Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Another 'AAU hoops is ruining basketball' article

There is so much to write about vis-a-vis the following article.

First off, the headline's focus, while semi-accurate, is misplaced. The onus should be on those adults who attach themselves to kids and will stop at nothing in order to eventually financially benefit from entry into the mega riches world of NBA contracts.

What Michael Beasley fails to say (or wasn't asked) in the article is would he have stayed on a team and played for a coach who insisted that he play defense? You and I both know the answer.

His promise was evident very early on and it was all about currying his favor. One of his club team coaches has a job as an assistant coach at Kansas State, making over $400,000 a year. This is his second year there. Of course, he got the job due to getting Beasley to come to Manhattan. The assistant coach was previously at Charlotte and Beasley was headed there until the assistant coach made a better financial move to K-State.

Plus, shoe companies are a financial force behind the high level club basketball teams. Take them out of the equation somehow (yeah, as if that is going to happen) and much of the chicanery would end (until they found another way to fund the most promising players).

Then there are the street agents who will do anything asked of them as they are compensated by the NBA certified agents who are trying to lock up the next Michael Jordan.

But we salute those mentors in AAU and club team basketball who do it to make the kids, the basketball community and the world better. They certainly do exist, even if we don't read about them very often.

American kids flunk Basketball 101
Kevin Clark
The Wall Street Journal
June 30, 2009

One system that prepares young American players for the pros, the Amateur Athletic Union, is, by most accounts, broken. Without a rigid minor-league system like baseball's or the extra seasoning football players get in college, America's basketball gems increasingly get their training from teams affiliated with the Amateur Athletic Union, a vast national youth-basketball circuit that has groomed many of the sport's top stars.

For some time, coaches have grumbled that the AAU's emphasis on building stars and playing games over practicing produces a lot of talented prospects who have great physical skills but limited knowledge of the fundamentals. Now some players are speaking out.

By the middle of the last NBA season, as concerns build about his dwindling playing time and rough transition to the NBA, last year's No. 2 overall pick, Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat, finally conceded a fundamental flaw: No one, at any level in his basketball career, had asked him to play defense. And especially not in AAU. "If you're playing defense in AAU, you don't need to be playing," he says. "I've honestly never seen anyone play defense in AAU."

Go here for the remainder.

Monday, June 29, 2009

An exodus from the Cal women's team

We can't offer any insight nor would it be appropriate to jump to any conclusions but losing three players at once is unusual. Morris will be a catch for any program.
Ex-Piedmont High star Morris among three to leave Cal's basketball program
Jennifer Starks
Inside Bay Area

The Cal women's basketball team's offseason has evolved into a turbulent stretch, as three players have left the program. Kelsey Adrian, Casey Morris and Angelei Aguirre have all decided to play elsewhere, coach Joanne Boyle confirmed Saturday...
Go here for more.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Remember Zach Johnson?

Does anyone recall big Zach Johnson out of the Sacramento area (Natomas High)? He signed with Washington but knee injuries prevented him from ever really getting on the court.

In searching for something else (isn't that how it usually works?), we came across his name on the roster of the Chaminade basketball squad. He's listed at 6-8, 290 and played in 16 games last season, averaging seven minutes a contest.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Here's to Christmas

Here's a kid who has out-worked most and may just find a spot in the NBA.
What Does It Take to Make the NBA?
And does Dionte Christmas have it?
E. James Beale
City Paper
June 17, 2009

It is 4:17 on a Thursday afternoon and Dionte Christmas and I are standing underneath the northernmost basket on the main court of Temple's McGonigle Hall, talking hoops. He's just come from the final class of his senior year, and he's decked out in a blue and white button-down and dark navy slacks. The outfit covers up his newly-filled-in 6-foot-5 frame and, if it weren't for a pair of dark basketball sneakers poking out from under his business-casual clothes, you might forget the fact that, in one week, Christmas will officially be a professional athlete...
Go here for the remainder.

Effort is a skill

We've always admired Tyler Hansborough (minus the flopping, especially when there is no contact) and he is climbing the NBA draft board because he has a motor very few can match (and that is a factor totally up to each individual). There's a great quote in the last paragrpah we featur in the following article:
Psycho-T brings the pain
Sekou Smith
Atlanta Jounral Constitution
Hawks Blog

On 10-point scale, Tyler Hansbrough’s Sunday morning workout for the Hawks at Philips Arena ranks at the very top of anything conducted in the past five days.

It wasn’t any one thing in particular that had the Hawks’ coaches buzzing. It was everything. Hansbrough’s energy, effort and obviously better-than-advertised shooting and athleticism caught more than a few folks in attendance by surprise.

“He kicked the meter up. It was off the Richter Scale,” said Hawks assistant coach Larry Drew, who ran the team’s workouts all week. “That was one of those 8.0s, one of those quick, hard earthquakes. Because his energy is at another level. You just don’t see many players capable of playing with that type of energy and effort and can sustain it through a game, or even a workout. He plays at a totally different level than some of these young guys out here.”

I felt like I needed an ice bath after watching his 90-minute workout. But Hansbrough proved a theory that a wise Eastern Conference executive reiterated to me Sunday night, “effort is a skill in the NBA.” And Hansbrough has it in reserve...
Go here for the remainder (which has no further Hansborough material).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Jordan Richardson

Jordan Richardson is going to liven up the Bay Area point position battle for supremacy this season. He's from Texas but his father was transferred out here and now the family is moving into the Tracy area.

NorCalPreps currently has him ranked as the 18th best 2010 prospect -- that will change.

JR was at a Tulsa camp recently and had this written about him:
Chris Harmon
InsideTulsaSports.com Publisher
June 11, 2009

Another cat-quick guard, Richardson had some good battles during scrimmages. The 6-footer from Lewisville, Texas, is a quick athlete with very quick hands. He gobbled up a few steals, lost a couple defenders with a solid crossover, and showed a soft mid-range jumper. Richardson showed off his athleticism with lots of elevation on his jumpshot.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Here's hoping Drew Gordon heals quickly

Drew Gordon has endured a string of injuries the last couple of seasons, high school and college. Here's hoping that becomes an all-in-the-past thing.
UCLA basketball's Gordon will not need surgery
Brian Dohn
Daily News

UCLA center Drew Gordon exhaled freely after an MRI Thursday revealed the partially torn patellar tendon in his right knee will not require surgery, and he could be back on the court later this summer...
Go here for the remainder.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Press Democrat picks its all-stars

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat -- Rich Rupprecht in particular -- names his area all stars in the following:
Petaluma's Greco co-Empire Player of the Year
Rich Rupprecht
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
June 15, 2009

While scoring averages and individual statistics are usually the center of attention in high school basketball circles, this year’s All-Empire players seemed more intent on making sure their teams were operating smoothly.

The feel-good postseason story of the small and overachieving Analy Tigers boys pointed out that role players and smart basketball count as much as double-digit scorers...
Go here for the remainder.

Phil Handy on the NBA Finals

You can't go wrong working with Phil Handy -- phil at sacvsbayshowdown.com -- if you are willing to work hard at improving your game. He counts soon-to-be #1 NBA draft pick Blake Griffin among his pupils but also works with any level of middle schoolers, high schoolers, college ballers -- you name it.
NBA Finals Phil Handy Prediction
June 4, 2009

Phil Handy is the leading basketball instructor in Northern California and specializes in advanced skill development for ballers. Phil owns and operates 94 Feet of Game and was a former University of Hawaii standout who earned WAC All-Defensive Player of the Year and All New Comer honors. He went on to play professional basketball in the US and in Europe - teams and leagues include the Golden State Warriors (NBA), Portland Trailblazers (NBA), CBA (first team All-Rookie), Israel, Italy, France, England, Germany and Australia. Phil currently trains over 20 NBA players, many European and top level college basketball athletes as well as most of the top ranked high school basketball players in California.

Streetball caught up with the basketball guru and asked him this question. Who will win the 2009 NBA Championship, the Lakers or the Magic?
Go here for the video.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More updates on transfers

6-foot-8 Matt Cousins (pictured), of Santa Rosa Junior College, is transferring to Chaminade in Hawaii and will have three years of eligibility. Chaminade, victorious over Virginia and Ralph Sampson in 1982, is a member of the Pacific West Conference...

...Michael Weimer, a 6-foot-5, 230 pound frontcourter from Foothill College/Westmont High is moving on to Cal State-Maritime to become a Keelhauler. Cal State Maritime is an NAIA school in the California Pacific Conference which also features BYU-Hawaii, Dixie State, Hawai'i Hilo, Grand Canyon, Hawai'i Pacific and Notre Dame de Namur...

...Lawrence Donelson, a 6-9 center, is transferring to William Jessup after playing at Los Medanos College and Deer Valley High prior to that...

...Point Cervante Burrell is heading north from Yuba College to Seattle University. Teammate Milos Milosevic, a 6-foot-7 all muscle-no fat forward and a native of Montenegro, is transferring to Valparaiso. Both have three years of athletic eligibility remaining.

Ryan Sypkens and John Dickson shine

It wasn't what was expected but Ryan Sypkens (pictured) and John Dickson made the most of their opportunity:
Classy Sypkens helps save day for undermanned Sac stars in Oakland
Bill Patterson
June 14, 2009

Ryan Sypkens is a glass half-full guy.

When the Franklin High star point guard and Bee All-Metro first team selection realized he was one of only three players that showed for the Sacramento stars in their match-up with the Bay Area stars on Saturday at Laney College, the classy young man didn't pick up his basketball and go home.

"I just looked at it as more minutes for me," said Sypkens, a 6-foot-3 graduated senior headed for UC Davis in the fall on scholarship. "It was an honor to be picked, and I had a lot of fun playing."

Sypkens scored 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and helped make Fairfield's 6-5 John Dickson look like the second coming of LeBron James in Sac's 109-103 loss. Dickson put on a show of athleticism in scoring 45 points and grabbing 11 rebounds...
Go here for the remainder.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ed O'Bannon turns a corner

Remember UCLA's Ed O'Bannon? His life is much different now and that's all right with him. The following is a good read and portrays that there will be a life to live after the basketballing ends.
From the Court to the Sales Floor
Ed O'Bannon, An Example of When a Promising Career Goes Bust
Dave Sheinin
Washington Post
June 14, 2009

HENDERSON, Nev. -- Retiring was the easy part -- because, really, what was it that Ed O'Bannon was walking away from in the summer of 2004? A career? No, basketball had long since ceased being a career, or even a passion, by then. It was at that point just a profession, a paycheck, a mostly joyless succession of one-year contracts with godforsaken European teams. Basketball was a way to stave off the day when he had to go out and get a real job.

So the act of retiring was simple: Go to your hotel in Eugene, Ore., take off your sweats and your sneakers, leave them behind. Don't even shower. Change into street clothes, cab to the airport, call the wife and say, "Baby, I'm coming home." Don't even tell those folks from the tryout for that Chinese basketball league, the ones who didn't even know who you were or what you have done in this game, that you were packing it in. And by all means, don't look back.

But retirement -- the noun, the state of being? That was dark. That didn't go so well.

It was great at first. Who wouldn't want the life of leisure? But there were a lot of hours to kill between the time when he would send his wife Rosa off to her job and haul the kids off to school, and the time when everyone got back home. There were too many afternoon beer-buzzes, too many self-pitying viewings of the 1995 NCAA championship game, when nobody could stop Ed O'Bannon and those UCLA Bruins...
Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Remember Garry Hill-Thomas?

Here a feel good article on a young man who came out of the Oakland area basketball scene and is doing just fine:
Hill-Thomas is a basketball gladiator
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
June 12, 2009

When Garry Hill-Thomas was a member of the Nevada basketball team, he would spend his summers in the Bay Area playing for a team that featured pros.

Playing time was sparse in his first season and Hill-Thomas was thinking about not playing in the league the following year. He consulted then-assistant coach David Carter for some advice.

"I just told him that if you're not getting a lot of playing time you have to win the crowd over like the Gladiator," Carter said, referencing the Oscar-winning movie. "Once you win the crowd over with your energy and your passion, then the coach has to play you."

Hill-Thomas heeded the advice and shortly thereafter earned the nickname "Gladiator." And once his playing days at Nevada ended, the Gladiator tag stuck, becoming the namesake of his burgeoning athletic clothing brand and also his life mantra.

"I got that gladiator nickname and that's kind of how I live my life now," Hill-Thomas said...
Go here for the remainder.

This is a fascinating article

It's not directly related to northern California prep or club team basketball -- although it's definite some kids from here appear in a number of these reports -- but the following is yet another very good and worthwhile read:
NCAA scrutinizing scouting services
Club basketball programs sell information to colleges recruiting their players
Ken Tysiac
Charlotte Observer
May 30, 2009

West Coast club team power Pump N Run has been the summer training ground for many notable college basketball players, including North Carolina's Larry Drew II, who could start at point guard next season, and former Duke player Mike Dunleavy Jr.

That is not the team's only connection to college programs recruiting its best players. The club is a subsidiary of Double Pump Inc., which has sold a recruiting subscription service to many of those same college institutions for about 23 years.

North Carolina was among the programs that paid $600 for Double Pump's service in the 2007-08 fiscal year, and Double Pump co-founder Dana Pump said Duke also is among the service's many longtime subscribers.

The idea that Double Pump and other club teams are selling information to colleges that might be recruiting the clubs' talent has brought these scouting services under the NCAA's scrutiny. Although these payments do not violate NCAA rules, there is concern among college coaches and administrators that some club coaches could be treating a subscription payment as the price of admission to coaches who want to recruit their players.

The issue of payments to scouting services tied to club teams will be reviewed by the Division I men's basketball issues committee when it meets Monday in Indianapolis. Committee chairman Kevin Anderson said some college assistant coaches brought the recruiting service issue to his attention. The coaches said a new rule eliminating April evaluations for college coaches drove them to recruiting services to obtain information on prospects, Anderson said, and some college coaches are afraid that if they don't subscribe, club coaches will prevent them from getting access to players...
Go here for the remainder.

Kevin Galloway is leaving Kentucky

For Sacramento High star Kevin Galloway has seen more of this country than most of us and now new Kentrucky Coach John Calipari's talk with him has Galloway looking for yet another place to call home.

If memory serves us right (which certainly isn't always the case), Galloway also was at Fresno State albeit briefly -- or at least signed with the Bulldogs after departing USC.
Galloway looks forward to his next stop
Jerry Tipton
Lexington Herald-Leader
June 14, 2009

Kevin Galloway said new coach John Calipari told him he could play more minutes somewhere else and maybe impress NBA scouts.

Maybe having already played for three college teams, basketball nomad Kevin Galloway could sense his days as a Kentucky Wildcat were numbered.

So when new UK coach John Calipari told him last week that his basketball future would be best served elsewhere, Galloway was ready to accept that advice.

"I was already getting mentally ready for it when the coaching change was made," Galloway said on Saturday. "I got mentally prepared for the worst. I'm not frustrated."

After becoming a star for Sacramento (Calif.) High, Galloway played 13 games for Southern California (2.8 ppg and 2.0 rpg). Then he went to the College of Southern Idaho for a season (8.4 ppg and 8.4 apg) before coming to Kentucky last year as part of then-coach Billy Gillispie's roster alterations...
Go here for the remainder.

Battle of the Best Showdown results

Jimmy Durkin has the coverage of yesterday's Battle of the Best Showdown at Laney College:
Bay sweeps through Sac, South
Jimmy Durkin
Oakland Tribune

OAKLAND — Will Cherry and Justin Standley exacted a measure of revenge toward Southern California on Saturday at the Battle of the Best Showdown at Laney College.

The two McClymonds High graduates, who lost to Westchester-Los Angeles in the California Interscholastic Federation Division I state championship game, combined for 47 points to lead Northern California to a 115-99 win over Southern California in the highlight game of the day.

The Montana-bound Cherry had a team-high 26 points, and Standley made six 3-pointers and scored 21 to help the North rally after trailing by as much as 15 in the first half...

Go here for the remainder.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Freeberg File

Conner Freeberg
Sometimes what you see is not what you get. This certainly applies to relationships, too often regarding purchases and yes, even basketball. 6-foot-3 Connor Freeberg of Albany High is just such an example.

Freeberg has somewhat of an angelic look about him but mistake him for a mark at your own risk. Let's allow one of his Bay Area Hoosiers coaches, Mark Perelman, to take it from here. "As a player, Connor has a really deceptive look about him, sort of quiet and innocent. But then he'll jump and grab a rebound above the rim or block a shot. He is unbelievably bouncy."

The senior-to-be concurs about his athletic prowess. Asked to name his best basketball skills, Freeberg offered, "My jumping ability and quickness."

Here's Albany High Coach Andrew Strawbridge on his protégé: "Connor's biggest strength is his ability to get to the rim. He also goes to the boards really well as he's one of the best offensive rebounders and is very athletic."

As for those at the next level taking notice, Freeberg is generating the most interest from American University, Pennsylvania (in the Ivy League), San Diego and Portland. He's looking to set up some official visits come October and November.

What also may not be evident to the average fan is the dual roles Freeberg plays on the court. "At Albany High, I'm one of the tallest players on the team," he said. So he often finds himself playing inside, definitely on the defensive side. Coach Strawbridge runs a motion offense and that allows Freeberg to get different looks at the basket.

He averaged over 15 points per game this past high school season and garnered second team All-Bay Shore Athletic League honors, moving up from honorable mention the previous season.

"But with the Hoosiers, I'm a guard type," Freeberg continued. Here's Perelman again on his charge: "Connor is used to playing with his back to the basket in high school but has worked hard to convert from a 4 or a 5 to a guard, which is what he is. He spent time bettering his ballhandling and shooting skills and is now an effective perimeter player. He worked his tail off to change his game."

There is also the so-called intangibles Freeberg brings to a team. "Connor is a very mature young man who understands basketball and how a team should function and operate," Strawbridge said, adding "he is always respectful, works hard and follows direction."

Strawbridge sees a developing role for his senior-to-be. "We want Connor to get into more of a leadership role for us."

Freeberg sees a marked difference between high school and club team ball. "It's totally different games. The talent and athleticism you face [in the spring and summer] makes high school ball easier."

However, there was a time when baseball -- not hoops -- was Freeberg's reigning sport. At 12, his little league team was the first in Albany history to win the district championship. Then in his freshman year, he batted over .500 and went the entire season without a single strikeout. "After my freshman year, it [baseball] got too slow for me," Freeberg explained. "Basketball is more my pace."

What makes this all the more interesting is that Freeberg's father was a water polo player on a Northern California championship team that sent two players to the Olympics, covering the trifecta of sports within the family.

Freeberg's best basketball moments number three. "Between my freshman and sophomore years, I had two game-winning shots playing AAU ball," Freeberg said, "and I got a last second tip -in to win a game against Galileo this year."

Academics are also a strong suit. "I was a 3.0 plus student early in high school but lately I've earned a weighted 4.0 grade point average," Freeberg offered. He likes mathematics and is thinking of majoring in engineering come college.

His preference for basketball styles is "free flowing, getting up and down the court." The transition game is the most fun -- "I like to rip a rebound and dribble through traffic before the defense gets back."

Tom Hanks has a new film out titled "Angels and Demons" which is not based on Freeberg as a cherub battling opponents on the court. Yes, he can jump with the best -- just not quite to the heavens.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Great story even if it isn't northern California related

This book sounds like a great read. The other element we take from this article is we would never allow any relative of ours to play for Rick Majerus. The basketball world is a different crucible but there is no room for sadistic behavior anywhere, anytime.
Against all odds / 'Longshot: The Adventures of a Deaf Fundamentalist Mormon Kid and His Journey to the NBA'
Becky Wright
June 7, 2009

"Longshot: The Adventures of a Deaf Fundamentalist Mormon Kid and His Journey to the NBA," released May 26 by HarperOne ($25.99), is Allred's autobiography.

Rebounding is not an athletic skill.

"Most of it's just the ball has to bounce your way, but then after that, it's up for grabs, and that's when it's all about heart and wanting to go get it," said Lance Allred, 28.

The ball hasn't always bounced Allred's way, but heart and the determination to go after his dreams have made him a premier rebounder -- on and off the basketball court.

More than a story about how he beat the odds and wound up one of the best rebounders in the NCAA as a center for Weber State University, and then played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it's a personal account of Allred's struggle to rebound from challenges and make peace with himself...
Go here for the remainder, especially the Majerus mentions.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Does the name Isaac Fontaine ring a bell?

This name should ring a bell but it does go back a ways: Isaac Fontaine.

Joe Davidson in the Sacramento Bee has an update on the former Jesuit High star.
Ex-Jesuit star loving life after basketball
Joe Davidson
Sacramento Bee
June 6, 2009

Isaac Fontaine is the best combo guard working in a suit and tie for any accounting firm in the country. Has to be.

The man still looks like he could back someone down in the paint or run the break. But his basketball days are behind him now. The former Jesuit High School star and state Player of the Year now plies his trade downtown with numbers and meetings as a senior associate for the Reznick Group. Fontaine offered flashbacks and his trademark grin Friday while being presented with a proclamation from the city from Mayor Kevin Johnson for his years of sporting impact, including being inducted into the Pacific-10 Conference Men's Basketball Hall of Honor in January...
Go here for the remainder.

Can Antonio Kellogg do it?

Antonio Kellogg's past is checkered but he certainly has time remaining to achieve his dream of being in the NBA. So will he or won't he? He certainly has the tools for a nice career overseas if it comes to that.
Ex-USF star knows pitfalls of turning pro too early
Jeff Faraudo
Inside Bay Area

Former McClymonds High star Antonio Kellogg was among a dozen basketball players working out at Piedmont High's gym last Saturday morning.

In a one-on-one full-court drill, San Leandro High's Jared Cunningham, who will play point guard at Oregon State next season, made a slick crossover move that left Kellogg sprawled face down on the floor. Cunningham finished the play with a dunk.

The next time down, Cunningham tried it again. Kellogg cleanly picked the ball from him before casually returning to the back of the line.

That's pretty much where Kellogg finds himself at age 23 as he pursues his dream of playing in the NBA. The 6-foot-3 guard left USF two years ago, after his sophomore season, and he's no closer to the NBA now than he was then...
Go here for the remainder.

Here's some history.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Zac Tiedeman update

Zac Tiedeman came out of Montgomery High as a scappy 6-foot-1 point and subsequently played a season at Santa Rosa Junior College. Dick Davey, then the head coach at Santa Clara, liked what he saw and signed Tiedeman to play for the Broncos.

After a season in the South Bay that included seven starts, word came from Coach Kerry Keating (the critical component in this as it is with most coaching changes) that on-court time for Tiedeman would be very limited because of a group of new recruits coming to Santa Clara.

Tiedeman then decided to play for Humboldt State and put up these numbers in 20082-2009:

* a team-leading 13 points per game
* shooting .50% overall, 47% on three-point attempts, 89% on free throws
* 133 assists versus 55 turnovers
* 28 steals, tops on the team

His production this season earned him a spot on the California Collegiate Athletic Association First Team squad.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another Argenal enters the coaching ranks

Gus Argenal has been in the coaching ranks for a while, having assisted at Arizona State, UC Davis and University Texas San Antonio after attending De La Salle High. Currently, he is at Chico State and part of the staff that in producing a renaissance at the D-2 school north of here. Go here for a profile on him.

Now, his brother, Justin Argenal, has entered the coaching fraternity. The Chico State all time leader in assists and steals, Justin is a graduate assistant on the staff at Mississippi. Go here for the feature.

Jason Conrad resurfaces

Jason Conrad came out of Gilroy High a couple of years back as a long -- 6-foot-10 or so -- and lean center prospect. He signed with Portland State and the future looked quite rosy.

His senior years was marred by a serious injury but all still looked like a go up in The Shining City.

We believe Conrad spent his freshman year in Portland but didn't play. He eventually left Oregon and returned home.

Now, Conrad is headed to Chico State in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. Congrats to him as the Wildcats are collecting a big batch of local and regional players and look to on the way to becoming a major player in the D-2 ranks.