College hoops recently picked up a new regular-season commentator when Marv Albert announced he was finished calling football games in favor of more college basketball. Now college hoops will get a former national champion and All-American as former Duke star and NBA champion Shane Battier is joining ESPN’s television team. The story was reported by Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead.
Battier is a two-time NBA champion with the Miami Heat and won a national championship, Player of the Year honors and Final Four Most Outstanding Player in 2001.
If you’ve ever read anything on Battier, you know he’s a very intelligent basketball player that can also eloquently express things about the game in interviews. Battier is keen on analysts in his approach to playing with the Miami Heat and it will be interesting to see if this factors into his broadcasting career. I would hope that to be the case, as college hoops could use another analyst’s touch in the subject.
ESPN now has former Duke players like Jay Bilas and Jay Williams on staff and Battier adds to that team as former Blue Devils. ESPN may be criticized for being too Duke focused in this approach, but former player Grant Hill also works with Turner Sports and Alaa Abdelnaby is on CBS Sports Network.
It’s easy to forget the lockout casualties when you think about the NBA’s rookie class. We just watched the draft after all, haven’t we seen all of the new guys?
Not really. Duke’s Kyle Singler, who fled the shortened NBA season to play in Spain, will be returning to U.S. shores, ready to start his NBA career after getting some professional seasoning under his belt after agreeing to terms with the Detroit Pistons. He could have come home and played last season, but opted instead to take advantage of the large dose of playing time he was getting with Real Madrid.
“The opportunity to play a lot more was here, but the bottom line was I was happy and felt no pressure to leave and go back to the NBA,” Singler, who was the 33rd overall pick in last year’s draft, told the Associated Press recently. “Deep down, I knew it was the best decision for me to stay. I’ll have another chance to play in the NBA, there was no real rush.”
This is why Duke kids drive fans of other teams crazy. They play hard, keep their noses clean, and they’re smart enough to justify the smugness that attends a Dookie hoopster. It’s hard to fault Singler’s decision in any way. The Pistons finished last in their division last season, and he still probably wouldn’t have seen much playing time. This way, the mop-haired Swiss Army knife of a player once again demonstrated his maturity and skills, and probably came out with more of a guaranteed future than he did as a second-round pick.
As another former Blue Devil, Shane Battier, just proved, a smart, tough player can hang around long enough to get a ring in the NBA. It’s a deal Singler would likely take.
While much of the basketball world discussed (and obsessed with) what an NBA title would do for LeBron James, there were also two Miami Heat players who joined the list of NBA champions with NCAA titles as well.
Shane Battier (Duke, 2001) and Mario Chalmers (Kansas, 2008) can now add their names to the list, and according to the Sporting News 71% of the teams who have won a title have had an NCAA champ on the roster.
Battier became the first Blue Devil to accomplish the feat while Chalmers is the second Jayhawk to do so (Clyde Lovellette).
Since the first NBA champion was crowned in 1950 with Utah’s Arnie Ferrin helping the Minneapolis Lakers win it all, 43 of 61 NBA champions included at least one player who first won an NCAA title. If the Heat win, that’ll make it 71 percent of all NBA champs that included an NCAA champ in its rotation.
That list of players includes three of the best to have ever picked up a basketball in Magic Johnson (Michigan State, 1979), Michael Jordan (North Carolina, 1982) and Bill Russell (San Francisco, 1955 and 1956).
The Miami Heat also supplied the most recent player before last night to accomplish this double as Derek Anderson, who won a national title at Kentucky in 1996, was a member of their 2006 championship team.
Does the experience of winning at the college level prove beneficial at the pro level? The percentage above (along with the number of players who have won both titles) seems to offer evidence that it does help.
Whether it’s college coaches who try to mine successful scholastic programs or NBA teams that like to draft players from winning colleges, adding players who “know how to win” can provide the ultimate reward.
Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.