Is Tyreke Evans the next Big Thing?


By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

I wouldn’t call it “love at first sight”, but when I was in Milwaukee for the 2008 McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball game, I was enamored by what I saw.  At the time, Tyreke Evans was undecided as to where he would play his college basketball, but I knew that his impact at whatever University was fortunate enough to land him would be felt immediately.

That certainly was the case as Evans eventually became the catalyst for John Calipari’s dribble-drive motion offense at Memphis.  A few weeks into the season, Coach Cal made the decision to put the ball in Evans’ hands and let him run the team as their point guard instead of playing him at the two; a move that catapulted the Tigers back into the national title picture after they had fallen out of the Top 25. “I felt comfortable getting my teammates the ball making other people better. I think I’m a better player with the ball in my hands, but I’ve also been playing the two all my life. So either one, it won’t really matter to me,” Evans said at the NBA Draft Combine.

It was no surprise that Evans was a “one and done” at Memphis.  If the NBA didn’t have their current rule, Evans likely would have made the jump from high school straight into the NBA.  And you wouldn’t have blamed him for doing so.  His physique is NBA-ready as demonstrated by his measurements at the NBA combine; 6’5” in shoes, 220 pounds with a 6’11” wingspan, the longest of any guard prospect in the draft.  Evans’ ability to attack the basket seems almost effortless, to the point where I have no problem comparing his game to that of a young Dwyane Wade.  (That’s quite the comparison coming from a Marquette grad.)  Similar to Wade, Evans has a fearless mentality when taking the ball to the basket and tremendous instincts when it comes to scoring.

“I studied Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady. They were two of my favorite players growing up. But I watch LeBron, D. Wade now everybody and try to take a little piece of their moves,” Evans said before later adding that T Mac is the probably the most accurate player to compare him to.

Evans also has the same knocks against him that Wade did when coming out of college; most notably the inconsistency with his jumper and questionable shot selection.  Like most young college players, both of those areas should improve over time as Evans matures.  The former Tiger is also sometimes careless with the basketball, often trying to do much by himself which resulted in a less than desirable 1.1/1 assist-to-turnover ratio.tyreke-evans

Evans is still learning the importance of being a nuisance on the defensive end.  He has a great read on the ball and uses his length to get in passing lanes and create fastbreak opportunities off steals.  His strength and size also allows him to be physical against equally strong opponents.  If the work is put in at the next level, Evans could develop into a Wade-type defender, able to be a factor on the perimeter or in the paint.

Since the lottery was determined, I have thought Evans would be a perfect fit in Minnesota.  The T-Wolves already have a combo guard in Randy Foye, but Evans could step onto that team and take over some of the ball-handling duties, opening up Foye for more perimeter shots.  Evans could potentially go as high as #4 to Sacramento and won’t slip past Toronto who owns the ninth pick.

While the comparisons to Dwyane Wade are admittedly quite hefty, I have no doubt that ten years from now when we look back at the NBA Draft class of 2009, Evans will be one of the top 3 players to come out of this class.

Derrick Rose Explains his Flashing of Gang Sign


By Paul M. Banks

As if the University of Memphis needed more bad PR. Headlines surrounding the program lately have been dominated by questions over whether former player and current Chicago Bull star Derrick Rose had someone take his SAT for him; as well as other stories of institutionalized corruption and malfeasance within the Memphis Tigers family.

Then the USC scandal broke and the men of Troy took the spotlight off the basketball mercenaries (well, maybe that’s a bit unfair- mercenaries are actually paid) affiliated with Memphis. So just when everyone had forgotten about Rose’s possibly cheating and coasting his way through his one year of school (seriously, doesn’t this mandated one year of college in order to get drafted rule seem even more incredibly stupid now?) we were reminded that “every Rose has its thorn.” Apologies to the ’80s hair band Poison.

I’ll let Derrick Rose explain the picture above in his own words. This is a statement released from the Bulls at 5pm  Thursday June 11th.

“Recently, a photo has been circulating on the Internet which appears to depict me flashing a gang sign.  This photo of me was taken at a party I attended in Memphis while I was in school there, and was meant as a joke…a bad one, I now admit.  I want to emphatically state, now and forever, that Derrick Rose is anti-gang, anti-drug, and anti-violence.  I am not, nor have I ever been, affiliated with any gang and I can’t speak loudly enough against gang violence, and the things that gangs represent.

In posing for this picture, I am guilty of being young, naive and of using extremely poor judgment.  I sincerely apologize to all my fans for my mistake.  I pride myself on being a good citizen, and role model, that young people can look up to and I want to urge all my young fans to stay away from gangs and gang-related activities.”

The image of Rose wilts from a minor gaffe that seems slightly offensive at worst, juvenile at best. Of course, this will blow over in a few days and Bulls fans will go back to having a man-crush on him. In the bigger picture, it’s yet another lesson about life in the internet/web 2.0/social media era. Remember, there are cell phone cameras and Blackberrys around everywhere you go, and if you get caught doing something that’s unfavorable to your public perception, it’ll spread like a virus.

Big Ten & Memphis Match Made in Heaven

By Peter Christian

About a week ago I had a revelation. A true vision that was so perfect it nearly made me cry in my car while driving into work. I have no idea why the thought penetrated the gray matter that is my brain, but the fact remains, it did.

For at least the last fifteen years there has been rumblings and whispers about the Big Ten athletic conference wanting to add a 12th team. The school that was always mentioned as a possibility was Notre Dame because of its natural and historic rivalries with Indiana, Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State, but financially it never made sense for the football program (they had their own TV contract, set their own schedule and had their own clause written into the Bowl Alliance and BCS agreements) and the basketball team was already a card carrying member of the Big East. Not to mention the fact that Notre Dame in the Big Ten would have just felt wrong. They are an elitist bunch of assholes that make the pretentious fans at Michigan and Ohio State look and sound ho-hum.

However, that still left the Big Ten a team short. Why does the conference need to add another team, you ask?

Twelve teams were needed for symmetry. Twelve teams were needed to divide the conference into divisions so that the conference could create a Big Ten Championship for football. Twelve teams would also help the conference in basketball to match up with the ACC during the conferences annual Big Ten/ACC challenge. It would be more fun to see the conference tournament feature a bracket that people can actually visualize without studying it for two and half hours.

Still answering the why left the who unanswered. There were possibilities of looking at some of the MAC schools, but they were far too small to make the step up. Which other non-BCS conference school could possibly step into the Big Ten and compete in both football and basketball immediately. Which school had the enrollment and the ability to recruit talent that could consistently match up?

There is only one possibility:

University of Memphis!!!

Memphis has a great basketball program which is not debatable, however the knock on them each year heading into the NCAA tournament is the fact that they play below average competition once the Conference USA season begins. A jump to the Big Ten would solve that quite easily. Plus it would definitely help the program’s already great recruiting reputation. A high school star that is on the fence to go to Memphis because of the lack of competition and subsequent lack of coverage would be swayed to be a Tiger if they were on national television every other week playing the likes of Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin.

The benefits would not be exclusive to only Memphis however. The Big Ten could finally align into two divisions (likely an East and West, with Memphis joining the West) and would also have another elite program to add to the top of their rankings. Gone would be the days of one elite program and four or five dark horses going to the NCAA tournament, the conference could confidently send two title contending teams while providing a handful of other competition tested teams.

On the football side of the equation, the Tigers would come in with a little less clout but would still boast the same number of bowl appearances as Indiana, Northwestern and Illinois combined. Plus it isn’t too far fetched to think that Memphis could corner the market on recruits from the South vs. the other Big Ten schools which could elevate the Tigers’ football program in a hurry. As for the conference (football-wise), this situation is a dream come true. Finally the Big Ten would be poised to set up their own Conference Championship (a proven cash cow for the SEC and Big 12). Think of how exciting an early December game to determine who goes to the Rose Bowl would be! Snow falling on Soldier Field with two sets of raucous fans on a chilly December night? Just the thought of it gives me goosebumps.

For now, this is simply a pipe dream. However, I’m hoping that with a little effort and a bit of momentum that I can lead the loyal readers of to the steps of the Big Ten Conference Commisioner James Delaney’s office to get this vision to be something more than just an amazing idea. Until then, start the whispers and we can build from there!