Posted on: October 9, 2008 2:34 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2008 11:33 am

An explanation (for those who can't read)

I was going to try to get through the day without posting this blog.

But I knew I'd never make it.

Unfortunately, some of my readers -- not you reading this; just the stupid ones -- lack reading comprehension skills, which causes me to often times explain things over and over again as if I'm talking to my 5-year-old son. It's frustrating. But it comes with the territory. So let me use this space to further explain my column about "NBA talent" on college teams and address some emails I've received this morning.


Here we go!

Question: My favorite team (insert name here) has a great player named (insert name here) who is probably a lottery pick. How could you not count him as being drafted this year or next year?

Answer: As I clearly stated, whether prospects are considered "NBA talents" is not something I decided for the purposes of this column. I turned that over to DraftExpress.com. In other words, this was a simple process for me. If DraftExpress.com had a player listed as going in the first round or second round of the 2009 or 2010 NBA Draft, I listed him accordingly. If not, I didn't. So any questions about the status of prospects should be directed to DraftExpress.com's Jonathan Givony, not me.

(Sorry Jonathan!)

Also, I explained in the column that this is not an exact science or an absolute predictor of which teams will and will not be great. One reason is because many players considered "NBA talents" in October won't be considered "NBA talents" in March, and vice versa. Another reason is because though I believe with every ounce of my brain that "NBA talents" are necessary to win the national title (just look at the recent history of national champions), I do not believe they are required to make an Elite Eight or even Final Four. For example, I think Notre Dame is going to be great this season, but (according to DraftExpress.com) there isn't a future first-round pick on the team. So while history suggests this suggests the Irish won't be our national champions, it doesn't mean they can't win the Big East and much more.

Question: My favorite team (insert name here) has committed (insert name here). He's ranked 10th in the Class of 2009 and will surely be a first-round pick. Why are you not counting him?

Answer: What on earth does a Class of 2009 prospect have to do with this season?

Regardless of where John Wall signs, he won't have anything to do with what happens on the court in the 2008-09 season because he won't play college basketball until the 2009-2010 season. Same goes for Abdul Gaddy. And Renardo Sidney. And Derrick Favors. And you get the idea, don't you?

Bottom line, only players on the current roster matter.

People who may or may not come in the future have nothing to do with this column.

Question: Why did you only list teams with at least eight points?

Answer: Because there were nine teams with at least eight points, and that took me to 1,500 words. That was plenty. But I did use the same exercise to go further down the list. In all, there were 16 teams with at least six points. So if you want to look at the rest of the list, well, here you go ...

-- Pittsburgh --

  • Number of projected draft picks:  2
  • Number of points: 7
  • 2009 first round: Sam Young (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: DeJuan Blair (3 points)
  • 2009 second round: NA
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Oklahoma --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 7
  • 2009 first round: Blake Griffin (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: Willie Warren (3 points)
  • 2009 second round: NA
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Tennessee --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 7
  • 2009 first round: Tyler Smith (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: Scotty Hopson (3 points)
  • 2009 second round: NA
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Arizona State --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 6
  • 2009 first round: James Harden (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: Jeff Pendergraph (2 points)
  • 2009 second round: NA
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Georgetown --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 3
  • Number of points: 6
  • 2009 first round: NA
  • 2010 first round:  Greg Monroe (3 points)
  • 2009 second round: DaJuan Summers (2 points)
  • 2010 second round: Austin Freeman (1 point)

-- Memphis --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 6
  • 2009 first round: Tyreke Evans (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: NA
  • 2009 second round: Robert Dozier (2 points)
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Texas --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 6
  • 2009 first round: Damion James (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: NA
  • 2009 second round: Connor Atchley (2 points)
  • 2010 second round: NA
Posted on: September 15, 2008 12:17 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2008 12:20 pm

Nation's best inside-outside duo?

I've been to Oklahoma and Notre Dame the past two weekends and listened to folks from both schools tell me they have the nation's best inside-outside duo. At OU, there's Willie Warren and Blake Griffin. At Notre Dame, there's Kyle McAlarney and Luke Harangody. Honestly, I think either duo can make a reasonable claim to the title. But the whole thing got me thinking about which combinations might really be in the running for best inside-outside duo.

Here's a list off the top of my head ...
  • Oklahoma (Willie Warren and Blake Griffin)
  • Notre Dame (Kyle McAlarney and Luke Harangody)
  • North Carolina (Ty Lawson or Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough)
  • Pittsburgh (Levance Fields and DeJuan Blair)
  • Connecticut (A.J. Price and Hasheem Thabeet or Jeff Adrien)
  • Arizona State (James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph)
  • Southern California (Demar DeRozan and Taj Gibson)
OK, who am I missing?

And which combination is the best?
Posted on: July 18, 2008 10:46 am

Dear Gary (on Pitt)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I have to question your low ranking for Pitt this year. Along with Sam Young -- who has been getting nothing but extremely high praise this summer -- and DeJuan Blair, Pitt also boasts arguably the best point guard in the conference in Levance Fields as well as Gilbert Brown, a young man on the verge of great things. Other than finding a reliable shooting guard out of Brad Wanamaker, Jermaine Dixon or an incoming freshman, Pitt is loaded, deep, experienced, and primed for a huge year. I definitely think the Panthers are a Top 5 team going into the season, maybe No. 1 or No. 2 if Mike Cook gets his redshirt granted.

-- Ryan

OK, Ryan, let me make sure I understand.

You think Pitt needs to be in the top five.

And I have them eighth.

So we're essentially arguing over three spots in my Ridiculously Early But Still Kind of Fun Preseason Top 25 (and one) that was published last month, correct? If so, wow. And God bless you! Because it's folks like you -- folks who care about this sport 365 days per year and to a somewhat questionable degree -- who keep me going 365 days per year (and provide potential editions of Dear Gary for every single one of them).

Anyway, back to Pitt.

You saw that I have the Panthers eighth, right?

That means we're pretty close in our assessments, though I fully acknowledge a reasonable person could place the Panthers higher because I agree with you that Pitt is "primed for a huge year." In fact, I'm starting to wonder when Pitt won't be "primed for a huge year" considering Jamie Dixon's track record and the way he's recruiting.

Dixon is now five years in at Pitt, for those unfamiliar.

He's made the NCAA tournament every season.

He's won at least 20 games every season.

And now he has a Top 10 (or perhaps even a top five) team ready to compete for the Big East title, and recruiting is also going well considering Pitt just picked up a commitment from Dante Taylor, a 6-foot-8 McDonald's All-American candidate who chose the Panthers over Syracuse, Kansas and Connecticut. In other words, Dixon has continued what Ben Howland started and made Pitt one of the more stable programs in America, and it's comical in hindsight that the school was at least exploring the possibility of hiring anybody other than Dixon when Howland moved to UCLA in 2003.

As for Mike Cook, yeah, that would be a huge boost if the NCAA granted him another year. I'm told Pitt officials believe it's legitimately up in the air, about a 50-50 shot. And if that happens, don't worry, I'll get Pitt into my top five, I promise.

Posted on: June 3, 2008 11:19 pm
Edited on: June 4, 2008 12:42 am

Eight schools in play for Iowa State transfer

Iowa State standout Wesley Johnson has been granted a release to transfer to any one of eight schools.

On the list are Arkansas, Connecticut, Marquette, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova and West Virginia. Fine programs, all of them. But it was hard not to notice that Kentucky, Alabama and TCU were not included because those have been the three schools most connected to Johnson in recent weeks, so much so that sources have told CBSSports.com that the Iowa State staff privately felt behind-the-scenes tampering could've led to Johnson's initial decision to transfer.

Obviously, there is no proof. That's why everybody has mostly been quiet. But it appears ISU made it clear to Johnson that Kentucky, Alabama and TCU were not schools to which it would automatically release him. Otherwise, those institutions would've certainly made the list.
Posted on: February 16, 2008 12:12 am

Levance Fields didn't help much

INDIANAPOLIS -- The return of Levance Fields to Pitt went about like the return of Tito Trinidad to Madison Square Garden.

Or the return of Britney Spears to the MTV Video Music Awards.

Or the return of ... ah, you get the point.

It didn't go well.

Not well at all.

And the byproduct was Friday night's 72-54 loss at Marquette that ruined Fields' first game back since breaking his foot in a Dec. 29 loss at Dayton. The junior point guard had missed 12 contests in between Dayton and Marquette. Pitt went 8-4 in that span, which was respectable if not impressive. But Fields clanked 6-of-7 shots in his return to finish with four points and as many turnovers as assists (two each) in 20 minutes.

Again, not well at all.

And things aren't getting any easier because Pitt's next game is at 20th-ranked Notre Dame on Thursday.

As for me, I'm in the Hoosier State -- a place where lying about phone calls will apparently cost you your job.

First it's Cleveland State at Butler on Saturday afternoon.

Then it's Michigan State at Indiana on Saturday night.

So in a matter of hours I'll see a Top 10 team (Butler) host a game in Hinkle Fieldhouse and a Top 10 program (Indiana) play a game for a coach who is on his way to forced unemployment. Crazy, huh? But either way, it should be a fun Saturday. And by fun, I mean strange.
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com