NBA draft breakdown: The top 10 power 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; Wednesday the small forwards. Today? The power forwards.

1. Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
Davis is widely regarded as the top pick in this month’s draft and with good reason. His growth spurt is well-known at this point, and his athleticism and wingspan allowed Davis to have an unprecedented impact on the defensive end of the floor as a freshman at Kentucky. And there’s definitely room for growth, because as his body matures and he adds a little in the way of post moves Davis could very well be a perennial all-star.

2. Thomas Robinson (Kansas)
Robinson hasn’t conceded the top pick in the draft to Davis, and while some may see that as an opportunity to ridicule it’s actually a display of the Jayhawk’s competitive nature. With the Morrii moving on he had to step up and Robinson did just that, helping lead Kansas to the national title game. Some have looked at his physical attributes and see some similarities between Robinson and Blake Griffin. He’s strong, skilled and highly athletic, and someone will grab him early in the lottery.

3. Terrence Jones (Kentucky)
Not sure how much returning to school helped Jones in regards to where he’ll get picked, but it’s safe to say that the second year in Lexington helped the Portland native in regards to his game. Jones can step out and knock down perimeter shots, and he was a more mature players for the Wildcats as a sophomore. He’s going in the lottery, and if paired up with a quality center Jones should be productive.

4. John Henson (North Carolina)
Behind Davis likely the second-best shot blocker in this year’s draft, Henson is very good as a weak side defender and also averaged 9.9 rebounds per game last season. He isn’t going to provide much when it comes to teams who may be looking for a player who’s useful in pick and pop situations, but his activity on the defensive end and length guarantees that Henson’s name will most likely be called in the lottery.

5. Perry Jones III (Baylor)
Jones III may be the most intriguing power forward for the simple fact that he’s a player that many have described as one who has “boom or bust” potential. Immensely gifted, Jones III averaged 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game for Baylor this season as they reached the Elite 8. But his motor has been called into question on multiple occasions, which could be a concern for some teams. He’s got lottery-level talent and will likely hear his name called during that portion of the draft, but does he drop due to the aforementioned concerns?

6. Royce White (Iowa State)
Much has been made about White’s anxiety disorder, aversion to flying and the beginning of his college career at Minnesota. But in two years at Iowa State (sitting out 2010-11 per NCAA transfer rules) there were no reported off-court issues. From a talent standpoint White is a point forward who could be seen in the mold of what Anthony Mason was during his time in the NBA. Iowa State employed him at the point and White was sensational last season, earning Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors.

7. Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure)
Nicholson isn’t going to wow folks with athletic feats but there’s no denying his skill level. Nicholson led the Bonnies to their first NCAA appearance since 2001 this season, averaging 18.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and winning Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors. He can step out to the college three-point line and knock down shots, and he’s skilled on the block as well. Nicholson likely slots into the latter portion of the first round, but if he’s still on the board in the second he won’t be there for long.

8. Draymond Green (Michigan State)
The Big Ten Player of the Year will most likely be a second round pick due to what some have termed as “below the rim athleticism.” But Green did just about everything for the Big Ten tournament champs last season, leading the team in points, rebounds and assists. Like Nicholson he can knock down shots out to the college three-point line, and his intangible are off the charts.

9. Kevin Jones (West Virginia)
Personally, Jones is the most underrated ‘four’ in this year’s draft. There doesn’t seem to be much chatter about the guy some felt should have been Big East Player of the Year, but he was a first team All-Big East selection as a senior. Jones averaged 19.9 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, leading the conference in both categories in addition to offensive rebounds (4.3 per game). Jones isn’t a great perimeter shooter but he’s effective out to 15-17 feet in that regard. Jones will be a second rounder with the ability to become a steal if he lands in the right system.

10. Drew Gordon (New Mexico)
Gordon’s college career didn’t get off to the best start at UCLA but he took full advantage of his time at New Mexico, helping lead the Lobos to the Mountain West tournament crown and a 5-seed in the NCAA tournament as a senior. Gordon can be a beast inside, as he averaged 11.1 rebounds per game to go along with his 13.7 points. Gordon averaged a double-double in both seasons in Albuquerque and possesses above the rim athleticism, which should give him some value as a mid- to late-second round selection.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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

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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.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.