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Posted on: July 22, 2009 3:25 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2009 3:28 pm

Selby's decommitment is the talk of Vegas, so far

LAS VEGAS -- Whether I was at the Villa 7 Consortium at the Venetian on Tuesday night or a gym around town this morning, pretty much all any coach wants to talk about is Josh Selby's decommitment from Tennessee and the circumstances surrounding it. As I reported Sunday , Selby ended a 10-month commitment to the Vols this weekend -- less than two weeks after attending the Nike-funded LeBron James Skills Academy and King City Classic, where his mother told me she met with basketball powerbroker William Wesley .

As you probably know, Wesley -- more commonly referred to as "Worldwide Wes" or "Fresh Wes" or simply "Wes" -- has long been unofficially tied to Nike Basketball and certain prospects, most notably Dajuan Wagner, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, all of whom played for John Calipari at Memphis.

Now Calipari is at Kentucky.

And industry sources believe UK is the new leader for Selby.

And, well, you know.

"That kid was committed to Tennessee for almost a year, then he goes to a Nike event, the mom talks with Wes, the kid decommits from an 'Adidas' school, and now he's looking at Kentucky," said one high-major coach, noting the timeline of the developments as well as UT's apparel contract with Adidas. "Come on, man. That's messed up. I mean, that's just messed up."

It's funny.

Bruce Pearl has spent his four years at Tennessee rubbing a good portion of the coaching community the wrong way, and yet across the board people appear sympathetic toward him and the rest of UT 's staff in light of Selby's decommitment. Regardless of what's real and what isn't, seemingly everybody in the coaching profession believes Wesley influenced Selby's decision, and Selby's mother publicly acknowledging she met with Wesley before her son decommitted has only enhanced that perception.

Either way, it's the talk of Vegas, I assure you.

And it'll be interesting to see which coaches are at El Dorado High today at 5:20 p.m. ET when Selby plays his opening game with the Baltimore Assault in the Adidas Super 64. I'm unfamiliar with the Assault's roster and the team they're playing (Team Credo). But one college coach told me Selby will be the only high-major prospect on the court, meaning any high-major coach in the building will be in the building to see Selby.

I'll let you know what I see when I see it.
Posted on: July 19, 2009 4:06 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2009 4:14 pm

Selby's mom discusses decommitment

So which schools are now in play for former Tennessee recruit Josh Selby?

"We're just going to get together as a family and figure it out," Selby's mother, Maeshon Witherspoon, told by phone on Sunday. "Right now we don't even know. We haven't compiled a list or anything."

Still, industry sources told two schools that will almost certainly be involved are Kentucky and Oregon -- both of which have obvious connections to William Wesley, a major person of influence in the sport. Wesley (more commonly known as "Worldwide Wes" or simply as "Wes") has a close and very public relationship with Kentucky coach John Calipari, Oregon assistant Kenny Payne, and Nike Basketball.

Kentucky and Oregon are both Nike schools.

Tennessee is an Adidas school.

When asked, Witherspoon acknowledged meeting Wesley at the LeBron James Skills Academy/King City Classic events in Akron/Cleveland earlier this month. But she discounted the significance of that encounter and emphasized that this is merely a case of her son committing too early.

Selby, a consensus top 10 national recruit in the Class of 2010, committed to UT last September.

"I met Wes, but we really didn't talk; that's not a connection like everybody thinks," Witherspoon said. "It's just that we only looked at one other school before we committed to Tennessee, and it was Louisville. It was a fast decision because we were so overwhelmed with the atmosphere at Tennessee [during a visit for the UT-Florida football game], and we just want to make sure it's right. Tennessee is still an option. It's up to Tennessee if they still want to recruit him. But on our list, Tennessee is still an option."

There is speculation that Memphis might also be involved because Selby's cousins -- Will and Antonio Barton -- have committed to the Tigers, but sources told that the relationship between the cousins isn't as strong as most believe. In fact, Selby didn't even really know the Bartons until they were around 9 years-old, one source said. Another source added that if it wasn't for basketball there would be little-to-no relationship between the cousins because the connection is on Selby's father's side, and Selby has been primarily raised by his mother.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: July 19, 2009 12:20 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2009 12:27 pm

Top 10 prospect decommits from Tennessee

Turns out, this really isn't an ideal time for Bruce Pearl to be in Israel.

"I ... just decommitted from Tennessee," Josh Selby, a top 10 national recruit, announced to the world via his Facebook page this weekend. A source close to Selby confirmed to that the "status update" is legitimate. The source said Selby's mother informed the Tennessee staff of her son's decision early Sunday.

Selby had been committed to UT since last September, but rumors about a possible decommitment began circulating earlier this month at the LeBron James Skills Academy. Asked about the speculation by on July 7, Selby acknowledged that people were "trying to get him to decommit" but swore "it's not going to happen."

Apparently, that wasn't true.

Selby has now decommitted and changed his cell phone number.

Meantime, Pearl remains in Israel as Team USA's coach in the Maccabiah Games; he isn't scheduled to return to the United States until the middle of this week. spoke to Pearl by phone late Thursday . When asked about the possibility of rivals using his absence on the recruiting trail against him, Pearl responded, "It happens, and it's just the way it is. It's part of it."
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 25, 2009 5:11 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2009 5:38 pm

"Closer to home" needs to be close to home

Duke transfer Elliot Williams plans to move "closer to home" and ask the NCAA for a waiver to play next season because his mother is battling cancer. He will reportedly choose between Memphis, Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. But the problem with those two statements is that they don't seem to jibe, because there's no chance the Memphis native would get a waiver to play at Tennessee or Kentucky, and even Vanderbilt is a stretch.

At least that's what one Division I coach told

According to a Division I coach who has dealt with transfers, the NCAA has "tightened up" the criteria for waivers since allowing Tyler Smith to transfer from Iowa to Tennessee without penalty when Smith's father was battling cancer. Smith wanted to "be closer to home" because of his father's illness, so he picked Tennessee, which is 248 miles from his home in Pulaski, Tenn. The NCAA granted the waiver. But the source said the guidelines are now stricter (even if they aren't clearly defined).

"I know a player who transferred to a school 106 miles from his home, and the NCAA denied the waiver," the source said. "They wanted to know that the player was going to have 'day-to-day responsibilities' with the family member before granting the waiver, and they said that you can't have 'day-to-day responsibilities' if you're 106 miles away."

Assuming that ruling is consistent with the NCAA's current way of thinking, it appears unlikely that Williams could get a waiver to play at any of the schools he's considering except for Memphis. Consider:
  • Vanderbilt is 212 miles from Memphis.
  • Tennessee is 391 miles from Memphis.
  • Kentucky is 423 miles from Memphis.
In conclusion, best I can tell, unless Elliot Williams wants to sit out a year, he must transfer to Memphis.

And that's why it seems to be a near certainty that he'll play for the Tigers next season.
Posted on: June 11, 2009 1:44 pm

Source: Vols' Smith withdrawing from NBA Draft

Tennessee forward Tyler Smith is holding a Thursday afternoon press conference to announce that he is withdrawing from the NBA Draft, a source close to the Vols program told

Smith averaged 17.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season.

This development means the Vols will return every relevant player from a 21-win team.
Category: BBD
Posted on: June 8, 2009 4:04 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2009 4:09 pm

Sometimes it hurts to not be affiliated with Nike

Martavious Newby is one of the better young prospects in the city of Memphis.

He had an interesting quote in Monday's newspaper about Memphis' Elite Camp.

"I was about to go to Tennessee's camp up there, but I changed my mind," Newby told The Commercial Appeal . "I mean, I like Tennessee, but I had to come over here and see how it is, because I like Memphis. That's where I might be going. So I told my high school coach I changed my mind."

Changed his mind?

"I love him to death," Newby's AAU coach, Keith Easterwood, told on Monday. "But he never had a mind to change."

Before you can understand this story -- and, specifically, how Memphis ended up with most of the top local players on campus last Friday and Saturday -- you need to understand the back story, that Easterwood coaches the best Class of 2011 and 2012 prospects in the area. You also need to know that his team is funded by Nike. And that Memphis is a "Nike" school. And that Tennessee is an "Adidas" school. And that both schools held Elite Camps this past weekend.

OK, you got all that?


Now I'll let Easterwood tell the story.

"I polled my kids after a game," Easterwood said. "I asked 12 kids: 'Do you want to go to the Memphis Elite Camp or the Tennessee Elite Camp?' ... And all of them, to a man, said they wanted to go to Knoxville. Well, that was good for me. So we did what we had to do to get prepared to get them up there, talked to parents, one thing and another."

And then ...

"I got some calls, some were shoe-affiliated," Easterwood said. "Nike, Adidas, you can connect the dots. ... Memphis is Nike. I'm with a Nike AAU program. And it was expressed to me that it would be in my best interests to stay home and not make the trip to Knoxville, which is what we ultimately did."

Easterwood declined to name the person who called him, but promised it was a "person of influence" with Nike ties. He said he was also told that one of his players, Andre Hollins, might not get an invitation to this week's prestigious Nike Hoop Jamboree in St. Louis if he attended UT's Elite Camp instead of Memphis' Elite Camp.

"The kids didn't know the behind-the-scenes stuff," Easterwood said. "But I had to let [Hollins'] parents know what was at stake if they made that trip."

Once Easterwood told them, they didn't make that trip.

And Hollins' invitation to the Nike Hoop Jamboree subsequently arrived, as expected.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: May 22, 2009 10:36 am

Ramar Smith still loves weed

Oddly, I was wondering just the other day about whatever happened to former Tennessee guard Ramar Smith.

Turns out, he's still in Knoxville.

Allegedly robbing and stealing everything from cash to guns to marijuana.

Sounds fun.

But in all seriousness, Thursday night's news that Smith had surrendered to police for his alleged role in a home invasion earlier this week is sad, yet a reminder that many of the student-athletes (and I use that word loosely) you cheer for every season are actually troubled souls who just happen to dribble a basketball fairly well. Or in Smith's case, not well enough. That's why he never landed on solid ground after Bruce Pearl dismissed him following the 2008 NCAA tournament, because he wasn't all that good. Had he been, some coach would've explained that the multiple failed drug tests Smith possessed at UT were merely the result of a young man still trying to grow up, more a part of his past than his future. But because Smith was just an average prospect, he mostly disappeared until he was charged with aggravated robbery.

The lesson?

If you want to be an idiot, it's best to average 15 points per game.

Or maybe the lesson is to stay away from drugs and guns.

Either way, say goodbye to Ramar Smith -- the former top 100 recruit now on his way to prison.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: April 14, 2009 4:02 pm

Ever wanted to see Bruce Pearl rap?

Tennessee held some sort of awards ceremony Monday night. Best I can tell, it was just like any other awards ceremony put on by any other athletic department ... except for the fact that it featured the head basketball coach rapping with no shirt on.

Yep, Bruce Pearl got himself another YouTube clip.

Click this link and check it out.

Category: NCAAB
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