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THE DESTINATION always seemed to be the NBA. Ever since Tyreke Evans was a baby, with a regulation-sized ball in his hands, he’d watch games with older brothers Reggie, Doc and Eric. Tyreke would imitate what he saw on TV, and was making free throws as a 4-year-old on a regulation-sized court.

As recently as a year ago, the destination never wavered. When Evans sat before a phalanx of microphones and told a national TV audience that he’d be going to Memphis, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the gifted 6-6 shooting guard out of American Christian in Aston would be a one-and-done.

Evans made that definitive yesterday, when he announced that he intends to leave Memphis and enter the NBA draft in June. The school announced on its Web site that he submitted his paperwork to the NBA, but indicated that he would not sign with an agent, which would allow him to change his mind and return to college.

Evans said he knew it was time to leave after Memphis lost to Missouri in the Sweet 16 to end the Tigers’ season.

“Coach [John] Calipari told me I was a great kid and that I’d be a lottery pick,” Evans said. “He told me it was time for me to leave. That’s when I knew I would put my name in.

“I had to sit down with my brothers and we spoke about going. I told them what coach Cal said, and I let my brothers handle the rest. I feel pretty happy, with all the hard work that I put in. My goal was always to make it to the NBA, and it’s something I dreamed about since I was a kid. I always dreamed about being called up during the NBA draft, and seeing guys get emotional. I might not. I have to see when I get up there.”

Evans finished a very strong season at Memphis, leading the Tigers with a 17.1 scoring average, starting in 35 of 37 games. He concluded the season with a career-best 33 points in a 102-91 loss to Missouri in the NCAA Tournament.

Calipari subsequently left for the job at Kentucky, and Memphis assistant Josh Pastner was promoted to the top spot.

Some draft prognosticators have Evans, who adjusted seamlessly to a midseason position change from shooting guard to point guard, going as high as No. 2 overall. He was selected national Freshman of the Year by a number of news outlets.

Still only 19 (he’ll turn 20 on Sept. 19), Evans showed a great combination of scoring instincts and strength to the basket this past season. Under Calipari, Evans also showed an ability to defend and rebound at the major Division I level, averaging 5.4 rebounds a game and leading Memphis with 77 steals.

“I think Tyreke is really good,” said an NBA source who could not speak on the record. “I’ve always compared him to Larry Hughes. They have similar size; maybe Tyreke is a little taller and a little thicker. Both have well-rounded games. I think Tyreke is an NBA starter, and he’s only 19. He has a work ethic and he wants to get better. He’s not a great shooter, and I don’t know if that will ever change.”

But is Evans a point guard in the NBA? Calipari went through three point guards before putting the ball in Evans’ hands. The result: a 27-game winning streak for the 33-4 Tigers, before losing to Missouri.

“I saw Tyreke play twice live this past season, and I can only scout what I saw,” the NBA source said. “Cal did a good job when he finally put the ball in Tyreke’s hands. Cal made him a willing passer. But don’t get the wrong idea; Tyreke’s not a point guard. He’s a wing with a great handle. Tyreke has great size, he can finish, he gets to the line a lot, and can rebound and lead the break. There are a lot of things I like about him. He’ll be a lottery pick and a really good player, with a chance to be an All-Star. I have to admit, I’m a fan of the kid. Anyone 6-6 and that talented, you have to be.

“There’s nothing wrong with being Larry Hughes. He had an opportunity to be a special player; without all the injuries, he could have been an All-Star. I’m rooting for Tyreke to make it. He had a great freshman year. We’ll watch and see where he winds up.”

“Before we made this move, we got the feedback we wanted to hear,” said Reggie Evans. “We’re hearing anywhere from 1 to 15, but that will depend on what teams need. We’re declaring without an agent, and that’s important. If we don’t like where Tyreke is drafted, he could go back to Memphis. We are interviewing agents, but we haven’t signed with anyone yet.

“Right now, my family’s biggest concern is that Tyreke gets drafted by a good organization and be able to play for that team. The bottom line is that he’s happy.”

Said Tyreke: “I always had haters in my life. I like that. It makes me work on my game that much harder. In June, David Stern is going to call my name. My family will be there, and that’s the most important thing. I get a chance to live my dream. It just happened so fast.”… Read Entire Article Here

Connecticut’s Hasheem Thabeet will give up his final year of college eligibility and enter the NBA draft.

The 7-foot-3 center from Tanzania said yesterday that he made the decision after speaking to family, friends, and coach Jim Calhoun.

Thabeet, the Big East co-player of the year with Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, averaged 13.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 4.2 blocked shots per game in helping the Huskies to a 31-5 record and a Final Four berth.

Calhoun called Thabeet “one of the most dominant defensive players in the history of college basketball,” and said he believed he is ready to make the move to the NBA.

Another Big East star, DePaul’s Dar Tucker, also plans to enter the draft. The 6-5 sophomore guard averaged 18.5 points and five rebounds this season.

Flynn may return. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim says guard Jonny Flynn might not be headed to the NBA along with teammates Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris.

Boeheim said Flynn’s status was “kind of up in the air.”

Last week the school announced that all three players planned to make themselves eligible for the draft.

The coach said Devendorf and Harris are virtual locks to leave, but Flynn might still opt to come back to school.

Flynn led the team in scoring at 17.4 points per game and set an Orange record by playing 1,418 minutes in his sophomore year. After two seasons, he ranks seventh in career assists (439) at Syracuse.

He indicated he will not hire an agent, giving him the option to return to school.

Evans’ decision. With Chester native Tyreke Evans close to deciding whether to make himself available in the draft, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James weighed in on the prospects of the former American Christian star, a freshman at Memphis.

“If he decides to come out, he’ll be a lottery pick,” James said after his team beat the 76ers on Friday at the Wachovia Center. “He’s really talented, and I got the opportunity to have him at my basketball camp a few years ago when he was in high school. As he continues to grow and his body develops into a man, he’ll be really good. I’m all for whatever Tyreke decides to do.”

Yesterday, Memphis assistant coach Lamont Peterson said that Evans’ decision would come soon.

“Tyreke has sat down with his family, and a timetable has been set for him to make an announcement,” said Peterson, who declined to reveal the deadline. “We’ve heard from several sources in the NBA.”

Evans is enrolled at Memphis and continues to attend classes. He averaged 17.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game this season.

Coach John Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky. Former assistant Josh Pastner is the Tigers’ new coach.

“Coach Pastner has his own ideas about how to utilize Tyreke’s talent and skill set, which will be a little different from Coach Cal,” Peterson said. “But Tyreke has a great relationship with Coach Pastner.”

James, who made the leap from high school into the NBA, was asked whether Evans could improve further by staying in school.

“I think he could, but he can develop in the NBA also,” James said. “Who am I to say, ‘Stay in college’… Read Entire Article Here

The day after B.J. Bailey’s high school career ended, his basketball future suddenly took an uncertain turn.

The Holy Spirit senior saw his career conclude with a 64-36 loss to Christian Brothers Academy in the South Jersey Non-Public A championship game on March 10.

The next day, Bailey got the news that Boston University, where he accepted a basketball scholarship and signed in November, had fired coach Dennis Wolff.

Talk about a double whammy.

Bailey, a member of The Inquirer’s all-South Jersey first team who averaged 17.5 points, didn’t feel secure at that point.

Nobody knew if the new coaching staff would be as high on Bailey as the old one.

“I was a little worried,” Bailey said. “I didn’t know what to think.”

This is where a high school coach really makes an impact on a youngster’s life.

Coach Jamie Gillespie, who guided the Spartans to a 26-3 record, is more than somebody who draws up X’s and O’s. Gillespie is somebody who works hard, helping his players in recruiting, so after hearing the news, Bailey listened to his instincts.

“I called Coach,” he said.

It was a good move.

“At that point, we explored all the options,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie made some phone calls and discovered that Boston University was going to retain assistant coach Orlando Vandross, who did most of the legwork in recruiting Bailey.

“That made me feel good,” Bailey said. “I told him, as long as he was staying, then I was staying.”… Read Entire Article Here

Jesse Morgan makes a dunk for the City boys´ team.
RAHUL COUTINHO / Staff photographer
Jesse Morgan makes a dunk for the City boys’ team.
By Ted Silary

PHILLY’S PUBLIC schools are off this week, and so is Jesse Morgan’s body.

Don’t believe him? In his own words, here are his plans: “I’m gonna rest, rest and rest. That’s it.” He almost started a day too early.

The occasion yesterday at 4 p.m. in La Salle University’s Tom Gola Arena was the boys’ contest in the All-Star Labor Classic. The guy with droopy eyelids through the first half? That was Morgan, the star guard from Olney High who mostly goes by “Booge” – rhymes with scrooge.

“I didn’t get up until 2 o’clock,” Morgan said. “I was sluggish. Took me a while to get going.”

Don’t worry. We asked the obvious questions.

“I didn’t go to bed until about 2 in the morning,” he said. “Our spring break is just starting. I want to take advantage of it. I want to get used to not having to go to sleep so early.

“How’d I sleep that long? My bed’s real comfortable. It was easy. Didn’t even wake up once. Slept straight through.”

Morgan, a 6-4, 175-pound senior guard, earned first-team honors on the Daily News’ recently released All-City squad. Once he got rolling yesterday, he bobbed and weaved – and exploded – his way to 16 points, though the result for City was a 109-99 loss to Suburbs.

Morgan hit only one of three shots in the first half; all attempts were treys. He made all five of his shots from the floor thereafter, with a three and dunk mixed in, while going an uncharacteristic 2-for-5 at the line.

He added three rebounds, along with one assist and a steal.

Through his first 3 years of high school ball while at Prep Charter, Morgan mostly was pigeonholed as a zone-buster. This past season, he did everything imaginable while pacing Olney to the Division A regular-season title.

“I knew I had more in me,” he said. “Maybe not everything I wound up showing, but that came as I went through the season. I really picked up my defense and rebounding. I kind of surprised myself in those two areas.

“I’m proud of how things went. I blossomed into a good all-around player and raised my stock a lot higher.”

Right about now, rumors about Morgan’s future are as plentiful as Easter candy next to drug-store cash registers.

Schools from around the country are at least inquiring – Final Four participant Connecticut is among them – and offers, Jesse said, have come from Nebraska and Baylor, in addition to Temple and La Salle. No official visits have been made. He has checked out the locals on unofficials.

So, he’s not ready to sign, as some are saying?… Read Entire Article Here

Jason Thompson has enjoyed an impressive NBA rookie season with the Sacramento Kings. He is averaging 10.9 points and 7.2 rebounds in 27.5 minutes, but despite the success, the 2004 Lenape graduate hasn’t become too big a star to forget about his alma mater.

Thompson was rooting, albeit from a distance, when Lenape made its magical run to win the state Group 4 boys’ basketball championship and eventually finish as The Inquirer’s No. 1 ranked South Jersey team.

Seeing his school win the second state title, after he helped lead the Indians to their first as a senior, was a big deal to the 6-foot-11 Thompson.

“I was excited,” Thompson said earlier this week in a phone interview. “A lot of people were giving me updates.”

For being on the West Coast, Thompson followed the Indians as closely as he could.

“I hear they had a buzzer-beater in two games,” he said. “I was being real supportive even though I was 3,000 miles away.”

He was pretty close about the buzzer-beaters. Lenape overcame a 16-point third-quarter deficit to defeat Cherokee, when Mike Celestin hit a game-winning 17-footer at the buzzer in a 47-45 overtime South Jersey Group 4 semifinal win.

Celestin also hit a game-winning 13 footer with 3.5 seconds left in a 41-40 win over Neptune in a Tournament of Champions quarterfinal.

That was Lenape’s ninth straight win after the Indians had gone through a rough 4-7 stretch.

“The team got hot at the right time,” Thompson said, his voice filled with pride.

Thompson’s team in 2004 won the school’s first boys’ basketball state title. He had 15 points and 14 rebounds in a 66-51 South Jersey Group 4 final win over host Atlantic City.

Two games later Thompson had 16 points and 12 rebounds in a 63-46 state Group 4 title win over Plainfield.

“It felt so great to win it and we were proud that we were the first ones in school history to win it,” he said.

Thompson is a player who kept developing well after high school. He literally grew – three inches to be precise – after leaving Lenape to attend Rider.

Thompson was an Inquirer second-team all-South Jersey selection. His teammate Matt Betley, was The Inquirer’s South Jersey player of the year that season.

Who will forget the quote from Atlantic City coach Gene Allen after Lenape beat the Vikings in the sectional final?

“Betley and Thompson are better in person than they are on film,” Allen said.

Thompson said he didn’t care about statistics in high school, except the ones following the win column.

“It wasn’t about guys trying to go out and average 20,” he said. “We had balanced scoring and that is what made us successful.”

Thompson said he enjoyed playing under then coach Bill Lange and also said he isn’t surprised that this year’s team prospered under Chuck Guittar, who was an assistant on the 2004 team.

One surprise to some observers has been Thompson’s rapid development since leaving Lenape and attending Rider.

“It took a while for Jason to grow into his body, and once he got in the weight room and everything changed with his body and he matured, he really took off,” Guittar said. “Everybody at Lenape is so thrilled with how well he has done.”… Read Entire Article Here

By The Associated Press

The Associated Press Pennsylvania boys all-state high school basketball teams for the 2008-09 season, as selected following statewide voting by sports writers. (Player, school, height, class, scoring avg.)
First Team
Maalik Wayns, Roman Catholic, 6-1, Sr., 17.2.
Jesse “Booge” Morgan, Olney, 6-4, Sr., 28.4.
Dalton Pepper, Pennsbury, 6-5, Sr., 24.4.
Tyrone Garland, Bartram, 6-0, Jr., 28.5.
Aaric Murray, Glen Mills, 6-11, Sr., 18.0.
Rahlir Jefferson, Chester, 6-6, Sr., 18.0.
Second Team
Nick Novak, Franklin Regional, 6-1, Sr., 27.0.
Shannon Givens, Samuel Fels, 5-10, Sr., 23.6.
Khalif Wyatt, Norristown, 6-3, Sr., 20.0.
Gregg Robbins, Lower Merion, 6-4, Sr., 18.6.
Duane Johnson, Penn Wood, 6-5, Sr., 13.7.
Malik Generett, York William Penn, 6-5, Sr., 14.9.
Evan Pierce, Mount Lebanon, 6-2, Jr., 19.0.
Third Team
Jake Cohen, Conestoga, 6-10, Sr., 17.0.
Dontahe Jordan, Williamsport, 6-4, Sr., 14.0.
Jaleel Clark, Parkland, 6-5, Sr., 18.0.
Jonathan Breeden, Central Dauphin East, 6-1, Sr., 14.5.
Nick Wilcox, Peters Township, 6-3, Sr., 21.0.
C.J. Aiken, Plymouth-Whitemarsh, 6-9, Jr., 14.0.
Aaron Brown, Penn Wood, 6-5, Soph., 13.2.
Player of the Year: Dalton Pepper, Pennsbury.
Coach of the Year: Clyde Jones, Penn Wood. Read the rest of this entry »

Another day, another honor.

Villanova-bound guard Maalik Wayns, star point guard for Roman Catholic High, has earned third-team honors on the Parade All-America High School Boys Basketball Team. The team – 40 players broken into four teams of 10 apiece – will be released in Sunday’s issue.

The entire Parade team, selected by coaches, scouts, recruiters and media, includes 40 athletes from 18 states. Texas boasts the most, with seven…Read Entire Article Here

BOB JORDAN / Associated Press
Ronald “Flip” Murray is lifted by Shaw fans after the North Carolina school won the 2002 CIAA tourney. Murray, a product of Strawberry Mansion, was the Division II national player of the year as a senior.

All over the neighborhood, the word was out. Flip was back. Ronald “Flip” Murray had been academically ineligible for his senior season at Strawberry Mansion High. His exile ended just before the Public League playoffs.

“I saw some people I knew – they were like, ‘Yeah, I got off work today, Flip is coming back.’ They were comparing it to when Jordan came back to the United Center, after he had retired,” said Littel Vaughn, who puts out Checkball magazine, about Philly hoops.

If memories haven’t faded, Murray’s first game back was a home game, against Olney High. At that time, Flip used to pack Strawberry Mansion’s gym for intramural games. To get in for this one, for Flip’s return, you had to know somebody at the door.

“He got three straight dunks,” said Kevin “Buzz” Forney, the other star on that Strawberry Mansion team, who went on to play at Duquesne. “One of our fans stopped the whole game and came out and gave him a hug.”

Flip sat down at the end of the bench, next to the security guard. Not because he’d be last to get in. He’d be first.

“I can see everything,” Murray said of his favored perch. “How they’re guarding our players, the stuff they’re running.”

The opponent that night wasn’t

Olney. It was the Boston Celtics, defending NBA champions. As soon as Murray got out there, first off the bench for the Atlanta Hawks, he belonged. During a time-out late in the game, the overhead scoreboard showed a highlight – a Flip highlight from a few minutes earlier, a simple shoulder fake and a shot. A Celtics defender sliding one way, Flip suddenly open, knocking down a jumper… Read Entire Article Here

ST. LOUIS (USBWA) – Memphis guard Tyreke Evans has been named the 2008-09 U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year, the organization announced Wednesday. Evans, who was a unanimous choice for this year’s honor, is the first player in Tiger history to receive the USBWA National Freshman of Year award.
For Evans, it is his fourth National Freshman of the Year award, making him the consensus National Freshman of the Year. He also received the National Freshman of the Year accolade from The Sporting News, Memphis freshman Tyreke Evans was named the 2008-09 USBWA National Freshman of the and The Chester, Pa., native is the first freshman in Tiger basketball history to earn consensus National Freshman of Year distinction. The USBWA began presenting a National Freshman of the Year in the 1988-89 season, and this is the third Conference USA player in the 14-year history of the league to earn the honor. Larry Hughes of Saint Louis was named the 1998 USBWA Freshman of the Year, while DePaul’s Quentin Richardson won the 1999 honor.

Evans is also a finalist for the 2008-09 Wooden Award and Oscar Robertson Trophy – both are National Player of the Year honors. He is the only freshman to be listed among the finalists for both awards.
The awards keep piling up for the 6-foot-6 guard. Evans was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Year and earned All-C-USA first team accolades. Evans was also selected to the USBWA All-District 4 Team and the NABC All-District 11 first team. The Sporting News, and selected him to its Freshman All-America first teams. Sports Illustrated and also named Evans an All-America third team.

Evans, the 2009 C-USA Tournament MVP, leads the Tigers in scoring (16.6 ppg) and steals (75). He is averaging 5.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists, while shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 69.7 percent from the free throw line. The nine-time Conference USA Rookie of the Week is ranked among the league leaders in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage, assists and steals. He ranks first on the Memphis all-time freshmen steals list with 75 swipes. He is also second on the Tiger all-time freshman scoring chart with 599 points.

Read the rest of this entry »

Kyle Lowry starred at Cardinal Dougherty before moving on to Villanova and the NBA. His mother insisted he stay off the streets.
JERRY LODRIGUSS / File photograph
Kyle Lowry starred at Cardinal Dougherty before moving on to Villanova and the NBA. His mother insisted he stay off the streets.
Sixers game tickets

The suit, custom-made by Jay Wright’s tailor, hung flawlessly on Kyle Lowry’s sculpted frame, the faintest hint of a white pinstripe easing the harshness of what otherwise would have been a solid black ensemble.

When he emerged from the Memphis locker room for the Grizzlies’ game against the 76ers last month, the injured Lowry accentuated the suit with designer sunglasses and more closely resembled the dapper Jay-Z than the little kid who used to hoist jumpers at the Hank Gathers Rec Center at 25th and Diamond.

While so many other kids in North Philadelphia have failed, Lowry made it. To college. To the NBA. To the bank.

And he never would have gotten there, Lowry said before the Grizzlies traded him to Houston last month, without growing up at 20th and Lehigh.

“Everybody was rough and ragged,” Lowry, who turned 23 years old today, said of his old neighborhood. “It’s tough, but somehow, some way, you find a way.”

As a kid, Lowry saw everything, he said. Drugs. Violence. Homelessness. Abandoned houses. Robberies. But on the playgrounds and in the gyms, Lowry became the embodiment of the North Philly basketball player. Fearless. Stubborn. Tenacious. Resilient.

He said his mother, Marie Holloway, insisted he stay off the streets and on the basketball court, and inside the Gathers Center there is a picture of a 7-year-old Lowry standing stone-faced in a layup line… Read Entire Article Here

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