Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pryor is all that's wrong with college athletics

Do you think Joe Paterno breathes daily sighs of relief that Terrelle Pryor chose Ohio State instead of Penn State?

The carnage Pryor left in Columbus, Ohio after his uneven and controversial three-year stint with the Buckeyes may be unprecedented for a college athlete since those chaotic days in the 1980s at Southern Methodist University.

And to improve his chances of entering the NFL's supplemental draft, Pryor attempts to add more embarrassment to Ohio State by admitting he took money from a mentor, something he did not bother to inform Ohio State or the NCAA during their investigations of his activities under coach Jim Tressel.

So basically, to bolster his opportunity to make money professionally, Pryor admitted to more wrongdoings to convince the NFL that he would not have been eligible to play next season for Ohio State. Pryor, a highly recruited quarterback four years ago, was already suspended for the first five games of the season for accepting tattoos and cash for items such as his Big Ten championship ring and other memorabilia.

And instead of sitting out those games, Pryor decided to leave school when Tressel resigned under pressure for not immediately reporting the violations when he was informed by a booster. The NFL has allowed Pryor to enter Monday's supplemental draft, a selection process mostly of college players banished from their programs, but commissioner Roger Goddell informed NFL teams that Pryor must sit out the first five regular-season games for the team that drafts him.

In order words, he carried over that Ohio State suspension to the NFL, penalizing Pryor for his sudden revelation that he accepted money from his mentor. This punishment is more than fair for a young man obviously misguided about his own worth and who appears hardly remorseful for his actions.

It's one thing to accept money during those college playing days to feed yourself or your family and it's another to trade in merchandise for tattoos. Pryor was a pro before he even played his first college game, a legend in his own mind more than willing to choose the program that offered him the most perks. While his talent never quite caught up with his ego, Pryor showed flashes of brilliance at Ohio State but always seemingly made sure to reward himself for his moderate accomplishments.

And in order to continue those rewards, he freely admitted to more misdeeds with little consideration of the program and teammates he abruptly disassociated with when it became apparent that Columbus was no longer a welcome place anymore. So a five-game suspension is a little more than a slap on the wrist for someone who deserves more stringent punishment.

Pryor is a product of a college system that is dysfunctional and the blame should be placed on all sides, his parents for allowing him to believe that was somehow being correctly compensated and the university, which allows boosters and alumni to exploit these young men with little repercussions.

The system is wrecked and only a collective effort from coaches, parents, universities and yes, even the players themselves, will correct it. Until then, players such as Terrelle Pryor will take their chances if a five-game suspension is the most severe of consequences.

Somehow, I think he believes it was worth it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gary Washburn's Mock NBA Draft

By Gary Washburn

Well, the day is here and after some arduous work and research this is the best mock draft we can come up with. But this draft is so unpredictable and bizarre with several prospects who are talented but not quite ready for the NBA. So here's my best guess and we'll talk about these picks in the coming days.

Kyrie Irving, Duke 6-4, 191

There is so much mystery attached to Irving (above) because he played just 11 college games. But the upside is so tremendous and Cleveland is looking to move forward after LeBron’s abrupt departure, this helps the process.

Derrick Williams, Arizona, 6-9, 248

The Timberwolves are shopping this pick, but imagine a combo of Williams at the small forward and Kevin Love at power forward. GM David Kahn has bizarre ways but he is building a team and Williams has a polished game.

Brandon Knight, Kentucky, 6-4, 177

The Jazz are also considering Enes Kanter at this position and they are in the position of sitting Knight for a year or two and playing Devin Harris. But this is a key pick that could cause a domino affect with the rest of the draft.

Enes Kanter, Turkey 6-11, 260

The Cavaliers are looking to move this pick for an established veteran, however, the alternative is a solid big man and legitimate center who could team with Anderson Varejao for rebounds. Yet, he is another international mystery.

Jan Vesely, Czech Republic 6-11, 240

This could go in many directions, especially with new coach Dwane Casey carrying a defensive philosophy. He doesn’t want another scorer who can’t defend as in Andrea Bargnani but Vesely’s athleticism is to enticing to pass up and he along with Ed Davis and Bargnani are a strong combo.

Tristian Thompson, Texas 6-9, 227

Thompson said Wednesday that wants to go to a team that runs the ball, and there is no more perfect of a place than Washington with John Wall. Thompson is a strong character guy who could eventually replace the checkered Andray Blatche.

Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State, 6-7, 228

The Kings are looking to make a playoff run and put fans in the seats to support a new arena and they need a swingman with defensive prowess. He will mesh in well with the team’s younger core.

Bismack Biyombo, Congo, 6-9, 243

A team without a coach has many options with this pick but the defensive-minded Biyombo brings his lunch pail to the Motor City and eventually takes over for Ben Wallace. But the Pistons are also looking for another swingman.

Marcus Morris, Kansas, 6-9, 230

Michael Jordan called this draft the most important in Charlotte history and the Bobcats need an established scorer who can make a splash right away. Marcus is more polished than his twin brother and will make fans forget lamenting the loss of Gerald Wallace.

Alec Burks, Colorado, 6-6, 193

Burks is a player who could blossom into a star like Paul George the year before. He is a prolific scorer and shooter and has good size. With John Salmons already there, the Bucks don’t need Burks to produce immediately.

Klay Thompson, Washington, State, 6-7, 206

Thompson proved he could score in the Pac-10 and should flourish in a fast-paced offense, but there are questions about his toughness and character. But the Warriors are a piece or two away from being really dangerous.

Chris Singleton, Florida State, 6-9, 230

Jazz pass up on Jimmer Fredette to get best defender in the draft and someone to take pressure off Al Jefferson. Singleton is long and versatile and doesn’t need the ball much. But he may have to play some center.


Kemba Walker, Connecticut, 6-1, 184

Phoenix likes to score and an up-tempo style and Walker could become the heir apparent to Steve Nash while playing with Nash as a rookie. This is a little lower than expected for Walker but it may be the best fit.


Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania, 7-0, 245

He is dropping because of a European contract that has committed him to staying with Lietuvos Rytas but he’s worth waiting a year on as a legitimate center and Kevin McHale needs bigs to succeed with the Rockets.

Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young, 6-3, 196

Larry Bird loves Jimmer and he could be the point guard the Pacers have been seeking for years. Indiana just needs bodies and it seems stacked in the frontcourt, so Fredette is a risk but a smart one.

Marshon Brooks, Providence, 6-5, 195

With Andre Iguodala being shopped, the 76ers need a new scoring guard who can develop into a standout player. Brooks put up major numbers with little fanfare in the Big East and he’s a good fit here.

Nikola Vucevic, USC, 7-0, 260

He is a versatile big man who can shoot from the outside and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, who played for years in Italy, is not afraid to nab a European-born player. And he is a legitimate center.

Jordan Hamilton, Texas, 6-9, 229
The Wizards take Thompson’s teammate in this spot to fill their small forward void. Washington already has a point guard and center and Hamilton is skilled enough to become an impact player.

Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania, 7-0, 245

Quick. Name Charlotte’s starting center? Kwame Brown and the Bobcats can definitely use a home-grown upgrade. He can score and has NBA size, and Charlotte needs to get serious about developing a big man.

Iman Shumpert, Georgia Tech, 6-6, 222

The Wolves need swingmen and athletes and they choose Shumpert to team in the backcourt with Ricky Rubio with Wesley Johnson at the small forward. He will find his way into the rotation.

Kenneth Faried, Morehead State, 6-8, 225

Portland has longed for the athleticism and aggressiveness of Faried and they seem set in most other positions. The Celtics would love for him to slip down the 25, but the Trail Blazers get a much-needed tough guy who doesn’t need the ball.

Tobias Harris, Tennessee, 6-8, 223

With Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen likely gone, the Nuggets need to get younger in the paint and the inexperienced Harris likes to play defense and is coachable. He should have stayed in school but bailed when Bruce Pearl got into deep trouble in Knoxville.

Reggie Jackson, Boston College, 6-3, 209

Kyle Lowry is a solid NBA point guard but he is undersized and injury prone, so Jackson comes in here to learn the position and give the Rockets some backcourt help. But he has not worked out for teams because of a knee injury.

Markeiff Morris, Kansas, 6-9, 241

The Thunder like rugged players and Morris is their type of guy. Nick Collison is 30 while Kendrick Perkins showed signs of slowing down after coming over from the Celtics. Morris is a glue player with solid shooting skills.

Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA, 6-8, 188
If he had stayed another year, Honeycutt would be a top 10 pick, and the Celtics don’t need him to produce right away, but they need a player who can grow into a star. Honeycutt makes the game look easy and he is just starting to scratch the surface.


Jeremy Tyler, Italy, 6-11, 262

With Tyson Chandler as a free agent, the Mavericks invest in their future and they don’t need the inexperience Tyler to perform immediately. And Mavs owner Mark Cuban has no problem taking draft chances.

Justin Harper, Richmond, 6-9, 228

With their point guard and center all set, the Nets go after the talented Harper with their only first-round pick. They have to score with this one because they gave so much to Utah for Deron Williams.


Nolan Smith, Duke, 6-4, 188

What better for Tom Thibodeau’s system than a defensive-minded two-guard? Smith has an NBA pedigree with his late father Derek and he comes from a four-year stint at Duke. He immediately becomes a rotation player.

Davis Bertans, Latvia, 6-10, 210

The Spurs are all set for one more title run but they could use another big man down the road. Bertains may stay overseas for a year or two but he will be back.

Chandler Parsons, Florida, 6-9, 220

Parsons is polished and can shoot from the perimeter. The Bulls lacked perimeter shootings and none of their forwards are outside threats besides Luol Deng. Parsons fills a needed role.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Athletes should be more expressive, but also informed

This has been an interesting week when it comes to athletes and social opinions. The killing of Osama Bin Laden sparked celebration from many Americans and reactions from certain athletes who have offered their thoughts on the landmark news and the aftermath.

Two athletes -- the Milwaukee Bucks' Chris Douglas-Roberts (pictured right) and the Pittsburgh Steelers' Rashard Mendenhall -- were chided for their Twitter comments, although they were different. Douglas-Roberts, an astute person who has quite a Twitter following, pondered the celebration of someone's death, especially since Afghans and others in the Middle East were celebrating the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Mendenhall went a little further to not only criticize the celebration but suggesting that we didn't know Bin Laden and knew only "one side of the story."

Douglas-Roberts explained his comments to ESPN and the New York Daily News while Mendendall released a blog explaining his stance, which was misguided at best.

The positive in this situation is that athletes, even the younger ones, are beginning to speak out and notice the world around them besides material goods, women and music. The negative is that sometimes athletes, especially those who don't follow news closely, can give misinformed opinions and therefore face great criticism.

We have seen a generation of athletes pass on having any political opinions that may affect sneaker sales or their marketing image. Athletes who could have great influence on the thinking and the education of their fans have passed for fear making any waves, although some of those won't hesitate to drive while drinking or get caught with marijuana. It's about time our athletes stop being so concerned about their image, but by using the forum of Twitter or blogs comes the responsibility of being educated on the subjects you choose to broach.

That's the challenge for athletes, to enlighten themselves on issues outside of sports. We ask our athletes to be more well rounded, make a statement, offer a thought on their community and when they do, we tend to criticize them because of that opinion. As long as that opinion is concise, knowledgeable and sincere, we can't criticize the effort. We can only choose to agree or disagree.

That is the American way.