Inside the SEC: June 28

28 Jun

By Matt Fultz
National Hoops Report

New format, NBA Draft, recruiting, John Calipari and much more in this week’s Inside the SEC.

Still kinks to work out in new league format

During Monday’s coaches teleconference one of the topics that kept coming up, was how should the conference schedule be setup, especially the number of games.

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings had been a proponent of a 22-game schedule at the spring meetings earlier this month, not any longer.

“We feel like we’ve been through Armageddon after 16 games,” Stallings said. “I don’t think (22 games) has got a lot of traction. But I thought it was worth bringing up and discussing.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari isn’t fond of the 22-game schedule either preferring to be able to play more out of conference games.

“I really, really think 22 is a number that very few leagues do that, and there’s reasons for that, so I think you’re talking about 16 or 18 games,” Calipari said. “More important than the 16 or 18, whatever that may be, it’s our nonconference schedule. Leagues that have gotten tons of teams into the NCAA Tournament have figured out it’s about your nonconference strength of schedule and your nonconference RPI.”

Some coaches like Auburn’s Tony Barbee still haven’t decided what they want.

“It’s something that we’re going to study as a league to really determine what the benefit is of keeping it at 16 games, going to 18 or possibly 2,” the second year coach said. “I really don’t have a thought on that yet because I really haven’t looked at it yet and studied the benefit of it but I do know, if it’s going to be 18 games, adding two more games against teams in this league can probably do nothing but benefit because of the strength of the basketball programs in this conference.”

Strong Showing in NBA Draft

The SEC showed it is not just a football conference in Thursday night’s NBA draft, having nine players selected, more than any other conference.

One year after having five first round draft picks, including the number one pick John Wall, Kentucky had four players selected. Enes Kanter, who was never able to suit up for the Wildcats, went third overall to the Utah Jazz four spots in front of Brandon Knight, who went to the Detroit Pistons. Josh Harrellson was taken 45th and DeAndre Liggins was selected 53rd.

Tobias Harris became the first Tennessee player taken in the first round in nearly two decades.  Harris was secelected 19th by the Charlotte Bobcats, but was later traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. Allan Houston was the last former Volunteer first rounder back in 1993, when he was selected 11th overall by the Pistons.

Both Florida and Georgia had a pair of players selected in the second round. The Gators Chandler Parsons was taken by the Houston Rockets with the 38th pick. Vernon Macklin was later taken by the Pistons with pick 52. Former Bulldog teammates Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie could be teammates once again as they were both taken by the L.A. Clippers ten picks apart at 27 and 47.

UK gives Calipari contract extension…again

Calipari has only been at the helm of the Wildcats for two seasons, but the coach is already on his third contract. For the second time in as many summers the University opted to extend Calipari’s contract and give him a raise.

The new deal runs through 2019 could be worth as much as $43.5 million if all the incentives are met has the coach making $3.8 million in annual guaranteed salary.

“The basketball program, he’s clearly got it back and relevant nationally,” UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said. “We’re winning championships in our league and recruiting at a very high national level. Clearly, we’re in the conversation for national championships again and that’s what Kentucky basketball is all about. I thought it was important to secure that for a long time to come.”

One of the key provisions in the contract is the increased buyout. Whereas before the buyout fell to $500 thousand after next season and zero after that, the extension increases the buyout to $1 million through 2014. In addition to the buyout Calipari would also forfeit another $1 million retention bonus.

He said what?: Calipari brings up NCAA alternative

As many times as John Calipari has found himself at odds with the NCAA, including just as recently as a week ago when UK was forced to apologize for celebrating the coach’s 500th victory too early after it counted vacated victories, it should not be surprising that the coach thinks there is a better alternative.

In an interview with Kentucky Sports Radio last week, the coach described a plan for either 64 or 72 schools to break away from the NCAA and form their own association. The schools would then play in 16 or 18 team conferences.

For basketball the “national champion” would come as a result of a single elimination tournament that included every team. In football it would be determined by an eight team playoff.

Through the revenue earned by TV deals, the programs would not only raise money for their school’s general fund but also be able to pay the student athletes between $3,000-4,000 to help offset living expenses.

Vandy, Mississippi State land recruits

With the July evaluation period just a little over a week away, a couple of SEC schools were able to get a head start on the competition and lock down a pair of 2012 recruits.

Mississippi State didn’t have to look very far to find the newest member of it’s 2012 recruiting class, just right down the road actually.

Gavin Ware, a 6-foot-9 center, from Starkville made his commitment to the hometown school official on Thursday at a press conference.

“I couldn’t stay three days away from home,” he said. “I just felt it would be good to stay at home in this environment.”

Ware, who also had offers from Alabama and Georgetown among other, has good touch around the rim. He joins Craig Sword and Fred Thomas in the Bulldog’s recruiting class.

While the Bulldogs went just down the street to find Ware, Vanderbilt went across an ocean to land it’s next prospect.

Kevin Bright, a 6-foot-5 small from Ulm, Germany, picked the Commodores over California, Nebraska, and others.

Bright is an explosive athlete, who can get to the rim, as well as knock down shots from behind the arc.

This is not the first time that Kevin Stallings and his staff have ventured overseas looking for talent, Vanderbilt currently has four other foreign born players on the roster including stars Jeffery Taylor and Festus Ezeli.

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