Archive for the ‘College Basketball Insider’ Category

Hawks fans, don’t expect the moon and stars at No. 19

The 19th player taken in the 2008 NBA draft was J.J. Hickson. If you’ve heard of him, it’s doubtless because he played at Wheeler High in Marietta and spent a season at North Carolina State. It isn’t because he did much of anything as a professional rookie.

Hickson was the 11th man on the Cleveland Cavaliers, who won more regular-season games than any other. Come the playoffs, Hickson got to sit and cheer as LeBron James and the other nine guys did their work. This isn’t to derogate Hickson, who’s 20 and who could yet develop into a fine pro. This is to offer a sobering glimpse of NBA reality.

The Hawks hold the 19th pick in Round 1, and if they find someone capable of offering immediate assistance that late they’ll consider themselves outrageously fortunate. The 19th player drafted in 2007 was Javaris Crittenton of Georgia Tech, who’s already on his third NBA team and who has started a total of 10 games. The 19th player taken in 2006 was the legendary Quincy Douby, who hasn’t …

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A special Bradley’s Buzz: Updated all-NBA draft edition!


Those darned folks at are killing me. When I went to bed last night, they had the Hawks taking Wayne Ellington, the elegant North Carolina shooter, with the 19th pick in Thursday’s draft. At 3:02 a.m., they updated their mock, and now they have the Hawks choosing Jrue Holiday, a point guard from UCLA. And I’m doing some rewriting because …

I like Ellington a lot.

I don’t like Holiday at all.

He averaged 8.5 points and 3.7 assists in his one season at UCLA. True, he was playing alongside/behind Darren Collison, a more seasoned point guard, but the consensus across college basketball was that Holiday had underwhelmed. (He actually seemed a better defender than an offensive player.)

Holiday has been projected to go in the upper half of Round 1 but could be sliding. Me, I think there’s good reason. Me, I think he’s way too raw. Me, I’d much rather see the Hawks take Eric Maynor of VCU or Ty Lawson of North Carolina, both of whom …

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College Basketball Insider: Early Top 10 includes Tech!

Everything changes when the deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft arrives. This time a year ago, North Carolina went from being a program in transition to the prohibitive favorite to win the 2009 NCAA title — which it did — when Tywon Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green chose to stay in school. Here’s how the doings (and undoings) shook out this time:

1. Kentucky: The Wildcats lost Jodie Meeks of Norcross to the draft but kept Patrick Patterson, the best big man in the SEC. And they again have a real coach in John Calipari, who promptly delivered recruits John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.

2. Kansas: The Jayhawks would’ve been preseason No. 1 if not for Kentucky’s flurry. Sherron Collins, who helped undo Calipari and Memphis in the 2008 NCAA final, is back, as is post player Cole Aldrich. Xavier Henry spurned UK for KU.

3. Michigan State: The Final Four won’t be in Michigan next year — it’ll be in Indianapolis, which is essentially the same thing — but the Spartans could …

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It’s a big year for Hewitt, even if he doesn’t think so

Give Paul Hewitt credit. He sees reality, or at least half of it. “We should have a very, very good team,” he said, and Hewitt’s 2009-2010 Jackets seem, at least in terms of manpower, as strong as any basketball squad in Georgia Tech annals.

But here’s where the coach sails down the river of denial. Asked if 2009-2010 is a big season for the program in general and Paul Hewitt in particular, he said, “No.

Hearing, his questioner — who has, it must be stipulated, been critical of Hewitt — repeated the word: “No?” Then I half-laughed.

And Hewitt half-smiled. “Two years ago we had a very good team that was overscheduled out of a very good year,” he said. “Last year we had a lot of adversity off the court. That might not be the way other people see it, but it’s the way I see it.”

This is what’s frustrating about Paul Hewitt. Nobody expects a coach to say, “If we don’t win every game by 30 points I deserve to be fired.” (In 2000 Jim Donnan stood before a Bulldog Club convocation in …

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Lawal stays, and Tech faces a year of promise and pressure

Paul Hewitt got an early Father’s Day gift. He learned his best player from last season will play for Georgia Tech next season, and there’s no reason — none — the Jackets shouldn’t be a Top 10 team.

But Hewitt’s present comes with a triple helping of pressure. For the first time in a while, the coach with the golden contract must actually deliver.

Gani Lawal, who removed his name from the NBA draft, will not be Tech’s best player in 2009-2010. The incoming freshman Derrick Favors, who heads a recruiting class ranked No. 4 nationally by, is better than Lawal, and Lawal is pretty darn good. And now the Jackets will have a team of talent and depth and seasoning. Last winter Hewitt described Wake Forest as “having the most NBA-ready talent in the ACC.” These Jackets will have even more.

How will Tech fare next season?

  • It’ll make the Final Four.
  • It’ll reach the Sweet 16.
  • It’ll win the NCAA title.
  • It’ll miss the NCAA tournament.

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McLouth: Did Braves seize a moment or squander the future?

The big trade inspires big discussion

Here’s the kind of sentence no fan likes to read: “Starting with the July 2007 trade for Mark Teixeira, and including the December trade for Javier Vazquez as well as Wednesday’s trade for center fielder Nate McLouth, Atlanta has made three prospect-for-veteran trades that would pretty much gut your average farm system.” That’s the appraisal (link requires registration) of Matt Meyers in ESPN The Magazine. But wait.

Meyers also writes: “Because the Braves are so good at developing their own talent, this trade doesn’t cripple them like it might other teams. However, they have given up a boatload of talent … and yet they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2005. Teixeira is gone, Vazquez is still inconsistent, and McLouth isn’t a superstar. It’s hard to shake the feeling that these three recent prospect-for-veteran deals won’t come back to haunt them in the next few seasons.” (Buzz editor’s note: Meyers writes “won’t,” but in context of the …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Making a mock(ery) of the NFL draft

I shouldn’t complain, given that Buzz in the spring would be a 50-word weekly brief if it weren’t for the NFL draft. But you know matters have gotten a little squirrelly, as we say along Pit Road, when gives us four mocks for a draft that’s still a month away.

But this doesn’t give sole possession of first place in the heated race for most mocks. also has four, including one from esteemed former colleague Steve Wyche and another from semi-esteemed — I’m kidding; he’s a fine fellow — former Falcon Jamie Dukes. And here’s a video top 10 from Charles Davis.

All this blather would be a tad more intriguing if the draft hadn’t crystallized last Thursday, when Georgia held its pro day in Athens. As Charles Robinson writes on Yahoo! Sports, Matthew Stafford is the clear favorite to go No. 1 overall. And the aforementioned EFC Steve Wyche believes Detroit’s choice is now obvious. (Pat Kirwan of disagrees, putting Stafford No. 4 in his mock, …

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Live from Vinings Estates: The 2009 NCAA tournament!

My view of the proceedings. Note handsome pedicure. (Amateur photo by M. Bradley)

My view of the proceedings. Note handsome pedicure. (Amateur photo by M. Bradley)

Yes, it feels strange. Every year since 1980, I’ve either been covering first-round games or en route to cover first-round games on this Thursday, and this time I’m not. Due to budgetary considerations — me, I blame it all on AIG — I won’t be attending the 2009 NCAA tournament. On the one hand, I’m a tad sad. On the other, I’m sort of excited because …

I get to do what normal folks do, which is sit around watching games all day. I’ve totally forgotten how that works. I can tell you about my cruddy motel (yes, motel) in Evansville, Ind., or how it feels to commute between first-round sites, which I’ve done a half-dozen times, or the ice storm in Syracuse or the time Billy Packer snapped at me — he called me “fella” — at the Georgia Dome, but I have no real memory of how it feels to stay home in front of the TV.

Being all about interactivity, I will share my personal observations — at an NCAA …

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The Madness begins, and a host of Wildcats are terrified

We come to you with a special postseason edition of the weekly College Basketball Insider. Already there’s a good chance the NCAA tournament could commence without: The nation’s winningest program; the school that won consecutive titles not so long ago; the school that has graced every edition of March Madness since 1985 and the little team that came within a missed three-pointer of the 2008 Final Four. How’s that for a rejection list?

Endangered Wildcats (Part 1)

Arizona enters the Pac-10 tournament having lost four of five and is ranked 52nd in the RPI, leaving its streak of 24 consecutive NCAA appearances in peril. Then again, what would you expect? Lute Olson missed last season due to health concerns, pronounced himself fit to return this fall and then quit in October, leaving the team in the hands of interim coach Russ Pennell.

Three No. 1 seeds from one conference?

It could happen. Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Louisville are ranked among the nation’s top five in both …

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