Nothing Else This Week Really Mattered … Our hearts go out to the families of those impacted by the tragic shootings in Aurora, Colorado. Their pain puts the things we typically worry about on this site in perspective. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Aurora this weekend.
* * *
Question: What Do you call a Timberwolves Player Wearing an NBA Championship Ring? … Frank Ward of the Daily Philadelphian writes, "One was a high school phenom in Philly. The other was part of a Final Four squad. Now, both have been traded for each other. The Minnesota Timberwolves have shipped former Episcopal Academy baller Wayne Ellington to Memphis in exchange for former Villanova big man Dante Cunningham. In three years with Minnesota, Ellington has averaged 6.5 points a game. Cunningham, who signed a three-year, $7 million deal last summer with Memphis, has averaged 5.2 points and 3.3 rebounds over his three-year NBA career. His best stint came with the Charlotte Bobcats in 2010-11. In 22 games, he averaged nine points and 4 rebounds." [Editor’s Note: Answer: A Thief]
Sweet Tweets … Here are Jay's tweets of the week: "Have enjoyed watching all the young guys in action these last few days at the different events! Always a pleasure to spend time with George Raveling, Villanova class of 1960! Had a chance to catch up this weekend. Our guys have been working hard in the summer sessions – need to finish strong in these last 10 days before we break! Great meeting with our staff as we get set for the next phase of July - Billy Lange, Jason Donnelly, Baker Dunleavy, Doug West and George Halcovage (Video Coordinator). Three Villanova basketball legends – Reggie Redding, Curtis Sumpter and Allan Ray are set to play in BALL Alumni Legends game on Aug. 5 at Hagan Arena. Very sad to learn of the news from Colorado this morning. Thoughts and prayers to all the families affected by this tragedy. Great to hear that #Villanova legend Wali Jones is joining a terrific list of inductees in the 2012 Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame class. A shout out of thanks to another of our legends, Bill Melchionni, who represented Wali Jones at Thursday’s press conference." [Editor's Note: So many years after Wali retired from basketball, what inspired the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame to induct him this year? Could it be the embarrassment of being beaten to the punch last year by the VUHoops Hall of Fame?]
If You Want To Make A Big Splash, Wide-Body Markus Is Your Man …E.J. Holland of Sports Day DWF writes, "With Larry Brown at the helm, SMU continues to make waves in the recruiting world. On Thursday, the Mustangs received a commitment from Villanova transfer Markus Kennedy. "I just felt like SMU was the right fit for me," Kennedy told PonyStampede.com. "The biggest reason why I committed to SMU was definitely Larry Brown. He’s a Hall of Fame coach, and I can’t wait to play for him." [Editor's Note: Was that a parting shot at Jay?]
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free … Jeff Eisenberg reports on Yahoo Sports that SMU’s "addition of former Villanova player Markus Kennedy is further proof that an aspect of Coach Larry Brown's strategy to make the Mustangs competitive in the Big East is to make the school a destination for high-major transfers. Brown previously added former Illinois guard Crandall Head and thought he had ex-Arizona guard Josiah Turner committed before the former five-star recruit opted to turn pro instead."
Two Of A Kind Beats An Ace … Kellon Hassenstab of NBC Sports argues that even though Villanova is not in the race for Jabari Parker or power forward Julius Randle, they indeed are in a three-horse race for the top recruit in the Class of 2013. He contends that either Andrew or Aaron Harrison is the most important recruit in the class. He explains his rationale saying, "The 6-4 twin brothers are considered by many to be top-5 recruits, but there isn’t a reputable source that considers either No. 1 overall. But the twins are a package deal. If a college gets one twin, they get the other. Land one top-5 player and automatically snag another? That’s an incredible value. Kentucky, Maryland, Baylor or Villanova are the schools chasing the twins. When they decide, that school will have at least one full season with what conservatively a top-10 backcourt in college basketball and what seems likely to be at least a top-5 recruiting class, regardless of where they end up."
Is 'Nova Third In A Two Horse Race? Connor Letourneau of NBC Sports writes, "The Harrisons maintain they’re currently considering four or five colleges. Aaron consistently lists Kentucky, Maryland, Baylor and Villanova, while Andrew tacks on Southern Methodist. However, I couldn’t help but notice that both Aaron and Andrew listed Kentucky and Maryland first when asked to name their potential destinations Monday. They’ve followed this pattern in every other interview I’ve seen from them on the Internet. Am I overthinking this? Maybe. But I have a strong feeling this is a two-horse race. Kentucky makes sense for the twins for all the obvious reasons. It is a virtual factory for one-and-done prospects. Maryland, on the other hand, has several strong connections with the Harrisons that could tip the scales in their favor. Their father and AAU coach, Aaron Harrison, Sr., is from Baltimore and is close friends with assistant coach Bino Ranson. The twins still have a considerable amount of extended family in the Baltimore area, and their friend and former Defenders teammate Shaquille Cleare figures to be an impact player on the Terps as a freshman this year. The twins will make a joint college announcement on Oct. 28 (their 18th birthday)."
I Want the Ball ... Alex Lee of the Philadephia Daily News writes, "With his eyes locked on the rim, North Philly's Rysheed Jordan approached his defender with the ball in his right hand. Using an inside-out dribble, Jordan blew by him in an instant, his remarkable first step on full display.He pulled up in front of an approaching shot blocker and launched a floater off the glass. Splash. The defender was consensus top-five recruit Andrew Harrison from Texas, and the play provided a small glimpse into why Jordan has amassed more than 15 scholarship offers from the nation's top college programs. His suitors include locals Temple, Villanova and La Salle, as well as such national powerhouses as Kansas, UCLA, Georgetown and Syracuse. Jordan says that he is whittling down his list of college destinations and hopes to decide in the fall. His list remains long, mainly because he is open to almost any system, given only one requirement. "A coach that will put the ball in my hands," he said. "Local doesn't play a part in where I go, really. I'm up for anything. I don't need a big conference either, just a coach that will let me control the floor."
Bell Rising ... Chris Molicki of RantsSports writes, With the departures of [Dominic Cheek and] Maalik Wayns, their top scorer, the ‘Cats are desperately in need of someone to break out. Look for James Bell to turn some heads and take his play to the next level. Bell was a solid scorer for Villanova last year, averaging seven points per game. He’s a very physical guard who is not afraid to go down low. His rugged style of play is evident by his tough defense and ability to rebound. He’s got a nice shot, especially from behind the arc, and he can get to the basket because of his quick first step. Bell is not yet great, but has the ability to get there. While some may think it’s a bit far fetched to expect too much out of Villanova this year, I disagree. They have a talented core and a mix of young guns and older kids. Bell’s development will correlate with the team’s success."
Roundballers With Briefcases … Liz Field wrote a feature in Villanova Business Magazine’s Summer issue featuring Villanova basketball players Mouph Yarou, Dallas Ouano, and Megan Pearson, who are all earning degrees from Villanova’s #13-ranked business school. She quotes Mouph, who is studying International Business, saying, "After I am done with basketball, I think I would like to work on Wall Street. That’s sort of a dream job for me." Dallas Ouano has accepted an offer to work for SumRidge Partners in New Jersey after graduation.
It's Not The Dancing That's Dirty at this Summer Camp … Rob Dauster of NBC Sports writes, "TJ Taylor is leaving the Marquette program after spending eight weeks on campus this summer. "In TJ’s best interest, he has withdrawn from school today for personal reasons," head coach Buzz Williams announced abruptly in a release this afternoon. Williams’ bench now looks a bit iffy, especially if Todd Mayo’s suspension continues into the season. More importantly, however, this sheds some light on a potential loophole in one of the rule changes that was lauded by pundits. There is no limit on the number of summer scholarships that can be given out. Combine that with the fact that coaches are now allowed to workout with their players during the summer, and voila! You have summer-long tryouts that are funded by the school. Great for coaches. Bad for the players."
What’s In A Name? Daniel Martin of NBC Sports writes, "While most fans might name a cat or dog after their favorite player, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino had made it a habit of naming racehorses after some of his Cardinal players. The latest? Russ Smith.Smith averaged 11.4 points and 2.4 rebounds during the 2011-12 season, helping the Cardinals to a berth in the Final Four, and that’s apparently enough to get a racehorse named after you if you play for Pitino." [Editor’s Note: As far as we know, Jay does not own any racehorses, so ‘Nova is at a decided disadvantage in head-to-head recruiting against Louisville. But perhaps there are other options to level the playing field. One can only wonder whether Markus Kennedy would have remained on the Main Line if Villanova Dining Services had seen fit to rename its foot-long Philly cheese steak after the 6’9" big man.]
Best Days In the Past? .... Rob Dauster of NBC Sports writes, "When the Big East was at its peak, the league was all about the hoops. They didn’t need to add the likes or SMU or USF or UCF or Houston to "bolster" football. It’s like watching a grandparent battling cancer pass away. Losing them is sad, but you knew it was coming and seeing their misery end is consoling. "The Big East is not what it used to be," said Jim Boeheim, the Orange’s head basketball coach. "I think the ACC is a great all-around conference, but, specifically, a great basketball conference." About SU’s jump to the ACC, Boeheim went on to say, "We knew it was coming. I’m glad things worked out the way they have."
Could An ACC Alum Fix What Ails the Big East? Gregg Doyel of CBS sports tweets that Louisville Coach Rich Pitino "says the Big East commissioner should be ... Jay Bilas. By golly, why not?" Adds Adam Zangoria, "Big East coaches are intrigued by Pitino's idea of Bilas as Commissioner." ~ Assist to Brian Ewart