Tag Archives: Reeves Nelson

NBA Draft: Andre Roberson the Glue Guy

In a draft lacking star power, value is to be sought. And as we often think of value as bang-for-our-buck, GMs will need to deeply examine their needs and pick accordingly. Selecting talent for the sake of talent is not an option this year.

Andre Roberson, Colorado’s versatile forward and only player in school history with a whole lot of every type of stat, would seem to be the type of talent to do exactly that.

He declared late in the declaration process and I discussed that and other components of Dre’s draft prospects over at AllBuffs. You can read that article here.

He’s the quintessential glue guy and might actually have the best long-term prospects amongst any of the similarly sized and skilled Pac-12 players in this year’s draft. The defensive side is not in question and the versatility he offers there will get him on the floor. It will then boil down to whether or not he can develop a consistent jumper. He can get is garbage buckets (BIRDMANBIRDMAN) but to get regular tick and a lucrative contract, he’s going to have to hit the corner three.

He’ll need to bulk up a touch as well, it’s a physical damn league.

This is the first in some sporadic draft coverage I’m doing across a few different platforms. I’ll post to the others as they come up on The Pac-12 Post and PacificTakes.

And, as I mentioned, there are a lot of like-sized players amongst this Pac-12 class of possible draftees and so I apologize in advance for any and all Kawhi Leonard references. He’s just now become the easiest damn comparison for the exact type of player who boards and plays defense and learns to shoot and goes straight to becoming Bruce Bowen before ever thinking they could ever be MJ.

Oh, and bear in mind that Kawhi Leonard didn’t have an offer from either USC or UCLA. He’s a Riverside native.

OK OK! That was a cheap shot considering the entire 2009 class projected to be Leonard-types with Moser, Honeycutt, and Nelson on-boarding and all of whom projected as better prospects in HS. But it’s still interesting to play the look-what-you-missed game.

What to Make of Josiah Turner’s Suspension

It wouldn’t be a 2011-12 Pac-12 basketball event if there wasn’t a significant suspension right?

After all, this is the year of USC’s injuries and Sports Illustrated and Kevin Parrom’s tragedy and player suspensions and player dismissals. So when Josiah Turner was suspended – his third “DNP Coach’s Decision” this year – it came as now surprise.

But now what to make of it? FIND THE HUMAN FLAWS!!!

Let’s point a finger at Turner and demand him out of the program. I mean, three suspensions is treading on Nelson territory and is utterly unacceptable. Now let’s look at Sean Miller’s program. The third year coach has missed, in some capacity, on 42% of his recruits (from flops to departures) and that doesn’t include the impending careers of Turner (departure candidate) and Jordin Mayes (flop candidate) who was given a scholarship over Tucson local and ACC scoring champ, Terrel Stoglin.

Dare we? Get outta here!

Turner broke rules so he got suspended. And not for a half at that. The season has come to an exhausting peak and appears to have culminated in some bad decisions. Miller said it himself that Turner “is not a bad kid.” He’s making some form of bad decisions and he’s paying the price. Such is life.

And as for Miller, I’m on board. I couldn’t be happier he’s in Tucson and I don’t think people realize just how bottomed out Arizona was when he took over. The class that fell into his lap was glorious but created of veil over reality that this was a program short three recruiting classes. Now, Miller’s third true recruiting class, is heralded as other worldly.

The Wildcats are right about where they should be in year three and Josiah Turner is right about where he should be after doing what he’s done.

Will he get any better? Maybe.

The end goal is that you hope he learns from this in whatever manner he’s meant to learn, right? Sports teaches us lessons and coaches are entrusted to convey those messages. Winning is a byproduct of those lessons and the big question becomes: what gets compromised?

If it’s rules, looks like Miller wont. If it’s attitudes, looks like Miller’s missed on a few prospects.

Time will tell but I think everything will wind up – OK.

The SI UCLA Piece: Much Ado, As They Say

There was a swift buildup to the article outlining the demise of UCLA basketball.

It hit the twittersphere hard and didn’t let up. Sports By Brooks made allusions; opponents made assumptions; fans feared the worst.

Then it leaked or was released or was just read by a lot of people before it was actually in Sports Illustrated or on SI.com or I don’t know what happened surrounding the release of this damn thing but it was confusing. My point is, I started reading stuff about the contents of this article and after suspecting that it would have a whole lot of stuff that we already assumed about Howland and his bunch of malcontents, it was confirmed.

Is it that surprising that kids take advantage of a toothless bark? That players leave a program that isn’t going to necessarily teach them anything new, push them to new heights, or challenge their skill? Rightfully run from bullies and the mishandling of attitudes?

When I finally had the opportunity to read the publicized piece I was underwhelmed. It felt like the nerdy kid in high school tattling on the cool kids.

I was most offended by Howland’s temperature demands in the film room. Dude, you live in LA, it’s perfect there year ’round. Get over it.

Will this cost Howland his job? Absolutely not. Anyone already close to the program knew all of this and I can’t imagine any outsider is shocked by these allegations. But it does grossly highlight the lack of accountability in the program and the structure of misaligned priorities that will ultimately bring about the demise of the Howland tenure.

Could Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and whatever other combination of 2012 recruits commit to UCLA – potentially including #1 Shabazz Muhammad and #20 Tony Parker – salvage this black eyed program? Absolutely. Wins are the ultimate PR remedy and talent can contribute just that.

It may not be fair and it may not be right but it’s the sports world we live in. Ultimately college basketball – and more immediately the Pac-12 – are best suited when UCLA is good so someone in Westwood needs to figure it out soon.

If looking for the positive side of things, Howland and Guerrero no longer have the opportunity to hide behind the veil of privacy they assumed they had. They had a chance to be accountable to each other and to the school and to the student-athletes they taught.

Now that veil has been lifted and all eyes are on them.

Whatcha gonna do, Big Ben?

Worst SI Cover Jinx. Ever.

And here it is:

The man who donned the cover of Sports Illustrated’s college basketball (regional) preview is no longer on a college basketball team. Reeves Nelson has been indefinitely suspended (for the second time) from the UCLA basketball team by head coach Ben Howland.

On paper, Nelson won’t be missed. The enigmatic junior was averaging just 5.7 points and 4.5 rebounds and had played just 22 minutes in the Bruins’ last two games. He’d missed practices, team flights, and the point.

It’s not as if the writing hasn’t been on the wall. Prophetically, in this LA Times piece, Howland acknowledges that Nelson’s behavior has been “totally uncharacteristic of what [Howland] want from a UCLA basketball player representing this history and tradition.” Howland continued, “It’s something that is going to be dealt with when we get together again. It’s been an ongoing problem the past two years which has gotten worse.”

It appears they’ve gotten together again. It appears it’s been dealt with.

And what I want to believe is that more than just a malcontent has been dealt with. That Howland and his Bruins are turning the corner onto Winning Street and getting back to the place where UCLA is the spot. Where the Bruins are feared, not laughed at; proud, not embarrassing; winning, not losing.

But – and I refer back to the LA Times article – Howland sounds like a defeated man. His quotes lack urgency, his actions lack decisiveness, his team lacks heart. The sour faced coach comes across as hoping, fingers crossed, as his under-skilled, overweight band-o-Bruins go through the motions of a 2011-12 season.

On Josh Smith, “We had high expectations for him, but he didn’t do the work necessary in the off-season to be in the condition necessary.”

This is a player in your program. There are expectations and there is work. One is tangible.

On turning things around, “I believe we’ll be competitive in every game.”

Winners do and losers hope. Has it really come to a belief in effort?

With this suspension, I hope Howland takes himself seriously. To steal from the NCAA, he’s lost institutional control and needs to get it back. It starts with accountability. Reeves doesn’t want to be a team player? Then no team. Smith doesn’t want to get into basketball shape? Then no basketball.

I hope Howland can once again find the bite with all that bark.

If he doesn’t, UCLA fans can look forward to another thrilling coaching hunt – because the football one is going so well.

As for the tattoed bandit? Who knows. He’s packed a lot of baggage at this point and likely wont end up on another college campus. His NBA prospects are bleak at best and he ain’t winning any beauty contests.

Ultimately, you hope for the best for the young man. We’ve all lost our way before – not necessarily in the fish bowl of major college athletics. He has lessons to learn, the kind often learned in team sports. He’s had opportunity on top of opportunity to figure it out, to grow up and thrive in an excellent basketball environment.

That opportunity has been squandered.

And it’s not the SI cover’s fault.

While They Were Sleeping: Last Night in the Pac-12

#23 Cal 73, McNeese St 57: The Bears struggled to start the game, needing a buzzer beating three from Allen Crabbe to take a 28-26 halftime lead, and Monty felt his team was “not mentally prepared to compete,” but after the break the Bears handled their business. Ultimately, this was a trap game for the Bears and they treated it as such early. Crabbe and Gutierrez combined to score 46 points and Justin Cobbs dished 7 assists as the Bears’ offensive core continued to click. This team’s bread and butter will be their defense (unless they’re playing Mizzou) and they’ll need Crabbe and Gutierrez taking the bulk of the shots. Crabbe is still easing into his role as the main scoring option and will likely struggle against more athletic defenders (again, Mizzou). He’ll need to prove he can score against quickness for this team to be taken seriously again.

Colorado 70, Georgia 68: Yes! The Pac scored a win versus a BCS school. While Georgia may not be an SEC contender, they will play SEC schools and so kudos to you Colorado. Now, on to the important stuff, like Andre Roberson. He is really good. The sophomore went for 15 and 15 last night, his third double-double in five games. He’s beginning to get some national buzz which is great for the down conference. I’m intrigued that he’s getting being widely referenced as a guard. It may ultimately be his position courtesy some outlandish athleticism, but he would certainly appear to play a forward spot on this team. His skill set is still within the three point line but he’s demonstrated an improved shot in the early season. However you slice it, as his offensive game improves, so too will his draft stock.

Stanford 79, Pacific 37: Is Stanford the best team in the Pac-12? Hey, I know UOP is awful and Stanford simply did what they were supposed to do against an inferior team, but they’re the only team playing like they expect to be good right now. Dawkins is handling his three point guards tremendously and has defined roles well. The Cardinal locked down last night and have been a model of consistency in this young season. They run nine-ish deep and, based on their OOC schedule, could head into Pac-12 play as a one-loss squad – only NC State and Butler appear to be challenging games before conference play. Keep an eye on Chasson Randle, he’s the equalizer on this team, and has played terrific to date. Josh Owens has simply been Josh Owens.

UCLA 62, Pepperdine 39: Is UCLA back? No. The Waves are terrible – but beat a terrible-er ASU team in Tempe – but the Bruins finally notched a D-1 win. That’s a start. Beyond that, all the red flags previously raised on this team – attitude, offensive flow, effort – appear to remain and it doesn’t help that they had little to no fan support. Thirty-four (34, treinta y cuatro, 三十四) students came to the game last night. I know it’s far from campus and the Athletic Department appears to be falling apart and the team doesn’t seem to care much but, well, I guess things are pretty bad right now. That said, the Bruins did play improved defense which is the key to Howland’s teams’ success. The Bruins’ presumed strengths – malcontents Reeves Nelson and Josh Smith – played a combined 22 minutes, scoring 6 total points and grabbing 8 rebounds. While guard play is vital to this teams success, Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson can only max out at serviceable. If Nelson and Smith can’t figure it, the already long preseason will turn in to a miserably long season.


Jabari Brown’s Departure is a Sad Case of Normal

For the second time in a week, a prominent Pac-12 player has had team issues.

In Westwood, it was Reeves Nelson amidst and adding to UCLA’s troubles. The enigmatic forward was suspended and reinstated in a matter of days (and one embarrassing loss) and promptly missed the team’s flight to Maui. The Nelson situation is beginning to be indicative of some larger issues in Ben Howland’s program, something we’ll learn far more about as the season develops.

Such is not the case in Eugene, where Jabari Brown – a highly touted freshman – has abruptly left the Ducks.

News of this broke Sunday afternoon and was later confirmed by a school spokesperson that the freshman indeed left the school, his future unknown.

On the surface this would appear to be similar to UCLA’s goings-on: dynamic albeit mercurial player with a history of basketball success and attitude flags abruptly leaves the team.

But unlike UCLA, where the smoke is hinting at a fire, Dana Altman has simply lost the mercurial star. Brown’s departure is a reflection on Brown and not Altman’s program. Take this into consideration:

Brown’s prep career consisted of three high schools. He began at Salesian-Richmond before leaving to join Findlay Prep in Henderson, NV for his junior season. Then, mid-season at Findlay, Brown changed his mind and headed back home, enrolling in his third high school, Oakland High. That is to say, this ain’t Jabari Brown’s first departing rodeo.

And while this is a blow to Oregon as a basketball team, I think it’s a sad indication of the poor leadership and mentorship surrounding the young man. This, by way of disclaimer, is a distant outsider’s observation for which I have no inside information by which to substantiate. That said, the entitlement and lack of commitment displayed by Brown and other prep stars is not a recipe for success. Luke Winn elaborately documented this earlier this summer with a phenomenal analysis of top-100 recruits, decommitting, transferring, and the like. Read it here.

Winn put numbers to the anecdotal conversation, showing us that the average top-100 recruit in Brown’s class (2011) attended 1.69 high schools. The high school swapping led to an increased likelihood of deommitting and subsequently transferring. The increase in transfer odds? Nearly double the chances they stay put.

What we learn from Winn’s study and Brown’s departure is that this is not an isolated event. It’s an unfortunate trend. One that doesn’t help students or athletes.

So while the Ducks find themselves in a difficult albeit common situation, the concern should be focused on Brown. Where he goes from here and how he can grow and learn as a young man. His talent notwithstanding, he has some growing up to do.

And in the mean time, all eyes will be on Ben Howland’s Bruins; breaths held with each faltered lead and missed bus. We all grow up someday.


The Indefensible UCLA Bruins

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to defend the UCLA Bruins.

Last week, the Bruins lost at “home” to Loyola Marymount. Their first loss to the cross-town non-rival since 1944. The same team that turned around and lost to Middle Tennessee State a day later. They’re malcontents, overrated, and undisciplined.

In the midst of writing a defense of this Bruins team, the news of Reeves Nelson possibly quitting the team broke (Nelson has since been indefinitely suspended). I could no longer finish my post.

I can no longer defend Ben Howland and his UCLA program.

I started that post early Monday afternoon. That was a time when I thought, “Hey, these Bruins simply have some personnel issues. They just need to reestablish roles, let the learning curve play out, get Zeek to shoot less and distribute more, and they’ll be fine.” I was going to ask everyone to be patient with this team and let them improve with more and more games.

I repeat: the UCLA Bruins are indefensible.

At first it was the early departures. We could excuse those as talent being talent. UCLA was talent rich, making annual appearances in the final four. But when the departures just never stopped, when they went from lottery picks (Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook) to second round picks (Malcom Lee, Tyler Honeycutt) the red flags began to fly. Go ahead and toss Dominic Artis’ decommitment into this category, too.

And at first we could also excuse Drew Gordon’s 2009 departure to a basic conflict of personalities. It happens. Not every relationship is a great one. Gordon’s departure, while somewhat heated, happens.

But a closer look shows us that of the last three recruiting classes (’08, ’09, ’10), UCLA brought in fourteen players, seven of which are no longer with the program; four by transfer, three by NBA draft.

And now there’s Nelson. Another discontented star willing to drastically change his basketball trajectory at the cost of his UCLA jersey. While Nelson isn’t about to win anyone’s award for teammate of the year (Josh Smith, either) this obviously isn’t the first case of someone trying to leave Westwood early.

Simply put, people not wanting to stay in your program doesn’t bode well for your program.

The one constant through all this (am I quoting Field of Dreams?) has been Ben Howland. The aforementioned issues and excuses have been piling up. Either he’s insufferable or he can’t recognize who’s going to be successful with his tough love style. Whatever you want to call it, there would certainly seem to be a lot of smoke leading to the inevitable fire, as they say.

UCLA had best rein this in (calling Dan Guerrero!) before it gets much further out of hand. The saving grace right now is Howland’s 2012 recruiting class but indefinitely suspending your best player is not step one.

Like I said, I want to defend this program, it’s storied and important; but if no one wants to wear the blue and gold, what’s the point?