Opened in 2002, CollegeHoopsNet.com (CHN) has quickly become one of the most popular college basketball websites on the internet. CHN prides itself providing readers with news, commentary, features and awards that not only cover the major conferences, but the whole college hoops spectrum. Recently, CHN's founder and editor Shawn Siegel was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to talk to SOR.com about hoops recruiting in the NY/NJ area, Rutgers basketball and Quincy Douby's NBA prospects.
Chris Lee (SOR.com): Shawn, can you explain to our readers why you started CollegeHoopsNet.com, who writes for the site and what your job is as the head editor?
Shawn Seigel: Well, my interest in websites started as a
hobby. I had an internship with the New Jersey Nets a few years back, and they
had me working on the design of their then new website. At the same time I was
writing articles for various NBA websites, and the two sort of merged into
starting my own website. Initially, I was going to do an NBA site, but I
realized that there was no good site out there that specifically covered college
basketball. Sure you could go to ESPN or CBS to read game recaps and news on
the Top 25 teams, but no site was covering teams 26 to 335, which was where CHN
SOR: In your opinion, what features on CollegeHoopsNet.com sets it apart from other sports sites, such as ESPN.com or CBS Sportsline?
SS: Well, the key to the site's success has been trying to give some press to as many teams as possible, and to not just focus on Duke and North Carolina constantly. It's tough because if we put a Duke article out there, it will generate 10 times as many readers as something on a team like Rutgers, but in the long run, I think its best to mix it up as much as possible. Our 144 Teams in 144 Days preview, which is the brain-child of Joel Welser who does a great job writing the previews, is very popular and gives a chance for dozens of smaller schools to get front-page publicity on our site. Our interviews with coaches, and player of the week awards during the year also help build interest in schools that otherwise get no publicity on the web.
SOR: Great. Now let's talk about basketball recruiting- You've attended the Reebok ABCD camp and other high-profile AAU events like the Playaz Ball and the Reebok Classic East. Which players from the NJ/NY area have impressed you the most?
SS: Scouting high school recruits is a funny thing…basically anyone who shows up at a gym to watch a kid can tell who is good or not. So even though it's boring, the kid's that standout to me are basically the one's that standout to everyone. Fisher, Chandler, Stokes, these are rated the best, and are the best kids in the neighborhood. Outside of those guys, I'm a huge fan of Chris Smith (JR's brother) who is playing at St Benedict's. This kid will emerge as a Top 75-100 talent when all is said and done. Smith's summer teammate on Playaz, Rashad Bishop, also has the potential to be a breakout talent.
SOR: You recently ranked Rutgers commit Corey Chandler in the top 30 players you scouted at the ABCD camp. What is your general impression of his game? Do you think he can be successful in the competitive Big East?
Chandler is an interesting player. I consider him a big risk/reward guy in that he can come out and be a star in the Big East or be a complete flop. I remember an article I read awhile back which compared him to a young Randy Foye. Obviously no one can expect Chandler to make the impact that Foye did, but the point is that Chandler can do a bit of everything like Foye can. He can score, he can handle, he can finish with authority, and he's athletic enough that he can hold his own against bigger players.
SOR: St. Benedict's guard and Rutgers recruit Chris Smith (JR Smith's brother) was dominant at the recent Playaz Ball. For those who have not seen Smith play, how would you describe his game?
SS: As I just said, Smith is a highly underrated prospect. I was at the Playaz Ball where he did great, scoring like 25 points in the finals, but I've seen him a few times previously as well. Most recently before the Playaz Ball, he also had a great week at the Reebok Classic East at FDU. I think what stands out for Chris is how he moves his legs, both his quick first step, and his quick jumping ability. Obviously there will be comparisons to JR, but JR is 4-5 inches taller and was/is a complete physical freak. But honestly, Chris is a smarter, more mature, well-developed player than JR was at the same age.
SOR: There are some extremely talented incoming freshmen at the Big East schools, including Derrick Caracter, Hasheem Thabeet, Earl Clark, Eugene Harvey. Which players do you think will make the biggest immediate impact?
SS: The guy who could perhaps make the biggest impact is Stanley Robinson at UConn simply because the Huskies lose so much talent. Speaking of UConn, even though he's not a rookie, I expect Jeff Adrien to have a big break-out, 15-16 ppg year for them. Villanova got a gift when Scottie Reynolds became available. He'll probably be the biggest impact guard because of all their loses, though there are better guys in the long-run. Paul Harris up at Syracuse is a physical freak. He's not a great offensive player yet, but he has the body to come in and make an impact right away on defense, and he finds ways to score. Some other guys out of the Top 50 I like a lot are Will Walker heading to DePaul and Gilbert Brown at Pitt. Also, I love Earl Clark's game, that kind of do-everything Scottie Pippen-like talent. Louisville should be good this year regardless of their rookies, so it might take Clark a year to come into his own, but he'll be a stud down the line.
SOR: Fred Hill has never had a head coaching job, but has had tremendous success as a recruiter. With Hill taking over for Gary Waters as the Rutgers head coach this season, how do you think Rutgers' recruiting will be impacted?
SS: Well, we've seen his impact already by brining in Chandler. It would have been an even bigger steal had he brought in Lance Thomas. Thomas is a stud player who could have made a name for himself at Rutgers. Still, New Jersey, like always, has a lot of big time players coming in the next couple of years. Perhaps Rutgers could snag a Corey Raji or Chris Smith. Mike Coburn out of Mount Vernon is an underrated guard, who I think Rutgers was interested in.
Basically, college recruiting is divided into about 5 levels. You got your guaranteed future NBA guys in the top 15 or so. Then you have your high major impact players filling out the Top 50-75. Then you have your high-major starters or mid-major studs from 75 or so down into 150 or so. Then from 150 to 300 you have guys who can contribute at the high-major level but probably wont star, or can really do damage at lesser schools. Then you have everyone else. Rutgers usually gets those 4th level players with an occasional 3rd level guy like JR Inman. But Chandler is a legit 2nd-level star, and it all it takes is one more name player like him and suddenly the ball starts rolling.
SOR: Switching over to the NBA…Every year CHN features extensive coverage of the NBA draft and in your final mock draft you have former Rutgers star Quincy Douby going to the Lakers with the 26th pick. Were you surprised that the Kings drafted him at #19?
SS: I wasn't surprised because I had Douby going to Sacramento in a few previous versions of the Mock Draft, but changed it in the end (a bad choice…). He just fits the type of player the Kings have drafted the past couple years like Garcia and Martin, an athletic scoring wing that's played a few years of college ball.
SOR: Douby was dominant in the Big East, leading the league in scoring. How do you think his game will translate into the pros? What kind of NBA career do you think he will have?
SS: Dominant is a strong word. He scored often, but I like to reserve dominating for players that at least lead their teams to a .500 record in conference play…Regardless, he should be a solid bench player in the NBA, but never a star or a consistent starter. The question is whether he'll be able to offer a team much outside of shooting the ball. Douby's a very good 3-pt shooter, but his % from long-range has never been lights out, and he'll always be inconsistent from out there, especially with the longer line and with bigger, stronger guys defending him. Perhaps we should expect him to average 5-6 ppg this year in about 10-15 minutes per game.
SOR:Thanks for you time Shawn. Keep up the great work with your site. We look forward to chatting with you again sometime in the future.
About CHN.com: CollegeHoopsnet.com is a full service college basketball website, featuring news, commentary, interviews, awards, stats, rankings and more. Over 30 writers cover dozens of teams and conferences around the country, including coverage of live events like conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament. Unlike the majority of sports websites, CHN is credentialed by many teams and conferences to provide live coverage alongside the big boys. Besides the readable content, CHN also includes interactive experiences like a message board, contests, and polls.