Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hawaii lands a major talent -- maybe

After all the hoopla and headlines comes the fine print.

We have no wish to rain on Bob Nash's parade as his landing of Roderick Flemings is quite the coup. Flemings is a talent Hawaii desperately needed -- someone who can create and score, as the Rainbow Warrior roster is filled primarily with complementary players.

But Flemings apparently has some academic catchup to do and it also wouldn't be surprising if the kid bolts to the NBA after one season, ready for the pros or not. He's collected a series of mailing addresses since high school so will he or won't he make his way to Honolulu and for how long? Bob Nash is willing to take that chance and the success of the Rainbow Warrior season will be heavily dependent on this one kid.

UH lands JC All-American
Swingman Flemings called most talented recruit since A.C.
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
April 26, 2008

The last shot of the recruiting season for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team turned out to be its best.

Roderick Flemings, a junior college first-team All-America player, signed his letter of intent yesterday to play for the Rainbow Warriors.

"Let everybody know ... I'm going to be at Hawai'i," Flemings said. "A lot of schools were looking at me, but I feel like Hawai'i is the best place for me."

Flemings is 6 feet 7 and 215 pounds, and shoots with his left hand. He said he can play either the shooting guard or small forward position. "My game is versatile," he said. "I'm left-handed, so other teams have a hard time guarding me. I feel like I can shoot the 3 or take it to the basket. I can even post-up, if that's what it takes."

The proof is in the statistics. Flemings averaged 20.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.6 blocked shots per game as a sophomore at Weatherford (Texas) College last season...

Go here for the remainder.


Here is a report from a Kentucky perspective:

Yes, Flemings to Hawaii
Jody Demling
Louisville Courier-Journal
April 26, 2008

The news broke last night that Roderick Flemings is going to Hawaii, picking the Rainbows over Kentucky. The UK staff will simply move on.

Remember UK fans, Flemings still has a lot of work this summer to become eligible. So even had he committed it wouldn't have been a sure thing.

Not a huge loss.


Friday, April 11, 2008
JUCO standout to visit UK?

Weatherford (Tx.) Community College forward Roderick Flemings is one of the top prospects still available in the Class of 2008. The 6-foot-7 Flemings, who was named a first-team junior college All-American, has a lot of big-time schools inquiring about his status and it appears Kentucky is in the mix.

I talked with coach Mark Osina earlier and he updated me a bit on his status.

"He has taken no visits and every school is calling," Osina said. "He's 6-7, 210 and can play inside and outside. He has a good attitude, is long and very talented."
Osina said Flemings will get plenty of attention from colleges in the coming months if "he can get it done academically. He'll have to go to summer school."

When asked if Flemings had a visit to UK set up for this weekend, Osina said "no, not to my knowledge." I know it's been reported the player will visit this weekend and I have left a message for Flemings to try and confirm if he's coming to Lexington or not.

"Kentucky sends him mail all the time, they have called and been here three or four times," said Osina, who did mention Flemings might visit Hawaii next week.

Flemings has also entertained the possibility of entering the NBA draft, and will be working out for a couple of NBA teams, according to him. However, his lack of D-1 experience make a direct entry into the NBA from junior college an unlikely scenario.


Here's some more background, a report from 2006: Recruiting Staff
May 9, 2006

Sometimes your initial gut feel doesn't end up working out. When Roderick Flemings originally picked Oklahoma State as his college of choice, the versatile 6-foot-7, 215-pound swingman thought he'd be a Cowboy for his entire collegiate career. But after a year in the program, he felt that a fresh start was needed. Flemings made the decision to transfer out, and he's heading back home to North Texas having signed a letter-of-intent to play at UNT in 2007-08.

"It's just a good program," Flemings said. "I was looking around at some other schools, but I thought that UNT was a good team. I like the coaching staff, the way they run the offense, the environment - everything. It's close to my home too."

Some of the other schools Flemings was in contact with after receiving his release from Oklahoma State included Memphis, New Mexico State, UNLV, and Tennessee. When when Flemings stepped back and looked at the situation in front of him at UNT, he just couldn't turn all that down. "I'll play small forward," Flemings said. "I'll do everything, whether it's posting up or shooting outside - everything. I just need to work on my ball-handling and that's about it."

Friday, April 25, 2008

New Mexico State has a recruit in

Coach Marvin Menzies is looking for some back court help:

Jason Groves Blog
Las Cruces Sun News
April 25, 2008
Recruit on campus

Jorge Gutierrez, a 6-foot-3, 200 pound point guard from Chihuahua, Mexico, is on campus this weekend for his first official visit.
I spoke with him briefly. He said he has offers from Cal, UTEP, Utah State and Northern Colorado. Arizona is also in the mix.
From what I have read on him, he is described as a "glue" type of player, who does a lot of things well. He played for Findlay Prep in the Las Vegas area, going 32-1 last year. He averaged 13 points, six rebounds, three steals and 3 assists per game in 29 games. Highs include 27 points and 10 assists last year. He has only been speaking english for two years. When asked what he thought of Las Cruces and NMSU, he said, "I think it's a good program and the conference is good..."

Go here for the remainder.

Idaho signs another

A little birdie told us today that new Idaho Coach Don Verlin has signed City College of San Francisco's Brandon Wiley.

Wiley is a 6-6 225 back courter who enhanced his value dramatically in his two seasons playing for Coach Justin Labagh. In 30 games in the recently concluded season, Wiley averaged 12.7 ppg. with a high of 25. He nailed 15 three-pointers.

He played high school ball at Hercules High and Pinole Valley High.

One arrives, one departs from Fresno State

For those of you keeping track, a verbal has turned formal for Steve Cleveland and a little-used player is departing FSU:

Cleveland Signs George; Tchana will Transfer
Five High School players have signed with the Bulldogs
Steve Cleveland has signed Paul George to a National Letter of Intent.
April 23, 2008

FRESNO, Calif - Fresno State men's basketball coach Steve Cleveland has announced the signing of Paul George to a National Letter of Intent and that junior James Tchana will be transferring to Long Island University.

George is a 6-8 wing man who prepped at Knight High School in Palmdale, Calif. He led his team to a 24-9 record and a 12-2 league mark. He averaged a team-best 23.2 points and 11.1 rebounds a contest. He shot 48 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free throw line. He also averaged just over three steals a game.

George was the Golden West League and Valley Press Player of the Year. He helped lead his team to the Southern Section Division II-A championship game and he is listed as one the top two forwards on the west coast by

Go here for the remainder.

Idaho signs a big man

According to the Rivals site, new Idaho coach Don Verlin has landed an actual center. Here's some background on Marvin Jefferson::

"...Marvin Jefferson, (SO) 6-foot-9 (235) from Modesto Junior College in Modesto, CA, has two visits planned for the next few weekends. Jefferson plans on visiting East Tennessee State-April 11-13 and the University of Idaho-April 18-20 according to Modesto Junior College head coach Paul Brogan.

Jefferson, a third-year player, led the Pirates this season in scoring rebounding and blocked shots. Jefferson played on the Pirates back in 2005-2006 where he averaged 8.5 ppg and 4.5 rebounds and recorded 95 blocks as a freshman. He sat out the 2006-2007 season and played this year. This season Jefferson averaged 18.5 ppg and 10.6 rebounds and swatted away 136 blocks..."


Our understanding is that Jefferson still has some academic work to finish this summer but he'll provide the Vandals someone who actually meets the specs for a center and has a level of talent and the opportunity, due to the makeup of the current Idaho roster, that should allow him to be a starter from day one.

Here's another account, one that -- reading between the lines -- seems to say that SJSU decided to pass:

Jefferson ready to make Idaho home
Kelly Jones
The Modesto Bee
April 25, 2008

Marvin Jefferson would have loved to be the third Stanislaus District athlete playing for the San Jose State men's basketball team this fall.

The idea of teaming up with Ripon's Justin Graham and Modesto's Adrian Oliver and staying in Northern California would have been a dream come true for the 6-foot-9-inch product of Golden Valley High and Modesto Junior College.

Ultimately, the University of Idaho made the best pitch in a recruiting process that started heavily in October. Jefferson, who signed his letter of intent on Tuesday, said the Vandals entered the fray just three weeks ago...

Go here for the remainder.

We think we've identified a Nevada recruiting target

Putting two and two together sure seems to add up to four in the following:

Pizza shop helps Wolf Pack woo recruit
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette Journal
April 24, 2008

Trying to pinpoint exactly which players the Nevada Wolf Pack basketball staff is recruiting is kind of like trying to find that preverbal needle in the haystack. With Nevada coaches unable to comment on recruits by NCAA rule, calls to junior college coaches, high school coaches, former Wolf Pack players and recruiting gurus have all failed to turn up any names linked to the Wolf Pack. Turns out we were just calling the wrong people. We needed to call a pizza shop: Big Apple Pizza in Sparks to be precise. I'll explain.

One of our RGJ photographers was at Big Apple when the restaurant received a call from the Wolf Pack. Turns out the team was looking for a "Serbian pizza" for a recruit who was flying into town Wednesday. So, Jeanine and Todd Morgan, owners of Big Apple, had the task of dining the Wolf Pack's big recruit.

Neither had made a Serbian pizza before, so they started with a couple of Google searches and a call to a Moscow deli in an attempt to figure out how to create such a pizza. The resulting delicacy had two layers of dough, feta cheese, mozzarella, salt, pepper, egg, cream, garlic, olive oil and lime juice. The pizzas were made and Jeanine made the delivery to the university, where she said there were three Wolf Pack recruits -- two Americans and one Serbian. And guess what? The Serbian was a big guy.

"I said, 'Stand up buddy,'" Jeanine said. "He gets up and he just keeps rising and rising and rising. He had to be at least 6-foot-9. He spoke good English, too." Sounds like a possible JaVale McGee replacement. On her drive back to the pizza shop, Jeanine said she got a call from Wolf Pack assistant coach Doug Novsek. "They called and said the pizza was amazing," Jeanine said. "They said the recruit was very pleased."

So at least we know the Wolf Pack is recruiting a Serbian big man ... and he likes pizza.

So with such knowledge in mind, we then just happened to come across this and put things together (although having Nevada listed in the article as a school that is interested didn't exactly tax our thinking cap):

UK seeks Serbian big man
Jerry Tipton
April 22, 2008
A native of Serbia who possesses the highly-prized skills of size and shooting ability.

Kentucky had such a player on a recruiting visit earlier this week. Nicola Kecman, a 6-foot-9 native of Belgrade, Serbia, made an official visit to UK Sunday to Tuesday. His coach at Eastern Arizona College noted Kecman’s perimeter shooting ability, which figures to increase in value given the three-point line being extended farther from the basket next season.

“That’s an advantage he’s going to have,” said Tim Walsh, the interim coach at Eastern Arizona on Tuesday. “Given the line he’s used to shooting from, being an international kid, I don’t think it’ll effect him at all.”

Kecman made 59 percent of his shots this past season. He shot with about 46 percent accuracy from three-point range, the coach said. Kecman averaged 13.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for a team that finished with a 30-6 record. He is scheduled to visit Ohio State next weekend. Such schools as Nebraska, Iowa, Nevada, Kansas State, St. John’s and Fresno State also expressed interest, Walsh said. “He’s a very skilled player,”

“He shoots the ball very well,” Walsh said. “He’s a four-man (power forward) who can shoot the basketball. He can run the floor. He’s got a good feel for the game. And he’s a mature kid. With him, you can spread the floor and extend the defense.”

Kecman will have three seasons of eligibility remaining, provided his academic transcript passes inspection by the NCAA Clearing House.

Walsh vouched for Kecman’s ability to speak English. “A language barrier was non-existent,” Walsh said. A college choice should come within two weeks, the Eastern Arizona coach said. Kentucky began recruiting Kecman about a month ago, Walsh said.

UK has a couple of connections: Walsh has known UK Coach Billy Gillispie “for a long time,” and one of Eastern Arizona’s assistants previously played for UK assistant Jeremy Cox.

Here's another description of Kecman on the court:

"...Kecman is a high major for a couple of reasons. He has 3 years is 6-9 and skilled. He is a system guy that will hit open 3's score some inside and for the most part defends well. He is not a good rebounder and will never be but he does a good job of blocking out and keeping his man off of the glass..."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fandom running amok yet again

Sean Patrick provides some level-headedness -- not a trait generally associated with fandom -- with this column. His example of stepping into Mark Fox's shoes is a concrete example of what we want from others but don't apply to ourselves.

Don't hold a grudge against Coach Fox
Sean Patrick
Special to the Reno Gazette Journal
April 20, 2008

Editor's note: Sean Patrick is the sports director at News/Talk 780 KOH

It's the season once again when college coaches become more sought after than the prettiest girl in school before the prom. And fortunately for the University of Nevada, one of the candidates for prom queen is in our town. Nevada's Mark Fox has come up on many short lists for coaching jobs over the past couple of offseasons.

I say good for Fox and good for the university. Not only has this program elevated to a level of national significance, it also is among one of the most winning over the past four seasons. Fox has a record of 102-30 over his four seasons as head coach. Nevada has been to the NCAA Tournament in three of his four years. He has a top-25 recruiting class coming in next season. These are the reasons why other, and should I say, wealthier schools look to Fox as a potential head coach.

I read many of the blogs and see the jealousy in the Wolf Pack faithful. They talk about loyalty and honoring of contracts. I wonder how many would take that into account if someone offered them double their salary and a step up in career progression? How many of them have turned against Fox for simply talking with another school. Where is their loyalty to the coach?...

Go here for the reminder.

JaVale McGee's mother gives birth to Superman

This is a woman who knows the workings of professional basketball -- so why is she doing this? It's not like some NBA General Manager is going to read her over-the-top -- and by the way off the mark -- sales job let alone be convinced by it. She's coming off like a Little League monster parent who is completely embarrassing herself and possibly turning off NBA front office people who may not want to draft her son because that might mean having to get involved with her.

McGee's mother is raising expectations even higher
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
April 20, 2008

I admit that I don't know JaVale McGee or his mother, Pamela, well. But from what I have gathered about the two, they could not have more different personalities. Pamela is outspoken, extroverted and a tad brash. JaVale is guarded, introverted and shy.

During JaVale's press conference to announce his intention to enter the draft, Pamela spoke for at least 15 minutes; JaVale spoke for maybe one minute even though many questions were directly addressed to him. Pamela's answers were charming and often induced laughter from those gathered. But they also ratcheted up expectations as she gave her son a nickname ("The Big Secret") and said scouts told her JaVale had a skill set that is 70 percent better than most already players in the NBA.

Well, Pamela is at it again. allows common folks to write scouting reports on individual players (a weird enough policy in itself), and allowed Pamela to write JaVale's draft profile. Here is what Pamela had to say about her son's skills...

Go here for the remainder.

The Luke Babbitt watch about to begin

This kid is going to be fun to watch. We've seen him twice, once against Archbishop Mitty, and he is the real deal. He's not overly athletic but very fundamental and sound and has a shooting range that seems to extend pretty close to just over the halfcourt line. Okay, you got us, the latter was our channeling of Pamela McGee but it is fair to say that Luke Babbitt has range to 23 feet from the basket.

A couple of people have posted previous comments here that Babbitt is who he is because of the competition he has faced but that is simple abject ignorance and arbitrary fandom talking.

Pack basketball: Hard-working Babbitt comes to Nevada amid high expectations
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
April 20, 2008

With every shot, his aim improved. With every dribble, his ball-handling became more crisp. With every bench-press repetition, his body grew stronger.

He worked and worked until he became one of the best prep basketball players the state of Nevada has ever seen.

Galena High forward Luke Babbitt -- a soon-to-be member of the Nevada Wolf Pack -- is a self-made player.

"Luke is good because of Luke," said Aubrey McCreary, a player development guru who works with Babbitt. "Luke is good because he always wants to get better and never stops working."

Babbitt is the cornerstone of Nevada's 2008 recruiting class, the most heralded class in school history. He is the first McDonald's All-American to sign with the Wolf Pack, and the five-star recruit is one of only two All-Americans to sign with a non-BCS school.

He originally committed to play for Ohio State after his junior year of high school. The Buckeyes' Columbus, Ohio, campus was just 100 miles from Cincinnati, where he was born, and Ohio State was in the middle of a season that culminated with a trip to the national championship game.

"I kind of just got caught up after the visit," Babbitt said. "It was just a big-time program with Greg Oden and all those guys, so I just got caught up in that."

Months later, Babbitt started having second-thoughts and called Nevada coach Mark Fox to see if he could join the Wolf Pack. The answer, of course, was yes. A few days later, Babbitt switched his commitment from Ohio State to Nevada...

Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's not offical yet...

Nevada now needs to focus on landing a pair of 'bigs' so Diablo Valley CC forward Brandon Adams looks to have to go with his second choice. He's a hard-working power forward type who is a very good jumper but with a small forward body and lacking shooting range:

Adams may head to Hawaii instead of Nevada
Darrell Moody
Nevada Appeal
April 18, 2008

When Diablo Valley College forward Brandon Adams attended a Nevada basketball gamer earlier this season, he made it clear that Nevada was where he wanted to play in 2008.

According to DVC coach Steve Coccimiglio, who sent Mo Charlo and Demarshay Johnson to play for the Wolf Pack, coach Mark Fox hasn't made Adams an offer yet and quite possibly won't.

"I think they had to go in a different direction," Coccimiglio said from his office in Pleasant Hill, Calif. "They are looking for some front-line help (since JaVale McGee left). They need somebody that can come in and play right away up front."

But Nevada coaches, players and fans may see a lot of Adams the next couple of years anyway.

Coccimiglio said that 6-foot-7 215-pound Adams is going to visit the University of Hawaii this weekend...

Go here for the remainder.

Don't forget Jared Quayle to Utah State

It's official, so add this name to the roster of the Aggies too. From the USU site:

<span style="font-weight:bold;">Aggie Men Sign Third Junior College All-American In The Last Four Years
Jared Quayle will have two years of eligibility at Utah State.
April 16, 2008

LOGAN, Utah - Utah State's men's basketball team continued its recent trend of inking junior college All-Americans as head coach Stew Morrill announced Wednesday the signing of Jared Quayle to a National Letter of Intent to compete for the Aggies beginning in the 2008-09 season.

Quayle, a 6-2, 180-pound guard from Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, Wyo., earned second-team National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American honors as a sophomore as he finished fifth in the nation in scoring with 24.4 points per game.

Other junior college All-Americans to sign with Utah State under Morrill include current Aggie Gary Wilkinson who was a two-time NJCAA All-American at Salt Lake Community College, and Chaz Spicer who was a first-team NJCAA All-American at Kankakee Community College in Illinois.

"Jared Quayle will bring a lot of positives to our program," said Morrill. "He is a versatile player that can score, pass and handle the basketball. He is also a high-character guy that will take great pride in playing at Utah State. I expect him to have an immediate impact and to have two very productive years as an Aggie."

During his one season at Western Wyoming Community College, Quayle led the Mustangs to a 25-8 record and a first-place tie in the Wyoming Community College Athletic Conference. In addition to scoring 24.4 points per game, he also averaged 7.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.4 steals, and shot 51.2 percent from the field (253-494), 50.0 percent from three-point range (67-134) and 76.7 percent from the free throw line (158-206).

"It has always been a dream of mine to play at Utah State and it will be a great opportunity for me to improve as a basketball player," said Quayle. "I'm excited to play for Coach Morrill because he is an intense coach and I know he will make me a better player. Utah State is a great program and the expectations are very high, and I look forward to contributing any way I can."

Along with being a junior college All-American, Quayle was also named the Region 9 Player of the Year and selected to his conference's all-defensive team. As a sophomore he scored in double-figures in all 30 games, including a career-high 47 points against the College of Eastern Utah as he was 13-of-18 from the field, 7-of-8 from three-point range and 14-of-16 from the free throw line. Quayle scored 20-plus points 19 times during the season, 30-plus points six times and 40 or more points three times. He also notched nine double-doubles on the year, including recording 14 rebounds against both Casper College and Sheridan College.

"Jared will do a great job at Utah State because he is a gym rat and one of the hardest working players I have ever coached," said Western Wyoming Community College head coach Trace Bevell. "He is an explosive and athletic player that can score in bunches and I think he will be a very good WAC player."

Quayle, who served a two-year LDS Church Mission in Sacramento, Calif., prepped at Box Elder High School in Brigham City, Utah where he led the Bees to the 4A state championship game in 2003 and was named a first-team all-state selection by the Salt Lake Tribune along with earning Region 4 Most Valuable Player honors. As a prep senior he averaged approximately 17.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

Quayle began his collegiate career at the College of Eastern Utah during the 2003-04 season.

An update on Nevada recruit Mark McLaughlin

We caught a bit of heat earlier when we posted a previous article on Wolf Pack prospect Mark McLaughlin, along with the introduction that the kid looks to be in a struggle to meet NCAA academic eligibility requirements for D-1 basketball recruits.

We recall the comment in mind took us to task for writing the above, saying we should have congratulated the kid for re-ordering his priorities (leaving his high school team to focus solely on academics).

Our response was that we were in no way criticizing Mark McLaughlin, simply that a prepster doesn't leave his team in mid - season in order to hit the books harder unless there is a problem to rectify. We didn't then and don't now have a bone to pick with McLaughlin -- what we wrote was the reality as we perceived it with no element of criticism.

Currently, McLaughlin has apparently yet to take the SAT, which is a requirement, as is a passing score. He is also taking additional classes to meet graduation and eligibility prerequisites.

Hey, if the kid earns his freshman eligibility, then great for him. Nevada will be a better team for it and the WAC a better conference for it.

As best we can, we approach such matters with a quest for what is real rather than having our vision impaired by any semblance of fandom or partisanship. But fans being fans have no such obligation.

Pack basketball: McLaughlin ready to hit court, books
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
April 18, 2008

Most prep basketball stars are thinking about leading their team to a state title or setting school scoring records during their senior year of high school.

Mark McLaughlin was busy wading through textbooks, taking extra classes and studying for the SAT.

The soon-to-be University of Nevada shooting guard had a most unusual senior season.

After playing 12 games for Inglemoor High of Kenmore, Wash., McLaughlin left his team to focus on academics so he would be eligible to play for the Wolf Pack next fall. The decision wasn't made easily, and he was criticized by some people in his community. But it was a decision he had to make.

"It was real hard to not play the rest of the season," McLaughlin said. "I love to play basketball, I love to compete and I wanted to take my team to state, but I had to do it."

Although it was a difficult decision, it seems to have been the correct one.

McLaughlin's mother, Maureen, said "everything's looking great" academically, adding that she has already put down the deposit for his dorm room.

Nevada coach Mark Fox said he was cautiously optimistic McLaughlin would be cleared to play next year...

Go here for the remainder.

WAC a coaching cradle?

The WAC did shrink to a one bid Big Dance conference this season but Chris Murray provides some compelling information here, something we were unaware of until we came across this:

The WAC's cradle for coaches
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
April 10, 2008

Trent Johnson was officially named the head coach of LSU on Thursday.

He is now two jobs removed from coaching the Wolf Pack, but it is interesting to note the quality of coaches the Western Athletic Conference has churned out this decade.

It started with Bill Self, who led Tulsa (then in the WAC) to the Elite Eight in 2000 before jumping to Illinois and then Kansas (where he won a national title this season).

Then came the departure of Johnson, who left the Wolf Pack after a Sweet 16 appearance in 2004, Johnson headed to Stanford before moving on to LSU...

Go here for the remainder.

A little followup on LT's recruiting

From the LA TECH web site comes the latest with this summary:

April 18, 2008

RUSTON -- Louisiana Tech head coach Kerry Rupp announced Friday morning that his Bulldogs will add transfers David Jackson and Jamel Guyton along with high-schooler Brandon Gibson to the roster for the 2008-09 season.

"This is another testament of how hard our staff has worked," Rupp said. "We have added three quality players to our lineup that I fully expect to be good for the future of Tech basketball. These players know what we want to be about. They are excellent young men on and off the court."

Gibson lettered four years of high school ball for Marianna High School in Marianna, Fla., where he averaged nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds as a senior which earned him 3A First Team All-State honors. The 6'5" soon-to-be true freshman was named All-Big Ben, Terrific 10 and MVP of Jackson County and earned district MVP honors.

"Brandon has made his hometown proud and had an excellent high school career," Rupp said. "He has the work ethic, dedication and talent that it takes to be a great basketball player."

Gibson helped lead Marianna to the state Final Four this past season after winning the district title.

"I definitely think he's a great kid," Marianna High School head coach Travis Blanton said of Gibson. "He's a hard worker and it has been an honor to coach him. I'm certain his best basketball is ahead of him, and he's going to be a great player. We're excited he's going to remain a Bulldog."

Gibson added he is excited to be playing for Louisiana Tech.

"My first goal in mind was to make a big impact for my town," Gibson said. "Signing with Tech did that for me. My next goal is to get to the tournament. I'm very excited about coming here. I'm going to try to help make something big happen."

Guard Jamel Guyton played two seasons at Odessa College in Odessa, Texas, where he earned a reputation as a shooter. At 6'2", Guyton averaged 18 points this past season and was named all-conference and all-region in both seasons he played.

"Tech provides a good opportunity for me to play," Guyton said. "I'm excited about be able to shoot and help get Tech to the tournament."

Odessa head coach Dennis Helms echoed Guyton's shooting skills and expects he will be a good addition for Tech.

"I think Tech is a good situation for him," Helms said. "Tech is on the track to having a strong program. Jamel shoots the ball very well and will take pressure off bigs down low."

Rupp added "Jamel has impressed us with his shooting ability. He's a great basketball player who knows how to score and can hurt defenses if they are not careful."

Jackson spent last season at Mesa Community College in his hometown of Mesa, Ariz. He averaged 16.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free-throw line and was named third team All-ACCAC.

Prior to Mesa, Jackson spent a season at Idaho where he started 16 games and averaged 7.2 points per game for the year. He even scored 12 points against the Bulldogs in Moscow during the 2006-07 season.

Jackson said he is looking forward to playing for Tech this season. "I'm very excited about signing with Tech," Jackson said. "It's a great situation and a different type of team."

The three signees make a total of five that the Bulldogs have signed over this past year including Ruston High star Josh Brown and superstar point guard Holton Hunsaker out of Utah. Hunsaker will join the team during the 2010-11 season. He will be serving a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Mission in Suva, Fiji, starting in July.

Utah State's latest recruiting

Stew Morrill is getting some play for the Stanford opening because Trent Johnson and new Cal coach Mike Montgomery apparently recommended him. We have to see that before we'll believe it.

For those keeping track at home, USU has lost a backcourter with the transfer of senior-to-be DeUndrae Spraggins. He was a junior college transfer who probably didn't pick the right system suited for his particular talents. It seems the Aggies have two or three transfers every season.

Speaking of transfers, this apparently has yet to be announced but a number of reports indicate that Utah State has signed a junior college shooting guard out of Texas:

Stavon Williams
San Jacinto College
6-4 180
15.4 points and 5.3 rebounds a game this past season at San Jacinto College TX while shooting 44.3% from three-point range, 50% overall.

From an April 10 report: "..."He's a two-guard with good size that shot over 40 percent from the three, can handle it, and is solid all-around," [San Jacinto assistant coach Scott] Horstman said. "I think he's as good as Booker Woodfox was except that he's better at getting it and taking it to the hole. I think he can go and do what Booker did (at Creighton) and maybe do even more because of his size...Williams is set to graduate with his associates degree after one summer session..."

Plus, from a Jed Tai written, article comes this: "...One unsigned senior that figures to stick with I-5 Elite the entire circuit is Terrell Mack. The 6-foot-4 wing from Fort Vancouver High School is looking at going to Utah State where he'll sit out under NCAA Proposition 48 guidelines, but he will delay signing a letter-of-intent in order to give I-5 Elite a boost and continue honing his own skills as well. An athletic scorer, Mack should provide plenty of points..."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Keith Richard to join Trent Johnson at LSU

Former LA TECH Coach Keith Richard will soon be joining up with the newly-hired LSU Coach Trent Johnson in Baton Rouge. The background: Trent Johnson is friends with USC's Tim Floyd who has strong ties to Louisiana basketball and was the first choice of the powers-that-be at LSU. Floyd is also friends with Richard. Plus, as the article details, Jophnson and Floyd have some familiarity.

<span style="font-weight:bold;">New LSU coach wants to talk to former Tech coach
Shreveport Times
April 10, 2008

New LSU basketball coach Trent Johnson says he wants to talk to former Louisiana Tech coach Keith Richard about a spot on his staff.

"Right now, there is one gentleman I definitely want to have on board,'' Johnson said during his news conference today. "And that's Keith Richard. The ex-coach at La. Tech who I competed against when I was at Nevada and I want to talk to everybody on the staff now and a couple of guys I want to talk to that will work for me.

"I have not set in stone other than I really want to pursue Keith Richard at this point. I want to take my time."

LA TECH has been busy recruiting

Coach Kerry Rupp has landed two new players, a small forward and a shooting guard.

David Jackson played his freshman year at Idaho and a good year it was -- this despite but around 200 pounds on his 6-8 frame. But he decided to transfer out of Moscow and went back home to Arizona, attending a junior college there and playing hoops.

Now, Jackson has cast his lot again in the WAC, this time with Louisiana Tech.

A little background:

"Jackson was among the ACCAC's leading scorers and rebounders this past season, as he averaged 16.6 points (9th in the ACCAC), 6.9 rebounds (9th in the ACCAC) and 2 blocks (4th in the ACCAC) per/contest, while shooting a very impressive 58.8% (6th in the ACCAC) from the field and 78.3% (6th in the ACCAC) from the free throw line...

...Jackson came to Mesa CC last summer after transferring from the University of Idaho. As a freshman for Idaho, Jackson started 16 games and was the team's fourth leading scorer with an average of 7.2 points per/game. He was also the team's second leading rebounder, with an average of 4.8 rebounds per/contest. Jackson averaged an eye-popping 25.2 minutes per/game as a freshman, while shooting a solid 45% from the field.

After a strong high school career at Rincon HS in Tucson, AZ, Jackson chose to sign with Idaho after the summer AAU circuit, and after he was released from his national letter of intent from the University of New Orleans. Jackson obtained the release from New Orleans after the former Head Coach, Monte Towe, left for North Carolina State, and was replaced by new Head Coach Buzz Williams.

Jackson was a full academic qualifier out of high school, and received a passing test score on his SAT. Jackson is on pace to graduate this spring from Mesa CC..."


Here's a backcourter for the Bulldogs:

Jamel Guyton Commitment to Tech Confirmed
April 15, 2008

Some old ties paid off for Louisiana Tech. Louisiana Tech assistant coach Nikita Johnson recruited 6-2 185 Jamel Guyton from Odessa JC. Johnson played at Odessa College himself as a player. And that relationship has led to Jamel announcing he will sign with Louisiana Tech.


Here is what Odessa College has on its athletic site about Guyton:

Jamel has been a fixture for basketball in Odessa for many years. He is now in his sophomore season with OC after averaging nearly 17 ppg last season after being named 1st Team All WJCAC Conference, as well as being named one of the Top 100 JUCO players for this upcoming season.

In his senior season at OHS, Jamel averaged nearly 20 ppg. He is athletic and has great ability to put the ball in the basket. He currently holds a 3.4GPA and is on track to graduate.

Paul George signs with Fresno State

Paul George originally committed to Santa Clara, verbally that is. Then it was announced that he had rescinded his engagement and was headed to Pepperdine. But the Waves program veered into turmoil overdrive, Coach Vance Walberg departed and George backed away from Malibu. Now, he's a Bulldog or soon will be. We think.

Palmdale recruit says yes to men's hoops
Fresno State adds to its basketball recruiting class.
BGary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

Paul George, a Knight High-Palmdale senior, said Monday afternoon that he will sign a letter of intent this week with Fresno State, giving the Bulldogs basketball team its first oral commitment of the spring signing period.

George, a 6-foot-8 guard/forward, joins the incoming recruiting class of Reggie Moore and Mychal Ladd of Rainier Beach-Seattle, Chris Jones of Newark Academy and Bracken Funk of Utah's Lone Peak High.

George said he picked Fresno State over Pepperdine, San Diego State and Penn State. He said Georgetown recruited him during the last month.

"Looking at those rosters, there was always a guy ahead of me; which is not always bad," said George, 17. "But I just wanted to come in my freshman year and play a lot of minutes. Just to be able to make mistakes and grow from them."

George initially was recruited by Fresno State assistant coach Senque Carey...

Go here for the remainder.

A thorough look at Fresno State recruiting

Coach Steve Cleveland is in somewhat of a bind in not knowing how many basketball scholarships he can issue but the Bulldogs are working to land more recruits.

Bulldogs coach has a read on recruits
Cleveland expects solid hoops class, but faces wait to confirm.
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

You won't find Cleveland hanging around his fax machine either. He does not expect to secure the remaining members of next fall's incoming class during the initial days of the men's basketball spring signing period.

"The young men we've sent NLIs to, we kind of have a good idea of what they're thinking, what they're going to do," said Cleveland, giving his best psychic impersonation.

"We're hopeful that over the next week, next eight days, we get some of those NLIs returned."

Fresno State, coming off its first losing season under Cleveland, is within reach of the best recruiting class of Cleveland's three-year tenure. It's this fact, coupled with academic progress by this season's seniors -- all are expected to graduate by next spring -- that has made a 13-19 season easier to forget.

Four high school seniors signed last fall -- Utah's Bracken Funk will delay his arrival on campus until after his church mission -- and Fresno State wants to add a point guard/shooting guard and several athletic power forwards along with Reggie Moore and Mychal Ladd (Rainier Beach High-Seattle), and Chris Jones of Newark Memorial.

For months, the coaching staff has traveled across the nation, visiting recruits in their living rooms. They've watched their games. Written letters, had phone conversations --too many to remember them all. Escorted recruits around campus...

Five recruits the Bulldogs are targeting:

Name: Robert Lowery
Height: 6-2 Position: PG/SG
Coming from: Cecil College (Maryland)

Name: Robin Benzing
Height: 6-8 Position: SF/PF
Coming from: Langen (German club team)

Name: JeJuan Brown
Height: 6-7 Position: SF/PF
Coming from: L.A. Southwest College

Name: Paul George*
Height: 6-8 Position: SF/PF
Coming from: Knight High-Palmdale

Name: Nicola Kecman
Height: 6-9 Position: PF
Coming from: Eastern Arizona College/ Belgrade, Serbia

*Orally committed

All they want in return is a letter with a signature in the mail...

Go here for the remainder.

Thorough summary of Nevada's recruiting to date

With the departure of JaVale McGee, Nevada Coach Mark Fox is looking for 'bigs' and we believe he has two basketball scholarships remaining. But Chris Murray does a great job here with who Fox has lassoed to date. It is an impressive class already:

Fox is a persuasive recruiter
Chris Murray
April 16, 2008

On a cold and windy afternoon a year and half ago, Galena High basketball coach Tom Mauer and his star pupil Luke Babbitt ventured outside for their daily workout. They were met there by Nevada coach Mark Fox.

It was the first day college coaches could evaluate high school recruits, and only Fox was there to watch one of the brightest high school talents in the nation. The thermometer barely broke 30 degrees and the wind was strong enough to knock over a small tree, but Fox was there.

"That right there says a lot about Coach Fox's dedication to his job and his love of recruiting," Mauer said, recalling the day.

The spring signing period opens today, and the Wolf Pack is putting the finishing touches on its latest recruiting class -- arguably the best class in school history. The class has been ranked in the top 25 by a number of national publications, with Fox and his staff slugging it out with BCS schools for the same recruits...


Nevada's recruiting class

Luke Babbitt
Hometown: Reno
Previous school: Galena High
Position: Combo forward
Height/Weight: 6-8/215
Status: Signed letter of intent

Comment: Babbitt is the highest-profile recruit in program history. The McDonald's All-American can play inside and outside. He is an efficient scorer and tireless worker. The lefty has an excellent feel for the game, a high basketball IQ and is an excellent mid-range shooter. He will bring size to the Wolf Pack front court and is working to improve his strength and speed. take: Five stars out of five ... the sixth-best power forward in the country ... the 19th-best overall prospect in the country.

Mark McLaughlin
Hometown: Kenmore, Wash.
Previous school: Inglemoor High
Position: Shooting guard
Height/Weight: 6-5/175
Status: Signed letter of intent

Comment: McLaughlin originally committed to Washington State, but de-committed to play for the Wolf Pack. He is long and lean and can shoot off the dribble or catch. He needs to add weight to his frame, which would allow him to become a more efficient all-around scorer. His long arms give him the ability to become a plus-defender and he has shown flashes of being an exceptional passer. take: Four stars out of five ... the 16th-best shooting guard in the country ... the 76th-best overall prospect in the country.

London "Cotton" Giles
Hometown: Dallas
Previous school: Kimball High
Position: Combo guard
Height/Weight: 6-3/180
Status: Signed letter of intent

Comment: Giles was an under-recruited player out of Texas. He can play either point guard or shooting guard and was described as "a high-major talent" by Ervin Davis, who has coached Giles. "He's got some of the best work ethic you've seen," Davis said. national recruiting director Dave Telep calls Giles the X-factor of the recruiting class. take: Two stars out of five.

Joey Shaw
Hometown: Glendale, Ariz.
Previous school: College of Southern Idaho
Position: Shooting guard
Height/Weight: 6-6/200
Status: Verbal commitment

Comment: Nevada heavily recruited Shaw out of Deer Valley High in Glendale, Ariz., but he instead chose Indiana University. After his redshirt freshmen season with the Hoosiers, Shaw transferred to Southern Idaho, where he averaged 16.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He can be a deadly shooter and has improved as a slashing scorer, but he needs to improve defensively. take: One star out of five.

Go here for the remainder of Murray's article.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ramon Sessions is prospering

Hindsight being 20/20 and all that, Ramon Sessions certainly made the right decision to depart from Nevada when he did, immensely aided by making wise choices when faced with the multiple obstacles he encountered during his initial year in professional basketball. It's not coincidental that making a series of smart decisions, even when all is not going the way one wishes, can position oneself for success.

Sessions' play is opening eyes around the NBA
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette Journal
April 15, 2008

Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Bill Peterson knows a good point guard when he sees one. And when he looks at former Nevada Wolf Pack standout and current Bucks pupil Ramon Sessions, that's exactly what he sees.

"I could see him becoming a starter on a playoff team," Peterson said. "That's how good he could become."

Peterson, who is in charge of player development for the Bucks, should know. He worked with Steve Nash during his early years with the Dallas Mavericks and saw the two-time NBA MVP make mistake after mistake.

"If you only knew," Peterson said of Nash's early struggles. "Guys don't just start out in this league and they're lights out. I can remember nights when Nash was booed unmercifully. There were nights when they would boo him every time he touched the ball. I told Sess, 'Look where he is now. All it takes is hard work and dedication.' And Sess has that."

Sessions started putting in his hard work for the NBA Development League's Tulsa 66ers, and it's starting to pay NBA dividends.

He is averaging nearly a double-double this month, including a 20-point and franchise-record 24-assist game Monday. Sessions said the recent success wouldn't have been possible without his D-League stint.

When the 22-year-old -- his birthday was Friday -- was demoted in early November, he didn't complain.

He didn't feel sorry for himself, and he didn't regret his decision to leave the University of Nevada after his junior season. He wasn't even disappointed...

Go here for the remainder.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Wendell McKines departing New Mexico State

In this morning's San Francisco Chronicle, there is an article about Wendell McKines and his planned departure from New Mexico State at the end of the school year.

The 6-4 McKines played in 35 games this season, starting 12. Averaging 18.7 minutes per game, he scored 6.4 ppg. and grabbed 5.9 rpg., being particularly good on the offensive boards where he nabbed 94 of his 207 rebounds.

McKines is a tenacious and physical power player with an amazing quickness off the floor to his leaping ability but he faced the seeming return of Herb Pope, whose mid-season eligibility cut into McKines' minutes this just concluded season and the apparent arrival of 6-8 Troy Gillenwater at the power forward spot. Plus, Coach Marvin Menzies may even add to his frontline this week when new recruits can be signed.

They are going from NMSU -- some will be coming next week

As is usual around this time of year, player/rosters/coaches are re-shuffling. Here's Jason Groves on New Mexico State:

Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun News
Thursday, April 10, 2008
APR and Deangelo Jones

A couple of stories to come in the next couple of days.
After freshman guard Jaydee Luster asked for his release, so did Deangelo Jones, last week. This also wasn't a surprise since he never really saw any court time and since Gordo Castillo took advantage of the opportunities as they came along. Perhaps Jones could have developed, but he kind of got lost in the shuffle.

I have been informed that the men's basketball team will be minus a scholarship when the APR is released in early May. Look for the story on Saturday. I was told that the Aggies' score would actually result in the loss of two scholarships, but since the Aggies have continued to improve their score and work with the NCAA, the penalty will only be one...

Hit the link for the remainder of Groves' blog entry.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hawaii gets two commits

Bob Nash is looking for some immediate help as he loses a large number of seniors and his first two commits look like they will provide just that:

Two JC players to join UH men's basketball
Florida school's power forward, shooting guard from European countries
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
April 10, 2008

The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team is reopening its European pipeline.

Petras Balocka and Lasha Parghalava are committed to playing for the Rainbow Warriors next season, according to their junior college coach.

Paul Swanson, head coach at Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College, said both players will sign national letters of intent next week to play for Hawai'i in the 2008-09 season.

"They were both being recruited by some high-level programs, but they both really liked Hawai'i, and their minds are made up," Swanson said. "I think Hawai'i is getting one really good inside player and one really good outside player."

Balocka is a 6-foot-8, 250-pound power forward from Vilnius, Lithuania. Parghalava is a 6-2, 175-pound shooting guard from Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia...

Go here for the remainder.

Friday, April 4, 2008

There's quite the disparity in WAC coaches base salaries


From Chris Murray's article today in the Reno Gazette-Journal comes this sidebar:

Coaching Salaries

Below are the base salaries of WAC basketball head coaches for the 2007-08 based on published reports. These figures do not include incentives and perks.

Mark Fox, Nevada, $425,000
Marvin Menzies, NMSU, $325,000
Stew Morrill, Utah St., $267,000
Bob Nash, Hawaii, $250,000
Kerry Rupp, La. Tech, $200,000
George Pfeifer, Idaho*, $170,000
Greg Graham, Boise St., $155,000
George Nessman, SJSU, $118,000
Steve Cleveland, Fresno St., n/a

* Fired after 2007-08 season

Here's some questions/thoughts that appeared in little boxes above my head after reading this:

*** USU is getting a steal with Stew Morrill...

*** How did LA TECH rustle up %200k to hire Kerry Rupp?

*** Ditto $170k for Idaho and the now departed George Pfeifer?

*** Greg Graham is due a serious chunk of change after this season.

*** Again after this past overall season, SJSU has a steal in George Nessman. The money may or may not be there but San Jose State is simply scrimping. Somebody in Silicon Valley needs to go collecting recyclable cans and bottles and soon.

Do keep in mind that all the numbers above are the base portion of each contract.
It's at least a tad invalid to comment (me bad) without knowing the full extent of any bonuses and incentives.

A Darrell Moody feature on Nick Fazekas

You are the three-time most valuable player of a well-respected college basketball conference. You possess great hands, especially so for a 'big' and you display superb shooting range. Oh yes, you're 6-11. There has to be a spot in The Big Show for you, right?

Darrell Moody's article demonstrates the vast difference between being a good college player and an NBA-er.

Fazekas fights to show he belongs in NBA
Appeal Sports Writer
April 4, 2008

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Auditioning is something Nick Fazekas has never had to do as a basketball player until now.

Fazekas, the three-time WAC Player of the Year and two-time All-American from Nevada, is in the audition of his life as he fights to show that he belongs in the NBA.

Signed by the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 27 after being released by Dallas, Fazekas (3.7 points, 3.8 rebounds) has been able to give Los Angeles some much-needed minutes up front in place of Elton Brand, who just returned to action after missing 74 games, and Chris Kaman, who has been suffering from a sprained ankle.

"The situation I'm in I feel like I'm auditioning every game," said Fazekas, who scored a career-high 18 points and grabbed four rebounds in a 110-98 loss to the Sacramento Kings Thursday night at Arco Arena. "I just go out there and play every night. I'm trying to score some points, get some rebounds and play some defense. If you're doing well, they will leave you out there to play."

If the last three games are any indication, Fazekas will continue to get some good minutes. In 63 minutes, Fazekas has scored 32 points on 13-for-19 shooting, made 6-for-7 from the line and pulled down 21 rebounds.

"I know what I can do out there and I know what I can't do," Fazekas said. "I didn't rebound well tonight, but I was able to get some shots. I've always shot a high percentage. That's what it's about. That, and taking advantage of the situations you are put in."

And, Fazekas has taken advantage of the Clippers' injury problems and used that to his advantage...

Go here for the remainder.

Mark Fox isn't a 'Benjamin' hustler

How many times have we heard or read that 'it's all about the Benjamins'? Apparently that is not so with Mark Fox. Kudos to him if all that is contained in the following article is true.

One question we do have, though not necessarily related to the article, is when Mike Montgomery got serious with Cal? If he was the top target, or one of them from the get-go (Jamie Dixon et al), were Fox and Randy Bennett in that select group? Or were they just below? Why was contact made with them if Montgomery expressed early interest? If Montgomery didn't express early interest, then what caused him to change his mind?

Anyway, enjoy this feature on Mark Fox, written by the new Nevada beat reporter who has replaced the retired Steve Sneddon.

Pack AD: Fox 'not about money'
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette Journal
April 4, 2008

Nevada basketball coach Mark Fox might one day leave the Wolf Pack program. But Nevada athletic director Cary Groth is certain about one thing: Fox won't leave because he is chasing a bigger paycheck.

"You know what I've learned about Coach Fox is that it's not about money," Groth said Wednesday. "It's just about giving him the tools necessary for the kids to graduate and be successful. He never talks about money with me or the (university's) president (Milton Glick)"

Groth said multiple BCS schools try to woo Fox every season. This year is no different. Fox spoke with Cal officials about the Bears' position on Monday, and issued a statement that said, "I owe it to my family and myself to occasionally consider these opportunities."

Although Cal can financially out-muscle Nevada, Groth isn't concerned about Fox leaving purely for financial gain.

"I asked him, 'How do you feel about this Cal job?,'" Groth said. "He always says, 'It's not about money. It's about just looking at an opportunity.'"

She said a BCS school last year offered Fox $1.2 million a year to take over its team. She would not identify the team...

Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mark Fox has interviewed with Cal

It's just another step in the process and not yet consequential but Nevada Coach Marl Fox has interviewed with Cal AD Sandy Barbour.

Various rumors -- and therefore names -- are floating about both in newspapers and the blogosphere but it just makes sense that the Cal opening is between St. Mary's Randy Bennett and Fox.

Bennett's tango with Oregon State ended abruptly, apparently foundering on salaries for assistant coaches and travel means and expenses for road games. In my mind, OSU needed Bennett more than he needed OSU although San Diego's Bill Grier would be a nice consolation prize for Corvallis.

Curiously, Bennett lives about two miles for Sandy Barbour but he wasn't a shoo-in. Early on, Cal 'reached' for a couple of other coaches, got its hand slapped and now is seriously deciding between Bennett and Fox. What also makes this a very good pairing is that Bennett wouldn't have to move if he was offered and took the position in Berkeley.

Fox absolutely deserves to be in contention based on what he has accomplished on the court in Reno. His landing of talented players at Nevada has always been excellent so imagine what he could accomplish in recruiting if at Cal?

Fox's players also have a history of showing improvement from season-to-season and his teams likewise demonstrate such. He will command the respect of whichever group of players he is coaching and he also won't be out-worked, areas which contributed to Ben Braun's demise. A fire always seems to reside in Fox's belly, if you will.

Fox will come cheaper than Bennett who seemingly is adamant that all he feels is necessary be in place for him to say yes be on the table and then in writing. Braun's buyout has to be hurting Cal a bit financially so why not go for Fox?

Not based on any particular signal, expect Cal to have a new men's basketball coach by the end of this week.