BOZICH | Monday Muse: Final NBA combine report cards; Big night - WDRB 41 Louisville News

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BOZICH | Monday Muse: Final NBA combine report cards; Big night for Billy D, Cards' Chad Green

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Rick Bozich shares his final thoughts on the six local college basketball players who participated in the NBA Draft combine. Rick Bozich shares his final thoughts on the six local college basketball players who participated in the NBA Draft combine.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Only 38 more days of mock drafts until we know what NBA teams really think about this group of eligible players.

Only five days until we know if Nyquist can carry a live Triple Crown chase into New York City.

Only hours until a former University of Louisville starting pitcher makes his major-league debut.

What am I waiting for? It’s time for the Monday Muse.

1. NBA Draft Combine Report Cards

Eric Crawford and I invested Thursday and Friday afternoons at the NBA Draft combine just west of downtown Chicago (one block from a neighborhood that Eric researched as the deadliest in Chicago this year as we were searching for an on-the-street parking spot).

Six former Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana players were invited. Five showed up. Three participated in games. Time for my post-combine thoughts on the half-dozen guys, thoughts I bounced off ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla.

Chinanu Onuaku, Louisville: Helped himself with his hustle and by showing grit on the glass at both ends of the floor. Close to being NBA ready, but won’t be there until he improves his 12-foot shot. Possible second round pick (he’s listed at No. 38 in the latest DraftExpress.com mock draft)

What he should do: Return to U of L.

What he will do: Return to U of L.

Jamal Murray, Kentucky: Skipped Chicago, a sure sign that Murray expects to be taken in the top half-dozen picks. Fraschilla believes he can make a pain-free move to a scoring lead guard, although, like me, he wonders if Murray has the athleticism to guard top NBA scorers.

Where he will be taken: Fifth or sixth.

Skal Labissiere, Kentucky: Labissiere wasn’t in Chicago long enough to have a slice of Giordano’s pizza, getting measured by NBA folks and then sitting for one round of interviews before returning to Florida, where he will train at the IMG Academy in Bradenton.

His representatives created the necessary positive buzz by releasing a workout video that highlighted Labissiere’s ability to make jump shots, which bumped him back into the ninth spot (ahead of Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine and Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson) in the latest DraftExpress mock.

Where he will be taken: From 9th to 20th. (Buyer beware.)

Tyler Ulis, Kentucky: Like Labissiere, Ulis skipped the games but endured the measurements and one day of interviews. The flashing light on his measurables was his weight – only 149 pounds. That might scare a few teams, but Ulis still appears to be a lock to hear his name called outside the lottery (first 14 picks).

Where he will be taken: 17-to-25.

Troy Williams, Indiana: Williams talked like a guy who wants to leave, even though most evidence suggests he should stay. He needs more work on his jump shot and shot selection, as well as a greater commitment to defense. Others will argue that another season at IU won’t change much so why not start the D-League grind ASAP?

What he should do: return to Indiana.

What he will do: stay in the draft but not get selected.

Marcus Lee, Kentucky: Lee showed the same issues he showed at Kentucky. No go-to offensive move. No consistency finishing against resistance at the rim. Not great rebounding skills. Like Williams, Lee talked like a guy determined to leave, even reminding everybody how many of his former UK teammates have played in the D-League.

What he should do: return to Kentucky.

What he will do: stay in the draft, but not get selected.

2. Billy The Kid: Master of His Domain

You know the list of college basketball coaches who washed out of the NBA: Rick Pitino (Boston edition); John Calipari; Lon Kruger; Jerry Tarkanian; Leonard Hamilton; Tim Floyd; Mike Montgomery; P. J. Carlesimo.

That’s a starter set.

Don’t add Billy Donovan’s name to the list.

I’ve always described Donovan as the most normal big-time coach I’ve ever encountered. His ego is not 20 stories tall. He does not react to defeat as if the world is going to end in the next eight seconds. He does not consider himself John Wooden Lite.

In only his first season with the Oklahoma City Thunder (after 19 at the University of Florida), Donovan is positioned to pursue an NBA title to go with the two he won at Florida. His team rallied from a brutal start to defeat the San Antonio Spurs and the great Gregg Popovich in the Western Conference semifinals.

Sure, Donovan has two of the five best players in the league in forward Kevin Durant and guard Russell Westbrook. But his decision to attack the Spurs with big men Steven Adams and Enes Kanter was viewed by insiders as the key move in the series, as outlined in this New York Times story.

Monday night at 9 (EDT) in Oakland, Donovan and the Thunder get their crack at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.

Can’t wait.

3. Welcome to The Show, Chad Green

Oops. Spoke too soon. I’ll be channel surfing Monday night.

Chad Green, the number one starter on the University of Louisville’s 2013 College World Series team, will make his major-league debut, pitching for the Yankees at Arizona. Green will be matched against left-handed Robby Ray, in a game that will start at 9:40 EDT.

Drafted by the Tigers, Green was traded to the Yankees after the 2015 season. He has pitched in Class AAA this season, winning only two of five decisions with a sparkling earned run average of 1.22 while striking out 36 in 37 innings.

Injuries to two Yankees’ veteran starters prompted Green’s promotion, but he gets his chance to take it from there.

“My arm feels good,” Green told Dan Martin in this story at the New York Post. “I haven’t hit since high school so that should be interesting.”

That’s correct. By debuting in a National League park, Green will get his chance to pitch and hit.

4. TMZ News Flash

We all have our questionable habits. Too much time watching sports. Not enough time in the gym. Late for that deadline. Forgetting important birthdays.

I’ve added a behavior that some will question: Checking the sports feed at TMZ.com.

I know, I know. Tabloid stuff. Junk food for the brain. I should be reading the New York Times and the New Yorker.

But … TMZ breaks stories that has other news organizations playing catchup. Last week I uncovered that fun item about NFL quarterback Mark Sanchez sneaking his flask/cane past security at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.

This week? Plenty of selections. I settled on this one:

Former Bears kickoff return master Devin Hester blasted the organizers at Pop Warner for their decision to eliminate kickoffs during youth league football because of concerns about head injuries.

“It’s a violent sport,” Hester said. “At the end of the day, there’s no way around it.”

You can read all of his comments by clicking here. Any other TMZ stories you uncover, well, that’s on you.

5. One Toke Across the (Offensive) Line

Should professional football players be permitted to smoke medicinal marijuana for pain relief without punishment from the National Football League?

That is precisely what Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Eugene Monroe is advocating in this story published in the New York Times.

Put away the wisecracks (and bongs) and listen to what Monroe has to say:

Playing across the offensive and defensive fronts in professional football is punishing work. Joints and muscles take a beating. Ice tubs, stretching and over-the-counter pain medicines only help so much.

Eventually players turn to stronger pain medication, often opiate-based. If you’ve been paying attention to the drug problem in this country, you know that is not a wise way to turn. It does not end well.

Monroe believes that allowing players to smoke cannabis is a reasonable alternative to the opiate-medication problem. He makes his case that cannabis is healthier, less addictive and more effective at managing pain.

All eyes will now turn to the NFL Players Association and commissioner Roger Goodell as they slug this one out.

6. Take Me Out to the Brawl Game

If you didn’t see the dustup between Rangers’ second baseman Rougned Odor and Toronto outfield Jose Bautista, you should.

If you did see it, you need to see it again. (Click here.)

Most fights in professional basketball are actually hand-holding and screaming.

This fight was a legitimate fight – at least a one-way fight as Odor rocked the left side of Bautista’s jaw with a solid right hook that knocked the glasses off Bautista’s face. Say this for Bautista: He did not go down.

Somebody needs to tell Bryce Harper that it wasn’t only sports writers and Old School baseball fans who did not appreciate Bautista’s legendary bat-flip against the Rangers in the playoffs last year.

Texas waited until Bautista’s final at bat in the series before one of the Rangers’ pitchers, rookie Matt Bush, drilled him with a fastball. Bautista got his payback with a late slide into second that could have ruined one of Odor’s knees. Odor had the last word with his thunderous response.

You can’t beat fun at the Ol’ Ball Park.

7. More Love for Western Kentucky Football

As I advised you last week, the pre-season college football magazines are coming, some as early as next week.

Athlon Sports has started to release content from its publications. One category the magazine has shared is a list of Five Players to Watch Outside the Power Five conferences.

Western Kentucky cracked that list with receiver Taywan Taylor, a product of Pleasure Ridge Park High School. Athlon predicts that Taylor will become a “household name” this fall.

You can read the story and Athlon’s complete look at Taylor by clicking this link.

8. Predicting the Associated Press college football Top 11

Phil Steele never stops. He is not content picking his own college football pre-season Top 10 or 25. He also likes to predict what the AP pre-season poll will say.

Steele is ready with his list. You can read the story by clicking this link, but here is what Steele predicts will be the AP pre-season Top 11:

1. Alabama; 2. Clemson; 3. Oklahoma; 4. Florida State; 5. LSU; 6. Ohio State; 7. Michigan; 8. Baylor; 9. Stanford; 10. Tennessee; 11. Notre Dame.

Agree? Disagree?

9. The 12 Most Football Obsessed States in America

Give it up Pac-12. Surrender Big Ten, ACC and Big 12.

The folks at CollegeSpun.com have ranked the 12 top college football states in America – and eight are based in the Southeastern Conference.

They start with Alabama at Number One and stretch to Georgia at 12 – with Texas, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana in between.

The only states with SEC teams that did not make the cut were Kentucky, Missouri and Arkansas.

The only non-SEC states that made the list were Oklahoma, Nebraska, Ohio and Michigan.

You can read the story by clicking this link. And let me know if a deserving state was overlooked.

10. Poll Results

Will Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist win the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore May 21?

Yes – 79 percent

No – 21 percent.

Copyright 2016 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.

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