5-at-10: College football countdown, NBA draft, study of numbers and fifth-grade hoops stars

5-at-10: College football countdown, NBA draft, study of numbers and fifth-grade hoops stars

June 25th, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Gang, let's start the pursuit of another 700, and as Grateful Dawg noted Monday, we've got a long way to go and a short time to get there to catch Cal Ripken Jr.

From the "Talks too much" studios,

Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson waves as he is introduced before the start of the NBA All-Star basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson waves as...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Numbers, numbers everywhere and not a spot to think

We talked about the big numbers across all sports on Monday as we celebrated out 700th 5-at-10. (And a belated shout out to our web crew - past and present - who have helped shape this little endeavor on a daily basis.) We concur that 10 has a place at the table.

Today, let's continue our numbers run.

Let's look at the Rushmore of jersey numbers across all sports.

Here's the rule, you need at least three different sports represented. What's the best cross-sport numbers?

We'll start with these four, but as always feel free to state your case.

* 7 - Mickey Mantle, John Elway, Pete Maravich

* 3 - The Babe, Dale Sr., Joe Montana (college - stretch, yes, but the first two are all-timers in their sports so go with it)

* 32 - Jim Brown, Sandy Koufax, Magic Johnson (this one is pretty outstanding)

* 34 - Bo Jackson, Hakeem Olajuwan, Nolan Ryan


LeBron James

LeBron James

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Draft countdown

The NBA draft is Thursday. We love the draft. You know this.

We are tepid about this draft, and it has to do with a limited pool of known talent.

Compare this draft with the collection of future stars of 10 years ago - a group of guys that included LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh among the first five picks - and the drop is noticeable and staggering. Granted, the 2003 draft was one of the all-timers, up there with 1996 (Iverson, Kobe, Nash, Ray Allen) and 1984 (Olajuwan, Jordan, Barkley, Stockton).

The lack of star-studded names and impact talent also belies the ups and downs of the current NBA draft conundrum: Drafting on potential and promise rather production and polish. It's the million-dollar question for the league's GMs and front office types. The flip side of that coin is that while there appears to be few sure-things among the forgettable names of Oladipo, Noel, McLemore and Porter (is that the cream of the draft class or our accounting firm?), there is little chance of missing big.

Think of it this way, there is no Darko Milicic, the 7-foot Serb who was drafted second by the Pistons behind LeBron in '03 ahead of Anthony, Wade and Bosh. (And by all accounts, every GM in the league loved, Loved, LOVED Darko after a series of workouts that left mouths open and eyes watering. And even some eyes open and mouths watering.) There can't be a Darko - who announced this week he is done with the NBA after 10 forgettable years - this year because there is no highly regarded players that a GM will have to skip. If there is no consensus star, there can hardly be a certified draft failure.

Side note: It is now a pretty good time to share that Darko spent 10 years with five different teams and averaged 6.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and less than an assist a game. For that "production" he made a touch north of $52 million. Yes, 52 million.

So looking at this draft class, we like Nerlens Noel the best because he has an elite skill. We like Victor Oladipo because he has good-to-great skills across the board. We are less high on Ben McLemore, the former Kansas star who is athletically superior but vanished at times in college games. We also are less high on Otto Porter Jr., who maximized college match-up situations that likely will not be as common in the NBA.


Auburn's Kiehl Frazier.

Auburn's Kiehl Frazier.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Auburn, Day 2

As we discussed last week, we're going to look at some of the area's high-interest college football teams as we crawl toward the start of college football season.

We started this week with Auburn, and offered an overview Monday.

Today, let's examine the two biggest worries for the Tigers.

The first question facing the Tigers is quite similar for Johnny Vols Fans: Is there an effective quarterback on campus.

The prospects seem slim since Auburn - and Tennessee for that matter - completed spring practice without a QB1.

For Auburn, that means the contenders in the crowded group huddled around new head coach Gus Malzahn and OC Rhett "Mini-Me" Lashlee better make splashes quickly.

Here's our overview of the names you need to know:

* Kiehl Frazier - the former USA Today high school player of the year was a debacle last year; he at least appears to have the skills, but was he a Nuke LaLoosh (million-dollar skills, five-cent head) or was he shell-shocked by the tidal wave of suckitude that was the AU offensive changes last year?

* Jonathan Wallace - Wallace was forced into action late last season, doing his best Gerald Ford impression - trying to look the part and occasionally falling flat on his face. As the TFP SEC football ace David Paschall says frequently, Wallace did not even threaten the first-team defenses of Georgia and Alabama last year in season-ending shutout beatdowns. If Wallace is the guy, there seems to be little hope for a quick turn around on The Plains this fall.

* Jeremy Johnson - a highly regarded true freshman from Montgomery that is big and physical and can fling it. He has the tools to be a star in a Malzahn offense, but quick, name the last true freshman who made a splash in the SEC at quarterback?

* Nick Marshall - see if this storyline rings a bell: Former highly regarded high school recruit who left an SEC school after some trouble, went on to star at a junior college and arrives at Auburn with Malzahn needing a QB. Now this is not saying Marshall is Cam Newton, but Nick has some serious skills. There was some concern about whether he was going to be academically qualified, but he reportedly is on campus ready for the second summer school session. He threw for more than 3,000 and rushed for more than 1,000 yards and accounted for 37 total TDs in 11 games last year for Garden City Community College in Kansas, and is easily the fastest of the four.

The second biggest concern is the lack of difference-making linebackers. This is somewhat downplayed by new defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson' 4-2-5 system, which will move Justin Garrett around the field as a super-strong safety, and if the spring reviews were any indication, Garrett could be a break out star this fall. If Garrett struggles, the linebacker-thin Tigers defense will do likewise.



Chicago Blackhawks center Dave Bolland (36) celebrates his game winning goal against the Boston Bruins during the third period in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Monday, June 24, 2013, in Boston. The Blackhawks won 3-2.

Chicago Blackhawks center Dave Bolland (36) celebrates his...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

This and that

- Congrats to the Chicago Blackhawks for winning Lord Stanley's Cup Monday night. They scored twice in the final minutes for a thrilling/painful win over Boston. (Sorry Spy.) It was good theater. It also was the end of any meaningful sporting event other than baseball for the foreseeable future. Buckle up Bravos, we need you to go on a run.

- We're puzzled by the disinterest NBA teams have in good coaches. We know that professional sports teams can much more easily replace the coaching staff than overhaul the roster, so some times the coach is tossed with the bath water. Still, the guys that got got this season is head-scratching - Karl, Del Negro, Hollins, et al. - and growing now that the Clippers are finalizing a deal to send a first-round pick to Boston for Doc Rivers.

- Raffy Nadal lost in round one o Wimbledon. It's a strange juxtaposition of where to rank Nadal and Federer all-time. Federer has an incredible resume - an all-time resume to be sure - but Nadal has worked him. That said, Nadal's resume is quite impressive from 30,000 feet but too French fried to be considered to be the all-time best. And yes, that puts halfway to our tennis quota for the year.

- The WNBA season is most likely still going on. That's all we got, but we wanted to make sure we shared.

- Jay Z's quest to control music and sports just got a major boost. Kevin Durant signed on with Jay Z as his agent. This is either going to be a monster idea or a disaster, right? There's little choices in between.

Today's questions

Dwyane Wade's fifth-grade son Zaire is ranked as one of the top fifth-grade basketball players in the country.

This leads to the following questions:

a) Which goof balls are trying to accurately rank fifth-grade basketball player?

b) Which offspring would you instantly offer a scholarship to (and yes, if we're a coach of just about any sport, we're already offering LeBron's kid a scholarship)? Side note: If you had done this 20 or so years ago, Ken Griffey Jr. would have been high on that list and his kids have earned a football scholarship and a women's hoops scholarship to Arizona.

c) And, if you were going to name your kid after a country, what are the best and worst? Zaire Wade is pretty cool. Guam Smith, not so much. Lil' Luxembourg Jones also leaves a lot to be desired.