July 2011 Archives

First things first, I'm happy to let everyone know I am still alive. I would love to tell you that I spent the past month at the White House negotiating the debt ceiling deal, but that would be false. I spent more time than I would like to admit on my couch watching Millionaire Matchmaker and more fully understanding why I'm single.

But, as T.I. says above, "I'm back." No, not from jail like him. From Deer Park, which some would consider an equally effective form of rehabilitation. And unlike T.I., I don't return to you driving an Escalade or Lambo, rather a cost-efficient crossover.

All that said, I couldn't be more happy to be back covering UC for you guys and you can look forward to seeing the Breakfast here every weekday morning for the next year. There are many other plans to give the blog more a more inside the ropes, fan-friendly appeal, but we'll let those details out a little bit at a time when I think you're ready for it.

As always, for those of you in the constantly growing Twitterverse, know you can follow me @pauldehnerjr. If you have any suggestions for things you'd like to see more or less of on the blog this season, feel free to drop me a message on the Twitters or if you are a little 2000-and-late, you can go old school and send me an email. (pauldehnerjr@gmail.com).

Now that we've renewed pleasantries, let's eat...

--- Sad news yesterday that Yancy Gates did not make the USA World University Games team. Gates really wanted this. And Mick Cronin really wanted this for him. It would have been a great confidence and skill builder as he returned for a senior year that will ultimately decide if he fulfills his dream to play in the NBA.

Here was a brief interview with him from the training facility following Day 2.

The group of 14 finalists for the 12 spots was announced. Here's the complete list.

Before leaving Gates talked about how excited he was at the opportunity to wear the USA jersey and how he was getting more and more nervous the closer it came to the tryout period. People were reminding him of what Kenyon Martin did after he played for the WUG team  in 1999.

Here were K-Mart's stats from pre-WUG and post-WUG.

Year     Pts   Rbs   Blks

1998    10.1   6.9   2.4
1999    18.9   9.7   3.5

Not claiming Kenyon's dramatic ascension was directly due to playing in the Games, but it certainly didn't hurt.

Eric Hicks also played on the team in 2005 and saw his numbers rise. They were nowhere near as significant as Kenyon, but a bump all the same.

Year     Pts   Rbs   Blks
2004    13.7   9.0   2.3
1999    15.0   9.7   3.3  

Depsite missing out on making the team, Gates did receive the valuable gains of training to keep his body in shape for the tryouts and the three days to high-quality hoops against college basketball's best.

It sure beats a summer game in the Deveroes League.

As Mick Cronin said when asked what he thinks about Deveroes: "It's a nice clothing store."

Gates spent many extra hours working with Dave Lawson to advance his condition into prime basketball shape during the offseason. For a guy whose come under fire for work ethic and consistency issues in his past, just his dedication to the process serves as an award all on its own.

--- Tommy G sat down
with Butch Jones to talk about the season on the verge of his departure for the Big East Media Days Monday and Tuesday in Providence, R.I.

The team will report Aug. 7 and the first four days of practice will begin at Nippert Stadium on Aug. 8. From there, the Cats head out to Camp Higher Ground for a few weeks of buffets and excessive sweating.

Jones is taking a different approach to the first week this year, where he will run two-a-days for the coaches during practices 2,3 and 4. The team will split up into two groups and practice separately. Yes, it's rough on the coaches, but it means plenty of extra reps for all the young players UC will be relying on this year.

You don't hear about this much and I'm surprised you don't. It's a fantastic way to build depth and deliver more one-on-one teaching sessions with the team.

However, I don't imagine this development helping the vocal chords of Kerry Coombs.

--- If you were
looking for more from Butch, Tim Adams at BearcatLair sat down with him last week and churned out this two-part interview. Here's Part I and here's Part II.

--- Jones talks about winning off the field and you have to stand up and cheer for the football team, which was the top team in the Big East academically. Couple it with the best football team GPA during the winter quarter in history and you have an impressive first season in the classroom.

Of course, few fans care about facts like these and won't even let those numbers seep in when judging the job Jones has done. That's a shame, because it should matter quite a bit.

--- Bill Koch wrote that the biggest question determining how well UC plays this year hangs on how the defense plays. Returning all 11 starters is a nice touch, but those guys must improve.

That said, I disagree with Bill. I think the defense will be better, even if only be default of everyone returning for the second season of a system. It is the offensive line where these games will be won and lost. If the o-line minus three starters from a year ago can't provide time for Zach Collaros and open space for Isaiah Pead, it will place too much pressure on what is still a young defense. If the o-line comes together, this team could average 30+ points a game.

--- Bill and the rest of the BE media types will be enjoying the greatest meal of the media day season at the legendary clam bake. Forget interviews with players (Collaros and JK Schaffer on site for UC), I want streaming video from the kitchen with sideline reporters breaking in with updates from the chef.

--- The flurry of NFL activity last week saw Vidal Hazelton end up in San Diego, Armon Binns in Jacksonville, Jake Rogers in New Orleans and Ben Guidugli in St. Louis.

Hazelton continues to be the most interesting case study for me. The Chargers landed his vast upside potential and may need it. I can't imagine a much better fit than a receiving corps featuring Vincent Jackson then a list of names like Patrick Crayton, Seyi Ajirotutu, Vincent Brown and the squirrel himself, Kelley Washington.

At the very least, an impressive, healthy camp could land Hazelton on the practice squad. Best of luck to him and all the Cats out there on making the teams.

--- The Enquirer put out its list of the Top 50 UC Basketball players. As expected with any list of this nature, I've got some serious problems with it. Darnell Burton (34) and LaZelle Durden (35) need to be much higher. Maybe I'm biased toward Burton because he was my personal favorite players, but those two were the backbone of some very good UC teams in the mid-late 90s.

And don't get me wrong, I love Deonta Vaughn. He's been a pleasure to cover and an even great pleasure to watch play, but he doesn't belong at No. 9 all-time. He's there for his points, which are ample, but those were strictly out of circumstance as the lone scorer on mediocre teams. How many point would LaZelle Durden have scored on those teams?

But, that's what subjective lists like that are for, so I guess I'm the sucker. 

--- Some randomness....

--- Andrew Luck looks more and more like a young Bill Walton every day. The End. 

--- Further proof that if you are French and you love cycling, you are probably insane. Sidenote: A friend of mine organized a Tour de France watch party at bar. To watch the tape delayed race. Obviously, nobody showed. If you would like to help my friend and others like him, please be his friend, he clearly needs some. Contact me for details.

---- Not happy TNT canceled Men of a Certain Age. I know I wasn't anywhere near the primary demographic for the show, but it was smart and funny. Oh well.

--- For Dwyane Wade, going to the grocery store is like going to an amusement park. If you aren't a multi-millionaire, I caution you not to click the link for fear of excessive eye-rolling. 

--- This came out last week, but I would be remiss if I didn't pass it along since I have been pushing this movie since it was first announced: The trailer for Pearl Jam: Twenty was released. Not shockingly, it looks awesome.

--- With that, it would only be fitting to throw up this video for you: PJ plays Daughter/Rockin in the Free World in 1998. See you tomorrow.


Last Go Around

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Hey Everyone!

 Summer is finally coming to an end; summer team soccer is over, summer classes are ending, all the girls on the team are back. This summer has been so busy that it is nice to get a few days off before preseason starts this Tuesday!!

  It's hard to believe preseason is already here again! I feel like it was just yesterday that Kay, Erin, and I got our winter calendars and were counting down the days till we survived another winter workouts. Now summer workouts are done and all of our hard work the past few months will be put to the test as we start our 2011 season Wednesday morning officially with the beep test!!

  Yesterday morning 11 of us ran the beep test with Kelly Howe and 7 of us passed which is a great sign for our team heading into the fitness tests. It has been great to get most of the girls from the team to morning or afternoon workouts with Kelly to prepare for our fitness tests and I truly think we will have a GREAT showing once all of our fitness tests are done. The coaches have posed a challenge for us with our fitness this year and so far girls have risen to the occasion! It will be exciting to see how it all comes together August 19th for our first game!

  Along with our workouts, we have been playing pick up a lot this past week to get a few extra touches on the ball. There have been so many girls there that we have been able to open it up and play to the big goals and use our goal keepers (which I'm sure made Romo and Kristina happy!!). All of our pickup games have been close and the compitition has been tighter than ever. I'm sure the compitition will carry over into preseason making all of the girls work for our spots and challenging each other every day. We have such quality players this year that I am excited to see how everything comes together once October ends and post season play begins.

  Well I am off to watch a movie with Kay and relax before we start two-a-days on Wednesday! While this summer has been fun, I am so ready to get back playing with my team, representing our city, and making it a great senior year!

Go Bearcats---RAWRRRRRRR!

KP #14

UC "Slats" team wins Deveroes Summer League

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Minus Yancy Gates who was at World Games try-outs and Shaq Thomas who's been home this summer, the UC-based Slats team defeated Raeshon Mansoor Law Office in the Deveroes Summer League Championship game 96-80.

As the game turned to a rout, PA announcer (and former Xavier standout) Jamal Walker called for the buzzer with 28.3 seconds left.

I was with the wife and kids, so I wasn't privy to the actual final stats (which you should see posted eventually on www.greatercincinnatisportsworld.com). However, former Bearcat guard Deonta Vaughn was back and had 30 at last check very late in the game.

Slats also led big at halftime 50-38.  The lead stayed around 10-15 and the closest Mansoor got was six (thanks to veteran Paul McMillan who seemingly scored half of their points).

The new guys didn't play much outside of Cheikh Mbodj, who started in the pivot for Yancy Gates.  Not to sound "Archie Bunker-ish", but Cheikh (pronounced Shek) might be the best foreign find this team's had.

Think of every lumbering, tall and somewhat useless body that's been around and that's what Cheikh is not.

I was pleasantly surprised by his aggressiveness, his nose for the ball and his general attitude and shot-changing ability.  He's no offensive whiz, but he does his job and gets points a guy his size should get.

Also helping Slats immensely today was the presence of Xavier's Tu Holloway.  You put Vaughn and Holloway in the same backcourt and that's a pretty tough match-up.

The other recruits present today were Octavius Ellis (who is actually a tad taller than Mbodj and redshirt Kelvin Gaines), Jeremiah Davis and Jermaine Sanders.  Again, your best bets for playing time out of the new crew are Shaq Thomas and Cheikh Mbodj.

Get used to hearing "Shaq and Cheikh" in the next few years.

For a hands-on view, here's Deonta Vaughn.

Onto football now....

5 On The NFL Side

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With the end of the NFL lockout the ink pens in front offices are working harder than a walk-on the last day of open practice trying to make the team. The good news is four UC players have signed contracts joining sixth round pick Jason Kelce who signed a four year deal with the Eagles. Vidal Hazleton (San Diego), Armon Binns (Jacksonville), Ben Guidugli (St. Louis) and Jacob Rogers (New Orleans) are the latest UC Bearcats who have been given the opportunity to continue playing a kids game for a living. I wish them all the best as I'm sure all Bearcat fans do.

UC has clearly established itself as a school that produces pro prospect and recently, one of them, Brandon Underwood got a Super Bowl ring to boot. So as the posters and names of players who have gone to the next level adorn the football offices, the recruiting gets a big boost with the increased numbers of players in the league. Say what you want about student-athletes coming in as athlete-students but if that is their wish and they can maintain the grades, so be it. We all know education is important but in some cases getting money in the bank and food on the table is a priority in a way most of us can't even imagine. 

In coming to UC recruits surely know a couple of things; one, they'll play in a BCS conference meaning with a break here and there they could conceivably end up in a championship game or at least a major bowl with a ton of exposure. secondly, the NFL scouts will be at your game(s) and pay close attention to you. You can thank the players before you that performed admirably and have sustained themselves in the league; and finally you'll be on national TV repeatedly so your family, no matter how far away, can keep up with you and share in every moment. I won't dare mention the competition in practices, the fan adoration and the uniforms that some kids think are the "sweetest" in the country.

Yes there are lots of reason for a football player to consider continuing his career at UC and if you have a dream that includes 3 initials, N-F-L, you won't go wrong if you come here to stay on that course. As long as the other main course, academics is respected, you will be on the field pursuing your dream and most likely the dream of your family. You now have 5 more examples that playing at UC on Saturday can get you a job playing on Sunday.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat...

UC "Slats" team makes the Deveroes Finals

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With some pop-up showers Saturday, the family and I decided it might be a good day to check out the Deveroes Summer League at Woodward High School. (Of course, I was aware that the Slats/UC team was in the semifinals, so that was an added extra.)

While we were disappointed that Shaq Thomas and Ge'Lawn Guyn weren't around (and Xavier's Tu Holloway was also absent) we were happy to take in big men Octavius Ellis and Cheik Mbodj for the first time.

Ellis' playing time was limited and he looks like the biggest project of the bunch thus far.  He appears taller than Yancy Gates and has great reach, but is straight up and down, much like Shaq Thomas.  I'd put Thomas at 6-7 and Ellis at 6-9 and neither much above 190 pounds.

Mbodj is another matter.  He has some width to him and could easily add some more with the strength coach.  He's at least 6-9 and here's the most important thing, he's active.

Without naming names, there's been big men in here before that many had great hopes for that were either passive, inactive, uncoordinated, or all of the above.

Make no mistake, Mbodj won't come out and dominate. However, he was very aggressive around the boards, he got his hand on some shots and he didn't fade into the background of any play.

Jeremiah Davis played a lot in this game, which was good because Slats was short on guards minus Thomas and Guyn.  Darnell Wilks and Jermaine Sanders arrived late, so Davis was pretty much "it" in the guard department, outside of some occasional help from Rashad Bishop.

Oh yeah, what about the game?

Well, after playing a little lackluster and a little confused early (mainly due to the lack of guards) Slats got it together in the second half and won 84-75.  PA announcer Jamal Walker actually called for the buzzer with :17 remaining.

The Slats opponent was Goodies Barbecue featuring Mark Lyons of Xavier who tore it up with 38 points.  Former Xavier Muskie C.J. Anderson and former Dayton Flyer Norm Plummer were
also on this squad, so they were no slouch.

After being down by as many as 14, the Slats veterans took over.  Rashad Bishop handled the ball more and finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

The big story was Yancy Gates though, Slats continually threw it inside and the big guy got hot and started abusing the Goodies defense.  By game's end he had hit fadeaways, three-pointers and backward dunks. Pretty much anything he wanted.

Gates finished with 34 points and 12 rebounds to lead Slats into the championship game next Sunday (July 30) at 2:30 at Woodward High School.  Their opponent will be the Raeshon Mansoor Law Office team led by veteran summer leaguer Paul McMillan who broke the heart of Clovernook Health with a game-winning trey in the final second, 88-87.

Other notable numbers for Slats include four points and eight boards for Cheik Mbodj, nine points for Jeremiah Davis, four points and seven rebounds for Justin Jackson, 12 points for Darnell Wilks, three for Jermaine Sanders and a bucket for Octavius Ellis.

My (somewhat noisy) interview with Yancy Gates afterward is below.


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Hey Everyone!

  Sorry for the long delay for posting. My life has been quite hectic these past two weeks after working 3 soccer camps, games, workouts, and trying to keep up with the World Cup! Needless to say I cannot wait for a break come this Saturday!!

  Soccer camps have started at UC! Last week, Hebs, Sanam, and I helped work the UC Men's soccer team's camp. It was a VERY hot week with the Gettler turf reaching 119 degrees so despite the weather we had a great time! I worked with the 6-8 age group with Mike Brizzi with the men's team and boy did we have our hands filled! All of the campers were filled with personalites!  It was a good time and I think the campers had a lot of fun and learned a lot about soccer and how to become a better player. I really love when we get to interact with young fans because it really shows us as players just how important our presence is for younger kids. They look up to us and for them to interact and "hang out" with us for a week was just as rewarding for them as it was for us!

  This week the women's team mini-day camp and overnight camps started and it has been CRAZY with both camps overlapping. I am working with EK and JoJo so that has been a lot of fun! The campers have been good and it has been nice to use the CRC facilities to go swimming! Tomorrow is favorite jersey day so I am expecting to see a lot of Abby Wambach and Messi jerseys like I did when the boys camp did jersey day!

  After working camps all day, our UC team has started to play pick up at night with the incoming freshman and players already back on campus to prepare for season! It's hard to believe that our season starts just two weeks from tomorrow but I can hardly wait! So far pick up has been going really well and the intensity has been great. We really have been getting after it and making the most of our time. I can't wait till everyone is back on campus and we can officially start training for the 2011 season! It should be a GREAT season and I know many of us can't wait to get started!!

  It's really hard to believe that we finish our summer in two short weeks. We just finished up W-League play for Dayton with a 6-1 win over Fredricksberg on Saturday. It was a great way to finish off our season. We unfortunately finished 2 points behind Charlotte for the playoff spot but for taking third place in our division as a new team is quite an accomplishment! It was such a fun season and great to play over the summer to keep us in shape for  the upcoming season!

  Well I'm off to help JoJo get dinner ready for the overnight campers--baked ziti and salad from La Rosa's--then it's back onto the field for a night training session with the overnight campers! Should be a good one!


Go Bearcats---RAWRRRRRR!

KP #14




dayton dutch lions.jpg


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Hey Everyone!

  What an exciting game today between the United States and Brazil in the FIFA Women's World Cup quarterfinals! After 120 minutes of soccer and penalty kicks, the US Women's team will be moving on to play France in the semifinals after narrowly beating Brazil. This game was filled with excitement; 4 goals, 8 yellow cards, 1 red card, 8 made penatly kicks in the shootout and 1 amazing penalty kick save by the great American keeper Hope Solo. Such a great game between two world powers that will go down, along with the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup final versus China, in US Women's Soccer history as one of the best games ever played. This game showed the heart of the US Women's team and not even going down a player after a red card to Rachel Buehler or going down a goal in overtime would stop the US team from moving on to a semifinal date with France on Wednesday. Such a great and well deserved win for the US.

  While the US game was going on, the Dayton Dutch Lions had a game at 2pm so we were all bummed to be missing one of the greatest games in womens soccer history. Kay, Emily, Logan, and I drove up to Dayton early to watch the first half of the game with some of our teammates at the Dutch Lions office. Let me tell you, there is no better way to get pumped for your own game than to watch a game between two great teams before!! The US took the lead 1-0 after an own goal misclearance by the Brazilian defense after a Shannon Boxx cross and as we left for our own game at halftime all we could think about was if the score would hold. Luckily, we arrived to the stadium early and had time to gametracker the game until Brazil scored an equilizer off of a penalty kick after a red card was issued to US defender Rachel Buehler. It was nice to have game tracker on my phone but even nicer to have my mom giving me play-by-play commentary when I would call her to find out what exactly happened on certain plays!!

  We left the locker room to go warm up with the game tied 1-1, anxiously waiting to hear updates. We continued to warm up and secretly getting updates from parents without our coaches noticing!! Right before we started our possession game we were devestated to hear the US was down 2-1 in the second minute of overtime but we still had faith (and HOPE of course!!) in our team. We headed on to the field to start the game with the US team down 2-1 with only minutes remaining in overtime and it had looked as if the US' World Cup run was about to be over. We were quickly proved wrong...Never, ever underestimate the power and determination of the US Women's team!

  About 5 minutes into the start of our game there was an annoucement over the sound system informing us that Abby Wambach had scored in the 121st minute tying the game! The final spot in the semifinals would be determined by penatly kicks! Trying to focus on our own game, the Dutch Lions scored a goal early on and maintained possession for a majority of the game to beat Northern Virginia 2-0. It was a hot, humid day but it was great to get 90 minutes in the heat to prepare for preseason which starts in a few weeks!! 

  Midway through the first half the sound system came back on and announced the US had beat Brazil 5-3 on penalty kicks in the shootout and the crowd went nuts! Such a great accomplishment for a team that has worked so hard and has never given up. The US' slogan for the World Cup says "Pressure makes us" and that is exactly what happened, when things get tough and the US is put under pressure they rise to the occasion and against all odds the US finds a way to win. The US has been put under a lot of pressure to get to this point in the World Cup, narrowly making it into the tournament after losing in the semifinals to Mexico in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament, winning a home-away aggregate series versus Italy to be the final team in the World Cup tournament, losing to Sweden in the final game of group play and coming from behind to beat Brazil in penalty kicks after playing 50 minutes of the game down a player!!  The US team has never given up and rightfully deserves a place in the semifinals!

  After missing the whole second half, overtime, and PK's, Logan, Kay, and I rushed to the car to watch the highlights on my phone. When Abby Wambach scored that goal in the 121st minute of the game off of a PERFECT Megan Rapinoe cross to tie the game up I got chills. What a great goal to keep the US hopes alive! Watching the team celebrate before heading to PK's made me so excited to start the UC season back up and create our own celebrations after games! 

  Well I am off to get some things done before I can watch the US game vs Brazil being replayed at midnight!! It's going to be hard to wake up for 7am workouts tomorrow morning but I'm sure it will be worth it after watching some of the highlights already!! Make sure to tune in to the US game versus France in the World Cup semifinals on Wednesday at noon, you won't be disappointed!! 




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Though the regular gig covering high school sports for Community Press/Enquirer Media and my kids baseball games have kept me on the run, I was able to get to Woodward High School recently for a gander at the new crop of basketball Bearcats.

At least most of them. Guard Ge'Lawn Guyn was out of town on this day and Octavius Ellis and Cheikh Mbodj were not present.

I also tried to snap a few pictures of the guys, which is always dangerous.

Prior to this job, my wife was the family picture taker. My experience was limited to cardboard cameras that get chucked in the garbage after the photos are developed.

24 years in radio gave me the photographics skills of a first-grader.  Yet, I try.

On first glance, Shaq Thomas is the Bearcat that catches your eye. At 6-7 and 195 pounds, he can do a lot of things and plays pretty tough for a guy with the build of a lanky, marathon runner.

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(Shaq Thomas after a Deveroes game)

He also stood out because he wore canary yellow shoes that kind of made him look like Flash Gordon moving up and down the floor.

Darnell Wilks was listed at 6-7 as a Bearcat, but appears a tad shorter than Thomas.

"I think he's a little taller," Wilks said. "He can play all over. He can play on the wing better than I could do when I was there."

In the game I witnessed, Thomas lit up the opposition for 28 points. (Keep in mind though, defense in the Deveroes league is rarely a priority.)

Sean Kilpatrick sat on the Slats (perennial summer league sponsor for UC team) bench for the contest wearing a leisure pair of sneaks reminiscent of something Jeff Spicoli might have sported in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (shout out to Phoebe Cates fans).

His first thoughts on Thomas were that the yellow shoes weren't cutting it. He felt his Sunday picnic look was far superior.

"I say mine," Kilpatrick said with confidence. "I dig mine."

Aside from blinding footwear, "SK" thinks "ST" is the one new 'Cat that can step in and play right away.

"Shaq can because that's his attitude," Kilpatrick said. "It's like he won't back down from anyone."

Kilpatrick is hoping the training staff can stuff some meat and potatoes down the young man from New Jersey.  Actually, he may see to it personally as Shaq and Sean are roommates.

"We're going to have to put him through a serious workout," Kilpatrick said.

Another prize recruit from the same neck of the woods as Thomas and Kilpatrick is Jermaine Sanders from Rice High School.  Rice is where former Bearcat Kenny Satterfield went to school.

"Jermaine's a shooter," Wilks said. "He could probably go both ways because of his size."

Sanders is a lefty, which is always a good option to have. His 6-5 listing appears a little generous, but because of his body type (by my calculation it took three Shaq Thomas legs to make one of Jermaine's) he should be fine.

He reminds me a little of Pete Mickeal who was a lefty, undersized forward. In terms of actual heighth, I'd put him closer to a 6-4 Rod Monroe (minus the brute strength).

At this level, Sanders' size won't mean much.  He's a player and his stats and background prove it. You don't come out of Rice High School in New York with those numbers by accident.

Shooting passes and driving the lane for UC will be Jeremiah Davis.  He didn't overwhelm in the game I saw, but at the end was somehow in double figures despite not playing the entire contest.

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(Left to right: Jeremiah Davis, Shaq Thomas and Jermaine Sanders after a summer league game)

"A pure point guard," Wilks said of the playmaker from Muncie,Indiana/Huntington (WV) Prep.  "He could score if he wanted."

Davis looked particularly good driving and dishing. He may look better if he had Sean Kilpatrick to dish to, but "SK" apparently is sitting this league out.

"I don't think I'm going to play in this," Kilpatrick said. "I play in Rucker Park in New York."

Kilpatrick says he had 22 points in his first game at the famous New York City playground.
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(Yancy Gates at the Deveroes Summer League at Woodward High School)

That leaves Yancy Gates and Wilks as targets for Davis and Ge'Lawn Guyn this summer. Xavier's Tu Holloway is also on the Slats team and has been on the throwing end of some impressive "oops" to the high-flying Wilks.

Because of his impressive performance in the State Farm Slam Dunk Championships at the Final Four this season, Wilks was invited to be a Harlem Globetrotter.

"Yeah, that gave me a lot of publicity," Wilks said.

Because of his background, Wilks should fit in well with the showmen. His flying experience bodes him well, physically and literally.

"I was a fan," Wilks acknowledged. "I was an Army kid. I saw them on base."

When asked if he might attempt to match the feats of former Globetrotter Michael "Wild Thing" Wilson (Memphis Tigers), Wilks appeared ready for liftoff.

"Oh man, I think I can throw 12 (feet)!" Wilks proudly claimed.

Should you like to watch Wilks soar and the new Bearcats roar, the Deveroes Summer League runs through the end of July with games typically on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday.

Plan (B)eware

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Well the debate has been around since professional athletes have been getting paid huge salaries as to whether getting a degree matters if you're a lock as a lottery pick or assured first round status. Barring an injury you will achieve the status on a small percentage of Americans will ever enjoy which entitles you to a life of riches beyond the norm.

But with the NFL lockout and now the NBA following suit, all the first round picks in this year's draft have the position of millionaires without the money. This will surely be a call to action by the NCAA, college coaches and academic tutors as to why you need your degree citing things like the aforementioned strikes. Now I have always said if you get a guaranteed contract that staying in school is unnecessary but I must now qualify that by saying make sure you're not in the cross-hairs of an apparent lockout by the league who will be your employer. This is a valuable lesson learned and that is have a plan B. If you're a top pick sign your shoe with Nike or your apparel deal with Adidas and start doing appearances to generate income in the interim. Learn how to be a public speaker and have topics at the ready and yes, yes, yes take business and marketing courses as they will serve you well.

So let the debate rage on about whether to stay in school. I still contend if you are assured first round or lottery status you have to leverage it; that is as long as it's not in the year of a strike or lockout. The only difference between you and a first round pick right now is eventually they will get paid millions of dollars. Whether they have a plan B or not is the same question you should be asking yourself.

That's the way I see it, sitting in The Box Seat...