’s All-Time leading scorer with 2,231 points and a career record of 95-5. In his final run at state, Ellis was at his best averaging 26 points per game in the state tournament. “It is just an amazing career and nobody deserves it more than he does. He is the greatest, most humble high school athlete I have ever been associated with and I couldn’t think of a better way for him to end his career,” Auer said. “He deserves everything he has got.”
Now it’s time for us to celebrate Ellis, a kid in a man’s body who has grown into someone to rally around.
He’s not only one of the best handful of basketball players to play in Kansas, but one of the finest citizens. There isn’t anyone who knows Ellis who has an unkind thing to say about him. He’s a 4.0 student who has so many reasons to stick his nose in the air, but never does.
Ellis capped the best state tournament of his storied career with a 29-point, seven-rebound game. He had his moment to hold Heights’ fourth consecutive state championship trophy, then passed it along to his teammates.
The inclination is to envy Ellis for all of his high school basketball riches. But then you realize how humble he is and to what lengths he would go to never rub his success in anyone’s face.
“I love him,’’ said Heights coach Joe Auer, who embraced Ellis just as the game ended and had a difficult time letting go. “He’s like a son to me. You spend that much time together and you set that many goals together.… He sat in my living room before this journey and the first thing I asked him is, ‘What are your goals?’ And he said he wanted to win four state championships. But not in a boastful way. Never.’’
Ellis finishes his Heights career — and yes, Heights fans, it’s finished — with a City League-record 2,231 points. He’s in the discussion of all-time greats with Darnell Valentine, Ricky Ross, Antoine Carr, Aubrey Sherrod and Greg Dreiling. He came to Heights four years ago with a reputation and he cleared every obstacle put in his way.
Ellis will tell you, rightly so, that it was always a team effort. And he’s right about that. This Heights team, for instance, is loaded with players such as Gavin Thurman, Terrence Moore, Gabe Lynch and sophomore Ealy Bell.
But Ellis has been the lead horse for all of his four seasons. He has played virtually every minute of every game for four seasons. He’s answered double teams and triple teams. And he has helped produce one of the greatest runs of success in the state’s history.
“It was emotional,’’ Ellis confessed, though the emotion, outside of some smiles and slaps on the back, was difficult to see. “At the first of the year we came in and this was our goal, to win our fourth straight championship. And we did it, it finally paid off.’’
Nerlens Noel is a 6-foot-10 basketball star considered the best prospect from the Boston area since Patrick Ewing. He is the top-ranked high school senior in the country, and hailed as the best shot blocker of his generation. The 17-year-old son of working-class Haitian immigrants, he could be worth $10 million in about 16 months when he is eligible for the 2013 N.B.A draft.
His college choices have narrowed to some of the elite programs in the country: Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina, Georgetown and Connecticut.
All make the future seem blindingly bright for Noel. But in the shadowy world of recruiting, it is rarely that simple. The pursuit of Noel includes not just college coaches hoping for a star on the court. There are also fringe figures hoping to latch on to a player seemingly viewed more as a commodity than as a teenager.
“I feel like the kid is a piece of meat right now, and he’s going to be used,” said George Wright-Easy, one of the numerous adults who have mentored Noel over the years. “Grown men are fighting over a kid.”
Those tied on some level with Noel’s recruitment include a former Providence assistant who has been barred from visiting Noel’s prep school, an unemployed high school football coach, a prominent coach of a summer basketball team in Boston, Noel’s high school coach, a former star recruit who believes his career was derailed by bad advice and a low-level N.B.A. agent who works for the group that represents LeBron James, Creative Artists Agency.
The scramble to get close to Noel underscores how important it is to be associated with an elite high school recruit.
For a coach, it may mean a lucrative job. For an agent, the hope is big money once the player reaches the N.B.A. For a player like Noel, however, it can mean a cacophony of voices, people with motives of their own. Choosing whom to listen to could mean the difference between a future filled with N.B.A. riches or a tale discussed in muted tones along the recruiting trail.
If Nerlens Noel is the first player selected in the 2013 N.B.A. draft, as the Web site Draft Express currently projects, he should receive a contract of about $20 million. If he is among the top 10 picks, he can expect a deal worth at least $10 million.
And that does not include endorsements, which could be lucrative for a player who has nearly 14,000 followers on Twitter and an account — @NerlensHighTop — dedicated to his box-top Afro hairstyle. All that attention is a long way from Noel’s humble beginnings in the tight-knit community of Everett, Mass., on the outskirts of Boston.
Dorcina and Yonel Noel immigrated to the area from Haiti in 1990, and friends of the family say they initially worked at cleaning jobs at a local hospital. The four Noel children, perhaps not knowing any better, would tell friends their father was a doctor.
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