Forget mock drafts, Internet | RecordCourier.com

Forget mock drafts, Internet

Joe Santoro

A quick glance at about a half dozen or so NBA mock drafts early this week revealed a Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball fan's worst nightmare. Caleb Martin's name was listed at the bottom of the first round in almost all of them and Cody Martin's name was listed in the middle of the second round. But what a difference a few days can make. A look at those same mock drafts on Thursday didn't have seniors-to-be Caleb or Cody anywhere to be found in the first two rounds. What changed? Well, the biggest reason is a ton of underclassmen from around the country announced they were going to test the draft waters, pushing the Martins out of the mock drafts. What does it all mean? It means as a Wolf Pack fan you should not look at mock drafts.

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Both Martins might still become early entry candidates for the draft. But all that will likely mean is that they want to go through the process and learn from NBA scouts and coaches. They'll go to the NBA Combine and some private workouts with NBA teams and will eventually withdraw their name from draft consideration when it becomes obvious they won't be picked in the first round. It's what Cam Oliver did after his freshman year and what he should have done after his sophomore year. Oliver, though, left college after last season despite not even getting drafted. The Wolf Pack might still be playing in this NCAA tournament had Oliver stayed in school. It's likely the Martins learned from Oliver and won't do the same thing.

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The NBA draft process can be a cruel exercise for players. One web site, NBA Scouting Live, offers scouting reports on nearly 300 players, including the Wolf Pack's Martin twins, Kendall Stephens and Jordan Caroline. Caleb, the site says, is a streaky shooter, lacks an elite first step off the dribble, struggles to score in traffic and may not be an elite athlete. Caroline needs to improve his shooting, is unfocused defensively, plays too wildly at times and is a tweener (too short for power forward, two slow for small forward). Cody, the site tells us, is not a good shooter, has a hitch in his shot, is undisciplined defensively and also may not be an elite athlete. Stephens lacks an elite first step off the dribble, doesn't draw fouls, needs to improve his passing and rebounding and is only an average athlete. What does it all mean? It means as a Wolf Pack player you should not look at the Internet.

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College basketball desperately needs Loyola-Chicago to win the national championship. If Kansas, Duke or Michigan ends up winning the title on Monday night hardly anybody will remember it by this time next week. This year's tournament will forever be known as the first to give us a No. 16 seed (UMBC) winning a game, the Wolf Pack's unbelievable comeback win over Cincinnati and Loyola's run to the Final Four. A Loyola championship could arguably be the greatest championship in all of sports. It would carry the sport for decades and might change the way the biased NCAA tournament selection committee picks teams for the tournament.

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A Villanova-Michigan title game would put the country to sleep. Kansas-Michigan wouldn't be much better. Put Loyola in the title game and you might get the biggest television rating for a NCAA championship game since television was invented. An entire nation, outside of Ann Arbor, Mich., Lawrence, Kan., and Philadelphia, will be rooting for Loyola this weekend. The last true Cinderella to win the title was Texas-El Paso in 1966 and before that Loyola in 1963. Big-time schools from big-time conferences with high seeds aren't true Cinderellas. That's just NCAA tournament hype. You can't hype Loyola enough.

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If you could not care less about college basketball now that the Wolf Pack season is over, you might want to head to Peccole Park this weekend. The Wolf Pack and Rebels, the two best teams in the Mountain West so far, are meeting in a three-game series that started Thursday night. The Wolf Pack is in first-place in the Mountain West at 7-2 in league play after going on the road to win two-of-three at New Mexico and Fresno and sweeping San Jose State at home. UNLV is 6-3 in league play but an impressive 21-5 overall (the Pack is 13-8). The Rebels, coached by former Wolf Pack assistant coach Stan Stolte, also lead the conference is RBI, hits, runs scored, batting average, slugging, on base percentage, doubles, homers and total bases. Three or four hours at Peccole in beautiful spring weather could help you forget that the Pack basketball team might have been two points from eventually going to the Final Four.

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The San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's will both struggle to win as many as 78 games this year. The playoffs seem to be totally out of the question for either team. The A's, as usual, are young and rebuilding and seem to have a brighter future. But they never seem to ever get past that stage. The Giants are old and seem to break down week by week. Bruce Bochy's team seems to be stuck in limbo between rebuilding and trying to squeeze some more good years out of aging veterans.

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Major league baseball predictions: The New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros will win the American League divisions while the Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers will do the same in the National League. The A.L. wild cards will be the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels with the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals surviving as N.L. wild cards. The Cubs will outlast the Astros in the World Series.