NBA draft breakdown: The top 10 shooting guards

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All this week at CBT, we’ll be spotlighting the top players at each position for the 2012 NBA draft. Monday featured the top point guards. Today? The shooting guards.

1. Bradley Beal, Fr., Florida: Beal’s always been a star, but he showcased more than his shooting skills with the Gators. An overabundance of scorers often forced Florida coach Billy Donovan to play Beal on the wing or even at power forward at times and he responded by leading them in rebounding (6.5 rpg) and was second in scoring (14.8 ppg). The only surprise was his perimeter shooting. Beal’s often compared to Ray Allen for his poise and pure shooting stroke, but Allen never shot worse than 40 percent beyond the arc in college. Beal made just 34 percent of his 186 attempts, a number that must improve. Still, if there’s a can’t miss guard in the draft, it’s Beal. He plays smart, plays hard and is a true talent.

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2. Jeremy Lamb, So. Connecticut: Lamb looks like an NBA star. Long, lean with surprising quickness and a solid shot, he could step in as a team’s second or third option right away – if he feels like it. Passivity has always been Lamb’s biggest issue. That he rarely forces shots is both his biggest strength and weakness. Could he be a star? Absolutely. But he’d have to want to be a star. On a team that likes using pick and rolls, he’ll average 15 or more as a rookie.

3. Austin Rivers, Fr., Duke: Unlike Lamb, there’s no question Rivers wants to be a star. His lightning-quick crossover is perfect for the NBA, he boasts the range and the knack for hitting game-winners. But is Rivers’ too aggressive and too willing to go one-on-one with defenders? He’ll quickly adjust to the NBA’s speed and physical style and there’ll be night when he shines. Question is, what happens on the nights when he can’t connect? Can he contribute in other ways?

4. Dion Waiters, So., Syracuse: The 6-4 specimen reportedly has a promise that’ll he be a lottery pick, which means someone will add a player who can overpower most shooting guards. Waiters is strong, excels at getting into the lane and creating his own shot. His college production (12.6 ppg) doesn’t do his skills justice, mostly because he was willing to be part of the Orange’s system. The only problem? Waiters is a bit short and he doesn’t boast a strong perimeter game.

5. Terrence Ross, So., Washington: The 6-7 Ross also would thrive on the wing, but his frame is probably better suited to an NBA team’s backcourt. When Ross’ jumper is falling (45.7 percent and 51.8 percent on twos), he’s deadly. He’ll slash in the lane, pull up for a jumper or attack the rim. His confidence and game developed rapidly in just two years at Washington. What’s the limit once he hits the pros?

6. John Jenkins, Jr., Vanderbilt: Need a guy to stretch the defense? Jenkins is your man. He’s a little slow and not overly athletic, which might limit his role in the NBA, but his shot can’t be questioned. With a little more work on his ball-handling, Jenkins could have a long, productive career.

7. Orlando Johnson, Sr. Santa Barbara: Johnson was a prolific scorer the last three years and delivered when it mattered for the Gauchos, leading them to two NCAA tournament appearances. But he’s a volume scorer who has average size and athleticism.

8. Doron Lamb, So. Kentucky: Consider Lamb at this spot a bargain. He’s Jenkins, but with a better shooting stroke. If he lasts into the second round and Cleveland gets him, that’s instant offense off the bench. A smart contender – like Chicago or Miami – would be even smarter to nab him at the end of the first round.

9. Jared Cunningham, Jr. Oregon State: No guard prospect boasts more athleticism than Cunningham. He’s not overly skilled, but would be an immediate boosts as a defensive player and spark off the bench. His shot and ball-handling need work, but this might be the player with the most upside in this group.

10. Will Barton, So., Memphis: Barton’s game might be better suited for the wing given that his perimeter stroke is inconsistent. But he’s got the quickness to play the 2 and can get to the rim when he wants.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.

South Carolina fans raise money to send “Gamecock Jesus” to Final Four

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South Carolina fans are sending one of their most recognizable compatriots to represent them this weekend.

Gamecock Jesus is heading to the Final Four.

South Carolina super fan Carlton Thompson is following the Gamecocks to Glendale as his fellow fans have raised over $7,500 to send the man known as “Gamecock Jesus” to Arizona for the team’s Final Four meeting with Gonzaga on Saturday night.

Thompson’s long hair, beard and presence at South Carolina games, even in lean times, earned him his nickname and apparently a following fervent enough to foot the bill for quite the trip.

“I’ve always dreamed it would be like this,” Thompson said last week about fan support at Gamecock games to the Post and Courier. “For years and years, it was so sparse with the crowds at the games. But once they started winning, the crowds started coming.”

Thompson is a 63-year-old VA hospital nurse, and has been attending South Carolina games for nearly 50 years.

Maryland’s Melo Trimble declares for the NBA Draft

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Melo Trimble’s career as a Maryland Terrapin is coming to an end. The junior guard is declaring for the NBA Draft and will sign with an agent.

“I am confident and excited to pursue an opportunity to play in the NBA,” Trimble said in a release. “I am proud of what my teammates and I were able to accomplish these past three seasons at Maryland. I developed many great relationships and friendships and together we able to create some very special moments for Maryland basketball. I want to thank Coach Turgeon for all of his support. He always believed in me. He challenged me and really helped in the development of my overall game. I am a more complete basketball player because of Coach Turgeon and the coaching staff. To stay at home and attend the University of Maryland is the best decision that I ever made and it was truly special to play in front of my family, friends and our amazing fans. Maryland will always be home.”

There was no better winner in college basketball the last three years than Melo. He changed the trajectory of Mark Turgeon’s program, winning 79 games in three years and ending his career 30-8 in games decided by six points or less. As a junior, Trimble and the Terps earned a No. 6 seed to the NCAA tournament, but they lost in the first round to Xavier. It was the only time in Trimble’s career that he didn’t reach the Sweet 16.

“Melo Trimble is a winner,” Mark Turgeon said on twitter. “Humble, hard-working, dedicated. Words can’t express what he’s done for our program. Always #StayMelo!”