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June 28, 2013

Adams One of Few Correct Calls

Filed under: Alumni,Basketball,Draft,Good,NBA — Chas @ 9:05 am

The NBA Draft was more than a little unpredictable this year. Starting with the Cleveland Cavaliers picking Anthony Bennett out of UNLV (my pick would have been Georgetown’s Otto Porter). That set off a lot of changes up and down the draft. Plenty of trades. But at the number 12 spot, Oklahoma stood pat and took Steven Adams as many expected.

Adams, the 7-foot center who spent one season at Pitt after emigrating from New Zealand, is the fifth Pitt player to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft and the first since Vonteego Cummings in 1999. The other Panthers taken in round one were Charles Smith and Jerome Lane in 1988 and Eric Mobley in 1994. He is the first Pitt freshman to be selected in the first round.

Adams is the fifth player coached by Jamie Dixon to be selected in the draft, following DeJuan Blair and Sam Young (second round in 2009), Aaron Gray (second round in 2007) and Chris Taft (second round in 2005).

Selfishly, I would have loved for Adams to stay at Pitt another year. Yes, he would have further developed, but I’m not convinced that he would have gone much higher in the draft in 2014. (Not to mention the possibility of injuries.)

Not because of how he would be used at Pitt. Or as some want to believe that Dixon would waste him. It’s simply the numbers.

The 2014 draft already looks loaded. It will have players like Andrew Wiggins, Marcus Smart, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson, James McAdoo, the usual slew of one-and-dones from Kentucky, Euro players we know nothing about, and plenty of others. 2014 is shaping up to be one of those high talent draft years.

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June 26, 2013

Steven Adams in the Lottery

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA — Chas @ 2:39 pm

This is not a strong draft. If you have been following the NBA draft chatter since April, you have been hearing this. Expect to hear plenty more of it in the next 36 hours (leading up to and after the draft). As such, Steven Adams is sitting at the end of the lottery. Most projections have him going anywhere from 7 to 14. 10-12 being the most reasonable zone.

Depending on who you want to read, Adams is either undervalued or overvalued.

Overrated:

If he goes in the lottery … Steven Adams
Considering all of [Alex] Len’s flaws, how can a really poor man’s version of Len sneak into the top 14? Didn’t any scouts watch Pitt play this past season? Adams is raaaaaaaaaw. If he didn’t get stuff off the offensive glass, he barely got touches in the Panthers’ offense. He has poor hands. Even in a draft with this many question marks, the lottery is way, way too high for a long-term project like Adams.

Underrated:

Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh — Adams is a just a perfect specimen. He can run, jump, catch and can even shoot a little, and though he struggled to break through in his only year at Pitt, some of that was due to the Panthers’ guards not sharing the ball, and the depth up front that Pitt had. Adams needs to develop, but the positive signs are there.

Yeah, that helps.

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May 17, 2013

NBA Drafts on Potential

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA — Chas @ 6:21 am

So, Steven Adams had a good first day at the NBA Combine in Chicago. There’s speculation — early and idle though it may be — that Adams might be working his way into the 1st Round. Perhaps even the lottery portion.

This is good. Pitt hasn’t had a player go in the first round since Vonteego Cummngs. There hasn’t been a high first round Pitt player selected since Charles Smith.

You would think this would be a good thing. That Pitt is not just turning out good college players, but NBA talent.

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April 29, 2013

Another Pitt Free Draft

Filed under: Draft,Football,NFL — Chas @ 10:53 am

Kind of depressing, but it sure puts the back-to-back 6-7 records into context. No Pitt players heard their name called in the NFL Draft this weekend. This was not terribly surprising.

There have been, and are good players on this team. But a lack of excellent ones. Factor in the crushing injuries, and there weren’t been any surefire NFL prospects wearing the Blue and Gold the last couple of years.

I am not sure how much of that has been missing in recruiting, and the constant churn in coaches that may have stagnated/crushed the development of some players. Likely some mixture of both, but I have no idea on the percentages.

That said, Ray Graham will get his shot to show how healthy his knee is with the Houston Texans.

Mike Shanahan will have his chance to transition to TE in the pros with the New York Jets (sans a Tebow presence).

Ryan Turnley will try to make it with the Buffalo Bills. While on the small side, his versatility on the offensive line can only help his chances of sticking around.

Tight end Hubie Graham and his many injuries will get a chance with Tampa Bay. Just speculation, but I’m thinking that TB HC Greg Schiano remembers the potential Graham once had before injuries and transfers made him entirely forgotten.

It’s also been reported that Jarred Holley will get a tryout with the Pittsburgh Steelers at their first undrafted free agent camp next week.

April 2, 2013

And the Hits Just Keep On Coming

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA — Chas @ 8:09 pm

So, hey, Steven Adams says that NBA Draft Lottery looks good.

After insisting that he would return for his sophomore season at Pitt, Steven Adams is declaring for the NBA Draft and will sign with an agent, thereby forfeiting his final three seasons of eligibility.

The 7-foot center from New Zealand announced his intentions Tuesday night in a statement released by Pitt’s athletic department. A Pitt spokesman said that Adams is out of the country.

“In discussing options with my family and Coach Dixon, I feel that it is in my best interest to declare for the NBA Draft,” Adams said. “I want to thank everyone at Pitt, including my teammates, coaching staff, the administration and the fans who have all supported me over the last year.”

I’ll never, ever begrudge a kid for turning pro. Especially when he is a potential lottery pick. Yes, he could have come back. Potentially improved and been a top-5 pick. Thus upping the potential earning potential. But he is already a top-20 pick. Likely top-14, lottery. This is a weak draft. Especially for centers.

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January 11, 2013

Street Returns for 2013

Filed under: Draft,Football,Players — Chas @ 8:32 am

I’ll understand if you thought it was a no-brainer that Devin Street would return for his senior year. I know I leaned that way. That doesn’t necessarily mean, he would (*cough* Greg Lee *cough*). Street made it official yesterday.

Wide receiver Devin Street considered a jump to the NFL but decided it was best to return to Pitt for his redshirt senior season. He announced Thursday on his Twitter account that he will return to school.

“My heart is at Pitt and with my teammates,” he wrote. “I want to grow as a person and player. Therefore I‘ll be staying my senior year.”

It’s not something Pitt fans should take for granted. The offense would have been in big trouble next year if Street wasn’t coming back. As less-than-good the O-line was this past season, try to imagine it if Chris Jacobson hadn’t been given a sixth year. That’s the sort of situation the passing game could have found itself.

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April 29, 2012

I’m not saying that if Pitt had stuck to the 4-3 defense and the pro-style offense, that Pitt players would not have been shut out of the NFL Draft for the first time since 1999. I’m thinking it, but I’m not saying it.

Brandon Lindsey went from being a break-out player at the defensive end in 2010 to no-mans land with a change in defensive schemes. Playing in a hybrid linebacker/DE position that had him in no-mans land too many times.

Lucas Nix also suffered from the change in schemes with the O-line that made him look less productive. More importantly he suffered from injury that kept him out for over half the season. When you factor in the fact that Fraud Graham started questioning Nix’s toughness for not coming back from the injury as quickly as hoped, that probably raised flags for the NFL teams.

No doubt if Ray Graham had stayed healthy, he would have come out as a junior. The running back was putting up huge numbers and surely would have been a pick in the first 3 rounds.

Instead Pitt players will have to go the undrafted free agency (UFA) route to be on NFL squads. The conventional wisdom, being that it is better to be a UFA than a 7th round pick since you can pick the team and have a better chance/situation.

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June 29, 2011

This week my boss is off from work, so I am covering her stuff. Logged a 15 hour day, but the promise of sleeping in a bit today was a good carrot. This morning the wife gets me up because her car had a flat. If anyone needs me I’ll be under the table clutching some Scotch.

I’ll get to some second-hand Greentree summer league stuff a bit later. From what I’m reading, the kids look good. But at the same time, this is far different from what they’ll be doing come the fall, and the talent level is much more varied. Encouraging, but it has to be treated a lot like spring practices in football.

Not that it is that relevant, but the USA Basketball U-19 team is off to a poor start. In exhibition games against the Lithuanians U-20 and U-19 teams, the team has lost by 29 and 33 points, and allowed more than 100 points in both games. Exhibition games, yes. Disturbing nonetheless. Some might argue it’s the talent disparity. That this squad lacks the good U-19 talent, because those players didn’t play. At the same time they said similar things about the 2009 squad. Remember the head scratching over Ashton Gibbs being on the squad?

The biggest difference seems to be the coaching.

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June 2, 2011

Getting Workouts

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA — Chas @ 11:07 am

Gary McGhee, Brad Wanamaker and Gilbert Brown continue to travel the country for workouts to see if they can entice and NBA team to spend a draft pick on them or sign them for the summer league and perhaps beyond.

McGhee is in NYC today to workout with a group of players for the Knicks.

Brad Wanamaker was in San Antonio yesterday for his Spurs workout. A Spurs blogger considers him a longshot pick, but always possible.

Pitt’s Wanamaker is likely destined for the end of the second round, but he’s capable of playing in the NBA. He may need some time in the D-League to add to his game, but he may be an attractive player to the Spurs for many reasons. Wanamaker, who is represented by DeJuan Blair’s agent, Happy Walters, can create offense, drive and dish and while not very fast or athletic at his position, Wanamaker loves finishing at the basket. He’ll attack and finish or get fouled. Wanamaker is also used to playing unselfish basketball, which is preached at Pittsburgh.

Wanamaker also got a pleasantly puffing piece on his odds of making the NBA in the P-G last week.

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May 27, 2011

No, it isn’t likely to hear Gil Brown, Brad Wanamaker or Gary McGhee’s names called on the night of the NBA Draft. More likely is the chance for playing in the summer league and a non-guaranteed free agent deal. Followed by signing in Europe. I think we are all reasonably realistic on that issue.

That doesn’t mean that they aren’t practicing, working out for teams and doing all that they can do to merit consideration by teams. To say nothing of their representation making sure they promote them.

Wanamaker signed with IMG. They also represent DeJuan Blair.

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May 5, 2011

Belated Pitt Players to NFL Round-Up

Filed under: Draft,Football,NFL — Chas @ 12:40 pm

With the lock-out reinstated over the course of the draft, there is no free agent signings taking place. This means whether an NFL player is a free agent or if it is a kid out of college that went undrafted, there is nothing. No signings can take place. So for Dom DeCicco, Henry Hynoski, Dan Hutchins, Nate Nix and even Ricky Gary: welcome to limbo. Stay in shape. Keep working out and not have a clue about where when or how you will play football. Good luck.

Well, Pitt had five players drafted this year. As the Pitt press release notes, its the most players drafted from Pitt since 2004. By a remarkable coincidence, the 2003 season was one of Pitt football’s most disappointing seasons based on the expectations and talent until this past 2010 season. Heck, there was even a WR from Pitt taken in the first round in both drafts (please note, that is the extent of the similarities with which anyone should ever compare Baldwin to Fitzgerald).

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April 29, 2011

Jon Baldwin Salvages the Big East

Filed under: Draft,Football,NFL — Chas @ 1:36 pm

As the only Big East player taken in the First Round of the NFL Draft, Jon Baldwin allowed the Big East to save some face. Not much, but some. As befits the present state of the conference, it should be expected that a lot of players will be taken from here on out. The players reflect the league. Not particularly strong at the top, but solid and mediocre all around. “Big East football. ACC-esque parity with fewer calories.”

So congrats to Jon Baldwin, the third Pitt Panther drafted in the 1st round in the last 5 years. He is Pitt’s 20th 1st round pick in the last 31 years. Baldwin was home with family when the call came.

“I felt blessed,” Baldwin said of his reaction upon receiving the telephone call from Chiefs coach Todd Haley. “I have been working toward this my whole life, and now I get the opportunity.”

After speaking at length to Haley, Baldwin said he turned to his father, Jeff, for a hug.

“He said, ‘Congratulations. This is something you have worked hard for. Now, go do what you do,’ ” Baldwin said.

The first thing…

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April 28, 2011

1st Round NFL Draft Open Thread

Filed under: Draft,Football,NFL — Chas @ 4:41 pm

Do Jabaal Sheard or Jon Baldwin make it into the end of the first round tonight? I have no idea. Odds are that if they don’t get picked, then the Big East gets shut out of the first round of the NFL draft.

Plenty of Pitt players could go in the later rounds over the next couple days, so there is incentive to keep watching.

Here’s your handy Pitt player checklist.

Draft starts about 8pm on ESPN or NFL Network.

April 27, 2011

Oh, Right. The NFL Draft

Filed under: Alumni,Draft,Football,NFL — Chas @ 1:39 pm

Barely paid any attention to it. Between the lockout stuff, basketball season, and the fact that the NFL is starting this thing on a Thursday night. The Thursday night thing seems to really have me thrown off. The all-day Saturday couch potatoing was a personal favorite for me. Now that’s all gone.

Still, Pitt should have several players drafted this year. Whether Sheard or Baldwin crack the first round is anyone’s guess. That and where Greg Romeus, Dion Lewis and Henry Hynoski get drafted. Plus questions about whether Jason Pinkston and Dom DeCicco get snagged near the end or sign undrafted free agent deals.

Guess at least a rundown on some of the stories. I’ll skip the mock drafts that multiply and come from so many different places these days.

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Basketball Listomania

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,Recruiting — Chas @ 10:16 am

I made the semi-conscious decision* not to do rundown of the way too premature top-25 predictions for college basketball until after the May 8 withdraw deadline for the NBA Draft.

Luke Winn includes Pitt in his list of teams with the biggest interest in the May 8 withdrawal date.

The Panthers can be a top-four team in the Big East if they keep junior combo guard Ashton Gibbs, who’s one of the league’s most efficient scorers. Conflicting information has been floating around about him; he reportedly told one agent he was “100 percent certain” about staying in the draft after declaring, but NBA sources seem to think that’s just posturing, and Gibbs’ father has since said that his son’s future is still TBD.

That’s a good thing for Gibbs, because leaving now would be unwise; multiple scouts I spoke with predicted he’d go undrafted in June. “Very good college player,” one scout said, “but not prepared [for the NBA] on a number of levels.” A season as Pitt’s primary scorer and playmaker off the dribble (which was more of what Brad Wanamaker did last year) could enhance Gibbs’ preparedness for the pros.

No guarantees, but it could only help if he can show more ball handling and improve his ability to drive to the basket.

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