Bulldog Maroon & White

a Mississippi State sports blog

Archive for June, 2008

Why The Mavericks May Be Charles Rhodes’ Best Shot

Posted by Kyle Weidie on June 30, 2008

Rhodes will try his ten-gallon hat in Big D

It’s been reported in the Dallas Morning News that Charles Rhodes will join the Dallas Mavericks summer league team in Las Vegas. Bulldog Killer….Vanderbilt’s Shan Foster, taken 51st overall in the draft, will be among others vying for a spot.

Why a potential good fit for Rhodes.

Assuming that Eddie Jones does not opt-out of the final year of his contract, he must do so by Tuesday, the Mavs are left with only seven players signed for next season. Just two of those players are big men in former Bulldog, Erick Dampier, and Hasselhoff fan, Dirk Nowitzki. It looks like the Mavericks will attempt to use their full MLE (mid-level exception) on DeSagana Diop (whom Dallas traded to New Jersey to get Jason Kidd). Diop would serve as a two headed monster along with Big Damp at the five spot.

The Mavs will still need a post player with scoring ability as Diop and Dampier are often estranged from the hoop. Rhodes has the capability to provide buckets in a variety of ways, given he doesn’t force the issue and learns to distribute as a team player. Rhodes’ biggest competition among other post players in Vegas will be Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Pape Sow, and Marcus Slaughter.

New Dallas coach, Rick Carlisle, is known to be demanding of players. But his appreciation of offense and defense should allow Rhodes to show his diverse skills, as long as he works his butt off.

Ideal Big Man Camp?

The Clarion-Ledger had a feature on Jarvis Varnado in Sunday’s edition. Varnado recently participated in one of Nike’s invitation only Skills Academies. Steve Nash has a point guard camp, Kobe Bryant has a shooting guard camp, Vince Carter has a wing forward camp, and Amare Stoudamire has a big man camp.

These Nike camps serve as a pseudo grassroots campaign initiated to instill fundamentals back in USA basketball. Varnado was one of around a dozen or so players at his position invited to participate in Stoudamire’s exclusive camp. The college participants in turn acted as instructors to top high school prospects, also invited to improve skills for their respective position.

MSU coach Rick Stansbury should be ecstatic about Varnado’s participation. He had an excellent chance to go against elite college bigs such as UConn senior Jeff Adrien, Pitt sophomore DeJuan Blair, Notre Dame junior Luke Harangody, and Oklahoma sophomore Blake Griffin. Amare Stoudamire is a great talent. But between you and me, I’d rather hear that the camp be led by the likes of Bill Russell, David Robinson, Kevin Garnett, or Tim Duncan….much better examples to headline where the American big man game should be going.

Free Throw Conditioning

Every time clips of last second March Madness heroics are shown, should missed free-throws be responsible for setting the scene, they should be prerequisite viewing along with the buzzer beater. The importance of FT shooting needs to be further indoctrinated somehow.

Case in point: I was flipping around the tube on Saturday afternoon and came across the last two minutes of the 1998 tourney match-up between Ole Miss and Valparaiso…you know, the Bryce Drew game. With 4.1 seconds left and Ole Miss up 69-67, Ansu Sesay had a chance to ice the match at the charity stripe. Clang. Timeout. Clang. Rebound tipped out of bounds by Ole Miss with 2.5 seconds left and the distance of the court to go. The rest is history.

The latest and greatest example for the Mississippi State Bulldogs? Try the three-point buzzer beater West Virginia hit to win the March 2007 NIT semifinal game in Madison Square Garden. Live Angle. Game Highlights. And then the video showing Jamont Gordon missing the second of two FTs which would have put the Bulldogs up three, 63-60.

Posted in charles rhodes, jamont gordon, jarvis varnado, mississippi state bulldogs, nba draft, ole miss rebels, rick stansbury, sec basketball, vanderbilt commodores | 2 Comments »

Mississippi State Represented in NBA Draft, but not by Jamont Gordon or Charles Rhodes

Posted by Kyle Weidie on June 26, 2008

The initial headline I had for this post was Two Mississippi State Players Taken in 2nd Round. Unfortunately, it’s not me who comes out on the wrong end of that assumption. Neither Jamont Gordon nor Charles Rhodes were taken in the 2008 NBA Draft. Rhodes going undrafted was expected, but Gordon’s absence from the big board was a shocker.

Mississippi State Bulldog representation? Do you remember Walter Sharpe?

I certainly do. I got The Rock eyebrow when my favorite NBA team, the Washington Wizards, hosted Walter Sharpe for a workout. Both eyebrows raised when the Wizards worked Sharpe out a second time. If your memory of Walter Sharpe is still not refreshed, go read this post, The Brief History of Walter Sharpe, on Bullets Forever, a Washington Wizards blog.

The Washington Wizards held the 47th pick in the second round. Before the draft, I figured that if Sharpe were available there, they may take him, depending on what the Wizards did with the 18th pick (they chose big man project JaVale McGee out of Nevada). But how surprised was I when Walter Sharpe was taken by the Seattle Supersonics with the second overall pick in the 2nd round, #32? The Sonics, in turn, traded Sharpe to the Detroit Pistons.

Wow…..if NBA scouts think that highly of the kid, I can’t help but imagine the outcome if Sharpe had been able to fully develop as a Mississippi State Bulldog. My depression falls worse when Monta Ellis and Travis Outlaw come to mind. Then I start to wonder if Jonathan Bender would have avoided NBA injury trouble with college experience. I know, unreasonable dreams about woulda, coulda, shouldas.

So what happened to Jamont Gordon? Stay tuned for the fallout. 

Posted in charles rhodes, jamont gordon, mississippi state bulldogs, nba draft, sec basketball, walter sharpe | 2 Comments »

Bulldog Draft Day Hope – Charles Rhodes

Posted by Kyle Weidie on June 26, 2008

Jamont Gordon may be nervous while watching tonight’s NBA Draft from his home in Nashville, even though it’s a given that he will be selected. The problem for Gordon is that the first round position he craves comes with a guaranteed contract while the more likely status as a second rounder does not.

Charles Rhodes is in another boat. There’s a decent chance he gets taken in the 2nd round, there’s a better chance that he does not. Either way, he knows that in the near future he will need to fight hard for the job that he craves.

The Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards, Detroit Pistons, and New Orleans Hornets are among the teams Rhodes has had private workouts for. You can see a video of his workout with the Washington Wizards here.

Some say it’s better to go undrafted at all rather than in the second round. That way, a player (and his representative) can be selective in regard to the best opportunity as a free agent attempting to win a roster spot. However, since yesterday was Charles Rhodes’ birthday (along with yours truly), I’m pretty sure that hearing his name called on draft night would be a pretty nice belated present.

At this point, Charles Rhodes is considered a sleeper. He can knock down buckets, block shots, is fairly agile, and surprisingly quick. Check out his 3/4 court sprint time from Draft Express; his 3.13 is much closer to guard territory than big man land.

But that’s the problem. Rhodes doesn’t have all the measurement traits that most NBA scouts are looking for in a big. His hops are adequate at 33.5 in the max vert, which is less than caucassian big man Maarty Leunen, who Charles matched up against when the Bulldogs played Oregon in the NCAA Tournament, but Charles’ max vert was higher than Memphis’ Joey Dorsey.  While Rhodes measured at 6’8.25″ (in shoes), an inch taller than Dorsey, Joey has more strength (about 20 pounds worth), and more reach (a 7’1.75″ wingspan) in comparison to Rhodes (a 6’11.25″ wingspan).

My Prediction:

The phone of Charles Rhodes will be ringing off the hook tonight with calls from NBA teams, but not because he has been drafted. Rhodes has NBA talent, but this 2008 NBA Draft is very deep. General managers looking to optimize chances at upside potential will most likely frown upon the physical traits of Rhodes. Doesn’t mean they are right, and it doesn’t mean that there won’t be an abundance of invites for Charles to participate in summer league play or training camp tryouts.

Good luck to both Charles Rhodes and Jamont Gordon this evening. I have high hopes for both of these aspiring hoopers and expectations that they will exert the effort needed to represent the Mississippi State basketball program well.

Posted in charles rhodes, jamont gordon, mississippi state bulldogs, nba draft | Leave a Comment »

Bulldog Draft Day Hope – Jamont Gordon

Posted by Kyle Weidie on June 26, 2008

The day has finally come and soon it will be gone. Stomachs are churning and veins are probably not filled with ice water for most NBA hopefuls. Even the lottery guarantees are probably nervous about to which city they will soon be moving. But for Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes, there are no guarantees.

The last time Bulldog Maroon & White covered Jamont Gordon, he had private workouts for five NBA teams (Raptors, Bobcats, Clippers, Hornets, 76ers), in addition to the mass workout held at the facilities of the Golden State Warriors.

Since, Gordon has worked out for the Washington Wizards (picks 18 and 47), Indiana Pacers (picks 11, 41, and now 17), Milwaukee Bucks (picks 8 and 37), Boston Celtics (picks 30 and 60), Cleveland Cavaliers (pick 19), and Memphis Grizzlies (picks 5 and 28).

My Prediction:
The Bobcats and Clippers seem to be the front runners for Jamont Gordon’s services with their 2nd round picks (38 and 35 respectively)……but that all depends on who they draft with the 9th and 7th picks (respectively) as the current Draft Express Mock has combo guards Jerryd Bayless (Arizona) going 7th and Russell Westbrook (UCLA) going 9th.

Indiana just traded for a PG in T.J. Ford, but still might have interest in Gordon considering that they want to get rid of Jamaal Tinsley. Memphis also has a log jam at the point, but are possibly looking to trade Kyle Lowry.

Going 28th to Memphis is Gordon’s best shot at the first round. If not, the Clippers take him at 35, but Jamont doesn’t slip past the Bobcats at 38.

What others are saying about Jamont:

Other coverage:

Posted in charles rhodes, jamont gordon, mississippi state bulldogs, nba draft | 3 Comments »

It’s Official: For Jamont Gordon, It’s NBA or Bust

Posted by Kyle Weidie on June 16, 2008

The NBA deadline for those still eligible to serve basketball duty in college has come and gone. As expected, former Mississippi State Bulldog, Jamont Gordon, has chosen to remain in the draft. DraftExpress reports that Gordon might have hired agent Charles Grantham of Ceruzzi Sports and Entertainment Group.

I’ve questioned Gordon’s readiness for the NBA, especially in terms of playing the toughest position by far to learn, point guard. I’ve also been critical of his curious choice to not participate in the NBA Pre-Draft camp held at the end of May. But at this point, Jamont is making the best decision for himself, even if he doesn’t get selected in the first round.

As I’ve stated before, Gordon didn’t really have much to gain by returning to Mississippi State. He wasn’t going to magically learn the point guard skills he needs to make it on the ultimate level. Jamont might as well get the jump on his pro career, whether it be fighting for a spot during NBA summer leagues, team training camps, the NBDL, or abroad.

It’s hard to gauge whether Gordon would have really improved his standing among NBA scouts at the pre-draft camp. Perhaps he and his handlers actually did make the right decision as his mediocre point guard skills could have been exposed during game play. Instead, Jamont Gordon has opted to show his stuff during individual team workouts.

Most NBA teams only allow for limited media exposure to private workouts. We may not know Jamont’s actual standing until draft night. Franchises are certainly interested in what Jamont Gordon has to offer. Here are a couple of the workouts he has had to date:

Here’s what the WWW is saying about Gordon:

  • Ryan Anderson [a PF from Cal] and Jamont Gordon both have a good shot of getting a commitment from a team late in the first round. Anderson has been praised at workouts for his shooting ability despite questions about what position he’d play in the pros. Meanwhile, teams that think Gordon can make the transition to the point believe he has first-round potential. [Chad Ford, ESPN.com]
  • JaMont Gordon measured out at a chiseled 6-3 ½ and 230 pounds, and reportedly got to wherever he wanted on the floor, but shot the ball extremely poorly, played a bit selfishly and even displayed some bad body language. [Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress reporting on a mass workout of around 24 prospects at the Golden State Warriors practice facilities featuring representatives from 17 NBA teams.] (Sounds like the Jamont Gordon I know…..not sure of the meaning behind DraftExpress capitalizing the ‘m’ though.)
  • Rush The Court dubs Rick Stansbury a “loser” as a result of losing Jamont Gordon, and cites the case of Kennedy Winston leaving Alabama as a similar situation. However, Winston (who was from the outskirts of Mobile, Alabama and was actually ever so close to signing with Mississippi State) only suited up one year for Alabama…..at least Rick got three out of Jamont Gordon. Kennedy Winston went undrafted in 2005 and is now playing in Greece.

In other news:

  • Jamont Gordon’s brother, Eric Gordon, is a pretty damn good athlete himself, but a footballer and not a hoopster. Eric Gordon, a high school senior to be, is ranked the 11th best cornerback in the country by Rivals.com. Eric hopes to make even more noise for Hillsboro High School in Nashville, Tennessee in 2008. He is being recruited by the likes of Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Texas Tech, Colorado, Louisville, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, and of course, Mississippi State.
    [Read about Eric Gordon in the Nashville City Paper]
  • ProFantasySports.com ranks the Top 10 SEC basketball players heading into the 2008-2009 season. Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado comes in at #10, Scotty Hopson comes in at #9….ouch.

Posted in jamont gordon, mississippi state bulldogs, nba draft, sec basketball | 4 Comments »

Is Mississippi State Basketball a “No-Win” Situation?

Posted by Kyle Weidie on June 5, 2008

Mississippi State head basketball coach Rick Stansbury has certainly had his share of detractors. I’ve been critical of the guy at times myself. But I maintain that Stansbury is the right man for the job. In my opinion, no other coach could get the big time recruits into Starkville as Stansbury has proven capable of doing time and time again.

Recently, Coach Stansbury has come under fire as a result of the transfer of ‘great white hype’ Ben Hansbrough to Notre Dame. Message board aficionados cited a recent trend of non-NBA related premature departures from the MSU basketball program. A more in depth article on Bulldog basketball transfers will be forthcoming, but essentially, these occurrences are no biggie. Just look at what’s going on at heralded and beloved programs such as Georgetown.

Sports Illustrated recently polled college basketball coaches on their opinion of the most difficult jobs in each of the six BCS conferences. Evidently, the ACC was deemed to be exempt as every head coaching job is seemingly an ideal situation. Either that’s a complete crock, or a drastic statement on the inability of some ACC coaches to win at certain programs…..but that’s neither here nor there. I will respite from analyzing ACC basketball history.

As you can predict, Mississippi State came up as the most difficult place to win in the SEC. Here is the excerpt from No-Win Situations? by George Dohrmann of SI.com:

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Coaching in the SEC requires “a moral flexibility,” as one coach terms it. “Most of the schools are willing to bend the rules to help get the recruits you need to win.” Another coach says, “It’s not easy to get a recruit to go to Starkville,” but the Bulldogs’ Rick Stansbury has “proven it can be done.”

The following schools from the other four BCS conferences were mentioned: Oregon State (Pac-10), Penn State (Big 10/11), Nebraska (Big 12), and Seton Hall (Big East).

Now, I’m not necessarily offended…..wait, I am offended. Coaches are saying that Mississippi State is more difficult than Ole Miss? C’mon folks, the Rebels play at the decrepit “Tad Pad” and have 22 less wins that the Bulldogs in the past ten years…..that’s pretty much an entire season.

In comparison to the rest of the league, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are perpetually the bottom two in terms of athletic department budget. According to 2007 numbers, the Bulldogs are an SEC worst at $28 million while the Rebels come in at $33 million. The University of Florida has the highest budget at $76 million and is followed by seven schools, (Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU, and South Carolina), all whose budgets more than double that of Mississippi State. So yes, athletic budget would be the most glaring factor in determining the difficulty of success.

What does this all mean? It means that Rick Stansbury is doing a helluva job. During his ten seasons as head coach of the Mississippi State basketball program, Rick Stansbury has only amassed 208 wins (the most in school history), a .647 winning percentage, 5 NCAA Tournament appearances (3 NIT), 4 SEC West titles, 1 regular season SEC championship, and 1 SEC Tournament title. During this time, only two SEC programs have more wins that Mississippi State, Florida and Kentucky.

As of April 10 of 2008, Rivals.com listed Rick Stansbury at #23 of its college basketball head coach power rankings, behind other SEC coaches Bruce Pearl (#7 – Tennessee), Trent Johnson (#15 and new at LSU), Billy Donovan (#16 – Florida), and Kevin Stalling (#20 – Vanderbilt).

Stansbury is also willing to recruit 8th graders…or “cats” (hasn’t happened to date), and probably has more flexibility than a yoga instructor in Sports Illustrated’s aforementioned prerequisite for SEC coaches.

You know what I say…..keep on keepin’ on. Now if Stansbury can only find a way to get to the Sweet Sixteen.

Posted in florida gators, kentucky wildcats, mississippi state bulldogs, ole miss rebels, rick stansbury, sec basketball | 4 Comments »

Charles Rhodes Just Wants A Job

Posted by Kyle Weidie on June 4, 2008

Lost amongst the buzz around Jamont Gordon opting not to participate in the Orlando NBA pre-draft camp (to his detriment in the opinion of most), was the fact that Charles Rhodes was invited to show his skills for NBA scouts and the likes.

In the two weeks before the camp was to begin, Draft Express did not project Rhodes to get the invite by the NBA powers-that-be. Meanwhile, Charles continued to prepare himself for the future at St. Vincent Sports Performance Center in Indianapolis, Indiana with the likes of current NBAers Greg Oden, Josh McRoberts and Jarrett Jack (all of the Portland Trailblazers), Rodney Carney (Philadelphia 76ers), and NBA hopefuls Luke Zeller (Notre Dame), JaJuan Johnson (Purdue), Mike Green (Butler), Mario Chalmers (Kansas), and Randal Falker (Southern Illinois).1

I’ve criticized Jamont Gordan once or twice for opting not to participate in the Orlando NBA Pre-Draft Camp, and speculated as to the reasons. But perhaps in an unselfish act on the part of Gordon, his loss became the gain of Charles Rhodes, who probably needed the chance to show his wares more than Jamont. So, how did Rhodes fare at the camp? I’ve been unable to find any official box scores, but here are some accounts from the web:

Day 2: Charles Rhodes (11 pts, 2 reb, 2 blk) put up good numbers off the bench, and added some nice defensive stops. [HoopsHype] Rhodes’ Team 4 blew out Team 3, 94-81 in the last game of the day.

Day 3: Charles Rhodes had a nice game, but will force things from time to time. He showed a nice midrange jumper and some smooth post moves, but got a little too confident in his range. [Matthew Kamalsky, HoopsHype]

What others are saying about Charles Rhodes:

Fox Sports (Rhodes is listed in the 20-40 range of ‘NBA-ready’ players)
He is an intriguing package with his height, length and athleticism. It looked like he put on some muscle between Portsmouth and Orlando, and he looked to be in good shape. A big problem with him is that he prefers shooting 15-footers as opposed to battling on the blocks. He is also somewhat of a black hole — whenever the ball gets into his hands, it will take a near miracle for him not to hoist it up immediately. [Aran Smith and Borko Popic/NBADraft.net, Special to FOXSports.com]

Well, it seems like Charles Rhodes is playing true to the form that we came to know at Mississippi State. Charles seems to be his usual candid self off the court as well:

NBA officials held a meeting at the start of the camp, asking players what they wanted to get out of the week. Of the five or six dozen players in the room, one – Charles Rhodes of Mississippi State – offered the most succinct answer. “I want a job,” Rhodes said. [Tim Reynolds, AP – USA Today]

We all knew that Rhodes possessed the talent to procure workouts for individual NBA teams. Hopefully, he will be able to take advantage and further boost his stock. Good Luck Chuck!

Charles Rhodes Scheduled Workouts:

Additional reading on Charles Rhodes from Bulldog Maroon & White:

1The IndyStar.com

Posted in charles rhodes, jamont gordon, mississippi state bulldogs, nba draft, sec basketball | 2 Comments »