NBA Draft Roundup, May 5

NBA Draft Roundup, May 5
May 05, 2009, 10:22 am
Jeremy Tyler is 17-going-on-pro, but is he that good?

Adam Rose of L.A. Times blogs about Jeremy Tyler’s decision to drop out of high school and pursue a career in Europe, pointing out some holes in his argument.

Tyler won't be eligible for the NBA draft until 2011. When the time comes, some scouts think he could be the top overall pick. Over the years, the same has been said about plenty of other players who fell short of that goal. Some recruiting services have Tyler ranked as only the third- or fourth-best junior at his position. Most casual fans still wouldn't know his name for a few more years. Then came the announcement.

Fox Sports Radio broadcaster Petros Papadakis was incredulous about the situation on his show Tuesday, raising questions about the involvement of hoops marketing guru Sonny Vaccaro. A staunch opponent of NBA rules requiring players to wait a year after high school before entering the league's draft, Vaccaro was recently involved in the decision of former prep star Brandon Jennings to skip college and go to Italy for a season.

Is the Tyler announcement just a hoax by Vaccaro to put more pressure on the NBA to change its position? The kid seems completely serious, even if it sometimes seems hard to take him seriously.

"If I go to college and fill up an arena with 30,000 people, I don’t get a penny," Tyler was quoted in the New York Times' Quad blog. "In my profession with what I’m doing in my life, it doesn’t need a full college degree."

Tyler might be a big draw, but 30,000 butts in seats is too much credit for any one-and-done diaper dandy. In January, 750 fans showed up to watch his biggest test -- and that game also featured Sidney and the rest of state powerhouse Fairfax High. The popularity of college hoops is on a different scale than high school, so maybe we're comparing apples and basketballs. But it's fair to say Tyler doesn't have the same prep school notoriety of LeBron James or, until this week, even O.J. Mayo.

Although we initially avoided tackling this topic, it’s probably best to address it now, especially since we’re on the record discussing the subject in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated.

Tyler is a player we’ve scouted on a number of occasions over the past few years, as you can read in his DraftExpress profile. While there is no doubt about how talented he is, there are some huge question marks about whether he has the off-court intangibles needed to reach his full potential.

Considering how difficult of a road lies ahead over the next two years, we’re not exactly sure he understands what it will take to make it. Some of his quotes really make you wonder if he knows what’s in store for him, for example: “[high school basketball] was boring and I wasn’t getting better,” Tyler said. “Each game was the same thing. I was getting triple-teamed and getting hacked. After each game I’d have scratches and bruises up and down my arms from getting triple-teamed. It just wasn’t for me.”

The circus around his high school program doesn't help change that impression either.

It’s absolutely possible that we’re wrong, and maybe going overseas for two years is exactly what he needs in order to mature, but we really wonder if he’s the right foot-soldier for Sonny Vaccaro to send to battle in his personal crusade against the NCAA.

Large portions of the American media appears to be so enamored with the idea of what Tyler is attempting, that they may have exaggerated their coverage somewhat at times.

-“From birth, Tyler was different, his mother, Misty Cabrouet, said. He was so precocious that he potty-trained himself,” Pete Thamel of the New York Times serenaded.

-“Scouts project him to be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft,” Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports reports.

That last quote seems to be the most dubious, considering that NBA teams are banned from evaluating players like Jeremy Tyler (so which scouts was he referring to?), and he was only ranked as the 7th best prospect in his high school class according to the most reliable recruiting Besides, what does being projected as the #1 pick in a draft that is more than two years away even mean? Some NBA teams haven't even started ranking the prospects in the 2009 draft.

Tyler probably is the most naturally talented player in the 2010 high school class, but as we all know, there is a lot more to becoming successful than just being talented. And that’s where the biggest problem lies here.

Let us go on the record saying that we have no problem at all with the idea of a high school player deciding to forgo college as an alternative route to making the NBA—this article is being written from a hotel room in Italy in fact, and there aren’t many American basketball writers who spend more time and work more closely with European basketball teams than this one. In this particular case, though, we believe that Jeremy Tyler may have needed Rick Pitino (the coach he committed to play for) more than Pitino needed him.

We were fairly critical of Brandon Jennings as well—questioning whether a team like Rome is the correct spot for an 18-year old rookie, and we’ll be following Tyler very closely as well to see how he fares. Next week we’ll get a chance to catch up with Jennings and get his thoughts on this subject, and a variety of other topics.

Citation unlikely to hurt John Wall

Tim Stevens of the Raleigh News & Observer gathers quotes from high school analysts indicating that John Wall’s poor decision-making is unlikely to affect his recruiting process.

John Wall received a misdemeanor citation last week, accused of breaking and entering a house in Southeast Raleigh, but the highly regarded high school basketball point guard probably still has his choice of college scholarship offers.

Dave Telep, the national recruiting analyst for, and Bob Gibbons, the analyst for All-Star Sports recruiting service, agreed a misdemeanor charge probably wouldn't deter most of the eight programs on Wall's list of potential schools.

"I think as long as things stay status quo and nothing else comes of this, I don't believe it will have much effect, if any, on his recruitment," Telep said.

Wall had planned to cut his list of Baylor, Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Miami and N.C. State to three or four schools on Monday. He also had planned a trip to N.C. Central University last Friday but did not go.

Efforts to reach Wall for comment were unsuccessful.

Anna E. Smith, Wall's attorney, said, "Mr. Wall was never arrested. He was simply given a citation. And we are fully cooperating with the DA's office to resolve this matter as soon as possible."
Telep said schools aren't likely to stop recruiting Wall on the basis of the citation.

While this probably isn’t a huge issue for most of the college coaches recruiting him (let’s be honest here—from a moral standpoint, most of them can’t be passing judgment on anyone), this is, at the very least, going to be something that NBA teams look very closely at when they begin to evaluate him off the court next April.

Wall had somewhat of a reputation earlier in his career which he has managed to overcome, but he can’t afford to have any more slip-ups after this. From the very little we know, this may be a minor digression in the grand scheme of things, but any kind of publicized legal issues can be enough to scare away certain NBA franchises—see teams such as the Portland Trailblazers, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs and others.

Renardo Sidney: Taking a pass on a basketball star

Lance Pugmire of the L.A. Times pens a fascinating story about the bizarre recruitment situation of Renardo Sidney.

USC, as UCLA had before, rescinded its scholarship offer, leaving one of the nation's top talents temporarily without a team.

On Thursday, Sidney, 19, signed a letter of intent with Mississippi State days after visiting Starkville, Miss. The Bulldogs were, at best, his third choice -- but in the end, perhaps his only choice. When, after Sidney's visit, a family spokesman was asked whether Mississippi State was the front-runner for his services, the reply came that the Bulldogs were "the only runner."

A rare turn of events involving a 6-foot-10 prospect with a powerful build and uncommon shooting range for a big man.

"It's highly unusual for both of those schools to abandon their recruitment of a player of that caliber and potential," said George Raveling, a former college coach -- at USC and elsewhere -- who works the Southern California area for Nike. "They must know something the rest of us don't know."

UCLA and USC officials were prohibited by college rules from speaking publicly about Sidney while he was unsigned, and even now they have declined to do so. But sources on both campuses who have knowledge of his recruitment agreed to speak with The Times as long as their identities were kept anonymous.

Though they are from rival schools who often wage intense battles for the same athletes, the sources agreed on this about Sidney: The reward of suiting up such a prodigious talent was not worth the larger risk.

Bruins and Trojans sources both say they were wary of potentially intense NCAA scrutiny prompted by these issues: Despite what was perceived as a limited income, the family moved multiple times and resided in upscale homes during Sidney's high school years; and stepfather Renardo Sr. directed a club basketball team with financial backing that was unclear beyond a relatively modest shoe company sponsorship.

Plus there was this: A source intimately familiar with Sidney's recruitment said a university official thought the stepfather had strongly hinted that he expected to be compensated if his son signed with the school.

There is plenty more in the original article, so do take a look.

We’ve covered Renardo Sidney in extreme depth over the last few years—his DraftExpress profile has 10 scouting entries since 2006—and it’s tough to say that it’s really a big surprise that no one is all that interested in having Sidney play for them.

We’ve spoken with dozens of college coaches and NBA executives while sitting alongside them watching Sidney in action, and no one appears to believe that he can actually help a team win. Players who are as unmotivated and uncoachable as Sidney rarely pan out regardless of how naturally talented they are, and after watching him intently last month on the all-star circuit in games, scrimmages and practices—we’re really starting to question just how good of a player Sidney is. His game reminds of Antoine Walker in the later stages of his career, and you really have to wonder if whatever production he can manage to scrounge together at the college level is worth it considering the baggage involved. Based off the way NBA people talk about him, he doesn’t appear to be any kind of lock at this point either. Playing in Europe (and being successful) would be an even bigger stretch.

• Walk-ons should walk over stupid draft system

Gary Parrish has been on fire over the last few months, and he continues his hot streak with another terrific article examining the silliness of the NBA Early-Entry process.

Let's not worry about the "kids" who make bad decisions.

Why should we care?

People make bad decisions in this country all the time, yet we don't spend much energy trying to prevent them from doing it. There are people who finish high school and head straight to Hollywood to act even though they can't act. There are people who drop out of college to be professional gamblers even though they can't gamble. There are people who move to New York to be singers even though they can't sing, people who empty their savings accounts to start businesses even though they're terrible businesspeople and people who get married who have no reason to get married.

All of this happens every day in this country.

And guess what?

We don't try to stop it. Instead, we simply trust that most young people will be guided properly by a mixture of parents and common sense, and if there are some who lack both parents and common sense, well, those people probably had no chance in life to begin with. Either way, institutions aren't consumed with preventing inadequate young people from trying to be professional actors or professional gamblers or professional singers or professional anythings.

So why we need the NBA and NCAA consumed with preventing inadequate young people from trying to be professional basketball players is something I've never grasped, and if that really was the point of the NBA calling Ohio State, then why didn't the NBA call and get Paul Quinn College's Ronald Ogoke out of the draft? Or Tennessee Tech's Darnell Lindsay? Or Texas-Arlington's Rogér Guignard?
Those guys are just as certain to go undrafted as Titus.

But their names are still right there on the official list of early entrants.

That's more of a mockery of the system than anything Titus did, because Titus was very clearly laughing at himself while these other clowns really do think there's something to be gained, as if averaging 3.8 points for an NAIA team (like Ogoke) somehow intrigues NBA franchises. It's comical, sad and everything in between. But according to the rules of the NBA and NCAA, Ogoke has every right to enter the draft and still return to college if he chooses, because that's the system they created.

• Hein News Interview with Priority Sports agent Brad Ames

Dave Hein of heinnews gives us a fascinating look into the sparsely covered world of being an NBA and International basketball agent, with a terrific interview with Priority Sports’ Brad Ames.

Here is an excerpt, but you should do yourself a favor and go read the whole thing:

heinnews: When people think of agents, there is not exactly the greatest of pictures that come to mind. How do you deal with these kinds of stereotypes?

Ames: There are a lot of stereotypes about agents, and unfortunately many have a lot of truth to them. We have built our company in a way that has allowed us to be successful while maintaining ethical standards. There are many ways to bend the rules in this business but we refuse to cross that line and we have always put our clients’ best interest first and foremost. I can sleep at night knowing we are doing things the right way.

heinnews: When you are advising players about the NBA draft, how do you go about gauge the players’ stock?

Ames: The best way to guage a player’s draft stock is to hear what NBA teams are saying about them. While we consider ourselves pretty good at recognizing talent, there are a lot of aspects to consider when humans are evaluating humans. There are varying opinions on a lot of players, sometimes within one organization. We talk to as many people as possible during our recruiting and pre-draft processes, as well as watching a lot of games.

Obviously once we sign a player we try to address any concerns teams may have shown. There is a great deal of misinformation and lack of information on the team end during the draft process due to the sheer number of draft candidates, and we help fill in the blanks and try to open some eyes and minds in terms of the misinformation. In terms of underclassmen, we have no problem telling a player it is in his best interest to return to school, even if it means we are missing out on a chance to represent a player right away, and also risking the possibility of them signing with another agent when they do enter the draft. Some players look for an agent who tells them what they want to hear and not what is real, and we refuse to do that because it is not in the player’s best interest even though it may serve our interests.

• Jrue Holiday sees his future through the playoffs

David Wharton of the Los Angeles Times caught up with Jrue Holiday to see how his preparations for his NBA draft workouts have been going with David Thorpe at IMG Academy.

When Jrue Holiday watches the NBA playoffs on television now, he sees the game in a different way.

The UCLA guard has spent the better part of two weeks at a Florida training center, gearing up for the possibility of entering the draft in June.
In addition to getting stronger, Holiday has learned how the pro game differs from college in terms of spacing, angles and situational play.

"In college, it's all about defense," he said. The NBA "seems like it's more fun. You can be you."

So much fun that the freshman extended his stay at the IMG Academies in Bradenton, past the originally planned week or so. But that doesn't mean he has decided to leave school.
At least not yet.

Though Holiday has made himself available for the draft, he has not hired an agent. Also, he is continuing classes at UCLA -- he says he made arrangements with professors to be away for his training sessions.

All of which leaves him the option of withdrawing his name. He has until mid-June, which leaves plenty of time for working out for NBA teams.

"I'm just really excited to get out there and play well," he said.

The first quote about Holiday—regarding how much more fun the NBA appears to be compared to his time in college—has to be a bit worrisome for UCLA fans and their head coach Ben Howland. It really seems like Holiday was disappointed by his college experience in the Bruins’ rigid system, which might make it very difficult for him to decide to return to school.

Let’s be honest, though, this probably isn’t the way Holiday wants to be portrayed. “Fun” wouldn’t be the way most NBA head coaches would describe their preparation and execution in the NBA playoffs, and that all begins and ends with defense, which just happens to be Holiday’s biggest asset at the moment. Holiday probably doesn’t want to give teams the impression that he’s just looking to find a place where he can have fun and not worry about defense, especially after his forgettable quotes a few weeks back about being jealous of Darren Collison.

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