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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Great Article on Mid Majors Struggle to Schedule Games

Wanted -- College Basketball Power With Courage

Commentary by Scott Soshnick, Bloomberg News

May 31 --``Do you have some games for us?''Bucknell Athletic Director John Hardt asks. He's desperate to fill his men's basketball schedule for next season. Willing opponents are so scarce that he's taken to trolling sportswriters for five able bodies. This is what happens when your team goes from laughing stockto legitimate, from cupcake to capable. Not even Kentucky, seven-time national champion Kentucky for crying out loud, has the gumption to take the court against up-and-coming Bucknell. ``We literally have said we will play anybody anywhere,''Hardt says. ``Before we had notoriety people would take us up on that. Now our phone calls don't get returned.'' This is the price of winning. Two years ago Bucknell -- hardly a basketball powerhouse --upset No. 3 Kansas in the opening round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament. Eyebrows were raised. Then last season, Bucknell went on the road and trampled Syracuse, Pittsburgh and St. Joe's. Alarm bells sounded around the country. ``To hear the Big Ten, the ACC and SEC say you're too good, it's disconcerting,'' Hardt says. This is the sad reality of college basketball today, where securing enough wins for a spot in the lucrative NCAA tournament dwarfs the importance of maintaining rivalries and a century of tradition. ``I understand the thinking,'' says ESPN basketball analystDick Vitale, ``but I don't agree with it.''

No Agreement

Neither does Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard. Neither does Kevin McNamee, the senior associate athletic director at GeorgeMason, which, you'll recall, made plenty of noise in last year's tournament. George Mason's blitzkrieg to the Final Four has made filling its home schedule more difficult than guarding LeBron James in socks. ``Everybody comes to Washington, and no one is going to play at our building,'' McNamee says. ``Teams are careful about who they play, when they play them and where they play them.'' He calls it artful scheduling. Artless dodging is more like it. Try this on for size: Some big-name schools will agree to play road games on one condition -- that it's held over a holiday break when the students won't be there. Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium isn't the same without the Crazies. And neither is Bucknell. ``Big schools look for any advantage they can get,'' Hardt said.

Pack the Bags

So, as a result, if the Patriots want to face a ranked opponent they'll have to pack their bags. ``You don't want to be America's guest, going on the road all the time and getting your brains kicked in,'' McNamee says. Maryland, of the ACC, has agreed to play George Mason, but only amid the safer home-court confines of College Park's Comcast Center. No home-and-home series. Terrapins don't travel. That brings us to Holy Cross, another program on the rise. The Crusaders recently have been dropped by the schedule makers at Fordham, Iona, Manhattan, Massachusetts and Providence. And then Boston College, of all schools, called to sever ties. While it might not mean much to those outside Boston, ending the B.C.-Holy Cross matchup is a big deal. The schools, whose football rivalry dates to the 1800s, first played basketball in 1905. Boston College abandoned basketball in 1924 and resumed in 1945. They've met just about every year since, with annual home-and-home games that were a circle-that-date special on each school's schedule.

Running Scared

Holy Cross dominated at first, winning 21 straight. However Boston College, now of the Atlantic Coast Conference, has won 14 of the past 15 meetings. So what is B.C. afraid of? Well, the games have gotten a little too close for Boston College coach Al Skinner's comfort. Two years ago, the Eagles needed overtime before winning. ``The big thing is the gap between us has diminished,'' saysWillard, Holy Cross class of 1967. ``Al told me from the very beginning that this game is a no-win situation for him.'' Skinner didn't return my call. But Bob Cousy did. The former Boston Celtics star and Hall of Famer has a passion for both schools, having won the 1947 national championship as a player at Holy Cross and later having coached at Boston College. ``All the powerhouses want to book the patsies,'' said the1957 National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player, who went 117-38 as B.C.'s coach from 1963-69. ``Nothing is sacred anymore.''

Dream Team

As things stand, Bucknell's Hardt has four vacant dates on his schedule. ``That's unprecedented for us this late in theyear,'' he says. On a promising note, some ACC schools last week inquired about adding the Bison to their schedules. We'll see. So, to answer Hardt's initial question, I do have some games for Bucknell to schedule. I told him that I'd make some calls to college buddies, including Syracuse basketball assistant and former team captain Mike Hopkins, as well as Todd Barlok, a former walk-on, and 6-foot-7-inch Erik Levin, who is now an intellectual property attorney with the NBA. Though we have a bit of mileage on us and we're woefully out of game shape, we offer what Bucknell and the others need most: a desire and willingness to play. That's more than they can get from Kentucky.

(Scott Soshnick is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

CBS Spotline's Tony Mejia's Mock NBA Draft

Mock Draft: Tony Mejia

CBS Staff Writer

Tony Mejia covers the NBA Draft for Look for more reports, blogs and columns from Tony leading up to the draft, which takes place on June 28 in New York City.

May 24, 2006

1. Toronto Raptors LaMarcus Aldridge, F/Texas: He's the most complete big man in the draft, and certainly the most polished offensively. A Chris Bosh type, he and his former Dallas prep rival could, along with Charlie Villanueva, one day form one of the more exciting, versatile frontcourts in the league.

2. Chicago Bulls Tyrus Thomas, F, LSU: The concern is that he's not too far along with his offensive game, getting most of his baskets on dunks, putbacks and via his remarkable athleticism, but he'll be the Bulls' selection if Aldridge is gone, and they will just have to hope he develops better than Tyson Chandler has.

3. Charlotte Bobcats Adam Morrison, F, Gonzaga: This is where the draft could have its first interesting twist; the Bobcats have their choice of Morrison, Roy or Bargnani, all of whom would help provide much-needed wing help.

4. Portland Trail Blazers Brandon Roy, G/F Washington: Given how raw a lot of his players are, Nate McMillan will jump at the chance to add a ready-made starter from the Northwest. From a publicity standpoint, the Blazers would love it if Morrison were available; he'd be a great draw and a strong fit as well.

5. Atlanta Hawks Marcus Williams, G, Connecticut: The Hawks passed on Chris Paul last year and badly need a floor general to help complement Joe Johnson. Williams is rising quickly and has the type of skills to be a strong asset for quite some time. He'll get the nod over Big East rival Foye.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves Rudy Gay, F/G, Connecticut: If the 'Wolves will entertain thoughts of parting ways with Kevin Garnett, it might make more sense for them to take Bargnani, which would be interesting. If they plan on keeping the Big Ticket, Gay is the way to go. He'd help upgrade the 'Wolves' wing attack, which has long been a problem. Going PG is also an option. Minnesota will help itself one way or another.

7. Boston Celtics Andrea Bargnani, F, Benetton Treviso (Italy): He's the draft's big mystery, and there are some who believe he's a legit future star like Pau Gasol. Thriving in the Euroleague at 20 is a strong accomplishment. He won't fall past this spot and might be taken much earlier if a team believes enough in his abilities to trade up for him.

8. Houston Rockets Cedric Simmons, F, N.C. State: The Rockets need big bodies, and Simmons has such a huge upside that you figure he's the logical choice. Still raw offensively, but he's a tenacious rebounder and shot blocker who would fit right into Jeff Van Gundy's system.

9. Golden State Patrick O'Bryant, C, Bradley: An agile 7-footer with great potential? Sounds ideal for the center-starved Warriors, who have done a nice job stockpiing young big men with the picks of Andris Biedrins and Ike Diogu in recent drafts.

10. Seattle SuperSonics Randy Foye, G, Villanova: The Sonics badly needed guard help last year and would love someone to come on board and push Luke Ridnour. Foye seems perfectly suited for the task and, with his scoring ability, would have the flexibility to even play alongside Ridnour and Ray Allen in small lineups.

11. Orlando Magic J.J. Redick, G, Duke: The Magic are likely to lose DeShawn Stevenson to free-agency and know the future of Grant Hill is up in the air. That makes adding a wing their most likely option, and they have plenty to choose from, with the following four selections in this mock as potential choices.

12. New Orleans Hornets Rodney Carney, F/G, Memphis: One of the draft's top athletes, he'd be an ideal fit with the Hornets, who need wings who can defend and give Chris Paul options. Carney has expanded his offensive game with the Tigers and is probably more ready to contribute immediately than Memphis teammate Williams is.

13. Philadelphia 76ers Shawne Williams, F/G, Memphis: At 6-feet-9 with guard-like skills, Williams projects to be one of the more versatile players available, and given the lack of contributions Philly got from its bench last year, would be a strong addition. If he reaches his potential, he's a steal at this spot.

14. Utah Jazz Ronnie Brewer, G, Arkansas: What the Jazz wanted when drafting Kirk Snyder first a few years back, they'll get in the Razorbacks wing. He's a potential stopper, has an improving offensive game and would make for a killer backcourt mate for young point guard Deron Williams.

15. New Orleans Hornets Shelden Williams, F, Duke: The Hornets' lack of depth was part of the reason they faded down the stretch last season, so adding a sure thing like Williams makes sense. Everyone knows he'll defend and rebound, and he'd have a great tutor in P.J. Brown if he does end up here.

16. Chicago Bulls Tiago Splitter, F/C Tau Ceramica (Spain): Size, size, size. The Bulls have shooters, but were victimized all year by their deficiencies in the post. Splitter, a Brazilian, has been a top-tier European-based prospect for years now but might not be able to come over next year due to a buyout clause, but he's by far the safest pick, even if Chicago has to wait some time for his services.

17. Indiana Pacers Mardy Collins, G, Temple: A combo guard with great size and a good skill set, he'd be a strong fit for a team looking to reload on the perimeter.

18. Washington Wizards Hilton Armstrong, C/F, Connecticut: Armstrong doesn't need the basketball, which is good, considering he's not likely to get it given the presence of the Wizards' "Big Three." What he can offer is defense, particularly by altering shots, as well as rebounding. He needs to become a better finisher.

19. Sacramento Kings Mouhamed Saer Sene, C/F, Verviers-Pepinster (Belgium): Don't you love this guy's name? He came out of nowhere in this Spring's Nike Hoop Summit, playing fly swatter against the Americans with nine blocks. The 20-year-old Senegalese center projects to be a defensive specialist with room to grow.

20. New York Knicks Marcus Vinicius, F, Sao Paolo (Brazil): "Marquinhos" is the perfect pick for a Knicks squad that needs to take a gamble and hope it uncovers a gem. He's versatile in that he has the size to play both forward spots. Sadly for New York, he might shoot up draft boards given his potential.

21. Phoenix Suns Oleksiy Pecherov, F, Paris Basket Racing (France): A steadily improving Ukrainian who at last found consistency during this past season, he'd be a nice piece for the Suns to add given that he can shoot it a little, moves fluidly and offers excellent size.

22. New Jersey Nets Aaron Gray, C, Pittsburgh: A bruising 7-footer who brings his lunch pail and hard hat everyday, Gray is a Pennsylvania product who would fill the Nets' need of acquiring hard-working big men to help make life easier for their wings.

23. New Jersey Nets Sergio Rodriguez, G, Estudiantes (Spain): The Jason Kidd of Spain. Kidding. Kind of. He's been touted as one of the more fabulous passers in Europe, called a "magician" by Spanish scouts and fans, and may find himself going much higher than this if there is substance to the hype. I've heard he's legit.

24. Memphis Grizzlies Rajon Rondo, G, Kentucky: His size, speed and wing span make him an ideal potential stopper. Physically, he projects out like Devin Harris, and if he shares the same learning curve, he'd be a perfect fit as the Grizzlies' future point guard. There's lots of work to be done, as his shooting and ball-handling leave something to be desired.

25. Cleveland Cavaliers Leon Powe, F, California: The Cavs clearly could use a low-post threat, and Powe, despite claims he's undersized, would provide one. Knee concerns might keep him from being a lottery pick, but this guy is simply a player, and Cleveland would be lucky to have him. He simply knows how to use his body to be effective, and his will to succeed is unmatched.

26. L.A. Lakers P.J. Tucker, F/G, Texas: Now that Ron Artest is in the same division, L.A. needs a bull of its own, someone who will get his hands dirty and get physical. Tucker, although he's undersized, is an intense performer who gets things done, and could fit right in behind Luke Walton if Devean George isn't re-signed.

27. Phoenix Suns Nick Fazekas, F/C, Nevada: There's no question he can shoot the ball, and if he embraces the contact he'll face at the pro level, he should be a serviceable big man who will carve out a nice niche for himself. He should be a borderline first-rounder if he decides he's going to stay in the draft.

28. Dallas Mavericks Guillermo Diaz, G, Miami (Fla.): Top-tier athlete who would go a lot higher if his point guard skills were more polished. He can jump out of the gym though and would be a great addition to a championship-caliber squad in that he'll push people. The Mavs will likely be in need of another guard, and will have plenty to choose from here depending on who remains in the draft.

29. New York Knicks Richard Roby, G/F, Colorado: A scorer with a nice shooting touch and good size for a wing, Roby is also the half-brother of Kenyon Martin, who might ultimately end up in New York as another of the Knicks' trademark gambles.

30. Portland Trail Blazers Alexander Johnson, F, Florida State: Another solid athlete with good size, which, as we said earlier, is what the Blazers need most. He has made nice strides, improving each year with the Seminoles, and there's still room for him to grow. You could do a lot worse with the last pick of the first round.

Orlando Magic Will Take a Look at Memphis' Carney

Magic will take a look at Memphis' Carney

The tall guard can fill it up, works out at the ex-Magic star's house and could draw Orlando's interest in the draft.

Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel Staff Writer
May 28, 2006

The Orlando Magic are looking to upgrade a position that obviously hasn't been the same since Tracy McGrady was traded to the Houston Rockets.

Oddly, the Magic could turn to T-Mac for a scouting report on a shooting guard who might well be on their radar in the June 28 NBA draft.

McGrady knows all about Rodney Carney, formerly of the Memphis Tigers: Carney has been working out at McGrady's home in Houston, mentored by McGrady's personal trainer, Wayne Hall.

The connection: Carney was a teammate at Memphis of McGrady's brother, Chance, a walk-on with the Tigers.

And there's more.

Chris Emens, Carney's agent, said, there are "similarities" between his client's game and McGrady's.

Like the 6-foot-8 McGrady, the 6-7 Carney has jaw-dropping leaping ability, an effortless jump shot, and when he's hot, he can burn the nets for hours.

Carney might be the best athlete in the draft; there's little doubt whether he's the fastest. He can cover the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.

Speed is in his DNA. Carney's mother, De Andra Ware -- a former Indiana state high-school track champion in the 100- and 200-meter races -- held the world indoor record in the 60-yard dash.

Carney won a high-school track title in Indiana in the high jump and ran the 400 meters.
Carney's weaknesses on the basketball floor are also comparable to McGrady's. The knocks on Carney are that he is inconsistent and, at times, coasts through games.

"Carney is off the charts athletically," said one Eastern Conference scout, "but his intensity . . . he's up and down. Not there every night. [Memphis Coach John] Calipari brought him off the bench some last season, I think, to kick him in the rear."

Emens points to Carney's production: He averaged 27.8 minutes per game as a senior for a deep, young Memphis team but led the Tigers in scoring (17.2 points per game).

Although mock drafts say otherwise, Emens said he doesn't believe Carney will be available when the Magic pick at No. 11. But if he is, "the Magic are getting a steal," he said by phone from Los Angeles.

Emens said Carney will work out for Orlando on June 8 and would be a "good fit," calling the Magic "a version of the Phoenix Suns" if Carney is operating on the wing with power forward Dwight Howard and point guard Jameer Nelson.

Carney's camp is aware that there could be a spot open if DeShawn Stevenson does not return. Stevenson can opt out of his contract and become a free agent July 1.

"If [Stevenson] opts out, that position is as bare as it possibly could be," Emens said.
And again in need of restocking since McGrady's exit.

Shawne Williams Headed for the NBA

Williams headed to NBA

By Gary Parrish, Memphis Commercial Appeal
May 26, 2006

Shawne Williams spent Thursday at the Los Angeles Lakers' practice facility conducting his first private workout as a full-fledged professional. Everything was cool, until he looked up. "I saw somebody in this room up top looking down, and then I knew it was Phil Jackson," Williams said by cell phone from L.A. "It was the weirdest thing ever in life. I just couldn't believe how this is really real."

Really real, and really official now that Williams has signed with Immortal Sports Agency. The byproduct is that the 6-9 forward no longer has the option of returning for his sophomore season at the University of Memphis, meaning those college classes have been substituted with a whirlwind tour of workouts that includes next week's evaluations for the Bulls, Knicks and Sixers. "He's going to work out for teams as high as fifth or sixth in the draft and a good portion of the teams down to 15," said Happy Walters, who will represent Williams along with Bill McCandless. "He's definitely a first-round pick."

Williams was the overwhelming selection for Conference USA's Freshman of the Year while averaging 13.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest, and following the Tigers' loss to UCLA in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament he didn't eliminate the idea of returning to school. However, when the Hamilton High product via Laurinburg (N.C.) Institute Prep took residency at Athletes' Performance three weeks ago it became clear he was in the draft for good despite his public statements about keeping his options open.

The cost of training at Athletes' Performance -- a world-class facility featuring a clientele of Brett Favre, Curt Schilling and Mia Hamm -- reportedly ranges from $10,000 to $20,000.
So upon admission, Williams had all but forfeited his eligibility considering he would've been asked to repay charges without the help of an outside influence to maintain his amateur status with the NCAA.

Rather than fight that battle, Williams made the only logical move. He signed with Immortal Sports and turned his focus forward.

"This is what I've always wanted to do," Williams said. "I'm working harder than I've ever worked because now I'm looking at this as a job."

Speaking of jobs, John Calipari now apparently has one in front of him. The seventh-year Memphis coach will enter next season having lost his top three scorers, considering Rodney Carney (17.2 points per game) was a senior on last year's team and sophomore point guard Darius Washington (13.4 points per game) has, like Williams, labeled himself an early entrant into the NBA Draft.

Technically, Washington still has until June 18 to withdraw and return to Memphis. But sources within the program have long told The Commercial Appeal there is little chance of that happening, and that Washington, who is now training at IMG Academy in Florida, will remain in the draft despite having no first-round guarantee.

Add it up, and the Tigers are projected to have just 10 scholarship players, eight of whom will be freshmen or sophomores. But one guy not concerned is Williams, who insisted he'll follow his old teammates every game while expecting nothing short of another league title and run in the NCAA Tournament.

"It's just like (former Tiger) Billy Richmond said about us; they're going to be loaded like a baked potato," Williams said. "I feel Antonio (Anderson) will be able to take the place of the shooter that Rodney was, CDR (Chris Douglas-Roberts) is one of the best finishers out there and Robert Dozier is just another me. So everything that left is coming back, just in other people. And I don't believe the fans have to worry at all."

-- Gary Parrish: 529-2365

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Update of Memphis Class of 2007 Recruiting


Players listing interest in the University of Memphis (not previously committed to a school)

#2 PG 5 Star Derrick Rose, Chicago, IL

#4 PF 5 Star Herb Pope, Aliqippa, PA

#5 PF 5 Star Anthony Randolph, Dallas, TX


#13 PF 4 Star Alex Tyus, Cincinnati, OH
#14 PG 4 Star Maurice Miller, Memphis, TN
#22 C 3 Star Will Bogan, Bell City, MO (SIGNED WITH MEMPHIS)
NR SG 3 Star Randy Culpepper, Memphis, TN
NR SF 3 Star Jamine Peterson, Fitchburg, MA
NR PG 2 Star Malcolm Pope, New York, NY
NR PG 2 Star Josh Chavis, Greensboro, NC
NR SG 2 Star DeAndre Bynum, Memphis, TN
NR PG 1 Star Brandon Ayers, Holly Springs, MS
NR SF 1 Star Devin Ebanks, Brooklyn, NY

Shawne Williams Hires an Agent

Shawne Williams hires agent, won't return to U of M

By Gary Parrish, Memphis Commercial Appeal
May 25, 2006

What has been an educated guess for a while is now official. Shawne Williams has signed with Immortal Sports Agency out of Los Angeles, meaning he no longer has the option of returning for his sophomore season at the University of Memphis. "After the great year we had at the University of Memphis, I feel I am ready for the challenge of the NBA," Williams said in a prepared statement. "I am looking forward to playing against the best players in the world and continuing to improve."

Though Immortal Sports just confirmed its relationship with Williams, the 6-9 forward all but forfeited his amateur status two weeks ago when he took residency at Athletes’ Performance, a world-class training facility in Los Angeles that industry insiders told The Commercial Appeal cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000. For Williams to return to Memphis under NCAA rules following that development would’ve meant him repaying every expense, and considering his impoverished background, it was reasonable to assume playing for the Tigers again was, at that point, no longer a realistic option. Williams is projected as a first-round pick. With good workouts, some analysts believe he could sneak into the lottery. A mock draft posted this week on has Williams going 20th to the New York Knicks.

Meanwhile, sophomore guard Darius Washington continues to train at IMG Academy in Florida in preparation for the NBA Draft. And while he has publicly left the option of returning to Memphis on the table, sources within the program have long said there is little chance of that happening, and that Washington will remain in the draft despite having no first-round guarantee.

— Gary Parrish: 529-2365

Ready or Not: Orlando's Darius Washington Awaits NBA Draft

Ready or Not: Orlando's Darius Washington awaits NBA draft

Kyle Hightower
Orlando Sentinel Staff Writer
May 24, 2006

BRADENTON -- In a simple condo in the heart of a town that seems to have more shuffleboard venues than basketball courts, Darius Washington Jr. is busy giving one of NBA's best players the business.

"Come on, Vince, you don't want none," Washington says after dunking over Toronto Raptors star Vince Carter. "That's OK. You're used to getting beat by me."

Actually, Carter wasn't in the room. And though the person Washington really was taunting while playing video games was Bradley sophomore center Patrick O'Bryant, one thing was clear last week as Washington took a break from workouts out at IMG Academies: These days, the NBA is never far from his mind.

One of 62 college players to declare for early entry in the 2006 NBA Draft, Washington has been in Bradenton since May 8, training at the same facility and with the same instructors that Carter and a host of other NBA players have utilized. The goal is simple: to be the best player he can be for the June 28 draft.

He hasn't hired an agent and still might return to college at Memphis. Darius Washington Sr. is taking precautions to ensure his son doesn't break any NCAA rules, should he decide to return to school. And he is paying $6,000 for Darius Jr. to train at IMG.

But unlike two years ago, when Washington transferred from Edgewater to IMG to finish out his high school career and teasingly tested the draft waters, indications are there will be no pulling out this time around -- barring a dismal pre-draft camp.

Though Washington, 20, is just two years removed from leading Edgewater to Central Florida's only Class 6A title in the past 10 years, his world has completely changed.

He's a new father (Darius III is 5 months old). He endured a moment he never will forget on the court, missing two free throws at the end of the game in the Conference USA tourney final as a freshman. And while he has gained much notice for his skill as a college player, his weaknesses also have been exposed at Memphis.

Pro leanings

Though this isn't considered a deep draft for point guards, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Washington isn't high on a lot of draft boards. Some analysts have even gone as far as to ponder whether Washington was a more attractive prospect coming out of high school than he is now.

"Darius is a kid who could have benefited from staying in school," said an NBA scout who asked to remain anonymous because it's not certain Washington will stay in the draft. "We have him as a second-rounder, but some teams have him as a late first-rounder. He has a good first step, decent range and can get to the basket. He's undersized and isn't a consistent shooter. He has confidence, but sometimes that works against him.

"We kept hearing that [Coach John] Calipari wouldn't mind seeing him go [to the NBA]. It seems as if Darius always had himself pegged for the next thing [the pros]."

As a freshman, Washington was Memphis' second-leading scorer, averaging 15.4 points (on 46.0 percent shooting from the floor and 39.5 percent from 3-point range) and recording at least five assists in 15 of 38 games. The Tigers (22-16) lost in an NIT semifinal.

This past season, he again was the Tigers' second-leading scorer, but his average dipped to 13.4 ppg (on 42.3 percent shooting from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range) and he finished with more turnovers than assists (111-110). The Tigers (33-4) lost to UCLA in an NCAA Tournament regional final.

Despite the lesser statistics, Washington said he "learned how to think the game" and said that makes the negative chatter around him meaningless.

"I mean, I see it. I read it," he said. "That's somebody's opinion, but I still read it because it adds more fuel to my fire. It's motivation.

"It's about business coming down here [to Bradenton]. You come out here for a purpose. That's the point right now, to get better every day."

In his corner the entire way has been Darius Sr., 37, who has missed only one of his son's basketball games since seventh grade. Though he has been criticized for being an overbearing parent, Washington Sr. maintains that if having a close relationship with your child is overbearing, he's "guilty as charged" and won't apologize for it.

"It's nothing we haven't heard before," he said. "With me having Darius at a young age, we've always been more like brothers."

Having been through a challenging upbringing of his own, Darius Sr. vowed to provide his son with a better upbringing than he received.

"My mom always told me she wanted me to live better than she did," Darius Sr. said. "That's all I ever wanted for my son. He's living his dreams, not mine."

Last month, Washington Sr. smiled as he traced his son's first steps in his basketball journey, pointing to the logo at midcourt on the basketball court at Winter Park Community Center.

"It says 'WP' for Winter Park, but Darius used to call it 'Washington's Playground,'" Washington, Sr. said. "This was his spot."

Three weeks ago, when his son returned after the semester ended at Memphis and packed to head to IMG, he said it all had a familiar feeling to it.

"It's just like he did a full circle and is back to the beginning," Washington, Sr. said. "IMG prepared him for college. Now they're preparing him for the next level."

Getting good advice

If Darius Jr. is going to make a successful transition, analysts agree he is going to have to convince teams he can make it as a point guard. Some analysts and scouts have questioned whether he can run an offense effectively.

"Can he make it [in the NBA]? He's going to have to find the right situation, where somebody will be tolerant of what he does," said an NBA front-office executive who asked to remain anonymous. "Coaches like point guards who make good decisions."

In the meantime, Washington is getting a good test at IMG. He's receiving individual instruction from IMG head basketball trainer Joe Abunassar, who has helped more than 30 current NBA players.

Washington said his two years of college ball have made him a much better player than he was coming out of high school.

"What I've done in two years of college, some people haven't done in four," he said. "I can think the game now. In high school, all I did was run, run, run and shoot, shoot, shoot. In college, I really got down to the basics and learned to think more. It's not about just running all the time; it's slowing down and thinking."

Calipari said he has seen that change.

"By the end of the year, Darius had as much impact on our games as any guard in the nation," Calipari said. "The scouts know he has no fear, but the big thing they want to see is if he can run a team. I think he can."

Before making the decision to put his name in the draft, Washington said he spoke with former Florida point guard Anthony Roberson, who left UF after the 2004-05 season. Washington asked Roberson if he had any regrets about leaving school early, especially considering the Gators won the national title this season.

"He told me he just prepared himself mentally for the good and the bad," Washington said. "He said he didn't allow himself to think about the 'what if?' future. He told me he didn't regret it at all."

Roberson wasn't drafted and isn't on an NBA roster. But Washington said the most important thing he learned from Roberson is what went into his decision-making process.

[Leaving Memphis] was hard," Washington said. "But I made the decision that was best for me. That was to pursue my dreams. This whole process has taught me responsibility, on and off the court.

"I keep on being the same. That's what I do. I don't try to change anything. Trying to go to the league is my goal, so I'm not going to change what got me to this point. I'm going to keep on being the same."

Kyle Hightower can be reached at

Sunday, May 21, 2006

C-USA Commission Banowsky

C-USA's newfound unity has Banowsky satisfied

By Gary Parrish, Memphis Commercial Appeal
May 21, 2006

DESTIN, Fla. -- Britton Banowsky has been in charge of Conference USA for nearly four years, and he's endured one of the more drastic shake-ups in NCAA history.

Louisville exited.

So did Cincinnati.

For the remaining schools, including the University of Memphis, the challenge to be competitive without the advantage of having a Bowl Championship Series label has proved difficult. C-USA's status in the NCAA hierarchy slipped in a way that was, in fairness, probably unavoidable given the circumstances under which the Big East grabbed five key members.

Still, things are moving forward.

C-USA has a football title game that was wildly successful last year (Tulsa beat UCF before a crowd of more than 50,000), and baseball (with the addition of Rice) is better than ever. On the other hand, men's basketball, long the league's premier sport, finished 13th in the RPI last season despite the Tigers going 33-4 and earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament before losing to UCLA in the Elite Eight.

Before the C-USA Spring Meetings concluded Thursday at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa, Banowsky addressed those issues ... and more. He acknowledged the need for improvement in some areas and detailed what needs to happen for his league to grow in every aspect.

Q: How did these meetings go overall, having, for the most part, just completed your first year of schools competing against each other under the new league alignment?

A: I thought there would be a period of time where once we started competing against each other and we had winners and losers, then it would be more difficult to move together as a group. But what we encountered was just the opposite. Our group is working as well together as they ever have and better than any conference that I've ever been associated with in terms of working hard on the issues and cooperating at all levels. And so I continue to be very encouraged by the approach taken by our members to the conference. They all seem to have a genuine desire to see the conference grow and succeed.

Q: Is there one thing you've identified as something that must improve over the next year?

A: All of our sports are important, but I've got to say improving in men's basketball. There is no greater priority for us.

Q: How has the transition phase been?

A: I think our transition was a fairly seamless one, or as seamless as it could be given the dramatic nature of the circumstances. We've now gotten through one competitive year. We've benchmarked it, and we're getting after it. We have great resources and wonderful communities. Our markets are terrific and our universities, for the most part, are growing, not only in enrollment but also in community demographics and those kinds of things. So the future looks pretty bright for us.

Q: Is that BCS hurdle too much to jump?

A: I think Memphis, for example, is a case in point. John (Calipari) had a team this year that was a No. 1 seed. I mean, there are barriers for us, and (the non-BCS status) is a barrier. But it's not an insurmountable barrier.

Q: Looking ahead, where do you want this league in five years? What are the long-term goals?

A: Five years from now I want to be able to look back on this and say three things: One, that we flat-out won national championships in a variety of our sports because we want to compete at the very highest level. Two, that we've graduated our student-athletes. That's equally important. And three, I want us to be connected with our communities. Again, we have great markets. So I want to win those championships, graduate our kids and have the people in our communities caring about us.

Saturday, May 20, 2006 Mock NBA Draft on Rodney Carney

#13 Philadelphia 76ers

Rodney Carney 6-7 SG Memphis/Senior

Ridiculously athletic wing player with a prototypical NBA body. Has deep range on his jump shot. Outstanding first step, creates separation from defenders and elevates smoothly off the dribble. Basketball IQ and shot selection and be very questionable. Very inconsistent, particularly his defense and outside shot. Amazing one game, silent the next. Still has a huge upside to improve, but will the light bulb come on?

Comparison: Ricky Davis

Stats: 17.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.3 spg

Rookie Season Salary: $1,349,400

Ranking: 4th Shooting Guard, 5th Senior

Friday, May 19, 2006

C-USA New High Profile Coaches

C-USA landing some big-time coaching names

By Gary Parrish
May 19, 2006

DESTIN, Fla. -- A group of men stood in this resort's lobby the other day, just talking and laughing and acting like any other group of men. They wore trunks. They wore T-shirts.
They looked completely normal ... except nobody treated them that way because the unsuspecting vacationers who had brought their families to the beach for the week are used to only seeing big-time college basketball coaches on TV, not in the lounge chair next to them asking to borrow a bottle of sun block. "Some of our coaches have big names and big backgrounds and are recognizable," said Conference USA associate commissioner Chris Woolard. "When you look at the names of the coaches in our league, it's hard to argue C-USA can't be one of the best leagues in the country."

It's easy to bash C-USA.

From the pitiful RPI ranking to its status as a non-BCS league, there are plenty of reasons to look at this basketball conference and dream of the day the University of Memphis receives an offer to leave for bigger and better things.

Still, there's genuine hope.

And it revolves around the fact that with the additions of former Indiana coach Mike Davis and former North Carolina coach Matt Doherty this off-season -- to UAB and SMU, respectively -- C-USA now has some seriously accomplished/famous coaches representing five of its members.
Granted, it's not the ACC (Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina's Roy Williams, Maryland's Gary Williams, Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt and Florida State's Leonard Hamilton) or the Big East (Connecticut's Jim Calhoun, Louisville's Rick Pitino, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, Villanova's Jay Wright and Marquette's Tom Crean). But C-USA's list of coaches compares favorably with most other BCS leagues, and it's probably significantly better than all other conferences labeled mid-majors.

(Quick: Name five coaches in the Mountain West or WAC.)

"Every program has different challenges," C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said before his league's annual spring meetings adjourned Thursday. "But like I've said before, if you have the people in place who have gotten it done before and who know how to get it done, then you have a high chance of success."

The credentials are impressive.

Consider that C-USA now has two Final Four coaches (Memphis' John Calipari at UMass in 1996 and Davis at Indiana in 2002), two Associated Press National Coaches of the Year (Southern Miss' Larry Eustachy at Iowa State in 2000 and Doherty at North Carolina in 2001), and another coach (Houston's Tom Penders) who has won 566 career games and been to three Sweet 16s (in 1988 at Rhode Island, 1990 and '97 at Texas) and an Elite Eight (1990). Add that group to some first-time head coaches who were assistants at big-time programs -- Tulsa's Doug Wojcik at North Carolina and Michigan State; Tulane's Dave Dickerson at Maryland -- and the pieces for improvement and notoriety seem to be in place.

"We have a lot of coaches who know what it looks like at the highest level," Doherty said. "We know where we want things to go at our universities and in this league."

Now they just have to get going.

"We all have to go win games," Davis said. "Who you are, where you are or what you've done doesn't matter unless you win games. So that's what we've got to do."

-- Gary Parrish: 529-2365

New big-name Coaches in Conference USA
Mike Davis, UAB
Made his name at: Indiana (115-79 in six seasons)
Hoosier highlight: Coached Indiana to 2002 NCAA championship game, where it lost to Maryland
Hoosier lowlight: In 2004, coached Indiana to first losing season since 1970.

Matt Doherty, SMU
Made his name at: North Carolina (53-43 in three seasons)
Heel highlight: Carolina went 26-7 in Doherty's first season.
Heel lowlight: In 2002, coached first Carolina team since 1975 to miss the NCAA tournament.

Dick Vitale on UAB's Mike Davis Upgrading the Non-Conf Schedule

Mike Davis is having an impact at UAB, with the signing of 6-10 Jeremy Mayfield. That's right, you may remember Mayfield originally signed with Oklahoma. He was released from his scholarship commitment when Kelvin Sampson went to Indiana and the Sooners hired Jeff Capel as their new coach. Davis has also made the non-conference schedule tougher so that the RPI won't be an issue in the future when the NCAA tournament selection committee meets to look at the Blazers. UAB will face defending national champion Florida at the Orange Bowl on December 30. The Blazers also have games scheduled at Cincinnati, at Old Dominion, at Virginia Commonwealth and may add Connecticut in the future too.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

C-USA Tournament to Be in Memphis in 2007

C-USA basketball tournament returning to Memphis in 2007

By Gary Parrish, Memphis Commercial Appeal

May 17, 2006

DESTIN, Fla. – In an expected move, Conference USA athletic directors today unanimously voted to return the league’s men’s basketball tournament to Memphis for a third consecutive year. The vote still needs next month’s ratification by C-USA’s board of directors to become official, but that’s considered a formality, meaning the 2007 event will be played at FedExForum with the University of Memphis serving as host.

"I think the group felt so comfortable with the job Memphis did last year; there was just so much support for maintaining momentum," said C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky. "We really didn’t focus on any alternatives." In a related note, the league athletic directors also voted to hold the 2007 women’s basketball tournament in Tulsa.

C-USA to Expand League Basketball Schedule

C-USA to expand league basketball schedule

Scripps Howard News Service

DESTIN, Fla. -- Last year John Calipari fought against it and won. But now he's conceding on the issue of playing 16 Conference USA basketball games _ against his personal wishes and best interest _ in the spirit of aiding the rest of the league.

"There was some talk about keeping it at 14 games, but I think what's happened is that it's just so hard for some of these schools to get non-conference games," Calipari said Tuesday after emerging from a five-hour debate here at the C-USA Spring Meetings.

"I understand what some of these other schools are going through, so it's hard for me to sit there and argue with them ... even though I did because it could hurt me. But I'm fine with it, and we'll be fine."

When the NCAA raised the limit of regular-season games by one to 29 this offseason, C-USA was put in a position where it almost had to increase the number of league games from 14 to 16.
Otherwise, member schools would find themselves playing 14 conference games and 15 non-conference games, a ratio that is rare in modern-day college basketball and difficult to achieve for everybody in C-USA not named Memphis.

For example, a school like Central Florida can't get home-and-home deals with many quality opponents.

Furthermore, paying teams to visit Orlando _ a practice commonly referred to as "buy games" that can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000 _ is a financial nightmare because the money can't be recouped from a sparse crowd.

So for UCF, the more league games, the better.

"Scheduling has become very, very difficult, and this would be two less games that you have to schedule," said UCF coach Kirk Speraw. "It would be easier on some teams."

On the flipside is Memphis, a high-profile program that has no problem scheduling home-and-home series, evidence being current agreements with schools like Arizona, Gonzaga, Tennessee and Cincinnati.

Furthermore, buy games are huge cash-flow producers at FedExForum, considering the Tigers will likely sell at least 15,000 season tickets this season. Using an average ticket price of $20, that's $300,000 in revenue. Subtract the estimated $80,000 that would go to the opponent, and Memphis would still turn a net profit of $220,000 per buy game.

So for Memphis, the fewer league games the better.

"With 16 (conference) games I can't go get another (non-conference premier) home game," Calipari said. "I was going to get a home game (with another premier school), but I can't do that now. Now we just better hold tight where we are."

The switch to 16 league games means C-USA will move to a format under which every member plays every other member once and five particular members a second time.

That means Memphis will continue a home-and-home set-up with UAB, Southern Miss and Tulsa and add two more schools to that list. All Calipari is asking is that one of them be Houston, which at this point projects as the second-best team in C-USA.

"We'll accept what the league does, but I just hope the league protects us," Calipari said. "The idea is to keep the top strong and bring everybody else up."

Chris Woolard agrees, but he's making no promises.

"There's a consensus that we need to move to 16 league games, but then the question is how do you add the additional games; that's why our meeting ran so long," said Woolard, the C-USA associate commissioner who serves as a liaison to men's basketball.

"Every guy is looking for something different, and that's where you've got 12 guys with 12 agendas, and that's when we have to step in and do what's best for the conference and have those guys trust that we're going to put in the time and effort to come up with the right matchups.

"I guarantee you all 12 teams won't like the two teams they get. But we'll do it in a fair and equitable way."

(Contact Gary Parrish of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., at

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Life Lesson for Darius Washington, Jr.

FROM MY SEAT: A Life Lesson for Darius

MAY 8, 2006

Darius Washington has until June 18th to change his mind and return to the University of Memphis for his junior year. Here's hoping -- with the help of his parents, coach, or the mother of his child -- Washington comes to his senses.

Let me stress: this has absolutely nothing to do with the value Washington might bring the 2006-07 Tiger basketball team. Nothing. With star recruit Willie Kemp arriving to man the point guard position (backed up by Andre Allen), Washington's role would shift to that of a shooting guard, where he'd have to share minutes with sophomore-to-be Antonio Anderson. That move to the periphery of coach John Calipari's rotation is certainly a factor in Washington's decision to leave college (and the reason you haven't heard a word of protest from Calipari). But it doesn't make the decision any less misguided.

On the same day Washington announced his intentions last month, his teammate Shawne Williams -- the 2005-06 Conference USA Freshman of the Year -- surprised no one by saying he'd be entering the June 28th NBA draft, too. That's where the similarities between Washington and Williams end. Tiger fans should consider the season they cheered Williams a bonus. Had a few variables been different, Williams would have jumped straight from Hamilton High School to "the league." Having already lost a brother to violence, Williams is a classic example of what the NBA once called a hardship case. His talents are such that he'll be drafted in the first round and thus receive a guaranteed NBA contract. He'll be an instant provider for a family very much in need.

Which brings us back to Washington, a young man whose lasting image from his Memphis days will be the tear-jerking collapse after a pair of missed free throws ended his team's chances at an NCAA tournament berth in 2005. Washington's girlfriend gave birth to a little boy -- Darius III -- last December. So the role of family provider is clearly on Washington's mind. The difference, though, is that Washington is no lock to be drafted at all, much less in the first round where a contract is assured. His financial security rests in the hands of NBA talent scouts, his future firmly in the center of a risk-reward scale that could tip either way.

Put Darius Washington in the exact same life position where he finds himself today, but take away his basketball skills. A far-fetched scenario, to be sure. But in such a world, the wisest thing for a a 20-year-old father would be to educate himself, to earn his college degree, by whatever means are at his disposal. His child's future would be every bit as dependent on that degree as his own.

And this is where Calipari has failed the player he proclaimed central to his program the last two seasons. Since his days at the University of Massachusetts, Calipari has professed to coach with his players' best interests in mind. If that means a star player should turn pro early -- see Marcus Camby -- Calipari has publicly supported the decision, as counter as it may be to the missionof an academic institution. Marcus Camby and Dajuan Wagner -- both top-10 draft picks -- are one category. Darius Washington is another.

Here's a remarkable trend from the Calipari era in Memphis. In six years, Calipari has coached four players who have earned C-USA Freshman of the Year honors. Unless Washington (or Williams) changes his mind, not one of these four players has so much as reached his junior year at the U of M.

I've rung the bell several times in support of an improved graduation rate under Calipari. But the fact is, the program is graduating its fringe players (i.e. Modibo Diarra, Nathaniel Root), while its stars fall short. (Antonio Burks, Anthony Rice, and Rodney Carney have all reached the cusp of graduating, but have yet to don cap and gown.) If life lessons are still part of a college coach's responsibility to his players, the coach with the handsome raise at Memphis is falling short.

Washington should track down Wagner for a feeler on NBA life, and the virtues of leaving school early. Once a high school phenom making national headlines, Wagner was out of the NBA last season, taken down by chronic injury and illness. You have to hope he banked his money.

And I hope I'm wrong about Washington. I hope 10 years from now -- when Washington is 30 and his son 10 -- Washington finds himself a decade into a rewarding career as a pro basketball player. But what if he doesn't? He'll still be 30. Darius III will still be 10. And what will the future hold? Will Calipari be there for the right kind of advice? If not, the tears we might shed over Darius Washington will be heavy with consequences much more poignant than a basketball tournament.

Memphis Commercial Appeal's Geoff Calkins on Shawne Williams

At this point, is there really any doubt?

Geoff Calkins

May 16, 2006

A handy-dandy pronunciation guide for NBA broadcasters next year: Shawne, as in gone. At this point, it's clear he's out of here, isn't it? Shawne Williams is not going to be playing for the Memphis Tigers next year. He's not going to lead the home team's charge into the Final Four. He's going to remain in the NBA draft, get picked somewhere in the first round and fulfill the promise he made when he first committed to Memphis.

"I'm on the one-year plan," he said.

That was back in November of 2003.

But now that we know Williams is working out with the same company that helped Mario Williams become the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, it's plain the plan hasn't changed any.

The company is called Athletes' Performance. It's located in Los Angeles.

The other day, John Calipari said Williams was in Los Angeles training "with friends and family."


Mario Williams worked out at Athletes' Performance. Connecticut point guard Marcus Williams is working out there even now.

Mario, Marcus and Shawne.

The Williams family, anyone?

Not that there's anything in the NCAA rule book that prevents potential draft choices from working out in Los Angeles. But if a player decides to take his name out of the draft and return to school, he has to account for the cash he's spent in the meantime.

For Williams, that would include the round-trip flight to California, the food and drink once he's out there, the hotel, the rental car and the charge for the actual training.

Charlie Wright, general manager of the Los Angeles facility, said the price "isn't important." An industry insider said it could be anywhere from $10,000-$20,000.

Could Williams pay all that back if he wanted to return to Memphis?

Uh, if he has a really big bake sale.

Or his buddy, Cowboy, could come up with the cash. Cowboy's real name is Eric Robinson. He's a cousin of Williams, and provided Williams the flashy truck he drove all last year. The same truck Kareem Cooper was driving when he was picked up for possession of marijuana.

So it's possible Cowboy could ride to the rescue again. But, c'mon, people, let's be grownups here.
Williams isn't training at the same facility as Mia Hamm and Curt Schilling because he's coming back to Conference USA. He's training there because he's jumping to the only league that can pay him millions.

Even before the NCAA Tournament began, Leon Williams, Shawne's grandfather, said, "I think he should go."

Most relatives don't come right out and say things like that. They say it's up to the kid, or they'll decide in due course, or something similarly noncommittal.

"If he can get guaranteed money this year," said Leon Williams, "why wait for something to happen?"

Hard to argue, isn't it? Williams is poor. He's always been poor. He has a chance to change his life forever.

Could he work himself higher in the lottery if he came back for one more season?

Possibly. But the draft is particularly weak this year because the high school kids have been forced to wait by the NBA's new age limit. Next year, Williams will be compared to Thaddeus Young and Greg Oden.

He could also get hurt (See Willis McGahee). His stock could drop for no good reason (See Matt Leinart).

"He could always come back and pay his own way to college," said Leon Williams.

But here's the best part of the Shawne Williams story: Even if he doesn't come back, it's hard to say his time at Memphis was wasted.

Usually, the one-year wonders make you question the entire enterprise. Dajuan Wagner's year at Memphis seems like a joke in retrospect.

Shawne Williams actually learned some things, and not just on the basketball court. He learned to study. He learned he could learn.

"College is fun," he said, late in the season.

This is a kid who once asked a Commercial Appeal reporter "what college is like." Because, deep inside, he wasn't sure he could cut it.

Now he knows he can. He's also a possible lottery pick. By any measure, isn't that a success story?

So he works out in Los Angeles, and doesn't appear to be coming back, and here's hoping the NBA broadcasters remember that handy-dandy pronunciation guide.

Shawne, as in gone.

With gratitude and best wishes.

To reach Geoff Calkins, call him at 901-529-2364

Is Shawne Williams Gone For Good?

Shawne gone?

Memphis' forward working hard at elite training site

By Gary Parrish, Memphis Commercial Appeal

May 16, 2006

DESTIN, Fla. -- Shawne Williams has taken residency at an elite training facility on the West Coast in a development that could indicate the University of Memphis freshman plans to remain in the NBA draft. Officials at Athletes' Performance in Los Angeles confirmed Monday that Williams has been training there the past nine days and has no projected departure date. Like most other current clients -- among them Connecticut point guard Marcus Williams -- the 6-9 forward flew to the facility and is staying at a local hotel, meaning even if Shawne Williams opted to withdraw from the draft by the June 18 deadline and return to the UofM, the NCAA would not allow it unless he could prove all expenses were paid in an appropriate manner as it pertains to NCAA guidelines, i.e., without aid from an agent or outside influence.

Charlie Wright -- general manager of the L.A. branch of Athletes' Performance, a company whose list of clients includes soccer icon Mia Hamm, Major League Baseball star Curt Schilling, future NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre and the top pick in last month's NFL draft, Mario Williams -- declined to name the price Williams is paying while explaining how fees vary. But a source in the industry with knowledge of Athletes' Performance told The Commercial Appeal the cost likely ranges from $10,000 to $20,000, which is a large figure relative to Williams' well-documented background as a native of South Memphis with an impoverished lifestyle. A projected first-round selection, Williams did not return a phone message seeking comment. His grandfather, Leon Williams, declined comment.

The training seems to be going well.

Wright said Williams' schedule consists of an early wake-up call, breakfast, a basketball session and some therapy based on needs. That's all before lunch. Then comes an extensive weight room session and a technical basketball session where he works on shooting and other mechanical issues before doing it all again the following day.

"We're simply trying to develop proper core stability and strength to add to Shawne's extremely talented basketball game," said Wright, who added that multiple NBA teams have already been to the facility to evaluate Williams. "Shawne has really come in with a phenomenal attitude. He understands the process of what he has to do from a basketball standpoint and from a physical standpoint."

In a related note, officials at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., confirmed Monday that Memphis sophomore guard Darius Washington is training at their facility. It's also unclear exactly what kind of expenses Washington is incurring, but the IMG Web site indicates residency from the end of the college season until the draft costs $6,000. Weeklong sessions are $850.

-- Gary Parrish: 901-529-2365

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Carney's Agent Expect Top 10 Draft Position

By Gary Parrish, Memphis Commercial Appeal
May 14, 2006

Rodney Carney, like most soon-to-be NBA Draftees, has spent the past two weeks training extensively. He's living in a hotel in Houston, and every morning the former University of Memphis star gets up and heads to the gym -- inside the house of Rockets All-Star Tracy McGrady. "That's where he's working out, at Tracy's house," said Octagon's Chris Emens, the agent who represents Carney. "So far it's just been Rodney, Tracy and (Tiger walk-on and Tracy's brother) Chance (McGrady), but they've got some more guys coming in (this) week so they can get some different looks."

Emens said all indications he's getting from NBA personnel is that Carney is comfortably in the Top 10 and will be invited to New York for the draft. This seems to be such a certainty that Carney will not even schedule any team workouts until after the lottery order is set May 23, "and after that," Emens said, "we'll probably work out for teams drafting anywhere from third to 10th."

Camp dates set

The philosophy is simple, and proof that elite basketball players are not made overnight. That's why Ryan Miller doesn't pretend any child is going to come out of one of the University of Memphis camps -- collectively known as the John Calipari Basketball School -- with a significantly enhanced skill-level. Actually, that's not the point.

"We just try to focus on fundamentals," said Miller, the assistant coordinator of basketball operations at the U of M who runs the camps with assistant coach John Robic. "No kid is going to get better in a week of camp. So what we try to do is teach them things they can take home with them and work on the rest of the summer. That's how they'll get better, by us showing them how to do things right."

The U of M is now accepting applications for all five camps, the first of which runs June 5-8. One of the camps -- the Elite Overnight Camp -- costs $185 and runs June 9-11 while the other four camps cost $175 each, including the Mike Miller Sizzling Shooting Camp that runs June 26-28 and will feature clinics by the Grizzlies veteran and reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year.
All players ranging from ages 7-to-18 are eligible for enrollment, and campers will receive a T-shirt, a Tiger workout plan, awards and prizes. For more information visit or e-mail Ryan Miller at

Draft updates

While there remains no official word on whether Darius Washington and/or Shawne Williams will remain in the NBA Draft, it appears both are headed that direction.

Here's why:

Washington has never given any indication he's even considering returning to school, despite it being almost certain he will not be a first-round selection because most NBA scouts have determined the 6-2 point guard can't play point guard. Still, Calipari has publicly left the option of returning open, though those close to the program believe Washington would rather play in the NBDL or overseas than a junior year at Memphis.

Williams' situation is trickier. His grandfather, Leon Williams, has told The Commercial Appeal the 6-9 forward will return to Memphis if he's not projected to be a Top-20 pick. It appears Williams will at worst be a little lower than 20, and with good workouts he could launch himself into the lottery. In other words, at this point it seems Williams' first year at the U of M was also probably his last.

-- Gary Parrish: 901-529-2365

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sit Down, Young Men by Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News

Sit down, young men

Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News

May 10, 2006

It's not exactly like waiting for the next Harry Potter novel, but the arrival of the official NBA early-entry list each year does create anticipation among those who follow this game.
And, as with young Harry's various adventures, there are stock characters in every sequel, including the 2006 edition:

The Studs

Qualifications: Talent that indicates likely selection in the NBA's lottery phase; significant accomplishments; sufficient positive buzz.

Examples: SF Adam Morrison, Gonzaga; PF Tyrus Thomas, LSU; F/C LaMarcus Aldridge, Texas.

You know they'll be lottery picks. They know they'll be lottery picks.

The Realists

Qualifications: Borderline first-round ability that could blossom with the right NBA team; curiosity about draft prospects and how to improve; wisdom to protect NCAA eligibility.
Examples: C Aaron Gray, Pittsburgh; PG Mustafa Shakur, Arizona; PG Jordan Farmar, UCLA; SG Shannon Brown, Michigan State.

Those who enter the draft as juniors -- or, in Farmar's case, as a sophomore likely to play only one more college season -- are risking little to gain a lot. It's possible one or two could surge into an advantageous first-round position. From the 2004 draft, Nevada's Kirk Snyder and Saint Joseph's Delonte West are excellent examples.

But most guys in this category are likely to wind up back in college in 2006-07, and they'll probably be better for having tested their worth. The draft process can be educational -- it demonstrates to players some flaws in their games and possibly ways to address them. It also can be humbling.

Carl Krauser was a better teammate and leader at Pittsburgh as a senior after a tough run through the draft entry process last spring. It could work that way for Shakur next season.

The Fools

Qualifications: Sufficient talent to become a top NBA prospect eventually; significant flaws that need to be overcome; plenty of remaining eligibility during which those flaws can be overcome.
Examples: PG Darius Washington, Memphis; PG Daniel Gibson, Texas; PG Kyle Lowry, Villanova.

It's impossible to rule out the chance that any or all of these players could be first-rounders this year. But it's unlikely. All have high-level ability -- they're just in too big of a hurry.

None of them has run a college team full time. Washington needed too much help from backup Andre Allen. Gibson had to change positions. Lowry was the point guard of record, but his team featured four attacking perimeter players.

Washington still needs to understand how the game works and how a point guard can affect it. Gibson is two years away. Lowry needs to run the Wildcats as next year's singular point -- and, most important, must become a more proficient shooter. He is as devastating off the pick-and-roll as any college player since Duke's Jay Williams, but if he makes only one 3-pointer every four games, pro defenders will go under the screen every time.

The Dreamers

Qualifications: None.

Examples: PG Akbar Abdul-Ahad, Idaho State; PG LeShawn Hammett, St. Francis (Pa.); PG Japhet McNeil, East Carolina.

What would history be without footnotes?

Senior writer Mike DeCourcy covers college basketball for Sporting News. E-mail him at

Five Programs Hanging in NBA Draft Limbo

Five programs hanging in NBA draft limbo

Andrew Skwara, Sporting News
May 9, 2006

This is the time for college coaches to take vacations, but many are having a tough time relaxing. Of the 63 players (not including international prospects) who entered the NBA draft early, most have not signed with agents - leaving the possibility they will back out before the June 18 deadline and return to school.

Five programs have the most at stake:

UCLA: No team has more to lose than the Bruins. If Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo take their names out of the draft, the Bruins will have the nation's best backcourt. By returning, the duo would add the talent needed to get back to the national title game. If the guards stay in the draft, getting back to the NCAA Tournament will be a lofty goal. Rising sophomore Darren Collison is the only returning guard who played significant minutes last season. The incoming recruiting class features two talented big men in James Keefe and Marko Spica, but only one guard. That guard -- three-star recruit Russell Westbrook -- isn't ready to play heavy minutes yet.

Memphis: Take out departing senior Rodney Carney (who coach John Calipari believes deserved consideration for National Player of the Year awards) and the Tigers still had one of the nation's deepest and most talented teams last season. Take out Shawne Williams and Darius Washington, Jr. -- who have yet to sign with agents -- and their Final Four dreams disappear. The Tigers have enough capable point guards to make up for losing Washington, but nobody on the roster can replace the versatile Williams, who creates matchup problems for nearly every opponent.

Texas: Rick Barnes can get back to the Final Four without center LaMarcus Aldridge (a top-10 pick) and possibly even Daniel Gibson. But it won't happen without P.J. Tucker. Barnes signed's No. 2 and No. 49 prospects, small forward Kevin Durant and point guard D.J. Augustin. But without Aldridge and departed senior Brad Buckman, the Longhorns desperately need the interior presence Tucker provides.

Villanova: Don't tell Wildcats coach Jay Wright that one player can't make a difference. If point guard Kyle Lowry stays in school, Wright will have the inside-outside duo needed to remain a contender in the Big East. Curtis Sumpter, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, will be one of the top big men in the league. Lowry is poised for a breakout season with the loss of guards Randy Foye and Allan Ray, who combined to take more than 1,000 shots last season. The smart decision is for Lowry to come back for his junior season, show off more of his offensive game and increase his draft stock. The other decision leaves the Wildcats lacking their offensive catalyst, a floor general and their best perimeter defender.

South Carolina: It's tough to imagine Renaldo Balkman will stay in the draft. The junior averaged nine points a game last season, and the NBA has no place for 6-6 power forwards. If he stays in the draft, the Gamecocks won't be contending for an NCAA Tournament bid. They might not even get a chance to defend their two consecutive NIT titles. Balkman's stats aren't impressive, but he is the team's most valuable player and plays roles that no one else can fill. An energetic leader, he makes momentum-changing plays on both ends of the floor and is an underrated post defender.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Tigers Reportedly Considering a Game with Univ of Hawaii-Hilo

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Saturday, May 6th, 2006

Tough draw: Memphis is considering making a stop on the Big Island on its way to the EA Sports Maui Invitational, but UH-Hilo coach Jeff Law said the status of a possible matchup with the Tigers remains hazy.

"We don't know how that's going to play out because we don't have a contract," Law said.
Memphis was a top seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Oakland Regional final before losing to UCLA. The Rainbows had hoped to schedule Memphis, but recent history might have worked against them.

"It's going to be harder for them to get those guys simply because of what they did to Michigan State last year," Law said.

Joining Memphis on Maui on Nov. 20-22 will be DePaul, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Purdue, UCLA and host Chaminade.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Former Tigers Update


# Name Height (CM) Pos Born NAT From To Last Playing Team
Players playing in 2006 are in Orange

Alexander Marvin 6'8'' (202) F 66 USA 02 04 Algeciras (ESP)
Allen Kelvin 6'8'' (203) F 71 USA 99 99 Regatas SN (ARG)
Askew Vincent 6'6'' (198) F 66 USA 02 02 LidoRose (ITA)
Banks Sean 6'8'' (203) F 85 USA 06 06 Humacao (PUR)
Barron Earl 7'0'' (213) C 81 USA 05 06 Miami Heat (NBA)
Burks Antonio 6'0'' (183) G 80 USA 04 06 Memphis Grizziles (NBA)
Diarra Modibo 6'10'' (207) F/C 80 MLI 05 06 Karlsruhe (GER)

Douglas Anthony 6'8'' (202) C/F 70 USA-PUR 05 06 Boca Juniors (ARG)
Erwin Duane 6'9'' (206) F 82 USA 06 06 Florida F. (D-League)
Forman Shannon 6'5'' (196) F 78 USA 02 03 ENAD (CYP)
Garner Chris 5'10'' (178) G 75 USA 05 06 Larissa (GRE)
Gibson Cheyenne 6'3'' (191) G 68 USA 98 98 Yuyuan (HKG)
Gray Sylvester 6'6'' (198) F 67 USA 04 05 Tolentino (ITA)
Grice John 6'7'' (199) F/C 79 USA 06 06 N.Mississippi Tornadoes (WBA)
Hardaway Anfernee 6'7'' (201) G/F 71 USA 06 06 Orlando Magic (NBA)
Henderson Cedric 6'7'' (200) F 75 USA 05 06 Blue Stars (LEB)
Horne Jerrell 6'8'' (203) F 70 USA 99 99 Saint-Etienne (FRA)
Jones Shamel 6'9'' (205) F/C 77 USA 06 06 W.Virginia W. (IBL)
Lopez Ivan 6'10'' (208) C 85 PUR 06 06 Bayamon (PUR)
Massie Chris 6'9'' (206) F 77 USA 05 06 Carifabriano (ITA)
McFadgon Scooter 6'5'' (196) G 82 06 06 USA Harlem Globetrotters (USA)
Moody Marcus 6'5'' (196) G 75 USA 02 02 Tecos UAG (MEX)
Newsom Rodney 6'6'' (198) G/F 73 USA 98 98 Bayreuth (GER)
Njoya Simplice 6'10'' (208) C/F 81 CMR 06 06 N.Mississippi Tornadoes (WBA)
Ousley Jermaine 6'8'' (203) F USA 99 99 San Diego S. (IBL)
Parks Bobby 6'5'' (196) G/F 61 USA-PHI 05 05 M.Lhuillier (PHI)
Perry Elliott 6'0'' (183) G 69 USA 02 02 Memphis Grizzlies (NBA)
Rice Anthony 6'4'' (193) G 83 USA 06 06 N.Mississippi T. (WBA)
Richards Toryan 6'9'' (206) F/C USA 01 02 UCD Marian (IRL)
Shine Keiron 5'10'' (178) G 77 USA 01 05 Harlem Globetrotters (US)
Sneed Omar 6'6'' (198) F 76 USA 05 06 Rishon Le-Zion (ISR)
Turner Andre 5'11'' (179) G 64 USA 06 06 Menorca (ESP)
Vaughn David 6'9'' (206) F 73 USA 03 03 Ittihad (SYR)
Wagner DaJuan 6'3'' (191) G 83 USA 02 05 Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
Wilson Michael 6'7'' (200) F 72 USA 05 05 Valls-Felix H. (ESP)
Wimmer Justin 6'7'' (201) F 72 USA 00 01 Memphis HD (ABA)
Wise Kelly 6'10'' (208) F 80 USA 04 04 Sioux Falls S. (D-League)
Wright Lorenzen 6'10'' (209) C/F 75 USA 01 06 Memphis Grizzlies (NBA)

Where Are They Now: Former Tiger Andre Turner

Andre Turner is currently playing ball in Spain for Llanera Menorca (ESP-ACB).

Team Website

Team email

Height: 179cm / 5'11''
Position: Guard
Born: 1964
Team: Menorca (ESP) (2006-06)
Nationality: USA
Agency: Interperformances
College: Memphis (CUSA)
Previous teams:
Melilla (ESP)
Joventut (ESP)
Murcia (ESP)
Forum (ESP)
Current Stats

Career / Comments:
Born: March 13, 1964 in Memphis, TN
Excellent ball handling, he also can to change one match in only 5 minutes. Good shooter.
Career:Memphis, TN
1982-1983: Memphis St. (NCAA)
1983-1984: Memphis St. (NCAA)
1984-1985: Memphis St. (NCAA)
1985-1986: Memphis St. (NCAA)
1986: drafted by Los Angeles Lakers (NBA,3rd(69))
1986-1987: Boston Celtics (NBA), Rockford L (CBA), La Crosse Bobcats (CBA)
1987-1988: Houston Rockets (NBA)
1988: Miami Tropics (USBL)
1988-1989: La Crosse Bobcats (CBA), Milwaukee Bucks (NBA)
1989-1990: Charlotte Hornets (NBA), Los Angeles Clippers (NBA), La Crosse Bobcats (CBA)1990-1991: La Crosse Bobcats (CBA), Philadelphia 76ers (NBA)
1991-1992: Washington Bullets (NBA)
1992-1993: Ourense (ESP): Score-3, Steals-2, Assist-5
1993-1994: Ourense (ESP): Steals-1(3.2), Assist-3(4.5)
1994-1995: Amway Zaragoza (ESP)
1995-1996: Amway Zaragoza (ESP): 18.2ppg, 3.2rpg, Assist-3(4.6)
1996-1997: Juventut Badalona (ESP)
1997-1998: Juventut Badalona (ESP): Score-4(20.1)
1998-1999: Caja San Fernando Sevilla (ESP): 17.1ppg, Assists-2(5.3)
1999-2000: Caja San Fernando Sevilla (ESP): 17.2ppg, 2.7rpg, 3.3apg
2000-2001: Caja San Fernando Sevilla (ESP): 9.4ppg, 2.2rpg, 3apg; Saporta Cup: 5 games: 11.4ppg, 2.6rpg, 3.6apg: cut in Dec.'00, and joined the team later during the season when Chuck Kornegay received Spanish passport
2001-2002: C.B. Caceres (ESP-ACB): got injured in Oct.'01 and was temporarily replaced by Nick Davis: ACB Regular Season stats: 5 games: 9.8ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.0apg, 1.6spg
2002-2003: in Dec.'02 signed at Universidad Computense Madrid (ESP-LEB1): 22 games: 19.1ppg, 2.9rpg, 4.9apg
2003-2004: Forum Valladolid (ESP-ACB): 34 games: 12.9ppg, 2.4rpg, 4.5apg, 1.7spg
2004-2005: Polaris World Murcia (ESP-LEB1): 38 games: 14.2ppg, 2.4rpg, Ast-2(4.2apg), 1.7spg, 2FGP: 50.0%, 3FGP: 29.4%
2005-2006: In Oct.'05 signed 1-month contract with DKV Joventut Badalona (ESP-ACB) as the replacement for injured player: FIBA Europe Cup: 3 games: 7.3ppg, 1.0rpg, 3.7apg, 3.0spg, 2FGP: 45.5%, 3FGP: 60%, in Dec.'05 signed at Caja Rural Melilla (ESP-LEB,1T), in Apr.'06 joined Llanera Menorca (ESP-ACB) to replace to replace injured Vladimir Krstic
CBA Champion -90
CBA All-Stars -88
Spanish ACB All-Stars -93,93
Spanish Cup Finalist -99 Spanish ACB All-Imports 1st Team -99, 00
Spanish ACB Finalist -99
FIBA EuroCup Champion -06

Former Booker T. Washington Star Taurean "T-Head" Moy

T-Head tells all

Legendary BTW shooting star aiming to get career, life back on the right path

By Gary Parrish

May 7, 2006

LINCOLN, Neb. -- THREE WEEKS LATER and they're still talking about it, how the little guy with the sweet stroke got going one night and delivered the best performance this 25-year-old gym has ever seen.

He made one shot, then another and another. Before anybody knew what was going on, he had smashed the scoring record, the fans watching from the aluminum bleachers were hollering, and some were yelling to others still outside to come on in and get a load of what was happening.

There were still five minutes left in the game.

"He had 77 points, and then at the buzzer he stopped at that red line and pulled," says the man who runs this league, Rob Treptow, as he points to a spot measuring 32 feet from the rim. "When it went in, everybody went crazy."

Seventy-seven plus three.

That's 80 points in one game.

He made 20-of-27 3-pointers.

Topped the league record by 14 points.

"We've had some good players come through this prison," says Winfield Barber, an assistant to the warden here at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, his head shaking in amazement. "But I don't think we've ever had anybody quite like Taurean Moy."

T-Head's tragic tale

In a metal chair in front of a green chalk board in what the people at the Nebraska State Penitentiary call a classroom, Taurean Moy sits quietly. He's wearing a UPS-colored, soft brown uniform with a white undershirt. His black boots have laces that aren't tied. His tired eyes have circles that aren't going away.

Five years ago, Moy was a Mr. Basketball winner in Tennessee, a star at Booker T. Washington High and a Bluff City legend known simply as "T-Head." Now he's a prisoner in Middle America, a Bluff City felon, an inmate serving a three-year sentence following a guilty plea to an amended charge of attempted first-degree sexual assault 713 miles from home.

What happened?

"I got into a little trouble, came to the penitentiary," said Moy, his voice still filled with the South, though hardened and mature. "It's not nothing to brag about."

Quite a contrast from those good old days, when everything was something to brag about. That jumper, so pure and certain. That swagger, so clear and confident. As he came out of BTW there seemed to be no limits for this 5-11 gunner who would routinely steal passes in the backcourt, start a breakaway and opt to bury a 3-pointer rather than go in for an uncontested layup. He was that good.

Moy made headlines in 2000 when he set a national record by hitting 24 3-pointers -- for 83 points -- against Manassas. The next day, he was arrested and charged with assault and possession of marijuana.

It seemed like a small, sad story at the time. Now that 24-hour period looks like a microcosm of Moy's 24 years on Earth, of a life that started in South Memphis, that found glory on the basketball courts, that traveled through Oklahoma, and ground to a stop at 4201 South 14th Street, in the capitol of Nebraska, where pronged fences and barbed wire enclose roughly 1,100 prisoners.

You did good last night, but you done (messed) up tonight.

That's what one of the Memphis Police Department officers who arrested Moy after his 83-point performance said as he pushed the budding star into the back of a patrol car. It's an 11-word sentence that sums up a life.

"Here's a story," said Keith Easterwood, a prominent Memphis AAU coach. "It was the summer between Taurean's junior and senior year, and I was doing an AAU Tournament in Memphis. (Georgia Elite coach) Linzy Davis brought a team up here with (former University of Memphis player) Anthony Rice and (former Florida State player) Alexander Johnson and about six more Division 1 players, and before tipoff he asked me who he should watch and I told him 'that little kid over there.' He just kind of laughed, but I told him that I was serious. Then T-Head scored 42 points and beat them.

"So the next morning he's got a game at 9, and when I get to the gym there are college coaches lined up waiting to come see him, and you know college coaches, they aren't getting up and going to a gym that early for nothing," Easterwood added. "But they all wanted to see T-Head."

"He didn't show up," Easterwood said. "That's the history of Taurean Moy."

'He had other things on his mind'

On March 17, 2001, BTW beat Knoxville Austin-East and won the TSSAA Class AA state title. Despite scoring only 13 points in the championship game, Moy solidified himself as one of the great shooters to ever play in Tennessee by hitting a state-record 19 3-pointers in three tournament games, including 11 in a quarterfinal win over Chattanooga Howard.

"When Taurean shot the ball, you could bet your life it was going in," said Fred Horton, coach at BTW for 33 years. "He's not only the best shooter I've ever had, he's probably the best shooter I've ever seen."

The best a lot had ever seen, specifically at schools like Florida State, UAB and Houston, which all inquired about Moy despite his legal and academic troubles. But Moy was so far from being eligible after BTW that going straight to a Division 1 institution wasn't realistic. He never graduated from high school, and only later got his GED.

So Horton pushed Moy to enroll at Southwest Tennessee Community College instead.
"It was very important for Taurean to get into school at that time," Horton said. "I talked to him religiously about getting his body into school. But he was not mature. He had other things on his mind."

The next year, Moy didn't do much of anything. But during the summer of 2002 he enrolled at Eastern Oklahoma State Junior College and took the required classes to attain eligibility for the upcoming season. After a brief look at Moy in pickup games, Eastern Oklahoma State coach Jimmy Voight told The Commercial Appeal "the only thing that can keep (Moy) from getting to a big-time level is himself. ... So far it's a good situation."

Twelve games into the season, the good was gone. Moy was dismissed for a violation of team rules. He returned to Memphis and considered enrolling at Southwest Tennessee before opting to leave home again.

"I left Memphis because I couldn't stay focused; I knew everybody," Moy said. "So I tried to get away. That's when I came to Nebraska."

'I didn't know how old she was'

Nebraska must be the most unexciting of all the states. Compared with it, Iowa is paradise.
That's what New York Times best-selling author Bill Bryson wrote in his book "The Lost Continent." Far as Moy could tell, that made Nebraska the perfect place to relocate.
Unexciting meant no temptations or distractions. In an unexciting place, Moy wouldn't be undone by his lack of discipline. So he left Memphis around Christmas 2002, moved in with some cousins in Lincoln and developed a plan to get his life together, get into school and get on with his basketball career.

Roughly five months later -- on May 14, 2003 -- the police knocked on the door.

"It was in the afternoon, and I was in the back of the house watching TV," Moy recalled. "One of my cousins came back there and told me there were some investigators who wanted to talk with me. But I didn't think anything about it. I was like, 'Why they want to talk to me?' So I went out there, and BOOM. I was in handcuffs."

According to police records, a female told authorities Moy raped her more than a month earlier, on April 11, 2003. Moy denied this from the beginning. But he did acknowledge having consensual sex with his accuser, someone with whom he said he had "been dealing with" for about two months.

"And they told me she was 15 years old, but I didn't know that," Moy said. "I was new here, fresh in Nebraska. I didn't know how old she was."

It didn't matter, at that point. Moy was 21. The girl was 15. Moy was charged with first-degree sexual assault of a child, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to 36 months in prison.

"When I heard the sentence," Moy said, "I dropped."

Moy began his sentence at the Lincoln Correctional Center (LCC), a facility where mostly medium/maximum and/or young inmates are housed. When his security level was decreased about 18 months ago, he was transferred to the Nebraska State Penitentiary where he now lives in a dorm of sorts that hosts 90 inmates, all of whom live in one big room and sleep in bunk beds.

Moy has no bunkmate.

He sleeps on the bottom bunk.

"The bottom bunk is better because you don't have to always climb," he said. "Every time you want to get out, you just sit up and go."

As prisons go, Moy said, it's not that bad. He has daily access to phones and talks to friends from Memphis "two or three times a week," sometimes even former BTW teammates Antonio Burks of the Grizzlies and Andre Allen of the University of Memphis. There are two TVs in what is called the "Day Room." One is for movies. The other is for sports. They stay on until midnight (1 a.m. on the weekends). Sometimes they cause fights.

"There's a signup sheet for the 'Movies TV' and certain people get to sign up to watch what they want on certain days," Moy explained. "So sometimes somebody might sign up to put the TV on wrestling, and not a lot of people like wrestling. So they'll start fighting. But I don't have to worry about that. The 'Sports TV' is all I watch."

That's where Moy watches basketball. He saw the Tigers lose to UCLA (once) and the Grizzlies lose to the Mavericks (four times). And while he hated to see those hometown defeats, none of the games haunted him quite like a documentary on Blazers point guard Sebastian Telfair that aired on ESPN in March.

In prison, you're not supposed to cry.

Moy couldn't help it.

"When Sebastian got drafted and signed that Adidas contract, I felt that and shed a couple of tears," Moy said. "All he wanted to do was get his mom out of the projects and into a big house, and that's all I wanted to do too. There were just a lot of sidetracking things that kept me from doing it."

Teresa Moy -- Taurean's mother -- breaks up at this story. She's a single mom and wants what any other mom wants.

"I never needed that house," she said. "I just want my son to succeed in life at whatever. I want Taurean to make it for Taurean. I just want my son to be happy."

Coming home

Today is a big day at the Nebraska State Penitentiary. They'll play the semifinals and the finals of the "The Buddy League Tournament," the formal, prison-version of May Madness with refs and a stat crew and everything.

Moy led the league in scoring by averaging 31.7 points per game in the regular season. His team finished 12-2. That earned the No. 1 seed.

"But I didn't play in the two losses," Moy said. "That's why we lost."

The semifinals are at 1 p.m. The championship game is at 5. Everybody expects Showtime to take the title.

Where's Moy going to celebrate?


He's set to be released from prison Thursday.

"I might have to catch the bus," Moy said. "But I want to get there as quickly as possible."
Moy has a 4-year-old son (Taurean Jr.) and a 2-year-old daughter (Tariunna). Both children are mothered by Moy's high school girlfriend, Mildred Redmond. He has never met his daughter.

"But Mildred always shows the kids pictures of me, and when I talk to them they always call me 'Daddy,'" Moy said. "Kids are smart. Mildred has shown my daughter pictures of me and told her I'm her dad. She'll know me when she sees me."

As will college coaches.

According to people within the basketball community, there are already a handful of schools trying to figure out a way to get Moy into their program. It may be a Division 2 or an NAIA institution. It may be a junior college. But it's not a stretch to suggest that six months after leading the Nebraska State Penitentiary in scoring, Moy will be playing college basketball somewhere next season.

"It's going to take a particular place," Easterwood said. "It's going to have to be a place where the president, athletic director and coach know what they're getting and understand what they're dealing with. But somebody will give him a chance. He can play."

And score.

"I'm not going to be surprised when in a year from now you're writing another article about Taurean putting up some sick-type numbers," said Moy's friend, Kevin Cheatham. "Wherever he plays, a lot of records are going to be in jeopardy."

Cheatham -- known around South Memphis simply as "Catman" -- is the person Moy talks to most regularly from prison. He worked at the Southside Boys and Girls Club when Moy was in elementary school and became something of a mentor.

"Catman was the one who always told me that sometimes you have to do things you don't want to get where you want to be, and now I really understand what that means," Moy said. "I hear him now. Back then I was just listening, but I wasn't understanding because I was just living in the fame of being T-Head. But now -- and this is why I know I'm a better person now -- I can sit and think about things like that. Now when I get out I know I'll be a better person. I have kids. I can't live for the streets anymore. I have to live for me and my kids, do the right things and be a success story."

Still recognizable

On Monday and Wednesday of each week new inmates are brought to the penitentiary. Upon arriving, they sit in a holding area and wait for assignment.

"T-Head!" yelled one of the new inmates when he saw Moy walking by last Monday. "I didn't know you were still in here."

The two talked for a moment. The new inmate is Randy Billups, who claimed to be the cousin of Pistons star Chauncey Billups and remembered Moy from when they were both at the Lincoln Correctional Center.

"I've been telling people about your talent, man; I've been bragging on you," Billups told Moy. "I've been telling them you're going to get out of here and do your thing."

T-Head just nodded his head. Then he sat down on a wooden bench and waited for an officer to escort him back to his bunk bed, that bottom bunk, the one that allows you -- as Moy described it -- to just get up and go.

Shortly, he'll do that for good.

At least, he hopes so.

"I would still like to buy my mom that big house," Moy said. "I want to play basketball. I want to make it. I don't want to just be some playground legend. I don't think it's too late."

-- Gary Parrish: 529-2365

Book him

Fromer Booker T. Washington star Taurean Moy holds the following national high school basketball records, according to the National High School Sports Record Book:

Most 3-pointers made, game
24: Dec. 5, 2000, vs. Manassas

Most 3-pointers attempted, game
44: Dec. 5, 2000, vs. Manassas

Most 3-pointers attempted, season
537: 2000-01

Most 3-pointers attempted, career
1,304: 1998-2001

All West Tennessee Player of the Year: Willie Kemp

AWT Player of the Year: Willie Kemp era was a golden age in Bolivar

Jackson (Tenn) Sun

Go ahead, take all the time you want. Try to find a reason not to love Willie Kemp the basketball player.

The Bolivar senior hits game-winning shots. He finds the open man.

But most importantly, he wants to win. That's a fact Kemp made obvious to University of Memphis coach John Calipari when he committed to the Tigers last fall.

"When Willie called to tell me he picked us, he said he wants to come and help me win a national title," Calipari said. "Think about that. That's unusual. He's talking about coming in and doing something for me, not for himself.

"He sets himself apart with that."

Obviously, other coaches have taken notice. After finding a way to top off an already stellar career, Kemp is the unanimous choice as The Jackson Sun's Player of the Year in balloting from West Tennessee coaches.

"That means a lot to me because there were a lot of great players in West Tennessee this year," Kemp said of being named Player of the Year. "It's a great honor for me."

But in a way, it's just another accolade on an already lengthy list of accomplishments for Kemp. Consider the following:

A 6-foot-2, 170-pound point guard, Kemp took his game to another level as a senior, averaging 18 points, five rebounds and seven assists per game and hitting game-winning shots against Liberty and Tennessee High.

Kemp led Bolivar to a third consecutive Class AA state tournament and was also named the 2006 Class AA Mr. Basketball over Memphis Mitchell's Thaddeus Young, a McDonald's All-American who won the award last season.

For his career, Kemp finished with a 117-25 record and scored more than 1,900 points and had more than 800 assists. That's after leading Bolivar to back-to-back Class AA state titles in 2004 and '05 and being named the Class AA state tournament Most Valuable Player and a Class AA Mr. Basketball finalist as a junior.

Kemp is a veteran of the All-West Tennessee team. He was a first-team selection as a sophomore and junior, was named Newcomer of the Year as a freshman, and is the first Bolivar product to be named Player of the Year since Brian Lake in 2004.

The nation's No. 46-ranked senior prospect by, Kemp ultimately picked Memphis over Tennessee and a host of major NCAA Division I programs. Just a few of the programs he turned down were Kentucky, Arkansas and Illinois. One of the main reasons Kemp picked Memphis was so he could be closer to his mother, Maxine Kemp, who is battling polycystic kidney disease.

"I want for her to be able to see me play," Kemp said.

Kemp's caring nature even carries over onto the basketball court, said Bolivar senior Wayne Chism. Unlike some superstars - whose ball-hogging ways can disrupt team chemistry and sidetrack team success - Kemp looks to get his teammates involved, which in turn makes the team better.

"Playing was much easier being out there with a point guard who can score, shoot, pass, rebound and defend," said Chism, who played for two years at South Side before transferring to Bolivar. "Willie is a great player and makes everyone around him better."

According to Lexington coach Tim Gardner, Kemp is a rare talent.

"He's awfully special," said Gardner, who has known Kemp for nearly 10 years. "I think he is going to continue to get better, and I think he has a chance, going to Memphis, to maybe play at the next level."

A coach with a track record of starting freshmen, Calipari said Kemp could "possibly" start at Memphis next season. With last year's starting point guard, Darius Washington Jr., having recently applied for the upcoming NBA draft, Kemp could be on his way to becoming the 18th freshman to start for Calipari in his 14 seasons as a college head coach.

But this wouldn't be any old team. Memphis posted a school-record 33-4 record last season and advanced to the Elite Eight.

"What he does, we needed last season," Calipari said of Kemp. "He's going to have to earn his way, but I'm going to play guys if they're ready to play.

"Willie wants to win, knows how to win, makes game-winning shots and shoots well enough that you can have him on the court with another point guard."

Plus, Kemp's ability to handle defensive pressure comes as easily as his ability to keep everything in perspective. He speaks the same way after a win or a loss and shows respect for his opponents regardless of the outcome.

Kemp also takes care of business in front of the cameras and microphones whenever asked without any hesitation.

That composure, Kemp said, he learned from watching his role model.

No, not Michael Jordan. Not Kobe Bryant. Kemp's most influential role model is his mother.
"My mom's an inspiration to me just for the way she keeps on going on living her life," Kemp said. "That's why I look up to her so much."

So go ahead, take all the time you want trying to find a reason not to love Willie Kemp the basketball player. But here's a word of advice: Don't waste your time.

"He's a terrific kid," Calipari said.

A terrific kid leaving behind a tremendous legacy.

-Joshua Parrott, 425-9634


A quick look at the career of Bolivar's Willie Kemp:

STATE TITLES: Led Bolivar to the 2004 and '05 Class AA state titles.

MR. BASKETBALL: The 2006 winner of the Class AA award.

CAREER POINTS: Finished with more than 1,900 points.

COLLEGE: Signed with Memphis after being recruited by every major NCAA Division I program in the country.

The Willie Kemp file
School: Bolivar

Grade: Senior

Position: Point guard

Height: 6-foot-2

Season stats: 18 ppg., 5 rpg., 7 apg.

College: Signed with Memphis

Favorite player to watch: Wayne Chism (Bolivar), Rodney Carney (Memphis)

Favorite play this season: Hitting the game-winning shot in the Bahamas.

My pick for Player of the Year: Wayne Chism (Bolivar)

What you don't know about me: I wear the same socks every game.

My dream car: A blue and green bus on 32s with tinted windows.

Why he's here: One of the nation's most recruited seniors, Kemp capped his high school career by being named the Class AA Mr. Basketball this season. Led Bolivar to two consecutive Class AA state titles and three consecutive state tournament appearances. Had more than 1,900 career points and 800 career assists.