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July 13, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Jay Bilas

Jay Bilas
  (3:50 PM)

Hello Everybody! Thanks for tuning in for this mid-summer chat. Whatever questions you have, fire away. There is plenty to talk about, from the NBA Draft to the new NCAA Tournament format to the LeBron James Skills Academy and the best high school and college players in the country. I will answer as many questions as I can!!

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What do you think of Andy Rautin being selected by the New York Knicks?

Jay Bilas
  (3:53 PM)

I thought it was great. On a personal level, I was really pleased for Andy and his family. I played pro ball with Andy's dad, Leo Rautins, in Italy. Leo was a great player and a great teammate, and Andy was just a toddler when I played with his dad. To see Andy play so well in college and mature into such a fine young man was really fun for me, and to see him drafted was a nice capper to a terrific college career. I think that Andy has an NBA skill - he can really shoot it, and he will make the Knicks roster.

Matthew (Columbia, NJ)

Hey Jay any concerns with the so-so camp that Evan Turner has had?

Jay Bilas
  (3:55 PM)

Not really. The NBA Summer League is not much of a gauge on how a player will do. I think that Evan will be a very good NBA player. If it takes him a little while to get his legs, so what? They don't give a trophy for being good in the summer.

Nick (New Jersey)

With the new format, will #1 seeds now have a more difficult first round than #2 seeds? (of course assuming the last four at-large teams win their play-in games)

Jay Bilas
  (4:00 PM)

The four play-in games are different. Two of the games will feature the teams seeded 65 through 68 (which means two teams will play No. 1 seeds). Those four teams are automatic qualifiers and from one-bid leagues. The other two games will pit the last four at-large teams, which will be teams seeded around 11 to 13. Those teams will probably be major conference teams that are considered bubble teams. The winner will play on the nearest seed line, and you will be able to tell where that is by the bracket on Selection Sunday. Confused? You should be. Because this makes no logical sense, and is not worthy of a National Championship event. The NCAA punted on this issue because it wanted to preserve feelings and satisfy television concerns. The smart thing to do it to go to a simple 64 team tourney. If not, then have the last eight seeds play-in against each other. The season is a nice play-in, and conference tournaments are a nice play-in as well. We don't need another. But we have one.

LB (Indiana)

Do you think that Butler will be able to transform its Final Four run into the long term sucess Gonzaga has with their 1999 Elite Eight run or will they become another George Mason and flounder at some point, though not necessarily this coming season?

Jay Bilas
  (4:03 PM)

Butler already is in that realm. Since 2000, only five mid-major or non-BCS programs have been to multiple Sweet 16's: Gonzaga, Butler, Memphis, Xavier and Southern Illinois. Every other mid-major was a one hit wonder in the Tournament. What George Mason did was incredible, and Mason has been very good ever since. But, if judged like the majors, then you are probably correct that Mason has "floundered". I tend to see it differently. Mason has been very good. Butler has been great. I don't see that ending anytime soon. By the way, Shelvin Mack is the real thing. Outstanding player.

aaron (Nashville, Tennesse)

in your opinion who was the best player there?

Jay Bilas
  (4:06 PM)

I assume you mean the Nike LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron. The best high school players were Nick Faust and Anthony Davis, although guys like Michael Gilchrist, Austin Rivers and James McAdoo were not there. As for college players, the best of the week were Kyle Singler, Chris Singleton, Klay Thompson, Shelvin Mack and Nolan Smith. I thought that Smith was exceptional, and Thompson really impressed with his defensive ability.

James (North Little Rock)

Why has Dayton always gotten and remains a top candidate for the play-in or "first four" games?

Jay Bilas
  (4:08 PM)

History and tradition. Great venue, used to hosting NCAA events, and the people there support it, even though they may not have a local team in the event. UD Arena is one of the great venues in college basketball. Going forward, the NCAA needs to have the play-in games where the teams will play the next games.

marshall (chicago, IL)

how did chris wright from georgetown do?

Jay Bilas
  (4:10 PM)

Chris Wright of Georgetown did very well. He is a really good player and an even better kid. I continue to be impressed with the quality of kid at Georgetown. Wright should have a great year. If he takes over as a leader, he will do really, really well.

Hunter (Nashville)

What kind of player will Seth Curry be for Duke this upcoming season?

Jay Bilas
  (4:11 PM)

Very good. It would not surprise me if Seth were to start. He can really shoot it, and he has good size. Usually, kids look great at redshirts because they have no skin in the game, but Seth will be a valued contributor next season. With Kyrie Irving running the point and Nolan Smith as a senior, there will be a lot of open shots for Curry.

Nick (NJ)

Which new NY/NJ coach will have the most sucseess this year, Lavin, Rice or Willard

Jay Bilas
  (4:13 PM)

Steve Lavin has the best and most experienced players coming back. Seton Hall is not far behind, though. It would be great if both SJU and SHU could have good seasons and get both coaches off to a good start.

Daniel (Green-ish Cubicle)

Any possibility of the Hokies FINALLY making it into the tourney this year?

Jay Bilas
  (4:16 PM)

Virginia Tech will get in. With Malcom Delaney, Jeff Allen, and Dorenzo Hudson, Seth Greenburg will have the horses to win in the ACC. While Greenburg was vocal about VT being left out last year, there was really no argument on paper. VT played a lousy schedule and didn't win enough quality games to clear the bar. This year, there should be plenty of room to make it. But, if one thing has been learned, it would be that a weak non-conference schedule doesn't do you any good at all.

Teddy (Los Angeles)

Hey Jay, what do you expect from Harrison Barnes at UNC this year? Is the kind of true-impact frosh that John Wall/DeMarcus Cousins were at Kentucky last year? If he is, I assume he'll be a one-and-done right?

Jay Bilas
  (4:18 PM)

My guess is that Barnes will be such a high pick, he will be out in the spring. He is really, really good. I think that he will make a huge difference in Chapel Hill, and will be among the best players in the nation. One thing he needs to improve upon is his defense. My strong belief is that he will do that under Roy Williams. This will be a really good year in Chapel Hill. Last year was an unfortunate aberration.

Andrew (WI)

In past years, we've heard stories about how the selection committee rushes through the bracketing process. Won't this new format just make their job 10x harder? Doesn't this seem way way too complex?

Jay Bilas
  (4:21 PM)

Nah. The Committee doesn't rush through it. It may be the toughest part of the job, but it isn't such an ordeal as to be untrustworthy. I just think that adding 3 teams to a strange number in 68 was ill advised, and pulling teams out of the middle of the bracket for play-in games makes it kind of silly. The Committee will take all of this tine and effort to seed the Tournament, then take four teams the Committee has already said are better than teams 61 to 64 and make them play to get into the 64-team bracket. That makes no real sense.

Nathan (Lexington)

Hey Jay, what do think of Kentucky's chances this year?

Jay Bilas
  (4:23 PM)

Same as last year: very good, but it is hard to win the whole thing with nothing but freshmen. Cal will be teaching all of his stuff from scratch again, and there is no Patrick Patterson to rule the roost. I was amazed at the UK record last year. A duplicate of that would be incredible. I just wonder if nothing but freshmen year after year, no matter how talented, is the way UK will want to go. It can be tough.

Nick (NJ)

Hey Jay, Is Jeremy Hazell the top shooter in the Country

Jay Bilas
  (4:26 PM)

Hazell is darn good, but I like John Jenkins of Vanderbilt. That kid can really, really shoot it. Hazell is streaky, but can really get hot and stay hot. That would be a pretty good shooting contest, wouldn't it?

Matt (Philly)

How will the last 4 at large teams be matched up. I heard something from Dan Guererro about not mixing up seed lines. Will it be 1 v 4 and 2 v 3, but they will call the fourth team whatever seed the 1 happens to be or are they having 1 v 2 and 3 v 4 to avoid having teams cross seed lines?

Jay Bilas
  (4:27 PM)

Really, I am not certain about that. The truth is, the Committee can do it any way it wants, which scares me a little bit. This whole format is silly, and needs to go. But, sillier things have worked in the past.

daniel (Pennsylvania)

How did the two Gator seniors look at the Lebron James Camp (Chandler Parsons, Vernon Macklin)? What do you think would be realisitic expectations for the Gators this season?

Jay Bilas
  (4:29 PM)

Both were very good. Great kids, too. I have worked with Vernon before, and he has really come a long way. When the ball is pitched up there, he can go and get it. Parsons has a great personality, and is a really good player. He is not as strong as he needs to be, and he can improve his handle and passing, but strength will take care of a lot of his minor shortcomings. Florida will have a good year. I like the Gators in 2011.

Tom (Chicago)

What did you think of Gary McGhee at the James camp? Think he can earn some bucks in the NBA as a great defending center? He's got the size to take on NBA centers.

Jay Bilas
  (4:31 PM)

Very solid, and that is all that Gary needs to be. He has really soft hands, and he showed great patience in the post to allow traffic to clear and go to work. He keeps it simple, and does what he is good at. I think he will play in the NBA because he will do the dirty work that others may not want to do. Great kid, too. Coachable and easy to work with. That means a lot at the next level. No teams are looking for a pain in the rear end.

Brian (Westborough)

Jay, what was your take on "The Decision"? Is it too simple to believe that this wouldn't have happened had Lebron gone to college and had this experience his senior yeah of high school when he announced what school he picked?

Jay Bilas
  (4:34 PM)

College had nothing to do with it. The whole thing was overdone and overblown. James is a good guy, and he had every right to do everything that he did. But, that doesn't make it right. That said, I hope he does really well in Miami. I have really enjoyed him on and off the floor every since I saw him as a high school sophomore. I have never seen a high school player as good as LeBron James. Ever.

Andrew (WI)

What about the fact that for the first time ever, the identity of the "last four in" will now be known? This seems like a dangerous thing for the committee to open itself up to, considering their usual MO.

Jay Bilas
  (4:36 PM)

Like we didn't really know before? We have to stop behaving like being the last team in is an insult. It is not. These teams are being invited to play for the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. That is a good thing. It isn't an insult to be the last team in, it isn't a stigma to play in the play-in game, and it isn't punishment, either (and all of those things have been said).

Rob (Chicago, IL)

Do you think the success of Wesley Matthews may have changed the perception of NBA executives that good, hard-working players are a better investment than shear talent with an ego or off-court issues?

Jay Bilas
  (4:38 PM)

It didn't change it, but it certainly provided more reinforcement. The NBA knows that hard workers are good things. But, talent usually pays off in a bigger way. The problem is, talent with issues usually makes it big or crashes hard. There is little in between. One talented knucklehead makes it, and he is used as evidence that it can work. Wesley has done a great job, but teams will still take some risks with knuckleheads where it makes sense.

Chris (CA)

Favorite College Game Day stop last season?

Jay Bilas
  (4:40 PM)

Kansas State was really cool, but Kentucky had over 22,000 people at our morning show. That is tough to beat. I really liked Illinois, too. A lot of great places.

Ken (VA)

Do you think Geoge Mason should bring back their old mascot, Gunston, over the new Patriot?

Jay Bilas
  (4:42 PM)

I am not familiar with Gunston, but if Gunston is anything like the Warrior at Marquette, then YES, they should bring it back. Marquette will always be the Warriors to me. And, I loved the untucked unis worn by Bo Ellis, Jerome Whitehead and Bernard Toone under Al McGuire. They were great.

Luke (Provo, UT)

Wouldn't Jimmer Fredette be in the discusion for best shooter in the country?

Jay Bilas
  (4:43 PM)

He would be, but it doesn't change my answer. I would take John Jenkins of Vanderbilt. Fredette is a gamer, and a big time scorer. Glad we get to watch him again in Provo.

Mike (Miami)

What do you do as an ESPN employee if asked to participate in something you know is wrong like "The Decision".

Jay Bilas
  (4:46 PM)

It wasn't "wrong". It just wasn't the best thing for LeBron to do with his decision. For any television network, it was a fair decision to put it on the air. I didn't care for it personally, but that doesn't mean that I speak for the masses. People could watch or not watch. And, it wasn't the SALT II talks or a United Nations meeting. It was an athlete telling us where he is playing next year. Hardly a big deal. It did, however, say something about our culture and today's athlete.

Taylor (Monroe)

Jay,What kind of impact do you think Kyrie Irving will have for Duke this season?What kind of stats do you think he will put up?

Jay Bilas
  (4:47 PM)

Kyrie Irving is like Jason Williams was at Duke. He will be special right out of the gate. Duke can win it all with him, and they will be favored to do it.

mark (detroit)

what kind of year do you see durrell summers of MSU having? he had a great tournament and as out of this world athleticism.

Jay Bilas
  (4:49 PM)

Durrell Summers is a special athlete. He can be the Spartans best player, although I think that will be Kalin Lucas when healthy. If Summers plays with a sense of urgency and plays consistently, he will be First Team All-Big Ten.

Joe (OH)

Jay given your legal background, I thought you might have an insight or two. Have you heard anything about Arizona having trouble scheduling games at home in light of this immigration law that has got folks all up in arms?

Jay Bilas
  (4:50 PM)

I have not heard anything about that. Interesting thought, though. I will keep my ears open on that one.

Kevin (Omaha)

Best hire this off season that no one is talking about?

Jay Bilas
  (4:53 PM)

Tim Floyd at UTEP was a really good one, and I like Mike Rice at Rutgers and Kevin Willard at Seton Hall.

Nick (Indiana)

Hey Jay, instead of writing a blog about how horrible the new 68 team format is, why not just admit that you'd favor scrapping automatic bids for small conferences and only allowing in the power conference teams? We all know you only support them anyways.

Jay Bilas
  (4:58 PM)

I guess one could take your question and say that you are slanted toward non-power conference teams and have a bias against the BCS schools. But, that wouldn't advance the ball. The truth is, I like National Championships with the best teams in them. I have never complained about the automatic bids. I have said time after time that college basketball is the most equitable sport to the little guy, and it is. But, once the 68 team field is picked, it should be seeded by how good the teams are and not manipulated to suit anyone's purposes. I enjoyed George Mason and Butler as much as anyone, but not to say, "so there! The little guy is just as good and the Man is holding us down!" It was because those were really good basketball teams. I support anyone that is really good. Anyone.

Rita (Princeton)

Jay, please attempt to defend your complaint about academic spending. I would like to know how you think spending money to improve academics is, IN ANY WAY, comparable to spending money on athletics.

Jay Bilas
  (5:05 PM)

It wasn't about academic spending. It was about how silly it is to target athletic spending as "unsustainable" and "unnecessary". Of course every school can and should spend to make its academic facilities top notch. But it is okay to have top notch athletic facilities, as well. The use of the term "arms race" is meant to denigrate the enterprise. If one sets forth that schools "don't need" quality athletic facilities, I could certainly make an argument that some of the academic facilities that are erected annually are a bit over the top. Some that I have seen are better than the top Country Clubs in America. Certainly, a top student can study without having to have such luxurious settings. But, it is okay to do that to provide a great atmosphere for students to pursue excellence and to attract the best students in the country to do the same. It is no different in athletics. I was not saying that there should not be academic facilities spending. I was pointing out the condescending tone of critics of athletic spending. By the way, those same critics love to take athletic money to build academic facilities.

Jake (LA)

Did USC hoops get off easy?

Jay Bilas
  (5:08 PM)

No. OJ Mayo took extra benefits, but the NCAA had no credible information to implicate Tim Floyd or the USC program. After all of that posturing and hand wringing, the NCAA could not prove a thing. And, with scant evidence, the NCAA slammed USC football for having knowledge of Reggie Bush having taken extra benefit from an agent. USC football was overpunished, and USC basketball got hit plenty hard with no findings against the institution.

Wilt (Lawrence, KS)

Jay, how is it that a leader on a very good team, like Sherron Collins last season, is unable to find a place in the NBA? He has to be able to contribute somewhere right?

Jay Bilas
  (5:10 PM)

He didn't get drafted. He may still find a place in the NBA. Collins is small and has not been good at keeping his weight down. I think that he can play, and I had him as one of the top sixty prospects in last year's draft. He is with Charlotte, and will have a good shot at making this team.

Brandon (Chicago)

What are your thoughts on college athletes being paid to play?

Jay Bilas
  (5:13 PM)

I don't think that college players should be paid by the schools, but there should be an increase in what is awarded under a scholarship. Right now, colleges and universities can award a scholarship AND a cash stipend to a normal student. Why not to an athlete? Jocks don't even get cost of attendance. And the NCAA should decriminalize normal behavior. There is no reason that college players should not be allowed to be paid in endorsement deals or other forms of payment outside of the university. P

Randy (KY)

how did scotty hopson do

Jay Bilas
  (5:14 PM)

Well. Great athlete and very smooth. Some eyebrow raising plays made by him in Akron.

Jay Bilas
  (5:15 PM)

Thanks for stopping by the chat! I hope we can do this again soon. Have a great week. Best, Bilas