Fordham Gets Verbal Commitment from Tabor’s Jesse Bunting

Fordham’s youth movement continues.

Coming off a summer in which the Rams welcomed five new players to Rose Hill—Eric Paschall, Nemanja Zarkovic, Christian Sengfelder, Dekeba Battee-Aston and Zaire Thompson—and brought back two redshirt freshmen—Antwoine Anderson and Manny Suarez—it’s hard to imagine that 2015 will be as eventful.

But Sunday brought news that Tabor Academy’s Jesse Bunting had verbally committed to Fordham, keeping the roster overhaul in motion.

Bunting is a 6’8″ forward who transferred from Plymouth North High School to Tabor in 2013. The Massachusetts native also plays for the Expressions Elite AAU program.

Chris Millette, head coach at Tabor, said that Bunting had 12 or 13 offers from schools. According to the New England Recruiting Report, he had narrowed his choices to four—Fordham, Quinnipiac, Duquesne and Saint Joseph’s—before deciding to go with Fordham.

“I’m excited [for him],” Millette told Bleacher Report on Monday. “He was rock-solid in his mindset. Coach [Tom] Pecora and those guys did a great job recruiting him. Obviously it’s a great academic school. I couldn’t be happier for him. I think it’s a good fit.”

Like other recent recruits, Millette said that Pecora and his staff played a huge part in Bunting’s decision.

“I just think he felt comfortable with the coaching staff,” Millette said. “They made the Buntings feel important and that they cared about him beyond basketball.”

Bunting is an intriguing addition for Fordham. He’s a big man whom Millette described as having a great “motor.” When identifying his skills, Millette said that as talented as he is now, he should become even better over time.

“He’s incredibly athletic,” Millette said. “For his size he can dribble, rebound and go coast-to-coast.

“There’s such a big upside. He plays so hard and he’s so athletic. He’s just scratching the surface. I can only imagine what he can be when he’s 21 or 22 years old.”

Millette said that Bunting has worked hard “to develop some skills.” He mentioned a couple of times how Bunting has become a good shooter from 15 feet away from the basket. Once the tallest player on his team, he’s had to make some adjustments as he’s gotten older and the competition has gotten better. As a result, the 15-foot jumper has become a consistent part of his repertoire.

“[If he] continues to hit the 15-footer, he’s going to become really tough because he’s so long, so athletic,” Millette said. 

It’s not hard to see a future for Bunting in the Bronx.

Fordham enters the 2014-15 season with a frontcourt that has only one upperclassman, junior Ryan Rhoomes. Ryan Canty, a senior, will be out at least until mid-December following back surgery.

The Rams will rely heavily on Sengfelder, a freshman whose size and versatility have been on display during the offseason, and Paschall, the program’s prize recruit, for help in the frontcourt. And they’ll have to hope that Battee-Aston can develop his game.

This is a team in rebuilding mode. Bunting is another piece to the puzzle.

“Coach Pecora, and everybody there, was pretty honest,” Millette said. “They didn’t try to hide from the record. It is what it is. But they talked a lot about the guys coming in and the optimism and things going on the right track. They think Jesse could be a big piece of that.”

As the Rams continue to make over their roster, Bunting is the second player to verbally commit. Matt Zignorski, a guard from Pope John XXIII High School in New Jersey, gave his verbal commitment in July.

 

Quotations and injury updates in this article were obtained firsthand.

Charles Costello covers the Fordham Rams for Bleacher Report. A full archive of his articles can be found hereTwitter: @CFCostello

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

What Brooklyn Nets Need from Joe Johnson Next Season

A year ago, it was championship or bust.

This season, a playoff berth should satiate Brooklyn Nets fans. But with Deron Williams and his questionable ankles a year older, a new leader must emerge. 

That’s where Joe Johnson steps in. 

 

Leadership

Williams may not be able to lead by example like he once did. His ankles have become brittle, and the explosiveness that once made D-Will a top-three point guard is no longer present. 

Johnson did well last season as Brooklyn’s head honcho. His willingness to take big shots and knock them down in the closing moments of games gave the Nets stability amid an otherwise volatile year. 

In order to avoid a poor start, Brooklyn will need Johnson to enter the season ready and hungry for more responsibility. Johnson possesses the tools—he’s a good playmaker for a shooting guard, his jumper is wet and his lack of an ego or attitude never alienates his teammates. 

He could be a little isolation-happy at times, but Johnson is one of very few players who could excel in any system.

Under head coach Lionel Hollins, he’ll need to carry over the ball movement and post play that benefited the Nets in 2013-14.

If Johnson could initiate the offense a little more, it should play into Williams’ favor. The less hard cuts D-Will has to make, the less the ball is in his hands and the healthier he should be able to remain. 

  

Efficient Shooting

Johnson shot 45.4 percent in 2013-14, which was above his career average of 44.3 percent. In order for Brooklyn to be a force, Johnson will need to once again shoot above the mean for his career. 

There aren’t too many proven offensive options on the roster, and the Nets may need to rely on their defense to generate offense at times. But if Johnson could be more consistent with his jumper and get back to the 20 PPG club, Brooklyn could have dark-horse potential. 

He’ll need to carry over his rhythm from the end of last year. In March and April, Johnson shot 49.8 and 48 percent from the field, respectively.

In the playoffs, against the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat, Johnson posted field-goal percentages of 52.3 and 54.8, respectively. 

Spreading the floor is a necessity for any fluid offense, and the more consistent and assassin-like Johnson could be, the better 2014-15 will be.

Johnson will need to shoot around his career high of 47 percent, and he’ll need to be more aggressive, contributing the 20 points a night he has within him. 

 

Focused Defense

Johnson, like Carmelo Anthony, isn’t known for his defense. However, like Melo, Johnson is capable of not being a revolving door.

Brooklyn will need Johnson to provide consistent, competent defense. If the veteran could stay in front of his opponent, rotate well and close out properly, his job will be done.

The Nets have a gritty roster with hardworking players like Mason Plumlee, Alan Anderson and newcomer Jarrett Jack.

As long as Johnson isn’t playing matador defense and letting his opponent get to the basket with regularity, Brooklyn should be able to grind games out and finish the year with around 45 wins.

Johnson’s consistent effort on both ends of the floor, coupled with his increased offensive efficiency, will help the franchise in its quest for prominence. 

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Los Angeles Lakers: Where Will Their Offense Come From?

Los Angeles Lakers: Where Will Their Offense Come From?
By Tashan Reed: Staff Writer/Hoopstuff…
Kobe Bryant is “100% healthy” and will be ready to go for the Lakers’ October 28th season opener against the Houston Rockets. A healthy Kobe Bryant is still the best shooting guard in the NBA and one of the best players in the league, but surely the Lakers can’t lean on him too hard after coming off of two season-ending injuries, right? Hopefully they don’t plan on it. Kobe’s in great shape, but he still needs time to readjust to playing a full-length NBA contest as well as the competition that he’ll face. Other players in the league won’t let up on Bryant for a second, and he doesn’t expect them to. To start off, at least, the Lakers should come in with an offensive scheme that doesn’t rely on Kobe as much as it has in previous seasons where Kobe would have the ball in his hands exceedingly more than anyone else.
Last year, the Lakers didn’t do many things right, however, offense was some

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Pittsburgh Basketball: The Most Hated Players from the Panthers’ Biggest Rivals

Fortunately for the blue-and-gold faithful who pack the Petersen Events Center, they’ll never have to see one of the biggest villains in Pitt history again. Tyler Ennis has left Syracuse for the NBA, and Jabari Parker, T.J. Warren and Okaro White are among the other ACC standouts who are pursuing opportunities in the Association.

Pitt finished fifth in the ACC in 2013-14, and when it did struggle, an inability to keep up with some of the biggest stars in the conference was at the root of its problems. So it’s probably for the best that most of those players are gone.

But when the Panthers begin conference play in the 2014-15 season, which remaining stars will be hated as much as Ennis was after his 40-foot leaner on Feb. 12?

To be clear, we at Bleacher Report don’t really hate these guys (including Ennis). But Pitt fans will if the Panthers don’t find answers for them this season.

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Will Steph Curry or Klay Thompson Benefit More from Team USA Experience?

Just about every player on Team USA’s roster in the FIBA World Cup stands to benefit from being there. 

The experience of playing next to other elite talents and working with world-class coaches can only really be viewed as beneficial as these players prepare for the NBA season.

Golden State Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are certainly no exception. They’ve been a big part of what Team USA has done in this setting, earning lots of minutes and providing valuable perimeter scoring.

Here’s Jim Cavan of Bleacher Report:

Of all the NBA teams that could use one more mini-leap from their two best players to launch themselves squarely into the championship conversation, the Golden State Warriors—with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson—fit the bill best.

Luckily for them, the two will have three full weeks of FIBA Basketball World Cup experience at their backs heading into training camp.

Even though the Splash Brothers will both benefit from all the time invested this offseason, only one player really needed this experience.

Curry is already an established star in the league, and you have to understand how difficult this offseason must have been for his backcourt partner.

Until Kevin Love was finally dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thompson was under constant scrutiny. Should the Warriors be willing to deal him? Was he worth sacrificing for Love? Will he demand too much money in the offseason? Is he overrated?

Basically, the focus and narrative was on how Thompson wasn’t worth the value Golden State had placed on him. That’s tough.

But with strong performances in Spain, Thompson has been able to get back to basketball and show the world why he’s one of the best young shooting guards in the game. 

Here’s what Thompson told Bay Area News Group’s Marcus Thompson II:

In year four, I’m looking to take a huge leap like I did last year. …

… If you want to be a championship player, you have to play both ends. We’ve got some great players in this league who are two-way players.Kobe Bryant. LeBron. Paul GeorgeKawhi Leonard. I’d love to be known as a guy who gets you 20 points and locks down the best offensive player.

Thompson has displayed a lot of those abilities on both sides of the ball, and that’s what makes him maybe even more valuable to the Warriors than he would be for other teams around the league.

Here’s Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report:

But Thompson is still Bay Area-based for a reason. For this franchise, and more importantly for its face, his value is hard to overstate.

As an offensive safety valve and defensive protection, Thompson makes life easier for Curry. The Warriors’ road to relevance starts with their superstar floor general, so anything that improves his effectiveness makes Golden State’s championship chances that much stronger.

It’s been critical for Thompson to assert himself on a team that certainly isn’t hard up for scoring. Thompson has been aggressive when looking for his own shot, showing no hesitation and letting his pretty jumper fly.

The confidence gained from quality performances playing against and with the world’s best players can’t be duplicated elsewhere. No matter how many jumpers Thompson hit in the gym on his own this offseason, it wouldn’t compare.

Curry also understands the value of this experience. 

In an interview with LetsGoWarriors.com’s‘ Ryan Brown, Curry had this to say:

Really it’s nothing specific, when you are around great talent great minds you are going to get better just by surrounding yourself with those kinds of people. There are so many great minds and basketball IQ’s that you are going to become a better player and a better presence by being here. Everyone is going to get better in some shape or form and they can tell you better once we get back what it exactly was.

Again, Curry should improve from this experience as well. He’s still young, and he still has a higher level to hit, as scary as that is to imagine.

But Thompson is seemingly further away from his ceiling. As of right now, he’s essentially a three-and-D guy with a little bit of a post game. What’s to separate Thompson from, say, Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews? 

Entering a potential contract year, Thompson has to show he can do more than just satisfy a particular role, even if he does it wonderfully. He’ll have to score much more efficiently at the rim, he’ll have to create for himself and he’ll need to rebound.

There’s just more room for growth with Thompson than there is with Curry, and Thompson’s experience in the FIBA World Cup couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Michigan Basketball: The Most Hated Player from Wolverines’ Biggest Rivals

If you’re a fan of Michigan basketball, surely you have disdain for many of the Wolverines’ biggest rivals. Heck, you’re probably not a true fan unless you have a deep-rooted hatred for some of those teams, and several players in particular.

Of course, some rivalries are bigger than others (read: Michigan State and Ohio State), but that doesn’t mean Wolverines fans don’t have hate for other players in the Big Ten.

Every player (listed alphabetically) in the following sideshow is someone each Wolverine fan probably despises. Whether it’s their arrogance, brashness or the fact that they are a good player, the guys mentioned here will give Michigan fans headaches, and Wolverine fans will let them know about it when (if) they come to the Crisler Center.

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Kentucky Basketball: The Most Hated Players from Wildcats’ Biggest Rivals

When it comes to Kentucky basketball and rivalry, it’s usually a Wildcat player who is hated by opposing fans. However, Big Blue Nation has quite a bit of hate in their hearts when it comes to those who visit Rupp Arena or disrespect the Kentucky name. 

Whether it’s a talented player who continues to one-up Kentucky or a role player who may have said something during an interview, Kentucky fans make sure their voices are heard when it comes time for tipoff.

This slideshow will take a look at the most hated player to put on a jersey for Kentucky’s five most notorious rivals. 

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Syracuse Basketball: The Most Hated Player from Orange’s Biggest Rivals

The Syracuse basketball team has had its fair share of rivals over the years. In the days of the Big East, teams like Georgetown and Connecticut were the Orange’s main nemeses. Now in the ACC, Duke and Big East import Pitt are the main rivals for the Orange.

Heated rivalries cause fans to hate certain players. Whether it is because these players dominate or just generally annoy the other team, fans grow to loathe players they see multiple times a year.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most hated player from each of Syracuse’s biggest rivals. We’ll look at rivalries from the Big East and ACC and determine the most hated player based on the success his team had against Syracuse and how annoying they were for fans.

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

2014 NCAA Tournament Teams from Each Major Conference Least Likely to Return

Some years, a college basketball program puts it all together and secures an elusive NCAA tournament berth. Other schools boast much prouder traditions but get in by the skin of their teeth to continue a recent string.

Every year, however, change is the only constant, and several members of the field of 68 must return to the drawing board to plot another run to the Big Dance.

The ones with difficulties to overcome aren’t your Dukes, North Carolinas or Kentuckys that lose multiple players to the NBA draft early.

They’re the major-conference brethren of those elite programs, the ones that nurture a player through four years of development and simply see his hourglass run out of sand. Or the ones who took a chance on a talented character risk who decided he was pro-ready before anyone else had.

This piece doesn’t attempt to claim that any of the teams profiled therein cannot possibly return to the NCAA tournament. These are, however, the 2014 tournament teams from the game’s nine most renowned conferences that have the most questions to answer before they should be automatically penciled into your bracket.

You’ll also find here each conference’s “next man up,” so to speakthe program that is ready to take the bid that a league rival must fight to avoid giving away.

 

All KenPom.com links should be assumed to require subscription.

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Remembering LeBron James’ Best Moments from First Stint with Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James is back with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which means a return to prosperous times for the recently troubled franchise.

Whether it be from an individual or team standpoint, James brought a level of success to the Cavs that no one had ever accomplished before him. MVP awards, multiple playoff trips and even a Finals appearance headlined many of the highlights from James and the Cavaliers from 2003 to 2010.

Times were good in Cleveland and appear to be yet again.

Before he begins Round 2 with the Cavs, let’s take a look at a timeline of James’ seven best moments wearing the wine and gold.

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Next Page »