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The Draft Review
Roundball Rant: Big Baby, EA Sports & International Prospects E-mail
By Matthew Maurer

Thank God some ballers don't take their nicknames literally. "Apollo 33" Jamario Moon isn't risking flight with NASA, Andrei Kirilenko never brandished an AK-47 assault riffle, and Andrew "Boston Strangler" Toney...well, you get the idea. So here we have Glen "Big Baby" Davis getting all watery-eyed on national TV in last week's game against Portland. Davis obviously doesn't know one of basketball's biggest unwritten rules - never cry when your future rests on your persona as an enforcer. Davis proclaimed post-game to have no for regrets for the emotional meltdown, but if you ask me he just flushed his reputation down the toilet. He's always been a fun-loving player, but when you're 6-foot-9 and weigh 289 pounds, crying just isn't an option on the court. Man up, big baby.

Okay, I'm very pissed off at EA sports and have been for a while now. These jerks bought an exclusive deal with the NCAA (just like they did with the NFL) to be the only licensed developer to make games featuring college basketball teams. The outcome is NCAA Basketball 09, which is so bad I honestly have too little time to spell out everything that's wrong with it. My beloved College Basketball 2K series has been shelved, not because the series was bad, but because it was too good. Instead of embracing the spirit of competition and improving their product, those EA chumps took the corporate way and flashed some green to secure themselves as the only provider. WHY? Because they can't beat 2K Sports! EA doesn't understand that people like me have no problem updating the rosters with the new recruits and removing graduates. It's all about 2K9, baby! Screw EA Sports. To all my fellow gamers - don't settle for hamburgers when you can have steak. In the next few weeks I'll post my rosters here on the TDR site as well as in the 2kShare system.

Now I know some will question this, but mark my words. The foreign reign of 13 consecutive years of an overseas player drafted in the first round is in jeopardy. That is unless someone comes out of nowhere, or some team owes an agent a favor or just really feels like reaching. The international flavor is a bitter drink to swallow this year. This is the result of years of NBA teams taking near high school-aged players out of Europe. Now the pickings are super slim. Only Brandon Jennings stands a chance, but he doesn't really count because he's American. And have you checked out his game lately? Jennings isn't exactly killing it overseas right now. Add to the fact that Victor Claver is injured and signs that point to Ricky Rubio staying one more season, and it all adds up to a lukewarm international draft class. I'm sure some publication will put together a fluff piece in the near future about an overseas player that's purported to be shoe-in. And I'm sure some team will be high on that player, as another team, alleged by some oblivious source, will proclaim their plan to draft him in the first if he's available. But please hold the hype. This year's draft class isn't that strong and the prospects are not mind blowing overseas. The Euro dollar may be strong but it'll be American muscle flexing on draft night.

As Jimmy V was celebrated once more this past week for his courageous fight against the cancer that took his life, I also celebrate every other person with cancer who battled just has hard or is presently continuing their battle when no one is looking.

Historically Speaking: Early Entry International Firsts E-mail

NBA draft history is in the making yet again as the early entry list boasts Kazakhstani, Hungarian and Estonian natives for the first time ever. But do these trailblazers seriously have an honest shot at a draft night selection? Let's take a closer look Anton Ponomarev, Adam Hanga, and Tanel Kurbas.

Anton Ponomarev

Borat put Kazakhstan on the map and Anton Ponomarev is right behind him. The 6-foot-9 combo forward is known throughout Asia as the “Asian Nowitzki” for his ability to put the ball on the floor and shoot off the dribble. While he still has a way to go to gain full confidence in this lofty comparison, his young age of 20 gives him a window of opportunity to develop.

If there is anything that hinders his draft stock it's the poor competition he plays against. Kazakhstan’s basketball league, while much improved, is a long ways from its Asian cousin China. Ponomarev may also be viewed as the Ricky Rubio of the Asian basketball community because he's played professionally since the ripe age of 16. Non-scout observers, such as ESPN's Chad Ford, have said he is unlikely to be drafted, but it's pretty obvious that Ford has never seen Ponomarev play.

Make no mistake, the NBA is aware of this young star. In 2005, current Thunder GM Sam Presti, while part of San Antonio Spurs front office staff, received tape on Ponomarev. Many close to the situation hope that he will move forward and progress with his basketball career by playing in China’s top professional league, the CBA. It's highly unlikely that he will stay in the draft with one more year of eligibility remaining until his draft class is automatically enrolled. Sadly, it has been rumored that the Kazakhstan league is doing everything in its power to keep him from moving.

Anton Ponomarev is a rising talent that shows; anyone who disagrees does not possess the scouts' eye. Hopefully Ponomarev can increase his upper body strength and, most importantly, meet up against better competition by playing in China.

Adam Hanga

Hungary enters the early entry list with Adam Hanga, an unusual nominee. When you look at the silky 6-7 Hungarian who favors Tony Parker in appearance, you may not believe that he's Hungarian. But Hanga is the son of a Hungarian mother and an African father, and is the most talented player in Hungarian basketball.

Hanga isn't well known to the masses. I've been following him since he was 11 years-old when a contact of mine put his name on a list of who he considered the top international youth prospects. Since this time Hanga has slowly put together his game, but not without some pitfalls.

He's a tremendous athlete, but his perimeter shooting and defense could stand improvement. The NBA is a long shot at the moment as his draft class is two years away. By 2011 his window of opportunity could be much larger. Much like Ponomarev, Hanga’s poor competition level makes him suspect to onlookers. He's labeled by some as a poor mans Nicholas Batum.

While in France, Batum suffered the same issues as Hanga. He appeared too passive and out of focus during stretches of games. Hanga shows promise, but if he is to secure himself in the draft and follow fellow Hungarian and former free agent Kornel David to the NBA, he needs to demonstrate growth as a player. With Hanga's ball handling, explosiveness, and feel for the game he has the potential for a successful pro career. The future is in his hands.

Tanel Kurbas

Tanel Kurbas is making the jump to the NBA, but where the hell is Estonia? It's located right above Latvia by the Baltic Sea and, like Latvia, was one of the 15 countries to claim independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Kurbas is a solid blend of athleticism and fundamentals. He does many things well, but doesn't really stand out in a particular area. Offensively, Kurbas shows promise, but isn’t a solid ball handler or perimeter shooter. He moves well without the ball, but is limited offensively depending on where he is on the floor. He's shown the ability to defend at a solid level, which could be the primary staple of his game. Kurbas getting drafted is a serious long shot. He probably declared at the urging of his agent. In 2010 he will be automatically eligible for the draft, but as his 1988 class expires, so will Tanel's hope for a draft selection. For the fact checkers, yes, Estonia does have draftee Martin Muursepp, but he was automatically eligible, not an early entry draftee.

With all the complaining about the number of early entries I think it’s one of the things that makes the draft a great event. On the international level there are players that can just jump into your TV screen and make you say, "who's that"?

A perfect example of this is Ejike Ugboaja from Nigeria, who declared for the 2006 NBA draft with little fanfare. The Cleveland Cavaliers selected the power forward in the second round, 55th pick overall. Only a small handful of people knew who he was on draft night. With any luck maybe one of these three could be next. Only this time you will know exactly who they are! See you on draft night.
Site Update: Early Entry E-mail
The Early Entry lists from 2005-2009 have been updated with profiles of undrafted players filled with favorites such as D'Mond Grismore, Caner Oner, Ronald Ogoke to name few.
Remembering Wayman Tisdale E-mail

On Friday, May 15, 2009, Wayman Tisdale passed away at the age of 44 after a courageous two year battle with bone cancer.

On the Court


Tisdale was selected 2nd overall in the 1985 NBA draft by the Indiana Pacers. His 12 year NBA career also included time with the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. During that time he averaged 15.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Tisdale was a reliable low post scorer and regarded as a great teammate and solid competitor. His best days were his early years with Sacramento. He was an excellent fit for former coach Dick Motta’s forward oriented offense.

The Oklahoma alum’s collegiate career is as impressive as it gets. Tisdale was a three time Big Eight Player of the Year and the first in college basketball history to be named first team all American in his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. He left school for the NBA after his junior season and still holds Oklahoma’s record for all time points and rebounds. His college career was so profound that it propelled him into the College Basketball Hall of Fame 2009.

Off the Court

Tisdale’s story is one example of several important reasons I founded The Draft Review. It’s obviously vital to chronicle players’ careers with background information and statistics, yet I find it as equally important to understand who the players are on a personal level and how success or tragedy shaped their lives.

About two years ago I approached Tisdale for an interview. He politely responded by telling me that he wasn’t feeling well and he would be back in touch after things improved. It wasn’t until after this quick email exchange that I learned of Tisdale’s fight with cancer and the chemotherapy he had recent undergone. This brought back memories of a family member who had also undergone chemo and reminded me of the challenges involved in recovering from this difficult procedure.

Remembering Lorezen Wright: The Baron of Memphis Basketball E-mail

In cities across America there are basketball legends who are embraced locally. Anfernee Hardaway gets this respect in Memphis. In many ways he can be considered the king in Memphis – royalty in basketball as best to ever grace the city’s courts. And like every king with his royal heritage, there will be others who possess similar noble swag. Lorenzen Wright can be counted among nobles in that city. He is the Baron of Memphis basketball.

Lorenzen Wright at Memphis

Wright can claim such status in this city due to his University of Memphis pedigree and the upbringing of his father, Herb, who was a talented basketball player in his own right. Wright’s lineage is marked with basketball royalty only shared by a select few. From a young age he learned perseverance and toughness as he witnessed his father overcome adversity after being wheelchair bound. Herb played professionally and starred at Oral Roberts, although not a spectacular player, he understood the game and dabbled overseas before returning to Memphis.

While at a local community center, thugs shot Herb in the back in retaliation for his breaking up a fight earlier that evening. Despite this adversity he continued to teach Lorenzen the game and even earned a head coaching spot at Shelby Community College on the women’s team.

Wright’s grandmother raised him in Oxford, Mississippi for most of his life. With his parents in Memphis, Wright would frequently visit his father and spent a good portion of the summer months with his parents receiving training on his game. Wright played his first two years at Lafayette high school in Mississippi, taking his team to the state title as a sophomore before losing to Mississippi powerhouse Lanier (led by Georgetown bound Jerry Nichols).

But how could a player born and, for the most part, raised in Mississippi endear himself to the people of Memphis? After a fateful conversation with his parents, Lorenzen made the difficult decision to leave Lafayette High School and play his remaining years at Booker T. Washington in Memphis. The decision proved to be a great move, as he raised his profile on the court, averaging 27.6 points, 18.1 rebounds, and 6.6 blocks per game in his senior year while leading his team to the Tennessee state quarterfinals. Wright also earned a spot on McDonald’s prestigious All American team and was often viewed as a top 20 player in his class.

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