Early entry

Aaron Gordon

Report: Arizona freshman Aaron Gordon expected to declare for 2014 NBA Draft

Leave a comment

Arizona’s season came to an end on Saturday night with a heartbreaking, overtime loss to Wisconsin in the Elite 8 in Anaheim. The attention will now shift to freshman forward Aaron Gordon, and whether or not he will declare for the 2014 NBA Draft.

Shortly after the loss, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports tweeted that sources informed him that Gordon would declare for the NBA draft, “barring a stunning change of mind.”

Gordon averaged 12.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 block per game in what could be his only season in Tucson, though, moments after Saturday night’s loss he didn’t close the door on returning for his sophomore season.

“You know, I’m not sure,” Gordon told reporters on Saturday night. “I have a great foundation so I’m going to talk to a few people and see how that goes and then make an educated decision.”

MOREThe entire list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

All season long Gordon has expected to be a one-and-done given that he’s a lock for the lottery, currently projected as the eighth overall pick by DraftExpress.com. Despite shooting 3-of-11 from the field against the Badgers, he hauled in 18 rebounds (six offensive) against Wisconsin on Saturday night. Gordon helped send the game to overtime when he forced Wisconsin guard Traevon Jackson into a contested, step back jump shot.

Gordon might not be the only Wildcat eyeing the upcoming NBA draft. Nick Johnson, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, is listed as an early second round pick according to DraftExpress.com.

Planning for early departures begins well before April deadlines

Pac 12 Basketball Tournament - First Round
Leave a comment

The days following the end of the college basketball season are important ones when it comes to the future of a program. Decisions have to be made by players with the potential to move on to the professional ranks, whether it’s to enter the NBA Draft or return to school for another season.

With the NCAA deadline to withdraw one’s name from the draft coming less than two weeks after the national title game, players and their families don’t have a great deal of time to decide their next move.

But for the programs involved, preparations for a possible departure begin well in advance of this period.

One school in that position this spring was Colorado, whose standout forward André Roberson had a tough decision to make. Roberson was one of the nation’s best forwards, as his defensive versatility and rebounding prowess played a pivotal role in head coach Tad Boyle’s ability to revive the CU basketball program. With averages of 10.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per contest, Roberson managed to earn first-team All-Pac 12 honors for the second consecutive season.

For all CBT’s NBA Draft coverage and series on player development, click here

The dilemma for the 6-7 Roberson: would he be better served from a skill standpoint to spend another season in Boulder, or should he make the move to the professional ranks with the idea of expanding his offensive repertoire at that level? In what was a tough decision, Roberson decided just before the NBA’s draft withdrawal deadline to go pro. And using the later deadline is something that happened by design, with the CU program encouraging Roberson to take all the time he needed to make an important decision such as this one.

“I think in André’s case it was one of those situations where he wanted to see who declared and who didn’t declare,” Boyle told NBCSports.com in a phone interview. “I think waiting until the end of the process makes the most sense because you have a better feel of who’s coming back to college and who isn’t.

“I think that makes good business sense and it was something that André was smart to do.”

With Roberson no longer in the plans for 2013-14, the next step for Boyle and his staff was the figure out how they would go about accounting for the loss of one of the best players in school history. The fact of the matter is that from a recruiting standpoint this process began last summer.

“If you’re waiting until the spring to replace a guy like André Roberson you’re going to be left holding an empty bag,” said Boyle. “We actually started in the fall with the idea that could happen. And as a college coach, I know that if kids are close and it’s going to come down to one of those ‘down to the wire’ decisions it’s more often than not going to tip towards the NBA.

“We recruit with the idea that [the player leaving] is going to happen. If that doesn’t happen, you have to be ready for that as well.”

When it comes to recruiting to the the possibility of a player leaving school early, every school has a different strategy. While you’d be hard-pressed to find a school willing to make promises in regards to playing time, some schools are more open than others when it comes to discussing the various scenarios with recruits.

“For our staff, when we recruit we try to be fully transparent,” said Boyle. “We try to talk about what could happen, what might happen and what most likely what will happen. Obviously, there’s no guarantee and there’s no 100% certainty.”

To this point Boyle brought up the recruitment of incoming freshman Dustin Thomas, a 6-8 forward from Texarkana, Texas. Had Roberson made the decision to return to Boulder for his senior season, there was the possibility of Thomas redshirting (as Wesley Gordon did last year) or seeing limited minutes as a freshman.

But with Roberson off to the professional ranks, there’s now the opportunity for Thomas to come in and earn minutes as a freshman. Colorado also received a commitment from 6-6 forward George King in the spring, with his decision coming in mid-May. It would be unfair to expect one player to account for Roberson’s production next season. But the combination of newcomers and returnees (Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott lead the way) gives Colorado a number of players who are capable doing so by committee.

The recruiting process is one that never stops, and while some programs may be able to recruit five-star prospects as if they’re rolling in on an assembly line that isn’t the case for all. When it comes to the early entry process, how a program recruits becomes even more important. The programs that experience consistent success plan accordingly for early departures, beginning their work well before the April deadlines are on the horizon.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Ben McLemore’s AAU coach: I took money from agents

Kansas Jayhawks McLemore reacts after a dunk against the Michigan Wolverines during the second half in their South Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Arlington
9 Comments

Ben McLemore surprised nobody when he declared for the NBA draft after just one season at Kansas. His sweet, sweet jumpshot, viewed through the lens of his family’s poverty, made the decision a no-brainer.

There’s nothing wrong with following your talents and earning money when you can. What allegedly went on behind the scenes, on the other hand, could lead to all kinds of trouble.

Eric Prisbell of USA Today wrote an article today, detailing a confession by McLemore’s AAU coach that agents made illicit payments to the coach, in hopes of securing the freshman superstar as a future client.

Darius Cobb, a St. Louis-based AAU coach, told USA TODAY Sports that he accepted two cash payments of $5,000 during the regular season from Rodney Blackstock, the founder and CEO of Hooplife Academy, a sports mentoring organization based in Greensboro, N.C.

Cobb says he also received three all-expense paid trips to Los Angeles — and that a cousin of McLemore’s, Richard Boyd, accompanied him on two of them — for meetings in January and February with sports agents and financial advisers hoping to represent McLemore if he left for the NBA after his redshirt freshman season at Kansas. McLemore, 20, declared for the NBA draft on April 9.

Later in the article, Boyd denies any wrongdoing. USA Today claims sources and evidence support some of Cobb’s statements, and the University of Kansas acknowledged they had been notified of the allegations and refused to comment further.

It’s a tangled story, and you owe it to yourself to read the entire article. Cobb appears to be coming forth in hopes of protecting McLemore, but the whole thing is very murky. As is so often true when agents and money enter the picture alongside talented young basketball players.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Ankle surgery sidelines projected lottery pick Alex Len

Alex Len
Leave a comment

When he announced his decision to enter the 2013 NBA Draft, former Maryland center Alex Len was projected by many draft analysts to be a lottery selection.

In the aftermath of news that Len has undergone surgery to stabilize a partial stress fracture in his left ankle, the question now is whether or not his draft stock will take a hit.

The surgery will sideline Len anywhere from four to six months, which obviously rules him out for on-court workouts in the weeks leading up to the June 27 draft in Brooklyn.

“This was a preventative measure to stabilize a partial stress fracture of the ankle,” said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson in a statement released by Len’s agent, Michael Lelchitski with Sports International Group.

“Although it is possible that this injury could have healed on its own, surgery was felt to be the safest and surest option to ensuring a long and successful NBA career for Alex. His prognosis is excellent, and I anticipate he’ll make a full return to basketball within the next few months.”

In 38 games Len averaged 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots per game this past season.

Len is the second big man in this year’s draft to have a significant health issue to deal with, with former Kentucky center Nerlens Noel still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in February.

Both are expected to be lottery picks, and given the perceived lack of elite talent a franchise can build around it wouldn’t come as a surprise if that remained the case come June. The focus for Len is to get to full strength by the time training camp rolls around in October.

“I decided that surgery was the best long term option for my career,” Len said in the statement. “I didn’t want to risk it not healing properly. I want to make sure I’m fully healthy and ready for training camp.”

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

NBA releases the official early entry list

UNC Greensboro UNC Wilmington Basketball
2 Comments

The NBA released their official early entry list on Wednesday, and while there were no relevant surprises — Marcus Smart didn’t slide his name into the NBA Draft pool when no one was paying attention — but there were a handful of names that hadn’t made their way into the headlines. Here are the NBA Draft’s seven biggest surprises:

Nurideen Lindsey, Rider: Lindsey’s basketball career has been a long and winding road, going from Philly to a JuCo in Oklahoma to St. John’s and, finally, to Rider. But Lindsey opted to enter his name in the draft in part because he wants to help take care of his sick mother.

Trevis Simpson, UNC-Greensboro: After averaging 18.8 points as a junior for the Spartans, Simpson made the decision to bypass his senior season and begin a career as a professional. It’s not likely that Simpson will get drafted, but he’s talented enough that he should be able to make enough money to support his wife and daughter playing the game. Simpson may be best known for breaking a rim putting on a dunking clinic against Miami:

Tahj Tate, Delaware State: Tate left the MEAC school earlier this month with the intention of entering the NBA Draft in large part because he believes that he’ll be “a better NBA player than a college player”. Tate averaged 16.7 points as a freshman, but his production dropped to 12.8 points as a sophomore.

Adrien Coleman, Bethune-Cookman: Coleman will pass up his senior season at B-CU, where he averaged 17.8 points and 7.4 boards as a junior. But Coleman, who began his career at Nebraska and sat out one season as a redshirt, will graduate with a degree in May.

Christian Kabongo, Morgan State: Kabongo averaged 14.6 points as a sophomore at New Mexico State before transferring to Southern Miss and, then, Morgan State, where he never set foot on the court. Kabongo is best known for an, ahem, “obscene gesture” that got him suspended after a game at UTEP. He in Myck Kabongo’s cousin.

John Taylor, Fresno Pacific: Taylor averaged 27.5 points this season and scored 50 in an NCCAA tournament game. That’s the National Christian College Athletic Association tournament.

Joshua Simmons, Spartanburg Methodist: That’s a JuCo. He’s not even listed on the roster.

Here’s the entire list:

  • Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
  • C.J. Aiken, Saint Joseph’s
  • Anthony Bennett, UNLV
  • Vander Blue, Marquette
  • Lorenzo Brown, NC State
  • Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
  • Trey Burke, Michigan
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
  • Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
  • Adrien Coleman, Bethune-Cookman
  • Allen Crabbe, California
  • Dewayne Dedmon, USC
  • Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
  • Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
  • Archie Goodwin, Kentucky
  • Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
  • Grant Jerrett, Arizona
  • Christian Kabongo, New Mexico State
  • Myck Kabongo, Texas
  • Shane Larkin, Miami (Fl.)
  • Ricky Ledo, Providence
  • Alex Len, Maryland
  • C.J. Leslie, NC State
  • Nurideen Lindsey, Rider
  • Amath M’Baye, Oklahoma
  • Ray McCallum, Detroit
  • Ben McLemore, Kansas
  • Tony Mitchell, North Texas
  • Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
  • Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
  • Victor Oladipo, Indiana
  • Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
  • Norvel Pelle, Los Angeles College Prep Academy
  • Otto Porter, Georgetown
  • Marshawn Powell, Arkansas
  • Phil Pressey, Missouri
  • Andre Roberson, Colorado
  • Joshua Simmons, Spartanburg Methodist (JC)
  • Trevis Simpson, UNC-Greensboro
  • Tony Snell, New Mexico
  • Tahj Tate, Delaware State
  • John Taylor, Fresno Pacific
  • Adonis Thomas, Memphis
  • Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
  • BJ Young, Arkansas
  • Cody Zeller, Indiana

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

UMass guard Chaz Williams to return for senior season

Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament - Semifinals - Virginia v Massachusetts
Leave a comment

UMass released a statement Monday afternoon announcing that guard Chaz Williams will return to the program for his senior season.

“I just want to thank everybody around the community and at UMass, from the coaches to the fans for allowing me to do the things I do,” Williams said. “Coach Kellogg was nice enough to allow me to have the opportunity to get feedback from NBA scouts. It was a tough process. I was thinking about taking care of my family, especially my daughter.

“I love this program and coach Kellogg, and I love all the guys on the team. The pieces we have coming back next season was a big reason I decided to stay in school. We are trying our hardest to have the arena filled each and every game and the student support we have makes college basketball so exciting.”

The 6-2 former Hofstra transfer averaged a team-leading 15.5 points and 7.3 assists per game last season, garnering first team All-Atlantic 10 Conference honors. In his two-year career, he has averaged 16.2 per game.

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

Williams waited until the last possible minute to announce he was coming back, despite the fact that there was little-to-no buzz surrounding him in terms of his NBA Draft prospects. This seems like the best decision for him.

With Williams returning, coach Derrick Kellogg will have one of the better backcourts in the conference with Williams and Western Kentucky transfer Derrick Gordon, who becomes eligible after sitting out last year. Gordon led the Hilltoppers in scoring as a freshman during the 2011-12 season at 11.8 per game and also pulled down 6.7 rebounds per game. They also get West Virginia transfer Jabarie Hinds in 2014-15, when Williams graduates.

It will also ease the loss of 6-5 Jesse Morgan, who was second behind Williams at 13.4 points per game this season.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten