UCLA, Michigan lead way with three NBA Draft picks apiece

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The 2014 NBA Draft was held Thursday night, with the Kansas Jayhawks laying claim to two of the top three spots. Andrew Wiggins went first overall, making him the second Canadian in as many years to be taken in that spot, and Joel Embiid was selected by Philadelphia with the third pick. Sandwiched between them was former Duke forward Jabari Parker, making this the sixth consecutive year in which the Blue Devils have seen at least one of their players go in the first round.

Team-wise ten programs had multiple players picked, with UCLA and Michigan leading the way with three picks apiece. All three of UCLA’s selections heard their names called in the first round, with Minnesota picking guard Zach LaVine 13th, Memphis taking guard Jordan Adams 22nd and Kyle Anderson being selected by the Spurs with the 30th pick.

As for Michigan, Nik Stauskas became the highest-picked Wolverine since Jamal Crawford was picked eighth overall in the 2000 NBA Draft when he was selected in that same spot by the Sacramento Kings. Forward Mitch McGary was taken with the 21st pick by Oklahoma City, with fellow forward Glenn Robinson III going in the second round (40th pick) to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Joining UCLA and Michigan with multiple draft selections were Arizona (Aaron Gordon- 4th; Nick Johnson- 42nd), Duke (Parker- 2nd; Rodney Hood- 23rd), Kentucky (Julius Randle- 7th; James Young- 17th), Michigan State (Adreian Payne- 15th; Gary Harris- 19th), Oklahoma State (Marcus Smart- 6th; Markel Brown- 44th), Stanford (Josh Huestis- 29th; Dwight Powell- 45th), Syracuse (Tyler Ennis- 18th, Jerami Grant- 39th), Tennessee (Jarnell Stokes- 35th; Jordan McRae- 58th), and UConn (Shabazz Napier- 24th; DeAndre Daniels- 37th).

Some NBA Draft streaks came to an end Thursday night as well, most notably those of Florida and Ohio State as neither program had a player selected. This is the first time since 2010 that a Gator wasn’t picked, and with that being the case it can be argued that their 36-3 record of a season ago is even more impressive. As for Ohio State, this is the first draft since 2006 that hasn’t seen at least one Buckeye hear his name called.

As for conference representation it was the Pac-12 that came out on top, with nine of the 60 selections coming from that conference. The ACC was next in line with eight selections, followed by the Big Ten (seven), SEC (six), Big 12 (five), American Athletic (three) and Big East (two).

Also of note was former North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston’s selection, as the Texas Legends guard became the first-ever D-League product to be picked in the first round (26th overall).

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.