Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Nick Calathes’

Wednesday News And Notes

Posted by Zach on October 22, 2008

Interrupting the Big East preview to get caught up on the latest News and Notes around college basketball as the season continues to approach. Only 20 days until Houston/Georgia Southern!

– Seth Davis has been scribing plenty lately, this time heading down south to Memphis for a discussion with coach John Calipari. I thought it was a bit puzzling Davis offered Calipari a chance to watch last year’s National Championship with him later that day (that would be like asking Dennis Eckersley if he wanted to sit down and re-watch Game 1 of the 1988 World Series), but that’s beside the point. Davis goes into some key factors for the Tigers, including the obvious: how can you replace Derrick Rose, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Joey Dorsey, and still expect to be a top-20 team? He wonders whether Willie Kemp or Tyreke Evans will run more point guard, whether Robert Dozier can progress into more of a complete offensive player after getting rejected by the NBA, and if Antonio Anderson, who quietly led C-USA in assist/turnover ratio, can emerge as the team leader.

– Sophomore shooting star Nick Calathes is now around 75% recovering from an apparent hip flexor. Coach Billy Donovan is taking it slow with Calathes in hopes of having him 100% by the season opener, which seems very realistic. Donovan has to be feeling a lot better this year than he was last October dealing with an extremely young team. Even with Mareese Speights departed, Donovan has a nice nucleus led by Calathes and Jai Lucas. He’s also in the top two for Kenny Boynton. Look for the Gators to return to the NCAA Tournament this year and Calathes to be a huge reason why.

– Some injuries to report out of Minnesota and Georgia Tech. Gophers forward Damian Johnson broke his left non-shooting hand in practice Monday and received surgery a day later. He’s expected to miss four to six weeks, so coach Tubby Smith should expect to have his valuable reserve on the court by the end of November. Johnson finished second on Minnesota with 59 steals while averaging 7.1 PPG and 4.7 RPG. In Atlanta, senior De’Andre Bell is lost for the season due to spinal stenosis, a devastating injury that forced T.J. Ford to miss an entire NBA season back in 2004. Bell started 22 games for the Jackets last year averaging 6.6 PPG and showing contributions on defense.

– Sad news out of Asheville: 7’7 behemoth Kenny George’s basketball career is over. He’ll remain in an Iowa hospital for at least another month recovering from a staph infection, the end possibly resulting in right foot amputation. His enormous stature resulting from an overactive pituitary gland, which reaches 7’9 with shoes along with the ability to dunk flat-footed, has caused George plenty of knee and foot problems over the course of his basketball career. George looks to return to Asheville in the second semester to complete his degree, but we won’t see him on the court ever again. He won Big South Defensive Player of the Year last season and finished with 12.4 PPG and 7.0 RPG.

– Top ten class of 2009 prospect Lance Stephenson was arrested earlier this month and charged with a Class B misdemeanor following a charge he groped a woman’s breast and buttocks inside the school. Stephenson, a native of Brooklyn that stars at the same high school (Lincoln) Sebastian Telfair once graced, has a long history of petty crimes and missteps, causing many prominent programs to think twice about pursuing the talented wing in fear of adding a Derrick Caracter or Nate Miles clone. Stephenson is ranked as the #1 SF by Scout.com and might be heading to St. John’s. They’ll take anyone regardless of baggage at this point.

– Speaking of Nate Miles, he has a found a home in Southern Idaho. The former Connecticut Huskie who coach Jim Calhoun called “our best offensive player” at one point this summer violated a restraining order twenty minutes after receiving said order. He was then expelled from Connecticut and will now star at the College of Southern Idaho in the second semester. Miles was planning on filing an appeal in hopes of returning to Storrs at some point, but Calhoun opted to move on. They’ll now give more playing time to the likes of Jerome Dyson and Craig Austrie, while College of Southern Idaho coach Steve Gosar has to be doing cartwheels.

– Tuned into the Midnight Madness coverage Friday night around 10 PM when I got home from a movie and was pleasantly surprised by the revolving coverage. I came away impressed by the intensity of the Gonzaga scrimmage and the dunking ability of Jeremy Pargo (already knew this). I watched Stephen Curry nail six out of six points on his last rack to defeat Brendan McKillop in an epic three-point shooting contest in Davidson (Katz has a Curry/Davidson article up on ESPN.com). ESPNU did a nice job covering each school and gave Katz, along with Adrian Branch, plenty of time to discuss upcoming games and expectations until midnight.

Some notes from various conferences regarding preseason standings/awards/predictions:
– Top four in the Big East in order: Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame
– Villanova over Marquette for the fifth spot was surprising. Could this be the Buzz effect?
– Top three in the SEC East in order: Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky. Also happen to be the top three teams in the conference
– First team All-SEC: Calathes, T. Smith, Downey, Patterson and Oglivy. Can’t argue with that.
– Oklahoma picked over Texas to win the Big 12 was a bit surprising. Kansas tied with Baylor for third.
– Blake Griffin tabbed as preseason player of the year was an obvious selection

– Gary Parrish has his Preseason Top 26, All-Americans and Top Point/Combo Guards up. I take exception to some of his opinions: 1) Duke better than UCLA, Michigan State, Purdue and Pittsburgh,  2) Ohio State ranked #19 ahead of Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Baylor, 3) Wake Forest unranked, 4) Patrick Mills on his third team over Tyrese Rice and 5) Jrue Holiday on his third team over Jack McClinton. I’ll have my Top 50 players list and All-American teams up (along with Patrick and Tommy’s) in November.

– Site news: As you can tell, I’m entrenched in my Big East preview right now. When I’m finished (I’ll have my #6 team up tomorrow), I’m planning on writing both an SEC preview over two days and a shorter Big 12 preview, much like Tommy’s Big 10 preview in terms of length. Pat and Tommy are busy with school and football/volleyball after class, but they’ll have the ACC and Pac 10 previews done before the end of the month. Expect daily selections, weekly ACC and Big East reports, weekly game scouting reports and many other features when the season begins.

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NCAA Position Rankings: Top 10 SF

Posted by Tommy on July 24, 2008

Small Forwards, also referred to as “wings,” are often the most versatile players on the floor. They possess the perimeter abilities of a guard, but have more size and usually more ability to create offense on their own. Their combination of length and athleticism usually makes them tough defenders as well. So to be a great small forward, you need to be able to do a little bit of everything on the court. Oh, and being an athletic freak might help a little bit too. This year’s class of small forwards was tough to rank, partially because all of these players have different playing styles, but mostly because there isn’t a Michael Beasley or a Kevin Durant to be a clear-cut number one.

1. Robert Vaden: In one of the most stunning single half performances of the year (second only to Tyrese Rice’s 34 point half vs. UNC), Vaden put up 28 points in the second half for the Blazers in their non-conference victory against Kentucky. Vaden took the C-USA by storm last year by increasing his PPG to 21.1, up almost 8 points from his 13.5 PPG the year before. One thing that really stands out about Vaden is that he isn’t afraid to shoot the ball. He had 10 or more field goal attempts in every game he played in except for one last season, in which he shot eight. He shoots 40 percent from beyond the arc, which is good, but what I’d like to see him improve on his his overall field goal percentage. He shot 40.8% from the field last year, meaning he wasn’t much more effective inside the arc than he was from outside. If he improves his slashing ability, he could very likely be C-USA’s leading scorer next season, as well as a nationally known star.

2. Sam Young: Last year, Young took on a much bigger roll for Jamie Dixon and the Panthers and performed very well throughout the season. He won Big East’s Most Improved Player, and returns to lead Pitt in what looks to be a very promising season. Young averaged 18.1 PPG last season, 11 more PPG than the previous season, and his only single digit scoring game came against Georgetown when he scored nine points. Young is a very smart, hard working player that has great fundamentals. Also, he can post up or drive and shoot, making him very tough to guard. Since he doesn’t possess blazing speed, he uses his high basketball IQ, strength, and his plethora of tools to beat his opponents.

3. Chase Budinger: Budinger has tested the NBA waters after each season of his college basketball career, but has decided to come back to Arizona each time. To me, this is the right decision because Budinger has some things to work on in his offensive game. His combination of height and athleticism makes him a dangerous wing player, but he’s a streaky shooter and needs to work on his dribble penetration ability. He’ll get plenty of chances to showcase his ability next season as the Wildcats’ main offensive threat. If he becomes a more consistent shooter and a better penetrator, Budinger can be a late lottery to early second round pick next year.

4. Tyler Smith: After garnering First Team All-SEC and Honorable Mention All American, Smith returns to the Vols as a leader for the 08-09 season. Last season, Smith led the Vols in rebounding (6.7 RPG), assists (3.4 APG) and in field goal percentage (53.6% from the field) and was third on the team in scoring with 13.6 ppg. He will see a much bigger offensive role for Bruce Pearl with the departure of leading scorer Chris Lofton. Look for Smith to continue filling up the stat sheet, to keep his high field goal percentage and to keep up his great defense next season.

5. Al-Farouq Aminu: Dino Gaudio landed one of the most versatile freshman of the 2008 class in Aminu. At 6’8″, he has great size for a small forward and he possesses the ability to effectively face up on the perimeter. He has a good shot, can penetrate pretty well, and could potentially post up his smaller opposition at the small forward. If he develops his inside and mid-range games, he will be able to score in a number of ways for the Demon Deacons.

6. Nick Calathes: Calathes was forced into a leadership role for Billy Donovan’s baby Gators last season because there was next to no experience around him. He can do everything on the floor: he averaged 15.3 ppg, 6.1 assists/game and 5.2 rebounds/game last year as a freshman but he’s a bit inconsistent. He’ll have to improve on his scoring ability as well as his consistency if he and the Gators are to be successful. I think Calathes will step up to the challenge as the leader of the Gators.

7. Devin Ebanks: Ebanks joins a free-flowing Mountaineer offense in which he should flourish. He has a great ability to create offense on his own, meaning he has a pretty good perimeter shot, has good penetration skills and can score around the rim. His size at 6’8″ will help see the rim over his opponents and his length makes him deceptive when he drives the basketball. Huggins brought in a freshman with plenty of raw talent and scoring ability, and I think Ebanks will turn into a great scorer in the Big East.

8. K.C. Rivers: Rivers does a lot of different things for Oliver Purnell. He plays the wing, as well as some guard, and can score, rebound and is one of the best defenders in the ACC. He averaged 14.7 ppg last year, 6.8 rebounds/game, which is very impressive for a 6’6″ wing, and 1.9 steals/game. Rivers is a good 3-point shooter at 40.2% from the beyond the arc, and plays bigger than his size might indicate. Rivers will be the leader for the Tigers next season and will be the source of a lot of their offense, whether it be from beyond the arc or in the paint.

9. Austin Daye: As a huge recruit, everybody expected Daye to come into Spokane and perform right away for the Zags. The 6’10” freshman only averaged 18.5 minutes/game last year, in which he scored 10.5 PPG and grabbed 4.7 rebounds/game. This year, Daye may see almost double the minutes he did last season, meaning theoretically, he should double his statistics. He was a raw talent as a freshman, but after an off-season with Mark Few and company, I think Daye will vastly improve his game and see more time on the court during the season.

10. Earl Clark: Clark is a very athletic forward for Rick Pitino and has a very strong game in the paint. He averaged 11.1 PPG and 8.1 rebounds/game in 28.5 minutes/game. He is a great player off the dribble and uses his strength to finish round the rim. If Clark can add a mid-range and perimeter game, he is a lock for an NBA lottery pick because of his athleticism. He can defend well and can block shots (1.7 blk/game), but turns the ball over too much. Clark will see more time next season as an upperclassman and I think will attract a lot of NBA scouts with his scoring ability.

Also Considered: Wes Matthews, Josh Shipp, Terrence Williams, Danny Green, Delvon Roe, Robbie Hummel.

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Top Ten 2009 Prospects

Posted by Zach on June 28, 2008

Demar Derozan/ Nike Hoop Summit

The 2008 NBA Draft ended late Thursday night, and while it seems that the 2009 Draft won’t feature as many star-studded, one-and-done freshman like Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo, the top prospects for next June are immensely talented and feature their own unique skill sets. More experienced college players like Darren Collison, Earl Clark, Ty Lawson and Stephen Curry will be featured, along with still a fair amount of freshman like Tyreke Evans, B.J. Mullens and Brandon Jennings.

I’ve narrowed down the expected class to my Top 10 players for the 2009 draft:

1. Demar DeRozan, SG, Southern Cal

Most experts have Blake Griffin pegged as their #1 prospect, but I’ll opt for DeRozan, an unbelievably athletic shooting guard from Compton projected to make an immediate impact as Southern Cal in his one year. He’s an explosive, quick scorer with NBA size and leaping ability that will make scouts drool, but has more of a complete repertoire than just highlight dunks. His shooting range and skilled rebounding also are very impressive and worth being the number one overall selection.

2. Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma

Griffin appears to be a Carlos Boozer clone, someone that will average 20 and 7 at the NBA level. His polished skill set around the rim is more developed than most professional players, and he’s extremely difficult to keep from scoring in the paint. The most impressive facet of Griffin’s game is his rebounding ability, both offensively and defensively. Defense needs to improve, but the toughness is there.

3. B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State

As you’ll see soon enough at Ohio State, Mullens is an enigma that needs motivation and polish. Nobody possesses as much pure upside and potential to dominate as Mullens, but the seven footer can often lack discipline and motivation. He’s very athletic, the opposite of a usual stiff even given his size. Mullens is a gifted rebounded and finisher with a strong NBA frame. Defense also needs refining.

4. Brandon Jennings, PG, Arizona

The rumors are afloat that Jennings may opt to play in Europe. Regardless, his stock as an NBA stud will not decline with this decision. At Oak Hill Academy this past year, one of the most distinguished programs in the nation, Jennings averaged 35 points and 8 assists per game. He has top notch athleticism and quickness to the rim, an excellent jump shot and court vision similar to a young Chris Paul. If he decides to play in Tucson, Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill will love to play with him.

5. Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut

NBA scouts have been drooling over this kid’s potential for years now. His offensive game needs plenty of molding and development before he can become a threat on both ends of the floor at the next level, and even in the loaded Big East. But this kid is the best pure defender in the nation. His shot-blocking ability is off the charts and explosive leaping ability controls games in the paint.

6. Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA

Many scouts believe Holiday is a more talented Russell Westbrook, the same Westbrook that just went fourth overall in the 2008 Draft. Holiday is versatile at both guard positions, but excels controlling the offense, both with his passing and court vision, and excellent motor to the basket. He’s also the most developed defender of the class at the guard position- his aggressiveness leads to steals and Holiday is committed equally on the defensive end.

7. James Harden, SG, Arizona State

If you asked a college basketball fan who the Freshman of the Year in the Pac-10 was last season, most would say O.J. Mayo, or Kevin Love, or Jerryd Bayless. They’d all be wrong. James Harden took the crown as a freshman in 2007-08, scoring 17.8 per contest while shooting 53% from the floor. Harden is a flat out scorer with an above average jumper and a knack of getting to the basket. His length and wingspan will undoubtedly impress NBA scouts.

8. Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina

Lawson is an example of someone who will shoot up draft boards because of his explosiveness and athleticism. He’s a Superman quick point guard who will lead the top team in college basketball, so scouts will know how he does playing with talent. Lawson is a blow-by scorer with plus court vision and strong finishing ability, but he badly needs to lessen the turnovers and strengthen perimeter shooting, or defenders will just play off of him.

9. Nick Calathes, SG, Florida

Calathes really flew under the radar as a freshman last season at Florida, not only for his shooting abilities (37% from 3, and he can even improve on that), but his passing ability (6.1 APG) and rebounding (5.3 RPG). Calathes is a complete player who can play three positions, possesses excellent ball handling and scouts will rave about his basketball IQ. The biggest part of his game is the three-point shooting, which has seemingly unlimited range.

10. Tyreke Evans, SG, Memphis

Evans, much like Jennings, is a super-recruit who excelled at a top high school program in the nation, scoring 33 PPG and grabbing nine boards. Evans is a flat out scorer, someone with a quick first step who nails mid-range jumpers at a consistent basis while also finishing at the rim. He’s a gifted ball handler, someone who will excel in John Calipari’s system. One negative: Evans can be a selfish player.

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