Chat with Jay Bilas
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas will stop by to chat about the hoops season.
Bilas provides expert color commentary from courtside on college basketball games, and serves as a studio analyst and as the co-host of ESPN's popular studio shows College Gameday and College Gamenight. He also writes for ESPN.com, and contributes numerous reports for SportsCenter. Since 2003, Bilas has provided in-depth player scouting and analysis for ESPN's coverage of the NBA Draft.
Send your questions now and join Bilas Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Jay Bilas (12:58 PM)
Welcome everyone to the fastest chat in basketball! I am going to bang out answers to your questions on my 1946 Smith Corona typewriter, so let's get started! Fire away!
Adam R (Albany)
Jay, what are your thoughts on a two college year minimum rule for players wanting to jump after their freshman year?
Jay Bilas (1:04 PM)
Right out of the gate...an NBA question! Becuase, this is solely an NBA issue. On July 1, a lockout is likely in the NBA. One of the issues will be the age limit for draft eligibility. If I were king, which is just a few years away, I would mandate that every kid have a college degree. But, that is a pipe dream and simply an ideal. If the NBA and Players Association can agree, a two year rule would be good. It would improve the NBA product, make scouting and draft decisions a bit more stable, and provide a kid with a chance to mature and pursue an education. Whether it is Kobe or LeBron, being in an educational environment is better for the kid and for the league. Who was served when Brandon Jennings went to Italy? The kid wanted to play at Arizona, and Arizona wanted him. If he plays (a test score kept him from initial eligibility) then he is in a great environment, and far more likely to go back and finish his degree. Everybody benefits. Nobody benefits from a year in Italy (except you eat really well). Good question, Adam!
Do you think Jon Diebler could be the best 3pt shooter coming into the season?
Jay Bilas (1:06 PM)
Yes, he could be. But, John Jenkins of Vanderbilt, Jared Stohl of Portland, Seth Curry of Duke, Rotnei Clarke of Arkansas and Blake Hoffarber of Minnesota are darn good too. And, there are plenty more that the Smith Corona cannnot bang out in time! Diebler did not shoot it well his freshman year, but he has been lights out since then. If he gets a good point guard this year, he will hit big. Aaron Craft is a key for OSU.
Is John Leuer a lottery pick?
Jay Bilas (1:08 PM)
Lottery? No. NBA pro? Absolutely. Leuer is a very skilled offensive player. He played really well for the US Men's Select Team this summer. If he would a little bit more athletic, the Lottery would be a possibility. But, he will find a place in the NBA.
Nick (Cottleville, MO)
Hello Jay, another question.IF Tony Mitchell is cleared to play second semester, and that is a big IF, how much of a boost does that give the Missouri Tigers? Does that put them in the same breath as Kansas and Kansas State. I would think so. Mitchell is an immensely talented player.
Jay Bilas (1:10 PM)
He is very talented. He played really well for the US Under 18 team coached by OU's Jeff Capel this summer. Whether he plays or not, Mizzou will be very good. Ricardo Ratliffe is the real thing, and he will score a ton of points for Mike Anderson. You have to double him, and he can go get the ball off the glass. He will shoot a ton of free throws. Love that kid. This will be a great year for Missouri, and the Illinois-Mizzou game in St. Louis will be a real fight. You need three green berets to ref that game.
Nick (Dalian, China)
Northern Iowa vs. Syracuse Friday night. Your thoughts?
Jay Bilas (1:12 PM)
Syracuse is way better than people think. Not experienced like last season, but really, really talented. Northern Iowa suffered some losses, but they will really guard people. Young teams lose to a team like UNI because they will not be sped up. A slow game favors UNI, but Syracuse is bigger, deeper and way more talented. Should be fun. That is what the game is now...experienced good players versus super talented freshmen and sophomores. It makes it fun to watch.
Hey Jay, If the Devils get 20 and 20 from the Plumlees along with Ryan Kelly and Josh Hairston every night, who beats them?
Jay Bilas (1:14 PM)
A team that gets 21 and 21. Duke is young. Michigan State can beat them, NC State can beat them, and a host of others. Duke is the most talented team, but the best team does not always win. This Duke team is not great....yet. Remember UNC in 2009? People said undefeated, and they were 0-2 in the ACC. This Duke team in not as good as that team was. Still, a really good team.
Jared (Amherst, MA)
Do you think the NCAA would ever be stupid enough to actually expand the tournament to 96 teams?
Jay Bilas (1:16 PM)
Yes. And, it wouldn't be stupid. It would be for money. And, money is a good reason to do it. It would be bad for competition, and it would lessen the accomplishment. But, that is America today, isn't it? Everybody gets a trophy, grade inflation, nobody gets their feelings hurt, let everybody in. I know one thing....they would never allow Magna Cum Laude to be handed out like NCAA Tournament slots. They want you to earn that.
Andrew ( (Centereach,NY))
Do you think 6 days is going to be enough time for Mich St. to recover from duke game to play the 'Cuse? that is a rough 6 day stretch
Jay Bilas (1:18 PM)
They will be fine. Tom Izzo likes to challenge his team, and this is a veteran team. The key is Kalin Lucas. I think MSU will be way better in February than in December. I picked MSU to win it all this year. Duke is more talented, but MSU has older players and outstanding talent. The coaching battle is a toss up. Two of the best ever.
Terrell (Salisbury, MD)
Mr. Bilas, Gary Williams and the Terps escaped last night. Is this team a "shooter" away from being a top three team in the ACC?
Jay Bilas (1:19 PM)
The older guys just need to play older. Vasquez left a void, and the older guys need to fill that void. Jordan Williams cannot be the only one. He needs help, he can't be expected to be the guy that helps everyone else all of the time. Maryland won that game because of Gary Williams. He was the difference. Those games are not won by accident.
Bill (Louisville KY)
Have you heard anything in regards to Enes Kanter's eligibility?
Jay Bilas (1:22 PM)
Nothing new. Reasonable minds can differ, but I think he should be cleared, and right now. The NCAA will say it has 70,000 jocks in 88 sports to clear. Well, I say that college basketball pays for 95% of the bills for the entire athletics landscape for the NCAA, so they should prioritize things correctly. And, Kanter grew up in a foreign country with a different system. He wants to turn down a big payday to play in and attend college. Why would we keep him out?
Bewterps (Arlington, VA)
Can you explain the four play in games? I'm still confused and I have a feeling my Terps will be headed to Dayton come March.
Jay Bilas (1:30 PM)
I can, and will. But, the fact that you are confused is proof positive that the NCAA Tournament expansion was a dumb idea. If you have to explain it a thousand times, it is simply dumb. The NCAA added three teams to make it 68 teams. Stick with me here, because you have to suspend disbelief for a while. There are four play-in games featuring eight teams in Dayton. The four winners advance to the traditional 64 team bracket. The four games are called the "First Four". That is branding. Kind of like the Final Four, only totally different. Two of the games are played by the last four seeded teams of the field (or, the four worst teams, which are guaranteed to be automatic qualifiers - basically, the 16 seeds). The other two games are played by the last four teams in the field as at-large teams - basically, big conference teams like Virginia Tech - probably around 11 or 12 seeds. The two winners among the worst teams are going to be cannon fodder and slotted as 16 seeds to play two of the overall No. 1 seeds, while the two winning at-large teams will be folded into the Tournament bracket around the 10 to 12 seed line. The First Four is also called the First Round. Winners advance to the Second Round, to reach the 60 teams that received a bye to the Second Round. Get it? What a stupid mess. But, the NCAA cannot screw up this Tournament. It is idiot proof, and will be GREAT, no matter what. And, we are lucky that is the case.
Derek Cline (Pullman, WA)
DeAngelo Casto has said that, after adding 20 lbs of muscle, that he wants to break the glass on a backboard this season. At our exhibition game, it looked like he was trying. I'm pretty sure he will too. What exactly would happen in that situation? Do we get a technical foul? Do courts have extras in back? Would there be some sort of fine or suspension for him? I'm sure the student body would explode.
Jay Bilas (1:33 PM)
Good question. I didn't see it, so I cannot speak to the actual case (and it may not be the case). But, hypothetically, as long as you do not hang on the rim or pull it down, dunking with great force is not a violation. My guess is that you would have to see it to make the call, in a case by case manner. I have seen some kids shoot free throws early this year that would come closer to breaking a backboard than any dunk.
Does Duke arguably have the best backcourt in basketball history?
Jay Bilas (1:37 PM)
No. It is not the best backcourt in Duke history. I watched them practice, and they are very, very good. But, Johnny Dawkins, Jay Williams, JJ Redick, Trajan Langdon, Bobby Hurley etc were pretty good. You don't think that Hurley-Hill-Hill could give these guys a run? Amaker and Dawkins? Langdon, Avery, Carrawell, Maggette? You say arguably, but that argument wouldn't last very long.
Jay- do you agree or disagree with a freshman like Harrison Barnes being named a preseason All-American even though he hasn't played a collegiate game yet? Would you have voted for him?
Jay Bilas (1:39 PM)
I agree. We have to get over the provincial thought process that these kids haven't earned it yet. We have had freshmen that have won National Player of the Year honors already (Kevin Durant and John Wall) and Carmelo Anthony was the best player in 2003. Why deny it?
Jay, what are your thoughts on Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor, what kind of things do you expect to see from him in the upcoming season? Also, any thoughts on how highly touted freshman Vander Blue will perform at Marquette this season?
Jay Bilas (1:41 PM)
Tough kid. Taylor played really well last night in UW's win. He will take over in the backcourt this year and make it his team. Blue is really good. He is really tough minded and does dirty work needed to win. He saved the gold medal for the US Under-18 team this summer. He will be a big time contributor for Marquette.
Triangle Hoops Journal - Jim (Raleigh, NC)
NC State will be starting all 3 freshmen by mid-December. Agree or disagree?
Jay Bilas (1:44 PM)
It might not take that long. Lorenzo Brown is going to turn a lot of heads in the ACC. Tough, strong, and knows how to play. CJ Leslie is really talented, he just needs to focus at a high level. And, Ryan Harrow can really score. The key is Tracy Smith. That kid is vastly underappreciated in the ACC and nationally. You have to double him in the post.
Josh (Carrollton, GA)
From a former player's perspective, who do you think would be best to replace your former college basketball coach once he retires?
Jay Bilas (1:45 PM)
That is still a long way off, in my judgment. The old man is still energetic, and still has a bounce in his step. When his hair changes color, I will start thinking about his replacement. That could take a decade. How does it stay black?
Burt (Grand Rapids, MI)
Who wins the Maui Invitational?
Jay Bilas (1:46 PM)
Michigan State is the best team. I think that the Spartans will win it, but there are some good teams. I am looking forward to seeing Washington again, and seeing Wichita State up close for a week.
Jay, Indiana just landed Cody Zeller and with the talent Coach Crean has coming in 2012 and 2014 (two top 5 players already) sure looks like IU will be back to elite levels VERY soon. Thoughts!?
Jay Bilas (1:48 PM)
Tom Crean is the real deal, which I have been telling you since Day 1. He will get things going, and he will make IU great again. I know it. He is one of the very best. I believe in him, and have thought very highly of him since I first watched him work at Michigan State. Big time winner, on and off the floor.
How far is Indiana from competing for the Big Ten?
Jay Bilas (1:49 PM)
They can drive to some of the games, but they fly to most of them. That is pretty close, isn't it?
Do you have any Fedora's like Bert Sugar?
Jay Bilas (1:50 PM)
I need one. No hair left. It is all in a drawer in my bathroom right now. I am looking like Scott Van Pelt, and it is horrifying.
How good will Michigan be in 2-3 years?
Jay Bilas (1:51 PM)
Depends upon how they recruit. This roster will not cut it in the Big Ten. With a new staff, the goal has to be to upgrade the talent. This could be a rough year, but John Beilein is a great coach. I am surprised that he has struggled like this.
Dino Barb (Syracuse)
Will Boeheim go beyond a 7 man rotation with all that depth? He's seemed reluctant in the past.
Jay Bilas (1:53 PM)
He could, certainly, but Boeheim will play who he trusts out there. Some guys feel more comfortable with a shorter rotation. I think that the players determine who plays, but if you don't have a pressing and uptempo styles, it can be hard to go with more than eight guys. Not impossible, but hard.
I have a college fantasy BB draft - PG SG SF PF C and true freshman this Sunday at 7, what would it take for you to draft for me?
Jay Bilas (1:55 PM)
Some adult beverages and a seat watching games. I have actually helped friends with those things in the past, and they have won. Not one of them has shared the winnings. Very disappointing.
Prediction for Gtown-ODU tomorrow night???
Jay Bilas (1:57 PM)
Considering that ODU beat Georgetown in McDonough last year, I would think that the Hoyas would be focused on winning. Watch the kid Kent Bazemore for ODU. Good defender, athlete and player. I like that kid. ODU is good, but Georgetown should win. I am looking forward to seeing Nate Lubick. He can be good for the Hoyas.
Cal is getting slept on ,no way Mike Montgomery lets them slip ,in his 1st year they won 20 games and that was a team that was picked to finnish like th in the pac 10 and losing really their only good player at the time
Jay Bilas (2:00 PM)
I don't think Cal will be as good as last year, but they won't be bad, either. The kid Allen Crabbe is a good player, and when he gets aggressive and secure in who he is on that team, he will be really good.By the way, why do so many people say don't "sleep" on a team or player? Is there a bunch of narcoleptics in basketball now?
Kevin (Guilford, Ct)
Hello Jay, big Tar Heel fan. UNC missed on Cody Zeller to Indiana. Is UNC in trouble in recruiting? Do you know of any options out there because Tyler Zeller Henson and Barnes could leave for the NBA and they would be left with James McAdoo as the lone post player next year. Thanks.
Jay Bilas (2:02 PM)
Zeller is just one kid. UNC is fine, and Roy Williams is one of the best recruiters on the planet. And, James McAdoo is really, really good. He can play. Don't worry, Carolina will be back to its usual excellence in short order.
Has Digger been contacted by Dancing With the Stars yet? I've been waiting.
Jay Bilas (2:04 PM)
Yes, he has. DWTS called Digger and asked him to stop calling them and begging. DWTS then sought a restraining order against the Silver Fox, and Digger has been ordered to stay 500 feet away from cheerleaders during the upcoming season. Which, of course, caused the cheerleaders to cheer wildly.
No one benefits from a year in Italy?!? Maybe he (Jennings) suffers as a product, but as a person that experience has no equal. Traveling europe while at the same time working for a professional organization as an 18-year old kid...sign me up.
Jay Bilas (2:07 PM)
Don't misunderstand me. I played pro ball in Italy. It is great. But, I was a 22-year old man with a college degree. Brandon was an 18-year old kid that WANTED TO PLAY IN COLLEGE. He was in Italy because a rule prevented him from going to school. It is not that Italy is bad. It is that college is better. Jennings will NEVER go to college now. If he had been allowed to play as a freshman, he would have been far more likely to have returned and finished. And, the one year of school would have been better for him than living with his mommy in Italy. Reasonable minds can differ, but that is how I look at it.
After watching Pitt play two games. Is this the team that can get Jamie Dixon to a final four?
Jay Bilas (2:11 PM)
They are good enough, but that is not as good of a team as they had in 2009. Pitt will get better and better. The inside guys are important. Dante Taylor and Talib Zanna have to get better. I laughed when people said that Rhode Island almost beat Pitt. There was not one second that I thought Rhody would beat Pitt. Not one. Rhody hit 14 threes and Pitt missed fifteen lay-ups and Rhody LOST. That is impossible. Unless Rhody gets down and guards somebody, they will lose the big games. After the game, they were saying that there were a play away and this and that, totally missing the point. They pressed, yelled boo at Pitt, and then Pitt ran down the floor and got a lay-up. Pitt had more lay-up opportunities through Rhody's defense than they had in pre-game warm-ups. That should embarrass Rhody.
Marc (Malden, MA)
I don't have a problem with going to 68 teams, but I do have a problem with automatic qualifiers playing in the "First Four." If you qualify, you deserve to play on Thursday/Friday.
Jay Bilas (2:14 PM)
I am fine with that. That is perfectly reasonable. But, if you want to have a fair competition for the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP and you have 68 teams, the four worst teams have to play. That is it. Period.But, television is a concern, and this was done for television. Money is a good reason to do things. I am cool with that.My beef is that they are play-in games, so call it that. And, we don't need to expand to 68. There are not 68 good teams in the bracket. 64 was more than enough, and 65 was downright silly. This was about money, pure and simple.
Linas (Rochester, NY)
How good can Memphis be this year?
Jay Bilas (2:16 PM)
Talent wise, very good. Memphis will be a little bit scattered early and will have to learn how to play together. Practices are a challenge with so many young kids. Midnight Madness looked like an AND1 tape. In time, I like the Tigers pieces. But, it will take some time.
what are the chances ohio state makes ncaa tournament and makes a run with the young pg in craft and you PF/C in Sullinger
Jay Bilas (2:17 PM)
Sullinger is the real deal. Big, strong, and can really score and rebound. The key is Aaron Craft. If he can play the point reliably, OSU has the tools. If not, Lighty and Buford have to do it, and Buford is not suited for that.
Bo Ryan (Madison)
When will America learn to love my style of basketball?
Jay Bilas (2:17 PM)
Who cares?! It wins. And, Wisconsin people love it. Tht is good enough for me. You don't coach to make people love the way you play. You coach to compete and win. Bo Ryan competes and wins.
Jay, if you had your choice between the 68 team dance and the 96 team dance what you choose? I made a bracket last year of a 96 team tournament saw a lot of fun matchups - don't understand the detractors - more Madness!
Jay Bilas (2:20 PM)
I would choose 64. You say you want more, but you would not want it if you had it. 96 would be a mediocrity fest.
Comments on the crazy non-con schedule by Gonzaga? Is this really necessary? Is the risk of 4-5 early losses worth the change at a couple big wins?
Jay Bilas (2:23 PM)
I think it is great. Good players don't want to play against cupcakes. They want to play in big games. If Gonzaga loses five games before WCC play, they will still be in great shape to win the league. Plus, they will still be in good shape to get an at-large bid. Denny Crum used to schedule big games to get his team ready and won two titles having lost early games. It is smart. And, if they are not good enough, they will find out.
Earvin M. Johnson (Los Angeles)
Why did you pick Michigan State to win the national championship?
Jay Bilas (2:23 PM)
Because I think they are going to win the national championship.
What kind of an impact do you think facebook and twitter have had on recruiting? Good or bad?
Jay Bilas (2:26 PM)
I am not sure yet. The more information out there, the better. But, I am not yet into Twitter. Just because Larry King does it doesn't make it right. And, there are very few people whose thoughts I want to know all day long. I certainly wouldn't foist mine on people.
Who are some teams to watch that could be sleepers this year?
Jay Bilas (2:27 PM)
San Diego State and Wichita State are my two. I think that Minnesota will be pretty good, too.
In your article, you talked about amateurism, do you think your solution will unfairly advantage teams near media centers of NY, Miami, Chicago, Dallas and L.A.
Jay Bilas (2:32 PM)
Good question. If a media center provides an advantage, it provides it now. Amateurism has nothing to do with that. My point is this...There is no legitimate reason to believe that amateurism enhances the education of a player. None. An example. Do you think that Duke's Trajan Langdon loved the game and received a quality education as a true student?If so, remember one thing. He was a professinal baseball player in college and played basketball as an amateur. He made hundreds of thousands of dollars, and was still an amateur. That is nonsensical. A few bucks outside of the university would not negatively impact education, and it would not be such a big deal if it were legal. You would barely notice.Thanks for all of your questions!! See you next time!!