Top Recruits Sign With Small Schools

April 15, 2010

As many gush over Kentucky’s recruiting class (myself included), there are some schools that are never mentioned in college basketball circles landing some big fish in this year’s recruiting class. Let’s take a quick look at four of the top-100 prospects of 2010 that will instantly be the Big Man on Campus.

Shavon Coleman, SF – LA Monroe

Rivals’ No. 97 ranked player, Coleman is going to the University of Louisiana Monroe. What? Coleman is from Louisiana, so obviously staying close to home was a priority of his. It’s just interesting to see that LSU wasn’t in on this kid. The 6’6″ small forward will be the best player on the ULM team the first time he steps on the floor. A 12-19 team (6-12 in a horribly weak Sun Belt conference), Coleman should challenge North Texas in the Sun Belt’s West division, possibly leading to an NCAA tournament berth.

Ray McCallum, PG – Detroit

The 6’1″ point guard out of Detroit decided he wanted to say home and with his family. Literally. Not only is he staying in the city he has lived his entire life, Rivals’ No. 60 player in the 2010 recruiting class will play for his father, Coach Ray McCallum Sr. McCallum played in the McDonald’s All-American game last week and showed a flare you like to see out of your floor general as well as some great vision and passing skills. As good as McCallum is and may become, Detroit has no chance of challenging Butler in the Horizon League.

Domonique Ferguson, PF – Florida International

When FIU hired Isiah Thomas, I’m not sure they expected it to pay recruiting dividends this quick. Before his senior season even started, the 6’9″ Ferguson committed to Isiah and the Golden Panthers. Some say the kid is rated too high by Rivals.com (No. 40 overall, No. 10 power forward) but his skill set for a player his size can be a factor in the college game. He’s got handles of a wing player and great athleticism for a power forward. It will be interesting to see how Isiah Thomas develops this kid.

Trey Zeigler, SG – Central Michigan

The No. 26 prospect on Rivals.com, Zeigler follows the same story line as Ray McCallum. Michigan kid, staying close to home, playing at a small school where his father is the coach. He’s been listed at 6’5″ and brings great versatility to the game, being able to play all three wing positions. He’s a good shooter and can attack the rim aggressively, making him a tough guard for anyone, especially for MAC defenders.

With so many people discussing the one-and-done rule and how it is ruining college basketball, it will be interesting to watch these top-flight talents take their game to schools that are off the basketball radar. Will they carry their teams to a long-awaited NCAA tournament appearance, or will they pad their stats enough to make the leap to the NBA before they can leave their mark on their respective school of choice?


Calipari Monopolizing Recruits

April 14, 2010

Derrick Rose. Tyreke Evans. John Wall. Eric Bledsoe. Demarcus Cousins. Daniel Orton.

That is the list of one-and-done players that have played for Coach John Calipari over the past three seasons. Rose (2007) and Evans (2008) were while he was dominating Conference USA at the University of Memphis. Wall, Bledsoe, Cousins and Orton all graced his inaugural class at Kentucky in 2009.

With all that fire power leaving school for the professional ranks, including junior power forward Patrick Patterson, the Wildcats’ roster has been left scarce of elite level talent. Enter: the first day of the NCAA late signing period.

Today was the first day since mid-November for high school basketball players to announce their decision on where they have decided to continue their careers. The #1 recruit in the nation (rated by Rivals.com) went unsigned… Until today.

Point guard Brandon Knight, two-time reigning Gatorade National Player of the Year, committed to Kentucky and Calipari while spuring Connecticut, Syracuse, Kansas and hometown Florida. It is fully expected that Knight will be the successor in the long line of one-and-done turned franchise point guards in Coach Cal’s dribble-drive-motion offense.

Along with Knight, Turkish big man Enes Kanter signed with Kentucky after de-comitting from Washington. He was recently deemed eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse after speculation whether or not he was considered a professional player in Turkey.

And last, but certainly not least, the Bluegrass State’s flagship university locked up the #1 player in the 2011 class. Mike Gilchrist, the 6’6″ forward out of Elizabeth, NJ, verbally commited to be a Kentucky Wildcat. That’s a commitment that certainly will not waver.

After losing five NBA prospects just last week, Kentucky has only  just begun their reloading process by adding Knight, Kanter and Gilchrist. Also a member of their 2010 recruiting class is four-star shooting guard Stacey Poole, who is expected to be around longer than just one season.

Calipari was quoted saying that they were looking to add “five or six” recruits to the Kentucky roster this year. With Knight, Kanter and Poole filling three scholarships, there is at least two left to hand out. Calipari is a hell of a recruiter, but it seems like he’s going to get a little help from a new friend.

Newly-signed Brandon Knight went on to say the following: “There’s a lot of great players out there still, Josh Selby’s (#4) a great player, C.J. Leslie (#14), Terrence Jones (#13), Cory Joseph (#7), a lot of great players. So whoever wants to come, I’m going to try to get them to come here.” [Rankings from Rivals.com]

With two elite-level players already packing their bags for Lexington, with potentially three more on the way, how are other schools in the SEC, let alone the nation, expected to keep up with the talent level being bought in to Kentucky?

One way to battle a team loaded with freshmen is to build a team centered around chemistry and experience, much like Duke did this year. This article explains Coach K’s system and how he recruits. Maybe that is the way to go, but you won’t stop Calipari from taking players who plan on being around for less than a calendar year.

Sure, Coach K won yet another title, but does that mean Calipari is destined to never win one? Obviously not, as he was a miracle three by Mario Chalmers away from being on top of the college basketball world.

A lot of people may not like the one-and-done rule and the way Kentucky has/will become a stepping-stone for future NBA players to spend their mandatory year out of high school, but you better get used to this story as we are sure to see this year in and year out regarding Calipari and the Wildcats.


Trading Talent For Cap Space?

February 21, 2010

As many of you probably know, the NBA trade deadline was this past Thursday. And, if you knew that, I’m sure you know that the summer of 2010 is known as perhaps the best free agent class that the league has ever seen. With names like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudemire, we have never seen so many marquee names available for the entire league to bid on at one time. We also have never seen so many teams give away talent for a CHANCE to sign one of these young studs.

Looking at the deals made just this past week, it’s very obvious which teams are thinking about the summer rather than the playoffs. Granted, these same teams probably didn’t have much of a chance at the post-season anyways, but it’s going to be disheartening to some fans when they see their team give away some of their best assets and not get anything in return.

The one team that everyone knows was looking to clear as much cap space as possible are the New York Knicks. Donnie Walsh has said that it is the team’s top priority to clear any and all contracts on the payroll that are signed past this season. After trading away Jared Jeffries, Larry Hughes, Nate Robinson as well as 2009 first round pick Jordan Hill, the Knicks have put themselves in position to make the biggest splash in free agency in the history of the league. Although only two of those players are worth mentioning (sorry Jared and Larry), Robinson was a fan-favorite and Jordan Hill has plenty of potential that any team would want. On top of moving these players, the Knicks will most likely be swapping first-round picks with the Rockets in 2011 and will be handing over their first in 2012 as well.

Like I said before, there is no guarantee that any of these big name free agents leave their current situation, especially the most sought after of them all, LeBron James. But by moving these long-term contracts and mortgaging the future on this great chance would allow the Knicks to sign not one, but two max-deal free agents. So even if they don’t land King James, a duo of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade is still a possibility.

But what if the Knicks don’t sign one of these top-tier free agents? If they miss out on LeBron, Wade, Amare and Bosh, what happens to this once storied franchise? With their first round picks in two of the next three drafts either gone or swapped for a lower pick, the chances to replenish the talent on the squad is minimal. The last thing the NBA wants to do is watch the team in their biggest market fade into obscurity for another four to five years.

Personally, I hope that all these players stay with their respective teams. Though the chances of that happening are slim to none (I believe Boozer and Joe Johnson will be on the move), I would love to see it happen and teach the GMs of the league a lesson. Sure, it’s always a good decision to keep an eye on the future, but let’s weigh the pros and cons. If you’re a team like the Los Angeles Clippers that doesn’t have much attraction to it, why would you trade away a budding young player in Al Thornton? Do you really think that any of these players are coming to play with the Clippers? Other teams such as Chicago, Washington, New Jersey and any others that are gambling their seasons away for this star-studded free agent class made learn a brutal lesson when instead of landing that big fish, they end up over-paying for a second-tier free agent to compensate for their loss.

As an NBA fan, my favorite part of the season very well may be the offseason. Between the draft, free agency, summer camps and possible trades, there’s plenty of news to go around with a meaningful game being played. This summer will heat up a little more than usual with the faces of the NBA deciding on where they will be for their foreseeable future. I’ll watch as intently as everyone else. I’ll cheer for the teams that do hit it big in free agency. Oh, and I’ll be sure to laugh it up at the teams that strike out and have a lot of ‘splainin to do.


Welcome!

February 21, 2010

This is my new blog, one that will allow me to share my views on everything sports. I know there isn’t much direction as to what you may see posted here, but it makes it easier for me to decide what to write about. I would like to update this at least a couple times a week, so keep an eye out for updates.

I’ll also be posting my articles over at BleacherReport.com in order to get more views. Nothing gives more incentive to a writer than more and more people reading their material. If you see something you like, drop a comment. If you totally disagree with what I have to say and want to tell me off, go right ahead. I know not everyone is going to agree with what I have to say and the disagreements are fuel for the fire as well.

Thanks for your time and hope you’ll check back in regularly!

-R1zzo23


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