Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The best juniors in the WAC

Our press buddies Jason Groves and Chris Murray have been busy setting the markers for the fast approaching basketball season. Here goes:
Top juniors
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News
September 26, 2009

Jahmar Young, New Mexico State guard — The leading scorer in the WAC a year ago has gotten stronger in the offseason. IF redshirt Troy Gillenwater has a solid sophomore year and senior guard Jonathan Gibson plays well, Young could improve on his 17.9 ppg from a year ago. He was a first-team selection after shooting 42 percent on 3s last year. Young picked up his play when it mattered most, scoring 18.9 in WAC games.

Adrian Oliver, San Jose State guard — Eligibility and injuries limited the Washington transfer to 18 games last year. Once he got on the court, he dropped 27, 31 and 22 in his first three games. He also had games of 29, 28 (a loss at NMSU) and 37. It's strange that he only shot 26 percent from long range because he was a 43 percent shooter from the floor, but he did only shoot 65 from downtown. If you look at the WAC leaders, he doesn't show up on the list until you look at WAC games only, where he was second behind Young with 17.6 per game.

Second tier

...C.J. Webster, San Jose State forward — Second on the Spartans in scoring (12) and first in rebounding (6.5), was eighth in the league in rebounds.

Justin Graham, San Jose State guard — Second in the WAC with 4.73 assists per game...
Go here for the remainder.

The top-10 juniors in WAC basketball this season
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News posted his top juniors in the WAC season, which means it's my turn to post my top-10 juniors. Rankings judged by college impact rather than NBA potential.

1. Jahmar Young, NMSU: The defending scoring champ in the WAC, Young averaged 17.9 ppg while finishing in the top 10 in the league in assists per game (3.3), free-throw percentage (82.4), steals (1.4), 3-point percentage (42.1), 3-pointers made (69) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5). He became much more efficient last season, connecting on almost 46 percent of his shots. He is lightning quick and can hit the three, making him the most-difficult perimeter player in the WAC to guard...

3. Adrian Oliver, SJSU: Thanks to eligibility issues after a transfer and a bevy of injuries, Oliver played in only 18 games last season. Despite never really being 100 percent healthy, Oliver averaged 17.1 ppg and eclipsed the 20-point mark eight times (including a 37-point game against Boise State in which he severely sprained an ankle). Oliver needs to cut the turnovers (3.7 per game last year), but is probably the most crafty scorer in the league...

6. Justin Graham, SJSU: Graham has an excellent skill-set package, but he hasn't blossomed just yet. Last year, he was slowed by a nagging wrist injury that submarined most of his season. He still averaged 8.4 ppg, 4.7 apg (second in the WAC) and 1.7 spg (third in the WAC). He cut his turnovers from 4.5 per game as a freshman to 3.7 last year and needs to get that number under three as a junior. A summer to heal the wrist likely did wonders for Graham, who could be perfectly primed for a breakout season.

7. C.J. Webster, SJSU: Webster is your meat-and-potatoes big man. The 6-9, 255-pound power forward averaged 12 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 2.2 apg last season. He is a good passer out of the post and can bully the league's weaker post defenders. His numbers didn't improve much from his first season at SJSU to his second, so it should be interesting to see if Webster has hit a statistically plateau or if there is more room for growth.
Go here for the complete list.

Monday, September 28, 2009

More on Derek Brown

It's no longer news that San Jose State Coach George Nessman has landed a verbal commitment from Chino Hills High backcourter Derek Brown. But what hasn't been presented is the quality of the student-athlete the Spartans are getting come 2010-2011 so let's rectify that omission.

Etop Udo-Ema is a longtime basketball figure in the world of southern California prep basketball who played college ball in the late 1980's at UC Irvine. He operates the Compton Magic, a club team organization that 'houses' a number of squads and the 6-foot-1 Brown thrived in the point guard role for Udo-Ema's top team.

When asked about his on-the-floor leader, Udo-Ema responded with multiple accolades: "San Jose State got a steal [in Brown]. He's a player at the PAC-10 level. We had Allen Crabbe (headed to California) and Bryce Jones (headed to USC) on the team and they are probably the best two wings in the country so we had so many weapons on the floor. Derek had to figure out his role on our team."

That's because Brown is called upon perform differently when playing for Chino Hills -- asked to do just about everything. According to the MaxPreps site, Brown averaged a team-leading 16.6 points game and 5.7 assists a contest as a junior for Chino Hills. He went to the foul line 148 times last season and nabbed 65 steals, also tops on the squad.

Udo-Ema continued, "Derek can score, pass and defend. He is a big-time ballhandler, I would say a Globetrotter ballhandler. He isn't super fast and isn't going to jump over a defender and dunk but he is quick with the ball. He is also very deceiving at changing speeds and switching gears. Derek is just very hard to defend."

"He is a full qualifier with a 3.2 grade point average and a score of 1580 on his SAT," Udo-Ema added.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Coach Nessman lands another verbal

Derek Brown photo courtesy of Dave Keefer, California Preps

6-foot-1 Chino Hills High (southern California) backcourter Derek Brown has given a verbal 'yes' to San Jose State. THe actual signing period begins in early/mid November and runs for one week.

Here is an April, 2009 ESPN evaluation of Brown.

Here is Joel Francisco/ESPN reporting on Brown's commitment.

Here is a July, 2008 article on Brown from the Los Angeles Times.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What we want to see in 2009-2010

Full-on basketball practice officially starts in mid-October and naturally what we are hoping to witness at Walt McPherson Court come November has been a subject on our collective minds at SpartanHoops. The team roster was recently announced so let's jump right in and roll with that. Coach Nessman uses the terminology 'bigs' and 'smalls' in delineating the makeup of his squad and so will we. Luckily, nobody by the name of Biggie Smalls has a spot on the squad this season.

BIGS (alphabetical)

Joe Henson
Chris Oakes
Moses Omolade
Kyle Thomas
Garrett Ton
C.J. Webster

C.J. Webster has been re-classified as a junior -- thank you to the NCAA for getting something right -- and we see it as a pivotal year for the Texan. It is worth noting that he was injured last season which hindered him but is ship shape now. He's certainly the top offensive force inside for SJSU and can dominate for periods of time with his scoring in the paint. We see Webster as possessing All-WAC first team capability and are hoping 2009-2010 is the season where it all comes together for C.J. in scoring, rebounding and defending. It looks like he may have to play less minutes per game this season and, although seemingly counter-intuitive, this could actually help facilitate his rise through concentrated time and effort.

Chris Oakes is now a senior. His rebounding and shotblocking numbers look fine for last season (7.6 boards a contest and 40 blocks on the season) as does his shooting (58%) but where Oakes can aid the SJSU the most is in battling for position when opposing 'bigs' come down and try to set up where they are most proficient. Aiding this should be the greater depth upfront, thereby eliminating foul trouble as a concern. If Oakes can, more often than not, eliminate opponents from positioning themselves in their respective offensive comfort zones, this positive effect will aid tightening up defensive play at the other four spots.

Moses Omolade is an anomaly in that he flies up and down the court at 6-foot-8 and he is one focused defender, despite weighing in at just 200 or so pounds. His wingspan allows for the blocking and altering of shots and he will not cede position. Omolade is not strong offensively but that won't be a necessity -- defending and rebounding will be his assignments and he'll get his points off putbacks and from receiving passes off dribble-drives by teammates.

Kyle Thomas can also play on the wing (even at 6-foot-8) and is a lefty who seems to catch opponents by surprise. Look for him to do a bit of everything.

Joe Henson is a 6-foot-8 freshman whose role this season will be getting ready for what could be a hefty increase in minutes next season. He suffered a serious hip injury during high school but overcame that and also transformed his body in a major way as he used to weigh much more. Word is that Henson also runs the floor well and that dovetails well with what will be an increased emphasis on motoring from defense to offense and vice versa in 2009-2010.

Garrett Ton is a walk-on practice player who always gives his best.

SMALLS (alphabetical)

Anthony Dixon
Justin Graham
Chris Jones
Aalim Moor
Adrian Oliver
Robert Owens
Mac Peterson
Jerelle Wilson

Adrian Oliver just needs better health. Very few fans in the WAC have any consciousness of Oliver because he either didn't play when the Spartans were out on the road or was attempting to tough it out while injured. We actually see Oliver as among the candidates for league most valuable player in 2009-2010 but let's allow him his play to sneak up on any unsuspecting fans and media members. Also, look for more assists and less turnovers from Oliver in 2009-2010 for a myriad of reasons littered through this analysis.

The health of Justin Graham's right wrist is the foremost topic. Opponents wouldn't go out to defend him last season due to the bum wrist which also resulted in defenders packing the key against other Spartans. With his outside shooting back to normal after surgery, look for more dribble-drive openings for Graham and much less clogging of the lane. We also want to see his turnover totals be at 60-70 come season's end.

Robert Owens was 20+ percentage points higher in overall and three-point shooting in WAC games and hopefully this parlays into a much more comfortable Choo and thus similar or better numbers this go-around. We do want to see upgraded defensive intensity because the league is loaded this season with backcourters who can put up points in a hurry.

Freshman Chris Jones could go scoreless in the upcoming season and still be a vital cog for SJSU simply because of his defensive prowess.There are likely many more minutes available at the wing spot than the two guard but Jones will be defending the better 1s, 2s and 3s throughout the WAC this season.

Freshman Aalim Moor is the backup at the point and he should bring ballhandling with few turnovers, speed up and down the court, defensive effort and very good athleticism to the role.

Mac Peterson has been the 'Role Guy' in the backcourt, filling in at the point when steadiness is needed and moving over when a three-point attempt is on the menu.

6-foot-6 freshman Anthony Dixon is out of Chicago and, while needing to add weight and strength, he'll also 'athleticize' the team.

Jerelle Wilson has been a longtime walk-on who may see more court time this season if the Spartans can put away games earlier.


* Remain the best rebounding squad in the WAC
* Rise to the upper division in shooting percentage defense
* Cause more turnovers and commit less
* See joy, intensity and a killer instinct displayed on the court