Darrell Arthur

Jared Sullinger is not invited to the NBA Draft’s Green Room

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After an All-American freshman season at Ohio State, Jared Sullinger had a chance to enter the NBA and become a lottery pick.

He passed, instead returning to school for a chance to become National Player of the Year and win a National Title.

And while that was great for college hoops fans that wanted to see Sully in Columbus another season, it wasn’t exactly the best decision for the player. You see, Sullinger had a relatively disappointing sophomore campaign, and while a number of the causes were outside of his control — he didn’t have the same kind of supporting cast without Jon Diebler  and David Lighty and he never appeared to fully heal from an injury early in the season — it doesn’t change the fact that the big fella fell down draft boards throughout the year.

The biggest blow came earlier this month when someone leaked the news that Sullinger had problem with his back and his hamstrings.

As a result, Sullinger’s draft stock has gotten to the point that he reportedly has not been invited to the Green Room at the draft, where players expected to be pick in the top 10 to 15 spots wait to be selected. There is still a chance that he gets taken earlier is a team is enamored with him, but recent history isn’t favorable. Darrell Arthur fell all the way to 27th in the 2008 draft as a result of questions about a potential kidney ailment. A year later, DeJuan Blair — a guy that many use as a comparison for Sullinger at the next level — fell to the second round because of he didn’t have any ACLs in his knees.

This is why players leave school early. If Sullinger was the fifth pick last season, his contract would have guaranteed him almost $9 million over the first three years of his deal. In contrast, last year’s 25th pick won’t even average $1 million per season.

That’s a big difference.

Is the risk worth coming back for an extra season of college ball?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Comparing Kentucky to other champs who replaced everything

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Now the all five of Kentucky’s underclassmen stars are officially headed to the NBA (along with senior Darius Miller), it’s time to marvel at the production coach John Calipari must now replace.

Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Marquis Teague and Miller represented93 percent of the Wildcats’ scoring, 94 percent of their rebounds, 95 percent of their blocks, 96 percent of their steals and 96 percent of their assists. Those are simply staggering numbers, per Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal. (He has a complete listing of those totals and by player.)

It’s not anything new for a champion to lose a hefty amount of production. In just the last 10 years, at least four teams have been in the same position.

The 2005 Tar Heels lost their top seven scorers (Sean May, Rashad McCant, Ray Felton, Jawad Williams, Marvin Williams and Jackie Manuel), but those players “only” accounted for 84 percent of the team’s scoring. (David Noel and Reyshawn Terry managed to get on the scoreboard.) Those seven did account for massive amounts of rebounds (93 percent), but nothing else was above 83.

When Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Bobby Frasor and Danny Green, it wasn’t nearly the same amount of attrition.

Kansas lost 80 percent of its scoring from its 2008 title team (Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun), but returned a sixth man in Sherron Collins and a big man who played a key role in the Final Four in Cole Aldrich.

Even the back-to-back Florida champs didn’t have replace as much even though it also lost its six top players (Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Taurean Green, Lee Humphrey, Chris Richard and Corey Brewer). Those six accounted for 83 percent of the scoring, 77 percent of the rebounds, 81 percent of the assists, 81 percent of the steals and 87 percent of the blocks. (Having Marreese Speights, Walter Hodge and Dan Werner helps).

Kentucky will probably be similar to ’06 UNC and Kansas. Both of those teams made the NCAA tournament the following season (Kansas was 27-8, won the Big 12 and reached the Sweet 16; UNC was 23-8 and second in the ACC). Florida (24-12) and the 2010 Tar Heels (20-17)  were in the NIT. The Wildcats’ incoming class – which will likely still add another impact newcomer – has elite players ready to step in at every position. And we’ve already learned that Calipari excels at replacing entire rosters.

It’ll undoubtedly look different, though. When you’re replacing everything, that can’t be helped.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Academic reforms are good, but what are the side effects?

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Earlier on Tuesday afternoon, Dana O’Neil of ESPN.com broke down the academic reforms that the NCAA ratified back in October. The system isn’t exactly being overhauled, but there will be some significant changes that are made. Here is a list of the changes that will be implemented, beginning in 2015:

– Incoming freshmen will be required to have taken 16 core courses: four years of English; three years of math (higher than Algebra I); two years of science; two years of social science; one additional year English, math or science; and four additional years from the subjects listed or foreign language, philosophy or comparative religion. Of those 16 core courses, ten must be completed before the student-athlete begins their senior season. The latter change is an effort to prevent players from loading up on core classes in the summer after their senior season in an effort to get eligible.

– The players must have a GPA of 2.3 or higher in those 16 core courses in order to be eligible, which is bumped up from a 2.0. If the player has a GPA between 2.0 and 2.3 in those core courses, they will be considered an “academic redshirt”, meaning that are allowed to practice with the team but cannot participate in competition for the first semester of their freshmen year in college.

– The requirements for a JuCo transfer are even more difficult. The GPA for transferrable credits will be raised from 2.0 to 2.5, which is higher than the initial eligibility requirements for freshman and higher than just about every university’s requirements for maintaining eligibility once they are enrolled in college.

The result?

It will be that much more difficult for players to get eligible, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Forcing these kids to be better prepared for the rigors of collegiate academia should mean that all the athletes that will go pro in something other than sports will be ready to handle a heavier workload and more involved classes.

O’Neil did a great job breaking down some of the issues involved in this change, touching on everything from the problems with getting word to guidance counselors and high school coaches about the changes to the “cottage industry” that is prep school, even touching on the problem of valuing just how impressive a 2.3 GPA is. Like it or not, it’s tougher to get a 2.3 GPA at one of the nation’s best private schools than it is at some of the most messed up public schools.

The one issue she didn’t comment on, however, was the likely increase in academic fraud that will result.

You don’t have to search that hard to find instances where high school stars got a little home-cooking on their grades in high school. Derrick Rose had someone else take his SAT and it cost Memphis their trip to the national title game in 2008. Darrell Arthur had red flags raised from his time in high school. Tony Mitchell ended up at North Texas and not Missouri because of the question marks surrounding his high school transcript.

And those are only the kids that got found out.

In my mind, the biggest problem will be with the kids that are right on the cut line.

There are always going to be athletes that simply don’t care enough about their grades to get eligible at the college level, whether they need a 2.0 GPA or a 2.3 GPA. And there are also kids that are good enough on the court and in the class room that they will be able to meet any academic standard.

But what about the kids that fall into the middle of those two groups?

Think about it like this: You’ve got a kid whose grades are just good enough to keep him eligible at the high school level. He’s not a good enough prospect to warrant consideration from high-major programs, but he is good enough that schools at the lower end of Division I are willing to give him a scholarship. He can’t afford to pay for college on his own, meaning that his only option for higher education is to get it paid for because he can hoop. But with the higher academic standards — maybe because he was unaware of his potential to earn a scholarship, he only took nine core courses in his first three years; or maybe he has a 1.8 GPA in his core courses and a 2.3 GPA overall — his prospects of earning a scholarship out of high school are slim.

Does he go to Junior College, where he’ll have to be an even better student to have a chance at getting to a four-year school?

Academic reform is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. Forcing kids to learn will mean they are better prepared to be a productive member of society once their athletic career comes to a close.

But the higher academic standards will also create more room for the kids that are borderline athletes and borderlines students to fall through the cracks, and in the end, aren’t those the kids that need these athletic scholarships the most?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Thomas Robinson deserves everything he will get at the next level

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It’s official — Thomas Robinson will forego his final year of eligibility at Kansas and enter his name into the NBA Draft.

And while it would be easy to assume that Kansas fans would be upset over the fact that yet another talented big man has left the program with eligibility remaining — Julian Wright, Darrell Arthur, Cole Aldrich, the Morris twins — Robinson’s decision, according to Bill Self, is a cause for celebration.

“This is as happy a moment as there is,” Self said. “Really, when you really think about what this young man has been through for 15 months and think about the sacrifices he has made, the long nights, the sleepless nights and to remain focus, do well in school and represent our school in a way that almost brought us a national championship, it’s pretty amazing.”

“Now to see him live out his dream … what’s happening now with him is just as cool as last Monday night, playing in that (championship) game. This is as good as it gets for an individual, but also a program and a fan base that’s supported him so much.”

We all know his story by now.

Both of his grandparents and his mother passed away within the span of five weeks last January, leaving Robinson and his younger sister Jayla. The reason that Robinson returned to school was to improve enough that he could enter the draft and become his sister’s caretaker. The constant effort on the floor and the tireless work ethic off of it was all a result of that single-mindedness.

“I tried to come up with a thank-you note, or something to show my appreciation,” said Robinson, “but I couldn’t get anything. I think it’s beyond words what this program meant to me and how much support I felt coming from my situation.”

Robinson, the first unanimous AP All-American since Blake Griffin, deserves everything that will be coming his way, and it will be a lot. He’s projected to be a top five pick.

To get an idea of the kind of person that Robinson is, think about this: he brought Jayla, who turned nine on Monday, up with him during his press conference to announce he was turning pro:

source:

(Photo via the KUAthletics twitter feed)

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Is John Calipari truly the villain against Bill Self?

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Over the coming two days, one of the story lines that will be the most intriguing to follow is that of John Calipari and his quest to win his first national title.

Calipari is a polarizing figure in the sense that Kentucky fans worship him while most everyone else, with or without a rooting interest, either hates him or is accused of hating him by those same Kentucky fans. And regardless of what percentage of the college basketball watching nation feels the same as Drew Sharp does about Calipari, the bottom-line is that Calipari is quite clearly the villain in this narrative.

It’s not difficult to see why. Two of his four trips to the Final Four have been vacated by the NCAA. All you have to do is spend an afternoon at a high-level AAU tournament and you’ll hear ten stories about Calipari on the same level as the one involving $200,000 that made its way into Anthony Davis’ pocket.

The irony in all of this?

The villain has a record that is just as clean as the good guy’s, Bill Self. Those two Final Fours that were vacated? One was because Marcus Camby was commiserating with an agent. The other was because Derrick Rose cheated on his SATs. It Calipari blameless? No, but he’s about as guilty as the parents of a teenager that is busted smoking pot.

In fact, I think there is an argument to make that there is just as much smoke around the Kansas program as there is around the Kentucky program. Think about it:

– Darrell Arthur may never have been eligible to play college basketball due to grade changes he may have received in high school. Nothing came out of the investigation, but the school did vacate a state title a year after Arthur left due to grade tampering.

– Arthur’s classmate Mario Chalmers came to Kansas as a package deal, as his father received a spot on the Jayhawk’s staff as the Director of Basketball Operations.

– Josh Selby was suspended for the first nine games of his freshman season due to improper benefits he received while he was in high school.

– Three members of this year’s recruiting class were ruled ineligible for the 2011-2012 season.

None of that has been put on Self, the same way that Calipari is still without a record, according to the NCAA.

More intriguing is the fact that the coach of last season’s national title team, Jim Calhoun, actually has gotten himself into trouble with the NCAA. He was, essentially, caught with knowledge of the fact that an alum and an NBA agent was supplying a recruit (Nate Miles) with illicit benefits. But the vitriol sent his way was more or less limited to this column from Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com.

The point here is not to defend Calipari. I’m not trying to drag Self or Calhoun through the mud, either. These are all facts, and it will be interesting to see how they are portrayed over the next 30 hours.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.