Zion Williamson is a High School basketball player from Spartanburg, South Carolina, he is ranked number 2 on the ESPN Top 100 list of High School basketball players. Both of Zion’s parents have athletic backgrounds, his stepfather was a division one basketball player, Zion was born to be an athletic star. Zion was being recruited by all the top college basketball programs, on January 20th he committed to Duke University.

His choice of school for some reason did not sit well with University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. Coach Cal normally gets more than his fair share of top basketball recruits each year, so I am wondering why losing Zion to Duke was such a problem that he had to comment. Duke sold Zion on the fact they are a family and provide a life for you after college basketball. All this is true if you look at Duke assistant coaches many of them are former players and there many former Duke assistant coaches who are head coaches at other schools. Someone else reminded me that a degree from Duke has a little more prestige. I believe that Zion made a wise choice but being a South Carolina kid myself I would have preferred Zion stay in state.

I was hoping he would go to Clemson, I like to see the top players going to those schools who are not basketball powerhouses. Michael Porter Jr. going to Missouri, Trae Young at Oklahoma, Ben Simmons at LSU, and

at Alabama. In my opinion, going to the others is what legends are made off, but I understand why going to the powerhouses is attractive, it almost guarantees an NBA contract. Choosing the right school has huge implications for a player’s career, the wrong school could hinder your chances of making it to the NBA, so Duke is probably the best option for Zion.

Is Zion going to be that special player? The Michael Jordan or LeBron James, I ask because with the litany of great players Coach Cal is associated with why did losing Zion provoke a comment? However, Zion story ends it will be the way he wrote it.

 





In the game of basketball organizations on the college and professional level employ individuals who elevate talent. These people who elevate talent called scouts play a critical role in the future of the athletes, based on the scout’s analysis a play draft position is determined or the offer letters he or she receives can be affected by the scout. These scouts are paid handsomely for their work, they use all type of statistics to influence or support their opinion about a player but there is one thing that scouts cannot analyze and that is heart.

I am making the statement because I was recently thinking about two players who have defied the analysis of them by the experts. Those players are Trae Young and Donovan Mitchell. Donovan Mitchell was selected 13th in the last NBA draft, most scouts thought he would go around this pick but their idea of him was that he would be a second unit player. The scouts believed he would be able to score in the NBA, but he is not a lead guard and too small to be an effective two guard. The scouts did not think he had a high ceiling, I never understood that high ceiling remark because who are you to determine how far a person can go. Anyway, Donovan, in my opinion, is the best rookie of this season. Some will say Ben Simmons, but Simmons is not really a rookie and Mitchell has had more impactful games than Simmons. Mitchell is averaging more points a game while playing fewer minutes than Simmons. There are not any NBA scouts who would have predicted Mitchell being this good this early in his career. Now onto Trae Young, Trae was ranked 23rd on the ESPN Top 100 and 16th on Rivals Ranking. Trae was not as highly recruited as his counterparts, he was a five-star player, but no one expected him to lead the country in scoring and be compared to Steph Curry. Looking at it now it is hard to believe that there were 20 players better than Trae coming out of high school. Trae is projected to be the number one pick in this year’s draft. Again, the scouts, who analyze talent for a living, did not see Trae Young being this good this earlier.

There are a couple of scouts I will give credit to and those are the scouts who targeted these two players and the foresight in believing they would exceed expectation. One other thing that does affect their production and this is being in the right situation. Donovan Mitchell had no choice in where he would play in the NBA, so my hats off to the coaching staff for creating an environment for Donovan to excel in. I really impressed with Trae Young decision to stay home an attend Oklahoma, Trae could have easily gone to one of the other schools five-star players usually go to, but he didn’t. Instead, Trae went to a school that has a system that allows him to showcase his best attributes, this may be the smartest decision he has ever made.

I guess my point to all of this that basketball is an emotional game, because of this emotion stats and analytics will never provide an accurate picture of who a player is and who he or she will be with regards to basketball. Some people become great when put in good situations.





The Ball family has dominated the basketball universe in 2017, so it is only right that I start off 2018 with a post about LaVar Ball. LaVar has had his share of naysayers and haters, some of which is well deserved. I must confess I am a support of the Ball family but there is something I may disagree with. My disagreements with certain actions of LaVar are me just venting because it his life and family to do with he wants.

With regards to the Junior Basketball Association(JBA) that LaVar has stated he will create, people are upset because LaVar stated he will allow top high school basketball players to play in the league instead of going to college for one year. People are concerned because these players will give up the opportunity for a free college education. This is true because once given a scholarship that scholarship is valid for a lifetime, a player can return to college to complete his degree once his professional basketball career is over. The caveat that people are not discussing has LaVar stated the top players, top players consist of 10 to 20 players. That being said; the league will comprise of 80 players, therefore, you have to consider the other 60 to 70 players. No one is thinking about the players who did not get a college scholarship for various reasons, the streetball players, the players who have graduated college and players who did not attend high school. Everyone is only concerned about players that they can profit from, these other players no one cares about and do not offer a pathway to the NBA. Everyone knows that basketball player who you believe is a great player but has never made it. The JBA may give these players a chance to earn money playing the game they love and give the opportunity to showcase their talent to the NBA, G-League and European Professional basketball leagues.

I will admit the LaVar may not have the best business accruements but instead of criticizing his missteps individuals should be offering guidance. LaVar business ideas empower the athlete and allow the athlete to profit or increase profits from their talent.





LiAngelo Ball has left UCLA and we do not know his plans. I have been a supporter of the Ball family especially LaVar, but I do not think this was a smart move. I hope LaVar proves me and all other nay-sayers wrong as he has done in the past. I do not like doubting anyone because everyone can prove someone wrong, all they must do is put in the work and refuse to fail but I think this move will hurt LiAngelo.

One of the reasons I believe this will hurt LiAngelo is based on his current reputation, most NBA teams will not give him a chance. I believe it would have been better to stay in UCLA overcome the stigma for the theft and produce on the court for UCLA. Before this incident in China, everything said about the Balls was that they are terrific kids. People were waiting for an incident like this to happen so that they can criticize the Balls and how their parenting. The media and the public do not mention the other players involved and we still do not know who stole the merchandise. Repairing his reputation was the most important thing and leaving a school because they are punishing you for the crime and the embarrassment associated with it will not help. There are great players who NBA teams have shied away from because of character issues, in addition, LiAngelo has not shown he can be a good player on the collegiate level.

LaVar says he will be getting LiAngelo ready for the draft but who has identified him as a draft project. LiAngelo was not an ESPN top 100 players coming out of high school. What is strange about this I can not remember a player being the leading scorer on a nationally ranked school not being considered a top high school player. Both of his brothers were ranked, therefore the argument he is not ranked because of LaVar will not work. It is incredibly hard for high school top 10 players to get draft without playing in college, so what magic formula does LaVar have that will get his son drafted. The fact that he believes the punishment was too harsh will have teams turning away. I believe LiAngelo is the better shooter of the brothers, but he does not have Lonzo’s court vision and athletic abilities; LaMelo is today’s prototypical point guard. LaMelo can be Damian Lillard at six feet five inches tall. I saw LiAngelo being like Dennis Scott, I believe that is who he should have modeled his game after to ensure he makes it to the NBA. Dennis Scott had a successful career at Georgia Tech, that allowed NBA teams to see him play at a high level, what body of work will LiAngelo have for NBA scouts to judge. Workouts and being in shape does not translate to NBA talent, he to display he could excel in games. There are players in the G league now who can score but they have not received a call from the NBA.

I am hoping LaVar has a trick up his sleeve because if he is wrong this decision could affect all three of his sons. People will question LaMelo game because he is not playing high school ball and may not be able to play in college. Lonzo is struggling by some people standards. Any failures will be contributed to LaVar and this empire he is slowly building may come crumbling down.


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Willful ignorance or plausible deniability? If you are a basketball fan you are aware Rick Pitino has been fired from his coaching job at the University of Louisville because the scandal surrounding the fact that players were paid to sign with the school. Louisville is not the school accused of these actions. Recently Pitino did an interview with Jay Bilas for ESPN, during this interview Pitino stated that he had no knowledge of players being paid.

After watching the interview, listening to comments and reading comments it seems that most people do not believe Pitino’s response that he had no knowledge of the illegal activity. The comments center around that he is the head coach and how was he not aware of the reason these players decided to attend his program, he was also involved in a previous scandal and he made the same claim of not having knowledge. Many believe after the first scandal he would be more hands-on and more aware of his staff activities. This is a fair assessment, but is he responsible for every person, can he be there for the players, his family, coaching and other duties. Pitino during the interviewed stated he was given a lie detector test and he passed the test. Some may believe this makes him innocent, but it also depends on what was asked and how was the question asked. For example, if he was asked about a specific incident he might not be aware of that specific incident. He might have an overall knowledge of the recruiting tactics but not specific knowledge. I think all coaches know how these players are recruited. As I stated in a previous post the players deserve to be paid for their talents.

Do I believe that coach Pitino was willfully ignorant or utilizing plausible deniability, I do not know and I do not care. These coaches are using everything they can to remain competitive, these schools rely on these programs being competitive. This is the college sports recruiting game and this has been a part of it for many years and will remain a part of the recruiting process. Players family members get hired by the school, players siblings get to go to the school for free and no one says anything about this. They want to bring down legendary individuals because one man got caught doing something he knew was wrong, so instead of taking his medicine, he would rather destroy the game of basketball.

I am sure by now everyone has heard about the recent scandal surrounding college basketball. Anyway, I will not bore you with the sorted details but in a nutshell, several assistant coaches from prestigious colleges have been arrested by the FBI for paying players to attend these colleges. Well-known coaches such as Rick Pitino from the University of Louisville have been let go. Other coaches may follow in Pitino’s foot-steps. 

 In my opinion, all of this is very hypocritical the pressure put on these coaches to recruit top level talent is ridiculous. As I stated in a previous post everyone benefits from the player’s talent except the player. The reason the coaches need to get top talent is not solely based on winning, the better the talent the more money from shoe companies and television. The main reason they do not want kids going from high school to the NBA is that the NCAA revenue suffers when this happens.  

Just look at the salaries of the coaches and the athletic directors, these individuals are making millions each year and that is not counting the salaries of the coaching staff, trainers, and others. If I am a top tier player and deciding which college to attend the important factors of my decision would be the style of play, playing time, and best route to the NBA. If there are three schools who are equal in all categories the one who pays me would tip the scale.  These coaches have to do what is necessary to remain competitive, the better the team increase attendance to games, and alumni donations. The schools are aware of what is being done to recruit these players. 

Side note, look at the discussion surrounding Lamelo Ball’s eligibility because his father has released a shoe in his name and Lamelo receives income from the sale of the shoe. His eligibility is in question because what he is selling not because he is making money. If they were selling eyeglasses, for example, the NCAA would not care but because he is selling shoes and this will impact the money they receive from shoe companies it is an issue.  

 Instead of arresting and firing these coaches for doing the job they were asked to do how about the NCAA pay their athletes what they are worth. What is the government step in and say the school is only allowed to earn a specific amount of the athlete and the rest of the money goes into a fund the athlete receives after he or she leaves the school. I bet the NCAA would fight against this with all they have because forbid the people who deserve the money actually get the money. 

Again, we have the Ball family in the news, by the way, it is a good thing, but this time the controversy is surrounding the baby Ball, Lamelo. Lamelo has come out with his own shoe because he has his own shoe he may be prohibited from playing NCAA basketball. According to NCAA rules, the use of a player’s name or image to advertise or promote a product is strictly forbidden.

First, Lamelo has two more years of high school before he will be in college, therefore if he stops promoting his shoe before then is he still ineligible? If his father owned a hardware store that’s named the Balls and an image of the entire family was on the front of the store would he still be ineligible? How can you penalize a person for profiting off the work he has done? If he was a painter would they stop him from selling his art?

Secondly, the NCAA are hypocrites, everyone is profiting off the athlete’s likeness and name except the athlete. Many of the schools have a deal with shoe companies, the NCAA television deal is based off the players, every NCAA commercial highlights the players, and they sell merchandise related to the player. So, the NCAA is saying we are only allowed to profit from your ability and we do not want to share any of that revenue with you.

Once again, Lava Ball is disrupting the natural order of doing business, he has empowered himself and his children. They are not employees they are owners and this way of thinking has infuriated the so-called businessmen because if the Ball family is successful this will forever change the way business is done surrounding the game of basketball. People and corporations make money off basketball players at all levels, Lava Ball recognized this early and decide if anyone is going to benefit from his sons’ talent it will be his family. Somehow people are convinced this mindset is wrong, professional athletes are so happy being an employee they cannot support the Ball efforts.

My prediction is that Lamelo Ball will not be eligible to play college basketball because the NCAA needs the Ball family to fail. Based on this happening I am going to make another prediction, there will be another basketball league created in America that will allow players to play straight out of High School. The new league will be back by Chinese businessmen and a player with strong ties to the Chinese business community, such as Dwayne Wade or Stephon Marbury will be the catalyst for the new league.

The NBA is currently looking into implementing a minor league system like the MLB.  High School players would be able to go straight to the NBA Development League until they are ready to go to the NBA. I happen to be on the fence when it comes to this subject, I believe the NBA and the NCAA can work together to come up with a better solution.

College basketball is big business, there is large amount of money invested and made off of college basketball. Players going to the NDBL out of high school will have a negative effect on college basketball. The money that colleges get from their basketball teams does not only benefit the athletic program, therefore other students will feel the effects of a rule change like this.

The argument for a minor league approach is that many players are only spending one year in college and the schools are making money off the players. Some players are in need of the financial support. I support the athletes receiving stipends for attending the schools and playing basketball. The schools should provide the stipends based on a sliding scale, players who are ranked higher coming out of high school should receive the highest amount. Schools who cannot afford to provide a stipend may not be able to attract the up level player but the upper level player most likely was not considering that school anyway. By paying the athletes this may eliminate the need to go pro based on financial needs.

The other rule I believe that should be put in place is to allow college players to return to school in he or she goes undrafted. The Should stands now if a players does not remove his name from the draft before the draft takes place he loses his eligibility. By allowing the undrafted player to return to school the player and the school will benefit. As long as the players has not signed with an agent or has signed any endorsement deals the player should be able to return to school and play.

I understand that sports whether college or professional is a business but the focus should be on what is best for the player. People have to remember in most cases these are kids we are talking about, life altering decision are tough for someone who is in their 40’s so imagine how tough it is for an 18 year old.

The era of the one and done in college basketball is in full bloom. The NCAA and the NBA implemented the rule where players coming out of high school had to be 19years of age and one year removed from high school. They did this to stop the influx of high school players entering the NBA draft, some high school players were not ready for the NBA and by entering the draft they now lost the opportunity to play college basketball. This rule would also help college basketball because the talented players would have to at least play a year of college basketball.

Personally, I believe this rule has its pros and cons, so I am on the fence when it comes to the rule. The reason I am on the fence is because I believe the rule can be improved upon to make it better for all parties involved but I will further address this later.

In this year NBA draft, there is a possibly that the first ten players selected maybe freshmen college players and more than half of the first round selection maybe freshmen players. Would any of them be first round picks if they came straight from high school? When you look at the mock draft all of them have Markell Fultz as the number one pick but when he was coming out of high school he was ranked number seven, according to ESPN 100. Being rank number seven is great but would it have been good enough to be selected in the first round?  Zach Collins from Gonzaga was ranked 37th coming out of high school and he is a potential first pick, he might not have been drafted at all coming of high school. In these case,  a year of college has benefited the players and the schools that they played for but there are also situations such as Harry Giles who was the number one player coming out of high school. Giles maybe a late first pick in this year’s draft, now I will admit his injury has affected his potential draft selection. What if Giles went straight from high school to the NBA would his potential draft selection be higher?

The way the rules are setup now is once a player signs with an agent he can no longer return to school, if he does not withdraw draft entry before a specific date he cannot return to school. These rules I believe can be improved, I would keep the rule if a player signs with agent he is not able to return to school, and instead the player should be able to hire an advisor. The advisor would talk to the NBA teams on behalf of the player and would advise the player if he should remain in the draft. The advisor’s contract with the player would expire on draft night, after draft night the player would be required to sign with a different agency if the advisor is associated with an agency. If a player is drafted in the second round and does not make the team or the team wants the player to play in NBDL, the player should have the opportunity to return to school and play college basketball but the player would lose his scholarship and must pay for school himself. The NBA team who drafted the player would retain the rights to the player. If the player is not drafted he should be able to return to school and retain his athletic scholarship. I believe all parties would benefit from this structure colleges would retain players for more than one year, players would get a chance to play and develop, NBA team would save money and still have the right to the players.

There was a point where I enjoyed college and high school basketball more than professional basketball. The college game seemed more competitive, there was strong conference such as the Big East, ACC, SEC, PAC 10 and Big Ten where all the teams were good and you had no idea who would win the game. Part of me wants college basketball to return to those days, it just seems like the era of the one and done will not allow the competitiveness of college basketball to return.

 

 

A few days ago Lonzo Ball announced his new shoe the ZO2, after the announcement, there have been several complaints on social media about his shoe. Some have complaints have been about the price of the shoe, $495 base price; some have complained about any and everything under the sun. I have noticed many of the attacks on the Ball family and their shoe have been vicious and presented in an angry tone. This got me to thinking what are you mad for?

Many people have stated that they do like LaVar Ball, the father of the basketball playing Ball children. People have stated that LaVar is arrogant, braggadocios, and delusional to name a few things. Personally, I like LaVar because he is entertaining, he loves his kids, he works hard to help his kids and him fulfill their dreams, and family is the most important thing to him. People do not like that he believes his kids are better basketball players than other players who have achieved great success in the NBA. I say those are his children why shouldn’t he believe his children are the best, LaVar knows what their aspirations are and how hard they work to meet their goals. To achieve greatness or to be successful at anything in life it starts with a person believing he or she will be successful. Hence the term “you have to believe to achieve.”   People tend to focus on the outlandish statements that LaVar makes, I focus more on the meaningful statements such as “there are more things to be concerned about that basketball” or ‘I will support my kids regardless of basketball.” Statements like these tell me LaVar has a grip on reality and many of the outlandish statements are showmanship. What are you mad a LaVar for? He wants the best for kids, he believes in kids, he gives everything in order for kids to fulfill their dreams, and he loves his kids. As a parent aren’t you the same when it comes to your children, you may not express it like LaVar does but I would like to believe you are just as supportive.

Regards to Lonzo Ball, people on social media are stating Lonzo is overrated, he does not deserve a shoe, he has not proven anything yet, and he is going to be a failure in the NBA. The first thing I would like to say to these people is Lonzo was one of the top players coming out of high schools, he is one of the top college players, and he will be a top-five pick in the upcoming NBA draft. A person does not have these accomplishments and be considered overrated, Lonzo has proven himself on every level. I do not know how successful he will be in the NBA but nobody knows how successful any player is going to be at the next level. To be successful in the NBA it takes a combination of talent and willpower, so far Lonzo has displayed both. There are people who believe the hype surrounding Lonzo is because of the attention his father has gained with his comments. These people have to remember the reason his father was able to make these statements for the world to hear was because Lonzo was playing great on the college level. Lonzo play put his father and family in the spotlight. Lonzo Ball is a kid trying to live out his dream, a dream that he has worked hard to make come true. If you are a person rooting against Lonzo or hoping he fails that says a lot about you as a person. Regardless of one’s dislikes for his father, Lonzo is a child, would you want people hoping you child fails at his or her dream. So what are you mad for?

The new shoe ZO2, people are upset about the price of the shoe at $495. Now personally I would not pay this much for a shoe but I would not be mad at someone who does. You have former professional athletes stating the cost of the shoe should be lower but one has to remember the Balls are manufacturing the shoe themselves. We do not know how much it cost the Balls to manufacture a pair of shoes. The Balls do not have access like Nike and Adidas, Nike and Adidas mark their shoes up about 600% no one is complaining about that. People say that why would someone pay that much for a sneaker but people fail to realize people already pay more than that for sneakers stores such as Sneaker Pawn and Stadium Goods have to problem selling sneakers that cost three times the amount of the ZO2. There is a market out there for sneakers in this price range just because you may not be familiar with it does not mean it does not exist. Others will say we know about Air Jordan’s and Michael Jordan is the greatest player to ever play the game of basketball. Does buying his sneakers make you play better, does his sneaker last longer or does his sneaker generate income for you. The answer is no, the difference is the market has accepted the price for Air Jordan’s. Instead of any professional athlete speaking out against the ZO2 every professional and aspiring professional athlete should buy a pair of ZO2s. I say this because this will only improve the professional athlete’s negotiation stance will dealing with a company. The company will know that the athlete no longer has to deal with the major companies to generate income outside their sports and this will force the companies to pay the athletes more for endorsing their products. The more successful ZO2 is the more successful the pro athlete will be off the court or field.

So what are you mad for?