Introducing the #1 8th and 9th Graders in the Nation Marvin Bagley III and Cody Riley (Video)

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We here at #TTO love being on the cutting edge, and we are going to introduce you to the top 8th and 9th graders in the nation. Marvin Bagley III, of Arizona, is a 6-10 phenom who is dominating the middle school circuit and exhibits excellent skill and athleticisim for a 6-10 14 year old! While Cody Riley, the top 9th grader in the nation has led his California Basketball Club team to back-to-back AAU national championship  with a combination of skill, athletic ability and BRUTE physical force.  Enjoy these videos and leave a comment because we would love your feedback!!!!

Marvin Bagley III Highlight #1

Marvin Bagley III Highlight #2

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Cody Riley Highlight #1

Cody Riley Highlight #2 (8th Grade)

Thon Maker: 7 Foot High School Sophomore Phenom is NEXT

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Thon Maker is currently dominating High School hoops for Carlisle High in Virginia, while running with one of the original AAU programs Boo Williams Elite. This young man is originally from Australia with a skill-set to DIE for. He can shoot, dribble, rebound, defend and TAKE COACHING! He measured 7.05″ feet at the LeBron James Skills Academy, while weighing in at 200 pounds. The sky is the limit for this young man and we her at the #TTO are truly looking forward to monitoring his development as he breaks onto the national stage. Here are some videos of Maker for to wet your appetite. 

Jermaine Samuels and Kimani Lawrence are NEXT: By @ProfessorCorria

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Jermaine Samuels and Kimani Lawrence are two great freshman basketball players in the New England Area that are slightly under the radar to the “mainstream”, but are supremely talented and I have personally seen them dominate some of the top competition in the United States. Samuels is a 6-6 Forward from Franklin, Massachusetts, who is a highly skilled athlete with a GREAT motor. He plays AAU ball for Expressions Elite and attends Rivers Prep School. This young man is easily one of the top 30 players in the Country and is already receiving offers from D-1 Programs, including URI.

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Kimani Lawrence is a 6-5 Forward from Providence, Rhode Island, whom is a smooth athlete with a great overall floor game. The maturation he has made since we saw him balling up for Zuccolo Recreation to now is amazing. He plays AAU for Expressions Elite, and attends Cushing Academy in Massachusetts, which will develop and nurture his talent. Lawrence has a very high ceiling and when it’s all said and done could easily be a top 40 player in his class nationally. If this young man was playing in the R.I.I.L. his name would be on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but he is FAR better off playing ball at Cushing Prep.

The NBA’s “One and Done” Rule and Our Modern Day Indentured Servants: By @ProfessorCorria

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“The subject matter is over their head but…Under their nose.”- David Styles

Indentured servitude was a form of debt bondage, established in the early years of the American colonies and elsewhere. It was most used as a way for poor teenagers in Britain and the German states to get free passage to the American colonies. They would work for a fixed number of years, then be free to work on their own. Sound familiar? This definition of indentured servitude sounds eerily similar to how we would describe our modern day student athletes. The only difference is the glory and star worship they receive on campus and nationally, but the only compensation is room and board. NCAA football and College basketball traffic in the inner city, dangling the carrot of the NBA and NFL in front of a majority of kids who see becoming a professional athlete as their only way of becoming successful, with their million dollar a year coaches acting as de-facto overseers. It’s high comedy that the coach of the Kentucky Wildcats is vilified in the media and seen as the boggy man by other college basketball coaches, because he has found a happy medium in getting his prospects to the NBA as fast as possible, while maintaining an elite program. And when a player like Johnny Manziel challenges the construct of the stereotype of an athlete who is looking to cash out, it brings the entire process of amateur athletics into the forefront.

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         Something’s feel so simple, yet have no easy answer. It’s not because there isn’t a viable solution, it’s because every individual has a different opinion on how to deal with the same subject, and it’s supremely difficult to get a snowball to reverse its motion once it begins to cascade down the hill. The business at hand, and I do emphasize the word business, is the NBA’s “One and Done” rule, and the industry as a whole that does not pay its labor force. We live in a space where in our pro sports everything is “collectively bargained”, meaning that the players and owners get together to set the financial parameters in which their league or association will adhere to over a finite amount of time.

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        There are 3 primary reasons for the NBA’s “One and Done” rule, no it’s not money, money and money, but the current NBA players want to keep high school kids out an extra year because that’s an extra year on the back end of a veteran’s career. Secondly, the NBA enjoys their “free” minor league, even though they have the NBDL, nobody watches it, and therefore college basketball acts as a marketing tool to help bring millions of eyes to the new crop of young basketball players that will be coming into the NBA. Lastly, the NBA’s GM’s and coaches feel like they can get a better feel for the players that will be in the draft if they get a chance to watch them in college for a year and talk to the college coaches who they trust to get honest insight about a particular player. Lots of unspoken agreements are intertwined between the NCAA and the pro leagues in order to put both parties in mutually beneficial situations in regards to maximizing their profits, and they will go to great lengths in order to make sure gravy train keeps undulating.

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The “One and Done” rule evokes a great deal of emotion, simply because most if not all of the prospects that it effects are black youths. Nobody cares if baseball, hockey, tennis or golf players skip college or in some cases parts of their high school careers in order to become professionals, where most of the athletes are comprised of mostly white people. Make no mistake, there is jealousy, resentment, anger, biased and bigotry when it comes to the discussion of the NBA’s one and done rule. Are some people bitter that there were unproven 18 year old black kids coming straight out of high school and getting guaranteed contracts for millions of dollars, while they’re struggling to make ends meet? Of course. One thing I think David Stern never gets credit for is selling a black league to a majority white consumer base, which no one wants to acknowledge because race is such a difficult subject to broach.

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Race has a great deal to do with the feelings and sentiment around the NBA’s “One and Done” rule and the NFL keeping prospects out of the league until they have spent three years on a college campus. But, in reality the only color that really matters is green, money, the religion that we all worship in this great nation, is why the gate keepers of these two great sports have decided to place restrictions on when players can enter the professional ranks. The NCAA signed a 14 year, $10.8 billion dollar deal in 2010 to televise the Men’s Basketball tournament on CBS and Turner Networks, as well as 14 year, $500 million dollar deal to televise the “smaller sports” championship games with ESPN. This doesn’t take into account the dollar amount that the individual NCAA conferences have signed  to show basketball games on ESPN, FOX Sports, CBS, Raycom, NBC Sports, Big Ten Network, Longhorn Network, and the Pac 12 Network. All of these deals factor into Billions of dollars over the next few years, but the basketball money barely begins to scratch the surface of the money troth that is major NCAA sports. College Football is the number two sport in terms of television ratings, and the amount of money that TV networks will pay in order to broadcast these games being played by kids age 17-22 are staggering. ESPN and Fox will pay the Big 12 conference $ 2.6 Billion Dollars until the year 2024, while also shelling out $3 Billion Dollars to the Pac 12 conference through 2023. The SEC, the number one football conference in America will receive $3.075 Billion Dollars through 2023 from CBS and ESPN, while the Big Ten will receive $1 Billion Dollars from ESPN through 2017 and another $2.8 Billion Dollars from their own “Big Ten Network” through 2031. The ACC is bringing up the rear with $ 3.6 Billion Dollars from ESPN through the year 2026. Those numbers are staggering considering the labor force of these “corporations” aren’t being properly compensated, unless you consider a college scholarship fair compensation? I wanted to share these numbers because it’s important to see the revenue that is being generated by big time college sports, do with these dollar amounts what you will.

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2013 Champions Classic Preview by @YeahFlanny

The start of the college basketball season marks the beginning of the best three month stretch of the year for sports fans. This is when we get both college football and basketball, the NFL, and the NBA, at the same, damn, time! And while Friday marked the beginning of college basketball, tonight is the TRUE start to the college hoops season, with the third installment of the, Champions Classic.

Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Kansas are four of the nations top five teams this year, and four of college basketball’s most storied programs. These four teams, coached by four hall of famers, have combined to win five of the last thirteen national titles, with each team reaching the Final Four at least once in the past five seasons. The site of this year’s Final Four is “Jerry World” in Arlington, TX, and all of these teams are poised for a deep postseason run, with hopes of it concluding in the lone star state. These two early season match-ups will be a great measuring stick for each program, and their fabulous freshman, in games that will feature an NCAA tournament feel. Let’s see how these teams stack up, and find out who I have prevailing tonight.

Michigan State vs Kentucky

It’s been well publicized that Kentucky features the nations best freshman class, and likely the best freshman class in the history of college basketball. My second favorite incoming freshman, PF Julius Randle was better than advertised in the Cats opener, scoring 23 and adding 13 boards. H e already has an NBA body and is a sure fire top 5 pick in next year’s draft. The Wildcats also feature elite freshman guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison, and sophomore big men Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein. As usual under Cal, Kentucky will look to get up and down on offense, and use their length and athleticism to pressure the ball while on defense. While blue chip recruits aren’t anything new for Coach Cal and Kentucky, we have seen them struggle early in the season, as they’ve attempted to gel with one another on the court. Michigan State is the perfect early season test for this Cats squad.

On the other side, Coach Izzo’s Spartans are an experienced and battle tested group. The State backcourt has a perfect balance of youth and leadership with sophomore Gary Harris and senior Keith Appling. Appling has been the Spartans leader and starting point guard for three seasons, and has no fear of driving the lane amongst the tree’s. Harris was one of the nation’s top freshman in 2012-13 before a shoulder injury derailed his season. He is again healthy, and brings immense versatility to the Michigan State lineup. He can score from anywhere and is always a threat to take over a game. The Spartans also feature one of the countries nastiest big men, Adreian Payne. The light bulb seemed to finally turn on for Payne down the stretch last year, making him a formidable threat in the low post, to go along with his special skills in transition. The Payne, Randle match-up down low will be worth the price of admission alone.

Prediction: Michigan State over Kentucky 77-72

In the night’s second match-up, the nations #1 and #2 recruits will face off, in the latter’s hometown. SF Andrew Wiggins, and PF Jabari Parker lead two star studded squads in a blue blood battle. The Kansas Jayhawks lost all five starters off of last year’s team and still find themselves ranked 5th. That’s mostly because of the athletic freak that is, Andrew Wiggins. This young man possesses tools that are tailor made for NBA stardom, more so even then they are for college basketball. Had he been eligible last year, Wiggins would’ve been the #1 pick in the NBA draft.The Jayhawks also feature another great freshman in SG Wayne Selden, who can fill it up in the half court, and get out and run in transition. The Jayhawks will be looking for major contributions from junior PG Naadir Tharpe and sophomore PF Perry Ellis this season. Both will be considered veterans on this Kansas team, and will be relied on heavily by coach Bill Self.

The #4 ranked Duke Blue Devils arrive in Chicago with a vastly different look from last year’s Elite 8 squad. The Blue Devils lost lottery pick Mason Plumlee, seniors Ryan Kelly, and Seth Curry, and just may have gotten better. My favorite incoming freshman, Jabari Parker and Miss St transfer Rodney Hood wasted no time getting acclimated in Duke blowout win over Davidson Friday, combining for only three missed shots, and 44 points. The long and athletic wings will be asked to mask to lack of size on this Duke roster by playing in the paint and on the glass often. The Duke backcourt is a very talented and deep unit. Led by junior play maker Quinn Cook and sophomore sensation Rasheed Sulaimon, the Blue Devils guards are very versatile, intelligent, and battle tested in the biggest of games. Duke also welcomes back senior sharp shooter Andre Dawkins after a year away from the team. While very young, this Duke team is extremely athletic and deep. Duke also features the  nations best coach in Mike Krzyzewski, who is looking to go 3-0 in the Champions Classic.

Prediction: Duke over Kansas 81-74

NBA Draft Preview: The Ocean State Edition

In a matter of hours, dozens of young men will see a childhood dream come true, as they’ll become professional athletes and members of the NBA. Whether they were Mcdonald’s or collegiate All-Americans, or foreigners who have been competing as boys, amongst men overseas; the slate will be wiped clean as they embark on a new journey. New Englanders, (Rhode Islanders in particular) will have a close eye on tonight’s draft, as multiple prospects who either hail from Lil’ Rhody, or played their high school ball here, are expected to hear their name called. You would be hard pressed to find a mock draft that does not include the names, Ricky Ledo, Erik Murphy, and Michael Carter-Williams, all of whom have come from, or through the Ocean State.

PG Michael Carter-Williams- Syracuse (So) While he resides in Hamilton, Mass, Carter Williams became an All American while playing at St. Andrew’s. He then went on to take the Big East by storm, as the catalyst of a very good Syracuse Orange team. Carter-Williams wowed everyone with his scoring and passing ability, all while making it look effortless. He came on very strongly in the latter part of his sophomore season, playing his best ball, and elevating his stock into the top 10. Carter-Williams is expected to go anywhere from #7 overall (Kings) to #13 overall (Mavs). He will be expected to be a franchise PG one day, and if he continues to learn and grow at this rate, it seems likely that he’ll live up to those lofty expectations.

SG Ricardo Ledo- Providence (Fr) Is there a more intriguing prospect in this 2013 draft then Ricky Ledo? The young man who chose to stay home for his college ball, never got to put on a Friars uniform after being ruled ineligible.  Ledo never waivered in his journey, and continuously put on unreal shooting displays for NBA scouts in practice. After impressing many at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, Ledo traveled the country working out for a large group of NBA teams, who were looking to get a first hand taste of what he is like, and what he’s capable of on the court. Ledo is regarded by many as the best pure scorer in this class, but with him sitting out a year, some NBA GM’s may be a bit weary to pull the trigger. He may hear his name called as early as the lottery, and as late as the beginning of the second round. Ledo has impressed in recent months, and I expect a team to choose him somewhere between the late teens, and the early twenties. Regardless, of where he lands, Ledo seems poised to silence the critics, and let his play answer any of the lingering questions anyone may have.

PF Erik Murphy- Florida (Sr) Not many 4* recruits had a college career quite like South Kingston’s own Erik Murphy. Not only did Murphy stay in school for four years, he went through his share of ups and downs in those four years. Murphy, who comes from an outstanding basketball family, continued to work on his game and became Florida’s most consistent player last season. He is your prototypical NBA stretch four, and is considered by many as the best big man shooter in this year’s draft class. Murphy is expected to go in the mid to late second round in tonight’s draft, and may end up being a steal because of the tremendous upside he possesses, with his shooting touch and basketball IQ.

All three of these young men have traveled vastly different paths to end up where they are today, and in the end their love for the game of basketball has trumped any, and every obstacle set before them. On this day, they are able to enjoy the fruits of their labor, with the reward of becoming professional basketball players. It’s not to often that this little state of ours produces professional athletes, and tonight we will likely see multiple Rhody natives become members of the NBA. This is a rare thing, and something we should all enjoy and appreciate, as we don’t know for certain when this will happen next. I wish these three young men the absolute best of luck, as they embark on this journey, and look forward to watching them go from the countries smallest state, to the world’s biggest stage.