The A-10’s last hope to win this year’s “The Tournament” (www.thetournament.com) and a chance at a $1 million team prize — not to mention another shot at playing on ESPN in this year’s tournament Final 4 — vanished Sunday when a group of La Salle alumni under the team name 20th & Olney fell at the Philadelphia University gym to a group of Syracuse alumns going by the name Boeheim’s Army”, 92-91 in overtime.
Tyreek Duren’s game-winning opportunity resulted in a turnover to end an exciting afternoon of high-drama summer basketball — including two ejections late and an invitation from La Salle grad Steve Smith to Cuse grad Eric Devendorf to come chat outside. That won’t stop however me from enjoying the remainder of this event as well as the idea that future A-10 All-Star squads might be created between now and the start of next season’s tournament.
You hate to talk “next year” while a tournament is still being played, but let’s dream for a bit and handcraft a team that would be fun for next year’s tournament.
TEAM A10TALK.COM (Only rule: I can use no more than one player from each team)
PG – Chaz Williams (UMass) – TBT is a legit hoops tournament that is loaded with D1 and former NBA talent but there’s something about it that also feels a little “Rucker Park”. With that in mind I love the idea of a scoring point guard with some big time swagger. Williams gives me that but statistically I also LOVE that he ranked first in the A-10 in assist rating his final two seasons of college hoops, not to mention second as a sophomore.
PG – Jordair Jett (SLU) – Now that we’ve added Williams for a little offense and excitement, we need another point with more size, a guy who can shut down a former pro on offense while also giving us more scoring punch for our squad as well. So with that in mind Jordair Jett is a no-brainer. Jett was a top-10 steals% guy his senior year but even better at just staying in front of his man and ranked second his final season to only Chaz Williams in assist rate. Not the greatest deep ball threat but could get to the rack and get there when it mattered most.
SG – Ramon Galloway (La Salle) – Galloway was absent from the 20th & Olney team that came up one point short of upsetting the top-seeded Boeheim’s Army in this year’s tournament, falling 92-91 in overtime with a chance to win it at the end. I’m of the opinion having Galloway in that lineup would’ve been enough for the win, perhaps even a comfortable one. Here’s what I know: La Salle was a Sweet 16 team with Ramon Galloway in the lineup during the 2012-13 season. They went 24-10 that season, finished 11-5 in the A-10 and were the fifth best three-point shooting team in the conference. Galloway was the only player to graduate that following offseason and the Explorers posted a 15-16 losing record the following season, finished 7-9 in the conference and finished dead last in the conference in three-point shooting. You see why I like Galloway? Ramon hit 39% of his 156 attempts this past season in Italy so I know he can still stroke it too.
SG – Maurice Creek (George Washington) – Creek made a big impact during his small stay in the A-10 after transferring to GW from Indiana. At 6’5 195 he gives our backcourt some nice size and can light it up from range, hitting 40% of his 2000 attempts during the 2013-14 season. He’s kept that stroke warm overseas, hitting 35% of his attempts as a professional in Holland’s Eredivisie.
SF – Justin Harper (Richmond) – Harper is a no-brainer as much representative of the Richmond Spiders. The former Spider was selected with the 32nd pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic but has found himself across the pond after brief stints in the NBA and D-League. I’m hoping he’s got a flight home in him to bring our team a deadly and rather large “small forward” who will give us both the size needed to compete in what’s going to be an increasingly competitive tournament and a deep ball that will punish our opponents. I also love the idea of having guys on our team who are still trying to prove they belong in the NBA.
SF – Devin Oliver (Dayton) – Arguably the top player off Dayton’s 2014 Elite 8 team, the 6’7 Oliver would fit in beautifully on this true team. The Flyer grad can shoot the ball anywhere on the floor, doesn’t turn the ball over and can really rebound the ball. Oliver averaged nearly identical stats to his senior year at Dayton this past season in Belgium, posting 11.6 points to 7.2 rebounds per contest. Young, hungry and could probably find a few good ways to spend his $100k cut.
PF – Halil Kanacevic (Saint Joseph’s) – 6’8 255 with attitude and an all-around game. Kanacevic was key to the Hawks 2014 A-10 tourney title run. He hit over 60% of his attempts most recently playing pro ball in Slovenia and in college demonstrated an ability to hit the deep ball, rebound, find the open man, you name it. Dude can play.
PF – Will Thomas (George Mason) – Will Thomas has long been on my “most underrated” team since helping to lead the 2006 George Mason Patriots to the schools first and only Final 4. Thomas is one of those high IQ ballers who seems to make all the right plays and continues to do so in Spain’s top league where he most recently helped Unicaja Malaga to a 25-9 record, good for a tie for the second best record in the league, just behind Real Madrid. At 6’8 220 Thomas gives us size but like Harper has proven he can step out and bury the deep ball. Love this guy’s game.
C – Larry Sanders (VCU) – Sanders became the 15th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft as a junior out of VCU, the Rams’ first and only early entry pick in their history. After a breakout year, a $44 million contract with a seemingly bright future ahead of him, Sanders quit basketball altogether. People dog on Larry for his actions as a pro and giving up his opportunity to play in the NBA, but the guy is one of the most genuinely nice guys I’ve met in my eight years covering college hoops. He’s also a shot-blocking machine, finishing second to only Serge Ibaka in blocks/game in 2012-13 and has the length our front court needs to gobble up rebounds for our shooters.
C – Yossou Ndoye (St. Bonaventure) – Ndoye is wrapping up his first season of NBA Summer League play but with this selection I’m guessing it may be his last (I’m also taking the easy way out with my last pick). Basically you won’t be playing for our team if you are attempting to make an NBA squad during Summer League, so I’m going to guess that due to his 10.6 minutes per contest this summer it may be his last. There is a very good chance I’m wrong, but hey, needed a Bona player on my squad so we could have the Bona Fanatic come to our games as mascot. Outside of wanting the Fanatic I also just love 7′ with some skill. If our lineup always uses a traditional 5 will always have an elite shot-blocker patrolling the paint with either Ndoye or Sanders on the floor.
Some players I’d love to have include NBA hopefuls like Tyler Kalinoski, Jordan Sibert and Treveon Graham (who I believe will be on Summer League rosters again next season), guys like Richmond’s Kevin Anderson or Darien Brothers or any of their recent guards to be honest, but due to my rules I implemented to make my squad more political (gotta make you guys happy), I had to leave some REALLY good talent off my team.
Who you got?