Archive for February, 2012

Sweat rolls down the face of Miami Heat’s LeBron James during a break in play against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half of their NBA basketball game in Milwaukee, Wisconsin February 1, 2012. REUTERS/Darren Hauck (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

    

By Marcus Shockley

The NBA All-Star game hasn’t been interesting to me in some time. Over the years, the NBA as a product has become harder and harder to watch, and to be blunt the only time it’s really interesting is when the playoffs roll around. But this year, as the story line became Lebron making a crucial turnover at the end of the game and therefore continuing to fulfill his ever-growing legacy of fourth quarter disappearances, I could not help but wonder how it is that writers and fans actually take these games in all seriousness.

Look, if you like the NBA All-Star Game, that’s great, and the whole point of the game is to show off all of the NBA’s brightest stars and best athletes under one roof, in one game. It is not part of the season. It does not count in the record column and the stats are not part of the player’s averages. Defense is often non-existent, but who would want to watch an NBA All-Star game without dunks or scoring?

There’s nothing wrong with the NBA All-Star Game, it’s a good time and despite people talking down the dunk contest, they still watch it. It was only a year ago that Blake Griffin jumped over a car; as an aside, it’s interesting how people who have never dunked and never will dunk are so quickly dismissive of the amazing, but hey, that’s the business the NBA is in.

I’ve been critical of Lebron since long before his collapse in the playoffs against Boston two years ago. I see his approach to the game to be a perfect example of what the shoe company deals in big time AAU (especially in Lebron’s high school days) have created, a player whose been coached and trained his entire career to look at winning as being able to sell more product, not winning titles.

But now that people have soured on Lebron, every opportunity to downgrade him is seen as part of his legacy. Missing a crucial pass in the All-Star Game? Come on, that’s hardly important. It’s practically a pick up game under bright lights where the score barely matters and no one could tell you which team won in 1990 or 1995 without having to look it up.

Complaining about a turnover in the All-Star game? Really? The only people who should be caring that much are the people with money on the game, because they are foolish enough to actually bet on an All-Star Game. Everybody else? Just sit back and enjoy the show.

    

By James Blackburn

Wake Forest wins 85-56
Box Score

Game Recap/Thoughts

1st Half

• Wake comes out strong- 2 early scores and several stops in a row
• Boston College has 0 offensive rebounding, even against a poor rebounding Wake Forest team.
• Neither team has much interior defense.
• Wake has taken the 7 pt. lead with some sloppy play by the Eagles.
• Wake takes a 38-29 lead into half.
• The Deacons are out running- several dunks in transition- capped off by a huge alley-oop slam by McKie.

2nd Half

• Wake has stayed in control of this game throughout, still scoring consistently and getting stops.
• CJ Harris is playing the PG role a good bit this half and is doing a good job scoring and creating.
• BC is really struggling on the defensive end- giving up multiple open shots. They are getting burnt on the P/R repeatedly.
• TO’s are killing BC right now…..add that to their inability to score the basketball and they find themselves down 17 with 9 to go.
• Boston College just subbed out all 5 players- down 68-44 with 7 minutes to go.
• This game is over- Wake Fans are all ready heading to the isles- Wake is up 27 pts. With 4 to go.
• Best performance from Wake all season.

Scouting Reports

Wake Forest

CJ Harris (G, 6’3”, JR)

Consistent shooter from 3 and midrange- showed ability to come off staggered screens and catch and shoot- gets feet set, but has a slow release. Excellent change of speed dribble used to get to basket- where he can finish with contact. Shifty. Showing some extra bounce/more juice in step tonight- had a steal at midcourt and finished with a lefty slam over defender. Number 1 option for Wake Forest- makes them go- scores and creates. Speed is a weakness when talking about going to the next level. His understanding of the game is impressive. Plays the passing lanes well. Can create own shot- patient- can play on the ball or off the ball. Has a shot at the next level but doesn’t really have a lot that translates to pro game besides his 3 pt. shooting and IQ- still not a true PG and will not be able to play the 2G at pro level. Still has another year to improve speed and become more of a playmaker- has shown decent passing ability, but still has a scorer’s mindset. Deceptively athletic, strong, and versatile guard. One of the best all-around games I have seen from Harris this season, showed his athleticism, ability to keep dribble, some playmaking skills, shooting ability, and ability to get to rim and finish. Finished with 23 points and 4 assists today.

Travis McKie (F, 6’7”, SO)

Can hit the set 3 and has the ability to put ball on the floor and go by people- strong slasher, but has the tendency to get out of control at times. Active defensively and on the boards. Good shooter when he keeps shot up, tends to flatten out and misses short when he gets tired. Athletic. Would be somewhat of a tweener at NBA level- will have to play the SF position- will struggle guarding a 3 in the NBA- more of an undersized 4 now. Good FT shooter- good arc/rotation. Really has it going today- confidence is showing. Good finisher at rim – great body control. Needs to improve left hand. Guarded and was defended by a similar player in Ryan Anderson, BC’s best player and freshman. Did a solid job on both sides of the ball- better shooter and more comfortable handling ball on perimeter than Anderson. Finished with 21 pts and 6 rebounds in a big win today.

Boston College

Ryan Anderson (F, 6’8”, FR)

Tough/aggressive- can bang inside and finished through McKie several times tonight on the block . Got caught out of position several times on defense- freshman mistakes- matched up with Travis McKie- got caught ball watching and needs to do a better job staying down in defensive position. Good slasher- can get to the rim and finish- good body control. Looked shaky tonight from FT line this game (going 2-9 today)- but has good form and is shooting 75% for year from line. Great touch around basket- can hit the set midrange jumper. Can use his left hand just as effectively as right hand. Has a variety of scoring moves around basket, including a running hook shot. Above average (not great) back to the basket game- but still looked a little timid on the block going up against McKie- loves to go over left shoulder and power way to rim-still needs to develop a go to move on block. Needs to be more aggressive looking for his shot offensively. High basketball IQ- plays above his years as a freshman. Good rebounder on both ends- rebounds the ball with both hands. Good body language, especially for a freshman. Very efficient around basket. Dos a nice job of drawing fouls. Telegraphs passes on perimeter and is TO prone in that area. Shot his first 3 with 7 minutes to play in 2nd half- has a low and jerky release- shooting 27% from beyond the arc this season- will much rather put the ball on the floor and drive or post up at this stage in his young career.

Leads team in ppg and rpg, with 10.8 and 7 respectively. Will need to extend range out to 3 pt. line for next level. Has a great touch and skills above his years- NBA prospect in a couple of years- only a freshman. Will be a tough SF to guard if he can develop a 3 and improve perimeter defense- allowed McKie to go by him multiple times today- strong already as freshman- weighing in at 217, but will need to add some more muscle to get up to about 235/240 for NBA weight- solid frame. One of the few bright spots for a disappointing season for BC this year- scored 18 points on 8-11 FGs and pulled in 11 boards today.

Royce White

By James Blackburn

Game Scouted: Texas Tech @ Iowa State
Iowa State wins 72-54
Box Score

Royce White (F, 6’8”, SO)

Stats

5-7 FG, 3-9 FT, 10 reb, 6 assists, 13 TP

Strengths

Passes well out of post and in transition. Brings the ball at times up at 6’9”- terrific passer – leads team in assists- has great vision- sees the floor like a PG. Good ball handler for size- one of the best I have seen this year for a player his size. Brought the ball up 3 minutes in- crossed over defender and dunked in traffic- huge mismatch for opposing bigs. Very strong- great build and upper body strength. Huge hands- able to shield off defenders and hold ball away with one hand and throw accurate one handed passes. Bumps cutters when cutting across lane. Boxes out( although not every possession) and is physical on boards. Agile and versatile- showed ability to move feet on perimeter and even contain guards on switches. Terrific scorer from mid post area with good one on one moves including spin and dribble moves- able to create own shot. Very athletic- can finish above rim- which is saying something b/c of his weight. Unselfish. Understands the game- high Basketball IQ.

Weaknesses

Too casual at times tonight against a team in Texas Tech with a bad record- doesn’t have a sense of urgency-low motor tonight. Needs to run the floor harder- especially with his physical tools and athleticism. Showed the ability to defend a guard on a P/R switch- but this will not work at next level- must get better at shading out on guard and then getting back to his man- seems content at this level in just switching or hanging back- lazy on his part. Has the look that he is not playing hard, low energy, low motor- then he will have a few possessions where he will just go crazy and dunk on someone or show heavy pressure defense out on perimeter. I don’t know if this is his style/persona or if he is a bit out of shape (he is listed at 270 lbs.- would be at his best if he lost about 15 lbs.- I think it is a little of both (to his credit he does average over 30 minutes played a game this year, but he seems to rest at times on both ends- especially on the defensive end). Gets caught out of position on the defensive end at times and losing track of his man- when he does get out to guard, again there is no urgency and he has hands down. Poor FT shooter (air balled a couple tonight)- awkward release- doesn’t look natural and looks like he struggles to shoot it- stands flat footed- doesn’t rise up on toes (to his credit of his work ethic and wanting to get better- he works on his FT’s 45 minutes a day after practice and on game days). Not a great shot blocker especially with size and athleticism.

Overview

Has a murky past mixed with legal issues and off-court behavior that has gotten him into trouble in the past, where he quit the team at Minnesota, where he originally got recruited to play by Tubby Smith. Seems to have made a turnaround though- having a terrific season leading team in points, assists, and rebounds for a contender in Iowa State and has a good work ethic. Didn’t see any attitude or problems with him in this game- acknowledged he made a mistake early on a TO. Reminds me a bit of Blake Griffin- his build, athleticism, the way he carries himself on the court, and the way he plays. To his credit though, White is a better ball handler and passer, even though Griffin tries to handle the ball. Reminds a bit of a Glenn Robinson type as well.
Will be a good PF at next level- has the ability and tools to be a future first round pick. His size and athleticism will translate to next level, as well his passing, basketball IQ, and versatile scoring ability- post and perimeter. Will be able to defend and score against PF and even some SF. Will cause matchup issues even at next level.

Must improve energy and consistency- tends to disappear sometimes- like the first half tonight- has 7 games this year where he has played over 20 minutes in each and did not score more then 6 points. Came out second half and played better- more energy. The best asset White brings is the fact that even if he isn’t scoring, he can impact the game in other areas like his passing/playmaking and his size and rebounding.


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Don’t Believe the Hype

By Marcus Shockley

San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) raises his hands after San Antonio draws a foul from the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of their NBA basketball game in the Target Center in Minneapolis, January 27, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

    

Hyping players has become an industry unto itself, and it goes beyond mixtapes and ESPN highlight clips. Whenever someone releases player rankings, there are arguments over which player should be rated higher than another, and while some of the arguments might be valid, usually it’s meaningless.

Often coaches will take it personally when their own player is ranked lower than another, and I’ve heard some coaches disparage another player and I know the root of it isn’t based on objectivity but on personal bias. This isn’t true of all coaches, but it definitely happens a lot.

There’s also the grassroots world where some ‘coaches’ will try and hype their players because if people think they have the top players, they’ll get the shoe sponsorships and other trappings that come along with it. Of course, there are many AAU and high school coaches who work with their players and actively try to help them land college scholarships. That’s not what I’m referring to. I’m talking about the guys who only promote players that they see as an ‘investment’.

The problem for the players is that hype ultimately means nothing. It doesn’t matter who the #1 junior or #1 senior is in high school. It’s a nice accolade but a player’s high school ranking is erased the moment he steps off of the floor of his last high school game or AAU game. That’s when hype no longer matters and players have to be able to prove they can actually play. Ask anyone in grassroots basketball who the #1 player in the country is and you’ll get different answers. How many #1 players are there, anyway?

But once players get to a high enough level, they have to be able to do more than just be more athletic than everyone else. There will come a day where fundamentals and understanding how to play will matter. It’s like the 6’5 post player who dominates at the high school level, but would struggle at the college level when he has to play other post player who are 6’8 or 6’10.

Here’s what players need to know: there are different meanings behind a player evaluation, and you should consider the source. That’s not just a lesson for basketball, it’s a lesson for life. Let’s say that we have a player who is a 6’3 shooting guard and is a high school freshman. He’s evaluated as the #1 high school freshman in the country. Consider that an AAU coach might say that about their player because they want people to think they have the next Dwight Howard (not all AAU coaches are like this). A parent might say that because they really believe it, or because they also want their child to be the next Lebron James (not all parents are like this, either).

A media outlet or recruiting guru might say this because they want subscribers/page views, which means money. How many mixtapes have you seen where the title says a player has ‘crazy bounce’ or ‘goes OFF!!!’…these are just hype machine tools. Thinking back over the past thirty years, I can name only a handful of players who actually had so much bounce that they made people gasp. You can dunk? Great. Can you go left? Can you stop your man from getting off a shot? Can you break the press with your dribble? Where’s that video?

Does it matter that Chris Paul wasn’t the #1 recruit coming out of high school? Blake Griffin – not #1. Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, not #1.

#1 high school recruit in 1999? Donnell Harvey. In 2001? Eddy Curry. 2005? Josh McRoberts. In 2006 Kevin Durant was considered the #2 player in his class behind Greg Oden. Yeah, there are guys who rank #1 and become great pros (2004 – Dwight Howard), but that’s the whole point. You have to look for those guys. If a high school ranking at the end of your senior year is not a guarantee of All-Star, HOF success, how accurate do you really think being the #1 high school freshman is? And middle school rankings – forget it. I won’t even look at those and you shouldn’t, either. How much will that awesome mix of you in high school matter when nobody can remember if you played in the NBA?

Forget the rankings. As I always say, have fun, but stay grounded. Focus on being the best basketball player and student of the game you can be, and get some honest input from a good coach on what you need to work on to become better. If Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash still have things they are working on getting better at, after playing in the league for years and winning like crazy, it’s a pretty safe bet that no matter what level you are at, you can get better at something.

Oh, and Chris Paul was ranked #6 as a high school senior, behind Kendrick Perkins, Ndudi Edi and Shannon Brown. But the #1 player that year was pretty decent. He plays in Miami now but he used to play for Cleveland.

NC Playoff Predictions

By Justin Byerly

Note: Justin Byerly reviews the 2012 NC playoff pairings and here are his predictions for the first round match ups.

NORTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION

MEN’S 2012 STATE BASKETBALL PLAYOFF PAIRINGS

CLASS 4-A

EAST

16 East Wake (9-14) at 1 New Hanover (22-1) Pick: New Hanover (Nigel Holley and Kadeem Allen are just too good to lose this one at home)

9 Laney (12-10) at 8 Middle Creek (16-8) Pick: This is a good one, Im going with Laney, Elijah Wilson (CofC) scored 43 the other night and may be a little to much for Quinton Ray and co.

12 Southeast Raleigh (12-7) at 5 Hoggard (16-6) Pick: Wilmington Hoggard (Tyler Thayer, three college offers, and co. should be able to get this win)

13 Athens Drive (12-10) at 4 Clayton (17-5) Pick: Clayton (Sophomore Gary Clark is really good. Clayton is really good. Should be enough to get to 2nd Round

14 Rose (10-12) at 3 Millbrook (19-5) Pick: Millbrook

11 Wake Forest-Rolesville (16-8) at 6 Broughton (17-7) Pick: Broughton (But this should be one of the best games of the first round)

10 Knightdale (11-12) at 7 Wakefield (16-6) Pick: Wakefield

15 Sanderson (10-14) at 2 Garner (20-2) Pick: Garner (Dominique Reed. The kid can play. Should not have any trouble in this one as they move to second round.

MIDEAST

16 Terry Sanford (12-12) at 1 Pine Forest (23-1) Pick: Pine Forest (Alex Bradley is a machine, and Pine Forest is a great team. Knocked off New Hanover earlier in year)

9 South View (12-12) at 8 Lumberton (14-9) Pick: South View (Nathan Faulk has a nice team in Fayetteville, Rian Holland and Treshawn Patterson will get the win IMO

12 Southeast Guilford (13-9) at 5 Green Hope (20-4) Pick: Green Hope

13 Northern Durham (11-11) at 4 Person (19-4) Pick: Person (Tyrone Outlaw is going to be a good one, Person should advance pretty easliy)

14 Jack Britt (8-16) at 3 Apex (21-3) Pick: Apex

11 Purnell Swett (14-8) at 6 Hillside (15-6) Pick: Hillside

10 Jordan (11-12) at 7 Seventy First (16-7) Pick: 71st

15 Holly Springs (13-11) at 2 Hoke (19-2) Pick: Hoke County

MIDWEST

16 High Point Central (10-14) at 1 Sun Valley (20-4) Pick: Sun Valley (Jalen Witherspoon and Shaun Stewart, a do-it-all G can score with the best of them)

9 Richmond Senior (17-5) at 8 David Butler (14-10) Pick: Butler (Not by much, but Zach Ferguson is a player, tough as nails and I have to pick one so it’s Butler HS and Coach Kirby)

12 Ben Smith (13-10) at 5 Davie County (17-6) Pick: Smith (This is a good one here, Tracy Gathings will need to have a big game, but I think he can. The age and experience might be enough to up-set the Martin twins, as long as Smith HS can stop Nate Jones.

13 East Forsyth (15-9) at 4 Northwest Guilford (15-9) Pick: East Forsyth (Craig Hinton can play, and throw in Drew Cone & Larry Curry, you have a win for an under-rated team in EF.

14 R.J. Reynolds (10-13) at 3 Mount Tabor (16-7) Pick: Mt Tabor (Matthew Madigan & Torey Baskin-may be able to play are a little too good to lost this one.

11 Glenn (13-10) at 6 Southwest Guilford (15-9) Pick: SW Guilford (Jordan Hanner has been playing really well as of late and I think he and SW will keep it up against Zane Waterman and co)

10 Reagan (14-9) at Dudley (13-9) Pick: Dudley HS (Sam Hunt…Period)

15 Rocky River (10-13) at 2 Page (19-4) Pick: Page HS (Frank Eaves is the real deal, going to be too much for RR)

WEST

16 South Caldwell (10-13) at 1 Olympic (24-0) Pick: Olympic HS (I said this earlier, I would not want to be facing Charlotte Olympic the rest of the season, sometimes it takes an L to see how good you really are, and these guys are GOOD.

9 Watauga (9-13) at 8 East Gaston (10-13) Pick: East Gaston (I see Desean Murray (2014) having a big game, the kid is young but he will end up being one of the top guns in Charlotte soon. He is a player)

12 West Mecklenburg (3-20) at 5 McDowell (17-6) Pick: McDowell (McDowell has some athletic players on the roster as does WM, but I think McDowell gets the W in this one.

13 East Mecklenburg (13-10) at 4 Alexander Central (18-5) Pick: Alexander Central (IMO the Charlotte area teams are the strongest they have been in a while, but this one has to go to AC. I think thats as far as they can get though)

14 Mooresville (12-10) at 3 West Charlotte (19-5) Pick: West Charlotte (I would put pretty much anything I own on Mike Brown, a WCU signee. The kid is just a winner. Mooresville won earlier this season, but Meeks is playing better and Mark Blackmon has stepped-up.

11 Myers Park (15-9) at 6 North Mecklenburg (20-4) Pick: Toss-up (MP wins if they get a huge game from Patrick Wallace or North Meck wins with big game from one of the top PG’s in Charlotte Shivaughn Wiggins, should be one of the best games in the first round IMO. Both are seniors.

10 Mallard Creek (16-6) at T.C. Roberson (15-8) Pick: Mallard Creek (I dont think that some of these MAC teams can hang with the athleticism of some of the Charlotte teams this year).

15 Vance (13-10) at 2 South Mecklenburg (20-4) Pick: South Meck (SM should win this one with the height advantage of Matthews and Phillip, unless sophomore Brewer come up big again like he had been.

CLASS 3-A

EAST

16 West Carteret (10-12) at 1 West Craven (23-1) Pick: West Craven (Josh Cuthbertson is one of the top in the state, a D1 kid and will go pretty far this March.

9 Currituck (3-19) at 8 South Brunswick (8-12) Pick: South Brunswick

12 Hunt (11-12) at 5 South Central (19-3) Pick South Central

13 D.H. Conley (10-12) at 4 West Brunswick (12-10) Pick: West Brunswick

14 Southern Vance (8-11) at 3 Hertford County (19-3) Pick: Hertford

11 Southern Nash (7-12) at 6 Southern Wayne (17-6) Pick: Southern Wayne

10 Havelock (12-9) at 7 Nash Central (14-6) Pick: Havelock (Tyquan Nolan at 17ppg, is a tough one, I have them with the light upset)

15 Eastern Wayne (8-14) at 2 Rocky Mount (19-3) Pick: Rocky Mount (just has too much talent in this one)

MIDEAST

16 Southern Guilford (8-16) at 1 Chapel Hill (24-0) Pick: Chapel Hill (Denzel Ingram and CHHS will get over the hiccup from Friday and win big)

9 Asheboro (21-3) at 8 Webb (15-6) Pick: Webb (North Carolina commit Isaiah Hicks should come up big in this one, kind of like last week)

12 South Johnston (10-9) at 5 Eastern Alamance (18-6) Pick: Eastern Alamance

13 Union Pines (12-12) at 4 Westover (16-6) Pick: Westover (Murray St. signee CJ Ford is a winner and his finger is all good)

14 Eastern Guilford (12-12) at 3 Northern Guilford (18-4) Pick: N. Guilford

11 Cardinal Gibbons (14-10) at 6 Northeast Guilford (17-6) Pick: Northeast Guilford (NEG is playing very well right now, just won conference championship, and Bryce Benjamin will get the win)

10 Western Alamance (16-7) at 7 Southern Lee (17-6) Pick: Western Alamance (AJ Clark 28.5 ppg, with the seedings and only a day to prepare, I don’t know if thats enough time for a strong game plan against Clark)

15 Douglas Byrd (7-13) at 2 Triton (21-3) Pick: Triton

MIDWEST

16 McMichael (10-13) at 1 Concord (22-1) Pick: Concord (Kendall Knorr, Connor Burchfield, and Darren Black are just too good.)

9 West Rowan (14-10) at 8 Weddington (14-9) Pick: West Rowan (Rowan County and the Sherrill name are royalty in the area. Keshun is the latest. He is a scorer. Will be a good game.

12 Marvin Ridge (11-11) at 5 Anson (17-7) Pick: Anson (Will be a good game, Diondre Pratt will have to a really good game to keep the up-set away.)

13 Central Cabarrus (10-13) at 4 Charlotte Catholic (19-5) Pick: Charlotte Catholic (CC with Robert Champion (big time scorer) & 2013 Jr. Mark Pollack will not go out this early)

14 South Rowan (7-15) at 3 Statesville (17-3) Pick: Statesville

11 East Rowan (12-10) at 6 Jay Robinson (20-4) Pick: Robinson (A talented team that will surprise some teams in these playoffs)

10 Brown (15-8) at 7 Harding University (19-4) Pick: Harding HS (Jarvis Haywood, Emmanuel Patton, and Steven Burroughs along with newcomer will probably be around for a while in March) Haywood wins ball games. Kid has love for the game.

15 Hickory Ridge (14-10) at 2 North Forsyth (20-3) Pick: North Forsyth (Kedrick Flomo and co are too good)

WEST

16 South Point (12-8) at 1 Freedom (21-2) Pick: Freedom (Taylor Williams will probably have a big game for SP but Rob Noyes (offer from LR) and Chris Bridges and Darrion Evans will be too much)

9 Hunter Huss (12-10) at 8 St. Stephens (14-10) Pick: St. Stephens (Hunter Huss goes from de-fending champion to bowing out in first round)

12 Fred T. Foard (13-10) at 5 Enka (13-11) Pick: Enka (McCurry is a winner, the QB will prob be WNC Player of the Year also)

13 Clyde Erwin (11-11) at 4 Tuscola (17-6) Pick: Tuscola

14 R-S Central (10-12) at 3 Forestview (17-5) Pick: Forestview

11 Ashbrook (15-7) at 6 Asheville (16-6) Pick: Ashebrook (Ashbrook plays a tougher schedule and height will make a difference)

10 Burns (7-12) at 7 Franklin (16-8) Pick: Burns (This may be a stretch, but Burns’ QB and PG Brandon Littlejohn will probably have staff from WCU at the game (he signed) and will have a great game, he has scored 30+ many times this year)

15 East Henderson (7-16) at 2 Hickory (21-3) Pick: Hickory (HHS will be too good)

CLASS 2-A

EAST

16 Warren County (10-13) at 1 Bunn (22-2) Pick: Bunn (2015 Deshawn High, will have a good game, he averages 17 a game)

9 Richlands (17-5) at 8 North Brunswick (12-7) Pick: Richlands

12 North Johnston (13-10) at 5 Beddingfield (15-5) Pick: Beddingfield

13 Jacksonville Northside (16-7) at 4 Pasquotank (14-9) Pick: Northside (I see senior Mark Chinn having a big game and Jr. Jamal Parker finishing off the upset)

14 Roanoke Rapids (14-9) at 3 Kinston (19-4) Pick: Kinston (Nothing but good basketball comes out of Kinston, year after year)

11 Holmes (13-8) at 6 Topsail (16-7) Pick: Topsail

10 North Pitt (17-6) at 7 Northeastern (12-7) Pick: North Pitt

15 Farmville Central (10-7) at 2 Croatan (19-2) Pick: Croatan

MIDEAST

16 Clinton (15-7) at 1 Trinity (22-2) Pick: Trinity (But I would not be surprised if this is one of the best games of the first round. JT Miller of CHS is that good)

9 Carrboro (15-8) at 8 Cummings (14-6) Pick: Carrboro

12 Graham (17-7) at 5 West Bladen (17-6) Pick: West Bladen

13 Granville Central (15-9) at 4 Northwood (18-6) Pick: Granville Central (Martin Alston could lead them to an upset)

14 Durham School of the Arts (17-7) at 3 Fairmont (19-4) Pick: Fairmont

11 East Bladen (18-5) at 6 T.W Andrews (17-6) Pick TW Andrews (The little guy from TW is a winner)

10 St. Pauls (3-18) at 7 Corinth Holders (17-6) Pick: Corinth Holders

15 Jordan-Matthews (15-8) at 2 Reidsville (20-3) Pick: Reidsville

MIDWEST

16 North Surry (11-12) at 1 Cuthbertson (23-1) Pick: Cuthbertson (Shelton Mitchell is that good)

9 Starmount (16-7) at 8 Central Davidson (17-6) Pick: Central Davidson

12 Carver (9-12) at 5 Surry Central (15-9) Pick: Carver

13 Wheatmore (11-12) at 4 Forest Hills (15-8) Pick: Forest Hills

14 Thomasville (4-14) at 3 Lexington (13-9) Pick

11 Piedmont (11-12) at 6 East Lincoln (10-13) Pick: East Lincoln

10 North Lincoln (14-8) at 7 Salisbury (10-13) Pick Salisbury (Tony Nunn will not go down in the first round, the soph will be one of the top in state in two years.)

15 Bunker Hill (6-17) at 2 West Stokes (19-4) Pick: West Stokes

WEST

16 Maiden (9-13) at 1 Ashe County (22-2) Pick: Ashe County (Big guy is just too good to lost first round game)

9 Pisgah (18-6) at 8 Shelby (16-5) Pick: Shelby (Daylan Fuller, Gabe Devoe and co. are just too good to fall to Pisgah and one of WNC’s top scorers Rory McClure. Shelby will find a way to hold him under 16 and its over.

12 Newton-Conover (15-9) at 5 West Caldwell (15-5) Pick: West Caldwell

13 North Henderson (8-14) at 4 Lincolnton (17-4) Pick: Lincolnton (Jalen Littlejohn and Patrick Rendelman will be too much for NH, LHS just way more athletic)

14 Owen (4-18) at 3 Smoky Mountain (18-3) Pick: Smoky Mountain (Will Carpenter and the Mustangs have won four straight conference championships, this one should be a easy one.

11 Polk County (14-10) at 6 Mountain Heritage (14-9) Pick: Mountain Heritage (Alex Biggerstaff is a winner, that should not change in this game)

10 East Burke (17-7) at 7 Wilkes Central (19-3) Pick: Wilkes Central

15 Draughn (14-10) at 2 East Rutherford (20-3) Pick: East Rutherford (Devonte Boykins (Brother of Marshall U’s Devince Boykins is BIG TIME, & that wins these games)

CLASS 1-A

EAST

16 Pinetown Northside (12-10) at 1 Northampton-West (17-4) Pick: Northhampton-West

9 Mattamuskeet (11-8) at 8 Northampton-East (13-9) Pick: Mattamuskeet

12 Gates County (9-14) at 5 East Carteret (14-9) Pick: East Carteret

13 South Creek (14-10) at 4 Ayden-Grifton (15-6) Pick: Ayden-Grifton

14 Southeast Halifax (11-10) at 3 Plymouth (15-4) Pick: Plymouth (Carl McCray has been playing very well this season as of late and will probably keep it going)

11 Southwest Onslow (10-10) at 6 Lejeune (20-2) Pick: Lejeune (Gaven Allen and co. will make it look easy in this one.)

10 Riverside Martin (16-7) at 7 Camden (16-7) Pick: Camden

15 Jones (4-16) at 2 Creswell (17-4) Pick: Creswell

MIDEAST

16 Spring Creek (9-11) vs. 1 Roxboro Community (17-6) at Granville Central Pick: Roxboro Community (Jalen Bass and co. will not lose this one)

9 Lakewood (11-10) at 8 Rosewood (10-9) Pick: Rosewood

12 Chatham Central (12-11) at 5 Princeton (13-11) Pick: Princeton

4 Rocky Mount Prep (20-5) at 13 Union (9-13) Pick: Rocky Mount Prep (Donte Samuels will be a key in this one.)

14 Franklin Academy (7-19) at 3 West Columbus (10-10) Pick: West Columbus

11 Goldsboro (13-10) at 6 East Columbus (9-11) Pick: Goldsboro

10 Red Springs (4-17) at 7 Wallace-Rose Hill (10-13) Pick: WRH

15 Hobbton (7-13) at 2 James Kenan (16-6) Pick: Kenan

MIDWEST

16 Mount Airy (10-14) at 1 Winston-Salem Prep (22-1) Pick: WS-Prep (One of the nations top kids Greg McClinton and PG Raekwon Harney will be too much for Mount Airy)

9 River Mill Academy (6-18) at 8 Elkin (8-15) Pick: Elkin

12 North Wilkes (6-16) at 5 South Stokes (14-10) Pick: South Stokes

13 Bishop McGuinness (12-12) at 4 South Davidson (20-4) Pick: South Davidson (The Hatfield brothers and Wil Collins will be hard to beat this early)

14 East Montgomery (9-13) at 3 Monroe (14-9) Pick: Monroe (Brandon Roddy will not go down in the first round)

11 East Surry (14-9) at 6 Union Academy (11-10) Pick: East Surry (A upset on paper, but I think ES has played better this season)

10 Albemarle (15-5) at 7 Lake Norman Charter (12-11) Pick: Albemarle

15 West Montgomery (9-11) at 2 North Rowan (20-3) Pick: North Rowan (Oshon West & Michael Connor will be too much for E.M.) Wichita St recently got involved with West and Connor is a soph.)

WEST

16 Murphy (8-16) at 1 Hayesville (24-0) Pick: Hayesville (un-defeated for a reason, brings back memories of Brett Brackin and Joeseph Chilton)

9 Thomas Jeffferson (12-10) at 8 Hiwassee Dam (10-10) Pick: Thomas Jefferson (Waldrop-Rodriguez will come to play)

12 Blue Ridge (6-12) at 5 Highlands (8-15) Pick: Highlands

13 Cherokee (12-11) at 4 Alleghany (9-15) Pick: Cherokee (Tsaldi may be too tough of a match-up)

14 Rosman (12-12) at 3 Highland Tech (15-5) Pick: Highland Tech (Jevon Patton is big time, and big time wins first round games…most of the time)

11 Cherryville (12-12) at 6 Mitchell (17-6) Pick: Cherryville (Warren & Tuft may be too much for the Mountaineers)

10 Swain (12-11) at 7 Robbinsville (13-9) Pick: Swain (State Champion football players are hard to beat even in basketball when its all on the line)

15 Bessemer City (10-12) at 2 Hendersonville (21-0) Pick: Hendersonville (Sam Wilkins, Rashad Felton and co. will be too much for BC)

By James Blackburn

Charlotte Bobcats Kemba Walker is fouled by New York Knicks Toney Douglas in the second half at Madison Square Garden in New York City on January 4, 2012. The Bobcats defeated the Knicks 118-110. UPI/John Angelillo

    

These observations are based on watching the Bobcats playing at the Minnesota Timberwolves

The Charlotte Bobcats are off to one of the worst starts in NBA history having lost 15 straight games on the way to a 3-25 record heading into tonight’s game vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Bobcats looked better this game then in some of the previous games partly because of the return of Corey Maggette and DJ Augustin. DJ’s return helps with the teams half-court sets which looked really good in the first 3 quarters, as PG Kemba Walker is better in transition and is more of scoring guard then pure PG. Maggette brings some much needed scoring and someone else who can create his own shot. The Bobcats lead at the half 48-46, but lose 102-90.

Here are some of the positive and negatives I took away from tonight’s loss.

Negatives
• Defending the P/R- Boris really struggled shading out on Rubio on the P/R.
• Rebounding- especially on the defensive end.
• Scoring from the post- The Bobcats has zero scoring from the post. Bismack Biyombo (who started at C tonight) averages less than 7 ppg.
• Finishing inside- Corey Maggette and missed several lay-ups in first quarter alone- DJ and Diaw also missed some easy ones.
• Scoring droughts- 6 straight possessions with no scoring to end the 3rd quarter. Timberwolves go on 12-3 run to lead by 10 going into 4th.
• Defending bigs who can step out and shoot, ie. Kevin Love
• Turnovers- most of the Timberwolves runs in the first half came off Bobcats turnovers. Had 16 tonight.
• Lack of talent- The Bobcats work ethic kept them in the game for the first 3 quarters, but in the end talent will prevail- Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Michael Beasley were too much for the Bobcats to handle in the end and the Timberwolves pulled away at the end to win 102-90 and hand the Bobcats their 16th straight defeat in the process.

Positives
• Looked very efficient and productive scoring the ball on the fast break. This team needs to run more and play athletic swing men on their roster more, i.e. Tyrus Thomas and DJ White. Thomas only played 12 minutes while White only played 7. Both players provide length, athleticism, and Thomas provides scoring. Charlotte averages 95 possessions a game, 17th in the NBA, but with athletes like Walker, Thomas, White, D. Brown, Henderson, and bigs who can run in B. Mullins and Biyombo they should be in the top 10 in this category.
• Attacking the rim where the player can draw the foul or kick out to shooters- 22nd in NBA with assist per game with just over 19 per game- and the team has taken almost 600 Free Throws this season.
• They looked a lot better tonight in half-court sets running there sets and getting open shots- they didn’t make them all- but they were getting open looks. The Bobcats as a hole are active and hard working on the offensive end- most of their players move well with out the ball and they have good passers in Diaw and Augustin. Paul Silas has them running somewhat of a motion with lots of off-ball screens-very few P/R and isolations.

Season Stats
• Bobcats giving up second most ppg in league (100.8), while scoring the least (86.3 ppg)- biggest problem of the team and the main reason the team is 3-25.
• The Bobcats have a -4.7 rebound differential per game

Looking into the future for this team, The Bobcats have to feeling optimistic heading into the draft. The bleak news is that 11 players on the team have guaranteed or player option contracts headed into next year, including Maggette who is being overpaid making almost $11 million next season. The Bobcats made a good move picking Walker in this past year’s draft, as he provides much needed speed and scoring from the guard position. The Bobcats have a solid young core with DJ Augustin, Walker, Gerald Henderson, and Tyrus Thomas. Mix these players with vetran players like Maggette and Matt Carroll and you have a decent starting point. Jordan really needs to address 2 issues in this years draft scoring and a solid post player. Jared Sullinger or Anthony Davis wouldn’t be bad choices for a post and Michael Gilchrist or a Harrison Barnes wouldn’t be bad options to help with the scoring load. Both of these players are versatile and can score the ball several ways. You pair a solid post scorer with a perimeter scorer and the Bobcats can bounce back from a historically bad season.

By Marcus Shockley

Former NBA player Allen Iverson stares during the announcement of his move to the Turkish basketball team Besiktas during a press conference in New York October 29, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

    

No doubt you’ve heard the recent news of Allen Iverson’s financial woes, ignited by his judgement against him from a jeweler to the tune of over $800,000, but this isn’t a surprise. In 2010, it had already been reported that Iverson had massive money problems.

This isn’t really a story about Allen Iverson, one of the greatest scoring guards to ever step on the court and a player whose fearlessness was an awe inspiring sight to witness. Iverson has a lifetime of bad decisions and recklessness that make this result almost a given. It doesn’t matter how much money Iverson blew through, whether it was $150 million or $500 billion, it was inevitable.

Instead, this is a story about everyone else. I’ve had several columns in the past about how players should educate themselves about money, and this is one more cautionary tale to throw on the stack. But something specific about Iverson’s story struck me as a perfect example of why, and how, someone could blow through a fortune in such a short amount of time.

In one article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, it was reported that Iverson’s entourage would sometimes be in the range of 50 people. Fifty! Here’s the thing that people, including professional athletes, fail to grasp. Iverson was basically an industry that had as many as fifty people on a lavish payroll, and that’s absurd. Most multi-million dollar businesses don’t have fifty employees.

To explain this, let’s break away from the world of sports for a moment and talk regular, run-of-the-mill business. The most recent average salary reported in the U.S. was $30,513. That doesn’t count for health insurance and other factors in employing people, but for sake of this discussion, it will be fine to just use this number.

Let’s say you have a business selling, oh, let’s say really expensive shoes. You employ 30 people at the average salary of $30,513, meaning your payroll is $915,390 per year. Ok, so with only 30 people on staff, you are paying almost a cool million every year just for ‘average’ salaries. Now, you might be yelling at your computer screen ‘what are you talking about? Iverson had an entourage, but he wasn’t paying them like staff!’, and you’d be right, except an entourage is worse. You are paying for plane tickets, clothing, rent, food, lavish parties and all kinds of travel expenses and not even getting the benefit of people producing more product or revenue for your business. Expenses like this are way, way more than $30k per year per person. It can be easily triple that, or more. Private jets are not cheap. Designer clothes, posh restaurants, all of that requires a much bigger amount of cash. It could easily run you $1,000 per day per person or more. A weekend in New York City or Vegas can be $30,000 a day per person if you are determined to blow it right. There are hotel rooms in Vegas that run $16k a night – just imagine a weekend of 10 pals who think they have an unlimited budget. If you have an entourage of 20 people (which is a BIG entourage) who are sponging off of you to the tune of $365,000 per year, that’s a $7.3 million in expenses per year, and Iverson’s entourage has reached members almost twice that, and that’s not even counting his penchant for gambling and blowing money that has been well documented. If Iverson’s posse could conceivably blow through $20 million a year without being checked, how much could Iverson’s own family blow through? How much could he blow through on his own? Is it really that hard to fathom that he and his pals could easily eat through every last dime of $150 million?

Just to be clear, I’m not saying these are the actual numbers spent by Iverson and his buddies. Just illustrating that it’s pretty simple to slice up even a gargantuan paycheck if enough people get involved without contributing.

Here’s the point. If you are fortunate enough and talented enough to get a big payday, like Iverson did in the NBA, then you must realize that the money is not infinite. Iverson was running his life like he was a billionaire, but he was a millionaire with a finite number of years he could make that money without investing in something else. Hard reality check: millionaires should not be buying Bentleys or private jets. Billionaires can do that, but billionaires own basketball teams, they don’t play for them. Just like most lottery winners, Iverson spent all of his money as fast as he made it, seemingly unaware that the paychecks would eventually stop.

For most players, even if they reach the NBA, their earning years will be limited to less than five. Iverson had contracts far above the average player – he was a superstar, with superstar contracts and superstar endorsements. Now he’s broke, and the Lakers won’t even look at him unless he goes through the D-League. The reality is that Iverson will probably not play again in the NBA, and if he does, it won’t be for long, and it certainly won’t be for the amount of money he made before.

And yet, Iverson won’t be the last. Players will continue to end up on the front page for sob stories like this, and it’s painful to watch. It’s painful for me because I see high schoolers who are dreaming of making the NBA, dreaming of getting a big paycheck where they can take care of their family, and dreaming of all of the other things that come along with having enough money. Most of them won’t make it past their college teams, but for those who do, that paycheck is the culmination of years of work and focus. It’s too bad that after so many years of working, dreaming and dedication, only a few years later it’s often all over. The worst part is, once your playing days are over, they are over. When you are young, you don’t have much but the future stretches out before you like a canvas. When you are older, you still have a lot of options for the future but the one for athletics is no longer available. Even if you are a great athlete at age 35 or 55, you won’t be able to keep up with the 21-year-olds coming out of college.

We all need an ‘out’ in order to have hope. Something that we can work on, something that might pay off big in the future. The problem for many athletes, once they get the big paycheck, they think that pay off arrived, so they are set. But unless they barely spend their money, they aren’t set by a long shot. That money they earn over a few short years has to either turn into investments for the future or it has to last the rest of their life after they aren’t in demand for their athletic ability anymore.

By James Blackburn

Clemson Tigers head coach Brad Brownell yells to his team during the second half of their first round NCAA tournament basketball game against the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers in Dayton, Ohio March 15, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

    

Clemson Wins 78-58
Box Score

Game Recap/Thoughts

1st Half

• Clemson is establishing its post game early- going at Walker 2 straight possessions and scoring on both.
• Wake Forest is struggling to find its groove offensively early against Clemons man to man defense.
• Wake Forest is showing a 2-3 zone for the first time with 12:00 minutes left in the 1st to try to control Clemson’s dominant inside play. Clemson does not have any shooters on the floor with Tanner Smith on the bench.
• Trevor Booker just had a ferocious dunk and got a technical for slapping the backboard with 8 minutes to go in the half.
• Wake is back to man with Smith back in the ball game for Clemson. Wake is losing the loose ball war early on.
• Wake is controlling the tempo and has the lead 20-17 with 7 minutes left.
• Clemson is really struggling with fouls and FG%
• Wake cannot handle Booker on the block.
• 3 fouls in less then 10 seconds on Wake
• Devin Booker with the tip in with 2 seconds left to push the lead to six- 42-36

2nd Half

• Back to Jennings- 1st play in second half- he scores on block.
• Just like that Clemson is back up 13 on a Andre Young 3 and a Smith lay-up.
• Ty Walker injured 3 minutes into half going up for lay in.
• Wake Forest is really having a difficult time defending the long ball- I have lost count how may wide open 3’s they have given up this game- part of the reason Clemson’s lead has ballooned to 18.
• Wake is going to get back into this game with foul shots- Wake is already in the bonus with 12 minutes remaining.
• Wake Forest’s offense is in disarray with CJ Harris on the bench.
• Wake must improve defensively- with 9 minutes left in game- Clemson is shooting over 66% from the field and has made 7 three pointers, Wake has also given up 32 points in the paint.
• CJ Harris is the only player who showed up today for Wake.
• With Clemson up 20- the LJVM is dead- people are already leaving with 8 minutes left.
• CJ Harris just missed an open lay-up with 3 minutes to go- it has been that kind of day today for Wake Forest.

Scouting Reports

Wake Forest

Ty Walker (C, 7’0”, SR)
Extremely long- tries to block everything with in his area. Has a bad habit of bringing the ball down and gets it stripped or tied up frequently. Very Raw offensively- has a hard time scoring with back to basket-even when guarded 1 on 1. Must get stronger- gets bumped off lack and gets knocked out of position for rebounds and in the game in general too easy.

Nikita Mescheriakov ( F, 6’8”, R-SR)
Does a great job utilizing ball fakes. Is a decent shooter- but is still inconsistent in this area- much more effective attacking the rim. Very versatile player who can play and guard several positions. Plays below the rim. Crafty left hander. Reminds me of a thinner Boris Diaw. Tends to get out of control at times.

Chase Fischer (G, 6’3”, FR)
Excellent set shooter- gets feet set and square and plants on inside foot. Underrated passer. Must get quicker. Automatic from the stripe. Needs to be more aggressive offensively. Patient.

Clemson

Tanner Smith (G, 6’5”, SR)
Good size for the off-guard position. One of the best 3 point shooters in ACC- automatic from beyond the arc with feet set- very simple stroke- doesn’t get any lift on shot- but has a quick release. Basketball savvy- had a really nice back door cut for the lay- in first half. Also showed the ability to shoot the 1 dribble pull-up when defender plays too close. Smooth- finished around rim several time with a finger role lay-in. Seems to be in the right spot at the right time to score and rebound this game. Had the ball in his hands a lot today and because of height and ability to see over the defense he can hit the open cutter and open teammates. Makes good decisions with ball in his hand- only 1 TO and 5 assists while playing over 30 minutes. Has struggle creating own shot. Lack of quickness and athleticism is going to hurt his chances of playing at next level. Solid all-around effort today to lead Clemson to the big win. Great attitude and demeanor. Should get some NBA workouts because of size and shooting ability- but he is more then likely going to wind up overseas to play professionally- with a chance to return the states to play in the D-League.

Milton Jennings (F, 6’9”, JR)
Nice Touch around basket. Soft touch shooting FT’s too- calm and collected on line- good arc and rotation. Solid back to basket post game. Can stretch defense with the ability to shoot the 3. Good body control and balance around basket. Had no problem finishing around the basket today.

Devin Booker (F/C, 6’8”, JR)
Physical player who uses his strength to his advantage. Has an effective right hook shot. Foul prone because of his defensive aggressiveness. Good shot blocker. With his size, strength, athleticism, and skill set- he should be doing more stat wise- he tends to disappear for stretches. Good rebounder. Undersized at center position- but makes up for it with strength- needs to extend range and show the ability to defend on the perimeter to improve chances of playing in the NBA after next season. Scouts are going to monitor how well he can make the transition to the PF position his senior year.

What Does #1 Mean, Anyway?

By Marcus Shockley

Charlotte Bobcats left Kwame Brown (L) talks with referee Brian Forte during an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks in Charlotte, North Carolina March 26, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

I get some grief now and then for assessments of players; this is not unique to any scout or writer. Whenever you try to evaluate a player, there is room for error and there are so many intangibles; how much the player is going to work, how much you’ve actually seen a player, and so on. The reality is, even if you are almost always right, you are going to make mistakes. You are going to be wrong sometimes. That’s one of the reasons I put out the Right-Wrong Awards at the end of the year sometimes to showcase that yes, we did get many things right but we own up to things we got wrong as well.

But I also don’t like the ‘adjusting’ of assessments and rankings that happens based on what’s going on with a recruit. Many people have complained over the years that if UNC, Duke, Kentucky or Kansas offer a player, suddenly that player gets bumped up in the rankings. But I would also point out that the opposite is true, which no one wants to hear.

Just because someone has offered a player, it should not change the assessment of that player.

Let’s say that a player is evaluated as a low-major DI prospect by several scouts. Then suddenly, a high major pops up and offers him. Now, there are only two scenarios here. Either the player has proven something to the high major that the scouts overlooked or the player really is a low major prospect but the college recruiter’s evaluation is off.

Just because a player was offered by a high major does not automatically make him a high major prospect. It means that ONE college thought he was a high major prospect and is acting on it. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it doesn’t change the player – if the college has guessed wrong, they have guessed wrong. It happens all of the time.

It is possible that the player is better than the scouts think. But there are a lot of players every year who go to play college basketball and soon run into problems. I don’t want to paint with a broad brush, but college coaches make mistakes, too. Even Duke and UNC have had players who were offered scholarships and ended up not being able to compete at the elite level once they arrived on campus. So, let’s take a step back here. If players are sometimes incorrectly evaluated by UNC, Duke or Kentucky, doesn’t it make sense that other players can be incorrectly evaluated at hundreds of other colleges as well? If you were to ask any college coach with several years of experience, it would be rare that one would claim all of their recruits worked out as well as they had hoped.

It also explains how you have high major programs in major conferences who only have one or two elite players, but that’s an aside for another day.

The reality is that evaluating players at any level involves some risk of being wrong and a large amount of subjective work. This doesn’t end at the high school level. Even NBA teams get it wrong a lot. We all can name off bad first round picks over the years, players who someone on an NBA team thought was a big time prospect but ended up out of the league or being a bench player before long. So why would high school be any different?

When I saw Kwame Brown in high school, I thought he was a really good prospect, but was a couple of years removed from the pros at best. I thought he would be good in college, work on his game, and then probably be a first round pick. I was stunned when he was taken as the #1 pick out of high school – I did not even think he was ready to make the move to the NBA at that point. And I wasn’t alone in this – there were a lot of scouts who thought the same thing. Did Kwame Brown getting drafted at #1 suddenly make him better than we thought? I don’t like to slam Kwame, who was never a bad player, but he wasn’t a #1 lottery pick either, and Michael Jordan’s gamble on taking him was a huge, public mistake.

But in the world of college recruiting, that’s the equivalent of a lower evaluated player getting a suddenly high offer, and then his ratings go up. I’m not going to change my assessment based on recruitment. Of course, watching a player multiple times over the course of their careers is the best way to assess his talent. When Harrison Barnes arrived at UNC, he was considered the top player in the nation. But he struggled early on in his freshman year, and many fans starting calling him a bust. But they hadn’t seen enough – flash forward to today, where he’s absolutely one of the best college players and a big time pro prospect. If fans had only had the first 10 games of his freshman season to evaluate him, it wouldn’t give the whole picture.

The point is that a player is at a certain level, regardless of who has offered or not. We all know players who should have gotten DI offers but ended up playing DII, and there are DII players who ended up playing DIII and there are even DI prospects who ended up playing nowhere. So if colleges can be wrong about players who should get offers, of course they can be wrong the other way as well, offering players that won’t pan out. This isn’t news to them; they know they are taking a risk by offering any player, no matter how much of a sure thing they seem to be. Kwame Brown

By Marcus Shockley

There are few truly “transcendent” rivalries in sports. There are rivalries at every level of sports, from JV volleyball to the NFL. But most rivalries are local. Only a few rivalries break out and become so known that media coverage pays attention.

To me, the two biggest rivalries in college sports are Ohio State-Michigan (football) and UNC-Duke (basketball). A couple of summers back we were chatting with Gerald Henderson. a former Duke player, about the rivalry. At the time, several of Henderson’s coaching staff were UNC alums.

What makes a great rivalry? In a word: balance. At one time in the not-too-distant past, UNC and Duke were not the Greatest of Rivals. NC State was UNC’s biggest threat, also being just a few minutes down the road from Chapel Hill. Consider that in 1982, Micheal Jordan, James Worthy and Jimmy Black brought a national championship home to Tobacco Road, and one year later, in 1983, NC State’s Thurl Bailey, Sidney Lowe and Dereck Whittenburg did the same. However, over the years, Coach K’s rise to prominence and NC State’s slump led to a changing of the guard. In 2009 UNC brought home another title, and one year later in 2010, Duke won another. The fact that UNC and Duke are always legitimate title contenders is part of what makes the rivalry strong. You simply can’t have a rivalry where only one team is a powerhouse. Both UNC and Duke boast a bevy of NBA alums, and both have HOF coaches.

The UNC-Duke rivalry has also two other components; the two campuses are physically closer than most high school rivals and they have longevity. The 2009-2010 back-to-back wasn’t the first. In 1991 & 1992, Duke won a pair of titles, then in 1993, UNC won Dean Smith’s second title. But that’s just the titles. Since 1981, either UNC or Duke has made the Final Four a whopping 21 times.

In order for a rivalry to exist, there must be balance, and the longer that balance is there, the bigger and more storied the rivalry becomes.

So today is UNC vs. Duke, round 1 of the 2012 edition of this rivalry.