Rant off the bat...
It's a given that, barring some sort of catastrophic injury, LeBron James will be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, and 28 teams will have no shot at even bringing him in for a workout (unless the Cavs get the No. 1 pick, and James truly won't play for them, in which case it'll be a free-for-all to try and trade for the top pick).
That means we must move on to the No. 2 overall pick for speculation. May I suggest stopping in upstate New York?
Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony, only a freshman, is putting up numbers that have him in consideration for national Player of the Year honors. He's averaging 20.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and almost two steals per game for a team that is easily exceeding all expectations.
The most recent Wooden Award list of 30 "finalists" came out on Feb. 2, and Anthony was one of only four players not on the preseason list to make the final 30.
And while the NBA may be leery of drafting one-and-done college players, Anthony is not your traditional ship-jumper. He could have left for the pros straight out of high school (many analysts had him pegged as a lottery pick) but he went to Syracuse anyway. I can still remember talking with him after his Oak Hill team defeated Towson Catholic last season and he spoke of wanting to play in the Carrier Dome in front of 30,000 fans. He liked the idea of the college atmosphere and wanted to experience it at least once.
Combine that attitude with his pure talent, and maybe you'll see why the team with the No. 2 pick isn't a total loser.
• I don't get to see it too often, because it seems like I work almost every Tuesday night, but ESPN2's NBA Fastbreak is a great idea. Rather than showing another mid-week game, we get a sampling of every game, with in-depth analysis in between. As the season hits the stretch run, with playoff positioning on the line, this show will pick up in quality, and the look-ins will be invaluable.
• USA Today deserves credit for keeping St. Vincent St. Mary in the top spot of the high school basketball Super 25. The Fighting Irish haven't lost to anyone on the court, and even won their first game without LeBron James, so there's no proof they would have lost the game the OHSAA initially ruled they had to forfeit. The paper probably wouldn't have taken much heat for dropping SVSM in the aftermath of "Jerseygate" but they stuck by their guns. Of course, these mythical high school rankings don't mean much, but a lot of people have paid attention to them with James around, increasing the pressure on USA Today to make the right call.
• For the third time this season, Lawrence Hamm was named CAA men's basketball Rookie of the Week, easily establishing himself as one of Towson's most honored freshmen ever. However, it doesn't seem like Hamm will have much of a chance at winning CAA Rookie of the Year, not unless Towson can improve and win a few more games. Sure, Kenny Adeleke won from last-place Hofstra last season, but he put up better raw numbers than Hamm and was generally flashier in doing so. Hamm will almost definitely make the all-rookie team, but ROY is going to be tougher to earn without at least three or four victories, and maybe a 20-10 game somewhere along the way.
eBay Item of the Week
• The infamous Wes Unseld throwback jersey from Mitchell & Ness. Current bid: $205. Ends Feb. 14, 2003, 1:25 p.m. PST.
• With the NBA all-star weekend almost upon us, it's time for a mid-season NBA Finals prediction. I'm going with the Lakers to put it together and come out of the west, facing the east champion... uh, how about... Detroit? Maybe. Or not. I'm not really sure. Yeah, LA-Detroit seems good. Maybe the Pistons can break out some cool retro-jerseys for the classic matchup.