<![CDATA[BLEEDING YOUR COLORS - INADVERTENT WHISTLE]]>Tue, 09 Feb 2016 09:04:02 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Draft Rights Retained #27]]>Fri, 03 Jul 2015 16:45:36 GMThttp://bleedingyourcolors.weebly.com/inadvertent-whistle/draft-rights-retained-27By Trevor Utley

NAME: Tomislav Zubcic
PRO TEAM: Cibona Zagreb
VITALS: 6'10", 210 lbs.
YEAR DRAFTED: 2012 by Toronto (Round 2, Pick 56)
RIGHTS HELD BY: Oklahoma City Thunder

                    Yesterday I told you the tale of Janis Timma, the Latvian who was the first man traded for Luke Ridnour last week.  Now after trades for Matt Barnes and Jeremy Lamb in the interim, we get to Toronto's Tomislav Zubcic.  The Croatian big man became the latest (I don't want to say last as Luke could move yet again) person traded for Ridnour as his rights now belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Now why trade for a guy who will probably never come over to the NBA?  Because trading for Luke Ridnour is fun!  He may never be Russell Westbrook's teammate in OKC, but let's look at the career of Tomislav Zubcic anyway.

                    Zubcic began his basketball career much like Timma with a stint on the Croatian U-16 National Team.  Croatia placed fourth in the 2006 U-16 European Championships A-Bracket and Zubcic averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds a game.  He fouled out however in Croatia's semi-final loss to eventual champion Spain.  Now-Timberwolves' guard Ricky Rubio put up a quadruple double in that contest.  Tomislav returned to Croatia with cups of coffee on the cadet team of hometown KK Zadar and the junior squad of his eventual full time employers Cibona Zagreb.

                    He played his first full professional season on loan in the Croatian second division for KK Rudes Zagreb.  He was immediately inserted into the team's starting five.  He had some growing pains at first in the hectic Croatian atmosphere but showed enough poise for a recall to the Cibona junior team in line with his call-up to the senior squad for the 2008-09 season.

                 In the meantime, Zubcic continued to be selected for National Team duty.  This time it was the U-18 European Championships.  The Croatians would take the bronze medal this go around, again losing to the eventual champions (Greece) in the process.  Zubcic at least put up a double-double (13 pts/11 reb) in the elimination game before again fouling out.  His 11.8 points per and 8.8 rebounds per were third and second on the team respectively for the tournament.

                    2009 saw Zubcic's introduction into major European competition with Euroleague and Adriatic League appearances as part of Cibona Zagreb's senior squad.  He was a bit player on those larger stages averaging just about 2 points and 2 rebounds per over both competitions.  However, he did make a larger impact in the domestic league in his seven game stint.  He shot 71% from the floor en route to 8.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.  Cibona would win their first of four Croatian League titles in five seasons.  They would also win their first Croatian Cup in seven years.  They almost had a treble was but lost in the finals of the ABA NLB competition featuring top clubs from Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Croatia.

                    2009 was a big year for Zubcic internationally as well.  He made quite the showing at the Nike Hoops Summit, wowing scouts with his offensive repertoire.  He also represented Croatia again, this time at the U-19 World Championships.  Zubcic was the leading rebounder in the tournament even though, you guessed it, they lost to the eventual champions- the United States in the semifinals.  Zubcic held his own against a team featuring future NBA stars Klay Thompson and Gordon Hayward.  He posted 15 points and 8 rebounds and didn't foul out this time!  He put up 16 and 6 (with 3 steals) against Matthew Dellavedova and Australia to win the bronze medal.

                    From there Zubcic began to regress.  As his minutes increased at Cibona, his production started to dwindle.  Cibona's success overshadowed his lack of development, especially on the defensive end of the floor.  He would still get regular playing time for club and country, but the first real flaws in Zubcic's games were shining through.  That did not stop the Croatian National Team from selecting him or the NBA scouts from flying halfway across the world to see him on the Euroleague stage.

                     Croatia would place fourth in the 2010 U-20 European Championships, but like with his club his production, and eventually his role, diminished significantly.  His points and rebounds per game were cut in half from his last international appearance and barely saw the floor during the knockout stages of the competition.

                   Even as his stock overseas continued to fall, his raw ability caught the eyes of scouts heading into the 2011 NBA Draft.  Tomislav originally entered his name as an early entry candidate, but would withdraw before the mandatory deadline.  That would not be the case as he re-entered the 2012 Draft pool.  He would be rewarded by being selected by the Raptors with the 56th overall selection, three spots ahead of DRR profile #9 Marcus Denmon.

                    Some scouts saw Zubcic as a potential point forward in the mold of the recently retired Andrei Kirilenko.  Sadly though, Toronto (and now Oklahoma City) haven't given the American fan a chance to see him in the States even in a Summer League.  Nevertheless, Zubcic continues to ply his trade in Croatia and continues to pile up the championships.  After winning four with Cibona Zagreb, he's added two more to the trophy case with crosstown rivals Cedevita Zagreb.  He played with current Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic during the team's first title run.  Now you may never see Zubcic's face on ESPN or TNT.  Just know that this face will haunt your nightmares for the foreseeable future.

Hello Clarice.

                    Thanks for reading the twenty-sixth installment of Draft Rights Retained right here on Bleeding Your Colors!  I hope you enjoyed it and look forward to bringing you more wacky stories of players who the NBA has long since forgotten, but not their draft rights.  Stay locked for a new profile until the list is exhausted.  For more of me, check out my Twitter @TREVORutley and the official Bleeding Your Colors Twitter @B3WHYC3.  For less of me, give your computer to the Stewmaker from the Blacklist.

Image Credits: Zubcic profile (espn.com), Zubcic Lecter (reddit.com)
<![CDATA[Streak Sharks Day One NBA Free Agency Special]]>Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:57:38 GMThttp://bleedingyourcolors.weebly.com/inadvertent-whistle/streak-sharks-day-one-nba-free-agency-specialFeaturing Trevor Utley & Al deCiutiis

<![CDATA[Draft Rights Retained #26]]>Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:40:35 GMThttp://bleedingyourcolors.weebly.com/inadvertent-whistle/draft-rights-retained-26By Trevor Utley

NAME: Janis Timma
PRO TEAM: BK Ventspils
VITALS: 6'7", 226 lbs.
YEAR DRAFTED: 2013 by Memphis (Round 2, Pick 60)
RIGHTS HELD BY: Orlando Magic

                    Does the name Janis Timma sound familiar to you?  It probably shouldn't, but the name that appeared at the very bottom of the 2013 NBA Draft board reared its head this past week.  It popped up because Timma was the first man to be traded for Luke Ridnour during Ridnour's tumultuous four trade draft week.  (I'll get to the last man to be traded for Ridnour tomorrow).  So now as the property of the Orlando Magic, Timma has a new team to impress if he is to come to the NBA.  Let's see how his career has gone thus far.

                    Timma's basketball odyssey began with a bang at the U-16 European Championships in 2008.  Latvia didn't last very long, and Janis only averaged a point a game.  The tournament featured future NBA starters Jonas Valanciunas and Enes Kanter, so even in a bit role Timma got scout's eyes on him at an early age.

                    Janis began his professional basketball career at the age of 17.  He moved from his hometown of Krāslava to Rīga, to play for ASK Rīga.  He would get good run in a twelve game stint with the reserve squad, but would only have one three pointer on his scoring ledger in nine games for the senior club.  The army based organization would dissolve at the end of the 2008-09.  The more talented members of the squad, including Timma, would go on to play for the newly formed DSN Rīga in the Latvian second division.

                    Timma would help DSN Rīga gain promotion to the first division.  He also would get his second crack at playing internationally with Latvia's U-18 squad at the 2010 U-18 European Championships.  The U-18 division is split into three categories based on the level of competitiveness a team is able to put forth.  Latvia is in the highest bracket and during 2010 finished third behind perennial European powers Lithuania and Russia.  Timma averaged 11.2 points and 4.0 rebounds a game for the Latvian national team.  Timma's best game came in the quarterfinals against Croatia when he put up 16 and 6 against the two-time champions.

                    Following his time at Rīga, Timma secured a transfer to Latvian side BK Liepājas Lauvas for the 2011-12 season.  He came into his own as a player in his first full-fledged season in the first division, improving his scoring average by two full points.  That was mostly a product of improving his averages from two, three, and the free throw line markedly.  He once again saw international duty in 2011 for Latvia at the U-19 World Championships.  He remained a starter even with the bump up in age bracketing but Latvia weren't nearly as successful as they were in the European Championships a year prior.  They were eliminated from the championship rounds on point differential despite going 2-1.  They would lose in the ninth place game to a Brazil team featuring future Raptor Lucas Nogueira.

                    Timma really started showing up on the draft radar the next season when he moved to Latvian powerhouse BK Ventspils.  Ventspils had won a record-tying eight Latvian championships before his arrival.  Timma's first season wouldn't produce a league title, they finished second, but it would produce the club's first Baltic League championship.  The Baltic League is a tiny secondary competition featuring nations surrounding the Baltic Sea.  Timma was named the MVP of the Finals after scoring 25 points over the two legs.  He would follow that up by declaring for the NBA Draft.

                2013-14 was a banner year for both Ventspils and Timma.  Timma was the final selection by Memphis in the 2013 NBA Draft.  After a cameo for the Grizzlies in the Vegas Summer League, Timma would return to Latvia and continue to raise his stock as a player.  He got called up to the Latvian senior national team.  He guided Ventspils to the playoffs averaging 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds a game.  He would be named Playoffs MVP after Ventspils won their record breaking ninth LBL title.  This success allowed Timma the chance to return to Rīga for VEF Rīga for the 2014-15 season.

                  Janis couldn't have been happy that his time in the '14-'15 Summer League for Memphis was cut short before he ever got on the scoresheet.  His season in Latvia would surely cheer him up though.  He would win a second consecutive LBL title and got to showcase his talents for the first time in the Eurocup and Russian-based VBL United League secondary competitions.  Though his production dipped, he was still named to the 2015 LBL All-Star Game where he would win MVP after a record 41 point outburst.  He also added VTB Young Player of the Year to his expanding trophy case.  His showing in that competition was viewed by some as the impetus for his most this past season to BC Zenit St. Petersburg.  After that, the aforementioned trade for Ridnour would get NBA executives bantering about him again.  He is on a two year deal with Zenit, so it will be at least that long before his new team, Orlando, can think of bringing the 23 year old over.  The way his career is arcing though, Timma can only have one gesture to display his thoughts of his future in the NBA.
Thumbs Up Bruh!

                    Thanks for reading the twenty-sixth installment of Draft Rights Retained right here on Bleeding Your Colors!  I hope you enjoyed it and look forward to bringing you more wacky stories of players who the NBA has long since forgotten, but not their draft rights.  Stay locked for a new profile until the list is exhausted.  For more of me, check out my Twitter @TREVORutley and the official Bleeding Your Colors Twitter @B3WHYC3.  For less of me, try to turn your computer into a Ninja Turtle by covering it in toxic ooze.

Image Credits: Timma on Latvia (3sob.com), Timma Thumbs Up (twitter.com)
<![CDATA[Draft Rights Retained #25]]>Mon, 15 Jun 2015 01:38:56 GMThttp://bleedingyourcolors.weebly.com/inadvertent-whistle/draft-rights-retained-25By Trevor Utley

NAME: Chinemelu Elonu
VITALS: 6'10", 235 lbs.
YEAR DRAFTED: 2009 by LA Lakers (Round 2, Pick 59)
RIGHTS HELD BY: Los Angeles Lakers

                    Draft Rights Retained #24 had the first stashed player of the team picking second on June 25th: the Los Angeles Lakers.  Today's has the other in former Texas A&M Aggie Chinemelu Elonu.  A big man from Africa who came to the United States for college and has played in many a country since his drafting?  Sound familiar?  I guess the Lakers had their type back in the day.

                    Chinemelu Elonu was born in Lagos, Nigeria.  Lagos was the birth home as well to one great number one overall pick (Hakeem Olajuwon) and one not so great (Michael Olowokandi).  Elonu would have to scratch and claw to even draw comparisons to the latter.  Coming from a big basketball family though (all his siblings play collegiately or professionally), he wouldn't be making a name for himself any other way.

                    He made waves on the Houston AAU scene after his family emigrated to Texas.  He would eventually make an even bigger name for himself at Alief Elsik High School, the same high school that produced Rashard Lewis.   I assure you this entire profile won't be listing people that are from the same places as Chinemelu Elonu.  He would draw scholarship offers from big programs nationwide such as UCONN, Texas, and Georgia Tech.  He would eventually give his commitment to darkhorse candidate New Mexico State, although he'd transfer to Texas A&M rather quickly.  There he would develop his talents as a basketball player.

                    Elonu redshirted his first year at College Station.  In his freshman and sophomore years, he'd struggle to find consistency as his playing time was extremely limited made worst by a coaching change between the two years.  He averaged only two points and two rebounds a game as a freshman and only bumped up each statistic by one the following season.  He would finally come into his own as a junior as he broke through into Mark Turgeon's starting lineup for the first time.

                    He started 31 of 34 games for the Aggies and set personal bests across the board in field goal percentage (.665), points per game (9.8), rebounds per game (7.3), and blocks per game (1.6).  The Aggies would get a nine seed in the NCAA Tournament and draw BYU in the opening round.  Foul trouble plagued Elonu but he was still able to snare 10 boards as A&M advanced.  Him and his fellow Aggies were not as lucky in round two as eventual Final Four participants UCONN laid the wood to them 92-66.  Elonu would sit most of the second half with four fouls and score just two points.  Though his college basketball career ended on a sour note, Elonu graduated with a degree in agricultural leadership and development.  Farming would have to wait though as the NBA beckoned.

                    The Lakers used the second to last pick in the 2009 NBA Draft on Elonu.  They were coming off their 15th World Championship, so it was a long shot that Elonu was going to break through and make a stacked Lakers' roster.  His chances were further dampened by a lackluster showing in the summer league.  That made his choice to take his talents overseas that much easier.  His first stop would be Spain.

                   Chinemelu signed his first professional contract with CAI Zaragoza.  It was a two-year deal with a standard opt-out clause that would allow him to return to the US if at any time during his tenure the Lakers were willing to sign him.  Elonu was a super sub for Zaragoza averaging six points and rebounds per game as they were promoted back to the Spanish top tier.  They had been relegated the previous season.  Elonu exercised his opt-out of the Zaragoza deal but it was not to come back to the Lakers.  Instead, he joined Panionios in Greece.

                 It was supposed to be a great opportunity for Elonu to play in one of Europe's most heralded leagues.  Instead, he barely got the chance to experience the finer things about the Greek game.  He was released from his contract less than halfway into the season.  He could have hung his head facing rejection this early on in his career but Elonu instead moved on to greener pastures.  He would get that chance in France (remind unintended) with top club Pau-Orthez.

                    The power forward proved he could do just as well from the starting lineup than as an energy guy off the bench.  He started in 22 of his 30 LNB Pro A appearances for Pau-Orthez.  He averaged 10.4 points and 8.3 rebounds in those contests.  He also made his international competition debut for the club as they participated in the Eurochallenge, European basketball's third tier competition behind the EuroCup and EuroLeague.  They were ousted early from the tournament, but not due to a lack of effort from the Nigerian.  12.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and a professional-best 1.6 blocks per game weren't enough though to keep Elonu's team in the show for more than five matches.  His showing both domestically and in Europe drew the eye of Tofaş in Turkey as well as the Lakers.  Sadly, his second stint with Los Angeles in the summer league once left him sans an NBA contract.  However, he did have a three-year deal waiting for him this time.

                   Elonu shuffled between starter and sixth man in Turkey as well as between teams as the terms of his contract allowed him to fill in his offseasons with the club playing in other leagues.  The first year saw Chinemelu take his sojourn to the Far East with China's Jiangsu Dragons.  The second offseason marked his return to his first professional club, CAI Zaragoza.  All the while, he put up solid numbers for his home club Tofaş.  In three seasons, he averaged nearly 11 points and 8 rebounds per game across all competitions.  He brought a sense of stability to a club that had anything but that in recent years.  A back-to-back champion in the TBL at the end of the 90's, Tofaş had fought through financial difficulty as well as several relegation spells.  Back now in the top flight, Elonu was a good soldier for the team.  They made the EuroChallenge in every year he was at the club.  However, he moved on from the club earlier this month.

                    Chinemelu took his talents back to the States (or at least a US territory) in the Baloncestro Superior Nacional (BSN) with Capitanes de Arecibo.  Paired up with a fellow Nigerian and former first round pick Ike Diogu, Elonu is part of a killer backup team for Capitanes mainstays (and former NBAers as well) Peter John Ramos and Daniel Santiago.  His debut didn't go so hot though.  He had as many fouls as rebounds (4) and went 0-2 from both the field and the line in 10 otherwise forgettable minutes.  There is nowhere to go but up for Elonu even more so being so close to his rights holders in the US.  Instead of losing a day in transit, Elonu could easily join the Lakers on a East Coast trip on a moment's notice.  We'll see if that day comes.  I just hope if it does the Lakers don't make him take his physical in public like they did in Turkey.

I may be smiling, but this team issued fishnet is super uncomfortable.

                    Thanks for reading the twenty-fifth installment of Draft Rights Retained right here on Bleeding Your Colors!  I hope you enjoyed it and look forward to bringing you more wacky stories of players who the NBA has long since forgotten, but not their draft rights.  Stay locked for a new profile until the list is exhausted.  For more of me, check out my Twitter @TREVORutley and the official Bleeding Your Colors Twitter @B3WHYC3.  For less of me, "accidentally" drop your computer on the ground during the Running of the Bulls.

Image Credits: Elonu Dunk (court-side.com), Elonu Physical (ahaber.com)
<![CDATA[Draft Rights Retained #24]]>Fri, 12 Jun 2015 16:56:39 GMThttp://bleedingyourcolors.weebly.com/inadvertent-whistle/draft-rights-retained-24By Trevor Utley

NAME: Ater Majok
PRO TEAM: Gold Coast Blaze
VITALS: 6'11", 233 lbs.
YEAR DRAFTED: 2011 by LA Lakers (Round 2, Pick 58)
RIGHTS HELD BY: Los Angeles Lakers

                    Now that I am done picking on the team at number one in the 2015, Minnesota, it is time to move on to number two.  And as Kobe Bryant so eloquently put it, the Lakers deserve to be picking two because they played like crap this past season.  The Lakers are in territory they haven't been in for decades.  Showtime is used to picking at the bottom of the first round, picking up that role player to push them over the top in the cutthroat Western Conference.  Now they are deciding whether or not they can get one final surge out of the twilight of Kobe's career with either Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor.  One thing is for certain, they aren't going to pass on either of those fine prospects for the man being profiled today: Ater Majok.

                    Is has been quite the magical mystery tour of a career for Ater Majok.  Born in what is now known as South Sudan, Majok was in a hostile environment from the get go.  The second Sudanese Civil War raged on around him forcing many families, including Majok's and that of the Deng brothers, to flee to refugee camps in Egypt.  Majok would eventually make his way all the way down under to Sydney, Australia.  That is where Ater became enamored with the game of basketball as he became a part of the South Stars basketball club.  The South Stars, like Majok, had all fled the horrors going on in their homeland and eventually emigrated to Sydney.

                    After finishing high school and prep school in Sydney, Ater decided to take his game to the USA by committing to then two-time NCAA Champions UCONN.  It didn't start off well as eligibility issues forced Majok to sit out his entire freshman year on campus.  He was able to practice with the team following partial reinstatement halfway through the season, but had to watch from Storrs as the Huskies made it all the way to the Final Four where they would lose to eventual runners-up Michigan State.  After this disappointing experience, Majok declared for the NBA Draft.  He did the smart thing though in not hiring an agent.  As projections and advice from scouts made it clear he was more than likely to go undrafted, Majok withdrew a week before the 2009 Draft and returned to UCONN.

                    He played his first, and only, season at UCONN during the 2009-10 campaign.  It was a team in transition following the departures of Hasheem Thabeet, AJ Price, and Jeff Adrien.  Majok got lost in the shuffle and posted final averages of only 2.3 points, 3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game.  The Huskies missed the NCAA Tournament for the third time in ten years and were unceremoniously ousted in the second round of the NIT.  That fall Majok made the decision to leave UCONN, and the American collegiate game, behind for still murky reasons.  Was the recruitment of the lanky Sudanese Australian on the level?  Did Majok say the wrong things to Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun?  It didn't seem as if Majok wanted to leave Storrs, but his hand was forced and professional ball overseas was his only play.

                    He began his professional career with a short stint in the Turkish second division with FMV Isikspor Istanbul.  He put up fairly decent numbers (13.9 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 3.1 BPG) against much lower competition than he was facing in the Big East.  Upon expiration of the short team deal, he finally returned home to Australia to regroup.

                    On Christmas Eve 2010, Majok signed on as an injury replacement for the Perth Wildcats.  Perth were the defending NBL champions, but had been absolutely ravaged by injuries on their front line.  Majok did his best to be a force in the interim and quickly became a fan favorite with his flair for the emphatic swat.  He pushed his games played total for the season to 15 (7 in Turkey, 8 in Australia) while averaging 7.5 points and 2 blocks a game for the Wildcats.  When the Perth bigs started to return from the injured list, Majok's six week deal was allowed to expire.

                    He was able to latch on with another NBL team, again as an injury replacement, for the remainder of the 2010-11 season.  He was used sparingly in six games for the fledgling club as they fell just out of the playoff picture.  The team was kind enough though to grant Majok an early release so that he could participate in pre-draft workouts as he stated his intention to declare for the 2011 NBA Draft.

                    Majok wasn't entirely impressive in the lead up to the NBA Draft.  Many scouts believed he was too skinny to be a legitimate rim protector while also not possessing enough of an offensive repertoire to use his speed against heftier bigs.  That didn't stop the Lakers from using the 58th overall pick in the draft on Majok.  Hindsight is 20/20 but it is probably safe to assume the majority of the teams picking at the end of that draft wish they went with Isaiah Thomas (the final pick in the 2011 Draft) instead of their guy.  Of the four guys who went directly before Thomas, three (including Majok today) will get profiles right here on DRR.  The fourth, Qatari international Tanguy Ngombo, had his rights renounced two years after an age dispute on draft night.

                    Majok rejected the Lakers initial qualifying offer and continued his nomadic basketball adventure in Slovakia for BK SPU Nitra.  He played in 41 games for Nitra in the Slovakian top tier, averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per.  The experience was an eye opener for Majok as he dealt with the hostility that comes with eastern European sports on a nightly basis.  The call from America asking him to play for the Lakers in the summer league must've been one of pure relief.

                    As I've said in previous profiles, an invitation to play in the Summer League doesn't always translate to an NBA contract.  Most times it gives the coach and assistants a chance to see if a guy they've stashed overseas is keeping himself in shape, has any trade value, or has to have his rights renounced.  Sometimes he is just roster filler.  Majok fell more into the latter category as he averaged just under two points in three mid-summer games before being allowed to return to Europe.

                The next two seasons for Majok were an absolute whirlwind throughout eastern Europe and Asia.  The first year he strung together short term deals in Israel for Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv, where he didn't appear once, and in Belarus for BC Tsmoki-Minsk where he would win a Belarusian title as a bench contributor.  The second season saw him take the Majok Express to Asia where he started off in South Korea with perennial contender KCC Egis.  Again, his time there was short getting his pink slip after just 12 games.  The ink barely even dried on his next contract with the Taiwan Beer (sweet team name eh?) before they released him sans a single played game.

                    After finishing up his 2013-14 in Germany where he won his second title in four months, Majok looked finally ready to return to the United States.  Though his play didn't exactly fill up the stat sheet, the Lakers were in desperation mode and saw that their investment made the roster of the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the NBDL.  They looked to have chose wisely as Majok became a starter and led the team in blocks, even with veteran swatters Jarvis Varnado and Jamario Moon in tow.  We may have to wait just a bit longer to see him get called up though as an MCL sprain in February led to his release, a common occurrence in the NBA's minor league.  He may be off to another hole in the wall type of league this summer, but even if Towns or Okafor are wearing purple and gold, the Lakers may still have a place for Ater Majok.

Julius Randle, Karl Towns, and....Ater Majok?

                    Thanks for reading the twenty-fourth installment of Draft Rights Retained right here on Bleeding Your Colors!  I hope you enjoyed it and look forward to bringing you more wacky stories of players who the NBA has long since forgotten, but not their draft rights.  Stay locked for a new profile until the list is exhausted.  For more of me, check out my Twitter @TREVORutley and the official Bleeding Your Colors Twitter @B3WHYC3.  For less of me, stuff your computer into a dead body and head to Brick Top's pig farm.

Image Credits: Majok at UCONN (zimbio.com), Majok Lakers (dailytelegraph.com.au)
<![CDATA[Draft Rights Retained #23]]>Thu, 11 Jun 2015 02:00:56 GMThttp://bleedingyourcolors.weebly.com/inadvertent-whistle/draft-rights-retained-23By Trevor Utley

NAME: Paulão Prestes
VITALS: 6'11", 260 lbs.
YEAR DRAFTED: 2010 by Minnesota (Round 2, Pick 45)
RIGHTS HELD BY: Minnesota Timberwolves

                   Yesterday I talked about the dilemma that the Minnesota Timberwolves currently face holding the number one overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.  Will it be Karl Towns or Jahlil Okafor?  I also made reference to two goliaths already under Minnesota's control.  Yesterday saw Henk Norel get his day in the sun.  Today it is Brazilian Paulão Prestes' turn.  From the looks of him, you'd think this profile would be fat jokes and comparisons to $5 Wrestling icon Freight Train.  It is quite the contrary though as Prestes has had a fairly productive career before and after having his name read at the NBA Draft.

                    Prestes began his professional career at just 17 in his native Brazil during the 2004-05 season with COC Ribeirao Preto.  He was a sparsely used substitute early on, making only 11 appearances, and averaging just 3.5 points and rebounds per game in the lower Brazilian league.  His stature though was enough to garner him a place on Brazil's U-18 National Team.  That is where he would make his initial impression on talent evaluators both domestically and abroad.

                    He nearly doubled his averages his second season at Ribeirao Preto (7.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG) but was still a fringe player on the squad.  However, it wasn't his league play (or lack thereof) that got people talking.  It was his performance at the U-18 FIBA Americas Championships in 2006, where Brazil would place third.  

                    There he would take on the best of what North and South America had to offer including Argentina, Canada, and of course the United States.  Throughout the tournament, he outdueled players that would eventually become stars in both the collegiate ranks and the NBA.  In pool play, he held his own against a slew of All-Americans such as Kyle Singler, Spencer Hawes, and Michael Beasley en route to a 21 point, 10 rebound showing versus the USA. Silver medalist Argentina could only "contain" Paulão to 25 points and 16 rebounds.   The real show came against Canada in the third place game.  Prestes absolutely abused future Laker Robert Sacre to the tune of 27 points and 26 rebounds (17 offensive) whilst blocking five shots in a Brazil victory.  This display, along with a cameo on the Brazilian senior squad, allowed him to peddle his wares in Spain the next year with Unicaja.

                    He started making more noise in league play as Unicaja sent him out on loan in the lower tiers of Spanish basketball.  He was a fixture over the next three years for Clinicas Rincon Axarquia.  He ranked near the top of the league leaders in rebounding each year.  He was fourth in the league in scoring in 2007-08 (17.1 PPG) and helped his team gain promotion to the second tier, their highest standing ever.  With all that being said, Prestes still did his best work in an international setting.

                      Paulão made the 2007 U-19 World Championships his personal Carnival.  In a tournament that featured Patty Mills (Australia), Nicolas Batum (France), DeAndre Jordan, and 2014-15 NBA MVP Stephen Curry, Prestes was the star.  He put up monster doubles in every game against a world basketball power.
  • 31 pts, 14 reb. vs Serbia
  • 29 pts., 14 reb. vs France
  • 26 pts., 14 reb. vs China
  • 26 pts., 19 reb. vs Lithuania
  • 26 pts., 13 reb. vs United States

                    He kept moving up the ranks for both Brazil and in Spanish league basketball.  He secured his first taste of first team, first division Liga ACB ball in 2009-10 with CB Murcia.  It was not the best of experiences of Prestes.  He experienced extended losing for the first time as a professional, and Murcia were relegated after finishing a rock bottom 5-29.  His career low was followed by a career high as following that season, he entered the NBA Draft.

                    Although the 2010 Draft wasn't the richest in talent, especially for big men, Prestes slid into the middle of the second round where the Minnesota Timberwolves were all to happy to take him.  They also traded for Nemanja Bjelica, who was featured all the way back on DRR #17.  Minnesota management had shown the year before with Norel that they were fine with stashing a guy overseas.  Prestes returned to Spain with a new team, CB Granada.

                   Sadly for the big man, the story remained the same for him.  He played well but ultimately his team was relegated.  Twice.  Granada went from the first division to the third in just two seasons.  Well, they didn't even make it to the third division.  The team dissolved following the second relegation leaving players like Prestes free agents with not much time to find competitive basketball.  He spent the remainder of 2012 with Lithuanian outfit before returning to Gran Canaria in Spain.

                    Paulão has spent his most recent times back in his native Brazil with both Brasilia and now Mogi das Cruzes.  Like many Brazilian soccer players have experienced before him, the return home has done wonders for his wallet...and damage to his waistline.  He's also starting to develop a bit of a Sloth from the Goonies vibe about him.  I think it is safe to say even if Minnesota shocks the basketball world by straying away from Towns or Okafor on the 25th, they won't be supplementing their roster height with Paulão any time soon.

HEY YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!

                    Thanks for reading the twenty-third installment of Draft Rights Retained right here on Bleeding Your Colors!  I hope you enjoyed it and look forward to bringing you more wacky stories of players who the NBA has long since forgotten, but not their draft rights.  Stay locked for a new profile until the list is exhausted.  For more of me, check out my Twitter @TREVORutley and the official Bleeding Your Colors Twitter @B3WHYC3.  For less of me, hop in to the DeLorean, crank that bitch up to 88 MPH and go try to stop the inception of the internet.

Image Credits: Prestes Profile (solobasket.com), Prestes Sloth (lnb.com.br)
<![CDATA[Draft Rights Retained #22]]>Wed, 10 Jun 2015 02:54:23 GMThttp://bleedingyourcolors.weebly.com/inadvertent-whistle/draft-rights-retained-22By Trevor Utley

NAME: Henk Norel
PRO TEAM: DKV Joventut Badalona
VITALS: 7', 230 lbs.
YEAR DRAFTED: 2009 by Minnesota (Round 2, Pick 47)
RIGHTS HELD BY: Minnesota Timberwolves

                    The NBA Draft is coming up at the end of the month and the Minnesota Timberwolves will be picking number one.  The NBA's worst team a season ago will most likely be debating between two freshman giants: Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns and Duke's Jahlil Okafor.  The T-Wolves already have two capable bigs on their roster, Gorgui Dieng and Nikola Pekovic, but to not take Towns or Okafor would be a grave act of mismanagement.  While the pros and cons for both bigs at the top of the draft board are discussed, it should be noted that Minnesota has two more big men at their disposal.  Stashed overseas are two more skyscrapers: Henk Norel and Paulão Prestes.  While neither comes close to possessing the skills of the incumbents or either prospect, Norel and Prestes will be the profiles here on Draft Rights Retained today and tomorrow.  So they got that going for them.  Let's start off with the man drafted first in 2009, Henk Norel.

                    The NBA doesn't have a proud lineage of players from the Netherlands.  It peaks at the Dunking Dutchman Rik Smits then it is a severely steep drop off from there.  One thing that all these lackluster names have in common is height.  From Dan Gadzuric to Francisco Elson to Serge Zwikker to Geert Hammink, Holland has generated some tall dudes.  Henk Norel is no different.  Standing a gawky seven feet tall and generously listed at 230 lbs., Norel drew half-hearted comparisons to his predecessors before the NBA Draft.  The thing was that people to make those comparisons were hard to come by as very few draftniks even knew of Norel.

                    He began his professional career in Spain for DKV Joventut Badalona, a team that gave future NBAers Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio their initial platform to succeed.  Unlike those two dynamic guards, Norel was more project than prodigy as a beanpole teenager with a giraffe-like gait.  He wasn't guaranteed first team run with Joventut, he only got nine games with zero points scored, but was able to secure a loan deal to fourth-tier side CB Prat in Catalonia.

                    Norel was one of Prat's best players during the 2005-06 season.  He scored 12.5 points per game on 67% shooting while also grabbing nearly seven boards per.  They finished second in the league that season.  They would go on to win the promotion playoffs to LEB 2 over the next month.  He would be recalled to Joventut for the following season only to ride the pine.  He would be loaned out to Lucentum Alicante in 2007-08 following their relegation from the top tier.  Norel would get regular playing time (37 games) but he predictably wasn't as productive as he was in the lower leagues.

                  He finally saw legitimate run with Joventut in his fourth pro season.  Norel wasn't spectacular but was given 24 appearances in the league and nine in the prestigious Euroleague.  However, the team wasn't nearly as successful with Norel in it as they couldn't get past the quarterfinals in any competition.  They had won the Spanish Cup the year prior.  Now it would be irresponsible to pin this downturn on just Norel, but his play wasn't exactly calling for NBA scouts to come to the Palau Olimpic.  Nevertheless, Norel declared for the 2009 Draft along with teammates Ricky Rubio and Christian Eyenga.

                    Norel had up and down pre-Draft workouts and wasn't projected to get drafted.  When his name was announced as the 47th overall selection, he was the first person outside of draft expert Chad Ford's projected 60 to go.  Minnesota had quite the headscratching draft in 2009.  They traded for Rubio and inexplicably went on to draft three more points guards and a "point shooting guard" with their next four picks.  They would trade two of those (Ty Lawson & Nick Calathes) before selecting old Henk.  And this team wonders why they are in the lottery every year.

                  I wish there was a tale of world travel or European glory from here to liven this profile up.  Frankly, there isn't much to Norel's career from Draft Day until now.  He has never played in the NBA Summer League.  He starred on the Netherlands team in attempts to qualify for EuroBasket 2012, but hey went 2-6 in pool play despite his 17 points per game and were eliminated.  His game domestically has only dipped over time as well.  Injuries have slowly sapped his effectiveness at CAI Zaragoza and they've gone 18-16 both of his seasons there.  Norel is only 27 and at 7' is probably guaranteed a roster spot somewhere until he no longer wants to play.  Sadly, I don't see that roster spot ever being in the NBA for the Timberwolves or anyone else for that matter.  This picture will be the closest he'll ever get to the NBA.

Your Dutch Lesson For The Day: afterthought = nadere overweging

                    Thanks for reading the twenty-second installment of Draft Rights Retained right here on Bleeding Your Colors!  I hope you enjoyed it and look forward to bringing you more wacky stories of players who the NBA has long since forgotten, but not their draft rights.  Stay locked for a new profile until the list is exhausted.  For more of me, check out my Twitter @TREVORutley and the official Bleeding Your Colors Twitter @B3WHYC3.  For less of me, reenact the wood chipper scene from Fargo with your computer.

Image Credits: Henk at Joventut (zonadostres.com), Henk at Minnesota (interbasket.net)
<![CDATA[Draft Rights Retained: Slipped Through The Cracks]]>Mon, 08 Jun 2015 17:09:00 GMThttp://bleedingyourcolors.weebly.com/inadvertent-whistle/draft-rights-retained-slipped-through-the-cracksBy Trevor Utley

                    When Bleeding Your Colors went on hiatus late last year, I had a lot of different projects rolling through my head.  Some of them got started while others didn't leave the confines of my brain.  One of them was the NBA Draft Rights Retained series.  I got through 21 installments of DRR before it went into hibernation.  I am here today to announce that starting tomorrow, Draft Rights Retained will be back EVERY DAY (and I mean that) until the NBA Draft on June 25th and sporadically afterwards until of course, the list is finished.  In the meantime, I am taking the time to remember those who fell through the proverbial cracks on Draft Rights Retained.  These are the players that either were signed before their profiles were written and players who have come over to the NBA after said profile had been completed.  Let's start with the Lost Six (in order by signing date).

A product of Long Beach State, Ennis spent a year in Australia before signing with the Heat this past summer.  He played in 62 games for the defending Eastern Conference champions, starting three of them.  He recorded a double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds) in the final game of the season against Philadelphia.

The older of the Bogdanovic brothers ended his four year stint with Turkish giants Fenerbahçe when the Nets came calling towards the end of last July.  He immediately became a regular rotation player for the playoff bound Nets starting 28 of the 78 games he played.  Primarily though he was instant offense off the bench for Brooklyn.  He scored 20+ points six times including a career high 28 against Orlando in Brooklyn's regular season finale.  He scored 19 in their Game 3 win against the Hawks in the first round of the playoffs.

The first sad tale thus far is former Baylor Bear Pierre Jackson.  Like Bogdanovic, Jackson came to the States from Fenerbahçe.  Unlike the Nets forward, Jackson never saw a single minute of regular season game action for the lowly Sixers.  He played one summer league game for the team and ruptured his right Achilles.  He was eventually waived by the club on September 30th.  The good news however is Jackson seems to have a job back with Philly waiting for him upon his recovery.

Green was third in the point guard pecking order in Denver behind Ty Lawson and Randy Foye.  He saw 43 games of action in '14-'15 including one start.  As you can probably see as the pattern by now, his best game was the last game of the regular season when he recorded career highs in points (17), assists (7), and rebounds (4) in a 133-126 shootout loss against eventual Western Conference champions Golden State.

The much traded and well-traveled big man is still better known for his hair than his play.  "Bebe" only made six appearances for the Raptors this past year totaling just six points and eleven rebounds.  His time down in the D-League for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants wasn't any more impressive.  He played just four games for them averaging 8.3 PPG on just 43% shooting.  At least he has fellow Brazilian Bruno Caboclo in T-Dot with him.

The Greek forward, originally drafted by the Knicks, came over to Houston as the Rockets dealt with a variety of early season injury woes.  He filled in seamlessly getting regular minutes, including crunch time.  He scored a career high 19 points, and was the team's second leading scorer behind James Harden, in a loss to the Lakers on November 19th.  As Houston got more healthy, Papanikolaou's minutes dwindled.  He only played 20 combined minutes in eight Houston playoff appearances.

                  Now for the three players for whom profiles had already been made who made their NBA debuts or had their rights renounced in 2014-15, in order of signing/renouncement date.

The former St. Joseph's Hawk didn't get the call he was expecting mid-September from the New York Knicks.  The Knicks were piecing together a patchwork squad around Carmelo Anthony this year and still decided to renounce Nivins' draft rights on September 15th.  The sixth man profiled on Draft Rights retained remained with French outfit ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne, whom he had signed with in the summer.  He was a vital contributor to the team in all competitions including EuroLeague qualifiers.

The Turkish international, and 16th DRR profile, was brought over by Philadelphia GM Sam Hinkie in the middle of December.  He wasn't thrust into the lineup immediately but would eventually start nine games (out of 41 played) for the lottery bound Sixers.  Aldemir's best game was a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds in one of those nine starts.  That night Philadelphia almost upset the eventual Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers.  Barring multiple signings after the draft, it looks likely Philadelphia will pick up his team option for next year.

He may have been #77 in your programs, but Joffrey Lauvergne was #21 here on Draft Rights Retained.  The last player profiled thus far in the series was the latest signing of this group.  He left Russia's Khimki BC mid-season to come over as reinforcements for a Nuggets team that had all but quit on their coach Brian Shaw.  Lauvergne scored in double figures twice, including the last game of the year unsurprisingly, and pulled down a career best nine board in back to back games directly after his debut.

As always, I'd like to thank you for reading Bleeding Your Colors' Draft Rights Retained.  I look forward to getting back in the swing of things with this column leading up to my favorite day of the year- the NBA Draft on June 25th.  Keep it locked here, like us on Facebook, check out the Twitter @B3WHYC3, and our burgeoning Bleeding Your Colors Youtube page.

Image Credits: Cracked pavement (thetransportpolitic.com); Ennis, Bogdanovic, Green, Nogueira, Aldemir photos (espn.com); Jackson, Lauvergne photos (nba.com); Nivins photo (nbadraft.net)
<![CDATA[Draft Lottery Depressing Diary]]>Wed, 20 May 2015 14:40:00 GMThttp://bleedingyourcolors.weebly.com/inadvertent-whistle/draft-lottery-depressing-diaryBy Trevor Utley


                    If I've said this once, I've said it a million times.  My favorite day of the year is the NBA Draft.  Screw you Christmas morning!  Shut up birthday!  Know your role New Year's Eve!  There is just something about the NBA Draft that usurps all other drafts and all other days.  As many of you also know, I am a Knicks fan.  There was a time where when I said that statement, I would get trash talked and I could fire back.  It eventually got to the point where I ran out of ammunition and just had to eat each incoming verbal bullet.  Now, the haters have even run out of ammo and I get more pity than punches.  The Knicks actually had control of their pick (what a novel concept!) last night with the opportunity to select first overall for the first time since the lottery's inception in 1985.  Frozen envelopes aside, the lottery hasn't been too kind to the Knickerbockers ever since.  As you can see from the title of this piece, last night was no different.  Let me take you through a blow by blow of the excruciatingly painful hour known as the NBA Draft Lottery.

8:08 PM- The last customer checks out.  I still have one hour of work to go, plus about half an hour to lottery time, but the mall is dead.  They can feel the tension exuding outward from my soul and know that coming in right now and asking me if we carry chemistry kits, while they stare right at one, is not going to end well for them.

8:09 PM- The music goes off.  I need to be one with my thoughts as I prepare for the impending doom that shall befall my beloved Knicks.  I keep trying to convince myself that there is no possible way to rig this in New York's favor.  I remind myself of the good old days when David Stern cared about storylines and putting the right pieces in the right places.  I can't have these inner monologues with 28 minute long trance songs playing in the background.
8:12 PM- I start to stamp shopping bags to quiet my nerves.  I go back and forth several times between optimism and a crippling pessimism.  Take a guess who won that fight.

8:14 PM- Vacuuming will take my mind off things.  Then the cord gets caught on something and I jerk back into a shelf.  As my shoulder throbs, I start rattling through prospect injuries in my head.  I swear cords are sentient beings whose main goal on Earth is to make both my body and brain hurt.  Job well done cords.

8:17 PM- Planning out scenarios for if the Knicks pick in the top three.  They can't possibly fall out of it right?  I profess my desire for Duke's Jahlil Okafor a number one, and for Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell at the other two spots.  Needless to say, I am not the biggest supporter of Karl-Anthony Towns.
8:20 PM- The witching hour grows nearer and I become more and more restless.  I take a completely unnecessary lap around the store and find a misplaced Jack RUSSELL Terrier plush toy.  I know this can only be a sign that the Knicks' destiny shall be fulfilled.  I contemplate a career as a spiritual translator.

8:24 PM- After another three laps looking for more potential beacons of good fortune, I sit back down and start combing through tweets with the #NBADraftLottery hashtag.  After thirteen Lakers "We're Totally Going To Pick #1!" pieces of internet trash, I come across this gem.  I now hope even more so that Emmanuel Mudiay doesn't get drafted by the Knicks because I don't want to collect any autographs that look like this.
8:25 PM- I provide a frame of reference when I realize probably three people know what the hell I am talking about.
8:28 PM- Images from the Lottery floor start to spill out.  Representatives from every team are at their podiums.  Alonzo Mourning (Miami) is texting on his cell phone.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte) and Alex Len (Phoenix) stare forward as their media training sessions instructed them to do.  The bottom row of representatives, including the Knicks' Steve Mills, are yucking it up.

8:32 PM- I make some astute observations about the reps on either side of the bottom and top rows respectively.
8:35 PM- I start to do as many Woosahs and Serenity Nows as I possibly can.  The negative part of my brain shuts off.  I start envisioning D'Angelo Russell running the triangle with Pau Gasol down low and Melo out on the wing.  Jahlil Okafor in that post position with Chris Paul somehow in the fold playing point feeding the new Ewing down low and Melo for easy drives.

8:37 PM- The negative part of my brain realizes it has been off for far too long and clicks back on mid-tweet.
8:42 PM- I make the last preparations I need to for closing as NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum starts making the rounds toward the Lottery Podium where he'll unseal the fate of nearly half the league.  I am at full sweat right now.  It wasn't from nerves but for the fact that I did more cardiovascular work in the past hour than in the past week so I could sit on a broken stool and see names be read out.

8:48 PM- It begins.  Nothing shocking from the opening lot.  No team will be making that Orlando Magic-esque plunge from the bottom of the odds pool to the top.  Somehow though, worry is starting to set in.
8:49 PM- The placards continue to be unveiled and still no surprises.  I lose my first team in my Streak for the Cash quartet, but even though I am a tad upset, I'm not shocked.
8:49 PM- It happens.  The Knicks fall out of the top three and myself along with every Knicks fan sink in their seats.  I am devastated.  With just one more spot up the board, all my fears would have been alleviated.  The mocking from pundits and fans of other franchises begin to blow up my Twitter like a carefully constructed terror plot.  This is verbatim what I shouted at the exact moment I saw the Knicks logo being unsheathed from that envelope (minus the hashtags of course).
8:50 PM- I start making my plans for the evening.  Needless to say I feel that the organization may be going in a slightly different direction from where I originally hoped.
8:52 PM- I start trying to convince myself that the entire sports media is just playing an elaborate ruse on me.  There can't be any way that this travesty of justice can be real life.
8:54 PM- As the Sixers', Lakers', and eventually Timberwolves' names are read off by the Deputy Commish, I snap back to reality.  There is a sad resignation to the fact that without the umbrella of the three "can't miss guys", the Knicks will most certainly miss at number four.  It was almost as sad as being a Knicks fan when the movie Eddie came out.  I felt it poignant to combine these two lone points into one moment.
9:46 PM- On my drive home, I listened to anything but sports radio.  I ignored all my Twitter notifications upon arrival and headed straight for the fridge.  Upon seeing all the combined laughter, pity, jeers, and tears, I had just one final reaction to how the events of the Draft Lottery unfolded.  Thanks for reading.

Trevor Utley hopes to not recreate the events of the Danilo Gallinari drafting in which he kicked a telephone pole and nearly broke his foot.  He doesn't make any promises though if the first name out of Adam Silver's mouth at pick four on June 25th is Kristaps.

Image Credits: Draft tumbler (nba.com), All tweets (twitter.com)
<![CDATA[Mission: Bracket Buster]]>Mon, 16 Mar 2015 12:11:53 GMThttp://bleedingyourcolors.weebly.com/inadvertent-whistle/mission-bracket-busterBy Trevor Utley

                    The NCAA Men's Tournament bracket has been released.  Tickets have been punched and bubble dreams popped.  It is now time for everybody and their grandmother to join a pool and fill out their sheets with a variety of strategies.  The information I am going to offer will have no effect on if you are planning to pick your teams based on colors or which mascot would win in a fight.  But, if you are on the fence in that 5/12 game or flipping a coin in that 6/11 tie then maybe I can help tip the scales for you.  Bracket busting is more than just thinking that a team will go far.  You need to have the correct matchups fall into place from the selection committee in the first round (or second round if you want to be technical about it) as well as going forward with potential upsets.  Here are who I think will be able to snare you some points in your pool by going against the grain and busting brackets.

Wofford G Karl Cochran will be the difference.
12 Wofford OVER 5 Arkansas
The Southern Conference champions won their conference tournament on the back of do-it-all guard Karl Cochran.  He leads the team in every statistical category and is a savvy defender despite his lack of height.  Arkansas may be punching a bit above their weight as a five seed and showed in the SEC final, granted it was against all-world Kentucky, once the wheels fall off there is no fixing the ride.  I expect this to be a low scoring game that the team with the best player on the floor will win.  No offense to the Razorbacks' Bobby Portis, but that player will be Cochran.
If you think the Lumberjacks are going to win give me a HELL YEAH!
Upset ahoy!
12 Stephen F. Austin OVER 5 Utah

I could tell you that Utah is reeling, losing four of their last eight games including twice to Oregon.  I could also inform you that Utah hasn't been in the tournament since 2009, the worst run of any team seeded five or better.  I may also be inclined to let you know that Stephen F. Austin upset VCU last year, as a 12 seed in a game played on the West Coast.  Or I could just break some glass and leave this picture of Stone Cold Steve Austin here.  Hell, I'll just do both.

14 Albany OVER 3 Oklahoma

The Big 12 was one of the strongest conferences in the country this season.  That doesn't make me waver from my stance that I don't think Oklahoma is that good of a team.  To be a top three seed, one would have to at least seen one stretch of dominance over the course of a season.  I never saw that from the Sooners.  On the other hand, Albany is not your typical upset pick.  They started off the season 2-6 and don't particularly set the world on fire offensively.  If their American East conference tournament display showed anything though, it is that they can get a stop when they need to as well as make big shots.  You can thank me later once the one guy in your office picking Oklahoma comes in a cussing mess the next day.

Don't forget the name Kris Dunn. NBA scouts certainly won't.
Providence College Friars (6 seed)
This is a homer pick by no means.  The URI fan in me would love to see the Friars embarrassed by the likes of Boise State or Dayton after they played a First Four game.  There is just no way in my mind that is happening.  The Friars are too good, and too seasoned, of a team to not take advantage of a team on short rest.  As for their opponent in the round of 32, if you read the previous blurb you can see that I think it'll be 14th seeded Albany, a team that the Friars beat in their first game of the campaign.  I think the Friars match up well with any of the three potential opponents (sorry Belmont) in the Sweet 16 meaning an Elite 8 berth for the locals is not implausible by any means.  Doubt the team from the smallest state's capital at your own risk. 
These shockmasters won't be wearing bedazzled stormtrooper helmets.
Wichita State Shockers (7 seed)

A year ago at this juncture the Shockers were undefeated and a number one seed.  A year later they have just four losses but a great deal less shine on them.  Don't be fooled though, this is a dangerous seventh seed.  The Missouri Valley Conference regular season champions are a top-10 defense and have a major conference swagger about them.They should handle Indiana in their first game, a team that barely scraped into the field.  That leaves Kansas up next, an inter-state battle in which the Shockers match up quite well.  If they are able to get by the Jayhawks, I think that Notre Dame will shutter at the thought of facing them.  In the end, there could be a rematch in the regional final between Wichita State and the team that ended their perfect season a year ago, Kentucky.  Wouldn't be poetic justice if the Shockers shocked the world in returning the favor?
Get on the caravan now or be swept away with the rest of Tornado Alley.
Iowa State Cyclones (3 seed)

I know, saying a three seed is going to make a run isn't the steepest of limbs to go on.  I am not predicting Iowa State to just have a fun go of it however.  I truly think the Cyclones have what it takes to get to the Final Four.  Both of the higher seeds in the regional, #1 Duke and #2 Gonzaga, both have warts that the Big 12 tournament champions can exploit.  Their entire starting lineup averages double figures in scoring and have proven they can win a shootout.  Barring injury, expect Iowa State to lose Blue Devil and Bulldog backers a considerable chunk of coin.

Melo Trimble and company have to feel slighted by the committee.
Maryland Terrapins (4 seed)

I am still trying to figure out what the Terrapins did to piss of the selection committee so much?  They were ranked 8th in the nation pre-Big 10 tournament, having wins over the aforementioned Iowa State and #1 seed Wisconsin on their resume.  They lost in said tournament to finalists Michigan State who took the highly favored Badgers to overtime.  They had one bad loss all year (at Illinois) and handled their business in a conference that tied the Big 12 for most bids with seven.  Their reward?  The same region as Kentucky and a four seed behind two teams behind them in the polls.  Maryland deserved a better fate.  The Terps may still make the Sweet 16, but they deserved a chance to advance further.

"Hehe they know we're garbage right?"
UCLA Bruins (11 seed)
This one should actually be titled: "How Did They Even Get In?"  The Bruins must have summoned the spirit of John Wooden to woo the committee into selecting them and somehow avoiding a First Four affair.  For a team whose signature win was Utah at home and not much else, it is a bit of a head scratcher to see them in the field over Temple or Colorado State.  Hell, I remember the Bruins' seven point first half against Kentucky more than I do their win over the Utes.  I hope Larry Brown, making his first tourney appearance since winning it all in 1988, and his SMU Mustangs embarrass the Westwoodians to shed an even brighter light on what a joke it was that UCLA is not NIT-bound.

The Hoya would crack a smile if he knew his team weren't going to disappoint.
Georgetown Hoyas (4 seed)

I am going to keep picking on the South Regional with my last entry.  While Maryland should feel aggrieved with their 4 seed, Georgetown should be looking to the heavens for theirs.  The Hoyas did schedule tough but were only to claim the scalp of eventual one seed Villanova, at home.  They were swept by both Providence (2 games) and Xavier (3 games) who managed to only receive 6 seeds.  Their only other wins over ranked opponents were Butler (yet another six seed) and an early season squeaker over Florida who will not be playing postseason basketball.  Take heed that the Hoyas are just 2-4 in their last six contests against double digit seeds and you'll be just as confused as me about their placement in this field.

I hope that this will help you navigate the minefield that is the NCAA Tournament bracket.  BYC will be hosting its own Bracket Challenge on ESPN, just search Bleeding Your Colors on the groups tab.  As always, like us on Facebook and follow myself @TREVORutley and the blog @B3WHYC3 on Twitter.  Happy picking and may you be the one that picks that perfect bracket in 2015!

Image Credits: Final Four logo (wikipedia.org), Karl Cochran (espn.com), Stone Cold (themiddlefinger.com), The Great Dane (sportslogos.net), Kris Dunn (collegebasketballtalk.nbcsports.com), Shockers foam finger (thevegasparlay.com), Iowa State logo (barkingcarnival.com), Melo Trimble (wusa9.com), UCLA logo (fathead.com), Georgetown logo (wikipedia.org)