Marquette Trio Ready for NBA

jerel-and-wesley

By: David Kay and Paul M. Banks

As a die-hard Marquette fan, it is hard to put into words the impact guards Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews, and Dominic James have had on the program the past four years.  From day one, then head coach Tom Crean knew he had a special recruiting class, inserting all three into the starting line-up the very first time they suited up in a Golden Eagle jersey.  But each of the three-headed backcourt has taken a different road to get to their current situation, waiting to find out if they will be picked in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

In McNeal’s case, he has shown a steady improvement each year at Marquette.  As a freshman, the Hillcrest grad often looked like a chicken with his head cut-off; forcing wild shots and turning the ball over at a high rate.  His outside shot was as erratic as Britney Spears’ behavior circa 2006.  But year-by-year, McNeal continued to make strides with his all-around game.  His three-point percentage was almost 40% his senior season and he displayed the tenacity to be a go-to player at the collegiate level, creating his own shot off the dribble almost at will. That scoring instinct eventually allowed him to become Marquette’s all-time leading scorer and earned him second team All-American and first team All-Big East honors this past season.

Defensively, McNeal has always been a thorn in the opposition’s side as confirmed by his Big East Defensive Player of the Year honor in 2006-2007.  His ability to make a break on a ball in his passing lane to create steals or deflections is as natural as anyone’s in college basketball.

The biggest thing holding McNeal back is his “tweener” label.  The Chicago native measured in at 6’3” at the NBA Draft combine which is not the ideal size for an NBA shooting guard.  And while he occasionally ran the point at MU and has decent handles, he certainly is not a true point guard.  “I think initially the situation is I’ll be a bit of combo type guard,”   McNeal told TSB.net founder Paul M. Banks at the combine.  “The most important thing, and this is why I’m so confident I can do it, is be able to guard both positions…  From an offensive standpoint, it’s just a readjustment of a mindset of exactly what you need to do in a game.  It’s not that difficult for me.”  McNeal is pretty much a lock to be drafted in the second round, but I stand by my belief (and call it homering if you’d like) that if McNeal was two inches taller, we would hear his name being mentioned as a possible lottery pick.

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James’ career at Marquette is almost the complete opposite of McNeal’s.  While Jerel progressed season after season after season, Nic’s play peaked right off the bat in his freshman campaign.  The 5’11” point guard averaged 15.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game in his first year in blue and gold, earning him Big East Freshman of the Year honors.  Those impressive numbers immediately thrust James onto the national scene and NBA scouts radars, with some projecting him as a future lottery pick.

James’ numbers dipped off his final three years at Marquette, massively dropping his draft stock.  There has never been a question regarding his athleticism.  To see someone his size dunk with ease, throwing down back-handed dunks like he was a power forward was almost breath-taking at times.  His ability to drive to the basket and create for open teammates has always been a strength as well.  The flaw in James’ game comes with his outside shot.  Consistency was a major issue as ‘Nic shot less than 30% from downtown during his senior season, at times erasing any confidence he had from the perimeter.

A late-season broken bone in his foot pretty much sealed James’ destiny to not be selected in the NBA Draft.  I caught up with James after he worked out for the Bucks in late-May.  He said his foot was still only about 75-80% healed.  “A lot of it is mental, just trusting it and knowing that I’m capable of doing the things I once could do,” James said. “That’s just the type of player I am.  I persevere through any adversity I face.”  The odds of James hearing his name called on Thursday are slim-to-none, but he should at least find a spot on some NBA team’s summer league roster.  Unless he wows some team, his basketball career will likely continue overseas.

wesley

Of the three guards new to the scene at Marquette in 2005, I initially thought Matthews had the best chance of succeeding at the next level.  He arrived at MU with a solid combination of size, athleticism, and pure basketball skills.  While he was a serviceable complimentary player his first three years with the Golden Eagles, Matthews failed to live up to his full potential, playing third fiddle to McNeal and James.  Then Tom Crean left for Indiana.

Matthews wasn’t shy on senior night when he thanked first-year head coach Buzz Williams for “unleashing him.”  The Madison native made a huge leap during his senior season under Williams, averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, and field goal percentage.  Matthews showed a consistency from beyond the arc, the ability to attack the basket off the drive, and played very physically as he often spent time at the four due to Marquette’s lack of height.  He was deservingly named second team All-Big East and his name started to appear on the second round of most mock drafts.

While no specific area of his game stands out above the rest, Matthews can offer his all-around talent to whichever team drafts him, likely late in the second round.  “I’m going to do whatever you need me to do,” Matthews told me after his work-out with the Bucks.  “I’m going to compete.  I’m going to work.  If my offense isn’t on, I’m always going to have my defense… I’m going to do everything possible to make whatever team I’m on, a better team.”  If Matthews isn’t drafted, he will certainly find a spot on a summer league roster and could be a steal as an un-drafted free agent.

Villanova Marquette BasketballPotential and upside aren’t words associated with any of the Marquette prospects.  It’s highly unlikely any of them will reach Dwyane Wade-type stardom in the NBA, but having spent four years being major contributors at Marquette should have prepared all three prospects for whatever lies ahead in the basketball careers.  Matthews echoed that thought.  “Along with Dominic and Jerel, we’ve been battle tested for four years.  We’re physically ready to play an 82 game season at what position you want us to play, at whatever role you want us to play in, and we’re only going to get better.”

McNeal agreed.  “I think any time you come into a situation where you get a guy, not just us three, but guys who have been in college for four years and have proven ourselves, from a competitive standpoint, on a night-in, night out basis, you know that you’re going to get a good solid competitive basketball player no matter what happens.”

No matter what happens next, their contributions to the Marquette basketball program won’t be forgotten any time soon, and hopefully all three can follow in the footsteps of Travis Diener and Steve Novak, and find a role in the NBA.

NBA Draft Combine Brings out the Stars

griffin

By Paul M. Banks

When the NBA Draft Combine comes to Chicago, the Second City resembles Beverly Hills for a couple days. Strolling through the Westin Hotel on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, where the Draft Combine’s media activities are held, I encountered basketball’s heaviest hitters. The entire Chicago Bulls front office, Pistons GM Joe Dumars, NBA coaches Mike D’Antoni, Mike Dunleavy, legendary talk show host Larry King (twice) and former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda; and that was just the first hour.

During the actual interview sessions, a draft combine reporter gets up close and personal with every former college basketball star soon to be drafted in a couple weeks. Each player gets his own table in the conference room and journalists rotate like speed-daters to obtain quality face time with everyone. Conversation is much more in-depth than post-game press conferences. It’s about the big picture here- no time to waste on the boringly banal queries from newspaper beat writers.jerel

On top of the media grilling, NBA prospects face tougher inquisitions from the teams themselves. Arizona’s Chase Budinger (projected 23rd) said he faced a psychological aptitude type test from the Bulls. He had to arrange blocks to match a picture they presented. NBA teams want to know if players are single, married, have kids. Multiple players had to reveal if they had a “friend with benefits.” It’s like Torquemada and your Prom date’s father rolled into one. 

The NBA amalgamates feedback from the league’s scouts and personnel, deciding which 50-60 prospects are gauging the most interest. The most elite prospects are then invited to run drills, 3 man weaves and workout (this part is closed to the media). They also take more measurements than a Playboy playmate; each player’s wingspan, vertical reach, height and weight (with and without shoes) become public knowledge. This male version of a beauty pageant can be stressful, but also fun.

Former Marquette guard Jerel McNeal projected 42nd overall in NBA Mock Draft,  “It’s been real intense, it’s been like a circus since I got down here, but it’s also been real fun so far. To be around such a great group of players and unbelievable talent, to be fortunate enough to be in this situation, you can’t help but feel excited and glad about what’s coming in the future,” said McNeal.

Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn, projected 10th in this year’s draft spoke about how the combine brings together former AAU, McDonald’s All-American and Summer league teammates. “It’s cool, it’s like a big family reunion everybody reminiscing on the stories we had from summer camps, at the USA team and things like that. We’re all in competition on the court, but off the court it’s a family feeling, we just kick back, chill and talk about the good old days,” Flynn said.

There’s only one thing certain about this draft: Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin is going to the L.A. Clippers at #1. The brightest lights and greatest amount of cameras were naturally on him. And the future franchise player seems ready to become the next media darling. “I don’t mind the media…I hope I’m ready for it. I think I’m ready for it” Griffin said before answering a question about how he’ll soon see his personal privacy disappear. bgriffin2

“You just got to know that people are watching you and you got to be a positive role model and not put yourself in bad situations,” Griffin stated.

I asked Griffin what his favorite aspect of this process has been so far. “Some of the restaurants have been pretty good. That’s a big part of my life. But getting to meet people, different players and taking perspective and getting advice from them has been great,” he responded.

The Second City is famous for its food. The next day I saw him in the restaurant downstairs and asked him about his overall favorite restaurant here. He said he’s a big fan of Ditka’s, prompting another reporter nearby to endorse the joint’s steaks. Griffin then said he’s not eating much red meat right now, so I mentioned their Salmon and Tuna steaks. The future Clipper approved Ditka’s seafood. So this is life in transition to the next level, where everything’s meatier and portions of everything are much bigger. So is the number of people watching you.   

2009 NBA Mock Draft

By: David K.

This is my second mock draft that has taken team needs into account.  Now that the NBA regular season is done, the preliminary order is set until the draft lottery takes place on May 19th.  The deadline has also passed for college underclassmen to announce if they are declaring for the draft or returning to school.  Those underclassmen that have yet to hire an agent have until June 15th to do so.  Remember, I got as many picks correct last year as ESPN’s “expert” Chad Ford and watched 274 college basketball games this season, so I feel pretty good about my projections.

1. Sacramento- Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990
If the Kings land the top pick, it’s a gutsy call, but I think Rubio is their guy.  Sacramento has a few young bigs, but has a major need for a long-term franchise player and a point guard, both roles that Rubio can fill.  Plus, I think Rubio is the “sexier” pick and the Maloof brothers are all about “sexy.”
Think: Steve Nash

2. Washington – Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-9, So.
Griffin has proven to be the most dominant player in college basketball and will likely be the number one pick if any team but the Kings are selecting first.  While he doesn’t fill a need for the Wizards, he is too good to pass up with the second pick.
Think: Amare Stoudamire

3. L.A. Clippers- Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
The Clips already have Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman up-front, but Camby is a free agent after next season.  Thabeet is the third best prospect in this class and absolutely owns the paint on the defensive end.  Not being needed to contribute major minutes in his first season might actually be a good thing since his offensive game still needs to improve.
Think: Ben Wallace, but six inches taller

4. Oklahoma City- James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
OKC would likely take a long look at Jordan Hill as well, but Harden fills a major void for a shooting guard.  He has the ability to take over a game whenever he wants, although he also tends to be too unselfish at times as well.  Harden would be a nice running mate for Kevin Durant.
Think: Paul Pierce

5. Minnesota- Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
I love Evans and think he would be the perfect fit for the T-Wolves who need a player that can attack the basket which is Evans’ strength.  He can also play some point guard, a position that Randy Foye has never really taken over since arriving in Minnesota.  The knock on Evans is his inconsistent outside shot, but that improves with time.
Think: Manu Ginobli

6. Memphis – Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, So.
The Griz would be ecstatic if Hill fell to them.  With young perimeter players like Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, and Rudy Gay, Memphis needs someone to play down low.  Hill has great athleticism which would be perfect for a young team that wants to run.  He also has nice touch around the basket, but will need to get stronger
Think: LaMarcus Aldridge

7. Golden State- Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
Jennings is one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft because he did not have great success playing overseas this year, but is loaded with potential.  He would be a perfect fit for a team needing a true point guard who can get other players involved, but also score when called upon.
Think: Kenny Anderson

8. New York- Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
With Larry Hughes, Cuttino Mobley, and Quentin Richardson all one year away from free agency, the Knicks need to find a long-term solution at the two-guard.  DeRozan is an incredible athlete and really came along strong during the final month of the season, though his three-point shot still needs work.
Think: Vince Carter

9. Toronto- Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
The Raptors have a major hole for a wing player who can take it to the rack.  Henderson took a major step during his junior season and will likely continue to improve at the next level.  He is that athletic scorer needed in Toronto and can also stroke it from deep.
Think: J.R. Smith

10. Milwaukee- Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Flynn seems like a player who Scott Skiles would love to coach.  He is tough, plays with a lot of heart, and just gets it.  He understands how to run the point, when to be a distributor, when his team needs him to be a scorer.  Since Luke Ridnour is not the answer and Ramon Sessions is a free agent, Flynn is the choice.
Think: Raymond Felton

11. New Jersey- Earl Clark, SF, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
This would be somewhat of a steal for the Nets at 11.  Clark has the potential to be a point forward-type player in the NBA, is a freak of an athlete, and has nice range on his jumper.  He would be a great fit in New Jersey as they need some help on the wing.
Think: Lamar Odom


12. Charlotte- Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC, 6-5, Jr.

Playing for the National Champion Tar Heels certainly elevated Ellington’s stock.  The Bobcats could use some depth on the wing and Ellington would provide that.  He has one of the smoothest shooting strokes in college hoops and can also take it to the rack.
Think: Richard Hamilton

13. Indiana- Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-3, Jr.
Is he a one or a two?  Despite being the most talented pure shooter in college basketball and having limitless range from the outside, the fact that Dell’s son is a “tweener” could deter teams from taking him.  Plus, he is rail thin.  He likely won’t fall out of the lottery and the Pacers could use a sharpshooter to bring off their bench.
Think: Jason Terry

14. Phoenix- Ty Lawson, PG, UNC, 5-11, Jr.
Steve Nash is getting up their in age and if the Suns pick up his option for next season, would become a free agent in 2010.  Like Ellington, Lawson’s stock soared during UNC’s title run.  He was probably the best floor general in college hoops and has greatly improved his three-point shot.
Think: Jameer Nelson

15. Detroit- Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
I think it’s safe to say the Allen Iverson deal backfired.  AI and Rasheed Wallace are both free agents so the Pistons could go in either direction with this pick.  Teague is a scoring point guard who shot the ball at a very high percentage last season.
Think: Keyon Dooling

16. Chicago- DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So
It has been pretty clear against the Celtics, that the Bulls lack that low post bruiser.  Enter Blair.  At 6-7, he is undersized to play power forward, but he is just so strong and long which makes him a force on the block and board.  It is uncertain how that will translate to the pro game, as Blair will need to work on his mid-range jumper to be effective at the next level.  A shooting guard could also be an option in case Ben Gordon leaves via free agency.
Think: Craig Smith

17. Philadelphia- Eric Maynor, PG, VCU, 6-3, Sr.
With Andre Miller eligible for free agency, the Sixers likely draft a point guard..  Maynor is a playmaker on the offensive end, a true floor general, and has good size to play the point in the NBA.  He must continue to become a more consistent shooter.
Think: Antonio Daniels

18. #Minnesota- Terrence Williams, SF, Louisville, 6-6, Sr.
With the second of their three first round picks, I still think the T-Wolves need to address their need for athletes on the wing.  Williams is the definition of versatile.  He attacks the hoop, is a very improved shooter, can rebound, is a great passer, and plays defense.  I think he is a steal of a mid-first round pick.
Think: Gerald Wallace.

19. Atlanta- James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
With only seven players under contract for next season, the Hawks need depth at every position and probably take the best available player.  One major NBA Draft web-site has Johnson listed as the tenth best prospect in this draft, which is a bit ridiculous in my mind.  The former Demon Deacon is an athletic forward who can play the three or four, and while his frame is ready for the rigor of the NBA, his shot is not.
Think: Wilson Chandler

20. Utah- B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
I am still surprised Mullens decided to go pro as he would have been better served returning to the Buckeyes and developing his game.  But based on his athleticism, size, and potential, he is definitely worth a mid-first round pick  The Jazz likely go for a post player since Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur could both opt out of their contracts this off-season.
Think: Spencer Hawes

21. New Orleans- Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
The Hornets need to add some depth up-front as Hilton Armstrong is their only reserve post player under contract for next season.  Patterson has a nice combination of size, strength, and athleticism, and decent range on his jumper.
Think: Kenyon Martin

22. Dallas- Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
The Mavs have two important players entering free agency, Jason Kidd and Brandon Bass, so drafting a replacement for either makes sense.  Lawal is a slightly under-sized power forward who has a nice low-post game.  He is a solid rebounder, decent shot blocker, but doesn’t have much of a perimeter game.
Think: Brandon Bass

23. &Sacramento- Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
Assuming the Kings take Rubio at #1, they should look for a wing player here. Budinger’s strength is his versatility.  He can jump out of the gym, hit the three ball, and has a nice inside-outside game, but his tendency to disappear during stretches is a major knock.
Think: Stephen Jackson

24. Portland- Victor Claver, F, Spain, 6-11, 1989
The Blazers roster is pretty much set for next season, so the logical move would be to trade out of this pick or draft another Euro player and stash him overseas.  Claver is a typical Euro-style player in that he is long, has a good all-around skill set, but needs to get stronger.
Think: Donte Greene

25. +Oklahoma City- Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC, 6-9, Sr.
Despite being one of the most decorated in recent college basketball history, a lot of people are questioning how his game will translate into the NBA.  I don’t see him being anything more than an energy guy off the bench at the next level, but could bring his work ethic and winning mentality to OKC.
Think: Eduardo Najera

26. %Chicago- Sam Young, G/F, Pitt, 6-6, Sr.
Since I have the Bulls going big at #16, they likely take a wing player in case Gordon does bolt this off-season.  Young can elevate, hit it from deep, has a tremendous basketball IQ, can take bigger defenders off the dribble and post up smaller guys.  His lack of NBA-type athleticism drops him to this spot.
Think: Michael Finley

27. $Memphis- Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
The Griz are likely to address their need for a back-up point guard with this pick.  Mills can create his own shot, excels in transition, and is lightning quick off the dribble.  He had a very successful Olympics last summer playing for Australia and caught the eyes of a lot of NBA scouts.
Think: Ramon Sessions

28. ^Minnesota- Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.
I doubt the T-Wolves actually keep all three of their picks, but James would be a good value here.  A sub par season hurt his stock as he was once a projected lottery pick.  He was one of the most aggressive offensive rebounders in college basketball, has an NBA-ready build, and a nice shot from the perimeter.
Think: Maurice Evans

29. L.A. Lakers- Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
Smith would provide some insurance if Lamar Odom leaves via free agency.  The former Vol is fearless when attacking the hoop and thrives on the break.  He is not a great outside shooter, but his rebounding and passing abilities help his stock.
Think: Thabo Sefolosha

30. Cleveland- Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU, 6-4, Sr.

Thornton is a little undersized to play the two in the NBA, but there is no question the kid can flat-out shoot the rock, and what he lacks in size, he makes up for in strength.  I think he would be a great late first round pick especially for the Cavs who would just need him to compliment LeBron for a few stretches a game.
Think: Daequan Cook

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Second Round
31. Sacramento- Vladimir Dasic, SF, Montenegro, 1988
32. Portland- Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
33. Washington- Darren Collison, PG, UCLA, 6-2, Sr.
34. Denver- .Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF, 6-4, Sr.
35. Memphis- DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
36. Detroit- Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State, 6-10, Sr.
37. San Antonio- Omri Casspi, SF, Isreal, 6-8, 1988
38. Portland- Milan Macvan, PF, Serbia, 6-9, 1989
39. Detroit- Greivis Vasquez, SG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
40. Charlotte- Danny Green, SF, UNC, 6-7, Sr.
41. Milwaukee- Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga, 6-11, Sr.
42. L.A. Lakers- Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette, 6-3, Sr.
43. Miami- Chris Johnson, PF, LSU, 6-11, Sr.
44. Detroit- Lee Cummard, G/F, BYU, 6-7, Sr.
45. Minnesota- A.J. Price, PG, UConn, 6-2, Sr
46. Cleveland- Dante Cunningham, F, Villanova, 6-8, Sr.
47. Minnesota- Jonas Jerebko, PF, Sweden, 6-9, 1989
48. Phoenix- Demarre Carroll, F, Missouri, 6-8, Sr.
49. Atlanta- Dionte Christmas, SG, Temple, 6-5, Sr.
50. Utah- Jeff Adrien, PF, UConn, 6-7, Sr.
51. San Antonio- Wesley Matthews, SG, Marquette, 6-5, Sr.
52. Indiana- Leo Lyons, F, Missouri, 6-9, Sr.
53. San Antonio- Jon Brockman, PF, Washington, 6-7, Sr.
54. Charlotte- Curtis Jerrells, PG, Baylor, 6-1, Sr.
55. Portland- Dar Tucker, SG, DePaul, 6-5, So.
56. Portland- Nando de Colo, G, 6-5, France 1987
57. Phoenix- Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State, 6-2
58. Boston- Robert Vaden, SG, UAB, 6-5, Sr.
59. L.A. Lakers- Sergio Llull, PG, Spain, 6-5, 1988
60. Miami- Jack McClinton, PG, Miami (FL), 6-1, Sr.

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Declared for the Draft:
>Dominique Archie, SF, South Carolina, 6-7, Jr.
DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So.
>Derrick Brown, F, Xavier, 6-9, Jr.
Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
>Nick Calathes, G, Florida, 6-6, So.
Earl Clark, F, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
>Dwayne Collins, PF, Miami, 6-8, Jr.
>Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.
Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-2, Jr.
>Bryan Davis, PF, Texas A&M, 6-9, Jr.
>Austin Daye, F, Gonzaga, 6-0, So.
Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
>Eric Devendorf, G, Syracuse, 6-4, Jr.
>Devin Downey, PG, South Carolina, 5-9, Jr
>Osiris Eldridge, SG, Illinois State, 6-3, Jr.
Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina, 6-5, Jr.
>Chinemelu Elonu, F/C. Texas A&M, 6-10, Jr.
>Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
>Roderick Flemings, SF, Hawaii, 6-7, Jr.
Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-10, So.
Daniel Hackett, PG, USC, 6-4, Jr.
>Luke Harangody, PF, Notre Dame, 6-8, Jr.
James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
>Paul Harris, G/F. Syracuse, 6-5, Jr.
>Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, Jr.
>Jrue Holliday, G, UCLA, 6-4, Fr
>Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.
Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
>Mac Koshwal, C, DePaul, 6-10, So.
>Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina, 5-11, Jr.
>Ater Majok, PF, UConn, 6-10, Fr.
>Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky, 6-4, Jr
>Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
>Tasmin Mitchell, SF, LSU, 6-7, Jr.
B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
>Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
>Scottie Reynolds, PG, Villanova, 6-2, Jr.
Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990
>David Sloan, G, Texas A&M, 6-3, Jr.
>Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
>Shawn Taggart, PF, Memphis, 6-10, Jr.
>Jonathan Tavernari, G/F, BYU, 6-6, Jr.
>Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
Dar Tucker, SG, DePaul, 6-5, So.
>Jarvis Varnado, PF, Mississippi State, 6-9, Jr.
>Greivis Vasquez, SG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
>Michael Washington, PF, Arkansas, 6-9, Jr.
>Jeremy Wise, PG, Southern Miss., 6-2, Jr.
>Nic Wise, PG, Arizona, 5-10, Jr.

>has yet to hire an agent

Staying in School:
Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas, 6-11, So.
Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest, 6-9, Fr.
James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma St., 6-6, So.
Trevor Booker, PF, Clemson, 6-7, Jr.
Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State, 6-10, So.
Patrick Christopher, SG, Cal, 6-5, Jr.
Sherron Collins, PG, Kansas, 5-11, Jr.
Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina, 6-10, Fr.
Devin Ebanks, F, West Virginia, 6-9, Fr.
Manny Harris, SG, Michigan, 6-5, So.
JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue, 6-10, So.
Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa, 7-0, Jr.
Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown, 6-10, Fr.
Dexter Pittman, C, Texas, 6-10, Jr.
Stanley Robinson, SF, UConn, 6-8, Jr.
DeShawn Sims, SF, Michigan, 6-8, Jr.
Kyle Singler, F, Duke, 6-8, So.
Evan Turner, SF, Ohio State, So.
Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma, 6-4, Fr.

#Minnesota gets Miami’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protected) via Ricky Davis trade
&Kings get Houston ’09 1st round pick via Ron Artest trade
+Thunder gets Spurs’ ’09 1st round pick (lottery preotected) via Kurt Thomas trade
%Bulls get lower of Thunder’s ’09 1st round pick (from either SA or Den) via Thabo Sefolosha trade
$Memphis gets Orlando ’09 1st round pick via Rafer Alston trade
^Minnesota gets Boston’s ’09 1st round pick (top 3 protected) via Kevin Garnett trade

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2009 NBA Mock Draft

By: David K.

This is my first mock draft that has taken team needs into account.  Now that the NBA regular season is done, the preliminary order is set until the draft lottery takes place on May 19th.  Remember, I got as many picks correct last year as ESPN’s “expert” Chad Ford and watched 274 college basketball games this season, so I feel pretty good about my projections.

1. Sacramento- Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990

-If the Kings land the top pick, it’s a gutsy call, but I think Rubio is their guy.  Sacramento has a few young bigs, but has a major need for a long-term franchise player and a point guard, both roles that Rubio can fill.  Plus, I think Rubio is the “sexier” pick and the Maloof brothers are all about “sexy.”
Think: Steve Nash

2. Washington- Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-9, So.
-Griffin has proven to be the most dominant player in college basketball and will likely be the number one pick if any team but the Kings are selecting first.  While he doesn’t fill a need for the Wizards, he is too good to pass up with the second pick.
Think: Amare Stoudamire

3. L.A. Clippers- Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
-The Clips already have Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman up-front, but Camby is a free agent after next season.  Thabeet is the third best prospect in this class and absolutely owns the paint on the defensive end.  Not being needed to contribute major minutes in his first season might actually be a good thing since his offensive game still needs to improve.
Think: Ben Wallace, but six inches taller

4. Oklahoma City- Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, So.
-The Thunder could use a big man or a scoring two-guard, both of which will available with the fourth pick.  Hill is a tremendous athlete for his size and has improved his outside shot.  He would add to the young nucleus in OKC.
Think: LaMarcus Aldridge

5. Minnesota- Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
-I love Evans and think he would be the perfect fit for the T-Wolves who need a player that can attack the basket which is Evans’ strength.  He can also play some point guard, a position that Randy Foye has never really taken over since arriving in Minnesota.  The knock on Evans is his inconsistent outside shot, but that improves with time.
Think: Manu Ginobli

6. Memphis – James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
-What the Griz could really use is a power forward and would probably love Hill to slip to them at five.  But since he doesn’t, Harden is the next best option.  He has the ability to take over a game whenever he wants, although he also tends to be too unselfish at times as well.  Harden doesn’t fill a need, but putting him on the floor with Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, and Mike Conley would provide a lot of offensive firepower.
Think: Paul Pierce

7. Golden State- Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
-DeRozan would be a great fit for Nellie Ball because of his great athleticism and versatility.  The Trojan freshman really came along strong during the final month of the season, though his three-point shot still needs work.
Think: Vince Carter

8. ?New York- Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
This is probably the highest you will see Flynn in any mock draft, but I think he would thrive in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo style of play.  Flynn just gets it.  He understands how to run the point, when to be a distributor, when his team needs him to be a scorer, and he is ready to contribute immediately.
Think: Raymond Felton

9. Toronto- Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
-The Raptors have a major hole for a wing player who can take it to the rack.  Henderson took a major step during his junior season and will likely continue to improve at the next level.  He is that athletic scorer needed in Toronto and can also stroke it from deep.
Think: J.R. Smith

10. Milwaukee- Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
-Jennings is one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft.  He has not had great success playing overseas, but still has tons of potential.  I could see Jennings going as high as five or six, but also dropping to the late lottery.  Since Luke Ridnour is not the answer at point for the Bucks, Jennings would a wise pick.
Think: Kenny Anderson

11. New Jersey- Earl Clark, SF, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
-This would be somewhat of a steal for the Nets at 11.  Clark has the potential to be a point forward-type player in the NBA, is a freak of an athlete, and has nice range on his jumper.  He would be a great fit in New Jersey as they need some help on the wing.
Think: Lamar Odom

12. Charlotte- Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC, 6-5, Jr.
Playing for the National Champion Tar Heels certainly elevated Ellington’s stock.  The Bobcats could use some depth on the wing and Ellington would provide that.  He has one of the smoothest shooting strokes in college hoops and can also take it to the rack.
Think: Richard Hamilton

13. Indiana- Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State, 6-10, So.
-The Pacers are in a spot where they might need to just take the best available player.  They have some bodies up-front, but not a lot of athleticism, which is what Brackins would bring to Indiana.  He is a lengthy forward, but not very strong, has a nice touch on his shot and can knock down mid-range jumper.
Think: Hakim Warrick

14. Phoenix- Ty Lawson, PG, UNC, 5-11, Jr.
-Steve Nash is getting up their in age and if the Suns pick up his option for next season, would become a free agent in 2010.  Like Ellington, Lawson’s stock soared during UNC’s title run.  He was probably the best floor general in college hoops and has greatly improved his three-point shot.
Think: Jameer Nelson

15. Detroit- Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.

I think it’s safe to say the Allen Iverson deal backfired.  AI and Rasheed Wallace are both free agents so the Pistons could go in either direction with this pick.  Teague is a scoring point guard who shot the ball at a very high percentage last season.
Think: Keyon Dooling

16. Chicago- Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
-The Bulls risk losing Ben Gordon to free agency this off-season so would be smart to draft a wing player.  Budinger’s strength is his versatility.  He can jump out of the gym and hit the three ball.  His tendency to disappear during stretches of games is his biggest knock.
Think: Stephen Jackson

17. Philadelphia- Eric Maynor, PG, VCU, 6-3, Sr.
-With Andre Miller eligible for free agency, the Sixers likely draft a point guard in case Miller signs elsewhere.  Maynor is a playmaker on the offensive end, a true floor general, and has good size to play the point in the NBA.  He must continue to become a more consistent shooter.
Think: Antonio Daniels

18. #Minnesota- Terrence Williams, SF, Louisville, 6-6, Sr.
-With the second of their three first round picks, I still think the T-Wolves need to address their need for athletes on the wing.  Williams is the definition of versatile.  He attacks the hoop, is a very improved shooter, can rebound, is a great passer, and plays defense.  I think he is a steal of a mid-first round pick.
Think: Gerald Wallace.

19. Atlanta- Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.

-With only seven players under contract for next season, the Hawks need depth at every position and probably take the best available player.  Patterson has a nice combination of size, strength, and athleticism, and decent range on his jumper.
Think: Kenyon Martin

20. Utah- B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
-I am still surprised Mullens decided to go pro as he would have been better served returning to the Buckeyes and developing his game.  But based on his athleticism, size, and potential, he is definitely worth a mid-first round pick  The Jazz likely go for a post player since Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur could both opt out of their contracts this off-season.
Think: Spencer Hawes



21. New Orleans- DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So

Blair would give the Hornets a brusier to come off their bench, something they don’t really have.  What Blair lacks in height, he makes up with his outstanding strength.  He knows how to use his big body on the block and boards.  It is uncertain how that will translate to the pro game, as Blair will need to work on his mid-range jumper to be effective at the next level.
Think: Craig Smith

22. Dallas- Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
-The Mavs need to prepare for like post-Jason Kidd since he is an unrestricted free agent.  Mills can create his own shot, excels in transition, and is lightning quick off the dribble.  He had a very successful Olympics last summer playing for Australia and caught the eyes of a lot of NBA scouts.
Think: Ramon Sessions

23. &Sacramento- Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.

-Assuming the Kings take Rubio at #1, they should look for a wing player here.  A sub par season hurt his stock some as he was once a projected lottery pick.  James was one of the most aggressive offensive rebounders in college basketball, has an NBA-ready build, and has a nice shot from the perimeter.
Think: Marvin Williams

24. Portland- James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
-The Blazers roster is pretty much set for next season, so I would not be surprised if they dealt out of this pick or drafted another Euro player and stashed him overseas.  For now, I’ll give them the best available player.  Johnson is an athletic forward who can put the ball on the deck and attack the rim.  His frame is ready for the rigor of the NBA, but his shot is not.
Think: Wilson Chandler

25. +Oklahoma City- Sam Young, G/F, Pitt, 6-6, Sr.

-OKC lands a nice role player in Young.  He can elevate, hit it from deep, has a tremendous basketball IQ, can take bigger defenders off the dribble, and post up smaller guys.  His lack of NBA-type athleticism drops him to this spot.
Think: Michael Finley

26. %Chicago- Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC, 6-9, Sr.

-Despite being one of the most decorated in college basketball, a lot of people are questioning how his game will translate into the NBA.  I don’t see him being anything more than an energy guy off the bench at the next level which is all Chicago would be asking of him at this point.
Think: Eduardo Najera
27. $Memphis- DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
-Despite underachieving at G-Town this past season, Summers has thrown his name into the draft.  He has an NBA-ready body, is a good slasher, and a decent outside shooter.  I question how he will match-up athletically with other three’s in the NBA.  He is worth the risk for Memphis this late.
Think: Bobby Simmons

28. ^Minnesota- Vladimir Dasic, SF, Montenegro, 1988
-I doubt the T-Wolves actually keep all three of their picks, so why not take a guy they can stash overseas for a year or two.  Dasic is like most Euro’s in that he is an athletic, lengthy wing player.  He will need to become more physical to adapt to the NBA.
Think: Nicolas Batum

29. L.A. Lakers- Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
-Smith would provide some insurance if Lamar Odom leaves via free agency.  The former Vol is fearless when attacking the hoop and thrives on the break.  He is not a great outside shooter, but his rebounding and passing abilities help his stock.
Think: Thabo Sefolosha

30. Cleveland- Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU, 6-4, Sr.
Thornton is a little undersized to play the two in the NBA, but there is no question the kid can flat-out shoot the rock, and what he lacks in size, he makes up for in strength.  I think he would be a great late first round pick especially for the Cavs who would just need him to compliment LeBron for a few stretches a game.
Think: Daequan Cook

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Second Round
31. Sacramento- Darren Collison, PG, UCLA, 6-2, Sr.
32. Portland- Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
33. Washington- Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF, 6-4, Sr.
34. Denver- A.J. Price, PG, UConn, 6-2, Sr.
35. Memphis- Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State, 6-10, Sr.
36. Detroit- Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga, 6-11, Sr.
37. San Antonio- Greivis Vasquez, SG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
38. Portland- Omri Casspi, SF, Isreal, 6-8, 1988
39. Detroit- Danny Green, SF, UNC, 6-7, Sr.
40. Charlotte- Chris Johnson, PF, LSU, 6-11, Sr.
41. Milwaukee- Vitor Faverani, F, Brazil, 6-11, 1989
42. L.A. Lakers- Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette, 6-3, Sr.
43. Miami- Lee Cummard, G/F, BYU, 6-7, Sr.
44. Detroit- Dionte Christmas, SG, Temple, 6-5, Sr.
45. Minnesota- Dante Cunningham, F, Villanova, 6-8, Sr.
46. Cleveland- Jeff Adrien, PF, UConn, 6-7, Sr.
47. Minnesota- Curtis Jerrells, PG, Baylor, 6-1, Sr.
48. Phoenix- Demarre Carroll, F, Missouri, 6-8, Sr.
49. Atlanta- Wesley Matthews, SG, Marquette, 6-5, Sr.
50. Utah- Dar Tucker, SG, DePaul, 6-5, So.
51. San Antonio- Jonas Jerebko, PF, Sweden, 6-9, 1989
52. Indiana- Leo Lyons, F, Missouri, 6-9, Sr.
53. San Antonio- Jon Brockman, PF, Washington, 6-7, Sr.
54. Charlotte- Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State, 6-2, PG
55. Portland- Luigi Datome, SF, Italy, 6-8. 1987
56. Portland- Nando de Colo, G, 6-5, France 1987
57. Phoenix- Eric Devendorf, G, 6-4, Syracuse, Jr.
58. Boston- Robert Vaden, SG, UAB, 6-5, Sr.
59. L.A. Lakers- Rodrigue Beaubois
60. Miami- Jack McClinton, PG, Miami (FL), 6-1, Sr.

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Declared for the Draft:
>Dominique Archie, SF, South Carolina, 6-7, Jr.
DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So.
>Derrick Brown, F, Xavier, 6-9, Jr.
Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
>Nick Calathes, G, Florida, 6-6, So.
Earl Clark, F, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
>Dwayne Collins, PF, Miami, 6-8, Jr.
>Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.
>Austin Daye, F, Gonzaga, 6-0, So.
Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
>Eric Devendorf, G, Syracuse, 6-4, Jr.
>Devin Downey, PG, South Carolina, 5-9, Jr
Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
>Roderick Flemings, SF, Hawaii, 6-7, Jr.
>Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-10, So.
Daniel Hackett, PG, USC, 6-4, Jr.
>Luke Harangody, PF, Notre Dame, 6-8, Jr.
James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
>Paul Harris, G/F. Syracuse, 6-5, Jr.
Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, Jr.
>Jrue Holliday, G, UCLA, 6-4, Fr
>Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.
Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
>Mac Koshwal, C, DePaul, 6-10, So.
>Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky, 6-4, Jr
Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
>Tasmin Mitchell, SF, LSU, 6-7, Jr.
B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
>Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
>Shawn Taggart, PF, Memphis, 6-10, Jr.
>Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
Dar Tucker, SG, DePaul, 6-5, So.
Michael Washington, PF, Arkansas, 6-9, Jr.
Jeremy Wise, PG, Southern Miss., 6-2, Jr.
>Nic Wise, PG, 5-10, Arizona, Jr.

>has yet to hire an agent

Staying in School:
Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas, 6-11, So.
Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest, 6-9, Fr.
James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma St., 6-6, So.
Trevor Booker, PF, Clemson, 6-7, Jr.
Patrick Christopher, SG, Cal, 6-5, Jr.
Sherron Collins, PG, Kansas, 5-11, Jr.
Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina, 6-10, Fr.
Devin Ebanks, F, West Virginia, 6-9, Fr.
JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue, 6-10, So.
Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa, 7-0, Jr.
Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown, 6-10, Fr.
Dexter Pittman, C, Texas, 6-10, Jr.
Kyle Singler, F, Duke, 6-8, So.
Evan Turner, SF, Ohio State, So.
Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma, 6-4, Fr.

Other First Round talent still undecided:
Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990
Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-2, Jr.
Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
Manny Harris, SG, Michigan, 6-5, So.

?Utah gets New York ’09 1st round pick (top 22 protected) via Phoenix
#Minnesota gets Miami’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protected) via Ricky Davis trade
&Kings get Houston ’09 1st round pick via Ron Artest trade
+Thunder gets Spurs’ ’09 1st round pick (lottery preotected) via Kurt Thomas trade
%Bulls get lower of Thunder’s ’09 1st round pick (from either SA or Den) via Thabo Sefolosha trade
$Memphis gets Orlando ’09 1st round pick via Rafer Alston trade
^Minnesota gets Boston’s ’09 1st round pick (top 3 protected) via Kevin Garnett trade

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2009 NBA Mock Draft

By: David K.

This begins an interesting few weeks.  Now is when we begin to see which underclassmen will be entering the NBA Draft and which will be returning to school.  As the decisions are made, it changes the entire layout of the draft.  These are my projections as to which underclassmen are likely to declare (below you will see a list of who I think will/should stay in school.)  As it is made more concrete as to who is throwing their hat in the ring, we will get a better idea of how the draft might unfold.

1. Sacramento- Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-10, So.
-Griffin has proven to be the most dominant player in college basketball and the undoubted number one pick.  He is a double-double machine, a ferocious finisher, and can play facing or with his back to the basket.
Think: Amare Stoudemire

2. Washington – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown, 6-10, Fr.
-Monroe is an outstanding passer for a big guy and is at his best when taking players off the dribble which is a rare skill to find in a 6-10 player.
Think: Chris Bosh

3. L.A. Clippers- Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
-Absolutely owns the paint on the defensive end.  If he is not blocking a shot, he is altering it.  Offensively, his game continues to develop.  He needs to learn how to stay out of foul trouble to be an effective pro.
Think: Ben Wallace, but six inches taller

4. Oklahoma City- James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
-Harden has the ability to take over a game whenever he wants, although he also tends to be too unselfish at times as well.  His offensive repertoire is loaded and is an above average defender even though he played primarily in a 2-3 at ASU.
Think: Paul Pierce

5. Memphis – Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, So.
-A tremendous athlete for his size, Hill can run the floor, hit the mid-range jumper, and attacks the glass.  He will need to add some muscle to bang down low with the post players in the NBA.
Think: LaMarcus Aldridge

6. *Minnesota- Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
-Evans has led the Memphis charge since John Calipari moved him to the point.  He plays like a man with his ability to almost effortlessly get to the basket.  His shot selection is questionable at times and needs to become more consistent from the outside.
Think: Manu Ginobli

7. Golden State- Earl Clark, SF, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
-Clark has really elevated his game during the past few weeks.  He has the potential to be a point forward type player in the NBA, is a freak of an athlete, and has nice range on his jumper.
Think: Lamar Odom

8. ?New York- Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
-The Trojan freshman really came along strong during the final month of the season.  DeRozan is extremely athletic, has a nice mid-range game, and can ‘D’ it up.  His three-point shot needs improvement.
Think: Vince Carter

9. Toronto- Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
-The Blue Devil finally showed us why he was so hyped since coming to Duke.  He has proven he can be a big-time scorer, knocking down shots from the outside or taking it to the basket.  He will likely only get better once he enters the NBA.
Think: Rudy Fernandez

10. New Jersey- Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Flynn just gets it.  He understands how to run the point, when to be a distributor, and when his team needs him to be a scorer.  There might not be a better point guard in college at leading the break.
Think: Raymond Felton

11. Milwaukee- Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
-Jennings is probably counting down the days until the NBA Draft.  He chose to play overseas after academic issues prohibited from going to college and has had a difficult time finding his niche.  Still, his potential should be intriguing to NBA scouts.
Think: Kenny Anderson

12. Indiana- B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
-I am still surprised Mullens decided to go pro.  He would probably be better served returning to the Buckeyes and developing his game.  Based on his athleticism, size, and potential, he is still likely a late lottery pick.
Think: Spencer Hawes

13. Charlotte- Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State, 6-10, So.
-A lengthy forward, Brackins has the size to play the four in the NBA, but not the strength.  He has a nice touch on his shot and can knock down mid-range jumper, but does not have the ideal athleticism to play the three.
Think: Hakim Warrick

14. Phoenix- Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest, 6-9, Fr.
-Aminu is one of those “upside” picks.  Whoever drafts him probably will not see an immediate contribution, but his size and athleticism will certainly be attractive to an NBA team.
Think: Travis Outlaw

15. Detroit- Terrence Williams, SF, Louisville, 6-6, Sr.
-Williams is the definition of versatile.  He attacks the hoop, is a very improved shooter, can rebound, is a great passer, and plays defense.  I think he is a steal of a mid-first round pick.
Think: Gerald Wallace.

16. Chicago- Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
-Budinger’s strength is his versatility.  He can jump out of the gym when around the hoop, stroke it from deep, handle the ball, and play a few positions.  His tendency to disappear during stretches of games is his biggest knock.
Think: Stephen Jackson

17. #Minnesota- Eric Maynor, PG, VCU, 6-3, Sr.
-Maynor is a playmaker on the offensive end, a true floor general, and has good size to play the point in the NBA.  He must continue to become a more consistent shooter.
Think: Antonio Daniels

18. =Philadelphia- Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
-Mills can create his own shot, excels in transition, and is lightning quick off the dribble.  He had a very successful Olympics last summer playing for Australia and caught the eyes of a lot of NBA scouts.
Think: Ramon Sessions

19. Atlanta- Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.
-One of the most aggressive offensive rebounders in college basketball, James is an outstanding athlete.  He shoots the ball well from the perimeter and has an NBA-ready body.
Think: Marvin Williams

20. Dallas- Ty Lawson, PG, UNC, 5-11, Jr.
-Lawson might be the best floor general in college basketball.  He is gifted in creating with the basketball and finding open teammates, and is very quick with the ball and has improved his three-point shot.
Think: Jameer Nelson

21. Utah- Sam Young, G/F, Pitt, 6-6, Sr.
-Young can elevate, hit it from deep, and has a tremendous basketball IQ.  He can take bigger defenders off the dribble and post up smaller guys.  He is not the greatest ball-handler on the perimeter, but is ready to contribute right away.
Think: Michael Finley

22. New Orleans- DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
-Despite underachieving at G-Town this past season, Summers has thrown his name into the draft.  He has an NBA-ready body, is a good slasher, and a decent outside shooter.  I’m not sure how he will match-up athletically with other three’s in the NBA.

23. &Sacramento- A.J. Price, PG, UConn, 6-2, Sr.
When Price is on, he can absolutely light it up from deep.  However when his shot is not on, he tends to be too much of a non-factor.  He is a good decision maker and handles the rock fairly well.
Think: Delonte West

24. Portland- Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
-Smith is fearless when attacking the hoop and thrives on the break.  He is not a great outside shooter and must develop more consistency.  His rebounding and passing really help his stock.
Think: Jeff Green

25. +Oklahoma City- James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
-An athletic forward who can put the ball on the deck and attack the rim.  His frame is ready for the rigor of the NBA, but his shot is not.
Think: Wilson Chandler

26. %Chicago- Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa, 7-0, Jr.
-Jordan has the size and potential that is intriguing.  He is still growing as an offensive players and has average athleticism at best.  He is a good shot blocker and would be a bit of a project.
Think: Theo Ratliff

27. $Memphis- Greivis Vasquez, PG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
-A combo guard, Vasquez has the complete all-around offensive game from handling the ball to lighting it up from deep.  He is not a great defender and needs to add some toughness to contribute at the next level.
Think: Francisco Garcia

28. ^Minnesota- Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU, 6-4, Sr.
-Thornton is a little undersized to play the two in the NBA, but there is no question can kid can flat-out shoot the rock.  What he lacks in size, he makes up for in strength.  He would be worth the risk this late.
Think: Daequan Cook

29. L.A. Lakers- Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC, 6-9, Sr.
-One of the most decorated players in college basketball defines what toughness is inside.  However, the biggest question is how will his game translate into the NBA?  I don’t see him being anything more than an energy guy off the bench at the next level.
Think: Eduardo Najera

30. Cleveland- Darren Collison, PG, UCLA, 6-0, Sr.
-Collison knows how to run an offense and has a lot of success and experience doing so.  He is a smart-decision maker, solid shooter, automatic free-throw shooter, and great on-the-ball defender.  A less than stellar senior season hurt his stock.
Think: Bobby Jackson

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Second Round
31. Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF, 6-4, Sr.
32. Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette, 6-3, Sr.
33. Curtis Jerrells, PG, Baylor, 6-1, Sr.
34. Danny Green, SF, UNC, 6-7, Sr.
35. Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga, 6-11, Sr.
36. Omri Cassipi, SF, Isreal, 6-8, 1988
37. Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
38. Lester Hudson, PG, UT-Martin, 6-3, Sr.
39. Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State, 6-10, Sr.
40. Jonas Jerebko, PF, Sweden, 6-9, 1989
41. Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State, 6-2, PG
42. Dionte Christmas, SG, Temple, 6-5, Sr.
43. Vitor Faverani, F, Brazil, 6-11, 1989
44. Chris Johnson, PF, LSU, 6-11, Sr.
45. Wesley Matthews, SG, Marquette, 6-5, Sr.
46. Robert Vaden, SG, UAB, 6-5, Sr.
47. Tyrese Rice, PG, Boston College, 6-1, Sr.
48. Luigi Datome, SF, Italy, 6-8. 1987
49. Jack McClinton, PG, Miami (FL), 6-1, Sr.
50. Nando de Colo, G, 6-5, France 1987
51. Stefon Jackson, SG, 6-5, UTEP, Sr.
52. Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.
53. Dante Cunningham, F, Villanova, 6-8, Sr.
54. Demarre Carroll, F, Missouri, 6-8, Sr.
55. Jeff Adrien, PF, UConn, 6-7, Sr.
56. Ben Woodside, PG, 5-11, North Dakota State, Sr.
57. Antonio Anderson, SG, Memphis, 6-6, Sr.
58. Jeremy Pargo, PG, Gonzaga, 6-2, Sr.
59. Sergio Llull, G, Spain, 6-3, 1988
60. Robert Dozier, F, Memphis, 6-9, Sr.

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Declared for the Draft:
>Nick Calathes, G, Florida, 6-6, So.
Earl Clark, F, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.
Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
>Roderick Flemings, SF, Hawaii, 6-7, Jr.
James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
>Mac Koshwal, C, DePaul, 6-10, So.
B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.

>has yet to hire an agent

Staying in School:
Trevor Booker, PF, Clemson, 6-7, Jr.
JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue, 6-10, So.
Dexter Pittman, C, Texas, 6-10, Jr.
Evan Turner, SF, Ohio State, So.

Other First Round talent likely to stay in school:
Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990
Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
Jrue Holliday, SG, UCLA, 6-4, Fr.
Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-2, Jr.
DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So.
Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
Austin Daye, SF, 6-10, Gonzaga, So.
Cole Aldrich, F/C, Kansas, 6-10, So.
Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
Kyle Singler, F, Duke, 6-8, So.
Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC, 6-4, Jr.
Derrick Brown, F, Xavier, 6-9, Jr.
Manny Harris, SG, Michigan, 6-5, So.

*Clippers get Minnesota’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protectred) via Marko Jaric trade
?Utah gets New York ’09 1st round pick (top 22 protected) via Phoenix
=Minnesota gets Philadelphia ’09 1st round pick (from Utah –Gordon Giricek trade-top 22 protected) via Rodney Carney trade
&Kings get Houston ’09 1st round pick via Ron Artest trade
#Minnesota gets Miami’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protected) via Ricky Davis trade
+Thunder gets Spurs’ ’09 1st round pick (lottery preotected) via Kurt Thomas trade
%Bulls get lower of Thunder’s ’09 1st round pick (from either SA or Den) via Thabo Sefolosha trade
$Memphis gets Orlando ’09 1st round pick via Rafer Alston trade
^Minnesota gets Boston’s ’09 1st round pick (top 3 protected) via Kevin Garnett trade

College Hoops 101

By: David K.

Welcome to a weekly article at thesportsbank.net where I will give you the 101 on what has happened in the week of college basketball and what is to come in the days ahead.  One week remaining in the season… what am I going to do with myself after next Monday?

Rewind
-First and foremost, I owe TSB.net’s Peter Christian an apology.  In our staff picks at the beginning of the season, Peter picked Villanova to make it to the Elite Eight, and I called him crazy.  Not only did ‘Nova exceed Peter’s expectations, but his boy Scottie Reynolds hit the game-winning shot with a half-second left in what will certainly be a NCAA Tournament highlight that we will all see over and over for the next fifty years.

In all actuality, the Pitt/Nova game probably never should have come down to the Reynolds’ game-winner.  I am not sure if Jay Wright or the inbounder (Reggie Redding) is to blame, but what a terrible decision made late in the game.  Why the Wildcats went for the home run inbounds pass while leading by two with 10.3 seconds left is baffling.  Throw it to your guard, have him get fouled, and go to the free throw line.  Instead, the Hail Mary is picked off; Pitt gets fouled and ties the game at the charity stripe.  I really like Wright and the call was gutsy, but back-fired worse than Happy Gilmore’s puck trick with the golf chick.

-If you watched the Michigan State Sweet 16 game, you probably saw about 613 cutaway shots of Tom Izzo’s wife, Lupe.  While Peter claims she looks like she belongs on an episode of The Sopranos, I cannot help but wonder if she even understands the game of basketball.  At the end of the game when things were very exciting, she sat there with a stoic look on her face as if she did not know what was going on.  Or maybe she has been injected with so much botox that she was trying to smile but was just unable to do so.  Good thing we will get to see 483 more shots of her during the Final Four.

-Big ups to Marquette’s Jerel McNeal who was named a second team All-American.  A well-deserved honor for McNeal and not one that I would have imagined at the beginning of the season.

-Seth Curry, the younger brother of Davidson’s Stephen Curry and nation’s leading scorer among freshman, has decided to transfer from Liberty to pursue opportunities to play against tougher competition.  Curry will likely end up at an ACC school, possibly Virginia Tech where his father played, but I still am going to send him pamphlets about how Marquette is such a fantastic college institution.  (UPDATE: Seth Curry has committed to Duke and will be eligible for the 2010-11 season.  And I just threw up in my mouth.)

-Ohio State freshman center B.J. Mullens has decided to turn pro.  DUMB.  Mullens was the Buckeyes’ sixth man and while he showed steady improvement throughout the season, he is nowhere near ready to contribute in the association.  He still has plenty of potential and is an athletic seven-footer which should still make him a late-lottery/mid first round pick.  If Mullens would have stayed in school, The Ohio State likely would have been a top ten team next season.  The only plus to Mullens’ decision is that he won’t end up on my or Peter’s most hated players in college basketball list next season because he looks like a real doofus and has an Adam Morrison-like porn stache going on.

Fast Forward
NIT Championship, Thursday (6:00)
The NIT Final Four features Baylor vs. San Diego State and Penn State vs. Notre Dame.  I’ll take San Diego State vs. Notre Dame in the title game with the Aztecs taking down the Irish to claim the irrelevant championship.

North Carolina vs. Villanova, Saturday
UNC was my and pretty much everybody else’s pre-season pick to roll all the way to the National Championship, but people cooled off when they actually lost a couple games during conference play.  As much as I enjoy watching Nova and would love to see a Big East team in the Finals, I just don’t think they can knock off the Heels with how dominant Carolina was against Gonzaga and Oklahoma.  UNC is just too big and strong inside with running out different bodies down low.  Nova’s guards will need to play out of their mind for the Cats to pull off the upset.
Prediction: UNC 89, Villanova 76

UConn vs. Michigan State, Saturday
I am not going to lie, as much as I dislike Michigan State, they might be the perfect team to take down a UConn sqaud that has saved its best ball for the tourney.  Sparty has the depth and size inside to compete with Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien and the quickness in their guard play to hang with A.J. Price and Kemba Walker.  The x-factor (pardon the cliche) will be the match-up between the Huskies’ Stanley Robinson and State’s Raymar Morgan.  Then again, if Thabeet gets into early foul trouble, the Spartans could run UConn right out of the arena just like they did to Louisville.  Oh, and Sparty is playing in their backyard in Detroit.
Prediction: Michigan State 73, UConn 65

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The Drive to 225
My drive for watching 225 college basketball games this season has already been completed.  Like I predicted, the dream of reaching 300 was aiming a bit too high.  I’ll settle with around 275.

Games watched through 3/22: 270

Games watched this past week: 14
Davidson at St. Mary’s
Penn State at Florida
Kentucky at Notre Dame
UConn vs. Purdue
Memphis vs. Missouri
Pitt vs. Xavier
Villanova vs. Duke
Syracuse vs. Oklahoma
Louisville vs. Arizona
Kansas vs. Michigan State
UConn vs. Missouri
Villanova vs. Pitt
Louisville vs. Michigan State
North Carolina vs. Oklahoma

2009 NBA Mock Draft

By: David K.

This begins an interesting few weeks.  Now is when we begin to see which underclassmen will be entering the NBA Draft and which will be returning to school.  As the decisions are made, it changes the entire layout of the draft.  These are my projections as to which underclassmen are likely to declare (below you will see a list of who I think will/should stay in school.)  As it is made more concrete as to who is throwing their hat in the ring, we will get a better idea of how the draft might unfold.

1. Sacramento- Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-10, So.
-Griffin has proven to be the most dominant player in college basketball and the undoubted number one pick.  He is a double-double machine, a ferocious finisher, and can play facing or with his back to the basket.
Think: Amare Stoudemire

2. Washington – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown, 6-10, Fr.
-Monroe is an outstanding passer for a big guy and is at his best when taking players off the dribble which is a rare skill to find in a 6-10 player.
Think: Chris Bosh

3. L.A. Clippers- Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.

-Absolutely owns the paint on the defensive end.  If he is not blocking a shot, he is altering it.  Offensively, his game continues to develop.  He needs to learn how to stay out of foul trouble.
Think: Ben Wallace, but six inches taller

4. Memphis – James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
-Harden has the ability to take over a game whenever he wants, although he also tends to be too unselfish at times as well.  His offensive repertoire is loaded and is an above average defender even though he played primarily in a 2-3 at ASU.
Think: Paul Pierce

5. *Minnesota- Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, So.
-A tremendous athlete for his size, Hill can run the floor, hit the mid-range jumper, and attacks the glass.  He will need to add some muscle to bang down low with the post players in the NBA.
Think: LaMarcus Aldridge

6. Oklahoma City- Earl Clark, SF, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.

-Clark has really elevated his game during the past few weeks.  He has the potential to be a point forward type player in the NBA, is a freak of an athlete, and has nice range on his jumper.
Think: Lamar Odom

7. Golden State- Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
-The Blue Devil finally showed us why he was so hyped since coming to Duke.  He has proven he can be a big-time scorer, knocking down shots from the outside or taking it to the basket.  He will likely only get better once he enters the NBA.
Think: Rudy Fernandez

8. Toronto- Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
-Evans has led the Memphis charge since John Calipari moved him to the point.  He plays like a man with his ability to almost effortlessly get to the basket.  His shot selection is questionable at times and needs to become more consistent from the outside.
Think: Manu Ginobli

9. ?New York- Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
-The Trojan freshman has really come along strong during the past month of the season.  DeRozan is extremely athletic, has a nice mid-range game, and can ‘D’ it up.  His three-point shot needs improvement.
Think: Vince Carter

10. Indiana- Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Flynn just gets it.  He understands how to run the point, when to be a distributor, and when his team needs him to be a scorer.  There might not be a better point guard in college at leading the break.
Think: Raymond Felton

11. New Jersey- Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
-Jennings is probably counting down the days until the NBA Draft.  He chose to play overseas after academic issues prohibited from going to college and has had a difficult time finding his niche.  Still, his potential should be intriguing to NBA scouts.
Think: Kenny Anderson

12. Milwaukee- Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
-Budinger’s strength is his versatility.  He can jump out of the gym when around the hoop, stroke it from deep, handle the ball, and play a few positions.  His tendency to disappear at important parts of games is his biggest knock.
Think: Stephen Jackson

13. Charlotte- Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest, 6-9, Fr.
-Aminu is one of those “upside” picks.  Whoever drafts him probably will not see an immediate contribution, but his size and athleticism will certainly be attractive to an NBA team.
Think: Travis Outlaw

14. Phoenix- Terrence Williams, SF, Louisville, 6-6, Sr.
-Williams is the definition of versatile.  He attacks the hoop, is a very improved shooter, can rebound, is a great passer, and plays defense.  I think he is a steal of a mid-first round pick.
Think: Gerald Wallace.

15. Chicago- Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
-Mills can create his own shot, excels in transition, and is lightning quick off the dribble.  He had a very successful Olympics last summer playing for Australia and caught the eyes of a lot of NBA scouts.
Think: Ramon Sessions

16. Detroit- Eric Maynor, PG, VCU, 6-3, Sr.
-Maynor is a playmaker on the offensive end, a true floor general, and has good size to play the point in the NBA.  He must continue to become a more consistent shooter.
Think: Antonio Daniels

17. =Philadelphia- Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.

-One of the most aggressive offensive rebounders in college basketball, James is an outstanding athlete.  He shoots the ball well from the perimeter and has an NBA-ready body.
Think: Marvin Williams

18. #Minnesota- Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
-Lawal is a slightly under-sized power forward who has a nice low-post game.  He is a solid rebounder, decent shot blocker, but doesn’t have much of a perimeter game.
Think: Brandon Bass

19. Atlanta- Sam Young, G/F, Pitt, 6-6, Sr.

-Young can elevate, hit it from deep, and has a tremendous basketball IQ.  He can take bigger defenders off the dribble and post up smaller guys.  He is not the greatest ball-handler on the perimeter, but is ready to contribute right away.
Think: Michael Finley

20. Dallas- Ty Lawson, PG, UNC, 5-11, Jr.
-Lawson might be the best floor general in college basketball.  He is gifted in creating with the basketball and finding open teammates, and is very quick with the ball and has improved his three-point shot.
Think: Jameer Nelson

21. Portland- A.J. Price, PG, UConn, 6-2, Sr.
When Price is on, he can absolutely light it up from deep.  However when his shot is not on, he tends to be too much of a non-factor.  He is a good decision maker and handles the rock fairly well.
Think: Delonte West

22. Utah- Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
-Smith is fearless when attacking the hoop and thrives on the break.  He is not a great outside shooter and must develop more consistency.  His rebounding and passing really help his stock.
Think: Jeff Green

23. New Orleans- Darren Collison, PG, UCLA, 6-0, Sr.
-Collison knows how to run an offense and has a lot of success and experience doing so.  He is a smart-decision maker, solid shooter, automatic free-throw shooter, and great on-the-ball defender.  A less than stellar senior season hurt his stock.
Think: Bobby Jackson

24. +Oklahoma City- Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC, 6-9, Sr.
-One of the most decorated players in college basketball defines what toughness is inside.  However, the biggest question is how will his game translate into the NBA?  I don’t see him being anything more than an energy guy off the bench at the next level.
Think: Eduardo Najera

25. &Sacramento- Greivis Vasquez, PG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
-A combo guard, Vasquez has the complete all-around offensive game from handling the ball to lighting it up from deep.  He is not a great defender and needs to add some toughness to contribute at the next level.
Think: Francisco Garcia

26. %Chicago- James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.

-An athletic forward who can put the ball on the deck and attack the rim.  His frame is ready for the rigor of the NBA, but his shot is not.
Think: Wilson Chandler

27. ^Minnesota- Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette, 6-3, Sr.
-McNeal elevated his game as an all-around offensive threat this season.  He can handle the ball, drive, and is a much improved shooter.  Add that to his defensive abilities and he could be a late-first round steal.
Think: Charlie Bell

28. Orlando- A.J. Ogilvy, F/C, Vanderbilt, 6-11, So.
-The Aussie has a solid, fundamental low post game and a nice touch around the basket.  He is not very physical or athletic which would be a concern at the next level.
Think: Rasho Nesterovic

29. L.A. Lakers- Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU, 6-4, Sr.
-Thornton is a little undersized to play the two in the NBA, but there is no question can kid can flat-out shoot the rock.  What he lacks in size, he makes up for in strength.  He would be worth the risk this late.
Think: Daequan Cook

30. Cleveland- Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa, 7-0, Jr.
-Jordan has the size and potential that is intriguing.  He is still growing as an offensive players and has average athleticism at best.  He is a good shot blocker and would be a bit of a project.
Think: Theo Ratliff

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Second Round
31. Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga, 6-11, Sr.
32. Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF, 6-4, Sr.
33. Curtis Jerrells, PG, Baylor, 6-1, Sr.
34. Danny Green, SF, UNC, 6-7, Sr.
35. Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
36. Omri Cassipi, SF, Isreal, 6-8, 1988
37. Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State, 6-10, Sr.
38. Lester Hudson, PG, UT-Martin, 6-3, Sr.
39. Wesley Matthews, SG, Marquette, 6-5, Sr.
40. Jonas Jerebko, PF, Sweden, 6-9, 1989
41. Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State, 6-2, PG
42. Dionte Christmas, SG, Temple, 6-5, Sr.
43. Vitor Faverani, F, Brazil, 6-11, 1989
44. Chris Johnson, PF, LSU, 6-11, Sr.
45. Dante Cunningham, F, Villanova, 6-8, Sr.
46. Robert Vaden, SG, UAB, 6-5, Sr.
47. Tyrese Rice, PG, Boston College, 6-1, Sr.
48. Luigi Datome, SF, Italy, 6-8. 1987
49. Jack McClinton, PG, Miami (FL), 6-1, Sr.
50. Nando de Colo, G, 6-5, France 1987
51. Stefon Jackson, SG, 6-5, UTEP, Sr.
52. Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.
53. Jeff Adrien, PF, UConn, 6-7, Sr.
54. Demarre Carroll, F, Missouri, 6-8, Sr.
55. Sergio Llull, G, Spain, 6-3, 1988
56. Jeremy Pargo, PG, Gonzaga, 6-2, Sr.
57. Antonio Anderson, SG, Memphis, 6-6, Sr.
58. Jon Brockman, PF, Washington, 6-7, Sr.
59. Ben Woodside, PG, 5-11, North Dakota State, Sr.
60. Robert Dozier, F, Memphis, 6-9, Sr.

Declared for the Draft:
Earl Clark, F, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.

Staying in School:
DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.

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Other First Round talent likely to stay in school:
B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma, 6-3, Fr.
Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
Jrue Holliday, SG, UCLA, 6-4, Fr.
Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-2, Jr.
Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State, 6-10, So.
DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So.
Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
Austin Daye, SF, 6-10, Gonzaga, So.
Cole Aldrich, F/C, Kansas, 6-10, So.
Nick Calathes, G, Florida, 6-5, So.
Kyle Singler, F, Duke, 6-8, So.
Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC, 6-4, Jr.
Derrick Brown, F, Xavier, 6-9, Jr.
Manny Harris, SG, Michigan, 6-5, So.

*Clippers get Minnesota’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protectred) via Marko Jaric trade
?Utah gets New York ’09 1st round pick (top 22 protected) via Phoenix
=Minnesota gets Philadelphia ’09 1st round pick (from Utah –Gordon Giricek trade-top 22 protected) via Rodney Carney trade
&Kings get Houston ’09 1st round pick via Ron Artest trade
#Minnesota gets Miami’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protected) via Ricky Davis trade
+Thunder gets Spurs’ ’09 1st round pick (lottery preotected) via Kurt Thomas trade
%Bulls get lower of Thunder’s ’09 1st round pick (from either SA or Den) via Thabo Sefolosha trade
$Memphis gets Orlando ’09 1st round pick via Rafer Alston trade
^Minnesota gets Boston’s ’09 1st round pick (top 3 protected) via Kevin Garnett trade

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Marquette NCAA Tournament Live Blog

by: David K. and Quentin

(11:25 a.m.)  It’s go time.  After a season that started out with very high expectations and even realistic thoughts of a trip to the Final Four, Marquette begins their NCAA Tournament run with not a lot of hype due to losing five of their last six games.  Of course the Dominic James injury played a major factor in that losing stretch, but MU has played well and hung with five of the top teams in the country in those losses.  I will be live blogging during the Marquette/Utah State opening round game.  Please follow along and post comments and I’ll be sure to respond to any and all questions and/or comments.

(11:30 a.m.) Tip time… CBS is obsessed with the top angle of the opening tip and then zooming in the NCAA logo at half court.  My prediction: MU 78 Utah State 65

(11:33 a.m.) MU with all team shaved head look!  Not sure how I feel about that.  They look kinda goofy.  But if it helps them win, then I am all for it.  Why did Dom not shave his head?  SHOCKER… a terrible charge call on Dwight Burke to start the game.

(11:36 a.m.) Wesley rocking the headband, not Wayne Chism style, but I still like it.  The Boise crowd seems to be really pro-Utah State thus far.

(11:38 a.m.) From Quentin: “They announced during the ‘Cuse game that Stephen F. Austin has a guy who is 27.  The 26-year old on Utah State must be relieved.”

(11:41 a.m.) From Quentin: “Dood just said DJ was one of his favorites, guess that means we’ll constantly be reminded how much we miss him.”  “Utah State’s PG is a 23-year old junior.  Going on a Mormon mission is the prep school of Utah.”  Q is like Lazar right now and I am the rest of marquette, just getting out-produced.  Lazar has all ten of our points.  I love Lazar.

(11:45 a.m.) From Q: “So they’re running the Tom Crean ‘We have 400 offensive plays’ strategy.  I wonder if 394 of them are the 3-man weave at the top of the key before chucking a three as the shot-clock expires too.” 

(11:46 a.m.) Ah, the Travis Diener offense.  I think the whole “flash cards of plays” is very hig-schoolish.  Jimmy’s rocking the headband too.  By the way, every team should have a guy named “Jimmy” on their team.  It’s just fun to say.

(11:50 a.m.)  For the record, all times are posted in CST.  Sorry Acra.  From Q: “With the headband, Jimmy now looks like a cross between Wayne Chism and Landry from Friday night Lights”

(11:53 a.m.) Lazar just sprited a dunk.  If you don’t know what “spriting” a dunk is, it’s when you have a easy dunk but brick it off the back of the rim or don’t get high enough and get it stuck on the front of the rim.  Wesley just did a brilliant flop and drew the offensive foul call.  Well played Wesley.

(11:55 a.m.) I think they’ve mentioned Dwyane Wade’s name about 12 times already.

(11:56 a.m.) From Q: “For the 1247th time, I love these kids.  They seem to have come out with the exact attitude that I hoped for.”

(12:00 p.m.) 19-9 Marquette at the under 8 minute time-out.  Marquette’s defense is apparently pretty good right now as Dood (the color analyst) has mentioned about 14 times.  Plus, Utah State looks like a team that was really good in a really terrible conference.  Oh wait, that’s exactly what they were.  I heard Woody Paige picked Utah State to upset Marquette.  When I found that out, I became even more confident MU would win.)

(12:05 p.m.) Glad to see Syracuse is taking care of business, up 16 at the half.  I just had my DVR rewind of the game when Jerel blocked the dude’s lay-up by pinning it against the backboard.  We are playing dumb right now.

(12:10 p.m.) Lazar is kind of a black hole when he puts the ball on the deck, but it’s okay today.  Why are we doing 17-foot pull-up jumpers on fast breaks?  Isn’t one of our strengths attacking the basket in transition and getting lay-ups or fouls?

(12:12 p.m.) From Q: I would love to see ‘Rel get a couple of shots to drop.  He seems to be short-arming everything.”

(12:15 p.m.) I’m surprised Utah State doesn’t have more players rocking the t-shirt under the jersey.  It’s well-documented how much I hate that look.

(12:17 p.m.) I just said, “Uh-oh!  Oh, it’s only Cubillan” when there was a Marquette player grabbing his ankle.  That sounds kind of terrible, but is really the proper reaction.

(12:19 p.m.) From Q: “Big last minute and a half here.  Need to calm things down.”

(12:21 p.m.) Yeah, we’re lucky to be up eight at the half.  They looked pretty out of sorts in the last couple minutes.  Thankfully, Utah State can’t hit a shot.

(12:25 p.m.) My All-T-Shirt team: (C) Arinze Onuaku-Cuse (PF) Matt Howard-Butler (SF) James Harden-Arizona State (SG) Manny Harris-Michigan (PG) Jonny Flynn-Cuse

(12:33 p.m.) Q’s Halftime Thoughts: “Frustrated.  We’re letting them hang around and their fans are coming alive.  A great defensive effort but something needs to be done about ‘Rel.  I recall distinctly 4 great looks that he didn’t knock down.  When that’s happening, maybe we should ask someone else to take the isolation play?  Seems like we’re trying to get him started but it just isn’t happening.  The effort is there and we don’t seem to be playing tight so I feel like we hit a few shots, we’ll get things going.”

(12:40 p.m.) I’m feeling pretty good considering ‘Rel and Wesley were both cold in the first half.  We need to attack the basket more.  And it helps that Mo starts the second half with a three.

(12:45 p.m.) Utah State within three and Marquette looks lost on offense.  Not a good start to the second half.  Let’s figure it out here, huh?

(12:50 p.m.) 31-28, at the under 16:00 time-out.  Lazar is carrying us.  And yes, I am going to refer to Marquette as “we” and “us.”  If anyone sees Jerel McNeal, can you please ask him to show up in Boise?  Thanks.

(12:55 p.m.) A guy from Utah State just badly bricked a jumper and the announced said, “He tried to bank it in,” and I think he was serious.  Hoop and some harm for Utah State and we are tied.  Ugh.

(12:59 p.m.) Uh-oh, Wesley’s down and holding his shoulder or elbow.  That should help his broke jump shot and our lack of offense.

(1:06 p.m.) 36-35 10:47 left  Wesley’s ok.  His offense is not.  Nor is Marquette’s rebounding which is also non-existent.

(1:09 p.m) From Q: “HEY! A good call on the attempt for a charge.  I want their big guy shooting, not Quayle.”

(1:10 p.m.) 41-38, 9:09 left  Lazar hits a three and we seem to have some momentum until typical white under-sized shooting guard from Utah State drains a triple.  ‘Cuse wins.  Now we don’t have to hear anything about tired legs.

(1:11 p.m.) From Q: “And Quayle hits a three.”

(1:14 p.m.) 43-40 7:39 left  Lazar makes Bob Knight proud by using a pump fake to free up a 16-footer which he makes.  Aggies just won’t go away as their 84-year old center gets a bucket and foul.

(1:16 p.m.)  Utah State has a guy named Pooh.  Somewhere Pooh Richardson is angry. 

(1:17 p.m.) Utah State’s fundamentals are killing us and Wesley and ‘Rel miss back-to-back lay-ups.  Quayle hits a three, Utah State takes the lead for the first time.  We can’t buy a basket.  I’m getting angry.

(1:17 p.m.) From Q: “Quayle just hit another three.  I’m watching the last 5 and a half minutes with my hands over my eyes.”

(1:18 p.m.) Another Utah State three.  MU down 49-43.  I’m getting really angry and don’t want to check any of the four text messages I just received.

(1:21 p.m.) From Q: “The DirecTV commercial about using DVR from your phone: It’s a Tuesday and the game he wants to see starts at 7:30.  Who’s at a dinner party on a Tuesday?  How does said party almost end at 7:20.” 

(1:22 p.m.) I’m just glad it’s not the Fast and Furious commercial for the 67th time.

(1:24 p.m.) Quayle has four fouls.  ATTACK HIM!!!!

(1:26 p.m.) Why did it take Marquette 37 minutes to figure out that they should attack the basket and draw fouls.  Utah State just called “Spur 2” which thankfully means missing a three that goes out of bounds to Marquette.

(1:29 p.m.) From Q: “Suddenly, Wilkinson is Luke Harangody.”

(1:30 p.m.) I just threw up in my mouth A LOT.

(1:33 p.m.) From Q: “Ok, since I have an awful track record on jinxing these things.  I now am officially afraid of Wilkinson”

(1:35 p.m.) From Q: “What is the guy (announcer)?  He said “no” to that one before it even got to the backboard.  AND HE THINKS HE INTENDED TO USE THE BOARD?!?!?!!”

(1:37 p.m.) Ok, my computer just froze.  CBS switched off the Marquette game during important free throws.  Quayle and Jimmy fouled out.  Jerel showed up to make a play.  Marquette has hit free throws.  Some guy on Utah State just banked a three.  MU up 56-54 19.3 seconds left after nearly throwing the inbounds pass away.  I’m having a heart attack.  Seriously.

(1:38 p.m.) From Q: “Yeah, I feel like the world is spinning too fast right now.”

(1:39 p.m.) From Q: “Pooh is allowed to tackle someone?”

(1:40 p.m.) We hit our free throws.  We win 58-57.  I feel like I just ran a marathon or as a friend texted me, “had an orgie with the Swedish cross country skiing team.”  Marquette was lucky to win that.  Jerel and Wesley should be hugging Lazar all day and buying him some “entertainment” for the evening (assuming they have “entertainment” in Boise.) 

(1:43 p.m.) GO CORNELL!!!!

Marquette-UConn Exchange

By: Quentin and David K.

TSB.net’s Quentin and David K. share their thoughts as they watch Marquette’s biggest game of the season, and a true test to see just how competitive MU can be come March Madness.

(Q) One minute in and we just heard that Buzz and Tom Crean “played phone tag all day.” Sounds about right for Indiana.

(DK) I think I just vomited a little bit in my mouth.  Do you think Buzz sends Crean fire extinguishers once a week just in case he decides to light himself on fire?

(Q) Just wondering: where does UCONN get their offense from?

(DK) We can’t let A.J. Price go off.  UConn is at their best when he is feeling it.

(Q) Isn’t the Marquette-gets-87%-of-its-offense-from-its-starters a bit overdone? How many teams have 4 guys who can put up 25+ on a given night?

(DK) What?  We don’t have a bench?  Really?

(Q) 30 seconds after we were told Stanley Robinson can’t shoot, Jimmy Butler fouls him on a jump shot pump-fake from beyond the free-throw line. Fantastic.

(DK) I am going to try and avoid making any jokes about Jim Calhoun’s press conference meltdown this past weekend.

(Q) 17:00 (left) – Marquette seems to be playing kind of dumb so far. Burke took a 12-footer which missed badly, the aforementioned Butler foul, giving up an easy alley-oop. I think it’s safe to say we’re a little too fired up right now.

(DK) Dwight Burke should never shoot the ball unless it is a dunk or free throw.

(Q) 14:36 – Dickie V just said “trifector.” Totally unrelated, but great moment on the BS Report today when the Sports Guy mentioned personalities on a certain network that have grown to be parodies of their former selves.

(Q) 12:38 – Props to Dan Shulman for being the first announcer I’ve heard that recognized that though Dominic’s scoring has dropped, he is a far better player now than he’s ever been.

(DK) Speaking of Dom, why has he been on the bench for the last four minutes?

(Q) 11:30 – Butler gets fouled again. Some good minutes from him thus far.  Just caught myself watching a commercial and remembered this is actually DVRd and I’m behind the live broadcast. YES!  Thabeet is back in for UCONN, could be some big minutes coming up.

(DK) Don’t even get me started about my affection for DVR.


(Q) 10:01 –The “Buzz sent tons of letters to coaches” story makes an appearance!

(Q) 9:14 – ESPN stops my heart with news that Dominic is out for the game. I wondered why Acker was getting so many minutes. I’m already rationalizing: yes, it’s a huge loss but it’s not the end of the world. Acker is a good backup and this gives more freedom to Jerel and Wesley. Defensively, it’s a big loss, of course. I’ve almost convinced myself that I feel better.

(DK) Yeah, I’m not all that concerned.  He’s our fourth most important player.

(DK) Lazar just hit a three to put MU up 26-22 to which TSB.net frequent commenter Jason Moe, who am I watching the game with says, “Flame on with your Junior High Name.”

(Q) 8:41 – Wesley dunks to put MU up 6, 28-22. Dickie V gives us the old “that was a good TO!” line. Of course, neither Crean nor Buzz ever calls those types of timeouts, especially on the road. Not sure what that means, just an observation.

(DK) Huge that Thabeet has pretty much been a non-factor thus far.

(Q) 8:27 – Stanley Robinson hits a three.  I thought he couldn’t shoot?

(Q) 7:24 – Thabeet with his third straight possession with a block as there’s contact between he and Wesley.  Seemed like something should’ve been called there.

(DK) Totally a foul.  And my apologies for jinxing us by saying Thabeet has been a non-factor.  They just showed Dickie V signing autographs at Marquette’s Golden Eagle Shop to which Moe responded, “Tell him to hook us up with some Hooters.”  I love Moe.  Speaking of Dickie V, he just said after a Thabeet dunk, “There’s no defense to stop that slam jam bam.”  More vomiting in my mouth.

(Q) 5:53 – I simply cannot judge offensive fouls anymore. I’m so used to them being overcalled that I’m not sure what exactly constitutes a valid one anymore. Lazar took one on Robinson that seemed ok.

(Q) 4:20 – It sounds like this mini-controversy with Jim Calhoun centers around the idea that he should give back some of his salary b/c the state of Connecticut is broke and had to fire some people. Is he paid by the state? I can’t imagine he is so why is this an issue? Just seems like some hack political activist trying to get noticed. Of course, Dick and Dan back Calhoun up b/c he and his wife donate a lot of money, as if that has anything to do with anything.

(Q) 3:52 – UCONN is up 10 and have all the momentum right now.

(DK) A 16-0 run will do that.  Did Calhoun give some of that $12 million that UConn’s program brings in to the refs because they are getting every call.  Not bad that the first Calhoun joke came 16 minutes into the game.

(Q) :47 – A 40-year old man just came off the bench for UCONN and hit a three! Thabeet looks 14, Stanley Robinson looks 30 and whoever this guy is has to be older than everyone on the bench except Calhoun. You win 800 games, you learn how to do it with kids of all ages I suppose.

(DK) I have watched A LOT of UConn this year and never seen this 40-year old Harrelson character play a single minute.

(Q) Down 43-37 at the half.  Overall, an up and down first half for Marquette in which they started slow, came on strong, then faded a bit. This one’s got all the …

(DK) Yeah, I feel like we should be down a lot more than six.  I’ll finish what you started… this is shaping up to be a great finish.

2ND HALF

(Q) Oh my. Price just crossed-over Jerel and gave him the “I’m disgusted with you” look before hitting the jumper. I am willing to admit that I love when guys do that

(DK) ESPN just announced Dom has a broken fifth metatarsal and it out for the game.  Ok, now I’m concerned…How long will he be out? Until the Big East Tournament? For the Year? Not good.

(Q) – After hearing that news, my eyes look as glossed over and bloodshot as Dominic’s right now. Apparently, he wasn’t the only one in the locker room crying as MU starts the second half looking totally disinterested. This might get ugly.

(Q) Looks like we got past that bit of lethargy and are back in the game at the first timeout of the second half. We needed those few buckets badly.

(DK) 15:58 Price just bombed his sixth three of the game.  We might want to think about guarding him.

(DK) 12:07 ‘Rel is starting to get that swag.  Wesley hits two free throws and MU is up one.  By the way, Moe just found a toy that makes a noise you would expect to hear at an arena after a made free throw and hits it anytime MU sinks one from the charity stripe.  You should all be jealous Moe is my friend.

(DK) 10:54 Tied at 65… This is turning into a Jerel vs. A.J. showdown.

(Q) Jerel seems to have accepted the challenge of being a leader with DJ out and is doing everything he can to fire up his ‘mates. For the 1,249th time this season: I freaking love this team.

(DK) 9:05 Thabeet and one… They are killing us on the boards.  No real surprise though.

(DK) 6:13 Foul on Burke… seriously?  UConn is getting every call.

(Q) The crowd seems to have officially lost its mind. Regular fans aren’t even sitting down anymore. I can’t imagine how great it would be to be in the Bradley Center right now. What an amazing game.

(DK) 4:32 Stanley Robinson just had his 73rd baseline dunk of the game.  What a crappy game for him to have a career night.  Another dumb foul by Marquette … UConn up 84-74.

(Q) UCONN is getting to every loose ball and rebound. I’m going to have nightmares of Stanley Robinson dunking tonight.

(DK) 2:53 Lazar offensive foul on a crucial possession with MU within five, saw that coming from a mile away.

(Q) There was no denying that one. As soon as he started stumbling toward the hoop, everything slowed down and you knew it was coming.

(DK) 1:15 A.J. three gives UConn the 89-81 lead and pretty much clinches the win.

(Q) – Glad we got to see the crucial play of the game with half the screen taken up by Jim Calhoun. Did you know that winning 800 games puts you in “pretty select company”, according to Dickie V? Apparently, simply having the 6th-most wins in D-I history wouldn’t prove that to you.

(DK) Tough loss especially with ESPN confirming that Dom’s career as a Golden Eagle is over.  A little surprising considering I fractured my 5th metatarsal in 7th grade and was only out 3 weeks.  Not sure how I want to digest this injury.  Our bench is now even thinner and what had the makings of being a very special season just took a major hit.  The hope is not gone, but this definitely hurts.  I feel terrible for Dom.  It reminds me of when Travis Diener suffered a broken wrist with a few games left in his senior season and ended up falling short of breaking MU’s all-time scoring record.  I’m going to call it a night and drink my sorrows away.

(Q) I’m a mess. I hadn’t really considered the thought that we weren’t going to win that game. And we had the opportunities, but every loose ball and rebound went to the Huskies in the last 8 minutes. Size was certainly a factor, combined with the fact that we just looked too ragged on the boards. I’m hoping against hope for better news in the morning on DJ. I agree that we can still make some noise but it would be callous to pretend losing DJ isn’t a huge hit to this team. His growth and willingness to change his role has been a major part of the success this year’s team has had. Acker isn’t much of a shooter but that willingness to pass should help Jerel, Wesley and Lazar. I was really impressed with his on-ball defense tonight as well. Where this really hurts though is the lack of depth we already had. I like our chances in the tourney more than I do in these next 2 road games. I’m off to the LOST island to forget this…

The Stock Report

By David K.

A weekly update of whose NBA Draft stock is rising and falling

BUY:

Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette, Sr, 6-3

If McNeal was 6-5, he would be a lottery pick.  But because he is undersized to play the two in the NBA and not a true point guard, he is viewed as many as a second round prospect.  McNeal has expanded his offensive repertoire.  He is deadly off the dribble, creates his own shot, has bumped his three-point percentage from 30% last season to almost 45% this year, and is averaging 23.5 ppg in conference play.  Plus, he is a past Big East Defensive Player of the Year award winner so you know he will bring it on the defensive end.  If he is not a first round selection, someone is going to get a steal of a second round pick.
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Da’Sean Butler, SF, West Virginia, Jr, 6-7

A 43-point performance against Villanova last week was definitely an attention-getter.  He is a versatile swingman who can play in the post and is shooting 40% from downtown.  Butler likely will not turn pro after this season, but should be a potential mid-first round pick in 2010.


Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, Jr, 6-7

My biggest knock on Budinger has been his tendency to disappear during stretches of games.  During Zona’s current seven-game win streak, Chase has shown a good balance of asserting himself as well as getting teammates involved.  He has a pure shot from the outside, can handle the ball, and is one of the best finishers in college hoops.  He is shooting almost 60% from the floor in his last four games and reminded scouts why he deserves to be a late lottery pick.


Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF, Sr, 6
-4

Taylor is one of the best scorers that you have probably never heard of.  He is fifth in the nation in scoring, scored 35 and 38 points in his last two games, and could very easily sneak into the first round.  He does not have the ideal size for an NBA two-guard, but is a potential sleeper prospect come draft day.

SELL:

Jrue Holliday, G, UCLA, Fr, 6-3
Holliday is no where near ready to turn pro.  He has scored just 14 points on 6 of 19 shooting in his last three games including a goose-egg in the Bruins’ loss at Arizona State.  He has the skill-set to be a good pro down the road, but would be pretty foolish to leave school after his freshman campaign.

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Chris Johnson, PF, LSU, Sr, 6-11

Johnson has the size and athleticism that is desirable in a big.  Problem is he’s so rail thin that he gets abused down low by physical post players.  This was made evident when Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado owned him last week.  Johnson fouled out in 16 minutes and was held without a point, though he did block four shots.  He is worth the risk of a second round pick, but will need to bulk up if he hopes to stick on any NBA roster.