Monday, August 30, 2010

Kiwi to Westwind Prep

Pat Stevens, the editor and publisher of the National Recruiting Wrap, has a listing out of those ballers attending prep school in 2010-2011. One such player is:
WESTWIND PREP (AZ) -- Kiwi Gardner (5-8 PG/Manteca, Calif./Manteca)
So it sounds like heading to Atlanta is out for Kiwi.

Westwind is the same Phoenix school Fresno State's Greg Smith attended, as did Chris Jones, now of San Jose State.

The list is by no means complete as Stevens writes that he'll be adding names in the future.

Here's a link to Westwind Prep basketball.

Jeremy Russotti's upcoming SACRAMENTO VALLEY'S FINEST Instructional Showcase Event

From Jeremy Russotti, a northern California basketball skills trainer extraordinaire

It is that time of the year again for our 3rd Annual "SACRAMENTO VALLEY'S FINEST Instructional Showcase Event. The event will be on October 2-3 at Cosumnes River College, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Because we are adding the Stockton/Tracy players to this event and traditionally get 90+ kids at this event already, we will be capping the event at 100 players on a first-come, first sign-up basis.

The showcase will involve elite level skill training in the morning session, followed by evaluated team games.

Here's the list of invitees -- invitations have been sent to the varsity basketball head coach at each high school.

More information from Jeremy's site:

The idea for the "The Finest" Showcase events came about by Jeremy Russotti with the vision for a more positive, beneficial, and true grassroots basketball events in areas that were overlooked.  Back in 2001-2002, two of Coach Russotti's former players received b-ball scholarships to the PAC-10 Conference. Ironically, both of them were never invited to any local or national so-called "exposure events"; ove looked mostly because of the area they resided in. At that point, Russotti knew a quality showcase event could really help draw needed attention to any area, resulting in more recruting resources for top local talent. More importantly, he realized the importance of INSTRUCTIONALSKILL TRAINING vs EXPOSURE and the impact it had on his player's future recruitments. Therefore, the main focus of the event will be on skill building (6 total hours), with the added bonus of 4-5 games of evaluated exposure games.

Not only will the event be endorsed by various scouting services, but also will include a report written by 1% CLUB Basketball that is emailed to over 1,700 coaches at the D2, NAIA, National JUCO and California JUCO programs (Free of charge).  Says camp director Jeremy Russotti, "We really take pride in spreading our message about individual skill building and how it can really drive your future recruitment process. The success of Josh Akognon, has really come full circle, backing our message that was started five years ago. Also, there is a lot of talent in the Sacramento Valley region that various colleges or junior colleges never get the chance to see or read about.  Furthermore, we want to help bridge these connections, while trying to build intrinsic motivation within our attendee's to the importance of skill building in their daily routines.....and not just playing games."

Jeremy Russotti
Director SAC's FINEST
(707) 849-1212

Brian Shaw is well positioned

Timing and positioning are often factors leading to success or its counterpart. With that in mind, here's a feature on Brian Shaw of the Lakers -- Shaw was born in Oakland and graduated from Bishop O'Dowd. Here's an early photo of him with a very young Aalim Moor III, who is now at San Jose State University.
Lakers' Shaw should stay if Jackson goes
Kevin Ding
Orange County Register
August 26, 2010

A year from now, Brian Shaw probably won't get to vacation in Cabo in relative anonymity anymore.

So well aware of that is he that Shaw is lying low as best as he can these days, determined not to bring extra attention to himself as one of the biggest winners of this tumultuous NBA offseason.

Shaw could've become head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers but had the restraint to insist on a timetable to ensure the job would not be a glorified janitorial position: cleaning up the mess LeBron James left.

Given that Shaw is connected to ­ and mostly beloved by ­ nearly every person in the NBA, past and present, Shaw had more than an inkling James wouldn't be in Cleveland for him to teach. So Shaw passed on what indeed wound up being the worst job in the NBA: We're talking about disheartened fan base, wacko owner, bad city, bad arena and the horrible double negative of a bad team with old players.

Middling coaching jobs come along pretty often, and Shaw has interviewed for them often. Kurt Rambis wound up taking one of them in Minnesota. Byron Scott took this one in Cleveland...
Go here for the remainder.

The 'old' guys rule

It was the upstarts who held sway in the first 20 minutes but the veterans took the Second Annual Nor Cal Clash by a final score of 91-87 Sunday evening at Contra Costa College. Whether due to experience, greater physical maturity, more polished skill development or a combination thereof, seniority triumphed but not before being pushed hard.

The 2012 youngins led 28-22 at the end of the first 10-minute quarter and maintained the lead, 47-41, at halftime. Finally displaying more consistency, the class of 2011 put together a 30-point third period to take the lead 71-62 and held on for the close conclusion.

Senior Juan Anderson stuffed the stat sheet via 12 points, five rebounds, four assists, a trio of blocked shots (more on one of those below) and three steals. Mark Tollefsen, out of Sam Ramon Valley High, topped the 2011 squad with 13 points.

Junior Robert Upshaw produced a double-double composed of 15 points and 14 boards while his teammate on the night, Dominic Artis, contributed 13 points for the 2012-ers. 

Here's our take on some of the various players, plus thoughts on the ball that was played:

* Politicians and corporate leaders get dinged for lacking "the vision thing'" but Juan Anderson overflows with this attribute. He displayed the ability to pick out both open teammates and, maybe more importantly, soon-to-be open colleagues and delivering pinpoint passes. Anderson was named the Player of the Game. His shooting was off though throughout most of the game.

*  Finally, a replacement slogan has emerged for the venerable "it ain't over until the fat lady sings" description of a game's make-or-break outcome. From now on we're going with "it ain't over until Juan Anderson says so" as his last millisecond run-and-jump block on a breakaway layup attempt amply demonstrated not to count your points until the basketball emerges through the net.

* 6-foot-7 David Andoh was king of the midrange jumper -- a seemingly lost art -- last night. He is going to bring frontcourt scoring to St. Mary's this coming season.

* Mark Tollefsen is a net-nestling shooter. Let him catch and fire is simply a losing strategy as his treys last night never met iron.

* Just like in boxing, it's the lower weight divisions that are often the most enjoyable to watch in hoops. Last night's matchup of T.J. Taylor and Dominic Artis banging each other around out front via dribble-drives and defensive stops was quite the spectacle.

* 6-foot-11 Robert Upshaw opened the game with a nice spin move inside for a basket and later nailed a top of the key trey. There's promise in the 2012 big but also much work still to do. The PAC-10 will be watching.

* JT Adenrele  may 'only' measure out at 6-foot-6 but no one battled harder and played big inside than the soon-to-be senior from Oakmont High.

* Berkeley's High Langston Morris-Walker already looks college-ready physically and enjoyed some nice sequences on the court last night.

* Gary Williams is a solid glue guy and the 6-foot-3 Castlemont backcourter is one to watch as he enter his senior year.

* Watch to see the development of 2012 frontcourter Richard Longruss. The 6-foot-7 Bishop O'Dowd star had his moments and the addition of a couple more inches should throw his recruiting interest wide open.

* Which is true: Sometimes it is the little things that count versus don't sweat the small stuff? Context rules the day, but it's certainly the former on the basketball court.

* As is usual, not a lot of outside-shooting accuracy was on display -- attempts, yes -- in the Contra Costa College gym.

* The play was certainly uptempo but too often sloppy. We're not sure one jump stop was employed in all forty minutes as penetrating the key resulted in seeking and making contact rather than any mid-range shot attempt. There were also no dunk freebies on the menu as it seemed every attempt to swoop in and send the ball downward was hotly contested.

Bad news for Valley High's Roburt Sallie

Per ESPN's Eamonn Brennan on Friday:
Sallie is a sharpshooting Memphis transfer who was going to graduate from his former school and enroll at a graduate program at Louisville, as long as that program wasn't available at Memphis, thereby earning immediate eligibility. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the school said Sallie could not take advantage of the rule "due to the timing requirements of meeting the matriculation deadline for graduate school."
Go here for the full Louisville Courier-Journal article.

Here's another article on Sallie from 2008 where 'rules' got in the way of his attending Nebraska.

Our question: can Sallie, a former Valley High (Sacramento) student, now return to Memphis State?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

This bill would help athletes and parents in the recruiting process

Let's hope this bill gets signed as there can never be too much transparency in recruiting:
Former UCLA linebacker Huma recruits Schwarzennegger for his cause
Tom Hoffarth, Columnist
Los Angeles Daily News

Ramogi Huma can't wait much longer to get Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph. He's hopeful it's not the last thing the California governor does before leaving office, even though it could be the first major move in making sure college recruits and their families have less to be confused about.

A former UCLA linebacker and executive director of the National College Players Association, Huma has gotten to intimately know the Student-Athletes Right to Know Bill (AB 2079), which in the past three months has been passed in both the state assembly and senate.

It's demands are things you'd think would already be mandatory - universities will have to provide recruits a written summary of their policies on everything from medical insurance limits to athlete transfer rates and scholarship renewals, all within a week of contact...
Go here for the remainder.

More on the NCPA, Ramogi Huma and AB 2079
Tom Hoffarth
Los Angeles Daily News
August 29, 2010

Ramogi Huma, NCPA President with more -- what else he has to say on the state of college athletics:

== On the pending passage of AB 2079, the Student-Athlete Right to Know bill:

"Many people are shocked to hear the type of misinformation student-athletes get during the recruiting process, and the public really isn't informed, either. There is a lot of deception and omitted information and a lack of equality nationwide as athletes struggle to get by. It wasn't until after I was injured as a player did I realize the NCAA capped scholarships. The totals are even below the price tag of the school's academic scholarships. I don't think that's an accident. They know what they're doing. The players aren't met to get by. But they sell it as a full scholarship. It's very tough to navigate through this system.

"(Our organization) has a lot of goals, but this one is to create a very powerful transparency and honesty in recruiting. It's obvious when you talk about this issue, no one really knows all that's involved. Maybe they know one or two pieces, or some of the pitfalls, but not all of them. I've talked to lawmaker after lawmaker and finally go the support in California, and I hope it continues forward..."

Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's Sonny again

If he ever really left, here's a welcome back to Sonny Vaccaro. We reached out for the sentiment of a couple of college coaches about this news and our best summary is this: 'recruiting in basketball can't get any worse than it already is.'

It has to be Li Neng that will offer the best deal to Mr. V because that's the company needing to make the biggest push into the sports world.

The most pertinent question for northern California hoops is who will be the Vaccaro point man in Oakland? He'll have many willing applicants to choose from so who are the best positioned individuals?
Nearly armed and ready, Vaccaro tries to regain summer throne
Gary Parrish
CBS Sports
August 23, 2010

Sonny Vaccaro spent decades running the summer basketball scene, almost always luring the nation's top prospects to his events regardless of affiliation. Nike. adidas. Reebok. The company never mattered much. What Vaccaro proved time and again is that he could align with elite recruits and produce the best showcases as long as he was armed with large sums of money and boxes of apparel.

And now he's about to try to prove it again.

"I do think something is going to happen," Vaccaro told "I'm not sure what, but I think something is going to happen."

Though vague on specifics out of fear of "jinxing it," Vaccaro confirmed what multiple sources have told in recent weeks -- that he's being pursued by four different companies, that he will meet with them after Labor Day, and that, if all goes well, Vaccaro will, after sitting out the past three summers, soon begin his quest to again dominate amateur basketball at the grassroots level...
Go here for the remainder.

He who has the gold, rules

It's coming. High school and club team basketball sports are going fullblown mainstream on television, much more than what we witness now.

With that in mind, ESPN televised a Friday night football matchup between Grant High and Folsom High. The juggernaut came to town, re-writing the so-called rules and left some wondering what hit the area.

Local media, coaches riled by ESPN attitude
Joe Davidson
Sacramento Bee
August 28, 2010

According to some of those involved, the worst part of Friday's prep football showcase on ESPN was that ESPN was there.

Coaches said the sports network barged into Folsom this week, flexed its biceps and took control of seemingly every working detail of the Folsom-Grant encounter, turning a lot of heads and stomachs...
Go here for the remainder.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Northern Californians to hit Oakland tryout event

The Reno Bighorns and Coach Eric Musselman are holding a tryout Saturday in Oakland.

Northern Californians who are expected include Tim Pierce, Chris Busch, Brody Angley and Ian O'Leary.

Local trainer Phil Handy is involved in running the event as is Richard Morton and others.

Here's the full article, with all the details.

A Nor Cal Clash roster change

Due to a personal situation, Castro Valley's Roderick Bobbitt will not play in Sunday's Nor Cal Clash. 6-foot-3 Gary Williams, out of Castlemont, has taken his place.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bill Paterson on Sunday's Nor Cal Clash

Bill Paterson of the Sacramento Bee offers a preview of Sunday's Nor Cal Clash. Go here.

The latest Remi Barry update

Remi Barry has signed with New Mexico State but is still awaiting academic clearance from the NCAA -- a "Waiting For Godot" -like process which might prohibit him from playing this coming season.
Barry headed to New Mexico State
Del Oro grad had been pursued by UCLA, St. John's and other college hoops powers
Joshua Ansley
Auburn Journal

Highly recruited basketball star Remi Barry told the Auburn Journal Tuesday he has committed to New Mexico State University.

The 6-7, 200 pound forward from France graduated from Del Oro High last spring and was rated the 28th best high school prospect in the country by ESPN while playing at American Heritage high school in Florida in 2008-09.

He was unable to play for the Golden Eagles after the California Interscholastic Federation would not grant him eligibility. CIF maintained that Barry transferred to Del Oro from Florida for athletic reasons.

Barry’s decision to play for New Mexico State comes as a bit of shock. He was being recruited heavily by basketball powers such as St. John's, UCLA, Washington, Cal, and Colorado to name a few. Barry contends New Mexico State was just a better fit for him...
Go here for the remainder.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An update on Will McCulloch

Remember Will McCulloch covering the Bay Area preps sports scene for the San Francisco Chronicle?

We missed his work and also didn't know where he landed after departing from the Chronicle but that mystery has been solved.

Will reached out to let us know that he is the Director of Communications for the New Hampton School (MHS) in New Hampton, New Hampshire. In a sort of six degrees of Kevin Bacon northern California sports connection, Travis Souza of Turlock High and Will Davis of Sacramento High are spending a prep year at NHS in 2010-2011.

Here's a link to a photo of Will and the phone number at which he can be reached.

A Robert Upshaw update

This may be stretching the geographical boundaries of our coverage but we're doing so because Robert Upshaw is such a prominent player. He is also playing in Gerry Freitas' Nor Cal Clash this Sunday at Contra Costa College.
Edison gets new basketball coach, loses star
Tigers' 6-foot-11 center Upshaw goes to Memorial.
Andy Boogaard
The Fresno Bee
August 23, 2010

Edison High's boys basketball program has a new coach, but one less major-college prospect at center -- again.

T.J. Wilkins has taken over for Arturo Ormond as coach, although the Tigers will be without 6-foot-11 junior Robert Upshaw, who has transferred to Memorial...
Go here for the remainder.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Reeves Nelson receives some SI love

Sports Illustrated, Luke Winn in particular, names his five breakout players for the upcoming college basketball season and UCLA's Reeves (Modesto Christian High) Nelson is one of them.
Reeves Nelson, 6-8 power forward, UCLA
Percent minutes played in '09-10: 50.6
Percent possessions used: 23.7
Offensive Efficiency Rating: 105.5

Nelson, a fearless interior player who's perfect for Ben Howland's system, was the highest-usage player on the Bruins last season, ahead of Malcolm Lee (22.2 percent) and Nikola Dragovic (21.8). If Nelson can play 30 minutes a game and improve on his free-throw shooting (he made just 52.1 percent), he could emerge as the best forward in the Pac-10 as a sophomore. He's already hyper-efficient in the lane, making two-pointers at a 64.7 percent clip, and is aggressive enough on the glass to be a constant double-double threat. UCLA was so far off the national radar last season that Nelson didn't get L.A.-level hype, but he's clearly the Bruins' next star.

The upcoming Nor Cal Clash

The upcoming Nor Cal Clash (NCC) at Contra Costa College in San Pablo is an opportunity for some long-simmering arguments, suppositions, biases, you name it -- and this is just among prep basketball fans -- to be settled.

The Sunday, August 29 event pitting the top flight gladiators of the class of 2011 versus their upstart 2012 brethren should go a long ways towards answering the age-old question: does seniority rule?

This will also be the first local opportunity to see junior David Andoh back on the court as well as the initial time to witness -- at least for most -- what highly rated 2012 Fresno area prospect Robert Upshaw can do on the floor at 6-foot-10. 6-foot-6 senior J.T. Adenrele is also a newbie to most Bay Area basketball fans as is 6-foot-7 Chad Haysbert. Both are out of the Sacramento area. Fast-rising Juan Anderson will be on display for a preview of what should be a tremendous senior season.

The individual matchups will also be intriguing for a number of other reasons including the fact that high school and club team basketball teammates, separated by a year in school, will oppose each other.

Here are the rosters:


* J.T. Adenrele, 6-foot-6, Oakmont High
* Hameed Ali, 6-foot-2, San Leandro High
* Juan Anderson, 6-foot-7, Castro Valley High
* Roderick Bobbitt, 6-foot-2, Castro Valley
* Robert Garrett, 6-foot-10, Sacramento High
* Chad Haysbert, 6-foot-7, Antelope High
* Andre McPhail, 6-foot-7, Deer Valley High
* Quincy Smith, 6-foot-2, Deer Valley High (now out with a hand injury)
* Dominique Taplin, 6-foot-2, Oakland High
* T.J. Taylor, 5-foot-9, Oakland High
* Mark Tollefsen, 6-foot-8, San Ramon Valley High
* Stuart Wesonga. 6-foot-7, San Marin High


* David Andoh, 6-foot-7, St. Mary's
* Dominic Artis, 5-foot-9, Salesian High
* Glenn Baral, 6-foot-3, St. Mary's High
* Taylor Johns, 6-foot-4, Sacred Heart Cathedral
* Tajai Johnson, 6-foot-2, Vallejo High
* Richard Longruss, 6-foot-6, Bishop O'Dowd
* Langston Morris-Walker, 6-foot-4, Berkeley High
* Casey Norris, 6-foot-1, Newark Memorial
* Lawrence Otis, 6-foot-2, McClymonds
* Kyiron Thomas, 6-foot-3, Sheldon High
* Robert Upshaw, 6-foot-11, San Joaquin Memorial

Another Gerry Freitas-run event, this year's NCC also features quite the coaching pairing. Craig Ashmore of Newark Memorial will match strategy with Manny Nodar of St. Mary's. Both helmed teams that played in the state championship games last March.

Event Information:

Nor Cal Clash
Sunday, August 29, 5:30 p.m.
Contra Costa College, San Pablo

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A little good ranting is healthy (or so I'm told)

Recruiting is an aspect of basketball that floats the hopes and dreams of college hoops fans but it is also the element that brings out the worst -- it always has and always will -- in coaches, players, family members, shoe/apparel companies and, of course, anonymous message board posters. Money-to-be-had fuels most of the behavior but, as for the latter,  it's the opportunity to offer bombastic screeds -- aka too dangerous -- to be said face-to-face

Posting about where a prospect is leaning, committed, signed or any other status such as how he is playing generates reaction -- typically uninformed -- beyond the pale.

Applause, jeers, putdowns -- all the way stations of the spectrum -- burst forth. The level of animosity can be bewildering.

The sound and fury surrounding say someone like Drew Gordon's ceiling and college destination is a prime example. Granted it didn't equal the steroidal firestorm of the recent Lindsay Lohan media debacle but, more than was appropriate, bore a striking resemblance to individuals reacting as if Gordon had fouled their front lawns and escaped unpunished.

In reality, it was a 16 or 17-year-old kid playing a game yet a human dartboard full of code red venom strikes burst forth.

Why the wading into the personal end of the pool at all?

It's both fine and fair to have an opinion. It's even better when personal qualifications provide the background for such judgment calls. But wishes for struggles or even failure cross the line of decency..

No, all behavior need not be Little Mary Sunshine-ish 24/7 but where is the validity and what is there to gain from lambasting a high school youth?


Also, what about the club team coaches, relatives and billion dollar corporations who besmirch the game with their commodity trading behavior and other antics?

It's fair to question 'why should anyone be surprised by this occurring in the basketball realm?' After all, name any aspect of moneymaking life unburdened by parasitical behavior?

But still, the taking advantage of those too young, still very malleable, is simply pimping.

When a goodly number of these youngsters aren't privy to a positive role model, it's incumbent on the adults surrounding these kids to act as such and to not wave some Benjamins or, at the lowest level, new threads and shoes to incentivize kids to switch teams and allegiances.

On the flip side, the players and especially their families, fall short in their own behavior and invite such who-is-the highest-bidder behavior.

But all this would be incomplete though without recognizing the truly selfless adults, the ones minus the hidden motives and faulty agendas. These are the beneficial contributors to society, the individuals who add betterment during their lifetimes and understand it is not about them.

Theirs is a positive legacy.


Then there is the labeling of young men who change schools as some sort of an epidemic is simply a negative reaction to common, everyday events.

Folks -- divorce happens. Jobs are changed. If having previous girlfriends or boyfriends cue up a bad rap, then we are sunk as a society. In the pitching woo stage, a lot is said that isn't necessarily true.

It certainly can be but deciding to attend a different college isn't automatically an undeniable flighty change of mind. But yes, having three D-1 colleges or a lengthy mix of two and four year schools on your basketball resume is hard to validate.

When a basketballer sets foot on campus, the transactional phrase 'what have you done for me lately?' becomes the standard operating procedure.

It's produce, or else.

Granted, it cuts both ways as the grass can appear greener elsewhere for players while coaches backtrack when alluring new prospects are poised to say yes or contracts with more zeroes are dangled by another school.

However, an epidemic label is simply too broad a brushstroke. Individual, case-by-case analysis is required before issuing any judgment.

Thankfully, today's sermonette has concluded.

So where are the point guards and shooters?

Why are there both less and less top level point guards and elite shooters coming out of the high school ranks nowadays? This, of course, excludes those talents who are legends in their own minds and in those of their entourage. But seriously, these are significant charges and, although no definitive analysis has been conducted, some of those who are in position to know are weighing in on these matters.

After all, kids play organized ball winter, spring and summer and are 'coached' so much more than ever before, plus top flight trainers and training are available. Not that we desire to be one of those cranky old-timers who still treasures the peach basket era -- with the bottom still intact -- but shouldn't the level of skills be on the upswing nowadays?

Adam Finkelstein, who operates an East Coast basketball recruiting site, recently offered these paragraphs within a longer article he penned:
"...Consider this ­ there are approximately 75 BCS level schools right now. Say roughly 2/3 of those schools need a point guard for next year, then that means there need to be 50 high major point guards in the country…guess what…there aren’t.  Bottom line, the reason why many mid-major talents are ending up at the high major-levels is because of lack of better options..."

"...Calling all point guards and shooters ­ speaking of point guards, there aren’t a whole lot of them anymore.  There are plenty of guards who need the ball in their hands to be successful, but a terribly small percentage of them really understand what it means to run a team and make their teammates better. .."

"...The same can be said for knock down shooters as there are a lot of kids who love to fire from long range but not a lot of guys who really thrive in that area anymore..."
Is this accurate? If so, why is this? What can be done?

We turned to a pair of renowned northern California basketball trainers for their respective takes on the concerns Finkelstein raises: Jeremy Russotti and Phil Handy. Each trains players across the hoops spectrum, from high schoolers to professional basketballers, and possesses the particular bonafides appropriate to assess the subjects raised.

Here's Russotti:
I think it is a more recent issue, ever since summer ball has become a business. I believe that there are not a lot of pure point guards around because of the limited amount of recruiting opportunities for players to be seen by college coaches. Because coaches have to rely on AAU events in the summer, all the prospects are looking to impress them during these short period of times. Kids are smart, they know they have to shine in their limited time and the best way to do that is by doing something flashy or putting the ball in the basket. This pressure is coming from their AAU coach and the parents of the kids. Since a coach may only watch half of a game, or just one game, players know they have to really stand out in order for a coach to catch their attention.

Also, I think the really good floor generals that are not on elite AAU teams get overlooked. If you are on an average AAU team and controlling the game and passing to guys that turn it over, then it won't show out to the common person watching. However, if you are on a top team that is loaded with talent and you are the QB making it all happen, then you look like a genius.

As for as shooters, I couldn't agree more, especially on the west coast.  The discipline it takes to be a shooter is almost monk-like. A lot of guys don't realize that to be a good shooter, you have to sacrifice a lot of your free time into that part of your game. I was fortunate to train a couple of high school all-state players, as well as two players who led the NCAA in 3-pointers made (Josh Akognon - CSU Fullerton) and 3-point % (Tyler Tiedeman - Boise State). Both of those guys put so much time in mastering their mechanics and confidence, that it was almost an addictive syndrome. It is ironic that both of those guys live within 5-minutes from each other and come from small towns.   Having proper mechanics is an issue, but more of it has to do with functional shooting (realistic shooting drills), and repetition.

Ask how many top players have full-time trainers and the answer will be really, really low. That is like asking a boxer to go fight someone in three months, but do all the training by themselves. Basketball is backwards and everyone thinks that playing more games, you will become a better shooter.

I could tell you stories of Josh and Angelo Tsagarakis that would blow your mind. How they would meet before school to shoot, then shoot at practice (or my workouts), then come back at 10 p.m. with the janitor and shoot again. How they would always shoot on Friday nights, cause they knew everyone else was watching some sort of high school football games and not in the gym. How both guys had to go to the doctors because they were developing bone calcium cysts at their wrist joints because the doctor said they were shooting too much! They both had to cut down on their shooting so they could bend their wrists! That is how much they wanted to get better.

As for what caused these issues, I think one aspect is the media. How many YouTube videos are made of players controlling a game with a proper space dribble, penetration and kick, or controlling the clock or tempo of a game? Our media reinforces scoring, therefore, the players are going to strive for that.

Another part is the parents. Is your son going to be nationally ranked at nine years old if he is playing a pure point guard position? Every parent wants their kids to be scorers, therefore, it comes from the top down.

Regarding what can be done by coaches, trainers and players to lessen, if not alleviate, these perceived concerns, I think the best way to alleviate this problem is to have a strong reference support of former professional players. I know that sounds too good to be true, but I have been giving advice to players and parents for years on how to help them with their game and recruiting. 99% of the time they go against what I say. However, I find that if I refer them to a professional player who has been in that situation and made that same mistake, they take it as gold. Take a look at the pacific northwest hoops situation in Washington. There is a reason why  there are so many NBA players coming out of Washington. They have an amazing mentor program where the top NBA guys come back and mentor these guys. It isn't rocket science, but their priorities have been paved for them and they are working in areas they need to work on, rather than worrying about how they are ranked, or what a college coach will think on their performance. The Bay Area needs that connection! I have been preaching that for years.
Here's Handy:
The PG (point guard) position is definitely a lost position as many of today's young players do not understand the concept of team first.  A PG is supposed to be an extension of the coach, a floor leader, the general -- not the kid who has the ball in hands for 30 seconds of the shot clock every position. Most players today are not taught to be a distributor but rather to be a scorer at every opportunity which takes away from the concept of team from this position. I also think players today do not have the understanding of moving without the ball which limits their ability to be effective. Too many players need the ball in their hands to have an impact on the game which also takes away from the need of a true PG. A true PG is someone who can lead his team by getting his teammates involved first, they must be able to multitask in game play (this is more than chewing gum and dribbling...) by dribbling, directing traffic, setting up teammates with good shots, listening for play calls, reading defenses while handling tough defenders and being a tough defender! There is nothing wrong with being a PG who can score versus a scoring PG but there is a big difference between the two. More kids need to watch John Stockton or Steve Nash footage.

70% of young "shooters" are what I like to call "volume shooters." They definitely are shooters by name not by actual ability to shoot. Too many players think they are shooters and, if they really looked at the percentage in which they shoot threes, I think this thought would change. It's not good enough to shoot 30% from long distance.  Great shooters (long range) have to be able to knock down shots in the 40%+ range on a consistent basis. I think a lot of this is due to the fact that a lot of young players today do not know a good shot from a bad shot. Kids are often times under different types of pressure whether it be parents, friends, coaches or other sources to shoot the ball and they do so without a conscience or thought of "is this a good shot?" Players also need to learn that not everyone can shoot threes or be a good shooter. I tell clients all the time, "Learn not to do what you cannot do until you learn to do it!"

I think these issues have been an increasing problem in youth basketball for some time now. The "AND 1" glory days were a big boost in this epidemic of sorts.

As for what caused these issues, players have a tendency to pick things up from other players both good and bad. Sometimes they are taught incorrectly. There are a lot of people who try and teach the game with great intentions but oftentimes may hurt the player's game more than help it. Lack of attention to detail, respect for the game in terms of how it should be played and a true desire to be a pure PG or good shooter are also key elements.

There is no single answer to the question of what can be done but a good place to start is by how players train and practice. Most players do not have any kind of concept of how to work out at game speed. Too many players get in the gym and do things at half speed or often times less than that. The difference is game play is much faster and physical and players are not prepared for this due to how they train. There is a direct connection between training, practice and games that players need to take more seriously. Many bad habits are formed in workouts such as "moving without a purpose",-- if you are going to work on your game do it effectively and efficiently. Shooters need to practice shooting game shots at game speed off the dribble, standing still or on the move. Practice good form, good release point, good follow through, good balance, good footwork -- don't just get in the gym and shoot shots as repetition can work in both ways good and bad. If you practice bad things you will get bad results and vice versa. PGs need to better understand what this position requires -- it's not just being a good ball handler. I have never witnessed a winning team without a good PG, after all they are the beginning and sometimes the end of all offense. Coaches can always spend additional time breaking down film and working with their PGs in terms of expectation and responsibility. The saying "practice makes perfect" is one of the best of all time and something that is grossly overlooked by a lot players.
Okay, what is your take?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Does Mosswood Park ring a bell?

Mosswood Park photo by Sam Laird

This should bring back some memories:
Mosswood: All welcomed, strong survive
Numerous future NBA stars hardened their game here. Even though the talent doesn't match past years, the spirit of the park remains high and stories of streetball legends live on.
Harold Abend

...The days of Jason Kidd, Gary Payton and streetball legends like “Hook” Mitchell are gone, but the enthusiasm for the game and the intensity of play at Mosswood are not.

In fact, the hard play is accompanied by more trash-talking than former Skyline (Oakland, Calif.) standout Payton could dish out, but it’s all friendly. You might get knocked to the asphalt driving to the hole, but a helping hand is usually extended by the perpetrator...
Go here to start at the beginning and read the entire article.

Remember Drew Shiller?

It didn't turn out on the court the way Drew Shiller wished but there were reasons why but a master's degree from Stanford is quite the achievement.
College career fell short for Shiller
Glenn Reeves
Bay Area News Group

Drew Shiller's high school career was the stuff of legend. One of the best three-sport athletes in San Mateo County history, Shiller had all three of his jerseys -- baseball, football and basketball -- retired at Burlingame.

His college basketball career didn't go exactly the way he would have liked. He played a lot as a freshman at USF, but didn't feel it was the right fit. So he transferred to Stanford, but was never able to play the way he wanted as a member of the Cardinal...
Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Word from multiple people has it that Manteca High and Oakland Soldier guard Kiwi Gardner is exploring a move to the Atlanta area. Don't know if this is for the coming school year or after his senior season.

 Kiwi Gardner photo courtesy of The Stockton Record

Selfishly, we would love to see him him remain here but ultimately it's best that he does what will enable his success in school and on the basketball court.

Remi Barry to New Mexico State

Remi Barry, late of Del Oro High, has given the nod to New Mexico State. The question remains -- when will he play?
Barry to New Mexico State
Adam Zagoria
August 18, 2010

Remi Barry has landed at New Mexico State.

A 6-foot-7 French native who was enrolled at Loomis (Calif.) Del Oro High, Barry chose that school because the WAC accepts non-qualifiers...
Go here for the remainder.

Go here for some background on Barry.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Austin Swift signs overseas

He came from a state championship team at Santa Cruz High, spent a couple of seasons at Montana and then found his niche at Cal Poly Pomona -- as you'll read. The moral of this journey: it's not where you begin but where you end up.
SC's Swift signs two-year deal with Croatian pro team
Ryan Moses
Santa Cruz Sentinel

Former Santa Cruz High basketball star Austin Swift, who helped the Cardinals win the state title in 2005, is taking his championship pedigree overseas.

Swift signed a two-year deal Monday to play in Croatia's A1 League with BC Vrijednosnice Osijek Darda. Terms of the deal were not disclosed...
Go here for the remainder. 

More on D'Erryl Williams

 It's early but the offers are arriving:
Sheldon super-soph D'Erryl Williams garners offer from USF
Bill Paterson
Sacramento Bee
Augfust 16, 2010

The next big area basketball prospect to keep an eye on is Sheldon's D'Erryl Williams II.

The Huskies' 6-foot-2, 185-pound sophomore guard, an All-Delta River League selection as a freshman, had an outstanding summer despite competing against players two and three years older and battling a painful knee ailment, Osgood-Schlatter Disease, that left him playing at about "70 percent."

Williams played so well for Play Hard, Play Smart, the Sacramento-based AAU team, that he recently received a scholarship offer from USF...
Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

We liked this -- taking ownership

Shooting guard Will Barton is one of the top national basketball prospects entering college this season. Except he won't be playing for Memphis State in 2010-2011 because of prep academic deficiencies -- he attended four different high schools. Dan Wolken of the Memphis Commercial Appeal recently covered this scenario -- here's an excerpt:
"...Regardless, Barton declined to say his situation was unfair.

"I got it together my 11th and 12th year, my prep year, but not taking care of business early in life, you can't blame anyone but yourself," Barton said. "If you have dreams of going to college and playing basketball, you need to think about it early. And that's my fault. I was the one going to school. I should have been doing my work..."
Here's Barton's most appropriate tweet about this situation:
It dont get no worse than this. The hardest thing I ever had 2 face is here. Need vision cuz everything blurry now. Where do I go from here?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CaliHighSports features Oakland High's T.J. Taylor

CaliHighSports is doing a 2011 Top 25 and T.J. Taylor comes in at #12:
Cali High's Top 25: #12 T.J Taylor
August 10, 2010
Cali High Sports is coming out with the best and most accurate list of the top Cali players for each sport. We add basketball to our rankings where an extremely talented 2011 class features maybe the best crop of athletes California has seen in years.

We continue our countdown to number 1 with Oakland high school guard T.J Taylor.

#12 T.J Taylor
School: Sacremento (Our note: actually it's Oakland High)
Position: Point Guard
Height: 5'10
Weight: 165 pounds
Schools Considering: Santa Clara (committed then decommitted), Boise State, Colorado...
Go here for a lengthy evaluation.

An Eli Holman update

Here's a Bleacher Report update on former Richmond High star Eli Holman, now entering his third year at Detroit.

Good Things on The Horizon For The UDM Titans
Kevin Neaton
Bleacher Report
August 10, 2010

The Detroit Titans basketball program has seen a nice turnaround since 3rd year head coach Ray McCallum Sr. has taken over at the helm.  Prior to taking the head coaching job at UDM, McCallum was an assistant coach at the University of Indiana.  McCallum knew it would be tough to revive a program that had struggled mightily in recent years and he seemed to be fully prepared for the challenge...

...In the 2009-10 campaign, the Titans quickly turned things around by finishing with a 20-14 record.  With the highly skilled big man Eli Holman eligible to play, he showed how great of an impact he could have by averaging 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game and became the teams go to guy. Coach McCallum was able to install a great half-court, man to man defense that allowed the Titans to stay in games when they were struggling offensively...
Go here for the remainder.

Recruiting: 10 things you should know

Here a former college basketball player (UCLA and San Diego State) outlining the realities of recruiting:
Recruiting: 10 things you should know
Jerica Williams

6/04/10 - For a high school student-athlete, the recruiting process often feels like the most exciting, exhilarating, yet stressful, process you may ever experience. With one decision determining the most important four years of your life, how can you make the right decision?

In addition to the many variables that go into choosing a school, there are high school coaches, parents and friends constantly giving opinions to influence the decision. Those opinions, along with what college coaches are telling you, could make the process overwhelming.

Ultimately, the decision is that of the player.

Below are 10 things to know about the recruiting process:

1. You are not the only one coaches recruit

Just like you have options, they do, too. Honest coaches will tell you upfront that you are not the only person they are recruiting at your position. You need to know that many coaches will recruit up to five people at a position. So it may be a good idea to ask, “Where do I rank on the list of people you are recruiting for my position this year?”

2. College basketball is a business. You are an investment.

Student-athletes look for the best institution possible, and colleges look for the best investment of time and money since a college scholarship is so valuable. While the recruiting process should be an enjoyable experience, the business side requires you to work hard to maintain the best possible position...
Go here for the remainder.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 14 basketball skills clinic with Jeremy Russotti

This coming Saturday -- August 14 -- Jeremy Russotti is hosting a basketball clinic from 9 a.m. to noon at Valley Christian High School in San Jose.

All drills will be run and demonstrated by Josh Akognon, former Casa Grande High and Cal State Fullerton star.This is a rare occasion where Josh has the time before leaving to play basketball in China on the 17th.

The cost is $45. Payment can be made the day of the camp.

Topics will include functional ballhandling, dribble threat series, triple threat, secondary finishing moves, and dribble attack series.

By the way, here's a great article on Josh.

Here's a feature on Jeremy, who is the top basketball skills trainer in northern California.

Josiah Turner and isiah Thomas

We certainly had no idea there was any connection between Sac High's Josiah Turner and Isiah Thomas. Here's a New York Times article filling us in but what is missing is how they initially got to know one another. Here's guessing it was via recruiting. 
Appreciating Thomas as a Mentor
William C. Rhoden
New York Times
August 6, 2010
Isiah Thomas and his wife spent a pleasant afternoon in Central Park on Sunday.

They watched old-school roller skaters glide to the thumping sounds of ’60s and ’70s soul music. The skaters performed maneuvers as if they were walking on air.

“Right after that, they have a jam session with the congas,” Thomas said. “It’s old school.”

Wearing dark shades and a cap, Thomas went largely unnoticed. “You see people out there who are bankers and lawyers during the week,” he said, “but this is where they come to go back to their roots.”

He was, however, aware of the reaction, much of it negative, to the announcement Friday that he would join the Knicks as a special consultant.

“I read it all,” Thomas said of the news coverage. He wasn’t disappointed, he wasn’t surprised...
Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The whereabouts of Jeff Powers

Former De La Salle basketballer Jeff Powers went off to the University of Denver after graduating a year ago. Things didn't work out there and he returned to the Bay Area. Now Powers is listed on Mike Montgomery's UC Berkeley roster, presumably as a walk-on. He is also listed as 6-foot-9 and as a guard.

The debate over oversigning

This is a topic that has always interested us and we generally come down on the side of the student-athletes. We admit there certainly are young athletes whose behavior is not on the up-and-up and/or those whose academics are subpar and /or those who do not live up to coach-perceived potential but there are also coaches whose perceive student-athletes as nothing more than interchangeable parts and that the best chance to win triumphs all else because that is what they are ultimately judged upon by their AD, everyday fans and big bucks supporters.

It's a mixed bag equation, one that requires judgments on individual coaches and players via a case-by-case basis.

The following article just glosses over the human interaction in the recruitment process -- the pitching of woo via notes, texts, calls and yes, promises -- and labels all simply as a business transaction.

We view it differently, more as a corporate versus individual dealing, the so-called 'experts' versus the 'inexperienced' despite however much time and effort a kid or his family puts into learning about the process. We liken it to an individual taking on the IRS without having counsel or an accountant in your corner.

Another element that disturbs us greatly is the running off of players but then having their former college limit who can recruit the discarded player. This doesn't even touch on the 'having-to-sit-out-a-year' restriction even if railroaded off a team and away from a college.
The NCAAF Over Signing Recruits Debate… Do Homework Before Signing
August 5, 2010

Whatever happened to due diligence? In today’s immediate gratification culture, cautious and responsible decision making seems like a thing of the past. Everywhere you look there are examples of people running headlong into risky situations. From credit card debt to the mortgage crisis and everything in between, it appears that people are no longer reading the fine print. It’s a dangerous game because when reality sets in it’s easy to be way over your head. There is no one else to blame but yourself.

Go here for the remainder.
Here's the presentation from the other side -- a much more student-athlete friendlier take.

Here's someone taking a look at both the previous articles and compiling his own look at the matter.

Here's a look at a former LSU footballer whose scholarship was pulled -- it contains something very interesting about how the NCAA supposedly looks at the athletics it controls -- at least in print.

Sheldon High has scheduled big

Sheldon High is going to Louisville, New Orleans and southern California besides playing some of the northern California out-of-conference powerhouses.
Loaded Sheldon loads up its basketball schedule
Bill Paterson
Sacramento Bee
Aug. 8, 2010

The start of the high school boys basketball season is more than three months away.

But the buzz is already building for Sheldon High School and a group of players who constantly have to be told to relax by coach Joey Rollings...
Go here for the remainder.

Ken Milch the new coach at Terra Nova

New basketball coach Milch joins Terra Nova staff
Horace Hinshaw
Tribune Sports Editor

Entering the 50th anniversary year of Terra Nova basketball, the boy's varsity team has never won a Central Coast Section championship. However, the varsity team has won three league titles, the latest being 2008.

Ken Milch, Terra Nova's new basketball coach, wants to replicate those winning years. Named to the head position last week by Terra Nova Athletic Director Bill Gray, Milch is very familiar with Terra Nova's basketball program...
Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Josiah Turner at seven schools

Sac High's Josiah Turner receives some East Coast coverage with this article by Adam Zagoria:
Turner Lists 7 Schools, Louisville Visit Up Next
Adam Zagoria
Zag's Blog
August 06, 2010

Josiah Turner of the Drew Gooden Soldiers is in high demand as the No. 3 point guard in the nation.

The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Turner is currently considering seven schools as options for 2011.

“I’m at seven schools,” he said by phone from the Nike Global Challenge in Portland, Ore., where Team USA lost to France Friday night.

“Kansas, UConn, Louisville, Oregon, Oklahoma, UCLA and Arizona.”
Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

An update on Rick Croy

Just came across this on former Northgate High (Walnut Creek) and San Francisco State basketballer Rick Croy (who has headed the Citrus College men's basketball program for the last six seasons):
"...Owls' Head Coach Rick Croy, who built the Citrus program from an afterthought to a dynasty, has left to join the staff of St. Mary's..."
Here's Croy's biography from the Citrus College site. CC won the state championship in 2008 and went 29-3 this past season, losing to the eventual winner of the state championship by one point in the semifinals.

More from Coach Taubodo on E-Time Hoops

E-Time Hoops headed to Los Angeles after the tourney in Las Vegas -- here's that summary from Coach Ernest Taubodo:

ETH competed at the Double Pump "Best of the Summer" Tournament for the second year in a row.  This year, there were seven participants:  Joe Eyen, Devin Crisosto, Robert Duncan, JT Adenrele, Chad Haysbert, Daniel Smith, and Taharka El Henson.

Day One drew Houston Select which was the most dominating team from Texas in the Adidas 3 Stripes tournament. Houston Select finished 5-1 and has a player verbally committed to the University of Texas. Game One was a very exciting contest with neither team seizing much of an advantage. It appeared that both teams were evenly matched but ETH maintained a slight lead through out. In the end, it was an ETH victory 71-65.

Later on that evening at 7:20 p.m., ETH took on the San Diego All-Stars. San Diego had defeated Clovis West earlier in the day. ETH was not as sharp as in game one. There were many unforced errors as well as poor defensive execution. The scrappy team from San Diego were always withing two possessions throughout the game. As time dwindled down within the final seconds, each team battled to be the last team standing. San Diego outlasted ETH 45-44.

The next day was the final day of pool play and the first day of single-elimination bracket play. ETH took on Clovis West to end pool play. After a very sluggish and lethargic tempo, ETH defeated Clovis West 53-45. The first elimination game was scheduled at 7:30 p.m.

Team Detroit was a number one seed in their pool and ETH was a number 2 in the first elimination game. Detroit was a very physical uptempo team looking to score in the open court. ETH was again very sluggish and didn't value the ball by turning it over. The offense for ETH also suffered as there were many two and three minute stints without a score. Towards the end, things got a little chippy with pushing and shoving. Detroit extended its lead within the last minute and defeated ETH 58-49.

Overall, ETH accomplished the following:

* Nor Cal Tip-Off: 4-0 including a big win over Lakeshow...

* 3 Stripes Adidas: 6-1 including big wins over Moore Management & CTB All Stars...also competed for the championship and took second place overall in the platinum bracket.

* Adidas Super 64: 3-1 including an impressive performance against NY Heights in the elimination game, 60-52...

* Best of Summer: 2-2 including a big win over Houston Select and a tough battle against team Detroit.

There were college coaches and representatives present at each of these events. ETH was a main attraction for a lot of schools in attendance. We wish all of these young men well in their recruiting process.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Former DLS basketballer Jose Rivera gets featured

Basketball player shoots, scores award
Dustin Call
Citrus College Clarion
June 2, 2010

When Jose Rivera came to Citrus College from Northern California, he never expected to accomplish as much as he has. His accomplishment include helping his team make it to the California Community College Athletic Association Championships for the third consecutive year, being named the Western State Conference MVP, and being named to the men’s basketball First Team All-State.

Now Rivera has another honor to add to his list: Citrus College male athlete of the year...
Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Catching up with some more JUCOs moving on

6-foot-5 Contra Costa College sophomore De'shaun Legree (Fairfield High), who led the Bay Valley Conference in scoring at 19.8 points per game, has moved on to Fresno Pacific. LeGree shot 41% from beyond the arc last season.


6-foot-7 Gerrell Knightshead, out of Santa Rosa Junior College, is supposedly headed back to Bethune-Cookman.


West Valley College has a pair of basketballers going a bit north: 5-foot-9 point Devon Mynhier (Piedmont Hills) and small forward Isaiah Pfitzer (Washington, SF) are to be at Notre Dame de Namur in Belmont


Foothill College's Dominic Stewart will be joining brother Marseilles in Kentucky. The former is bound for NAIA member Lindsay Wilson College while the latter will be checking in at Kentucky Wesleyan. Both prepped at ISA (San Francisco).