Lenny Wilkens interview caps a great summer

Aug 1, 2010, 4:42 PM | Updated: Apr 5, 2011, 11:20 am

I’ve been enjoying a working vacation on San Juan Island and been fortunate to be able to keep up on hoops enough to write this blog, keep up on Husky Digest and play some great gigs at Roche Harbor Resort with my band.

With the help of the awesome and comfortable Argyle House in Friday Harbor WA I’ve been able to stay right in touch with everything going on since my last blog post on Thursday July 22nd.

On top of all of that, Ryan Appleby and I had the tremendous thrill and huge honor to interview Lenny Wilkens on “Talkin’ Hoops” internet radio show Monday night.

Ryan and I do the show live and take calls every Monday at 8PM (PST) and the show is available as a podcast within minutes after the show ends at 9PM.

Lenny talked about the old days with the Sonics, his views some of today’s NBA’s players, his thoughts on UW’s Isaiah Thomas and more. We hope to have Lenny back sometime in the near future, as there are so many topics in his career of interest to us and I’m sure all of you out there on the net.

Lenny is about to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame for an unprecedented 3rd time. He has been inducted as a player in the 80’s, as a coach in the 90’s and will be inducted in August as a member of a team for his participation as an assistant coach for the 1992 “Dream Team” that won the Olympics in dominating fashion.

Wilkens dropped what could be a hint of forth coming big news by mentioning that Seattle U are, “Probably going to get into the West Coast Conference (WCC) this year”. I spoke to contacts close to the Seattle U program and they stated clearly that nothing had happened, but maybe Lenny is hearing something newsworthy that would really be a natural fit for both the conference, the city and the Redhawks.

The WCC is established in every major west coast market except Seattle, including Spokane, Portland, the Bay Area, LA and San Diego and with the absence of the NBA here, it would appear to be a great opportunity for the conference.

Husky Huddle

Speaking of Thomas, Isaiah did an informative Q+A with Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times, who is filling in for Percy Allen on his Husky Hoops blog quite well. We wish Percy and his family our best wishes and look forward to his return to the UW Hoops Beat as soon as possible. We are hearing that he could be back as soon as this week.

Isaiah said some very complimentary things about red-shirt freshman guard C.J. Wilcox.

“Oh my gosh, he’s the best shooter I’ve ever played with and against. It’s crazy that I say this now because he hasn’t played college yet. But when he misses it’s like dudes are mad at him for missing, that’s how good of a shooter he is. He’s going to be a really good player down the road and he’s going to really help me because he will really open up the court for me.”

Isaiah went on to say a number of other upbeat things, if you’re a Husky fan, on Terrence Ross, Desmond Simmons, Abdul Gaddy, Justin Holiday and his own off-season progress.

Husky Recruiting Hits Busy Season

Husky Digest’s Jason McCleary is reporting that Kevin Davis of Beamer High in Federal Way WA will not be going to CSI in Twin Falls ID, but instead will attend Tacoma CC. He is committed to Washington according to McCleary. We’ll have more on this as we get it, but R.J. Barsh, as assistant coach on TCC confirmed that for us and Davis is on the school’s published 2010-2011 roster.

The Las Vegas tournaments have been the story this past week and McCleary was there. Jason did a report for Husky Digest as well as one for Bleacher Report.

One of the brightest stars, especially for NW fans, was 2011 UW guard recruit Tony Wroten. Rivals felt that his performance was 2nd to none and that’s saying a lot with the droves of young players that are drawn to this annual hoops pilgrimage.

“Simply put, we didn’t see anybody in the gym playing at a higher level than the tall lefty point from the Emerald City. Playing with some extra bounce in his step and focus, Wroten did a little bit of everything. He was knocking down his jumper from deep (even with his tendency to fade away which flattens his shot), beating guys off the dribble with ease and making some ridiculous passes. When focused like this, he’s certainly got a wow factor to his game and brings a combination of size, athleticism and skill to the table that few guys can match. Very positive day for a kid who has had lots of expectations put on him since he was a middle schooler.”

Wroten unfortunately was not satisfied with his great performance being able to speak for itself and had to agonize in public as to why he is not more highly ranked in one of his now infamous tweets.

“If I’m not top 5 in the country then there shouldn’t b any rankings. Not being cocky just telling y’all how I feel.”

Tony continues to promote that he is wide open and that Kentucky is some sort of dream destination for him. The Courier-Journal spoke of his continued obsession with twitter and all of the Kentucky fans that follow his as if they feel that there internet addiction is a plus for his joining Terrence Jones, Enes Kanter and Demarcus Cousins as yet another UW recruit to spurn the Dawgs for the ‘Cats.

“At the Las Vegas Fab48 tournament, where Wroten is playing for Seattle Rotary Select, he said Friday that his recruitment is wide-open. He said all the schools on his list were ’50-50′, saying those schools are Kentucky, Louisville, Washington, Connecticut, Villanova and Memphis. But you would have a hard time convincing Web-savvy Kentucky fans that he isn’t dying to be a Wildcat.”

One thing is for certain though and that is that the Husky coaches welcome this prodigal son to Montlake, even if he continues to jump up and down stating that he is wide open.

“Lorenzo Romar was the one head coach eyeballing Anthony Wroten Saturday night.”

Tony spoke in a video segment for Fox Sports and insisted that no one can stop him when he’s on his game, while also deflecting that he is close to making a decision on his college choice.

I hope Wroten doesn’t get too upset by what the press says, because ESPN mentioned all of the great guards on the west coast and put him in the 2nd group of high major guard candidates.

“There are five elite level prospects — Jabari Brown (Oakland, Calif./Oakland), Nick Johnson (Gilbert, Ariz./Findlay Prep), Norman Powell (San Diego/Abraham Lincoln), Josiah Turner (Sacramento, Calif./Sacramento) and Jahii Carson (Phoenix/Mesa) — and a bevy of others that will play at the high-major level — Tony Wroten Jr. (Renton, Wash./Garfield), Gary Bell Jr. (Kent, Wash./Kentridge), Michael Caffey (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and Hikeem Stewart (Seattle/Rainier Beach).”

Wroten needs to stop focusing on what the rankings and the press is saying and quit tooting his own horn at every turn in the road. Wroten can be a very good player in college and has the size to become an NBA draft pick with continued work, but he needs to stay focused on the right things and minimize the distractions, which his off-court bravado and running commentary definitely is. I think that his heart is in the right place, but I’m waiting for him to realize that some of his off-court antics are not in his best interest.

Seth Davis at CNNSI spoke highly of Wroten’s performances in Vegas, but also pointed out that he had plenty of work to do.

In his Kentucky blog, Paul Jordan warned UK fans that Tony may be more of a tease for Wildcat fans than a realistic possibility. He mentioned that Wroten was also interested in Louisville and that Peyton Siva is his “Best friend”.

Husky Digest has reported from sources that Siva has been debating in private the idea of getting out of the ‘Ville for about two years. I am hearing that Siva could transfer out of Louisville after this year and that he would look very hard at Washington.

It makes sense from UW fan’s stand point as well. After sitting out Tony’s freshman year in 2011-2012 (if he ends up at Washington, which I am reasonably certain he will), Peyton would then help fill the loss of Isaiah in a back court that would include the senior Gaddy, the sophomore Wroten and many other strong guards, including Ross and Wilcox.

ESPN blogger Eamonn Brennan poked some fun Tony’s way about his self-promotion while complimenting his game, then revealed himself to be a neophyte when it comes to Washington hoops by misspelling the team nick name.

“If Wroten is as half as talented as he is confident — and judging by his video highlights, that’s probably a fair estimate — then he’s going to be an awfully good Huskie.”

2011 UW guard recruit Jabari Brown is getting recruited hard by Kansas, who sources tell us are counting on he and Oakland Soldier team mate Josiah Turner being part of their 2011 class. Whether this is true or not, especially in light of potential scandal involving KU’s ties to the Pump and new information starting to surface on potential recruiting mischief involving the Pumps, adidas and their crown jewel account in college basketball, Bill Self and the Jayhawks, remains to be made official in any way.

Though it is by no means official Josiah Turner has defined his course a bit more by naming KU, Duke and UConn as his three favorites.

The Kansas Rivals site reported on Tuesday that both Turner and Brown were favoring Kansas, using a quote from Derrick Artis, the coach of the Soldiers.

“I would say that Washington was his frontrunner, but after the Peach Jam, Kansas and Connecticut offered. Jabari was thinking about staying close to home, but he wasn’t really for sure, but it did sound like Washington was the frontrunner. Once Kansas came in with an offer, he said, ‘Oh, now I’ve really got to decide whether I want to stay out West or not. Jabari is definitely considering Kansas. It’s something he is very serious about. He and Josiah have talked about going to school together, too. It’s something they talk about often.”

In the mean time Jabari is getting rave reviews, not uncommon for a player that is being heavily recruited by at least one of the top factories. Should Brown end up at Washington (who in my opinion do not participate in the type of sleaze that was discussed in the recent article in ESPN by Dana O’Neill as well as in greater depth in Husky Digest) expect his recruiting rankings and rave reviews to start trailing off at least a little.

These sites know who is buttering their muffin and anyone who can’t read between the lines that covers this stuff is either in denial or not too attentive.

Rivals gushed about Brown’s performances in Vegas, even though they admitted out front that he struggled a bit.

“Jabari Brown (Oakland) struggled to find a consistent offensive rhythm, but was still able to get 20 points on the board in proving he is the best pure scorer out of this class and one of the best in the country. Brown utilizes an explosive dribble to get past defenses and possess a great feel on the offensive end of the floor.”

Jabari and the Soldiers won the Fab 48 event in Vegas and Brown won the Tourney MVP.

Brown told Rivals that it was a satisfying and redemptive win.

“This meant a lot because we didn’t win the Peach Jam and we really wanted to win this,” Brown said. “It’s pretty easy playing with these guys because everybody is a great player and we feed off each other, we’re all unselfish and so that makes it easier.”

The “glitz and glamour” factor, to quote Terrence Jones quote in regards to Kentucky, Lebron James and the rarely mentioned but always present William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley, is starting to kick in for Brown, as James was mentioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal as in the crowd when the Soldiers won the Super 48 title and Jabari took home the MVP.

Should Jabari and UW go their separate ways, a local kid is really starting to impress at least ESPN analyst Joel Francisco. 2011 UW guard recruit Hikeem Stewart really stood out in Vegas according to Francisco despite Friends of Hoop’s loss to a team from Michigan.

“Stewart continues to climb up the recruiting charts and he turned some heads with his performance against Team Detroit. The ultra-athletic 2-guard can affect the game in a variety of ways. He can stick the 3-pointer off the bounce or nail the pull-up in transition. He has a great feel for the game and delivered some clever assists. In addition, he plays with outstanding energy at both ends and is a relentless competitor. Due to how his game has evolved over the course of six months, I would be shocked if he doesn’t end up in the upper echelon of a big-time conference.”

Rivals also agreed that Stewart was worthy of praise and should move up in the next updated 2011 rankings.

“It doesn’t seem like there are enough people talking about the talented off guard from Seattle. A scorer by nature, he easily creates opportunities for himself off the dribble and is a dangerous sniper from deep. He’s making a major push for inclusion in the Rivals150 for the class of 2011 the next time it gets updated.”

Stewart’s FOH team played the Dallas Mustangs in the Desert Dual in Phoenix AZ and the UW coaches were watching according to Rivals.

“Head coaches from Washington, Marquette, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Arizona State, California, Oregon and Oregon State were on hand for the Dallas Mustangs vs. Friends of Hoop game.”

2011 UW wing recruit Jordan Williams plays for the Mustangs and told me on Wednesday about the loss to FOH and his continued interest in Washington.

“Vegas was good, but we lost in the Elite-8. UW is still a possibility. My favorites are Kansas St., Arizona St., Houston, Clemson, Georgia and UW”

Another FOH guard with a deadly shooting eye is 2011 UW recruit Brett Kingma, who was the subject of a full length feature in Rivals for his performances in Vegas. According to FOH coach Jim Marsh, UW is watching Brett, along with Hikeem.

Kingma was the hero of the FOH win over Dallas, according to Rivals, who also confirmed that UW are watching the local star.

“Kingma is the type of shooter who surprises when he misses. In an upset win over the Dallas Mustangs, he hit a number of pivotal shots to secure the rim. As a 6-foot-1 combo guard, Kingma isn’t going to beat with his physical prowess, but he is a savvy and skilled player with a little bit of a burst with the ball in his hands. BYU (offer), Oregon and Pepperdine (offer) top his school list. Kingma is also intrigued by Vanderbilt, who just started recruiting him after watching him play in Las Vegas. The tie in with Vanderbilt is that Kingma is considering pursuing a music career. Washington, Washington State, Boston College, Oregon State and Seattle (offer) are also schools of interest.”

On Friday Mason Kelley of the Seattle Times tweeted that Kingma had received an offer from Washington as well as Vanderbilt.

“Jackson standout Brett Kingma just picked up two more offers. One was from Washington. The other, Vanderbilt.”

Brett told me that to date he has received offers from, “Oregon, UW, Vanderbilt, Pepperdine, BYU, Seattle, Portland and Colorado State”.

I asked Brett a few questions.

Tell me about your game and what position that you might play at a Pac-12 level?

“I am a scoring guard that can also handle the ball and create for my teammates. My foot speed, quickness, and athleticism have all improved a ton. Most people say my biggest asset is my competitiveness and willingness to step up in big games. I would play both guard positions in the Pac-12.

Who are your biggest inspirations in basketball?

“My dad really inspired me to work harder than anyone. Chase Young has been the biggest influence on me as a coach when I played for him my younger years and we still have a really close relationship. Gary Gardner, who is a close family friend and former Husky player, helped me realize that I can choose my own path if I work hard the right way. My high school coach Steve Johnson really encouraged me to step up the other parts of my game and I did. Luke Ridnour was my idol growing up and I wanted to be a big-time player just like him. Coach (Jim) Marsh has helped me show that I am more than just a shooter and prove to people that I can contribute at the elite level in college basketball.”

Another 2011 guard that we are hearing that UW is watching is Cezar Guerrero, who Rivals gave solid praise to for his performance in Vegas.

“Cezar Guerrero has really come a long way with his game in the past year. He’s always been speedy, but he’s learned to control that speed and is making much better decisions. He’s an offensive minded guy, but he gets others involved and is one of the best pull-up jump shooters in the country. Belmont Shore plays high octane ball and he’s able to keep them running.”

In the most recent report on Cezar’s recruiting though UW was not mentioned, according to Rivals.

A number of Arizona fans have been pleased by rumors, which we have heard as well, that 2011 UW guard prospect Jahii Carson is a strong ‘Zona lean. Jahii appeared to deflect those reports, instead asserting that if anything he is open to new suitors, while also confirming that Washington is in the picture at least with a standing offer.

“North Carolina was in the gym watching Carson, and Pittsburgh is also a new school recruiting him. Neither school has offered, but offers are in from UCLA, USC, Butler, Marquette, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, St. John’s and Arizona State according to Carson. He also noted that his list is getting bigger rather than smaller at this point.”

The Arizona Rivals site have been following Carson intently though and gave him strong praise for his play in Vegas.

“An aspect of any point guard’s game that is important is what they can do against different types of defensive looks. At the high school level, many players have problems playing against a zone defense, but in that scenario on Thursday, Carson had very few turnovers. His jump shot was falling from well beyond the three-point line and when he got into the middle of the zone his focus was pass first rather than scoring. He was able to get teammates easy finishes against the zone. Carson finished his first game with hitting a buzzer-beater to win it and in his second contest showed another type of composure. He sank two free throws to send the game to overtime in a high pressure situation. The Magic eventually lost in a third overtime but his want to have the ball in his hands at the end of games is a very important quality.”

Rivals Jerry Meyer’s enthusiasm was tempered a bit by Carson’s performance against a solid team from Indiana.

“He struggled from the floor against Indiana Elite, but he is one of the more dynamic scoring guards in his class.”

Carson’s recruiting took another turn again in Vegas when he named UCLA as his leader. After naming Arizona his leader a week ago, I would not take this too seriously, but I get the impression that UW is not really in the game at this point for Carson, as it seems to go back and forth between UA and UCLA with ASU as a kicker. Nothing would surprise me though as this kid has not only flip-flopped twice in the past week, but also committed to and decommitted from Oregon State.

Carson then backed away from any talk of favorites, when he talked to GoAZCats.com about his statement that UCLA was his leader.

“My words kind of got mixed up,” Carson said. UCLA is one of my favorite schools, but I would not say they are leading anybody. I don’t have a top five, but there are a few schools that are on me the hardest. They are on me the hardest but they are not necessarily my top five right now.”

Jahii then told the Arizona Republic, who also reported that Romar has been seen watching him recently, that he was basically open.

“I want to receive a couple of more offers. I don’t want to say I have a favorite right now.”

Another 2011 UW recruit that whose recruiting picture is a bit puzzling is post Norvel Pelle. He’s gotten numerous big time offers, including a recent well publicized one from UConn. Rivals was impressed by his play with the Compton Magic in Vegas.

“Easily one of the most entertaining players of the day, the near 6-foot-10 insider played with great energy. A ridiculously explosive leaper for a guy his size, he totally shut down the lane on the defensive end with his shot blocking. He can run like a wing and just needs strength to be a better finisher. He looked the part of an elite prospect on Thursday.”

Pelle was originally with the Oakland Soldiers this AAU season and would not respond as to what happened between he and the Soldiers when asked by us this past week. We have heard from numerous sources that he is somewhat inconsistent and possibly a bit selfish, but on the court most are rather impressed.

The UCLA Rivals site remarked that Pelle really took it to fellow 2011 UW post recruit Angelo Chol.

“Chol was dominated by Pelle who was too tall and jumpy for the athletic Chol.”

ESPN on the other hand marvel at his natural gifts but question Norvel’s consistency.

“Norvel Pelle (Los Angeles/Price), is about as inconsistent as it gets in terms of effort and productivity, but at 6-9 his physical abilities are off the charts. He gets off the floor as quickly as quick as any big I’ve seen, which generally leads to spectacular blocks and above the rim finishes.”

Meyer also spoke at greater length about Norvel, while talking about new interest from some elite level programs.

“It looks like Pelle is finding his stride as a basketball player. That is a frightening thing for his future opponents. Pelle is a big time talent with top of the line athleticism for a prospect with his size. He effortlessly blocks shots with either hand, finishes with either hand and runs the floor like a gazelle. The primary task for Pelle in order to put together his talents as a productive and winning basketball player is to crystallize his mental focus. A number of schools are poised to make a big push for Pelle after witnessing his abilities in July. According to Pelle, the entire Pac-10 has offered along with St. John’s, Texas, UNLV, UConn, Miami, Kansas and North Carolina.”

The Long Beach Press Telegram also marveled about Pelle’s play against Chol, crediting him first when giving reasons why the Magic were able to beat Chol’s Dream Vision team that also features elite 2011 prospect Shabazz Muhammad (another UW recruiting target).

“The Compton Magic don’t have a player from any of the three Compton high schools on their roster. But they have a nice blend of other quality players from Southern California. One of those is 6-9 Norvel Pelle, who attended Lakewood High as a freshman, Dominguez as a sophomore and, most recently, L.A. Price (where he was ineligible to play as a junior). Pelle blocked six shots, most of those in spectacular fashion, including a couple of Muhammad and one jump hook attempt by Dream Vision’s 6-8 Angelo Chol (San Diego Hoover).”

Rivals Bruin site also gave Chol a good mention and it seems that his difficulties against Pelle were only a one game set back.

“Another good performance was put in by class of 2011 center Angelo Chol (6-9) from San Diego (Calif.) Hoover. He played very well, getting lots of interior points, rebounds and blocks.”

Seth Davis, who always seems to minimize the importance of the Pac-10, neglected to mention UW in his list of the schools that Angelo is choosing from, but Mike Decourcy of the Sporting News mentioned UW with the other 4 in a feature on Chol from the day before. Decourcy also provided a nice recent highlight reel of Angelo in his piece.

My impression is that UW is in very good shape with Chol, according to sources that have spoke to him at length off the record.

Another 2011 UW post recruit who is getting a ton of attention is Kyle Wiltjer, also an Oakland Soldier. Everyone is talking about this tall and talented kid, whose dad Greg played for Ralph Miller at Oregon State in the early 80’s. The same source that trold us that Jabari and Josiah are locks to Kansas told us that Kyle was heading there, if Self can find his a spot. An observer who is well connected with Cal feels that Mike Montgomery is in a great position to land Wiltjer. Gonzaga fans are confident that Kyle will join 2011 Kent WA commit Gary Bell in Spokane.

Oregon State observers are saying that Wiltjer is a strong possibility for the Beavers. Everyone wants this kid and are spinning it that their school is in the drivers seat. Clearly he is a great prospect. Our own Jason McCleary felt that Spencer Hawes is a good comparison, while Kevin McHale is also often used to describe Wiltjer’s style and growing mastery of the game.

ESPN joined into the chorus of praises and are now talking about Kyle in terms of being peerless in the west.

“In Las Vegas, Wiltjer has continued the dominance he exhibited at the Nike Peach Jam. His skill level and savvy separate him from any big man in the West. Coming into the summer, he had a reputation for not playing hard all the time and being soft. However, in two games at the Fab 48 he has battled inside for rebounds, finished in traffic with an assortment of moves and has even blocked a number of shots due to his length. His athleticism and strength need to get better and should as he matures. Overall, he is making a run for the No. 1 prospect in the Western region.”

Wiltjer played an important role in the title game of the Vegas event championship.

“Five-star forward Kyle Wiltjer had 16 points and was outstanding especially in transition. Even though he’s 6 feet 9 and 225 pounds, Wiltjer can fill lanes in transition and finishes well even when he’s contested at the basket.”

According to Kentucky blogger Jody Demling, Kyle is interested in Kentucky, Oregon, Oregon State, Gonzaga, Kansas, Stanford, Wake Forest, Washington and USC.

2011 guard super prospect Nick Johnson is another player that UW has recruited for some time now that certain fans are spinning is headed their way, but Johnson insists that he remains wide open. According to Rivals he will actually produce a list of favorites next month, but until then remains wide open.

“A four-star prospect rated No. 13 at shooting guard and No. 45 overall by Rivals.com, Johnson said he’ll take the first few weeks in August to narrow down his list to a more manageable level and then the 6-foot-2 recruit wants to take some official visits”

We heard from a reliable source that Johnson’s interest in St. Johns is much greater than many at Arizona and other schools that feel that they are in good with him may realize.

Johnson also got a nice mention from Rivals when they talked about the Solidiers Tourney win in Vegas.

“Nick Johnson finished with 16 points and eight assists, the four-star shooting guard from Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep not only scoring but distributing the ball as well as anyone in the tournament.”

Another elite level 2011 UW guard recruit appears to have made a list and not included Washington as Quinn Cook released his favorites to Zagsblog.

“The 6-1 Cook of D.C. Assault is considering Arizona, UCLA, Villanova, Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, West Virginia, St. John’s and Georgetown, he told the Tucson Citizen.”

One more elite level 2011 guard that Husky Digest reported was looking at taking a UW visit was Austin Rivers. That ship has sailed, if what was said on Wednesday in Zagsblog is true. According to the NY based recruiting blog Rivers is considering, “Duke, North Carolina, Florida, Kansas and Kentucky”.

Rivers was quoted as well in the post from an interview on ESPNU.

“Those are my five schools. Those are five schools I’m really interested in looking at.”

You never know with the recruiting game though, as it appears that Rivers may wait until Spring to sign. His dad, Celtics Head Coach “Doc” Rivers said so to ESPN.

“At this point, Austin pretty much doesn’t know where he’s going. There are three or four schools he likes but he wants to see how they play. He’s gone the other way and wants to slow it down and wait. That’s the new trend and I think it’s pretty smart.”

At this point, he hasn’t mentioned UW ever, other than what we at Husky Digest heard was said over a couple of meetings that a source of ours had with he and his dad, so at this point I would think that the Rivers possibility is pretty well over, but you never know.

Another 2011 recruit that appeared to have interest from UW was forward Ronnie Stevens, who mentioned the Dawgs quite a few times when asked about interested schools. I spoke to Ronnie after reading his latest list which did not include UW in Rivals and when asked if UW was still a possibility after stating they were last week he said, “Yes UW is still an open option”, but added that, “They are not on me heavy” and “They aren’t really doing much”.

2011 UW combo forward recruit Kevin Bailey continues to get improved assessments. Rivals UCLA site spoke highly of Kevin’s game in the Vegas.

“Back on the run, we were able to watch the second half of Pump and Run Elite New Heights NYC game where 2011 UCLA recruit Kevin Bailey played well again. He is a strong, tough and athletic player who has a good jump shot out to the three point line.”

2011 UW guard recruit Spencer Dinwiddie also received some decent ink from the Bruin Rivals site for his p;lay in Vegas, but continue to focus on his size being a debilitating factor.

“Dinwiddie is still an almost high D-1 recruit and needs to get stronger and more effective.”

This seems to be the scout on Spencer. Great skills, but unless he gets stronger very few will take him seriously. Dinwiddie came on strong as the event wore on though and finished with a fury, grabbing the adidas Super-64 MVP trophy.

Premierball.com spoke highly of Spencer’s performance.

“MVP Spencer Dinwiddie who is listed at 6?4 is a legitimate high major prospect at the point guard position. Dinwiddle can handle pressure, create for him self and teammates from the dribble and can knock down the 21 foot shot consistently. He was the best all around perimeter player on the floor tonight.”

ESPN also noticed as Dinwiddie really asserted himself down the stretch of the event, but also noted that he will need to get stronger to use his skills at the next level.

“Dinwiddie did not have a spectacular week in Las Vegas, but he was his usual efficient self. He has a terrific frame with long arms that should fill out nicely at the next level. In addition, he has great size for the 1 and a terrific feel for the game. On the other hand, he lacks the ideal second gear to blow by defenders, and defenders who get into him and pressure him up the court can cause turnover problems for him. Dinwiddie’s jump shot, which is more like a set shot, has improved every season and will continue to improve as he gets stronger. Look for Dinwiddie to end up somewhere in the Pac-10, Mountain West or West Coast Conference when he ends his recruitment.”

2012 UW post prospect Zach Banner is a six-foot-nine 300 lb. athletic ball player that can beat you up regardless to what ball your playing with.

His dad is not former Husky All Pac-10 offensive tackle and Fox Sports radio commentator Lincoln Kennedy, according to Scout, as has been rumored. According to Rivals Banner is getting recruited to play hoops and football by a number of schools, including UW.

“Cal just offered me a scholarship to play basketball and the coach said if I want to he is OK with me playing football too. Coach Romar and the staff at U of W just offered me for Hoops too. They have the same position and said I can play football too if Coach Sarkisian will allow that.”

NCAA regulations clearly state that if a scholarship athlete plays football he must be on a football scholarship. If Banner were to play hoops for Romar or Cal’s Mike Montgomery he would have to wait until after football season is over. This obviously not only intrigues many but is something that is exactly their intention to have happen at either UW, Cal and probably other schools. Zach is a huge football prospect and a hoops guy that can provide much of what Josh Smith at UCLA could if he got in shape. This story is definitely worth following for the class of 2012

2012 UW forward recruit Richard Longrus is impressing many, while being somewhat overshadowed on a stacked Oakland Soldiers squad. Rivals NorCal Preps site showed that they believe in his future, by giving his some good ink for his play in Vegas.

“A player somewhatnlost in the shuffle is Bishop O’Dowd 6-foot-6 2012 wing Richard Longrus, who had a strong game rebounding the ball and an authoritative dunk late in the second half. At his size and feel for the game, he should continue to develop and build on his early recruitment.”

2012 UW guard prospect Anrio Adams participated in the Duel in the Desert in Phoenix AZ and got some good ink from Rivals ‘Zona site.

“Another player that was impressive was 2012 guard Anrio Adams. Adams was not necessarily spectacular when we saw him in the late game, but he is very good at a handful of things. Adams keeps his composure and he demanded respect because of his ability to hit the jumper. He is a complete player that sees the court well and even though our initial viewing was brief on Tuesday, he showed why he has to be considered one of the better players in the country.”

For his performance on the second day of the AZ event, Adams was complimented by GoAZCats even more glowingly.

“(Adams) was once again impressive when we saw him on Wednesday. Adams’ shot was not falling, but he was able to recognize this and change his game. Adams seemed to notice that the opposing defense was weak in the middle of the lane and had numerous plays in which he was able to drive right at the basket. Adams has the potential to keep getting better and, figuring he does, there likely won’t be many players better than him this time next year.”

2012 UW forward recruit Rosco Allen was given two other stellar reviews by Rivals. The Rivals ‘Zona site talked about his aggressive play and work ethic. He sounds like a great fit for Washington in the vein of Jon Brockman, Bobby Jones or Justin Holiday.

“Allen was able to will his team to victory in an early game Thursday. In a sloppy game, Allen showed a controlled aggression that translated into points and rebounds. Allen is extremely versatile and really excels at driving to the lane and getting layups. He does not mind doing the dirty work either, as he often found himself on the floor diving for loose balls on Thursday morning. The Las Vegas native is still young but it will be interesting to see with hard work how good he can get by the time he is a senior.”

Rivals UCLA site spoke more of his actual all-around skill set, rather than his hustle quotient.

“Allen was his usual super player. He is a very skilled and athletic wing at 6-foot-8. He can dribble through the defense easily and gets to the hoop with great moves. He shoots the rock from out to the three point line reliably and makes good passes.”

2012 UW post recruit Landen Lucas was given a good review by the ‘Zona Rivals site as well, though it appears that his Northwest Panther team was not performing all that well in Vegas.

“The big man had a good showing in his first game but it did not translate to win as the Northwest Panthers were blown out. However, he was a bright spot for the Panthers as he had a very productive game with the ball in his hands. In the first 10 minutes of the game, he established a low post presence well and either scored with a soft touch around the basket or got to the free throw line. That type of production is important for any team and it was not until his team lost control of the game that he began to miss some shots that he was previously making. He is not an athletic big man but has good footwork and is a good passer on the block and in the high post.”

The ‘Zona Rivals site once again spoke of Lucas’ promise as a Pac-10 level big man.

“Landen Lucas isn’t a player that will wow you by dominating the game, but he looks on his way to be a good Pac-10 post player. He’s gained a lot of weight over the past year and has the frame to be a huge body in college. Combine that with soft hands and a good skill level and he’ll be a player that any Pac-10 program could use in its rotation. His limited athleticism will mean that he’s going to have to get by on skill, hard work and size, but those shouldn’t be issues for Lucas in college.”

Another writer from the same site talked positively about Landen’s passing ability, which could serve him well in the guard heavy Pac-10.

“Landen Lucas has gone up against some bigger bodies in this tournament and it’s been good to see him challenged against true posts. One of the highlights of Lucas’ game is his passing ability from the paint, and that’s something a college coach will make sure is featured much more than it is at the AAU level.”

2012 UW guard recruit Gabe York received high praise in Rivals for his work in Vegas.

“York will assuredly land in the updated rankings for the class of 2012. A slender off guard, he’s armed with a plethora of scoring tools. He can bury deep jumpers without needing much space, has a beautiful floater and can go finish with dunks if needed. He mentioned that Marquette and USC were recruiting him the hardest while also listing Arizona State, Oregon State, Washington, Miami and others.”

The UCLA Rivals site also gave York a nice send up.

“York was his usual great shooting self. He shoots threes and jumpers really well and gets to the hoop with strength and great hops.”

ESPN said that York appears to be headed elite status, regardless to his team’s loss in the semis, but added that shot selection will have to improve.

“York has a reputation out west for being a volume scorer who hunts shots. However, he was outstanding in his team’s semifinal loss to the Memphis Magic Elite. He is one of the elite scorers, regardless of class, on the West Coast, and he has an innate ability to put points on the board in a variety of ways. At this stage he is still an undersized 2-guard, but he makes up for his lack of height with explosiveness. He excels in transition, where he can spot up and nail the 3 or slash to the rim for a floater or dunk. His jump shot can get streaky, but he gets great lift and his mechanics are quite good. If York allows the game to come to him rather than forcing ill-advised shots, his game will continue to evolve.”

York was given more good press by the Rivals ‘Zona site for his play at the Desert Duel.

“Gabe York also did not play much against the Defenders. The aspect of York’s game that we liked on Wednesday was the fact that he plays within himself. In other words, York does not seem to force the action too much and if his shot is not falling, he does a solid job of finding other aspects of his game that can help his team. In the second game, York had a play in which he tried to dunk over a defender and instead got fouled. It was impressive to even try to do so and showed an aggressiveness that any coach would like.”

2012 UW post recruit Grant Jerrett could play a little meaner to great benefit, according the ‘Zona Rivals site, but is still an amazing young player.

“Jerrett is a hard working player who has great feet work, great hands, soft touch on his jump shot and can rebound the ball quite well. With all that going for him, Jerrett can use a bit of a mean streak. He has a somewhat laidback personality and sometimes it shows on the court. But when he wants to exert himself, he can really be a game changer. On one particular play on Thursday night, Jerrett was on the break and gave an in-and-out move reminiscent of a guard and rose high enough on a dunk to look at the rim with his eyes.”

Rivals Jerry Meyer also praised Jerrett, who Meyer felt could have been underutilized in the up and down approach that AAU ball tends to feature.

“Because of his high shoulders and long arms, the 2012 big man is able to play bigger than his 6-foot-8 size. Tremendously skilled around the bucket, he’s got touch, footwork and a great motor. He doesn’t always get good touches in the post, but he makes the most of them.”

Veteran Pac-10 hoops scribe Frank Burlison said that Jarrett is, “probably the top prospect in the Southland (Southern California) in the class of 2012”.

2012 UW wing recruit Shabazz Muhammad is just on a different level than basically everyone he faced in his class, according to many observers. Rivals ‘Zona site remarked that one AAU squad attempted to minimize his contributions by double and triple teaming him.

“One of the top prospects in the class of 2012 faced a lot of attention from defenders. In his first match up of the day, the opposing team often sent two or three defenders at him mainly because he was playing in the post. Muhammad has a very versatile game and had a smaller player playing against him. His coach felt that it would be better to back him down and use the post up game to his advantage. It was pretty much ineffective but Muhammad was able to pull away for a couple of show time dunks.”

Rivals also complimented Shabazz’ ability to manufacture points in the paint, as well as score from the perimeter.

“One of Shabazz Muhammad’s greatest attributes is his ability to attack the offensive glass. When points aren’t coming easy in the flow of the game, he will grind them out as a rebounder.”

Many sites talk about Shabazz heading to this or that factory, but Rivals confirmed that Washington is indeed investing time. In my opinion Romar doesn’t waste his time when he is not in the game.

“Head coaches from UCLA, Washington and North Carolina were once again watching Dream Vision and Shabazz Muhammad.”

2012 UW guard recruit Kevin Farrell was likely the biggest reason that 2011 super prospect Jahii Carson struggled against the Indian Elite. Rivals spoke about Ferrell’s effort against Carson.

“A player with similar size and athleticism as Carson, Ferrell has a chance to establish himself as one of the top point guards in his class. He has a nice feel for balancing his ability to score with distributing the ball, and his ability to change speeds on a dime make him a nightmare to defend.”

Farrell told us recently that he still has Washington on his list and has not started focusing on favorites, as he confirmed to Rivals in Vegas.

“IU and Michigan, those seem to be the ones following the most. IU, Michigan, Butler, Florida, Michigan, Washington, Ohio State, Virginia…that’s about it. I don’t really have a favorite right now.”

Another UW 2012 guard recruit from the mid-west is Gary Harris, who struggled a bit in Vegas according to Rivals, though his skill level still shown through brightly.

“In a morning game Harris didn’t have too much of a chance to show his stuff. He picked up two quick fouls on extremely questionable calls, and from there he could never get into a groove. Even though his minutes were limited, Harris showed that he is an absolute problem in transition for a defense, and also the natural ability that comes with his inside and out scoring game. Harris eventually was fouled out by the refs, leading to his team’s loss, and even though his production wasn’t great, the flashes he showed did make an impression.”

In the summary of the Super Showcase in Orlando FL this past weekend, Harris was given high praise by ESPN.

“Harris is a powerful athlete who is very good in transition. He is a great finisher and can get well above the rim for powerful dunks. Harris has improved his jump shot and has solid range to 20 feet, though his shot lacks rotation at times. The right-hander is an effective slasher to the basket and goes mostly to his strong side. He is an able passer who can use his drives to set up open teammates for scoring opportunities. Harris is a solid defender and uses his body well to wall off his opponents and keep them out of the lane. Harris is one of the better wings in the 2012 class.”

Another 2012 UW recruit mentioned for his play over the past week is wing Negus Webster-Chan. According to Rivals, Negus says he is “Hearing from Washington, Syracuse, Xavier, USC, Ohio State, Cincinnati, UNLV, Nebraska, Virginia, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, and Oklahoma”.

His reported versatility and ability to make others better seem to demonstrate that he would be a very good fit for Romar’s system, but Rivals felt that inconsistency could be a factor. Whether he can be convinced to move to Seattle from Eastern Canada also remains to be seen.

“When it comes to natural ability, there is no doubting what Webster-Chan can do. He is 6-foot-5 with long arms, good athleticism, and an excellent feel for the game. In fact at times Webster-Chan was running the point for Team Takeover Canada. Still while he is a great natural talent, he isn’t the most productive kid in the world. Instead of always being cool and smooth, he has to focus on being a bit more aggressive and acting like the most talented player on the floor which he usually is. When he plays with an assertive nature he is impressive, but that only came in spurts during his morning game.”

Webster-Chan got more solid ink from ESPN who stated that he, “Is a skilled wing who can play any position on the perimeter”.

2012 UW wing recruit Victor Robbins got more good press from the UCLA Rivals site.

“Robbins is a scoring machine and had 19 points on variety of nice moves. He can score off the dribble with high rising jumpers and go to hoop with quickness and great hops.”

It is still early to know how closely this Compton CA prospect will look at Washington, as most reports talk about him as a UCLA prospect, but Lorenzo Romar rarely doesn’t get the ear of a Compton kid and Robbins is a great scoring wing prospect that would be a great fit for Washington who will have to replace Isaiah Thomas’ scoring, as well as Scott Suggs in the fall of 2012.

Another great prospect to fit that bill is 2012 UW wing recruit Jordan Tebbutt of Portland OR. The UCLA Bruin site recently reported that they have heard that Tebbutt is likely to stay in the NW, despite playing for the LA based Pump and Run team and relocating to Southern California for the summer AAU season. It may be for that reason that this rather dogmatic recruiting analyst when it comes to players that lean the Bruins way, attempted to paint Tebbutt as less than was originally thought for his limited participation in Vegas for the Pumps.

“Tebbutt played very little. He hit a three and then went out. He played some pick-up games with the pros at UCLA Monday and hurt his thumb, so he had to sit out most of the game. Tebbutt is talented and is a good UCLA 2012 recruit but there are several other small forwards in that class as good or better.”

2012 UW post recruit Brandon Ashley was given some nice pub for his play in Vegas by the ‘Zona Rivals site.

“Ashley sparked a second half run for the Oakland Soldiers that resulted in a major blowout. It was Ashley who was the beneficiary of some nice passes for dunks and working hard on the glass to get some easy baskets. He also showed an ability to get to the free throw line by drawing fouls all game. It was definitely his best all around offensive game of the tournament thus far.”

ESPN felt that Ashley (who for some time has been mentioned by many as top-10 in his class) and Jerrett (who has been steadily rising top that status) may be closer than was originally thought.

“The Class of 2012 in California has a couple outstanding prospects in Jerrett and 6-7 Brandon Ashley (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O’Dowd). Although Ashley has received more notoriety — and rightfully so — Jerrett is becoming more consistently dominant. Jerrett’s skill level has always been high-level, but now all those finesse finishes around the rim are becoming rim-rattling dunks.”

For his contributions to the Soldiers tourney win was given his due, though I can’t figure out how he and Shabazz can both occupy the top spot in the class of 2012.

“Brandon Ashley, the top-rated player by Rivals.com in the 2012 class, had 15 points, eight rebounds (five on the offensive end) and three blocks. The 6-foot-8 power forward from Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O’Dowd was unstoppable on the offensive end tipping in missed shots and on defense he blocked shots, altered many others and rebounded well.”

The Rivals ‘Zona site remarked that Ashley was the unsung hero on the Soldiers for his interior play.

“As for Ashley, he did a great job on the offensive glass, which is definitely one of the strengths of his game. The Soldiers guards can all be high level scorers, but Ashley stays active on the boards, helping his team out by gaining extra possessions and scoring off put-backs.”

Another new name surfaced in UW’s recruiting picture in Vegas as 2012 UW post recruit Maika Ostling was given a good mention.

“An intriguing big man from the state of Oregon, Ostling is a big and powerful kid. He’s got sneaky athleticism and good hands as well.”

Rivals also mentioned that Maika, “Says that he’s been hearing from Washington, USC, Washington State, Portand, West Virginia and others”.

2012 UW post recruit Skylar Spencer looks to be headed for top-100 status, but also did not mention Washington when asked over the weekend by Rivals. These lists have a way of being inaccurate, unless it happens a few times in a row and again its very early.

2013 UW wing recruit Stephen Domingo is really starting to be noticed. Rivals ‘Zona site talked about what an elite prospect he is starting to emerge as.

“Domingo can shoot the three-point shot well, rebound the basketball and get to the rim. His long wingspan allows for him to contest and block shots on defense. All of this and then you realize that he is only going to be a sophomore in high school this upcoming year. Knowing that a growth spurt is still in the works, Domingo already has the skill set of a wing and can grow to be the size of a power forward. His name will surely be talked about on high levels for the next few years.”

Domingo told Rivals that he may get a lot taller and it sure sounds like this young prospect has a bright future in the game.

“I’m 6-foot-6 but I just turned 15. I think I’ll get to 6-foot-9 or 6-foot-10, somewhere around there. I want to be a combo forward and play the three or the four but I can also move to the two because I can spread the floor.”

2013 UW guard recruit Isaac Hamilton got a nice mention for his play in Vegas by Rivals.

“For Team Odom, 2013 shooting guard Isaac Hamilton looks like a young wing with length, a pretty jumper and the ability to get buckets whenever he needs to.”

2013 UW guard recruit Nigel Williams-Goss is continuing to impress analysts with his high IQ and a skill set beyond his years. Rivals Bruin site stated that, “Goss is young but super talented already” and added that, “he could start for Findley this coming season”.

Rivals ‘Zona site also redundantly agreed that Nigel looked impressive in Vegas.

“2013 Findlay Prep point guard Nigel Williams-Goss was impressive on Saturday. His most impressive assets are his competitive spirit and ability to create for his teammates.”

Williams-Goss’ team finished strong in the adidas Super 64 in Vegas and Rivals praised him in their wrap-up of the event. At his size and skill set, it may be that Nigel could turn out to be a player similar to Abdul Gaddy.

“A big point guard on the offensive end, Williams-Goss can control the tempo of the game with his size, skill set and feel for the game. Defensively, he projects as an off the ball defender.”

2013 UW post recruit Aaron Gordon also received encouraging words for his play in the Duel.

“Aaron Gordon is getting a little bit of run with the older Soldiers team and while we’ve seen enough from him this summer to know what kind of player he’ll be over the next couple of years, it’s good to see him get his feet wet against older competition, as opposed to the 16U teams he usually goes up against. Gordon is currently a three in terms of skill and height, but could certainly grow into a four. With continued development he’s easily a high major prospect.”

Cougar Recruiting Corner

I spoke to Panther coach R.J. Barsh who told me that his star 2011 guard Devonte Lacy was able to come back and play decently after a very disappointing game in Vegas. Lacy just recently committed to WSU in late June.

Pac-12 Round Up

The Pac-8 became the Pac-10 when Arizona and ASU joined in the late 70’s and now over 30 years later in has become the Pac-12 with the addition of Colorado and Utah.

AP reported that conference commissioner Larry Scott came to NY to make the press announcement, as astute idea, with the east coast bias that exists in the media.

Yahoo blogger Jeff Eisenberg used the new Pac-10/12 website obvious bugs to use as evidence that the league’s hoops play is also in need of major repairs.

I think that the Pac-10 was down last year, but showed well in the NCAA’s, which Jeff fails to point out in his obvious attempt at a cheap shot.

ESPN blogger Diamond Leung blogged further about the new Pac-12’s interest in expanding its presence to Asian markets.

Leung also blogged that the new Pac-12 logo will be on all of the hoops jerseys, which makes complete sense.

Arizona’s ongoing investigation by the NCAA for improper solicitation of funds from boosters for AAU events that were used consistently by the ‘Cats for recruiting and the involvement by Rivals ‘Zona web site GoAZCats.com in providing additional recruiting advantages finally came to judgment by the NCAA.

The Arizona Republic reported that “The violations center around three Arizona Cactus Classic tournaments and a GOAZCATS.com Showdown, which the promoter was allowed to conduct on campus. Penalties include the loss of one scholarship for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years and vacating wins in which two players competed while ineligible.”

I am well aware of what GoAZCats has done to provide an unfair advantage for Arizona, as numerous observers have watched them at AAU events, helping out the Arizona staff, accompanying them and pitching the ‘Cats when the coaches could not be there.

This penalty is very much on the light side, for what actually went on in my opinion, but with the NCAA’s limited ability to subpoena and inspect personal records of those involved, it is probably fair based on what they actually found.

ESPN’s Dana O’Neill blogged that the penalties will not really affect anything and I agree. If anything a message was sent that since nothing much was found that if you’re smart, like what I believe the bad guys are here, you won’t get caught, so let’s step it up in our recruiting through unethical and improper means.

There was mentions on the net regarding GoAZCats Jim Storey refusing to reveal requested financial records to the NCAA during the investigation, but they have been removed. Perhaps this was not true or at least in contention, but the lack of ability by the NCAA to find important evidence is at the heart of the problem.

Arizona accepted the NCAA ruling and will not appeal, according to the UA Athletic Department.

‘Zona’s Kyryl Natyazhko is continuing to show progress while working on the Serbian U-20 team. Kyryl will be a big key for the ‘Cats this year who will attempt to make a run at the Pac-10 title after returning almost all of their key pieces from last season other than go-to senior guard Nic Wise.

It is being reported that Oregon will also lose starting point guard Malcolm Armstead to transfer. KVAL TV in Eugene reported it, but was unable to confirm it with Malcolm.

The news just keeps getting worse for the Ducks and it may not stop there as part-time starting forward Jeremy Jacob and Armstead both came to Oregon from a JC in Florida and are very tight. It was reported when Malcolm came to Oregon that he had three years of eligibility remaining going into last season, where he was very impressive, especially in the road win at Washington.

Whether he will have one or two years remaining after sitting out for a transfer year remains to be determined, but this piece from the Oregonian stated that before he went to Oregon he had just completed his freshman year, which could mean that he could have two years of eligibility at another D1 program.

Oregon will still have some talent, but losing Armstead definitely won’t help. I would imagine that Garrett Sim will be starting point guard, with help from freshman Jonathan Loyd. The wings in Lekendric Longmire and Teondre Williams will be pretty solid and up front the Ducks got a big break by getting a medical hardship year for Joevan Catron.

Catron, Michael Dunigan, E.J. Singler and Jeremy Jacob will make for a solid veteran Pac-12 level front court, but lack of guards will hurt. Sim has shown good signs though and if the Ducks can play big they could be pretty decent. I see Oregon as a bottom of the league type of team though and anything higher than the cellar will be considered a success.

Rivals chose Stanford’s 2010 recruiting class as one of 5 classes that could be very positively impacted by top-25 classes. In doing so they added a back handed swipe at the Pac-10, who are apparently going to get another huge ration of off-season put downs by the east coast biased college hoops media, despite Washington and Cal’s decent showing in the NCAA’s.

“Stanford’s class is an indicator of the sad state of the Pac-10 right now. The top class in the conference couldn’t even crack the national top 15.”

USC transfer Jio Fontan, from NYC, was mentioned by CNNSI as one of the top impact transfers going into the coming season. I agree with this assessment, as Fontan was a huge star as a pure freshman at Fordham in the Atlantic-10. He will join USC for Winter quarter, as Mike Gerrity did this past year, also having a very positive effect.

USC will be starting the season with a lot of new faces. Back-up Donte Smith will likely start at the point guard and he looked improved over the course of last season as a back-up to Gerrity, though early in the year he was a sore spot as a starter. The back-up PG will likely be five-foot-seven 150 lb. Maurice Jones, who has the potential to be another great small Pac-10 player in the tradition of Tyus Edney, Isaiah Thomas, Jerome Randle and Nic Wise, but is only a freshman.

Overall with Smith, Jones and the addition of Fontan mid-year USC should be improved at that position. At the other guard, they will not. Bryce Jones is a great frosh shooting guard prospect, but replacing a veteran in Dwight Lewis with a newbie is not going to be an upgrade. On the wing USC should also be less effective, as Marcus Johnson will be replaced by another veteran senior in Marcus Simmons, but Simmons is much more of a defensive specialist and overall productivity at that spot will also drop by at least a ton of points on the board.

At least they will not give up huge numbers on the other end, with Simmons there, but depth is a factor. Portland OR freshman Garrett Jackson and little used Evan Smith will provide support for Simmons, but they are once again unproven and green. Up front its a different story as USC will feature one of if not the top front court in the conference.

Senior Alex Stepheson and junior Nikola Vucevic will both likely be playing high level pro, Vucevic probably in the NBA in the fall of 2011 and senior Kasey Cunningham will have one more year to attempt to contribute without getting injured. Even without Kasey, the Trojans should have decent depth in NBA prospect seven-foot behemoth Dewayne Dedmon and highly regarded PF Curtis Washington. If Cunningham can stay healthy and one of the freshman can contribute USC could be pretty good with a prime time talent like Fontan handling the ball and Vucevic and Jio putting up big numbers.

Perhaps is was addition by subtraction, because of his reported off-court behavior, but Leonard Washington could have erased any concerns about front court depth had he npot been dismissed from the team after last season. Leonard wound up at Wyoming much to the glee of Coach Heath Schroyer’s tweet.

NCAA Corruption

ESPN has been doing all sorts of coverage on the corruption that has been happening for years. It has gotten worse and since Yahoo’s aggressive coverage of the Pumps, ESPN has stepped into the arena in a big way.

Dana O’Neill interviewed major D1 coaches off the record about the climate of recruiting, agents and the cheating that is involved and got some very interesting responses.

One item in the story that caught my eye involved prepaid debit cards.

“Slightly different than a loan, these allow an agent to offer a constant stream of cash by giving a prospect or a prospect’s family member a card with a cash value that can be constantly stuffed with more money, not unlike an actual bank account. The kicker: As of now, the NCAA has no way of tracking the transaction.”

This is going on in all kinds of ways in my opinion and this practice is only the tip of the iceberg. I believe that certain schools have entered a whole new level of cheating to get players, which involves much bigger gifts like property for parents, bought by “Straw buyers” which are large investors which have so many assets that it is hard to trace. They then allow the families to use these properties to live in until the heat is off when the player has enough money from a pro contract, etc., according to sources. Then these properties are “Quit claimed” to the player’s family or whoever was promised the property for delivering the player to the school, agent, etc.

Cars, jewelry and lumps of cash are common, but more recently I have heard about certain types of bank accounts that cannot be traced by any means available to the NCAA. The FBI or other more equipped law enforcement organizations could trace these types of accounts, but for these type of accounts, people are able to withdraw funds without their name appearing on it.

Pat Forde of ESPN also got into the mix on this subject, outlining six reasons why the problem with agent abuse exists. Forde leaves me with the impression that the problem is too big for the NCAA to tackle on its own and that the agents associations themselves and the laws that govern their activities have to be changed and in many cases better enforced.

That may be the case, but that does not excuse the NCAA from using its influence to force those changes.

O’Neill then wrote a piece on Friday in which she reported that the NCAA is looking at allowing agents greater access to players, based on the premise that it is so hard to stop and that if it were allowed in return for greater control over it, more could possibly come from it. In the article many were quoted, including Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“If they know they can get involved when do they get involved? Is it before [the players] come into school? And if you give them that inch, they will take it a mile.”

Doing that would be similar to allowing boosters and shoe reps more access. Bad idea. Perhaps giving players more spending money in sports that make enough money to legitimize it, like football and men’s hoops might make sense though. I say make a stronger effort to stop the activities of the agents, boosters, shoe reps, runners and the like, while giving the players a bit more money makes the most sense. It rewards the good guys that play by the rules and stay in school, while attempting to deter those that seek to skirt the rules for their own benefit and not the long term benefit of the kids.

Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN portrays the NCAA as similar to the arguments that you hear on the ineffectiveness of “big government”. Gene argues that the NCAA should be smaller and more effective and that this task should be the first order of business for former University of Washington president Mark Emmert. I hope that Emmert is effective and does just that. At least he can look at some of what he’s seen up close at UW in regards to Kentucky’s recruiting of Terrence Jones, Demarcus Cousins and Enes Kanter as a road map as to where to start.

The NCAA did take decisive action by disallowing the Pump brothers coaching search business from operating within its institutions. I applaud this action and feel that other wrong doers like those on the Nike side of the fence and others like Pump on the adidas side need to be identified and rooted out next.

The Pumps foundation was also found to be off-limits for NCAA coaches, which is also a great idea.

If the Pumps want to operate AAU programs and camps with adidas money that is what they should do, but to let that access to players allow them to operate all kinds of other hustles and ways of allowing payoffs, cheating and corruption to exist needs to be eliminated. Again, I only hope that this is the beginning of wholesale identification of individuals who operate ion this fashion as I believe that the Pumps are only one crew of many and that if there isn’t systemic changes in enforcement by the NCAA, there is a line a mile long of gangster looking types waiting to take their places.

Another shark on the adidas side of the fence is Rick Pitino, who is having his dirty laundry aired all over the news with the ongoing extortion trial of Karen Sypher. Pitino admitted to the sex with Sypher that reportedly led to her getting an abortion. Longtime Louisville aide Tim Sypher stated to the court that Pitino did not tell her or him to get her an abortion.

That contradicts Sypher’s assertion that not only was she told to get an abortion by Pitino, but that she was intimidated into doing so. Tim Sypher was married to Karen, who he met through her relationship with Pitino. Tim is now involved in divorce proceedings and he and Karen have another child. The whole thing stinks and though I believe that Sypher is a little off the wall, I have heard from sources close to the situation that Pitino did intimidate her and pay Tim to shut her up. We’ll see what is disclosed as the trial continues.

The AP summarized the case thus far, but most of the coverage by the mainstream media has seemed to paint the picture that Karen is the bad guy and Rick just some innocent guy in a date gone bad.

Of course the tabloids are having a field day. Sports by Brooks blog detailed the testimony that discussed the sex, which of course does nothing to address the issue.

The AP meanwhile reported the testimony in a more high brow manner.

Whether or not Pitino can be found for doing the politically incorrect crime in bible belt Kentucky of telling, suggesting or paying for someone to get an abortion, this trial could yet uncover more important information, like what really happened. Pitino is big business and it will be hard to uncover the truth here, but I hope that more comes out to show why the way Rick tells his story doesn’t really make much sense to me.

The adverse publicity could be the most meaningful outcome for Pitino and calls are continuing for him to step down to help the struggling Louisville program save face. ESPN aired that opinion on Saturday.

If John Calipari’s Kentucky regime finally meet its end at the hand of the NCAA soon, as I’m hearing they will, Rick’s dirt may not appear to be as bad in comparison. But Rick’s dirt is not just this one booty call gone bad. He is involved in the same type of recruiting sleaze that Calipari is being investigated for in my opinion, but he has just not been as successful recently. Both Pitino and Calipari should move on from the game of college basketball. I don’t care if they do so because they are forced to or that they just choose to leave because the grass seems greener somewhere else.

Huggins OK after Fall

Bob Huggins fell during the Las Vegas AAU events in his hotel and broke four ribs according to the AP on Saturday July 24th.

On Wednesday the 28th it was reported that he broke seven ribs.

On Friday the 30th the AP reported that Huggins fell because he was lightheaded from medication.







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