Friday, October 30, 2009

A Josh Akognon update

Here's some news on former Casa Grande basketball star Josh Akognon, courtesy of Bob Padecky's blog:

Josh Akognon to play in Europe
Bob Padecky
Santa Rosa Press-Democrat
October 22, 2009

Former Casa Grande star Josh Akognon will be flying Friday to Estonia to begin an 8-month stint for the professional basketball team in the city of Kalev-Cramo.

Akognon, who starred for Cal State Fullerton, went undrafted but had tryouts with five NBA teams: Warriors, Lakers, Kings, Spurs and Trail Blazers.

“I was told that I was an NBA player but that I needed some more experience,” said Akognon, a 5-foot-11 guard. “I also was told that the team in Estonia is one of the top European teams and playing well there would really help me.”

Akognon was not sure what his salary would be but that, at a minimum it’s $5,000 a month.

plus, a bit more from Padecky:

Oh yes, Josh also got married

Josh Akognon called me back Thursday to add, “I got married on Sept. 5.”

Akognon, headed to Europe for pro ball, met Arianna Scales when they both attended Washington State. Both of them played basketball for the Cougars and they were both point guards.

Both also moved to get degrees at other universities, Josh in Afro Ethnic Studies at Cal State Fullerton and Ariana in Sports Management from Washburn University in Kansas.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Evan Sanzo-Davis to Seattle U

Just saw that former Bishop O'Dowd 'big' Evan Sanzo-Davis is now playing for Cam Dollar at Seattle University. Sanzo-Davis played last season as a freshman at Las Positas College.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A great read on Frank Burlison

Frank Burlison is a longtime southern California hoops reporter (and someone who responds to every email sent to him) and Justin Young conducted a recent interview with Burlison. Yes, there isn't any northern California info here but it's a fun and worthwhile read so we are passing it along. Go here.

Jeremy Russotti's latest training event

Jeremy Russotti, Philippe Doherty and the rest of the coaching team work wonders at these events. Go here for all sorts of information on Russotti and the training he offers plus do check out his j-glove, designed for improving shooting accuracy.

Here's a writeup on the latest One % Club Basketball training event:

This past weekend was the mark for the 4th Annual “North Bay’s Finest” Instructional event held at Sonoma State University. The North Bay is where Jeremy Russotti’s “The Finest” events originated and this year’s group did not disappoint. The coaching staff noted several times that this year’s bunch included the top overall talent in its 4-year existence.

Players that stood out:

Brian Crow (Novato) 2010 ­ Overall this 6-foot-6 power forward took the cake as the top performer at the event. Over this past summer, Brian has slimmed down to be a rising recruit in the Bay Area. He has the muscle to bang with bigger bodies, skill to be an anchor in the post, and willing to run the floor to out work his opponent continuously. Look for a huge season in the MCAL from Brian.

Jordan Semple (Arcata) 2010 ­ Jordan is what every coach at the next level is looking for when it comes to potential. He is a legit 6’6”, can handle the ball, solid in the triple threat position, very smooth around the basket, and has a nice shot. His release point on his shot has risen from last year, making him that much harder to guard. However, on day 1, Jordan was lethargic and played with a limited killer instinct. With the guidance of Phil Doherty, Jordan hit another level on Day 2 and showed he had another gear and why he can be a very good scholarship prospect.

Ben Freeland (Montgomery) 2011 ­ Ben has made huge strides since last year’s event. A true 6’9”, Ben has the body to play Division 1 basketball. Following in the footsteps of former Monty Big man Kyle Jeffers (Oregon State), Ben should be the next in line to play at the next level. His skill level has improved and his demeanor on the court shows much more confidence than in the past. If he continues to add weight (weight room) and shows the dedication Coach Fitchie strives for in his players, Ben should be the talk of next year’s event.

Stuart Wesonga (San Marin) 2011 ­ Stuart has really improved since last year. He is still raw and needs work on his offensive game, however, he is eager to be a top power forward in the bay area by next year. He is super athletic, rebounds every miss, and runs the floor with abandon. He should lead a much-improved San Marin team in the MCAL in the upcoming season.

Tyler Gaffaney (Branson) 2010 ­ Mr. Gaffaney is probably the nicest kid you will meet off the court. However, on the court he is all business. Tyler can flat out get it done! He rarely turns the ball over, had his hand in every possession, was the best shooter at the event, and always made his teammates better with the extra pass. To top it off, he was a lock down defender; causing the players he guarded fits throughout the weekend. A lower level college coach is going to get a very productive, model student athlete after this

Kenneth Woodward (Terra Linda) 2010 ­ Kenneth is a basketball sponge that knows how to control the game of basketball from the point guard position. He consistently pushed the ball on the break, while hitting the open man flawlessly. He showed a nice handle of the basketball and the type of player that is eager to learn and wants to get better. Should be the top floor general in the MCAL for the upcoming season.

Xavier McCall (Cardinal Newman) 2011 ­ Anybody with the nickname “X”, you know is going to be tough. Xavier did not disappoint this weekend and showed he is the cream of the crop in the North Bay in the 2011 class. Xavier is close to breaking out and reaching
his full potential. He has great body balance and strength; however, he needs to work on his hand speed and quickness with his ball-handling. He tends to over-dribble, which causes unneeded turnovers. Xavier can shoot the ball, however, simplifying his game will
really allow him to be the top guard in the NBL for the next two years.

Brandon Cole (Vallejo) 2010 ­ Brandon instantly caught our attention during the ballhandling session. Brandon has extremely quick hands, allowing him to really control the ball at ease. During the games sessions, he utilized that skill in order to get to the basket
with ease. His shot mechanics has flaws, however, his mid range shot was solid. Brandon competed all weekend, showing the will to play defense and do what it takes for his team to win.

Mike McKinney (Fairfield) 2010 ­ Mike was one of the next solid Fairfield guards to come through our event. He is super bouncy, has a nice shot, and great feel for the game. He has a continuous motor and should be a tough guard in Coach Wilson’s offense for the
upcoming season.

Tom Witzel (Arcata) 2012 ­ Though only a sophomore, Tom is 6’6” with a very strong frame. He rebounded the ball great this weekend and finished well around the basket. However, he needs to work on his athleticism off two feet, and continually develop on his perimeter shot. Just like Jordan Semple, Tom needs to find another gear and play with fire. If so, he should be one of the top North Bay prospects in the upcoming years.

Tyler Idowu (Rodriguez) 2010 ­ Tyler is a very hard-working and relentless once he steps out on the court. He worked so hard during the drills and games session that he started to cramp by the end of Day #1. However, he still had enough motivation to throw down the jam of the event with his tomahawk slam on an opponent. Tyler is undersized (6’4”), raw in talent, and needs work on his offensive skills and jump shot in order to succeed at the next level.

Micheal Best (Terra Linda) 2011 ­ This is our first time seeing Michael, and he stood out with his upbeat performance during the drill and games sessions. He is 6’8”, can block shots, and has some skill, however, he needs to build on his strength. Since he is only a junior, he has the height to be a strong force in the MCAL and to play at the next level. However, he needs to fight through adversity and not get down when he makes a mistake. Should be a great pick and roll tandem with Kenneth Woodward.

Max Schmidt (Arcata) 2011 ­ Max is a true 6’9, and has some muscle in the post. Though not athletically gifted, Max uses a sweeping hook shot around the basket that is impossible to block. Each year he shows improvement, therefore, Max needs to really improve his body composition, conditioning, and athleticism to be a solid college prospect.

Tyler Imhoff (Napa) 2010 ­ Tyler is a bouncy combo guard that loves to get to the basket. He is strong on his drives and usually takes his defenders with him. However, he needs to improve his shot for the next level and his awareness on how to run a team. If so, he is going to be a tough guard in the SJ section.

Ryan Morris (Ukiah) 2010 ­ Ryan was a man-child over the weekend. Though only a 6’5” power forward, Ryan has a mean-streak to completely dominate his opponent. Also, Ryan has a skill set to match, showcasing a variety of offensive moves to complement his toughness. We can guarantee Ryan will be a first team All-League Player in the North Bay League.

Dominic Davis (Vanden) 2010 ­ Dominic really had a fine weekend, letting it be known he is one of the top guards in the North Bay. His competitive nature and willingness to play defense are some of his best attributes. He worked really hard during the drills sessions and showed a skill set to match just about any guard at the event.

Other players to watch for:

Ronnie Baker (Rodriguez) 2010
LeQuan Gomes (Fairfield) 2011
David Ahern (Marin Catholic) 2010
JaVonte Willis (Fairfield) 2010
Omar McLean (Armijo) 2010
Ryan Richardson (Clear Lake) 2010
Demarqus Wiggins (Redwood) 2010
Rashaad Allen (Rodriguez) 2010
Brian Johnson (Maria Carrillo) 2011
Akintoye Akindele (Hogan) 2010
Patrick Conroy (Marin Catholic) 2013
Elliot Collins (Piner) 2010
John Dunn (Branson) 2011
Tanner Giddings (Windsor) 2012
Joey Odetto (Windsor) 2010

Monday, October 19, 2009

Darius Jones gets his wish

Darius Jones will receive his wish -- to be a De La Salle player:
De La Salle student who died after playing basketball to be buried in Spartan uniform he yearned to wear at his new school
Theresa Harrington
Contra Costa Times

Darius Jones' dream of wearing a Spartan basketball uniform is coming true.

The 15-year-old De La Salle freshman from Pittsburg who died after playing basketball Oct. 11 yearned to represent his new school on its home court. He had planned to try out for the team in November, but never got the chance.

Moments after doctors told Darius' mother they were unable to save him, Beverly Bradley asked De La Salle head basketball coach Frank Allocco if her son could wear Spartan green when he is laid to rest.

"It was very humbling," Allocco recalled. "I walked into the room and she had just lost her son. We hugged and cried together and she said, 'I want to ask you a favor. I'd like him to be buried in a De La Salle uniform. It would have meant the world for him to play for you.' Of course, I said it would be an honor for us to have that done..."
Go here for the remainder.

E.J. Farris at Utah State?

On the Scout Utah State message board is a post mentioning E.J. Farris being a walk-on basketballer at Utah State in Logan, Utah. Farris is a backcourter who was a senior at Newark Memorial High last season.

Interestingly, E.J.'s Facebook page has Brian Green and Tyler Newbold -- both current USU players -- as friends.

His Myspace page has his mood as :Ustate hooper.

Can anyone confirm?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jason Groves on the Aggies minus Wendell McKines & Troy Gillenwater

Jason Groves has something today on how New Mexico State will compensate for not having Wendell McKines and Troy Gillenwater available for at least the first semester. Apparently, it's not a lock that either will return for the second semester:
Aggies hope reinforcements step up with McKines, Gillenwater out
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — With the absence of Wendell McKines and Troy Gillenwater for at least the first seven games of the 2009 season, there appears to be a gaping hole in the paint for the New Mexico State men's basketball team.

"My role is going to be more important this year than last year," said redshirt sophomore center Hamidu Rahman. "Troy is not going to be here and (former center) Chris (Gabriel) transferred. I'm going to be the most experienced guy so I'm going to have to step it up more."

Rahman is one of six players who will fill in at the power forward and center positions this year.

In a best case scenario for Aggies fans, Gillenwater and McKines will be eligible after the final day of classes on Dec. 11. McKines — the leading rebounder in the Western Athletic Conference a year ago — and Gillenwater could return to the lineup at UTEP on Dec. 13...
Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A UCSB basketball site to bookmark

Coach Bob Williams had loaded up his Santa Barbara roster with a majority of Bay Area players -- The Brews (Will & Chris), Justin Joyner, Orlando Johnson, James Nunnally, Greg Somogyi, Lucas Devenny, Seth Kamphoefner and Jesse Byrd (before he took a medical hardship and left the team).

Gregory Nguyen is providing solid coverage of UCSB men's basketball with his site titled Gaucho Hoops.

Go here for the site and bookmark it to follow our Bay Area talents.

Eli Holman back on the court

photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press

It seems like eons ago that Eli Holman was at Richmond High and now he finally is returning to the basketball court as a member of the Detroit Titans. Is he really up to 255?

Here's a good story on both Holman and the Detroit program:
Titans eager to prove themselves
Perry Farrell

Detroit Free Press

October 17, 2009

With 15 practices in August and a five-game winning streak in Spain, the Detroit Mercy men's basketball team is expecting big things this season, none bigger than center Eli Holman.

When coach Ray McCallum was hired before last season, Holman transferred from Indiana and had to sit out a season.

Now eligible, Holman, a sophomore, averaged 20 points and 15 rebounds during the trip to Spain. At 6-feet-9 and 255 pounds, Holman can be a beast in the middle, which is what the Titans need...
Go here for the remainder.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Things to think about

This should be read once every few months, by us all:
A little advice from yours truly
Justin Young
October 15, 2009

"Can I ask you for some advice?"

I get asked this question almost daily. Sometimes I feel like Lucy from Charlie Brown. For you kids, that was a cartoon back in the day. And we're not talking The Family Guy. Cartoons, the kind that were meant for kids.


I'm not a great advice giver. I promise. But I'll try.

Here are a couple of things to consider as the season approaches:

- Do you get it? Either you do or you don't. It's that simple. Do you have good grades? Do you honor the rules and guidelines that are given to you by your parents, teachers, coaches, leaders and those that have your best interest at heart? Do you play hard in blowouts? Do you run through a wall in practice? Do you stand up for your teammates? Do you do the right thing? People are watching. They are always watching.

- Are you humble? Guess what, it's okay to say you didn't do something right. It's okay to sit back, take the tongue-lashing from a coach or hear a criticism from someone that knows the game and the recruiting process. Learn from it. Get better from it. You learn the most when you are the most humble. Swallow your pride every once in a while. Part of becoming a man, is taking it like a man...
Go here for the remainder.

Remember Don Barksdale?

This Bay Area name sort of rings a bell but it should produce a symphony:
Basketball's Forgotten Pioneer
Resurrecting Don Barksdale
Dave Zirin
March 6, 2007

Should someone who averaged 11 points and eight rebounds over a four-year NBA career make the Basketball Hall of Fame? I'm not talking about Chris Kaman or the immortal Eddie Lee Wilkins. This is the story of a gentleman named Don Angelo Barksdale and a movement to compel the NBA to do right by their own past. Today, Don Barksdale is sports history's invisible man, a trailblazer who resides in shadows.

Everybody knows Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color line in 1947. Fewer will know the NFL was desegregated by Robinson's UCLA teammate Kenny Washington and future Hollywood actor Woody Strode. The more serious sports fan will also will tell you that Nate "Sweetwater" Clifton was the first African American to sign a contract with an NBA team and Earl Lloyd the first to actually get off the bench and log some playing time. More will know the immortal Bill Russell was the first black basketball head coach.

But I challenge even the most die-hard hoops junkie - someone who mainlines Allen Iverson youtube videos in their lunch hour - to name the first black NCAA All American. I challenge you to name the first African American to make the U.S. Olympic team. I challenge you to name the first black man to play in the NBA All-Star game. Go on, ask your most hoops-fiending friend and I promise you'll get that "Bush in the headlights" look. The answer to all these questions is Don Barksdale. Barksdale died in 1993 of throat cancer at the age of 69, and there is a push simmering to make sure the history he represents doesn't die with him...
Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Damian Lilliard receives a pre-season honor

Former Oakland High prepster Damian Lilliard enjoyed a very good freshman season at Weber State and that undoubtedly made an impression on various basketball folks. Rush The Court has Lilliard on its pre-season Big Sky Conference First Team here:

All-Conference First Team:

* Anthony Johnson, Montana
* Damian Lilliard, Weber State
* Steve Panos, Weber State
* Phil Nelson, Portland State
* Bobby Howard, Montana State

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jones and Moor/Moor and Jones

An Idaho based blogger recently handed out some love to a couple of former Bay Area prepsters:
The WAC’s Best Freshmen
Travis Mason-Bushman
Vandal Nation
October 13, 2009

Rounding out our preseason class rundowns, we’ve got our selections for the Western Athletic Conference’s best freshmen.

Again, picks are based positionally. We’ve selected only a first team and honorable mentions as it’s tough to judge the freshmen below that threshold. Players are judged on the basis of overall performance and potential team impact.

First team:

G: Chris Jones, San Jose State

In what is a fairly thin freshman guard crop in the WAC this year, the Spartans have found two of the best. Jones, a Rivals two-star selection, originally committed to Fresno State but spent a year at a prep academy to boost his academics. The Bulldogs went elsewhere — their loss is San Jose’s gain. A defensive specialist, the Spartans can well put Jones’ talents to use, as they were one of the conference’s worst outfits on the defensive end last year.

G: Aalim Moor, San Jose State

Nominated for CalHiSports’ All-State team, Moor (another Rivals two-star selection) led St. Mary’s High to the California Division IV title game in his junior year. As a prepster, Moor played mainly as a pure point guard, but the recruiting rap says he has serious offensive potential as well. He may not see much playing time behind the Spartans’ starting point guard, Justin Graham, but depth at the 1 spot is never a bad thing to have. Given San Jose State’s turnover woes, having another soft-touch ball-handler will make coach George Nessman happy, too.
Go here for the full article.

A Josh Ritchart commit article

It's no longer news but established fact regarding Josh Ritchart's commit to UC Davis. Here's a good article fleshing that out a bit more.
Forest Lake's Ritchart commits to play basketball for UC Davis
Brian Hamilton, Sports Editor
The Union
October 13, 2009

Seven schools offered scholarships and several more wanted to see what his senior year had to offer, but Forest Lake Christian's Josh Ritchart has already made up his mind.

The 6-foot, 8-inch, 220-pound Falcon has made a verbal commitment to play basketball for the UC Davis Aggies.

“I always had it in mind that I wanted to sign early,” said Ritchart, who as a junior averaged 26.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 6.0 blocks per game while leading FLC to a second straight appearance in the Division V section title game. “I had a lot of Pac-10 schools who wanted to wait and see my senior year in high school, but I decided that I wanted to sign early so I could focus on the school and my senior season...
Go here for the remainder.

Rob Jones to St. Mary's

Let's go for an oxymoron: in the world's worst kept secret, former Riordan High star Rob Jones is transferring to St. Mary's, per Jeff Goodman. It's a good fit but, more importantly, he will certainly be much closer to his ailing father. Jones will have to sit out this season.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A great checklist

Here's a portion of something we came across that is a must-read from Coach Bob Starkey's HOOP THOUGHTS blog. Anyone wishing to improve his or her basketball IQ, here's a great start on what you need to know about your specific opponent:

Inside Showtime
October 12, 2009

A. Does he play off me with and without the ball?
B. Does he overplay me?
C. Does he turn his head to follow the ball?
D. Does he help out when your teammate drives or becomes free?
E. How does he react on screens?
F. Does he block out on rebounding?
G. Can I drive on him?
H. Can I hit outside on him?
I. Does he protect a particular side on defense?
J. Does he recover fast from offense to defense?
K. Does he like to switch often?
L. Is he aggressive?
M. Does he foul on the drive?
N. Will he retreat because of a fake?
O. Can I stop on the drive and take my jump shot or should I continue all the way.
P. How far out in the backcourt will he play me in a normal position?
Q. Hardly the first and probably as important as any step mentioned -- ss he in shape to produce at all times.

A few thoughts for today

Came across the following and it certainly struck me as something important to consider. What's your take?
High School Coach Irked by Recruiting of Younger Players
Josh Barr
Washington Post
October 9, 2009

While the football recruiting process continues to evolve and trend toward colleges getting involved with younger players, high school coaches aren't thrilled. Consider the take of one prominent local coach, who asked to remain anonymous because he did not want his comments to affect colleges interest in his players:

"It's just wrong [for colleges to offer scholarships to younger players]. It [messes] up the kid. He thinks he's so cool. I really don't like it...
Go here for the remainder.

Here is a sort of companion piece from days earlier:
Games No Longer the Only Showcase for College Prospects
Josh Barr
Washington Post
October 6, 2009

Potomac (Md.) sophomore running back Ron Darby took his first varsity snap last month and has just three 100-yard games to his credit. But before the high school season even began, the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder had two college scholarship offers after spending time at one-day camps at Maryland and North Carolina.

As the college recruiting timetable continues to move up -- a growing number of top high school prospects make their decisions before their senior years -- one-day college camps and combines run by third parties that test physical ability are playing an ever more significant role in the recruiting landscape. Strong performances at these events can often be as meaningful as strong performances during games.

"College coaches use anything they can to get an edge in the process," said Jeremy Crabtree, national recruiting analyst for "They would be naive to not utilize all the tools out there to help them make an early evaluation. A coach is going to use film but [camps and combines] are definitely becoming a major, major part of the recruiting process..."
Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hubie Brown on why potential fails to materialize

Here's Hubie Brown -- probably the best 'color' announcer at explaining what is happening on the basketball court and why -- on what are the factors in a player failing to reach his or her potential:

1. Low pain threshold

2. Low IQ (basketball) for what we’re running

3. Selfishness

4. Can the person do the intangibles (charges, loose balls, pass aheads, rotations)

5. Drugs and Alcohol

Notice that each can be addressed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A note on Xavier Thames

Saw a note that Pleasant Grove High's Xavier Thames, now at Washington State, is sidelined due to NCAA Clearing House issues but it's something not supposed to be serious or long-lasting.

Here's a link, scrolling down to near the end of the second paragraph required.

Jesse Byrd done at UC Santa Barbara

From the Gaucho athletics site comes this sad news about for Bishop O'Dowd star Jesse Byrd:
October 9, 2009

UC Santa Barbara forward Jesse Byrd will not play his senior season with the Gauchos because of a re-occurrence of an injury to his left knee, head coach Bob Williams announced Friday.

Byrd first suffered a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee in the closing minutes of a game at San Diego State on Dec. 21, 2008. He sat out nearly six weeks after having surgery, returning to action in late January. During the spring, Byrd began experiencing more pain and ultimately he was forced to have a second procedure on the knee. Consultation with doctors resulted a season-long rehabilitation program to ensure long-term stability of the injured knee. The decision effectively ends Byrd's basketball career.

"We fully support Jesse's decision," Williams said. "We're saddened by the loss of a team-leader, both on and off the floor, but Jesse's long-term health is also our top priority. He will continue to be involved in the athletics department and with men's basketball throughout the 2009-10 season."

Byrd will remain on scholarship and is expected to graduate in June of 2010.

Collin Chiverton now at Salt Lake City College

Former Archbishop Mitty star Collin Chiverton redshirted at St. Mary's last season and was expected to play a prominent role on this year's sqaud. But he has left the Gaels and is on the roster at Salt Lake City College, last season's NJCAA national champion.

Anyone have the scoop?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

We had an idea for a story...

An idea for a story popped into our head and we fleshed it out in preparation for contacting Forest Lake Christian High forward Josh Ritchart. Then before we could do so, Ritchart announced his college choice -- UC Davis -- and there went the article.

For what it's worth, the following is what we prepared:
Okay, you are Josh Ritchart, the rising senior out of Forest Lake Christian High. Grades and academics are no problem -- in fact, they are a major plus working in your favor. Your skills are intriguing, especially your shooting range for someone 6-foot-7 and probably still growing. Your body is a work-in-progress but already rounding towards college-ready form.

Many schools are calling upon you, having cemented in their respective minds that you will be an asset to their program and university as a player, student and individual.

Perennial Western Athletic Conference power Nevada has done a home visit, indicating the seriousness of Coach David Carter in pursuing you. Joey Shaw departs after this season, possibly Luke Babbitt too if he shows the expected advancement NBA scouts envision. Plus, the academic challenges and therefore the roster placements facing forward Devonte Elliott and big guard Jerry Evans are unresolved so you are possibly looking at getting on the court early.

Big West member Pacific is where your brother has transferred (from Cal State East Bay) to and has earned a place on the Tiger men's basketball roster as a 6-foot-3 backcourter. From the contents of its current roster, an opportunity appears for early playing time. Coach Bob Thomason's Tigers have won 20 games in five of the last six seasons.

Another Big West-er, UC Davis is a burgeoning power with Coach Gary Stewart filling his roster with a number of local and regional talents. Davis has the conundrum of three 6-foot-8 guards gracing its roster in Mark Payne, Joe Harden and Adam Malik, plus 6-foot-9 guard-forward Jelani Floyd so it definitely shows Stewart knows what to do with large players who possess all-around skills. Payne and Harden will have only a season of athletic eligibility remaining so time should major minutes will be there for the taking no later than your sophomore season.

Your parents and extended family can come and watch you play at any of these schools. Each one offers the availability of a solid education.

Then there is the Air Force Academy -- an unbeatable education. It is a struggling basketball program and also a commitment that might hinder any plans of playing beyond the collegiate level but service to your country is a major plus in the minds of many.

Each of the suitors will actually work vis-a-vis earning a degree and playing early.

So how do you decide?

Is it, go with the best educational opportunity?

Or give the thumbs up to the the best combination of school and the possibility/probability of winning the conference tourney and playing in the Big Dance?

Some choose to go with the most prestigious, high-level basketball program, period. How about that?

It's a wonderful 'problem' to have but not necessarily an easy call to make, especially for an 18-year-old. Which factors preclude others?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Where are Schea's Cotton's supporters now?

We're guessing we just haven't built up an immunity as yet because each article we comes across about the bad apples (and yes, there are plenty of good people, too) still evokes a visceral reaction in us. All sarcasm intended, where are all those 'friends' and 'supporters' of Shea Cotton now? You got it, on to new prospects in the meat market. Casey Jacobsen played at Stanford.

(Too Much?) Power to Influence
Casey’s view on greed and corruption in AAU ball.
Casey Jacobsen
October 5, 2009

When I was a boy, all I wanted to do was play sports with my friends in my suburban neighborhood of Glendora, CA. I was tall, but not huge. I wasn’t fast, but not slow either. I could jump well, but that was by “white boy” standards. And although I come from family with basketball history (my father and two older brothers played college basketball), no one in their right mind would have predicted that I would make it to the NBA when they saw me at 13. Even after two years of competing at a high level against the country’s best talent during high school, I don’t think a lot of people thought I would make it to the NBA.

That perception was the best thing that could have ever happened to my basketball career. Let me explain.

I began playing AAU basketball (stands for Amateur Athletic Union, a semi-organized summer basketball circuit) when I was in 5th grade. By the time I was 13, I was traveling all over California and Las Vegas, Nevada for AAU tournaments. When I arrived in high school, that is when things changed...

Go here for the remainder.

Josh Ritchart to UC Davis

6-foot-7 Forest Lake Christian forward Josh Ritchart has given a verbal commit to Coach Gary Stewart and UC Davis.

The Big West is going to have to deal with the Aggies much, much sooner than later. 6-foot-8 forward Alex Tiffin from SoCal is a good one plus 6-foot-11 Mike Kunz also agreed to come aboard this week.

We know the backcourt is already in fine shape with youngsters Ryan Sypkens and Julian Welch.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Jeremy Russotti"s Sacramento's Finest

Jeremy Russotti, one of the elite basketball trainers in California, holds 3-4 showcases around the state where he instructs and evaluates young basketballers. Here is Jeremy's writeup for his recent Sacramento's Finest event:

September 26-27th marked the 2nd Annual, Sacramento Valley’s Finest Instructional Showcase Event. Once again it was a huge success with over 90 players in attendance. The drills sessions were flawless, as each guys worked very hard, were attentive, reaping the knowledge the training staff had to offer. Below is a write-up of the top players from the event.

Josiah Turner (Sacramento High) 2011 – The most polished player at the camp. Josiah worked hard during the drills section, showing why he is an elite prospect. Josiah’s game is very smooth, making the game look easy as he carves through the defense, controlling the game with his uncanny passing abilities. Once he develops a consistent follow through on his jump shot, will be one of the top point guards in the nation.

Joshia Turner and Will Davis
left: Josiah Turner, right: Will Davis

Will Davis (Sacramento High) 2010 – A 6-foot-8 athlete who is getting better by the month. Showed great skill set around the rim and continues to get longer and longer. Rebounded on both ends and blocked or altered many shots. Will has tremendous upside and will be one to watch this year.

Ikenna Iroegbu (Franklin High) 2013 – Just looking at Ike, you wouldn’t think he could hang with the top players in SAC. That was not the case. He is years ahead of his peers, with a strong skill set to build on. He is usually in the correct spots, has great elevation on his jump shot, and very explosive to the basket. With continued hard work, will be the next great player coming out of Sacramento.

Ikenna Iroegbu
Ikenna Iroegbu

Tony Williams (Rocklin HS) 2010 - Tremendous athlete with outstanding character. Tony worked extremely hard during the drills session and was a regular demonstrator for Jeremy Russotti. He has great elevation on his jump shot, strong defender (competes to the whistle) and can jump with just about anybody. Very good driver and needs to keep working on finishing.

Cody Kale and Tony Williams
left: Cody Kale, right: Tony Williams

Cody Kale (Rocklin HS) 2010 – A Bully type guard that is also very crafty with solid skill level. Cody picked up the drills very quickly and was a student of the game. Showed much improved attacking skills as he went to the basket with both hands time and time again. Finsihed around the rim very well with both hands. Needs to continue to work on his shot and will be hard to guard.

Andre Beard, Jr. (Edison HS) 2012 – Andre has really developed over the past few years and showing that he is a top prospect in his class. With the body of a senior, Andre showed a lot of great moves and ability to change speeds while in the key. Andre has solid form, however, needs to improve consistency on his outside shot. If he continues to grow and improves his shooting accuracy, will be a player to watch out of NorCal.

Kareem Ransom, Jr. and Haydon Lescault
left: Haydon Lescault, right: Kareem Ransom, Jr.

Kareem Ransom (Inderkum HS) 2010 – Besides Josiah, has the best overall game of any players at the event. Kareem can flat out get it done at all facets of the game. He showed the ability to hit the 3 and pull up jumper, as well as attack the basket with a plethora of moves as well. A very solid college prospect that is polished and ready for a huge season.

Haydon Lescault (Vista Del Lago HS) 2010 – Haydon was one of the top 3 performers on Day 1 of the event and definitely the top shooter. He demonstrated a feathery touch, hitting up to 6 3’s a game. His ball-handling is not bad, however, he seems to really enjoy the game and showed willingness to learn during the skill session. A player to watch this season.

Chuks Iroegbu (Franklin High) 2011 – A real high flyer who had a few posturizing dunks through the games session. Chuks is an explosive player, however, like most players needs to improve his jump shot and guard skills to compliment his athleticism.

Kyi Thomas (Hiram Johnson HS) 2012 – A combo guard that has a ton of potential. Had the dunk of the camp, literally jumping over another player during our drills session for a two-handed monster smash. He is long and lanky with some nice abilities around the basket. Could be a player to watch in a few years, however, he needs to improve his skill set over the season to next summer.

Mike Cubit (Hiram Johnson HS) 2011 – Mike came back this year with a vengeance and a purpose, showing much more improvement over last year. Left-handed, Mike causes defenders fits with his handles and ability to shoot.

Stephonzie Walker (Rocklin HS) 2011 – Another Rocklin competitor that knows how to play the game. Left-Handed PG who was very smooth and showed great feel for the game. Was able to get to the basket and finished well. Pushed the ball hard in transition and looked for his teammates time and time again. Rocklin HS’s teammates will be the benefactor of Walker’s passes this year and could be a big surprise.

Andre Beard Jr. (Edison HS) 2012 – Andre has really developed over the past few years and showing that he is a top prospect in his class. With the body of a senior, Andre showed a lot of great moves and ability to change speeds while in the key. Andre has solid form, however, needs to improve consistency on his outside shot. If he continues to grow and improves his shooting accuracy, will be a player to watch out of NorCal.

Omariyea Broughton (Valley HS) 2010 – We heard another coach call him the “Microwave” since Omariyea just seemed to always be near the basket and scoring. Another bully type guard that knows how to attack the basket and score. Reminds many of Khalid El Amin and really was an effective scorer. Heady strong guard.

Omariyea Broughton
Omariyea Broughton

Kyle Rigonan (Valley HS) 2010 – Omariyea Broughton is very fortunate to play with this electrifying, super cat quick guard. Kyle is a flat out winner and embarrassed a lot of other guards that tried to stay in front of him. Though not super flashy, Kyle ran his teams flawlessly finishing undefeated at camp. Very undersized, however, you can’t deny his performance at the event.

Alex McNack (Edison HS) 2010 - Was relentless during the drills. This wing forward kept competing and competing and was very active during games and drills. Was smooth and got to the basket. Rebounded well for his size and was a big time defender during camp.

Andre Jones (Rocklin) 2010 - Long, limber athlete that was very active. Rebounded well for his slight frame, took it to the basket, finished well, and knocked down open shots. Had a great motor and will be a major factor for Rocklin HS this year.

Darius Graham (Sacramento HS) 2012 – A heady PG that showed toughness and has a high IQ. Took it to the basket, found teammates, and really pushed the ball in transition. Knocks down open shots and shot selection will continue to improve as he expands his game.

Ryan Cooper (Monterey Trail) 2011 – An explosive Left handed PG who really attacked. He attacked the basket and the defense all weekend. Really explosive and very quick to the rim. Finished well for his size and could become really solid PG as he finds his teammates more often.

Brian Simmons (Capitol Christian HS) 2011 - A strong forward who competed very well during drills and games. Wide body forward who finished around the basket. Also stepped outside and knocked down some jump shots. Will have to use his wide body strength against the taller post players.

Demetri Dartis (Cosumnes Oaks) 2011 – Competed extremely hard during drills and games and had a big time motor. Attacked the basket and really played hard. Defended the ball very well and rebounded well in traffic. Everyone at camp took notice of his powerful left handed tomahawk jams during the weekend.

Nathaniel Tisdale (Foothill) 2010 – A powerful, yet smooth undersized power forward. A bully type player, that is very crafty around the rim. He also showed some explosiveness dunks in traffic throughout the weekend. Should have a really good year for Foothill.

Friday, October 2, 2009

More sad news for Tierra Rogers

Tierra Rogers has already faced more in her years to date than most will in a lifetime and now something has been added that will at the very least delay her from playing basketball in college. Thankfully, it was caught in time.
Heart surgery may end Rogers' career
SF Gate Staff and news services
October 2, 2009

Cal announced Thursday that women's basketball player Tierra Rogers had heart surgery on Thursday and has been declared medically ineligible to play.

She is the freshman from Sacred Heart Cathedral whose father was shot dead outside the Irish home gym at halftime of a game in 2008.

Rogers' prospects for playing competitive basketball at all in the future seem slim, given the facts stated on Cal's news release about the severity of her heart condition. A defibrillator was implanted Thursday at UCSF Medical Center, and further steps will be taken to reduce her risks of cardiac arrest...
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

A new Kevin Laue story

It doesn't get much more inspirational than this:
Hoopster born without a left hand gets his chance
Cristian Salazar
Associated Press

Laue isn’t supposed to be here, standing on the court practicing for his first season of Division I basketball.

Born without a left hand, the 6-foot-11 center from Pleasanton, Calif., is now a freshman at Manhattan College, having earned a scholarship to play for the Jaspers and a chance to live out the dream of anyone who has been told they couldn’t play a sport they loved because of a physical defect.

When the Jaspers’ season opens on Nov. 14, the question will not be whether Laue can dribble, pass, block, score or rebound, but whether his opponents will underestimate his skills.

“It’s to my advantage,” said Laue, explaining what it’s like to come onto the floor during a game and face his two-handed opponents. “They think they’re going to have an easy game and just whip on some one-handed kid. But I think I’ve surprised a couple people out there.”

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