CBT’s 2013 All Name Power Rankings

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

We’re doing things a little differently this year. Instead of semi-arbitrarily organizing players into artificial five man teams based on the quality and musicality of their names, we’re going to semi-arbitrarily arrange athletes into a power ranking structure, honoring only the top twenty-five player names, with definitive explanations of why each name is so awesome.

First, I’ll tell you what does NOT qualify someone for All Name status. Simply being from another country and having a representative regional name is not enough. Mildly uncommon first names are actually becoming rather standard in the sports world, so your everyday Dundrecous isn’t going to catch my eye. Names that might be funny if pronounced a certain way don’t make the grade on those merits alone, though I did bend that rule a bit.

So who did make the grade, and why? Only one way to find out. Read on, my friend.

1. God’sgift Achiuwa, St. John’s – It’s only fitting that the top spot go to a name that will go down as an all-time great one. God’sgift is the only player I’ve ever seen who’s sporting an apostrophe that signifies possession rather than a quick glottal stop. In addition, his first name is two words smushed into one, and it glides rather naturally into Achiuwa. His given name is impossible to shortcut; you say the whole thing, or you sound blasphemous. This is a Hall of Fame name.

source: AP
McWisdom >>> McLovin?

2. McWisdom Badejo, Florida A&M – Would this name have ranked this high if I hadn’t seen Superbad? Probably not. But the image of Bill Hader in a cop uniform shouting “McWisdom, Why?!?” when Badejo commits a turnover or gorks a dunk attempt will not leave my head. In addition, this puts the A&M Rattler center in the somewhat questionable realm of McMansions and McNuggets, indicative of a mass-produced, pre-packaged imitation of real wisdom.

3. Indiana Faithfull, Wofford – First name is one of the 50 United States, check. Last name meaning loyal, constant and steadfast, check. Didn’t go to Indiana, double check. The capper is that he’s from Australia, so he’s more than likely named after Indiana Jones, and not the state.

4. Four McGlynn, Towson – I firmly believe that Moses Malone gave the McGlynn family the inspiration for the Vermont transfer’s first name when he said “Fo’, fo’, fo” in 1983. Prove me wrong.

5. Dakota Slaughter, Alabama – First name is one (technically, two) of the 50 United States. Last name meaning to kill in a violent or brutal  manner. Almost as good as Indiana Faithfull, but points off for being a bit terrifying. (Note: when I first published this list, I had the wrong page linked, showing Dakota as a walk-on with no photo or info. ‘Bama emailed me with the proper link and politely requested I change it. When Dakota Slaughter corrects you, believe me, you hop to.)

6. Sir’Dominic Pointer, St. John’s – Sir is not being used as a title here, but it sounds like it when you say it out loud. The random apostrophe is a piquant addition. And Pointer gives St. John’s two players in the top ten. Too bad great names don’t win championships all by themselves.

7. Staats Battle, NC State – If the 6-foot-6 guard is truly in a battle to accumulate staats, er, stats, he’s losing. He’s scored 11 points in two seasons as a member of the Wolfpack. He got in trouble last season, and was reportedly kicked off the team, but the school has listed him as a junior on this year’s roster, so he stays.

8. Biggie Minnis, Rhode Island – His real name is DeShon, but Rhody isn’t keen on that fact. They list him as Biggie on the official website. Throw in the fact that he’s a 185 lb. guard instead of a 300 lb. rapper/center and the picture is complete.

9. Hippolyte Tsafack, Memphis – I really don’t have a joke for this one. It’s simply majestic, and I love saying it.

10. Wanaah Bail, UCLA – He did want to bail on Texas Tech after Billy Gillispie kicked off the abusive coaching trend, so he did. A knee injury will cause him to miss some of this season, but we’ll enjoy him as soon as he gets into the rotation for Steve Alford in Westwood.

11. Claybrin McMath, Bryant – Sounds like a character on Adventure Time. His McMath wasn’t too impressive last season, only adding up to 23 points in 26 appearances.

12. Leek Leek, Campbell – The best of a handful of redundant names this season. Brings to mind an escape of fluid from a supposedly sealed container, even though it’s spelled like a double helping of a mild onion-like veggie.

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Cal Poly really saved on lettering with Drake U’u’s jersey.

13. Drake U’u, Cal Poly – This guy has been a favorite for years. Plenty of people have random apostrophes in their names, plenty of guys have names with too many vowels or not enough. But the combination of all that in one gloriously short surname is worth celebrating.

14. Jordair Jett, St. Louis – It’s tough to live up to a name that combines parts of Michael Jordan, His Airness, and the speedy imagery of a jet. Jordair might not be quite that good, but he does pretty well for himself on a quality team. Bonus points for the dreads and the Lionel Richie moustache.

15. Sanjay Lumpkin, Northwestern – The lovechild of Sanjay Nahasapeemapetilon and Lurleen Lumpkin? Simpsons fans can only dream it’s true.

16. Daveon Balls, Northern Illinois – You know why this is funny. Don’t make me be crude. If someone has a photo of the back of his jersey, I’ll love you forever.

17. Basil Smotherman, Purdue – If he doesn’t drink tea, play cricket and bow to the Queen he’ll have some explaining to do.

18. Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson – His last name seems so hopeful. Like he’s growing his game into something beautiful under Brad Brownell’s tutelage. That’s the hope, after he spent his first season in school redshirting due to injury.

19. Grandy Glaze, St. Louis – If you can’t order this as a specialty drink at a Starbucks near Chaifetz Arena, there’s something wrong with this world.

20. Jeremy Bogus, Jacksonville – I hope the Dolphins sell his official jersey in the team store, and crack down on any bogus, er counterfeit replicas.

21. Dallas Ennema, Albany – If ever a city needed a good, therapeutic colon cleansing, it’s Dallas.

22. Ria’n Holland, Wichita State – I thought I’d seen every possible odd place to put an apostrophe. I was wrong. The Shockers always find a way.

23. Armani Cotton, Yale – Armani by itself is a great name, but paired with cotton, it’s just too perfect. Plus, he’s Ivy League.

24. Chad Posthumus, Morehead State – Not spelled quite right, but the impact is undeniable. Let’s recognize him prehumously.

25. Ya Ya Anderson, Radford – Getcha, getcha Ya Ya’s out.

source: AP
Rashad Whack really lives up to his name.

Honorable Mention: Rashad Whack, Mt. St. Mary’s; Chris Manhertz, Canisius; Christian Standhardinger, Hawaii; Yilret Yiljep, American; Alex Biggerstaff, UNC-Asheville; Raven Barber, Mt. St. Mary’s; Canyon Barry, Charleston; Stetson Billings, Arkansas-Little Rock; Gee McGhee, Chattanooga; Onochie Ochie, Southeastern Louisiana; Dusty Hannahs, Texas Tech; Willis Turnipseed, Morgan State

And, not for nothing, two parents of the same generation came up with the same tortured spelling of a fairly common name without, one assumes, conferring first, giving us Xzaivier James of Northern Colorado and Xzaivier Taylor of Bradley. Good show.

In closing, I’d like to pay tribute to the godfather of all run-on basketball names, Dikembe Mutombo. Thanks to comedian @Adam_Newman for specially editing this clip of his performance on Letterman for CBT:

Report: Western Kentucky’s Lamonte Bearden staying in 2018 NBA Draft

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Western Kentucky guard Lamonte Bearden will stay in the 2018 NBA Draft after hiring an agent, according to a report from ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-3 Bearden just completed his redshirt junior season with the Hilltoppers as he averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game. A slippery guard with good size, Bearden shot 47 percent from the field and 82 percent from the charity stripe while also getting in the passing lanes for 1.7 steals per game.

Although Bearden has good size and athleticism at lead guard, his perimeter jumper has been inconsistent during his college career. He was 31 percent from three-point range (a career high) this past season. Starting his college career at Buffalo, Bearden helped lead the Bulls to the NCAA tournament before opting to play in Conference USA for Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers will certainly miss Bearden’s presence in their backcourt as the program has seven new players signed for next season.

USC makes a statement landing Class of 2019 four-star forward Isaiah Mobley

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USC ended a strong week of recruiting with another major statement on Friday afternoon as four-star Class of 2019 forward Isaiah Mobley pledged to the Trojans.

The second major Class of 2019 commitment for USC during the week, the 6-foot-9 power forward joins five-star big man Onyeka Okongwu. The Compton Magic teammates should be able to help replace the loss of Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu, with Mobley playing the skilled, floor-spacing Boatwright’s role and Okongwu providing the interior energy of Metu.

Having two highly-touted big men commit in the same week is huge for USC. And it looks like the start of even bigger things in a continually-evolving SoCal recruiting war against Pac-12 rival UCLA.

Landing both Mobley and Okongwu is significant for the Trojans for a number of reasons. As previously mentioned, both come from the famous Compton Magic grassroots program that runs on the adidas Gauntlet. While landing AAU teammates from a regional program is common for high-major programs of USC’s stature, the commitments signify that the Trojans are the ones with the biggest pull with the Magic at the current moment.

And the Magic used to get raided by UCLA.

In the past few years, the Bruins signed T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Jaylen Hands and Jalen Hill from the Compton Magic. Now, it’s USC who looks to be in the driver’s seat recruiting the program.

The Trojans aren’t done, either.

Newly-hired USC assistant coach Eric Mobley is the father Isaiah Mobley, as well as five-star Class of 2020 big man Evan Mobley. As Rivals national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi noted in his story about Isaiah, “Barring something strange happening, look for the younger Mobley to join his brother and father by committing to USC within the next two weeks.”

That would mean the Trojans would have landed three top-30 caliber big men in the span of a few weeks. That allows the USC coaching staff to recruit other positions extremely hard. Outside of Kentucky, USC has arguably the best future recruiting status of any program in the country.

The Trojans have taken full advantage of UCLA letting go popular assistant coach David Grace. The Bruins are still pulling in top-100 prospects, as evidenced by Grant Sherfield and Jaime Jaquez’s commitments in the Class of 2019, but losing two Magic kids in a week to a rival has to sting.

Considering where USC was last fall with the FBI investigation, who saw this type of recruiting swing coming? Other programs involved in the investigation like Arizona, Auburn and Oklahoma State have landed solid recruits. They also haven’t pulled in nearly the high-level talent that the Trojans currently have committed.

Even amidst the uncertainty surrounding the FBI investigation, USC is still pulling in elite talent while beating local rivals. It’ll be fascinating to see if the Trojans can continue to recruit at this level as they try to fill out the rest of an important recruiting class.

USF signs Oklahoma State transfer Zack Dawson

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USF landed a major addition on Friday as the school announced the signing of Oklahoma State transfer guard Zack Dawson.

The 6-foot-3 Dawson is a former consensus top-100 prospect coming out of high school as he’ll have to sit out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer rules. A native of the region, Dawson will have three years of eligibility remaining once he’s able to play again.

Dismissed from Oklahoma State on Dec. 14 for violating team rules, Dawson averaged 4.4 points and1.6 assists per contest as he only suited up in five games for the Cowboys. Once Dawson is eligible to play for USF, he gives the Bulls a potentially dynamic backcourt along with rising sophomore guard David Collins.

“We are excited to welcome Zack back home to Florida as a member of the Bulls family,” USF head coach Brian Gregory said in a release. “He is a dynamic and versatile guard who can impact the game in a variety of ways. Zack comes from one of the best high school programs in the state, South Miami High School, so he immediately brings a championship attitude here to the University of South Florida.”

This is a really nice pickup for the Bulls, as they utilized a local transfer to help bolster the roster. Landing top-100 kids out of high school is going to be tough until USF boosts its basketball credibility. But getting a former top-100 player on the transfer market is a solid approach to building the Bulls into a respectable threat.

Michael Porter Jr.: ‘I’m the best player in this draft’

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The more I think about it, the more that Michael Porter Jr. is becoming the most interesting prospect at the top of the 2018 NBA Draft.

As a high school senior, he was considered by many to be the top player in the class, a 6-foot-10 combo-forward with a lethal three-point shot, NBA dunk contest athleticism and the versatility to, one day, be a multi-positional defender that would seamlessly fit into fit into the modern NBA.

But his one and only season at Missouri was derailed by back surgery, and that has allowed the rest of the class of 2017 to shine while we have focused on everything else that comes with drafting Porter. The reputation that he had for the majority of his high school career of being soft. The intel that was coming out of Missouri, that he was cocky and arrogant and something of a bad teammate. Questions about whether or not he is truly a wing or a four, more like a more athletic Lauri Markkanen.

When the only thing that we’ve had a chance to see this season is an out-of-shape Porter struggling in postseason games, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that his hype train has derailed.

“I know without a doubt that I’m the — I played against all these guys, they’re all great players — but I’m the best player in this draft,” Porter told ESPN. “And I just can’t wait to show what I’m capable of.”

And therein lies the conundrum for any team drafting him.

I have little doubt that Porter is going to be able to score and score a lot in the NBA. I think he and Bagley are the safest bets to average 20 points at the NBA level before their rookie contract runs out.

But putting up points and playing on winning basketball teams are not one and the same. For a ten-year stretch after his rookie season, Rudy Gay averaged at least 17.2 points while making the playoffs once during that stretch. Is that what Porter is going to turn into at the next level? Or will be find a way to become the kind of NBA defender his athleticism says he should be and, by the time he signs his first contract extension, end up the player that Paul George is?

The mitigating factor here is that Porter is going to do a fantastic job in every interview he has. He’s an intelligent, charismatic and articulate kid that is going to be able to sell himself. The red flags that he has aren’t going to show when he’s sitting down in front of NBA general managers.

They would have shown up — or been written off — if there was a season’s worth of game-tape available, but there isn’t. What that means is that scouts are going to have to decide whether or not Porter, who by all accounts had a very impressive senior season in high school, is that player or the one that had the reputation for being soft for years before that.

And all of that is going to come after the doctor’s have a chance to examine his back to see if the surgery he underwent fixed what was wrong, or if this is the kind of situation where a recurrence is likely.

The result is the widest range for any player at the top of the draft.

He could sell someone on taking him as a top four pick. He could also slide his way down to the Knicks at No. 9 or the 76ers at No. 10.

Which is what makes him the most interesting prospect at the top of this draft.

P.J. Washington ‘definitely going back to school’ without first round guarantee

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Kentucky forward P.J. Washington is one of the handful of players that currently finds themselves in the tenuous position of having their name in the NBA draft pool without having a clear picture of where, exactly, they are going to end up getting picked.

Will they be a late-first round pick? Will he be an early second round pick? Will he even be drafted at all?

Washington told reporters at the NBA combine this week that, if he’s a first round pick, he’ll be heading to the NBA. If he only gets a second round guarantee, he’ll be returning to school.

As we detailed last week, getting selected in the second round does not mean a player is destined to end up being broke his first year out of school. In the last six drafts, only one college player picked in the top ten picks of the second round (31-40) did not receive a guaranteed contract. In the 2017 NBA Draft, every college player selected in the top 50 received a guaranteed deal of at least one year, and Thomas Bryant was the only player whose one-year guaranteed deal was at the league minimum.

That doesn’t mean that Washington should leave Kentucky if he’s going to be a second round pick. If he returns to school, becomes a 42 percent three-point shooter (and can make free throws) and proves that he’s more versatile defensively than he was his year, then he could move up into the first round in a weaker 2019 draft.

It’s a risk for him, financially, to leave after this year if he doesn’t get that first round guarantee. It’s also a risk to return to school, where the best-case scenario isn’t always what happens.

I don’t envy the decision he has to make, but I am glad that Washington will have every chance in the world to be informed about the decision.