Beyond the Arc has moved. Click here for the new version and reset your bookmarks.
• Sept. 24 | 9:30 p.m. PT
They’re in the money
Thad Matta went from Xavier coach to within one win of the national title in just three seasons. For this, he is now among college basketball’s highest paid coaches.
Hey, it’s nice work if you can get it.
Ohio State gave Matta nearly a $500,000 raise, which boosts his salary to just under $2.5 million a season and is under contract through the 2016 season. (Amazingly enough, he’s still not the highest paid coach at the school. That would be football coach Jim Tressel.) Matta was making about $1.9 million last season when he guided the Buckeyes to a 35-4 record and a Big Ten regular-season title.
Matta’s 81-23 record is impressive, and he’s shown he can recruit (uh, Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Daequan Cook), but is any coach really worth $2.5 million a season? And how can anyone be worth more than that? After all, Matta isn’t even the game’s highest paid coach.
(Or in the Big Ten. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo makes more, and Matta’s package was prompted by Tubby Smith’s superior compensation package from Minnesota. Tubby, in should be noted, made nearly as much as Matta — in 2003 at Kentucky.)
Since the Ohio State Board of Trustees must think Matta’s worth it, it doesn’t really matter if I think it’s too much money to pay a coach. I can still wonder, though.
Ohio State has the money to spend on top-flight coaches (in 2006, it was the only school with an athletic budget over $100 million), but that doesn’t mean you’d have to pay that much up-front money to a coach. Why not spread it out?
USA Today does a great package on coaches’ salaries every year. This link goes to their table of salaries for coaches in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. It shows guaranteed salaries (Matta’s was $1.75 million in 2006), non-guaranteed income, one-time bonuses and tournament maxes.
Guys like Louisville’s Rick Pitino made a ton in 2006 (thanks to a $4 million one-time bonus) as did Izzo ($9.8 million one-time bonus). UNC’s Roy Williams, receives a fairly hefty guaranteed salary ($1.4 million), but makes more through his contract with Nike and from a deferred income plan.
So the good coaches all make tons of money, in guaranteed and non-guaranteed money. We knew that. I still wonder, is it worth it?
That’s where this fabulous site comes in.
Using those USA Today numbers, it graphically represents coaches by salary, wins, losses, total games, dollars per win and dollars per game. For someone like Matta, that breaks down to a cost of about $52,000 per win last season (it doesn’t take into account the NCAA Tournament, which I adjusted for).
Now, that doesn’t sound too bad, considering Ohio State’s stellar season — and contrasted to how much each Tubby Smith win cost Kentucky (more than $100,000!). But John Calipari, Ben Howland, Bo Ryan, to name a few, all were better “bargains.” Villanova’s Jay Wright cost just $26,000 per win. Chris Lowry, just $10,000.
Is Matta worth the money? Ohio State thinks so. But do you?
• Sept. 17 | 5:50 p.m. PT
Bad news for ’Bama’s ‘Man of Steele’
No way around this one — Alabama’s season prospects took a big hit Monday when senior point guard Ronald Steele announced he’ll redshirt this season.
The Crimson Tide were one of the sexy sleeper picks before the 2006-07 season. Steele and talented forwards Jermareo Davidson and Richard Hendrix were supposed to be enough to give Florida fits and ensure an NCAA Tournament berth.
But Davidson endured a tough season, on and off the court, while Steele’s knees started to ache. Small wonder why. He averaged 38 minutes a game in 2005-06, including 17 games where he played more than 40 minutes. That’ll affect most players, no matter how old your legs are.
As a result, the Tide ended the season 20-12 after a loss in the NIT.
Steele had arthroscopic surgery on both knees in April, but his rehab was going slower than he expected, so then a follow-up procedure on his left knee in August. He was expected to be healthy for this season, now, well, it could be a long year for Alabama.
(One good tidbit out of all of this? Steele is expected to graduate in December and said he would begin work toward a second degree. Now that’s a student athlete.)
• File this under “what were they thinking?” Pittsburgh guard Levance Fields was arrested Sunday after authorities said he tried to grab an off-duty police officer’s weapon and was subdued with a stun gun. This stuff writes itself.
• Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl is filing for divorce. It is strange that women’s coach Pat Summitt also did the same recently, but I doubt the two stories are related. Others agree. Not that it kept others from speculating.
• Finally, some good news in this space. George Washington coach Karl Hobbs will stay at the school through 2012 after signing an extension. That’s great news for the Colonials, who are 114-65 during Hobbs’ tenure, including a 27-3 record in 2005-06 and two A-10 tourney titles in the last three years.
• Sept. 6 | 8 p.m. PT
First tragic, then heartwarming, now ugly and puzzling
Almost a year ago, five of the Duquesne basketball team were shot at a campus party. The initial response from fans, media and other coaches was understandably concerned and quite somber.
There wasn’t hope for a successful season (mostly because the Dukes hadn’t much recent success anyway), but coach Ron Everhart was steadfast in his support and handling of those injured players, including star transfer Stuard Baldonado.
Then, after a 10-19 season, Baldonado sued the school in April, claiming “the shootings caused severe and permanent injuries that will affect Baldonado’s ability to make a living as a pro basketball player, either in the NBA or overseas.”
But even that — given how litigious people are today — doesn’t seem too surprising.
There’s another twist, though. Baldonado was arrested last Friday and charged with criminal conspiracy involving the manufacture, delivery or possession of a controlled substance. That news stunned his teammates and coach, while the school promptly suspended him.
(That sparked another ugly story, with his attorney calling the suspension “retaliation” for the lawsuit. “This is the kind of thing we feared when we filed the suit. This is not a conviction. It's a charge. It seems like the university is casting him aside,” Teresa Toriseva told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)
On Wednesday, Baldonado was informed that he would be charged for misdemeanor possession of marijuana after being spotted smoking near the Duquesne campus. His reason? He was “stressed out.”
Then there’s this nugget, first reported by the AP on Thursday.
Baldonado was charged in May with aggravated battery and false imprisonment in a domestic violence case in Miami-Dade County, Fla., where he once played for and attended Miami Dade College. Baldonado has a girlfriend and a child there, the AP reported.
The school never learned of that charge being called by a Miami prosecutor last week.
Does Dave Barry know about this story? He’d have a field day with it.
It’s gotta be tough for Everhart to deal with all of this (and the transfer of some of his most talented players) and still remain optimistic for the upcoming season. That goes for me, too. It’s one thing for a coach to rebuild a program, and another to do so in the face of last year’s shootings. And now this? No one’s job should be this tough.
• Sept. 1 | 9 p.m. PT
It wasn’t a surprise to see Mike Montgomery return to college coaching. He was always one of the game’s best, establishing the Cardinal as one of the game’s most consistent teams and taking the 1998 squad to a Final Four. He also won 393 games in 18 seasons at Stanford.
So, despite his ill-advised NBA adventure, Montgomery, a guy who was able to recruit big-time players to an elite academic school like Stanford and have success, remained one of the names that always surfaced when a big-time vacancy emerged.
(Just last year, Sporting News columnist Mike DeCourcy wrote this piece covering all the reasons why Montgomery remained an excellent coaching candidate, yet no one had scooped him up.)
Which makes Montgomery’s return all the more perplexing.
He’s back at Stanford, but as an assistant to the athletic director. He’ll be responsible fund raising and public relations while also serving as a mentor to Stanford’s coaching staff, according to the AP story.
Montgomery says it’s “something I’ve always wanted to do.” Ex-Cardinal football coach and San Francisco 49ers coaching legend Bill Walsh had the same position, which must have extra appeal for Montgomery, but it can’t have the same appeal of coaching. Montgomery isn’t an overdone egomaniac like some coaches, but I can’t imagine Cardinal coach Trent Johnson is going to relax all season with his former boss working on campus.
San Jose Mercury news writer Jon Wilner doesn’t expect any friction between Johnson and Montgomery this season, and that it was just a matter of time before Montgomery did in fact return in some capacity, even if it wasn’t as coach.
Montgomery has said the right things, explaining that he won’t be “hovering” over Johnson and that the “The basketball program is in great hands,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Instead, Montgomery keep doing TV analysis and remain open to taking a vacant coaching job after the 2007-08 season.
Maybe all of that’s true. But there’s no way Johnson isn’t feeling the heat. His three seasons in Palo Alto have been sub-par. The Cardinal were the ultimate bubble team last season before getting slammed by Louisville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. With the Lopez twins back, expectations are high for Johnson’s team.
One more sub-par season would surely open up a coaching vacancy Montgomery would take.
• Aug. 29 | 3:45 p.m. PT
Would include having the free time to actually participate in a fantasy football draft for once, instead of having to autodraft. This is the third time in four years I’ve had to autodraft. Not sure there’s a more frustrating thing.
Well, maybe having the last pick in a 16-team league is a little more frustrating. Here’s hoping tonight’s draft (in an 18-team league!) turns out a little better. Fingers crossed for L.T.
Speaking of fantasy, not sure what the editors at Blue Ribbon were thinking by making Marquette’s Dominic James one of the five cover boys for this season’s Yearbook. Don’t get me wrong, James is a good player who will probably be preseason All-Big East and will get some All-America votes.
But a cover boy for something like the Yearbook should be a slam-dunk conference player of the year. The other four players, UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough, Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert, Tennessee’s Chris Lofton and Michigan State’s Drew Neitzel, are just that. (Neitzel may be pushed by Indiana’s D.J. White and Hansbrough by Virginia’s Sean Singletary, but Lofton and Hibbert are shoe-ins — though Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds won’t make it easy.)
I would’ve pushed for UCLA’s Darren Collison, Memphis’ Chris Douglas-Roberts, Kansas Brandon Rush (though he’ll miss some of the season due to injury) or a small-school guy like Utah State’s Jaycee Carroll. (He’d be a tough sell because you have to sell the mag on newstands, but still worthy...)
Then again, maybe James will shrug off the mini-sophomore slump from last season. Those guys at Blue Ribbon are pretty smart.
• As a Kansas grad, I still find time to visit Lawrence every few years. Here’s a new reason to go. (Sticking with the fantasyland theme...)
There’s more info on the College Basketball Experience here, too. Anyway, the upstairs basketball court sounds great, but I’m always amazed at how far $20 million goes to creating a place like this (and vice versa. It sounds cool, but I’m reserving judgment.)
• Aug. 17 | 7 p.m. PT
Back in action — same with Pokey
Ah. My second vacation of the summer (and last of the year) was even better than the first. Got married. Enjoyed a drive down the coast into wine country and San Francisco. Relaxed.
In short, life is good. And life looks like it’s once again good for Pokey Chatman.
Chatman will live in Russia for six months, coaching the Spartak Moscow women’s team, whose roster is filled with WNBA players who play overseas during the offseason (and make far more money than they do in the U.S.). Reports indicate the WNBA stars Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird make between $500,000 and $3 million a season in Russia. Chatman could make around $1 million, well more than her $400,000 salary at LSU. She starts Oct. 8.
To be fair, the legendary — or notorious — Russian winters did give her some pause.
"I figure I won't be going outside much while I'm there," she told the Times-Picayune.
This news comes days after Chatman spoke publicly for the first time about her LSU departure. She says she was forced out, and ripped the school for the way the situation was handled, though she declined to specify what brought about the change.
Regardless, it’s good that a coach of her caliber found a way to continue coaching and be compensated handsomely for it. Maybe at some point she’ll return to the states — either in college or the WNBA.
• July 25 | 4 p.m. PT
Sad without Skip
Hearing that Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser died Thursday after collapsing while jogging was shocking, to say the least.
Prosser, the 2003 ACC coach of the year, was by all accounts one of the game’s good guys. Makes sense, too. Ever since Chris Paul jumped to the NBA — after helping the Deacons to a school record 27 wins during the 2004-05 season — Wake had slumped to an 8-23 ACC record the last two seasons.
Those kind of results usually result in walking papers, but people thought enough of Prosser to be linked to the Cincinnati coaching job after Bob Huggins was fired. He passed and was under contract at Wake through the 2012-13 season. And if the recruiting gurus are to be believed, those years would’ve been impressive.
Prosser’s upcoming recruiting class was hailed by pundits, coaches, as one of the best around. Only UCLA had Wake beat. How did he do it after sub-par seasons? Well, he was just the kind of guy players liked.
I’m not suggesting that future success makes Prosser’s death more tragic, simply that Prosser’s life and and job seemed to be going well. It would be tragic even if he wasn’t doing well.
It reminded me of when Northwestern football coach Randy Walker died last year.
Walker, 52, died of a heart attack after becoming the Wildcats’ coach in 1999. After three bowl games and an offense that was one of the game’s most wide-open and fun to watch, Walker was one of those coaches that people knew of, but wasn’t well known to casual fans. Yet, just like Prosser, Walker was a guy that everyone liked, players, fans and the media. When coaches like that die, it hits everyone with a shot to gut that isn’t easy to shake off.
I’d never met Prosser, but know writers who did. And it’s easy to believe them when they say people may not have known Prosser, but that was their loss, let alone Wake Forest’s and college basketball’s.
• July 14 | 4:30 p.m. PT
He dunks and replenishes a body’s fluids
It figures that Kevin Love is the Gatorade national high school athlete of the year. He already won four other national player of the year awards and his dad, Stan, played in the NBA. Also, Love averaged 33.6 points, 17 rebounds, four assists and three blocks last season, helping Lake Oswego, Ore., High to its third consecutive state title game appearance.
That kind of résumé and pedigree should produce a fine player.
The UCLA recruit was officially given the award by last year’s winner, Greg Oden. You may have heard of him. But it remains to be seen if Love will have the same impact of the last three hoops players of the year — Oden, Dwight Howard and LeBron James.
By all accounts, Love is the top incoming post player for the 2008 class. He’s big (6-9, 260 pounds), powerful (breaking backboards!) and has those soft hands coaches covet for catching passes and throwing it out of double teams.
(In fact, he’s such a good passer that it’s the thing he claims to be best at. He keeps his head up, spots cutting teammates and usually doesn’t hesitate. And he knows how to use that strength when it comes to passing, too. Check out this full-court outlet pass. Watch close and you’ll see that it’s a chest pass, not an overhand.)
The big caveat? He ain’t athletic (read: he can’t jump, like most of us.)
But Love knows this and doesn’t try to force the issue. He doesn’t struggle so much that he can’t dunk in traffic, but he won’t be rising over defenders. It’s part of what has made his game so well rounded — and could be a factor to keeping him in school longer than most highly touted recruits.
The NBA draft is predicated on athleticism. Anytime someone struggles (can’t jump), their draft stock sinks like the Titanic. This year it was Glen Davis, Josh McRoberts and Nick Fazekas, two of whom were All-Americans and dominated the college competition, but concerns about their ability to compete against more athletic players hurt their pro prospects. (Spencer Hawes escaped this curse because he’s a true 7-footer.)
If this actually keep Love in school longer than most remains to be seen. He’s already touted as a borderline lottery pick in 2008 and with a strong freshman season (very possible on a good Bruins team and in the center-depleted Pac-10).
My guess? Unlike the most recent Gatorade guys (Oden, Howard, LeBron), Love stays in school for two years — or double those other three put together.
• July 8 | 8 p.m. PT
Had myself a nice little vacation. Even missed the NBA draft, but got back in town in time for the 4th.
Also got back in time to read up on the latest with summer basketball camps. (Which is better than most of the coaches get. They’ll spend all week traveling around, sitting in hot gyms and trying to sort through the ballers without having too many hanger-ons whisper in their ears. They do it for the last week in July, too.)
After 23 years, Sonny Vaccaro’s legendary ABCD camp (which featured players like Kobe Bryant, Stephon Marbury, LeBron James and Tracy McGrady) closed this summer, but was replaced with Reebok’s RBK U basketball camp, which opened with 120 players on Friday.
The camp’s site is supposed to feature daily updates, but their first post is mostly photos, which means it’ll take a couple days to learn which players thrived in Philly. The most interesting thing thus far? The logistics of running a major camp can be a little imposing.
The inagural adidas It Takes 5IVE Classic also started Friday in Cincinnati after years of playing in Suwanee, Ga.
Nike’s LeBron James skills academy began Saturday in Akron, Ohio. About 80 prospects are on hand, including a ton of top college players like Ty Lawson, Taj Gibson and Scottie Reynolds. Draftexpress.com is doing a nice roundup of the action from this one.
The site’s also doing stories from the NBA’s summer league in Las Vegas, but it’ll be another couple weeks before the big camps kick off in Vegas. (Starting July 22, adidas, Reebok and Hal Pastner’s main event will have more than 800 teams in town.)
I just wish the actual season started sooner...
• June 21 | 11 a.m. PT
Short and to the point
Here’s the last batch of pre-draft rankings, this time spotlighting the point guards.
This is probably the weakest collection of talent in the draft, though that’s because of the depth available, not because of the talent. The top four guards all could be All-Stars. So let’s get to it.
1. Mike Conley
Thank Chris Paul for Conley landing in this spot. (Or Allen Iverson. Tiny Archibald. Take your pick of “too small to star in the NBA” guards and there are scads who did thrive.) Conley is the quickest player out there, with or without the ball in his hands. His outside shooting is improving and his passing go without saying (he led the Big Ten with 6.4 assists a game). His defense may always be an issue (one of the few times size could be a problem) and he’ll get knocked down, but he’ll frustrate and humiliate far more defenders than he fails to guard.
2. Acie Law
Law may never be a top-flight point guard, but he’s got the stones to be a good NBA player. He’s fearless, especially with the ball in his hands, and is that guy who can win a game in the final seconds. The only thing to worry about with Law is if he’s explosive enough to get his shot off against bigger defenders.
3. Gabe Pruitt
Pruitt’s big, smart, a good athlete and can score when needed. Crittenton may be the better pure point guard, but I like Pruitt because he’s a little older and more experienced and seems better suited for the pro game because of his scoring ability. He can adjust to getting teammates involved. To those wondering how USC KO’d Texas from the NCAA Tournament and nearly did the same to USC, one need only look to its backcourt and Taj Gibson.
4. Javaris Crittenton
I could be way off here. Crittenton’s talent and size could make him the best point guard — maybe even best guard — in this year’s draft. Scoring’s not the problem (he tied for Georgia Tech’s scoring lead as a freshman) and some think his passing is his strong suit. But he won’t start right away and that kills young point guards. No playing experience hurts them as much as centers. He feels more like Antonio Daniels than Chauncey Billups.
5. Taurean Green
And if Crittenton is the guy to doubt, Green is the guy to watch. It’s funny that the starting point guard of a two-time defending champion — and the leading scorer this season — is seen as a borderline first-round pick. Green’s size (listed at 6-1, 173 pounds) isn’t ideal, but he’s not smaller than Conley, Chris Paul, T.J. Ford, Tony Parker or Raymond Felton. The catch? Green isn’t as fast as them. Still, he runs an offense efficiently, is an improved defensive player and he’ll hit the three-pointer when needed.
6. Jared Jordan
Andre Miller, just a little slower. Jordan’s the most natural pass-first PG out there, but he won’t be able to guard a soul. But when does that matter? With that, read this sweet piece from SI.com.
7. Zabian Dowdell
Dowdell had some nice moments for Virginia Tech last season, but struggled so much at season’s end, I wonder if his offense will transition to the NBA. Won’t matter, though. His defensive ability will make him an attractive second-round pick. He’ll have to hit a jumper at some point to stick around, though.
8. Aaron Brooks
Another pint-sized terror — a shooting guard with point guard size. Brooks doesn’t the savvy of someone like Jordan or Green, but the dude can score points. He’ll land on a roster somewhere and be good for instant offense off the bench.
9. DaShaun Wood
Last up in the series of little guys who can play is Wright State’s Wood. He was the man in Wright State’s run to the NCAA Tournament, a do-everything guard despite being 5-11. Wood stole the show at the Portsmouth Invitational thanks to his quickness and passing ability.
10. Mustafa Shakur
The most frustrating player on the list. Shakur has the requsite size (6-3, 185 pounds), pedigree (four-year starter at Arizona) and he passes the airport test. But for some reason, he regressed each year at Arizona and, as a result, isn’t likely to make it in the NBA. So why is he the 10th best PG prospect available? Because I haven’t seen Petteri Koponen play.
• June 14 | 7:10 p.m. PT
Shooting up the charts
Not sure what that opening line refers to, really. Guess I’m just a fan of clichés...
The NBA draft’s crop of shooting guards isn’t great. For a position that produces a ton of great NBA scorers, don’t expect many stars to come out of this group, or to have more than 7 or 8 drafted in the first round. Scouts question their athletic ability (Arron Afflalo), shooting skills (Alando Tucker), aggressiveness (Nick Young) or defensive ability (Rodney Stuckey).
In short, no one’s a sure-fire star. But there are plenty of solid players who could thrive on the right team (newsflash!).
1. Corey Brewer
Some think the Florida star is another Scottie Pippen. While it’s true that the 6-7 junior thrives as a defensive stopper, is an improving outside shooter and apparently never gets tired, Brewer’s nickname “the drunken dribbler” sums up his consistency. Brewer is as likely to kill an opponent from the outside (ask Ohio State) or he could disappear offensively and be forced to be a defense-only player. Both options would make Brewer a fine NBA player — Bruce Bowen, perhaps — but Pippen may be a stretch. Still, Brewer’s going to be a very good NBA player, even if he never becomes a star.
2. Nick Young
Call him an explosive Rip Hamilton. Young’s mid-range game is as good as it gets in this year’s draft, but he does have that extra oomph to dunk over people. He says he’s working on his aggressiveness, which would make him one of the top offensive prospects available (Kevin Durant and maybe Morris Almond are better). I saw another comparison to Derek Anderson, which also seems about right. Watching the NBA Finals, the Cavs could really use Young.
3. Morris Almond
Of course, the Cavs would also love having this guy. Almond averaged 26.4 points per game last season as the Owls’ only weapon, yet he still made almost 50 percent of his shots, took 4 out of every 10 shots the team attempted and accounted for nearly 40 percent of their offense. He’ll be used to the NBA defensive pressure — he’s already been hounded his entire college career. That said, he isn’t much on defense. But when you can score like this, it doesn’t matter.
4. Alando Tucker
Tucker’s a mid-to-late first-round pick. That hasn’t stopped him from signing a seven-figure shoe deal with Converse. It pays to be a player of the year finalist, even if you’re a likely tweener in the NBA. Most sites have Tucker as a small forward, but his ball-handling shouldn’t be a huge problem. He’ll thrive as a guy who can guard most shooting guards, get into the lane and be a good teammate.
5. Rodney Stuckey
Stuckey’s the latest hot prospect, seen as a better shooting Corey Maggette or Ricky Davis. Heck of an athlete who can score and is improving on defense, but few people have seen him against big-time players. Rumors circulated that the Pistons wanted Stuckey at No. 15 overall, but his agent downplayed that. He’s another stellar mid-range player who could struggle from beyond the arc at first.
6. Daequan Cook
I really wish Cook would return to school. Right now, no mock draft has him going in the top 20. Next season, he’d be a lottery pick and would be the Buckeyes’ star — which mean more marquee value and a possible shoe deal. But he’s in. And he’s too good to have lower than this, no matter how much he’ll sit on the bench the next few years.
7. Arron Afflalo
Ask Afflalo just how good Brewer is. While it’s true Afflalo won’t be facing defenders like Brewers in every NBA game, he will see guys like that in most games. Everyone’s big. Everyone’s fast and can jump. And unless Afflalo works out the kinks in his offensive game, he’ll be a role player. Still, he’s one of the good guys. Plus, he can play ‘D’.
10. JamesOn Curry
The wild-card. Curry’s shorter than the prototypical shooting guard, but then again, so are Ben Gordon and Jason Terry. The difference is those two are great shooters (OK, maybe they’re good, but streaky shooters), while Curry is a slasher who doesn’t do much from the outside. Still, the kid can play.
• June 9 | 4 p.m. PT
Not your usual small forward
When it comes to ranking the NBA draft’s small forward prospects, it starts with Kevin Durant.
The Texas freshman — and all everything player of the year — is a 6-foot-9 scoring machine that is probably headed to Seattle at No. 2 overall. (I still think Durant wouldn’t be a crazy No. 1 pick because he’d be a guaranteed box office draw and a perennial All-Star/All-League player, but Greg Oden is too good to pass up.)
But a story earlier this week on how Durant can’t bench press 185 pounds tried to cast some doubt on his potential. Guys on the radio speculated he’s overhyped. I read unnamed scouts questioning if he’s strong enough to handle the NBA.
It’s just another example of how people start to swallow stupid during when professional drafts roll around. It affects NFL people when teams pass on Reggie Bush or Vince Young despite seeing what they do on the field.
But it’s even worse in the NBA draft because height and athletic ability rules over everything. Teams want that big player or pass on a would-be star because they already have someone in place. It’s the reason Sam Bowie was chosen instead of Jordan, why Paul Pierce went No. 10 in 1998, why Josh Howard (the ACC player of the year) was the last pick of the first round in 2003 and why a “too small” Chris Paul was the fourth player taken two years ago.
Seriously, just take the best player available.
It’s the same thing with Durant. There have been no indications the new Sonics G.M. will brainfart and pass on Durant, which is a good sign in the post-Rick Sund era. So Durant can’t bench press 185. Who cares? That doesn’t apply to basketball, nor does it give an indication of exactly how strong he is with the ball in his hand or how well he holds his position rebounding.
Also, he’s not even 20. He can put on weight, though that’s never hurt Tayshaun Prince, Chris Bosh or Kevin Garnett. Even Tim Duncan — the perfect low-post player — isn’t someone who will overpower a defender.
(If you have an ESPN Insider account, read Chad Ford’s blog on Durant that goes into great detail why Durant may not be testing off the charts. For starters, he hasn’t been working out constantly like most of the other prospects, which is a little worrisome. But that’s no deal breaker. The one concern is that Durant may be slow laterally, which would be an issue. That pretty much makes him Dale Ellis, not T-Mac.)
Right now, Durant is nearly the perfect size to play on the wings. He’s not going to be down on the blocks, slugging it out with Dwight Howard. For now, he’ll be a perfect scorer in the NBA thanks to his uncanny shooting ability, mid-range game and decent ball-handling skills.
(Last note: Some may look for Wisconsin star Alando Tucker here, but I consider him a shooting guard. He’ll also play some power forward, but his future is as a bigger guard who can slash to the basket.)
2. Jeff Green
Frankly, it’s a toss-up between the Georgetown star and Kansas’ Julian Wright. Both are excellent all-around players who are great passers, good offensively and could turn into shut down defenders. But I give the edge to Green for two reasons: he’s a better defender right now and his shooting motion is smoother.
3. Julian Wright
I suppose this could really be 2a. Wright’s going to be a solid NBA player, if not a star. But Green will be better right away and I’m not sure Wright will ever be able to average more than 15 points a game.
4. Al Thornton
Thornton used to be the type of player who was overlooked in the draft because he was a low-post player in college who hit the boards and worked hard for his points. That’s changing. True, he may not ever get any better (he’s 23), but he’s going to be good for 17 and 6 as a rookie. Unless he slips a bit and lands on a deeper team, like the Pistons.
5. Thaddeus Young
Young could be a star, but I think his lack of aggressiveness — and willingness to shoot three-pointers — will be his downfall. Still, smart 6-foot-8 wing players are rare. And if a guy like Ed O’Bannon can be a lottery pick, so can Young. (And yes, the comparison is deliberate.)
6. Derrick Byars
Think Josh Howard. Seriously. Byars will go later in the first round, which means he’ll land on a decent team. If he lasts until No. 24, the Suns will make him a star — and a replacement for Shawn Marion.
7. Jared Dudley
Dudley’s Boston College teammate two seasons ago, Craig Smith, was a find for Minnesota in last year’s draft, an afterthought player in the second round. Dudley will probably be the same way, but will be a solid role player for about 15 years. He’s smart, passes well and better offensively than people give him credit for.
9. Marcus Williams
Really tempted to move up the Arizona sophomore, but he’s the kind of player who infests the NBA nowadays — a talented, explosive 6-7 wing who could go off for 30 points, but never seems to play any defense and may be a headache in the locker room. It all depends on the team, here.
10. Reyshawn Terry
Terry’s frustrating because he looks great in a uniform — tall, well built and can shoot the three — but he disappears during games. But hey, UNC players are all over the NBA and Terry’s good enough to land on someone’s roster.
• June 6 | 10 p.m. PT
Oh Billy. You had the world in the palm of your hand. Disney World at least...
The Orlando Magic and Billy Donovan officially finalized the terms of his contract release. Instead of five years, it turned out to be five days. That means no $27.5 million, no working with Dwight Howard and back to year-round recruiting on schmoozing boosters.
Could be worse. Florida athletic director could pass on having Donovan return, but that won’t happen (the deal isn’t done yet, but that’s as of right now.) Instead, Donovan will go back to the nice little mini-dynasty he created in Gainesville. In a couple years, most people will have forgotten about all of this, especially if Donovan guides the Gators to another title.
Flip-flopping is fairly common when it comes to coaches, though they usually don’t happen with coaches coming off national title seasons. (Except when you’re Larry Brown, the ultimate ship jumper/flip flopper.)
And that’s just the college hoops coaches. Players, coaches, take your picks, it seems like everyone changes their mind. That includes Pats coach Bill Belichick, who was Bill Parcells’ handpicked successor to coach the New York Jets, then went to the Pats.
(This all ignores the most infamous “flip-flopper.” Not that he’s the only politician to be saddled with that rep...)
ANYWAY, now that Donovan’s out of his Magic contract, the sooner Florida works out his extension, the better. Then we can all start forgetting all this nonsense.
• June 2 | 4:30 p.m PT
It’s been interesting to see the reaction from Billy Donovan accepting the Orlando Magic position Friday.
When the new first broke Thursday that the Florida Gators coach — he of the newly minted mini-dynasty thanks to a 68-11 record and two national titles the last two seasons — was headed to the NBA, I was stunned. Leave the program you built? What about establishing yourself as the program to beat?
(My buddy Jeff was more candid with an e-mail questioning Donovan’s mental capacity.)
Apparently, Donovan perceived his legacy differently from the rest of us.
An interesting blog from the Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy made clear that Donovan was worried about burning out at Florida, or worse yet, losing interest in coaching. Donovan is just 42, but still worries about “How do I grow? How do I get better?” And he thought the NBA challenge (challenge is putting it mildly) would be the best way for him to develop as a coach.
(I’m still not sold on that idea because it seems to be the NBA is less about coaching and more about managing the talent you have. And the Magic have some, but not a ton. But I digress.)
In Gainesville, where they’d just gotten used to not only ruling the basketball world but the football world as well, it was quiet resignation, as if they knew this wouldn’t last, including the school president. Maybe that’s because it felt exactly like Steve Spurrier’s move to the NFL in 2002.
Then again, some did have trouble letting go.
All that means is that athletic director Jeremy Foley has to get a replacement soon, the main target being VCU coach Anthony Grant, a former Florida assistant under Donovan. Grant goes to Gainesville, it should stop some of the bleeding the program suffered with Donovan’s departure. Some, but not all. No way a school can just replace a guy who hasn’t lost an NCAA Tournament game since 2005.
And if Donovan does succeed in the NBA — which could happen — he may never return to the college game, which would mean those back-to-back tournament titles, something only one other coach has done in the last 30 years, would be Donovan’s legacy. He’d go out of top like few coaches do.
Then again, maybe Donovan was thinking of his legacy.
CBT: Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made it official that he'll be coaching Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and he'll also be with Duke at least that long, too.
Latest from CollegeBasketballTalk
Former Marshall forward Jamir Hanner transferring to Buffalo6 hr 47 min ago
Boise State forward Vukasin Vujovic leaves program8 hr 11 min ago
Kyle Vinales won’t leave Central Connecticut State after all9 hr 42 min ago
College basketball videos
Team USA prolongs Coach K's tenure at Duke
DPS: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski joins the Dan Patrick Show to talk about his decision to return as Team USA basketball coach. Coach K admits coaching in the Olympics has extending his tenure at Duke, saying, “I wouldn’t stop coaching at Duke while I am still the National [team] coach.”
Three cheers for college hoops
Take a look at cheerleaders in action from around the country.