We all love the NCAA tournament, but as NBA fans we watch it with a different eye — who is going to be coming out of this showcase and on to the NBA. This is the first of a series of posts over the next couple of days highlighting players to watch.
Plenty of casual fans filling out their brackets — after being confused about not being able to find North Carolina on it anywhere — couldn’t figure out how Baylor got to be a three seed. Baylor? What have they got?
What they have is one of the best offenses in college basketball this season — 119.6 points per 100 possessions, fifth best in the nation. They can score, as poor Sam Houston State will find out. But it is not Baylor’s scoring leader — LaceDarius Dunn — that NBA scouts are watching.
It is junior center Ekpe Udoh, the 6’10” Baylor center who translates to a power forward at the NBA level. The online draft bible DraftExpress has him going at the end of the lottery (currently 13 in their mock draft).
For more info on Udoh, we went to the source for some exclusive comments to ProBasketballTalk — Draft Express’ Assistant Director of Scouting Joe Treutlein (a guy NBA teams should be scouting themselves):
“Ekpe Udoh is one of the more interesting guys in the draft this year, mainly because after sitting out a year transferring from Michigan to Baylor, he’s completely reinvented his game, making leaps and bounds as a player. He has a nice arsenal of moves in both back-to-the-basket and face-up situations, while showing a pretty good feel for the game as well. His learning curve is the most intriguing part about him, though, given the strides he’s made in the last two years.”
This game may not be that entertaining — Sam Houston State plays pretty good defense but will not slow Baylor much. And they have nobody who can physically match up with Udoh. But as Baylor advances, it will be interesting to see what Udoh does against other top bigs in the tournament.
Last year, James Harden organized a pre-camp workout where Rockets players could get in shape and develop some chemistry. Then the Rockets started the season slowly with Harden not being in good enough shape and the team having chemistry issues.
Hopefully, for Rockets’ fan this year is different — once again Harden is organizing a camp, reports, Fox 26 in Houston. And Harden is working to show what a great teammate he is.
For the second consecutive year Houston Rockets guard James Harden has organized a players-only minicamp scheduled for next week.
“James is doing everything,” said Corey Brewer, Rockets guard/forward. “He is showing he wants to be a leader. He’s the franchise player. He signed the extension. So it’s his team, and he’s doing all the right things to do what we need to do to have a chance to win championships.”
Harden’s plan is to hold the minicamp in Miami. However, the potential of bad weather hitting South Florida may cause the Rockets players to work in a different city.
Nearly every team does one of these, and how much good they do depends on who you ask. Teams that go deep in the playoffs have these camps, teams that disappoint and never make the playoffs have these camps. It certainly never hurts to get some voluntary team workouts in before the coaches take over at the end of September, and good on Harden for organizing it.
Just don’t read too much into any team doing this.
Which position – point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward or center – produced the best highlights last season?
Watch this video to find out and be glad the positional revolution didn’t reduce it fewer highlights.
Could you find your way out of LeBron James‘ head?
Now, you can find out.
An Ohio farm has created three corn mazes – one featuring LeBron’s head, one that says Believeland and one with a Larry O’Brien Trophy – to commemorate the Cavaliers 2016 NBA title:
Kevin Ollie made himself one of the NBA’s hottest coaching prospects by leading UConn to the 2014 NCAA title.
He has since resisted NBA overtures, including from the Lakers in 2014 and Thunder last year.
But his peers don’t expect Ollie’s hesitance to last.
Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander of CBSSPorts.com asked more than 110 college coaches, “Which active college coach is best suited and most likely to next jump to the NBA?” The results:
Coach, college Percentage
Kevin Ollie, UConn 20 percent
Bill Self, Kansas 17 percent
John Calipari, Kentucky 16 percent
Jay Wright, Villanova 16 percent
Shaka Smart, Texas 9 percent
Tony Bennett, Virginia 8 percent
Note: Other coaches who received at least three or more votes: Sean Miller (Arizona), Larry Krystkowiak (Utah) and Avery Johnson (Alabama).
Keep in mind 80% of responds didn’t answer Ollie. But he’s still makes sense atop the leaderboard.
Ollie isn’t the typical college-to-NBA coach, and Brad Stevens and Billy Donovan – and maybe eventually Fred Hoiberg – are changing that perception, anyway. Not is Ollie showing his basketball acumen at Connecticut, his 13-year NBA career suggests he can translate his style to the next level.
Of course, Calipari always comes up on these lists. He coaches more future NBA stars than anyone, and he loves the attention that comes with the perception NBA teams are chasing him. But he has the best job in college basketball at Kentucky, so luring him will be difficult.
Self and Wright, the other coaches who got at least 10% of the vote, come up from time to time in NBA rumors. But it never seems to be anything that goes anywhere.