He turns 91 on August 31 but there
is little question that Hall of Fame coach (and mentor to other Hall of Fame
coaches) Pete Newell is still the man when it comes to teaching the art –
and importance – of sound footwork to basketball players of all sizes and
abilities, as well as genders.
Newell (who underwent surgery for
the removal of a cancerous lung in May of 2005) isn’t nearly as hands-on in his
teaching these days but he was still present for each session of the
30th Pete Newell Big Man Camp Aug. 7-11 in Las
Vegas’ Cox Pavilion. The 55 campers included current
college players as well as NBA centers Andrew Bynum of the Los Angeles Lakers and Adonal Foyle of the Golden State Warriors.
“He sat (and watched), mostly,”
Pete Newell Challenge Executive Director Jeff Fellenzer said of the
sessions. ``But he still did a lot of 1-on-1 teaching and explaining with the
guys in the camp.”
Newell, who also held a couple of
sessions of his Tall Women Camp in San
Diego in July, provides an exceptional learning
environment with his camps.
And, as a bit of a bonus, the
college players also get exposure to the many talent evaluators and decision
makers from the NBA franchises who show up – to take a look at the players
and watch Newell and his staff (headed by Pete Newell Jr. and including
Mike Dunlap of Metro State) put players through drills that often don’t include
the use of basketball.
Among a consensus of the NBA types
and camp instructors, some of the standouts during the Aug. 7-11 sessions
included Anthony Tolliver (Creighton), Dante Cunningham
(Villanova), Rashad Singleton (Georgia), Kyle Visser (Wake Forest)
and the Cal duo of DeVon Hardin and Jordan Wilkes.
The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Tolliver
(13.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.6 blocks per game as a junior) and
guard Nate Funk are two reasons why, this season, the Bluejays could at
least equal the post-season success that fellow Missouri Valley Conference
members enjoyed last March when Bradley and Wichita State won a couple of NCAA
Tournament games apiece.
Cunningham (6-9, 220) played in all
33 games, starting four times, while averaging 2.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in
19.3 minutes per game for Coach Jay Wright’s Wildcats who, with the
return of a healthy Curtis Sumpter, will have Sweet 16 potential despite
the loss of mega-productive guards Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry and Allan
Singleton (7-0, 250) averaged only
11.7 minutes, 1.9 points and 2.1 rebounds in 29 games as a freshman last season
but is considered one of the best big prospects in the Southeastern
Visser (6-11, 250) is the
second-best scorer and top rebounder among
Forest returnees, albeit those
averages were just 5.0 and 4.3, respectively, when the Deacons finished in last
place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The 6-10, 250-pound Hardin, after
undergoing shoulder surgery earlier this summer, was limited in the drills that
involved any use of his arms but still showed enough to demonstrate why many NBA
scouts consider him a much better prospect than former teammate Leon Powe
was last season.
Wilkes (6-10, 220) saw just spot
action (7.7 minutes, 2.1 points and 1.1 rebounds in 21 games) as a freshman but
could move into the starting lineup as a sophomore.
BOUNCING AROUND THE
*As is almost always the case, the
EA Sports Maui Invitational has the earmarks of having the most intriguing field
in all of the November tournaments.
There is a UCLA-Kentucky hook up
(assuming the possibly overrated Wildcats don’t fall to the just-as-possibly
underrated Blue Demons in Round 1) in one semifinal and a likely Memphis-Georgia Tech pairing in the other (unless
Oklahoma and/or Purdue,
respectively, derail it in first-round matchups).
A Bruins-Memphis final would be a
“rematch” of the programs’ Elite Eight matchup in
Oakland in March that was won by Ben Howland’s crew on its way to the Final Four.
It will be interesting to see if
the Tigers’ post players will convert on a few more layins and other point-blank
attempts than they did in Oakland
*With the unexpected July (guard
Kevin Kruger, via transfer to UNLV to play for his dad) and August
(forward Bryson Krueger, dismissed from the squad after being arrested)
departures of the program’s top two scorers from last season, the Arizona State
Sun Devils went from likely “sleeper threats to finish in the upper division” to
“likely to finish ninth or 10th” in the Pacific 10 Conference during
Herb Sendek’s first season.
But there was plenty of upbeat news surrounding the program with
the August commitments from Class of 2007 preps James Harden (6-5 wing,
Artesia High in Lakewood,
Calif.) and Jamelle McMillan (6-2
point guard, O’Dea High in
Harden made a pretty good case for
being considered one of the Top 10 players in the senior class with his play
while leading the Pump-N-Run Select team to the adidas Super 64 championship and
following that up on the same July day in Cox Pavilion by dropping 33 points on
Houston Hoops as his team prevailed in the Las Vegas Prep Showcase.
There wasn’t a better performer
than Harden among any of the perimeter players – Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo and Derrick Rose included – who were in
Las Vegas during the July 22-26 week
of the Super 64, Reebok Big Time and Main Event tournaments.
*The relative optimists among the
Duke faithful might be thinking the Blue Devils have a pretty good chance of
taking a 14-0 record into the Jan. 6 start of Atlantic Coast Conference play
against Virginia Tech in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Mike Krzyzewski’s team will
face two tough games (likely coming from among Air Force,
Marquette and Texas Tech) during the
College Basketball Experience Classic (formerly known as the Guardians’ Classic)
final two rounds in Kansas City Nov.
Then it is home for consecutive
games against Davidson,
Georgetown, Holy Cross, George Mason
State before a Dec. 21 tilt against
Gonzaga in Madison
On second thought, it might take
the very optimistic among Duke followers to project an unbeaten mark
going into ACC action – especially if sophomore Josh McRoberts, who
underwent back surgery in July, isn’t nearly as dominant a presence as he could
be if fully healthy.
*As usual, some of the better
college and high school players in
the country served as counselors during the Aug. 1-5 and 6-10 sessions of the
School camps in
Incoming freshmen Chase Budinger
(Arizona) and Thaddeus Young (Georgia Tech) were
standouts in the evening pickup games and afternoon workouts, as were
Southeastern Conference stars Glen Davis of LSU and Ronald Steele
and Jermareo Davidson of
Alabama, as well as sophomore Julian Wright of
Kansas. The latter is projected by
many NBA talent evaluator as a likely lottery selection next June although that
nasty jump shot remains cause for trepidation.
And a couple of other pretty good
guards were on hand: O.J. Mayo
(Cincinnati North College Hill) and A.J. Price
Mayo is, well . . . really, really
good, as any basketball follower with access to the Internet has known for,
what, about 10 years now?
Price has seen his college debut
delayed by two years because of medical and legal issues. But he showed enough
in Santa Barbara and in
Indianapolis (as a counselor during
the July Nike All-America Camp) to convince many that he’ll be one of the best
guards in the Big East Conference . . . from Day One.
*Adidas is holding a coaches’
clinic in the Palms Casino Resort in Las
Vegas Sept. 29-30 and it promises to be a doozie (as in
“extraordinary”, not as in “bizarre”): Bob Knight (Texas Tech), John Calipari (Memphis), Ben Howland (UCLA), Bill Self (Kansas) and Kelvin Sampson (Indiana) are among the
I’m guessing Knight and Sampson
aren’t likely to be teaming for any demonstrations.
For more details, hit this website:
Inducted into the USBWA Hall of
Fame in April, 2005, Frank Burlison is Scout.com’s national basketball expert and is
also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at