Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union visit Nebraska’s basketball facilities (PHOTOS)

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Nebraska received some star visitors for its opening football weekend as Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade and wife Gabrielle Union visited campus on Saturday.

You might be wondering why a famous actress and perennial NBA all-star (from Marquette) might be visiting, but Union grew up in Omaha and her family has deep family history cheering for Nebraska football. So Wade and Union went to check out Nebraska’s home football opener against BYU.

Being a hooper, Wade and Union had to check out Nebraska’s basketball practice facility and head coach Tim Miles and the team were enthusiastic to greet them.

The basketball team clearly made an impression on Union.

Miles can use this visit as a positive for recruiting as he can point to how Union is a fan of the program and how she was impressed by everything they have to offer.

Dion Waiters heads the list of the NBA Draft’s risers

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The rumors started bouncing around just days before the draft, with seemingly everyone asking the same question: would the Cleveland Cavaliers really take Syracuse’s Dion Waiters with the fourth pick?

Our questions were answered at quarter to eight, as David Stern announced that Cleveland had, in fact, picked Waiters to join Kyrie Irving in their back court. I like Waiters a lot as a prospect. He’s a strong, athletic combo-guard that can really attack the basket. He’s got an attitude and a toughness about him (he is a Philly kid), the desire to have the ball in his hands in the clutch. It’s a bit of an unfair comparison to make, but think Dwyane Wade.

The shocking part about this pick has nothing to do with how good of a prospect Waiters is. It has everything to do with the fact that the Cavs probably could have traded down and gotten him in the second half of the lottery. The Cavs did the same thing last season when they reached for Tristan Thompson at the No. 4 spot, which probably was the reason they didn’t pick Thomas Robinson, who was still on the board.

It wasn’t all bad for the Cavs on Thursday night, however. They did manage to grab Jared Cunningham at the 24th spot, flipping him to Dallas (along with Bernard James and Jae Crowder) for Tyler Zeller. Cunningham is a scintillating athlete (you remember this, right?) and a lock-down defender that will be able to guard either back court spot. His offensive repertoire is still developing — he needs to become a better ball-handler and shooter — but there is no doubt that Cunningham has an NBA ready skill.

Another pick that was a bit of a surprise was Terrence Ross, who was gobbled up by Toronto with the No. 8 pick. Again, I think Ross is a good prospect at the wing spot — he’s got size, he’s got length, he’s athletic and he can shoot the basketball — but Ross was the last addition to the Green Room and expected to be a borderline lottery selection. Toronto didn’t need to use the eighth pick to get him.

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

Debating Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes

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The NBA Draft is still more than a month away, which means that it is still in the back of the mind of most basketball fans. That’s what happens when you have Kevin Durant out-dueling Kobe Bryant while LeBron James and Dwyane Wade try and show up on a nightly basis.

But that doesn’t mean that the coverage hasn’t started to roll out on the topic.

On Monday, Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com released his list of the top 20 prospects at each position and, for the most part, I agree with his picks.

There is one glaring omission, however, and it comes at the top of the small forwards: Goodman ranks Harrison Barnes as the best small forward prospect in the draft, one spot ahead of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Me? I couldn’t possibly disagree more.

That’s not meant as a shot at Harrison Barnes, either. I think that his struggles in the NCAA tournament once Kendall Marshall went down will make people forget that he was an all-american. That said, Barnes’ upside is limited, in my opinion. He’s a 6-foot-8 jump-shooter that lacks explosion, has issues creating his own shot and struggles to get all the way to the rim. He’ll have success in the league because of his size, his fluidity, his shooting stroke and his work ethic, but there’s a ceiling. I don’t see Barnes becoming an all-star.

But I do see that happening for Kidd-Gilchrist.

I’ll be the first to tell you that MKG has a long way to go to develop his skills to the point that he’ll be an elite NBA player. He needs to tighten up his handle, he needs to become a more consistent jump-shooter and he would do well to continue to improve his passing ability. That will come with time. What I love about MKG as a prospect — beyond the fact that he’s got the size (6-foot-7), the athleticism and the length of an NBA wing — is the mentality that he brings to the game: he’s humble and he’s hard-working. He’s a junkyard dog that will be a nightmare to deal with as a defender and a rebounder once he adds an NBA physique.

Maybe it’s just me, but I would rather take the player with the tools and the tenacity to be an NBA star and teach him to shoot the ball than take a player that can shoot and try to make him tougher and more athletic.

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

Dwyane Wade visits former coach Tom Crean at Indiana on day off

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Coming off of a 5-point, 2-for-13 shooting night in the Miami Heat’s Game 3 loss to the Indiana Pacers, it seems guard Dwyane Wade might have needed something to get him back on track, and he may have found it.

On Friday, Wade visited Bloomington, Ind., to check in with his former coach, Indiana’s Tom Crean.

Crean coached Wade at Marquette, a team that reached the Final Four in 2002-03. Wade averaged 21.5 points per game that season and was drafted in that year’s draft, fifth overall to the Heat.

The two have reportedly remained close since Wade’s decision to go pro, while Crean continued at Marquette and eventually moved to Indiana.

Wade has been photographed working out in Indiana shorts and the two continue to speak on a regular basis.

Wade has not shot well from the field in the series against Indiana, despite scoring 29 points in Game 1 and 24 points in Game 2, before his rough outing in Game 3.

The Heat take on the Pacers in Game 4 on Sunday. The Pacers lead the series 2-1. The winner is set to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to take on the winner of the Boston Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers series.

(h/t Vigilant Sports)

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

Jabari Parker is a rare breed: a humble, high school phenom

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If you don’t know who Jabari Parker is yet, you won’t have to wait long.

With next season’s freshmen class all but determined, the Class of 2013 is now the focus of all college hoops recruiting circles, and Parker is the biggest name in the country. A 6-foot-8 small forward from Chicago’s South Side, Parker — who has a 3.6 GPA and is just finishing up his junior year at Simeon High School, which counts Derrick Rose as an alum — was recently named the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year.

But Parker, who is black, is so much more than the stereotypical, high-profile hoops recruit. He’s smart, he’s humble and he’s mormon. Every day, before he goes to school, Parker spends an hour studying the bible. His goal? According to the profile done by Time.com on him, it’s to change the stereotype that people have of him. Not just as a basketball player, but as a black kid from Chicago.

“Right off the bat, they look at a black person as fatherless, as being a thug, teenage boy that’s so good at basketball,” Parker said. “I’m from this neighborhood. I have a good family. And I want to get rid of that cliche.”

Parker’s mother was born in Tonga, which is where he gets his faith. His father, Sonny Parker, played in the NBA, a place Jabari plans on being once he is projected as a top five pick.

I strongly suggest you watch the video linked above, because Parker really is a fascinating kid. A couple of other interesting notes:

– Of the attention he gets as a high-profile player: “It sucks.” He doesn’t like the focus on him, he doesn’t like the expectations and he doesn’t like the results if he makes a mistake any 17-year old would make. In the days of red carpets being rolled out for recruits to announce their college decision, it’s refreshing to hear a star high schooler talk about shunning the limelight.

– Parker was asked how he felt about his coach saying he would be one of the top five players in the league in five years. He said he didn’t believe it, because guys like LeBron and Dwyane Wade would still be around. So who does he model his game after? “Brian Scalabrine,” he said. “One of the unknown people in the NBA. He’s just grateful to be there in that situation. They can’t look at themselves as ‘Oh, I’m a superstar.’ They’re still humble. They’re still open.”

“I want to be like that.”

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

Report: Anthony Davis to be a finalist for Team USA

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According to a report from Sam Amrick of SI.com, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis will be getting a shot as a replacement candidate to compete with Team USA in this summer’s Olympic Games in London.

There has been quite a bit of speculation about Davis’ potential candidacy, but with the torn ACL that Derrick Rose suffered in the opening game of the NBA Playoffs, Team USA is now down four players from the group of 20 finalists that were announced in January.

The current finalists for Team USA include: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Odom, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams.

There is no guarantee that Davis would make the team, but with his skill set and potential, it would make sense to get him involved with the National Team program as early as possible.

As a sophomore in high school, Anthony Davis was a 6-foot-2 shooting guard for a bad high school team in Chicago. As a junior, he was a 6-foot-6 forward getting recruited to places like Cleveland State. After one season in college, he’s got a shot to be on Team USA.

That, my friends, is a meteoric rise.

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