Monday, November 16, 2009

12@12: Weekend randomness

1. National Hoops Report college player of the week: The opening week schedule didn’t have a lot of games on tap (disappointing, isn’t it?) but there was a clear cut leader in the POW award in week one. Ohio State’s Evan Turner was amazing. The first game of the year, he messed around and got a triple-double. The next game, he racks up 17 boards and scored 24 points.

Chad Ford says a few NBA scouts have called Turner a Brandon Roy type of player. Sure, it has only been two games into the year, but believe it. Don't look at Turner's scoring. Look at his rebounding and passing. He's a high-level pro with that kind of size.

2. National Hoops Report freshman of the week: Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas. How about 27 points in 24 minutes in his college debut. And Hofstra isn’t exactly a cupcake. Henry can flat out score. We all knew that after watching him torch the prep ranks for four years. He obviously won’t keep up that pace on a team like Kansas. It will be fun to watch him play against Memphis (the team he was committed to at one point) on Tuesday night.

3. National Hoops Report win of the week: Rider over Mississippi State in Starkville. Huge confidence booster for the MAAC school. Huge confidence destroyer for the SEC school.

4. Harrison Barnes The nation’s top high school basketball player is going to North Carolina.

Barnes announced his decision at an elaborate press conference in a standing room only ceremony at Ames (Iowa) High School. Over 13,000 people watched the press conference online. ESPNU carried it on their Recruiting Insider show.

Roy Williams watched it via Skype.

His commitment via online teleconference with Roy Williams was a look into the world of recruiting like never before seen. That part was unique. Those that are addicted to college recruiting never get to see that moment where the player commits to the coach. It is a fun thing to witness. With his use of modern technology, Barnes opened a window into the world of high stakes recruiting.

And in high stakes recruiting, oftentimes real, genuine emotion is not there. It is all positional movement amongst one millionaire against another with a teenager caught in the middle of it all. When Barnes brought Roy Williams onto the big screen, there was a genuine excitement there. You don’t see that very often anymore, not even from good ‘ole Roy.

5. After Barnes announced he’d be a Tar Heel and not a Duke Blue Devil (like I thought he’d be), the question was immediately asked: “What does this mean for Duke?” Part of me wonders if Duke jumped the shark with the loss of Barnes to North Carolina.

Coach K doesn’t lose players. The last one he really, truly lost was Jared Jeffries, a Bloomington, Ind., to Indiana.

Clearly, Duke needs to land Quincy Miller and/or Austin Rivers in 2011. I’ll go out on a limb and even say J.P. Tokoto, a 2012 stud, will be a Blue Devil. Or can I? In the past, you just knew who was going to Duke. It took all of two seconds to know who commits to Duke.

Not anymore. Barnes proved that.

6. Lost in the shuffle of National Signing Day is an amazing story of a player that is expected to help a NCAA tournament team. It shouldn't have been lost at all. In fact, the story should have been a national one, especially with the the first day of the signing period coming on Veteran's Day. Meet Bernard James. Here is his story.

7. With the signing period coming to a close on Wednesday at 11:59 p.m., college staffs will hit a collective reset button and re-examine the current pool of unsigned prospects. But understand this: more times than not, a player’s value is oftentimes is misconstrued in the spring period. The value of a late addition particularly for a high-major big man is tough to gauge. No disrespect to him, but see Frank Ben-Eze for example.

8. I was told there was a signing announcement/press conference/county fair/whatever you want to call these things these days that lasted one hour and 45 minutes last week. That is 105 minutes, folks. Whoa. Where there clowns making balloons, faces being painted and turkey legs being handed out for refreshments? That’s a long time to celebrate a college decision. I wonder if the valedictorian gets two hours.

Of course, I’m not a big fan of any high school player holding a press conference. I suppose I’m just a curmudgeon.

9. Sure, it has only been one game. Sure, John Wall didn't play. But Eric Bledsoe is much better than his No. 52 composite ranking coming out high school. Rivals had him ranked 23 overall coming out of high school, the highest of the services. Prep Stars had him at 69, the lowest of the rankers. Bledsoe was brilliant in his college debut.

10. Did Isiah Thomas even look at the talent at FIU before taking that job? He’s bound to blow up if the losses, the bad losses, pile up like they are starting to.

11. One NBA sources of mine says: “Nastiest dunk by a guard in the post-Jordan era.” Truth.

12. Here are my 12 football thoughts from the weekend:

A. Brian Kelly, uber-successful coach at Cincinnati, I’ll save you the trouble. Here is the MLS search page
for South Bend.

B. Dexter McCluster touched the ball more for Ole Miss. Just like I asked. He ran for 282 yards and four touchdowns against Tennessee. And Texas remains the most consistent top tier team in the country. Call me Nostradamus.

C. USC’s defense isn’t the same this year, particularly with the linebackers. With Clay Matthews and Brian Cushing, last year’s backers for the Trojans, not only starting but amongst the top 12 linebackers in the NFL this season, it’s easy to see why there is little fight with USC’s defense this year.

D. The Pac-10 is the best conference in America right now in college football. Why the SEC keeps getting pumped as the nation’s best league is mind-boggling. The ACC might even be better.

E. Bill Belichick. Where do we begin? Start and end with his arrogance. Two major things come to mind in the ripple effect. 1. New England’s defense doesn’t have a leader in its own locker room after the head coach showed zero faith in his team. 2. Belichick said without saying that Peyton Manning scares him to death.

F. As bonehead of a move that was the 4th and two play, credit needs to go to Manning. Indianapolis was down by 17 points in the fourth quarter. The Colts scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Manning was an amazing 9-11 passing for 119 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Joseph Addai scored a four yard run thanks to a great drive by Manning. The Colts had 15 plays in less than six minutes to collect those scores.

G. How about the poll NBC conducted with the 20 living NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks about which quarterback they’d want leading their team – Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. The results were as follows: 13.5 to 2.5 in favor of Manning.

H. Denver is the Iowa of the NFL.

I. Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh twice this year. Say that out loud. No, really, it’s true.

J. Tennessee’s Chris Johnson has 1,091 rushing yards thru nine games. That is the most since Shaun Alexander rushed for 1,114 yards in 2005 in that span.

M. Who is the Heisman leader right now? Stanford’s Toby Gerhart has rumbled through every defense that has lined up across from the Cardinal this year. After watching him for two full games (against Oregon and Stanford), I’m ready to call him my Heisman favorite.

N. Who is the NFL MVP leader right now? Clearly, it is Peyton Manning. Still need a reason after last night’s game?

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