NBA draft breakdown: The top 10 small forwards

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All this week at CBT, we’ll be spotlighting the top players at each position for the 2012 NBA draft. Monday featured the top point guards; Tuesday was the shooting guards. Today? The small forwards.

1. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky

Despite not being the focal point of Kentucky’s national championship team, Kidd-Gilchrist is another example of Calipari’s ability to turn high-level prospects into lottery picks.

Some analysts, considering the possible ceiling on his development, have questioned whether he would be worth a Top 5 pick, but, were Anthony Davis not Kidd-Gilchrist’s teammate this past season, perhaps his NBA potential would have been better highlighted.

Expect him to go somewhere in the Top 5.

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2. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

Expectations were sky-high for Barnes coming out of high school, and though he may not have lived up to every last label stuck on him before his time at North Carolina, he had a solid career as a Tar Heel, averaging 17.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game this past season.

Ultimately, Barnes is strongest as a scorer with an NBA-ready frame. He is 6-8 with length, but still needs to work on his ability to create for others. He will be selected somewhere in the Top 10, with many pointing to Golden State at No. 7.

3. Moe Harkless, St. John’s

Harkless was praised for his two days at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago this past week, as an athletic specimen with great potential for growth.

During the second half of his freshman season at St. John’s, Harkless began to show an aggressiveness and leadership quality that appeals to pro teams. He averaged 15.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game this past season.

His measurements at the Draft Combine were also impressive. Add that to his mature personality and willingness to learn (he went from a Top 50 recruit from the Class of 2011 to a one-and-done with late-lottery potential) and Harkless has a lot to offer to a team that is looking to invest in him and develop him over time.

4. Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt

The biggest critique that pro scouts had of Taylor, prior to his senior season, was whether he had an outside jumpshot that could translate to the professional level. This past season, he proved that he could extend his game to the perimeter, shooting over 42% from distance.

Taylor is an elite-level defender, which we have seen teams value in the second half of the first round (see: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics). Look for him to be a first round selection.

5. Quincy Miller, Baylor

Miller initially announced that he would be returning to Baylor for his sophomore season, but instead decided to jump to the draft.

Out of high school, Miller was thought to be a lottery pick, and probably would have been, had he stayed another year at Baylor. Now, at a lanky 6-9 and continuing to show that he has recovered from a knee injury in high school, Miller must settle into an NBA position, either at small or power forward.

6. Darius Miller, Kentucky

Miller was, at times, underrated in Kentucky’s pursuit of a national championship, but could play a similar role at the professional level as he did in college: fill in the gaps with production on a quality team.

He averaged 9.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game last season for the Wildcats and measured nearly 6-8 with shoes in the pre-draft workout.

7. Evan Fournier, France

Fournier is a first-round prospect in a draft that is very dry on international prospects.

He is a guard/forward hybrid and, at 6-7, could contribute to a team that selects him near the end of the first round as a dribble penetrator and scorer. He is only 19 years old, so he will have much room to grow.

8. Jae Crowder, Marquette

Crowder won the Big East Player of Year award this past season, but the biggest question for him, heading into the NBA draft, is his size and what position would suit him best at the professional level.

He is undoubtedly a competitor, and some have drawn a comparison to Denver Nugget Kenneth Faried, in terms of an undersized player who could have great value to the team who selects him.

He is likely to be chose in the second round.

9. Kevin Murphy, Tennessee Tech

Murphy had a strong showing at the 2012 Portsmouth Invitational, which helped his draft stock. Draft Express sees Murphy as an early second-round pick, mostly because of his ability to score the basketball, which he showed he could do with over 20 points per game last season.

10. Kris Joseph, Syracuse

As players progress through college, potential typically decreases, while criticisms usually rise. Joseph just turned 23, meaning, compared with a younger player, GMs may not see as much while. On the other side of the coin, though, Joseph can be an experienced and mature player who is looking to contribute to a contender.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.