News out of San Diego, Calif., where basketball star
is going pro and skipping his senior year--of high school.
The details of this decision are rehashedand fairly criticizedin this article over at SportsPower . Basically, Tyler feels that high school basketballand college basketball for that matteris below him and he needs to get started right away. He will go to Europe and start playing against seasoned pros much older and more experienced than him, with plans to come back for the NBA when he's eligible.
Remember the good old days, when leaving college after your junior year caused a gasp? We can thank
for opening the floodgates for skipping college altogether. He went straight to the NBA in 1995.
followed the next year, and their success stories have encouraged copycatters all over the country like
(what, never heard of them?) who turned down free college educations because they wouldn't let their immense talent bring the dream to them. They instead had to hurry to it.
The NBA responded by passing a rule requiring a year out of high school before being eligible for the draft, but that was circumvented by
, who finished high school and went straight to Europe for a season. He's expected to be a lottery pick in June's NBA Draft now that he's eligible.
Now, this: Skipping a year of high school. It's really crazy, and it makes you wonder how low the bar will fall. We already know about eighth-graders being offered scholarships . Sixth graders are ranked by recruiting services. My 5-year old niece, who has never played basketball but appears to be on her way to being tall, might get chased down by
soon. I'll keep you posted.
With so much cash at stake between shoe deals, salaries and other sources of income, kids just can't wait to cash in on their talent. But I don't see one single positive in skipping one of the most memorable years of your life to get pushed around by men 4,000 miles away from home. As the SportsPower article mentions, Tyler has a lot of maturing to domostly mentalbefore he's ready for the NBA. Europe could be an awful experiment for him, seven-figure paydays or not.
It's true what the Notorious B.I.G. said--mo money, mo problems. You just hate to see kids find out the hard way.
There are few states that can match passion for a sport like Indiana has for basketball. ESPN is currently hosting a debate regarding which state is the best basketball statethey are down to the final four and Indiana is still in the running. Growing up in the Midwest, Indiana is the first state that comes to my mind when I think of passionate basketball fans and players.
Our friends over at IndianaHSHoops.com took some time out from delivering quality high school basketball coverage on their site to answer a few questions for us about basketball in their state and what being a Hoosier is all about.
1. Which of these players do you think will be the 2009 Indiana Mr. Basketball and why?Patrick Bade - Franklin Central, DJ Byrd - North Montgomery, Derek Elston Tipton, Jordan Hulls - Bloomington South, Colt Ryan Batesville, Stephan Van Treese - Lawrence North, Scott Wood Marion
We would love to see each of these guys get Mr. Basketball, although we both know that isn't realistic. They all have worked their tails off these last four years, and we would hate to single any one kid out.
Some of our favorites, respectively, include Jordan Hulls from Bloomington High School South, Colt Ryan from Batesville High School and Stephan Van Treese from Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Hulls is the best player on his team on arguable the best team in the state, which is now ranked 4th nationally according to USA Today. He is headed to IU next year and can shoot the rock- something like 50% from deep.
Colt Ryan is a true leader and knows how to carry his team, if you haven't been keeping up with his season this year. Colt is headed to Evansville University next year and I can only imagine him fitting seamlessly into their program.
Stephan Van Treese, the kid has been under the radar since we can remember. He played varsity with teammates Greg Oden and Mike Conley.
There are numerous other D1 players on his Lawrence North team, so you can imagine why his numbers are blowing anyone out of the water. This kid is the real dealboth Louisville fans and Rick Patino realize it.
2. If you had to pick one Indiana high school basketball team that impresses you the mostwhich would you choose and why?
Bloomington South, hands down. We have been following them for the last few years pretty hard. Their atmosphere is true Indiana High School Basketball hysteria, their student section is prime and did I mention they are ranked 4th in the country? Hulls, Davis, Fromm and new comer Spencer Turner have been a blast to watch, this year especially. These guys are lethal. Let's see if they can manage to grab the title this year.
3. What piece of advice would you give athletes who are going through the recruiting process?
Don't let it get to you, no matter how many letters are in the mailbox. Keep a level head and go out and do your thing everyday. Work hard to play hard. Your hard work will pay off, believe! Parent's, don't push your kids too hard. Now-a-days a lot of kids are getting burnt out so early because of year around practice and crazy parents. Push them, encouragingly, reward for the good things they do and make it fun for them.
I once knew a kid who would shoot free throws outside right after school, in the dead of winter, as a fifth grader, until he would make 50 in a row. Then he'd come inside and log his hours on a calendar then head to Greene County, Indiana to watch players like A.J. Graves and Brody Boyd.
He still logs his hours to this day, even as he practices at Butler University, where he plays now. Yea, all Pistol Pete style...but if basketball is truly in your heart, I'm sure you understand exactly what we're saying.
4. A member of our community points out that implementing class basketball might be responsible for detracting from Hoosier Hysteria. As someone who shares a passion for Indiana high school basketball and is immersed in the scene, Id love to get your thoughts on the matter. He says:
For about 30 years, starting out as child, I had the privilege of attending the HS boys basketball Final Four. 15,000 at Hinkle, 17,000 at Market Square and even 30,000 at the dome. That was before "class basketball." This year, I attended the class finals at the downtown field house. There were no more 6,000 fans there for any one of the four games. Has class basketball damaged the passion of Indiana high school basketball?
Well, I'm not sure you really need to have 15K screaming fans to make Indiana High School Basketball have that Indiana HS Basketball feel, know what we're saying? We've been in gyms that only hold 2K people and are packed, standing room only, dripping in sweat, cheering, and it's been a BLAST!
We will have to admit though, that because of class basketball, conference championships, respectively, seem meaningless. It seems, since single class basketball was before my time, that for smaller schools, the state championships were the sectional championships, and if you were lucky enough to win those- good for you!
Bobby Plump (the man who hit the most famous shot in the history of Hoosier Hysteria. It was the shot that gave little Milan High its miracle state title in 1954 over powerhouse Muncie Central and spawned a Cinderella story told a million times over, most notably in the movie "Hoosiers.") said, "Since they went to class basketball, Milan has been to the semi-state twice, and nobody knows it," Plump said. "That gives you the idea that people don't care. The sectional winners in the old days will be remembered a long time after the four state champions are remembered When you can play, you want to play against the big boys. You might get your brains beat out, but it won't be the last time that happens in life."
5. On a related note, I was following ESPN Rises Great State Debate on which state has the most passionate basketball fans. They nominated New York, Illinois and several other states as belonging in the bracket that fans would ultimately vote on. But they selected Indiana as on the bubble for even being included in this discussion and made the fans vote it in over a couple other bubble states. I couldnt believe Indiana didnt make the initial cut. The fan support from the Hoosier state ended up being overwhelming and Indiana made it in the group of states to be considered as the best. Could you talk a little bit about what its like coaching basketball in one of the most passionate, storied states in the country and what it means to you?
High school basketball is something that will always be instilled in Indiana culture; it's a way of life here. If anyone has, or maybe even hasn't, traveled up to New Castle, Indiana and seen the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame, I'm sure you are familiar with they saying, ""In 49 states, it's just basketball This is Indiana."
The movie, "Hoosiers," seems to really hold true as to how basketball is here. It still seems kind of funny when I'm out in Florida or somewhere and see the movie on the Blockbuster shelf. Yes, it still brings a big goofy, involuntary, smile to my face...I mean, how could it not.
6. Sportspower.tv has Bloomington South ranked the best in the state. Do you think they have what it takes to continue the momentum through the post-season and win a state title?
Bloomington South seems SOLID. After their win against Detroit Country Day, it's hard telling what all the Panthers are capable of. We would love to see them finally grab a title, but you can never be too sure. If everyone stays health, keeps on the same track they are on now...they should have little trouble.
Here's how important national letters of intent are in the recruiting process: you can't just sign one whenever you want.
The NCAA has specific time periods in place for inking such important agreements. They vary by sport, and there are a lot of sports. So it's easy for recruits to commit to a school but really have no idea when they're supposed to sign their letter of intent to make it official.
Here is a breakdown of when national letters of intent are signed for athletes wanting to earn a scholarship for the 2009-10 school year, according to the NCAA website:
Basketball (regular period): April 15-May 20, 2009
Football (mid-year junior college transfers): Dec. 17, 2008-Jan. 15, 2009
Football (regular period): Feb. 4-April 1, 2009
All Other Sports (early period): Nov. 12-19, 2008
All Other Sports (regular period): April 8-Aug. 1, 2009
The coaches of most sports seemed satisfied with the calendar in place, but there are discussions of implementing an early-signing period for high school football recruits. In recent years, football prospects have committed, decommitted, recommitted, decommitted and committed elsewhere, filling all the time they have to make a decision before February.
One Division I coach told me he uses 25 percent of his recruiting budget "babysitting" recruits, or visiting recruits who have already committed to make sure they don't stray.
Nothing is imminent, though, so the dates in place will be a good forecast of years to come.
For the next six weeks or so, big-time college basketball teams will be gingerly dipping their toes into the pool, playing cupcakes and preparing to dive in come conference play. Then there's March Madness, perhaps the greatest stretch in the annual sports calendar, which looks to be another spectacular finish to the season.
Cinderellas and superstars always show up in March, but do yourself a favor and just recycle last year's tournament darling: Davidson guard Stephen Curry.
Yeah, you know him. He scored 128 points in four NCAA Tournament games last season, and almost had a Final Four ring if not for the phenomenal Kansas Jayhawks.
I covered Kansas last season for the local newspaper, so I got to to know Curry a little bit during the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games in Detroit. His pump-fake three-pointer against Wisconsin was one of the most memorable plays I've witnessed. He scored 33 against Big Ten champs Wisconsin and 25 more against Kansas that weekend. Away from the court, he was a super nice kid, intelligent and charming, the kind of guy you always root for based on first impression. We recently published a piece about his off-court work that makes you like him even more.
The March spotlight is still months away from being occupied, but Stephen Curry will be around in the meantime. He's a junior at Davidson, a preseason All-America now playing point guard so he can work on creating his own shot rather than spotting up. NBA riches await him.
The seasonal Stephen Curry bandwagon filled up in March, and with good reason. But the permanent bandwagon needs passengers.
Do yourself a favor: Follow him all season long. You won't be nearly as surprised when he becomes the NCAA Tournament superstar one more time.
visited four different doctors to get opinions on his damaged left knee over the summer.
Specifically, Merriman wanted to know if he could play football with a torn PCL and a torn LCL.
Four doctors said he needed surgery. Merriman ignored them and declared himself available for the start of the season anyway.
"My knee still looks pretty good," he said at the time. "The decision was left up to me to play. If you give a football player a decision to play, you know, I'm going to play."
Elite athletes become elite through relentless hard work and a ton of passion for the sport they're playing. But when should someone step in and say no to an athlete who doesn't have it in them to say no themselves?
Merriman, who played one game before hanging it up and electing surgery, isn't the first example of an athlete playing through a potentially catastrophic injury. Not even close. Remember:
, who played in Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005 despite a broken leg. Doctors wouldn't clear him to play but he did anyway, catching nine passes for 122 yards in a loss.
was the Heisman Trophy favorite in 2007 before hurting his knee against Arizona State halfway through the season. He returned two weeks later against Arizona but left again when his knee buckled. It was then made public that he tried to play with a torn ACL.
-St. Louis Cardinals superstar
has played the 2008 season with a "high-grade tear" in his elbow, which is liable to blow any day. It's his call to delay surgery as long as he can. The way he can hit a baseball (even with the bad wing), nobody's going to get in his way.
tried to compete in front of his home country with a serious Achilles injury. He had barely broken out of the blocks on a false start when he finally gave up, knowing it wasn't going to work.
It seems coaches don't intervene in the professional ranks, which is up for debate. College coaches have much greater authority over their players (football coaches, in particular, take advantage of that). But in the case of Dixon, Oregon's coach allowed him to play until there was another sign of trouble.
Here's the debate: Where does it stop being the player's call and starts being someone else's? Should Chargers coach
have stepped in and told Merriman no? Would the NFL Players' Association have raised a fuss if Turner didn't play Merriman? We know San Diego fans would.
If Merriman wanted to play through this injury while at the University of Maryland, does that change things? What about during his high school days in the Washington, D.C. area?
It's a gray area worth visiting. Merriman wasn't the first player to ignore a doctor's orders. You can bet he won't be the last.
The NCAA crowned the mens basketball national champion last night when the University of Kansas overtook Memphis State in overtime. Memphis, ranked 339th of the country's 341 teams with 59 percent free-throw shooting, missed four of their last five shots from the stripe to allow Kansas to force overtime. The Jayhawks emerged victorious, 75-68, on the 20th anniversary of their last NCAA championship win.
I want to take a moment to display the highlights of one of the greatest single-elimination tournaments of all time. Thats right, here is One Shining Moment, where you can see the best of three weeks and 64 games worth of college basketball:
Dax Crum has been playing basketball for Southern Utah University for three years. He is averaging six minutes per game for the Thunderbirds and is doing so with only one hand.
Crum was born with just one small finger on his right hand and has been playing basketball with one hand his whole life. He chose to walk on at Southern Utah in basketball instead of accepting a soccer scholarship and worked three jobs to pay for school until this semester.
Recently, he played a career-high 16 minutes, made a 3-pointer and shut down Missouri-Kansas City leading scorer Dane Brumagin.
Just those 16 minutes against UMKC were worth it all to me, he said.
Good luck to Dax Crum in the rest of his inspirational athletic career.
Who is Kenny George? Well, if you caught even a couple minutes of Wednesday nights game between University of North Carolina and University of North Carolina-Asheville I am guessing you know who he is. Kenny George plays basketball for UNCA and also happens to be the tallest player in the country at 77 and weighs a solid 360 pounds. I will add that with his shoes on, a size 26, George rises to an impressive 79, as if 77 wasnt impressive enough. To say George stood out amongst the other players would have been an understatement. Not only did he stand out due to his tall stature but he also put up 14 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks in 24 minutes coming off the bench for the Bulldogs. Despite a solid effort by George, the attention after the game still fell on Tar Heel star Tyler Hansbrough and the aggressive dunk he threw down over a stunned George, but what can you do.
George is having a great junior season for the Bulldogs and is currently leading the nation in blocked shots, but the ride hasnt been easy for George. His size has brought serious drawbacks on and off the court. George has struggled with injuries caused mostly by the considerable amount of stress his joints take on a daily basis. He is too tall to fit into a drivers seat, which leaves him depending on friends and family for rides. Also, he gets 12 pairs of shoes a year from Nike, which are made special for him since the largest athletic shoe made is a size 23. Clearly, the journey to becoming the nations leading blocker has been by no means easy, but Georges future is bright and he hopes to one day play in the NBA. Most would say he will almost certainly get a chance to live his dream considering most teams would want to use his size to their advantage.
There have been a multitude of very tall and very successful players that have gone through the NBA. At 77, Manute Bol is the tallest player to date to ever appear in the NBA and had a very accomplished career playing for the Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat. Shawn Paul Bradley is yet another player whose 76 height helped him to become a noteworthy NBA player for the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets and Dallas Mavericks. Both of these players faced adversity because of their height, but were able to turn it into a positive in order to succeed. I hope George will continue to do the same and follow in the footsteps of the exceptionally tall players who have come before him.
The Washington State basketball team committed all of their available scholarships for the 2008-2009 while one highly touted recruit remained unsigned and out of luck.
Until Taylor Rochestie volunteered to give up his own scholarship in order for the program to sign the promising recruit Marcus Capers.
Rochestie is giving up his scholarship because his family can afford to pay his tuition to attend Washington State next year. With the Cougars going 26-8 and advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year, Rochestie figures this is a way to give back to the program and help keep it among the nations elite for years to come.
"When I first learned of this option to open up a scholarship by giving up mine, I thought it sounded great,'' Rochestie said in a press release. "I am thankful that I was fortunate enough to be in a situation where I could help the team out.''
This is one of the most inspirational examples of being a team player and the selfless acts that often result
from belonging to a team.
However, do you think coaches might take advantage of financially-privileged recruits and encourage them to pay their own way for the greater good of the program?
Last weekend marked the 35th anniversary of Title IX, the legislation credited with increasing gender equity in sports. According to the Women���s Sports Foundation, since its enactment in 1972, female athletic participation has increased by a staggering 904 percent in high school and by 456 percent in college.
As someone who has benefited from Title IX, softball star Jennie Finch is quick to share her appreciation for those women that came before her. "I'm truly grateful for people who have paved the way, and have fought the fight," Finch said in the Daily Freeman. "I'm happy they broke down barriers to give women like myself the opportunity to be successful athletes and make a living playing a sport that I love."
I���m no softball star, but I am also thankful for the positive influence of Title IX in my life and the opportunity to play ball in college. Here are some other women who have enjoyed the effects of Title IX and are part of my favorite moments in sports history:
1996 | New Women's Olympic Sports. Women's softball and soccer made their Olympic debut at the Summer Games in Atlanta, and the U.S. dominated, winning the gold in both sports, as well as in basketball, gymnastics and synchronized swimming. The Atlanta Games made stars of Lisa Leslie, Mia Hamm and Lisa Fernandez, giving rise to professional softball and soccer leagues for women in the U.S.
1999 | Women's World Cup. A billion TV viewers and a stadium crowd of 90,000 witness the celebration as the U.S. wins the Women's World Cup in an overtime shoot-out against China. Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey after scoring the winning goal, giving little girls someone besides a model to look at for a strong, beautiful body. And for the first time, a women's soccer team got as much attention a men's squad usually does.
2007 | Equal Pay at Wimbledon. After 123 years of awarding more prize money to men than women, Wimbledon yielded to public pressure and announced on Feb. 22, that it will offer equal pay through all rounds at this year's tournament.
2006 | Winningest Coach in NCAA History. Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball historymale or femaleearned her 900th career win as the Tennessee Lady Vols beat Vanderbilt, 80-68. That year, Summitt signed a $1.125 million deal for the 2006-07 season, making her the first women's basketball coach in history to be paid a million dollars or more.
2003 | Annika Plays a PGA Tour Event. Annika Sorenstam became the first woman since Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1945 to compete in a PGA Tour event. Sorenstam missed the cut at the Colonialin Fort Worth, Texasby four strokes, but walked off the course to a standing ovation.
1997 | The WNBA is Born. The WNBA kicked off its inaugural season with eight teams, but unlike the other women's pro basketball leagues before it, this one has enjoyed longevity, this year celebrating its 10th year of existence.
2001 | Increased Exposure for the Women's Tournament. The NCAA and ESPN announced an 11-year agreement for the cable outlet to televise every game of the women's national championship basketball tournament.
I respect officials in any sport ��� referees, umpires, judges ��� for doing their job day in and day out in the face of increasingly demanding and disrespectful fans. This happens on any level of play; I umpire slow-pitch co-ed recreational softball in the summer and am blown away by the lack of respect. The complaints and hostility even come from coaches who should be helping to create a fair and positive competition.
Basketball referees, especially, have been getting a lot of heat lately with the whirlwind intensity of March Madness. I���m usually quick to defend officials, but just a few days ago there was an incident that was controversial. Tim Duncan got tossed from a game for laughing on the bench. For Laughing. On the bench.
Last month I blogged about an article by John Feinstein in the Washington Post that suggested officials should be made available for post-game interviews. His argument centered on the fact that officials don���t have to defend their bad calls, and because they are paid professionals they should have to walk up to microphone just as the other paid professionals do.
While, overall, I don���t believe referees having to defend their calls is a good idea, I would be very interested to hear what the referee in this case has to say for himself. Do you think officials should be subject to a post-game press conference?
The NCAA crowned the Men���s Basketball National Champion just a week and a half ago. For some reason, it seems like that final game took place much longer ago ��� maybe it���s because I quickly invested myself in baseball season now that it has finally arrived. But before the season gets into full swing, I want to take a moment to congratulate Florida on repeating and highlight perhaps the greatest single-elimination tournaments of all time. That���s right, my friends, it���s ���One Shining Moment��� where you can see the best of three weeks and 64 games worth (including the play-in game) of college basketball:
It has become somewhat of an anthem for college basketball and I look forward to this montage every year as March Madness concludes. The One Shining Moment post-tournament montage was first implemented following the 1987 NCAA championship game, in which Indiana defeated Syracuse. Today it���s still going strong and is definitely worth a look!
In his first year as Kansas State University���s basketball coach, Bob Huggins led his team to a 23-12 record and the school's best Big 12 record in 11 years. That will also prove to be his last year coaching at K-State. Huggins has chosen to turn his back on a school that, based on his track record, took a pretty big chance on him. Huggins even admitted that leaving wasn't the right thing to do.
I empathize with the incoming freshman class of athletes who will put their collegiate careers in the hands of a coach they've never met and an entirely different program than they signed up for in the first place. This happened to me the summer before my freshman year of college. I received a devastating phone call a few weeks before moving into college from the coach that recruited me to say she was taking a position elsewhere. She was the person I knew the best in the place that would be my home for four years and the leader of what would soon be my second family. Luckily, everything ended up working out.
There are athletes like Cobi Jones and Kevin Garnett, who have each stuck with their respective teams for 12 seasons, through trying times and probably bigger money offers from other organizations. Likewise, there are coaches in college sports who have stuck with the same school out of pride and the desire to build a tradition, to leave a legacy in a program that they built from the ground up.
Is it just me, or is this becoming increasingly hard to come by these days? I can't help but feel like coaches and players alike are making moves based on immediate and usually monetary gratification instead of doing the right thing. Since free agency began in the early 1970s, team compositions change quickly as players will move teams often, even to teams that have no viable chance at a successful season, if the money is right. Is this behavior, from players and coaches, in mainstream sports encouraging similar team-hopping in youth and college sports?