Smack off

30 May

Baylor forward Perry Jones says he isn't ready for the NBA lifestyle. I say good for the sophomore-to-be for admitting that fact.

By Justin Young
National Hoops Report

I love honesty. I find it refreshing. As a competitive person, I don’t mind the occasional running of the mouth. In fact, I appreciate it.

A number of basketball people opened their mouths this past week and spewed some interesting comments.

THE VERDICT ON PERRY JONES

Baylor freshman Perry Jones isn’t man enough. Not my words. Those are his, in a nutshell. He could have been a top five pick in the NBA Draft this year. Jones told Andy Katz that he isn’t ready to put on his big boy pants.

“I’m not ready to move onto that next level yet and to have that lifestyle. I’m 19. I know I could be a top-five pick. I know I could make a lot of money. If I’m not ready next year either, then I’m not ready next year.”

I respect that. Jones is right, too. He could be the number one overall pick next year. That’s a bit far fetched considering how much talent will be in the 2012 draft next summer but Jones has a legitimate cast to be the first player to shake hands with David Stern next June.

That is, of course, if Jones is ready for that kind of jump into the real world.

We’ve seen a lot of young players struggle with their transition into the life of the NBA. The allure of millions of dollars is a tough reality to put on pause. Jones is from Dallas. He’s not a small town kid. He’s not spotlight guy. Not yet, at least. Jones is working on shouldering the load of a bigger profile.

Another year with Baylor will be good for him. The Bears have a tremendous frontline. The group is young but it is talented. The depth is impressive with Quincy Acy, Anthony Jones, J’Mison Morgan and Cory Jefferson all on the returning roster, too.

Jones will benefit tremendously from that daily battle in practice.

NO TRUTH IN ADVERTISING?

Kansas forward Markieff Morris is a confident kid. Most potential first round draft picks are. You have to be during this month. Half the game is projecting yourself as a big-timer when presenting yourself to the teams that could draft you.

Part of the game is parading yourself like Don King to the local media at different stops along the way. Morris had some interesting comments to a Washington Post reporter about Derrick Williams, a projected top two pick in the June draft.

“I didn’t think he was as good as advertised. He got the benefit of the calls from the ref and we had to guard him different. He definitely had a good game against us, because we couldn’t guard him how we wanted to guard him, and that’s what happened.

…What he did to Duke, he wouldn’t do that to me or my brother [Marcus]. I’m dead serious. He wouldn’t. At all. He’s good. But if we was to work out, I would go at him and I would be able to stop him more than people would expect, you know what I mean.”

No, Kieff, I don’t. Not at all.

Morris worked out for the Utah Jazz and impressed with his skill level but didn’t knock anyone’s socks off with his work ethic. That’s not the first time I’ve heard that. In fact, his work ethic is one of the reasons why he and his brother weren’t consensus top 25 players nationally.

In fact, the Morris twins are high on my list of likely-to-bust-in-the-NBA players in this weak draft in large part to their maturity level and work ethic. I’m not sure if either attributes register very high.

Williams was good for his own smack talk. Williams tried on his own version of Don King:

“I haven’t peaked yet. That’s the good thing about me in this draft. A lot of people in this draft have already peaked or reached their mountain. I haven’t hit the surface. I’m not trying to be cocky or anything. But my main focus now is becoming Rookie of the Year.”

TALKING SHYATT

New Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt rolled into Laramie with his guns a blazin’. In an interview with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, the former Florida assistant coach didn’t hold back on his fellow coaches.

“Most of the people I admired most in my career I don’t really admire anymore because for the analysts or the writers or the public or our wives. Sometimes, they have a warm, fuzzy feeling for some people that if they knew what I knew, they wouldn’t have such a warm, fuzzy feeling.

“It’s disappointing. I’m one of the few basketball dinosaurs. I love the profession. It hurts me to see at that level the sellouts in that regard.”

Tell us how you really feel, Larry.

He’s right, though. I speak from experience. A lot of college basketball coaches are looking out for number one. I recently had a phone conversation with a good recruiter. I haven’t talked to him in over two years.

He was calling about players in Georgia. I told him that I don’t have a clue to what’s going on since I’ve moved away and don’t keep in touch with the basketball scene quite to the level I once did in the talent hot bed. I had to explain the fact that I don’t live in Georgia at least four times before he understood. Not surprisingly, he had a phone call he had to get on the other line (for the record, I didn’t hear the call buzzing in) and said he’d call me right back. I haven’t talked to him since.

This particular coach is a what-can-you-do-for-me guy. I expected the phone conversation to end the way it did.

Shyatt is right. The warm, fuzzy feeling isn’t there quite like it used to be. We, the basketball world, are quick to point out the shortfalls in the game we all love. Yet, the fingers don’t get pointed at the coaches that work in the game. Maybe they should more often.

I’m not saying that the majority of coaches are self-serving, always looking for number one kind of guys. That club is in the minority. But the club is adding members quicker than usual.

Shyatt decided he had seen enough. I say good for him.

PARDON ME MR. PIPPEN

Scottie Pippen, one of the top 50 players of all-time, went on the Mike & Mike radio show last week and proclaimed that his former teammate Michael Jordan is the greatest scorer in the history of the NBA. That wasn’t the earth-shattering news of the interview.

Pippen said LeBron James could become the greatest player of all-time in the NBA.

No, seriously, he did.

Pippen didn’t back down to his comments and stated this on Twitter later in the day after the entire world jumped down his throat.

I respect Pippen’s decision to speak his mind. I wish more athletes did it. I don’t agree. I have six reasons to none why. So should Pippen.

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