Friday, July 31, 2009

A good guy

We never met him but Riley Wallace sure sounds like the type of person we would like to share a pint with -- or two.

Wallace embraced UH basketball with passion
Stephen Tsai Editor
July 30, 2009

Imagine if the "Life of Riley" were "It's a Wonderful Life," if basketball coach Riley Wallace never existed in Hawai'i's sports world.

There would be no tossed jackets, no foot-stomping protests of blown calls, no nervous coughs.

News conferences to announce the firing of football coaches would be peaceful. The construction of the Stan Sheriff Center would have been delayed by a few more years. "AC" would refer to a cooling system. And the University of Hawai'i basketball program would have remained on a proverbial island.

"I wouldn't say Riley has an open mind," said Larry Little, Wallace's close friend and predecessor as UH head coach, "but he has an open heart. Everything he does, he does for others, and because he believes in it. He loves Hawai'i."

Wallace said: "I guess that means he thinks I'm stubborn."

For 20 years, through the 2006-2007 season, Wallace merged style and substance. For all of the uniform changes — and the memory of the fluorescent-lime ones still burns the retina — each jersey was fitted with a blue collar.

"The one thing you knew was Riley's teams worked hard," Little said...
Go here for the remainder.

Ramon Sessions or Allan Iverson?

Wow. Whoever thought such a headline would be appropriate? A relatively unknown young man out of South Carolina and the University of Nevada with an unwavering faith in his abilities versus The Answer. What's the best move for the Knicks?

Knicks' options are Sessions, Iverson
Frank Isola
New York Daily News
July 31, 2009

Ramon Sessions could receive a contract offer from the Knicks as early as Friday, assuming they don't have a change of heart and shift their point-guard focus to Allen Iverson...
Go here for the remainder.

Boise State recruiting

How in the world does Greg Graham do it? Boise State men's basketball has been very competitive of late yet minus any 'heralded' recruits. That may sound like a backhanded compliment but it's not meant to be taken that way.

We don't see those even creeping towards blue-chip status consideration ever considering Boise, a situation that also applies to most of the WAC membership. The highly skilled who also display solid if not top level athleticism just aren't available. So what does Graham do?

He builds a team -- in all the positive senses. Graham typically nabs high IQ players, those willing to work hard and play unselfishly as a unit.

For example, consider the buzz -- or lack thereof -- when Kurt Cunningham signed? Did anyone forsee him leading the WAC in shooting? The same with Mark Sanchez? Where were the experts who noted he would achieve All-WAC Second Team status as a senior? Were the expectations that Ike Okoye and Anthony Thomas would earn berths on the WAC All-Defensive squad? Matt Nelson transferred in from Eastern Washington and became nearly unstoppable down low. Tyler Tiedeman's claim to fame was as a baseballer until he hurt his arm. Reggie Larry was known for his quickness and jumping but many -- if not most - simply considered him an undersized junior college power forward. Heck, Matt Baucher and Coby Karl were walk-ons.

Graham is a molder, one of the best compliments a coach can be given.

As for Graham's 2009 class, let's look at Mason Sawyer, Westley Perryman, Sam Hicks and Daequon Montreal. Sawyer is a 5-foot-9 point out of the Utah high school ranks who is heading out on his two-year LDS mission. Perryman is an athletic junior college transfer, signed with the expectations he will fill a role in the backcourt as a points producer. Hicks played against very little same-sized and not nearly as talented competition in league play at a northern California high school but exposure with a name club team got the 6-foot-9 freshman-to-be a WAC scholarship. He's a good athlete who will need to bulk up a bit. It was expected that the 6-foot-8 Montreal would head elsewhere after leaving powerhouse College of Southern Idaho -- Gonzaga was one school attached to him in recruiting circles, at least for a time.

Montreal is the most heralded of the quartet and he'll immediately move right on to the Bronco frontline as will Perryman in Boise's backcourt. Hicks will need time and the depth Graham has on the frontline will afford that.

The most curious signing was Sawyer. Anthony Thomas will be a senior in the 2009-2010 season, La'Shard Anderson a junior and both will have departed prior to Sawyer arriving.

So Graham needs to land a point in his 2010 recruiting class, one definitely ready to contribute after at most a season of adjustment. Will a high schooler be able to do so or does Graham go the junior college route?

Considering the current makeup of his roster, we view Graham's 2010 recruiting class as critical. He's going to need some talent that can step forward quickly as WAC-competitive. That may concern some in Boise but let's leave it right now with the fact that he has done it before.

Ben Vozzola to San Diego

Scout's Greg Hicks is reporting that 2010 backcourter Ben Vozzola has given a verbal to Coach Bill Grier and San Diego of the West Coast Conference. Nevada and Fresno State were the WAC entities showing interest.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Mexico State basketball recruiting

With the other WAC team recruiting profiles, we generally re-wrote our earlier take that was posted at But not here, at least not very much.


Because the following is still spot-on.

Way, way back when, Dustin Hoffman was advised to enter the business of plastics in "The Graduate' so our unsolicited advice to Coach Marvin Menzies is don't stock your roster with an overabundance of players who high schools have the word academy or prep in their titles or descriptions. Not that he needs such counsel but it fits with our look at New Mexico State men's basketball recruiting.

Now it's true that Jarmar Young (Laurinberg Prep) will be in competition for the WAC Player of the Year although he had an early blip with the law. Jonathan Gibson (Calvary Christian Prep) is a solid talent but his missing of practices last season usurped any chance of his playing a leadership role on the team. One key question: will he earn back his teammates respect during his senior go-around?

While a wondrous talent and still with time to turn things around, Troy Gillenwater (Stoneridge Prep) proved to be a handful for Menzies in 2008-2009. It was a continuance of prior behavior and something Gillenwater must shed. His inadequate academic emphasis must also do a 180. Let's hope he has seen the proverbial light and acted upon it.

Terrance Joyner (Genesis One Christian) committed collegiate basketball suicide with his antics at the El Paso Airport last season.

Herb Pope considered transferring from his Pennsylvania high school to various prep schools prior to his junior and senior seasons -- once it went so far as being announced -- and was at a prep school as a freshman.

Granted, not all of these players were Menzies signings but they are indicative of some of the difficulties in recruiting danger-free WAC-competitive talent to come to Las Cruces.

Yes, Menzies is in a tough spot. The Land of Enchantment doesn't produce D-1 calibre players with any regularity. Therefore, he has to bring in kids from outside the state. He also followed Reggie Theus' successful run which calibrated the pressure to succeed even higher than that which generally faces a new head coach.

As for this season's signings, Justin Standley and Da'Shawn Gomez are from traditional high schools and all indications are this pair are both solid young men.

Now we have to be careful with this -- that being B.J. West, the third Menzies signing -- is out of God's Academy although he attended a regular high school prior to that. We know nothing about him personally although it's interesting that the NCAA ruled in 2007 that courses and grades from God's Academy would not be accepted for the purposes of eligibility determination. But academic improvements have apparently been made since then and there's no qualms about God's Academy being loaded with talented players.

Plus with Wendell McKines' academic struggles and the possibility he may be sidelined for part or all of the upcoming season, it's important to note that continuity is the lifeblood of success in most any endeavor. This isn't news to Menzies or any other coach. He is faced with putting out a successful product on the floor but also of maintaining a group of 13 young men who produce in the classroom and in their public/private lives. It's often a delicate balance.

We see the program from Las Cruces as one that has the potential to win the WAC but also the possibility to implode. It will take time but such a highwire act has to end and the only way of doing so is by landing good talent that produces off the court behaviorally and academically as well. Consider this: how well might the Aggies perform -- especially the current set -- if all behavioral and academic distractions disappeared?

Let's just say that the other WAC coaches and teams are glad that such a scenario is still a make believe one.

Something on Luke Babbitt

The following surely must have been posted elsewhere as it's a month old but it's worth putting up here. Here's Andy Katz poring over ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford's Top 100 NBA prospect list -- there was but one WAC player:

Stock watch for 2009-10 draft crop
Andy Katz
June 26, 2009

• Luke Babbitt, Nevada: Ford has him as a possible late-first-round pick. I don't disagree. But Babbitt will have even more eyes on him as he plays for a new coach, former assistant David Carter. Babbitt must be a double-double performer and a standout player in the WAC to raise his profile. He wasn't able to do that in his first year.
Katz's second sentence mystifies us as it adds nothing of substance to his take. Why will Babbitt be watched by more people? That doesn't seem connected to David Carter now now at the helm -- if anything, it's because Babbitt is edging closer to the NBA radar by being a year older. We're not sure if he will ever average double figures with rebounding but can see him scoring 20 points per game in 2009-2010.

A Boise State mention connected to a prospect

Bob Gottlieb (the father of ESPN's Doug Gottlieb) runs a number of club teams in southern California under the title of Branch West. He recently wrote about one of his players and added that Boise State -- among many others -- is taking a look at the young man.

Maverick Ahanmisi 6'1" unsigned senior guard who will likely attend prep school and sign in November, hit 4 three pointers in the last 4 minutes to lead Branch West to a come from behind win over well regarded Rockfish in a Best of the Summer Super Pool game yesterday at Loyola Marymount.

Branch West finished 2-1 in pool play, losing to a superb Dallas team by 2, then beating an excellent Memphis team by 2 and then Rockfish.

Dallas lost only to Memphis so they also finsihed 2-1, with Rockfish and Memphis finishing 1-2.

All four teams will go into the big tournament since they were in a super pool. Dallas won the pool by virtue of beating Branch West in head to head.

Highly respected Dave Benezra, founder and Director of the Rockfish program, has moved up to a GM role and has one of the up and coming outstanding young high school coaches, Jeff Berekoff handling the reins.

Ironicaly BG was instrumental in Jeff getting a full NCAA D1 scholarship to Northwestern, coming out of high school. That was prior to the formation of the Branch West recruiting Assistance Service. In those days, I coached and helped kids in recruiting, strictly as an avocation.

Another irony is that after several successful years as the Head Coach at Pomona H.S., Jeff is the new Head Coach at El Modena H.S., where two of my kids attended high school. El Modena H.S basketball is in good hands.

Maverick Ahanmisi has had a spectacular summer, highlighted by a 37 pt explosion vs. Joe Ward All Stars of Phoenix, arguably the most talented team we saw or played against this summer. It included an incredible 7 three pointers in the 2nd half.

He is a major scoring guard.

Schools such as Weber State, Boise St., SMU, Pacific, Wash. State, Colorado State, St. Marys, Centenary and a multitude of others are showing serious interest.

Two more prospects being eyed by Nevada

Chris Murray has a couple more names of basketball prospects for Nevada basketball fans. Fresno State and New Mexico State are also mentioned in connection with one young man.

Pack basketball team looking at son of 'The Jackrabbit'
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Lucius Allen, the third overall pick of the 1969 NBA draft, was known as "The Jackrabbit" for his speed on the court. While his son, Geoffrey, isn't quite as quick, he is taller -- Geoffrey is 6-6 and his father is 6-2. In part because of that length and those bloodlines, the Nevada basketball team has Allen on its Class of 2010 recruiting radar. Allen told the L.A. Times that Nevada is among the school recruiting him...
Go here for the remainder.

Travis Mason-Bushman features Steffan Johnson

It's going to be extremely difficult for any other WAC team to offer a backcourt better than the pair of Mac Hopson and Steffan Johnson up in Moscow. As usual, Travis Mason-Bushman is on that very subject and offers an interview with Johnson at Vandal Nation:

Vandal Nation
Everything Idaho Vandals, from The Argonaut
Vandal Spotlight: Steffan Johnson
Travis Mason-Bushman
July 29, 2009

In the 2007-08 season, Steffan Johnson lit up the courts of the Big West Conference as the Pacific Tigers’ star point guard. He earned First Team All-Big West honors, averaging 14.5 points, 4.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 46.2% from the floor and a solid 41% from downtown. Last year, he ran into some troubles at Pacific and transferred to Idaho to join Coach Don Verlin’s rebuilding program. Teaming with First Team All-WAC point guard Mac Hopson, Johnson could give the Vandals the most feared backcourt duo in the conference.

Vandal Nation: How’d you get your start in hoops?

Steffan Johnson: It was early. I started when I was two years old, thanks to my dad. He taught me the game and I was hooked right from the start...
Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ben Vozzola looking at a pair of WAC schools

Ben Vozzola is a 6-foot-5 2010 guard/wing out of Nevada who has been receiving a lot of mentions in the last six months and the audience for his services appears to be growing. San Diego has been mentioned numerous times as a leader for him (he's headed there this weekend fo a camp) but numerous schools are seemingly in the running.

Nevada is one and so is Fresno State. A July 29 Rivals features listed both schools as having offered. Vozzola always mentions early playing time as a foremost consideration and it seems the only conference where that would be a problem in the PAC-10.

Let's see what happens as Vozzola indicated an end-of-summer decision is more than likely.

Here's an ESPN evaluation of him.

We love you Roberto Nelson

Yes, we get more 'junk' than useful snail mail (the proportion is even worse with email) but we have to take a back seat to Roberto Nelson. His recruiting love-fest -- or at least the mail portion of it -- is detailed in the following.

You've Got (too Much) Mail
In the age of Facebook, Twitter and texting, top prospect Roberto Nelson was still courted through thousands of postal deliveries from college coaches. Is the annual flood of letters effective—or a waste of paper?
George Dohrmann
August 3, 2009

During his sophomore year at Santa Barbara (Calif.) High, Roberto Nelson placed a cardboard box behind a green recliner in the family room of his home. It was a decent-sized container—it once had been used to ship a microwave—and a sufficient catchall. If he tossed something behind the recliner, it almost always fell safely into the box.

Mail arrived at the apartment complex where Nelson lived at around 2 p.m. each day. Larger envelopes didn't fit through the slot in the front door, so the mail carrier often dumped the delivery on the doormat. Nelson would leaf through the stack when he got home from school and then toss everything over the green recliner. Sometimes he would mimic a jump shot as he cast that day's bundle into the box...
Go here for the remainder.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jason Groves checks in with details on the contract of Marvin Menzies

Why certain items are included in a contract are inexplicable. What we want to know is if Coach Menzies insisted a bonus for winning the national championship be in his new contract or is it something New Mexico State brought up? Now this is not any knock of Menzies as having such in any WAC coach's contract is an exercise in silliness.

NMSU Regents expected to extend Menzies' contract
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

At its July meeting on Wednesday, the New Mexico State University Board of Regents is expected to consider a contract extension through April 2012 for Aggies men's basketball coach Marvin Menzies.

Menzies' contract is one of eight for coaches at the university that the Board is expected to approve at its meeting, but he is the only head coach listed on the Board's agenda...
Go here for the remainder of the article.

There are many more details in Groves' companion piece here. Hey, why not $50k for academic achievement?

We liked this post a lot

The teams at the top of the WAC epitomize what Coach Cascio writes about here.

The Thirds Rule
Coach Cascio
Coach Cash Basketball
July 27, 2009

I'm a basketball coach. That's what I do. I want people around me that have the same passion for the game. I don't feel that I'm overly demanding, but one thing I absolutely demand is sacrifice. I ask my players to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the entire team. I tell them that they need to give up the desire for personal accolades and focus on team goals and team rewards.

After pounding that concept into them for days and weeks, I ask my players to create goals for the season. Without fail, 90% start with goals like "get a scholarship, average 20 points per game, average 10 assists per game, make All-Conference". "Win a championship" is usually 3rd or lower on the list, if it even shows up. Where does my message fail? Our society is raising selfish kids that don't understand that when the team achieves their goals, EVERYONE gets what they want...
Go here for the remainder.

Utah State and its recruiting

So how in the heck does Utah State Coach Stew Morrill do it? It being entering a new and tougher league, quickly rising to the top tier and staying there. There's probably much more than PTW is even aware of that contributes to this success but here's our best take:

Of all the schools in the WAC, USU employs a proscribed, move-by-move offensive system. Some players adjust and benefit, some don't and transfer -- the latter is especially true for backcourters arriving in Logan. This design, when operated proficiently, makes the whole better than the sum of its parts.

The USU offensive style appears as the antithesis of the in-vogue dribble-drive creation offense John Calipari and others have so prominently displayed of late -- the one in which it seems there are no 'plays' being run, more a creating offense by breaking down defenders off the dribble and going to the hoop or passing to the open teammate if then double-teamed.

Morrill typically cannot land the type of backcourters needed to run the 'Calipari' style. That's no judgment -- just a reality. Instead, he brings in high basketball IQ types who do well in running set plays, rarely commit unforced errors, play a physical game and sometimes have surprisingly good athletic ability.

The primary keys to Morrill's offense are patience, unselfishness and definitely the setting of screens. It would be interesting to view a before and after the game set of photos of an Aggie opponent because there would definitely be bruises and welts in the latter that weren't appearing in the former. It's a style that gets an opposing player thinking after a while -- pondering how to stay close to his man by maybe taking a shortcut here or there and hopefully bypassing another pounding absorbed by fighting through screen after screen. But taking these alternate routes more often than not lead to an open jumper or a defensive breakdown that allows a route to the basket.

The above is a prelude to digging into Utah State's recruiting. Morrill, as with every other WAC coach, cannot land the so-called blue-chippers. Guys like Luke Babbitt and Herb Pope are anomaly recruits -- exceedingly rare. So he pursues the hard workers, the blue collar guys, who will submerge their egos and work within a team framework for the common good.

He hits more than he misses.

But we also see the need for at least a bit of a caveat. Of late, the Aggie coaching staff has brought in a number of guards and wings who ended up departing over lack of playing time and/or difficulty in adjusting to their assigned role. Were these departees worthy of the gamble, not good fits for the system or simply a byproduct of the nowaday basketball mindset of "I want playing time now"? Who really knows?

Here's that lineage: Stavon Williams, Dominique Cooks, Richard Sirju, DeUndrae Spraggins, Desmond Stephens, Deremy Geiger (apparently) plus even Brandon Brown who eventually ended up at Idaho. We don't know what was behind the move north but Brown never played for the Aggies.

As for bigs, Morrill and Company have done a much better job at minimizing turnover. We could only locate Michael Earl and Brayden Bell as transfers. The Earl signing though was truly mystifying. Yes, he shared most valuable player honors in the California junior college ranks as a sophomore at Fullerton College but his style of play was an utmost finesse one and we're still not surer why Morrill and Company reached out.

However, Utah State has obviously managed to remain successful regardless of any comings-and-goings so they are certainly doing things right enough to prevent any sort of argument about roster changes.

One concern we do have is who will replace Jared Quayle a year from now? He is going to be in the running for WAC most valuable player (who in the world predicted this at the time of his signing?) and we don't see a replacement on the current roster.

Another recruiting roundup

The only thing we ask is that readers not go off the deep end if their school is 'attached' to a certain player. Such a connection can mean both something or nothing.

Hawaii is in the mix for Iowa prep Jordan Dykstra, a 6-foot-9 190 pound, forward out of Rock Valley High (Iowa). He had verbally commited to Iowa State as an eighth-grader but then backed away from doing so.

Here's a November 2006 article about Dykstra aligning himself with the Cyclones.

Here's a very dated ESPN evaluation of him.

We have a hard time swallowing the following but CalHiSports is reporting that San Leandro High 2009 graduate Demetrius Owens played well in a recent tournament and then made mention of "possibilities with CSU Northridge, Toledo and Utah State..." He's a 6-foot-5 banger who averaged 8.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game respectively last season. Owens was a first-team selection in the Hayward Area Athletic League. Maybe it's in a walk-on capacity.

CalHiSports also made mention of 6-foot-1 Crenshaw backcourter Reynaul Baker receiving interest from Nevada, among other schools. Wolf Pack fans will just love that their school is idnetifed as Nevada-Reno in the report. He was the co-MVP of the Coliseum League this past season. Again, this connection seems more along the lines of walking on but we could be wrong.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Louisiana Tech recruiting summary

Here's another in our on-going series covering the recruiting styles, preferences and outcomes of each WAC coach.

In searching for an overarching theme in summarizing Louisiana Tech basketball recruiting in the Kerry Rupp era, other than Kyle Gibson (who was inherited), Rupp has so far expressed a preference for a mix of D-1 transfers, junior college players and some prepsters.

Out of these, some have worked well, some haven't. A few have yet to reach campus.

Regarding the transfers, Jamel White came over from Nebraska and never played a game before his departure while Kenneth Cooper made it a little more than halfway through the WAC schedule before he was dismissed. We are unsure regarding any previous concerns about Cooper but White definitely had a string of troubles while in Lincoln so it wasn't surprising that he never wore the Bulldog uniform. He was a gamble from the get-go.

Point J.C. Clark came from Trinity Valley Community College and played a season before he was also let go from the squad.

On the contrary, Magnum Rolle slid over from LSU and has performed quite admirably. Small forward David Jackson isn't starting material but has done a good job for the Bulldogs after initially playing at Idaho and then Mesa CC in Arizona. Guard Jamel Guyton was a major factor in several Tech victories last season after coming in from Odessa Junior College.

As for the high schoolers, Canadian D.J. Wright is the most prominent by far even though he has yet to don a Bulldog uniform. Wright is still scheduled to check into Ruston after a second season at Salt Lake Community College and he is most definitely a difference maker. At 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds, he will be the top Bulldog talent when he arrives. It will be interesting if he can play the three in D-1 but we expect Rupp to have him positioned mostly at the four spot.

Yonas Berhe is also a Canadian -- he played little as a freshman backcourter. Berhe seemingly was the replacement for fellow recruit Juevol Myles. Myles was another high school signee -- a fellow Canadian point -- who couldn't establish eligibility. The last we came across a mention of him indicated he was at Tallahassee Community College. But the Tallahassee CC roster doesn't list him for 2008-2009 and neither does he appear in their stat compilations.

Brandon Gibson got his feet wet last season after a former Florida high schooler. He was injured late in the season but showed flashes of promise.

Another LA TECH prep signee, backcourter Josh Brown, is at Odessa Junior College in Texas because he was also academically ineligible. Like D.J. Wright, he'll also be in Ruston after the 2009-2010 season. Brown scored 13.3 points a contest this past season, shooting 50% overall and 43% from three-point range.

Plus, Kentucky prepster Arrez Henderson was another high schooler who completed his letter-of-intent for Coach Rupp but didn't meet NCAA academic requirements. He is a 6-foot-2 guard currently playing for Cincinnati Tech. Henderson scored 9.7 points per game as a junior college frosh, shooting 44% from the floor and 59% on free throws. We believe he is still connected to Ruston but haven't read anything of certitude lately.

High schoolers Kadeem Coleby and Darius Redding are two of the latest Tech recruits. Coleby is a power forward and Redding a shooting guard. Barring any unexpected changes, both are expected to be on the 2009-2010 roster.

Also, point Holton Hunsaker is in the middle of his LDS mission and is projected to be on the Ruston campus for the 2011-2012 season.

By the way, Ro Russell of the Grassroots Canada club team organization, is the primary factor behind the number of Canadians associated with Rupp's team. Russell also had Coleby on his team even though our understanding is the freshman isn't Canadian.

As for background, Rupp inherited about the strangest situation any coach can find himself. Coming to Ruston, he found a depleted and a not particularly talented roster. It seemed reasonable and actually a necessity to take some chances. He did and it primarily backfired.

The appearance is that LT would really benefit from a couple of high school recruits blossoming during their four-year program tenure as continuity has been troublesome for Rupp.

But there doesn't appear to be that type of promise currently on the squad but maybe the newcomers -- Coleby and Redding -- will provide the young base from which Rupp can build his program.

Gibson and Rolle, plus Jamel Guyton, will depart after the 2009-2010 season and who on the current Ruston roster is ready to step up and fill those shoes? We see Olu Ashaolu as a possibility but that's about it from our perspective. Again, Wright should be an immediate ALL-WAC player but he will be gone after just two seasons.

We see a foundation still to be set in Ruston.

More Chris Murray on David Carter and Nevada recruiting

Chris Murray finishes up today with a couple more items -- a Coach David Carter and Nevada recruiting philosophy article plus a photo essay.

Here's the first.

Here's the latter.

What is also worth mentioning (or maybe re-mentioning) is the difficult logisitics reporters encounter in doing these pieces. Up early, on the road all day into the early to mid-evening, back to the hotel room late and trying to grab some dinner -- all the while knocking out articles. When does the 'fun' of Las Vegas occur? No, we're not attempting a re-make of "Cry Me A River" but for some of the diligent media these events might as well take place in the gym on the Little Sisters of the Poor campus.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The vagaries of college recruiting

It's difficult to judge how a high school prospect will play out anywhere from the next one to four years even when the player in question is a so-called nationally-ranked blue-chipper. But the coaches at the crème de la crème colleges truly have it much easier not only in measuring potential but with the volume of 'reachable' prospects in comparison to their mid and lower level coaching brethren.

At the WAC level, there are a greater number of gambles that have to be taken. Can player X handle the jump to college-level academics? Will he put in the work necessary to get better or assume he has already made it after securing an athletic scholarship? Will accepting the likelihood of a different role from high school be a smooth or rocky road? If he succeeds quickly, will a transfer be forthcoming or will some sense of loyalty prevail? It goes on (and yes, some of these also apply to top prospects).

With all this in mind, here's a few 2010 prospect names with WAC mentions. Do keep in mind the context of the above.

Richard Solomon, 6-foot-9, Price High (Los Angeles) -- This young man has PAC-10 potential and various members of that conference are eyeing him. So are a few WAC schools, hoping that he might somehow fall. His athleticism is superb but he weighs about 190 and is extremely raw offensively. There's little chance that Solomon would play much his freshman season at a high major level, with possibly the same scenario for his sophomore year.

Our intuitive sense -- not based on anything we've read or have been told -- is that he and his family see Solomon as a major prospect and that he will more than likely choose just such a school.

But we also imagine that he could likely be a candidate for a transfer after riding the bench for a period of time. The PAC-10 schools are much more likely than say those in the WAC to recruit 'over' a player with the next and then the next class of newcomers. So schools such as those in the WAC aren't hurting themselves by staying in the 'race' as one may possibly be the recipient of Solomon as a bounceback.

Remember this kid because his name may just pop up in conjunction with the WAC down the road, if not this recruiting go-around.

Matt Korcheck, 6-foot-9, Sabino High (Tucson) -- Utah State is the WAC school mentioned most with this young man. In one report we saw, Korcheck said he had an offer from the Aggies. He's still a tad raw offensively but plays with passion and decent athleticism. One recent Rivals article lamented that only three schools were taking him in recently in Vegas -- NAU, Northern Colorado and Weber State. A SCOUT report stated he was a mid-major prospect with the chance to go higher.

So Korcheck is being presented at the very least as a WAC level prospect. So where are the other WAC schools? And Utah State? Did they watch him earlier and decided to feign falling interest? Or has he fallen off the Aggie radar? Another item had Korcheck with a 2.0 grade point average so is that a concern for possible suitors and a reason for him not having a greater following?

Follow this kid.

Jordan Burris, 6-foot-6, Stockdale High (Bakersfiueld, CA) -- Simply put, where's the love, or even the like, for this kid? He appears to be a prototype college wing -- athletic, three-point shooting range, a willingness to mix it up. Burris averaged 23 points per game as a junior, shooting 58% overall and 38% from three-point range. We haven't seen his name connected to ant WAC team and that is puzzling.

Chris Murray with a lengthy David Carter watch

Chris Murray outdoes himself and 99% of other beat reporters with a pair of articles in today's Reno Gazette-Journal on Coach David Carter's recruiting activities this week in Las Vegas. What's really worth noting here is that it's a newspaper running this -- one not based in Lexington, Louisville, Lawrence or Charlotte. That is remarkable and great.

College basketball recruiting: The game within the game
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

LAS VEGAS -- His day starts around 9 a.m. with the thermometer already approaching 100 degrees. In this city known for its glitz and glamour, there won't be much of either today.

Instead, what lies ahead is 13 hours of basketball, traffic jams and overheated gyms. The mission? To evaluate as many high school basketball players as possible in a single day.

For the first time in his 20-year coaching career, Nevada's David Carter is making the rounds as a head coach. He is joined here by assistant coaches Doug Novsek and Keith Brown, and the Wolf Pack staff is canvassing the city, scouting as many players as possible.

In the first 10 days of the always-important July recruiting period, Carter visited Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Augusta, S.C., and Los Angeles twice. After spending five days in Las Vegas this week, he will head to Kansas City and Orlando before finishing the long month of recruiting back in Los Angeles.

But the center of the recruiting world right now is Southern Nevada, where a quintet of high-profile AAU tournaments have drawn hundreds of coaches and thousands of players to these Las Vegas gyms. So many coaches, players and parents are here that most rental car companies have run out of cars...
Go here for the remainder.

Chris Murray's Nevada recruiting list

Here's the companion piece to Chris Murray's lengthy article on Nevada's 2010 recruiting efforts:

Partial list of Nevada basketball recruiting targets
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Nevada basketball coach David Carter said his staff identifies between 20-50 prime recruiting targets per class. After shadowing him for a day and searching around the web, here is a partial list of the players on his team's board, with their size and school. You can also learn more about the player by clicking on their name and heading to their recruiting profile...
Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Whatever happened to... Deundrae Spraggins?

It usually happens this way. That being while in search of something else, we came across where former Utah Stater backcourter Deundrae Spraggins completed his eligibility this season -- Texas A&M Commerce of the Lone Star Conference.

Spraggins was the team's leading scorer at 17.1 points per game as well as tops in steals with 58. He shot 45% from the floor, 38% on three-point attempt and grabbed 4.7 boards a contest.

So how many 'tough' players does your team have?

This has been posted previously but is certainly worth a re-visit. So who is the toughest overall team in the WAC? We're not sure it can even be judged by fans because league opponents are generally seen but once. We would love to see what squad or squads the various WAC coaches offer.

Defining toughness in college hoops
Bilas By Jay Bilas
January 29, 2008

I have heard the word "toughness" thrown around a lot lately. Reporters on television, radio and in print have opined about a team or player's "toughness" or quoted a coach talking about his team having to be "tougher" to win.

Then, in almost coordinated fashion, I would watch games and see player upon player thumping his chest after a routine play, angrily taunting an opponent after a blocked shot, getting into a shouting match with an opposing player, or squaring up nose-to-nose as if a fight might ensue. I see players jawing at each other, trying to "intimidate" other players. What a waste of time. That is nothing more than fake toughness, and it has no real value.

I often wonder: Do people really understand what coaches and experienced players mean when they emphasize "toughness" in basketball? Or is it just some buzzword that is thrown around haphazardly without clear definition or understanding? I thought it was the latter, and I wrote a short blog item about it a couple of weeks ago.

The response I received was overwhelming. Dozens of college basketball coaches called to tell me that they had put the article up in the locker room, put it in each player's locker, or had gone over it in detail with their teams.

Memphis coach John Calipari called to say that he had his players post the definition of toughness over their beds because he believed that true "toughness" was the one thing that his team needed to develop to reach its potential. I received messages from high school coaches who wanted to relay the definition of toughness to their players and wanted to talk about it further.

Well, I got the message that I should expound upon what I consider toughness to be. It may not be what you think...
Go here for the remainder.

It's becoming all Nevada here

We don't know why but Nevada basketball recruiting is seemingly all over the 'net so we're back again with another propsect mention.

SCOUT is reporting that someone on the Nevada coaching staff -- among other especially Midwest colleges -- was watching Rob Brandenberg, a 6-foot-2 prep backcourter out of Ohio this week in Las Vegas.

Here's an ESPN evaluation of the young man:


May, 2009: This long and athletic guard plays with great energy. He sprints the lane in transition and can get to the rim and finish before the defense can set. Brandenberg does a good job of making scoring plays of the dribble in the half court and can finish with good touch and body control. He is also athletic enough to get the ball in the hole with some impressive athletic finishes. He is streaky but respectable from behind the arc and can finish above the rim off the vertical with a clear path. Brandenberg also puts forth excellent effort on the offensive glass. Brandenberg needs to add strength but has great upside and could be a player on the rise in the state of Ohio.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Trickery? Changing minds? One final yes-or-no look?

One other element that is brazenly on display this week in Las Vegas is the element of trickery. Not all coaches do it -- some don't have to. Actually, it's near impossible to tell when a coaching staff is modeling such behavior because obviously only they truly know.

How it works is a coach shows up at a game featuring a kid who isn't connected to the recruiting plans of that school. Fellow coaches begin to wonder. Why is Coach X here to see? Is he serious about Player Y?

Or is this a jab step -- a feint -- when the coach and his staff are really going in another direction but want to throw off would-be competitors? Maybe they have a sleeper in mind who plays the same position and want to give the impression that Player Y is their #1 target.

Hey, possibly they are there looking at a different player on display.

Now St. Mary's, Pacific, San Jose State and UC Davis have offered CA forward Josh Ritchart. A handful of PAC-10 schools are sniffing around. Rivals also lists Nevada. SCOUT has everyone already mentioned plus San Francisco and Santa Clara in the mix. Ritchart is painfully thin (something that can generally be remedied) but nicely skilled. He could break as a big-time player if and when he achieves physical maturity.

At one of the games featuring Team Superstar (Ritchart's club squad), David Carter was in the stands. This per SCOUT's Dave Telep.

So was Carter evaluating or re-evaluating Ritchart? Could it have been a make-or-break final look this week? (Ritchart scored two points and grabbed four boards) Was Carter actually checking out someone else on Team Superstar or from the opposing team? Or was he, to mix sports metaphors, throwing a curveball?

You can bet the other coaches in the gym would love to know. Of course, what were the reasons they were there? Yes, there are coaches who are friends but college basketball is a business and our sense if every single coach likes to pull a fast one if it is do-able.

All in all, it's a fascinating process.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's Chris Murray's turn in the barrel

Oh this brings back memories -- up early (at least for us), going from gym to gym until late, more basketball than you could ever want to watch, wondering how Las Vegas residents manage the weather. Let's see if Chris WANTS to do this next time, let alone does it.

Best of recruiting Las Vegas with Coach Carter
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

As many of you @PackHoops twitter followers know, I am in Las Vegas right now and shadowed Wolf Pack basketball coach David Carter Wednesday to get a taste of what a "day in the life of a recruiting college basketball coach" felt like. We will have a couple of stories over the weekend that better document spending a full day of recruiting down here is like, but I wanted to get something on the blog today. So, here is a "Best of" edition from our experience yesterday...
Go here for the remainder.

We are jesting -- repeat, we are jesting.

So has new Nevada mentor David Carter already proven to be ill-equipped for the position? Has sliding over that 18 inches on the bench put him in over his head? Is AD Cary Groth having second thoughts?

Well, before arteries and veins bulge to the point of bursting in Reno and the surrounding areas -- and in at least one household in Seattle -- we are being facetious.

We are actually a bit surprised that some anonymous poster on one of the Nevada sports message boards hasn't gone over the edge and proclaimed just what we suggested in the opening paragraph.

Because that's what fan-dom does best -- being over-the-top.

There are striking similarities between the number of sports acolytes of say college A whose 'camp' states that their team is the best, no ifs, ands or buts and the group within the supporters of college A athletics who insist that their Coach A is the worst, a disgrace, scum way past the point of proving his incompetence and someone who should have been replaced within the very first week of his hire. Maybe even fired before he was hired.

Each faction emphatically states its 'truth' and, if we are lucky, backs up assertions with 'distilled' facts highlighting their respective claims.

Then there are those fans -- the vast majority -- who understand sports are games, unimportant ones in the light of everyday life and utilize common sense and decency in their support.

So returning to our opening, why should the 'fire coach Carter-ites' be bleating their mantra?

We will imitate their nature:

Well, because Illinois backcourter Brandon Spearman recently chose to commit to Dayton over Nevada and some other contenders. This followed Philadelphia point Tyrone Garland's decision to commit to Virginia Tech in lieu of heading to Reno or elsewhere.

Is that evidence enough that Coach Carter can't recruit?

Oh, we're doomed.

Yep, failure is coming to Reno big-time. Anyone with half a brain can see this (editor's note: words three, four and five of this sentence being key)

But hey, the devout of our most righteous subsection already knew it was time for Carter to go. After all, wasn't the loss of Steven Bjornstad and Malik Cooke evidence enough?

Right on!

Let's get someone like Robert Montgomery Knight in here or if we want to slum a bit just lure Coach K away from rapidly plummeting Duke.

Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket.

Here's Travis Mason-Bushman with a feature on Idaho's tallest recruit

Don Verlin ought to have a couple of the basketball program interns wafting cool breezes via palm fronds over Travis Mason-Bushman when the latter is in the gym working on Vandal men's basketball stories. Note that Joe Kammerer mentions a pair of other WAC schools who had interest in him.

Everything Idaho Vandals, from The Argonaut
Travis Mason-Bushman
Vandal Nation
July 23, 2009

Vandal Nation launches a new feature today — Vandal Spotlight, where we go one-on-one with Idaho Vandals players and coaches. Our first victim is freshman center Joe Kammerer – a 6-9 big man from Eugene, Ore. with big goals on and off the court. Tomorrow, senior guard Steffan Johnson will enter the spotlight, marking his first interview as an Idaho Vandal.

Vandal Nation: How’d you get your start in basketball?

Joe Kammerer: I started playing just for fun in fourth grade, and got serious about it in middle school. I did some camps and joined an AAU squad and just kept getting better. That’s when I really got the feeling that I could be good enough to play college ball...
Go here for the remainder.

What was the amount of the Bigelow check?

Hey, inquiring minds want to know.

Now maybe we lauded all in the equation a little too soon. Who knows? Here's Matt James with a further followup on the Fresno State - Alfonso Bigelow check pass off.

The Bigelow check drop-off
Matt James
Fresno Bee
July 22, 2009

I am back from vacation* and can finally weigh in on the Alphonso Bigelow check delivery fiasco. Or maybe it wasn't a fiasco. Who knows. I wasn't there. I was involved, but I wasn't there. I will explain eventually. As is sometimes necessary, a quick review before we carry on ...

*Explanation: The blog's brother got married in a quick and tasteful ceremony in a country church near Turpin, Okla. I served as Best Man and can honestly say I didn't embarrass anyone with any lines from "The Wedding Singer" or "Wedding Crashers." It was tempting, though.

Mr. Bigelow pledged $10 million to the Fresno State athletics department. There was a big press conference. A DVD was shown, describing the specific plans that Bigelow's money will complete -- the field turf at Bulldog Stadium, the student-athlete village, the lacrosse field, and something else which is escaping me at the moment. The Fresno State athletic administration has many big plans. They did not, up until recently, have any cash to carry out the plans...
Go here for the remainder.

More recruiting updates

These are not really updates in that they were known before but we're still posting them.

SCOUT is reporting:

*** Oregon prep Stephen Holt is getting major PAC-10 interest plus Mountain West and WAC offers. Utah State and Boise State have offered. Here's a June, 2009 ESPN evaluation of Holt. Here's a June, 2009 video interview of him. (we just don't see him landing in the WAC)

*** 6-foot-9 Oregon high schooler Jordan Railey is currently projecting as a high major. Utah State and Nevada are following him and his current offers are from mid-majority type schools. His college destination will be based on his projection when he is a senior. Here's an April, 2009 ESPN evaluation of him.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In the spirit of recruiting...

We did a full length article a while back at the Silver and Blue Nevada site on this subject but let's break it down a bit further with individual team posts.

First up is Fresno State.

Hey there are reasons to be optimistic if you are a Fresno State men's basketball fan. APR purgatory is concluding and a bushel full of new and talented recruits have arrived.

Incoming are:

* wing Jerry Brown
* wing Garrett Johnson
* point Steven Shepp
* center Greg Smith
* backcourter Shawn Willis (who will redshirt in 2009-2010)

Now consider the above batch with who was rounded up in the previous recruiting batch (including walk-ons):

* point Bryce Cartwright
* forward Paul George
* forward Justin Johnson
* guard Mychal Ladd
* forward Bryan Seals
* backcourter Brandon Sperling

The excellent play of Paul George notwithstanding, it's apparent a serious upgrade in potential -- a peculiar but accurate term -- has been landed even though the newest collection has yet to play a minute for the Bulldogs. Granted, 'po' isn't production but that's still the early near unanimous judgment.

However, an asterisk is needed because the recruiting rhythm for the 2008-2009 newcomer class was thrown off by the decision of Reggie Moore to ask out of his signed letter of intent. The timing of Moore's request proved troublesome because the Bulldogs had stopped recruiting other points and the unexpected need for then finding another WAC-level talent to run the team was never satisfactorily fulfilled.

Ultimately, it is the head coach who will bear the brunt of criticism when a team doesn't perform as the fans wish but it's a stretch to somehow nail Cleveland for Moore's opting out and when he did so. Getting Moore to wear a Bulldog uniform would have brought righteous kudos from the fans and certainly more wins last season. Moore's betterment between when he said yes and then signed and when he changed his mind put him at a level of competition above the WAC (he went east for prep school and eventually signed with Washington State) and he simply chose not to honor his commitment. That is a gamble coaches take.

As background, each head coach has a preference for the players he recruits. Some like recruits with shooting/scoring as the top talent. Others want tough muscle guys who will compete, still others prefer raw potential types who, if they pan out, pay huge dividends.

Cleveland's preference has generally been for skill-based talent, primarily shooters and scorers. Paul George is a prime example. By the way, does anyone remember his recruiting history? He verbaled to Santa Clara, reneged and signed with Pepperdine but ultimately landed in Fresno after Vance Walberg resigned as coach of the Waves. Hey, you win some and you lose some.

Sylvester Seay is another example of a Cleveland prototype recruit. Even 6-foot-8 Nedeljko Golubovic's best skill is as a shooter. Newcomers Brown and Johnson also seem to fit that mold.

But besides the Moore situation, what has also hindered the Bulldog revitalization was a couple of 'misses' -- if you will. Louisville transfer Bryan Harvey never really panned out (the last we heard was that he was playing for Cal State East Bay). Rekalin Sims' legal entanglements were ultimately none too serious but similar preceding problems with other players -- primarily footballers -- eliminated his opportunity to ever wear a Fresno State uniform. Those two also seemingly fit into Cleveland's ideal recruit.

So it appears Cleveland has returned to his recruiting roots with this season's haul.

But we offer this absolutely unsolicited advice: it's best that Cleveland very carefully determine the attitude and academic stability of any available transfers he considers in the future. There really is no need for him to reach or gamble any longer. Fresno State can land enough talent -- high school or junior college level -- to be WAC competitive without taking further big chances. He may get tempted with this possibility or that probability but here's hoping he holds fast. Having 13 scholarships to hand out is a necessity to get and remain in the upper tier of the WAC.

Since this is THE week for talent evaluation and decisions on who to recruit...

Our note: The temp in Las Vegas is currently 105 degrees. Three coaches from damn near every staff is there evaluating high school players -- we are skipping it this go-around for the sake of our sanity.

Luckily, every school gymnasium in Vegas is air-conditioned but there is zero shade for parked cars outside. The availability of a car navigation device is always talked about as a must to get from gym to gym but it's actually air conditioning that is a dealbreaker when renting. Hey, it could literally be the difference between life and death. Maybe the weather conditions are one of the reasons at least some of those who get offered and sign on don't pan out -- you know, delerium. Eric Sondheimer has a bit about this:

Las Vegas is hot and full of coaches
Eric Sondheimer
Los Angeles Times

If you didn't make a reservation for a rental car, be prepared to pay $130 a day or higher in Las Vegas because this city is loaded with high school basketball players and coaches for a week of travel ballgames...

Furthermore on Reggie's latest

Yes, anyone connected to the 'net can become a blogger as no expertise is required and there are no certification tests to pass. Like most things in life, that's good and bad. It's a democratic medium. Thankfully.

We've certainly read our share of cringe-worthy posts and comments on blogs and message boards, including some -- ahem -- self-inflicted ones.

We've also learned a great deal from the posts and comments of others.

For us, it's a matter of determining (with all the inherent biases and prejudices involved in doing so) who is educational and who isn't. Spending time with those selected, while dipping one's mind into the shallower end of the gene pool now and then in search of a nugget or two, is our method of operation.

Now we don't know who Reggie Theus specifically had in mind or how he came up with his percentage of blogging cheek stabbers but he was a beloved figure (and still mostly is) in Las Cruces. His short time with the Sacto Kings seemingly reflects more on the decison-making of the Maloof brothers than anything else. So personally, Reggie is actually a fairly unscathed figure in the sports blogosphere.

This is really a nothing story and, yes, we are perpetuating it (which is our fault). Mea culpa.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reggie tosses a broadside in the direction of bloggers

We don't take it personally and we're sure if he knew us he would like us (the same goes for the in-laws) but Reggie cannot win this battle -- it's like taking on those who own a printing press if anyone can remember such a contraption. To wit:

Unemployed Basketball Coach Reggie Theus Thinks Sports Bloggers Are A “Real Pain In The Ass”
Weed Against Speed
July 20, 2009

Former above-average NBA player turned-below average NBA coach Reggie Theus, in an interview with Isiah Jones from the website Global Sports Fraternity, said he believes that sports bloggers are a bunch of country bumpkins who never come in contact with real people and are generally a “real pain in the ass.” Here’s the entirety of what Theus said in the interview when he wasn’t getting interrupted by Mr. Jones:
Go here for the remainder, including the inevitable photos.·

Okay, it's 3 p.m. so maybe we should toss a robe over our jammies, have breakfast and check to see when Oprah is on.

A Santa Clara verbal with a Nevada mention

Here's an intriguingly-named young man who just committed to Santa Clara -- Nevada had apparently displayed some degree of interest.

His name: Chanse Creekmur, 6-foot-6, Marshalltown, Iowa. He enjoyed his visit to Santa Clara so much that he turned down overtures from higher basketball-rated schools.

Former Utah State assistant coach James Ware played a major role in landing the young man. Creekmur was once committed to Iowa, per Vann Coleman, August 2008.

Here's an ESPN evaluation.

This is silly

Travis Mason-Bushman has done more to promote Idaho athletics -- especially men's basketball -- with his Vandal Nation site than anyone else who has come to our attention.

So it was disheartening to read that the idaho athletic administration chose to not be forthcoming when Bushman inquired about the scholarship status of Marcus Lawrence. Read about that here.

It's not like our national defense is at stake.

Now granted, this is a 'nothing' in the big picture of life and of sports but let's hope such silliness is reconsidered in Moscow and a more even-handed relationship can be developed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

San Jose State garners its first verbal

Coach George Nessman and San Jose State have landed the first of an expected three new players.

6-foot-6 Kurt Davis, out of Centennial High in Compton, has committed to play at SJSU following the 2009-2010 high school season.

Here's a November 2007 ESPN evaluation of Davis.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hawaii has offered a D.C. backcourter

Bob Nash and Hawaii have broken the proverbial ice by being the first to offer 6-foot-2 backcourter Donte Thomas, out of Ballou High School in Washington D.C.

He's apparently a combo guard -- his numbers per game last season: 20 points & 7 assists.

This February 2009 article mentions interest from New Mexico State.

Here's an article about him being named to the All Beltway First Team squad.

This link offers some numbers.

Utah State gets a summer look from Chris Murray

Wrapping up the WAC, the Logan-ites are previewed by Chris Murray in the following. We offer a big thanks for this series, a sort of whetting of our appetite for November season commencement:

Summer prospectus on Utah State
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Last season: 30-5 overall, 14-2 in WAC (first)

Returning starters: Four (Jared Quayle, Tyler Newbold, Pooh Williams, Tai Wesley)

Key losses: Gary Wilkinson, Stavon Williams...
Go here for the remainder.

WAC assistants gettin' no love

We don't usually pay any attention to a list such as this because there really is no way to 'measure' the top or the best or even the better assistant coaches. To his credit, Jason Belzer does qualify his picks with an solid explanatory introduction.

What would really be interesting is to poll (granting anonymity of course) the head coaches of each league as to who they believe are the better assistants in their conference (not allowing voting for their own staff) and also requiring the why behind each selection.

We have no way of knowing but would Nevada's David Carter have been included in Belzer's list if he hadn't ascended to the top spot in Reno? How about Don Verlin with Utah State/Idaho? What about Nikita Johnson, the associate head coach at Louisiana Tech? Any others?

Top 25 Mid-Major Assistants
Jason Belzer
July 6, 2009

Ranking the quality of a team is never easy. Ranking the quality of a coach is even harder. Ranking an assistant coach is well… almost down right impossible. There are so many factors that go into determining what exactly makes a good assistant coach; work ethic, servants mentality, reliability, attention to detail, recruiting skills, overall basketball knowledge, the list goes on and on. What is most imperative to remember is that even though assistant coaches are integral parts of each program, they are not irreplaceable. A good assistant supports his head coach, and not the other way around...
Go here for the remainder.

A Jaycee Carroll update

Craig Hislop informs us about the 'hard life' Jaycee Carroll and family are enduring. This is a prime example of what oppotunities are available outside of the NBA for borderline or even lesser NBA talents:

Carroll gunning for NBA
Craig Hislop
Herald Journal
July 17, 2009

It was always a treat to watch Jaycee Carroll never appear too exercised during those rare moments when events didn’t go his way, such as this week in Las Vegas as he mostly rides the pine for the New Orleans Hornets at the Las Vegas pro summer league.

You wonder if Brad Ames, his agent, could have found a better fit for Jaycee’s talents. But not to worry, since this week Ames did score Jaycee a nice two-year contract in the best Spanish pro league. He will undoubtedly make more money against better competition, hopefully with more NBA people noticing, when he suits up for Gran Canaria.

One of the “outs” in his new deal kicks in if, by Aug. 5, an NBA team invites him to their veterans camp with “partial guaranteed” money. Otherwise, he’s to report overseas Aug. 25...
Go here for the remainder.

Chris Murray on San Jose State July style

Here's Chris Murray continuing with his WAC summer countdown:

Summer prospectus on San Jose State
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Last season: 13-17 overall, 6-10 in WAC (sixth)

Returning starters: Four (Justin Graham, C.J. Webster, Adrian Oliver, Chris Oakes)

Key losses: Tim Pierce, DaShawn Wright, DeVonte Thomas, Clint Amberry

Potential starting lineup
Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A recruiting roundup

Here's another collection of names and schools but no 'marriages; as yet.

Javarez Willis is a 5-foot-11, 170 pound prep backcourter out of Texas who was offered by Fresno State (and a few more schools). He apparently is headed to a prep school for the coming year. We've been unable to determine if this is due to academic issues or simply seeking an opportunity for greater exposure and hopefully additional offers.

Fresno State has also made contact with this 6-foot-7, 220 pound Arizona prepster:

Jon Perryman Publisher
July 13, 2009

Scottsdale Christian Academy (Ariz.) rising senior wing/post player Hayden Johnson is starting to turn some heads after his Arizona Premier team finished up as tournament champs at the recent Mullens event in Oklahoma, downing the Nebraska Bison team 49-47 in the finals...
Go here for the remainder and a Rivals sub is required.

St. Francis High (Mountain View CA - near San Jose) senior-to-be Tyler Johnson is a 6-foot-2 high-jumping backcourter. He's reporting that Fresno State and Boise State (among others) are contacting him.

6-foot-5 high schooler Andre Hatchett, Santa Rita High (Tucson), is hearing from Boise State. He is described as very athletic.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chris Murray provides his summer take on NMSU

Here's Chris Murray with The Enchantables:

Summer basketball prospectus on New Mexico State
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Last season: 17-15 overall, 9-7 WAC (tied for third)

Returning starters: Five (Jahmar Young, Jonathan Gibson, Hernst Laroche, Hamidu Rahman, Wendell McKines)

Key losses: Terrance Joyner

Potential starting lineup...
Go here for the remainder.

Mark Fox is settling in

For those interested, here's a bit of an update on Mark Fox:

New Georgia hoops coach gets settled in
Scott Michaux
Augusta Chronicle
July 15, 2009

NORTH AUGUSTA --- As of July 1, Mark Fox is officially moved out of his hotel room on the Georgia campus and into his new home with his wife and two young children.

That doesn't mean he's not still living out of suitcases.

"I've slept in the house two nights since we moved in," said the first-year Georgia basketball coach from the recruiting road Monday at the Peach Jam.

Fox has been in nonstop rebuilding mode since being hired to replace the fired Dennis Felton on April 3. He had only seven days to lock down his first recruits while releasing any players who opted to leave. With only one senior on his roster, he intentionally left room for staggered growth the next year.

At the Peach Jam, Fox was playing catch-up with recruits who have been on other teams' watch lists for years. What he mines from these emerging young stars will determine the fate of his future and the program's acceptance by fans turned off by seven years of relative failures.

"It has to start with our players and those kids that play basketball," Fox said. "Certainly you're out trying to recruit fans and bring back the energy, but the responsibility starts with our team and our coaches to play basketball in a way that makes it attractive. That's not fair to our fans to say we're going to rebuild but you come back first."

Many Georgia fans probably had never heard of Fox before he was introduced by Athletic Director Damon Evans in the spring. For all of the postseason success he had in five years at the helm of Nevada, he didn't generate a lot of attention in the Southeast. That he's never lived or coached east of the Mississippi River made him a foreign commodity in and around the Southeastern Conference...
Go here for the remainder.

Idaho basketball prospectus is out

As far as we can tell, Idaho is the first WAC school out with a summer prospectus.

Here's what most caught our attention in the release -- it's roster-related. Our understanding is that Travis Blackstock is a walk-on and therefore a non-scholarship player so that leaves the 13 names below, plus UNLV transfer Marcus Lawrence. Hence, our deduction is that Lawrence, who has encountered legal issues both in Vegas and Moscow, is a non-scholarshipped player for the 2009-2010 season.

1. Corey Stern
2. Mac Hopson
3. Jeff Ledbetter
4. Shawn Henderson
5. Steffan Johnson
6. Landon Tatum
7. Brandon Wiley
8. Luciano de Souza
9. Luiz Toledo
10. Kashif Watson
11. Kyle Barone
12. Joe Kammerer
13. Marvin Jefferson

Marcus Lawrence
Travis Blackstock

Kudos to Mr. Wasson

Yes, this normally is a hoops site but's very own Sam Wasson gets a thumbs up from The Wizard of Odds proprietor for the heads up on a New Mexico State University football poster.

Go here.

Speaking of the finest sports blogger in the state of New Mexico, he tipped us off on this followup article in the Fresno Bee. We were among the skeptical -- primarily due to thinking the announcement should have come with the handing over of the first check -- so a serious hat tip to donor Alfonso Bigelow.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More WAC recruiting items

July is the ground zero month for college basketball recruiting so many more 'items' than usual are being splashed across the 'net.

Let's begin with Jordan Railey.

The Slipper Still Fits
July 12, 2009

If, and it's a big if, Gonzaga decides to recruit a big for the 2010 class, it wouldn't surprise me if Jordan Railey becomes one of the main targets. The 6'10 Railey has a slowly developing offensive game, but could be an immediate impact player on the defensive end. Railey reminds me a little bit of Sam Dower at this point of his recruitment, as it appears that Railey is hearing mostly from mid-majors right now, but after a big July, he could be hearing from every school on the West Coast. "Colleges coaches that I've talked to say they really like my hands and my feet- those are the two main things they tell me," Railey said of the feedback he heard from coaches during the contact period. "The only thing they said I really need to improve on is my physical strength, but that's a given since I'm still growing into my body."

Railey currently boasts offers from Portland and Utah State, while also noting interest from Cal, Cal Poly, Gonzaga, San Francisco, Santa Clara, St. Mary's and Washington State. If Railey can continue to dominate on the defensive end, and show the potential to improve offensively, I could see the staff making a run at either him or Yannick Atanga. However, I'm just not sure how many scholarship will be used for 2010, with so much talent and apparent early interest from highly rated prospects in 2011."
Here's a kid with a Fresno State interest mention:
Jon Perryman
July 13, 2009

Scottsdale Christian Academy (Ariz.) rising senior wing/post player Hayden Johnson is starting to turn some heads after his Arizona Premier team finished up as tournament champs at the recent Mullens event in Oklahoma, downing the Nebraska Bison team 49-47 in the finals.

Johnson averaged 10 points per game and had a game high 10 rebounds against the Tulsa Bulldogs (their only loss), and a game high 14 points against Waco while holding their top player in check...
Go here for the remainder and a Rivals sub is required.

Nevada, Fresno State -- each WAC school actually -- plus many others are eyeing this young man:
A.W. Prince Senior Writer
July 14, 2009

He might be the most talked about point guard prospect on the west coast right now, and yet, few have heard his name or seen him play. After a summer spent blowing up on the AAU summer schedule for Belmont Shore, that's about to change. LaBradford Franklin is more than legit, and Cal fans are about to see why.

Why was Franklin so hidden?

He didn't play his junior year. The California Interscholastic Federation's San Diego Section ruled that Franklin, a junior from Temecula (Calif.), plus two incoming transfers from the state of Oklahoma, were all ineligible at San Diego high...
Go here for the remainder and a Rivals sub is required.

A Hawaii youngster has decided to attend Chaminade over walk-on possibilities at Hawaii and Idaho.
Minns to join Silverswords
Jason Kaneshiro
Honolulu Star Bulletin
July 14, 2009

Kamehameha graduate Pi'i Minns, the Star-Bulletin boys basketball Player of the Year, will continue his career at Chaminade.

Minns, a 6-foot-3 guard, led Kamehameha to the state championship last season. He averaged 12 points, four rebounds and three assists for the Warriors...
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Chris Murray previews LA TECH

Chris Murray continues working his way through the WAC with a preview of Louisiana Tech today:

Summer basketball prospectus on Louisiana Tech
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Last season: 15-18 overall, 6-10 WAC (sixth place)

Returning starters: Three (Kyle Gibson, Jamel Guyton, Magnum Rolle)

Key losses: James Loe, Adrian Rogers
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A bevy of recruiting mentions

This is a compilation of mentions associating WAC teams to various high schoolers:

Ben Vozzola - Nevada

Kory Thieleke - San Jose State

Josh Ritchart - Nevada

Alex Tiffin - Hawaii and San Jose State

Jordan Gathers - Nevada

Please remember that 'interest' doesn't necessarily constitute a two-way relationship nor an actual offer having been made. Plus, there are other non-WAC schools pursuing these kids.

Yes, Gathers is the nephew of the late Hank Gathers.

Guess who enjoyed a fine NBA season?

We're not sure why but it seems that former Fresno State star Dominic McGuire has received very little attention -- let alone adulation -- for having a productive sophomore season. Maybe this Michael Lee article will help.

Wizards' McGuire Building on Season
He Hopes Versatility Leads to Minutes
Michael Lee
Washington Post
July 13, 2009

Dominic McGuire entered summer league competition last year as an unlikely candidate to finish the season as a starter, let alone someone who would finish with the third-most starts behind Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. Yet after embracing that opportunity during an unbearable season, McGuire probably will go back to a reserve role, with the Washington Wizards hiring a new coach, making offseason roster upgrades and other players returning to good health.

"I'm not even thinking about that hardly," McGuire said yesterday of returning to the bench after starting 57 games last season. "If I'm not starting, that doesn't bother me. My main thing is getting minutes."

McGuire plans on securing playing time under new Coach Flip Saunders by displaying the same versatility that made him a favorite of former coach Ed Tapscott.

"Everybody knows we have guys who have been all-stars in Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, so there are not going to be too many major minutes," McGuire said. "But if you can play multiple positions, you'll be able to get a lot more minutes as a backup because you can move around."
Go here for the remainder.

Greg Graham is blogging

Thankfully, it isn't t--------g (or do you really care what restaurant John Calipari had a fantastic meal at last night?). Here's Boise State's Greg Graham posting about the Bronco coaching staff activities this summer and yes, there is some substance within it, unlike 99.9% of t--------g.

Boise State Sports Information

In the midst of a month long July recruiting period that will cover dozens of cities and thousands of miles, Bronco head men's basketball coach Greg Graham provides regular blogging updates from the road.

July 10, 2009

When you spend so much time in the gym and then have to catch early morning flights to the next stop, you tend to try and catch up on sleep on the plane. But, for those who have flown a bunch, you know it’s not always the best sleeping accommodations. So, you end up doing a little reading. Currently, I’m working my way through Magic Johnson’s book 32 Ways To Be a Championship Business...
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JaVale McGee trying to get wider

Thanks to Beltway Pack Fan posting at the Nevada sports Silver and Blue site, we have an update on what JaVale McGee is doing this summer. In pro basketball as in pro football, missing the prerequisite strength is simply something that cannot be compensated for via athletic ability or a particular skill set.

McGee Attempts to Transform His Game
Wizards' Second-Year 7-Footer Wants to Fill Void in Middle
Michael Lee
Washington Post
July 11, 2009

JaVale McGee was walking around an area store last week with his cousin, Mario Coleman, when they spotted a toy from McGee's favorite character from his favorite movie of the summer, "Transformers 2." McGee purchased the Optimus Prime voice-changer helmet, then the self-professed video junkie went home and recorded a promo for his own version of the next installment of the action thriller, "Transformers 3: The Rise of McGee."

Calling himself, "OptiMcGee Prime," the second-year center posted a two-minute video on YouTube in which he spoke into a camera for a few minutes, saying such gems as, "One shall stand. One shall fall." The video proved two things. One, that McGee is still a kid at 21. And two, he has had a lot of free time on his hands since his rookie season ended in April.

"I was having fun with it," McGee said with a chuckle.

But McGee said he has done more than make silly videos this offseason. He has committed to an offseason program to add mass to his scrawny frame and worked on developing a consistent jump shot and some reliable post moves. As the Wizards hold their first mini-camp practice today in preparation for summer league games next week in Las Vegas, the 7-foot McGee said he is eager to take steps toward his own transformation from being a prospect with potential to a productive backup...
Go here for the remainder.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Travis Mason-Bushman is back with a mid-summer look at Idaho

Here's Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation with a look at the Vandals in July:

Vandals looking strong in the summertime heat

Midsummer in Moscow – and already, hoops watchers have a chance to see the Vandals back in action.

Most of the 2009-10 Idaho Vandals men’s basketball squad have arrived on campus for summer workouts, and in the heat of the afternoon, Mem Gym echoes with the sound of leather on hardwood and the shouts of determined young ballplayers. Official practices are some ways off, but open gym is just that, and the Vandals are making good use of the time. From a perch in the balcony, the tension is already palpable.

It’s early in the game, but first appearances are promising...
Go here for the remainder.

The Paul George love train is picking up steam

The Bulldog Bounce blog had this about an interview with Fresno State's Paul George.

Paul George Interview
7/09/2009 You had an excellent freshman season at Fresno State last year. What was the transition like from high school to college?

Paul George: You know, I think my transition was real comfortable for me. I think it was a little easier for me to come out of high school and go to a conference like the WAC as opposed to going to the Big East where I think my transition would have been a lot harder. I think it went well for me though, Fresno has been a good place for me. Your dunk against St. Mary's last year opened a lot of eyes to your talent. Did you notice a lot more recognition after that game? Have you had a better dunk in a game?

Paul George: As far as best dunk, yeah I think there have been a couple other people that I've gotten worse then that. But nothing like that where we were playing such a big game. I mean, we were playing at St. Marys who were one of the top teams in the country, we were playing on ESPN, so the exposure was all there, everybody across the country was watching. I think that dunk really did help me as far as putting my name on the map, and really speeding up the process of me being a legit draft prospect. I think people started to take a lot more notice after that game... Go here or here for the remainder.

Tyrone Garland to VT

Nevada apparently worked hard in becoming part of the mix for prep backcourter Tyrone Garland out of Philadelphia. However, it's not easy to convince a youngster to come 2,500 or so miles west when multiple options from much closer by are also available.

Garland chose to go with Virginia Tech of the Big East Conference.

Bob Zagoria had this:

Tyrone Garland, a 6-1, 165-pound point guard from Philadelphia (PA) John Bartram, announced his college choice at the Reebok Camp in a room full of family, coaches and friends.

“The school that I will be attending is Virginia Tech,” Garland said.

“The [other] schools I was considering were La Salle, Temple, Nevada and Nebraska but what sold me was a great coaching staff. It’s kind of quiet up there so you can focus on basketball. [It has a] good campus and new practice facility, too.”

Bartram coach James Brown said Garland was a “special” person.

“I say from day one that young man is special,” Brown said. “Not only do you have a great basketball player but you have a great individual sitting right there...
Here's another story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Chris Murray previews Idaho

Here's Chris Murray on how Idaho is looking this summer:

Summer basketball prospectus on Idaho
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Last season: 17-16 overall, 9-7 WAC (tied for third)

Returning starters: Four (Mac Hopson, Kashif Watson, Brandon Wiley, Marvin Jefferson)

Key losses: Trevor Morris, Terrence Simmons, Luis Augusto.
Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hawaii in summertime

Chris Murray continues with his look at the state of each WAC basketball squad:

Summer basketball prospectus on Hawaii
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Last year’s record: 13-17 overall, 5-11 in the WAC (eighth place)

Returning starters: Four (Roderick Flemings, Bill Amis, Paul Campbell, Adhar Mayen)

Key losses: Kareem Nitoto, Lasha Parghalava
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

PatrickH finishes the job

This is making our summer! Patrick H returns with his remaining 'what WAC coach - what vehicle' entry that you are sure to enjoy even if your own team and coach gets grease-spotted. ESPN, SI, Scout, Rivals, et al are missing the boat because we have us a candidate -- no, may him THE candidate -- to fill the mighty hole created when Steve Rushin was let go at Sports Illustrated.

Kerry Rupp, Louisiana Tech - '69 GTO. A rebuilt old muscle car that doesn't have the acceleration of modern sports cars but with the big engine up front it's still powerful. Strangely enough, it wasn't running well last year until he ripped the spoiler off the back, then the thing began handling much better. The big spoiler must have been adding more drag than traction.

Don Verlin, Idaho - 2007 Toyota Corolla, very low mileage. Picked up for next to nothing at the Volkswagon dealership in Logan, Utah. The former owner was some older guy that stayed close to home and was very reluctant to let it go. Cherry condition but needed some accessories. Displays excellent handling in some tight places but doesn't have a lot of power. More durable than it looks as it ran over 2 donkeys last year yet encountered no problems other than angering some neighbors. It's still too early to judge it's reliability, but it looks like a great buy.

George Nessman, San Jose State - '83 Monte Carlo SS, was up on blocks when purchased. Now after adding new tires, upholstry, hydraulic shocks and a great paint job it looks better, especially when parked, but it still needs engine work as only half the cylinders seem to be firing. People no longer laugh every time it cruises by, but the hot chicks still aren't asking for rides.

Steve Cleveland, Fresno State - Funny Car, very fast on the track near home but pretty much useless out on the road. The rebuilt engine is a thing of beauty, but the expensive upkeep and a history of faulty replacement parts have lead to much disatisfaction and a lot of neighbors have complained about the noise. Once the new engine is fully broken in those problems and complaints may disappear. If not, he may have to start riding public transit.

Go here for Patrick's initial post featuring which vehicles Stew Morrill, Greg Graham, Bob Nash, Marvin Menzies and David Carter drive.

Chris Murray previews Fresno State

The second chapter in Chris Murray's summer edition of WAC basketball previewing has been published:

Summer basketball prospectus on Fresno State
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette Journal

Last year’s record: 13-21 overall, 3-13 in the WAC (ninth place)

Returning starters: Three (Sylvester Seay, Paul George, Nedeljko Golubovic)

Key losses: Dwight O’Neil, Bryce Cartwright, Brian Seals
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Chris Murray comes through

Just as the summer doldrums are swirling in (although PatrickH is doing his damndest to change the atmospheric conditions), Chris Murray provides a shot of energy with the opening feature in his summertime WAC team basketball preview.

Summer basketball prospectus on Boise State
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Editor's note: Each day for the next two weeks, we will take an early look at one basketball team in the Western Athletic Conference. Today: Boise State.

Last year's record: 19-13 overall, 9-7 in the WAC (tied for third)

Returning starters: Four (Anthony Thomas, Paul Noonan, Ike Okoye, Kurt Cunningham)

Key losses: Mark Sanchez, Jamar Greene, Aaron Garner

Potential starting lineup...
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