Wed May 22 02:02pm EDT
Six different countries have captured gold in the last six tournaments, with the U.S. failing to medal altogether three times. Not only do other countries have the advantage of fielding more cohesive teams who have played together previously, USA Basketball often struggles to attract the top American players since many are either getting acclimated at college or preparing for the NBA draft.
The training camp roster the U.S. has assembled for this year's event has a bit more star power than usual but it's still reflective of past problems. Of the 24 players trying out in Colorado Springs next month for the 12-player U.S. Team, there are only a couple of established college stars or incoming McDonald's All-Americans.
One of the centerpieces of the team will almost certainly be Marcus Smart, the Oklahoma State rising sophomore who likely would have been a top 10 pick had he chosen to enter next month's NBA draft. Duke's Rasheed Sulaimon, Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes, Louisville's Montrezl Harrell and Syracuse's Jerami Grant are also among the returning college players who will compete for a roster spot.
The most highly touted incoming freshman on the roster is Arizona signee Aaron Gordon, a gifted forward who was among the top players in the Class of 2013. Besides him, however, not one of Rivals.com's top 20 players in the Class of 2013 are participating in the training camp, likely contributing to USA Basketball's decision to invite Class of 2014 standouts Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow.
Though the U.S. team's roster would surely be more stacked if the likes of Andrew and Aaron Harrison or Julius Randle were trying out, the good news is the Americans haven't always needed star power to win.
Wed May 22 10:39am EDT
Earlier this week, former Memphis big man Tarik Black revealed he'll transfer to Kansas for the 2013-14 season. Now the other impact Tigers transfer appears to be on the verge of announcing where he will play his final season of college basketball.
Point guard Antonio Barton will choose between Maryland, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Kansas State after church on Sunday afternoon, brother Will Barton tweeted Tuesday night. Barton is on pace to graduate from Memphis this summer and would be eligible to play immediately at his new school.
There's no mystery why Barton chose to leave Memphis: he's in search of more playing time. The 6-foot-2 Baltimore native averaged a career-low 16.7 minutes per game off the bench last season as he was surpassed in the Memphis rotation by fellow guards Joe Jackson, Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford, each of whom are expected to return to the Tigers next season.
It's unclear which of Barton's potential choices should be considered the front runner entering Sunday's announcement, but the one thing each of the schools he has visited has in common is ample playing time available at point guard.
Maryland has been in search of a point guard since Pe'Shon Howard decided to transfer earlier this spring, leaving only sophomore Seth Allen and incoming freshman Roddy Peters with any experience at the position. The Terrapins could be an appealing option for Barton because of the proximity to Barton's hometown of Baltimore and the presence of close friend Nick Faust on the roster.
Tue May 21 02:23pm EDT
Vanderbilt football fans were irate this week over Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's decision to block quarterback Wes Lunt from transferring to any school in the SEC. Now Commodores basketball coach Kevin Stallings appears to be doing the same thing to a transfer from his own program.
Stallings is blocking rising sophomore forward Sheldon Jeter from transferring to Pitt, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday. Jeter, a Pennsylvania native, announced Friday he was leaving Vanderbilt to transfer to a school closer to home, citing personal issues as the reason for his departure.
The Jeter family is appealing to Vanderbilt's athletic department to overturn Stallings' ruling, Pantherlair.com reported Tuesday. If Jeter loses that appeal, he can enroll at Pitt and pay tuition for one year before being put on scholarship or he can transfer to a school other than Pitt.
That Stallings would attempt to block Jeter's transfer only reinforces how disappointed the Vanderbilt coach was to lose a key piece of the Commodores' rebuilding efforts. Jeter averaged 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds as a freshman, showing comfort in the paint and on the perimeter and emerging as a likely starter next season had he remained.
Tue May 21 10:06am EDT
A little over two years after Tennessee fired Bruce Pearl for lying to NCAA investigators in hopes of covering up a minor violation he committed, the ex-Vols coach apparently doesn't mind some good-natured ribbing about his career-altering mistake.
Steven Pearl, Bruce's son and host of a weekly show on Tennessee Sports Radio, recently appeared in a radio commercial for Calhoun's, a well-known Knoxville-based chain of barbecue restaurants. The minute-long spot pokes fun at the backyard barbecue Bruce Pearl hosted at his home for recruit Aaron Craft, a violation uncovered by the NCAA enforcement staff when they found pictures of the future Ohio State point guard at Pearl's home.
"Hey TSR, I'm Steven Pearl, and if there's one thing we Pearls know, it's how to throw a barbecue," the younger Pearl begins. Then after lauding the food at Calhoun's, Pearl delivers this hilarious line: "Just remember, my two rules for legendary backyard barbecues – get your food from Calhoun’s and absolutely no photography."
Of course the commercial's most memorable one-liner comes during the legal disclaimer at the end of Pearl's pitch. "Offer not available to Aaron Craft."
Mon May 20 06:33pm EDT
Tarik Black, a 6-foot-9, 260-pound big man who played at Memphis the past three years, has chosen Kansas over Duke, Oregon and Georgetown, among others, CBSSports.com reported Monday. The rising senior has graduated from Memphis and will be eligible immediately for the Jayhawks.
It's a testament to the laws of supply and demand that Black had all these powerhouse programs pursuing him considering he lost his starting job at Memphis last season and averaged a modest 8.1 points and 4.8 rebounds off the bench.
One reason he was in such high demand is there simply weren't many available big men with size and athleticism that teams could plug into their rotation right away. The other is that teams felt he has untapped potential he was never able to fully utilize at Memphis.
Once projected as a potential NBA draft pick early in his college career, Black fell out of favor in Memphis because his production plateaued after his freshman season and he was often foul-prone and inconsistent. His NCAA tournament performance was a microcosm of his Memphis career: 12 points and seven rebounds on perfect 5 of 5 shooting against Saint Mary's in a round of 64 victory gave way to six points, two rebounds and four fouls in a loss to Michigan State two days later.
Nonetheless, Black may yet be a significant addition for Kansas if a change of scenery and Self's history of success developing big men can help.
Mon May 20 03:35pm EDT
Long Beach State's palm trees? A smash hit. Florida International's beach towel-themed court? A tacky miss. Towson's pale orange tiger stripes? Ehhh, not bad. And Cal State Bakerfield's dark blue floor? Yikes.
George Washington is the latest school to enhance its floor with a design, and credit the Colonials for getting it right. The school announced Monday the floor of the Charles E. Smith Center will include silhouette images of The White House, the Capitol building and the Washington Monument, a subtle yet distinctive design that sends the message to fans and recruits they're watching a Washington D.C. program.
"Unveiling this spectacular new floor design today further emphasizes our campus setting in the heart of D.C.," George Washington athletic director Patrick Nero in a press release. "When people around the world are watching our games, we want them to immediately recognize and understand the university’s unique setting in the middle of the action in this world-class city."
The other unique touch to the floor is the "#RaiseHigh" hashtag behind one of the baselines where the university's name would typically be. The slogan, originally coined during the 2011-12 basketball season, has developed into a campus-wide rallying cry featured on T-shirts and billboards.
Since George Washington's court isn't as gaudy as other new designs have been, it likely won't get the same nation-wide publicity Oregon or FIU did. No matter, though. The classy court design will be a source of pride for years to come.
Mon May 20 01:20pm EDT
As soon as the first report surfaced Monday morning that Missouri had landed Baylor transfer Deuce Bello, Tigers fans on social media responded in a wide variety of ways.
Some lauded Bello's potential, posting high school highlight reels in which the 6-foot-4 wing showcased an explosive first step to the rim, impressive length and athleticism and an array of high-flying dunks. Others wondered why Missouri would want a player who averaged a modest 2.4 points and 1.4 rebounds last season for a Baylor program that wasn't exactly loaded at the shooting guard and small forward spots.
So, which side of the debate is right? Well, in a lot of ways, both of them.
Bello is a classic boom-or-bust transfer because of his elite talent but lack of production. Missouri has to hope that a change of scenery, more playing time and a year to sit out and develop his game will help Bello tap into the immense potential that made him a top 60 recruit in the Class of 2011.
Hailed as a key piece of Baylor's future when he arrived along with high school teammate Quincy Miller two years ago, Bello made minimal impact in his two seasons in Waco. He averaged just over 10 minutes per game both seasons, occasionally injecting energy with hustle plays and highlight-worthy dunks but shooting too poorly from the free throw line and the perimeter to justify a greater role.
With veterans Brady Heslip and Gary Franklin returning for Baylor and incoming guards Allerik Freeman and Kenny Chery set to contribute right away, it's unlikely Bello would have seen more playing time as a junior. As a result, he announced earlier this month that he was leaving Baylor in search of a school where he'd receive more playing time.
Mon May 20 11:17am EDT
Midway through a mid-November practice in preparation for his team's matchup with North Carolina later in the week, Long Beach State coach Dan Monson halted a drill to tear into Keala King for his lack of effort.
Monson needed King to go all-out crashing the glass as a member of the scout team to help prepare the rest of the roster for North Carolina's vaunted offensive rebounding prowess. The highly touted Arizona State transfer clearly didn't appreciate the criticism, sniping back at Monson, then making a show of mockingly counting out loud every time he got a rebound the rest of practice, sometimes even when he merely picked the ball up after an opposing player made a basket.
That scene I witnessed at the lone practice I attended last season surely only scratches the surface of the behind-the-scenes issues that plagued Long Beach State, but it does help illustrate why Monson apparently felt his program needed a makeover. King, former DePaul transfer Tony Freeland and rising sophomore Deng Deng will each not be allowed to return to the team next season, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported on Sunday.
It's a shame for Long Beach State that King and Freeland couldn't behave well enough to remain part of the program because both were talented enough to help the 49ers become a mid-major power on the West Coast. Monson recruited King, Freeland and Jennings to help replace the five ultra-productive seniors who led Long Beach State to a No. 12 seed in the NCAA tournament in 2012.
King, who was averaging a team-high 13.7 points as a sophomore at Arizona State when Herb Sendek sent him packing, has an explosive first step to the rim and excellent size and length for a combo guard. Freeland, a bouncy 6-7 forward who once erupted for 24 points at Georgetown and 25 at Syracuse, had natural ability rarely seen from a forward in the Big West.
Sun May 19 12:42pm EDT
Griner told espnW that Baylor women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey requested players not be publicly open about their sexuality out of fear it would affect the perception of the program in the community and negatively impact recruiting.
"It was a recruiting thing," Griner told espnW. "The coaches thought that if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn't let their kids come play for Baylor.
"It was just kind of, like, one of those things, you know, just don't do it. They kind of tried to make it, like, 'Why put your business out on the street like that?'"
Griner casually acknowledged she was gay last month during a series of interviews with reporters leading up to the WNBA draft. The No. 1 overall pick of the Phoenix Mercury told reporters her friends and family had known she was gay since her freshman year of high school and it was an open secret among her Baylor coaches and teammates.
That Baylor would discourage gay players from publicly discussing their sexuality is a sad testament to the pervasiveness of homophobia in America and to the pressure on college coaches to win. Mulkey was apparently willing to ask players to hide part of their identity because she couldn't risk alienating a recruit or two who wouldn't be comfortable playing alongside openly gay teammates.
Sat May 18 11:24am EDT
New Mexico and Steve Alford have reached a deal on a separation agreement.
Alford and UCLA will pay $300,000 to New Mexico to satisfy a buyout clause in his contract with his former employer. New Mexico had initially demanded a $1 million buyout when Alford was hired by UCLA in late-March.
Alford left New Mexico on March 30 just 12 days after agreeing to a new contract with New Mexico that was scheduled to take effect on April 1. Alford maintained that he was not responsible for the $1 million buyout in that new deal because he was hired by UCLA before it went into effect.