1.Winning gold should never be dismissed. There was a tournament and the U.S. won. That’s the goal and it was accomplished by coaches Billy Donovan of Florida, Gonzaga’s Mark Few and VCU’s Shaka Smart. The U18 championship at the FIBA Americas tournament in Sao Sebastiao do Paraiso, Brazil, was a dominant performance. College basketball should feel good about the talent on display as Julius Randle, who has another year of high school in McKinney, Texas, was a power player in the title game with 18 and 12 while Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes (11 and 4), Oklahoma State-bound Marcus Smart (10 and four assists) put on a display in a 81-56 victory over host Brazil. The U.S. averaged 97.2 points a game and won by an average of 38.6. Clearly, the competition wasn’t equal but the basketball was hardly boring with offensive execution and the ability to lock down defensively.
2.The NBA Finals are over and the attention for a week will turn to the NBA draft. The draft starts with New Orleans at No. 1 and the selection of Anthony Davis of Kentucky. But the consensus among NBA personnel and agents the past two weeks is that the real draft starts at No. 6 with Portland. You will hear Bradley Beal (Florida), Harrison Barnes (North Carolina), Thomas Robinson (Kansas) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky) in some order from 2-5 for Charlotte, Washington, Cleveland and Sacramento. But the draft will take twists depending on what Portland does at 6 with choices such as Andre Drummond (UConn), Damian Lillard (Weber State) and Dion Waiters (Syracuse) all possibilities.
3.Oregon State broke ground on a new practice facility Thursday with former NBA stars and Beaver alumni A.C. Green and Gary Payton in attendance. UConn has a sign up for the site of its new practice facility. These used to be rare buildings on college campuses. Now, it is clear: If you don’t have one then you’re not perceived to be elite. Flash and comfort sells. But more than anything, access to the gym on your own time seems to be the most pressing issue. Programs at lower levels have done quite well with less (see: Butler). And UConn has done fine without one for two decades. Even Duke didn’t have something special until recently. But it has come to the point where if there isn’t a separate facility for men’s and women’s basketball, then the program is lacking something substantial.