Hoop Summit Storylines

Hoop Summit Storylines
Apr 08, 2007, 04:51 am
Huggins leaves Kansas State, Beasley in the Dark

As of this morning, the danger appeared to be over for Kansas State basketball fans. The Wildcat administration promoted the right members of Huggins’ staff to keep the plans 07-08 largely intact. Bill Walker announced his decision to stay in Manhattan. The mother of Michael Beasley, the real lynchpin in the whole deal, went on record saying her son would be attending Kansas State.

Everyone with an interest in Kansas State basketball wiped their brows and let out a collective sigh of relief. With re-affirmation from Beasley, big time basketball would return to Manhattan – for a season at least. But lost in the giant back-patting session was one minor detail…

Nobody had gotten the true man of the hour to spill the beans himself.

[ad=left]So after all the speculation, media posturing and message board hysteria, the one person still apparently still unsure about the future of Michael Beasley was, amazingly, Michael Beasley. After a lackluster Hoop Summit performance in which he shot just 3-15 from the floor, Beasley finally got a chance to speak for himself.

“I’m waiting to see who gets the job. I’m waiting to see what style of play he likes, and what type of person he is off the court,” Beasley said nearly 24 hours after the news broke about Frank Martin and Beasley handler Dalonte Hill staying on at Kansas State.

“I talked to the assistant and they are still in the dark,” Beasley went on to say, “I would like to (officially re-commit) but we’ll just have to see how things play out.”

So while it appears that Beasley is receptive to the idea of playing for Martin and Hill (he was also quick to affirm that Walker’s decision to return to Manhattan will play a factor in whether or not he ends up there), he still dished out a preliminary list of Memphis, NC State and Florida State as schools he is now considering in addition to Kansas State.

The imagination really begins to take off when considering all the things that could be going on behind the scenes this weekend in regards to Beasley’s recruitment. But this confusion could be as simple as the 2007 McDonald’s All-American Game MVP tiring of the constant stream of calls from people wondering what he is doing next year - and simply turning his cell phone off.

“I think everybody is tired of (the recruitment),” Beasley said, “Last night I just had to turn my phone off and call it a night. It’s still off.”

Beasley, well-known for his up and down play, clearly wasn’t himself for most of Saturday afternoon’s game. There were several mistakes near the basket early on, while he missed his first four free throws and committed a lane violation on another. In the second half he appeared to rush his shot on a regular basis, and shied away from his interior game that would have been naturally more effective against a thin International front line.

“I just had so much on my mind. My head was cluttered and I just couldn’t get in a groove,” Beasley commented when asked about his play. “I think I took good shots, some of them not as good as I would have liked, but I think I did a good job of getting open. I just couldn’t get them to fall.”

As Beasley’s high school basketball career comes to an end, he remains an enigma not only as a player but also as a person. There is no doubting the fact that his attitude and level of effort are dangerously volatile at times, but whether or not his detractors have him correctly pegged as an underachiever is yet to be seen. Some may take his on-court behavior negatively, but Beasley went out of his way to describe the banter seen by those who attended the Hoop Summit practices as “being himself”, and “just being a kid.”

We probably won’t find out much more about Beasley and his future in professional basketball until this fall. But today was the last game of his high school career, and his childhood is clearly coming to an end.

Watching him head back to the locker room shaking his head and with a dazed expression on his face after being peppered with questions about Huggins, Kansas State and his recruitment, one gets the feeling that Michael Beasley is starting to realize how quickly his time to “be a kid” is disappearing – and that the real firestorm of media attention, expectations, and life in the spotlight has only just begun.

Flynn Finds Success Following Harris

“Me and Paul, we just hate being scored on so much. Even if it was our mothers out on the court, we wouldn’t want them to score a point on us.”

It was a satisfying sense of déjà vu, watching New York native and Syracuse-bound point guard Johnny Flynn relentlessly hound opposing ballhandlers throughout Saturday afternoon’s Hoop Summit contest. His speed, physicality and instincts were superb. The energy level never subsided – and Team USA’s up-tempo attack went from formidable to downright deadly the moment he stepped on the court.

Aside from Flynn being more jitterbug blur than possessed linebacker clone, it might as well have been 2006 – when childhood friend and current Syracuse standout Paul Harris similarly pressured International ballhandlers into submission at the Hoop Summit. The similarities in terms of physical aggression, fire and competitiveness are blatantly obvious, and impossible to ignore. It certainly makes sense that Flynn was Harris’ longtime teammate at the high school and AAU levels, and will follow his predecessor to Syracuse at the end of the summer.

“Where I’m from we just pride ourself on defense. It’s the way I was brought up, with my high school team and Paul Harris being such a good defender.” Flynn said. “It’s just a pride thing. You don’t have to be the best player out there to play good defense,”

Flynn, a Tyus Edney lookalike in appearance and on court play, finished the game with just two free throws in the scoring column but dished out 10 assists and collected 3 steals. Several of the assists were of the spectacular variety - open court lobs, or dishes after drawing defenders away from a teammate with his spectacular speed.

“Flynn is just an outstanding on the ball defender. He took us out of our offense in the second quarter - we had to tell our guards to pass the ball to Nicholas (Batum) and other players, which wasted a lot of time in starting our offense,” said International coach Rob Beveridge after the game.

Today’s game caps a meteoric rise for Flynn, once known more for being the teammate of Harris than for anything he had accomplished by himself. But that all changed over the summer, with Harris off to college and Flynn free to focus on displaying everything he had learned from his accomplished teammate. The result, of course, was a roster spot on the extremely selective USA Hoop Summit team and the chance to play in the 2007 McDonald’s All-American game.

“I worked hard over these last years, and this shows that I’m blossoming as a player and a person. Paul Harris put me on the scene and showed me the ropes, but it was my time to step out of the shadows and prove to people that I could play basketball.”

A player with Flynn’s assertiveness with the ball in his hands and mastery of the court when moving at such high speeds could be just what the doctor ordered for a Syracuse program coming off a disappointing season. Jim Boeheim had several ballhandlers to work with, but not a makes-others-better presence like Flynn.

If nothing else, the defensive exploits of Harris and now Flynn in the past two Hoop Summit games should send a message to all aspiring Big East floor generals out there: Be afraid. And whatever you do, keep an eye on that ball.

Mayo and Rose, Perfect Teammates

The story began last summer, after Chicago point guard Derrick Rose emerged as a legit challenger to the throne that OJ Mayo had been sitting on since before the senior class of 2007 even reached high school. The stakes were upped after Mayo’s 30 foot, buzzer beating, game winning 3-pointer over the outstretched arm of Rose in Las Vegas AAU competition last July.

Mayo would walk away the winner on that particular day, but Rose acquitted himself quite nicely over the course of the game. The OJ Mayo vs Derrick Rose debate would only heat up over the next year.

Mayo downplays any sort of rivalry brewing between him and Rose, but admits that the competition has always been fierce whenever the two have matched up.

“You guys are the ones that turn it into a rivalry. We’re just two guys that want to win. He wants to win, and I want to win. I was so happy when I hit that shot, but I have nothing but respect for D-Rose. He’s a great player, and the sky is the limit for him with his abilities.”

Saturday’s Hoop Summit game was a rare break from a competition that could be continued at NBA venues well into the next decade. After a week of practices in which the two went at each other full speed at every opportunity, OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose actually took the court on the same team.

It was fitting then that Team USA was at its best when Rose and Mayo were clicking as a pair. While both players have truly rare basketball instincts and physical gifts, their respective strengths and weaknesses leave the two at opposite ends of the point guard spectrum.

Rose is the sturdy, consummate pass-first point guard. You won’t see him go out of his way to look for his own offense, but he rarely makes ballhandling mistakes and never lets up defensively. Rose impacts the game by making his teammates better through unselfish, timely passes and controlling tempo. Of course, his NBA-ready frame and spectacular athleticism allows him to score pretty much whenever he decides it is time to put the ball in the basket.

Mayo, as Rose knows all too well, actually relishes the opportunity to take the big shot. Sometimes this gets him in trouble with his decision making and shot selection, but the spectacular is always around the corner with the class of 2007’s long-time number one prospect. He doesn’t have the vertical explosiveness of Rose, but his first step is downright blindingly fast. And unlike Rose, Mayo gets outstanding elevation on a jumper he can get pretty much anywhere on the court.

The International Team was putty in the hands of this starting backcourt, Rose playing the role of defensive catalyst and distributor and Mayo eliciting gasps from the crowd on a regular basis with acrobatic scoring plays. In tandem, the results were spectacular. Rose consistently found Mayo in the open court, and set him up for numerous outside looks after breaking down the defense.

“I’m sure if we could do it over we’d go to the same school after today,” Mayo said, “We exchanged numbers so I’m sure we’ll push each other with a phone call every now and then, and hopefully we’ll be able to sit next to each other in the green room.”

It may be a while before these two play for the same team again, so today was a special opportunity for interested fans to gain a different perspective on the Rose vs Mayo debate.

Recent articles

21.1 Points
11.9 Rebounds
5.2 Assists
25.4 PER
7.0 Points
2.3 Rebounds
1.0 Assists
15.9 PER
3.8 Points
3.3 Rebounds
0.8 Assists
8.4 PER
4.5 Points
2.5 Rebounds
4.0 Assists
1.6 PER
18.1 Points
2.4 Rebounds
5.6 Assists
21.1 PER

Twitter @DraftExpress

DraftExpress Shop