Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Archive for August 2nd, 2008

Saturday News and Notes

Posted by Zach on August 2, 2008

Ready for another addition of News and Notes? We’re all excited.

Loved this article from Gary Parrish on prized Nevada recruit Luke Babbitt. Apparently this kid is such a workout/basketball junkie, Wolfpack coach Mark Fox banned Babbitt from the gym for ten days this summer. That’s right, Babbitt was banned from touching a basketball or lifting weights or even walking into the gym for ten days, so the kid is going down to Florida with his family. Refreshing to see 1) a coach who is not hawking over his players to spend their lives in the gym and 2) a player with the work ethic as strong as Babbitt. Nevada is a contender in the WAC and Babbitt is the reason why.

– Baylor coach Scott Drew pulled a move many coaches are resorting to recently, hiring John Wall’s AAU coach to a director of player development position. Dwon Clifton coaches John Wall, who is ranked as the number one point guard in the nation for the class of 2009 by most publications, and with this new gig landed in Waco, it appears Baylor has the inside track to land their best recruit ever. Wall is a 6’4 speedster from Raleigh, NC and is officially considering other schools like Kentucky, Oklahoma State and NC State. Baylor already landed a commitment from the #13 center in the nation, Cory Jefferson, for the class of 2009. What Baylor and Scott Drew have done to re-energize a program that hasn’t won a NCAA tournament game in 58 years is remarkable.

– Andy Katz blogged about Blake Griffin and his offseason workout regimen in efforts to establish himself as the true #1 pick in the 2009 draft. Griffin is going through a Marine-like experience this summer to get into peak shape for the upcoming Oklahoma campaign. Blake stayed not only for a Big 12 title, and they’ll have a chance with Willie Warren, Tony Crocker and Austin Johnson returning, but to vault his draft stock even higher. Putting up a Tyler Hansbrough stat line wouldn’t hurt. That’s the goal for Griffin this season.

– The WCC officially moved their ESPN broadcast to a Thursday-Saturday slate rather than their usual midnight ET Big Monday slot for this season. The WCC is stronger than ever this season with top-ten team Gonzaga, top mid-major San Diego and contender Saint Mary’s leading the pack. Rather than just featuring the Zags in most of their games, ESPN is attempting to showcase more of the WCC teams, including the San Diego-Saint Mary’s duel on January 22.

– Recruiting news: Michigan landed the best recruit of the Beilein era thus far by snatching Darius Miles, a top-100 player and top-10 point guard, for their 2009 class. Miles hails from Los Angeles. Villanova received a commitment for 2010 when James Bell, a 6’4 Orlando shooting guard, decided to join Jay Wright’s squad. The Wildcats boast an impressive ’09 class and look to be building for ’10. Finally, Michael Dixon, the 17th ranked PG, committed to play for Mike Anderson and Missouri in 2009.

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Illini Lose Jamar Smith For Season

Posted by Zach on August 2, 2008

The Illinois Fighting Illini and coach Bruce Weber were dealt a devastating blow Tuesday when they learned junior guard Jamar Smith allegedly violated his probation by drinking alcohol. Two days later, Illinois formally dismissed Smith from their team due to Smith breaking his word with the team under a personal agreement he would not drink.

“At this time, Jamar and his family need to focus their attention on the issues that have brought Jamar to this point,” Bruce Weber said in a post on the team’s Web site. “For the good of our program and players we need to move forward and prepare for the 2008-09 season.”

Smith is serving two years probation following a plead of guilty and a felony charge stemming from an accident with his car that injured teammate Brian Carlwell in February 2007. This incident was controversial  due to Smith ditching Carlwell at the scene of the crime. Champaign police were breaking up a fight outside a bar Tuesday night when they said Smith smelled like alcohol.

Smith was supposed to be a possible breakout candidate in the Big 10. Along with Kentucky transfer Alex Legion and returning guards Trent Meachem and Demetri McCamey, Smith led a formidable perimeter force for Bruce Weber. Now it appears Illinois is set for the NIT this season.

“Our entire team and coaching staff are obviously very disappointed he will not be with us,” Weber said. “We will continue to do everything we can to help him continue his academic career and achieve his goal of graduation.”

Smith has no current plans to transfer. (Quotes from

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