Wednesday, May 23, 2007

May 21-23 News and Notes

According to the Washington Post, Georgetown junior center Roy Hibbert has announced that he will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft, while junior forward Jeff Green will stay in the Draft. "I thought about it and said to myself, 'Do I really want to stay in the draft and sit on the bench?'" said Hibbert. "My heart was here." Green felt that the time was right for him to leave. "Just sitting down with my family and coach, I feel like we came to a decision that I should stay in this draft, and it would be the best thing for me after the season that the team had and that I had," he said. Both players were projected as lottery picks. Hibbert averaged 12.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game last season, while Green averaged 14.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per contest. The Hoyas reached the Final Four this past season before falling to Ohio State.

Brandon Jennings, the nation’s top-rated point guard recruit in the Class of 2008, has announced that he will be headed to Arizona. “By taking a visit, I knew right then and there this was something I wanted to do,” Jennings said. “I got to meet the AD (Jim Livengood), the academic people and stuff like that.” He also said that he liked the lineage at Point Guard U. “I like all the point guards who came out of there -- they’re all stars in the league,” Jennings said. “I believe Arizona can get me ready for the next level. Look at (Mike) Bibby, Jason Terry, Gilbert Arenas.” One of his coaches, Kelly Williams, also said that Jennings wanted to stay close to his home in Los Angeles. "He said he wants to be closer to home," he said. "He wants to be closer so his mom and his family are able to come and see him play." Jennings originally committed to USC, but re-opened his recruitment and eventually chose the Wildcats over Connecticut. He is ranked No. 12 by and in the top five by

According to the Arizona Daily Star, Arizona has released its schedule for 2007-2008. Once again, they will face one of the toughest schedules in the country. The Wildcats have non-conference road games at Kansas, Memphis, Houston, and UNLV, as well as home contests against Virginia, Illinois, and Texas A&M.

Kansas has released its non-conference schedule for the 2007-2008 season. The marquee contests include home games against Arizona and DePaul, as well as road match-ups against USC, Georgia Tech, and Boston College. “I think it’s a very good schedule,” Kansas coach Bill Self told the Lawrence Journal-World. “It’s probably the toughest we’ve had next to 2004-05, when we had the No. 1 RPI in the country. Every team on our upcoming schedule had a winning record. We have several high-profile games, and many other games against quality competition that should be attractive to television (which, like game times, has not been announced). It’s really a challenging schedule.”

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, New Orleans junior guard Bo McCalebb has withdrawn his name from the NBA Draft. "I just wanted to get my name out there," McCalebb said. "My whole intention was to come back to school." He also said that he was not upset about the lack of an invitation to the Orlando pre-draft camp. "I wasn't really that disappointed," he said. "I was probably coming back to school even if I had been invited. The Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year averaged 25.0 points per game last season, good enough for sixth in the country, and also chipped in with 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals per contest.

Kentucky is going to pay $50,000 to back out of a scheduled game with Massachusetts. UMass athletic director John McCutcheon was not happy about it. "You live and learn,” he said. I know this was a concern for the coaches' association [teams getting out of contracts]. We're going to have to refund the money. It's a big hassle and very problematic. Playing in Boston is off the board now. I don't see how we can get a caliber opponent like Kentucky." McCutcheon believes the Wildcats backed out because of the coaching change to Billy Gillespie. "This is a bad practice and maybe next time we should have a higher buyout," McCutcheon said. "This wasn't our arena. This wasn't on our campus."

Not surprisingly, there was plenty of reaction from around the country:

The Louisville Courier-Journal has another story about the buyout. Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart defended the Wildcats. "With a young team and a new coach, we just wanted to give him the best opportunity to get off on the right foot at Kentucky," he said. "We felt like we needed some (additional) home games. We felt like it was important to give him the opportunity to get his program started in a comfort zone. That's the goal." Massachusetts athletic director John McCutcheon called the move “very unprofessional” and “very problematic.” Assistant athletic director for media relations Jason Yellin said that the Minutemen are not only upset at the fact that Kentucky cancelled, but also the late timing of it. "The buyout is in the contract, so they can do it, but it's disappointing to us that they've chosen to," Yellin said. "We can't get another marquee opponent this late. (Playing UK) was going to be a great showcase for our program. It's really disappointing that they would do that to Travis."

On the other side, Ron Chimelis of
The Republican in Massachusetts calls the move by Kentucky “a very foul shot” and writes how the news of the cancellation affects Massachusetts in multiple ways. It ruins the marquee game on the Minutemen’s schedule and could cost UMass as much as $300,000. "I'm kicking myself, just a little, for not making the cancellation fee greater in the contract," Massachusetts athletic director John McCutcheon said. "But we assumed the contract would be fulfilled, and I think it would have been, had Tubby Smith still been the coach." McCutcheon went on to say that there was no reason for Kentucky to cancel this game other than the fact that they wanted another home game. "There's a question of professional ethics," McCutcheon said. "They said, we're just going to do what's best for Kentucky, they just didn't care about anyone else."

Andy Katz of talked to former Kentucky player and current Massachusetts coach Travis Ford about the buyout and cancellation. "I love the University of Kentucky," Ford said. "They've been good to me and I have so many friends there. I'm not mad at Kentucky. I love Kentucky basketball. I'm just disappointed. To me Kentucky basketball has the best fans." He was also caught off-guard by the buyout, because the Minutemen moved the game to November 24 in order to appease the Wildcats. “I didn't think they would do that to me,” he said.

Eric Crawford of the
Louisville Courier-Journal writes that Kentucky is not following proper business practices by backing out of games at such a late date. He questions the comment by Kentucky deputy athletic director Rob Mullens, who said, "Our priority is to protect the University of Kentucky basketball team." He also writes that the Wildcats are winning at “dodgeball”, referring to the Kentucky and its habit of moving around games and canceling them to suit its own interests.

Larry Vaught of the
Kentucky Sports Report thinks that Kentucky should play Massachusetts. He says that he has no problem with new coach Billy Gillespie trying to play more home games so he has a better understanding of the Wildcats, but says that backing out of the game with UMass was not the right thing to do. He says that it is “not the classiest move” and questions if Gillespie thinks his team could have won at UMass.

According to the Wichita Eagle, Wichita State junior guard Sean Ogirri has announced that he will transfer to Wyoming. "We're excited about Sean," Cowboys coach Heath Schroyer said. "He is a tremendous player who can come in here and have success. He brings to our program the experience of playing at a high level at Wichita State. He has made big shots in big games, including the NCAA Tournament." Ogirri averaged 9.5 points per game last season. He and two other players were granted releases from the program after former coach Mark Turgeon took the head coaching job at Texas A&M.

According to Andy Katz of, there could be a potential Pittsburgh-Duke match-up next season at Madison Square Garden. The Panthers are trying to rework scheduling conflicts in order to make it happen. In other news, he writes that Kansas State is going to play Notre Dame in the Jimmy V Classic at MSG next year.

According to the’s Jeff Goodman, UCLA sophomore forward Ryan Wright has announced that he will transfer to Oklahoma. "I've made my decision and I feel that Oklahoma is the best place for me," said Wright, who chose the Sooners over Baylor and Purdue. He averaged 2.4 points as a freshman, but averaged only 5.4 minutes this past season.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, new Kentucky signee Patrick Patterson turned down the Worldwide Leader. ESPN approached Patterson, saying that they would televise his announcement if he revealed to them which school he was going to—a half-hour before it was official. Patterson said no, with his mother saying, "You can come to the news conference like everybody else."

Dave Weekley of The Charleston Gazette discusses the impact that Patrick Patterson and O.J. Mayo had on recruiting rankings. He writes that, had Patterson gone to Florida, the Gators would have risen to the top of most recruiting rankings. However, since he committed to Kentucky, Mayo and USC are the likely top class in the country.

Mark Bradley of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution writes about the waiting game that Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt has to play with his two freshmen in NBA Draft, Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton. Both have entered their names into the early-entry pool, but neither has hired an agent. Hewitt says he’s not really worried about the future. “I wait until August,” he says, “and I see who’s there.” Bradley also writes that Hewitt does not handicap the draft or try to convince Young and Crittenton to stay. “We have to make the most of the team we have,” Hewitt said. “That’s one of the reasons we work so hard on individual instruction, to be able to absorb [personnel] losses.”

Terence Moore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes about former Kentucky coach Tubby Smith’s move to Minnesota. He discusses how Smith was very successful with the Wildcats, but never could do enough to appease the UK fans. “All Smith did for Big Blue was win 76 percent of the time, with NCAA tournament bids every year that produced a national championship, six trips to the Sweet 16, four to the Elite Eight and five SEC regular-season titles,” writes Moore. “Even so, it was whine, whine, whine by those Wildcat Wackos, still worshiping Adolph Rupp’s ghost and Rick Pitino’s shadow.”

Jeff Goodman of writes about Florida State in the 2007-2008 season. He says that they will have more balance than they have had in the past, mainly due to the fact that coach Leonard Hamilton is bringing in two quality post men in freshmen Solomon Alabi and Julian Vaughn. The Seminoles have been one of the last teams left out of the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons, but that could change next year. ``I believe we’ve grown from the things we’ve had to overcome,” Hamilton said. “We’ve had to mature and we’re hungrier.”

Bryan Graham of breaks down eight of the top in-season tournaments for the first month of the 2007-2008 season. He discusses the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, the CBE Classic, the NIT Season Tip-Off, the Top of the World Classic, the Virgin Island Paradise Jam, the Maui Invitational, the Great Alaska Shootout, and the Old Spice Classic.

Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News ranks the Top 5 most pivotal players in the country for next season. #5 is Kansas guard Sherron Collins, and #4 is Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet. DeCourcy writes that Collins needs to be the game-changing point guard that he was at times last season, and will be the go-to-guy for the Jayhawks next season. As for Thabeet, DeCourcy writes that he needs to improve his hands to become a dominant performer at both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

The Big Lead has a very interesting interview with’s Jeff Goodman. He talks about how the career route he took to get to FOX Sports, his social life, and how it feels to be able to work out of home. He also takes some shots at and calls VCU’s Anthony Grant the most underrated coach in the country.

Bryan Graham of unveils his latest Market Watch. Georgetown, Purdue, Arizona, and of course, the Portland Trail Blazers are on the way up, while Wichita State and Massachusetts are falling. He says that the Hoyas are the favorites to repeat as Big East champions since Roy Hibbert has decided to return to school; the Boilermakers will get a renovation of Mackey Arena; the Wildcats get point guard recruit Brandon Jennings; and Portland got the #1 pick in the Draft. On the other side, the Shockers’ Sean Ogirri is transferring to Wyoming; and UMass won’t get a chance to play Kentucky next season.

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