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Jarvis Varnado Ranked 5th Best SEC NBA Prospect By Draft Express

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 16, 2008

The popular NBA draft website, Draft Express, has been ranking the top NBA prospects from various NCAA conferences. The top five basketball players the Southeastern Conference has to offer was released on September 15th.

Mississippi State center, junior-to-be Jarvis Varnado, was ranked 5th behind Vanderbilt center, Andrew Ogilvy, Kentucky Forward, Patrick Patterson, Tennessee forward, Tyler Smith, and Florida guard, Nick Calathes.

I suggest you go read the well-researched full profile on Varnado, but a couple excerpts which stood out to me are below.

At 6’9” he [Jarvis Varnado] is maybe a tad undersized for a post player, but what really hinders him is his tremendously narrow frame. The reports last season were that Varnado has bulked up to 210 pounds, but from what we were able to see from him at the Adidas Nations event in Dallas last month, he still needs to put on a good 20 pounds before he can consistently hold his ground on the block. His narrow shoulders don’t appear as though they support the type of natural filling out that he needs to go through.

At this point, unless he makes huge strides this season, Varnado is likely going to need to be a four-year prospect. This season will be a good test for him, as he now must become more of a factor in the Bulldog’s offense. While there have been hints of a developing mid-range jumper, he must first become a more effective low post scorer, and adding weight would be a step in the right direction for him. Showing more hustle as a perimeter defender too would only add to his growing reputation as a stopper on the other end of the floor.

Posted in bulldogs in nba, mississippi state bulldogs, nba draft, ncaa basketball, sec basketball, SEC Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Travis Outlaw, the almost Mississippi State Bulldog

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 2, 2008

Bulldog fans can salivate forever about what would have been had Travis Outlaw suited up in Maroon and White…..or Jonathan Bender, or Monta Ellis.

However, he opted for the NBA, before the current one-year rule, and was taken 23rd overall by the Portland Trailblazers in the 2003 NBA Draft. Heading into the 2008-2009 NBA season, this makes Outlaw the longest tenured Blazer.

Travis had his best season in ’07-08, averaging career highs in multiple categories including points (13.3), rebounds (4.6), and minutes (26.7), while getting some recognition for the NBA’s 6th Man Award (Manu Ginobili ended up with the honors).

This year, Outlaw desires to come into his own even more. Jason Quick, of The Oregonian, recently traveled back to Starkville, Mississippi to do an extensive piece on Outlaw. The article discusses Outlaw’s roots, the house he recently built in Starkvegas, and his basketball aspirations. The reading is highly suggested.

Posted in bulldogs in nba, mississippi state bulldogs, nba, nba draft, starkville, travis outlaw | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

MSU Bulldogs & Mavericks: an interview with Dallas Dedicated

Posted by Kyle Weidie on August 7, 2008

Dallas Dedicated is a blog which is, well, dedicated to Dallas sports. We’ve been following some of their excellent coverage of Charles Rhodes, who, as you should be well aware, was apart of the Mavs summer league squad, and by most accounts, impressed the Dallas brass with his ability. It remains to be seen if Rhodes will make the Mavericks squad, much less get a training camp invite. In any case, the guys at Dallas Dedicated agreed to be the latter part of a Q&A session about Rhodes, and another former Bulldog, and current Mav, Erick Dampier.

Erick Dampier


I’ve read where Charles Rhodes is likely to be invited to training camp, but is not a lock. What do you think?
I think that as long as he does not decide to go to Europe, he is a lock for camp. Hopefully he doesn’t chase that very enticing Euro. He has gone from being a forgotten and un-drafted rookie to a guy with a legitimate shot at being in the rotation on a title contending Dallas Mavericks team.

Does the presence of Brandon Bass (an SEC product out of LSU) hurt Rhodes’ chances? The Mavericks offered Bass and Jerry Stackhouse to Sacramento for Ron Artest, but the Kings chose to send Ronnie to another team in Texas, which will lead to my next question……
Bass and Rhodes are very similar, which in the long run could end up hurting one or the other–obviously at this point most likely Rhodes. But last season, the front line was very thin and another Bass-like player could do nothing but help. One thing that critics say hurts the Mavs team is that they do not have enough tough inside presence, which Charles Rhodes can definitely help provide.

What’s Bass’ trade value and are you willing to give him up? If it’s your opinion that the Mavs must make a move to get back to the NBA Finals, what would be a reasonably hypothetical dream trade scenario?
Obviously, if the right deal came about, we would have to part ways with Bass. He still has a lot of potential and could develop into a very good player, but he still will play behind Dirk. A strong two-guard with nice range would be about the only offer for Bass that could improve the team…especially if Rhodes proved he could take Bass’ spot.

Jason Kidd should be much better under Rick Carlisle–freedom to do what he does best: run the break. That should cover the one, three (Howard) and four (Dirk) spots. A move like Terry/Stackhouse and a reserve for someone like Corey Maggette or Monta Ellis would be solid. Ideally, an upcoming free agent after this season (LeBron, Wade, etc.) would be a finals-clinching pick up. Then the only weakness would be at the five. Good centers are a rare commodity, and if Diop and Damp can play strong together, then that would be an ideal squad. But, the fact alone that we offered Bass in a trade for Artest shows that the Mavericks organization thinks of him as expendable.

From watching Rhodes, what’s your opinion of his NBA-level strengths and weaknesses?
He shoots a very high percentage, and even has a pretty decent mid range jumper. Though he is relatively short for a power forward, he rebounds adequately, similar to Bass. His post defense has been impressive, but he is not a big shot blocker and can get in foul trouble quickly. His biggest improvement will need to be overall basketball IQ, which many rookies need work with. He is a very raw scorer, and can easily be molded into a power force. He has nothing but potential, which I know Rick Carlisle and the Mavs assistants could turn into more strengths.

James Singleton or Charles Rhodes: who do you pick? (factoring in Singleton’s guaranteed contract)
Charles Rhodes and James Singleton are too much alike to give both contracts too, especially when factoring in that Brandon Bass will already consume most of the backup power forward minutes. While Singleton’s contract is guaranteed, GM Donnie Nelson has already made it clear that buying out a player’s contract that is guaranteed is not out of the question. Also, Singleton is coming off major knee surgery and has had multiple shots at the NBA-level. Rhodes over Singleton easily.

The Mavs have another Mississippi State product in Erick Dampier, who led the Bulldogs to the Final Four in 1996. What do you like, and dislike about his game? Was signing him to a 7-year, $63 million contract in ’04 a mistake? Is Erick Dampier a center the Mavs can win a championship with? And, are we looking at a time-share at center between Big Damp and the returned DeSagana Diop?
Dampier is an up and down player. He doesn’t have to score a lot of points, and gets a lot of buckets from working the offensive glass. When he wants to be, Damp is one of the best rebounders in the league, especially on the offensive end. Also, his scoring has improved since Jason Kidd’s arrival. However, he tends to get into early foul trouble too often and sometimes plays soft. While Dallas let Steve Nash go and used the money saved to sign Erick Dampier, his contract in ’04 was not a mistake. He was coming off of a career year of (12 points and 12 rebounds per game in ’03) and the Mavs had been lacking a good center for many years (see Shawn Bradley).

The way Dallas is most effective is a split between Damp and Diop. This eliminates the worry of foul trouble and they are able to play tougher defense. Together, when on their games, they can rival many centers in the league, and proved it in the ’06 Finals run. Damp did not have any competition for minutes after Diop was traded, and having Diop back will motivate Damp to play and practice hard or else Diop becomes the starter. Not many teams have two legitimate centers, and I believe the Mavericks have that again with the signing of Diop.


And there it is….many thanks to the guys at Dallas Dedicated.

Posted in bulldogs in nba, charles rhodes, erick dampier, mississippi state bulldogs, nba, nba draft | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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 »

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 »

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.

Posted in jamont gordon, mississippi state bulldogs, nba draft, sec basketball | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

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Update on Charles Rhodes, a Bulldog with NBA hopes

Posted by Kyle Weidie on April 29, 2008

After testing the NBA waters last year, Mississippi State’s Charles Rhodes had no choice but to turn pro as he completed his four years of NCAA basketball eligibility. Initially, Rhodes’ career as a Bulldog faced a hiccup as he thought about transferring at the conclusion his freshman season after spending some time in the doghouse with lack of practice work ethic and occasions of tardiness. However, in his subsequent three years, Charles showed budding maturity on and off the court. The three time All-SEC performer will always be thought of for his “flair” if you will, as he was never found lost for words when dealing with the media. Rhodes will no doubt be fondly remembered for his excellent play in the post and being the key factor in this year’s NCAA first round win over Oregon.

[Bulldog Maroon & White Archive: Senior to Watch: Charles Rhodes – March 18, 2007]

Since the end of the season, Charles Rhodes was selected to participate in the DiGiorno College All-Star Game which took place in San Antonio, TX on April 4th and was shown on CSTV. Rhodes’ American team was defeated 106-100 by the National squad as he received limited playing time, I’m sure that picking up 5 fouls in 12 minutes had something to do with that. Nonetheless, Rhodes managed to score 10 points on 4-8 shooting and 2-3 from the free-throw line his time on the court. True to form, Rhodes failed to snag a rebound, an issue which plagued him during his tenure at Mississippi State.

Charles Rhodes next participated in the Portsmouth Invitational which is an annual senior-only tournament and was held from April 9-12 in Portsmouth, Virginia. As Rhodes has not been listed in many mock drafts as being a potential first or second round NBA selection, Portsmouth was a big chance to put his name on the radar of NBA scouts.

Rhodes only played in two of his team’s three games, starting both. In those two games, he averaged 27.5 minutes, 11.5 points and 8 rebounds while shooting 38.5% from the field. Joseph Treutlein of DraftExpress.com reported that Rhodes “played within himself” in game 1, but “came out with a gunner’s mentality” in game 2. No word on what caused Rhodes to miss the third game as Treutlein reported that Rhodes was a no-show, hopefully it was not due to injury. Nonetheless, Charles Rhodes made DraftExpress’s all tournament third team in Portsmouth.

While no one expects Rhodes to be drafted in this year’s NBA draft on June 26th, the day after Charles’ birthday, he will no doubt receive an invite to the NBA pre-draft camp which will take place in Orlando, FL from May 27th – June 3rd. Rhodes currently shows up at #85 on NBADraft.net’s Big Board (updated on 4/28/08), and is ranked 29th among power forwards, 52nd among NCAA seniors, by DraftExpress.

Both NBADraft.net and DraftExpress.com compare Charles Rhodes to former LSU Tiger, McDonald’s All-American, and 2005 SEC POY, Brandon Bass. After two seasons in Baton Rouge, Bass was selected 33rd overall in the 2nd round of the 2005 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Hornets. He is currently thriving with the Dallas Mavericks in the midst of a 2-year, $1.59 million contract. With hard work, improved rebounding, and advancing diversity in his offensive game, the NBA is a very attainable goal for Charles Rhodes. Best of luck.

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