NCAA Basketball Tournament - North Carolina State v Georgetown

Hollis Thompson goes from undrafted to an NBA player

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The big news of the day in Washington DC is that former Hoya Hollis Thompson has inked a three-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The terms of the deal are not yet known, and they also are not all that important. What is important is that Thompson, who declared for the draft with a year of eligibility left before going undrafted, will be in the NBA and will be making NBA money. Even if Thompson is getting paid the league minimum, he’ll cash almost $500,000 worth of checks as a rookie.

How many of his Georgetown classmates can say as much?

But this signing also is significant for John Thompson III.

The Hoyas have been and always will be associated with big men. From Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutumbo to Greg Monroe, Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green, the pros produced by both John Thompson Jr and his son are front court players. And seeing as Hibbert and Green will sign contracts that total nearly $100 million this summer, I think it is safe to say that recruits are noticing how good JT3’s big men end up being.

That’s probably why the top recruit in the Class of 2012 — Nerlens Noel — thought long and hard about becoming a Hoya. Like it or not, being able to get players to the NBA is more important to recruiting than winning national titles. Why do you think John Calipari was the best recruiter in the country before he won the title back in April?

Which brings us to Thompson.

Technically, Thompson is a front court player (he plays small forward), but he’s most definitely a wing. He is a 6-foot-8 sharpshooter that once went 44-50 from beyond the three point line in a workout. He’s also Georgetown’s first perimeter player to get this kind of a contract under JT3. Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, Jason Clark and Jonathon Wallace were good college players but couldn’t find their footing at the next level.

Thompson has, and he’s done it in a place that should be beneficial to his development. If he can carve out a career in the NBA, he can be the example that JT3 uses while recruiting perimeter players.

It wouldn’t hurt if D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and now Stephen Domingo, top 100 recruits enrolling at Georgetown next season, had successful freshmen campaigns to back up this notion.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
Associated Press
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.