Thursday, June 26, 2008

Love Traded To Minnesota For O.J. Mayo

By The Associated Press

Minnesota Timberwolves fans went to bed wondering how O.J. Mayo would fit in with their guard-heavy team.

Memphis Grizzlies backers hit the hay hoping that Kevin Love would open things up for Rudy Gay in the frontcourt.

Both groups woke up Friday morning to a totally different reality, thanks to an eight-player blockbuster trade in the wee hours of the night that changed the faces of both teams.

Hours after the draft concluded, the Wolves sent Mayo, forward Antoine Walker and guards Greg Buckner and Marko Jaric to Memphis for Love, shooter Mike Miller and frontcourt retreads Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins.

Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale said he thought the deal was dead early in the night, but the Grizzlies reopened negotiations as the first round came to a close, and Memphis finally relented and included Miller in the transaction.

"Actually no one was more surprised than we were when the deal came back," McHale said. "We were all sitting around there looking at each other saying, 'Wow, I guess it's back on.' There were just too many components in it that fit our needs not to do it."

The deal allows the Timberwolves to dump Walker, who was unhappy riding the bench on a rebuilding team, and Jaric's contract, which has three years and more than $21 million remaining.

Miller also fills a huge hole on the team as a perimeter shooter and gives them Love, a 6-foot-10 power forward who will play down low next to Al Jefferson, who will stay at center in this revamped lineup rather than move to his more natural power forward position.

"This deal really set us up on so many levels," Minnesota GM Jim Stack said. "We couldn't pass it up."

The Grizzlies, in turn, get a dynamic guard in Mayo who was widely thought of as the third-best player in the draft behind Memphis guard Derrick Rose and Kansas State forward Michael Beasley, who went first and second, respectively.

Mayo averaged 20.7 points in his lone season with the Trojans and also dealt with controversy when a former friend alleged that he took money and gifts from an agent while in high school and college.

Mayo denied the allegations and impressed the Timberwolves with the way he handled questions on the topic during a workout in Chicago last weekend.

"We felt it was a chance to take a player who we had ranked as the third best player in the draft," Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace said. "That I think almost all the league felt was third behind Beasley and Rose. And if anybody has the chance to break in and have the type of impact in the NBA that Rose and Beasley seem certain to have, it would be O. J. Mayo."

Timberwolves fans will likely be reminded of another lottery-swapping move two years ago, when Minnesota selected Brandon Roy, then traded him to Portland for Randy Foye and cash.

Roy went on to become rookie of the year in 2006-07 and an All-Star last season, while Foye has struggled with injuries while showing promise as a floor leader and playmaking perimeter threat.

With Foye and Rashad McCants -- two smallish scoring guards -- already on the roster, the Wolves started their evening by drafting the 6-foot-5 Mayo out of USC with the third pick.

Memphis took Love, the fundamentally sound Bruin, with the fifth overall pick.

Despite the apparent similarities between Mayo, Foye and Rashad McCants, assistant GM Fred Hoiberg told hundreds of fans gathered at Target Center for a draft party that he thought Mayo would fit in just fine with the guard-heavy Timberwolves.

"We thought there was a realistic chance Miami would take him at No. 2," Hoiberg said of the Heat, who chose Beasley. "We think that he'll come in and be able to help us out right away."

Hoiberg raved about Mayo's outside shooting and competitive spirit, calling him "a complete player, a complete person" and someone who can "come in and be able to help us out right away."

Westbrook, Love See Lottery Green, Mbah a Moute Goes In 2nd Round

By Bruin Basketball Report

Two Bruins became the first lottery picks of the Ben Howland era when the duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love were selected No.4 and No.5, respectively, in the NBA draft on Thursday.

They become the first UCLA players to be drafted in the top five of the same draft since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lucius Allen were the No. 1 and No. 3 overall picks in 1969. In addition, the pair are the first college teammates to be picked back-to-back in the lottery.

Westbrook joins 2007 Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant and company in Seattle. Westbrook's climb up the draft ladder was fast and furious. After announcing his intention to enter the draft at the end of the season, he was expected to be a low first round pick, but after workouts his stock climbed significantly. The Sonics were enamored by his ability to handle the point and his off-the-chart athleticism.

"I worked so hard to put myself in the best position possible and I'm really excited and happy that it worked out," Westbrook said. "I just kept working on my game and I've been playing point guard all my life, so I think I'm ready."

Freshman Kevin Love was the fifth pick by the Memphis Grizzlies. He has slimmed down 15-20 pounds since the end of the season and surprised scouts with his skill performance at the NBA combines. Love helps to fill a hole along the frontline for the Grizzlies who traded power forward star Pau Gasol to the Lakers late in the season.

"I didn't know how I was going to react coming into the Draft," Love said. "It was a surreal moment and it actually hasn't set in yet that I'm an NBA player. It is going to be a fun team to play on and I'm hoping I can contribute right away."

"I'm so excited and elated for them," UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said. "Both Russell and Kevin have worked so hard and I'm not surprised that they went as high as they did. They are both great kids and great players and both the Sonics and the Grizzlies are very fortunate to have them join their franchises."

Mbah a Moute became the third Bruin selected in the 2008 NBA Draft when he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second-round and was the draft's 37th overall pick. It is the first time three Bruins have been drafted in the same season since 1998.

"I'm very happy and very excited," Luc Richard Mbah a Moute said. "I'm going to a great organization and going to play for a very good head coach who understands me and really values the things I bring to the table, like defense and rebounding. I'm very excited for the opportunity to compete at the highest level."

(photo credit: AP)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (6/23)

By Bruin Basketball Report 

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday. 


Turns out, quite a few of our guys will, in fact, have the opportunity to make the squad after the USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee -- chaired by Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim -- announced the participants last week.
Malcolm Lee of Riverside North headlines the local contingent. Loyola's Hollis Thompson and brothers David and Travis Wear from Mater Dei will be in attendance as well. It should also be mentioned that UCLA-commits Drew Gordon of San Jose Mitty and Reeves Nelson of Modesto Christian received nods for the trials. LA Times 6/19 

The world of a high school basketball star has changed plenty since the days Steve Taylor laced up the sneakers at Roseville High School in the late 1970s.
The Rocklin boys basketball coach is amazed at the opportunities facing Thunder senior forward Brendan Lane, perhaps the area's biggest college basketball recruit since Elk Grove's Bill Cartwright in the early 1970s.
Lane, who verbally committed to UCLA on Saturday, is in Africa this week training and competing with the United States' adidas Nations team. From Africa, Lane will go to France to play with another group of U.S. stars. It's Lane's second trip to France this year; he also has been to Germany and China. Sac Bee 6/21


Abraham Lincoln all-state basketball player Lance Stephenson has cut his list of potential colleges to three, The Daily News reported today. According to Dick "Hoops" Weiss, Stephenson's list consists of Kansas, UCLA and Southern Cal.
I don’t know when I’ll make a decision,” Stephenson told Weiss.
The player's father says St. John's remains in the picture. NY Sportswriters 6/17 

Even if Anthony Stover wasn't all that skilled, chances are the 6-foot-10, 210-plus pound post player would garner his share of attention from Division I programs based on his size alone. Thing is, the junior from Renaissance Academy is talented, blessed with plenty of improving tools. And several school are interested as a result.
According to these quotes, it appears as if Oregon St. is the front-runner at this stage of the game, and there's plans for a recruiting trip to Corvallis in the works. Boston College, Creighton and Marquette aren't far behind in the Stover sweepstakes. UCLA and USC are among the five schools with scholarship offers on the table. LA Times 6/17 

McDonald’s commitment effectively ended UNC’s courtship of Nolan Dennis, a lanky wing out of Richland Hills, Texas, who brings similar skills to the table. Dennis, ranked 36th overall in the Class of 2009 by, had talked about being a lifelong Tar Heels fan himself. But with home state schools Texas and Texas A&M also pursuing him, along with Kansas and UCLA, Dennis simply wasn’t ready to make a final decision and McDonald beat him to the punch. FayObserver 6/17 

Putnam City guard Xavier Henry and Bishop McGuinness forward Daniel Orton are preparing for their senior seasons, still unsure what traditional basketball power they will represent during their first year on a college campus. Had they been born four years earlier, the duo would likely be preparing for their senior seasons with visions of being selected in the NBA Draft straight out of high school. NewsOk 6/18 

Jeremy Tyler- After a tough second session, Tyler came to life in the third session. Wendell Lewis, who is having a solid camp as one of the top rebounders, just couldn't handle Tyler's agility in the low post. When things are going well for Tyler and he has a positive attitude, he is one of the best post prospects regardless of class. When things don't go well, Tyler is quick to implode and become ineffective with his play. Gator Bait 6/19