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Today’s Dirty College Coaches Edition

Jim Boeheim, the longtime basketball coach for Syracuse University, has been suspended nine games starting next year AND a reduction of 12 scholarships over 4 years (so 3 per year). This brings to mind, who are the dirtiest college coaches in NCAA basketball today?

john calipari

1. John Calipari, Kentucky

Calipari has left a trail of NCAA violations in his two previous stints at UMass and at Memphis, and has had scrapes with the NCAA while at Kentucky.

At UMass, he took them to the 1996 Final Four. But, it was discovered his star Marcus Camby had interactions with an agent (which is illegal by NCAA rules). So, they had to vacate their 1996 Final Four run in the history books and endure sanctions. Yet, after all this time, the school is going to retire a jersey for Calipari.

At Memphis, he created a mid-major behemoth with the likes of Derrick Rose. After he left, the basketball program was saddled with sanctions and hasn’t been the same since. One of the major violations was that Rose had someone take his SAT for him, but by the time the NCAA investigation finished, Rose had gone to the NBA. Another major violation was up to $2,000 in travel was paid for Rose’s brother, Reggie. The punishment? The NCAA vacated their 2008 Final Four run and their 38 wins that season and Calipari said it was disappointing to see that happen to his former employer.

At Kentucky, Eric Bledsoe had at least three major violations: how he didn’t really qualify academically for Kentucky with a sub-2.0 GPA, his apartment was paid for by someone, and a coach also demanded someone pay him for recruiting Bledsoe to Kentucky. But, he went to the NBA after one year, so the investigation was rendered useless.

Jim Calhoun

2. Jim Calhoun, UCONN

Calhoun is one of five coaches who had won at least 3 NCAA men’s basketball titles, but did not end on such a high note.

He was suspended for the first three Big East conference games in 2011-2012, and the program was going to be on probation from 2011 to 2014. Other violations were impermissible tickets to recruits and several thousand text messages between a UConn staffer and recruits. Their punishment? Limits on when they could call recruits on the phone, scholarship reduction and two staffers took the blame and were fired. But, they weren’t initially suspended from the postseason.

In 2013, UConn was banned from the NCAA March Madness postseason tournament for failing to qualify academically, known as the APR. He blamed student-athletes leaving early for bringing down their scores, which was a possibility. Kemba Walker, the guard who led them to their 2010-2011 title, said he only read one book cover-to-cover while at UConn for 3 years. Still, other schools do just as fine with players leaving early each year, so that seems like a very flimsy excuse. There are still questions whether they should have kept their 2010-2011 title, as their APR was very close to disqualifying them from March Madness.

Calhoun also toed the line with recruiting Rudy Gay, where UConn was able to pay Gay’s former summer league team to play an exhibition at UConn during the recruiting process. It was legal, but seems very sketchy. In the end, Gay committed to UConn, which upset Maryland Terrapins head coach Gary Williams (note: I am a Maryland fan and didn’t even know about this).

He really operated in a recruiting gray area, didn’t he?

Jim Boeheim

3. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse

Among the violations was not suspending players for violating a drug test but still playing, staffers helping a student by essentially rewriting his papers, and boosters having access (and being encouraged by athletic department staff) to interact with basketball players.

The NCAA’s punishment is vacating 200 wins and striking them from Boeheim’s record, dropping him from 2nd all-time in games won to 6th, and a $500 fine per win vacated. He is also suspended for the first nine games of next year and 3 scholarships will be taken away each year for the next four years. Lastly, only two of the four coaches can recruit off-campus.

Plus, Boeheim doesn’t have a contract after this season, so this could be the end of Boeheim.

roy williams unc

Honorable mention: Roy Williams and the ongoing sham classes scandal at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He may not be directly involved, but it’s not sure if he had a role in it as some suggested it started before he got there. However, he may have let it slide. Former UNC player Rashad McCants said Williams most likely knew, and Williams said that was not possible.

#NBA’s Top 5 Draft Prospects Part 5: Kansas’ Joel Embiid

Oklahoma State at Kansas

Joel Embiid is still a top five prospect for the upcoming NBA draft, even with his recent back injury. Let’s take a look at Embiid’s body of work in his freshman season.

He publicly said he won’t go to the draft because he loves Kansas, but that could change if the NBA comes calling. But his recent back problems which have kept him out of the Big 12 conference tournament could worry NBA scouts as well as fans. He had a spinal stress fracture in his back, and this could keep him back in college one more year (unless it becomes more serious).

But, Embiid could pull a Nerlens Noel and come out even with a significant injury history, although Noel tore his ACL and everyone knew he’d sit out most if not all the season (update: Noel could come back to play for the tanking Philadelphia 76ers this season, per ESPN.com).

Still, I hope he gets well and gets the rest and rehab that he needs.

However, you can’t ignore Embiid. I personally like him a lot more than Wiggins, which is why I would have him above Wiggins if he wasn’t injured. Embiid’s post moves are polished and smooth, which is rare for a budding basketball player and first-timer. Here’s a short highlight video of his performance against Toledo:

As you can see, he has a variety of post moves and did set screens to get shooters free. He’s a complete package as a post player.

Before his injury, Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and an eye-dropping 2.6 blocks in 23 minutes of play. That’s impressive because in mid-January, he led the nation in block percentage as ESPN blogger Eamonn Brennan wrote.

In Big 12 conference play, Embiid averaged 11.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game (all stats from Sports-Reference.com). How about some blocks for fun? Here’s Embiid blocking Georgetown’s Aaron Bowen:

As basketball analysts Jay Bilas said in the video clip, “That is a meeting at the summit.” That is a great block and that is what NBA teams love to see.

Also, his shooting percentage is high at an astounding 62.6%, which is great because it means he won’t waste shots in the college level and could translate better to the NBA. To put that in perspective, pure shooters can’t shoot that well. Doug McDermott, for example, shoots 52% from the field and he is one of the best shooters in college, if not the best. But, post players always have higher percentages because they play closer to the rim. Still, that’s really impressive.

But, Embiid’s back injury is worrisome and I wish the best for him. I still think he should leave for the NBA when the season is over and maybe take time to prepare for the draft instead of playing in March Madness.

#NBA’s Top 5 Draft Prospects Part 4: Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins

andrew wiggins

Andrew Wiggins is a top-five talent because of his high potential and pure athleticism. I like to consider him a slightly better Ben McLemore, who was drafted no. 7 by the Sacramento Kings and has averaged a lackluster 7.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.9 assists in his first pro season. McLemore is struggling from the field at 37% shooting overall (stats via Basketball-Reference.com).

But, Wiggins could even end up as a second version of DeMar DeRozan, who at Toronto is averaging 22.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. DeRozan is also shooting 43.2% from the field, 30.5% from 3 and 45.6% from 2 (via Basketball-Reference.com).

Still, Wiggins is an athletic beast. As this announcer said on this monstrous dunk, “Look out!”

Per NBC’s CollegeBasketballTalk, Wiggins is averaging 16.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. And, as they pointed out, “For all the criticism that Wiggins has gotten this season, he finished the year as the leading scorer, third-leading rebounder and best defender on a top five team and national title [contender] that won the nation’s toughest conference outright. Not bad.”

Wiggins, as Sports-Reference.com stats show, shot 45.2% from the floor, 50% from 2, 34.5% from 3 and shot 76.5% from the free throw line. In Big 12 conference play, he averaged 17.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game and shot 76.2% from the free throw line. Wiggins also shot 36.8% from 3, 49% from 2 and 45.2% from the floor overall. Not a bad line at all.

But, I like this take from Hardwood Paroxysm, who compared Wiggins and Parker. The blog said the following about the two:

“Perhaps more important than the quality of each player’s teammates is their quantity. Parker and Wiggins, both 6’8” with broad shoulders (but far different body types), always projected as skilled forwards in college and the NBA despite playing the role of nominal big men in high school. Due mostly to Duke’s discernible lack of size on the interior, that hasn’t changed for Parker; he’s always one of the Blue Devils’s two biggest players on the floor. Wiggins, on the other hand, is a full-time wing for the Jayhawks with players like Embiid and Ellis occupying the paint, a move that requires wholesale adjustment not lost on his head coach.”

The blog also pointed out how both Wiggins and Parker have high usage rates, or how much they have the ball or are used in plays:

“Parker’s rate of 32.5% ranks second in the ACC and 19th in the country; Wiggins’s mark of 25.3% is eighth in the Big 12.”

It is such a great read, and the blog made the point that Jabari is usually one of the two bigger Duke players on the floor while Wiggins shares time and the floor with other big men, forcing him to play on the wing. Wiggins’ coach Bill Self had this to say about his top player:

“[Wiggins] is playing on the perimeter, he’s playing guard,” Self said recently. “He’s never played guard before. There are so many things that go into it that have allowed him probably to be not as comfortable as what a lot of people would expect him to be immediately.”

To be honest, I never thought about how Wiggins is playing on the wing as a guard when he is more natural down low. But, I think NBA teams would want him to play guard, even at 6’8’’. And I trust Bill Self regarding his players because he is such a great college coach and loves his players. He will defend them, but this is a realistic take that I haven’t thought of before.

Yet, I think his potential is through the roof, but I’m more of a ‘safe pick’ guy.

#NBA’s Top 5 Draft Propects Part 3: Creighton’s Doug McDermott

In part 3 of our 5 part series on my top 5 NBA draft propects, let’s turn to Creighton shooter Doug McDermott.

doug mcdermott SI

Sports Illustrated resurrected the old Larry Bird cover for their magazine and put McDermott in Bird’s place. That’s an awfully high ceiling, which I doubt will be McDermott’s future, but he is such a great shooter and seems to be a high character guy.

Doug McDermott should be a top-five pick in my opinion. Yes, he is white and not a great defender, but boy he can score. I see him as anything between a Kyler Korver and a Mike Dunleavy, but with some limited post moves. That should get him into the top 5, I would argue. Let’s take a look at a piece on him by Fox Sports One (hat tip to Sheridan Hoops blog for the video):

My favorite quote from the video?

“It takes a lot of practice, but the main thing for me has been patience. As a freshman or sophomore, I was in a huge hurry trying to make the quickest decision possible. But what I’ve learned throughout the years, the more patient you are with the ball, the better look you’re gonna get.”

Some could say he could turn out like Adam Morrison, but taking a shooter high will have that risk. And, he is polished from range, mid-range and can bust out some good post moves, something that Morrison lacked at Gonzaga. So let’s look at McDermott’s stats his senior (and last) year versus Morrison’s junior year (and it was his last at Gonzaga).

doug mcdermott vs cal

So far this season, according to Sports-Reference.com, McDermott is shooting 56% from 2, 44.7% from 3 and 52.2% overall. He is averaging 26.5 points per game, 7.2 rebounds and … 1.6 assists. He is also shooting 86.7% from the free throw line and plays 33.3 minutes per game out of a possible 40.

In 18 conference games in the new Big East, McDermott is scoring 27.7 points per game and collecting 7.1 rebounds. He is shooting 46.3% from 3 point land, 57.8% from 2, and 54.1% from the floor. He shoots 83.8% from the free throw line. And, he is playing an average of 34.6 minutes per game (out of a possible 40).

As Sports-Reference.com showed, Morrison last played for Gonzaga 2005-2006 and that year, he scored 28.1 points per game, 5.5 rebounds and, like McDermott, a dismal 1.7 assists per game. Morrison shot 42.8% from 3, 52.3% from 2 and 49.6% overall. He shot 77% from the free throw line and averaged 36.5 minutes per game.

Compared to Adam Morrison, McDermott is better because he shot a better overall percentage from the floor, better from 3 point land and better from mid-range as well as shot free throws much better. That is why I feel he won’t be a risk at such at a high draft pick and is a complete package.

Here is another take on McDermott, whose nickname is Dougie McBuckets, via NBC’s CollegeBasketballTalk:

“Dougie McBuckets was considered by most to be the consensus National Player of the Year entering the final weekend of the regular season. Then he went out on his Senior Night and scored a career-high 45 points, giving him 3,000 for his career while passing Oscar Robertson and Hersey Hawkins on college basketball’s career scoring list. If it wasn’t a consensus then, it should be now.”

He will most likely win the player of the year award for all of college basketball, and he deserves it. I love this piece by ESPN.com’s Scoop Jackson, where he pointed out how McDermott should go number 1 overall. Here’s one excerpt:

“He’s been scoring more than 20 ppg since 2011-12. Since he entered college, he’s grabbed more than 7 rebounds a game and never shot worse than 50 percent. So this season that he’s having — 26.5 ppg (leads the nation), 7.2 rpg, .522 percent field goal, almost 90 percent free throw, 44.7 percent 3-pointers — is really nothing new.”

Go Dougie McBuckets!

#NBA’s Top Five Propects Part 2: Julius Randle

Julius Randle is a great post player, but I feel his talents are getting wasted on another young and disjointed Kentucky Wildcats team. But, he will go top 5 in this year’s NBA draft because he is a top talent.

julius randle dunkface

But, Randle has not disappointed scouts while playing at Kentucky. According to Sports-Reference.com, he is shooting 52.2% from the floor, 53.5% from 2 and 72.2% from the free throw stripe. He is averaging 15.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. In SEC play, Randle averages 13.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

He has been the only consistent player on Kentucky, who boasts the likes of James Young, the Harrison twins and Will Cauley-Stein.

For example, this coast-to-coast play just amazed me. The opposing guard thought about it before getting the heck outta his path to the hoop:

His post moves are just great, and he has so much upside. Not much attention has been paid to him by ESPN when Kentucky’s season started going downhill, but others are noticing his contributions. He doesn’t have a lingering injury like Kansas’ Joel Embiid, and has so much upside. NBA scouts loved him in high school and love him even more in college.

Considering the importance of post players in the NBA, a player like him cannot be passed up. He will go in the top 5 of the upcoming draft for sure.

#NBA Top 5 Prospects Part 1: Duke’s Jabari Parker

There is a lot of anticipation about the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft, considering the plethora of highly touted recruits that could leave after one year of school. Let’s take a look at my breakdown of the top five prospects.

jabari parker vs kansas

Parker should be the consensus number 1 draft pick because he has all the skills necessary to cut it at the next level. He can stretch the floor with a long jumper, get to the basket, draw fouls and plays good defense. He has the court awareness that many freshmen ballers lack and seems to be a high character guy.

And, his best trait is the open floor. How about an alley-oop versus North Carolina State?

One of the most attractive traits is how he has fought through a grinding ACC schedule, where Duke will always get their opponent’s best shot. After dropping points and assists during the nonconference schedule, Parker struggled at the start of ACC play but picked it up at the end of the season.

He even dropped 30 points on archrival North Carolina, which hasn’t been done by a Duke freshman, ever. In the rivalry, he becomes the second freshman to score 30 points in the Tobacco Road rivalry to Walter Davis of North Carolina in 1974, per Bleacher Report. Here’s the highlight tape from that rivalry game:

He can do the up-and-under, drive to the basket, floaters, jumpers, with the left and right hand. Jabari Parker is the real deal.

He is not an assist leader by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn’t seem to be a part of the Duke’s vision for Parker. He averaged under 1 assist per game in conference play and 1.3 assists per game overall.

But, his shooting numbers are very good by college standards. He is no Doug McDermott (who I ranked as the no.4 prospect in the draft), but he is a very good and all-around player. Parker shot 48.6% from the floor, 52% from 2, and 37% from beyond the arc. But, his free throw percentage is 73.8%, which is less than ideal but it can be worked on.

Yet, after averaging 19.2 points and 9 rebounds per game as a freshman (including 17.6 points, 9.7 rebounds in ACC play), he lost the conference’s player of the year award to North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren. Warren was the only bright spot in a so-so Wolfpack season and averaged 24 point per game and almost 7 rebounds, per NBC CollegeBasketballTalk.

Parker’s all-around game is too tempting for NBA scouts and fans alike, and that will mean he’ll be a no.1 draft pick.

Early #NBA Draft Entry? Frosh, Sophs and Upperclassmen Oh My!

The age-old NBA draft question: Does it pay off to draft one-and-done college freshmen? Or wait another year or two (or even three) to draft more polished, experienced college players?

Let’s take a look (stats provided by ESPN.com):

  • One-and-done: John Wall vs. Austin Rivers

john wall losing face

John Wall was a highly-touted freshman at Kentucky and was picked no.1 overall by the Washington Wizards, of Kwame Brown fame. He was just signed to a max contract deal worth $80 million by the Wizards, but has never made the playoffs in his three-year pro career. Here are his stats:

Career (per game)
17.2 points 8.2 assists 4.4 rebounds

rivers sad face

Austin Rivers has also underachieved as a one-and-done out of Duke, and the more talented son of the famous (and I think overrated coach) Doc Rivers. With the New Orleans Pelicans, he got replaced by Grevis Vasquez (a Maryland Terp) and Jrue Holliday and is riding the pine. He was their 10th overall pick! His stats? Unimpressive.

Career (per game)
5.6 points 1.9 assists 1.6 rebounds
  • Sophomore Sprinter: Chris Wilcox vs. LaMarcus Aldridge

Kevin Garnett, Chris Wilcox

Chris Wilcox (pictured at the right) was a sophomore from the Maryland Terrapins championship-winning team in 2002 and went to the pros right after, when his stock was at an all-time high. He was picked 8th overall by the LA Clippers. Here’s how is long eleven-year career turned out:

Career (per game)
8.2 points 4.9 rebounds 0.4 blocks

lamarcus aldridge

LaMarcus Aldridge left after his junior season from Texas and has been in Portland ever since, drafted 2nd overall in the first round. He’s having a ridiculous start to this seasons, but here are his stats:

Career (per game)
18.5 points 7.9 rebounds 1.0 blocks
  • Junior Jumper: Steph Curry vs. Ty Lawson

golden state tshirt

Steph Curry went to the small private North Carolina college Davidson, which was a darling of the media for being a Cinderella team in March Madness while he was there. An outstanding shooter has translated his craft to the pros, becoming the star of the Golden State Warriors and their resurgence under coach and former NBA guard Mark Jackson. Impressive!

Career (per game)
19.5 points 6.3 assists 4.1 rebounds

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets - Game Six

Ty Lawson went to North Carolina and won a championship with the likes of Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansborough. A quick, speedy guard, Lawson has not become the impact player that Denver hoped he would be.

Career (per game)
13.6 points 5.5 assists 2.8 rebounds
  • Senioritis: Kemba Walker vs. Jeremy Lin

kemba walker

Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin, where Walker was a hero at UConn and hit game-winners like it was nothing and Jeremy Lin became popular and sensationalized when he helped the New York Knicks win a bunch of games last season. Walker is an undersized point guard at best, but his production is okay:

Career (per game)
15.5 points 5.1 assists 3.6 rebounds

jeremy lin rockets

Lin has been doing very well on the Houston Rockets lately, but has some good career stats in his young, three-year pro career. He would know because he went to Harvard, right?

Career (per game)
11.8 points 5.1 assists 2.6 rebounds

I like players staying for at least 3 years so they can get an education and possibly graduate early, because you never know if you’re going to last in the pros for very long. But, if you’re going to get paid, you might as well go. I’m just sick and tired of constant rebuilding teams in the college ranks.

Most players are better suited today to jump to the pros, except for Austin Rivers. My verdict? GO if you’re good enough and STAY if you’re not a guaranteed top-15 pick (unless you’re a good player at a small school and this is a good pay day).