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The Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog is back and improved. We'll keep you updated on everything you need to know about Rider and Princeton hoops as well as the college basketball landscape.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mark Medley to Rider; Shawn Valentine to prep school

I'm aware this isn't exactly primetime in terms of web traffic. But seeing as I spent about half my day in a traffic jam on the Jersey Turnpike and most of my evening at the Journal Register Co's ideaLab conference here in Bucks County, Pa., I'm only now getting to this:

It remains true that Rider's recruiting class of 2011 includes two guards, and that one of them is Philadelphia point guard Eddie Mitchell.

The name of the second guard, though, has changed.

Mark Medley, a 6-3 shooting guard from Tatnall, Del., is Rider-bound. Medley, a second-team all-state selection last year, is the second Delaware player to commit to Rider in the past two years, joining Polytech High standout Anthony Myles.

Rider, though, will not immediately gain the services of Shawn Valentine.

The Broncs were thrilled to land Valentine last month and remain excited about his potential. But the 6-7 combo guard -- who chose Rider over Rutgers, La Salle and Temple -- will reclassify as a junior and play next year at the Phelps School in Malvern, Pa.

Rider, which opens the season Nov. 12 at UMass, has three scholarships left to give.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kenny Hasbrouck, Heat youngsters getting some ink

As I wrote earlier today on Twitter, this story caught my eye when I was combing over the Associated Press's daily sports budget.

With the Miami Heat spending a huge percentage of their cap space on three fairly high-profile players, low-cost but solid roster options such as 2009 MAAC Player of the Year Kenny Hasbrouck are good bets to be with the team when the season opens in October.

Here's the AP story, which includes a handful of Hasbrouck quotes:

MIRAMAR, Fla. (AP) — A black limousine that carried three young Miami Heat players to elementary school on Monday was parked about 25 feet from the front door, and barely any of the 900 students arriving to begin a new year noticed.

They couldn't wait to get inside and get to work.

And the Heat trio can completely relate to that sort of thinking.

"Like these kids," Heat guard Patrick Beverley said, "we can't wait to get this thing started."

Monday was a first day unlike any other at Miramar Elementary, where Beverley and Heat teammates Kenny Hasbrouck and Dexter Pittman showed up long before the opening bell of the year to distribute backpacks, notebooks, pens, markers, pencils and just about every other imaginable school supply.

So it's back-to-school time for the kids. For the Heat, school resumes in about a month when training camp starts. And Hasbrouck, Beverley and Pittman know they'll have to fight just to make Miami's loaded roster, which still features Dwyane Wade and now is bolstered mightily by new arrivals LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Mike Miller.

"To put it in words, it's still kind of hard," Hasbrouck said. "The opportunity at hand for all of us is a great one, just to play with this many great players. It's almost impossible to put into words right now until it becomes reality."

Hasbrouck played college ball at tiny Siena. Now he finds himself battling for a job on the team with perhaps the biggest buzz in basketball.

Hasbrouck was a late add to the Heat roster last season, giving him time to get to know Wade. He often sees Bosh working out at 8 a.m., and while he's been around James at times, Hasbrouck has yet to meet the NBA's two-time reigning MVP.

"He's been busy," Hasbrouck said.

They all have, with eyes on a title.

Beverley has a guaranteed contract, though that hardly guarantees him playing time in this new Heat era. His relationship with James goes back several years, so if nothing else, he won't be awe-struck when it's time to work out and play alongside Miami's most notable free agent signing ever.

"We go back a long way," said Beverley, a 2009 Heat draft acquisition who spent last season in Europe. "We chat every day. He's a great veteran. That definitely gives me a lot of confidence. I know D-Wade from Chicago. I've spent a lot of time with Udonis Haslem. It's good to see your veterans, your top guys, helping out. It's been great for players at that caliber to reach out to young guys, take them under their umbrella."

Pittman and Hasbrouck have partially guaranteed contracts. Both figure to have at least a good chance of making the club this season, since each could fill a need. The Heat rave about the way the 6-foot-11 — "and a half," Pittman boasted to kids Monday — former Texas center has athleticism that belies his 300-pound frame. Hasbrouck impressed coaches last season and this summer with how quickly he learned Miami's system.

"I'm starting to learn that it's all professional and business here," Pittman said. "It's not like college. It's strictly business. And it's still like a dream to me. I feel like I'm in a daze. I know what I have to do, go put in my work and hope that I can help contribute."

Soon, the backpacks and binders were just about gone, and the Heat trio climbed back into the limo for the short ride back to the arena.

Not back to school, but back to work.

"You've got to know your role," Hasbrouck said. "I'm here to do anything I have to do for the team. If that means play as hard as I can, get the starters better and wait my turn, then that's what I have to do. I'm not really in a rush. I'm not going to force it. I haven't proven anything yet. So anything I can do to help this team, then that's what I will do."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ryan Thompson going to training camp with Jazz

When Ryan Thompson went undrafted in June, the former Rider star quickly regrouped, inking deals to play with two teams in NBA summer leagues and hoping to earn an invite to a training camp.

Thompson still has work left to do, but after accepting a training-camp invitation Wednesday from the Utah Jazz, he's a step closer to achieving a life-long goal.

"It feels really good," Thompson said. "Just having options was a situation I was happy with."

After impressing scouts and coaches with his play in the Orlando and Las Vegas summer leagues, Thompson had training-camp offers from the Jazz and the Sacramento Kings.

Though Thompson played for Sacramento in the Las Vegas summer league and his older brother, Jason, is a key contributor, Thompson felt the best fit was Utah, a team that prides itself on developing young players.

"It was a situation with roster space, and it seemed like the best fit," Thompson said.

Thompson said Utah coaches and executives have compared him to Wes Matthews, a former Marquette standout who, like Thompson, went undrafted and played for Sacramento in the summer before catching on with Utah.

"I talked to (coach Jerry Sloan) and the GM and we decided I'd come in and be that type of player," Thompson said.

Thompson, a two-time all-MAAC player who finished fourth on Rider's career scoring list, averaged 9.3 points in four games with the Boston Celtics in the Orlando summer league. He then averaged 5 points in five games with the Kings in the Las Vegas league.

"He more than held his own," said Rider coach Tommy Dempsey. "All he could do when he didn't get drafted was use it to motivate him. he knew at that time that his load got tougher, but it didn't end anything. He kept moving forward every day, played well in the summer leagues, and he'll have another chance. All you can ask for is to have another opportunity."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Eddie Mitchell Rider-bound

Rider got its second verbal commitment of the class of 2011 when Eddie Mitchell, a 6-foot guard from La Salle Prep in Philadelphia, gave coach Tommy Dempsey a commitment.

Mitchell joins Winslow Twp's Shawn Valentine as a rising senior who will arrive in Lawrenceville for the 2011-12 season.

The Broncs have one scholarship left over from this season and have four seniors on the 2010-11 roster, leaving Dempsey and his staff five available scholarships.

Rider is likely to add one or two more pieces to the class, with 6-5 shooting guard Deon Jones -- the younger brother of Jeff Jones -- atop their wish list.

Mitchell, lightly recruited through much of his junior season at La Salle, impressed college coaches with his AAU play this summer. He drew an offer from Penn State, along with those from Rider, Delaware, Niagara, Marist and Wagner.