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Saturday, May 31, 2008

NBA GMs Take Notice - Joey Dorsey Will Be A Fan Favorite With a Big Smile and A Big Mouth

Dorsey says Beasley, not Rose, will be No. 1 in the NBA draft

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -- Joey Dorsey came to this week's NBA predraft camp looking to get noticed on the court.

Yet with one bold proclamation, he created quite a buzz off the floor Wednesday -- and added considerable intrigue to an already-hot topic, the incessant speculation about whether Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose will be selected No. 1 overall in next month's NBA draft.

The way Dorsey explains it, the outcome will be simple.

Beasley, the star forward from Kansas State, is headed to the Chicago Bulls, who hold the top selection. Such a move would mean Rose, the stellar point guard and Dorsey's teammate at Memphis this past season, will join Dwyane Wade in the Miami Heat backcourt next year.

"Chicago's got a lot of pressure on them because Derrick's from Chicago," Dorsey said during the first full day of predraft workouts at the Disney complex near Orlando. "But they're going to take Beasley. I've got the inside. They're going to get Beasley. ... I'm not telling you how I know. You'll see June 26. I can't say any more."

Whether Dorsey was being factual or not, both the Bulls and Heat probably both wish he didn't say that much.

Within hours after word broke of Dorsey's prediction, officials from both Chicago and Miami insisted nothing has been decided.

"I'm not going to get into any details on that," Heat general manager Randy Pfund said.

"Nobody has any idea," offered Bulls general manager John Paxson.

So it'll take another four weeks to know if Dorsey was or wasn't offering clarity about the top of the '08 draft class.

Either way, everyone else's fate -- including his own -- remains quite the enigma.

Anyone who watched the NCAA-runner-up Tigers this past season knows the muscular forward who was listed at 6-foot-9 and 265 pounds probably was convinced that Dorsey can rebound and defend.

Dorsey's mission this week is to show is an offensive game, something that he didn't get to display as much as he would have liked in college.

"I'm not at Memphis anymore," Dorsey said. "I can't just be on the low block and wait for a lob. So I'm trying to show everybody I can shoot the ball, pass the ball and put it on the floor and everything like that."

Dorsey averaged 6.9 points for Memphis this past season, sixth-best on the talented Tigers' roster. He shot 64.7 percent, which mostly was a testament to his ability to grab lobs and offensive rebounds.

"My first set of drills, I looked up and saw Larry Bird and I went something like 2-for-5," Dorsey said.

His nerves have calmed a bit since this predraft camp opened Tuesday night, replaced by his omnipresent sense of confidence.

And he's hopeful that by week's end, the comparisons to Ben Wallace -- like Dorsey, someone who possesses a ripped physique and is generally thought of solely as a defensive presence -- might go away.

"On offense, I'm a way better scorer," Dorsey said. "I'm showing that in the drills that we're doing. Every drill where we went 1-on-1 and 2-on-2, I scored the ball every time. And I'm showing I can pass the ball, too."

There is a chip on his considerable shoulder, too, and he's quite proud of that.

Dorsey and the Tigers played with plenty of attitude, a belief that most of the college basketball world was rooting against them. And in this chapter of his basketball life, Dorsey is playing the same way.

He hears what the naysayers claim about him and some of his Memphis teammates, that he doesn't have an offensive game, that prohibitive first-rounder Chris Douglas-Roberts has an ugly shot, that Rose isn't ready to be an NBA point guard.

It's fuel for him.

"They're still doing it to us," Dorsey said. "We don't mind. I'm just here, trying to compete."

After his first scrimmage on Wednesday, where he went 3-for-5 from the floor and added four rebounds and three assists in his team's 75-70 victory, Dorsey remained on the floor for nearly an hour, talking about the draft and his chances of reaching the first round.

"A lot of kids don't get this opportunity," Dorsey said. "I'm just happy that I did."

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

C-USA team loses to China (Again)

C-USA team loses to China
Chinese national team scores second straight victory on Tigers' tour
Maggie Rauch
Special to The Commercial Appeal
Friday, May 30, 2008

YANGJIANG, China — In a subtropical city where architectural variety means a boxy cement building painted pink or green instead of beige, the shiny white dome of the 4,000-seat Yangjiang City Gymnasium stands out as distinctively as the Water Cube does in Beijing.

That gymnasium played host to an important piece of Chinese basketball history today, as the University of Memphis men’s team, along with five players and some coaches from other Conference USA schools, faced the Chinese national team in the second of its three games in Guangdong province this week. It’s the first time an American college team has come to China to compete against the Chinese national team.

“It’s a great honor to be out here playing against Team China,” said Memphis guard Doneal Mack after the game, which China won, 92-88. “Playing against Olympians is definitely going to help us in the future.”

Team C-USA dominated the boards Friday night, with 49 to China’s 29, and controlled the game until China took the lead on free throws with 4:10 left. Calipari’s team was whistled for 32 fouls to China’s 23. China turned that into 27 made free throws, outscoring C-USA by five at the stripe.

“When you’re on the road, you don’t expect to get the calls,” Calipari said after the game. “And we’re really on the road.” He pointed to turnovers (the team had 20) as a source of trouble in the game.

“[Coach Jonas Kazlauskas] has done a great job of getting them to play great transition defense,” Calipari said. “We didn’t get many transition baskets.”

Mack and UTEP’s Claude Britten led C-USA with 17 points each. Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier added 16 and 15, respectively. China’s high scorer was Wang Shipeng, with 17. Zhang Kai, who poured in 20 in the first game, was held to just nine on Friday. China played without Yao Ming, Yi Jianlian and Wang Zhizhi, who are all injured.

Though China has become a legitimately basketball-crazy country, most people here know nothing of the NCAA. But that’s hardly dampened the excitement that locals are showing about hosting the team.

“It was very loud and very intense,” Memphis forward Robert Dozier said of the atmosphere at the team’s first game, Wednesday night in Dongguan. “They were cheering for their home team, but they cheered for us, as well.”

Yangjiang is an industrial town on the South China Sea. Many of its 2.6 million residents work in the Shibazi factory, making knives and other kitchenware. Judging from the school-girl giggles and enthusiastic “hellos” that followed the basketball team around town, this is not a place that sees many foreigners.

“They don’t know what we’re saying, and we don’t know what they’re saying,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot of gesturing to get things done.”

The Tigers are leaving their mark with more than just basketball. The Sino-USA Basketball Challenge has been turned into an impromptu charity for the earthquake that has killed at least 68,000 people in Sichuan province. Conference USA and Memphis together donated $10,000 to relief efforts.

“To be a part of that and let them know that Americans are watching and that we care has been really meaningful for us,” said John Calipari. “I told them there’s a fault line through Memphis. That could just as easily have happened to us.”

Maggie Rauch is a Beijing-based writer and editor of

Memphis Tigers 2008 Basketball Recruits


Memphis Tigers 2008 Basketball Recruits
By MFSKEN | May 30, 2008

The verdict is in and ranked Memphis’ four-man recruiting class No. 5 in the country behind UCLA, Kansas, Wake Forest and Louisville. Here’s a look at this year’s class.

Angel Garcia (ESPN150-61;;

Height: 6-11 Weight: 210 PPG: 16.1 Position: Power Forward

Either Angel has grown quite a bit of late or nobody really knows the true height and weight of Angel Garcia. Depending on the source he ranges in height from 6-9 to 6-11 and in weight from 190 to 210 pounds.

Angel committed to Memphis on September 2, 2007 over Indiana, Iowa, Louisville and Wisconsin. The native of Puerto Rico played for East Chicago Central High School. His English is okay but I don’t look for a lot of television interviews.

In reviewing the Nike Hoop Summit, Draft Express noted…Garcia displayed his nice perimeter shooting stroke during the game, but failed to really make an impression during the game. The small forward has legit size and should make an impact at Memphis next season with his ability to space the floor. Throughout the week in practices, he switched it up some by showing solid ball-handling and finishing ability at the hoop, but he wasn’t faced with any chances to show these skills off during the game.

Defensively, Garcia seems slow laterally to guard wing players, and lacks the bulk to really have a chance at the four right now. With added bulk, he could develop into a nicely skilled combo-forward. His understanding of the game also seems a bit behind the curve at this point in time, but his shooting should get him immediate minutes at Memphis.

Matt Simpkins (ESPN150-NR;;

Height: 6-9 Weight: 200 Position: Power Forward

Matt committed to the Tigers on January 5th. He also considered Washington, Florida, Connecticut and Georgetown.

Landing Simpkins helped to absorb a blow last summer when twin forwards Marcus and Markeiff Morris of Philadelphia de-committed and ultimately decided to sign with Kansas.

Matt is an athletic and hardnosed forward. His game has made strides as his body catches up to his talents. Simpkins is a good looking athlete who can score down low and get out and run the floor.

Matt must continue to develop his post skills and play with more effort and desire.

Tyreke Evans (ESPN150-4;;

Height: 6-6 Weight: 190 PPG: 34.1 Position: Shooting Guard

Tyreke visited Memphis on February 23rd - the day the Tigers lost their only game of the season to cross-state rival Tennessee. During the game Tyreke saw first hand how starters minutes were stretched during the epic battle. Tyreke has begun working with a track coach in an attempt to get used to playing at the Tigers’ pace.

Evans is a special player. He is generally considered one of the top 5 players in the country and he chose the Tigers over Villanova and Texas. During his press conference on April 16th which was carried live on ESPN U, Tyreke was flanked by his brother and high school coach.

Tyreke is a big time scorer on the wing. He has excellent 3-point range and also exhibits an ability to use his body to create his own shot. Tyreke is very smooth with the ball, has a tremendous feel for the game and is also an excellent passer.

The Tiger coaching staff will go to work on his rebounding and decision making.

Wesley Witherspoon (ESPN150-72;;

Height: 6-7 Weight: 185 PPG: 18.6 Position: Small Forward

Wesley visited Memphis on April 26th, just three weeks after the Tigers lost to Kansas in the title game. It wasn’t as though he hadn’t heard all about the Tigers though. The versatile 6-7 small forward had already received an earful from future Tiger Tyreke Evans at the Jordan Brand Classic all-star game in New York.

Wesley chose Memphis on May 1st over Colorado, Texas and Virginia.

Wesley is a multi-skilled player who can defend four positions and even play point guard. You may recall Michigan State, Texas and UCLA all struggling with the Tigers length and athleticism on the perimeter and Wesley brings just that.

ESPN’s Recruiting Coordinator Antonio Williams thinks Witherspoon is a perfect fit for the Tigers. “Wesley gives the Tigers a versatile, athletic presence on the wing,” Williams said. “He has the skills and upside of a superstar but the attitude of a very humble young man. If he remains grounded, Memphis coach John Calipari has the coaching expertise to help develop him into a star at Memphis.”

“He has a very quick first step and good ball-handling ability for his height, which makes him a good penetrator,” Williams said. “Once in the paint, he has the leaping ability to explode over defenders and finish with a dunk. Witherspoon’s jump shot continues to improve as he adds range on the perimeter. He also has impressive passing skills for his size and loves to set teammates up for their shot. His long arms, quick reflexes, and good lateral speed make him a premier defender with the ability to guard all three perimeter positions. Witherspoon will develop into a star if he continues to add strength and muscle to his frame in addition to improving his jump shot.”

Memphis Tiger Assistant Rod Strickland


submitted by TheSavvy1

Ten years ago who'd a though that college players would be asked to approach former bad boy Rod Strickland,for advice. In his second year as director of student-athlete development at the University of Memphis that is exactly what they have been asked to do.

Now at the age of 41 Strickland is one man who defiantly been through it all during his NBA career. From arrests, fights with teammates to all star snubs and coming oh so close to reaching the NBA Finals. In a backwards way now a more mature Strickland is using his miscues to educate and help the young student athletes to not follow the path he followed.

Strickland's willingness to discuss any topic with the Memphis players has made him one of the most popular members of John Calipari's coaching staff.

Rod Strickland had an affect on the game that few other NYC point guards had. Mainly he was a true point guard. At 6'3", Strickland was big enough to take guards into the post, but also fast enough to blow by anyone respecting his jumper.

In 1988, David Stern called his name, and sent him on his way to his hometown New York Knicks. For any kid from the Bronx, playing for the Knicks would be a dream come true, problem is, if the guy ahead of you on the depth chart is an All-Star (Mark Jackson), you won't get any PT. After playing only 1 and a half seasons for his home team, Rod was shipped to San Antonio for Mo Cheeks.

He flourished under Larry Brown. He spent the next 2 and a half seasons in San Antonio nearly helping them reach the NBA Finals in 1991. Over his final season in S.A. the injury bug, a key turnover ending the Spurs season and reoccurring issues with coach Larry Brown, prompted Strick to opt for free-agency.

The Trail Blazers came running with their wallet open and pretty soon, Strickland was playing All-Star caliber ball, averaging 17 points and 8.5 assists per game for four seasons in Portland. But he never was invited to play in the All Star game. After another tough season beefing with Coach PJ Carlisimo; at the peak of his career, he was shipped to the Washington Bullets and would become part of a team that returned Washington to playoff contention after a 7 year-hiatus. What people don't know is that Rod lead the league in assists his first year as a Washington Wizard, averaging almost 11 dimes per game. Strickland was indeed a major talent, but you all know what comes next!

Along with pioneering the "New York" point guard role, Rod also pioneered the "JailBlazer" moniker, as he was the guy to start the trend of Portland having a prison basketball team. Rod never really got along with the caoching staff, got caught up in the area's marijuana scene and had the obligatory run-ins with local law officials. When he came to D.C., he played his ass off, but that didn't come without missing practices, showing up 20 minutes before game time and other crazy stunts. Strickland wasn't exactly the best teammate either for example Tracy Murray once sported one of the worst black eyes in the NBA since Rudy had his face broke. The Wizards tried to run Strickland alongside Mitch Richmond (from the Webber trade) in the supposed "best backcourt in the East" and the team went back to its playoff-missing ways.

After promising to be an angel in his brief stay in Minnesota, Rod got charged with smashing someone's parked car, and then peeling out, getting in trouble with law enforcement up there. His rap sheet included swinging on police officers, DUIs galore and other police blotter material. Getting up in age, Strickland tried the typical league tour (signing here and there to teams needing PG help) before finally chilling out for good in 2005 after 16 games with T-Mac and Yao, and a 3 month stint with a Lithuanian team.

Strickland, who is currently taking classes at Memphis toward completing his bachelor's degree, says his goal is to someday become a head coach. But for now, he's content counseling the Tigers.

"They knew from Day 1 that I am here for them," said Strickland, who played 17 seasons in the NBA before retiring after the 2004-05 season. "My career's over. I enjoyed it, but I'm here for them. I've had a lot of experiences, and I try to share that with them. I will talk to them about the good, the bad, the pitfalls, whatever."

Rose makes light of reported fight

Rose makes light of reported fight
Incident 'was nothing,' star guard declares
By Ronald Tillery
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Friday, May 30, 2008

ORLANDO -- Derrick Rose says he's a facilitator, not a fighter.

After speaking Thursday about his draft status at the NBA's Pre-Draft Camp, Rose denied reports that he was involved in a mid-April altercation with a University of Memphis football player, Steven Black.

"It was nothing," the former Tigers point guard said with a sheepish grin. "That wasn't about anything." first described an incident that reportedly kept Rose from conducting a news conference to announce his decision to turn pro. The item alleged that Rose and Black fought over a female classmate and Rose wasn't seriously injured.

Rose announced his leap to the NBA through a Memphis sports information department news release.

Asked if he was involved in a physical altercation with anyone before leaving Memphis, Rose flatly said "no."

The 6-3 guard is projected to go first or second in the June 26 draft.

Rose described his life as "crazy" since the Tigers lost in the NCAA national championship game to Kansas.

Rose said that while he took the loss hard, he hasn't had much time to pine over the game because of a busy schedule traveling.

"I'm just ready for this (draft) to be over," he said, "so I can get back to playing basketball."

-- Ronald Tillery: 529-2353

On the Bus With Coach Wojcik

On the Bus With Coach Wojcik
Wojcik is a member of the coaching staff on the C-USA China Tour

May 29, 2008

Guangdong, China -

The first in a two-part series of interviews with the two Conference USA head coaches who have accompanied Memphis coach John Calipari on the China Trip. First up, Tulsa's Doug Wojcik. The second Assistant oach profile and more information on the China Trip can be found on the "C-USA Basketball Goes International" link on the Tulsa basketball page at

Special thanks to David Scott for his China Tour coverage and feature stories.
Written by David Scott

The decision to join the Conference USA All-Stars tour of China was not an easy one for Doug Wojcik. This coming weekend in his hometown of Wheeling, West Virginia, Wojcik's nephew, Zach Basich - a state champion wrestler - will graduate from high school and then follow in his Uncle Doug's footsteps by enrolling at the United States Naval Academy.

"When I saw what weekend it was, I was like, `Wow, I'd really like to be there with Zach,'" said the Tulsa coach, who led the Golden Hurricane to the conference title game and the inaugural CBI title this past season. "My wife said to me that I had to go on this trip. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I think Zach will understand - I'm going to email him today or tomorrow and let him know I'm thinking about him and wish I could be there."

While Zach moves onto the next step of his educational career, Wojcik's presence on this trip furthers his coaching career in ways he might never have imagined.

"I've said to myself a few times that this is something I may never do again," said Wojcik. "It's just been eye-opening in so many ways and I've been to a lot of places through my time in the Navy, but I find that there is a real fascination with life on this side of the world. China has a mystique to it and the opportunity to come to a communist country is incredible for anyone, especially someone like me who has a deep interest in history."

Also making the journey a special one for Wojcik is being able to share it with one of his players, guard Ben Uzoh. (Originally, Tulsa's Jerome Jordan was also scheduled to be on the trip, but some visa issues held the precocious shot blocker out of the trip.)

"It was really a shame on a number of levels that Jerome couldn't be here on," said Wojcik. "I think he could have been a difference maker in the games, but also just the experience would have been great for him. But I'm so happy Ben is here and that I'm getting to spend more time with him. I also think this is the kind of thing that can really help him this upcoming season because he sees that he is one of the better players in the league. He's made a difference for our program and I'm happy that he's able to be a part of this and for me to be able to go through it with him."

Uzoh has been keeping an on-line diary for the Tulsa World and that too has been a huge positive emerging from the trip. "I guess people back home have been loving it and it's a great way to keep our fans engaged during the off-season," said Wojcik.

The trip has also afforded Wojcik the opportunity to grow closer to Calipari and the other coaches on the trip. "I played against Rod (Strickland) during college; John Robic is from the same area as me and I've always had a great deal of respect and admiration for Tony (Barbee)," said Wojcik. "John's always treated me like a little brother in the league and I value that relationship."

Wojcik played under Paul Evans, a coach that Calipari assisted under at Pittsburgh. "We have that connection, but I really just like the way Cal talks to the players and the things that he says. He's right on the mark as far as talking to the kids."

Wojcik too has been right on the mark in his assistant duties. Prior to the team's first game against Team China, he drew up an impromptu scouting report on Team China with the help of one of the trip's China-based organziers.

"You know, we're here to have fun and experience new things but we're all competitors," said Wojcik. "When it got to the fourth quarter, we all wanted to win as if it were a Conferenec USA game."

Those games won't start up again for a few months and when they do, Zach Basich - the son of Wojcik's sister Denise - will be beginning his first year of college. Coach Wojcik hopes the freshman-to-be knows that even though his uncle is half a world away, he's thinking of him and he's proud of him.

"I'll email him and let him know," said Uncle Doug. "It would have been great to be there with him for his day, but this trip was too good to pass up."

Chinese Men win with double-double from Zhang Kai

(DONGGUAN, May 28) -- The Chinese Men's National Basketball team pulled out an 87-80 win in an exhibition game against Team Conference USA on May 28 at the Dongguan Tangxia Arena in Guangdong province. New center Zhang Kai was the main man of the match, scoring 20 points and grabbing ten boards.

Without core players like Yao Ming, Yi Jianlian, the sixth pick in the NBA draft last year, and Wang Zhizhi, a former NBA player, the Chinese team trailed in the first half and only had a one-point lead at the end of the third quarter. In the last quarter, they tightened the defense and found their touch behind the three-point line, winning the game by 7 points.

Team Conference USA had seven players from last year's NCAA finalist, the Memphis Tigers, and five players from other NCAA teams (UTEP, Tulsa and Southern Miss). Their top players in this game were Memphis's Robert Doizer and Southern Miss's Jeremy West with 13 points each.

Post-game, head coach of Team Conference USA John Calipari said that he enjoyed the match and was honored to be involved with supporting the disaster relief for the Wenchuan earthquake. He praised the young players of the Chinese team for their impressive effort in the absence of their core players.

The Chinese team's head coach, Jonas Kazlauskas, praised his players' effort and expressed optimism. He said that Yi and Wang would join the team in Beijing for training and expects better performances in next 2 matches."

Before the tip-off, a moment of silence was observed for the Wenchuan earthquake victims. Afterwards, members from both teams made donations, and a condolence video from Yao Ming, who is recovering from injury in the US, was played.

The two teams will meet in Game 2 of the three-game Sino-American Basketball Classic series on Friday in Yangjiang, Guangdong, at 8 p.m., local time

How China Plan Could Change Hoops (Revisited)

How China Plan Could Change Hoops
Most agree Calipari’s strategy may eventually shake up college basketball

On a Sunday last May, University of Memphis men’s basketball coach John Calipari sat in his backyard reading The New York Times and contemplating his future.
In recent seasons, Calipari has built one of the country’s top college programs at Memphis, replicating the success he had in the late 1990s at the University of Massachusetts. But like Massachusetts, Memphis isn’t built for long-term achievement. The athletic department lacks the easy revenue that goes to rivals in BCS conferences, and its winning tradition — a 1973 appearance in the NCAA championship game and a Final Four berth in 1985 — will never be confused with that of North Carolina, Indiana or Kentucky.

Despite consecutive 33-4 seasons, Calipari wondered how he could sustain the program at the level to which he’d taken it. Sitting outside, he read a column by Bill Rhoden titled “Basketball Sees Potential in China, and Vice Versa.” Rhoden noted the progress of Chinese basketball, and the NBA’s efforts to market to China. “I jumped up from the chair,” said Calipari, “thinking, ‘Maybe this could be my edge.’”
What followed is a tale of imagination and serendipity that culminated with the signing last week of a historic agreement with the Chinese Basketball Association that will see 15 Chinese basketball coaches come to the Memphis campus next month for a 10-day coaching clinic, with one remaining on Calipari’s staff for the 2007-08 season as a paid intern.

Calipari is hoping that the exchange will create a following among Chinese basketball fans for Memphis and the college game. He has agreed to hold clinics for coaches in various Chinese cities during each of the next five years. Future components of the deal discussed by Calipari and the CBA at a Wednesday meeting in Beijing included a postseason tour of China by the Memphis team and an exhibition against the Chinese Olympic team next May, and, potentially, Chinese student athletes playing basketball for the Tigers.

“If this stays in the role of just coaching, that’s great,” Calipari said. “If it goes further and the NCAA benefits, and we all benefit, that’s even better.”
The initiative marks the first foray for college sports in China, and creates an official relationship between the university and the Beijing government.

“This could definitely carry over into helping other colleges,” said former NBA coach Del Harris, who coached the Chinese national basketball team at the 2004 Athens Olympics. “Consider a market with 1.3 billion inhabitants. I mean, it’s simple mathematics. If you can expand your sphere of influence by 1.3 billion people, that’s a good thing.”

From his awakening on that sleepy Sunday in May, Calipari may have singlehandedly cracked open the door to China for U.S. college athletics.

Xia Song Emerges As Key Player

The day after he read Rhoden’s story, Calipari called Fred Smith, the CEO of Memphis-based FedEx, which does business in 200 Chinese cities, and asked what Smith thought of a China initiative involving Tigers basketball.“Brilliant,” Calipari says that Smith replied.

Calipari then called William Wesley, a friend and adviser to many past and current NBA players. Wesley told Calipari of traveling to China with LeBron James. “He’s probably bigger in China than he is in the United States,” Wesley said, encouraging the Memphis coach to pursue the idea.

Calipari had never been to China, and had no connections that he knew of with the Chinese, but he was enthusiastic and persuasive. A few weeks later, in early June, Calipari called Harris, who is respected in China as a basketball elder statesman and who had made a coaching interchange one of his 14 recommendations to the Chinese government. “I told them to do what European countries were doing as long ago as 35 to 40 years ago,” Harris said. “Coaches from Italy and Spain and Greece would come over for a month at an NCAA school. It was important that China find a way to do that.”

Calipari was proposing exactly that. In an instance of perfect timing, Harris had a meeting with a group of Chinese basketball officials — including CBA head Li Yuanwei — scheduled in Dallas the following week. Harris agreed to introduce Calipari to the group as the best man for the job.

Upon landing in Dallas, Calipari became reacquainted with Xia Song. They’d met nine years ago at a Nike clinic in Italy, but by the time Calipari had his China epiphany, he’d long forgotten. Xia, who was accompanying the group as a translator and all-around deal-maker, is an influential Chinese agent and entrepreneur who is the voice of NBA broadcasts on Chinese television, and is considered to be indispensable when it comes to doing business involving basketball in China.
“He understands both the East and West, and he’s been a conduit,” Bruce O’Neil, the president and founder of the United States Basketball Academy, an Oregon-based training facility with strong links to China, said of Xia. “He’s close to the coaches, he has access, and he’s very close with the head of the CBA.”

With Xia as the facilitator and Harris as cheerleader, the outlines of a deal were quickly hammered out between Memphis and the CBA. “We met for lunch, and by the time lunch was over two hours later, this thing was in the can,” Calipari said. “Xia said, ‘Let me meet with them back in China, and we’ll get the ball rolling.’”

The consummate insider, Xia worked the bureaucracy. By early August, six weeks after the Dallas meeting, a plan was initiated and approved, with FedEx on board as a sponsor, providing travel costs for the coaching interchange and covering camp expenses in return for visibility and the right of first refusal on sponsorship deals as the relationship progresses. Not only was Smith vociferously in favor of Calipari’s plan, but FedEx CFO Alan Graf sits on Nike’s board of directors and is well-versed in China’s sports market.

“We’ll get some brand-building, some awareness over in China and in the U.S., and we’ll see where the program goes,” Graf said. “If this has the effect that we think it will in terms of getting the FedEx name in front of the Chinese people, then we’ll expand our involvement. We will ride this wave as it grows.”

FedEx has its name on the Tigers’ basketball venue, the FedEx Forum. It is creating a major hub in China, and sponsors the Chinese Olympic badminton team. The connection with Chinese basketball seemed a natural fit, especially when it involved the hometown team.

“This outreach could get Memphis mentioned in the same breath as the Indianas and Dukes and North Carolinas and the other top programs in America,” Graf said.

Different approach than NBA

Standing between Calipari and his vision are two of the world’s densest bureaucracies: the Chinese government, which controls the CBA, and the NCAA, which has stringent — and occasionally conflicting — guidelines covering overseas travel, recruiting foreign players, coaching clinics, television and just about anything else Calipari might attempt to do in China.

After initially declining to comment on the deal, the NCAA has reacted with caution
a prepared statement called Calipari’s efforts “fascinating” — rather than ebullience.

Some are not surprised by the NCAA’s response. “I’ve approached them in the past about doing some exchange-type things, but they can’t monetize it,” said USBA’s O’Neil. “They don’t see what benefit it gives them.”

If Calipari can successfully negotiate his way between the CBA and NCAA, the real payoff will come as the relationship expands.

“The Chinese fans haven’t had a chance to see the players, coaches and fans of NCAA basketball,” Xia said. “I know that it is authentic basketball, but the Chinese people do not. Not yet.”

The CBA’s agreement with Memphis, a public institution, is perceived as a government-to-government initiative. That wasn’t the approach taken by the NBA, which has been the most aggressive American sports entity in promoting its product in China.

The NBA has cultivated Chinese markets through a purely commercial approach, with exhibition games in Shanghai and Beijing in prior years and in Macao and Shanghai this fall, with a Chinese-language Web site offering live streaming of games and with a steady flow of telecasts and licensed products.

“The NBA is the top league in the world, but the start of this program is much stronger and more official than the NBA’s relations with the Chinese Basketball Association,” Xia said. “That matters in China.”

The NBA estimates that 300 million Chinese play organized basketball, which means China has as many active players as the United States has people. “The interest in basketball there is tremendous,” Harris said. “Right now, it has been focused on the NBA, but I think they could get interested in NCAA basketball. Particularly if they had a Chinese connection.”

Over the long term, Xia imagines the best Chinese youth players going to the U.S. for college basketball — and an education. While some might remain to play in the NBA, the rest will return home to China to spread their knowledge. “A talented junior player developed playing college basketball in the States, if he comes back to China, will become a star,” he said, which would presumably send more top juniors down the same path.

This season, three Chinese-born basketball players will compete for NCAA Division I schools: Shang Ping at Nebraska, Ji Xiang at Hawaii, and 7-foot-3-inch Max Zhang at California. “Why are these kids of interest in China?” asked Terry Rhoads, the American-born managing director of Zou Marketing, a top sports marketing firm in Shanghai. “Because nobody from China, short of Ma Jian in 1993 at Utah, has really played big-time college basketball. Let’s watch those players, because their success — both on the court and in the classroom — will set a precedent.”

“Memphis will be like the Dallas Mavericks in 1999, when they drafted Wang Zhizhi as the first Chinese player in the NBA,” said Xia, who started representing Wang and Mengke Bateer (China’s second NBA player) in 2000. “When Wang stepped on the court in 2001 for the first time against the Atlanta Hawks, more than 200 million people were watching that moment live in China.”

The Potential for Memphis

It isn’t lost on Calipari that Chinese basketball fans no longer show nearly as much interest in the Mavericks as they do in the Rockets, who drafted Yao Ming No. 1 in 2003 and instantly supplanted Dallas as China’s favorite team. He’s under no illusions that his pioneer status will gain him anything more than a head start.
“Within the next three to four years, I’d hope to be fielding a team that has two or three Chinese players that are real contributors,” he said. “But this is for basketball as a whole.”

“Cal is being a revolutionary,” Wesley said. “He’s coming in and doing something that hadn’t been done before. Nobody else had the imagination to do it. And if they can get a kid from China who can play college there, then you’ll really see something. And you’ll start seeing more and more of them.”

Others agree, applauding Calipari’s long-term plan. “He’s looking two to three mountain ranges in advance and thinking what this could turn into over time,” Graf said.

Patience, however, is paramount.

“I think it’ll work, but it’ll be a long-term project,” O’Neil said. “What John’s doing has a lot of merit, but it’s an uphill battle because nobody in China knows anything about the NCAA. But when it finally takes off, it’s going to be gigantic.”
Part of what Calipari envisions is nothing less than the remaking of the University of Memphis into a national academic power. And for a university that had fewer than 400 undergraduates of Asian descent among almost 16,000 total enrollees last year, the deal complements an ongoing effort to establish an Asian presence on campus.
“I think this has potential on the academic side,” said Memphis Provost Ralph Faudree, who accompanied Calipari to China last week for the ceremony. “This is a chance for us to remake our image. It can be the front porch to academics, to give us visibility for things that can help a lot of our students.”

“For this program to sustain and grow, our campus has to grow,” Calipari said. “We have to be thought of in a different light. Dr. Faudree needs the basketball program to get him a higher profile. I need him to build better and better academics to help the reputation of the university, to take it to the next level. Increasing the Asian presence on our campus can help us do that. This is what we can be known for.”
Nobody is claiming Calipari’s visit to Beijing is the college basketball equivalent of ping-pong diplomacy. And marketers in China caution that the odds of making an impact remain long.

“We’ve got lots of people beating the basketball pathway to China, but it’s a very immature sports industry out here,” Rhoads said. “I applaud Memphis for doing this, but I think they’re running before the industry is walking. For Chinese consumers right now, this ain’t going to move the needle. Memphis will hit a kind of tipping point when one of China’s best young players cracks its lineup and actually becomes a player of significance.”

Even Xia, ever the optimist, knows that the road ahead won’t be a straight one. “There will be a lot of negotiations,” he said. “It will take a while. In China, the friendship and the trust mean everything.”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Team C-USA falls in China opener

Team C-USA falls in China opener
Two more games on tour
The Commercial Appeal
Wednesday, May 28, 2008

DONGGUAN, China – The hastily assembled Team Conference USA lost its opener in China this morning (Memphis time), 87-80, to the Chinese National team.

University of Memphis forward Robert Dozier and Southern Miss guard Jeremy Wise each scored 13 points to lead Team C-USA, which has two more games during its week-long journey to the Far East. The Tigers’ Doneal Mack added 12 points, while UTEP center Claude Britten scored 10.

The Chinese benefited from a dramatic edge at the free-throw line, as the home team shot 25 of 39 from the line compared to Team C-USA's 12 of 18.

“There was a lot of body-to-body contact today,” Team C-USA coach John Calipari said in a press release. “Our foul trouble was mostly based on our conditioning as much as anything. We’ve only had three practices together, but I thought we played well, and I’m happy we were able to out-rebound them (43-40).

“We really enjoyed being a part of this charity event to support the earthquake victims, and it means a lot to our team, our university and our conference to be involved in this tour and to be able to help our Chinese friends in any way we can."

Memphis’ Shawn Taggart hauled down eight rebounds to go with his eight points, and Dozier grabbed seven boards.

“I’m proud to be part of this team, and I thought we played pretty well,” Wise said. “I didn’t expect any of this when I found out we were coming over here, and it’s just been an incredible experience. I’ve gotten to know all the guys and my coaches, and I feel like we’ve all come together really quickly.”

The two teams will meet in Game 2 of the three-game series on Friday in Yangjiang at 8 p.m. local time (7 a.m. CDT).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tiger Basketball Ranked In Top 10 In NCAA Attendance For 2007-08

Tiger Basketball Ranked In Top 10 In NCAA Attendance For 2007-08
Fifth top-10 attendance ranking in Calipari's eight years at Memphis.
A record number of Memphis fans cheered on the Tigers in 2007-08.

May 21, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The build-up for the 2007-08 University of Memphis basketball campaign began last summer, and Tiger Nation responded in a big way all season long.

For the fifth time in John Calipari's eight years, the Memphis ranked among the NCAA's top 10 in basketball attendance, as the Tigers' set a school record for total paid attendance in 2007-08. Memphis drew a record 351,718 in paid attendance over 21 games during the season. The Tigers' previous season paid attendance record was 340,723 in the 2001-02 year (21 games).

Last year, the Tigers averaged 16,748 per game to rank 10th nationally. The average attendance was the second-highest mark in Memphis school history, as the Tigers averaged 17,110 in Calipari's first year in 2000-01 (17 games).

Since Calipari's arrival in 2000-01, Memphis also ranked in the top 10 in NCAA attendance in 2000-01 (6th), 2001-02 (10th), 2002-02 (7th) and 2003-04 (10th). The 2005-06 (13th) and 2006-07 (16th) seasons both ranked in the top 20 in NCAA attendance.

The attendance figures have translated into a huge homecourt advantage for the Tigers. In the Calipari era, Memphis has a 134-18 record (.882 winning percentage) at home, including games at The Pyramid and FedExForum. In their four years at FedExForum (2005-08), the Tigers have a 74-9 mark (.892 winning percentage).

In 2007-08, Kentucky led the nation in attendance, averaging 22,554 fans per game. North Carolina (20,497), Syracuse (20,345) and Tennessee (20,267) were second, third and fourth, respectively, in attendance.

Last season, Memphis had nine games that drew over 17,500, including a FedExForum record crowd of 18,864 for the Tigers' thrilling 85-71 win over Georgetown.

For all-game attendance (home, road, neutral), Memphis ranked third nationally with total attendance of 644,435. Kansas and North Carolina were first and second, respectively, in that attendance category.

The Tigers drew record attendance on the road all season, especially in Conference USA play. Memphis played six of its eight C-USA road games before capacity (or larger) crowds at Marshall, Tulsa, Houston, UAB, Tulane and Southern Miss.

Memphis finished the 2007-08 campaign with an NCAA record 38 wins (38-2 record) and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament championship game. The Tigers, ranked No. 1 in both national polls for a school-record five-straight weeks during the season, swept the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles for a third-straight year.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memphis/Conference USA Team Heads To China Sunday

Memphis/Conference USA Team Heads To China Sunday
May 25, 2008

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Have basketball, will travel - to the Far East, that is.

This morning, seven players from the University of Memphis - joined by two players from UTEP and Southern Miss and one from Tulsa - began a 20-hour, plane-ride journey to China for a nine-day, three-exhibition game tour.

"This is going to be an interesting trip," said Memphis head coach John Calipari. "Basically, it's two or three different teams, one day of practice, three games in six days and the flight over is probably 20 hours. It's a neat trip, and we are playing the (Chinese) national team.

"The people over in that region of China are anxious for us to get over there, and it's going to be fun."

Joining Calipari on staff for the trip are Tiger assistant John Robic and operations staffer Rod Strickland. UTEP head coach Tony Barbee and Tulsa head coach Doug Wojcik are also assisting Calipari on the trip.

The squad's first game is scheduled for May 28 at 7:30 pm local time (6:30 a.m. Memphis time; 13-hour difference). The second game is May 30 at 7:30 p.m. local time (6:30 a.m. CT), while the final contest is the same time on June 1.

After the exhibition games, the team returns to the United States, while Calipari and his Memphis staff stay another week in China to conduct basketball clinics.

The games are a part of the Memphis initiative with the Chinese Basketball Association for the next five years. The agreement started in the fall of 2007 when Calipari invited a group of 15 Chinese coaches to observe preseason practices at the Larry O. Finch Center on the University of Memphis campus. One coach - Cui Wanjun - remained with the Tigers throughout the entire 2007-08 campaign.

Memphis/Conference USA Team Exhibition Schedule
May 28 - 7:30 pm local (6:30 am CT)/Dongguan Tangxia (gym) in Dongguan
May 30 -- 7:30 pm local (6:30 am CT)/Yangjiang (gym) in Yangjiang
June 1 -- 7:30 pm local (6:30 am CT)/Huizhou Jiangbei (gym) in Huizhou

Antonio Anderson
Robert Dozier
Willie Kemp
Doneal Mack
Pierre Niles
Jeff Robinson
Shawn Taggart

Southern Miss
Andre Stephens
Jeremy Wise

Ben Uzoh

Claude Britten
Julyan Stone

Odds and Ends From Dan Wolken

CDR epilogue

Another player who has been working out hard recently is Chris Douglas-Roberts, who is using renowned NBA trainer Tim Grover to prepare for the draft. Grover's client list is off the charts -- his most famous was Michael Jordan -- and according to, Douglas-Roberts is currently working out at his Chicago gym with fellow probable first-round picks O.J. Mayo, Brandon Rush, Bill Walker and Donte Green.

Most projections have Douglas-Roberts going anywhere from No. 10 to No. 22 in the draft.

In other words, for any fans still holding out hope that Douglas-Roberts might come back to school -- and yes, those sentiments still pop up on Internet message boards from time to time -- please move on.

If his former roommate and sidekick Antonio Anderson can, so can you.

"That's what we all come here for, to get the opportunity to play at the next level," Anderson said. "His chance came, and I told him, he's got to go get it. He had a terrific three years here, and I'm going to miss him, but he's going to be making a lot of money."

Assistant update

Former Memphis assistant Chuck Martin, who became the head coach at Marist last month, was back in town Friday to see his family -- Martin is living in a hotel in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., until his wife and children can move -- and observe the pre-China practice with a member of his new coaching staff.

Since taking the job, Martin has already signed four players, which isn't a surprise since he has plenty to sell on the recruiting trail. Not only is Martin going to run Memphis' dribble-drive motion offense, but he's also in a league with a history of success in the NCAA Tournament with schools such as Iona, Manhattan and Siena, which beat Vanderbilt this year in the first round.

Martin also has a campus that offers a quaint private school setting just an hour from his recruiting wheelhouse in New York City.

"The campus is beautiful," Martin said. "The dorms overlook the Hudson River. It's ridiculous."

Cal's camp

The John Calipari Basketball School will include four different camps this year, beginning June 2-5 with the "Spring into Hoops" session. Mike Miller's shooting camp is June 9-11. On June 23-26, Memphis will hold its elite camp, dubbed the "Serious Skills Session." The final session is July 28-31. All camps are $200 and run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on their respective days. Register online at


Memphis ranked 10th in attendance for the 2007-08 season at 16,748 fans per game. Kentucky led the way with average crowds of 22,554. ... ranked Memphis' four-man recruiting class No. 5 in the country behind UCLA, Kansas, Wake Forest and Louisville. The Tigers could add one more player in athletic 6-7 forward Emmanuel Negedu, who initially signed with Arizona but was released from his letter of intent last week. Negedu, ranked No. 40 overall, has a close relationship with Memphis assistant Josh Pastner, who recruited him last year when he worked at Arizona. Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Indiana are also on Negedu's list. ... Calipari still has one more assistant coach to hire but said Friday that probably wouldn't happen until he returns from China. Though the team comes back June 2, the coaches are staying until June 8 to conduct coaching clinics.

To reach Dan Wolken, call 529-2365; e-mail:

Evans working on endurance

Evans working on endurance

By Dan Wolken
Sunday, May 25, 2008

At the insistence of his older brother and legal guardian, incoming University of Memphis freshman Tyreke Evans began working with a personal trainer when he was just 13 years old. Since then, "Team Tyreke," has grown to include a footwork specialist and a chiropractor.

Now, Evans is planning to spend the next several weeks working with a track coach to help build his endurance and ability to run in Memphis' fast-paced system.

"That style is like a track meet," said big brother Reggie. "His ticker isn't exercised to do that type of running. We're going to get him doing track drills on how to pace yourself and how to breathe correctly."

When it comes to laying the groundwork for an NBA career, Tyreke Evans is impressively ahead of the curve.

While he may not have quite as many athletic gifts of Derrick Rose, who looks like he's going to parlay his only season at Memphis into the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, the two players are at completely different ends of the spectrum when it comes to physical preparation for their basketball careers.

Whereas Rose never lifted a weight before he got to Memphis, Evans has been training with Lamont Peterson for practically all of his teenage years. Whereas Rose's famously bad diet included copious amounts of Twizzlers and Gummi Bears, Evans regularly consults with a nutritionist.

And whereas Rose had a tendency to tire out at the end of big games in which he had to play almost all of the minutes, Evans is already preparing to go the distance.

"We saw that game against Tennessee," Reggie Evans said, referring to the Tigers' 66-62 loss last season. "Derrick and (Chris Douglas-Roberts), those two guys look healthy enough to run all day, and they were out of gas. 'Reke would be in big trouble."

Though some criticisms of Evans may be legitimate -- the most obvious is how often he shot the ball in high school and in the various all-star games -- even his biggest detractors can't question his work ethic.

Not when you consider he's putting up 1,500 shots a day, plus a daily lifting program, speed drills and everything else he's doing five months before his first college basketball game.

"Everybody's telling me Tyreke is working harder than they've ever seen him work, and he's really excited about being here and playing for us," coach John Calipari said. "It's absolutely driven him to another level."

There's also a sense, according to Reggie Evans, that Tyreke has been a bit undervalued in some circles, perhaps as a backlash to how long he's been in the spotlight., for instance, ranked five players in the 2008 class ahead of Evans, who was named MVP of both the McDonald's All-American game and the Jordan Brand Classic.

"Here's a kid who is still, to himself, trying to keep proving everybody wrong," Reggie Evans said. "He's a forgotten kid. He's old news because he's been around for a while. ... You're kind of like old talk. That's what keeps him working hard. People are saying he can't play Memphis' style. That's crazy. He's like, I want to go to Memphis and prove everybody wrong. I love that about the kid."

Calipari's team gets jump on 2008-09 while soaking up culture in China

Calipari's team gets jump on 2008-09 while soaking up culture in China

By Dan Wolken
Sunday, May 25, 2008

The impact of the University of Memphis' association with Chinese basketball was evident last month when a delegation from the Big Ten visited the world's most populous country.

"One of their assistants," coach John Calipari said, "called back to say, 'Everywhere we go, they're asking, are you guys Memphis?'"

Given the vast potential for confusion in any East-West meeting, it was a minor and understandable mistake. It was also a potential preview of the reception for Memphis' delegation when seven Tigers players and five from other Conference USA schools arrive in Guangzhou sometime Monday for a weeklong trip highlighted by three exhibition games against the Chinese national team.

"You can imagine what has been built up, the goodwill of our team coming to China," Calipari said. "It's going to be exciting stuff."

For the Tigers, this rare overseas opportunity will serve two important purposes.

First, from a practical standpoint, it's the start of the 2008-09 season for Memphis' returning players. Though the dynamic will obviously change once the Tigers are able to play with their four incoming recruits, Calipari will at least get a sense of where the team stands on some key issues such as how junior Willie Kemp will play at point guard, whether sophomore Jeff Robinson will flourish in an expanded role and how junior Shawn Taggart will function as the primary post threat.

"I've been working out, trying to get ready for this point right now, so I'm happy to go out and play against guys like that," Taggart said. "It's going to be good competition for us to come together."

It's hard to gauge how this team, which will wear a special C-USA uniform rather than a Memphis uniform, will fare against the Chinese.

Fortunately for the Tigers, they won't have to match up against Houston Rockets center Yao Ming or Milwaukee Bucks forward Yi Jianlian, but they will have to adjust to international rules.

"They've got huge guys -- 6-8, 6-9 guards," Memphis senior Antonio Anderson said. "We've got to learn the rules, and the lane's a little wider. We have to be prepared in all aspects of how to play. We're looking forward to this experience. It's going to be great for me personally and the guys on the team and from the other schools. I'm pretty pumped up."

And they'll have to do it with just one day of practice. Memphis and the five additional players -- Tulsa guard Ben Uzoh, Southern Miss guard Jeremy Wise and forward Andre Stephens and UTEP guard Julyan Stone and center Claude Britten -- had just two sessions at the Finch Center on Saturday before taking off this morning.

Calipari said he would likely try to play the Memphis players together as much as possible.

"It's three games in six days, so there's not a whole lot we can really put in or add to it," Calipari said. "Maybe the first 12 minutes, we play our seven guys, then the next eight minutes we go with their five guys. Then we can have a couple guys sub in for them if they get exhausted. I think that's the easiest way to do this when you have absolutely one day of practice."

In some ways, however, the most important benefit of this trip is educational. None of Memphis' players have ever traveled so far away from home to a place so different from their own.

Despite the hectic schedule of games, Calipari said there will be time for cultural experiences. All three of the Tigers' games will be played in the vicinity of Guangzhou, the economic hub of South China and the third-largest city on the mainland. The metropolitan area is home to 9.75 million people and is just a 90-minute train ride from Hong Kong.

"It's different food, different culture; a lot of things are different over there," Taggart said. "And I've heard the shopping is cheaper, too."

The Tigers will also have to deal with a 13-hour time difference and a trip that will essentially take 24 hours from the time they leave Memphis until they arrive in Guangzhou.

"We've never been out of the country, so it's going to be a great trip," Kemp said. "The flight time and time changes, we'll probably be sleeping. It's daylight there when it's nighttime over here, so we have to get used to it."

After the players return on June 2, Calipari and assistants John Robic and Rod Strickland will remain in China for another week to conduct coaching clinics. This will be the first of five annual trips Calipari plans to make with his staff and a C-USA all-star team, per the terms of the exchange program he created last summer.

Last fall, the Chinese Basketball Association sent a group of coaches to observe the Tigers for 10 days during their preseason practices. One of them, Cui Wanjun, stayed with the team all season and witnessed their run to the national championship game. More coaches will be coming to Memphis next fall.

"Think about it," Calipari said. "These players are going to China, a country that had the iron curtain down not long ago. ... It's going to be a neat trip. I think people in that region are anxious for us to get over there. It should be fun."

Reach Dan Wolken at 529-2365; read his blogs on the Tigers at

Friday, May 23, 2008

Anderson returning to U of M

Anderson returning to U of M
Guard withdraws name from NBA draft
By Dan Wolken
Originally published 03:11 p.m., May 23, 2008

University of Memphis guard Antonio Anderson withdrew his name from the NBA Draft on Friday morning and announced he would return to school for his senior season.

Anderson, who led the Tigers in minutes played each of the last three years, said his decision was easy once he learned he would not be picked in the first round of the draft, which guarantees an NBA contract.

“I got feedback that I’d go second round, and I wasn’t comfortable with that,” said Anderson, who averaged 8.6 points and 3.4 assists last season. “Coming back here for another year, I can get better in every aspect of my game and try to win some more ballgames and have fun again, have another great year and see where it can take me.”

Anderson’s return ensures the Tigers will have enough quality depth in the backcourt next season to make a long NCAA Tournament run, despite the loss of guards Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts to the NBA. Anderson projects to start alongside junior Willie Kemp and incoming freshman star Tyreke Evans, with junior Doneal Mack, sophomore Jeff Robinson and incoming freshman Wesley Witherspoon also in the mix.

With Anderson pulling out of the draft before the team leaves Sunday for a week-long trip to China, just one player — forward Robert Dozier — remains in limbo. Coach John Calipari said Friday he has been setting up individual workouts for Dozier once the team returns on June 2.

Like Anderson, Dozier does not project as a first-round pick but might ultimately decide to stay in the draft anyway.

“My suggestion is to explore it to the end and here’s why: I only want him to come back if he wants to be the player of the year in the country, if he has that desire,” Calipari said. “If it’s like, ‘Man I wish …’ then don’t come back. Go about your business, do what you have to do. I want him to thoroughly explore.”

Anderson, who is just 25 credits short of graduation, said he hopes Dozier decides to come back but won’t pressure him.

“Rob is his own person,” Anderson said. “I want the best for Rob whether he stays or comes back. I want him to come back so he can help me out, but it’s up to him. It’s his decision. If he goes for it, he goes for it. If he comes back, I’ll be happy, as well. I’m with him regardless.”

Two main factors that played into Anderson’s decision could probably be applied to Dozier’s, as well.

Whereas Dozier and Anderson were complimentary players on past Memphis teams — neither has averaged double figures in scoring for a season — both would have the opportunity to take on expanded roles as seniors.

Plus, next year’s draft projects to be far weaker in terms of underclassmen, giving them better opportunities to be selected in the first round.

“As stocked as the draft is and a lot of freshmen coming out, it’s pushing a lot of guys back,” Anderson said. “I’m not going to make a mistake that would impact me for the rest of my life.”

Regardless of Dozier’s decision, the Tigers are now close to finalizing their roster for next season. The other possible addition is 6-7 forward Emmanuel Negedu, who was released by Arizona from his letter of intent this week. Negedu was recruited to Arizona by Josh Pastner, who joined the Memphis coaching staff last week.

Negedu is looking at Memphis, Indiana, Georgia Tech and Tennessee, but it’s unlikely any decision will be made before the Tigers return from China, especially since this is a dead period in recruiting.

Either way, junior forward Shawn Taggart said he was excited about the roster going forward, especially with Anderson back in the fold.

“That’s a big deal,” Taggart said. “I’m happy he came back. He’s one of my closest friends, and he’s a great player. … We’re going to be very good.”

— Dan Wolken: 529-2365

Memphis' Anderson withdraws from NBA draft

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- University of Memphis guard Antonio Anderson has withdrawn from the 2008 NBA Draft and is returning to school for his final season of eligibility.

He said in a statement released by the school Friday that he'd been projected as a second-round pick, and he was not satisfied with that.

Anderson has 897 career points for the Tigers. This past season, he was the team's fourth-leading scorer at 8.6 points per game. He tied for the team lead with 49 steals and was second with 136 assists.

Anderson also was the most valuable player of the Conference USA Tournament.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

ESPN - Comments on Recruiting - See #1 and #10

A look at the 10 most significant recent developments on the recruiting scene

By Antonio Williams
Updated: May 20, 2008

Both the early and late signing periods have produced a number of interesting occurrences that have had a major impact on the national recruiting landscape, dramatically altering the course of more than a few prominent college basketball programs.

These 10 events have significantly impacted college basketball and recruiting:

1. Evans goes walking in Memphis

After having a laundry list of schools well into the latter stages of his recruiting, Tyreke Evans narrowed his choices down to Connecticut, Louisville, Memphis, Texas and Villanova. Eventually, he whittled this impressive list down to two, with Villanova and Memphis left standing. Evans elected to take his considerable scoring talents to Memphis, where he should have plenty of opportunities.

Memphis will welcome Evans' prolific ability and mentality, given the fact that the Tigers will lose both Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts, the top two scorers on a team that played in the national title game. With shooting guard Antonio Anderson also testing the NBA draft waters, Evans may have even more scoring opportunities. Getting a talent such as Evans to Memphis also attracts other talented players, and Memphis coach John Calipari parlayed the momentum of Evans' commitment into a verbal pledge from Wesley Witherspoon, one of the top undeclared prospects in the Class of 2008 during the late signing period.

2. Troubles abloom in Bloomington

When Kelvin Sampson left Oklahoma to take the head coaching post at Indiana, he faced some minor sanctions from "excessive calling" of recruits, in the words of the NCAA. Sampson could not make calls to recruits, but these sanctions did not seem to hinder the rebuilding efforts that Sampson started at Indiana. After Indiana's controversial recruitment of uber-prospect Eric Gordon ended with the guard eventually choosing Indiana -- and leaving Illinois in the dust -- Sampson seemed well on his way to restoring the Hoosiers to national prominence.

With trouble appearing to be in the rearview mirror -- the Hoosiers started the season as a top 10 team -- and Gordon's presence paying immediate dividends on the court, Sampson assembled another top recruiting class for 2008. However, one of the recruits, Bud Mackey, ran afoul of the law and faced an indictment on drug trafficking. The Hoosiers had no choice but to withdraw their scholarship offer to Mackey. Then, allegations surfaced that Sampson and his staff violated the NCAA-mandated restrictions placed on phone calls to recruits. Sampson eventually lost his job during the season, the team lost games during this unstable phase and recruits expressed their interests in going elsewhere. Indiana released top recruit Devin Ebanks, who signed with West Virginia, and point guard Terrell Holloway, who signed with Xavier, from their letters of intent. Eventually, Indiana hired former Marquette coach Tom Crean. He has managed to rebound by signing one of his former Marquette recruits, ESPN 100 guard Nick Williams and talented guard Verdell Jones.
3. Billy and the kids

Since his arrival at Kentucky, coach Billy Gillispie, known for his legendary work ethic, has not disappointed the Kentucky faithful on the recruiting trails. Upon taking the reins, he delivered 2007 top-10 prospect Patrick Patterson to Lexington and followed that performance with pledges from two top-50 wing prospects: Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins. However, Gillispie's recruiting triumphs with younger prospects have dominated the headlines in recent weeks.

2010 ESPN Super 60 prospect Dominique Ferguson's verbal commitment to the Wildcats in late April served as the start of a whirlwind of momentum among underclassmen for Kentucky. Ferguson joins Super 60 members K.C. Ross-Miller and Dakotah Euton as members of the 2010 class who have given an oral pledge to the Wildcats. Ross-Miller and Euton both committed last summer. Soon afterward, California eighth-grader Michael Avery committed to Kentucky. Next, freshman Vinny Zollo announced his intentions to attend Kentucky in 2011, followed by word that Gillispie offered a scholarship to fellow 2011 prospect Jeremiah Davis. During this stretch, Gillispie also managed to get a verbal promise from 2009 ESPN 100 prospect Jon Hood.

4. The O.J. Mayo saga

Two years ago, USC coach Tim Floyd had the ingredients and the recipe needed to cook up one of the top up-and-coming college basketball programs in the country. With talented players Nick Young, Gabe Pruitt, and Taj Gibson and the pristine Galen Center serving as the foundation, Floyd had the facilities and the players to win games and in the process, gain the attention of some of the country's top prospects. (The program also could sell the experience of playing under the bright lights of Los Angeles.) USC had all the parts to deliver award-winning performances on the big stage except a true star to play the lead. Enter phenom O.J. Mayo.

With cross-town rival UCLA enjoying its own rebirth of sorts under Ben Howland and the early departures of both Young and Pruitt for the NBA draft, Mayo had the opportunity to immediately fill the backcourt void for the Trojans. USC has played in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament only twice since 1979, and Mayo had the chance to take the Trojans on a historic ride and create a legacy as one of the top freshmen to ever lace them up. Although the Trojans lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament this season, Mayo had a good year, leading the Pac-10 in scoring despite carrying major expectations and serving as the focal point of every opponent's defense.

Following his stellar freshman campaign, allegations emerged that Mayo accepted improper gifts before his enrollment at USC and during his time as a student. If current investigations find truth in these allegations, the Trojans will undoubtedly face sanctions that will have a major impact on their recruiting immediately. Top-10 prospect Demar Derozan has stated that these accusations could lead him to seek a release from the letter of intent he signed with USC. The Trojans have verbal commitments from other talented prospects -- including Malik Story and Leonard Washington -- they also could lose if they are penalized as a result of the investigation.

5. Hopson Volunteers for Tennessee

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, with his outstanding basketball knowledge and infectious personality, landed a commitment from an elite prospect when 2008 McDonald's All-American Scotty Hopson decided he would head to Knoxville for the next phase of his basketball career. Pearl previously played All-American Chris Lofton at shooting guard. What Lofton lacked in height and athleticism for the position, he more than compensated for with shooting ability, character and determination. Hopson, who originally committed to Mississippi State, provides the Volunteers with prototypical size and elite athleticism at the 2-guard slot. With Hopson on board, expect Tennessee to arrive as a mainstay on the national recruiting scene.
6. Brady Bunch no more at LSU

At first glance, John Brady's departure from LSU might appear to be a minor event. Upon further analysis, however, Brady's firing could have a major impact on the college basketball landscape, particularly at UCLA.

The Bruins had already put together the top recruiting class in the country, with all-everything guard Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson, and Malcolm Lee joining power forward Drew Gordon in UCLA's 2008 recruiting haul. Now, there is wide-spread speculation that former LSU signee and ESPN 100 power forward J'Mison Morgan will join the Bruins after he received his release from LSU. Morgan's commitment would further bolster UCLA's already stellar class. During this recent run of success, which has included three consecutive Final Four berths, UCLA has experienced issues on the front line that severely hindered the Bruins' chances of winning the title. With this outstanding group of incoming freshmen -- and the prospects of adding Morgan -- UCLA may finally have all of the parts needed to bring the title back to Westwood.

7. Tar Heels ring in the New Year

Many experts thought the Tar Heels lost their recruiting touch at the beginning of the early signing period, during which they lost a couple of elite prospects to other top programs. In November 2008, however, top-10 prospect Tyler Zeller chose the Tar Heels, which seemed to dramatically reverse their recruiting fortunes. North Carolina rode the momentum of Zeller's commitment to a very successful beginning to the 2008 calendar year.

Tyler Zeller runs the floor better and more consistently than most big men, so he'll fit right in at UNC.
In the first week of 2008, John Henson, a talented ESPN 100 power forward from the Class of 2009, delivered a verbal pledge to the Tar Heels. Shortly after Henson's commitment, two more ESPN 100 frontcourt players -- twin brothers Travis and David Wear -- decided they will don the Carolina Blue in college. A few days later, 2010 ESPN Super 60 prospect Reggie Bullock selected North Carolina. 2009 top-10 player Dexter Strickland rounded out North Carolina's incredible January by giving a verbal pledge to the Tar Heels. So much for all of the talk that UNC coach Roy Williams lost his recruiting fastball.
8. Dawkins will Duke it out at Stanford

In somewhat of a surprise, longtime top Duke assistant Johnny Dawkins left Tobacco Road for Stanford's redwood country. Many thought Dawkins would remain with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and one day take over as Coach K's successor. Instead, Dawkins opted for Stanford to take over for Trent Johnson when he departed for LSU.

In Dawkins, Stanford has a leader familiar with coaching and recruiting under high academic standards and expectations. Dawkins also has international coaching experience under his belt (he contributed as part of Coach K's USA Basketball staff). Dawkins, with his coaching experience and knowledge, should have no problem maintaining Stanford's success on the national scene. Duke faithful will welcome Dawkins' success at Stanford. Surprisingly, a number of Coach K's disciples have endured their share of adversity as head coaches. Former Missouri coach Quin Snyder resigned due to pressures that arose from scandals. Current Harvard coach Tommy Amaker seemed to land on his feet after receiving his pink slip from Michigan. However, Harvard currently finds itself battling allegations of improper contact with recruits.

9. The Crimson curve

Amaker wasted little time in building excitement when he started to assemble a top-25 2008 recruiting class, headlined by talented center Frank Ben-Eze. Then, allegations of recruiting violations threw a curveball to the Crimson's reclamation project. Although the NCAA has not officially stated that Harvard engaged in illegal recruiting tactics, the fear of action from the NCAA has dramatically altered Harvard's once-impressive recruiting class. Ben-Eze, after originally pledging to Harvard, has signed with Davidson while he rehabs from a rather serious knee injury. In the coming weeks, players and college programs will play close attention to the situation at Harvard, and the Crimson's remaining 2008 recruiting class could have more significant changes.

10. Cousins blazing trails in Birmingham

The center of the recruiting universe was Birmingham, Ala., when 2009 top-5 prospect DeMarcus Cousins announced he would remain in-state to play for Mike Davis at UAB. Davis had no problem luring top talent at his previous head coaching post at Indiana and seems to have brought that formula to Birmingham. In Cousins, Davis has the elite prospect who has the talent to change the fortunes of a program. Cousins' commitment could also alter the course of an entire conference.

With schools such as Louisville departing for other conferences, Conference USA has experienced a decrease in level of play and respectability on the national scene. Only Memphis remains as a national power in the league. Cousins has the ability to shift the balance of power in Conference USA. Though he cannot accomplish this task alone, his presence has already started to play immediate dividends for the Blazers. Shortly after Cousins committed, Tamir "Pops" Jackson, another ESPN 100 prospect from the Class of 2009, delivered a verbal pledge to Davis and UAB. With this type of talent headed to Birmingham, Conference USA will start to garner national praise. Conference USA, if it wants relevancy on the national scene, needs more schools to develop their programs to challenge Memphis. With the additions of Cousins and Jackson, UAB seems well on its way to helping restore the league.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mike DeCourcy - Making the case for a NBA draft age of 20

Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News
Making the case for a NBA draft age of 20
Posted: May 19, 2008

When the folks at Harris Interactive recently released their annual survey of America's most popular sports, basketball got slammed. Once ahead of baseball in the race to be a distant second to this nation's football obsession, the ratings for hoops have slipped to Beauty and the Geek territory.

I did my own little survey, less scientific, when speaking at Wright State's tipoff luncheon last November. To get an idea of how the NBA is viewed by typical college fans, I asked audience members to raise their hands if they had a negative view of the NBA. You'd have thought I had just offered them 23-cent pizzas.

Basketball is a great game, but the sport is fractured. We again were reminded of that when ESPN's Outside the Lines reported USC star O.J. Mayo was paid thousands of dollars by an agent's "runner" while Mayo played high school ball and one season with the Trojans.

Would an increase in the NBA's draft age minimum to 20 fix everything?

Goodness, no.

There's one reason I'm certain it's a good move, though: Many agents think it's a bad one.

Those who fought against NBA commissioner David Stern's original proposal for a 20-year age minimum -- and helped get it cut in contract negotiations to the current 19 -- largely did so because it's easier to bamboozle high school kids. Agents are attaching themselves to younger players and do not want extended college careers to delay their payoffs. They might masquerade behind a concern about the rights of athletes to earn a living, but it's mostly about their own net worths.

For too long, there has been no attention paid to basketball's bottom line. In 1994, before the NBA's introduction of a rookie salary scale essentially invited high school players into the draft, 19 percent of Americans identified basketball -- college (8 percent) or pro (11) -- as their favorite sport. Now it's down to 8 percent, split evenly between the two. David Falk, who gained fame as Michael Jordan's agent, believes the players association should recognize how the decline in popularity affects them and support increasing the age minimum.

"The lack of connection with these superstars really hurts the business of sport," Falk told the SportBusiness Journal's Liz Mullen. Later, he added, "The point is all the players are making less money if the product is inferior."

Stern is not blameless in the decline, but he deserves credit for trying to reverse it. At the Final Four, the NBA and NCAA announced a partnership designed to address concerns at the game's grass-roots level. An enhanced age minimum is not explicitly part of that initiative, but it would benefit the sport by delivering better trained and better known players to the league.

Mike DeCourcy is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at

Looking Forward to 2009 Recruiting (I know Its a Long Way Off, But I Need Something To Write About)

2009 Players Considering - Memphis


Xavier Henry Shooting Guard 6-6 205 Putnam City H.S. (OK) SG #1 92

Lance Stephenson Point Guard 6-5 200 Lincoln H.S. (NY) PG #1 92

Leslie McDonald Shooting Guard 6-5 200 Briarcrest H.S. (TN) SG #3 91

Nolan Dennis Shooting Guard 6-5 185 Richland Hills H.S. (TX) SG #5 91

Kenny Boynton Shooting Guard 6-2 180 American Heritage H.S. (FL) SG #6 91

Noel Johnson Small Forward 6-6 190 Fayette County H.S. (GA) SF #3 91

Christian Watford Small Forward 6-8 215 Shades Valley H.S. (AL) SF #4 90

Karron Johnson Power Forward 6-7 225 Mount Zion Christian Acad (NC) PF #14 88

Omari Lawrence Shooting Guard 6-3 185 Saint Raymond (NY) SG #8 87

Durand Scott Small Forward 6-4 175 Rice H.S. (NY) SF #13 86

Glenn Bryant Power Forward 6-7 190 Oak Hill Academy (VA) PF #23 83

Demetrius Walker Small Forward 6-3 180 Junipero Serra H.S. (CA) SF #28 75

LaRon Dendy Center 6-10 205 Hope Christian (NC) JC 68

Ferrakohn Hall Power Forward 6-7 210 White Station H.S. (TN) PF #69 67

Dan Jennings Center 6-8 225 Oak Hill Academy (VA) 40

James Still Center 6-8 205 Community H.S. (MI) 40

ESPN 150 Top Recruits (Evans #4, Garcia #61, Witherspoon #72, Simpkins NR)

The ESPN 150 Class: 2008

The complete ESPN 150 is below.

Last Updated: 5/19/2008 Data provided by Scouts, Inc.

ESPN 150 - Class of 2008

1 Brandon Jennings PG CA 92 Arizona
2 Samardo Samuels C NJ 92 Louisville
3 Jrue Holiday SG CA 92 UCLA
4 Tyreke Evans SG PA 92 Memphis
5 Al-Farouq Aminu SF GA 92 Wake Forest
6 Tyler Zeller PF IN 92 North Carolina
7 Demar DeRozan SF CA 92 USC
8 B.J. Mullens C OH 92 Ohio State
9 Kemba Walker PG NY 92 Connecticut
10 Ed Davis PF VA 92 North Carolina
11 Delvon Roe PF OH 92 Michigan State
12 Greg Monroe PF LA 92 Georgetown
13 JaMychal Green PF AL 91 Alabama
14 William Buford SG OH 91 Ohio State
15 Luke Babbitt PF NV 91 Nevada
16 Scotty Hopson SF KY 91 Tennessee
17 Elliot Williams SG TN 91 Duke
18 Sylven Landesberg SF NY 91 Virginia
19 Drew Gordon PF CA 91 UCLA
20 Howard Thompkins PF GA 91 Georgia
21 Michael Dunigan C IL 91 Oregon
22 Chris Singleton PF GA 91 Florida State
23 Willie Warren SG TX 91 Oklahoma
24 Larry Drew PG CA 91 North Carolina
25 Mike Rosario SG NJ 91 Rutgers
26 Iman Shumpert SG IL 91 Georgia Tech
27 Malcolm Lee PG CA 91 UCLA
28 DeQuan Jones SF GA 91 Miami (FL)
29 Henry Sims C MD 91 Georgetown
30 Tony Woods C GA 90 Wake Forest
31 Darius Miller SF KY 90 Kentucky
32 Yancy Gates PF OH 90 Cincinnati
33 Terrelle Pryor SF PA 90 None
34 Kevin Jones PF NY 90 West Virginia
35 Draymond Green PF MI 90 Michigan State
36 Rashanti Harris C MS 90 None
37 Emmanuel Negedu PF NH 90 Arizona
38 Phillip McDonald SG TX 90 New Mexico
39 Eloy Vargas PF FL 90 Florida
40 Nick Williams SG AL 90 Indiana
41 Jeff Withey C CA 90 Arizona
42 J'Mison Morgan C TX 90 None
43 Romero Osby PF MS 90 Mississippi State
44 Kenneth Kadji C FL 90 Florida
45 Klay Thompson SF CA 90 Washington State
46 Kris Joseph SF DC 90 Syracuse
47 Jason Clark SG VA 90 Georgetown
48 DeAndre Liggins SF NV 90 Kentucky
49 Sean Mosley SG MD 89 Maryland
50 Jerime Anderson PG CA 89 UCLA
51 Rotnei Clarke PG OK 89 Arkansas
52 Ty Walker C NC 89 Wake Forest
53 J'Covan Brown SG TX 89 Texas
54 Rayford Shipman SF FL 89 Florida
55 Kenny Frease C OH 89 Xavier
56 Xavier Gibson C AL 89 Florida State
57 Storm Warren PF LA 89 Louisiana State
58 Tony Mitchell SF GA 89 Alabama
59 Mookie Jones SF NY 89 Syracuse
60 Chris Braswell PF MD 89 Georgetown
61 Angel Garcia PF IN 89 Memphis
62 Quintrell Thomas PF NJ 89 Kansas
63 David Loubeau PF FL 88 Texas A&M
64 Allan Chaney PF CT 88 Florida
65 Murphy Holloway SF SC 88 Mississippi
66 Travis Releford SG KS 88 Kansas
67 Anthony Jones SF TX 88 Baylor
68 Miles Plumlee PF NC 88 Duke
69 Paul Williams SG MI 88 Dayton
70 Erving Walker PG NY 88 Florida
71 D.J. Seeley SG CA 88 California
72 Wesley Witherspoon SF GA 88 Memphis
73 Jeff Taylor SF NM 88 Vanderbilt
74 Dashan Harris PG FL 88 Texas A&M
75 Elston Turner Jr. SG TX 88 Washington
76 Scott Suggs SG MO 88 Washington
77 Cashmere Wright PG GA 88 Cincinnati
78 John Brandenburg C MO 88 Virginia
79 Korie Lucious PG WI 88 Michigan State
80 Demetri Goodson PG TX 88 Gonzaga
81 Walter Offutt SG IN 87 Ohio State
82 Anthony Booker PF MO 87 Southern Illinois
83 Nasir Robinson SF PA 87 Pittsburgh
84 Roscoe Davis PF MD 87 West Virginia
85 Terrico White SG TN 87 Mississippi
86 Terrance Henry PF LA 87 Mississippi
87 Lance Goulbourne SF NJ 87 Vanderbilt
88 Matt Gatens SG IA 87 Iowa
89 Jeremy Green SG TX 87 Stanford
90 Anthony Crater PG NH 87 Ohio State
91 Andrew Steele SG AL 87 Alabama
92 Darryl "Truck" Bryant PG NY 87 West Virginia
93 Phillip Jurick C TN 87 Tennessee
94 Mark McLaughlin SG WA 86 Nevada
95 Brad Tinsley PG OR 86 Vanderbilt
96 Reggie Jackson SG CO 86 Boston College
97 Clarence Trent PF NV 86 None
98 Scottie Haralson SG MS 86 Connecticut
99 Renaldo Woolridge SF CA 86 Tennessee
100 Mike Harthun SG OR 86 Washington State
101 Olek Czyz PF NV 86 Duke
102 Brendon Lavender SG AZ 86 Arizona
103 Jared Berggren C MN 85 Wisconsin
104 Tom Pritchard PF OH 85 Indiana
105 Kevin Dillard PG IL 85 Southern Illinois
106 Sean Kilpatrick SG NY 85 None
107 Colton Iverson C SD 85 Minnesota
108 Steve Tchiengang PF FL 85 Vanderbilt
109 Toby Veal SF GA 85 Colorado
110 Tyshawn Taylor PG NJ 85 Kansas
111 Luke Loucks PG FL 85 Florida State
112 Paul McCoy PG OR 85 Southern Methodist
113 Darius Morrow PF GA 85 East Carolina
114 Tanner Smith SG GA 85 Clemson
115 Assane Sene C CT 84 Virginia
116 Delwan Graham SF GA 84 LSU
117 David Gibbs PG CT 84 Massachusetts
118 Miguel Paul PG FL 84 Missouri
119 Josh Benson PF OH 84 Dayton
120 Travon Woodall PG NJ 84 Pittsburgh
121 Latavious Williams PF MS 84 None
122 Stan Simpson C IL 84 Illinois
123 Jordan Taylor PG MN 84 Wisconsin
124 Grant Gibbs PG IA 84 Gonzaga
125 Frankie Sullivan PG AL 84 Auburn
126 Damier Pitts PG VA 84 Marshall
127 Dominique Buckley PG MI 83 Iowa State
128 Teondre Williams SG GA 83 Oregon
129 Ashton Gibbs SG NJ 83 Pittsburgh
130 Ian Markolf C TX 83 Wisconsin
131 Ralph Sampson, III C GA 83 Minnesota
132 Corbin Ray SF TX 83 Texas Tech
133 C.J. Williams SF NC 83 N.C. State
134 Brett Thompson C IL 83 Saint Louis
135 Andre Young PG GA 83 Clemson
136 Verdell Jones PG IL 83 Indiana
137 Steve Moore C MO 83 Missouri
138 Jiovanny Fontan PG NJ 83 Fordham
139 Travis Leslie SF GA 83 Georgia
140 Freddie Riley SG FL 82 Florida Atlantic
141 Max Kenyi SG DC 82 Harvard
142 Brian Walsh SG PA 82 Xavier
143 Tyreese Breshers PF CA 82 Washington
144 Catalin Baciu C NC 82 Clemson
145 Matt Roth SG IL 82 Indiana
146 Drew Wiley SF OR 82 Oregon
147 Jordan Theodore PG NJ 82 Seton Hall
148 Julius Mays PG IN 82 N.C. State
149 Lorne Jackson PG CA 82 Pepperdine
150 John Shurna PF IL 82 Northwestern

Gary Parrish's Top 10 Recruiting Classes (Memphis 4th)

UCLA's bear of a class best of recruiting bunch
May 19, 2008

By Gary Parrish Senior Writer

The nation's top uncommitted prospect is now committed.

His name is Devin Ebanks.

He announced Sunday that he'll enroll at West Virginia.

Ben Howland is no loser on the recruiting trail.

And that should pretty much do it for the Class of 2008 -- except for the ongoing Emmanuel Negedu saga, of course -- considering there are now only two players in's Top 150 that remain uncommitted. One is Bud Mackey, who is currently in jail and facing felony drug charges after allegedly taking 1.6 grams of cocaine into his school. The other is Rashanti Harris, who is expected to land in a prep school rather than a college program because of grades.

In other words, those guys are irrelevant to this class.

So now seems like as good a time as any to look at the landscape and try to figure out which programs had the best recruiting classes and are, in turn, adequately equipped to do well in the coming years, though you should remember none of this ensures immediate success. I mean, Florida and Syracuse had two of the best three recruiting classes last year and used them to make an NIT run.

It's safe to assume UCLA and Wake Forest expect more this time around.

Anyway, here's one man's view of the nation's top 10 classes ...

Best recruit: Jrue Holiday ('s No. 2 prospect)

The Bruins have signed papers from four Top 50 prospects, including future pro Jrue Holiday. That alone was probably good enough to secure the top spot. But UCLA clinched the honor when J'Mison Morgan got his release from LSU and committed to UCLA last week to give Ben Howland a five-player class that when grouped with Darren Collison (and perhaps Josh Shipp and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute) seems good enough to lead the Bruins to their fourth straight Final Four.

2. Ohio State
Best recruit: B.J. Mullens ('s No. 1 prospect)

The Buckeyes trend of luring NBA-level big men has continued thanks to B.J. Mullens. He's one of two top 25 prospects Thad Matta landed, and his ability to grab the ball and dunk it in a way Kosta Koufos never embraced will be a welcomed addition to OSU.

3. Wake Forest
Best recruit: Al-Farouq Aminu (rated No. 7 by

It's honorable that all three Wake Forest recruits stuck with their commitments even after the untimely death of Skip Prosser because they didn't have to, you know? A different kind of kid might've used the tragedy as an excuse to look elsewhere. But Al-Farouq Aminu, Ty Walker and Tony Woods all signed as planned, meaning Dino Gaudio has three top 20 prospects set to enroll.

4. Memphis
Best recruit: Tyreke Evans ('s No. 6 prospect)

The Morris twins decommitted early and Ebanks chose West Virginia at the last minute. Still, the Tigers managed to sign a splendid class, which is a testament to just how many elite prospects the Memphis staff developed relationships with. Tyreke Evans is an NBA talent, the kind of one-and-done player who could fill the scoring role vacated by Chris Douglas-Roberts. Three other top 100 prospects are expected to join him on campus, among them fellow late signee Wesley Witherspoon.

5. Louisville
Best recruit: Samardo Samuels ('s No. 9 prospect)

Rick Pitino has another stellar class, just like always. Throwing Samardo Samuels into the lineup with Terrence Williams and Earl Clark will make the Cardinals a legitimate national title contender. Terrence Jennings, a top 20 prospect, will add depth in the frontcourt and give Pitino several solid options while searching for a lineup that works.

6. Kansas
Best recruit: Marcus Morris ('s No. 29 prospect)

The Jayhawks needed a big class because of expected personnel losses, and they secured one by any standard. Like Florida's class, this collection of prospects is light on one-and-done players but high in terms of quality contributors. There are four signees ranked between 29 and 77, and Mario Little might be the best junior-college player in the country.

7. Florida
Best recruit: Eloy Vargas ('s No. 26 prospect)

Billy Donovan signed another great class even if there isn't an obvious star in the bunch. Of course, that shouldn't worry Donovan too much. Who among us thought Al Horford and/or Joakim Noah would be stars coming out of high school? (Note: Horford was rated two spots behind Sasha Kaun and Noah was rated two spots behind Lorenzo Mata).

8. Georgetown
Best recruit: Greg Monroe ('s No. 8 prospect)

All four Georgetown signees are top 85 players, including Greg Monroe -- a 6-foot-10 forward from Louisiana who chose the Hoyas over LSU and Duke. He's not a traditional big man in the mold of Roy Hibbert or Alonzo Mourning. But Monroe likely will develop into a great player, though there are questions about whether he's consistent enough to be a star immediately.

9. Connecticut
Best recruit: Ater Majok ('s No. 13 prospect)

Kemba Walker is the best-known of the UConn recruits given his McDonald's All-American status. But Ater Majok might be the better NBA prospect considering he's a 6-foot-10 forward capable of playing away from the basket, and the presence of Hasheem Thabeet will ensure Majok will be given that opportunity.

10. North Carolina
Best recruit: Ed Davis ('s No. 15 prospect)

No recruiting list is complete without the Tar Heels, who will forever be a dominant entity in terms of securing prospects. This year was no different with UNC signing three top 75 players who should help Roy Williams carry the No. 1 ranking in most preseason polls.

And Now That Recruiting Is Over, the Long Hot Summer Begins Until Midnight Madness

Oh well, I guess I have to start spending some time with my other hobbies. Four and half months until Midnight Madness. Here is a great picture of Tyreke Evans to keep you company.

Roster of C-USA Players Headed to China With Cal

China roster
Posted by Dan Wolken

Here’s the roster that will go to China representing Memphis and Conference USA, as of Monday:

G - Antonio Anderson
G - Willie Kemp
G - Doneal Mack
G - Jeff Robinson
F - Robert Dozier
F - Shawn Taggart
F - Pierre Niles

G - Ben Uzoh
C - Jerome Jordan

Southern Miss
G - Jeremy Wise
F - Andre Stephens

G - Julyan Stone
C - Claude Britten