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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Nice Comments on Former Tiger Earl Barron by SI's Marty Burns

Hot stuff - Analyzing the best and worst of the summer leagues

Player who most helped himself: Earl Barron, Miami Heat

The 7-foot center, who spent most of last season on Miami's inactive list, made a strong case to stick with the big club in 2006-07. Through the first three games he led the field in scoring (25.7) and rebounding (9.0). He has shown an ability to step out and hit jumpers as well as score inside, albeit against summer-league competition. He had 33 points and 15 boards in a 91-85 win over the Nets. The Heat must decide whether to pick up his $475,00 option for next season by July 25; it now seems they will.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Local Talent Lacking at Big Hoops Camps

Local talent lacking at big hoops camps

Jason Smith, Memphis Commercial Appeal
July 5, 2006

The way Sheffield High basketball star Randy Culpepper sees it, he'll have the upper hand going into this week's adidas Superstar Camp, which begins today in Suwanee, Ga. "I don't know anybody, and they don't know me," Culpepper said Tuesday. "It's an advantage for me because they'll probably think I can't play since I'm 5-11."

Unlike last summer, when the West Tennessee area sent five players to the adidas camp, four more to the Reebok ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J., and one to the Nike All-America Camp in Indianapolis, this year's camps, all going on this week, will for the most part be devoid of Memphis-area talent. There's no Thaddeus Young, the former Mitchell High star who last summer at the adidas camp was ranked among the top seven prospects in the nation by most.
There's no Willie Kemp or Pierre Niles or Wayne Chism.

No, it's Culpepper, a high-scoring shooting guard who quietly averaged a Shelby-Metro best 31.3 points per game as a junior last season, and Raleigh-Egypt point guard Maurice 'Moe' Miller who make up the short list of Memphis-area players participating in this week's camps, which typically draw the nation's top high-school talents.

Miller (6-1, 183), ranked the No. 22 point guard prospect nationally in the Class of 2007 by and the No. 137 prospect overall, is in Indianapolis this week for the Nike camp along with Raleigh-Egypt coach, Jimmy Adams, who's worked the Nike camp for the past 11 years.

"I just got back from the All-Asia Camp in Beijing, China, and had to turn around and come up here (to Indianapolis), so I hadn't had a chance to really work (Miller) and get him prepared like I wanted to," Adams said Tuesday.

"I think he needs to play against these players up here, the best of the best, and put himself up against that kind of competition and just let the chips fall where they may. You know, see where he stacks up."

Miller, who said Tuesday he has scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Clemson, Illinois, Georgia Tech, LSU, Ole Miss, Stanford, Tennessee, the University of Memphis and Vanderbilt, called his invitation to this week's Nike camp "the chance of a lifetime."

"Every young kid would wish to be here in this situation, so the main thing is to take advantage of it, get plenty of rest and eat right," Miller said. "You want to show everybody that you're here for a reason, and you're playing in front of every college coach in the nation.

"Not only will I get better, but I'll build relationships with people from around the world. ... It's an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world."

Expected to join Miller this week at the Nike camp is 6-8, 233-pound small forward Herb Pope of Aliquippa, Pa.

Ranked the No. 3 small forward prospect in the Class of 2007 by and the No. 10 prospect overall, Pope is reportedly considering the UofM, along with Connecticut, Kansas State, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Louisville.

Chicago's Derrick Rose, a 6-4, 185-pound point guard ranked the No. 3 overall prospect nationally behind Cincinnati point guard O.J. Mayo and Cincinnati small forward Bill Walker, is also considering the Tigers, though it was unclear Tuesday whether Rose will attend the Nike camp or the ABCD camp in New Jersey.

Some speculate Rose will attend the ABCD camp to take on Mayo, a 6-4 point guard who is expected to announce his college decision this week.

Another Tiger target, Dallas power forward Anthony Randolph (6-10, 210), will attend the adidas camp.

Randolph, ranked the No. 2 power forward prospect nationally by and the No. 7 overall prospect, is reportedly considering Memphis, Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, Georgetown, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Texas and UCLA.

-- Jason Smith: 529-5804

Ole Miss' Andy Kennedy Seems Excited to Maintain Memphis on their Schedule

Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy spoke at the Winston County (MS) Rebel Club last Thursday night. He noted that Ole Miss will play the University of Connecticut and the annual game against the University of Memphis. Kennedy said "Memphis is such an important recruiting area for us," said Kennedy noting that the Memphis game was a good way to promote Ole Miss Basketball in an area that produces great basketball players.

For all of the controversy about the relationship between Ole Miss and Memphis, I believe Kennedy's comments to be a positive. Let's face it, Memphis needs Ole Miss on the football schedule and Ole Miss needs Memphis on the basketball schedule (at least I think so). But many others feel differently.

John Calipari wants to drop Ole Miss so he can pick up another national game over a regional game. I can live with that. I'll take a Kansas, Wake Forest or Villanova for an Ole Miss.

As far as football is concerned, there are other regional options versus Ole Miss - Mississippi State, Arkansas, Louisiana Tech, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, NC State, Clemson, South Carolina, Illinois. I'm sure one or more of those would agree to a home and home series. Memphis is a good market for recruiting and several schools would welcome the exposure to the Memphis market.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Rodney Carney Gives 76ers Needed Versatility

Carney Gives Sixers Needed Versatility

By Zach Berman, Contributor

The introduction was as ordinary as possible. Rodney Carney answered every question thrown his way, posed for photos with his No. 25 jersey and even asked to keep the name tag placed in front of him.

Carney asked Sixers president Billy King why he couldn’t be issued his college number, 10, and learned it was because the man standing on the other side of Carney, Sixers head coach Maurice Cheeks, wore the number, which now hangs from the Wachovia Center rafters.

Carney was laughing and slapping hands, making jokes and taking deep breathes. The scene was similar to hundreds of press conferences before and presumably hundreds of press conferences after.

But what made the scene unique was Carney’s path to the Sixers, which has been anything but ordinary.

He emerged from a high school career where he didn’t play Amateur Athletic Union basketball to a recruiting process riddled with uncertainty. He had an enigmatic college experience, evolving from a relative unknown prospect his freshman year to a star his senior year that still went through flashes where more was desired than delivered.

Even his NBA draft night was unordinary, hearing his name called as a pick with the Chicago Bulls only to book a flight to Philadelphia for the next morning.

"[Draft night] was real hectic," Carney said. “I didn’t really know. I got onto (the radio) and they said, ‘Chicago,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, great team’ and all that stuff. But when I got downstairs for the other interviews, I had the Chicago hat on and they were like, ‘Take that off, you’re in Philly.’ I said, ‘Philly? Oh man!’ But it’s still a great feeling. Philly’s a great team and a great city, and I’m glad to be here.”

Much of that feeling is a result of what he did to arrive at this point. Carney was always a superb athlete, a genetic marvel who’s the son of two college track stars. He had basketball skills to complement his athleticism, but most college recruiters never had the chance to see either because Carney stuck to high school basketball rather than AAU, the summer circuit frequented by the top players.

AAU basketball has often received a reputation of a one-on-one brand of basketball devoid of defense and team play. Subsequently, Carney’s high school coach, Bobby Wilkerson, didn’t allow his pupil to play AAU.

And the advice has paid off.

“Every one of (my friends) played AAU ball,” Carney said. “But coach (Wilkerson) took me under his wing and told me AAU will give me bad habits. Because I didn’t play AAU, I’m more of a team player.”

The decision didn’t help Carney in the recruiting process, but when a scholarship opened at Memphis, Tigers coach and former Sixers assistant John Calipari offered it to the Indianapolis native.

Carney improved each season, developing from the unheralded freshman to the Conference USA Player of the Year. Carney chalked his AAU-less high school experience as one of the reasons for the ascension and the team player emphasis that resulted as a key to his popularity among teammates.

“If you ask any of them, they’d say he’s a great teammate,” Carney said. “With me, it’s all about the team.”

One of his new teammates, promising swingman Andre Iguodala is the player who’s frequently been compared to Carney since draft night. It begs the question of how two similar players can mesh together.

Neither King nor Cheeks appear concern about a potential conflict, though. In fact, both view the predicament as a positive.

King said the situation is similar to that of the New Jersey Nets, whose combination on the wing, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson, is among the league’s best. Both also are outstanding athletes who excel in the open court, akin to what the Sixers envision from Iguodala and Carney.

“You put the guys on the court who have talent,” Cheeks said. “You have guys who are a (shooting guard), (small forward) – those positions are interchangeable.”

Last season, the Sixers often encountered matchup problems against teams that decided to play smaller, quicker lineups. King contends the Sixers can’t become caught up in size; instead they must simply play the best players.

“When you went to the playground, you didn’t say I need a point guard, I need a big guy,” King said. “You picked five guys, the five best ones, and generally those are the ones you run with.”
And that’s how the Sixers plan on using Carney. It might not be conventional, but considering his career path, that should come as no surprise. His versatility should give the Sixers an advantageous matchup. If Carney can guard a bigger player, the bigger player won’t be able to guard him.

“If you look at the playoffs, these teams have athletes,” Cheeks said. “There are players getting up and down the court and there are a lot of ways teams can go, a lot of different options.”
Funny Cheeks mentioned playoffs teams, too. For all Carney is – an athlete, a developing defender, a capable shooter – lost in the talent is often the experience. He comes from a winning program and he’s a four-year player.

So when Carney was speaking on the podium in his introductory press conference, he sounded like most incoming rookies. But he wasn’t reading out of a rookie manual. When Carney spoke, he knew what he was talking about.

“I'm hoping to bring excitement to the team,” Carney said. “I just want to help the team progress, get to the playoffs."

Ordinary quote. But certainly not an ordinary player.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Darius Washington Diary (Entry #4)

NBA Draft: Darius Washington Diary

Memphis point guard Darius Washington has until June 18th to announce his NBA Draft intentions. After averaging 13 ppg and 3 apg in just 26 mpg during his sophomore season, the Florida native is hoping to work his way into the First Round. For now, he checks in with CHN during this busy workout period.

Journal Entry #4 - Undrafted But not Defeated - July 2nd, 2006

As many of you know by now, my name was not called on draft night and as disappointed as I was that night in not having the prestige of being called I am not defeated. The dream to play in the NBA is still alive in me but instead of going in the draft like I had dreamed of doing I will have to make it as a free agent. Obviously, I still have a lot to prove. I know that but I will not let the draft discourage me.

I do not regret my decision to enter the draft and no one can say otherwise. There isn't one person that went in the draft that is guaranteed to be there in 5 or 10 years so lets say one of them doesn't get resigned down the road did they make a bad decision? Did the draft determine their future?

The draft wasn't the be all end all to my life story. I am just 20 years old and one night will not determine my future. It only changes the path I have to take to make my dream come true. When I woke up on Thursday, my dad came in and told me "Guess what? The sun came out this morning lets get to it." He's right. The only thing we know for certain is that the sun will come out everyday and as long as there is a tomorrow we got a chance. I got up, went to the gym and worked out. Life goes on.

Time truly will tell. I'm not going to give up because my name wasn't called. I am going to fight harder for my dream. It only fuels my motivation to make it. Who can say that the same thing wouldn't have happened after my senior year in college or after high school? I can sit here all day and think of all the what ifs but you know it doesn't change what happened and it doesn't get me any closer to playing in the NBA. Sometimes you just have to make a decision right and go for it.

Only time will tell.

I will continue to keep journal entries through the summer as a free agent on my personal website at and will check back with to let them know how I am doing from time to time.

Thanks for the support,Darius Washington

Once Ignored, Sixers' Carney Is Now in the Spotlight

Once ignored, Sixers' Carney is now in the spotlight

By Joe Juliano Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

College recruiters weren't exactly banging down the door at the Indianapolis home of Rodney Carney after he completed a sparkling senior season at the city's Northwest High School. Heck, they weren't knocking at all.

But that changed when Memphis head coach John Calipari was informed that Qyntel Woods, a prospective junior-college transfer, had elected to jump directly to the NBA. Woods' decision left a scholarship open, which prompted Calipari's assistant, Tony Barbee, to act on a tip and scout Carney.

Barbee, a former Indianapolis public high school star, liked what he saw and relayed his report to Calipari.

"We brought him down, and he looked pretty good," Calipari said by phone from Memphis yesterday, the day after the 76ers selected Carney in the first round of the NBA draft. "Then I spoke to him and I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, he's not a bad kid.' He had the athleticism. He needed to improve his skills. But I told everybody, 'You're not going to believe this kid.' "

This week, the 6-foot-7 Carney was on the minds of a number of NBA executives impressed by his speed, leaping ability, quickness, defensive work and shooting. The once nearly forgotten high school player ended his draft odyssey by shaking commissioner David Stern's hand on the stage at Madison Square Garden after his name was called.

That's quite a distance he's traveled over his last four years. Which raises the question: How could a guy with this kind of potential have been overlooked?

Carney did not participate in AAU basketball, which left him a mystery to many college recruiters. He sat out on the recommendation of his high school coach, Bobby Wilkerson, who played seven NBA seasons and was a member of the 1976 Indiana team that won the NCAA championship at the Spectrum.

"It was a lot of pressure," Carney said yesterday after a news conference at the Wachovia Center. "The star players were playing on certain teams that they wanted me to be on. But I stuck by my high school coach. He played in the NBA and he was a college star, so I figured he knew best."

After declining an invitation to walk on at Purdue, Carney chose Memphis over Oklahoma and enjoyed a successful career with the Tigers. He ended his career third all-time in scoring (1,901 points) and first in three-point baskets (287). He averaged 17.2 points last season and established a school season record for three-pointers (102) in helping Memphis go 33-4, the best record in its history.

"Because I didn't play AAU," Carney said, "I'm more of a team player. I'd rather pass first, and that's what I was doing at Memphis. If you ask my teammates about me, they all would say, 'He's a great teammate and would do anything for us.' I'm all about the team."

Calipari said there is a lot more to Carney than mere numbers.

"He's one of those good kids that you want to be around, that you want to coach," the former Sixers assistant coach said. "This kid is really special."

Carney comes by his athletic talents naturally. His mother, DeAndra Ware, was a world-class sprinter and had a chance to make the 1980 U.S. Olympic team before the boycott ended her dream. His father, Ronald Hollins, played football at Tennessee State.

Carney said his mother "kind of made me" get into track in the fourth grade, and he was rather good at it. But after his sophomore year of high school, he said, "I hit a growth spurt and tore a muscle in my hip because I was getting tall and it took me a while to gain enough speed."

Still, he won the state high school championship in the high jump as a senior and finished fourth in the 400 meters. He now has a vertical leap of 40 inches but points out "that's only on three steps. I can get a lot higher than that if I have more steps."

It's that athleticism that excites Calipari as he thinks about his player performing for the fans of Philadelphia.

"He can dunk with his armpit," the Memphis coach said. "Some of the stuff he can do in transition will bring back Dr. J memories. He's an unbelievably gifted athlete and he's going to make shots."

If Carney can do all that, there's no way he will be ignored.

Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or