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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Tough Work Starting for Tigers' Carney

Tough work starting for Tigers' Carney

By Gary Parrish, Commercial Appeal
April 29, 2006

The final workout of a five-day stretch began with an unconventional exercise. Rodney Carney grabbed the end of a blue tarp and walked, looking more like someone preparing for a rain delay than the NBA draft.

Pull the tarp?

Must be a new technique, right?

Must've read about it somewhere, no?

Actually, it was nothing more than a necessity. A tarp from a Thursday night function still covered the court at the Finch Center on Friday afternoon. And since you can't take a 3-pointer when you can't see the 3-point line, Carney's day began with a peeling, of sorts, that enabled the former University of Memphis standout to put in another 90-minute workout with Wayne Hall, otherwise known as the personal trainer of Rockets star Tracy McGrady.

"He's been working me hard," Carney said. "I've never worked this hard in my life."
Rodney Carney is destined to be a pro.

There were times when this seemed in doubt, like when he enrolled at Memphis as an unheralded prospect. But there he was Friday in an isolated gym talking like a pro and training like a pro, having signed with a sports agency, Octagon, based just outside Washington, D.C., that manages plenty of other young pros, among them Chris Paul (Hornets), Kirk Hinrich (Bulls) and Francisco Garcia (Kings).

"I talked to Chris Paul, and he had nothing but good things to say about them," Carney said explaining his choice of agency. "I just sensed they were the right people for me. It's where I needed to go."

In many cases, it's only a few seconds after a prospect signs with an agent that he requests a line of credit and purchases that first house or car (or houses and cars).

But Carney said he hasn't bothered with anything on that level and won't any time soon.
"I'm just concentrating on getting better," Carney said. "I'm not worried about any house or car right now. I just want to get better."

To do that, Carney will head to Houston next week, where he will remain the subsequent three weeks and continue his training sessions with Hall. Some others scheduled to participate are McGrady, Luther Head (Rockets) and JamesOn Curry (Oklahoma State).

"Rodney needs to work on his change of direction, getting stronger for the NBA game and creativity. He just needs to be a more creative basketball player," said Hall, who has been with McGrady since the NBA All-Star's prep days at Mt. Zion Academy in North Carolina.

"Fundamentally, I've been impressed with Rodney, and it takes a lot to impress me because I've worked with a lot of athletes. But I've been impressed. He has a lot of similarities to Tracy."
Among them, not being a college graduate (McGrady turned pro out of high school). But Carney said when this semester is completed he'll be just a project and one class short of his degree, something he plans to finish online within the next year.

"I'm going to get that done for me," Carney promised. "That's an accomplishment nobody will ever be able to take away."
While Carney said he has been invited to participate in the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando next month, he plans only to attend and not play. The idea is that his status as a probable lottery pick is secure and not worth risking in that atmosphere.

As for his former Tiger teammates also trying to turn pro, Carney expressed optimism both sophomore Darius Washington and freshman Shawne Williams can make it.
Like many others, he said he believes "Darius is gone" and is not considering returning to school under any circumstances.

But Carney said he spoke with Williams recently and offered some advice that could perhaps lead the Hamilton High product back to college so long as he maintains his amateur status.
"I talked with Shawne the other day, and he said he just wants to test the waters," Carney said. "I just told him to be careful and go out there and do what you can do. And then if you feel it's not going right, then come back (to school)."

-- Gary Parrish: 901-529-2365

Friday, April 28, 2006

UT Knoxville's Take on Washington and Williams NBA Intentions

Memphis' loss is UT's gain

By: Randy Moore,
Date: Apr 27, 2006

Tennessee’s basketball future just keeps getting brighter and brighter.

Despite a 22-8 record and an SEC East title, the Vols were the state’s second-best college team in 2005-06. The University of Memphis beat the Big Orange head to head and earned a No. 1 seeding for the NCAA Tournament. Since then, however, Tennessee has improved its roster by signing a top-five recruiting class. Conversely, the Tiger roster has taken a big hit. Two of the team’s finest players have announced they are forgoing their remaining collegiate eligibility and making themselves available for the upcoming NBA Draft.

The two are forward Shawne Williams and guard Darius Washington. Both played key roles in the Tigers’ 88-79 defeat of Tennessee last Jan. 18 in Memphis. Williams produced 21 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocked shots in 34 sterling minutes. Williams sank just 2 of 12 from the floor but still finished with 17 points and 5 assists in 29 minutes.

Memphis still has some outstanding players available for the 2006-07 season but its talent advantage over Tennessee is greatly diminished by the loss of Williams and Washington. The Vols’ chances of being the best team in the state will be significantly enhanced if Williams and Washington follow through with their pro plans.

Tennessee’s chances of being the best team in the SEC next winter also may be getting a boost. Conference champion LSU is about to lose standout freshman forward Tyrus Thomas, who also declared for the draft. Meanwhile, several NBA insiders believe reigning NCAA champ Florida will lose one or two underclassmen to the draft. Both 6-foot-11 Joakim Noah and 6-foot-8 forward Al Horford are projected as possible NBA lottery picks, even though both say they plan to return for the 2006-07 college season.

For what it’s worth, lists Noah as the No. 1 prospect for

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Tyler Smith Shuns Tigers, Will be a Hawkeye

Iowa signs top-50 recruit Smith

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa added one of the nation's best prep school players Wednesday when coach Steve Alford announced that forward Tyler Smith had signed with the Hawkeyes.
Smith is a 6-foot-7, 210-pound small forward from Pulaski, Tenn.

In 2005, he was rated among the nation's Top 50 high school seniors by, a recruiting publication.

Smith spent a post-graduate season at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia in 2005-06. He averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists a game while leading the team to a 28-2 record.
Smith will enter the 2006-07 campaign as a freshman. rated Smith as the second-best prep school player in the nation last season.

"Tyler will have an immediate impact on our team next season," said Alford in a statement. "He is a very talented player, but also a great person, and that is something we always look for in recruiting."

Smith is the fourth newcomer slated to join the Hawkeyes next season. During the fall signing period, Iowa inked Canadian big man Jamie Vanderbeken and junior college transfers Justin Johnson and Cyrus Tate.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Darius Washington and Shawne Williams to Enter Draft

Letter posted on (Darius Washington's personal website)

April 24, 2006

Dear Fans,

It is with a great deal of excitement that I announce my decision to declare for the 2006 NBA Draft. Playing in the NBA has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I first learned to play basketball from my dad when I was just a kid and I have been fortunate to play for some great coaches over the years who have helped me prepare for the challenges of collegiate and professional basketball.

There were a lot of things to consider before I made my decision to enter the draft and after careful consideration I am confident that I made the best decision for me. I truly appreciate the support my friends, family, coaches and the fans have given me over the years and hope they will stand by me as I enter the next stage of fulfilling my lifelong dream.

Thank you,
Darius Washington Jr.

Article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal

By Gary Parrish
April 25, 2006

University of Memphis standout Shawne Williams plans to make himself eligible for the 2006 NBA Draft but will not immediately hire an agent, Williams’ grandfather told The Commercial Appeal today. Consequently, the freshman forward can maintain his college eligibility and return to the Tigers if he withdraws from the draft by June 18. The draft is June 28.

"He’s torn on the decision because he enjoys school, but the (financial) needs overshadow everything else," said Leon Williams, who helped raise Shawne. "The time is right if he can get the money and get a good contract."

Meanwhile, teammate Darius Washington has also announced his intentions to enter the draft. The sophomore guard declined to answer questions when reached by phone today, instead referring The Commercial Appeal to his personal Web site ( where a statement had been published that explained his decision.

Though Washington wasn’t specific, his statement indicates he will remain in the draft no matter what despite no one projecting him as a first-round pick. On the other hand, a chance remains that Shawne Williams will play at Memphis again.

Leon Williams said his grandson intends to maintain his amateur status and that if he is not projected as a top-20 pick "he will probably go back to school." As it stands, there is no guarantee Williams will go that high, though most analysts believe he’s a lock for the top 30.
UofM coach John Calipari did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
— Gary Parrish: 901-529-2365

Monday, April 24, 2006

NBA Mock Draft Updates

9. Golden St. Rodney Carney 6-7 205 SF Memphis Sr.

13. Rodney Carney SG/SF New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets

6. Rodney Carney
14. Shawne Williams

UPDATE: 31 Underclassmen Have Now Declared for the NBA Draft

31 Underclassmen have now declared for the draft with 23 deciding not to hire an agent.

Players who want to enter the NBA Draft early must file by April 29. The draft is June 28. Here is the early entrant list to date:

2006 NBA Draft Early Entrants

Name, Position, School, Year

1) Arron Afflalo, SG, UCLA, So.*
2) LaMarcus Aldridge, C, Texas, So.
3) Morris Almond, SG, Rice, Jr.*
4) Will Blaylock, PG, Iowa State, Jr.*
5) Josh Boone, F, UConn, Jr.*
6) Shannon Brown, G, Michigan State, Jr.*
7) Guillermo Diaz, G, Miami, Jr.*
8) Mike Efevberha, SG, Cal State Northridge, Jr.*
9) Carl Elliott, G, George Washington, Jr.*
10) Jordan Farmar, PG, UCLA, So.*
11) Nick Fazekas, F, Nevada, Jr.*
12) Thomas Gardner, SG, Missouri, Jr.*
13) Rudy Gay, SF, UConn, So.
14) Daniel Gibson, PG, Texas, So.*
15) Brandon Heath, PG, San Diego State, Jr.*
16) Ian Vouyoukas, C, St. Louis, Jr.*
17) Alexander Johnson, F, Florida State, Jr.*
18) Trey Johnson, G, Jackson State, Jr.*
19) Paul Millsap, F, Louisiana Tech, Jr.
20) Adam Morrison, F, Gonzaga, Jr.
21) Patrick O'Bryant, C, Bradley, So.*
22) Danilo Pinnock, G, George Washington, Jr.*
23) Leon Powe, F, California, So.*
24) Richard Roby, SG, Colorado, So.*
25) Rajon Rondo, PG, Kentucky, So.
26) Mustafa Shakur, PG, Arizona, Jr.*
27) Marcus Slaughter, F, San Diego State, Jr.
28) Curtis Stinson, PG/SG, Iowa State, Jr.*
29) Tyrus Thomas, F, LSU, Fr.
30) P.J. Tucker, F, Texas, Jr.*
31) Marcus Williams, G, UConn, Jr.

*Player is testing the waters, but retains college eligibility by not hiring an agent.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Washington, Williams on Fence About Pros

Washington, Williams on fence about pros

By Gary Parrish, Memphis Commercial Appeal

April 20, 2006

With nine days remaining until the deadline and underclassmen declaring at a staggering rate, Darius Washington and Shawne Williams remain publicly undecided about whether to return to the University of Memphis or enter the NBA Draft. "We haven't decided anything," said Washington's father, Darius Washington Sr.

"Shawne doesn't know yet," said Williams' grandfather, Leon Williams. So the wait continues.
Previously, John Calipari said he expected both Washington and Williams to turn pro, even putting the odds at 60-40. And while that is still a strong possibility, the families of both Tiger stars remain non-committal on the issue, apparently set to have every bit of desired information before scheduling an announcement.

The deadline is April 29, though that doesn't necessarily mean anything will be decided by then. Williams and Washington could announce that they are going to enter the NBA Draft and still return to college so long as they maintain their amateur status (i.e., don't hire an agent) and withdraw by June 18.

For what it's worth, Washington is not projected to go in the first round, and it's unclear if he'd be selected at all. Still, there's little doubt the sophomore guard could earn a paycheck playing basketball somewhere next season if that is the goal.

"Right now we're just focused on finishing (this semester of classes) strong," said Darius Washington Sr. "That's the only thing we're worried about."

Williams' pro prospects appear much brighter. The freshman forward would likely be a first-round pick, but whether it's near the top or the bottom of the round is hard to predict, which is apparently why the decision is hard to make.

"If he was in the top 10, I'd imagine he'd go, but other than that I don't know," Leon Williams said. "So he's just waiting, trying to see how high he could go."
-- Gary Parrish: 901-529-2365

As NBA Declarations Increase, Will it Mean Williams and Washington Will Stay?

As the list of underclassmen declaring for the NBA draft increases, does it mean Shawne Williams and Darius Washington, Jr. will have more incentive to stay in school another year. Today UCLA's Aaron Afflalo and Jordan Farmar both declared but neither will sign with an agent.

As of today 23 underclassmen have declared with 16 not planning to hire agents. Tyrus Thomas of LSU is the only freshman declaring.

Of those deciding to hire agents several are definites for getting drafted including: LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Paul Millsap, Adam Morrison and Tyrus Thomas. I'd put Rajon Rondo at about 50/50 based on who might ultimately be available. I am not very familiar with Marcus Slaughter of San Diego State.

Underclassmen in the NBA Draft

Players who want to enter the NBA Draft early must file by April 29. The draft is June 28. Here is the early entrant list to date:

Name Position School Year

Arron Afflalo SG UCLA So.*
LaMarcus Aldridge C Texas So.
Morris Almond SG Rice Jr.*
Will Blaylock PG Iowa State Jr.*
Josh Boone F UConn Jr.*
Guillermo Diaz G Miami Jr.*
Mike Efevberha SG Cal State Northridge Jr.*
Jordan Farmar PG UCLA So.*
Nick Fazekas F Nevada Jr.*
Thomas Gardner SG Missouri Jr.*
Rudy Gay SF UConn So.
Brandon Heath PG San Diego State Jr.*
Alexander Johnson F Florida State Jr.*
Trey Johnson G Jackson State Jr.*
Paul Millsap F Louisiana Tech Jr.
Adam Morrison F Gonzaga Jr.
Leon Powe F California So.*
Richard Roby SG Colorado So.*
Rajon Rondo PG Kentucky So.
Mustafa Shakur PG Arizona Jr.*
Marcus Slaughter F San Diego State Jr.
Curtis Stinson PG/SG Iowa State Jr.*
Tyrus Thomas F LSU Fr.

*Player is testing the waters, but retains college eligibility by not hiring an agent.

Andy Katz on Rice University's Morris Almond Testing the NBA Waters

If Almond jumps, there will be no joy at Rice

By Andy Katz

Take a guess which school could be hit harder than any other if its early entrant decides to stay in the draft.

How about ... Rice.

Why the Owls? Well, no other school could have its postseason chances swing on the decision of one player. Most schools can absorb the hit, but not Rice.

Owls leading scorer Morris Almond declared for the NBA draft with the intent of testing the process. He isn't expected to sign with an agent, but he wants to see where he stands. You're probably not too familiar with Almond, but if you were watching Conference USA, you would have seen the junior average 21.9 points a game, grab 5.8 rebounds and lead the Owls to a 6-8 league record (12-16 overall).

The 6-6 wing isn't a lock for the first round, but through workouts and, potentially, the Orlando pre-draft camp June 6-12, he could entice someone to take a serious look.

If Almond returns to Rice, the Owls have a chance -- and we underscore chance -- to earn their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1970.

"If he comes back, we've got a chance to be really good -- as good as we've ever been," said 14-year Rice coach Willis Wilson. "If he doesn't come back, it's a whole different ball game."
With Almond, Rice would return six of its top eight scorers and Wilson is confident that newcomers should add depth at the point and inside and the toughness that could make this his best Owl squad ever.

"The kid should dominate and impact winning at Rice before he considers this, but how high could he go? Well, at this stage, the draft is wide open and there are several spots for guys to play their way in, and he's a part of that group," one NBA player personnel director said. "He is a good athlete and can get you a bucket."

Wilson said NBA personnel have told him Almond is an unknown commodity, a player who needs to improve his ballhandling, passing and defense. But one undisputable point is that he can score.

He did that in bunches against C-USA champ Memphis, putting up 30 in an 84-79 loss Feb. 4.

"If he comes back and played like he did against us, then he'll put himself in a better position in the [2007] draft," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "They were good with him. They'll have a chance with him back. Look, he killed us with 30."

The deadline to withdraw is June 18.

With Morris, Wilson said he could see C-USA having five teams in play for NCAA berths, with the Owls joining Memphis, Houston, UAB and UTEP.

"And there's no reason why we couldn't get three teams in," Wilson said. "If Morris comes back, we'll be really good because I like our chemistry, our bigs, and [we have] kids who can score and shoot."

The deadline to declare is still 10 days away.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gala and Golf Tournament to be Held to Raise Medical Funds for Larry Finch

Former players hold gala to raise funds

By: Justin Kissell
Sports Reporter, Daily Helmsman, Univ of Memphis

It's crunch time for former Tiger basketball coach Larry Finch and his former players are working the April 27 shot clock to pull through for their coach.

Ken Moody, who played at The University of Memphis (then Memphis State) from 1985 to 1987, and Rodney Douglas, who played from 1985 to 1989, have spearheaded two upcoming events to raise funds and awareness for Finch.

"As much as he's done for us, we should do our part for him," Moody said.

The players, part of the Friends of Larry Finch organization, have helped plan a gala dinner on April 27 to help raise funds for Finch's rising medical bills. The dinner is new to this year's festivities, which also includes a golf tournament for the second year in a row.

"We're just trying to be the messengers for Coach Finch," Douglas said. "Being unable to move a lot gives him a huge challenge, and we feel compelled to help."

Finch has suffered strokes and a heart attack and remains confined to a wheelchair in a long-term care facility. But he doesn't pass the days alone.

Former players and friends visit him regularly, which is part of the reason Douglas wanted to help his former mentor so badly.

"I went to see him in the hospital one time and his foot had been injured badly, in addition to the strokes and heart attack," he said. "My heart was hurting the whole way home because of what I witnessed."

Finch is also diabetic, something that makes his condition worse. But Douglas said whatever his condition, the coach always perks up when someone stops by.

"The nurses have told us when he saw a former player, he did better with his attitude and motivation for a while," he said.

So how much does Finch mean to The U of M?
Douglas said he is the "legacy of Memphis basketball."
Moody said it "all started with Larry Finch."

Former Tiger Herb Hilliard, who played from 1966 to 1969 and was the first African-American player in school history, said Finch helped bring the city together when racial tensions were high in Memphis. "To me, he's done more for this city than any other person I know," he said. "He did an awful lot for the people of this city."

And he helped the Bluff City in numerous ways - on the court and then on the bench with his trademark rolled-up paper.

Finch (the player) started his Memphis career in 1970. He led the Tigers to the 1973 national championship game against UCLA, averaging almost 27 points per game in the NCAA Tournament.

Finch (the head coach) started in 1986 and promptly led an underdog team to a 26-8 record and won the Metro championship. He went on to sign local high school stars Anfernee Hardaway, Elliot Perry and Lorenzen Wright in his career.

In 1992 Finch participated in his 500th game as either a player or coach. He also led the Tigers to an Elite Eight appearance in the 1992 NCAA Tournament, the furthest a Memphis team advanced until the 2005-06 Tigers.

Finch ended his coaching career after the 1996-97 season, when he stepped down from his position.

"The Memphis Tigers were (to me) created by Larry Finch," Douglas said.
Maintaining the Finch legacy on campus is something Moody and Douglas are trying to accomplish with their work - something the current staff seems well aware of.
"Coach Cal has been awesome through all this," Moody said. "He's done everything we've asked."

That includes getting comments and video messages from famous basketball personalities throughout the country, like Dick Vitale and former UCLA star and Tiger fan favorite Bill Walton.

Finch undoubtedly helped make Memphis into a basketball town, one reason some believe the NBA awarded the Grizzlies to the city. Their relocation helped spur one of the most emotional moments in Memphis/Larry Finch history.

On Jan. 20, 2003, the Grizzlies hosted a Martin Luther King Day game against the Portland Trail Blazers that included a halftime show involving many prominent African-Americans. Bob Johnson, BET founder and the first African-American NBA team owner, as well as actor Danny Glover were some of the participants. But the most emotional moment came last. NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell brought Finch on the court in his wheelchair. The darkened arena, which had been loud throughout the ceremony, rumbled even louder as teary-eyed fans rose to their feet chanting, "La-rry!"

It was one of the ways Memphians have given back to their legendary coach.

They now have another opportunity to do so, and his former players and friends are pleading for help.

"We want people to embrace what he did and who he did it for," Douglas said. "Just please give your heart with Larry Finch."

Hilliard said the city has an obligation to help Finch. He described Finch as a model citizen when he was a player and coach, did all the right things and always had time to talk to anyone.
"I used to go to the mall to go Christmas shopping with him," he said. "We'd always be stuck there for about four hours because everyone wanted to talk with him, so I told him next year I couldn't go with him."

He described Finch's personality as that of current NBA star Shaquille O'Neal. Finch related well to both kids and adults, Hilliard said.

"We're doing this because coach always told us to give back," Douglas said. "We've dedicated our lives to him because of all he did for us."

Moody said one large change the group has made to this year's fund-raiser is the ability for people to write off any of their donations on their taxes.

Donations received and profits from the golf tournament and dinner will be used towards Finch's medical bills and to start a youth foundation which would pair up Memphis high school students with former Tiger players as mentors.

The Friends of Larry Finch Gala Dinner will be held April 27 at the Finch Center. Tickets are $100 per person and $1,000 for a table.

On April 28, the group will host two shotgun starts at the Larry Finch Golf Tournament. It will be held at Galloway Golf Course and tickets are $125 per person or $500 per group.

Details of John Calipari's New Contract

No shockin U of M contract Calipari's raise spread several different ways

By Gary Parrish, Memphis Commercial Appeal
April 18, 2006

Compared to the back-and-forth of last week, the actual amendment that brought closure to University of Memphis basketball coach John Calipari's flirtation with North Carolina State is uneventful. There are raises across the board, yet nothing out of the ordinary was found when The Commercial Appeal reviewed a copy of the contract Monday.

The main origins of pay increase come from Calipari's UofM base salary, radio and television package and public relations fee. The base salary went from $139,050 to $155,000, the radio and TV package went from $310,000 to $460,000 and the public relations fee went from $251,000 to $385,000. Combined with a $300,000 guarantee in shoe/apparel/equipment money, the promised total package Calipari will receive annually comes to $1.3 million, not including various incentives, bonuses and the opportunity to secure additional shoe contract money. For instance, Calipari -- per this fifth amendment to his contract originally signed on March 11, 2000 -- is now allowed to negotiate a shoe deal with any company and keep all the income. Previously, he shared the revenue with the school. Next year, that money – from adidas -- is expected to be $225,000, meaning Calipari will at least earn $1.525 million while coaching the Tigers for a seventh season. Beyond that, most everything stayed the same, including the $2.5 million annuity Calipari will collect if he finishes the 2009-2010 season. The only notable difference is that he dropped a percentage of his win/loss record and graduation rate bonuses so that, if achieved, $40,000 of those bonuses will now go to his assistants, who had spent the past few seasons underpaid in comparison to assistants at other programs.
Calipari negotiated an additional $130,000 in salary for his assistants that he will divide among Tony Barbee, Derek Kellogg, John Robic and Milt Wagner as he sees fit. They will also divide $40,000 in summer camp guarantees.

Calipari's new contract runs through the 2010-2011 season, and the UofM reserves the right to offer two one-year extensions over the next two years.

Calipari's buyout remained at $200,000, and his annual clothing allowance remained at $15,000.

-- Gary Parrish: 901-529-2365

Monday, April 17, 2006

Grading the Recruiting Class (Hoop Scoop vs.

I visited today to check out some recruiting news.

First, I noticed that Pierre Niles did not make the 2006 Top 25 Post Graduate listing. (BTW, Tyler Smith #3 who is still officially undecided is reportedly leaning toward Pittsburgh).

Second, I noticed that Memphis does not even make's top 25 recruiting classes. However Hoop Scoop has the Tigers at #8 with 29 points (#1 UNC has 46 points and #10 Georgia Tech has 24 points). also has UNC at #1 with 4.50 average recruit rating and #25 N.C. State with a 3.67 average recruiting rating.

Of course the reason why doesn't have the Tigers ranked is because only Willie Kemp received a top 25 position ranking. He received 4 stars and is considered the #6 Point Guard in the county. Hashim Bailey, Pierre Niles and Tre'Von Willis all received 3 stars, but were unranked in their respective positions.

Note that Tyler Smith is ranked as the #12 Small Forward and is a 4 star player.

Memphis' current rating (3.25 stars) would increase to 3.40 with the signing of Tyler Smith, but that is still below #25 N.C. State's 3.67 star average.

Summer High School All-Star Events


In case you are curious, here are the main summer high school all-star events:

03/23 - 03/26..... Las Vegas Easter Classic (Las Vegas, NV)
03/30................. McDonalds All-American (South Bend, Ind)
04/09................ Nike Hoops Summit (Memphis, TN)
04/08 - 04/10..... Charm City Challenge (Baltimore, MD)
04/08 - 04/10..... Boo Williams (Hampton VA)
04/16................. Jordan Classic (New York City - MSG)
04/16................. Adidas Derby Festival Basketball Clinic (Louisville, KY)
04/15 - 04/17...... Real Deal on the Hill (Fayetteville, AR)
04/15 - 04/17...... Las Vegas Spring Showcase (Las Vegas, NV)
04/15 - 04/17...... Pump and Run Tourney (Las Vegas, NV)
04/22 - 04/24.... DC Hoop Fest (Washington DC)
04/22 - 04/24.... Kingwood Classic (Houston, TX)
04/29 - 05/01..... Spiece Run 'N Slam (Fort Wayne, IN)
05/27 - 05/29..... Tournament of Champions (Chapel Hill, NC)
05/28 - 05/30..... Nike Memorial Day Classic (New Orleans, LA)
05/28 - 05/30..... Adidas Memorial Day (College Park, MD)
06/12 - 06/14..... Rumble in the Bronx (New York)
06/15 - 06/18...... Hoop Jamboree (St.Louis, MO)
07/05 - 07/08...... Adidas Superstar Camp (Suwanee GA)
07/05 - 07/09..... Nike All-American Camp (Indianapolis, IN)
07/06 - 07/09..... Houston National Summer Showcase (Houston, TX)
07/12 - 07/15...... Nike Peach Jam (Augusta, GA)
07/22 - 07/26..... The Main Event (Las Vegas, NV)
07/27 - 07/31...... Las Vegas Summer Classic (Las Vegas, NV)

Adidas Derby Classic Box Score

Adidas Derby Festival, Saturday, April 15, 2006
Louisville, Kentucky

Pierre Niles and Willie Kemp scored 12 and 13 points respectfully for the White team who was victorious in the Adidas Derby Classic in Louisville, Kentucky. Tre'Von Willis had a poor game going 0 for 8 from the field and scoring just one point.

Kemp had a tremendous game overall going 5 or 6 from the field and adding five rebounds and eight assists.

White 118, Black 106 (OT)

Black (106)

Last Name, minutes, fg-fga, 3pt-3pta, ft-fta, rb, asst, pf, tp
Crews 32 6-10 0-1 0-0 11 0 2 12
Caracter 32 6-11 4-6 1-3 5 1 1 17
Crittenton 32 5-15 1-9 5-8 7 4 4 16
Sosa 35 8-23 3-13 0-1 6 6 6 19
Henderson 34 9-20 0-2 1-3 7 3 0 19
Pena 20 1-6 1-4 2-4 4 3 2 5
Johnson 16 0-0 0-0 0-0 4 2 0 0
Chism 19 2-9 0-1 1-2 6 0 2 5
Robinson 24 4-8 1-3 0-0 7 0 0 9
Speights 21 2-9 0-1 0-0 8 1 2 4
Team 5
Totals 265 43-111 10-40 10-21 70 20 19 106

White (118)

Last Name, minutes, fg-fga, 3pt-3pta, ft-fta, rb, asst, pf, tp
Pierre Niles 24 6-11 0-2 0-0 3 3 4 12
B. Lopez 28 6-8 1-2 2-2 15 2 2 15
Pondexter 28 8-11 1-2 1-2 7 1 3 18
Tre'Von Willis 24 0-8 0-3 1-2 4 3 4 1
Willie Kemp 28 5-6 1-2 2-3 5 8 0 13
Jasper 26 3-5 0-0 1-2 8 5 2 7
Augustin 29 5-11 3-7 2-4 3 4 2 15
R. Lopez 26 4-9 0-0 2-4 5 4 4 10
Meeks 26 7-16 0-5 3-4 2 1 1 17
Stevenson 26 5-12 0-0 0-0 6 0 1 10
Team 1
Totals 265 49-97 6-23 14-23 59 31 23 118
Black 22 23 21 33 7--106White 21 29 30 19 19--118
Field-goal shooting: Black 38.7, White 50.5. Free-throw shooting: Black 47.6, White 60.9. Technicals: none. Turnovers: Black 30 (Crittenton 6, Pena 6, Henderson 4, Caracter 3, Sosa 3, Speights 3, Crews 2, Johnson 1, Chism 1, Robinson 1), White 24 (Jasper 7, Miles 3, Kemp 3, Pondexter 3, Augustin 3, B. Lopez 1, Willis 1, R. Lopez 1, Meeks 1, Team 1). Blocked shots: Black 11 (Crews 7, Caracter 2, Henderson 1, Chism 1), White 9 (R. Lopez 5, B. Lopez 3, Steve 1). Officials: Rip Hatfield, Scott Johnson, Richard Price. Attendance: 14,072.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

2006 C-USA Basketball Signees

2006 C-USA Basketball Signees

To date, a total of 39 men’s basketball players have committed to become student-athletes at Conference USA schools for the 2006-07 season:


Gabe Blair F 6-8 190 Kings Mountain, N.C./Hope Christian
John Fields F 6-9 205 Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt
Hillary Haley G/F 6-6 195 Ft. Washington, Md./Friendly
Chad Wynn C 6-11 255 Marietta, Ga./North Atlanta Prep


Marcus Malone G 6-5 Long Beach, Calif./Lee (Texas) JC
Rob McKiver G 6-3 New Haven, Conn./San Jacinto (TX)
Nic Mosley C 6-8 Bellville, Texas/Bellville


Jeral “Stretch” Davis C 7-1 Toledo, Ohio/St. Catharine College
Robbie Jackson C 7-0 265 Aberdeen, Md./Prince Avenue (SC) Prep
Marcus Moses G 6-0 Washington, D.C./St. Catharine College
Chris Williams G 6-2 Long Beach, Calif./Fullerton College


Hashim Bailey F/C 6-10 Wayne, N.J./The Patterson School (NC)
Willie Kemp G 6-2 Bolivar, Tenn./Bolivar Central
Pierre Niles F 6-8 Memphis, Tenn./Florida Prep
Tre’Von Willis G 6-4 Fresno, Calif./Washington Union


Marius Craciun F 6-8 Cluj-Napoca, Romania/Weatherford (Texas) College Lawrence ‘Cliff’ Ghoram G 6-5 Baton Rouge, La./Zachary


Menghe Nyam G 6-5 New Hampton, N.H./New Hampton Prep


Gjio Bain C 6-11 230 Nassau, Bahamas/Northeastern (Neb.) CC
Demar Dotson F/C 6-5 250 Alexandria, La./Southeastern Illinois Coll.
Dewayne Green G 5-10 155 Saginaw, Mich./Mt. San Jacinto (Calif.)
David Howard F 6-5 220 Waynesboro, Miss./Wayne County
Andre Stephens F 6-8 230 Heidelberg, Miss./Heidelberg
Saiquon Stone G 6-6 200 Brooklyn, N.Y./Laurinburg (N.C.) Prep
Maros Zuffa G 6-4 185 Bratislava, Slovakia/Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (Md.)


Johnny Mayhane G 6-5 185 Mobile, Ala./LeFlore
Kevin Sims G 5-10 160 Jackson, Miss./Forest Hill


Jamel McLean F 6-8 225 Hampton, Va./Bethel


Howard Crawford F 6-8 200 Eutaw, Ala./Greene County
Taurus Dortch G 6-2 185 Birmingham, Ala./Ramsay
Curtis Nickson C 6-9 245 Eutaw, Ala./Greene County
Mykal Riley F 6-6 185 Pine Bluff, Ark./Panola (Texas) JC
Jonathan Tiller G 6-3 190 Marietta, Ga./Wheeler


Tony Davis F 6-7 Sarasota, Fla./Riverview
Andre Thornton F 6-7 Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell


Malik Alvin G 5-11 Philadelphia, Pa./Simon Gratz
Victor Ramalho F 6-8 Santa Cruz, Brazil/South Plains (TX)
Jeremy Sampson C 6-10 Daytona Beach, Fla./Hillsborough (Fla.) CC
Tavaris Watts F 6-8 Burlington, N.C./ Hillsborough (Fla.) CC


Five Questions That Must Be Answered Before Next Season

5 questions that must be answered before next season

By Gary Parrish, Memphis Commercial Appeal
April 16, 2006

John Calipari, new contract signed, is on board for the future. That means University of Memphis basketball fans have one less thing worry about. Still, many questions linger. Here, we'll try to answer five.

Q: Will Shawne Williams and Darius Washington return to school?

A: The short answer is that it's unclear. Over the past week, people close to the situation have offered contrasting opinions with some stating the outlook changes daily.
It breaks down like this:

Williams will be a first-round pick if he turns pro, and that means a guaranteed contract worth millions of dollars. His family is aware of this, and his grandfather is a proponent of leaving school, noting life offers no promises if a sophomore slump brings problems.

On the other hand, Williams is the kind of prospect who could go from the middle of the first round to near the top of the lottery by returning to Memphis and delivering a more-polished and consistent effort next season. That would garner even more money, not to mention better position the Hamilton High product to contribute immediately at the NBA level, which is crucial considering the second contract of most players is the one that typically defines their careers, and it's hard for a person to get a lucrative second deal if he hasn't done much early.

As for Washington, the options aren't as promising. Nobody projects him as a first-round pick, and it's debatable whether he'd be selected at all. So for the most part jumping to the NBA now seems silly unless Washington doesn't believe his proverbial stock will increase and the goal is to draw a paycheck now no matter what.

On the other hand, in returning to Memphis Washington would be part of a logjam at point guard that could force him to play more off-the-ball. The positive is he would probably flourish in that role and become one of the best shooting guards in the nation. The negative is that the NBA is not looking for 6-2 shooting guards, so abandoning the quest to become a "true" point guard may hinder his longstanding pro aspirations.

In other words, stay tuned.

Q: Will all four signees qualify and be available next season?

A: It appears so. Those close to the program have said Willie Kemp, Hashim Bailey and Pierre Niles are all fine academically, and should enroll in the first summer session of classes at the UofM. Tre'Von Willis is also OK. But he may be unable to enroll until the second summer term, though only because his high school year lasts longer than normal.

Q: Will the Tigers sign anyone late who can help next season?

A: Probably not. At one point, Tyler Smith was an option, but now it appears he's headed elsewhere, perhaps Pittsburgh. As always, there could be a walk-on, and Calipari acknowledged Saturday via cell phone while recruiting at an AAU Tournament in Fayetteville, Ark., that he is considering taking a transfer (Oklahoma State freshman Roderick Flemings is a possibility, though at this point only a possibility).

Either way, walk-ons -- at least those not sponsored by Streets Ministries -- don't tend to contribute at this level, and any transfer wouldn't be eligible until the 2007-08 season. So there's probably nothing unknown that will help next year.

Q: How is the recruitment of the Class of 2007 going?

A: Good, by all accounts. Memphis already has a commitment from Will Bogan, a center from Missouri. Meanwhile, the Tigers are on solid ground with several of's Top 100 prospects, among them Illinois point guard Derrick Rose (No. 8), Texas center Anthony Randolph (No. 25), Ohio forward Alex Tyus (No. 36), New Jersey forward Jeff Robinson (No. 68), Memphis point guard Maurice Miller (No. 82) and Mississippi forward Ravern Johnson ( No. 93).

Q: What about next year's schedule?

A: Good news came from last week's meeting of the NCAA Management Council. One thing finally nixed -- though it still has to go through the board of directors, which shouldn't be a problem -- was the two-in-four rule that prohibited schools from playing in more than two exempted tournaments every four seasons.

Had that stayed in place, the Tigers would've been unable to participate in the Maui Invitational because they played in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic two years ago and the NIT Season Tip-off last year. But with the rule now apparently out of the way, it's off to Maui for games on Nov. 20, 21 and 22.

Other teams participating in the event are UCLA, Kentucky, Oklahoma, DePaul, Purdue, Chaminade and Georgia Tech. Memphis is guaranteed three games against those teams, though the bracket has not been set.

Meanwhile, the Management Council also raised the total of regular-season games from 27 to 28 with exempted tournaments counting as one game. So because the Tigers will get a three-for-one deal in terms of accounting in Maui, they will play 30 regular-season games, 16 of which will be non-conference.

Already on the schedule are contests at Tennessee, Arizona and Gonzaga. At home, the Tigers will have Ole Miss and Cincinnati. Beyond that, there will be a handful of "buy games" with opponents such as or similar to Winthrop and Louisiana Tech, and Calipari said Saturday there will be at least one more home game against a yet-to-be-determined Top 20 team.

It's doubtful the schedule will be finalized before September.

-- Gary Parrish: 901-529-2365

2006 Prep Derby Class Played Tonight in Louisville

In Order from left to right - Tre'Von Willis (Washington jersey), Willie Kemp (Memphis jersey) and Pierre Niles

From Hoop Scoop (ed. - Memphis signees noted in color)

[Here are the] rosters for this year's Derby Classic, which promises to have the most talent since the spring of 2000. This year's game, which will be played on April 15th at Freedom Hall in Louisville, KY will feature five McDonald's All-American's in 6'5 Javaris Crittenton from Atlanta (Southwest Atlanta Christian) GA, 6'5 Gerald Henderson from Merion Station (Episcopal Academy) PA, 6'11 Brook Lopez from Fresno (San Joaquin Memorial) CA, 6'11 Robin Lopez from Fresno (San Joaquin Memorial) CA, 6'0 D.J. Augustine from Sugar Land (Hightower) TX; two more players who should have been McDonald's All-Americans in 6'9 Derrick Caracter from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA and 6'7 Duke Crews from Hampton (Bethel) VA; and 13 more players who are ranked in the 25-61 range nationally by the HOOP SCOOP in 6'9 Stanley Robinson from Birmingham (Huffman) AL, 6'7 Quincy Pondexter from Fresno (San Joaquin Memorial) CA, 6'3 Edgar Sosa from New York (Rice) NY, 6'8 Pierre Niles from Lenoir (The Patterson School) NC, 6'6 Marques Johnson from Ft. Wayne (Snider) IN, 6'1 Willie Kemp from Bolivar (Central) TN, 6'4 Derrick Jasper from Paso Robles (H.S.) CA, 6'7 Antonio Pena from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, 6'3 Tre'Von Willis from Fresno (Washington Union) CA, 6'4 Jodie Meeks from Norcross (H.S.) GA, 6'9 Perry Stevenson from Lafayette (Northside) LA, 6'10 Marreese Speights from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, and 6'9 Wayne Chism from Bolivar (Central) TN. We also think it's worth noting that there is not one player from the state of Kentucky in the game (yes, the talent level in the senior class in the state is that bad), but the game does still have a local flavor, as three players (Jasper, Stevenson, and Meeks) have already signed with the University of Kentucky and two players in the game (Caracter and Sosa) have already signed with the University of Louisville.

Note: Tre'Von Willis lost in the semifinals of the Derby Classic dunk contest held last night.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

SI's Top 100 Prep Players Class of '06, Willie Kemp #40, Pierre Niles #47

Class of '06
Ranking the top 100 hoops recruits headed to school

By Ben Sylvan, Special to,
For the first time in three years, picking the No. 1 senior basketball player in the country was an easy call. Not since LeBron James in 2003 has the decision been this much of a no-brainer. For the Class of 2006, there's Lawrence North (Indianapolis) 7-foot center Greg Oden and then there's everyone else.

Greg Oden is simply dominant -- dominant on offense, dominant on defense and dominant on the boards. No other prep baller has such a complete impact on every part of the game. That's not a knock on guys like Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) forward Kevin Durant, Episcopal Academy (Merion, Pa.) guard Wayne Ellington, Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy forward Brandan Wright or Mitchell (Memphis, Tenn.) swingman Thaddeus Young, all of whom might normally be in serious contention for the top spot. But Oden is just so good that there's no debate.

Willie Kemp
Bolivar Central (Bolivar, Tenn.)

Pierre Niles
Ridgeway (Memphis, Tenn.)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Calipari Finally Breaks Silence

By: Matt Laurie
Sports Editor, Daily Helmsman, University of Memphis

Before a banquet at the Holiday Inn near The University of Memphis campus, basketball coach John Calipari finally talked to the media.
Fifteen minutes later, the silence was shattered and Calipari told why he didn't leave Memphis for North Caroline State.
"It was the players, it wasn't the deal," Calipari said. "If it were the deal I'd be at the other school."
Along with staying in Memphis Calipari earns a new contract that will, in theory, keep him here through the 2010-11 season.
According to reports, Calipari's base salary will increase from $1.1 million to $1.3 million, not including incentives that boost the package to $1.7 million.
The new deal also stipulates a raise for Calipari's assistants and improvements to the Finch Center.
However, Calipari admits, the N.C. State job was enticing.
"You're talking about an ACC job, unbelievable facilities and resources, you're talking about quality of life," he said. "There's just so many things when it got to where 'Maybe I should look at this,' So I did."
Calipari confirmed that a flight was taken to N.C. State and equated the trip to a CIA mission, completed under secrecy.
U of M Athletic Director R.C. Johnson, who was on the road with the Tiger Scholarship Fund, was not there for the press conference, but said in a statement released by the athletic department earlier today, "Six years ago we hired John Calipari as head coach for our basketball program and he made three commitments," said Johnson. "First, graduate student-athletes under his tutelage. Next, place this basketball program on a national stage and compete for championships. Finally, rekindle and strengthen the bond between the city and the basketball program. He's accomplished all three. John has committed to the university and the community, just as we have committed to him."
Calipari said the relationship between he and Johnson is fine and both Johnson and University President Shirley Raines knew every step he was taking in looking at N.C. State.
"The thing that was most important to me is the vision that I have for the program, and that everyone is on the same page," Calipari said.
When asked if there was a job that could make him leave Memphis, Calipari said, "…not right now."
In his six years at Memphis, Calipari has compiled a record of 148-59 and a record of 341-130 in 14 seasons. He's won four NCAA championship games while at Memphis and has averaged almost 25 wins per season.
His 148 victories are the most by a Memphis coach in any six-year span.
However, with that success, he still hasn't completed what he's set out to do at Memphis.
"What I want to do here we haven't accomplished yet," he said.

Calipari's Press Appearance After Signing New Contract

Players' hopes swayed Calipari

His courtship with North Carolina State officially over, John Calipari can now focus on who will be in uniform next season.

By Gary Parrish
April 14, 2006

John Calipari met with media members Thursday for the first time since signing a new contract with the University of Memphis. Among his constant themes was that loyalty to his current players was more important than the additional money he could've made by accepting an offer to be the next basketball coach at North Carolina State. "This wasn't about money because if it was I wouldn't be standing here," Calipari said before a YES Foundation function at the Holiday Inn on the UofM Campus. "You're sitting here and you have a staff and their families, and then you have your other family -- those 13 or 14 basketball players. And at the end of the day there are a lot of young people pinning their hopes on what we do. We have a good group of young people, and I'm ecstatic about coaching them."

Calipari's remarks came near the close of a whirlwind week that began with N.C. State offering a deal worth close to $2 million per year that he ultimately rejected in favor of agreeing to an extension with Memphis. While details of the new contract have not been disclosed, sources told The Commercial Appeal it will increase Calipari's base salary from less than $1.1 million to about $1.3 million, though that number does not include additional shoe contract money or various incentives that will escalate the package. So in the end, everything worked out.
Memphis got the coach it wanted.

The coach got what he wanted.

But make no mistake, none of it came easy, the negotiations got testy and Calipari, at times, said he felt like he was on the verge of cardiac arrest. He wasn't eating. He wasn't sleeping. He was guzzling coffee like a Hummer does gas.

"I had chest pains so bad one night in bed and told my wife and she said 'Go to sleep' and I said, 'I won't wake-up. What are you talking about go to sleep?'" Calipari said with a laugh. "This is not something I wanted to go through or plan on going through again."

Now all the focus turns towards Darius Washington and Shawne Williams, each of whom has a decision to make about whether he will also return to the UofM. While analysts agree both could benefit from at least another year of college, Washington, a sophomore point guard, and Williams, a freshman forward, are admittedly considering turning pro.

Players who want to enter the NBA Draft have until April 29 to file the proper paperwork.
However, Calipari said Washington and Williams could announce their decisions "in the next couple of weeks" while adding through implication he'd have no issues if either or both opted to at least test the process without hiring an agent.

Under that scenario, the duo could work out for teams and participate in the NBA Pre-Draft Camp June 6-10. They would then have until June 18 to withdrawal.

"How can I tell them if they want to look at things not to?" Calipari said in reference to his serious look at N.C. State this week. "I'll meet with Darius and his father and Shawne and his grandfather. ... But this is not about us. This is about them."

-- Gary Parrish: 901-529-2365

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

$2M Questions: Where Does Cash Come From?

$2M question: Where does cash come from?

Robbi Pickeral, Staff Writer
News & Observer
Raleigh, North Carolina

So how do you find enough money to offer someone $2 million to coach college basketball? If N.C. State goes that high for a new men's basketball coach, it would have to put together a complicated deal that would include funds from the athletics department -- which gets its revenue from sources, including ticket sales, TV contracts and the ACC -- plus radio/television money, shoe contract dollars and fundraising from the booster club.Executive Director Bobby Purcell said the N.C. State Student Aid Association -- commonly known as the Wolfpack Club -- a nonprofit booster organization that provides scholarships for student-athletes -- is prepared to help fund a package for a new men's basketball coach. It currently funds $840,000 in annuities for football coach Chuck Amato.

North Carolina's Educational Foundation, commonly known as the Rams Club, raised money for a $3.9 million "replacement package" for coach Roy Williams, so he would not lose money when he was hired away from Kansas in 2003. The Wolfpack Club might have to take a similar approach.

"We have funds in place, but we would try to do something special for that," said Purcell, adding that the university would need to propose a figure to the Club's 20-member board for approval.
Like at Carolina, Purcell said, the funds -- in whatever form -- would be paid to the University, not directly to the coach.

It's unclear what the ripple effect of such a high salary might be in the ACC. Williams' package is worth an average of $1.6 million a season; according to tax returns, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was paid just less than $1.5 million in 2003.

"I can assure you that all successful coaches want and expect raises regardless of whether there has been a recent search in the region -- and they all know the 'market' value of their work," East Carolina athletics director Terry Holland said in an e-mail. "Some university positions are driven by national market forces, others by regional market forces and still others by local market forces -- it is pretty certain that coaching positions in the so-called 'revenue' sports are driven by national market forces.

"I believe the concerns about the 'arms' race, including rising coaches' salaries, are legitimate concerns, but antitrust legislation to protect a free market economy prevents institutions from being able to address the issue by collusion."

Here's a breakdown of what coaches make -- and where it comes from -- locally:

Total package per season: roughly $1.6 million
Base salary: $260,000
Bonuses: 1/12 salary each for making NCAA Tournament, round of eight, and when team graduation rate equals that of the student body
Expense account: $25,000
TV/radio: $347,300 from Learfield
Extras: $3.9 million over five seasons, raised by Rams Club; separate $500,000 deal with Nike

Total package per season: roughly $650,000
Base salary: $260,000
Bonuses: 1/12 salary for participating in postseason play
Expense account: $25,000
TV/radio: roughly $225,000 from Learfield
Extras: separate $150,000 deal with Nike

Total package per season: at least $400,000
Base salary: $150,000
Bonuses: $25,000 for making NCAA bowl, $25,000 for making BCS bowl or league championship bowl
Expense account: reimbursement for expenses "reasonably incurred"
TV/radio: $240,000 (with $25,000 increases each season)
Extras: $10,000 from Pirate Club appearances; also earns money from summer camps and is allowed apparel and endorsement deals

Total package per season: at least $200,000
Base salary: $150,000
Bonuses: $15,000 for NIT bid, $25,000 raise the following season for NCAA bid
Expense account: reimbursement for expenses "reasonably incurred"
TV/radio: $40,000 (with $25,000 increases each season)
Extras: $10,000 from Pirate Club appearances; also earns money from summer camps and is allowed apparel and endorsement deals

Total package per season: roughly $800,000
Base salary: $175,000
Extras: information not immediately available

Total package per season: roughly $900,000
Base salary: $206,601
Bonuses: Three months' pay for making bowl
Extras: Also eligible for $840,000 in annuities, funded by the Wolfpack Club, to be paid by the University on Jan. 6, 2008; other information not immediately available

Total package per season: According to Duke's 2003 tax return, Krzyzewski made $1,488,888 -- $800,000 in compensations, $71,860 in contributions to employee benefit plans and deferred compensation, and $617,028 in an expense account and other allowances. Duke is a private school and there is no public information on compensation.


Calipari Spurns N.C. State

Calipari spurns State
After a visit to Raleigh, men's basketball coach John Calipari tells his players he will stay at Memphis for the 2006-07 season

Chip Alexander and Caulton Tudor, Staff Writers
The News & Observer

The new N.C. State men's basketball coach will not be John Calipari.Late Tuesday afternoon, Calipari called his Memphis players to his home to tell them that he was staying for the 2006-07 season.

Calipari took a whirlwind visit to Raleigh on Monday night, and those associated with the Wolfpack program were optimistic they would receive a quick reply from him on Tuesday. NCSU was offering Calipari a package worth about $2 million a year.

But as the hours passed Tuesday, that optimism began to fade.

Calipari, whose Tigers were a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament this year, will receive a new contract at Memphis that should pay him between $1.5 million and $1.7 million a year, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.

What next for N.C. State?

Good question.

Those with knowledge of the search say Texas coach Rick Barnes and Calipari were far and away the Pack's top two targets. Now that both have rejected NCSU's entreaties, Wolfpack athletics director Lee Fowler may next contact LSU coach John Brady, who guided the Tigers to the Final Four this year.

One potential choice, Virginia Commonwealth's Jeff Capel, is no longer available. Capel, an ex-Duke player, was introduced Tuesday as Oklahoma's coach.

Brady has been at LSU for nine years. He just finished the third of a five-year contract that pays him $715,000 a year, among the lowest salaries in the Southeastern Conference, but has received a raise to about $1 million a year.

Fowler and NCSU chancellor James Oblinger flew to Memphis on Sunday to meet with Calipari. When Calipari and members of his staff jetted to Raleigh late Monday night, it was seen as a positive sign.

But a question about state taxes may have been a snag in the negotiations. North Carolina's state income tax is higher than in Tennessee, where the state income tax is based only on dividends and interest income.

Even had Calipari taken NCSU's offer, there may have been questions about his years as head coach at Massachusetts, where he was head coach before leaving for the NBA's New Jersey Nets in 1996.

The Boston Globe published stories in 1994 and 1995 about academic deficiencies on the team. In 1997, UMass reported to the NCAA that star Marcus Camby gave an agent $28,000 after the 1996 season to keep agent John Lounsbury from being killed by loan sharks -- money the newspaper said Camby was given when the agent recruited him as a client.

The NCAA later made UMass return $151,000 in tournament money and stripped the Minutemen of their 1996 Final Four recognition.

On Tuesday, ex-UMass athletics director Robert Marcum said Calipari was absolved of any wrongdoing in the case. Marcum, now at Marshall, said UMass self-reported the violations to the NCAA and that the NCAA ruled UMass did not know in advance about Camby's improper gifts.

N.C. State is looking to replace Herb Sendek, who had a 191-132 record in 10 seasons before leaving for Arizona State.

(Staff writer Jaymes Powell Jr., news researcher Denise Jones and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Staff writer Chip Alexander can be reached at 829-8945 or

Frenzy Ends Without Incident

Frenzy ends without incident

Jeff Calkins, Memphis Commercial Appeal
April 12, 2006

You are now free to go back to your regularly-scheduled life. Do those taxes. Fertilize that lawn.
Don't waste another minute fretting that John Calipari is going to bolt for North Carolina State. Calipari is staying right where he is. As expected, Memphis barbecue carried the day.
Or Memphis hospitality.
Memphis humidity?
It wasn't the Memphis dollars, anyway.
North Carolina State offered Calipari roughly $2 million a year.
Memphis kept him by offering:
A base salary of roughly $1.3 million.
A salary bump for his assistants.
Improvements to the Finch Center.
Wait, you're saying. What else was there?
A modest share of the Memphis riverfront?
The Zippin Pippin?
Mineral rights to Shelby Farms?
That's it.
It's going to be a hard day for cynics, isn't it?
Calipari decided to stay in Memphis for roughly $700,000 a year less than he was offered by North Carolina State.
Go ahead, read that again.
Calipari decided to stay in Memphis for roughly $700,000 a year less than he was offered by North Carolina State.
The guy took less money to stay in a city he likes, to coach a team he believes in.
That's what you call a life lesson, isn't it?
So endeth our civic mini-drama and it's hard not to feel a little ridiculous about it all.
Just look at the way we've acted the last few days. Over a basketball coach.
By agreeing to meet representatives of North Carolina State, Calipari caused otherwise reasonable people to do unreasonable things.
Witness the scene at Olive Branch Airport early Tuesday morning. had been reporting that Calipari went to Raleigh, N.C., for a visit. Shortly before midnight, word traveled by fan message board that a jet from Raleigh was arriving at Olive Branch Airport.
How did the fans know this?
Because of a Web site called, which tracks the flights of private planes. Punch in a departure site and a destination, and you'll get a list of all the planes making that trip in a defined time period.
There was a flight from Raleigh scheduled to arrive in Olive Branch at 12:20 a.m.
So the news hit the message boards and, soon, hundreds of fans were tracking the flight on its lonely trip through the skies.
Mind you, there was no evidence to suggest Calipari was actually on the plane. It could have been a businessman, drawing up an agreement to buy a North Carolina timber farm, blissfully unaware he was being tracked.
Gary Parrish, who covers Tiger basketball for this paper, went to the airport to meet the flight.
"There were two cars of fans already there," he said.
It was after midnight, on a Tuesday, and two groups of fans showed up to watch a basketball coach get on or off a plane.
Oh, and the plane was diverted to Memphis International Airport. Nobody saw a darn thing.
But why let a detail like that get in the way of our fervor, or should we call it craziness?
Calipari's decision notwithstanding, the coaching arms race has gotten out of hand. When one school is desperate enough to pay a coach $2 million a year, every other school eventually has to do the same.
A decade ago, $500,000 was a hefty salary for a basketball coach. Now $1.1 million is a slap in the face.
How long before the number hits $5 million? Or $10 million? Is any number too high?
Ahhhh, that's just the market at work, you say. Just like anything else.
But it's the market at work in a university setting, and doesn't that change things a bit? Shouldn't universities have values apart from market values? If not, what's the difference between college and pro teams?
The nice thing is, Memphis now has its two high-profile coaches signed to long-term deals. Calipari agreed to his new contract Tuesday. Tommy West put the finishing touches on his, too.
So y'all can relax and get back to whatever you were doing before the panic broke out.
It's done, over.
At least until next year.

To reach Geoff Calkins, call him at 529-2364 or e-mail

All's well: Calipari expected to stay at U of M

All's well: Calipari expected to stay at U of M
Coach decides against N.C. State, sources say

By Gary Parrish
April 12, 2006

Ending 48 hours of speculation, John Calipari agreed in principle Tuesday to remain at the University of Memphis and in turn reject an offer to become the next basketball coach at North Carolina State. Multiple sources told The Commercial Appeal that Calipari reached the decision following an afternoon meeting with athletic director R.C. Johnson.

Though details of the new deal are unclear, sources said it includes a raise for Calipari that will push his salary from less than $1.1 million to around $1.3 million plus incentives -- that could take the package to about $1.7 million -- through the 2010-11 season. His assistants will enjoy pay increases and there is a guarantee that improvements will be made to the Finch Center practice facility.

An announcement is expected today.

"It's an all's-well-that-ends-well situation," said Harold Byrd, a prominent UofM booster. "I think all the fans wanted coach Cal to stay, and coach Cal just wanted to know he was respected and wanted. It's good that he's staying. As I said before, he is like the Muhammad Ali of coaches. He brings attention from around the nation."

According to sources, when N.C. State chancellor James Oblinger and athletic director Lee Fowler visited Calipari on Sunday the school offered a package worth nearly $2 million per year.
In the subsequent 48 hours, Calipari mulled the situation and considered accepting. But ultimately he turned away dollar signs for the opportunity to remain in Memphis and continue coaching a team that is coming off an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and expected to challenge for a Final Four berth next season.

The UofM players gathered at Calipari's home in East Memphis around 5 p.m. Tuesday for a meeting where their coach apparently relayed the news. But while exiting, they each avoided much dialog.

"He just told us to keep going to class," said point guard Andre Allen, who, like his teammates, claimed at the time he remained unsure whether Calipari was rejecting N.C. State. However, when Allen was asked whether he thought he'd be playing for Calipari next season, he didn't hesitate, answering, "Yeah."

In other developments, assistant Tony Barbee told The Commercial Appeal on Tuesday afternoon that he was withdrawing from Murray State's coaching search after recently interviewing for the job. "I want to stay with Cal," he said. Late Tuesday, Murray State athletic director Allen Ward told the Associated Press the school will hire Miami assistant Billy Kennedy to replace Mick Cronin, who left last month to coach at Cincinnati.

Also, Darius Washington and Shawne Williams each said Tuesday they remain undecided on whether to return to school to play for Calipari or enter the NBA Draft. Washington said he is still "exploring all options." Williams added he is "gathering all the right information" to make an educated decision.

But sources close to the UofM have said Calipari's loyalty to the program could help sway the talented underclassmen to return.

-- Gary Parrish: 901-529-2365

Monday, April 10, 2006

Memphis Needs a John Calipari

I disagree with some earlier posts saying that the University of Memphis will be just fine if John Calipari does indeed take another job.

Apparently some of you have forgotten the down years of the 1990's. Sure the Tigers made one Elite Eight apparance and another Sweet 16 in the 90's, but frankly I'm hopeing for the NCAA tournament annually with Sweet 16s pretty regular.

Yeah, I know that is what North Carolina does. Well, I think Memphis can be there, but there are not many coaches who can get you there.

Even Calipari is only 1 for 6 getting to the Sweet 16, but the future looks promising. If Cal leaves then things probably turn south.

Considering Memphis is not a North Carolina in tradition, and considering most people outside of the Memphis metropolitan area don't think of Memphis as a "Top 25" program year in and year out, Memphis needs a big name coach with a proven track record of recruiting and winning.
I still remember all of those names thrown around six years ago when Tic Price left this program in disgrace (at least when Dana Kirk left in disgrace, Memphis was a Top 10 program). Most were pipe dreams - and that was when Memphis was in a decent conference.

Mark my words, if Cal leaves, Memphis will be forced to go to another mid-major conference to find a coach (i.e. Winthrop, George Mason, Hofstra, Bucknell, etc.). Think Bruce Pearl.

My Post About Cal and N.C. State on

The following was a post this afternoon on a tread about Memphis fans being worried about Calipari taking the N.C. State job.


As earlier posts have pointed out Cal is well paid at Memphis, but I can hardly blame a guy for evaluating his options. Every single person who works for a living would do the same. If as a fan you feel "betrayed" by this then get over it. If some headhunter or a competitor calls you and says let's talk about a job, you'd do it. If you won't you are not maximizing your potential as a wage earner or supporting your family.

Remember everything here is RUMOR. No one posting here, or ESPN or the Memphis Commercial Appeal is privy to the inside.

I personally think Cal will stay in Memphis as it is a great job situation for him. He'll get some raise, his assistants will be taken care of, the $2.5 million retention annuity is only four years away, the cost of living in Memphis is below the national average, he is a near-Elvis figure in Memphis (especially after going 33-4 this year), he is the #1 non-BCS coach around (in pay and recognition), the competition in CUSA is below his program, the ACC while tempting is not worth the pressure, and his current players and recruits are strong.

NOTE to HATER, while Cal's 4-3 NCAA record is not impressive in his six years, I believe Cal's recruiting strategy changed when Dajuan Wagner (one year at Memphis), Amare Stoudemire, Qyntel Woods and Kendrick Perkins all went to the NBA. I think Cal decided to avoid the top 10 in each high school class and go for the 15 to 50 type players that would stick around for three years or so. While Shawn Williams may be one and done, the rest are more career (2 and 3 years) type players.

ESPN's Andy Katz vs. the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Gary Parrish, a reporter for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, said today at 4:23 p.m. that the story of John Calipari flying to Raleigh, NC to meet with N.C. State officials was false. This was a direct contridiction of a story broken by ESPN's Andy Katz earlier in the afternoon.

He said, she said!

Calipari Reportedly 'Overwhelmed' By Wolfpack Offer

David Glenn, Editor of the ACC Sports Journal, reported on his blog, , that N.C. State has offered Tigers Coach John Calipari a package worth $1.7 million per year. A coach said to be "close" to Calipari reported said the Tiger Coach was overwhelmed' by the offer and didn't expect that the University of Memphis could compete with such a large offer. This offer was under the reported $2.0 per year that was offered and turned down by Texas coach Rick Barnes.

Calipari's current deal is a base of $1.1 million annually but has built in incentives that can move the number as high as $1.5 million. In 2005/2006, Cal is supposed to receive at least $1.3 million after earning $200,000 for the Tigers winning the conference regular season championship, the conference championship and reaching the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.

Cal also as a retention bonus built into his contract that will award him a $2.5 million annuity if he stays at Memphis for four more years.

Glenn's blog also mentioned that Louisville's Rick Pitino and Villanova's Jay Wright were also targets of N.C. State, but neither is considered likely.

Tiger Signee Willie Kemp in All-Star Classic

Kemp at ease playing at Tigers' home

Bolivar Central star's 13 points, 8 assists lift team to victory in All-Star Classic

By Craig Wack, Commercial Appeal
April 9, 2006

University of Memphis basketball fans can take heart -- point guard signee Willie Kemp is very comfortable playing in FedExForum. The Bolivar Central star showed all of his skills in his future home arena Saturday at the Memphis All-Star Classic.

"I came out and my shot was falling," Kemp said. "I'm looking forward to coming up here and playing for the University of Memphis. It's going to be great for me to come up here and play." Kemp led the Black Team to a 92-71 victory over the Red Team with 13 points, eight assists and zero turnovers.

"We had a great game, I had some good perimeter players around me," Kemp said.

The game was an opportunity for Memphis's best players to have one more game in front of the home crowd.

Hamilton High's Jay Watkins, a San Francisco signee, did his best to put on a good show.
Watkins wowed the crowd -- and his teammates -- with an array of dunks and 3-point shots.
"He's a good player," said Wayne Chism, a Tennessee signee from Bolivar Central who was on the Red Team with Watkins on Saturday. "He came out and played good too. He had a couple of assists, blocks and 3-point shots. He got his own rebound and dunked it -- that's a sign of a good player."

Watkins led all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting with six rebounds and two assists.
"Any time you have and all-star game, you are going to try and make it fun," Watkins said. "Especially me, I'm kinda the clown out there. I try to make everybody laugh and take the tension out of the game. This is our last game together playing with and against each other. So we're trying to make it a game we can all remember."

For the unsigned players, the game was an opportunity to make an impression on college scouts.
Darren Currie, who played on the Black Team, made the most of his opportunity.
Currie, who played for Class A Middle College, scored 11 points, was a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor and was 3-of-4 from the free throw line. He also dished out more than a couple flashy assists.

Currie said he has offers from Chattnooga, Austin Peay and Freed-Hardeman, but he said his play would maybe turn the heads of larger programs.

"Because my school is very small, I don't get much exposure like everybody else," Currie said. "But today I went out there and had fun."

Austin Peay signee Wes Channel of Ridgeway added 17 for the Black squad, while Mitchell's Brandon Powell (Florida) had 11.

-- Craig Wack: 529-2799

Sunday, April 09, 2006's Luke Winn's 2006-07 Preseason Top 10 Luke Winn

The End, Or Only Act I? (A 2006-07 Top 10)

INDIANAPOLIS -- As the clock neared midnight on Monday, Florida's Joakim Noah was still partying with the level of passion that had fueled his brilliant rise from freshman nobody to, as a sophomore, the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament.

The Ponytailed One was at first sprawled on the floor near center court under a mob of teammates; then he was up, bounding toward his school's student section, then maniacally screaming and Gator-chomping at them from atop a press-row table. Before bolting into the stands to hug his famed father, Yannick, and his mother and sister, Joakim did the unthinkable and heaved his sweaty, No. 13 jersey into the students' orange-and-blue mob. Tangible mementos, presumably, aren't important when one's identity is based on the intangible of emotion. With a wild grin on his face, Noah was deeply feeling Florida's first national championship.

The question now is does he truly want to feel this for an encore? Before taking the stage at midcourt, Noah stopped to tell a handful of reporters, "I love this! How can I not do this again?" Is this euphoria so enticing that the chase for a repeat championship as a junior trumps being a top-three pick in June's NBA Draft? "It's like you can't even feel your legs; it's like you're eating the best food in the world, like everything tastes good, everything smells good," he said. And then he added, for emphasis, before strutting away, "It's better than sex!"

On Noah's decision -- which will be made later this month, in a less orgasmic setting, sans the streamers, confetti and commemorative Ts -- hinges the crest of college basketball's rankings for 2006-07. If he stays in Gainesville, and fellow Gator pro prospects Al Horford and Corey Brewer follow suit, Florida would be the unanimous preseason top dog -- and the first title-game participant since Arizona in 1997 to bring its entire starting lineup back intact.

Conventional wisdom and recent history suggest that all the good Monday Nighters turn pro and their teams rebuild, but '06-07 could be a departure from the norm. The Gators and runner-up UCLA realistically may retain their super-sophs and remain heavyweights. If '05-06 was stacked with surprises -- the rise of the mid-majors, the early departures of the No. 1 seeds, and a non-guard-dominated champ -- why can't '06-07 be the Season The Kids Actually Stuck Around?

Minutes after Noah and his teammates watched an RCA Dome video-board display CBS' One Shining Moment montage -- the final frames of which were a roof-camera looking down on him, atop that press-row table -- he was sitting with his legs dangling off the stage. In response to another inevitable inquiry about his future, Noah made a broad swoop with his hands toward the celebration that was unfurling in front of him, and said "The NBA can't do this!"
And so, unless we receive different news from Noah, the Gators should begin next season the same way they ended this one: at No. 1.

Now, for the rest of the top 10 -- a very similar version of which appears in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated. (We're operating with a few educated guesses on early entrants to the NBA Draft: UConn's Rudy Gay, Texas' LaMarcus Aldridge, LSU's Tyrus Thomas and Gonzaga's Adam Morrison.)

2. North Carolina: The Baby Heels were ahead of schedule this season, finishing second in the ACC on the shoulders of "Psycho T" -- national freshman of the year Tyler Hansbrough. He'll be joined in the fall by the nation's No. 1 recruiting class, which includes the top-ranked high school point guard (Tywon Lawson), shooting guard (Wayne Ellington) and power forward (Brandan Wright). If that trio assimilates into coach Roy Williams' system as speedily as Hansbrough did, UNC will be scary.

3. UCLA: Westwood's fearless defenders will gain some offensive punch with the return of swingman Josh Shipp, who was the Bruins' most dangerous scorer before missing most of the season with a hip injury. If point guard Jordan Farmar eschews the draft to team up with Shipp, two-guard Arron Afflalo and power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA will have the best 1 through 4 quartet in the nation.

In a somber Bruins locker room after Monday night's loss, Afflalo indicated that he didn't expect any defections. "We lost some pieces this year in [seniors] Cedric [Bozeman] and Ryan [Hollins], but we've got our two leading scorers [himself and Farmar] coming back, our leading rebounder [Mbah a Moute], and Josh will be back, so we should be good," he said. "We're very fortunate to have gone through this this year, and have the potential to come back [to the title game] next year."

4. Memphis: The fastest-paced, most efficient team in Conference USA returns every key player other than Rodney Carney. With athletes like Darius Washington Jr., Antonio Anderson and Shawne Williams running the Tigers' high-scoring show, another 30-win season and No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament are likely. The rest of the C-USA will once again be gunning for second place. (ed - Luke's assuming both Williams and Washington return - I'm afraid I'm not so optimistic)

5. Kansas: Sophomores stole the spotlight at this Final Four, and KU's clan of freshman stars -- guard Mario Chalmers, swingman Brandon Rush and elastic forward Julian Wright -- could make a similar push in '07. But first they'll need to overcome their school's recent first-round NCAA woes (the Bucknell-Bradley curse). Will an even more beefed-up backcourt -- after the addition of Chicago stud Sherron Collins, a McDonald's All-American -- make coach Bill Self consider a Villanova-esque lineup in '06-07?

6. Ohio State: The Buckeyes' ranking all comes down to how much one believes in The Oden Factor. Will 7-foot freshman center Greg Oden carry the Buckeyes to a title, a la Carmelo Anthony, in what will probably be his only season in Columbus? Thad Matta's defending Big Ten regular-season champs will be rebuilt around the blue-chip recruiting class of Oden, his high-school teammate Mike Conley (a talented point guard), as well as shooting guard Daequan Cook and small forward David Lighty. Incumbent point Jamar Butler -- the most valuable returnee -- will help OSU's new wave handle the adjustment.

7. Georgetown: With UConn, Villanova and West Virginia all set to lose significant pieces, the new Beasts of the Big East will reside in D.C. Upsets of No. 1-ranked Duke (in January) and No. 2-seeded Ohio State (NCAA second round) this season may foreshadow greater things for the Hoyas, who have NBA-caliber talent in forward Jeff Green and center Roy Hibbert. The 7-2 Hibbert -- whom coach John Thompson III said he needed to teach how to run when he initially arrived on campus -- is only beginning to realize his potential.

8. Texas: Even if Aldridge makes the jump, the Horns retain an elite inside-outside tandem in guard Daniel Gibson and forward P.J. Tucker, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year. McDonald's All-American Game co-MVP Kevin Durant -- the nation's top recruit not named Oden -- is a sweet-shooting 6-9 forward who could step in and be an instant force. Fellow incoming freshman D.J. Augustin, a vaunted point-guard prospect out of Louisiana, can take ballhandling heat off Gibson and A.J. Abrams.

9. Texas A&M: The Aggies are the perfect top 10 sleeper: On the strength of their lockdown D, they closed the season by winning nine of their final 11 games, nearly upsetting Final Four-bound LSU in the second round of the NCAAs. With guard Acie Law IV and future pro forward Joseph Jones leading the way, this seasoned squad can make a run at the Big 12 crown. A&M loses just one starter (senior Chris Walker), and sophomore guard Dominique Kirk is ready to get national recognition as a defensive stopper.

10. Southern Illinois: If '06 was the Year of the Mid-Majors, what kind of encore will they have in store? The Salukis, who tied for second in the Missouri Valley Conference, have their top nine scorers back, including the senior backcourt of Jamaal Tatum and Tony Young, who will be gunning for their fourth -- and the school's sixth -- straight NCAA tournament appearance. Veteran squad + prior Big Dance experience + strong guardplay = dangerous in March. Blowout loss to West Virginia this year be damned.


Boston College, Duke, Wisconsin, Wichita State, Pittsburgh, Hofstra, Tennessee, LSU, UConn, Washington, Arizona, Villanova, Xavier.

Jeff Goodman / FOX Sports Preseason Top 25

Preseason Top 25 men's hoops rankings

Jeff Goodman /

It's not easy to put together a preseason Top 25 less than 24 hours removed from the national championship game because of the uncertainty surrounding which players will leave school early.

We'll take a stab at it anyway! After an inexperienced Florida team ran the table, we're sticking with the theme — as our top three teams are also going to be extremely young and talented.

1. Kansas: The Jayhawks lost for the second straight year in the first round, but don't expect that to happen next season with Bill Self's club. They return their top seven scorers, including Brandon Rush — and they will add heralded freshman point guard Sherron Collins to the mix. Expect Julian Wright to assert himself as one of the most versatile players in the nation.

2. Ohio State: Greg Oden will enter college basketball not only as the top freshman, but also as the best big man and arguably the top overall player in the country. Yes, he's that good. He's joined in Columbus by a stellar recruiting class that also includes his summer teammates, point guard Mike Conley Jr. and shooting guard Daequan Cook — as well as athletic wing David Lighty. The Buckeyes lose Terence Dials, but they return Ron Lewis and Jamar Butler from a team that went 26-6.

3. North Carolina: The Tar Heels went much farther than anyone, including Roy Williams, could have imagined this season — despite losing nearly the entire team from the 2005 national championship team. Tyler Hansbrough will return, and he'll team with incoming freshman Tywon Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Brandan Wright, Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson — all Top 100-caliber recruits — to put the Tar Heels back in contention for a national crown. The only significant loss is that of senior David Noel.

4. Florida: We're betting that Joakim Noah eventually opts to leave Gainesville, but the Gators will still be pretty darn good. With Noah, they'd be our preseason No. 1 — without him, they are still a clear Top 10 team. Sophomores Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green and junior Lee Humphrey each averaged double figures this season and in the NCAA tournament. They also add another shooter in Doneal Mack, a solid forward in Jonathan Mitchell and a physical big man in Mareese Speights.

5. UCLA: The Bruins will lose seniors Ryan Hollins and Cedric Bozeman — both starters off a team that advanced to the championship game. However, the key returnees are in the backcourt — Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo. The freshman class of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Alfred Aboya, Darren Collison, Mike Roll and Ryan Wright will continue to improve, and the Bruins will welcome in solid freshman power forward James Keefe.

6. Texas: It's basically a lock that LaMarcus Aldridge won't be returning to Austin, but the key is whether or not junior forward P.J. Tucker decides to return or not. If he does, the Longhorns have a chance of getting to the Final Four — with guards Daniel Gibson and A.J. Abrams, incoming stud recruit Kevin Durant and point guard D.J. Augustin.

7. Memphis: The Tigers lose senior Rodney Carney, and who knows whether Darius Washington Jr. and Shawne Williams could test the waters. Williams' loss would hurt, but the Tigers have someone better than Washington coming in — freshman floor leader Willie Kemp. Coach John Calipari also returns a strong freshman class that includes Antonio Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Robert Dozier and Kareem Cooper.

8. Georgetown: If Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert both come back, the Hoyas will be a force in the Big East and could win the league in a down year. They lose Brandon Bowman and Ashanti Cook; but they gain far more than they lose, with incoming frosh DaJuan Summers, Vernon Macklin and guard Jeremiah Rivers.

9. Wisconsin: The Badgers literally bring everyone back other than Ray Nixon, and Bo Ryan's team will be led, once again, by forward Alando Tucker. Wisconsin big man Brian Butch and guard Kammron Taylor will give Tucker some help. Look for Michael Flowers' role to expand next season. The Badgers will also bring in a pair of highly regarded recruits — guards Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes.

10. Louisville: Rick Pitino will lose Taquan Dean, but the Cardinals head man returns Juan Palacios and David Padgett up front, wing Terrence Williams and guard Andre McGee. He also welcomes in a talented recruiting class that includes maligned big man Derrick Caracter, versatile 6-foot-8 fellow New Jersey native Earl Clark, point guard Edgar Sosa and combo guard Jerry Smith.

11. Indiana: Kelvin Sampson is the new coach, replacing Mike Davis, and it's still unclear whether Robert Vaden and D.J. White will be back. However, expect both to return. Sampson will have plenty of other talent, however, including guards A.J. Ratliff, Roderick Wilmont and Earl Calloway.

12. Pittsburgh: Panthers guard Carl Krauser is gone, but Jamie Dixon still has plenty of quality guards at his disposal — Ronald Ramon, Levance Fields and Keith Benjamin. Seven-footer Aaron Gray may have been the most-improved big man in the country, and Pittsburgh will also bring back Sam Young and Levon Kendall — who split time at power forward this season.

13. Duke: If Josh McRoberts leaves — and your guess is as good as mine on this one — the Blue Devils shouldn't even be ranked in the Top 25 entering the season. J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams aren't replaceable. Greg Paulus and DeMarcus Nelson return, but if McRoberts bolts for the NBA, the frontline could read as follows: incoming freshman Gerald Henderson Jr., Jamal Boykin and either Eric Boateng or another freshman 7-footer Brian Zoubek. Look for Jonathan Scheyer to step right in and play, but it's hardly an imposing cast, huh?

14. Southern Illinois: The Salukis will be the cream of the crop in the Missouri Valley next season. They return all five starters — Jamaal Tatum, Tony Young, Matt Shaw, Randal Falker and Bryan Mullins — from a team that went 22-11 this past season.

15. Washington: Brandon Roy is history, and his stat-stuffing numbers and versatility will be nearly impossible to replace, but the Huskies will have a pair of talented young big men — freshman Jon Brockman and incoming freshman center Spencer Hawes — to go along with wing Joel Smith and point guard Justin Dentmon. Lorenzo Romar has also brought in three more Top 100 recruits in addition to Hawes — wings Quincy Pondexter and Phil Nelson and guard Adrian Oliver.

16. LSU: It's a pretty good bet that Tyrus Thomas will leave after one year on the court for the Tigers. However, if Glen Davis returns, John Brady's club will still be near the top of the SEC. They'll need to find a way to replace Darrel Mitchell, but Tasmin Mitchell should increase his consistency and production.

17. Florida State: The Seminoles just missed out on making it to the Big Dance this year. If everyone who is supposed to return comes back, that shouldn't be a problem. Junior forward Al Thornton will be one of the top returnees, and he'll have help up front in Alexander Johnson. Guards Isaiah Swann and Jason Rich are also back — and Auburn transfer Toney Douglas gives Leonard Hamilton's club a major upgrade talent-wise over Todd Galloway.

18. Tennessee: The Vols lose C.J. Watson, but Bruce Pearl still has shooting machine Chris Lofton, big man Major Wingate and wing Dane Bradshaw — in addition to a trio of recruits who could make an instant impact — power forward Duke Crews, big man Wayne Chism and combo guard Marques Johnson.

19. Hofstra: There's a good reason why Tom Pecora stayed put. He's got his top three returning scorers back in the fold — guards Loren Stokes, Antoine Agudio and Carlos Rivera. Pecora will need to find frontline guys to replace Aurims Kieza and Adrian Uter.

20. UConn: Talk about getting hit hard. Rashad Anderson, Denham Brown, Hilton Armstrong and Ed Nelson all graduate, while Rudy Gay and Marcus Williams are both near-locks to head to the NBA. Josh Boone is a question mark; so what does that leave Jim Calhoun with? Jeff Adrien and Craig Austrie return, and A.J. Price, who was suspended all year, could be the team's best player. Freshman forwards Stanley Robinson and Curtis Kelly — along with guards Doug Wiggins and Jerome Dyson — should all get a chance to play.

21. Boston College: The loss of Craig Smith is a big blow, but the Eagles still have one of the top forwards in the country — Jared Dudley. Sean Williams will see more action and is a game-changer on the defensive end, while Tyrese Rice could be a future star in the ACC. Look for forward Akida McLain to pick up some of the slack left by Smith's departure.

22. Villanova: Randy Foye, Allen Ray and Jason Fraser are all history. Foye and Ray were the cornerstone to the squad in the team's Elite Eight run. Don't be shocked if fellow guard Kyle Lowry leaves after his sophomore year, either. That's the bad news. The good is that Curtis Sumpter will come back after two major knee injuries and try and team with Mike Nardi and forwards Will Sheridan, Dante Cunningham and Shane Clark to make another tournament run.

23. Arizona: Lute Olson loses Hassan Adams and Chris Rodgers. Adams didn't have a great senior campaign, and Rodgers was a chemistry killer. Mustafa Shakur finally looked like the highly touted point guard he was supposed to be out of high school. Freshman Marcus Williams is a budding star, and the Wildcats also welcome back Ivan Radenovic and Kirk Walters. Incoming freshman Chase Budinger should waste little time before making an impact in Tucson.

24. Texas A&M: Aggies coach Billy Gillespie did an impressive job this season, earning a spot in the NCAA tournament with a bunch of unheralded players in College Station. Texas A&M returns almost all of its key players — guard Acie Law and big man Joseph Jones are the big two — and they also have a large in-state recruiting class that includes forward Bryan Davis.

25. Georgia Tech: Paul Hewitt's Yellow Jackets should be the most improved team in the country — thanks to a pair of incoming freshmen, point guard Javaris Crittenton and forward Thaddeus Young. Crittenton will get the ball from Day 1, and he'll have some other talent around him: Forward Jeremis Smith and Ra'Sean Dickey and guards Anthony Morrow and Lewis Clinch.

Trio On the Bubble:

San Diego State: — This one depends on what Marcus Slaughter and Brandon Heath decide to do. Slaughter already put his name in and withdrew a year ago; so if the junior forward does it again, he can't come back. The Aztecs also will bring back Florida transfer Mohamed Abukar.

Syracuse: Freshman Paul Harris could have the single biggest impact of any newcomer not named Greg Oden in the country. He's a born leader, plays as hard as Joakim Noah and is tough as nails. The frontcourt has plenty of experience with Terrence Roberts, Demetris Nichols and Darryl Watkins. The key may be whether Josh Wright can handle the point.

California: - If Leon Powe returns, the Golden Bears should be Top 25 material. If he doesn't, they won't be in the mix. Point guard Ayinde Ubaka is back; so is 6-10 big man DeVon Hardin and the Wilkes brothers — Omar and Jordan. Add in incoming freshman guard Patrick Christopher and speedy point guard Jerome Randle and you've got a team that can compete with anyone, including UCLA, in the Pac-10.