Monday, July 25, 2011

Shabazz Muhammad is in no hurry to make his college decision Tube Tube

Shabazz Muhammad is in no hurry to make his college decision

The basketball standout from Las Vegas, who lists UCLA among the schools he is considering, wants to set his own timetable for picking a college.

By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
9:22 PM PDT, July 24, 2011

Reporting from Las Vegas

The retro UCLA jersey was endangered the moment it entered Shabazz Muhammad's house.

The basketball prodigy's mother had purchased the replica of the jersey that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wore when he was with the Bruins as a gift for her middle-school son, only to later find it hanging in his closet with a large hole cut in the middle.

Muhammad's father couldn't resist the urge to snip on.

He played basketball for USC.

"My wife was hot with me," said Ron Holmes, a wing player for the Trojans from 1981 to 1985. "She wouldn't talk to me for about a week."

Holmes probably would take a more hands-off approach if his son decided to slip on a UCLA jersey late next year. It would have "Muhammad" stretched across the back.

Westwood is a possible destination for the consensus No. 1 player in the Class of 2012, an explosive 6-foot-6 forward from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High who has been fawned over like a rock star during the Las Vegas club tournaments.

A stray ball could not bounce into the stands at one of Muhammad's games over the weekend without hitting a major-college coach. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Kentucky's John Calipari and Florida's Billy Donovan were at one game, along with at least half of the Pacific 12 Conference's coaching contingent.

UCLA Coach Ben Howland, saying something about the bleacher seats being uncomfortable, plopped down in a courtside chair next to former Nevada Las Vegas coach Jerry Tarkanian.

More comfortable -- and more visible.

"Sometimes when you're running back down the court, you see one," Muhammad said of the coaches at his games. "But most of the time you have to focus on the game."

Muhammad's list of suitors is so long that he often adds the caveat "and many more schools" whenever he ticks off his favorites, lest he hurt anyone's feelings.

The official list (in alphabetic order to avoid any message-board meltdowns): Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA and UNLV.

Muhammad said the recruiting analysts who describe him as leaning toward the Bruins are not necessarily onto something.

"Everybody says that," Muhammad said as he sat in his family's den on the edge of a dark-paneled cabinet stocked with trophies and plaques. "They say I'm a Kansas lean, a Memphis lean, a UCLA lean. It's all rumors that everybody's talking about. At the end of the day, everybody's the same at this point."

Muhammad said UCLA will receive one of his coveted official visits, though he already has more than a passing familiarity with Southern California. His father attended Lake Forest El Toro before going to USC. His mother was a track and basketball star at Long Beach Poly and Long Beach State.

The family moved to Las Vegas in the mid-1990s, in part because the city reminded Holmes of Orange County. Shabazz received his name through the family's Muslim faith, with his mother, Faye, changing her last name from Paige to Muhammad.

For many years, Holmes tried to impose his USC allegiance on his son. He would break out footage of USC-UCLA games in which he went head to head with Bruins star Reggie Miller.

"It was so funny to watch him," Muhammad said of his father. "I mean, he had a big Afro and those guys had Converse on."

But USC coaches couldn't make as strong a push as Holmes. Largely because of recruiting restrictions the Trojans faced after NCAA sanctions related to O.J. Mayo's acceptance of impermissible benefits, they were unable to keep up with the pack of suitors.

"They've had some issues with not making phone calls because of the sanctions or couldn't come and visit, so it's hurt them," Holmes said. "Other coaches have recruited a little harder."

Muhammad is being pulled in so many directions that he might feel like Play-Doh in the hands of a 3-year-old. After prep star Jordan Adams committed to UCLA last month, he sent a text message to Muhammad: "I'm ready for you to commit now."

The friends discussed the possibility of playing together for the Bruins again Friday after Muhammad's Dream Vision club team edged Adams' Atlanta Celtics in the Adidas Super 64 tournament. UCLA's recruiting class is shaping up as a good one, with the Bruins receiving a commitment Sunday from top point guard prospect Dominic Artis of Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep.

"He was saying what we could do on the wings as freshmen," Muhammad said of Adams, a swingman from Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy. "We could open up everything."

Muhammad was also hearing it all weekend from UNLV fans who followed him from gym to gym, cheering his every move. And the Rebels have another strong ally in Grant Rice, Muhammad's high school coach and the brother of UNLV Coach David Rice.

There are other factors to consider. Muhammad likes Kentucky's up-tempo offense and has formed strong relationships with several of the coaches pursuing him. It's almost too much for a teenager to process.

"That's why he's confused. That's why I'm confused," said Holmes, who does not oppose UCLA, because he likes Howland and considers himself a West Coast guy.

"I mean, there's a lot of things that go into this and we want to make the right decision because I don't care what happens, he's not transferring."

Switching schools may be one issue that Muhammad won't have to confront. If his precociousness is any indication, he could easily be focusing on the NBA draft by the spring of his freshman season.

Kellon Hassenstab, an analyst for the recruiting website, said Muhammad's tenacity and maturity separate him from the other top players in his class.

"He never takes plays off," Hassenstab said. "He finishes with authority at the rim and has a consistent jump shot that extends to the three-point range. His work ethic and coachability are refreshing and unusual for a player of his talent."

Muhammad's willingness to wait to make his college choice also is uncommon at a time when many elite players are making commitments as eighth-graders.

Muhammad said he would evaluate every aspect of his prospective schools during his official visits, scrutinizing the coaches, the academic environment and campus life.

"We're going to sit down after this AAU season," Muhammad said of his family, "and figure out when I'm going to commit and when I'm going to cut down the list."

Good thing for UCLA that Muhammad, and not his father, will be the one doing the cutting this time.

UCLA basketball: Top point guard prospect Dominic Artis commits to Bruins

NothingButKicks+yayareasfinest+courtcred/You Tube

yayareasfinest/You Tube

UCLA basketball: Top point guard prospect Dominic Artis commits to Bruins

By Ben Bolch | The Los Angeles Times | July 24, 2011 | 8:54pm

The Class of 2012 is already shaping up to be full of promise for UCLA.

The Bruins on Sunday received a commitment from Dominic Artis, a 6-foot-1 senior at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., who is considered to be one of the top point guards in the country.

Artis becomes the second highly touted player to commit to UCLA, joining Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy small forward Jordan Adams. And the Bruins are still in the mix for Shabazz Muhammad, the consensus top player in the country.

"I'm really excited," said Artis, who picked UCLA over California, Florida State, Oregon, Georgia Tech, Baylor and Florida International. "It could be a great class."

Artis said he liked Bruins Coach Ben Howland's history of producing NBA point guards. He also liked that UCLA runs a lot of ball screens, something he said suits his game well, and is already friends with incoming guard De'End Parker.

The prospect of battling North Carolina transfer Larry Drew II for playing time doesn't intimidate Artis, who said Howland told him the duo would likely be on the floor together at times. And if Artis had to come off the bench?

"Of course I would want to start," Artis said, "but if I had to come off the bench and sacrifice for the team, it would be OK."


Dominic Artis commits to UCLA

Posted By: Mitch Stephens
The San Francisco Chronicle
July 24 2011 at 11:27 PM

The Bay Area has been shut out again.

Dominic Artis, who three weeks ago announced he will transfer to national basketball power Findlay Prep from Salesian-Richmond, said Sunday from the Fab 48 AAU Tournament in Las Vegas that he will play his college ball at UCLA.

Artis, an incoming senior, told us last week his other finalist were Cal, Florida State and Oregon.

The 6-foot-1 point guard has risen his game greatly even after a superb junior season when he was named the Bay Shore Athletic League's Most Valuable Player and led the Pride to the state Division IV finals.

He joins Oak Hill Academy's Jordan Adams as early UCLA commits from the Class of 2012.

"I'm really excited," Artis told Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times. "It could be a great class. ... Of course I would want to start but if I had to come off the bench and sacrifice for the team, it would be OK."

Artis told Bolch he was attracted to UCLA because of its history of producing NBA point guards. He's also friends with former Lincoln and CCSF standout De'End Parker.

Artis is the second Bay Area elite star who will transfer to Findlay Prep. Bishop O'Dowd's Brandon Ashley, rated the sixth best player from his Class by, also is transferring to the Henderson (Nev.) school, which has claimed four NBA draft picks in the last two seasons including 2011 first-rounders Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph.

Ashley also announced last week his seven college finalist - none of which included Cal or Stanford, but did include UCLA. Ashley's other finalists were Arizona, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Oregon, Syracuse and Texas.

The duo play for the Fab 48 defending champion Drew Gooden-Oakland Soldiers who were upset and eliminated in the first round of the playoffs on Sunday.


from ESPN Men's College Basketball Recruiting

Dominic Artis

Point Guard

CLASS: 2012

Grading Scale

Hometown: Richmond, CA
High School: Findlay College Prep
Height: 5-11
Weight: 165 lbs
Position Rank: 16


Artis is looking like the No. 1 point guard prospect out west for his class. He has solid speed, quickness, and he changes gears very well to separate from opponents. He doesn't have ideal height for the high-major level, but he does have very long arms and he looks very young in the face-which may suggest he isn't through growing. In terms of skill he has a tight and crafty handle and he can get into seams of the defense to set up his teammates. He advances the ball well in transition and generally exhibits a high basketball IQ while operating the half-court offense.

Artis must get stronger to play at the highest level, but that should come with maturity. In addition, he needs to continue to improve his shooting touch beyond the arc. His shot is playable, but it needs to get more consistent to keep the defenses honest.

Bottom Line:
Although the point guard class is weak nationally, Artis projects well at the highest level. He isn't as quick as former Bruin Tyus Edney, but he does have similar characteristics in terms of playing style.

Travel Team: Oakland Soldiers...Committed to UCLA in July 2012...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New UCLA basketball assistant Korey McCray out to show what he has to offer

Thanks to Puffdaddy for posting this on BZ.

UCLA assistant basketball coach Korey McCray hopes to bring in more talent for the Bruins in the years ahead. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times / July 18, 2011)

New UCLA basketball assistant Korey McCray out to show what he has to offer

The former Atlanta club coach is confident he can do more than attract top prospects. McCray has developed a reputation as a strong teacher of fundamentals.

By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
5:00 PM PDT, July 21, 2011

Korey McCray won't need to wear the standard-issue UCLA polo shirt in Las Vegas gyms the next few days for two of the Bruins' top recruits to identify him.

He used to be their coach.

Jordan Adams and William Goodwin both played for McCray's Atlanta Celtics club basketball team until UCLA Coach Ben Howland added McCray to his staff last month as his newest assistant.

The easy punch line: If you hire him, they will follow.

McCray didn't burden himself with perception. He's confident he has more to offer than a couple of blue-chip prospects who may or may not come to Westwood.

McCray, 32, effortlessly relates to college freshmen and sophomores. He's also developed a reputation as a strong teacher of fundamentals, working with NBA stars Dwight Howard and John Wall in the off-season.

And over the next five days, as he travels from one high school gym to another keeping tabs on the major club tournaments that commence Friday, he can show his new boss his ability to identify which players have the most game.

McCray said he doesn't view himself as a torchbearer for club coaches as much as someone who wants to make proud a family with deep basketball roots.

"I just want to represent myself well, my family well, this university well," McCray said earlier this month as he sat in his new office, which was bare except for five NCAA championship trophies perched on a top shelf. "Hopefully by doing that, I put AAU basketball in a good light."

McCray is hardly the first club coach to be hired by a major school, even in the Pacific 12 Conference. Arizona assistant Emmanuel "Book" Richardson once coached the New York Gauchos and helped the Wildcats land New York natives Lamont Jones and Kevin Parrom, both former Gauchos.

UCLA already has received a non-binding verbal commitment from one of McCray's former players. Adams announced earlier this month that he would become a Bruin, calling McCray "a great factor" in his decision.

"They were recruiting me before he got the job," said Adams, a small forward who could become the first player from storied Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy to play for UCLA. "I pretty much already liked them, but he kind of helped."

Just as the Bruins can thank McCray for Adams' commitment, McCray can salute Adams and Goodwin for his arrival in Westwood. McCray said he first met Howland last fall as part of a tour of universities his players had listed as potential destinations.

"I didn't want to put my guys in a situation that I didn't think was a good situation," McCray said, "so I was just looking at all the schools they were interested in."

McCray liked the way Howland ran his practices. Howland began to develop an appreciation for McCray's endearing smile and ability to relate to young players.

"He's got a great personality," Howland said. "He's really upbeat; he's positive."

He also had an intriguing back story. A former point guard at Mercer, McCray has made coaching stops at his alma mater, Chipola Junior College and Florida State as a graduate assistant under Leonard Hamilton. The Seminoles coach praised McCray for his communication skills and attention to detail.

"UCLA is getting a guy who has the whole package," Hamilton said. "He's more than capable and qualified to do a great job for them."

McCray also helped coach the Celtics, a collection of boys' and girls' teams that have produced 16 NBA players — including Howard, Amare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson — and approximately 400 college players since being co-founded in 1990 by Karl McCray, Korey's father.

The McCrays are well versed in the criticisms of club basketball. Among other things, skeptics say it is rife with coaches eager to provide access to their players in exchange for a spot on a college staff or other perks.

"It's always bad when people put everybody under the same label," said Karl McCray, president of the Celtics and coach of the organization's 16-under boys' team. "We're all individuals; we all do things differently.

"I always drill into my coaches three things: It's got to be legally, morally and ethically correct. That's what I've always had as my motto because it's critical that we do the right thing."

The younger McCray is such a stickler for proper fundamentals that he started a skills development program out of a church gymnasium in Atlanta. Its name? Fundamentals. McCray's clients included Howard and Wall.

Howland said McCray would primarily work with the Bruins' perimeter players, but his reach as the youngest member of the coaching staff should extend to the entire roster.

"I understand the music they're listening to," McCray said. "I'm not so far from where they are now."

He's suddenly a few thousand miles from home, though he fully expects to help UCLA make recruiting inroads in a region where it has traditionally struggled to land top prospects.

As he leaned back in his office chair and contemplated his new opportunity, McCray smiled. Just as quickly, his lips straightened. The pinch-me moment had faded.

"I had to tell myself just this past week, OK, the excitement is over," McCray said. "Now it's time to produce."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

2012 target: Kyle Anderson (North Bergen, NJ) 6-7 210 SF (St. Anthony HS, Jersey City, NJ)








Saturday, July 9, 2011

It's just beginning for De'End Parker

Big thanks to bruinjake for sharing this article on Bruin Zone.

It's just beginning for De'End Parker

By Larry Beil
ABC 7 KGO-TV San Francisco
Friday, April 22, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Now for the story of De'End Parker and yes, that is his name. Parker led City College of San Francisco to the state junior college title and just signed to play for UCLA.

To understand how far Parker has come, you have to go back to de-beginning. He was the youngest of seven children, Parker almost died at birth, prompting his mom to come up with his unique name.

"Her youngest kid, her last kid almost died. She was like, 'This is the end, I'm not having anymore. I'm not going through this again.' So, that's how I got the name De-End," said Parker.

Parker and I talked and shot and talked some smack. De'End is a 6'6" guard who can handle the ball, shoot, and oh yes, he can fly.

In the final seconds, Parker had the game-winning tip-in for City College as they captured the state championship.

"I never won a championship. In my 2 years I played at Lincoln High School, we lost both years in the championship. So I never had the feeling of winning it. So, that last play, I told coach, 'I'm not losing this game,'" said Parker.

When I faced him, he wasn't losing this game either, despite some creative attempts by yours truly. UCLA coach Ben Howland loved Parker's defensive intensity.

"Ben loved that. As soon as he came in, he said, 'This is my kind of guy. I got to have this guy. So yeah, I think that it will fit,'" said City College Coach Justin Labagh.

Parker averaged 12 points per game this season with an even more impressive 3.5 GPA. Parker has endured a difficult childhood, foster homes, siblings in trouble and overcome all challenges. He is smiling and dunking his way to success. He's just a natural-born winner.

"Whatever I do, I always try to win, even out here with you. I understand that your age is a factor in this..." said Parker.

Of course, I beg to differ that age was a factor... I say it was skill differential.

Lazeric Jones' workout video

Kudos to lbeerman12 for posting on Bruin Zone

athesion/You Tube

Friday, July 1, 2011

Recruiting news: L. J. Rose (down to UCLA and Texas), Beejay Anya, James Robinson

Thanks to stlouisbruin for posting on Bruin Zone.

L.J. Rose/WildcatRecruits/You Tube

CityLeagueHoopsTV/You Tube

Notebook: Anthony Bennett continues to rise

By Jeff Borzello Recruiting blog
Posted on: June 24, 2011 12:46 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 5:36 pm

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Anthony Bennett burst onto the scene a couple of years ago at Mountain State Academy (W.Va.), but quickly fell out of the nation’s vision when he sat out most of last season with an injury.

The Findlay Prep (Nev.) forward has returned this spring with a vengeance, and might have been the fastest-rising player in the country.

“I really improved,” Bennett said. “Before, I was just a post player, but I’ve developed my ball-handling and stuff. I took the things I was working on and used it.”

Bennett, a 6-foot-7 prospect who hails from Canada, has seen his recruiting rise in connection with his recent play.

He is hearing from West Virginia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, Arizona, UNLV, Washington, Washington, Oregon and Oregon State.

Bennett is taking his time with the process, and doesn’t plan on making a decision until next spring.

“After the summer, I’ll have a top five,” he said.

L.J. Rose focused on two schools

The consensus on the point guard group in the class of 2012 is that the position is fairly weak, with no one standing out as the best. L.J. Rose went to NBPA Camp looking to stake his claim as the top point guard in the country. “There’s a lot of great point guards,” Rose said. “Everyone is trying to get the number one spot.”

The 6-foot-2 Second Baptist (Tex.) product has schools like Kentucky, Baylor, Memphis, Virginia and Kansas pursuing him – but two schools are standing out.

“UCLA and Texas,” Rose said. “UCLA has a great coaching staff and a beautiful campus. Texas is close to home and they get talent.”

Anton Gill shakes off nerves

One of the few 2013 prospects at the NBPA Top 100 Camp was Anton Gill, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Ravenscroft (N.C.). “I played hard, but I was kind of nervous at the start,” Gill said.

He currently holds offers from East Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Louisville, South Carolina, Miami (Fl.) and Oklahoma State, with interest coming from Xavier, Marquette, Florida and North Carolina. Gill plans to visit Miami at the end of July.

Team Takeover trio talk recruiting

Team Takeover was clearly the best AAU team on the circuit during the spring, going undefeated in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, a collection of the best Nike-sponsored AAU teams in the country.

Not surprisingly, many of their players saw an uptick in their respective recruitments over the past few months.

James Robinson, a stocky 6-foot-3 point guard from DeMatha (Md.), has plenty of schools on him. Virginia, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Miami (Fl.), UCLA and West Virginia are some of the ones on Robinson the hardest.

James Robinson and Beejay Anya/NetScoutsBasketball/You Tube

“Nothing too definite, but I want to cut it down when school starts,” he said. “I’m looking for a good fit, with academics, and somewhere I fit it on the court and socially.”

Robinson plans to visit Miami when Takeover is down in Orlando for AAU Nationals.

Beejay Anya really helped his stock over the last few months, dominating the paint for Keith Stevens’ travel team. The 6-foot-7 space eater makes plays around the rim at both ends of the floor, despite being undersized.

Beejay Anya/greezyp11/You Tube

“I’m definitely improving my game, since my team has been playing so mnuch,” Anya said.

A host of schools have shown interest in the 2013 big man, including Duke, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Texas, UCLA, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, St. John’s, Rutgers, Virginia, Seton Hall, Florida State and Florida.

Another stock-riser in the spring was Arnaud Adala-Moto, a Cameroon native who attends Episcopal (Va.).

While he doesn’t have a set school list, Moto said he wants to visit Virginia Tech, North Carolina State and Wake Forest in June. He is also hearing from Miami (Fl.), Maryland, Seton Hall and Georgia Tech.

NBA Draft 2011: Kyrie Irving is #1

Draft board from

Round 1 (click on table to enlarge; for interactive table, click here)

Round 2 (click on table to enlarge; for interactive table, click here)

2011 NBA draft
Mike DeCourcy Sporting News
LAST UPDATED 9 minutes and 2 seconds ago July 1 2011

As the 2011 NBA Draft unfolds, Sporting News college basketball writer Mike DeCourcy gives his pick-by-pick analysis of the first round.

First round

1. Cleveland (from L.A. Clippers): PG KYRIE IRVING, 6-2, 180 pounds, Duke, Fr.

It would be so much nicer if we'd all seen Kyrie Irving play 40 college games, and then what we saw in those first eight would be confirmed: that he is a point guard with a widely varied game, able to attack the lane against high-level defenders, to change directions without notice, to play with either hand, to punish defenders no matter how they guard the pick-and-roll and, perhaps more than any elite point of recent vintage, to make shots.

Irving made more than 46 percent of his 3-point attempts. Again, it was a smaller sample size, but he shot big numbers across the board: nearly 53 percent from the field, better than 90 percent from the line. Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, John Wall -- when they left college, they were not shooting at this level.

There are things Irving does not do as well as each of those players, but he has the requisite strength, quickness, elusiveness and creativity to excel as an NBA point guard. Kyrie is no substitute for LeBron, but he'll soon be an upgrade over Baron Davis.

2. Minnesota: F DERRICK WILLIAMS, 6-8, 241, Arizona, Soph.

The odd thing about the T-wolves’ choice of Williams is that they’ve basically chosen Michael Beasley with a better attitude. It’s easy to forget what an overwhelming talent Beasley was coming out of Kansas State, and he’s been an ordinary pro for a number of reasons -- one of which is that he’s not an A-level athlete for his position. And neither is Williams.

Yeah, it was a heck of a dunk against Duke, and he can drive the ball and has great strength, all of which indicates he’ll be a capable player. It’s hard not to think that with Enes Kanter available, Minnesota missed a chance to give itself a true presence in the center position.

3. Utah (from New Jersey): C ENES KANTER, 6-10, 255, Kentucky, Fr.

Smart teams do smart things, and the Jazz remain a smart team even without Jerry Sloan on the bench. Kanter might take a while to regain his competitive edge after missing all of last season because of the NCAA’s intransigence on his amateurism issues, but he is a genuine center with excellent hands, feet and skill.

He’s not the prototype of the European big; he can face the basket and score, but he’s not going to be Dirk shooting 3-pointers. His excellent footwork in the post, however, could make him a threat on the block.

4. Cleveland: PF TRISTAN THOMPSON, 6-8, 225, Texas, Soph.

Seriously? Tristan Thompson? Did somebody let Danny Ferry back into the draft room? Good gracious, where do we start with this? Underskilled, undersized, underdeveloped. He played a full college season and only once topped 25 points and only 10 times got into double figures as a rebounder. Sorry, but a big man who is worthy of the No. 4 pick in the draft should make that a habit.

Owner Dan Gilbert wants LeBron to say he’s sorry? Only if he goes first and apologizes for this pick.

5. Toronto: C JONAS VALANCIUNAS, 7-0, 231, Lithuania.

In the cosmopolitan city that is Toronto, they love them some Euros. And in many ways, that makes sense. An international player is not going to be as concerned about living north of the border, and might not be as consumed with the prevailing exchange rates between U.S. and Canadian dollars.

Valanciunas is an excellent athlete for a 7-0 guy. He runs well and would immediately improve the Raptors’ inside game -- that is, if he leaves Europe this season to play in the NBA. He has buyout issues with his club team, and the possibility of a lockout might make it prudent for him to put in another year across the Atlantic.

6. Washington: F JAN VESELY, 6-11, 239, Czech Republic.

In a year so obviously lacking in U.S.-trained talent, there was bound to be a run on internationals. He is a 6-11 athletic marvel who quite possibly will be an NBA small forward. There just aren’t a lot of guys anywhere with his package of size and athleticism.

It’s a different game here, and some players without a background in the U.S. can struggle with the different pace of play. But Vesely looks very much like a player who can join the space occupied by Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki.

7. Sacramento (trade pending with Charlotte): PF BISMACK BIYOMBO, 6-9, 243, Congo.

It is at this point that we feel compelled to remind you that five of the first seven players chosen in this draft were born -- and largely trained -- outside the United States. Thompson (Canada) and Kanter (Turkey) chose to attend U.S. colleges, but they have two years of American competition between them. As for this pick, it’s a reckless choice.

Biyombo blocks shots? Great. So does Hasheem Thabeet. Or he would, if he could get anywhere near the court. If Biyombo were good enough to play here, in by far the world's greatest league, shouldn't he have been able to get time in Spain's ACB?

8. Detroit: PG BRANDON KNIGHT, 6-3, 185, Kentucky, Fr.

Remember when the Pistons were the league’s model organization, perhaps the only team in the past two decades to win a title without an all-time great? Yeah, now they’re the team that must explain away a near-rebellion by players and gets suckered into taking Knight.

He is a fine shooter and a quality young man, but he is neither a natural point guard nor an elite athlete. He can’t change directions, doesn’t drive to his left hand. There were better players -- and better points -- on the board.

9. Charlotte: PG KEMBA WALKER, 6-1, 172, Connecticut, Jr.

The Bobcats picked a smallish point only three years ago, in D.J. Augustin, but when your competition drops a gem such as Walker into your lap, it’d be ridiculous not to grab him. His ability to stop and start suddenly -- and separate from defenders as a result -- will be a tremendous weapon at the NBA level.

Walker is the best leader in this draft and possibly the best leader at the key leadership position to come into the league in a decade. The Bobcats need a personality. Now they’ve got one.

10. Milwaukee (trade pending with Sacramento): G JIMMER FREDETTE, 6-2, 190, BYU, Sr.

Fredette might have been a better fit on a team with fewer issues than Sacramento. It’s easy to see DeMarcus Cousins wondering why on Earth he’s busting his tail to set up on the block when The Jimmer’s firing from 40 feet. And while the Kings are working hard to get Cousins to be a consistent person, they’re going to have to take another huge chunk of time working on Fredette’s dreadful defense.

There’s lots to like about Fredette’s game. There’d be more if he ended up elsewhere.

11. Golden State: SG KLAY THOMPSON, 6-6, 202, Washington State, Jr.

There might be a better shooting team in the league than the Warriors, but goodness, it’s easy to see teams feeling awfully stretched trying to guard Thompson and Steph Curry at the same time. Thompson can play either wing position and has a smooth quality to his game that sometimes makes it seem as though he’s not pushing hard enough. And he reinforces that by occasionally drifting through games.

He also did himself and his team no favor by getting suspended for the season’s biggest game because of a marijuana bust. That doesn’t seem to have bothered the Warriors.

12. Utah: SG ALEC BURKS, 6-6, 195, Colorado, Soph.

It can’t hurt the Jazz to become more athletic, but Burks will have to grow into an elite defender or an accurate jump shooter in order to get on the floor. Neither seems entirely beyond him. He made shots in college -- just not deep ones. He’s too long and athletic not to have potential to guard, but he’s still raw in that department. At the moment he looks a little like a Chris Douglas-Roberts without the Final Four pedigree and second-round chip on his shoulder.

13. Phoenix: PF MARKIEFF MORRIS, 6-10, 245, Kansas, Jr.

For the first time in his career, perhaps, Markieff has gotten the better of his twin brother Marcus. It is a choice that makes some sense for the Suns as they’re presently constituted, because he’s a big man who can make shots. But it also doesn’t make sense, because he’s three years into his college career and has yet to demonstrate greatness. The Suns reached for “the other” twin when it chose Robin Lopez in 2008. He’s never averaged 20 minutes.

14. Houston: SF MARCUS MORRIS, 6-9, 235, Kansas, Jr.

The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Derrick Williams with the No. 2 pick, after all.

Seriously, the Suns and Rockets had to be talking, right? Twin brothers taken on consecutive picks? Well, however it developed, the Rockets were the winners here. Marcus knows he is a player; Markieff plays with a hint of uncertainty. Marcus can score in a wide variety of ways and showed he could hang with NBA-level athletes while performing on USA Basketball’s Select Team last summer.

He has an uncommon breadth to his game, in part because he has played both inside and on the perimeter while at KU.

15. Indiana (trade pending with San Antonio): SF KAWHI LEONARD, 6-7, 225, San Diego State, Soph.

All that stuff about him being a bust? That was based on projections that had him going in the first-half dozen picks. This is exactly where he belongs. The Spurs always have been an organization that values team-first players, and they'll love to have Leonard on their team.

He is a low-ego guy. He will battle on the glass, perhaps fighting DeJuan Blair and Tim Duncan for rebounds. He will be an ideal part of a team that is fighting to remain at championship level, though he’ll need to improve his skill level to become more than a part.

16. Philadelphia: PF/C NIKOLA VUCEVIC, 6-10, 260, USC, Sr.

After we all saw European players dominate the lottery portion of this draft, it’s hard not to wonder if Vucevic would have been valued more if he’d remained a bit of a mystery. He’s not the athlete that Vesely is, but Vucevic has an excellent face-up game for a player his size, and he has terrific moves in the post.

He’ll battle for rebounds and makes few mistakes. Few players this young are as comfortable playing on both blocks. It wouldn’t hurt for him to push harder at times to exert his influence on a game, but that’ll be less of an issue as he breaks into the pros.

17. New York: SG IMAN SHUMPERT, 6-5, Georgia Tech, Jr.

Knicks fans were a bit befuddled by the selection of Shumpert, but he seems like a perfect fit. The Knicks are constantly searching for a style, for a sense of who they ought to be, and that has been Shumpert his entire career.

Shumpert has excellent size and athleticism, whether he is judged as a point or a wing, and he can defend against the ball or a shooter. He just hasn’t ever discovered what he needs to do to become a significant player for a successful team.

18. Washington (from Atlanta): SF CHRIS SINGLETON, 6-9, 220, Florida State, Jr.

Singleton built a reputation as a great defender, which is easier to do in college basketball than actually being a great defender. He is not hype. He is not someone who gambles and loses his man in order to deliver the spectacular shot-block. He has been well-taught in terms of positioning and reading the offense and undoubtedly will help the Wizards at that end of the floor while he continues to advance his offensive education.

19. Charlotte (from New Orleans via Portland, trade pending with Milwaukee): F TOBIAS HARRIS, 6-8, 225, Tennessee, Fr.

Harris, who needed to develop in college, picked the wrong program. He seemed to decline as the mess at Tennessee worsened, although that was true of most of the Vols.

What is worrisome about Harris is that he is not athletic enough to be a quality small forward, and he appears to be a bit short to be a big-time power forward. Harris over Kyle Singler? We’ll see who’s done more five years down the road.

20. Minnesota (from Memphis via Utah, trade pending with Houston): F DONATAS MOTIEJUNAS, 7-0, 222, Lithuania

It’s nice to have a power forward who can shoot, but it’s usually a prerequisite to have a power forward with power. That’s where Motiejunas is substantially lacking. Kenneth Faried will get more rebounds than Motiejunas without leaving the locker room. Fewer than five rebounds per game from a 7-footer playing 26 minutes per game in the Italian Serie A -- a league that’s not decorated with a lot of Kevin Loves or Tim Duncans? There are lot of words for that, and none of them is “power.”

21. Portland: PG NOLAN SMITH, 6-2, 185, Duke, Sr.

Well, it really just killed Smith’s draft stock to play another year in college, didn’t it?

Smith made progress as a point guard during that senior season that helped him land in this position, and he’ll have to continue his development if he’s going to become a regular in the league. But he does have a nice first step and has proven himself as a shooter in terms of range, tough and willingness to fire under pressure.

22. Denver: PF KENNETH FARIED, 6-8, 225, Morehead State, Sr.

Faried is the most productive rebounder in modern NCAA history, and he does it both with uncommon athleticism and a tremendous sense for how and where a missed shot is going to come off the rim. Oh, and he does it with desire.

Faried obviously is undersized for his position, standing shorter than 6-8, and, OK, he’s not going to be pulling down 14 a game at this level. But he will impact his team in that department.

23. Houston (from Orlando via Phoenix, trade pending with Chicago via Minnesota): F NIKOLA MIROTIC, Montenegro, 6-10, 220.

Whoever thought there’d be more Nikolas taken in the NBA draft than Johns or Sams? Mirotic needs time to develop and will remain with his team -- in this case, Real Madrid -- rather than risking a year of lockout-forced inactivity. In fact, he's likely to stay in Europe for several seasons. Mirotic hasn’t gotten enough action in Spain to prove he is NBA caliber.

24. Oklahoma City: G REGGIE JACKSON, 6-3, 208, Boston College, Jr.

He’s an excellent athlete for the point guard position, but Oklahoma City already has that, obviously, in Russell Westbrook. It was expected that someone would fall in love with Jackson’s workouts and ignore that he had a disappointing, difficult junior season.

It’s maybe a tad surprising it was be the Thunder, but a team that has built a culture of cooperation and character generally can take a risk on a player and expect that the pressure will be to conform to its norm. If Jackson buys in, he could contribute to OKC’s progress toward a title.

25. Boston (trade pending with New Jersey): SG MARSHON BROOKS, 6-5, 200 Providence, Sr.

He scores. That’s what he does. He doesn’t defend. He doesn’t win. But he scores. It’s the trickiest skill to carry from the college level to the pros, but Brooks has his believers. He’ll join a team that is full of young, unpolished players, which is worrisome because there’s so much he needs to learn about how to play this game correctly.

26. Dallas (trade pending with Denver, via Portland): SF JORDAN HAMILTON, 6-7, 220, Texas, Soph.

Honestly, if we’re talking about guys with suspect commitment to defense who can’t help but score anytime they take the court, Hamilton is a far better selection than Brooks -- he is such a gifted offensive player that if he can get time in the league, he’ll produce.

27. New Jersey (from L.A. Lakers, trade pending with Boston): PF JAJUAN JOHNSON, Purdue, 6-10, 221, Sr.

Johnson has always had a different game because there’s no body in basketball quite like his. He’s built like a telephone pole as much as anything, which led to many wondering if he’d be able to develop sufficient muscle to play at this level. Johnson has continued to advance his reputation for toughness, though, and while he’ll never been a double-figure rebound guy, he will be able to contribute at his natural position.

28. Chicago (from Miami via Toronto, trade pending with Miami, via Minnesota): PG NORRIS BROOKS, Cleveland State, Sr.

There’s lots to like about Cole. He is unselfish, polished, an electric athlete and, when the paperwork is finished, will end up playing for the Miami Heat.

29. San Antonio: G CORY JOSEPH, 6-3, 185 pounds, Texas, Fr.

What does Joseph do well? He isn’t fast, isn’t quick, isn’t a great shooter. He’s not especially creative. He wasn’t consistently able to take command of games when the Longhorns needed him. It’s understood that the Spurs have a terrific track record of acquiring quality personnel, but even Rory McIlroy yanks one into the woods now and then.

30. Chicago: F JIMMY BUTLER 6-7, 220, Marquette, Sr.

Although the Bulls could use a more consistent scorer to complement their perimeter, they’ll never be sorry that Butler fell to them at the end of round 1. Butler will become a high-level defender and has the raw skill to become a double-figure scorer at this level if he comes to believe that he can do it. Marquette played a sort of egalitarian style of offense that did not emphasize any particular player. It’ll be up to the Bulls to build his confidence.

For more on the draft, check out ESPN and Sporting News.