That the U.S.'s representative to the FIBA 21-And-Under Championships will leave Argentina without gold medals comes as little surprise to many of those who watched the tryouts for the team in late July and early August.
None of the players in attendance at the trials, including a couple of those who are considered among the top candidates for the John R. Wooden Award (Rudy Gay of Connecticut and J.J. Redick), came close to drawing the raves from NBA types that are usually reserved for "sure-fire" lottery selections in the following NBA draft.
Here are some comments from one NBA
personnel director about some of the players after he'd watched a few days of
the trials in
"Brutal" . . . "they locked him up (defensively)" . . . "he had no clue" . . . "he was way out of control".
And the thing is . . . each of
those four players not only made the cut to 12 but played extensively in
But we shouldn't lose sight of something: most of the best U.S. players who are 21 or younger are either in the NBA (LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Al Jefferson, Shaun Livingston, Sebastian Telfair and Martell Webster come immediately to mind) or in high school (Greg Oden, O.J. Mayo and Spencer Hawes are three good examples).
The NBA, even with the 19-years-old/one-out-of-high-school requirement for draft eligibility, will continue to strip USA Basketball of a large number of the 21-and-under amateur set.
The era when we could slap together any team of basketball players – be they from high school, college or the NBA – and cruise through international competitions has been over for a long while now.
There's no point in second-guessing
Phil Martelli or the USA Basketball
selection committee about the make-up of the 12-member team that went to
BOUNCING AROUND THE COUNTRY:
*The summer's worst fears of University of Connecticut basketball followers were elevated Friday when guard A.J. Price was arrested Friday and charged with four counts of felony larceny and one misdemeanor count of making a false statement to campus police following a nearly two-month investigation into the theft of four laptop computers from dormitory rooms at the school.
Several media outlets have reported
that an even more high profile Huskies' player – junior-to-be Marcus Williams, one of the top point
guards in the country – could also be arrested, as a result of the same
investigation, once he returns to Connecticut. Williams is a member of the
Price (who wasn't able to play last season as a freshman due to a brain hemorrhage) and his family have more immediate concerns regarding the situation than how it will impact the Huskies' 2005-06 season. The same holds true for Williams and his family, if media reports of his possible role in the investigation are verified.
But the loss of both or either – especially Williams; Price, if healthy was expected to serve as his back-up – would put major dents into the roster of a team that many consider a favorite or no worse than a co-favorite (with Duke) to cut down nets on April 3 in Indianapolis.
It should be obvious now as to why the Huskies signed a June graduate of Niagara Falls High (6-1 Robert Garrison, who had been expected to attend a prep school) to a scholarship agreement in early July.
*Brandon Rush, through most of the winter and spring, seemed about as likely to be playing college basketball next season as I am.
The 6-foot-5 ½ swingman and brother of Kareem Rush of the Charlotte Bobcats, who turned 20 last month, had been considered by NBA scouts and recruiting analysts as a near lock to enter the NBA draft.
He did enter the draft pool and
played reasonably well during the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in
Most assumed he'd spent another
year in prep school (or working out at the
But now he's apparently bound for
How much impact would he have on any of those teams, specifically, or on the college season, in general?
That depends on how at least two aspects of his game – his jump shooting and his defense – come along. Questions about each of those areas is why there wasn't an NBA franchise ready to invest a first-round selection on him on June 28.
*Everyone seems to be convinced
that the top recruiting class for 2006 (players signing in November and next
spring) has already been sewn up by
Oden is the top prospect in the class and has the best long-term basketball future of any player in the world who is not already earning NBA paychecks.
His teammate at Lawrence North High
I watched Cook (Dayton Dunbar) for
five days in
He's very good – a strong candidate
to be a 2006 McDonald's
I haven't seen Lighty (Cleveland St. Joseph). He missed the summer circuit while recovering from a torn ACL.
But here's the program that could
at least give
With commitments from twins Brook and Robin Lopez (Fresno San Joaquin
Memorial), the Cardinal can expect letter of intents in November from,
conservatively, two of the 15 best prospects in the national senior class.
Stanford is expected to also get a letter from an underrated shooter, 6-9 Will Paul (
But here's the guy who would make a
Stanford will have a freshman
frontcourt to rival any ever put together if the 6-11 senior at Seattle Prep
selects the Cardinal over his other four finalists
An April inductee into the USBWA
Hall of Fame, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's National Basketball Expert
and is also a columnist for the