Saturday, September 02, 2006

High Scoring Affair At Rucker Park

By Bruin Basketball Report

In the first annual Elite 24 Hoops Classic, the Skip To My Lou squad defeated the Goat squad 141-139, and although the final score of the game may have been inconsequential - the talent was noteworthy.

Twenty-four of the best high school players in the nation, regardless of graduating class or sneaker affiliation, played in the star-studded exhibition game.

UCLA-commit Kevin Love scored 13 points for the Goat squad, but it was teammate J.J. Hickson who scored a game-high 34 points and grabbed 8 rebounds to lead his team. Goat teammate, Brandon Jennings, scored 12 points and dished out 15 assists to earn co-MVP team honors with Hickson. South Medford's Kyle Singler added 14 points.

The Skip To My Lou squad was led by power forward Michael Beasley with 26 points and 9 rebounds. Beasley, who announced he was transferring from Oak Hill Academy to play at Hargrave Military Academy this year, shared co-MVP team honors with Jerryd Bayless. Bayless, a verbal commit to Arizona, had 15 points and 3 assists.

O.J. Mayo, Bill Walker, and Corey Fisher were late scratches from the game. They were replaced by Antonio “Scoop” Jardine, Samardo Samuels, and 5’6” point guard Erving Walker of New York City.

Rucker, the legendary outdoor basketball court in Harlem, gave rise to some of the best players to ever come out of New York.

Dr.J, Nate "Tiny" Archibald, and Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) all played at Rucker.

The game attracted a host of big names. Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns, Smush Parker of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kenyon Martin of the Denver Nuggets were in attendance.

"A game like the McDonald's All-American game has history on its side," Rob Bodenburg of RISE Magazine said. "But Rucker Park is history."


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Elite 24 Hoops Classic

By Bruin Basketball Report

The first annual Elite 24 Hoops Classic will take place at Harlem's Rucker Park on September 1.

The Elite 24 Hoops Classic features 24 of the best high school basketball stars in the nation, regardless of graduating class or sneaker affiliations, playing in the most historic playground in basketball - Rucker Park, a place where playground legends have been born.

Elite high school players including Kyle Singler, O.J. Mayo, Brandon Jennings, and UCLA-bound Kevin Love are scheduled to play in the game.

“It is probably the first time anyone will see the best 24 kids in the country at one place,” Kevin Love said. “What’s crazy is that it’s in the Mecca of basketball: New York City at Rucker Park."

Love is looking forward to playing against some players he doesn't have a chance to compete against over the summer due to sneaker affiliations.

"I am definitely excited to be playing against kids that I don't normally play against like a lot of those adidas and Nike guys. I am so used to playing only against the Reebok kids," Love said. "This is huge for me. It is going to be fun to show my talent against the best of the best."

Teams will be split into an East vs. West format. Ben Gordan of the Chicago Bulls will coach the East team (Goat Squad) and Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets will coach the West (Skip To My Lou).

"The Goat" and "Skip To My Lou" squad names are a tribute to two former Rucker legends, Earl "The Goat" Manigault and Rafer Alston, aka Skip to My Lou.

Neither Derrick Rose or Eric Gordon will be playing in the event due to their own state's regulations which prevent them from playing in the New York event.


East Team (Goat Squad)
O.J. Mayo G 6-5/210 (Huntington, WV) 2007
Corey Fisher G 6-2/180 St. Patrick (Elizabeth, NJ) 2007
Bill Walker F 6-6/235 North College Hill (Cincinnati, OH) 2007
Donte Greene F 6-9/210 Towson Catholic (Towson, MD) 2007
Kevin Love C 6-10/260 Lake Oswego (Lake Oswego, OR) 2007
Brandon Jennings G 6-2/165 Oak Hill Acad. (Mouth of Wilson,VA) 2008
Kyle Singler F 6-8/200 South Medford (Medford, OR) 2007
J.J. Hickson F 6-9/235 Wheeler (Marietta, GA) 2007
Chris Allen G 6-3/190 Meadowcreek (Norcross, GA) 2007
Samardo Samuels F 6-9/235 St. Benedict's (Newark, NJ) 2008
Rick Jackson F 6-9/225 Neumann-Goretti (Philadelphia, PA) 2007
Corey Stokes G 6-6/210 St. Benedict's (Newark, NJ) 2007

West Team (Skip To My Lou)
Jerryd Bayless G 6-3/190 St. Mary's (Phoenix, AZ) 2007
Lance Stephenson G 6-5/195 Lincoln (Brooklyn, NY) 2009
Tyreke Evans G 6-4/200 American Christian (Aston, PA) 2008
Michael Beasley F 6-9/230 Oak Hill Acad. (Mouth of Wilson,VA) 2007
DeAndre Jordan C 6-11/235 Christian Life Acad. (Humble, TX) 2007
Senario Hillman G 6-3/180 Wilkinson County (Irwinton, GA) 2007
Devin Ebanks F 6-7/205 The Patterson School (Lenoir, NC) 2007
Nolan Smith G 6-3/170 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, VA) 2007
Gary Johnson F 6-6/220 Aldine (Houston, TX) 2007
Cole Aldrich C 6-11/245 Jefferson (Bloomington, MN) 2007
Anthony Randolph F 6-10/200 Woodrow Wilson (Dallas, TX) 2007
Austin Freeman G 6-5/215 DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD) 2007


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Don't Blame Shoe Wars For Rose's Snub Of Illinois

By Michael O'Brien, Staff Reporter
Chicago Sun-Times

College basketball recruiting is a lot like real life. More often than not, getting what you want depends on whom you know. Success is about relationships.

The soap-opera recruitment of Simeon star Derrick Rose is a perfect example.

Rose trimmed his list of schools to five Friday: DePaul, Indiana, Kansas, Memphis and UCLA.

Illinois fans immediately lit up message boards, outraged that all five schools were ''Adidas schools,'' meaning the schools' coaches have contracts with Adidas. Illinois' relationship is with Nike, leading Illini fans to believe it was a shoe-company conspiracy that kept their team from landing on Rose's list.

This might come as a surprise to Illini fans, but shoe companies don't mean anything. It's much more significant that all five coaches -- Jerry Wainwright, Kelvin Sampson, Bill Self, John Calipari and Ben Howland -- have close relationships with Reebok's Sonny Vaccaro.

''That's no secret,'' Vaccaro said. ''Those are all quality coaches at quality programs that I've known for many years.''

In the last year, Derrick's brother Reggie, who is handling his brother's recruitment, has developed a relationship with Vaccaro. It led to Derrick attending Vaccaro's ABCD Camp, sponsored by Reebok, instead of Nike's camp, where he was expected to play because his club basketball team is sponsored by Nike.

Rose has been startlingly independent when it comes to shoe companies. Simeon, his high school team, is sponsored by Nike. Meanstreets Express, his club team, is sponsored by Nike. The majority of club tournaments the team played in were Nike-sponsored. Rose attended the Reebok shoe camp and the Reebok Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas. All five of his final schools are Adidas schools. Adidas owns Reebok.

That illustrates how Rose plays where and when he wants; he doesn't bow to shoe-company pressure.

He's good enough to get away with it.

Rose a true independent

''Rose has been more independent than any superstar player I've known,'' Vaccaro said. ''There is no AAU guy involved with his recruitment. That should be praised. I admire the Rose family as much as I've ever admired anyone.''

In the recent past, high-level Public League recruitments generally have been run by the high school coach or the club-team coach. Rose's is being run by his family, and the family doesn't have any shoe-company ties, which has led to that show of independence.

Rose didn't join up with an established club team; he started his own. Rose didn't go to the shoe-company camp he was expected to go to; he went to the one his friends were invited to attend.

It's obvious Vaccaro has become a significant influence on Rose's recruitment, which is only natural. No one in the Rose family has been through a game with stakes this high before.

''Illinois did not lose Derrick Rose because of any shoe-company politics or direct shoe-company war,'' said recruiting analyst Roy Schmidt, who runs Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye Report, a scouting service. ''The key is who is running the show and who is in charge of the recruiting process.''

Most local players with Division I hopes rely on a club coach with experience in recruiting. Larry Butler, Mac Irvin, Mike Weinstein, Mike Mullins, Tai Streets and Troy Johnson are the most prominent. All those men have shoe-company ties. A number of them have flipped around among shoe companies.

''What you try to do for the families is be more of a listening board for them,'' Butler said. ''I try to explain to them what the real deal is and what's not real, the things to expect in certain situations.''

Butler is a club basketball coach sponsored by Nike, but he has relationships with plenty of non-Nike coaches, including Wainwright, Self and Sampson. Butler's marquee player with the Illinois Warriors this summer, Crane forward Brandon McGee, committed to Sampson and Indiana, an Adidas school. Stories like that are the norm, not the exception.

''Antoine Walker grew up with Mac [Irvin] and Adidas,'' Butler said. ''But he ended up going to Kentucky, a Nike school. When kids from my program start looking at schools, they don't say, 'Man, I'm going to a Nike school.'''

Illini not playing 'the game'

Rose, already with an eye on the NBA, immediately has jumped to the big time and is getting advice from Vaccaro.

But it's not the shoe company the mentor works for; it's the relationships he has made through the years.

''The bottom line is, it is all about people and the relationships,'' Wainwright said. ''There's a trust factor, and people get to know you. Everything that is responsible about recruiting is because of the people involved.''

Just making Rose's list is a major victory for DePaul.

''DePaul should be commended for the fact that they have utilized the relationships that they have with the key players involved,'' Schmidt said. ''Even if they don't get Rose, it is going to help them down the road.''

The list of five-star in-state recruits Illinois has missed out on is growing: Shaun Livingston (2004, Duke); Julian Wright (2005, Kansas); Jon Scheyer (2006, Duke); Sherron Collins (2006, Kansas); and now Rose.

Weber and Illinois simply aren't playing ''the game'' the way their rivals are. They aren't building relationships with the club coaches the way Calipari and Self have. That's why Illinois isn't on Rose's list. It has nothing to do with shoe companies.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rose's College Picks Spark A Shoe Debate

By Michael O'Brien, Staff Reporter
Chicago Sun-Times

Simeon guard Derrick Rose's final list of five schools, reported Saturday by the Sun-Times, elicited a response from Illinois fans impressive in both quantity and consistency.

The Illini faithful are screaming conspiracy. Numerous e-mails sent to the Sun-Times highlighted that all five of Rose's final choices -- DePaul, Indiana, Kansas, Memphis and UCLA -- are ''Adidas schools,'' meaning the coaches have contracts with Adidas. Illinois coach Bruce Weber's contract is with Nike.

For the first two summers of his high school career, Rose was viewed as a Nike player because his club teams, Ferrari and Meanstreets Express, were sponsored by Nike.

This summer, however, Rose played in some Reebok events and went to the ABCD camp, sponsored by Reebok and run by Sonny Vaccaro. Adidas owns Reebok.

"There is no connection or obligation from anyone that Derrick is close with to anyone at Adidas,'' Vaccaro said. ''I'm a consultant. My contract and my events are under the Reebok banner, and Reebok doesn't have any contracts with any colleges. I have not talked to nor seen anyone from Adidas."

Memphis, DePaul and Kansas have been in the mix for Rose for more than a year. The two surprises on the list were Indiana and UCLA.

"UCLA was all Derrick's thing,'' Vaccaro said. ''[UCLA recruit] Kevin Love spurred that recruiting thing on. Derrick wants to play with the best center, and Kevin wants to play with the best point guard. It's a very logical thing."

Vaccaro isn't sure how Indiana became involved. Hoosiers coach Kelvin Sampson is unable to make recruiting visits.

There is, however, an Indiana connection close to Rose. Eric Gordon of Indianapolis North Central played with Rose on Meansteets Express this summer. Gordon has orally committed to Illinois, but Indiana has not stopped recruiting him. Gordon was on campus in Bloomington earlier this month.

"The only logical conclusion is that [Gordon] has something to do with Derrick's interest in Indiana," Vaccaro said.

Weber's Nike connection hasn't hurt him with other recruits. Gordon has played with Adidas or Reebok teams, and St. Joseph guard Demetri McCamey, who recently committed to Illinois, always has played for Reebok teams.

"I don't want to be identified with what shoe we wear,'' DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright said. ''I want us to be identified by what our institutional values are. You don't want to compromise those."

NCAA rules prohibit Wainwright from discussing possible recruits, but not the relationship between shoe companies and colleges.

"I like to ask the kids when they get here, do a little poll on why they chose DePaul,'' Wainwright said. ''They'd always say the players and the coaches; it never was any of the other stuff. There is always potential for abuses, but I don't really worry about those things. You just can't get an edge because of what shoe you wear."


(photo credit:

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (8/28)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday


Lake Oswego's Kevin Love dropped a spot, and South Medford's Kyle Singler stayed put in the most Class of 2007 high school basketball rankings. Singler remained the fourth-best prospect in his class, and Love dropped one spot from sixth to seventh, according to rivals, which released its rankings earlier this month., rivals' chief competitor, ranks Love No. 2 and Singler No. 6. Most experts agree both players had exceptional summer seasons on the Amateur Athletic Union circuit. Singler, who played for a Nike-sponsored team, has drawn praise from coaches and recruiting experts for increasing his talent level in the five months since the high school season concluded. Oregonian 8/22 2008 Top 50 Rankings:’s No. 3 spot goes to the top west coast prospect, Jrue Holiday. Talk about a major league scoring threat, Holiday didn’t take a single vacation all summer long. He was consistently good, clearly talented and the game can come very easy to him. Tiger Rag 8/22

Josh Southern, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound senior big man at Saginaw High (Mich.), verbally committed to Boston College. Southern, the 74th-ranked player in the country by, chose the Eagles over Kentucky and Tennessee. Southern averaged 16 points and 16 rebounds per game last season. He is a cousin of BC director of basketball operations Preston Murphy, who hails from Saginaw and played for BC coach Al Skinner at Rhode Island. Boston Herald 8/23

Basketball standout Nathen Garth looks forward to playing in the Kevin Johnson Classic this December at Sacramento High School. But the 6-foot-2, 160-pound junior guard won't be playing for Capital Christian High School, which he helped to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship game as a freshman and sophomore. Garth is enrolled at Woodrow Wilson High in Dallas, and its boys basketball team visits Sacramento for the annual tournament Dec. 15-17. Garth said he decided to transfer to the Texas school to be closer to his father, Tony, a software consultant who works in Dallas and Los Angeles. Sacramento Bee 8/24

"It was a two-horse race for No. 1 between DeMarcus Cousins and Renardo Sidney," national basketball recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer said. "They're both skilled power forwards. They're that same type of player."The 6-foot-9, 234-pound Cousins' strength, athleticism and size put him into the discussion for the No. 1 spot, but his explosiveness and ability to play in transition separated him from the pack."He's an inside and outside scoring threat," Meyer said. "What stands out about him is how good he is in transition. He can do things going full speed to the rim."Sidney also stood out as a power forward who can excel as a passer. During the AAU season, he was able to get the ball to center Kevin Love, the No. 7 prospect in the class of 2008, on a regular basis."You can run the offense through Sidney," Meyer said. "He's similar to Cousins, but with Cousins there's a little more athleticism. Renardo isn't quite as explosive, but he's a skilled player. Gator Bait 8/24 Top 10 2009: We selected Renardo Sidney as the top prospect in the Class of 2009 but it wasn’t a landslide by any means. Sidney gets the nod but DeMarcus Cousins is in his rear view mirror waving hello. Back in the spring of 2005 at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions, Sidney turned in a simply brilliant performance while playing with the MBA Hoops. That singular effort vaulted him to the top of the rankings where he’s sat ever since. Sidney, due to transfer rules, did not play high school basketball as a freshman and now the talk is that he’s likely to end up at Lakewood (Calif.) Artesia this season. He’s transferred AAU teams and high schools which is a lot of moves for a young player. The Devil's Den 8/25

Effective with the graduating class of 2008, every incoming college freshman will need to have passed 16 NCAA core classes instead of 14 to gain athletic eligibility.That means passing four years of high school English, three years of math, two years of science, plus an additional English, math or science class. Add two years of social science and four additional classes in foreign language or social science. And students still have to earn a qualifying score on their SAT or ACT standardized tests.Students interested in playing sports in college had better be focused on academics from the moment they step onto their high school campuses because any Ds or Fs early in their careers would force them to play catch-up, and some won't be able to recover."It's going to be a wake-up call for a lot of kids," said Larry Drew Jr., a junior guard for the Woodland Hills Taft basketball team. "It's a make-or-break situation. No more coasting. Some get the concept, others don't. You have to do well in school." L.A. Times 8/27

Simeon All-American point guard Derrick Rose has a list of five colleges (in alphabetical order): DePaul, Indiana, Kansas, Memphis and UCLA. Illinois is out....A couple of the schools on the list even surprised Reggie. ''I had no idea he was interested in UCLA,'' Reggie said. ''I didn't even know Derrick was talking with Kevin Love [the 6-9 All-America forward from Lake Oswego, Ore., who committed to UCLA]. But great players want to play with great players. And Love is a big man who knows he'll get the ball playing with Derrick. Chicago Sun-Times 8/27

Chicago Simeon High senior Derrick Rose has narrowed his list of prospective colleges to five: Kansas University, Memphis, DePaul, Indiana and UCLA. Rose’s brother and AAU coach, Reggie Rose, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Derrick, a 6-foot-4 point guard, is in the process of setting up five campus visits. “The decision was made by Derrick and the family,” Reggie Rose said of paring the list to five — a list that doesn’t include Illinois. “We felt that these were five schools that were a fit for him. We’ve contacted all five and are setting up visits. Lawrence Journal-World 8/27


(photo credit: USA Basketball)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wooden Pays A House Call On Angels, Yankees

By Mike Waldner
Daily Breeze

Even the All-Stars on two of baseballs top franchises drop what they're doing to spend time with the Wizard of Westwood.

An old Indiana high school baseball coach spent the afternoon at the baseball park in Anaheim. The gentleman, John Wooden, is better known for his unparalleled success as UCLA's basketball coach.

But he did coach baseball when he was a high school English teacher as well as a coach. He played the sport, and played it well, in his youth. All these year later, he remains a fan who enjoys the game. He got a wild one Saturday when the Angels made it two in a row over the Yankees, this time winning, 12-7.

In New York, the self-styled center of the universe, the assumption no doubt is the draw for Wooden was Joe Torre, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and the rest of their fabled Yankees.

Actually, Wooden first visited one of his favorites, Angels manager Mike Scioscia. He and members of his family watched the game in owner Arte Moreno's suite.

Scioscia, pumped up and ready to play after their meeting, said, "He's so sharp.

Wooden returned the compliment.

"I enjoy Mike very much," he said.

Wooden likes Scioscia's calm demeanor.

"He and Joe are a lot alike," he said. "Mike plays more little ball. That's because of the talent he has on his team."

Wooden knows and understands his baseball.

Non-partisan that he is at the age of 95, he also visited with the Yankees before the game.

A group of New York reporters cornered him at the elevator outside the visiting team clubhouse. Naturally, they wanted to grill him about the Yankees. Uncharacteristically, the grilling was gentle. You do not fire questions at Wooden. You ask his thoughts. You are polite when you do so.

They had spotted the coach talking to Jeter. What does he think of the Yankee shortstop?

"He's the consummate professional," Wooden said. "He accepts things."

As all his old players, from George Stanich to Curtis Rowe, will tell you, this is high praise.

Wooden, always the teacher, talked about the importance of accepting success and failure.

A Los Angeles correspondent tossed out the name of Brad Penny, the Dodgers pitcher who has displayed a temper this season.

"Everybody is different," Wooden said patiently. "I did not approve of General Patton's style. I sure wanted him on my side in a war."

If Penny has given Manager Grady Little trouble it is minor compared to the grief Bill Walton generated when he was a stubborn young undergrad. Others, ranging from Keith Erickson to Jack Hirsch to Sidney Wicks, tested Wooden's patience. His ability to deal with them had a lot to do with his success.

It was noted the old image of the Yankees as arrogant and egotistical has softened with Torre as manager and Jeter as star.

"They may be thought of as arrogant and egotistical by people who do not win as often," Wooden said.

He spoke from experience, knowing some linked UCLA basketball and his name with arrogance and ego back in the day.

Wooden has long been a critic of excessive showmanship from athletes, which he believes has a negative impact on the goals of the team.

"There is too much flamboyance in sports today," he said.

Reggie Jackson joined the circle around Wooden. He was Mr. Flamboyance as well as Mr. October, during his playing days.

Wooden, gracious as always, asked about his "little lady." Jackson told him his daughter is fine and that she's almost 16.

The New York reporters also asked about Alex Rodriguez, who has been skewered in print, on the air and by fans this season.

"The criticism is unjustified," Wooden said.

He had not talked to Rodriguez. But he asked another player to pass on some thoughts.

"Forget the past," he said. "Just concentrate on today. We all have peaks and valleys. You should not let them affect you."

Wooden excused himself from the New York reporters to return to the clubhouse.

Johnny Damon wanted an autograph and a scouting report on UCLA's basketball team.

"They have the talent to be good," Wooden said in a typically understated scouting report.

Wide-eyed youngsters, as well as adults, waited outside the stadium in the hope of catching a glimpse of Damon or perhaps, just perhaps, getting his autograph. They were no more wide-eyed than Damon was with Wooden.

Rodriguez and Mike Mussina came over to visit. They hung on his every word like young coaches at a clinic soaking up his wisdom.

Someone produced a copy of Wooden's famous Pyramid of Success. Rodriguez and Mussina peppered him with questions about team spirit and enthusiasm and the like. Rodriguez continually checked the blocks of his autographed Pyramid for reference as Wooden spoke.

Hot-shot Yankees?

Not in the presence of John Wooden.