USA Men's Basketball Team Scrimmage Against China

Kobe Bryant: College basketball ‘really isn’t teaching players anything’

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Get ready for another round of bickering about whether or not the one-and-done rule should be in place.

“I don’t really look at it from that perspective of what was good for the game of basketball,” Kobe Bryant told reporters when asked about his impact on the NBA as a prep-to-pro player. “I think the reality is there’s been a lot of players who’ve come out of high school. If you do the numbers and you look at the count, you’ll probably see players who came out of high school that were much more successful on average than players who went to college for a year or two or however long.”

“It seems like the system really isn’t teaching players anything, if you go to college. If you go to college, you play, you showcase, and you come to the pros. Well, that’s always been the big argument, as a player you have to go to college, you have to develop your skills and so forth and so on, and then you come to the league. So, we kind of got sold on that dream a little bit. Fortunately, I didn’t really listen much to it. Neither did KG. Neither did LeBron. I think that worked out pretty well for all three of us.”

“I’m always a firm believer in us being able to make our own decisions, especially as it pertains to going out and working and having a job. You should be able to go out there and make your own choices.”

Thanks, Kobe.

This is just what I needed on a Thursday in the heart of conference season. I’m going to break this down into bullet points:

  • Kobe may be a “firm believer” in “being able to make our own decisions”, but it’s the association that he is a member of that has done away with the one-and-done rule. It’s the NBA that instituted the age limit to be eligible for the NBA Draft. You want it changed? Take it up with the people that lose money while 18 year olds sit the bench — marginal NBA players looking for that last roster spot and NBA owners that want to draft NBA ready talent — during future CBA talks.
  • That said, I actually agree with him. I’ve written about it too many times to count so I won’t rehash it all here, but I don’t think it’s right to channel these kids into colleges where they get “paid” with a scholarship that they will never maximize while everyone else (coaches, administrators, NCAA suits, etc.) gets rich off of their exploits. That’s morally wrong.
  • Kobe mentions himself, Kevin Garnett and LeBron as examples of why colleges don’t develop players, three of the best prospects we have seen come through the high school ranks. They were going to be stars regardless of where they played after high school. The same can probably be said for the likes of Kevin Durant and Kevin Love, and, eventually, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. But would Damian Lillard be one of the best point guards in the NBA without Weber State? Would Steve Nash have been Steve Nash without Santa Clara? Where is Roy Hibbert if he doesn’t spend four years learning at Georgetown? How many top 50ish recruits has Bill Self turned into first round picks? What about Korleone Young or Ousmane Cisse or Leon Smith? Think they could have used a few years on campus?

The bottom-line is this: Elite prospects like Kobe and KG and LeBron were always going to be great. College would have been more-or-less useless for them.

But to dismiss the teaching ability of the coaches at the collegiate level is just stupid.

Kobe’s smarter than that.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.

VIDEO: New Mexico loses game on blown call by officials

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Nothing like a nice, controversial finish to get the blood flowing.

New Mexico was on the receiving end of a rule misinterpretation on Saturday afternoon, and that interpretation likely cost the Lobos a win over San Diego State and, arguably, a shot at the MWC regular season title.

Here’s the situation: New Mexico is up by three with 12 seconds left and the ball under their own basket. Their allowed to run the baseline, so Craig Neal calls a play where the inbounder throws the ball to a player running out of bounds.

Totally league as long as the player establishes out of bounds before touching the ball. The referee rules that he doesn’t.

Here’s the video:

The problem?

According to the rules, Xavier Adams — the player receiving the pass from Cullen Neal — only needed one foot on the floor out of bounds in order to establish himself as an inbounder that was able to catch that ball. He got one foot down (see the picture above), but the referees appeared to rule that he needed to have both feet down.

That was incorrect, according to the Mountain West office.

“While this was a very close judgment call made at full speed, it has been determined after careful review of slow-motion video replays the call was in fact incorrect,” the league said in a release. “The New Mexico player did get one foot down (two feet are not required) out-of-bounds before receiving the ball, thus establishing his location in accordance NCAA Basketball Playing Rules 4.23.1.a and 7.1.1.  By rule, the officials were not permitted to go to the monitor during the game to review this play.”

And here’s the kicker: When SDSU got the ball back, they hit a three to send the game into overtime, where the Aztecs won. But if New Mexico had won this game, they’d be sitting at 8-2 in MWC play, one game behind SDSU in the loss column with a return game against them in The Pit.

Instead, they’re now three games back with seven to play, meaning that the race is effectively over.

It’s tough to blame the referees here — it was a bang-bang call that is only clear in slow-motion replay — but man, that’s a big call to miss.