Bulldog Maroon & White

a Mississippi State sports blog

Archive for May, 2008

Big Surprise: NBA Hopeful Receives Bad Advice

Posted by Kyle Weidie on May 28, 2008

I wasn’t exactly sure how to convey the sarcasm intended by the first two words in this post’s title. I could’ve gone with the oft-used quotes, but I’m inexperienced in using them within titles, usually opting to place abundantly within the body of text. The resolution? This cumbersome paragraph.

Back to the matter at hand……How many years will this story rehash itself? Perpetually I suppose. No matter how many barriers to entry David Stern instills to safeguard basketball talents from being horse-blinded by dollar signs, similar mistakes are doomed to historically repeat themselves on an annual basis.

The 2008 NBA draft is no exception as there is not one, but two “eyebrow-raisers” (in this case, the quotes serve their natural intention), and one of them is Mississippi State’s Jamont Gordon.

Draft Express, in their Day 1 NBA Pre-Draft coverage, has denoted Jamont Gordon, along with Kyle Weaver (a G/F out of Washington State) as their “eyebrow-raisers” for pulling out of the NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando. I can’t speak for Kyle Weaver, but if you know Gordon’s game like I do, his move is a lot more brow furrowing and head shaking than eyebrow raising and head scratching. The big difference between the two seems to be that Weaver, being a senior, cannot return to school, while Gordon has one year of eligibility left at Mississippi State. However, signs point to Bulldog head coach Rick Stansbury already moving past the Jamont Gordon era.

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s Bulldog Maroon & White post about Jamont Gordon pulling out of the NBA pre-draft camp, where I speculated that the reasoning behind the decision was either an injury, or that Gordon received a “promise” from a team (in the second round I assumed).

Not so fast……Gordon spoke to the Clarion-Ledger’s Kyle Veazey late Tuesday and the word on Jamont’s street is that his stock has been rising, so much that he might be considered a late first-rounder. Wow, such acceleration without even formally working out in front of NBA scouts. As it’s been reported, Gordon has been training in Houston, Texas with John Lucas II. Now, the name Jerry Meyer has surfaced as being tied to Jamont’s NBA interests.

From Kyle Veazey’s blog entry:

Jerry Meyer, who described himself as Gordon’s trainer and is also a Rivals.com scout, said there was little to gain in the trip.

“He’s been down in Houston working out with coach John Lucas, been doing extremely well, playing well against some guys projected ahead of him,” Meyer said. “The feeling was, really, going to Orlando could only hurt him and we feel confident he’s a first-round pick.”

Meyer said about 10 teams have contacted Gordon about setting up workouts.

Gordon said Tuesday he didn’t know what the chances of a return to MSU might be, but Meyer offered a more stark prediction.

“He’s almost 100 percent set on staying in the draft,” Meyer said.

Talk about an eyebrow raiser which begs a lot of questions.

1. Who exactly is this Jerry Meyer cat?
Well, we know that Jerry is the son of Don Meyer, the current head basketball coach at Northern State University in South Dakota. Don Meyer is also the former coach of Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. Not only did Jerry play basketball at David Lipscomb High School, but he also attended the University to play for his father in 89-90. Jerry Meyer broke Lipscomb and NCAA assist records, but ended his college basketball career playing his senior season at the University of Minnesota, Duluth (D2). During his time at Lipscomb, Jerry was once named an NAIA All-American (Lipscomb U has since become an NCAA DI school).

Don and Jerry Meyer also penned a book together in 1999, Basketball Skills and Drills, which was edited by former Chicago Bulls GM, Jerry Krause. Jerry Meyer is, as mentioned by Veazy, a national recruiting analyst/scout for Rivals.com (which was acquired by Yahoo in June ’07). Meyer’s input and expert opinion is constantly sought out by national and local media outlets.

2. Ok, so Meyer sounds more than credible, but who exactly has Jamont Gordon been boosting his rankings against in Houston?
Wouldn’t you like to know? Well, the world wide web gives us some hints.
This article from CSTV tells us that Gary Forbes of UMass and DJ Augustin of Texas have been working out with Lucas II, along with NBAers Sean Williams, T.J. Ford, Cuttino Mobley, and Jeremy Richardson.

3. That sounds fine, but wait…..Jerry Meyer’s job is to be an unbiased scout of pro-prospects, but he proclaimed himself as Jamont Gordon’s trainer…..isn’t that a conflict of interests?
Hmmm….that’s an interesting question. It seems like a gray area…..but what’s not a gray area in the money game of amateur pro basketball?

On one hand, Jerry Meyer has seen Jamont Gordon up close and personal for however long they’ve been working together….while most pro scouts probably only have Gordon’s performances at Mississippi State as their basis for assessment.

On the other hand, those in the know, such as the aforementioned Draft Express and Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline, including an NBA assistant with whom Gary recently spoke about Jamont Gordon, seem to be under the impression that Gordon has been the recipient of bad advice.

You make the call. My considerations are that Jerry Meyer is probably not training Jamont Gordon pro bono. Maybe he’s not getting paid, as footballer Randy Moss would say, ‘straight cash homey,’ but I bet Meyer is getting something out of it…..if not exposure to prospects for his Rivals.com reports.

I will also consider the implication, by Meyer himself, that he is actually training Jamont Gordon. It would seemingly behove Jerry Meyer that a certain buzz about Gordon sneaking into the first round would be generated. Perhaps one way or the other, Meyer’s reputation as a trainer, or a scout, may be affected. And that’s where my perception of conflicting interests comes into play……you can’t necessarily be the former while being unbiased as the latter.

Either way, the fact that Gordon may be receiving bad advice is not necessarily a knock on his skills. Rather, it’s a numbers game. There are too many other prospects vying to get into the first round, not to mention those who are already virtual locks to be selected among the first 30 picks. Which all makes Gordon’s move to pull out of the NBA pre-draft camp even more curious. If Gordon and his handlers are truly confident in his skills and rising stock, then they would want to prove it to the world by matching up against more than what’s in Houston…..as opposed to creating negative speculation among NBA draft insiders. Stay tuned.

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Jamont Gordon Pulls Out NBA Pre-Draft Camp

Posted by Kyle Weidie on May 27, 2008

In a surprise move, dubbed as a “what in the world are you thinking” act by Draft Express, Mississippi State junior Jamont Gordon has pulled out of the NBA Pre-Draft Camp which is scheduled to jump off today, May 27th, at the Walt Disney Sports Complex outside of Orlando, Florida.

Generally, top NBA draft prospects do not participate in the pre-draft camp, rather they attend as ‘physical only’ invitees. Most feel that these top 15-20 prospects need not stack themselves up against the competition in a pick-up game style atmosphere, as many elect to participate in individual team workouts, which are now only allowed to take place after the conclusion of the Orlando camp. Many agents also feel that their bread-winning players have a greater chance of getting injured or exposed if they play against a field which is desperate to improve their draft standing. The 64 invitees scheduled to actually play must compete for 40-45 open NBA draft slots.

Jamont Gordon’s move comes as a surprise because many still expect him to remain in the draft, while most mock drafts list him as being selected in the second round, if all all. The general consensus has been that while Gordon may not be NBA-ready, his game doesn’t necessarily stand to benefit from returning to college for one more year.

Jamont Gordon has yet to “officially” hire an agent. The Clarion-Ledger reported on May 22 that Gordon had been working out with John Lucas II twice daily in Houston, and would leave for Orlando on May 27th. Lucas II, who is a former NBA player and coach, has become well known for helping players with addiction problems, something he himself dealt with as a member of the Houston Rockets in the late 1980s. Lucas II has also been a basketball mentor, assisting many players with training for the NBA. John Lucas II has close ties with former Mississippi State basketball player, Lawrence Roberts, who played with his son, John Lucas III, at Baylor before both players transferred from the tumultuous Bears program; Lucas III ended up at Oklahoma State.

Another hurdle to a possible return to Mississippi State for Jamont Gordon is his grades. Since the conclusion of the season, Jamont missed several classes at the beginning of April, and I’m sure countless more while he has been preparing for a chance to earn a salary from playing basketball.

One could speculate all day as to why Gordon has pulled out of the NBA pre-draft camp. An injury is certainly a valid possibility. Through the years, many NBA teams have purportedly made promises to select certain players if they are still on the board when said team is on the clock. In many cases, promises are the fodder of agents trying to increase buzz around their players.

However, rumors of promises have dwindled in recent years as teams have discovered by trail-and-error (Shelden Williams supposedly had one from the Atlanta Hawks in the 2006 NBA Draft) that promises to unproven players are foolish, especially considering the unpredictable nature of the selection process. Aside from the dying practice of first round guarantees, second round promises are more of a rarity.

Gordon, who has been speculated many times over from being drafted in the mid-to-late second round to not at all, couldn’t have circumvented the pre-draft camp because of a second round promise…..could he? First of all, second round contracts are not guaranteed. Second, even if Gordon has received a 2nd round promise, it would be a horrible mistake for him to forgo the chance to either miraculously play himself into the first round, or at least get more exposure in front general managers and scouts, from domestic and abroad.

Like I said, one could wonder about Gordon’s curious move from morning to night. Only time will tell how his pursuit of the NBA will play out.

Continued Reading

From Bulldog Maroon & White:

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Mississippi State Assistant Robert Kirby Vies For Grambling Gig

Posted by Kyle Weidie on May 12, 2008

It was reported late last week by the News Star out of Monroe, Louisiana that Mississippi State Bulldog assistant, Robert Kirby, was in the running to be the head basketball coach at Grambling University. Kirby was mentioned along with Cameron Dollar, an assistant at the University of Washington, and Roman Banks, an assistant at Southeastern Louisiana, as the top candidates. Current North Texas assistant, Tic Price, has removed his name from consideration. The Clarion-Ledger has confirmed that Kirby has had an official interview.

The job at the Grambling, Louisiana school became available when Larry Wright was fired after nine years of service. Wright was born in Monroe, LA, but attended high school in Washington, D.C. at Western High, known today as the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Wright starred at Grambling as a player for three years in the early 70s, earning SWAC accolades such as freshman of the year, all-conference (twice), and finally, conference player of the year in his junior season before declaring for the 1976 NBA draft.

Larry Wright was selected 14th overall (Grambling’s only NBA 1st round selection in history) by my hometown Washington Bullets, and was apart of their 1978 NBA Championship team where he provided key minutes at the point off the bench. Wright went on to play for the Detroit Pistons and then in Italy, where he earned European player of the year honors and went up against the likes of current New York Knicks coach, Mike D’Antoni.

After being a Grambling assistant, an NBA scout and a high-school head coach, Larry Wright was appointed head coach of the Tigers in 1999. Unfortunately for Wright, he never brought his playing day success to Grambling as he had only two winning seasons and amassed an 88-161 record. This past season, the Grambling State Tigers finished 7-19, 7-11 in the SWAC.

Once could say that Mississippi State’s Robert Kirby is long overdue for a head coaching job. He has been an assistant for the Bulldogs since 1998. Prior to ’98, the Memphis native was an assistant among the college ranks for 16 years honing his coaching skills at schools like the University of Houston, Southeastern Louisiana, and Arkansas-Little Rock. Kirby also had a stint as a Mississippi State assistant from 1989-1993.

After 26 total years in the assistant coaching game, Robert Kirby’s coaching experience dwarfs that of the other candidates. Roman Banks has been the top assistant for Southeastern Louisiana for the past five season (associate head coach for the past three). Banks was previously an assistant at Southern for six years as well two years as head coach at Southern University-Shreveport, a junior college.

Cameron Dollar, after being a player on UCLA’s 1995 National Championship team (which defeated Miss. State 86-67 in the Sweet 16), entered his career in coaching as an assistant at UC Irvine in 1997. At age 22, Dollar became a head coach at an NAIA school, Southern California College. He served as a part-time assistant for the Georgia Bulldogs in 1999 before becoming a full-time assistant at St. Louis University under Lorenzo Romar. In 2002, Dollar became an assistant under Romar at Washington and has been there since.

Robert Kirby has been Rick Stansbury’s top recruiting assistant during Stansbury’s 10-year head coaching tenure at Mississippi State. Kirby has been more than instrumental in procuring the talent for a very successful program. Should he depart, he will be sorely missed. But as a Bulldog fan and someone who knows Robert Kirby personally, I can only wish him the best of luck as he is more than deserving of the opportunity to man his own ship. I recall Kirby being up for the head coaching position at Jackson State University in 2003. That time, Jackson State went with experience in Tevester Anderson, who previously served as head coach at Murray State for five years. This time, Grambling should do the same, go with experience.

[UPDATE: Coach Kirby has spoken with Gregg Ellis of the NE Mississippi Daily Journal about the Grambling position. Nothing ground-breaking…..just that it’s an opportunity, Grambling has some new facilities making it a more attractive program, and that there is no set time-table on a hire.]

[UPDATE 2:  On May 15th, Robert Kirby took his name out of the running for the Grambling job. FoxSports.com reported that Grambling hired former South Carolina assistant, Rick Duckett.]

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