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Monday, April 5, 2010

Keegan

What’s the rush? What makes Henry NBA-ready if Rush wasn’t?

Physically and statistically, Xavier Henry, left, and Brandon Rush cut similar figures as freshmen on Kansas University’s basketball team. Yet the consensus is that Henry is a one-and-done, while Rush was considered not ready to go pro after his freshman year. What gives?

Physically and statistically, Xavier Henry, left, and Brandon Rush cut similar figures as freshmen on Kansas University’s basketball team. Yet the consensus is that Henry is a one-and-done, while Rush was considered not ready to go pro after his freshman year. What gives?

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Three of life’s mysteries I’ll never understand, no matter how long I contemplate them.

  1. Why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?
  2. Why does Hawaii have interstate highways?
  3. Why is Xavier Henry ready for the NBA if Brandon Rush was not after his freshman season?

Puzzling questions, all of them.

Before comparing the NBA-readiness of the basketball players, first consider them as people. As a freshman, Rush was one year and eight months older than Henry. Rush had a more worldly air to him than Henry, a young man who seems in so many ways to have a pure innocence about him still.

Know this about NBA veterans at the end of benches: They want to extend their careers as long as possible because the money is unbelievable. Some of them don’t want rookies to succeed, and they treat them like garbage. Henry just turned 19 two days after Kansas University won the Big 12 Conference tournament. In many good ways, he seems every bit that young.

As basketball players, Rush the freshman and Henry share more similarities than differences. Both essentially are one-handed dribblers. Rush’s game leaned farther to the right than Sean Hannity, Henry’s is more left-winged than Keith Olbermann.

Both players stand 6-foot-6 and have long arms that come in handy defensively. Henry has greater anticipation skills and is more clever playing the passing lanes. Rush has much quicker feet and was so good defensively he developed into a stopper as a freshman. He was the leading scorer on a team that won the Big 12 regular-season and conference tournament titles despite starting three freshmen and two sophomores.

Both players have strong leaping ability, though Rush is more explosive.

The obvious advantage Henry has on Rush is in the physique department. The go-to move for those who express the opinion that Henry is one-and-done ready is that he already has an NBA body. No argument there, but it’s not as if Rush as a freshman was as thin as Butler post player Matt Howard’s mustache.

The next place advocates of Henry bolting to the NBA go to is his jump shot. The Web site nbadraft.net, which projects Henry as the 10th selection, says, “Pure stroke with a quick, smooth release. No hitches.”

Disagree. Better description: Accurate, though streaky, stroke with a slow release and a hitch. Rush, also a better passer than Henry, gets more elevation on his jumper, and his form comes straight out of a West Point basketball text book.

Henry’s youth compared to Rush’s means it’s logical to project more improvement from Henry, but how much more?

Rush averaged 13.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and two assists in 31.7 minutes as a freshman. Henry averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Rush made 47.2 percent of his three-point shots, Henry 41.8 percent of his.

What am I missing? Why are scouts supposedly so fired up about his NBA prospects?

“I think it’s his body and the poise with which he plays,” said Philadelphia-based Jim Clibanoff, who counts roughly half of the NBA teams as subscribers to his scouting service, Clip Hoops.

Scouts employed by NBA teams are not allowed to talk about players to the press. Clibanoff, an independent contractor not bound by any gag order, can let it fly.

“He started the season out playing well, and people assumed he was one of the top three or top whatever freshmen, and then I don’t want to say he hit a wall, but whatever he hit, he hit it pretty hard,” Clibanoff said. “He had a bunch of steam behind him, and I’m not so sure he’s got so much behind him now.”

From memory, Clibanoff accurately rattled off the numbers from Henry’s eight-game shooting slump that coincided with the beginning of Big 12 play. He shot 29 percent overall and 27 percent from three-point range during that stretch.

Clibanoff said he likes Henry’s size, poise and feel for the game, but questions other aspects of his potential.

“He’s not an elite athlete,” Clibanoff said. “He’s not regularly an above-the-rim guy. By NBA 2-guard standards, his athleticism is not special. He’s not overly aggressive, averaged only four rebounds a game and is a decent defender, but needs to be more of a factor on that end of the floor.”

Don’t look for that annoying and redundant draft cliché “upside potential” to be uttered about Henry much during television coverage of the draft, should he, as expected, announce his intentions to make himself eligible.

“Guys they say that about are run-and-jump guys who don’t have the skill component,” Clibanoff said. “He already has the skill. He was very good as a freshman. I’m not sure he’ll continue to get progressively much better.”

The order of the 14 teams with the best draft position is determined by a weighted lottery. The system was put in place so as to remove the incentive for bad teams to tank in hopes of getting the top pick. The term “lottery pick” has evolved as the ultimate status symbol for prospects.

“I can’t say with certainty that he’s a lottery pick,” Clibanoff said.

Henry was groomed by his father, former Kansas basketball player Carl Henry, to become a one-and-done star. It would take a man to stand up to a father who has done as much for Xavier in the way of preparing him for a professional basketball career as Carl has done.

Herein lies the Catch-22: It also would take a man to be ready to face all the negative forces he’ll confront in the NBA. Here’s my fear: As do most teenagers, Xavier still has a lot of child in him, too much to be able to stand up to his father and too much to be ready for the culture shock of joining the NBA.

Kansas will reload just fine either way. Don’t worry about Bill Self’s roster. It’s Henry that worries me. I fear he’s going to go to the NBA and just don’t get the feeling he’s quite ready.

Comments

rastameta 4 years, 8 months ago

Wow, I actually agree with Keegan on this one.

Don Everett 4 years, 8 months ago

I want to know who wrote this while Keegan was on vacation?

Bryan Summers 4 years, 8 months ago

Gotta' agree. I have always liked X but have been mystified by the hype. Maybe I'm naive but I think he will be overwhelmed in the NBA. Regardless, all the best in whatever decision he makes.

waywardJay 4 years, 8 months ago

I concur, Who wrote this article.... this has way too much personal insight and reflection to be Keegan, if it is indeed Keegan's work.... Wow.... Someone hit the books hard.

The corrolation between Xavier not being enough of a man to tell his father I'm not ready, and then getting eaten up by the aging veterans is incredibly stark and for some reason makes me think of Sonny Corleone. While Sonny's ego was the one that got him... not his timidness, it still makes me think right guy wrong time. Just like Xavier.

I hope Xavier can figure this out sooner rather than later, and I do believe having his brother not ready for the NBA certainly helps his future, but what does that mean for Travis and Mario ???

I'm sure we'll hear this out over the next week or so.... but until then... Great article whoever wrote this... I suspect Newell logged into the wrong account.

TwinCitiesJHawk 4 years, 8 months ago

"It would take a man to stand up to a father who has done as much for Xavier in the way of preparing him for a professional basketball career as Carl has done."

One of the biggest reasons why is right there. Good work Keegan (or whoever REALLY wrote this)

Nutflush21 4 years, 8 months ago

Does it matter if he is ready? The top 20 draft picks are instant millionaires... end of story.

Ben Kane 4 years, 8 months ago

I tend to agree Nutfulush. If the NBA GMs are willing to give him lottery money based on his size and potential then it's pretty much end of story. They have much more time to work on their game in the pros and will develop him fine. Just because he won't hit the NBA as gignantic contribiutor from the get go doesn't mean it is the wrong choice to enter the draft...

I'd like to see some of you so called experts turn down the money that is availble to him this year.

The point isn't if he's ready it's what his draft position will be. Then you add on a potential lockout next year and you'd pretty much have to be KU homer to come back.

Kyle Helmer 4 years, 8 months ago

Tom,

The vacation worked! Great article.

Kyle Helmer 4 years, 8 months ago

Tom,

The vacation worked! Great article.

Kyle Helmer 4 years, 8 months ago

Tom,

The vacation worked! Great article.

Mike Skiles 4 years, 8 months ago

Great article Tom, Spot on! While the logic of X coming back to 'develop' into a true NBA caliber prospect is sound, what needs to be spotlighted is that for the reasons noted (and probably others), X is currently 'over-inflated' in terms of the scouting. He has nothing but risk (real $$$) to lose by coming back and risking injury, more exposure of this skills (including weaknesses), and potentially slipping down the draft list in the future. A possible NBA lockout next year added to this, makes it pretty straight forward from a pure business perspective. Don't take my comments wrong, I hope X decides the college game is worth coming back for another year.....but that would seem unlikely. Regardless, Xavier gave us a good frosh year and performed as well as Brandon, which is saying a lot.

dynamitehawk 4 years, 8 months ago

There's just something complete right about a naked hot chick in a fedora, smoking an electronic cig. If X wants to go he should. Go Butler.

dynamitehawk 4 years, 8 months ago

'completely right' or 'complete AND right' ... Monday.

kutodd 4 years, 8 months ago

Bottom line - X will make millions = GONE. Anyone reading this is selfish to suggest he does otherwise. We have a great TEAM next year. We should appreciate the contribution X gave to KU in his one year. We should want as many NBA players as possible on rosters as this further helps recruiting.

NotWiller 4 years, 8 months ago

A fine article that makes a good point.

Kinda odd to start an article so heavy in logic and comparative stats by ripping off old George Carlin routines, though. George probably wasn't the first to make those jokes, but did so about 20 years ago nonetheless. One of my favorites is "If God dropped acid, would he see people?" But you probably can't lead an LJW article w/ that one.....

No Pulitzer for you Tom, but thanks for making the points you did.

Lori Dykeman 4 years, 8 months ago

One thing I learned early on - see people for who and what they are - not for what you hope or would like them to be. Henry situation is case in point.

For Carl it's about the "cheese" and the "rep." Use the rep to get the cheese. Always has been - most likely always will be. Nothing wrong with that - is what it is.

In the case of CJ, take the $1.5 million signing bonus (cheese) and when that doesn't work out, use your rep as a "one-time" scholarship player and as the "brother" of Xavier to get something whether at Memphis or Kansas. Then train, not with the team initially but with your family over the summer and have Carl talk about how CJ will make a big impact on the team and is as good as any of the other guards at KU - build the rep. Then when CJ doesn't play (maybe not as good as Carl's advertisement) the "go play in Europe" chatter starts to maintain/build more "rep" - which keeps alive the prospect for cheese.

For Xavier, it was never real that he would go to Kentucky or decommit from KU and then go (after the summer uprising). No chance to build rep with Wall & Cousins there in a way Carl thought appropriate-putting cheese at risk. This was simply a way to ultimately build more rep for Xavier at KU by being the center of attention. Carl then disappears after being so vocal over the Spring & Summer. Likely that rep and cheese thing again. Somebody (which Carl perceived as having pull) told him to back off- because he could hurt the rep, which would impact the cheese. Non-conference started off great, then a fall-off. Understand mom & dad Henry became rather unhappy (rep being hurt) which ultimately resulted in an intervention by Calvin Thompson to bring both sides back to playing ball. Could see the outcome of all that by observing Carl vs. the other parents at the games (none more evident than Big XII tourney A&M game in KC) where KU fans-parents were standing cheering a Xavier 3 and Carl remained seated. Disengagement, pouting - combination of both? Don't know. But in Carl's eyes the rep was not what it should be, or being developed in a way that would maximize the cheese. Sidebar - after UNI game Xavier was the most "composed" in the locker room - emotional maturity or detachment? Impact of cheese/rep?

So, as we watch this scenario unfold - evaluate it through the prism of rep and cheese. If Carl believes there can be mucho cheese by continuing to sell/position Xavier on "potential" and there is a NBA GM who will bite, then he will go. If not- then come back and build the rep and play the "always the most improvement between the freshman & sophmore year" card to keep rep momentum going. Nothing wrong with all this - but let's see it for what it is - Carl who is not particulrily invested in Rock Chalk - but sees it as a way to build rep, which gets you to more cheese. This decision is about business - not much more and there's nothing wrong with that.

selfhimbill 4 years, 8 months ago

dynamitehawk (anonymous),

i hope your wife doesn't know you've been cheating on her.

Fruity22 4 years, 8 months ago

“I can’t say with certainty that he’s a lottery pick,” Nothing left to talk about. Good luck in the pros Xavier.

rwhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

"...it’s not as if Rush as a freshman was as thin as Butler post player Matt Howard’s mustache."

Great quote!

Benjamin Piehler 4 years, 8 months ago

leaving for the nba will end up helping the hawks more than x ever did on the court this year.

John Brown 4 years, 8 months ago

Is Henry a #2 guard or small forward? I project him as a small forward. Henry never took over a game. Let me say this another way, Henry never elevated his game, as did SC, when the game was on the line. If he plans on playing in the NBA, he will have to drive to the basket. Just like Labron, Joe Johnson, Wade, Kobe....We have Mario Little ready to play next year and he has one year to prove himself. I would almost rather see X go NBA because Mario will be more motivated at the same position. X seems unmotivated, he never left his best game on the court, ever.

Brak 4 years, 8 months ago

I don't think anybody here is going to argue that X is NBA ready or will make any type of impact his first few years, but none of this matters. Ready or not if there is a team out there willing to pay him millions of dollars to help him get ready he would be stupid not to take it, especially with lockout possible next year at worst, a huge cap on 1st year salaries at best. Travis and Mario made a sacrifice for their team and having them come back next year just to ride the bench would not be fair to them.

chickensandwich 4 years, 8 months ago

Tom forgot to mention the millions of dollars X would be missing out on if he stayed at KU. This is the last year rookies will be able to make the type of money they do. He would be an idiot to stay at Kansas.

KEITHMILES05 4 years, 8 months ago

HawkRoll hit it on the head. This is all about Carl and his rep and creed. He has never been nor ever will be about KU and the team. It's all about HIM and his boys. I kinda feel bad for his boys as Carl is riding them for all they are worth. For a guy and woman who went to KU they sure show no loyalty and school spirit. Hopefully their sons will be more appreciative.

Larry Smith 4 years, 8 months ago

Some people here never get it. Regardless of whether or not we think he is ready, the NBA system seems to think that he is, so that means he needs to go. He will play shooting guard, and maybe a little of the 3 position. You take a look at this years draft for the 2 spot, you have Evan Turner and......, That's why X will be a lottery pick.

And I never bought the argument that he could not put up decent numbers in conference play or that he was only good against a weak non-con schedule. Yes, he had a slump, but that was against some of the worst teams in the league, so I don't think it was that the competition was too tough, I think he was just in a funk.

And as far as Carl Henry goes, I think the other half of that parenting duo has a lot more influence on some of the decisions being made than people give credit for.

Phoggin_Loud 4 years, 8 months ago

chickensandwich is right.

With a "potential" lock-out next year in the NBA, these kids better take the $$$ now. With that stated, this draft will have a HUGE number of underclassman entering...Not to mention the seniors and the overseas players.

Unfortunately, there will be kids who declare then don't get picked or get picked very low. This will totally screw-up their career because they will have lost their NCAA eligibility. Hello D-League and Europe.

I hope X gets wise counsel. This article compares X to Brandon Rush, but I'd hate to see this blow up in his face a la Jeron Rush.

Choose wisely, X!!

WDC_Jayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

I rag on Keegan as much as the next guy (and there is still some God awful writing in here ... for example, his non sequitor preamble about driveways and Hawaii that make him sound like a grandpa) BUT: This column is about as on point as anything I've ever read from him.

There are, I would guess, three major differences between B. Rush and X. Henry and two of them are psychological/non-physical.

First, B. Rush tried to go the NBA as a high school senior (or a prep school senior, or whatever) and found that he wasn't ready. It was a good test for him, and, credit to him and to the immense benefit of Kansas, he had a good gauge after his freshman year that he still wasn't ready. So he had the benefit of perspective.

Second, families, families, families. Look, Carl's not a villain, he's a father who wants the best for his kid. He believes that's the NBA. B. Rush also had the benefit of family ... a slightly messed up one that offered really good lessons in what not to do. It's why he left KC to play at Mount Zion (thus not getting wrapped up in corrupt local AAU circuits), and it's also why he didn't make the jump to the NBA too early. He learned from his brother, Jaron's, coming out early horror story and he also learned from the (relative) success of Kareem Rush sticking at Missouri through his 3rd year.

I wonder sometimes if Xavier looks at C.J. and sees what immense hype and high expectations with minimal preparation can do to you in a professional setting, but, his background file is the opposite: Carl wants him to go pro. He sees C.J., who went pro, and ... dude is wealthy, even though he basically failed at baseball. So, Xavier's low bar looks pretty good for him.

The third factor in Xavier going pro early (and his pro stock) is his body, as Keegan notes, and not just that he's buff and got a five-star frame. He also doesn't have the weird arm alignment issues that B. Rush had (from his broken arm when he was a kid) and he hadn't torn an ACL a year ago, as B. Rush had. So, he's got, to paraphrase an unusually on point Keegs, an "Innocent" body.

I think Xavier, or anyone who is 19 years old who is not ready-made NBA starter material, would benefit from a sophomore year. He was tantalizing this year, playing some spurts that were as efficient and exciting as anything in the Paul Pierce/B. Rush era of KU-two/three guard. But he never had the explosiveness of PP or even B. Rush (who both developed it over time).

If he came back, Xavier Henry would be an All-American, I'm fairly certain, a much better defender, I am certain, and the leading scorer on the team, but probably not in an overly deferential bad way like could sometimes be the case with Sherron. It's easier to have a wing dominate the scoring chart than a PG. But ... who can tell someone to ignore millions of dollars if they are there for you and a lockout is looming? Not me.

caribhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

Keegan misses one of Xavier's main weaknesses, he does not dribble and pull up for jumpers like Rush did (in other words, he cannot create his own shot), Xavier is mostly a 3-point spot up shooter. Also, Xavier does not finish at the basket, when he does go to the bucket he double pumps and throws up an awkward shot that seldom goes in, Rush flushed those shots with authority over the top of people. This all explains KU's main problems this year. The trend in college hoops is clearly dribble, drive and create fouls or create your own shot. KU has a bunch of spot up 3 point shooters that don't dribble/drive or create shot (and at the end of the year they couldn't spot up shoot consistently). KU's players did not initiate contact & seemed afraid of getting their shots blocked. Collins was the only consistent dribble/drive guy, Taylor sometimes but bad timing, and Marcus will take it with authority to the bucket. Aldrich was afraid of contact and shot hooks or fade-aways. KU will need to change this next year to be in the hunt...having Reed, Taylor, Johnson, Releford, Little, etc, just shoot spot up jumpers won't get it done next year.

Scott Smetana 4 years, 8 months ago

I wouldn't have X in the top 20 players of the Big 12 this year. I'd even put Reed above him. Carl and the NBA may think he has great potential, but not yet. Good luck $X$, I liked your personality and would have loved to see you bloom at KU.

PS - the NBA is boring. I went to a Celtics game last weekend and very few people were actually into the game. Just a money-maker to come drink and eat nachos for city slickers who know very little about basketball.

jchief40 4 years, 8 months ago

The best thing about his is his pure shot. Problem is though even that is a bit slow. You'd like to see a quicker release in the pros. He isn't the quickest guy either. I haven't seen anything from him that tells me he's going to be a starter in the NBA. He needs another year or two.

JayhawkRock 4 years, 8 months ago

Im so sick of people speaking on the money X could get in the NBA...Yeah he will make $1.5 million a year for 3 years guaranteed but if hes not ready to go then he will sit for two seasons and maybe get his shot in the third. If he doesnt perform then he wont get an extension and he will go from team to team and continue to sit and then he will end up in Europe...oddly enough just like Carl Henry.

I like X I think hes a really good kid but this is the wrong decision for his future. Yes he will get good money but he will get good money in the 2011 draft, in fact he will get more money by improving his draft stock. Yes there could be a lockout but by the draft in 2011 it should be cleared up.

Tell me how much a player can improve by sitting on the bench in his first season in the NBA? You dont get better sittin on the bench.

And X doesnt need the money. His family is doing just fine money wise. CJ as we all know has plenty and Carl should have plenty from his playing days. The money is nice but if X was smart he would come back for one more season and get better and prove how good he is.

LibertyHawk84 4 years, 8 months ago

Once a player gets the reputation as a star, even the NBA scouts get sucked into the hype. Even they make mistakes. How good they are as compared to another player (Rush) sometimes doesn't matter.

I agree, it would hard to pass up the bucks, that doesn't mean he will be anything more than a marginal player in the NBA.

jhokfan 4 years, 8 months ago

Xavier should ask Danny if he has any regrets about not turning pro earlier in his career.

JayhawkRock 4 years, 8 months ago

jhokfan,

Danny Manning would have been a great NBA player if he didnt blow out his knees. Its kind of an unfair comparison.

RockChalk26 4 years, 8 months ago

I must say, for those on the team who I think is NBA ready, I think Tyshawn is ready for the next level. He is explosive, plays good D, and can step up and take control of a game. We would have seen more of this last season, but Collins was the go to man. What do you think on Taylor and his NBA career?

KGphoto 4 years, 8 months ago

I don't think NBA teams are dumb enough to pay a guy milliions on hype alone. Yeah there have been plenty of busts, but these guys know more than Keegan or anybody else out there. If he is a lottery pick there is a reason.

That reason I suspect is the body. But it's not just because it looks good in an NBA uniform. It's because he'll be able to do in the NBA, what Rush cannot. To be able to get banged around in the lane and still finish his shot. Imagine if this 19-year-old kid puts on another 20 pounds in the league. Which he could do. Then he becomes a banger with some shooting and passing touch. And since he's not a great dribbler, he's probably gonna end up at the 3 anyway, where he can utilize and improve those attributes. He's really good at guarding bigger guys too.

Clibanoff said he's not above the rim, overly aggresive or an elite athlete. There are plenty of guys in the league who play integral parts who don't have all those things.

Here are a few similar guys (body and style) playing key roles in the league.

Ronnie Brewer, Utah - X is better than Brewer right now. Quentin Richardson, Miami - Erratic but productive career. Caron Butler, Dallas - X is a better shooter and can become as good at D.

There are tons of guys like this in the NBA being key elements w/o all the attributes listed by Clibanoff. Guys that teams want. In fact every team needs at least one. And Caron in Dallas is a perfect example of this. He is more aggressive, but X can learn that. I think that's what the scouts see.

JayhawkRock 4 years, 8 months ago

Tyshawn ready for the NBA? Are you on crack? Not even close.

KGphoto 4 years, 8 months ago

The other thing is, I think scouts are seeing that X's game is better suited for the NBA. You see this all the time too. Guys who were okay in college but when the game becomes professional and all the spazzy defenses and poor passing go away, flourish into their natural greatness.

I think O.J. Mayo was like this.

1977kufan 4 years, 8 months ago

Tom, this is a super article. Your insight in the comparison is indeed impressive. Great work and you are correct on so many points that I could only reiterate them. Thank you for an article that is worth printing, keeping and looking back on in 5 years.

Joel Hood 4 years, 8 months ago

jhokfan - Any NBA guy who went to the league after 4 years is almost always going to say they have no regrets about waiting. Of course Danny is glad he stayed and won the NC - he was also money ahead by staying the extra year. But, what if his ACL blew out 8 months earlier? No NC & who knows where he would have been drafted and I am sure that possibility has been discussed with X.

The better Jayhawk to ask is Julian Wright. He went early and his NBA career has been somewhat of a flameout. Is X better that Julian? Would Julian have a better/more profitable NBA career if he stayed longer?

Lots of posters have been very critical of Carl Henry. Look at this from his perspective. Here was a guy that was almost good enought for the league, but just didn't quite make it and he plays in Europe for years - never cashing in on NBA gold. Wouldn't most of us try to prepare our sons for the NBA

Joel Hood 4 years, 8 months ago

...in this same situation. I wish X would stay, but I don't blame Carl for advising him on his best route to the promised land (of cash that is.)

Timmay97 4 years, 8 months ago

Me as a parent would stress education, something that it seems the Henry's don't do. God knows I don't know this for a fact, but it's perceived that way.

Henry has a great athletic basketball body, but he lacks extreme quickness. His shot takes a half hour to get off and not as physical as his body shows. Too many times he goes up and tries to hang in the air to put the ball in as opposed to just having a nose for the basket and putting it straight in.

He did have a great year as a freshman, but it's hard not to be somewhat critical of the kid.....it's brought on by his father.

Honestly, I'm indifferent. If he stays he stays. Otherwise, we have Little and Releford waiting in the wings. I truly don't think we lose much there.

See you guys in Vegas this November. Rock Chalk!!!

jaybate 4 years, 8 months ago

(Warning: If you only want to read about Rush and Henry, scroll down. This has nothing to do with Rush vs. Henry. It is a response to ralster and those that were following his and my discussion about muscle ball and its impact on KU and Self and on the game. )

"Basketball vs. XTreme Games with a round, orange ball:"

ralster,

First, I am not saying you are wrong about anything. You are probably more right than I am, as usual. :-)

Second, I note a 4-5 year trend line of increasing roughness that spiked this season and along with it an increased number of teams with less skilled players and more muscle going deeper in The Madness, plus two young coaches in Stevens and Jacobson that have discovered ways to use lesser talent to beat the older coaches with better talent. Stevens and Jacobs share use of a highly regular tempo apparently set just faster, or just slower, than an opponent likes to play. They both intentionally scheme to hold TOs to an absolute minimum (ideally around 5-8 in a high 50/low 60 point game) as a critical driver of victory. They both prefer low scoring/low possession games, though Butler is significantly more flexible in the tempo they set and try to impose, than is NIU. Butler will set tempo faster, when doing so is an advantage. Butler evidences and almost Selfian willingness to set tempo relative to what an opponent wants, but to set it just faster, or just slower than that opponent wants to play it. NIU always holds tempo very slow. Both, like KU, and like most successful teams today, rely largely on illegal defenses. Both have largely abandoned the Hack'n'Slap, as has KU. But unlike Self, who moved this season into Push'N'Shove in a big way, Stevens has innovated the Check'n'Strip hand check defense to ramp up steals to often achieve a disruption stat (strips to TOs ratio) of greater than one, while Self's offense/defense schemes yield strip to TO ratios of 1:1.5, or 1:2 on a regular basis; this concedes a huge advantage to a Stevens type team. Jacobson has not yet adopted the Check'N'Strip. Instead, Jacobson has extended the envelope of the battle tested Push'n'Shove defenses pioneered by Izzo and Huggins. Another key difference between Stevens and Jacobson is that Jacobson largely scripts plays and Stevens appears not to. The scripting of plays appears to give NIU a greater capacity to hold down the tempo of games, to blunt runs more frequently with counter baskets, to sustain greater offensive efficiency, and get more out of what skilled talent NIU has than Stevens approach. Stevens actually has quite a bit more skilled basketball talent than Jacobson has to work with. Jacobson is getting by with almost nothing but unskilled muscle ballers, whereas Stevens has several very gifted late bloomers to work with.

jaybate 4 years, 8 months ago

The long and the short of this seems to me to be:

a) Jacobson with significantly inferior skilled talent won at a comparable percentage and went almost as deep in the Madness as Stevens; and

b) Stevens with significantly inferior skilled talent won at a comparable percentage and went as deep in the Madness, and in some cases much deeper than Self, Calipari, Boeheim, and Coach K.

Unless one argues anomalies in both cases, the only logical inference to me is that young coaches with sharply inferior athleticism and sharply lesser big time basketball skills have figured out schemes that meet or beat the "great" coaches of the era that are coaching with the cream of the talent; this seems hugely significant to me and a harbinger of the need for the great coaches to evolve in the direction of the young coaches, or to be eclipsed by them.

Further, if Duke beats Butler tonight, it does almost nothing to lessen the phenomenon that I have just described, because Butler does have vastly inferior athleticism and big time basketball skills to Duke. Butler and NIU's advances to this point prove my case IMHO. A Butler win tonight would only incrementally strengthen my case IMHO. And Butler, after sleeping on it and reading the health status of Butler further after the mashing and thrashing it was given by Ratso Izzo and his Chigan State maulers, seems so decimated that it can have little chance to win. It almost certainly will have to play without a center at full strength and maybe without any center at all. Unless...

Unless the refs allow the Check'N'Strip, and if Duke does not adapt it, as a counter measure, too, then Butler almost certain will win.

Look at the match ups.

Butler has the length on them everywhere you look.

And the Check'n'Strip offsets not only muscle, but athleticism; that's why old NBA players of the 50s, 60s and early 70s used to rely so heavily on hand checking. Hand checking is the ultimate denial of athleticism, because it takes away advantageous position, advantageous first step, and advantageous jumping (each hand check is a hold waiting to happen).

jaybate 4 years, 8 months ago

But I am veering away from your question about Self and KU and onto the Butler/Dook match-up.

Even the verities of Bill Ball cannot beat teams with schemes that can:

a) take away athletic advantage (as unrestrained Check'N'Strip and Push'N'Shove often do); and

b) decisively beat Bill Ball at the disruption statistic of strips-to-TOs.

Therefore, the only inference possible is that even BillBall has to change, has to adopt either Check'N'Strip, or fully embrace Push'N'Shove with bigger, more aggressive players, or adopt both.

My guess is that, assuming referees continue to enable the trend of play the last five years, then the Maybach program that adopts both Check'N'Srip and unrestrained committment to players that can play Push'N'Shove optimally soonest will begin to dominate.

Here is my hypothesis stripped to essence:

Without the rules of the game denying advantage to force over skill being enforced systematically, i.e., with the referees allowing more and more violent play, the ecology of basketball is continually evolving toward more and more teams applying more and more force with more and more of those teams winning more and more regular season games and going deeper and deeper in the Madness with less and less skilled basketball players and more and more XTreme Ballers.skilled chiefly in application of force.

jaybate 4 years, 8 months ago

I suspect two conflicting duties of referees drive this phenomenon that I have just hypothesized.

Because the games have to fit in TV time slots, the refs have not one but two duties in conflict, and these are at crossed purposes.

One duty, the traditional and intended duty of referees, is to enforce the rules of the game, so that a game of basketball yielding advantage to the team with the most basketball skills results.

The other duty, one never intended to operate by Naismith, or even most rule makers subsequent to Naismith, is to make the game tend to fit within a time frame that is a TV time slot for a game.

The latter duty--the need to make games fit in time slots--has always existed to some extent. Anyone that has refereed kiddie league basketball with six games on a Saturday morning knows the effect of a time constraint. You, the referee, have to constantly try to keep the clocks moving, while also trying not to let play get entirely out of hand. Little leaguers commit so many violations, each game could easily go on all day.

But in Division 1 basketball a different dynamic is driving the trade-offs between the conflicting duties of keeping the clock running to fit a TV time slot and trying to keep the game from getting out of control. D1 players don't naturally commit so many violations that a basketball game would run all day, both because of skill, and because the coaches don't want their best players to foul out.

The fouling in Division 1 is contrived. It is coached. It is part of strategy.

jaybate 4 years, 8 months ago

The refs cannot call unlimited fouls, or the games would run too long, and the marquis players would all be fouled out. Coaches, either consciously, or not, have learned that this unwritten limit on the total number of fouls that can be called can be exploited to one's advantage. One fouls as often as possible early on to trigger foul calling early that then forces referees to swallow their whistles for extended periods, so as to ensure that there will be time to call some fouls in stretches, when play gets way out of control and still fit the game in the TV time slot. This realization by coaches incentivises them to add as many muscle ballers as they can and teaching fouling and rough play, because once one reaches the no-foul-called stretches of the game, basketball skills largely can be ecipsed by muscle ball skills. And there are always a greater supply of muscle ball players, than of highly skilled players. So: the logical thing is to become superior at muscle ball, if you are at a program that cannot land as many of the superior skilled players. And over time, as the frequency of and level of violence allowed increases, there comes a tipping point when the way the game is called so favors muscle ball that even the teams that can land the highly skilled players have to adopt and teach muscle ball to their skilled players, so that the skilled players can continue to hold advantage. But down this path one proceeds eventually to the point where muscle and aggression largely trump skill and so even the great programs begin to emphasize the "skill" of muscle itself.

The team with the best muscle ballers win the no-foul-called stretches, once coaches become adroit at scheming to play muscle ball. The best free throw shooting skill players tend to win the foul-called stretches. These dynamics tend to produce exactly the kind of play we tend to observe in the Madness and the kind of players that are beginning to predominate on the teams that do well in the Madness.

jaybate 4 years, 8 months ago

That's as far as I can go in clarifying what I have been commenting on recently.

Whether or not it persuades you, a person with a very sound basketball mind, is not the point.

The point is to make my thinking as clear as possible, so that you can find the holes in it if they are there.

I would actually like to be wrong about what I am describing, because it means basketball is struggling with a very profound and potentially very difficult to solve problem.

It is not difficult to solve in the sense that simply enforcing the rules would end the problem. And that is exactly what I think ought to be done.

But it is going to be very, very difficult to get the powers that be to enforce the rules, because the supply of highly skilled basketball players is too small to fill out a 64 team tourney, and not remotely capable of filling out a 94 team format. As a result, there is going to be more and more incentive, as the tournament is expanded, for more and more teams to resort to muscle ball more and more, because muscle players, and potential muscle players (the synthetic muscle players created by weight coaches like Andrea Hudy), are in much greater supply, than are highly skilled basketball players.

At some point, the powers that be in basketball have to decide whether they want to be in the business of putting on basketball games, or XTreme Games played with a round, orange ball.

The last 5 years or so, their preference is unmistakeably clear.

XTreme Games with a round, orange ball.

KUjhawk10 4 years, 8 months ago

Tyshawn is quick, but so is everyone else in the NBA. He has no jumpshot and poor ball-handling skills. He will never be an NBA player unless he improoves his outside game. Look at our great scorers(Rush, Chalmers, Arthur) are all average NBA players. Tyshawn would last as long as Russel Rob in the NBA.

dynamitehawk 4 years, 8 months ago

So while we are on things we will never understand, why do pilots sit in the cockpit?

nobody1793 4 years, 8 months ago

What is with all the "stay in school and get your education" crap. Microeconomics 101 would tell you that you could sit on the bench in the NBA for one season, quit, go back to school and pay for your own college, and still be financially ahead of having a four-year scholarship. Players blow out knees or ankles, but never sprain their brains (boxers notwithstanding).

dynamitehawk 4 years, 8 months ago

selfhimbill -

No cheating, just enjoying the LJW's smokin' sponsors.

Kye Clark 4 years, 8 months ago

WDC_Jayhawk - best post of the thread. Most of the other posters are just on here whining about the merits of making a fortune, telling him to pass up the money as if they wouldn't give it a second thought, telling him he shouldn't go because he's not ready, tearing down the Henry family, etc. The obvious reasons they are doing this is because selfishly they want him to stay. If he couldn't play basketball no one would care if he was leaving school to pursue a lucrative career. We saw this to a lesser extent when Cole declared for the draft. However, your analysis was relevant to the article, made excellent points, objectively looked at the situation, and was not judgmental. Good job man.

Kye Clark 4 years, 8 months ago

On another note, got to laugh at the notion of Tyshawn being NBA-ready.

RockChalk26: "think Tyshawn is ready for the next level. He is explosive, plays good D, and can step up and take control of a game. We would have seen more of this last season, but Collins was the go to man. What do you think on Taylor and his NBA career?"

Well here's what I think...he's fast and athletic. That's about where the positives end. He is an above average on-ball defender, but his help defense and off-ball defense are below average. Often he looked lost either chasing his man around or wondering weather to switch on screens & when to help double in the post or trapping on the perimeter. He can't shoot from the outside, and what should be his best attribute - the ability to drive to the hoop and finish - is negated by the fact that he shies away from contact. Everytime he tried to assert himself beyond more than that of a role player he crapped the bed. And he is a knucklehead. He doesn't possess the maturity required to make it in the NBA. Maybe he can improve his game and get his head right over the next year or two, but he to think he is "ready for the next level" is absurd.

jayjank 4 years, 8 months ago

Those who argue that Henry shouldn't turn down money by not entering the draft this year forget the fact that this year's draft is not a one time opportunity for X. Based on last year's rookie contracts ( http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=9301) no 7 draft pick makes slightly more money in his first two years than no 15 draft pick makes in his first three years given that the third year of the contract is a team option. Also the third year option of the no 7 contract is higher than the fourth year option of the no 15 contract. If X gets drafted higher than no 7 next year he makes significantly more money in his first two-three years years than he would make otherwise by entering the draft this year. He may also be able to receive endorsements if he gets drafted very high next year. I think it is also fair to assume that he is more likely to make more money after his first contract if he goes to the NBA ready. I tried to summarize the financial circumstances. Because I don't know how exactly next year's negotiations will affect the rookie salaries, I didn't take them into account. If he thinks that he can make a jump in his draft status by staying another year, staying one more year seems to be the better financial choice.

Also let's not forget that, he will probably not play at all if he gets drafted this year. On the other hand, he will be the go-to guy at KU and will have a chance to play at Allen Field House for another year.

Ryan Wilson 4 years, 8 months ago

Remember when everyone was talking about Stephen Curry in 08 saying he can't play in the NBA because he's too small. Golden State takes a risk on him and he ends up being a top notch point guard for an otherwise sluggish squad. I think everyone is doing the opposite with X. They look at his size and believe he is ready. What other basis are they making that statement on? Too often size is the only factor. X needs at least one more year to fine tune other aspects of his game. Injury shouldn't even be a factor. If he gets hurt, just like Branden Rush did, he simply comes back for his junior year and heals up. If he doesn't get inured he is a potential top 5 pick in the 2011 draft.

jaybate 4 years, 8 months ago

dynamitehawk,

I suspect pursuing the origins of that term might quickly get us into violation of the user agreement. :-)

Joel Hood 4 years, 8 months ago

The premise of this story is misleading. Brandon Rush was also in a “Rush” to get to the league. Isn’t he the only player to ever declare his intention to enter the NBA draft 3 different times?
- Once out of high school – changed his mind and went to KU - Next after his sophomore year – tore his ACL and went back to KU - Finally, after his junior year, he declared and went.

X has some similarities to Rush, but the changes to the collective bargaining agreement could really hurt him if he waits until 2011. Rush did not face this uncertainty. The NBA players union typically favors the rights of veterans over the opportunities for new players. It hurts union member when green rookies join the league and flameout. The old guys get cut and then lose a year or two worth of income – all because some GMs decided to risk roster spots on “potential”. All unions are about protecting the rights of the established, not the rights of newbies.

So, if the new collective bargaining agreement does favor veterans (which is likely, but not certain) then X might go higher in the 2011 NBA draft, but his contract might be substantially lower than this year. Looking into the crystal ball, X (and Carl) has to ask, “how much could I make in the 2010 draft?” vs. “how much could I make in the 2011 draft?”

IMHO, if X can go as a top 15 pick, he has to go now. Because even though he might improve his draft position next year, the risk of injury and potentially lower starting salaries (because of the new collective bargaining agreement) is too high to pass on this going now.

But, some other things to consider...
- Perhaps X actually likes his life at KU and realizes the money will always be there.
- Maybe he wants to play another year with CJ.
- Maybe he realizes that once he leaves KU, it is all business and he wants to enjoy this time of his life before going to the league.
- Maybe X wants to see who else is going to the league early this year – that too would need to be factored into the risk analysis of when to declare.
- Perhaps, they have not made an announcement yet because Carl and X are talking about all these issues privately so that X can make the decision for him.

I would love to have X back next year. But, he has many things to consider and it seems silly to me that so many posters demonize the family when there are so many issues to consider.

Joel Hood 4 years, 8 months ago

"...so that X can make the BEST decision for himself."

Redlandsjhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

Jaybate- I've always enjoyed your posts and find them very informative and entertaining. It is obvious that you love KU basketball but it is more apparent to me that you cherish the game itself even more. I suspect that is symbolized by that chalice, the Holy Grail, as the sport the way it should be played as opposed to the way it is played. Please keep the faith my friend. I believe it would take but one or two rule changes or maybe points of emphasis to right the ship. In the long run talent will find a way to prevail even in the face of a few statistical anomalies. I would never bet on rolling a hard eight but they do occasionally happen. Anyway if you ever find yourself in Redlands Ca. you can fill that chalice from my keg anytime you want.

kufaninmo 4 years, 8 months ago

i thought that Rush pretty much only came back because he got injured, no? like, he was going to test the waters without an agent, then he tore is ACL and didn't even play the first month or two in the 07-08 season...?

BCRavenJHawkfan 4 years, 8 months ago

If a lockout is possible in the NBA next year, would it not be logical to think that a higher number of kids make the early jump this year? This essentially makes the draft pool bigger or more dilute. I do not pretend to know what the NBA looks for or even wants. There are any number of current players that I look at in amazement that they are starting let alone playing quality minutes in the NBA over other recognized names. (maybe it's just my bias for the college game over the NBA)

So, it would seem to me that Xavier and Company Henry had better know for certain that he wouldn't end up in Europe for a brief time. (I know he would still be making the money) He could have done that this year.

soofoojayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

Right on the money. Xavier would benefit greatly by one or two more years of college basketball before heading off to the Big Show. During the season and maybe it was a reflection on his personality, but he always seemed to be not quite a part of the team when he played. He is a great individual who possesses great basketball skills, and having the opportunity to perfect those skills at KU instead of at the end of the bench on some NBA team would in the long run the best for him. Whatever his future holds, may he be content with the outcome.

Kye Clark 4 years, 8 months ago

kufaninmo - that is why he came back his junior season. He came back for his sophomore season because he realized he was not ready after only one year of college basketball.

Mike Barnhart 4 years, 8 months ago

Let's say X. returns but doesn't improve much. Let's also say that he's not one of the best two or three small forwards or shooting guards on the roster. Does HCBS have to start him? What would recruits think about a McDonalds All-American riding the pines a year after being a starter?

martyks 4 years, 8 months ago

Back handed compliments seem awfully snippy here. The man writes a great article, full of insight and the kind of article that takes guts to write... actual truth without the cheer leading pap that others routinely write... and he's admonished for not writing it himself and not doing a good job on other articles? How about, if all you want to do is bash a writer, when he does write a good article, instead of accusing him of being on vacation, why not take a one day bashing vacation of your own? It only seems right. This article put into words what many of us have been saying behind the scene for quite some time. Don't you have to wonder what Julian must think when he sees the rest of the old gang sporting those rings? And it isn't as if he's playing more than those ex teammates (such as Mario, for example)... Yes, the money is big. But won't the money be that much bigger next year if X does what he should do, namely stay in school and improve his game?

Krohnutz 4 years, 8 months ago

I've been saying he is not ready to get his butt handed to him by the NBA crowd. He plays Small Forward. Let me give you some names at that position (I won't count Shooting Guards, and at the NBA level they have his size and strength, we'll keep it solely to Small Forwards).

In a garbage division like the Atlantic Division, a notoriously weak division right now with the Nets and Knicks: Paul Pierce, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Wilson Chandler, Thaddus Young, and Hedo Turkoglu. He isn't better than ANY of those players. And that is a WEAK division.

Lets look at a more loaded division, the Northwest, where every team is very solid with the exception of Minnesota. Where you find small forwards like Ryan Gomes, Nic Batum, and Andrei Kirilenko before hitting up guys like Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Freaking Durant. He isn't close to those guys, and it would take a lot of improvement to develop past them even with one more year of college.

Seriously man, you play at the most loaded position in the NBA. Throw in LeBron to that mix, yeah you get to guard him too.

Any agent telling this kid that he is a lock to "develop" into a better basketball player than those guys are either completely dishonest or completely stupid.

As a side note, ESPN Classic just showed us winning the 2008 title, and I still smile when I see that dude holding up the sign, "That's Mr. Dorsey to you!" Anybody have that link to somebody pasting that statement over Mr. Dorsey being cuffed and stuffed into a police car? Classic stuff....

Scott Smetana 4 years, 8 months ago

jjjjhok... my thoughts exactly. Against UNI, the only players I wanted with the ball were Reed and Marcus. If X comes back and doesn't improve, I"m confident he'll start but Reed will get a ton of his minutes.

jaybate 4 years, 8 months ago

jaybate news service (jns):

Dateline: Indianapolis, Indiana

Slug: jaybate interview with the Devil about Coach K's picture overwritten with a doodles indicating devils horns and beard in an early edition of the Indy Star fish wrap a couple days back...

jaybate: In studio today is The Devil. (pause) Welcome, Devil.

Devil: Thank you, jaybate, its nice to be in the upper regions for a change.

j: I would be lying, if I said it were great to see you, but thanks for coming just the same.

S: I realize there are implications to my presence that make you uncomfortable. I will try to curb my tendencies for the sake of the interview.

j: Thanks. So, I understand you're waaay upset about your likeness being scribbled on to Coach K's face and run in the newspaper here in Indy. Why?

S: A lot of mortals don't know this, but there is a level deeper than hell in the moral universe.

j: Really?

S: Yes, it is called Hell Beta. It was god's first and worst attempt at a hell.

j: This is news to me. Please continue.

S: Well, what most mortals call hell, my crib, so to speak, is actually Hell 1.0. Where you mortals live, this mortal coil, as some of you call it, this is actually, Hell 2.0, but that is neither here nor there regarding why I wanted to do this interview with you.

j: Gotcha. Go ahead.

S: Well, not putting too fine of a point on it, I am insulted to have my likeness doodled onto the entity that you know as Coach K.

j: Why? It was just a joke.

S: The entity you know as Coach K is actually Satan Beta. I feel about him the same as you do about me.

j: I see. (hmmmm) What exactly do you want to convey to board rats?

S: Coach K is a basketball angel from Hell 1.0's sub-basement, Hell Beta, and he has taken the equivalent of a moral elevator up to the Final Four to bring matter and anti-matter into contact and end all possible universes by letting them fall into a single black hole the size of the mole on Madonnna's face before she had all the plastic surgery.

jaybate 4 years, 8 months ago

j: Are you sure we're talking about the same Coach K? Our Coach K, the one we think we know, is a warm, cuddly little Polish guy who looks like Ben Turpin without the moustache and only coaches cheap shotting when down 10 points.

S: Yep, that's the one. He's Satan Beta. Trust me.

j:Trust the devil? Well, that seems pretty fantastic. I mean, uh, even you showing up to do an interview seems pretty fantastic.

S: Do you doubt I am who I say I am?

j: Well, wouldn't you, if you were me?

S: Hmmm, I might. (pause) Here, let me show you something to convince you...

(jaybate snarls like a hell hound in heat, transforms into a flaming hell dog, then quickly back into his alias.) j: Okay, you are who you say you are. What next? S: I want an apology from the Indy Star editor for my likeness being superimposed on Coach K aka Satan Beta, or I'm going to...

j: Going to what?

S: Or I'm going to further obstruct health care reform? I may also make the USA invade another country for oil. (pause) Why, I might even get Sarah Pallin elected President and Jeb Bush elected vice president.

(Sound of jaybate filling his mortal boots.)

j: Oh, jeez, alright, alright, I'll ask someone at KUSports.com to contact a pal on the Indy Star and have them issue you an apology immediately. Is that good enough? It’s the best I can do. Please, no Pallin and Jeb Bush!!!

(Satan hideously transmogrifies into Tom Izzo.)

Izzo: Ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

(Note: All fiction and humor for continued therapeutic recovery from KU's heart breaking upset. No malice.)

:-)

jaybate 4 years, 8 months ago

Redlandsjhawk,

You are immensely kind. Thank you. I will try to keep a stiff upper about all of this.

"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

sdku 4 years, 8 months ago

We are going to be better next year, how so you ask? What will we improve on immediately? (X being gone)

We will be much faster! We have too many guys that can run. We always had to wait for for Cole to get set and even Xavier is a step too slow. The offense setup was more NBA style.

We now have EJ, Little (full health), Releford, Taylor, Robinson (fast big man), Brady, Morningstar, possibly CJ and Withey. Are slowest guys may be the twins which I can deal with. Withey is going to impress everyone next year, he can run better than Cole and is more athletic in the scoring department. I think he can be a double double guy.

We will get those easy baskets and we'll be shoving points down team's throats. We will be feared once again friends.

We may not have the go to guy but we won't be put in that situation too often like last year if we score enough points. I'm already saying last year and this year isn't even over yet.

John Randall 4 years, 8 months ago

HAWKnRoll --

I didn't go back to count, but by the third or fourth time you tyeped, "Nothing Wrong With That." I began to ask myself who, exactly, you are trying to convince -- yourself or me?

Jack Wilson 4 years, 8 months ago

RockChalk26 .. you said "I must say, for those on the team who I think is NBA ready, I think Tyshawn is ready for the next level. He is explosive, plays good D, and can step up and take control of a game. We would have seen more of this last season, but Collins was the go to man. What do you think on Taylor and his NBA career?"

Someone asked if you were high on crack. Pointed and relevant query.

However, I think you make an excellent suggestion. I might start that bandwagon. Tyshawn, if you're listening, it is time .... wait, I'll take my tongue out of my cheek.

RockChalk26 .. those high on crack may take offense to being mentioned in the same breath. But I have to hear more about TT's NBA ready qualities. Please, tell me more.

Andrew Moore 4 years, 8 months ago

Why so much hatred for X in these comments, there was some slighting going on in the article as well. Fact is people, the scouts love the guy. I think a lot of you had too high of expectations for X. He was a freshman, who debuted at 27 pts but hit 'the wall' going into the big 12.

I think that if X came back he would dominate the college game. I don't think he will though. It was all part of the plan for X to be going to the NBA after one season. That was X's plan, his family's plan and Self's plan.

I don't think the drop off from X to a Little/Releford combination will be very dramatic, especially if we can bring in a top PG to play alongside our returning vets (Tyrel, Brady, Tyshawn, and even EJ or CJ). We will be good if the Morris twins can improve their defense. And I mean championship caliber good. If we can't develop strong post defense, then we will be just another top 25 team. Regardless, thats nothing to be ashamed of.

dynamitehawk 4 years, 8 months ago

I can't believe that 511 people were worse than me in the LJW bracket challenge. Seriously, folks.

dynamitehawk 4 years, 8 months ago

P.S. Woof, Butler! Make America believe in its purpose.

Tony Bandle 4 years, 8 months ago

WOW!!! When was the last time Soobawls and Keagan were spot on with their comments on the same article!! ?? Nice job to both.

Let me clarify something for all of you: The definition of "NBA ready".

A One and Done hyped youngster with the existing physical skills which MAY develope in the future with a willingness to sit on the bench and collect a big paycheck with the hopes a seasoned veteran retires or gets injured. This definition may apply to 20 to 30 kids a year.

They actually stopped playing true basketball in the NBA about 15 years ago.

dynamitehawk 4 years, 8 months ago

OK - Duke might be ranked #1 out of the gates. I hate them. ALL. So, I think that we would embarrass (another perplexing word.... bare ass and all) the hell out of them. Duke was very physical in the final four. I just think we are way, way more tough. The twins would wipe the floor with the devils.

Kye Clark 4 years, 8 months ago

Surprise! Sowballs has something negative to say! Really the guy's become so predictable. Kinda like one of these political talk radio guys. Really? The left is evil? Who woulda guessed you'd tell us that? So lame

gardenjay 4 years, 8 months ago

Personally, who cares? Here is what upsets me the most: a graduation rate of 0% for African Americans and 33% for white boys on the Univ. of VA squad. They're probably not the bottom, but just to bring this up since it is currently in the news. Why would college students be fans of a system like this?

What these boys need is more academic support, and an education. The entertainment industry is WAY overrated.

BC5 4 years, 8 months ago

Hey, this is my first comment on here but I've read this site for a long time. I think it is the best KU site for information from the Basketball Notebook to Keegan's editorials. And the fact that it is free is amazing because I like away from Lawrence these days and love reading about the Jayhawks.

The disrespect some people on here give is ridiculous. These guys that work for the paper do their jobs well. If you like or dislike an editorial, then the editorial was done well. People get so upset if Keegan says anything negative about KU. This was a good editorial that is pro-KU so not so many babies crying on here.

But I respect the job these guys do. Whatever they write, I enjoy different opinions.

The internet has killed off integrity. Remember that the next time you write something ridiculous on here. If you want to say something stupid, put your name next to it,

I just wanted to write that. It won't make much difference to some people, but people who write anonymous insults don't make much of a difference.

This is a response to previous things I have read on here throughout the years. I just wanted to say it.

Brian Custar

gardenjay 4 years, 8 months ago

Good for you Brian.

Nothing against Keegan. I just think that since education and b-ball are in the national news for the abysmal graduation rates of college athletes, that KU should step up and hire more academic support for the price of using attorneys internally to take down another chap in the athletic dept.

jcsmith 4 years, 8 months ago

Although I WANT X gone, heres something for him to chew on a while.

They always say learn from your older siblings. X, this is a text book situation you are in here. CJ was a flop in the MLB. Apparently, MLB scouts thought he was good enough to get drafted as well. Now look where hes at. Hes sittin pine on KU's bench (not that I wouldnt enjoy the hell out of that). Realize a million bucks just dont go as far this day and age as it used to. Lets just say you mysteriously make a top 10 draft pick. #10 pick makes 1.86 mill his rookie season. Oh wait, what, taxes? WTF are taxes. Ok, so now you make maybe 1.2 mill that first year. I'm sure theres a few folks in this world that own toilet paper that costs more then your first years salary. Next 2 years you make 2 & 2.1 respectively. So you'll take home, lets just say, average 1.5 or so. So, 3 years, you net around 4 mill, give or take a few. 4 MILL. I'm sorry, but even my poor a$$ knows 4 mill is not a pot of gold these days. Dont get me wrong, I'de sign a check if someone just handed me 4 mill, but heres the difference, I'de keep my day job. You play 3 years in the NBA, make 4 mill, end up being a flop, COUGH cj COUGH, you'll be figurin out another way to make your livin.

It just dont make no damn since to me. One of the worst things an individual can do is enter something unprepared. Thats something that we are tought from birth. ALWAYS BE PREPARED. So why in the hell do we send these youngs kids off to the NBA, UNPREPARED? If I sent my kids in to take the SAT on potential alone, they wouldnt even get into a damn JUCO.

And when you look at this, http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=9302 why settle for a 10 - 15 pick, when you have the oppurtunity to return to school and shoot for that top 5 pick. If a freshman is a top 5 pick, then I'de so go for it. 9 mill is a whole lot more then 4 mill.

(NOTE: I'm no accountant so please dont wrag on my numbers here. Education didnt like me none. )

hawksince51 4 years, 8 months ago

I agree, great article. Frankly, Rush was older and more ready to enter the NBA draft as a freshman than X. However, Brandon did not have the family pressure since 2 older brothers had already been there, done that. Even if not a lottery pick, X is a consensus first round pick so he is gone for all the financial and timing reasons mentioned above. As I have stated before, I am not a fan of recruiting OAD'ers and last night's NC game only added to my feelings in this regard. Syracuse in 2003 is the only school to get an NC where an OAD'er made a significant contribution so I say that was a fluke more than a pattern. The obvious flaw in my logic is how does a coach know if a player is going to be OAD? However, many have been obvious from the getgo so why waste a scholarships and a year of coaching effort on them.

jcsmith 4 years, 8 months ago

QUOTE FROM hawksince51 - "why waste a scholarships and a year of coaching effort on them"

Its to bad coaches dont think this way. You're here simply to get national attention and then jump to the NBA?

You dont get the oppurtunity to play for this team nor this University. You dont get the oppurtunity to be coached by me.

I'll take the tradition of a team full of seniors over a team with a one-&-done 7 days a week and twice on sunday. DJ, ShockaKaun, RussRob and JCase proved that.

Dale Kroening 4 years, 8 months ago

For starters, X is good as gone. Is he ready ? No, but that doesnt matter. With the pending lockout, you would have to be a fool not to go if your assured to be a 1st rd pick, and ready or not X will be one of the first 20 picks. As far as Rush and X, Brandon was better IMHO. Thanks for 1 year Mr. Henry, its been fun. The only thing that really bothers me about X is that after the game against UNI he had no emotion, and looked as if he could care less that we got knocked out of the tourney. We will be just fine with Mario and TR at the 3 next season, and possibly better.

Scott Smetana 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm hoping X was 'stunned' after the UNI loss (like me). I also didn't show any emotion until about 2 days later when I had my breakdown.

Next year at KU could be the best in his life for many reasons... more emotion, more driving skills, more leadership, more confidence, quicker release, more maturity, more coaching, more school, more time to grow up. He needs KU another year more than KU need him. Of course, we'd love to have u back X!!

Scott Smetana 4 years, 8 months ago

Great point JCSmith... $4 Mil isn't that much to last a lifetime. I'd figure 1/2 of it will go to taxes, maybe more in the future with Obama.

Chris Shaw 4 years, 8 months ago

Here is my post from yesterday.

Butler: With the season winding down and the NCAA Championship game happening tonight; I think it's safe to say that regardless what happens tonight, Butler has earned itself worthy of having a preaseason Top 5 ranking for the 2011 season. Veasley is the main player leaving Butler this season and he's fourth in scoring (10 ppg) and third in minutes played (31.2). Jukes is another key player for Butler who is also a senior, but he's a "Glue Guy" that can be replaced. Veasley is the big concern, but regardless of his departure I still think Butler deserves to be preseason Top 5 next year. They have certainly earned it.

Duke: That leaves me to the other team playing in the NCAA Championship tonight, Duke? What do you all think? My initial instinct was to say without question Duke also deserves to be preseason Top 5 next season in 2011 and then I realized that Scheyer, Zoubek, and Thomas are all leaving. I know Zoubek is goofy, but he does all the little things in the paint that actually opens up the perimeter for the Duke guards. He will be missed, but I think the Plumlee's can make up for his departure. Thomas is another guy who doesn't have big numbers, but he makes that offense "Flow" and he will be sorely missed. I kind of forgot that Thomas was graduating and that is why I was so quick initially with the departure of Zoubek and Scheyer to say Duke belongs in the Top 5 next season.

Thomas also graduating puts a wrench into that thinking, but I think with the couple of recruits Coach K has coming in and possibly the development of Kelly could still allow Duke to be in the Top 5 preseason and me personally, I think they are preseason Top 5 next season.

With all that said, here is my preseason Top 5 for next season. There will be a lot of changes with this list depending on what happens with recruits, but this is a good guess right now. ESPN and CNNSI will be coming out with their rankings probably tomorrow or the day after so it's good time to start IMO. What do you all think?

1) Michigan State (Only losing Morgan in their Top 7) As good as Izzo is in March why bet against him now. This run in the 2010 NCAA tournament only made their team stronger.

2) Butler-enough said from above, right?

3) Syracuse-They only lose Rautins and Onaku, but Syracuse showed they have enough talent to replace both. Plus, they are in the running for some key recruits so we'll see what happens. They already have a couple good recruits coming in. Depends if Johnson leaves or not

4) Duke-Even with the loss of Scheyer, Zoubek, and Thomas, I think Irving, Curry, Dawkins, Kelly, and the Plumlee's will step up.

5) Kansas State (Only losing Clemente-Big piece to fill, but they have a couple of guards ready to step in and they have big-time recruit in Will Spradling coming in to play the point guard

Chris Shaw 4 years, 8 months ago

6) Baylor-I went ahead and did 6 because I think Baylor is going to be right there. At the moment, they only lose Tweety Carter. With that said, if Udoh ( He is probably leaving) returns they could easily move up 1 or 2 spots and with the addition of Perry Jones, Scott Drew has a nice little funnel of talent coming through Waco.

Chris Shaw 4 years, 8 months ago

From Luke Winn and cnnsi.com

INDIANAPOLIS — After all its photo opportunities had been exhausted, the national championship trophy was placed, oddly, on top of a garbage can in the Duke locker room. Reporters surrounded Jon Scheyer and Brian Zoubek, two Blue Devils stars whose careers were officially over; and they were packed around Kyle Singler, a star who may use his Final Four Most Outstanding Player award as a springboard into the first round of the NBA draft. The one Dukie not wearing a jersey sat alone in a back corner of the locker room, smiling, but detached from the scene.

Seth Curry was wearing dress clothes, sitting out the final game of his transfer year after leaving Liberty for Duke in March of 2009. Stephen’s gunner of a younger brother (he averaged 20.2 points for the Flames as a freshman, and was a key member of the U.S. Under-19 gold-medal team this summer) took his visit to Durham on the day after the Blue Devils suffered a 23-point loss to Villanova in the Sweet 16. “The mood there was pretty somber,” he said. “Their goal is to get to the Final Four ever year. I wouldn’t say they were panicking, but the situation wasn’t good.”

Curry spent this season battling in practice with Scheyer and junior guard Nolan Smith — and watched them rebound from that ‘09 tourney embarrassment to win Duke’s fourth national title under Coach K, and first since 2002. Now it’ll be Curry’s turn to chase a title of his own, as he joins a backcourt so loaded — with Smith, incoming five-star point guard Kyrie Irving, and sophomore-to-be shooting guard Andre Dawkins — that it makes the Blue Devils an easy pick as SI’s way-too-early preseason No. 1 for 2010-11.

Smith, despite having a stellar NCAA tournament, gave no serious thought to testing the NBA draft. He didn’t want to miss out on what comes next in Durham. “This squad coming in could be something special,” he said. “Back-to-back championships could be in our future.”

Chris Shaw 4 years, 8 months ago

  1. DUKE (For the sake of more realistic rankings, I’m assuming that Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh; Georgetown’s Greg Monroe; Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors; Kansas’ Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry; Kentucky’s Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton and John Wall; North Carolina’s Ed Davis; Ohio State’s Evan Turner; Oklahoma State’s James Anderson; Syracuse’s Wes Johnson; West Virginia’s Devin Ebanks and Xavier’s Jordan Crawford all turn pro.)

  2. MICHIGAN STATE: Point forward Draymond Green and shooting guard Durrell Summers are on the verge of becom­ing national stars. The Spartans will bring in 6-foot-10, five-star freshman center Adreian Payne.

  3. BUTLER: The Bulldogs lose stopper Willie Veasley, but if they can keep coach Brad Stevens (who’ll surely receive big-time job offers) and Gordon Hayward (who’s considering the NBA draft), they’ll be called a powerhouse, not a mid-major.

  4. KANSAS STATE: The Beard is back: Jacob Pullen will be the marquee guard in the Big 12. He and the Wildcats’ glass-crashers — Curtis Kelly, Wally Judge and Jamar Samuels, as well as 6-11 juco transfer Freddy Asprilla — will keep the Octagon rocking.

  5. PURDUE: The Boilermakers lose Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer, but a healed Robbie Hummel (ACL), along with 6-10 JaJuan Johnson and guards E’Twaun Moore and Lewis Jackson, could help Purdue finally break through to the Final Four.

  6. VILLANOVA: Sophomore point guard Maalik Wayns is primed for breakout stardom in Scottie Reynolds’ absence, and center Mouphtaou Yarou, who missed part of his freshman year due to hepatitis B, should make huge gains in his first full season.

  7. PITTSBURGH: The Panthers were Big East contenders a year ahead of schedule, tying for second in the league. Junior guard Ashton Gibbs is one of the nation’s most underrated scorers — he shot 44.4 percent on threes during Big East play in ‘09-10 — and on the verge of becoming a national name.

  8. OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes are sure to lose Evan Turner, but they’re bringing in Rivals.com’s No. 2-rated recruiting class, which includes homegrown center Jared Sullinger and power forward Deshaun Thomas, to join senior wings David Lighty and Jon Diebler, as well as William Buford.

  9. BRIGHAM YOUNG: If shooting guard Jimmer Fredette rejoins Michael Loyd Jr. in the backcourt after testing the NBA draft waters, BYU will be the best team west of the Rockies for the second straight season, and a sleeper pick for the Final Four.

  10. TEMPLE: With Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez (Venezuela) out of the picture, Owls star Juan Fernandez is the best South American in college hoops. But will he continue to score as efficiently (12.6 ppg. 45.3 percent on threes) after moving from shooting guard to the point as a junior?

  11. KANSAS

  12. BAYLOR
  13. NORTH CAROLINA
  14. OLD DOMINION
  15. WISCONSIN
  16. GEORGETOWN
  17. FLORIDA
  18. VANDERBILT
  19. SYRACUSE
  20. GONZAGA
  21. MISSOURI
  22. XAVIER
  23. WASHINGTON
  24. MEMPHIS
  25. MURRAY STATE

Chris Shaw 4 years, 8 months ago

Dick vitale just releashed his Top 6 teams for next year on the ESPN college basketb all page. Here they are:

1) Duke

2) Ohio State

3) Michigan State

4) Villanova

5) Purdue

6) Butler

I think his list is good, but he's placing too much emphasis on Diaper Dandies with Ohio State and Villanova. I disagree with those two picks. I can see Purdue, but I still think Hummell is stilla big question mark. Hummell's injury is very similar to Brandon Rush' at KU from a couple of years ago so it will be interesting to see how his rehab goes. Nobodies rehab is exactly alike, but I agree that Purdue is a Top 5 team with a Healthy Hummell, but at the moment he's not so I will still give them a Top 10 ranking.

jcsmith 4 years, 8 months ago

Next year, KU is McMorris' Team. Mark my words. He has the heart, the passion, and the motivation that not many other players on the team had this year. If Marcus works as hard this off season as he and his brother did last off season, if they can get the other players to follow stride, next year is going to be real special. I haven't seen the heart and passion that McMorris has in any other player since DJ 3 years ago. Dont get me wrong, McMorris has nowhere near the passion DJ had, but its starting to resemble it. Good things happen when you have a player with heart. You dont think the 07'-08' team felt DJs heart, your crazy.

HawkNationNWichita 4 years, 8 months ago

Start things off I don't think X is ready. All you people that think its selfish to say we want him to stay to further develop, how is that selfish? Right now yes he could jump and make millions, BUT how long is that going to last? If he's not ready and jumps to the wrong team that doesn't give him a chance to develop, he'll get his first contract and then done. Lets say he says a KU how ever long it takes him to develop,then goes. He will have a longer career and make more money. So how is that selfish? To me that's saying I want what's best for him.

Now lets say he decides to jump, which I think is going to happen, him flopping or not depends on what team he goes to. If he goes to a team where he needs to be an instant impact, I think he'll flop (I hope I'm wrong though). But if he can got to a team where he can come off the bench his first couple years and the team lets him develop, I think he could be dangerous in the NBA. So now I bet a lot of people are saying that wouldn't happen right because the NBA doesn't do that. Prime example of the NBA doing that is the 13th overall pick in the 96 draft. Yes it was a kid out of high school. His first season he only play 15 min a game. Second season, still coming off the bench, became the runner up for the NBA's sixth man award. It wasn't until his 3rd season he started. For those of you that don't know who I'm talking about, it's Kobe Bryant. No I'm not comparing Kobe and X, that'd just be stupid of me. I'm just using Kobe as one of the success stories of an NBA team taking the time to develop a player that's not ready for the NBA yet. Yes I know more players flop then make.

dynamitehawk 4 years, 8 months ago

ralster -

Thanks for the etymology analysis. No, I was not aware. I do enjoy learning about where common terms come from. For some reason, 'riding in the cockpit' has always scared me, but I am sort of different = )

MDHawk 4 years, 8 months ago

Wasn't X supposed to discuss going to the NBA vs. staying this weekend with his family, and make a decision/hold a press conference early this week? Or am I just imagining things?

Whether or not folks on here think its a done deal, it's not a sure thing until we hear what X has to say. Quite frankly, I'd really like to know soon...anybody have any info on this?

Do what you have to do, X. We're behind ya, bud.

kstrebor 4 years, 8 months ago

Matt Howard’s mustache! I love it! I tried to watch Butler play but I couldn't get past the poor kids attempt at growing a mustache.

http://i272.photobucket.com/albums/jj163/afostercook/Mustache.jpg

Greg Lux 4 years, 8 months ago

Pros - NBA Body (whatever that means :-) ). Potential.

Cons - One handed ( dribble and shot ), no real short game. Slow of foot. Shot is too slow on release. This young man is far from NBA ready but Money speaks and Daddy Wants. End of story..

Good Luck X ( you will need it early for sure )

KULongrtimer 4 years, 8 months ago

Best blog of yours I have read. A few points on your opinions:

  1. Xavier is a good student and the time he started struggling was when he was starting a new semester of hard classes and needed extra tutor time. His head was not on the game as much as it should have been, resulting in more "hitch and push" on release.
  2. I think BS put Xavier at the 3 spot in order to fufill the minutes of play time he offered with the scholarship. He will be a 2 guard in the NBA and would have had higher numbers in all stats than Wall if playing there.
  3. I totally agree that the NBA players tend to eat their own. The Xavier that I know will have to bring out the inner strength if he lands on some of the teams. For example, look at how Wade has emasculated Beasley on the Heat. Wade's ego will not allow another star on the team. Beasley could drive the lane like a 2 guard and now he barely gets to handle the ball without Wade's permission -- too bad because the Heat will never do well as long as this occurs.
  4. There are several NBA stars that are one hand dominant. What we do know is that it is better to be LH dominant. Ginobili has made quite a career of only playing left.

KULongrtimer 4 years, 8 months ago

I have to LOL at all the "experts" here. Who determined that each and any of you (me included) were qualified for our first real job? Quick answer: The people ready to take a chance on our few proven attributes, with the potential that we could make them more money than we cost them!

A college "student athelete" allows us to live vicariously through their on-court contributions to a great sport, so lets allow them to be kids and not judge them as we would a race horse.

Also, it is laughable to think that $4m is not a huge amount of $$$ to make before you turn 22 -- most of the bloggers participating here will not see $2m in 45 years of their work life.

I tend to agee with what Carl and family probably conveyed to Xavier: I would tell my offspring to take the money and go earn it to your best abilities, go to school in the off season so you know how to handle your own nest egg and after NBA future, and keep your head high.

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