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CBT’s 2013 All Name Power Rankings

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

We’re doing things a little differently this year. Instead of semi-arbitrarily organizing players into artificial five man teams based on the quality and musicality of their names, we’re going to semi-arbitrarily arrange athletes into a power ranking structure, honoring only the top twenty-five player names, with definitive explanations of why each name is so awesome.

First, I’ll tell you what does NOT qualify someone for All Name status. Simply being from another country and having a representative regional name is not enough. Mildly uncommon first names are actually becoming rather standard in the sports world, so your everyday Dundrecous isn’t going to catch my eye. Names that might be funny if pronounced a certain way don’t make the grade on those merits alone, though I did bend that rule a bit.

So who did make the grade, and why? Only one way to find out. Read on, my friend.

1. God’sgift Achiuwa, St. John’s – It’s only fitting that the top spot go to a name that will go down as an all-time great one. God’sgift is the only player I’ve ever seen who’s sporting an apostrophe that signifies possession rather than a quick glottal stop. In addition, his first name is two words smushed into one, and it glides rather naturally into Achiuwa. His given name is impossible to shortcut; you say the whole thing, or you sound blasphemous. This is a Hall of Fame name.

source: AP
McWisdom >>> McLovin?

2. McWisdom Badejo, Florida A&M – Would this name have ranked this high if I hadn’t seen Superbad? Probably not. But the image of Bill Hader in a cop uniform shouting “McWisdom, Why?!?” when Badejo commits a turnover or gorks a dunk attempt will not leave my head. In addition, this puts the A&M Rattler center in the somewhat questionable realm of McMansions and McNuggets, indicative of a mass-produced, pre-packaged imitation of real wisdom.

3. Indiana Faithfull, Wofford – First name is one of the 50 United States, check. Last name meaning loyal, constant and steadfast, check. Didn’t go to Indiana, double check. The capper is that he’s from Australia, so he’s more than likely named after Indiana Jones, and not the state.

4. Four McGlynn, Towson – I firmly believe that Moses Malone gave the McGlynn family the inspiration for the Vermont transfer’s first name when he said “Fo’, fo’, fo” in 1983. Prove me wrong.

5. Dakota Slaughter, Alabama – First name is one (technically, two) of the 50 United States. Last name meaning to kill in a violent or brutal  manner. Almost as good as Indiana Faithfull, but points off for being a bit terrifying. (Note: when I first published this list, I had the wrong page linked, showing Dakota as a walk-on with no photo or info. ‘Bama emailed me with the proper link and politely requested I change it. When Dakota Slaughter corrects you, believe me, you hop to.)

6. Sir’Dominic Pointer, St. John’s – Sir is not being used as a title here, but it sounds like it when you say it out loud. The random apostrophe is a piquant addition. And Pointer gives St. John’s two players in the top ten. Too bad great names don’t win championships all by themselves.

7. Staats Battle, NC State – If the 6-foot-6 guard is truly in a battle to accumulate staats, er, stats, he’s losing. He’s scored 11 points in two seasons as a member of the Wolfpack. He got in trouble last season, and was reportedly kicked off the team, but the school has listed him as a junior on this year’s roster, so he stays.

8. Biggie Minnis, Rhode Island – His real name is DeShon, but Rhody isn’t keen on that fact. They list him as Biggie on the official website. Throw in the fact that he’s a 185 lb. guard instead of a 300 lb. rapper/center and the picture is complete.

9. Hippolyte Tsafack, Memphis – I really don’t have a joke for this one. It’s simply majestic, and I love saying it.

10. Wanaah Bail, UCLA – He did want to bail on Texas Tech after Billy Gillispie kicked off the abusive coaching trend, so he did. A knee injury will cause him to miss some of this season, but we’ll enjoy him as soon as he gets into the rotation for Steve Alford in Westwood.

11. Claybrin McMath, Bryant – Sounds like a character on Adventure Time. His McMath wasn’t too impressive last season, only adding up to 23 points in 26 appearances.

12. Leek Leek, Campbell – The best of a handful of redundant names this season. Brings to mind an escape of fluid from a supposedly sealed container, even though it’s spelled like a double helping of a mild onion-like veggie.

source: Getty Images
Cal Poly really saved on lettering with Drake U’u’s jersey.

13. Drake U’u, Cal Poly – This guy has been a favorite for years. Plenty of people have random apostrophes in their names, plenty of guys have names with too many vowels or not enough. But the combination of all that in one gloriously short surname is worth celebrating.

14. Jordair Jett, St. Louis – It’s tough to live up to a name that combines parts of Michael Jordan, His Airness, and the speedy imagery of a jet. Jordair might not be quite that good, but he does pretty well for himself on a quality team. Bonus points for the dreads and the Lionel Richie moustache.

15. Sanjay Lumpkin, Northwestern – The lovechild of Sanjay Nahasapeemapetilon and Lurleen Lumpkin? Simpsons fans can only dream it’s true.

16. Daveon Balls, Northern Illinois – You know why this is funny. Don’t make me be crude. If someone has a photo of the back of his jersey, I’ll love you forever.

17. Basil Smotherman, Purdue – If he doesn’t drink tea, play cricket and bow to the Queen he’ll have some explaining to do.

18. Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson – His last name seems so hopeful. Like he’s growing his game into something beautiful under Brad Brownell’s tutelage. That’s the hope, after he spent his first season in school redshirting due to injury.

19. Grandy Glaze, St. Louis – If you can’t order this as a specialty drink at a Starbucks near Chaifetz Arena, there’s something wrong with this world.

20. Jeremy Bogus, Jacksonville – I hope the Dolphins sell his official jersey in the team store, and crack down on any bogus, er counterfeit replicas.

21. Dallas Ennema, Albany – If ever a city needed a good, therapeutic colon cleansing, it’s Dallas.

22. Ria’n Holland, Wichita State – I thought I’d seen every possible odd place to put an apostrophe. I was wrong. The Shockers always find a way.

23. Armani Cotton, Yale – Armani by itself is a great name, but paired with cotton, it’s just too perfect. Plus, he’s Ivy League.

24. Chad Posthumus, Morehead State – Not spelled quite right, but the impact is undeniable. Let’s recognize him prehumously.

25. Ya Ya Anderson, Radford – Getcha, getcha Ya Ya’s out.

source: AP
Rashad Whack really lives up to his name.

Honorable Mention: Rashad Whack, Mt. St. Mary’s; Chris Manhertz, Canisius; Christian Standhardinger, Hawaii; Yilret Yiljep, American; Alex Biggerstaff, UNC-Asheville; Raven Barber, Mt. St. Mary’s; Canyon Barry, Charleston; Stetson Billings, Arkansas-Little Rock; Gee McGhee, Chattanooga; Onochie Ochie, Southeastern Louisiana; Dusty Hannahs, Texas Tech; Willis Turnipseed, Morgan State

And, not for nothing, two parents of the same generation came up with the same tortured spelling of a fairly common name without, one assumes, conferring first, giving us Xzaivier James of Northern Colorado and Xzaivier Taylor of Bradley. Good show.

In closing, I’d like to pay tribute to the godfather of all run-on basketball names, Dikembe Mutombo. Thanks to comedian @Adam_Newman for specially editing this clip of his performance on Letterman for CBT:

THE BAMBA: Mohamed Bamba’s mind is as bright as his hoops future

Mohamed Bamba, Jon Lopez/Nike
Jon Lopez, Nike
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LOS ANGELES — Fresh off of the gold medal he won in the U18 FIBA Americas tournament in Chile, Mohamed Bamba returned to the states and headed almost directly to Los Angeles to attend the Nike Skills Academy.

Attend. Not participate, at least not during the first day and a half of the camp.

He wasn’t alone in this decision. His USA Basketball teammates Michael Porter Jr., Trae Young and Hamidou Diallo also sat out parts or all of the first day. They had gone from Peach Jam in Augusta to the national team training camp in Houston to Chile, where they played five games in five days. A day off on the first Monday after the end of the July Live Period is almost necessary with the schedule that some of the nation’s elite high school prospects play.

But Bamba’s decision wasn’t strictly based on trying to catch up on rest.

He had left his soles in Valdivia.

“I have flat feet,” Bamba told NBCSports.com on Tuesday as he launched into the saga of his shoes, and because of those flat feet — and an ankle injury he suffered in the spring — the 7-foot Bamba has to wear specially made inserts in the sole of his shoes when he plays. When you’re that tall and your feet are that big, you’re not exactly buying those inserts off the rack.

During the tournament in Chile, Bamba became something of a sensation because his last name happens to be the name of a Mexican folk song, ‘La Bamba,’ made internationally famous by Richie Valens. The fans would go crazy every time he made a play. They made signs for him. They tabbed him as a third-party candidate for the people that don’t want to see Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the White House.

Bamba loved it, so much so that, when the tournament ended, he gave his shoes — soles and all — to a young Chilean boy who had become his biggest fan.

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NBCSports.com, courtesy Mohamed Bamba

It wasn’t until he got back to the hotel that he realized his mistake. He was able to track the kid down on social media and got one of the soles back that night, but the other shoe had been taken by someone else. By the time they found that person, it was too late. Bamba was going to have to wait to get his soles shipped back to him in the States. He won’t get them until he’s home in New York, which means that his time on the courts in a modified airplane hangar at the Hawthorne Airport was dictated by how effectively the training staff could replicate his soles with athletic tape.

All because he got excited and gave his shoes to a fan.

It was a pretty dumb thing to do for a kid who is decidedly not dumb.

———

Mohamed Bamba is among the elite of the elite in the Class of 2017. He’s a consensus top four prospect in the class, a kid that has a very real chance to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He’s no where near a finished product yet, but his ability to change the game on the defensive end of the floor is special.

“He’s a dinosaur, man,” is how one coach of a top-25 program described Bamba, and it’s a pretty apt comparison. He’s 7-foot in shoes and soles with a wingspan that has been measured at 7-foot-9.5 and a standing reach of 9-foot-6. Those numbers are unheard of, and given his knack for blocking and changing shots at the rim, it’s not hard to look at him and see a guy that can one day influence a game the same way Rudy Gobert or Hassan Whiteside can defensively.

The offensive end of the floor is where Bamba is still very much a work in progress. His post game is somewhere between ineffective and developing, but that will come as the 210-pound Bamba adds some weight and strength. He’s not a guy that you want shooting a lot of jumpers, but his stroke and soft touch are impressive enough that it’s fairly easy to project him as a guy that will consistently make perimeter shots one day. He’s not as fluid or as mobile as some of the more offensive-minded bigs you’ll come across, but he’s not uncoordinated, either.

He’s never going to be Karl Towns or Anthony Davis, but if his ceiling is Rudy Gobert with a jump shot, that’s something that will make him very attractive to a lot of NBA teams.

Bamba knows this.

He also knows, like the rest of the basketball-watching world, that the salaries NBA players are getting these days are massive. It’s very much within the realm of possibility that Bamba could earn nine figures in NBA paychecks by the time it’s all said and done. Bamba’s smart — there’s a reason that Duke and Harvard (yes, Harvard) are two of the schools that are highest on the list of schools chasing him — smart enough to know what he doesn’t know, including the ins and outs of the NBA salary cap and salary structures. Why is every max contract worth a different amount of money? Why was it a popular refrain to say that Kevin Durant left money on the table when he signed with the Golden State Warriors?

FIBA
FIBA

And that’s why Bamba ponied up the money to head to Boston and attend the MIT Sloan Analytics Conference, a weekend-long festival of sports nerds that are interested in things beyond how many points someone scored in a game. Bamba attended a presentation breaking down the best way to defend pick-and-rolls, sat in on a session analyzing how an NBA front office works and, fittingly enough, learned about predictive injury analytics and injury prevention.

“I had never thought about efficiency before,” Bamba said. “In high school it’s about how many points you score, not how many shots it takes or possessions it takes.”

‘Student-athlete’ is something of a tongue-in-cheek term in this day and age given the inherent unfairness of amateurism in the NCAA, but Bamba is as much a student as he is an athlete. He’s got an inquisitive nature, a desire to learn. His trip to MIT started as a joke about him being a dork, but once he found out what it was he became intrigued. So he went. He’s been studying up on speeches that he attended in the months since he left Boston, learning more and more about NBA contracts and how players can manage their money. “If you’re going to be an multi-million dollar investment, you should know why and how it works,” he said.

He’s in business and marketing classes at the Westtown School now, and he says that regardless of how long it takes him to declare for the NBA Draft, he will be getting his degree. But when asked by a reporter if he’s preparing himself, on the chance that he goes one-and-done, to test out of intro classes and take more advanced courses as a freshman, Bamba admitted it was the rare topic he had no knowledge of.

“I’ve never thought about that,” he said.

“But I’m going to look into it now.”

Mohamed Bamba, Jon Lopez/Nike
Mohamed Bamba, USA Basketball

Top-25 guard trims list to six

Trae Young , Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images
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One of the top points guards in the Class of 2017 has trimmed his list of potential collegiate destinations to six.

Trae Young, a consensus top-25 recruit, listed Texas Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Oklahoma State and Kentucky as the schools he is considering as he readies to begin his senior year of high school.

The list of the 6-foot-2 point guard is largely provincial as it includes Oklahoma, whose campus is just minutes away from Young’s Norman North High School, and fellow in-state school Oklahoma. Another pair of Big 12 schools make the list in powerhouse Kansas and the Red Raiders, whose first-year coach, Chris Beard, has spent the bulk of his career working in Texas. Texas Tech is also Young’s father’s alma mater. Washington has been on a role sending its players to the pros and recently received the commitment of top-five 2017 recruit Michael Porter, Jr.

Kentucky, of course, needs no explanation as to its attractiveness to high-level players.

Top-100 guard commits to Xavier

Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)
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Xavier has added a top-100 prospect into its 2017 recruiting class Wednesday.

Elias Harden, a shooting guard from Georgia, pledged to the Musketeers via social media to become the second member of Chris Mack’s next class.

“The recruiting process was not EASY AT ALL,” Harden wrote on Twitter. “I wanna thank all the coaches that took time to recruit me.

“WIth that being said I will continue my academic and athletic career at Xavier University.”

The 6-foot-6 guard is ranked 92nd overall by 247Sports and had offers from Auburn, Maryland, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. He joins Jared Ridder, a Missouri guard, as part of the 2017 Xavier class.

The Musketeers return the bulk of last year’s 28-6 team that narrowly missed out on the Sweet 16.

Clemson recruit to enroll early

Brad Brownell
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Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.

A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”

Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.

A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017

The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 12.41.16 PM
Kentucky Sports Radio
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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)