in town for free camps
Both the College Athletes Players Association and growing support for the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit are in the news today. As someone who has long advocated allowing players to take money from whoever wants to pay them as long as it doesn't affect the integrity of the results of games, I am happy to see this.
To me, this raises a question: "What if players were allowed to take money?"
In Ann Arbor, this question is most relevant to basketball fans due to impending player decisions, the current structure of the NBA draft and NCAA rules. Players who are guaranteed first round picks are giving up a lot of money to come back to school. But what if they didn't have to give up that money?
Imagine Nik Stauskas being allowed to accept booster money and endorsements. Does anyone here think he couldn't make more endorsement money next season as an elite colelge athlete than as an NBA rookie?
Stauskas could sign an individual apparel contract with Adidas. He could appear in regional commercials for national businesses such as Dick's Sporting Goods, which would present an opportunity for wordplay such as, "Nik's Sporting Goods." Toss in a restaurant or two, an automobile dealership and a few appearances at corporate outings during the summer, and Nik could do just fine in Ann Arbor next season.
This step alone could convince a lot of college players to stay around for four years, realizing that their level of fame will probably never be as high as when they are elite players in an elite program.
Iti will be too late for us to see what would have happened if Nik had stayed, but I think it will happen within the next five years. AFAIC, it can't happen soon enough.
Nik gave an interview today on Toronto-based 590 AM's "Tim and Sid Show", talking about his upcoming decision. The relevant part of the interview to Michigan fans is:
"I've been told by many people college is the best time of your life," he said. "With the team that we could possibly have coming back, just imagine the amount of fun I could have with those guys staying in school. That weighs heavy on you. At the same time, you look at the other side of things, playing in the NBA, a dream that I've always had and you look at the lifestyle you're going to live, you look at the money you're going to make, you look at the opportunities you'll be able to provide for yourself and your family, those are all things that weigh heavy on my mind. That's why it's become such a hard decision because there's so many pros and cons to each decision."
I think we're all still in agreement even after this quote that he's at least 90% likely to leave, and maybe he should be. But I think it's kind of interesting to look at all of the different reasons why he should or should not go. I think it's more complex than people make it out to be. These are all relevant to Michigan fans over the next week or so, as many of these same scenarios are true for both Glenn and Mitch as they also make their decisions.
Why he/they should go pro:
- First and foremost, the possibility of injury. This could range anywhere from a short term injury that maybe throws his game off for a little while, to a season ending injury that would drop his draft stock quite a bit, or even an (extremely unlikely) career ending injury. This is a very real risk, as we saw firsthand with Mitch this season.
- Extra year of salary from the NBA. No matter how good you are in the NBA, there's a very limited amount of years that you're going to be able to make money off of playing basketball. You could argue that it's extremely important for kids to leave as soon as they have a good draft spot locked up to make sure that they aren't missing out on a year of salary.
- Possibility of lowering your draft stock by staying an extra year. We saw this happen with Glenn this past season. If you don't perform as well as you are expected to for most of the season, you start to slip a little in the prospect rankings. This also gives NBA scouts an extra year of tape to pick apart. I think that this reason is sort of neutralized in this particular situation however, with the thought that the 2014 draft is very deep and the 2015 draft probably not as deep.
- Possibility of experiencing immediate team success in the NBA. This is a small reason, but I guess Glenn and Mitch could be looking at their predicted draft positions (possibly end of the first round) and realizing that these are some of the best teams in the NBA and teams most likely to win championships early. However, they probably wouldn't be making much of an impact on these teams, and I seriously doubt this is a big factor at all in the decisions.
Why he/they should stay:
- The possibility of an absolutely awesome year next season, all the way around. From the probable team success, the possibilities of winning championship(s), and just having another year enjoying the college atmosphere, there's no doubt that it would be an unbelievable experience for all three of them if everything went right. Once in a lifetime type chance. I think we can all quickly imagine how crazy next year could potentially be for everyone.
- Improve your game/skills. Some people might say that you might not be able to improve your draft stock much more than it already is (especially Nik). This might be true, but all three of them definitely have PLENTY of room to improve upon in various aspects of their games, even if it doesn't necessarily translate to their draft stocks. There's always room to improve for college players... heck, there's always room to improve for even most of the best NBA players to improve. This would presumably help them be more able to hit the ground running when they eventually do get drafted and start playing.
- The possibility of improving your draft stock. This is obviously apparent for Glenn and Mitch, and would probably be a big part of the reason why they would come back if they choose to do so. But I think Nik could also easily improve his draft stock by staying, as well. It's looking like he's going to go somewhere around the 15 spot in this year's draft. If he came back, he would immediately become one of the frontrunners, if not THEE frontrunner, for National Player of the Year. I think it's unlikely that he'd ever go top 5, but I could definitely see him sliding somewhere around the 5-10 spots if he stayed, especially in a probably weaker draft than this year's. McDermott sure improved his stock this past year, based a lot upon the publicity of being probably the best offensive player in college basketball and being the Wooden Award winner.
- The possibility of actually making more money in the long run by staying. I think it's a common assumption that you will always make more money in the NBA the faster you go pro. This is definitely not always the case. Let's look at Glenn for example. Right now he's projected to go somewhere in the early 2nd round, with the possibility of making his way into the late first round with solid workouts. Let's put him at the #30 spot in this year's draft. According to the rookie pay scale (which can be found here (http://www.cbafaq.com/scale2011.htm), by the end of Glenn's 3rd year in the league, he would have made $2,857,200. Now let's imagine Glenn staying next season, and improving his draft stock. In a weaker draft, I can easily see Glenn playing his way into the 15-20 range. Let's put him at #17 in the 2015 draft. After Glenn's first TWO seasons in the league (which remember, is the same time period as if he would have came out this year and played three years in the league), his total made salary would be $2,953,400. This is even more money than he would have made with the extra year in the league. You can also make the case that if Glenn came back to school for an extra year, he would be in a better position to succeed in the NBA, potentially giving him much better contracts after his first deal is up. Let's do the same exercise with Nik. Let's put him in the #15 spot in this season's draft, and the #7 spot in next year's draft. His total salary after his first three years in the league in the first scenario would be $4,847,000. His total salary after his first TWO years in the league in the second scenario would be $5,286,700. Again, you see more money in the second scenario, and also the better chance for future success in the NBA.
As you can see, it's quite the complicated decision. I think injuries really are the biggest factor here. If you could absolutely guarantee these guys that they wouldn't get injured, then the decision probably shifts towards coming back to school. Unfortunately, you can't do that. It's going to be interesting to see what these guys decide in the coming weeks.
Penn State surprised some people finishing 11th place in the B1G Ten when many people thought they would be much worse. They are going to surprise some people again this year as they do not lose much. They lose Tim Frazier, Allen Roberts, Alan Wisniewski, and Zach Cooper who are all graduating. Losing these players means losing:
This really is not all that much to replace. This team is experienced but very thin. Here is their roster:
# Name HT WT YR POS
2 D.J. Newbill 6-4 205 RS. SR. SG
One of the biggest heroballers in basketball, he is the reason why Penn State does not assist on many of their baskets. He is their best player by far, averaged 17.8 points per game last season. Starting Shooting Guard.
43 Ross Travis 6-6 225 SR. SF
Starting Small Forward, played quite a bit last year, averaged 8.4 points per game last year. Will get even more attention this year.
14 Kevin Montminy 6-3 185 SR. SG
Will be the 5th guy off the bench this year, likely to be passed up by Banks and eventually Garner.
1 John Johnson 6-1 175 SR. PG
The starting point guard, averaged 6.7 points and .6 assists last year, not impressive for a point guard.
32 Jordan Dickerson 7-0 240 JR. C
The first forward off the bench, will provide good size for 20 minutes a game.
10 Brandon Taylor 6-7 235 JR. PF
The starting Power Forward, seoncd leading scorer returning.
5 Donovon Jack 6-9 210 JR. C
The starting Center, averaged 6.2 points last year.
44 Julian Moore 6-10 215 SO. C
Only played in 7 games last year, will be the 4th guy off the bench.
13 Geno Thorpe 6-3 180 SO. SG
The third guy off the bench, only averaged 3.2 points per game.
3 Graham Woodward 6-0 170 SO. PG
The first guard off the bench, only averaged 2.8 points per game last year.
0 Payton Banks 6-6 220 RS FR. SF
Redshirted last year, will be the 6th man off the bench, he will prbably earn more minutes as the season progresses.
33 Shep Garner 6-2 170 FR. SG
A three star, who will eventually earn some minutes.
9 Isaiah Washington 6-3 175 FR. SG
Point Guard: John Johnson
Shooting Guard: D.J. Newbill
Small Forward: Ross Travis
Power Forward: Brandon Taylor
Center: Donovon Jack
Michigan plays at Penn State next year for their only matchup. Not a huge deal.
Penn State will be decent next year, but in the B1G, decent is not good enough. I say they will finish 7-11 next year with a few key upsets. However, there is some variance here, If Newbill has a bad year, they could be as bad as 4-14. On the flip side, if Taylor and Travis have a really good year, we could see something similar to Nebraska.
Next up... Minnesota
Some kid from Eastern Kentucky won it...
Adeian Payne had a sick dunk and a funny celebration...
But the highlight of the dunk contest goes to Cleanthony Early of Wichita St.!
Izzo inherited a ridiculously loaded MSU team in 1995. Quinton Brooks is largely hailed as one of the best small forwards to lace 'em up for MSU. Power forward Jamie Feick went on to play for the 76'ers. Ray Weathers went on to play for the Suns. Jon Garavaglia was a McDonalds All American and Mr. Basketball. In his first year, he also brought in Morris Peterson of the Toronto Raptors and Antonio Smith. Izzo took that team all the way to the second round of the NIT.
Then on Feb.17, 1996 There was a rollover accident on M-14 involving U-M player Maurice Taylor’s Ford Explorer. Teammates Robert Traylor, Louis Bullock, Willie Mitchell, Ron Oliver and recruit Mateen Cleaves were all in the vehicle.
Izzo capitalized, adding Mateen Cleaves(Pistons) and David Thomas(founder of Wendy's) who helped MSU all the way back to the second round of the NIT. The parade of blue chips continued with Charlie Bell(Suns) and Andre Hutson(Beat up Chuck Norris when Matt Trannon was but a twinkle in his father's eye). This ushered in the Golden Age of MSU basketball('98,'99, 00) when MSU would bookend a National Championship with two additional Final 4's. Loaded as those teams were, this Golden Age led to the great Tom Izzo “More with Less” fallacy. Because MSU does not recruit on the level of Kentucky, Kansas and Duke(them and 342 other schools) Izzo somehow gained the “Beilein” reputation, the coach who advances in the tournament despite his (Perceived) lack of talent.
Izzo has led the Spartans for 19 long years. Impressively, he has had them in the NCAA Tournament for the last 17 of them(One or two of those came with a wink and a nod from the selection committee, but we'll come back to that). That's not quite the 34 year bowl streak Michigan enjoyed under Bo-Mo-Carr, but that kind of consistency is rare in college basketball. Under Izzo's reign, MSU has been to 6 Final Fours and won a National Championship. They've also been bounced in the first round 4 times and lost in the Sweet 16 4 times. Until recently, MSU just dominated Michigan in terms of head to head as well as the post-season. Beilein has obviously turned that around in the last 4 years, winning 6 of the last 9. But that is a local issue. You don't come up with an OP title like that simply because there's a new sheriff in town. No, what leads me to believe that the end is near for Izzo is something much more sinister. Recruiting.
Despite what the media would have you believe, Izzo has simply never HAD to do more with less. He has always been a good recruiter, and he has always had more. I went back and looked at some recruiting numbers and outcomes. There are a number of caveats here. Trey Burke and Caris Lavert were 3* recruits. But to some extent you can look at it as a numbers game(like fantasy football). There's something like a 60% chance that Fantasypros(or Rivals) is going to have each player ranked correctly, a 20% chance they'll be significantly better, and a 20% chance they're going to be worse(Unless you're John Beilein). But if you look at MSU's elite recruit Rivals numbers as far as they go back adding a star for each year of experience(assuming that a sophomore 4* is equal to a freshman 5* and that a 3* player encompasses too great a range to even consider) you find:
2002: 5* Elite 8
2003: 4* 5* First Round
2004: 4* 5* Final 4
2005: bupkis(Roster score of 32) First Round
2006: 4* 4*(RS 28) Second Round
2007: 4* 4* 4*(RS 37) Sweet 16
2008: 4* 5* (RS 36) Runner Up
2009: 4* 4*(RS 51!) Final 4
2010: 4* 5 *(RS 53) First Round
2011: 5*(RS 43) Sweet 16
2012: 5*(Harris) 4* 4*(RS 46) Sweet 16
2013: bupkis(RS 38) Elite 8
2014: 4*(RS 24)
That's a score of 24 for next year. The next lowest would be the 28 from 2006, the year where MSU scraped into the tournament(wink, nod) .500 in conference and got bounced the first weekend. That team was a 4* player better than next year's roster. The next lowest was the 2005 team(two 4* players better) that also went .500 in conference and lost in the first round. For reference, 2009's Final 4 team was rated 51. For those keeping score at home, in the measurable past that's a Roster Average of 40 points(the equivalent of 8 5* freshmen). More with more.
Assuming that Dawson stays and Harris leaves, on paper this coming year's State team will be the worst (from a rivals ratings and experience standpoint) since the modern era of recruiting sites(turn of the century). With Izzo reaching for 3* recruits these days, and the NCAA taking steps to weed out thug ball, I don't see much help on the horizon for them either. You're looking at Dawson as a 5* senior, Valentine and Costello as 4* juniors, and that 4* freshman point guard who can't shoot coming in. That's it.
So what happened to Izzo's recruiting? Several things.
Somewhere in the early 2000's, the NBA stopped playing defense. You see that 5* all the way up there next to 2003? That's Shannon Brown. That's the last one of the guys represented here that went on to the NBA. You're looking at a decade of player development failure. Obviously, the NBA is the dream for a lot of recruits, and Izzo just plain isn't getting it done. Draymond Green(3* recruit not included) should also be mentioned. Not only is he getting 20 minutes per game in the NBA despite playing for MSU, but he is doing it as an undersized defensive specialist. In a league where the regular season has become the all star game.
The Breslin Center was state of the art in 1989, but it has barely been touched since then. I'm no interior decorator, but moldy concrete is generally not the way to go.
Style: Michigan State's defensive mandate is clear: If your man gains an advantage on you, push him, grab him, do what you've got to do. It works great if you can get away with it, but this year MSU is collecting personal fouls like Pokemon cards
I can understand Izzo's feelings of entitlement, as he has benefitted from lazy Big Ten officiating for his entire career, but if you make contact with your hand, arm or elbow away from your body, it is a foul. It has always been a foul. He made jokes after the UConn game about his players not being allowed to "touch anybody" and I can totally see where he's coming from. Who would have ever thought they'd make him play by the rules?
(Related)Results: Call it Karma. Call it correlation without causation. But MSU has badly underperformed their talent level against Michigan(JMo foul trouble aside) or more importantly in the post-season since the Wonders Hall incident. It sounds great, they made it to the Sweet 16 three times. But before the Virginia upset their post season scalps were pretty weak. St. Louis, Long Island, Valpo, Memphis, Delaware, Harvard. Sixth Seed Memphis is the only one that even moves the needle. 2010 stands out as Izzo's most glaring failure, as their most talented team(RS 53) lost out in the first round. With a 4-6 year window to grab the attention of high school kids, Izzo's time is running out.
(Related) Disillusionment. Izzo seems generally unhappy, and his interaction with the press has lost an air of...sanity.
If you're keeping score at home, he comes into the press conference near tears. He rips his own recruiting, whining that he has to play guys he hasn't played in a month. Then he cries about the officiating. Then he cries at the officiating again. Then he complains about poor Keith Appling's wrist.
I don't know if many recruits want to play for a sniveling whining excuse machine.
Then you've got the UConn press conference. His team was just upset by a team that by most accounts has no business in the Final 4, and Izzo seems...Relieved
I dont know of many coaches who would seem that happy that their season was over, that they wouldn't have to coach that particular group of players again. With this group though, he probably wasn't alone.
This is the most concerning if I am a Michigan State fan. The man calls attention to the Federal Rape Investigation that has been kept out of the media...For no other reason than that he is addicted to making excuses. Then he calls it “ridiculous” and says that he's “sick of it”. Now, whatever you think of the Wonder's Hall incident...Put yourself in the shoes of the victim. Then look at what the mouthpiece of your school is saying about the event that changed your life. Even if that's what you're thinking...What kind of human being is so self-absorbed and stupid that they can spout off PUBLICLY about such a terrible allegation as a personal annoyance? And then when they asked him to elaborate, he told members of the press, “Don't mess with me right now”. You brought it up sir. The MSU student newspaper just broke the story that Federal Authorities are investigating the victim's claim that the University "engaged in activities to malign her character" in retaliation for her reporting the assault. I am sure the victim is quite sorry for inconveniencing a man of Izzo's stature. http://statenews.com/article/2014/04/student-claimed-msu-retaliated-against-her-for-reported-assault
Most players dont like being trashed in the media and getting the full Bobby Knight treatment in front of their friends and family. Even the biased MSU media admits that he goes too far http://www.freep.com/article/20140113/BLOG05/301130041/hey-joe-michigan-state-spartans-tom-izzo But Izzo seems unable to coach any other way, and his talent level is shifting accordingly.
They say that you want to leave a program “Better than you found it”, and the guy won a Championship and went to a bunch of Final 4's, but if he bailed for the NBA or even retired with the roster in its current state...What would that do to his legacy? Everyone has an instinct for self-preservation,but the words “cowardly” and “selfish” might come up. Not in the media of course, they write what he tells them to write. I mean in living rooms and around water coolers.
With all of this said, Izzo could pull through this in two or three years. For MSU, that simple metric does seem to predict season outcome pretty well, but if you look at it, Beilein won a Big Ten Championship with a roster score of 5. Beilein made it to the NCAA Championship game with a roster score of 13. But Tom Izzo is no John Beilein. Can you imagine what Beilein would do with the 40's Izzo has averaged over his career? I very much look forward to finding out.
Tonight, Michigan basketball strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson posted a great video of Caris performing a jumping drill during his freshman year. He first turned the wrong way, and then slipped on the jump. The link is here:
Also, if you click on the "campsanderson" in the upper right corner, assuming you are on a computer (lower left corner on a phone), there are many other videos of our guys doing strength and conditioning type stuff, including the famous GR3 12'3" vertical jump.
It's become clear over the years that our staff does a great job at developing players, and Sanderson is an underrated part of that. The work he did this past summer with Nik and Caris was obviously fantastic and paid huge divedends. Next year look for Donnal to play a big role due to the time he's put in with Sanderson this year.