Brandon Dunson commits to Tempe Normal

Ok, so why am I, a University of Arizona fan, writing about a JUCO transfer – who, by the way, is unrated by – that just committed to ASU?

Simple, because it’s extremely laughable.

Dunson’s stats are, well, rather pedestrian for a JUCO coming to a high-major Division I school: 12 ppg, 4 assist, 4 boards. The Arizona Republic states that Dunson shoots 44% from 3-pt range. But if he’s a 44% shooter, how many 3-pt shots is he taking a game to only get 12 ppg? Three?

Dunson last played at Wabash Valley JC in Mt. Carmel, IL. Translating the level of competition from there to the Pac-10 really knocks off almost 20% of his averages, meaning that really Dunson will be averaging around 10ppg, 3 assists and 3 boards.

But Dunson is supposed to be an “explosive” point guard. Really? At 3 assists and 10 points per game?

There’s a reason why Dunson was only recruited by a handful of schools – Oklahoma State, Nevada, Illinois, Gonzaga, and UC Riverside – and it’s because at the high-major level, Dunson is probably a backup-backup PG, or maybe a defensive replacement guard.

And then there’s this quote:

“I just wanted to play for a West Coast school and for a coach that can develop guards,” Dunson said.

Ok, so that’s why OK State and Illinois never had a chance, but when exactly did ASU turn into a place for guard development? Seriously?

So basically, this JUCO transfer wanted so much to come to Point Guard U (ie. U of Arizona) that he committed to the first school with “Arizona” in the name that came knocking. I think ASU needs to check his grades to be sure he can actually pass his classes, since obviously GEOGRAPHY is a problem for him.

What this does show is that Sendek CAN’T recruit the elite-level PG’s to ASU. The Josh Selbys and the Ray McCallums of the world aren’t giving Tempe Normal even a sniff. And why should they when Point Guard U is down the road with Sean Miller helming the ship, especially after Arizona shellacked ASU last week IN TEMPE. And please, all you ASU fans out there that claim Derek Glasser is elite-level… have you SEEN your schedule this season?

Yes, Glasser became the all-time assist leader at ASU this season, and he’ll probably finish with around 580 assists – and I’m being generous here because I’m giving Tempe Normal two games in the Pac-10 tournament and two games in the NIT (ASU making the NCAA Tourney is laughable at this point after the beat downs by Cal and Arizona). But seriously, there’s FIVE Wildcats with more than 580 assists in their careers – Arizona’s all-time assist leader is Russell Brown with 810; that’s 230 more than Glasser will see in his college career. (The others: Mustafa Shakur 670, Damon Stoudamire 663, Jason Gardner 622, Luke Walton 582.)

Dunson’s impact to ASU’s team? Negligible. Threat level to Arizona? Non-existent, especially given that at max we’ll see him for only two seasons.

ASU Gives Up on Local Talent

So apparently Tempe Normal coach Herb Sendek didn’t hear what he wanted after a quick meeting this past weekend with Phoenix North HS player Daniel Bejarano. Bejarano had decommitted from Texas last week and immediately was visited by University of Arizona head coach Sean Miller.

Sendek, instead of trying to meet immediately and possibly getting to Bejarano first, decided to wait until after Miller’s meeting and met with Bejarano over the weekend with a scholarship offer.

Yesterday, Tempe Normal announced it was no longer pursuing Bejarano and rescinded its offer. Miller’s assistants met with Bejarano last night after the announcement.

Bejarano is a highly regarded recruit – ranked as high as #43 in some recruiting circles – and a local talent in Tempe Normal’s backyard.

The Tempe Normal fans immediately got on the internet spouting off on how Miller is picking up “sloppy seconds” and that Bejarano won’t even academically qualify anyway. They claim that Sendek is simply moving on to better prospects and that there’s still a 5-0 streak going on.

Funny that.

Miller doesn’t have a history of recruiting kids who don’t qualify, and I’m not sure Sendek had anything really to offer Bejarano since Sendek’s style of play is not a fast-paced up-and-down like Miller’s. Bejarano wants to run, and Miller’s style of play suits him.

Miller, in the span of a summer, has done what Sendek in two years hasn’t – recruit top talent locally and nationally.

Tempe Normal does have one thing right – they are still riding a 5-0 win streak over Arizona. However, their fan base doesn’t want to face facts. The fact is that they were pwned for the previous 25 years and have a win streak only because they faced interim coaches in the last two seasons. And even then, Arizona still went on to the Big Dance both years. Tempe Normal, one appearance (last year) and one first-round flameout (last year).

Lastly, how does Sendek “move on” to “better prospects” if the local talent is already ranked in the top 50? Do the Tempe Normal fans truly believe that Sendek is going to land someone ranked higher than Bejarano for 2010? Meaning, that some kid out there with a top 50 talent is going to actually choose Sendek’s slow-it-down style of play over a top school like Duke, North Carolina, or Kentucky? Some kid is going to choose Tempe Normal and its woeful NBA draft history (4 players in the last ten years) over Arizona and its rich tradition (15 players in the same timespan)?

If the goal of a kid is to get to the NBA, the path clearly does not go through Tempe Normal. Perhaps Bejarano realized this and that’s why he didn’t give a committment to Sendek right there and then this past weekend. And perhaps that’s why Sendek pulled the offer Monday morning.

Or maybe Tempe Normal realized it wasn’t going to win that recruiting battle against Arizona after all. Just another win for Miller even before the season starts.

2009 Recruiting is Complete

Arizona’s much-maligned recruiting class, prior to Sean Miller taking the reins, is now complete with the addition of Derrick Williams.

Lance Stephenson and Jarrid Famous, we hardly knew ya.

With the committment of Jones and Williams, Miller rounds out a now-top 10 class for 2009 that includes:

Kyryl Natyazhko (C/PF)
Solomon Hill (SF/SG)
Kevin Parrom (PF/SF)
Lamont Jones (SG/PG)
Derrick Williams (PF/SF)

Every position is deep now. There are two options for PG after returner and All-American candidate Nic Wise in Garland Judkins and Jones. SG goes three deep with Kyle Fogg, then Brandon Lavender and Hill or Jones. SF has multiple options, starting with Hill, and then going through Parrom, Williams, and DJ Shumpert. PF is rock steady with Jamelle Horne, followed by Natyazhko, Parrom, and Williams, and the C position is anchored by Natyazhko and Alex Jacobson, with Horne being able to run the C if Miller goes small.

Miller will run, and run a lot, and his players will all see significant minutes – almost 20+ a game for everyone except Wise, who you can count on being around 30+ a game. This team will create matchup problems for everyone in the Pac-10 except UCLA, and even then the Bruins must be a little worried that this young Wildcat team somehow, some way, is now loaded and deep with talent at every position.

Wise and Horne will be the leaders on this team, and you know that these Wildcats will be a huge threat to win the conference now – a 26th straight run to the NCAA Tourney is almost a given, since a top-3 finish in the conference literally guarantees a berth.

Down at Tempe Normal, Herb Sendek and the rest of Sun Devil Nation must be wondering “How on earth could this have possibly happened?” They had four straight wins over Arizona – granted, they were over non-Lute Olson-coached teams – and it looked like they were going to become the new king of the hill in the state. Instead, Arizona turned the tables and now has not only the upper hand coaching-wise, but the talent to go with it. It’s a proven fact that Sendek is simply not an elite coach. He’s a good coach, maybe borderline great, but he’s not elite. Miller, however, has already proven he’s elite. In fact, Miller is already mentioned in several pundits’ top 30 coaching lists in the country.

All that’s left is now to look forward to the start of the basketball season. Jarrid Famous can stay at South Florida – hope he’s happy to be a bottom feeder for the remaining two years of his college career, because South Florida isn’t going to do anything in the Big East anytime soon. Lance Stephenson? Well, if he doesn’t sign with Memphis (and Josh Pastner could really use the help), then he will most likely end up in Europe. Good luck with that.

Either way, the 2009 Wildcats are complete!

Another Grab Bag

Random musings from a multitude of topics:

Lamont “Momo” Jones officially committed to the Arizona basketball team on Wednesday. This brings a recruiting class of Jones (SG/PG), Solomon Hill (SF), Kevin Parrom (SF/PF) and Kyryl Natyazhko (C) to the table before Sean Miller ever steps onto Lute and Bobbi Olson Court for an official practice. This also means that Arizona now has done the impossible and reloaded instead of rebuilding, as many thought would happen. The Pac-10 race is now three teams – UCLA, California, and Arizona.

Shaq traded to Cavs – straight salary dump, which is what I said should happen in this same blog last week, but only if it was for salary reasons. Now, with the 14th pick in the draft, and an extra $500k from the Cavs, the Suns should be looking for a couple of missing pieces to the puzzle. One, a veteran center who can play defense and rebound. Two, a backup SF. Ironically, the Suns might get the first in a trade for center Marcus Camby by sending Ben Wallace (whom they acquired in the Shaq trade) to the Clippers. Wallace makes $14.5m this year, and Camby makes only $10m, so a trade would also have to include a third player from the Clips, probably small forward Al Thornton ($1.78m). This gives the Suns the SF cushion they need in case Grant Hill does not return, and also gives them a center in Camby who will hustle, rebound, defend the pick-and-roll and finish at the rim.

I went to the Diamondbacks game last night and watched in horror as Eric Brynes absolutely killed Every Single Rally the D-backs had with two excuse-me swings back to the pitcher and two more groundouts to 2B. The Rangers aren’t a really talented or offensively-gifted team, but when you’ve got a rally-killer in Byrnes at the plate with 2 outs and men on board, all you need to do is score 2 runs against the D-backs and you can pencil yourself in a win. AJ Hinch should have started Ryan Roberts in left. Roberts hits .233 against right handers, unlike Byrnes (.215). Byrnes hits .185 with runners in scoring position and 2 outs, .218 with runners on and less than 2 outs. Roberts, even though he hits .167 with RISP and 2 outs – which is a function of not having that many bats in that situation (a grand total of 6) – has very good numbers with runners on base, hitting .314! And any manager will tell you that even if your AB gets you a hit, if you move the runner into scoring position, you’ve extended the inning just a bit more and put more pressure on that opposing pitcher.

The Mountain West conference had proposed an eight-team playoff to the BCS-people. It was rejected, of course, but really what that amounts to was a playoff that would be another dangling carrot to those non-BCS conferences – finishing in the top 8 would get a seed in the playoff, but would that REALLY happen every year in the next four years? Drawing on the past years, it’s possible, but really unlikely. One year, maybe two at best, but not all four. And what happens in the year it doesn’t happen – does the MWC complain again and threaten more antitrust stuff? Realistically, all the conferences signed on for this, and that’s the rules all teams play by. You want in, win on the field. Utah did last year, and it landed them a nice BCS bowl.

US defeats Spain 2-0 in soccer. I saw this headline in between innings at the D-backs game and did a complete double-take. Holy shmoly! One more victory away from the Confederations Cup? Now I have to find out when this final is playing on TV. You see, the US has NEVER done well in world play – well, the men haven’t at least. So, this is a big thing for the US Men’s team. It would be nice to walk away with a victory in the final and make it a stepping stone toward the next World Cup.

NBA Draft in less than 30 minutes – who will the Suns take at #14? My guess is probably be James Johnson from Wake Forest, though several sites have the Suns selecting Earl Clark from Louisville.

Finally, I’m almost done with the preseason AZ HS rankings. There will be some surprises, I’m sure.

A Haberdashery of Notes

Yes, I know what a haberdashery is. I just wanted an excuse for a new usage of it.

The Phoenix Coyotes are staying put – at least for the upcoming 2009-10 season. After that, however, who knows. The biggest rumor circulating is that potential purchaser Jerry Reisendorf would buy the NHL franchise and then apply to move it to Las Vegas for the 2011-12 season. Sigh – again, the Coyotes’ PR department has stated the team has lost money every year since moving to the Valley in 1996. You know what? Put a winning team on the ice and you’ll get fans in droves. And if you wouldn’t isolate the team in BFW Glendale, you would’ve had more fans to begin with.

The Suns are exploring options for trading Shaquille O’Neal to Cleveland for basically nobody (really, Rasheed Wallace’s contract, which would be bought out, and Sasha Pavlovic’s contract, which would also be bought out). Here’s my concern – the Suns in the three games under Alvin Gentry with Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash, and O’Neal managed to completely blow out opponents, scoring close to 140 ppg. Everyone knew that the Suns were an injury away from playoff contention, and O’Neal would have been unstoppable in the playoffs against the Lakers. Why would the Suns trade O’Neal at this point when they would have a full season under Gentry, who has shown he is able to combine not only the historic run-n-gun that Nash and Stoudemire prefer, but also the slow-em-down, post-up that O’Neal prefers. If purely from a financial standpoint, I think an O’Neal trade is prudent.

For the UA Wildcats, there are still reports out there that Lamont “Momo” Jones is still considering Arizona after being released from his LOI at USC. Other reports also have Florida and Memphis in the mix for Jones’ services. While Jones is a gifted athlete, I question why his presence is necessary on the Wildcats’ squad, now that Nic Wise has confirmed his return for his senior season and the fact that there are possibly three 4-star quality PG’s available in the class of 2010 (Naadir Tharpe, Ray McCallum, and Gary Franklin), making Jones quite expendable. Jones’ best bet, ironically, would be to suit up for Josh Pastner at Memphis, where he would get some immediate playing time, if that’s what he’s after – but if he’s really after competition and wants to learn under Wise and Miller, then Arizona is the place to be.

Also, the University of Maryland announced that they are no longer pursuing Lance Stephenson for their men’s basketball team. Some pundits believe (including yours truly) that this is because Greivis Vazquez pulled out of the NBA Draft to return to Maryland. Thus, Stephenson’s choices have been narrowed now to Arizona, Memphis and Florida. However, until the court case surrounding Stephenson is resolved at the end of June, Arizona will not be officially or directly recruiting him. (And if it turns out Stephenson plea bargins a guilty response or if he’s found guilty, Arizona will be making an official “he’s no longer being pursued” announcement almost immediately afterward – I would expect that the Media Relations department at the UA already has this announcement written…)

Finally, and unfortunately, the proposed Pac-10 schedule change (8 conference games instead of 9) failed so, the Pac-10 will be tightening their collective belts and hoping that a fifth BCS bowl game (not counting the National Championship) is in the future after this next four-year TV block. I have to say that the ADs who voted against this proposal got it completely wrong. Of course, the ones that voted against it were the ones that had no hope for BCS games to begin with (Washington State, Oregon State, etc), being more concerned with getting guaranteed crowds at their games due to Pac-10 play. Maybe if these teams would schedule teams that are “close” to their locations, they wouldn’t have these issues (read: Boise State, Idaho, Fresno State, San Jose State, etc) because those teams would surely draw fans with them. Or in the case of certain “nationally recognized teams”, they would have fans already there (read: BYU).