- I'll start tonight's post with what I am supposed to be here for, and that's Gopher hoops talk. Scouts, Inc's Antonio Williams released yet another breakdown of the 2009 recruiting classes around the nation, and once again Tubby and the Gophers came out ranked very highly.
Williams gives the Gopher class a B+, second in the conference behind Indiana's A-, and has this to say, "With only two seniors on the roster last season, the Gophers continue to add talent to their already good team. Coach Tubby Smith has made it a priority to keep in-state talent at home, and he passed that test with flying colors thanks to this class" among other things. He also breaks down each of the four players signed (ignoring Allen), but it's pretty much the same old same old we've been hearing on these guys forever.
With this #2 ranking in the Big Ten, combined with the main ESPN ranking of #2 and a Rivals.com ranking of #3, I think it's safe to say this class is as good or better than last year, at least on paper. As long as they perform up to expectations and everyone continues to improve and Al Nolen sits on the bench a lot, this should be a fun year.
- Staying with the Gopher recruit theme, I wrote about Clumsy Heights guard Jacob Thomas before, mentioning how although he's a highly regarded recruit and considered one of the best shooters in the Midwest for 2010, he was still without a single offer and that made me nervous. An article from GopherIllustrated clears things up a bit, with this quote from his coach, "Right now the way it looks for Jake from an academic standpoint, Jake has a lot of work to do to qualify," Braziel explained. "The Gophers requested the transcripts and the like. We still talk to the Minnesota coaches a lot and we are all on the same page."
He's lighting up scoreboards en route to leading Howard Pulley to a win in the St. Louis Eagles Invitational, and it's clear he can score (he was box-and-one'd in the championship game) and can shoot to what sounds like a Devoe Joseph-level or better, but the academics are obviously in pretty rough shape if nobody has even extended an offer yet. I always get a little excited for high quality shooters, so hopefully Thomas can get it together in time to replace Westbrook in 2010.
- Staying within the college basketball theme, suddenly the predictions of Brandon Jennings' defection to Europe causing a trend have a little bit of ammo, with two big-time college players heading to Europe next year instead of remaining in college in Florida's Nick Calathes and Clemson's Terrence Oglesby.
Calathes will be heading to Greece to play next season, despite having two seasons remaining to be a Gator, and Oglesby is heading to either Spain or Italy.
Seriously though, although weird, these two situations are very different than that retard Jennings (who, if you remember, couldn't qualify so he went to play in Europe and then spent the whole season crying about how much it sucked). Both Calathes and Oglesby have citizenship elsewhere along with the U.S. (Calathes in Greece, Oglesby in Norway), both have family ties overseas (Calathes's bro plays in Greece, Oglesby's father played in Europe), both have overseas experience by playing in the FIBA under-20 championships, and neither expects to be a first round NBA pick. Calathes had a chance, but his contract in Greece will pay him over $1 million and Oglesby had no chance to make the NBA but will get a nice contract somewhere instead.
In summation: Calathes and Oglesby - a little weird but do what you got to do. Jennings - a complete and total moron. Also this is what the girls at Florida look like:
- So those two clowns are leaving their teams, but there have been a few transfers of note in the beloved Big Ten that will affect things. PG Anthony Crater is shipping out of Ohio State and will play for South Florida in 2010-2011. Jermain Davis has left Iowa and will go down a class to play for Mankato State. Kelvin Grady is out of Michigan, and has yet to pick a school to transfer to. Jake Kelly (Indiana State) and Jeff Peterson (Arkansas) are out of Iowa, and Indiana has lost Malik Story (Nevada) and Nick Williams (Ole Miss).
Iowa is in the worst shape as Lickliter continues to do everything he can to destroy that program, bringing in not only the possible worst class in the conference, but Kelly and Peterson were the Hawkeyes first and third leading scorers last season, accounting for over a third of the team's points (and Jermain Davis also chipped in with 20 minutes and a few points and boards per game). Good luck, corn humpers.
Indiana is also hit kind of hard, Williams and Story were big contributors, but they are bringing in what is being universally hailed as the conference's top recruiting class, so they probably aren't too concerned about two guys who were worse than Verdell Jones last year.
Michigan probably isn't thrilled with Grady leaving, he made a solid backup point and torched the Gophers in a game last season, but his playing time really dwindled towards the end of last season and it's probably best for him to move on. He was #107 on the Rivals150 when he came out two years ago and has played some pretty decent games in his time at Michigan. I'm predicting a landing place of Xavier, with one of the directional Michigan schools a good contender if he decides to go more after PT than winning.
Lastly, Crater couldn't even beat out the world's biggest douche P.J. Hill to play point for the Buckeyes, so I seriously doubt they're going to miss him or even notice that he left. Hell, Thad Matta probably typed up the transfer papers himself, forged Crater's signature and then drove him out of town himself.
- I know you desperately want a preview of the Crowne Plaza Invitational, but I don't feel like typing up anything overly formal and it's in Fort Worth which is a sucky town, but I'll give you something so here's a bit of a top five:
1. Zach Johnson. I'm kind of getting sick of this guy, but he keeps doing it and doing it and doing it well. Represent Drake but kickin' ass out in Texas. Jesus that was brutal. Replace that with something funny.
2. Jim Furyk. He's played well at Colonial before. He's not having the best year of his life, but I always believe he can win at any time.
3. Luke Donald. Pretty sure he's still one of the best golfers out there, and his wrist should have healed by now. It's kind of a weak field and it's the kind of course where Donald can thrive.
4. Rod Pampling. You probably won't see him on any other fancy pants expert lists on the web, but that's why you come here for true hard-hitting analysis. Pampling likes Colonial, and he made a run late at the Bryon Nelson last week. Don't be surprised.
5. Stephen Ames. Another guy who doesn't get much pub, but he plays well in Texas year after year despite looking like kind of a retard. Pulled down a top 10 at the Valero and likes this course as well. I kind of wanted to put Sean O'Hair in this spot, but then I remembered he has daddy issues.
- Baseballwise, last night Zack Greinke pitched nine innings and gave up just one run - and raised his ERA to 0.84. Good god. He is going to be a star for the Yankees or Red Sox soon.
- Lastly, you people need to wake up. The response from the two people I talked to about Mauer possibly being on steroids: "Now way, no way, no way." and "Oh, he'd never do that." Come one people, open your eyes. We've seen a boost in power, a little roid rage, and a little acne. I'm not saying I guarantee he is on HGH (although it's pretty likely), but at least admit, to yourself if to nobody else, that if this was some other hitter on some other team, you'd have your suspicions. You know you would. Just like you also know, deep down inside, that you hated Travis Busch.