Every Friday I will give my thoughts on the game I love, basketball.
• It was a busy week for college basketball news. There was a flurry of activity at the deadline for early-entry players to withdraw from the NBA draft. College basketball really won this year. Look at some of the talent returning to the sport: Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, Chase Budinger, Robert Dozier, A.J. Abrams, Ronald Steele, Robert Vaden and Jeremy Pargo. Then think about some of the players that previously dropped out of the draft, guys like Jerel McNeal, Josh Shipp, Antonio Anderson, DeMarre Carroll, Leo Lyons and Josh Carter. These guys probably would have spent a lot of time on the pine if they went to the next level now. Instead they can work on improving their game even more, plus they have the shot to enjoy college life. Why rush to the 82-game schedule, the travel, when you can still be a young man maturing further?
• Congratulations to the Boston Celtics on championship number 17! Doc Rivers did an incredible job getting a lot of veterans to buy into his team concept, especially on the defensive side. It was great to see the Big Three – Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce – celebrating on a job well done. Wow, a 42-game turnaround and now an NBA championship. Danny Ainge deserves a lot of credit for building this club.
• The Big 12 vs. Pac-10 hardwood series pairings were announced, and there are some beauties. I love these in-season conference showdowns because it cuts down on cupcake city, baby! UCLA and Texas will meet in Austin in what figures to be a battle of top 10 squads. I can't wait to see Darren Collison and Abrams hook up! Remember, the Longhorns won at Pauley Pavilion last year, so Ben Howland's young team will be out for revenge. USC travels to Oklahoma and it will be fun to see Blake Griffin and company against Tim Floyd's talented team. Arizona goes to Texas A&M, while Baylor visits Washington State in another rematch game. One match-up not in the four-day window, but enticing nonetheless, is Kansas at Arizona.
• There was plenty of transfer news recently. Gus Gilchrist, who originally committed to Virginia Tech, then decided to go to Maryland, now has a new school – South Florida. It is a great addition for coach Stan Heath, though there is a question over when Gilchrist will be eligible … stay tuned. Kentucky guard Derrick Jasper announced he is transferring to UNLV, a solid future addition for Lon Kruger. According to published reports, 6-5 Eric Wallace is going from Ohio State to DePaul.
• New Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins made a super hire to his staff by bringing in former Santa Clara coach Dick Davey. The former Broncos boss spent 15 seasons as a head coach and led Santa Clara to three NCAA berths. Dawkins also added former Loyola Marymount head coach Rodney Tention.
• Big news from the state of Tennessee. The Vols landed highly-regarded 6-7 forward Emmanuel Negedu. Memphis added juco transfer Rob Sallie, reuniting him with former Laurinburg Prep teammates Anderson and Dozier. The bad news for John Calipari came when Doneal Mack announced his plans to transfer.
• Air Force gave head coach Jeff Reynolds a five-year contract. Reynolds has a deal going through 2012-13. He was promoted from the assistant role after Jeff Bzdelik left for the Colorado head coaching vacancy a year ago.