LeBron gives surprising answer on why he couldn’t recruit players to Cleveland

LeBron says he couldn’t get any players to come to Cleveland during his first stint with the Cavs
It’s anyone’s guess when NBA players started recruiting free agents to play for their team. Some NBA fans and analysts will tell you Michael Jordan recruited Dennis Rodman back in the mid ’90s to play for the Chicago Bulls. Others will tell you the Boston Celtics started it with the trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Whatever the reason, recruitment of players has become the new norm for the Association. And surprisingly, the game’s best player, LeBron James, couldn’t get anyone to play with him during his first stint in Cleveland.
 
LeBron was also quite open on recruiting: “I recruited (before) I left here, but I just didn’t win nothing so nobody wanted to play with me”
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) October 15, 2014

LeBron said during his first stint in CLE, he failed recruiting Michael Redd, Joe Johnson & Chris Bosh. Larry Hughes was the one guy he got
— Dave McMenamin (

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Kobe Paras: Video Highlights for UCLA Recruit

The UCLA Bruins have already secured a commitment from prized Filipino basketball recruit Kobe Paras for their 2016 class.    

Sharing a first name with Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is reason enough to buzz about Paras’ skills and decision to take his talents to one of the most storied college programs.

And that’s not even to mention the fact that he dunked on LeBron James in July 2013 at a Nike Witness Exhibition Show in Manila:

Paras is slated to be a part of the Bruins’ 2016 recruiting class and is listed as a 3-star prospect by 247Sports’ composite rankings, which place him as the 37th-ranked shooting guard and inside the top 200 overall nationally in his class.

The young, budding star’s coach at Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, William Middlebrooks, insists Paras has more to offer than his ability to throw down highlight-reel jams.

“Most know him for his dunking, but he can shoot the three, dribbles and passes,” said Middlebrooks, per the Los Angeles TimesEric Sondheimer. “He’s highly skilled and is adapting to the style of play in America.”

Paras is eager to prove himself as an all-around player, too.

“I want to show everybody it’s not all about dunking or highlights,” said Paras, per Sondheimer. “It’s about what you do on the court.”

The highlight of Paras soaring over James, even though the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar wasn’t selling out to deny him at the rim, shows off Paras’ evident hops and raw athleticism.

That was on display yet again at the FIBA 3×3 U18 World Championships, when he took home the top prize in the Honda Dunk Contest:

With some celebratory dance moves to boot, Paras certainly doesn’t shy away from the spotlight. That will be a vital intangible to maintain as he makes his eventual transition to UCLA—and in adjusting to the U.S. brand of basketball in general.

TJ Manotoc, a sportscaster in the Philippines, noted the significance Paras’ sport of choice has in his homeland—and how it will only lend to an even greater following.

“Basketball is a religion here,” said Manotoc, via Sondenheimer. “The only time kids on the street don’t play ball is when Manny Pacquiao has a fight.”

Being mentioned in the same breath as Bryant, James and Pacquiao is some gaudy company, and it’s part of the reality that Paras will have to deal with as he makes the transition to college. There is still time for Paras to hone his skills at the high school level, but his natural knack for playing above the rim will serve him well as he continues his promising development.

The reason Paras may not be as highly regarded in recruiting rankings is due to the fact that he’s only been seen in flashes so far. At 6’5″, he has ideal height for a 2-guard and can boost his stock by showing off his versatility as a senior at Cathedral.

A lot of pressure will be on Paras to live up to the immense hype he’s generated back home and now stateside with his decision to attend UCLA. So far, he appears up to the task from a playing and personality standpoint.

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Wyoming basketball lands Florida recruit

High scoring small forward from Florida verbally commits to Wyoming for 2015 recruiting class

      
 

 

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Top 2015 Recruit Caleb Swanigan an Old-School Big Ready to Bang with CBB’s Best

The next big thing—literally—in college basketball is Caleb Swanigan.

Swanigan, a top prospect in the class of 2015, is a mountain of a post player—at 6’9″ and 260 pounds—who has actually eaten his way to excellence.  

See, it’s rare in college basketball to find a big man who is successful because of his wide frame but doesn’t become so wide he makes himself obsolete. The cautionary tale has become Josh Smith, the current Georgetown and former UCLA mammoth. Smith has one more year in college to show his true potential, but his career has mostly been a string of “what could have beens” because of his weight. 

There’s hope that Swanigan can dominate with his big body and control his weight as well. The proof is in what has already taken place in the young career of Swanigan, who is ranked eighth in the class by Scout.com and just helped the United States’ Under-17 team win gold in Dubai. 

Swanigan weighed 350 pounds as an eighth-grader. That’s shortly after he left his family in Utah to move in with Roosevelt Barnes, a former NFL linebacker and current sports agent who is Swanigan‘s legal guardian.

Living under Barnes’ roof, Swanigan started shedding pounds by simply starting to eat healthy. In the last three years, he’s lost 90 pounds as he’s grown 4.5 inches.

“He knew he needed to lose some weight, and he dedicated himself to doing that,” Barnes told Bleacher Report in July during Nike’s Peach Jam tournament. “Once he decided to be a basketball player strictly, he really focused in on what he was eating and really got involved with cardio. It was a combination, but it was mostly all his hard work.”

Football was Swanigan‘s other sport, and by looks alone, that’s the sport most tailored to his frame. Chris Johnson, his basketball coach at Homestead High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, said he believes Swanigan could have been an NFL left tackle had he stuck with football. There was already interest from some of the blue-blood football programs when he was a freshman.

Now he has that interest on the hardwood.

Swanigan improved his stock this summer playing in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL). Swanigan averaged a double-double (17.7 points and 12.0 rebounds per game) and led the EYBL in rebounding. He recently received an offer from Kentucky and is also being recruited by a slew of other schools that include Michigan State, Indiana, Kansas, Louisville and Purdue. 

What makes Swanigan special is the combination of his size and his awareness of how to use it. He carves out space with his big backside. He plays mostly below the rim, but he is so strong and patient that length doesn’t seem to bother him.

“My game is not predicated on my quickness,” Swanigan said. “Once I catch it, I’m not in a rush.”

It’s refreshing to watch Swanigan‘s approach. Most big men these days want to play on the perimeter. Diamond Stone, for instance, is one of the top-rated big men in the class. A college coach recently told Bleacher Report that Stone is really talented on the blocks, but “he’s too in love with his jump shot.”

Stone was the top post player for the United States at the U17s, averaging 13.4 points per game, but Swanigan was the most efficient. He averaged 8.0 points on 69.6 percent shooting, compared to 51.9 percent for Stone. 

Swanigan has added a jumper to his arsenal, but it’s more of a complement to his low-post game. He knocked down two buzzer-beaters—Christian Laettner style—to force overtime and double overtime in a game at Peach Jam. He made seven of 20 threes last year for Homestead. His jumpers, however, are few and far between. He says his goal is to get a layup every time he touches it.

“We work on back-to-the-basket work every day,” Barnes said. “Because when he decided he wanted to be a basketball player, we consciously made a decision that he was going to be an old-school power forward in the Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, Buck Williams, even guys like Al Jefferson, Zach Randolph type where he’s going to beat you up and he’s going to rebound the basketball.” 

Those below-the-rim bangers are extremely valuable in the college game. When Smith was able to play real minutes as a freshman at UCLA, he was the second-best offensive rebounder in the country—per kenpom.com (subscription required)—and he’s averaged double figures in the two years where he played at least 19 minutes per game.

An even better comparison for Swanigan could be former Marquette big man Davante Gardner, who was able to play enough minutes to become a borderline star. Gardner was one of the most efficient scorers in college basketball the last two seasons—his offensive rating of 122.4 this past year ranked seventh nationally among players who used at least 24 percent of their team’s possessions, per kenpom.com

Swanigan could end up better than both. His ceiling is more along the lines of the player he’s compared to the most: Randolph. Swanigan may even follow Randolph’s path to the NBA.

Randolph played his high school ball at Marion High School—Marion is about an hour away from Fort Wayne—and many consider Michigan State the leader for Swanigan. Deyonta Davis, his teammate for Spiece Indy Heat, is already verbally committed to the Spartans, and they would both fit well in the Michigan State system.

Earlier this summer, Swanigan and Barnes decided to speed up the process by reclassifying Swanigan from the 2016 class to 2015. 

“Playing another year of high school basketball, we just didn’t feel like it was going to benefit him because he’s so much bigger and stronger,” Barnes said. “He’s bigger and stronger than people here at the EYBL and this is the best of the best.”

The summer has been such a whirlwind that Swanigan said in late July that he hadn’t even started planning official visits yet. Barnes said Chicago State, the first school who recruited Swanigan, was the only school they knew they would visit for sure. 

It can be dangerous to rush a player’s progress at this point in his career, but Swanigan looks ready and Barnes has plenty of experience mentoring young athletes. He’s already a successful agent—he and his firm have represented the likes of Ray Lewis, Dez Bryant and Larry Fitzgerald—so you would think Barnes’ interests have nothing to do with getting Swanigan to the league as quickly as possible. 

It’s too early to say Swanigan will even make it to the NBA. But in the college game, he has the potential to end up as the most productive big man in his class. Smith had similar potential as a freshman, and that’s what has made his career so frustrating to watch.

Will Swanigan follow a similar path? Because of his past, that question will follow him. But those close to him don’t seem to be too worried. 

“When he gets to become an adult, I don’t think he’s going to have a problem,” Johnson said. “I don’t think there’s even going to be a concern.”

“He knows what he eats affects how he plays,” Barnes said. 

That’s why Swanigan says he has been able to keep the pounds off. He’s seen firsthand the difference in his game when he’s in shape. And it’s much more appetizing than fried foods and sweets. 

 

C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @CJMooreBR.

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DePaul recruit Doby to attend prep school (Yahoo Sports)

CHICAGO (AP) — DePaul says forward Raymond Doby has enrolled at a prep school and will not play for the Blue Demons next season after signing a letter of intent in the spring.

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Indiana adds recruit to newest freshmen class

Hoosiers announce Emmitt Holt is newest addition to freshman recruiting class

      
 

 

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Kansas Basketball Recruiting: Who Is Most Important 2015 Recruit for Jayhawks?

Bill Self’s ability keep Kansas at the top of the Big 12 for a decade despite annual roster turnover—and recently coaching staff turnover—showcases his abilities as talent evaluator, recruiter and disciplined developmental coach.

After another impressive haul in this four-man 2014 class, with the likes of Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre parading into Lawrence, Self appears well positioned to lure a couple more blue-chip prospects to the Phog for 2015-16.

While each recruit carries his own importance, there are a few 5-star players that could ultimately prove to be the most important piece of a potential class for the Jayhawks.

Begin Slideshow

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Joakim Noah reportedly trying to recruit Carmelo Anthony to Bulls

Carmelo Anthony has done nothing but insist he intends to remain with the New York Knicks if and when he opts out of his current contract at the end of the season. In fact, he even said he would take a pay cut on his new deal to help the team sign top talent in […]

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King’s Court: Top Unsigned Recruit Myles Turner Opens Up on College Options

EULESS, Tex.—Trinity High School’s game against Irving ended nearly 30 minutes ago, but Myles Turner has yet to retreat to the locker room.

He can’t.

There are still people who want pictures.

A group shot in the bleachers with relatives, a commemorative pose on the court with his teammates and countless photos with the Trinity students and teachers who pass him in the hall each day. Everyone, it seems, wants a moment with the 7’0″ Turner, the nation’s top unsigned college basketball prospect.

“He attracts a crowd everywhere he goes,” Turner’s father David says. “We call it ‘The Myles Effect.’”

A middle-aged woman approaches with a baby, but as Turner extends his arms, she lowers the infant onto the court, drapes her arm around Turner’s waist and gets in the frame herself. A few feet away, a group of teenage girls with braces wait patiently. Their letter jackets are green and white—enemy colors in these parts.

“Irving fans,” his father says. “That’s not uncommon. He takes pictures with people from the opposing school after every game. He says it doesn’t overwhelm him.”

David pauses.

“At least not yet,” he laughs.

Indeed, as eloquently as Turner has handled the attention, ESPN‘s No. 2-ranked player in the class of 2014 realizes it will soon intensify.

Turner is this year’s Andrew Wiggins, the player who will keep the nation’s top basketball programs on edge until he announces his college intentions this spring.

The longer Turner delays his decision, the more the hype surrounding him will grow. Things may seem a bit quiet now as conference races heat up and the postseason nears. But as soon as the final horn sounds in the NCAA title game on April 9, much of college basketball’s focus will shift toward recruiting and the handful of players who have yet to sign a letter of intent.

None is better than Turner, whose list of finalists includes Texas, Kansas, Duke, Arizona, Kentucky, Ohio State and Oklahoma State.

“We have a tough choice,” David Turner says, “but we don’t have a bad choice.”

If it sounds like Turner’s father is playing a major role in his recruitment, well…he is.

Last fall, a reporter telephoned Turner at 2 a.m., rousing him from a deep slumber to ask some questions for a story. When someone e-mailed Turner a copy of the article the following morning, he didn’t even recall giving the interview.

“He was in a sleep haze,” David Turner said. “He had already done eight or nine interviews that day. He was worn out.”

Another time, as they sat in front of the television in their living room, Turner and his parents each held a telephone to their ear.

“Each of us was literally on the phone with a different coach at the same time,” Myles Turner said. “That’s the only time things seemed a little overwhelming. You only get one senior year (of high school). You’ve got to make sure you enjoy it.”

Turner—who once received 119 recruiting letters in a single day—agreed to change his phone number, letting David handle most of his recruiting calls. That’s allowed Turner to channel more of his attention toward the court.

It certainly doesn’t take long to understand why schools are so enamored with Turner. During the pregame shootaround before Friday’s contest against Irving, Turner swished three-pointers with ease while also displaying a soft touch on his mid-range jumper.

During the game it wasn’t uncommon for Turner to bring the ball up the court. He either blocked or altered countless shots in the lane and finished a few of his teammates’ misses with thunderous putback dunks.

Turner is averaging nearly 18 points for Trinity. One of the most impressive things about his game is the rapid pace with which it’s developed over the past few years, as Turner stood just 6’2” as a ninth-grader. In some ways he’s still getting comfortable with his body.

“The key for me is not to be satisfied,” Turner said after the game. “You can’t let (the hype) get to you mentally. A lot of people would stop working because they’d think they’ve made it. They’d take days off. I never let that really faze me. I know I still have a lot of work to do.”

Turner’s favorite NBA player is Kevin Durant, which seems fitting considering the similarities in their skill sets. Turner’s shooting touch and his ability to handle the ball are extremely rare for a 7-footer.

Still, much like Durant at this point in his career, the 225-pound Turner needs to add a considerable amount of strength.

When he’s not with his high school team, Turner has been working out two weekends a month in Houston with former NBA coach John Lucas as well as strength coach Ken Roberson, who is known for his work with players from the Dallas area who have gone on to the NBA.

“He knows how much work he still has to do,” David Turner said. “(Coaches) say he’s not going to be in the paint very much, but when you’re 7’0″, you’re going to have to play in the paint at least some of the time. He’s going to have to get a lot stronger, as long as it doesn’t affect that stroke.”

Lucas compared Turner to former Texas star LaMarcus Aldridge, who now stars for the Portland Trailblazers.

“He’s a program-changer,” Lucas said. “He can play anything from guard to center, and coaches will love him because of his work ethic. He listens. He wants to get better.

“I’m not sure we’ll see everything he has to offer while he’s in college because of all the zones and double teams he’ll face. But once he gets to play with a little freedom, he has the tools to be a star.”

On the court—and off of it, too.

College coaches aren’t allowed to comment publicly on prospects, but two assistants whose schools are involved in the Turner sweepstakes told Bleacher Report that his lack of ego has made him a joy to recruit. They also said it’s been refreshing to not have to deal with any handlers or third-party influences.

“He and his family are handling this like pros,” one coach said. “They’re great people, very respectful, very genuine. Whoever gets him is going to be getting a really good kid.”

Perhaps that’s why Turner is having such a difficult time making a decision about his future. He sees positives at each school and not too many negatives. Turner said he hopes playing in the Nike Hoops Summit and the McDonald’s All-American Game will give him more clarity since he’ll be surrounded by potential future teammates.

“My main message to him is, ‘Don’t settle,’” David Turner said. “He has good options. He needs to get what he’s looking for.

“I know family atmosphere is important. If he goes somewhere like Texas or Oklahoma State, (my wife and I) can probably get to a lot of those games. If he goes to Duke or Kansas, we won’t be able to. So he has to make sure he’s comfortable with the family atmosphere he’s looking for.”

Turner’s father works in customer service at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. His mother is the housekeeping supervisor at the Dallas Sheraton.

Asked what type of questions he poses to coaches on his visits, Turner said: “I just want to know about their success as far as sending people to the NBA, because that’s definitely my goal. I know they have to spend time with each individual player, but what is their plan for me?

“I’m not saying I have to be the feature player somewhere, but I want to be at a school where I’ll have a chance to make an impact and (display) the things I’ve been working so hard on.”

   

Myles Turner, On His College Options

Arizona

“I just like the overall feel I get from their program. Watching them play, they’re very successful. They’re having some ups and downs because of the injuries they’ve experienced, but they’re a tough team and that’s because of Coach Miller.”

Duke

“Duke’s history speaks for itself. That’s all I can say about that.”

Kansas

“I like their history with big men. They’ve sent a lot of big men to the league. Bill Self is a really good coach. I really like him.”

*Trinity coach Mark Villines told SNY.tv (h/t Zags Blog) that Self informed Turner that it may not be in his best interest to sign with Kansas if 7’0″ freshman Joel Embiid—projected by some as the No. 1 pick in this summer’s draft—returns for his sophomore year. David Turner said the uncertainty surrounding Embiid hasn’t caused his son to rule out the Jayhawks.

“If Embiid leaves, fine,” David Turner said. “But I also think he and Myles could play great together. They’d be a dynamic duo. Myles could learn a lot from him, too, because Embiid has developed at such a fast pace. I’ve seen a lot of guys that have developed. Look at Cam Ridley at Texas. Man, he’s doing great. It opens Myles’ eyes and shows him what he has to do.” 

Kentucky

“What’s not to love about Coach Calipari? He gets people to the league, he’s straight up with you, he’s businesslike, he prepares you for the real world.”

Ohio State

“Coach Matta is one of the most genuine coaches I’ve ever talked to. I feel like we’re similar in a few different ways, so conversation between us is easy. The Ohio State program itself doesn’t have a huge history of big men, but they’ve had bigger men that are versatile such as Jared Sullinger and Amir Williams, guys that can play on the outside, too. That’s how I see myself.”

Oklahoma State

“I really like the town of Stillwater. I went there a few weeks ago and the atmosphere was great. They haven’t been winning lately but the fans are still behind them. That impressed me.”

Texas

“Texas is the hometown team. I’ve been a fan of the Longhorns since I was a kid. KD is my favorite all-time player. I’ve always gone to their camps. I get a good vibe from Texas.”

  

This Week’s Grades

A: Larry Brown—Unlike most media members, I was a huge proponent of the Mustangs’ decision to hire Brown in the spring of 2012. But I never would’ve imagined he’d turn the Mustangs program around this quickly. Saturday’s victory over then-No. 7 Cincinnati propelled SMU into the Associated Press poll for the first time since 1985. The Mustangs have already drawn four sellout crowds to Moody Coliseum, where students are now camping out for seats. Brown stopped by with donuts Monday morning.

B: Notre Dame’s standards—Kudos to the Fighting Irish for holding their student-athletes accountable in the classroom. Less than two months after point guard Jerian Grant left the team because of an academic issue, the school announced Tuesday that freshman guard Demetrius Jackson is taking time off to focus on his studies. Even players in Notre Dame’s storied football program aren’t immune, as star quarterback Everett Golson missed all of last season for academic reasons. 

C: San Diego State—Wyoming snapped the Aztecs’ 20-game winning streak with a 68-62 victory on Tuesday in Laramie. We probably should’ve seen it coming, as seven of San Diego State’s previous 10 wins were by single digits—and it’s not like the Mountain West is all that strong. I’m certainly not knocking Steve Fisher’s squad; San Diego State has exceeded expectations and is more than deserving of a lofty ranking. But I think No. 5 was a bit high.

D: SEC—Florida and Kentucky are NCAA title contenders, but after that, there’s not a single team in the league to get excited about. Missouri started off strong but has tapered off. Tennessee has failed to capitalize on an experienced roster, and tons of talent is going to waste at LSU, where the Tigers have been maddeningly inconsistent. Good luck trying to figure out Ole Miss and Alabama, and the bottom of the conference is downright dreadful. 

F: Wichita State haters—It shocks me that there are still people who refuse to recognize Gregg Marshall’s squad as one of the best in the country. To be undefeated at this point in the season is a herculean feat no matter what conference you’re in. If the Shockers hadn’t proven themselves a year ago on college basketball’s biggest stage, maybe I’d be a bit more reserved in my enthusiasm. But these are the same players who beat tradition-rich programs Pittsburgh, Gonzaga and Ohio State in the NCAA tournament—they were in the game against Louisville until the final minute in the Final Four. If you’re not buying into Wichita State you probably don’t know much about it.

 

Starting Five: Mid-Major Coaches Who Could Be in Line for Bigger Jobs 

Tod Kowalczyk, ToledoKowalczyk has taken a team that was 4-28 in his first season and turned it into one that boasts a 20-3 record overall and an 8-2 mark in the MAC. Toledo is vying for its first NCAA tournament berth since 1980.

Saul Phillips, North Dakota State—Phillips is having his best season since 2008-09, when he led the Bison to a 26-7 record and a berth in the NCAA tournament. North Dakota State is 18-6 overall and 7-2 in the Summit League.

Donnie Tyndall, Southern Miss—At 21-3 overall and 8-1 in league play, Tyndall’s squad sits atop the Conference USA standings along with UTEP. A year ago the Golden Eagles went 27-10 and reached the NIT quarterfinals in Tyndall’s first season.

Brian Wardle, Wisconsin-Green Bay—The Phoenix are 19-5 overall and 9-2 in the Horizon League under Wardle, who was an assistant under Tom Crean at Marquette. A victory or two in the NCAA tournament would help his cause. 

Michael White, Louisiana Tech—White won 45 games in his first two seasons in Ruston and captured a share of the 2012-13 WAC title. This year his squad is 20-5 overall and 8-2 in league play, a half-game behind UTEP and Southern Miss (both 8-1).

 

A Dozen Words On My Top 12 Teams

  1. Florida—Billy Donovan’s Gators are playing better than any team in the country.
  2. Syracuse—I want to see the Orange become better at dominating lesser opponents.
  3. Wichita StateTekele Cotton is the most underappreciated member of this Shockers team.
  4. Duke—The Blue Devils boast one of the most efficient offenses in basketball.
  5. Arizona—Can’t see the Wildcats winning six straight NCAA games without Brandon Ashley.
  6. Michigan—Tuesday’s road win at Ohio State was huge for the surging Wolverines.
  7. Villanova—The Wildcats’ highly anticipated rematch with Creighton is this Sunday in Omaha.
  8. Kansas—Uh-oh. Bill Self says standout center Joel Embiid is “banged up.”
  9. Michigan State—The Spartans are an NCAA title contender if they ever get healthy.
  10. San Diego State—Tuesday’s loss to Wyoming takes some of the shine off the Aztecs.
  11. Kentucky—The Wildcats’ biggest game to date is Saturday against Florida in Lexington.
  12. Virginia—Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers have a legitimate chance to win the ACC title.

  

Rapid Fire

Plastic surgery scheduled: Rupp Arena

Please, don’t touch: Cameron Indoor Stadium

Give him a raise: Bruce Weber, Kansas State

Give him the boot: Oliver Purnell, DePaul

Overrated: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

Underrated: Terran Petteway, Nebraska

Figuring it out: St. John’s, West Virginia

Floundering: Baylor, Oregon

Desperate for wins: Missouri, Georgetown

Best major conference: Big 12

Worst major conference: SEC

Surprisingly good major conference: American Athletic

National Coach of the Year (if the season ended today): Rick Barnes, Texas

National Player of the Year (if the season ended today): Doug McDermott, Creighton

National Freshman of the Year (if the season ended today): Jabari Parker, Duke

 

Pit Stops

Texas Chili Parlor, Austin—After being turned away by the long Sunday afternoon wait at Moonshine a few weeks ago, my buddy Gary Bedore and I ended up at the Texas Chili Parlor just a few miles away from the University of Texas campus.

Wise choice.

We started with a heaping bowl of chips and a few ramekins of queso. As much as I liked the cheese dip, the salsa that accompanied it was even better. Always the simpleton, Bedore opted for the bacon cheeseburger despite my urging him to order the Texican (a burger with refried beans, crushed Fritos, cheese, green chiles and mayo). He said his food was tremendous, though, and it certainly looked that way from across the table.

I’m a huge chili fan, and as a Texan, that means no beans. If you put beans in chili, you might as well call it soup. I ordered a medium-sized bowl of the XX, which is spicy but not over the top. Well, at least not until you load it up with onions and jalapenos, which I did. With huge chunks of meat and an outstanding flavor, this may have been the best bowl of chili I’ve ever consumed. I attempted to order a chili dog, too, but our waitress stopped me.

“You won’t be able to eat all of that,” she said.

I was somewhat offended until I saw how big the bowl of chili was—not to mention the gargantuan, knife-and-fork chili dog she served to the table next to us. Our waitress was correct. There’s no way I could’ve consumed all that food. Would’ve been fun trying, though.

I’ll definitely make a return trip to Texas Chili Parlor.

 

Jason King covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JasonKingBR.

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Magic Johnson Willing to Help LA Lakers Recruit Free Agents to Franchise

Magic Johnson has made plenty of headlines during the 2013-14 season, but many of them have rubbed the Los Angeles Lakers the wrong way. 

First it was the greatest point guard of all time telling the world during a discussion with Mike James of the Los Angeles Times that he thought Kobe Bryant should sit out the rest of the campaign, mostly because he didn’t have much to return to. After that, he left the Mamba off his list of great winners while tweeting about Kevin Durant, and that created another media firestorm:

As B/R’s Grant Hughes wrote, “Recently, the media mogul—who once owned a stake in the franchise—had been critical of the Lakers, taking aim at everything from their porous interior defense to their hiring of Mike D’Antoni.”

To his credit, Magic later updated his list to include Kobe, and he apologized for his lack of support for the Lakers organization:

Fortunately for the Purple and Gold, it appears as if the helpful version of Magic is here to stay. 

“I love them. I’m going to support them. I asked Mitch [Kupchak] the other day if you want me to recruit this summer,” the Hall of Famer told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. “People don’t know that was my role with Dr. Buss for a while. I was the first to call Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, all these guys. That was my job, calling them and recruiting them.”

If he managed to get all of those key contributors to come to L.A., then the team could certainly use him going forward. 

After all, these next couple offseasons are going to be quite crucial. Few players are actually on the books going forward, and cap space abounds as the Lakers attempt to restock via free agency and add a few pieces during the draft process. 

2014 might see players like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James become available, and the 2015 offseason will do the same with Kevin Love, Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and others. Not only do the Lakers have to find stars who complement Kobe, but they need players who can usher in the next era of basketball in Tinseltown. 

It’ll be a difficult process, so every bit of help is useful. Magic may have been leaving an icky taste behind for Lakers Nation during recent weeks, but successful recruiting would certainly reverse that feeling. 

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