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June 15, 2009

What Do You Know? A Football Verbal

Filed under: Football,Recruiting — Chas @ 2:01 pm

It’s been oh so long since one of these occurred that it almost seems stunning. Jeff Knox out of Maryland — though 2 years at Central Catholic and from Pittsburgh so that sort of counts as a local kid. It’s a bit confusing, but he has given a verbal to Pitt.

Knox is a solid 3-star athlete that plays safety on defense and WR on offense. He had plenty of offers including Penn State, Maryland, Michigan, Wake Forest, Illinois and others. Ultimately, he knows Pitt’s coaching staff and wanted to go home.

As for Knox, [DeMatha Coach Bill] McGregor said it was “like a dream” for the Pittsburgh native to go to his hometown school.

“He’s known the coaching staff at Pitt and I think that played a major role in where he wants to go to school,” McGregor said. “From Day One, that was his number one choice.”

That’s nice that some high-schoolers still want to play for Pitt. As Pitt hosts some summer camps in the next few weeks, there is an expecation of some more commits.

The unknown at this point is which side of the ball he will play in college. Scout.com lists him as a Safety. Rivals.com plays it safe with the general “athlete” designation. Scouts, Inc./ESPN.com considers him a better fit as a WR.

Even though he could play either side of the football, Knox is likely to end up on the offensive side of the football where his receiving talents can be maximized. He should also be a very effective special teams player.

Not sure what Knox’s preference is.

Considering the depth at WR versus S, I suspect that he might be tagged for safety. Hopefully, the coaching staff will not engage in too much shifting of the decision next year.

Extended Weekend Draft Stuff: Sam Young

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA — Chas @ 11:25 am

Apparently the NBA Draft version of overthinking is age. Sam Young is 24, you might have heard. That means teams don’t consider his ceiling as high at this point.

My admiration of Miami guard Jack McClinton is no secret, but at his age (24) it’s hard to convince a team that there’s a lot of “potential” left in him. Same thing for 24-year-old Pittsburgh forward Sam Young, who will hear a lot of the same things as we get closer and closer to the draft. While it’s a heck of a lot more likely both those players get selected in the second round for that exact reason, it shouldn’t be overlooked that either one of those guys would be tremendous, NBA-ready additions to any team. Both guys have teams that are very interested, but their age makes it unlikely they go in the first 30 picks.

Others see Young still in the first round, but knocked to the bottom of it by that same limitation.

A two time all-Big East selection, Young possesses a polished all around game with a knack for performing best in his team’s biggest games. The small forward averaged 23.5 points per game in the NCAA Tournament, leading the team to the Elite Eight. Despite all of these accomplishments, however, Young will likely slip out of the draft lottery and into the latter part of the first round largely because of his age.

At 24, Young is older than even most of his classmates which, by NBA Draft standards, is ancient. He might as well be Abe Vigoda. Few players in this draft have the combination of skills, athleticism and experience that Young has yet he still isn’t considered a top prospect in this draft.

“My age is always going to be an issue,” Young said of his draft status. “In this business you always look for youth and because I’m not as young as some of the other guys it is just something that is going to come up.”

Regardless of where Young is picked, or by whom, he is confident that he will be able to help his team because of the experience and maturity he gained during his four years at Pitt.

“(Age works to my advantage) because of my maturity level,” Young said. “I want any team to know that when they recruit me they aren’t going to get a kid. They aren’t going to get a guy who is going go off and act crazy off the court. I’m going to be one of the team leaders as a rookie.”

Confidence, apparently, isn’t an issue either.

The age issue is why it was so surprising Sam Young did not even put his name in the NBA Draft last season as a junior. He had to have been told that after his senior year, he would get the age thing thrown at him.

Yet he never even flirted with putting his name in the draft. He declared right away that he was coming back to Pitt for his senior year and never wavered. Pitt was very lucky to have a player like Young.

Most mock drafts have Young at the end of the first round somewhere at #20 or lower. A couple have dropped him to the second round. SLAM gave real love to Young by pegging him at #16 to the Bulls. It’s a very enthusiastic review.

Sam Young had a workout before the New Orleans Hornets that seems to have gotten mixed reviews.

Sam Young out of Pitt seems like a classic tweener. He has an NBA-ready body and impressed Hornets head coach Byron Scott with his strength during the workout.

“Young is very strong and can get his own shot,” said Scott.

But the 6-foot-6, 220 pounder struggled with his footwork and appeared slow in trying to guard one-on-one during the session. Young also has an unorthodox shot that lacks arc and has a somewhat sideways rotation.

I know I’m biased, but I have trouble seeing Young not taken in the 1st round. Even if it’s with the final pick and may smack of a different bias as the Cavs beat reporter, Brian Windhorst observed in an interview.

AP [Amar Panchmatia]: My favorite in this draft has been Pittsburgh’s Sam Young. Young reminds me of James Posey in that he has a big strong body to deal with small forwards to go with good footwork and quickness to keep up with smaller guards. His length and defensive abilities may be just what the Cavs need to match up with teams like Orlando that have so much size on the perimeter. However, I haven’t seen Young’s name linked to the Cavs in any particular workouts. Do the Cavs have any sort of interest in Young, and do they view him as a guy who could really fit in right away into Mike Brown’s defensive scheme?

BW [Brian Windhorst]: Danny Ferry and Pitt coach Jamie Dixon are very close. The Cavs go to Pitt to watch games as Big East teams come through all season. I’m sure they have tons and tons of information on Young. What I am sure they like about him is that he’s long. The Cavs are going to be looking for long (when I say that I mean wingspan as much as height) players in this draft.

AP: Based on what you know about this team and the players who may be available when the Cavs pick, who would be a good fit with this current squad based on where they are right now and where they want to go?

BW: Let’s consider the last five #30 picks. There was JR Giddens, Petteri Koponen, Joel Freeland, David Lee and David Harrison. That’s a D-leaguer, a Swede not in the NBA, A Brit not in the NBA, a quality big man who is overrated because he puts up mostly hollow numbers for a horrible team in a big market, and a guy who’s career in the NBA is now over.

In general, you can get three things at this point in the draft. 1. Development Europeans. 2. Point guards. 3. Undersized big men (Big Baby and Leon Powe were taken in the mid-30s). The only thing the Cavs really need of those three is a point guard. So that is the direction I could see them going. However, I could see them looking to move up to get a potentially good, long wing.

Sam Young was listed by Windhorst at the top of the list of wing players the Cavs are considering.

Family visiting for a couple days, then visiting other family. It adds up to lots of time not being able to get near a computer.

Today is a big day for the draft. The final withdrawl date. Players like Luke Harangody for Notre Dame and Jodie Meeks of Kentucky have the big decisions.

With all the stuff that came out suddenly on his knees, DeJuan Blair suddenly has his draft position a little in the unknown realm.

Blair has been getting some negative buzz over old knee injuries with teams expressing concern he may have a pre-arthritic condition related to torn ACL’s when he was in high school. Blair says the teams he’s met with have not shown a lot of concern about it, especially after hearing he’s had zero knee issues since the surgery and after watching him move most teams are simply accepting that DeJuan may not be perfect but teams are still eager to see him. The consensus on Blair is split, with some sources saying the knee concerns added to his 6’6 frame make him more likely to go in the 10 to 20 range, where some teams in the top 10 still have Blair high enough on their board that he could go top 10 if teams in front of them go differently than expected.

I can see Blair slipping to just outside of the lottery. This is a weak draft as far as talent that really seems worth a top-14 pick. It’s not a knock on Blair, but the players he draws comparisons to — best case Paul Milsap to Jason Maxiell on down were not drafted that high.

Maxiell was considered a reach by Detroit at the end of the 1st round. Milsap was grabbed #47 — obviously he turned out to be a steal. The point being, that the fact that Blair could go in the top-10 despite his limits in offensive moves, height and potential knee issues says a lot about the quality of the draft.

To be fair, his high draft status also speaks well, though, of how Blair has performed for teams on the court and in interviews.

Not that teams don’t try to find things to complain or at least cite as an excuse.

It’s not just the tangible of measuring 6-5¼ in socks and 6-6½ in shoes that could hurt DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh’s undersized power forward. There’s also the wonder of why he didn’t get in better shape during the season and waited until draft preparations to lose weight in what strikes some teams as more contract drive than long-term commitment. On the other hand, Kevin Love faced the same conditioning questions a year ago and turned in a productive rookie season with the Timberwolves. “It’s something you’re always concerned about — if you lost the weight, you can put it back on,” one executive said. “But watching him in college, the weight didn’t hurt him a lot. He knocked the crap out of people. He’s strong.” Plus, Blair’s bubbly personality will win fans wherever he lands.

Still the concerns were enough for Chad Ford at ESPN.com to drop Blair to #16 in his mock draft to the Bulls.

And if he were to end up on the Bulls with former Panther Aaron Gray?

“This is what I say about size: Go get the biggest person on your team, let me play one-on-one against him and we’ll see about size,” Blair said.

Told Gray is, in fact, the biggest Bull, Blair smiled.

“Of course I can take him,” he said.

HoopsReport had Blair at #14 to the Suns.

Blair has a workout with the Indiana Pacers today. Other workouts he had last week include the Charlotte Bobcats and the Milwaukee Bucks.

In the Bucks workout he showed some increased range with 15-18 foot jumpers. Apparently abusing former Michigan State big man Goran Suton.

In Charlotte, Coach Larry Brown played coy about what the Bobcats are doing, considering or anything.

That was Brown’s way of saying he isn’t troubled by the height of Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, who measured 6-5 1/4 in his stocking feet at the NBA combine. That seems quite short for a power forward, until you consider Blair’s extraordinary 7-2 wingspan.

Blair’s dimensions are similar to those of former Charlotte Hornet Larry Johnson. Johnson was a tremendous rebounder until he hurt his back, and Blair had three games of 20 or more rebounds in two seasons at Pittsburgh.

“I always look for guys who have no neck and long arms,” Brown said. “So he’ll be a (power forward) and he’ll do well.”

Another 10 days to wait.

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