Saturday, June 28, 2008

Oops! Credit NMSU with one more center prospect

We don't know how we missed this -- but we did -- so please add another center prospect to the mix at New Mexico State -- Abdoulaye N’doye. This should be credited to a NMSU fan who posted comments after we put up our NMSU 2008-21009 preview. Thanks for pointing out this error.

From the NMSU athletics web site:

Abdoulaye N’doye is a 7-0 center from Dakar, Senegal. N’doye attends the Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dekar.

“I was happy to find that Abdoulaye had not found a home in the United States, when I went to Africa to see him,” Menzies said. “I believe he’s got professional potential but he has a lot of development before he can reach that stage due to the lack of resources and conditioning in the area where we discovered him. He has very good hands, runs the floor well for his size, is an excellent student and is a very good fit for us considering our need at the big man position."

N’doye also competes at the Babacar Sy Basketball School in Dakar.

“He is an athletic, long player that can rebound and block shots,” Sy said. “He’s a great student-athlete, one of the best to come out of the academy.”

Just to make it easy, here are the comments we referenced:

Anonymous said...

Your preview on NMSU is ok, but I guess you did leave out a few things. Menzies is going to start Jonathan Gibson at the point gurad, and Jahmar Young at the shooting guard with Higgins, and Castillo backing them up. Aden will not be available until mid-december, and Joyner might not be available until that time as well. Aden was ranked a top 150 during his sophomore seasons, and I have seen a few sites that had him rated higly. He is a very good shooter, and had a lot of d-1 offers. Just go check out his profile. Joyner was also a guy who was rated in the top 150 on last summer. UNM wanted him so bad, so he is the future at the point for NMSU. NMSU will have the best SF and PF combination. Herb Pope should win the WAC Player of Year, and should be off to the NBA after this season. He will dominate the WAC this season. He avg about 11 ppg, and 6.8 rpg last season, and he did that after being shot not even a year before. Lumpkins, and either Castillo or Aden(when he becomes eligible) will back up at the SF position. At center NMSU will go with two three-star and top 40 centers. Gabriel is a three-star by and was rated the 35th best center in the nation. Rahman was a three-star center by, and was rated by at 38th at the center position. A lot of people think they are raw, but why did ESPN rank them so high. I expect Gabriel to get the start since he is stronger on the offensive side. NMSU will be young, but very good, and expect to see Nevada, and NMSU at the top of the WAC for the next 2 to 3 years. Gillenwater will be the surprise of the WAC. Don't just give the WAC freshman of Year award to Nevada's Babbitt, because Gillenwater is just as good.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So expect a starting five like this

PG Gibson 6'2 Jr
SG YOung 6'5 SO
SF Pope 6'9 So
PF Gilenwater 6'8 Fr
C Gabriel 6'11 Fr

PG Joyner 6'2 Fr
PG Higgins 6'2 Fr
SG Castillo 6'4 So
SG Aden 6'4 Fr
SF Lumpkins 6'7 So
C Rahman 7'0 Fr
C N'Doye 7'1 Fr-He is the african center that Menzies signed when we signed Higgins. He is a raw player who might have a great career. He is very athletic.

Article on next season's three point line change

Here's a fairly comprehensive article on one of the changes we will be seeing on court next season:

Luke Winn -- Sports Illustrated
How the new three-point line will affect the game

Butler didn't waste any time. In the days following the Bulldogs' NCAA tournament loss to Tennessee in March, players returned to Hinkle Fieldhouse and found, "that we had already painted in the new [three-point] line," said coach Brad Stevens. "We wanted to get them adjusted to it as soon as possible." The same transformation has happened this offseason on gym floors across America, as college teams prepare for the expansion of the NCAA's arc from 19 feet, nine inches to 20 feet, nine inches, but the move may matter more at Butler, which relied on the three for a higher percentage of its points (40.8) last season than any other NCAA tournament team. How much the Bulldogs' livelihood will be affected -- and how much impact the longer trey has across the board -- will be the most closely monitored trend of 2008-09.

What not to expect from the one-foot rule is a revolution. As changes go, the 19-9 to 20-9 jump pales in comparison to the addition of the arc itself (in 1986-87), the repeal of the dunking ban ('76-77), or the institution of the NBA's 19-year-old age limit (in '06-07). Those created eras. The impact of this change will be more subtle. Here are four ways it could affect next season:

1. Mid-Majors Will Be Hit The Hardest.

In the narrow context of upsets -- particularly in NCAA-tournament opening-round games -- the three has long been considered the Great Equalizer for David against Goliath. But have we considered how many of the nation's best mid-majors take a season-long approach that's focused on the three-pointer? ..

. Go here for the remainder.

NMSU's Jahmar Young pleads out

As expected, Jahmar Young worked out a plea deal with prosecutors just prior to going to trial:

NMSU basketball player to accept plea deal this afternoon
Las Cruces Sun-News report

LAS CRUCES — A New Mexico State University basketball player scheduled to stand trial this morning will instead accept a plea deal this afternoon, according to prosecutors.

Jahmar Young, 21, was scheduled for a bench trial this morning on misdemeanor charges of assault, battery and resisting arrest.

Assistant District Attorney Nelson Goodin said Young will ask state District Judge Doug Driggers to change his not guilty plea at a hearing later today...

Go here for the remainder.

This is a similar outcome to former NMSU player Tyrone Nelson's plea just prior to going to trial last year:

N.M. State's Nelson pleads no contest, dismissed from team

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State senior forward Tyrone Nelson was dismissed from the team Tuesday after he pleaded no contest to charges stemming from an August 2006 robbery of a pizza delivery man.

Nelson, 21, was set to be tried this week on charges of robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and bribery. Under a plea deal with prosecutors, he avoided a trial and possible jail time...
Go here for the remainder.

Drinking the Nevada Kool-Aid

Here's Joe Santoro peering into his crystal ball and taking a self-admitted big gulp of Kool-Aid about Nevada's basketball prospects next season:

Sports Fodder: Drinking the Pack Kool-Aid
Joe Santoro
The Record Courier
June 27, 2008

Now that Javale McGee, Matt LaGrone, DeMarshay Johnson, Marcelus Kemp, David Ellis and, yes, Curry Lynch, are gone, where does that leave the Wolf Pack men’s basketball team? Well, without any proven rebounders or shot blockers, to name two areas of concern. And, oh yeah, they’ll be shorter and younger. Depressed, Pack fans? Don’t be. How does another 20-plus win season, accompanied by a fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last six years sound?


Yes, we’re drinking the Wolf Pack basketball Kool-Aid. But why not? We know that the Pack has lost four players 6-foot-8 or taller. But, hey, none of them were named Fazekas. We know that the Pack will return just one senior. And we’re well aware that coach Mark Fox needs to find three new starters. So what? Fox found four new starters last year and one of the guys he had to replace was named Fazekas. Last year’s team returned players with a combined 38 starts, 3,077 minutes played and 967 points scored from the year (2006-07) before. This year’s team returns players with 67 starts, 3,034 minutes and 988 points scored from a year ago. Toss in five talented freshmen and players like Malik Cooke, Ray Kraemer, Lyndale Burleson and Richie Phillips who are ready to explode and, well, pass the silver and blue Kool-Aid.


It might take a year to blossom, but the tandem of Armon Johnson and Luke Babbitt has the potential to become the best one-two combination in Pack basketball history. Fox is not going to turn his team over to a sophomore and a freshman right away. But it won’t take long. Johnson came from Chicago and Babbitt migrated from Cincinnati and the two became arguably the best two players in Northern Nevada boys high school basketball history. The two already have amazing chemistry together, having played together in pick-up games since early in their prep careers. The triple-double is going to become a part of every Pack fan’s vocabulary as Johnson and Babbitt pile up the points, rebounds and assists the next three and four years. That Cool-Aid is tasting better and better...

A Washington Post take on the newest Wizard -- JaVale McGee

Here's a Washington Post article on JaVale McGee:

After Sizing Up His Potential, Wizards Went With 7-Footer
Ivan Carter
Washington Post
Saturday, June 28, 2008; Page E10

Like many of the players selected in Thursday night's NBA draft, JaVale McGee could have returned to college for at least one more year of seasoning. But when the 7-foot, 237-pound McGee started getting word during his sophomore season at Nevada that he stood a decent chance of being a first-round draft pick, the 20-year-old center decided to make himself eligible.

"I was on the radar and figured that if I went back, I could get injured or you never know what can happen," said McGee, who averaged 14.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and a Western Athletic Conference-leading 2.8 blocks per game last season. "So I just decided to come out, work hard and make myself ready. I think I made the right choice."

The decision appeared to pay off when the Wizards selected McGee with the 18th overall pick. McGee, who will earn $1.16 million as a rookie, based on the NBA's salary scale, will be formally introduced during a news conference Monday at Verizon Center.

While acknowledging that McGee is not likely to make a major impact next season, Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said McGee's combination of youth, athleticism, 7-foot-6 wingspan and shot-blocking skill made him too good to pass up....

Go here for the remainder.

Friday, June 27, 2008

One correction

With the announcement of Justin Johnson heading to Fresno State, we assumed he had been awarded the last Bulldog schollie.

Now, a Gary Estwick article fills us in: Johnson will walk-on his first season at FSU and be scholarshipped the following year.

According to a couple of message board posts, Coach Steve Cleveland is looking to sign a power forward with the still available last scholarship.

Bulldogs lock up pair of basketball walk-ons
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

The Fresno State men's basketball team has added two walk-ons to fill the scholarship void caused by a historically low Academic Progress Rate.

Justin Johnson, a 6-foot-7 guard/forward who is the son of former NBA player Eddie Johnson, will join 3-point specialist Taylor Kelly, formerly of Centennial High-Bakersfield.

Both said they will enroll at Fresno State in the fall. And both could earn playing time on a squad that lost seven players from last season....

Go here for the remainder.

Thoughts and notes on last night's NBA draft

At the risk of coming off crotchety and cranky, does anyone besides us wish TNT (Ernie Johnson, Hubie Brown, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith) had the rights to televise and comment on the NBA draft rather than ESPN?

Stephen A. Smith looked like he was literally giving up after his third or so 'interview' with the top picks. Talk about a square peg/round hole positioning -- whose idea was it to have Smith, known for his unbridled opinions, as an interviewer?

Despite a load of on-line and in-print articles about who would be the first pick and hours of jabbering about it, was anyone surprised that Chicago nabbed Derrick Rose as the first pick in the draft? If so, please contact us immediately as we have exclusive selling rights to a number of bridges and we'll throw in some extra fine swampland for free.

We're still waiting for one of the middle first-round picks, while being interviewed, to say "What were those general managers thinking? I can take every one of those clowns chosen ahead of me with one hand tied behind my back, blindfolded and wearing those funky throwback short shorts.." Come to think of it, the Lopez brothers just may have a shot at their own reality show if their professional basketball careers don't flourish -- they were the most entertaining presences all night.

One pet peeve: can the term 'War Room" be retired? Such jargon has been outlandish and inappropriate from its first usage. How does adding a couple of new players to the roster of a sports team have any connection to military action? What's next? Dick Vitale is camouflage clothing saluting General Robert Montgomery Knight. Come to think of it, last night would have been so much better with just Bob Knight and Jay Bilas and a innocuous moderator.

Nobody actually knows how any of the selections are going to do so all the writers and bloggers providing an instant analysis today owe it to their readers to keep their predictions handy and revisit them a couple of years from now -- to claim credit and to seek forgiveness.

We wouldn't know Anthony Randolph from Zack Randolph but why did the Golden State Warriors choose 6-10 197 Anthony Randolph one season after trading Jason Richardson for draft pick Brandon Wright, who goes 6-10 205?

Congrats to Russell Westbrook, going from a relatively unheralded late signee by UCLA, to the fourth pick in the draft in two years. A marvelous physical talent and solid defender, he appears to be someone who is going to get better and better in the next few years or so but right now has limited ball skills and scoring ability. He is not currently a major difference maker but many NBA picks are not made for the 'right now' but rather the 'down the road.'

Ryan Anderson sure proved his doubters wrong -- at least as to where he would go in the draft.

DeVon Hardin being the 50th pick is not what he had planned. Let's hope the situation he has stepped into turns out to be a good one and both his wallet and skills set prosper.

JaVale McGee goes in first round to Washington

JaVale McGee went about where expected (the 18th pick) to the Washington Wizards. His agent speaks a little too much agent-ese in the following but then again that's his job. Marcelus Kemp, who went undrafted, gets a mention at the end of the article.

NBA draft: McGee goes to Wizards as 18th overall pick
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
June 27, 2008

Nevada's JaVale McGee was surrounded by his family watching Thursday night's NBA draft when he got a text message.

It read: "You're coming to work."

The next thing he knew, he was a member of the Washington Wizards.

The text came from a member of the Wizards' front office and moments later he watched on television as commissioner David Stern announced, "With the 18th pick of the 2008 NBA draft, the Washington Wizards select JaVale McGee from the University of Nevada."

And with that, McGee became the second Wolf Pack player ever drafted in the first round (along with Kirk Snyder, who went 16th overall to the Utah Jazz in the 2004 draft)...

Go here for the remainder.

What's next for undrafted Jaycee Carroll

Jaycee Carroll didn't get drafted but that's neither here nor there. After the initial round, it's usually best not to get tied to one team. Now he can try and get in the best situation for himself and his skills set:

Next plan for Utah State's Carroll is to make an NBA team
Michael Black
Deseret News
June 27, 2008

His name may not have been called as one of the 60 picks for the 2008 NBA Draft, but that doesn't mean that the dream to play professional basketball has ended for Utah State's Jaycee Carroll.

"I am disappointed for sure, but nonetheless we are on to the next plan, and that is to get on a good summer-league team," said Carroll. "We have heard from quite a few teams that are interested. Now, I just have to trust in the scouts and general managers that are saying what they like and what they need. I have to trust my agent and just find the best fit where I can go there and showcase my talents and abilities."

Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Louisiana Tech ready for a rebound

Call this Louisiana Tech squad 'Team Transformation' as there are more 'newcomers' than actual returnees for the upcoming 2008-2009 season. 'Team Unknown' also applies as probably only the LT coaching staff has any valid sense of what to expect from their crew.

Maybe such will earn this group of Bulldogs their own reality show on the TLC channel or Bravo or A&E -- especially so considering the level and subject matter to which a number of these channels and their new offerings have sunk. We actually believe a decent number of viewers would tune in to watch a basketball team/program evolve over the season but this seems more like the domain of ESPN. Plus, if this was ever to occur it would have to involve a much more 'nationally branded' coach and basketball program than Kerry Rupp and Louisiana Tech. The suits in the executive suites would insist on this. Still, going from a seven or eight player thoroughly undersized squad to one featuring a slew of transfers from big time conferences would make for a fascinating watch.

However, (oh are we going to be pay heavily for this), what television crew is going to spend months in Ruston? We will now don our fireproof suits and enter our below-ground bunker for self-preservation reasons. Now we do love Cajun and zydeco music but it's just that we spent three months in Ruston one weekend. Hey, even Wikipedia concurs: "The social life in Ruston is somewhat diverse. Primary activities involve finding something to do with Louisiana Tech."

Hey, maybe it was just us. What's that admonition -- if you're in a hole...quit digging.

So back to our regularly scheduled programming with hopefully no hard feelings.


Here are the four players dropped from the team at the conclusion of the spring semester: Dwayne Lathan, Brandon Mims, Drew Washington and Orren Tims. Lathan has moved on to Indiana State, Mims to Louisiana State University Shreveport and Washington to Oklahoma City. The next destination of Timms hasn't been announced.


Adrian Rogers 6-7 220 Senior Forward - He received 18 starts last season but will be a fill-in reserve in 2008-2009.

Jonathon "J.C." Clark 6-0 185 Senior Guard - Clark averaged 9 ppg. and played around 31 minutes a contest but he'll be the backup point this go-around..

James Loe
5-11 180 Senior Guard - He'll be the backup to the backup at point guard.

Kyle Gibson 6-4 200 Junior Guard - Gibson impressed us last season not just because he was the best player on the team but due to his staying and playing within the scheme designed by Coach Kerry Rupp. It surely had to be tempting to play more individualistically and put up a greater numer of shots than he did but Gibson stayed very methodical and team-first in his approach.


Magnum Rolle 6-11 225 Junior Forward - Rolle looks to be a starting forward for the Bulldogs but will it be the power one or more out on the open floor? His body indicates strong forward but his game and preference tilt more towards a wing spot. It appears he and former LSU Coach John Brady had a disagreement on his utilization, thus leading to his transfer from Baton Rouge. He's known for his shooting range but didn't necessarily rack up nice shooting percentages in his two seasons at LSU so developing shooting and overall consistency is the key to his improvement.

Kenneth Cooper 6-10 250 Junior Center - More effective as a defender than prospering at the other aspects of the game, Cooper finally solves the big man problem so apparent for Tech last season. Like with Rolle, it's near impossible to know what production to expect given that no one except the LA TECH coaches have seen them play but Cooper will be the starting center regardless.

Jamel White
6-2 175 Junior Guard - White departed from Nebraska after a suspension and some academic laxity but hopefully those concerns are in the past. He's a very athletic, all-around backcourter proficient at both producing points and garnering assists. Put him down as a definite starter in the backcourt.

Olu Ashaolu
6-6 220 Freshman Guard/Forward - He redshirted last season and has a rep as an high motor, inside bruiser but also a desire to play the three. Has he upgraded his outside shooting and his quickness in order to play on the perimeter?

It's unique because the smaller Ashaolu is more proficient in the paint whereas it appears the much taller Rolle prefers to face the basket from distance.

Add Kyle Gibson to this foursome and we believe that's the makeup of the LT starting five in 2008-2009.


David Jackson 6-8 200 Junior Forward Arizona junior college - He played his freshman year at Idaho and put up some nice numbers (7.2 ppg). He can score inside and his long arms make him a decent shotblocker so he'll be in the mix for minutes at the power forward spot. It appears he is developing greater range on his shot and some minutes at small forward for him is a possibility.

Jamel Guyton 6-2 185 Junior Guard Texas Junior College - He was a shooter in the junior college ranks and looks to be a backup to Kyle Gibson early on.

Shawn Oliverson 6-11 250 Sophomore Center D-1 transfer - He was at Cornell as a freshman and appears to be at least somewhat of a project who will need time and reps for his development.

Brandon Gibson
6-6 210 Freshman Guard/Forward Florida high school - Don't expect to see this Gibson on the court much as he needs time to make the adjustment to D-1.

Josh Brown 6-4 180 Freshman Guard/Forward Louisiana high school - A scorer in high school, he's a likely redshirt.

Arrez Henderson 6-0 190 Freshman Guard Kentucky high school - Another kid who has talent at both scoring and passing. He won't see much playing time initially but will help down the road.

Juevol Myles 6-1 190 Freshman Guard - Out of Canada (a la Ashaolu), he's a point who may also redshirt.



Kenneth Cooper - If he offers defense and rebounding then he's done his part. His offensive game is still unpolished and may or may not ever come around.

Shawn Oliverson - Rolle may be able to shift over to center to give Cooper a rest or in case of foul trouble but Oliverson should be able to get on court for at least five minutes a game next season.

Strong Forward

Magnum Rolle - Rupp would like to see Rolle be a '15 and 7 guy' this coming season. -- something that is achievable for him.

Adrian Rogers - We see Rogers even being behind Jackson in the playing rotation.

David Jackson - He will help out in a lot of ways and make sure the Bulldog effectiveness remains in case of foul trouble among the frontcourt starters.

Wing/Shooting Guard

Kyle Gibson
- Gibson will finally be able to enjoy the benefits of being surrounded by good talent. His scoring may drop as a result but he's shown to be a better three-point marksman than with his overall shooting and his teammates in 2008-2009 should draw a lot of attention, leaving him open with even more inviting looks from outside.

Olu Ashaolu - So much has been written and said about this kid but all should be tempered until he gets the chance to play when it counts and gains experience.

Jamel Guyton
- Like Kyle Gibson, this junior college transfer should really benefit from hanging around the three-point line and waiting for kickout passes when the frontcourters get double-teamed.

Brandon Gibson
- Maybe or maybe not a 2008-2009 redshirt but he won't see a lot of time right away regardless.

Josh Brown
- Gotta be a redshirt.


Jonathan Clark - Clark didn't shoot well last year but won't even be looked at to eye the basket in the coming season -- just distribute the ball baby.

Jamel White
- White will be a 30 minutes plus player, backed by Clark and Loe.

James Loe
- Loe will be rarely seen on the court in 2008-2009 but he's a heady kid who gives his all.

Arrez Henderson - We see him as a redshirt in the coming season who possibly will help at both the point and two guard roles down the line.

Juevol Myles
- His academic eligibility was still in question at the time of his signing so that may remain an issue. It's hard to believe he could come in and beat out Clark right away as the backup point so maybe Myles too will sit out the season.


Getting this team to mesh will be job one for Rupp and his assistants but what should help in that regard is that four of these kids were able to practice and get familiarized with the system all last season as redshirts.

We see Tech as an upper division team this coming season -- if the newcomers sitting out last season contribute as expected. The starting five appears solid and there will be enough depth if Jackson and Guyton are able to help right away.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Do you take what you see or what you imagine?

Here's the first of two Chris Murray-penned articles in today's Reno Gazette-Journal. This one is so aptly titled vis-a-vis tomorrow's NBA draft, or any draft for that matter:

NBA draft: Potential versus production
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
June 25, 2008

They played at the same college and both are chasing their NBA dreams, but the paths they are taking couldn't be more different.

Former Wolf Pack shooting guard Marcelus Kemp was in Reno for six years. His teammate JaVale McGee was in town for two seasons.

Kemp left Nevada with his name sprayed throughout the program's career leaders lists. McGee's Wolf Pack stint was so short he barely had the chance to etch his name into Nevada's top-10 lists.

Kemp evolved from a seldom-used freshman to the leader of an inexperienced team. McGee had just begun to scratch the surface of his immense potential before leaving school.

And while Kemp has about a coin flip's chance of being drafted, McGee is a near-lock to be selected in the first round.

In many ways, Kemp and McGee are the two types of players that epitomize the current NBA draft.

Both are special talents. One has filled his basketball résumé with consistent production; the other is teeming with potential...

Go here for the remainder.

Chris Murray on Marcelus Kemp

It appears Marcelus Kemp has enjoyed some impressive outings in from of the NBA types. In one matchup, he out-performed Indiana's Eric Gordon. Read on:

Kemp outshines Gordon in workout
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
June 24, 2008

On Thursday, the Nevada basketball team could have two players drafted in back-to-back NBA drafts, which would be quite the feat for a non-BCS team. The Wolf Pack will surely have one player drafted in sophomore JaVale McGee, while the hopes of getting a second player drafted lie on the shoulders of Marcelus Kemp. If his workouts are any indication, Kemp has positioned himself quite well...

Go here for the remainder.

Subtractions and additions dominate New Mexico State

Talk about a roster flip/makeover! One that Paige Davis, Kirsten Kemp and even the hard to stomach Montelongo family real estaters could certainly appreciate.

Very, very few teams lose nine players from one season to the next and remain competitive as New Mexico State will be in 2008-2009.

However, realistically it is five guys who have departed from NMSU if the measurement is actually roster members who saw significant playing time and truly contributed. Justin Hawkins and Fred Peete were steadying influences on the court -- that's an element that may be the hardest to replicate. Martin Iti and Hatila Passos provided size and 10 fouls between the two, plus Passos enjoyed a very solid senior go-around. Wendell McKines' skills set and height made it somewhat difficult to find a position for him but he rebounded very well, especially offensively, and exhibited some fire in the belly when he took to the court.


Justin Hawkins
Fred Peete
Martin Iti
Hatila Passos
Wendell McKines


Trei Steward
JayDee Luster
DeAngelo Jones
Londale Theus


Jahmar Young 6-4 160 Sophomore Guard - He shot well from the line and the floor overall, especially considering it was his first season and ended up averaging in double figures at 10.3 ppg.

Paris Carter 6-4 225 Senior Guard - Carter had some early moments early on but shot poorly overall and academics relegated him to the sidelines after 13 games. A new roster has yet to be posted for NMSU so it's unknown if Carter is actually returning. He more than likely will be passed by some of the newcomers anyway.

Chris Cole 6-1 195 Junior Guard (walk-on) - 72 assists to 37 turnovers is a nice stat especially for a reserve but Coach Marvin Menzies needs a more all-around player getting major minutes at the point.

Jonathan Gibson 6-2 180 Junior Guard - 12.2 ppg. and a .419 shooting percentage from long range gets Gibson a starting spot in the 2008-2009 lineup.

Herb Pope 6-8 235 Sophomore Forward - We predict this coming season will be a breakout year for Pope, who will be eligible and in the starting lineup from the first practice.

Aaron Castillo 6-4 180 Sophomore Guard - He can shoot from long range and that's probably the niche for his playing time as there will be more talented and versatile teammates in front of him in the backcourt.


Troy Gillenwater 6-8 230 Freshman Forward - He's been a highly rated and highly traveled prepster who was once headed to Oklahoma State and has the potential to team up with Herb Pope and do some major frontcourt damage. Hopefully a degree of stability will aid in the blossoming of his talent.

Robert Lumpkins 6-6 190 Sophomore Forward - He spent a season at a Texas junior college before making his way to NMSU.

Hamidu Rahman 7-0 240 Freshman Center - He's a project but a worthwhile one considering his size and the propensity for bigs to develop late.

It's unclear at this point if either Lumpkins or Rahman will be walk-ons or scholarshipped.


Johnny Higgins 6-2 185 point Massachusetts prep school - He originally signed with Duquesne but the interest and availability of players with a higher level of potential for the Dukes resulted in an amicable divorce on April 30 and Higgins later cast his lot with the Aggies.

Terrance Joyner 6-2 170 point guard Mississippi prep school - He originally signed with Arkansas but a transcript issue caused a parting of the ways and he landed in Las Cruces. There's little question about his talent and he's on a roster whose composition cries out for a point.

Faisal Aden 6-4 185 shooting guard Texas prep school - Out of San Diego and with three high schools behind him along with a prep academy, his academics appear a bit iffy but his potential is vast.

Chris Gabriel 6-10 270 center California high school - He's obviously an in-the-paint player who could surprise at a position that has no lock as a starter.



Hamidu Rahman - We don't see Rahman ready for major minutes at this point.

Chris Gabriel
- Gabriel is pretty much in the same situation although his potential is greater than Rahman's.

One key to the season: can Marvin Menzies cobble some decent center play out of these two?

Strong Forward

Troy Gillenwater - He's been described as an undersized 'four' but one whose productivity is difficult to match. He's not a great athlete and can be inconsistent from outside with his shot but he piles up stats like very few.

Herb Pope - Pope certainly has the possibility of jumping up to the 20 ppg. level in 2008-2009 but he needs to extend his shooting range some and also shoot much better than the .500 he achieved at the foul line last season. His length and agility make him a very tough guard inside.

Menzies is going to have both Pope and Gillenwater in the game at the same time as often as possible because those are his two best talents.

Wing/Shooting Guard

Jahmar Young - He still has an unresolved court case pending but Young is a streak shooter who has the size to get his shot off against most defenders.

Paris Carter - If still on the roster, our sense is that Carter is going to be edged out of playing time this coming season.

Jonathan Gibson - Pencil him in for 30+ minutes a game but we would like to see more dribble-drives in his offensive repertoire.

Robert Lumpkins - Don't expect to see Lumpkins on the court much as there's too much talent in front of him.

Aaron Castillo - He'll be a career backup as a catch-and-shoot long range bomber.

Faisal Aden - He's more a combo guard and one with very good size and skills. Look for him to be on the court the most of all the new guards.


Chris Cole
- Cole will be a career backup but one who can 'hold down the fort' for short stretches.

Terrance Joyner - The 'plan' is for Joyner to be the starting point despite his freshman status. He will probably need some adjustment time but the talent level is there.

Johnny Higgins - We see the possibility of Higgins' redshirting depending on how Joyner plays from the get-go. Either way, Cole looks to be the backup point at least for most of next season.


Can the Aggies share the ball and display less verbal jawing at one another in 2008-2009? The senior leadership is gone so its imperative that one or two others step up into the role. Who will it be?

It may not surface as an issue but it's at least a bit disconcerting that Menzies is bringing in some student-athletes whose academic efforts are seemingly not in league with their basketball talent. Let's hope these kids buckle down academically or another season of 'interruptions' -- players eligible, then not/players not eligible, then able to play -- may be in store for the Aggies.

Menzies needs both Joyner and Aden to come through in the backcourt, along with Gillenwater upfront. That's asking a lot of freshman, at least right away.

Pope is the best talent -- can he become the team leader and go-to guy in 2008-2009?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Is Nevada a doughnut?

Coach Mark Fox has in a way been 'victimized' by the success of both the Nevada men's basketball program's record the last 5-6 years and also by the level of talent his recruiting has brought to Reno -- two factors intertwined with each other. First, Ramon Sessions unexpectedly -- at least to some degree -- leaves early and now JaVale McGee, far from any semblance of a finished product, is gone after two seasons. A high level of talent cuts both ways: more wins but a greater chance of losing players prior to their senior seasons.

Coming into 2008-2009 and minus some quality players and their accompanying production would usually consign a team to .500 at the very best or possibly something much worse. We don't see the latter happening with Nevada but ending with a record split down the middle is a possibility.


Look at the players who have seen the last of The Biggest Little City In The World, plus the roles they played:

Demarshay Johnson - he never reached the zenith predicted but certainly helped the Pack upfront

JaVale McGee - a highlight reel type, both good and...sometimes not so good

Marcelus Kemp - carried his team as a sixth year senior

Matt LaGrone - provided muscle if not much else, something that will be missed in 2008-2009

David Ellis - his lack of weight/strength always held him back but he was a smart player who possessed some scoring ability


Brandon Fields G 6-4 185 Junior - Fields was an extremely pleasant surprise, going from 2.1 ppg. as a frosh to 12.4 ppg and starting 32 games 12 months later. He also was lauded as the team co-Defensive Player of the Year.

Lyndale Burleson G 6-3 190 Senior - An All-WAC Defensive honoree, Burleson gives Armon Johnson a breather at the point.

Malik Cooke F 6-5 205 Sophomore - He shot and rebounded well although albeit sparingly but showed enough to demonstrate he is a WAC-caliber player and this as just a sophomore.

Ray Kraemer G 6-4 200 Junior - We thought he would show more but he seems destined to play the role as a long-range, catch-and-shoot backcourter who fills in when foul trouble occurs.

Armon Johnson G 6-3 195 Sophomore - Johnson moved right in as a starter and produced numbers all across the board: 11.5 poimnts and 4.0 rebounds a game. He led the Pack with over three assists a game and managed an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.42, as a freshman.

Richie Phillips F 6-7 220 Junior - After two straight seasons of injuries with a redshirt year at the beginning, it's hard to count on Phillips contributing. That, plus his development has obviously been hindered due to his being sidelined (playing in just 16 games and for 67 minutes total). He could really help with some beef upfront but anything he provides to the Wolf Pack will be a bonus.


Joey Shaw F 6-6 205 Junior - He has a rep as a shooter/scorer but will certainly have competition for playing time.

Luke Babbitt F 6-9 225 Freshman - Babbitt starts from day one.

Mark McLaughlin G 6-5 180 Freshman - Another scorer type with fine promise but he'll need some time to adjust.

London Giles G 6-3 180 Freshman - Although Armon Johnson can easily move over to scoring guard when appropriate, Giles won't play a lot this season with Johnson and Burleson ahead of him.

Ahyaro Phillips F 6-8 210 Freshman - He seems to be an athletic type who does his best work on the boards right now.

Dario Hunt F 6-8 230 Freshman - Seemingly the only other player on the roster who can physically handle playing in the paint, Hunt is a rebounder-shot blocker foremost at this point.



Dario Hunt - One of the keys to Nevada's season will be how quickly Hunt adjusts to holding his own defensively without piling up the fouls. He has some shotblocking talent but defensive play is obviously so much more than that. Any scoring from him will come from alley-oops and putbacks -- he is that raw. A bouncy, athletic kid who will compete.

Strong Forward

Luke Babbitt - If there is an Achilles heel for Babbitt, it's that he's not tremendously athletic. But he can shoot from long, longer and longest and is very canny inside with positioning and footwork. We see Babbitt as the WAC Newcomer of the Year and also an all-league selection. He'll score near 20 ppg but it will be interesting what his rebounding numbers are.

Richie Phillips - Nobody knows what to expect from Phillips but hopefully he will enjoy a healthy season and finally enjoy the opportunity to display his wares.

Ahyaro Phillips - Another athletic, raw type, he needs to gain bulk and strength to play effectively inside.

Wing/Shooting guard

Brandon Fields - As a soph, Fields shot adequately, successfully got to the foul line and had a positive number of assists to turnovers (79 to 58). Fox would like to see better boardplay from him though. Look for Fields to be no worse than the third scorer on the team and possibly even second.

Joey Shaw
- He's already tasted D-1 ball as a freshman redshirt and then a season playing at Indiana. He'll be another shooter Fox can employ although he'll probably want more dribble-drive play from Shaw than has been shown to date.

Malik Cooke - Brandon Fields played close to two and a half times more per game than Cooke yet Cooke put up far better rebounding numbers. But where he plays is indeterminable at this moment.

Ray Kraemer
- If there is a need for a catch-and-shoot backcourter than Kraemer will see time.

Mark McLaughlin - Give this kid a year to adjust. He has nice size for the backcourt and intriguing skills. He first committed to Washington State but changed his mind.


Armon Johnson - He played just over 31 minutes a game last season and will probably be close to that figure in 2008-2009.

Lyndale Burleson - Burleson was right around 18 minutes a game and will probably remain around that figure. His assist-to-turnovers was 54 to 26 and he came close to leading the team in steals last season.

London Giles - Call this season an apprenticeship for him.


We can't see Luke Babbitt at the center position, at least not for any lengthy period of time and we nase this on one simple reason: Fox cannot afford to have his star player get anywhere near foul trouble. Babbitt could handle playing in the paint offensively and his shooting range would force his opposite at center out defensively to territory heretofore unexplored but Nevada would suffer too much if Babbitt was forced to the sidelines due to the whistles of the referees.

Therefore, freshman Dario Hunt has to be ready to play 20 minutes or so a game from the beginning.

It won't be as simplistic or black-and-white as this but Nevada will try to counter the in-the-paint scoring of opponents with three-pointers.

Fox apparently still has a scholarship available but it seems unlikely he will use it at this late date unless a 'big' somehow becomes available.

Nevada has some very good players -- how much the lack of a presence in the middle is felt will be season determining.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Drew Washington finds a home and a USU recruiting note

Alas, from Jeff Goodman's list of transfer at, we find that former Louisiana Tech player Drew Washington has landed at Oklahoma City.


A recruiting note from Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune:

"Basketball: Utah State offers Orem's 6-10 Harward
June 23, 2008

Add Orem High's 6-foot-10 center Ian Harward to the list of members of the class of 2009 who being recruited by Division I basketball programs.

Harward has received a scholarship offer from Utah State and will probably decide this week whether he will commit to the Aggies, his high school coach, Mike Conner, said Monday morning..."

Idaho seeking respectability

Getting out of the comfort zone.

We think that describes what new Idaho Coach Don Verlin has done, having moved over from one of the WAC's most successful basketball programs at Utah State -- albeit as an assistant -- to woebegone Idaho. Actually, the folks around Moscow wish the woes in their men's basketball program would be gone and are certainly hoping Verlin is the one to achieve that transformation.

Almost every basketball coach want to eventually command his or her own program -- at any level -- and Verlin's itch just got scratched.

We wish him the best as he has an extremely difficult task ahead of him.


Darin Nagle. Michael Crowell. Mike Kale. Clyde Johnson. Each of these guys started a significant number of games last season for the Vandals so their experience will be missed. But none probably should have been starters on a good WAC team -- contributors off the bench, yes -- so the loss is minimized by this distinction.


Second-team All-WAC player Jordan Brooks and Mike Hall, who averaged just under 10 ppg. were dumped from the team at the conclusion of the spring semester. Such is a powerful statement followed by an exclamation point that the Idaho men's basketball program is going to be run and led by the coaching staff, period. There will be some short-term suffering as a result of the dismissals of Brooks and Hall but Verlin obviously felt such steps were needed to readjust the program's cohesiveness and for the development of the team concept.


Mac Hopson G 6-2 195 redshirt Junior - He played in 21 games for Washington State as a sophomore(he was at a junior college before) before transferring. In that one season for Wazzou, Hopson averaged 4.2 points and 2.0 assists a game, shooting 39% overall but 45% from three-point range.

Brandon Brown G 6-1 205 Senior - A junior college transfer, Brown averaged 5.1 ppg. last season but didn't shoot well. He'll probably be more comfortable in his second season as a D-1 player but still looks to be more a reserve type -- a fourth or fifth guard.

Terrence Simmons G 6-3 170 Senior - He had more of a playmaking rep than a scoring one after coming in from the juco ranks and he did compile more assists than turnovers last season with a poor shooting squad. He'll be in the mix at the point but needs to shoot much better to see substantial playing time.

Trevor Morris G 6-4 182 Senior - Morris averaged 7.1 ppg last season but his shooting has always been below 40% from the floor. He's a catch-and-shoot guard who needs time to get his shot off. Translated, he can score when left wide open and this limits his production and playing time.

Phillip Thomas F 6-8 250 redshirt Freshman - Out of San Leandro, Thomas played but 26 minutes all season and was eventually redshirted. It's early but he looks like he can perform as a frontcourter coming off the bench but seemingly will never earn a starting spot.

Luis Augusto F 6-8 245 Senior - He averaged a foul every five and half minutes, shot poorly and actually gathered more rebounds offensively than defensively. Depending on how Thomas progresses, Augusto may end up behind him in the rotation.

Erekele Jgernaia F 6-8 210 freshman Tbilisi, Georgia -- Jgernaia signed late last November and redshirted. He has a reputation as a solid perimeter shooter.


Kashif Watson G 6-4 190 Junior CA junior college - He averaged 13.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and shot 52.3-percent from the floor for Irvine Valley Community College last season and also has the rep as a solid defender. He signed with San Diego State out of high school but didn't qualify as has since attended Winchendon Prep School in Massachusetts, Indian Hills CC in Iowa and Irvine Valley CC in southern California. His junior college stats indicate his shooting range in limited.

Brandon Wiley F 6-5 225 Junior CA junior college - Out of City College of San Francisco, Wiley actually led the state junior colleges in blocked shots this past season. He won't be a big scorer, more a fill-in-where-help-is-needed contributor. Overall, he averaged 12.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

Kyle Barone C 6-10 215 Freshman CA high school - It looks like his best skill at the moment is three-point shooting. He played prep ball in Orange County and attended Summit Prep school this past season and averaged 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks per game. Obviously, he needs strength and bulk.

Marvin Jefferson C 6-9 235 Junior CA junior college - Jefferson put up impressive numbers -- 18.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 4.6 blocks in 30 games last season but it was in a height and size-challenged conference. The previous season he didn't play, focusing on academics.

*** Marcus Lawrence G 5-11 180 Junior UNLV transfer/eligible in 2009-2010 - A quick look at his numbers indicate he's a distributor of the ball, compiling good assist-to-turnover ratios but his shooting needs to be upgraded.



Mac Hopson - He has to be one of the starters in the backcourt and the best point producer in order for Verlin's group to gain the traction necessary to get the Vandal program turned around.

Kashif Watson - We see Watson as the backcourter most complementary to Hopson, providing defensive effort, size and athleticism.

Terrence Simmons - He's the most natural passer/distributor in Verlin's backcourt but best suited as someone coming off the bench.

Brandon Brown
- An off guard who will offer scoring possibilities off the bench.

Trevor Morris
- As we indicated earlier, Morris has the title of a shooter but a very circumstantial one. Another reserve.

Small Forward

Erekele Jgernaia - Verlin is hoping this young man can be an offensive sharpshooter as no one else in the Foward category offers that talent.

Brandon Wiley
- Wiley may even see some time in the backcourt but that will be a situational circumstance. Here's a kid who won't score a lot but he'll work hard and garner stats in a lot of other categories.

Strong Forward

Phillip Thomas - see below

Luis Augusto - see below

Neither Thomas nor Agosto will earn a starting spot and possibly not even many minutes of playing time. Brandon Wiley just may find himself at power forward at times.


Marvin Jefferson - Jefferson may face the unenviable task of carrying the frontcourt this coming season. The conundrum is that while yes, he does have talent, he's not at the level of ability. It will be interesting how tough he plays defensively because he won't be able to afford getting into foul trouble as there's a major dropoff when he sits.

Kyle Barone - We can't see him nabbing many minutes next season, not until he can increase his strength and size.


Verlin is going to find this task a long row to hoe but he'll be given the time required to actually have a realistic shot at achieving a makeover.

Quite a telling stat: The only positive statistical category for the Vandals last season was having 11 more steals than opponents -- every other team number was a negative differential.

The current roster still has too many players who should not be playing the number of minutes they will but Verlin hasn't had the luxury of a full season of recruiting.

Idaho still looks like a last place finisher but there's at least hope on the horizon.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Jaycee Carroll update

Maybe others don't share the interest but we are closely following Jaycee Carroll and the NBA draft. He's one of those guys we find ourselves saying 'there has to be a spot for him somewhere' and we'll find out next week.

Utah Jazz: Carroll now a passin' assassin
Linda Hamilton
Deseret News
June 22, 2008

Utah State University's Jaycee Carroll has spent the past couple of months in Chicago trying to build point-guard skills so he could market himself for the last couple of weeks at NBA team pre-draft workouts as a combo guard.

"Most teams have been OK with that. They think that I can be that kind of a player, so it's been positive," said Carroll on Saturday after finishing a workout with the Jazz, the ninth of his 11 planned auditions in anticipation of Thursday's NBA Draft. He's off to Toronto and Milwaukee and has already been to Chicago, Detroit, Portland, Sacramento, the Los Angeles Clippers, New Jersey, Charlotte and New Orleans.

But as much as the 6-foot-2 Carroll has tried to broaden his game by working six days a week with his agent's clients and staff in Chicago, as much as he likes to think of himself as more athletic than people give him credit for being, maybe a better defender than people think and someone who can bring the ball upcourt and read what's going on, he's still got that deadeye reputation.

"Most teams have really talked to me as kind of an assassin," said Carroll, the Aggies' career scoring leader with 2,522 points and No. 4 in the NCAA at career 3-point shooting percentage (.465).

"Coming in and spreading the floor and knocking down wide-open 3-point shots, kind of Steve Kerr, I've heard comparisons," he said with reference to the former Chicago Bulls/San Antonio Spurs 6-foot-1 sniper and current Phoenix Suns GM.

"I've had team representatives say that I come to the gym, and I have an ace to play (his shooting), whereas other guys come in with just a jack or a queen to showcase......"

Go here for the remainder.

A Reggie Larry update

Not much can be found in print about BSU's Reggie Larry and the NBA draft so here's an update:

Warriors want another look at Reggie Larry
Brian Murphy
Idaho Statesman

Former Boise State men's basketball star Reggie Larry will have a second personal workout with the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

Larry, who worked out with the team several weeks ago, said the Warriors are considering him with the 49th pick in next week's NBA Draft.

"They're thinking about what they want to do with that second-round pick," said Larry, who averaged a team-high 19.4 points and 9.2 rebounds in leading the Broncos to the NCAA Tournament as a senior.

Larry said he will play on the Warriors' summer-league teams in Las Vegas and Utah, something Golden State asked him to do after his first workout...

Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Chris Murray is back with a JaVale McGee update

As the NBA draft will soon be taking place, Chris Murray returns with some more on JaVale McGee who seems to divide analysts like almost no other draft-eligible player.

Hollinger weighs in on the bigs
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Jorunal
June 20, 2008's John Hollinger has carved out a niche for himself by relying on statistics to judge players and project their future success. He is essentially a quantitative analyst, akin to Bill James in baseball. Every year he looks at players' college stats to see how they will do in the NBA. On Friday, he looked at the draft-eligible bigs (insider link) and put them into eight categories: (1) The Sure Thing, (2) The Certain High-Lottery pick, (3) Potential Lottery picks, (4) Solid First-Rounders, (5) Fringe First-Rounders, (6) The Riff-Raff, (7) Better Update that Passport, (8) Between Me and the Scouts, One of us Will Look Like an Idiot.

For us, there are two players of concern: the first being Nevada's JaVale McGee and the second being Louisville's David Padgett, a Reno High graduate.

McGee finds himself in the "Riff-Raff" category, along with UAB's Walter Sharpe, Texas A&M's Joseph Jones, North Carolina State's J.J. Hickson, Maryland's James Gist, Kansas' Sasha Kaun and Stanford's Robin Lopez. Needless to say, the numbers don't project McGee to have a superstar career in the NBA. Hollinger writes:
JaVale McGee...

Go here for the remainder.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A USU replacement for assistant James Ware?

The best Utah State site and message board has some chatter about a new assistant coach coming aboard by the name of Tarvish Felton. He replaces James Ware who moved on to Kerry Keating's staff at Santa Clara.

Felton was at Sacramento State last season before the head coach and his assistants were let go there.

Here is his official bio from the Sac State site:

"Tarvish Felton, who spent the 2006-07 season as an assistant at Southern Utah and has seven years of coaching experience, will begin his fi rst year as an assistant at Sacramento State for the 2007-08 season.

A three-year starter at small forward for Southern Utah (1996-99) during his playing days, Felton also coached for Texas A&M International (head coach from 2003-06), Cal State LA (assistant from 2000-02) and one year as a student assistant at Southern Utah (1999-00).

He spent the 2002-03 academic year putting the TAMIU team together, as the program took the fl oor for the fi rst time ever in 2003-04. Combined, Felton has helped coach 10 different players to all-conference accolades.

Last season at Southern Utah, Felton helped coach the Thunderbirds to a 16-14 overall record while working with the team’s big men. He was involved in recruiting, and was also in charge of the team’s academics and camps.

A 1999 graduate of Southern Utah with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, Felton was a two-time IHC Health Plans state player of the year during both his junior and senior seasons (1997-99). Also during his senior season, he received all-Mid-Continent Conference honors and was named Southern Utah’s academic athlete of the year for basketball.

A native of Perry, Ga., Felton is listed several times in Southern Utah’s career record books, ranking third in career blocked shots, fi fth in steals and seventh in rebounds. Prior to Southern Utah, Felton spent his freshman year playing at Northeast College in Norfolk, Neb."

Ray Lopes is back in the WAC

Ray Lopes has been hired as an assistant by new Coach Don Verlin. It will be interesting how involved Lopes will be in recruiting for Idaho. His initial batches of kids at Fresno State were not, to be kind, boy scouts and his interaction with the police in the Terry Pettis case was questionable. Let's hope he has learned from his mistakes -- as we all should try and do -- and aids Idaho in upgrading its basketball program.

It comes with risk, but Vandals hit the mark with Lopes hiring
Brian Murphy
Idaho Statesman

Ray Lopes paid his penalty, serving his time far from the bright lights and big salaries of Division I basketball.

He toiled in coaching purgatory, serving his three-year NCAA penalty by working as an NBA advance scout and as an assistant coach with the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League.

The next stop on the Ray Lopes rehabilitation tour: Moscow, Idaho...

Click here for the remainder of Murphy's column

Hula-ing with Hawaii

Coach Bob Nash is now in his second year, with a full recruiting season under his belt and he has made the most of it. The Rainbow Warriors nabbed one of the best junior college players in the country, along with a couple of other solid recruits, so the real test will be meshing all the newcomers as a unit.


Matt Gibson
Bob Nash
Riley Luettgerodt
Jared Dillinger
P.J. Owsley
Stephen Verwers
Alex Veit

Six players who started most of the games for Hawaii last season have moved on so there will definitely be growing pains for Bob Nash's squad this coming season. The toughness of Matt Gibson will be the hardest element to replace but the cohesion Hawaii displayed in 2007-2008 is also a critical component necessary to replicate if The Warriors want to be an upper division resident in the WAC.


Kareem Nitoto G 6-2 185 sophomore -- Nitoto definitely got his feet wet last season and enjoyed a few moments in the spotlight but he'll need to upgrade both his shooting prowess and his assist-to-turnover ratio.

Conrad Fitzgerald
G/F 6-5 210 redshirt freshman -- An unknown at this point.

Ji Xiang F 6-10 240 freshman -- A knee injury in the pre-season curtailed him from playing in 2007-2008 so he redshirted. His rep is as an outside shooter.

Paul Campbell F 6-10 215 junior -- He averaged just above five minutes of court time a game last season and looks to be more of a careet backup.

Adhar Mayen F 6-8 195 junior -- Possessing excellent athletic ability, Mayen has a good shot of making the jump into the starting lineup with continued improvement.

Bill Amis F 6-9 220 junior -- One of the best and biggest surprises of last season, Amis started 20 games -- more out of necessity after Stpehen Verwers was injured and lost for the season -- and produced. He'll either be at center or power forward from the get-go for Hawaii this go-around.


Roderick Flemings 6-7 215 guard/forward Texas junior college -- It supposedly came down to Hawaii and Kentucky and the aloha spirit won out. Flemings has some summer classes to finish but is being counted upon to be the centerpiece of Hawaii's offense in 2008-2009. He averaged 20.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. The questions surrounding him are how long a period of time to adjust to D-1, if any, will he need and can he makes the other players around him more effective?

Petras Balocka 6-8 250 center Florida junior college -- Labeled a solid rebounder, we see Balocka either being the starting center this coming season for Hawaii or the backup to Amis. A frontcourt of Balocka, Amis and Flemings should be a competitive one. Balocka played at East Tennessee State as a freshman.

Lasha Parghalava 6-2 205 guard Florida junior college -- His best asset is his long-range shooting ability but he has also drawn praise for his defensive effort. It wouldn't surprise us if he actually starts at shooting guard or is at least the first backcourter off the bench. He was set to sign with South Florida back in the early November but there was a snafu (he's from Lithuania) and the signing period ran out before he could get his mother to sign and return his paperwork.

Adam Jespersen 6-7 210 forward Canada high school -- He'll need time coming from the Canadian preps ranks but has interesting potential.

Hiram Thompson 6-3 180 guard CA high school -- This former Sacramento-area prep guard is returning from a two-year church mission. He played his freshman season at Hawaii and displayed adequate ballhandling and shooting but his hiatus cannot have helped his skill development.

Brandon Adams 6-6 210 forward CA junior college -- He'll redshirt this season



Bill Amis -- He's the best shotblocker on the team, very mobile for his height and exhibits a solid sense of knowing when and where to shoot. It appears the best placement for someone with the skills set he exhibits would be at power forward where he can maximize aiding his center teammate with 'help' defense and have more areas on the floor from which to maneuver offensively. He's best on the boards at the offensive end so teaming him up with a solid defensive boarder would be best.

Paul Campbell -- We see Campbell as a backup guy helping out when foul trouble arises.

Petras Balocka -- The only candidate with the strength and bulk to truly play in the paint, Hawaii needs this junior college transfer to make a quick adjustment.

Strong Forward

Ji Xiang -- Reports indicate he's more proficient and comfortable facing the basket offensively, with a shooting range from the elbow to three-point territory. His injury may have been a blessing in disguise because he still needs to add strength along with getting used to the speed and pace of D-1 basketball.

Amis and Balocka are the keys here -- Hawaii needs strong seasons from both in order to have much of a power game inside.


Roderick Flemings -- We're assuming his academics are in order but we also have the sense that Flemings could be a 'one-and-done' player if he has a reasonable degree of success this coming season. But who really knows at this point. Regardless, he will be putting up the most shots on the team and the Rainbow Warriors need 20+ consistent points a night from him in order to both be competitive and to draw defensive attention away from his teammates.

Lasha Parghalava -- Armed with a rep as a shooting backcourter, this transfer could be the key to keeping defenses honest and preventing any packing into the paint.

Adhar Mayen -- Mayen had some bright spots last season and now needs to demonstrate greater consistency. He played the four spot in his lone junior college season but lacks the strength and bulk right now to do so for Hawaii. But that may be the direction to go unless he can improve his shooting percentage and range.

Adam Jespersen -- Call him Player X as we have no sense of his skills set or promise. He played power forward in high school but apparently has solid ballhandling skills.

Conrad Fitzgerald -- He's another excellent athlete who is still bringing his basketball skills up to par.


Kareem Nitoto -- He needs to shoot better both overall and from three-point range.

Hiram Thompson -- There has to be some degree of rust on Thompson's game and there won't be a long period of time to both get back into chape or develop his dormant skills set since he'll return in August from his mission. It will be a nice surprise if he can help right away.


Bob Nash may disagree but Hawaii looks a year or so away from being truly competitive in the WAC. We envision the Rainbow Warriors needing better point guard play than they will receive from the current roster. Plus, any sort of long term or season-ending frontcourt injury will deplete an already thin set of power players.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Brandon Mims resurfaces

Another of the Louisiana Tech Four, Brandon Mims, has found a new home:

Tech's Brandon Mims transfers to LSU-Shreveport
The News Star
June 17, 2008

LSUS continues to stockpile its 2008-09 roster with NCAA Division I transfers as former Evangel and Louisiana Tech forward Brandon Mims signed a letter of intent with the Pilots today.

“We are very happy that Brandon has made the decision to come back home to Shreveport and join our program here at LSUS next season,” said LSUS head coach Chad McDowell. “Brandon will provide us with much needed size and athleticism, and we are excited about his decision to transfer.”

Mims appeared in 23 games with six starts as a true freshman last season at Louisiana Tech. He averaged 1.5 points and two rebounds, while leading the team in blocked shots.

Idaho adds one more player

The official signing period has passed but players can still sign with college teams and vice versa -- just not an actual letter-of-intent. Idaho just landed a transfer, a Vegas native whose academic and legal concerns caused him to be dropped by UNLV. Hopefully the young man will seize the opportunity and be the point guard Coach Don Verlin envisions:

Ex-UNLV guard Lawrence to join Watson at Idaho
Rob Miech
Las Vegas Sun
June 18, 2008

Look for former UNLV basketball player Marcus Lawrence to join former Bishop Gorman High teammate Kashif Watson at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho...


From a February 15 Rob Miech/Las Vegas Sun article:

"UNLV suspended sophomore basketball player Marcus Lawrence after he was arrested early Friday morning for driving under the influence and failure to drive in a travel lane...

...Lawrence served a suspension at the beginning of the season for academic issues."

George Pfeiffer is back in coaching

Former Idaho mentor George Pfeiffer is again back in the coaching ranks, having just been hired to run the men's basketball program at Montana State Billings.

Here's the press release:

June 18, 2008
MSUB Names George Pfeifer New Head Men’s Basketball Coach

BILLINGS, Mont. – Montana State Billings Director of Athletics, Dr. Gary Gray, announced Wednesday that former University of Idaho head men’s basketball coach, George Pfeifer, has been hired as the new head men’s basketball coach.

“I am extremely pleased that Coach Pfeifer has accepted our offer to become our new men’s basketball coach,” Gray said. “George brings a wealth of basketball experience and success to MSUB, particularly from his many years as head coach in a very talented NAIA program at LCSC. In fact, LCSC was a provisional NCAA Division II member for a few of those years so he is no stranger to Division II. In addition, he has recruited against and competed well against some of the most successful Division II programs in the West Region. George also has a strong record of fund raising in the Lewiston community, and he built a model camp structure at LCSC over his many years there. We welcome Coach Pfeifer as the newest member of the Yellowjackets.”

Pfeifer comes to MSUB after three years at the University of Idaho where he served one year as assistant coach and two as head coach. Pfeifer guided the Vandals to a 12-48 record in his two years as head coach...

Go here for the remainder.

Going Miss Cleo on the Fresno State Bulldogs

NOTE: When this was initially posted we mis-named Bulldog recruit Justin Johnson, typing Eddie Johnson -- his father's name -- who is also the former NBA player. We regret the error and have corrected the mistake.

Most of the time any team losing it's best players will not post an equal or better won-loss record the next season.

We believe that called Naismith's First Theorem of Basic Basketball.

Such is the situation Steve Cleveland will face in 2008-2009 at Fresno State as the Bulldogs program has been hit by the basketball equivalent of the perfect storm.

However, help is on the way.

Student-athletes in legal trouble, players departing early to the siren call of the NBA, young men not taking care of their academics, plus probationary woes and scholarship losses courtesy of the previous FSU coaching staff -- all have crashed down upon the Bulldog program and left a roster in need of greater talent but especially playing experience.


Cleveland had bid adieu to Kevin Bell, Eddie Miller, Hector Hernandez and Alex Blair from last year's squad -- that's quite the departure of talent. Frontcourter James Tchana has also returned back home to the east coast. Heralded recruit Rekalin Sims was never able to get on the court last season due to academic and legal woes and his athletic eligibility has expired. *** However, one positive note out of the latter situation is that Sims has earned his degree so credit him with buckling down despite seeing his college basketball career end in a manner nobody expected. His graduation obviously helps the FSU APR, which could use any boost available.


Jordan Ambers sophomore guard -- He's a walk-on backcourter who won't see much court time again in 2008-2009.

Nedeljko Golubovic 6-8 230 sophomore forward -- Golubovic was actually better than expected considering it was his initial go-around in the program. He looks to be a full-time starter somewhere on FSU's frontline in the new season.

Myles Green 5-10 160 freshman point -- Another backcourt walk-on, Green only saw 24 minutes of action and that will probably be duplicated.

Bryan Harvey 6-5 210 junior wing -- A heralded recruit out of southern California, Harvey didn't like things at Louisville, transferred to Fresno, sat out a season and then became academically ineligible in December. His nonchalant commitment to academics let down his teammates and there's a degree of respect he needs to earn back.

Dwight O'Neil 6-3 180 junior guard -- A broken hand midway through the season put O'Neill on the injured list until late in the season when he gave playing a go but was never 100%.

Sylvester Seay 6-9 215 junior forward -- A transfer from Arizona State, look for Seay to be a nice points producer for the Bulldogs, possibly the leader scorer. The opportunity and shots will certainly be there.

Brandon Webster 6-10 250 sophomore center -- This youngster has promise but needs to be in shape and ready to contribute come October. There is nobody else on the roster who even resembles a center so the opportunity is there to be seized.


Bracken Funk 6-8 235 forward Utah high school -- Funk is on his two-year church mission and won't alight in Fresno for some time.

Chris Jones 6-3 180 guard CA high school -- Jones possesses a ready-for-college-play body and frame and will contribute right away at the defensive end. He's not really a point and neither a rapidfire points producer but will grow into those roles. Jones is the type of player whose contributions will show up all over the box score.

Reggie Moore
6-1 170 WA high school -- He moved to the point after also making a high school switch after his sophomore season. He's a good athlete who can create for himself and his teammates but his shot needs greater consistency. Kevin Bell left mighty big shoes to fill and it's unfair to have anywhere near that sort of expectation right now of Moore. Down the road could be different.

Mychal Ladd 6-4 180 WA high school -- Ladd is a big-time athlete but one who is still developing the basketball skills necessary for college play. He'll definitely need a longer time than high school teammate Moore in order to be ready to consistently contribute.

Paul George -- 6-7 185 CA high school -- Again the same refrain -- he'll need time but has the potential to become a good points producer for the Bulldogs. He first committed to Santa Clara, then recused himself and signed with Pepperdine. After a coaching change there, George cast his net out again and it was Fresno State completing the trifecta.

Justin Johnson
6-7 190 Prep School -- Injuries this season limited his recruiting exposure. Upgrading his body, along with his ball skills needs to be his initial priorities.



Brandon Webster -- Additional maturity and a wide open opportunity at the center spot should have Webster becoming a 10-and-5 player on the stat sheet this coming season. He possesses a nice touch inside but albeit with very little range. But if he doesn't come through or encounters injury, then FSU will be in a world of major hurt.

Strong Forward

Nedeljko Golubovic -- He earned some starts once into league play and displayed some scoring ability. He'll be a starter either at center of power forward but now needs to demonstrate better boarding ability and defensive prowess.

Sylvester Seay -- As we mentioned earlier, Seay is our choice to become the leading scorer for the Bulldogs. He's a good athlete with more of an offensive focus than anything else at this point. If things work out and Seay can get in enough minutes at the small forward/wing spot, look for bigtime size mismatches to occur. Cleveland will do what he can to make this happen but the roster makeup in 2008-2009 is problematic.


Bryan Harvey -- It's time for Harvey to step forward. He needs to demonstrate a greater commitment to his teammates (with his academics) and also finally display the offensive firepower expected of him. His shooting percentage of last season -- .349% -- isn't going to cut it. But do give him credit for a 5.0 rebounding per game number.

Paul George -- Determining the contribution of a freshman is always difficult but George has the best chance of putting points on the scoreboard of any of Cleveland's newbies.

Eddie Johnson -- We see Johnson as more of a down the road helper but one with nice potential for such a late signing.

Two Guard

Dwight O'Neil -- Doesn't it seem like O'Neill has been with the Bulldogs for a decade or so? He'll help at the defensive end and with some point production. A bonus will be any leadership he supplies to an extremely young backcourt and overall team.

Chris Jones -- He may not play a lot right away in the coming season but look for him to move into O'Neill's vacated spot the following year.

Mychal Ladd -- It's going to take some time for him to develop the skills to match up with his athletic talents.

Jordan Ambers
-- Depth and a practice player.


Reggie Moore -- There's going to be a great deal of pressure on this young man, a freshman still in process of learning to play the point. Paying a price now will facilitate enjoying a very good playmaker in the future bvut regardless, what other choice does Cleveland have?.

Myles Green -- Again, more of a depth and practice guy.


With the need for size and strength, we were surprised that Cleveland would sign an early recruit -- albeit a power forward -- who won't appear in a Bulldog uniform until two years hence (Bracken Funk). Eddie Johnson, his last signee, has possibilities at power forward but probably not for a couple more years.

So it's Golubovic, Webster and Seay and pray for referees who don't use their whistles often.

Cleveland certainly decided to go the high school route this recruiting go-around. This will mean more losses in the near term but a much more solid Fresno State foundation for the future. The academic, behavioral and early pursuit of NBA roster spots woes were the kingdom primarily of FSU's junior college transfer recruits and such seemingly played a role in Cleveland's decision-making vis-a-vis recruiting.

We can't recall a time when Fresno State men's basketball had so many questionmarks. But Bulldog fans will be rewarded with a brighter down-the-road future if they can be patient and let the newcomers acclimate.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Two new recruits to the WAC

Fresno State and Utah State have recently added to their respective rosters.

We thought Steve Cleveland would go big -- center or power forward -- with his last scholarship but obviously determined the talent pool of unsigned players of size who had interest in Fresno State wasn't to his liking so he signed a forward who possesses promise, a fine bloodline and is a top student.

Johnson Lands Division I Scholarship
June 9, 2008

After a long and injury prone season at Brewster Academy, Justin Johnson has finally achieved his goal of earning a division I scholarship.

Justin Johnson has good size at 6’8”, an above average skill set, and impressive athleticism. He is versatile enough to play as either a face-up four or a small forward. He also comes from good pedigree being the son of former NBA sharp-shooter Eddie Johnson.

Nevertheless, the talented forward didn’t have too many suitors at the division I level for most of this season. After struggling with some injuries throughout the year, he never really got the opportunity to show college coaches what he was capable of. In fact, it was just a short time ago that he was seriously considering some opportunities as a recruited walk-on.

But as the old saying goes…good things come to those who wait. And this weekend when Johnson committed to Fresno State, he finally earned the scholarship that he had longed for..."


Here's a description of Johnson's game, confounding as it is:

"...Long arms and live bouncy legs. Can get up with quickness and speed. Ball skills are adequate but need improvement to play at a high level on the wing. Has great stroke from 3 and can create own shot off the dribble. Strength and upper body size are his weakness right now but with an added muscle and continued ball skill development could be a HM prospect. Attacks the glass with aggression..."


Here's a little more just prior to Johnson heading east to Brewster Prep:

"...We decided to give him another year to develop his body and game at the prep school level," said father and Phoenix Sun's television analyst Eddie Johnson. "The added 14 months and becoming a 2008 recruit will allow him to compete right away when he reaches the collegiate level."

At 6-foot-7 and weighing 195 pounds, Johnson has a 72 inch wing span, making him a very long and athletic wing forward...."

"...Johnson currently is a very good perimeter shooter, with a developing mid-range game. As he continues to improve his handle and range on his jump shot..."

"...Johnson plans to major in business or computer science in college and is an outstanding student with a 4.0 GPA..."


Thanks to buddy Jed Tai, Mr. Basketball in the Northwest, Utah State adds a Prop. 48 kid for the future. But we do have one question: how is this young man going to afford out-of-state tuition?

Jed Tai

Academics won't allow Terrell Mack to play college basketball next season, but that doesn't mean that the athletic 6-foot-4, 185-pound swingman from Fort Vancouver High School hasn't found a Division I home. Mack is working on his game this summer, playing with the I-5 Elite program, preparing himself for a debut in the Western Athletic Conference two seasons from now after making a verbal commitment.

"I'm going to Prop 48 at Utah State," Mack said. "I've been talking to them and they were the only ones that kept up with me after seeing my grades, so I decided to stick with them too. I like how they play - they run and gun - and their assistant coach, Coach [James] Ware, is pretty good too..."
(Our note: apparently the kid doesn't know James Ware has moved to Santa Clara)

Here's our Utah State early preview

2008-2009 will be Coach Stew Morrill's most challenging season in some time. Of course, 'challenging' can be quite the relative term seeing as how successful the Aggies have been for the last decade or so. Put another way, there is no longer Jaycee Carroll and his marvelous shooting range, quick release and point production available nightly so Morrill is going to have to rely on more of a team effort but will still need a player or two to 'step-up' at the end of games. It will be interesting to see who emerges.


High scorer Jaycee Carroll, point Kris Clark and underrated frontcourter Stephen DuCharme have completed their eligibility, leaving three very big holes and roles to fill.

DeUndrae Spraggins and Desmond Stephens were junior college backcourt transfers from last year and neither worked out quite as expected in 2007-2008 -- both are now elsewhere.

Here's the current Utah State roster:


Brad Brown 6-6 195 sophomore walkon forward -- unconfirmed word is that Brown is heading out on his church mission in August
Pooh Williams 6-3 200 sophomore guard/forward -- a fine athlete, known as a shooter in high school who displayed defensive prowess last season
Tyler Newbold 6-4 190 sophomore guard -- our choice for the player to step up the most in the coming season
Jaxon Myaer 5-9 150 redshirt freshman guard -- a redshirt last season who is a candidate for time at the point
Tai Wesley 6-6 230 sophomore forward -- probably the most pleasant Aggie surprise last season
Matt Formisano 6-8 220 sophomore walkon forward -- an effort kid who is a fill-in here and there type of player
Gary Wilkinson 6-9 240 senior center -- enjoyed a fine season but Morrill needs consistent production from him in the coming go-around
Modou Niang 6-9 240 sophomore center -- getting by right now on his marvelous athleticism rather than actual basketball skills


Jared Quayle 6-2 180 junior -- from a junior college in Wyoming, known primarily as a longrange shooter
Stavon Williams 6-3 185 junior -- a transfer from a Texas junior college also with a reputation as a shooter
Rich Sirju 6-2 190 junior -- hailing from a Florida junior college, he is another shooter/scorer type
Deremy Geiger 5-10 165 freshman -- he's a point out of Las Vegas who may redshirt depending on the advancement of others
Jordan Stone 6-11 240 freshman -- a center who will first complete his two-year church mission
Brady Jardine 6-6 200 freshman -- he is supposedly arriving in Logan come August after completing his church mission



Gary Wilkinson 6-9 240 senior -- Wilkinson had periods of inconsistency but still an overall successful transition from the junior college ranks. A second team All-WAC selection, a major portion of the Aggie success in 2008-2009 will be dependent upon Wilkinson's improvement. His 13.3 ppg. and 7.0 rpg. averages will get better -- maybe averaging a double-double? -- but what Morrill would like to see the most from his big man is a constant physical presence exhibited in the paint.

Modou Niang 6-9 240 sophomore -- Just like no decent bottle of wine can be rushed, this physically blessed kid will need rep after rep and greater experience before being able to be counted on as a steady contributor. He averaged just over five minutes a game and a sign of his improvement and readiness will be a doubling of that playing time in 2008-2009. Look for him to be the top Aggie shotblocker next season, having swatted away an opponent's scoring attempt every nine minutes last go-around.

Strong Forward

Tai Wesley 6-6 230 sophomore forward -- We see Wesley as a future All-WAC pick but are not so sure this will come to fruition next season. He plays a physical style and just may have to spend some time in the middle due to no one else on the roster ready to provide Wilkinson substantial relief in the paint. One area in need of improvement is the number of personal fouls Wesley commits as he was whistled 42 more times than Wilkinson.

Matt Formisano 6-8 220 sophomore walkon forward -- This guy is a 'try-hard' frontcourter who can help maintain the status quo of a game for a short stretch of minutes. It will be a sign of trouble in Logan if Formisano is playing double figure minutes next season.

Wing/Shooting guard

We always find it difficult to discern who will play the two guard versus the wing so we have combined the candidates.

Pooh Williams 6-3 200 sophomore guard/forward -- He became recognized for his defensive effort last season after redshirting his first year in Logan. Defensive effort will always earn someone playing time but let's see if Williams begins to shoot as expected.

Tyler Newbold 6-4 190 sophomore guard -- He shot marvelously last season -- .547% overall, .515% on treys, 839% from the foul line -- but the key for him is can he become a go-to scorer and a dribble-drive creator? Newbold shot just 31 free throws in 35 games -- one every 24+ minutes -- scorers typically get to the line much more. We certainly see promise in him.

Brady Jardine 6-6 200 freshman -- Call this guy the joker in the Aggie deck. He might also be in competition for minutes at the strong forward spot but will certainly need more strength in order to do so or he may redshirt, depending on both how quickly he adapts to playing basketball again after a two year church mission and the needs of the team. Jardine's a quick-jumping, very athletic player with nice shooting range. A ready-to-play Jardine would be a nice boost to the Aggies chances in the WAC. Out of Idaho, it's unusual that Greg Graham let this kid get away but one never knows what were the actual factors involved.

Stavon Williams 6-3 185 junior -- Williams led the Minneapolis prep ranks in scoring as both a junior and senior and cemented his shooting/scoring reputation in the Texas junior college ranks the past two seasons. Known for being a better than average athlete, his expected contribution will appear on the offensive end.

Rich Sirju 6-2 190 junior -- He's been a shooter/scorer the last two seasons in the Florida junior college ranks just as he was in the Sunshine State prep ranks. He looks to have some creative ability with the ball, having led his team in free throws this past season.


Kris Clark produced 224 assists last season -- the following three players will not cumulatively reach that total in 2008-2009 nor have Clark's generally stellar assist-to-turnover ratio. However, the collective shooting percentage from the point will be better.

Jaxon Myaer 5-9 150 redshirt freshman guard -- We're not sure if Myaer is on scholarship for this coming season or not but he'll be in the mix at the point. The slightness of his size and resulting problems with matchups dictates his court time be as a role player at this time.

Jared Quayle 6-2 180 junior -- This kid is best known for his shooting range and scoring ability but he did play at the point in high school and will more than likely be looked at there first since such is the weakest/most unknown position right now for the Aggies.

Deremy Geiger 5-10 165 freshman -- Geiger may be redshirted next season depending upon where he ranks at the point after a few amount of practices. Both he and Myaer need to maximize their strength potential in order to get on the court.


The site known as the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum remains an ace in the hole for Morrill as it's usually full and loaded with noisy USU students. In 2007-2008, the Aggies cleaned up at home to the tune of a 17-0 record. They won't be undefeated there in 2008-2009 though.

The apparent loss of 6-9 recruit Bruce Webster definitly hurts. He would have satisfactorily filled in as Wilkinson's backup next season but his loss of desire to play ball any longer superseded this plan.

Morrill has definitely brought in backcourt/wing point producers in Stavon Williams, Rich Sirju and Jared Quayle, knowing that no one recruit could replace the departed Jaycee Carroll. Getting them to produce and quickly will be another key component to the Aggies success or failure in the upcoming season.

A nucleus of Wilkinson, Wesley and Newbold is a fine set of building blocks. But after those three, it's anyone's guess at this point as to who steps forward from the returnees and who is ready to contribute among the newcomers.

Combining Morrill's Big Three with half the games being at home makes Utah State a still formidable foe but not an unbeatable one.