Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:17 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 1:37 pm
By Gary Parrish
I've always insisted -- at least since Louisville, Cincinnati and Marquette left Conference USA -- that though Memphis probably isn't one of the nation's top 10 programs, it's almost certainly one of the top 10 jobs in its current setup. You coach in a soldout and first-class arena for a school that's a national brand, charters every road trip, has access to private planes for recruiting, out-spends all other C-USA members and generally finds yourself in a position to overwhelm most of the league just as Gonzaga overwhelms the WCC.
You can make millions for as long as you want, because it's really hard to lose.
Further proof of that is what's happening down at the Nike Peach Jam.
The Memphis 16-and-under team and the Memphis 17-and-under team have each made the championship games of what is widely viewed as the premier event of the summer circuit. Both teams are loaded with high-major prospects, and most of those high-major prospects grow up wanting to play for the Tigers.
Third-year coach Josh Pastner has already offered scholarships to 17-and-under team members Jarnell Stokes, Shaq Goodwin (who, it should be noted, is not from Memphis but is playing for Memphis and is considering the Tigers) and Austin Nichols, and 16-and-under team members Nick King and Jonathan Williams III. History suggests Pastner will get at least three of those prospects, maybe all five, and one of the stars of the 17-and-under team, Martavious Newby, is practically begging Memphis to recruit him.
So to recap: The Memphis coach has a massive budget, a top-notch arena, a devoted fan base, a loaded natural recruiting base and a league filled with mostly inferior programs that should allow him to cruise through January and February more years than not. Beyond that, the C-USA tournament is played on his homecourt more years than not, meaning he's almost always the favorite to earn the league's automatic bid.
It's a nice setup. If you're wondering why John Calipari stayed nine years and left only for Kentucky, there's your answer.
Posted on: July 13, 2011 2:14 am
By Jeff Borzello
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – The saga of Tony Woods seems to be nearing an end.
The former Wake Forest transfer and Louisville commit is on the verge of making a choice.
“He should be announcing his decision in the next couple of weeks,” said Norman Parker, Woods’ AAU coach with the Georgia Stars.
Parker said Kentucky, Texas, Cincinnati, Auburn, Texas Tech, Oregon and Xavier are the main schools in the mix, although other colleges have reached out.
Before Woods makes a decision, he needs to get his academics in order for the fall.
“He has to finish up a class,” Parker said. “All that other stuff is irrelevant if he doesn’t finish his course work.”
There were rumors recently that Woods committed to Texas, but Parker refused those reports, saying that Woods merely visited Texas – in addition to Kentucky.
Darrick Wood impresses in front of coaches
Despite having multiple offers and plenty of college attention, the first day of the Peach Jam was still exciting for Darrick Wood.
Wood, a 6-foot-3 guard from the Washington D.C. area, knew exactly who was keeping an eye on him from the sidelines.
“I’m watching the coaches,” he said. “I want more scholarships, man.”
Oklahoma State, Connecticut, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Temple and Virginia all informed Wood they would be watching him at the Peach Jam.
The NIA Prep prospect has offers from Oklahoma State, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Georgetown, West Virginia, USC, Arizona and USC.
“I want a good setting, a family setting,” Wood said. “I want my mom to be able to come see me, and I also want good weather.”
Interestingly, he said location would be a factor – but he wasn’t sure in what way.
“I want to go either really close to home, or really far away,” Wood said.
Physical Martavious Newby looks at two sports
When watching Martavious Newby play for Memphis YOMCA, one immediately noticed his physical brand of basketball and propensity for defense.
Not surprisingly, it comes from Newby’s attitude on the gridiron.
“This is only my third year playing AAU, but growing up, my physical way just came,” Newby said.
The 6-foot-4 Booker T. Washington (Tenn.) prospect has a great body and good strength, which enables him to defend at one end and finish effectively at the other. He can also known down outside shots and score in transition.
For now, he has offers from Ole Miss, Auburn and Arkansas to play both basketball and football, with Missouri and Nebraska also extending scholarships on the hardwood. Memphis, Arkansas State and Tulane are showing interest.
Posted on: July 12, 2011 1:54 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 2:04 pm
By Gary Parrish
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Summer basketball gets a bad reputation because the play is often reckless and undisciplined. Sometimes the coaches are to blame for that, no question. But other times the players are responsible for the crazy stuff you see on the court, which brings me to a game here at the Peach Jam Tuesday morning between the Memphis YOMCA and the California Supreme.
Memphis led 73-71 with 11 seconds left.
California had the ball.
A timeout was called.
So the Memphis coaches -- Jevonte Holmes and John Wilfong -- used that opportunity to tell their players to do anything but give up an open 3-pointer. If California got a bucket inside the arc to force overtime, Holmes and Wilfong could live with that. But what they wouldn't be OK with is an open 3-pointer at the buzzer that cost them a win.
So guess what happened after the timeout?
"We give up an open 3-pointer in the corner," Wilfong said. "Wide-open 3-pointer."
The jumper bounced off the rim, the buzzer sounded, and so Memphis escaped with the victory anyway. But the fact that Memphis nearly lost at the buzzer -- despite 21 points from Martavious Newby and 14 each from Jarnell Stokes and Shaq Goodwin -- wasn't a coaching problem as much as a lack of focus by the players in the final seconds.
"We told them over and over again -- no open 3-pointers," Wilfong said with a smile, at which point Herb Wright came over and joined the conversation. Wright coaches the Memphis YOMCA 16-and-under team. He had not heard a single word of our conversation, which made his opening question to Wilfong hilarious.
"Why," Wright asked, "did that kid get that open 3 in the corner?"