Coach Bzdelik Keeps Wake Recruiting Class Intact

April 22, 2010

The first job of most new head coaches is to assess the current roster, and immediately attempt to keep any committed recruits from jumping ship. While some coaches don’t pay as much attention to this as others, in the case of new Wake Forest head coach Doug Bzdelik, keeping a top ten recruiting class intact was the top priority.

The class, comprised of Tony Chennault, J.T. Terrell, Carson Desrosiers, Melvin Tabb and Travis McKie, have all signed letters of intent and are bound to play for Wake next season, but could have asked for their release with the recent firing of former head coach Dino Gaudio.

Assistant coaches Jeff Battle and Rusty Larue, both of whom remained as assistants following Gaudio’s departure, worked quickly to ensure that all five recruits still intended to play for the Demon Deacons. Joining Bzdelik on an impromptu tour of all five players over two days, the three coaches were able to reassure the recruits that the situation in Winson-Salem would still be the one they expected when they originally committed.

This was no doubt helped by the consistency of keeping Battle and Larue on as assistants. Both Battle and Larue have ties to the local community, and Larue played for Wake Forest in both basketball and football before playing with Micheal Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Eventually, once his playing career was over, he returned to Winston-Salem to coach both college and then high school before taking the assistant job at Wake.

As the coaches were able to complete the quick tour to keep their solid recruiting class intact, they also have to look to how they are going to create a competitive team after losing their mainstay senior point guard in Ish Smith and their top scorer in Al-Farouq Aminu, who declared for the draft and is likely gone. The coaches will need to find a way to win with the dominance of youthful talent on their roster, which is no small feat in the ACC.

ASU Hires Jason Capel as New Head Coach

April 21, 2010

Just a few days after Buzz Peterson bolted from Appalachian State and headed to greener financial pastures at UNC Wilmington, the Mountaineers found their new head coach in former UNC forward Jason Capel. Capel was an assistant coach under Peterson at App State, arriving on campus last June. Capel’s older brother Jeff is the current head coach at Oklahoma, while his father continues to work as an assistant for the Charlotte Bobcats.

It’s not a pick without some head scratching.

Capel’s entire coaching experience is the work he’s done at ASU since last June. Prior to that, he was a broadcast announcer for two seasons.

Jason Capel’s experience as a player includes four years at UNC, including a Final Four appearance in 2000, then playing professionally in Serbia, Japan, Italy and the NBDL.

One thing is certain: Capel’s family coaching tree is nothing to take lightly. His father was a solid college coach in his own right before deciding to move to the NBA, and his brother Jeff, probably more famous in the ACC for his nearly half court shot in 1995 against UNC, has proven his merit at Oklahoma. Appalachian may be hoping to find the next Brad Stevens before someone else does, but it’s a gamble nonetheless. Capel was outspoken and a leader as a player, playing on a Final Four team and then only two years later landing on the worst team in UNC history, a team that only won eight games. Jason returned the next season to encourage the newly arriving players, which included Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants, to bring the UNC program back to it’s former heights.

Perhaps Appalachian has spotted Capel’s abilities after less than a year, or perhaps they are banking on the coaching success his brother and father have had, but it’s interesting that this time the school decided not to draw the process out. Last season’s long process to bring Buzz Peterson back to Boone has had an effect that they did not want repeated, and now Capel can get in a few days of recruiting in a window of time that is quickly closing.

Portsmouth Invitational – Day One Recap

April 20, 2010

The following article is provided By Carl Berman of NetScouts Basketball and appears here with permission.

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Portsmouth Invitational – Day One Recap

By Carl Berman

We have quite a few scouts and correspondents at the PORTSMOUTH INVITATIONAL as well as my partner, Chris Denker. We’ll be reporting on the action there this week. It’s pretty late now so we’ll make the Day One update a quick one.

Which players helped themselves?

RYAN THOMPSON. The 6′6 SG from Rider lit it up in the first game to the tune of 37 points an 14-for-20 shooting and 4-for-5 on three-pointers. He showed that he is athletic enough to play anywhere.
A.J. SLAUGHTER. The 6′3 guard from Western Kentucky shot 10-for-12 and 4-for-5 on threes to go for 28 points in only 21 minutes of action.

GERALD LEE. The 6′10 PF from Finland by way of Old Dominion showed a nice mid-range game in shooting 8-for-15 to score 16 points to go along with nine rebounds.

HAMADY N’DIAYE. the 6′11 post from Rutgers by way of Senegal doesn’t have a lot of offensive skills but he is very long and can run the court. He came up with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

DONALD SLOAN. The 6′3 guard from Texas A&M shot very well in scoring 20 points and was around the ball to grab six rebounds.

DEON THOMPSON. The 6′9 UNC PF grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with 13 points. He was tough on the offensive glass with six offensive boards.

JEREMY LIN. Lin looked capable of playing with the big boys as he scored 8 and came up with six assists and only one turnover in 25 minutes of play.
Who didn’t impress us?

SYLVESTER SEAY. The 6′9 swing from Fresno State mostly relied on his outside shot which didn’t go down as he shot 1-for-8.

DENIS CLEMENTE. Coming off a nice NCAA tournament for Kansas State the speedy PG was sloppy with the ball in committing five turnovers and only scored four points.

ADAM KOCH. The Northern Iowa forward couldn’t get free and only had four shots, five points and three turnovers in 25 minutes.
We’ll be reporting on the three games tomorrow.

Carl Berman is a Managing Partner of NetScouts Basketball and can be followed on twitter @carlberman.

Ranking The Point Guards of 2010

April 19, 2010

It’s not the practice of to ‘rank’ players, because we try to evaluate players based on long term prospects and not so much on their rank within their graduating high school class. There are several reasons for this; first, because there are a lot of ranking services around and our rankings would not be much different in the top players. Secondly, because ranking players between classes makes an unbalanced comparison between classes. Would the number one point guard in 2010 be as good as John Wall of 2009? It’s not really a fair comparison.

That said, we will take a few moments to talk about the top point guards in the 2010 class, and only the position within this class.

This year’s best point guard is probably Kyrie Irving (PG, 6’1″, 2010), a Duke commitment and a speedy ballhandler who can push the ball extremely well in transition. In all of the all-star games this season, Irving has shown he can play on the biggest stages and has had solid outings every time. Now, almost every scouting service out there has Brandon Knight (PG/SG, 6’3″, 2010) as the top point guard in the country, but we don’t agree with that. The reason is not Knight’s ability, which he has loads, it’s the fact that Knight looks too much like a streaky shooting guard. Can he play the PG in college? Yes, he can. He’s a solid ballhandler and passer. But we’ve yet to see that one distinct difference between an off guard running point and a true point, which is, actually running the offense and knowing where players are going to be before they arrive at the spot. Irving has it. Ty Lawson, Chris Paul, John Wall and Raymond Felton all had it. The thinking is that Knight will need to use his athletic talents at slashing to the hoop and develop his point guard skills so he can move to the NBA, but only time will tell if he’s able to do it.

Just behind Irving is Cory Joseph (PG, 6’3″, 2010), an as-of-yet uncommitted player from Nevada who plays the point with intensity and presence. Although he’s behind several other players on most lists, our opinion is that he’s solid and the second best in 2010 right now.

Probably next after Joseph is a tough call between Josh Selby (PG, 6’2, 2010) who just committed to Kansas, and Kendall Marshall (PG, 6’3″, 2010), a North Carolina commit. Selby is a little too much combo guard right now but is tough and can get to the hoop, while Marshall is a pure PG who should flourish in the UNC system.

We’d put Brandon Knight next and then Joe Jackson (PG, 5’11”, 2010), a Memphis-bound player with gifted offensive moves but who will need to prove they can defend effectively at the collegiate level.

The next four to round out the top ten would be Ray McCallum (PG, 6’1″, 2010), an extremely solid PG who will play for his father at Detroit, Ryan Harrow (PG, 5’11’, 2010), headed to NC State, Phil Pressey (PG, 5’10”, 2010) and Ian Miller (PG, 6’2″, 2010), a Florida State commit.

UNCW Hires Buzz Peterson Away from App State

April 17, 2010

Buzz Peterson, the former head coach of Tennessee and Tulsa and former Director of Player Personnel for the Charlotte Bobcats, returned to Appalachian State last year after the school concluded an extensive hiring process.

Peterson had previously coached the Mountaineers in a very successful stint from 1996-2000. Peterson also played for the North Carolina Tar Heels under legendary coach Dean Smith and during his college career played alongside Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Brad Daugherty, James Worthy and fellow head coach Matt Doherty.

Now, only one year later, Peterson has left Appalachian for a new job as the head coach for UNC-Wilmington, leaving the Mountaineers with another coaching search and instability in the program.

App State AD Charlie Cobb thought after last season’s drawn out hiring process, Peterson might be the head coach for some time, but according to the Winston-Salem Journal, was dismayed and somewhat caught off guard by Peterson’s abrupt departure:

“The situation we went through last year was a little bit difficult,” Cobb said. “Certainly every indication was that he was going to be the coach here for a long period of time. So it’s terribly disappointing, frankly, in that regard. But everybody’s got to do what’s best for them and their family.”

So why did Peterson leave after only one full season? To put it simply, the job at UNCW will bring him an annual salary that’s about twice his current salary, once performance incentives, bonuses and other compensations are added, putting the total somewhere in the $435,000 a year range.

It also shows how large of an enterprise that college basketball has become. Appalachian State’s compensation package for Peterson with all aspects included totaled about $225,000 a year, far and away above what most Americans earn, but the salary that ASU is able to pay is considered minor in context. Peterson was well qualified and experienced, and ASU couldn’t keep him for the money they were able to pay.

Dino Gaudio…Gone

April 9, 2010

Three coaches have already exited the ACC following the NCAA season, the latest of which being Wake Forest parting ways with Dino Gaudio. Many in Winston-Salem, NC, were left a little perplexed as to why, after making the NCAA tournament and beating Texas in the first round, and after bringing in several highly touted recruits, was Gaudio let go?

The reasons given for Gaudio’s dismissal were the late season collapses during Gaudio’s tenure and inability to win in the postseason. If true, this should serve as a shot-across-the-bow to all of those coaches who think that expanding the NCAA tournament will somehow guarantee more coach’s jobs in the future, where Gaudio’s appearance in the tournament and last year’s number one ranking weren’t enough. In the ACC, Athletic Directors want to compete with Duke and UNC, and often just being a solid program isn’t enough.

This doesn’t mean that schools don’t often make mistakes. NC State became a mainstay in the NCAA tournament under Herb Sendek, but while his Wolfpack teams were solid and putting players consistently into the NBA, the Pack faithful soon tired of finishing behind the Blue Devils and Tar Heels and Sendek finally resigned and took a position at Arizona State. The Pack have been pretty much cellar dwellers ever since. While the NC State fans may be glad Sendek is gone, the case of Sendek, Gaudio and several other coaches serve as a legacy of impatience.

It’s not clear what, exactly, Wake Forest expected from their team and coach this season that would have saved Gaudio’s job. To be fair, last season was a bitter disappointment, given that the 2008-09 Demon Deacons had three future NBA players in Jeff Teague, Al-Farouq Aminu and Jeff Johnson, and a strong supporting cast in Ish Smith, L.D. Williams and Chas McFarland. By all rights, it was a team that should have made the Final Four. Ranked number one in February, they eventually limped into the tournament and were quickly bounced.

But this year’s team only has one lock for the NBA in Aminu, although Smith, Williams and McFarland all returned, and promising underclassmen were contributing. Looking at the talent level of the ACC, the Deacons would have been considered overachieving if they’d finished any higher than they did, and considering that many ACC schools got an unexpected bonus when UNC fell apart this season, Wake’s late season losses wouldn’t be enough to lose a coach his job in most cases after only three years.

It could have been last year’s flop or this season’s late loss to the flailing UNC that did Gaudio in. It could also be noted that while Gaudio was bringing in solid players, he wasn’t bringing in the type of players that his predecessor, Skip Prosser was. Prosser landed Aminu, Teague and Johnson prior to his untimely death and Gaudio had yet to bring in a single player of that hype. This isn’t to say Wake Forest doesn’t have NBA talent on it’s roster, but Johnson, Teague and Aminu were early-exit type players before they ever landed on campus. It’s possible that Ron Wellman, the Wake Forest AD, saw the lack of star power coming in, combined it with the late season underachieving and decided to make a change. It’s also a highly pressurized situation in the ACC. UNC had a horrible year by Tar Heel standards, but they are likely a possible favorite to compete again for the NCAA title as quickly as next season. No doubt Wellman considered that as well. However, his statements that Gaudio was fired because of the late season losing is insight into the fact that many ADs are too quick to pull the trigger, despite claiming otherwise, and this firing seems more the result of an irrational expectation of the current team. Unless Wake Forest is willing to take the risks that Kentucky is taking (everyone around the nation is wondering how fast the NCAA is going to show up in Lexington), the concept that they can bring in another coach who can immediately build a national power is a pipe dream. Even Prosser, by all rights a solid coach and recruiter, hadn’t really been able to prove he was the long term solution in the ACC. In the year of his death, he’d finally put together a team that had the talent to compete, but he still needed that major season to really show he was a coach to be reckoned with in the ACC, a league where you need a national title to be considered one of the big boys.

Was this firing the right move, or was it another case of a school being too impatient, giving up consistency in hopes of getting a big time winner? Only time will tell. Consider that Kentucky’s John Calipari had enough talent to win the NCAA and should have been a lock for the Final Four, but his job isn’t in jeopardy because he already has been to a title game, he’s got a reputation and he’s in his first year at UK. The margin between winning ‘enough’ and ‘not enough’ can be thin, and Gaudio had much less leeway.

Basketball Players and the Lies People Tell Them

April 8, 2010

I have to say that this article, published on, and written by Steve Kyler, really hit home with me. When the article discusses “runners”, these are guys I’ve dealt with and interacted with many times when scouting a player or teams:

A “runner” – an employee of the agent gets close to the player and his family – makes the initial relationship. When it’s time for the athlete and the family to make the decision, a lot of times the runner acts as an intermediary feeding informed information to the family about what teams are scouting the player and what teams may have the player in their rankings.

Yes, and those guys are the ones completely unregulated by the NCAA, and they try to get close to kids and eventually get a payoff. When you are a lifelong fan of basketball, you tend to see athletes from their televised games, and that’s usually when their presence has reached a much higher maturity. NBA players have to be really polished, comfortable in interviews, articulate. That’s something that a lot of us learn as we become adults, we shed the slang and sometimes self-conscious speech of our teenage years and become confident and communicative. But high school basketball players are kids, regardless if they are 6’8″ and can dunk like madmen, they still are teenagers. Most players I’ve personally met are actually polite and respectful, something I’m not sure could have been said about myself at their age.

But teenagers don’t have the world experience of adults. One thing you learn as you actually move out from school age to ‘real life’ is an ability to survive a very harsh world, and these ‘runners’ are slick talkers who can get into a kid’s good graces all too easily. For many young players who come from meager backgrounds, they have very little knowledge of their own real worth and very little understanding of how to find out things like if they actually have an NBA career ahead of them, or whether they are really on a coach’s radar. Many players and their families whom I’ve met don’t know basic things like the fact that college coaches don’t scout players by reading your local paper’s box score. When a guy shows up at their kid’s game and tells them he knows a couple of college coaches (which he likely does), the parents and the kid think they’ve gotten lucky and that this guy is the only person who can land them a big time scholarship.

This can be disasterous when players have a legitimate shot at a pro career. Even players who are talented enough to land on an NBA roster can miss out, especially if they are not prepared or if they are not talented enough to really make a splash in the NBA. That won’t stop the hangers-on from filling kids’ heads with visions of dollar signs and SportsCenter highlights:

Beyond the top three prospects this year – John Wall, Derrick Favors and Evan Turner – the next ten players could go in any combination of orders, and while “a runnner” may say “Dude you’re a lock for the top 19” there is no truth or substance to those claims.

That doesn’t stop players from making a bad decision on an empty promise. Have you ever asked yourself, what is this kid thinking?

The article goes on to explain a bit about how players can get paid even while in high school and college, and there’s not much the NCAA will do about it. It’s a huge gaping hole in the system, this part is 100% true:

Let’s make one thing clear: whether directly or indirectly, most of the college players projected in the top 100 have an agent or someone involved with an agent in their lives and likely have had that since AAU basketball.

It’s hard for young players to understand what they’re involved in and even harder for kids who come from families without a lot of good parental guidance.

Read the full article here.

The NBA Pre-Draft Training Business

April 7, 2010

John Wall

The following excerpt is republished with permission from, and it gives excellent insight into the “business” of the NBA draft and the people surrounding players who want to cash a big NBA paycheck. Remember, once a player gets any time in the NBA, even if he doesn’t last, he gets more money when he goes overseas and is in higher demand just because he has NBA experience.

Each year roughly one hundred young men place their names in the pool of players who will be eligible for the NBA Draft. From anywhere between one and four years these players have worked at perfecting their skills in college, and now they think they’re good enough to play in the best league in the world, the NBA. As soon as their eligibility is up they’ll sign an agent, hopefully after asking the right questions and being advised by someone they trust. Once all that happens the real work beings; players start going through some form of pre-draft training.

Pre-draft training is a part of any agents pitch, and it has taken on an insane amount of importance for draft eligible players. In the recruitment of a top player, an agent will typically spend anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 in flights, meals, and hotels for he and others to see just one player throughout a season. Then, if the agent is lucky enough to land that player, he will have to empty the piggy bank again, this time probably spending in the neighborhood of $25,000, most of which isn’t reimbursable mind you. Of that $25,000, at least $10,000 of it will go towards a pre-draft training program for the client, and the rest will cover anything from meals, travel, to new gear (every soon-to-be NBA player needs to look fly).

Read the rest of the article at

Virginia Tech Lands Marquis Rankin

April 6, 2010

Although a few days ago we posted about Marquis Rankin (PG, , 2011) and his schools, we did not list Virginia Tech as an option for the talented point guard. But the Hokies have landed Rankin, beating out Wake Forest and Clemson. Rankin, a player from Charlotte, is a pure point guard who will definitely see minutes in Blacksburg.

It was thought that Rankin might be waiting on an offer from UNC, who he listed as his leader last summer. Whether the Tar Heels intended to offer or were looking elsewhere is a moot point now, since he’s going to another ACC school.

Rankin is a solid ballhandler and can run the offense effectively. He also can be aggressive and push the ball into the lane, is an instinctual passer and has offensive skills.

Virginia Basketball Recruiting: James Johnson

April 5, 2010

Virginia added some interior size when they landed James Johnson (C, 6’8″, 2010) a mobile post player with shooting range. Johnson is a pure post player who will need to develop a bit more into a banger in order to play the lane in the ACC, bit his ability to move his feet, spin and get off shots is going to make him tough for ACC big men to defend.

Johnson is a pure post player, although at his size he would be considered undersized for the pro game, he will be a solid collegiate paint player and should see some court time in his first season, especially with the offense he can add. He can play facing the basket but may need to develop his post up game when he’s faced with players his own size.