Ryan Greene

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  • Former Saint Mary's forward Rob Jones won't try his hand as an NFL tight end. Not yet, at least.. (AP)Tony Gonzalez. Antonio Gates. Jimmy Graham.

    All three were college basketball standouts who went on to change their athletic courses after graduating, earning livings on the gridiron.

    Rob Jones has no interest in joining that list at the moment.

    The former Saint Mary's forward, who averaged 15 points and 10.8 rebounds this past season in his second and final go-around with the Gaels, has turned down an invitation to try out at the Minnesota Vikings' upcoming rookie minicamp.

    Over four collegiate seasons, first at San Diego, then at Saint Mary's, Jones made a name for himself as a versatile force in the frontcourt,  putting up big numbers despite being smaller than several of the trees he regularly banged against.

    But even though a 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame might put him at a disadvantage as a power forward, it would give him a distinct edge as a tight end.

    Still, Jones appears more interested in playing hoops professionally. He's likely not NBA-bound, but for a player with his résumé, he could make a nice living overseas for the next several years.

    "I wanted to see where I can go with basketball first," Jones told CSNBayArea.com. "Two or three years from now, if I'm not where I want to be with basketball, I can still have that option.

    "Football is intriguing, but it's really a decision I made five years ago."

    Five years ago was the last time when Jones, 23, put on the pads.

    As a senior at Archbishop Riordan High in San Francisco, he caught 33 passes for 499 yards and seven touchdowns. When he headed to USD to play hoops, he met the school's former football coach — and now San Francisco 49ers head coach — Jim Harbaugh. He even considered trying playing both before transferring, but both he and Harbaugh left before that ever came to fruition.

    Jones is currently training in Houston in preparation for June's NBA draft, and he could be correct in that the same option could be on the table for him in a couple of years should hoops not work out.

    After all, the power-forward-turned-tight-end trend isn't likely to die off anytime soon.

    Read More »from Former Saint Mary’s star Rob Jones passes on invitation to tryout with NFL’s Minnesota Vikings
  • Ranking the best of the west heading towards the 2012-13 college hoops season

    The arrival of McDonald's All-Americans Kyle Anderson, left, and Shabazz Muhammad could make UCLA the team to beat out west in 2012-13. (AP)The 2011-12 season didn't leave teams in the western half of the United States with plenty to brag about when all was said and done.

    Sure, the Mountain West Conference continued its emergence as a legitimate basketball power, earning four NCAA tournament bids for the second time in three years. The West Coast Conference isn't far behind, either.

    But the Pac-12 had a down year, to say the least. It was so down that the 'power' conference's regular season champ — Washington — was left out of the NCAA tournament. In fact, no teams in the Mountain time zone or farther west made it to the tourney's second weekend. Only two — Gonzaga and New Mexico — got to the Sweet Sixteen's doorstep.

    But don't look at it as the start of a trend.

    Highlighted by UCLA's recent warpath on the recruiting trail at the start of the spring signing period, the buzz for college hoops out west in 2012-13 is rapidly growing.

    Here's an early look ranking the West Coast leagues' best heading into the summer.


    1) UCLA — Say all you want about the rocky times the program has endured over the past few seasons, but on raw talent alone, UCLA wins out in these rankings. A commitment from center Tony Parker on Monday helped round out a stellar recruiting class highlighted by fellow McDonald's All-Americans Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson. Plus, the Bruins could still add another piece. Even though Ben Howland's team struggled in 2011-12, there's still a decent amount of talent coming back from a 19-win team, especially up front with the Wear twins and — if he disciplines himself and gets in shape — Josh Smith. Howland has the pieces in place to redeem himself from a recent swoon. Now it's time for him to prove he still has the chops to win in Westwood.

    2) San Diego State — In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, San Diego State won 26 games, a Mountain West regular season title and advanced to its third straight NCAA tournament in 2011-12. Not only do the Aztecs return their top four scorers next season — including leading scorer and rebounder Jamaal Franklin, who was the Mountain West Player of the Year — but Steve Fisher's team adds plenty of depth, which was a significant weakness that held them back this year when injuries came into the equation. A trio of transfers  — Dwayne Polee (St. John's), J.J. O'Brien (Utah) and James Johnson (Virginia) — should help make San Diego State one of the nation's most versatile clubs, while it will likely remain one of America's toughest to crack mentally.

    Read More »from Ranking the best of the west heading towards the 2012-13 college hoops season
  • Rick Pitino names two horses after Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva

    Louisville's Gorgui Dieng (10) and Peyton Siva (center). (AP)Rick Pitino was quite vocal late this season with how fond he was of his group of unsung heroes that carried the Louisville program to its ninth Final Four berth.

    He was so fond of them that he even named a pair of horses after his players.

    According to the Louisville Courer-Journal, thoroughbred trainer Randy Bradshaw asked Pitino to help name two of the coach's horses that are currently being prepared for training.

    The names he came up with? "Gorgui" and "Siva." Both suggestions were proposed to and approved by The Jockey Club.

    "The Bellamy Road colt was a spectacular, big, big colt," he said of the horse named after junior-to-be center Gorgui Dieng. "He was lanky, had great potential and goes the distance. I said I got the perfect name for him. I said 'Gorgui.'"

    The second colt, Pitino said, is "very, very quick — has a great first step, so to speak."

    [ Hoops notebook: Larry Brown loses cool line on résumé with SMU hire ]

    So, too, does senior-to-be point guard Peyton Siva, who was the driving force for the Cardinals during their incredible run to close out the season — One which saw them win eight straight postseason games and a Big East tournament title before falling to eventual national champ Kentucky in New Orleans.

    "They're two of my favorite ballplayers and young men," Pitino said. "I told both guys. They're super excited."

    Read More »from Rick Pitino names two horses after Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva
  • Does C.J. Leslie’s return make N.C. State the preseason favorite in the ACC?

    C.J. Leslie, N.C. State's leading scorer and second-leading rebounder in 2011-12, is coming back for his junior season. (AP)A year ago, North Carolina State was having a bear of a time simply finding someone to take over the reins of their struggling basketball program.

    Now, the Wolfpack is still riding a wave of momentum from an unexpected Sweet Sixteen run, and, as of Wednesday, has the look of an ACC preseason favorite as it heads towards its second season under Mark Gottfried.

    6-foot-8 sophomore and former McDonald's All-American C.J. Leslie, who led the Pack in scoring (14.7 ppg) and was second on the team in rebounding (7.3 rpg) last season will be returning to Raleigh for his junior campaign.

    This means that on top of landing a trio of McDonald's All-Americans in the 2012 class, Gottfried will also bring back his top four scorers from a team that won 24 games. He'll have one of the nation's deeper, more balanced rosters to work with in year two.

    At season's end, it truly appeared to be a 50-50 call as to whether Leslie would make the leap to the next level. He was the Pack's unquestioned centerpiece, and improved immensely on the offensive end from his freshman year to this season. After scrapping together 11 points per game as a rookie, he bumped his field goal percentage from 43.3 percent to 52.5 percent as a sophomore, tapping into his immense potential while utilizing his elite-level athleticism with more control.

    Individually, there's still some room for growth, and this year's NBA draft pool is already loaded with depth at his position. A year form now, he'll have a better chance to stand out leading up to the draft, and there's also plenty of work still left to be done in terms of again making N.C. State one of college hoops' elite programs.

    Read More »from Does C.J. Leslie’s return make N.C. State the preseason favorite in the ACC?
  • Nerlens Noel had maybe the most creative public commitment in college basketball history. (via ESPNU)As Nerlens Noel spun around in his chair in the ESPNU studios on Wednesday night, revealing his school choice shaved into the back of his mile-high flat-top, the jokes began to fly around the country.

    Say — and speculate — what you will about how Kentucky does it, but once again, the 2012 national champs are both reloading and rebuilding at a ridiculous rate. With a commitment from Noel — Rivals.com's No. 2 overall prospect in the 2012 class — John Calipari's program is more than ready to absorb the impending hit from losing star freshman center and national player of the year Anthony Davis to June's NBA draft.

    Roughly an hour after Rivals.com's top overall player in the 2012 crop — 6-foot-6 wing Shabazz Muhammad — committed to UCLA, Noel — a 6-foot-10 center regarded as maybe the best shot blocker to come from the prep ranks in the last decade — chose Kentucky over Georgetown and Syracuse.

    It ended a whirlwind of a recruiting process that was sent into overdrive when Noel reclassified himself from the 2013 senior class back in early February.

    Kentucky will lose senior glue guy Darius Miller to graduation, but will also say goodbye to as many as five underclassmen from a team that rolled through the NCAA tournament en route to its first national title since 1998 and won 38 games.

    More NCAA basketball coverage from Yahoo! Sports:

    However, Noel's commitment means that they have ready-made contributors everywhere on the floor.

    Say all five underclassmen — point guard Marquis Teague, shooting guard Doron Lamb, small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, power forward Terrence Jones and Davis — all leave. Here's the outlook …

    Read More »from In unique style, Nerlens Noel makes Kentucky’s 2012 recruiting class — and future — flat-out scary
  • Cody Zeller (40) and Christian Watford (2) are returning to Indiana for another season, helping make the Big Ten college hoops' top league yet again. (AP)The Big Ten was hands-down the best league in college basketball during the 2011-12 season, and as the days go by, it appears more and more likely that will be the case again in 2012-13.

    The latest chips to fall into place all did so within a crucial 24-hour window.

    First, on Monday, Michigan announced that standout point guard Trey Burke will return for his sophomore season. Burke had flirted with the idea of parlaying his successful freshman campaign for the co-Big Ten champs (14.8 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.5 rpg), especially given the relatively weak NBA draft pool in terms of point guard depth.

    Then, Tuesday morning, Indiana announced that freshman big man Cody Zeller (15.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and junior wing Christian Watford (12.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg) will also be back.

    And, with that, the league's preseason top two are likely set more than six months before next season begins.

    [ Related: Yahoo! Sports underclassman tracker ]

    Indiana is considered by some as a legitimate contender for the preseason No. 1 ranking, as Tom Crean gets his top five scorers back from a 27-win team and will fit in a pair of elite recruits in McDonald's All-American point guard Kevin Ferrell and freakishly athletic 6-foot-8 forward Hanner Perea.

    Michigan should also be looked at as a contender to make its first Final Four run since 1993, with Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. making up arguably the top backcourt in the league, while its own stellar recruiting class is headed up by big man Mitch McGary, ranked No. 3 in the 2012 class by Rivals.

    Depth shouldn't be an issue for the league, either.

    Read More »from Zeller, Watford, Burke announce returns, helping make Big Ten college hoops’ top league again in 2012-13
  • The news of Kansas junior All-American Thomas Robinson declaring himself eligible for June's NBA draft wasn't surprising to anyone.

    But Robinson did surprise many in heart-warming fashion on Monday morning, as his nine-year-old sister, Jayla, accompanied him and Kansas coach Bill Self in announcing his professional intentions.

    Jayla celebrated her ninth birthday on Monday, and anyone familiar with Robinson's rough sophomore year at KU in terms of his personal life knows how much she means to the future lottery pick. In a span of a month last season, Robinson lost both of his grandparents, then his mother, Lisa.

    Jayla stayed in Washington, D.C., over the last year and lived with her father, James Paris (who is not Robinson's father). Whether her living arrangements stay the same is not yet known, but Robinson made it clear on Monday how much being able to provide for his sister means to him.

    [ Related: Yahoo! Sports underclassman tracker ]

    "Whatever it is she wants, man," Robinson said at the Monday press conference. "I'm just happy that I have the option that I don't have to worry about anything anymore."

    Despite his personal hurdles mid-way through his sophomore campaign, Robinson averaged 7.6 points and 6.4 rebounds as a sophomore reserve for the Jayhawks. As a junior, fueled by a desire to provide for his younger sister, he became one of the most dominant players in the land, averaging 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds, carrying Kansas to an eighth consecutive Big 12 regular season title and a completely unexpected run to the national title game, where it fell last Monday to Kentucky, 67-59. He led the nation with 27 double-doubles.

    He transformed himself from simply an athletic freak who could contribute around the rim off of the bench and provide a spark to a well-rounded force on both ends of the floor. Robinson should be able to rebound the ball at a high rate right away as a pro, and his expanded offensive game, which now includes a highly-reliable mid-range jumper, should also impress scouts during workouts over the coming months.

    Read More »from Thomas Robinson joined by 9-year-old sister in announcing intentions to enter NBA draft
  • Will John Calipari be striking this pose again a year from now? It sure looks like a possibility. (AP)OK, Kentucky, what do you have in store for next year?

    Annual roster turnover has been a staple of John Calipari's Kentucky program in his three years at the helm, but that's hardly been a bad thing.

    As he's cycled in waves of NBA-ready freshmen each season, the results have been consistent. He's 102-14 so far at the helm in Lexington with two Final Four appearances and, as of Monday night, now has his first national championship.

    He's set a precedent at UK, and as the top dog among college basketball's elite recruiters, the expectations are so high that a "rebuilding year" isn't allowed.

    [ Dan Wetzel: Kentucky's John Calipari has built a program destined for more success ]

    Following the Wildcats' dominant 38-2 campaign and 67-59 victory over Kansas in New Orleans to top it all off, here's what we know about where Calipari's roster heads from here …

    • 6-foot-10 freshman Anthony Davis — the National Player of the Year, Final Four's Most Outstanding Player and college basketball's most devastating interior force — is as good as gone. He'll be the top pick in June's NBA draft. No point in spending any more time on this one.

    • Say bye-bye to sophomore forward Terrence Jones and freshman wing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, too — also first-round picks.

    • If there was any hope that 6-foot-4 sophomore sniper Doron Lamb was going to come back for his junior season, it went out the window this weekend. His strong NCAA tournament showing was capped by a masterful 22-point performance on Monday night, highlighted by a pair of back-breaking second half 3-pointers that came after Kansas had chipped back to within 10 points. He was the team's second-leading scorer this season and shot 46.6 percent from deep. Nothing left to accomplish, time to get paid.

    Related NCAA basketball video on Yahoo! Sports:

    • The wild card among the key underclassmen is freshman point guard Marquis Teague. He got stronger as the year went on as a floor general and decision-maker, and he definitely has the top-end speed to make him a special threat at the next level. But is he a consistent enough scorer? He's really the only UK underclassman who could do a ton for his NBA draft stock with another year in Lexington.

    Read More »from With its first title in the Calipari era secured, what will Kentucky look like in 2012-13? (Hint: Again a contender)
  • While Kentucky faithful riot in Lexington, Kansas fans have their ‘fun,’ too

    via @Sarah_GishWhile the live streaming feed of the Lexington police department's scanner stole the show on the web in the aftermath of Kentucky's 67-59 national title game triumph over Kansas, here's a little gem from the other side, where dejected — and likely inebriated — Jayhawks got a little carried away, too.

    Here's a photo that spread around some on Twitter — via Instagram — of KU students convening at the intersection of 14th and Kentucky, just two blocks west of Lawrence's main downtown drag. One brave soul scaled a utility pole to take down the Kentucky Street sign, accompanied by chants of "[expletive] Kentucky!"

    Good times.

    Related NCAA basketball video on Yahoo! Sports:

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    Read More »from While Kentucky faithful riot in Lexington, Kansas fans have their ‘fun,’ too
  • Thomas Robinson, left, and Terrence Jones will once again lock horns on Monday night with a national title on the line. (AP)When Kansas and Kentucky met in Madison Square Garden back on Nov. 15, the Wildcats blew a tied game open early in the second half with a vicious 11-0 run.

    During that stretch in a 75-65 Kentucky win, the Wildcats seized control from the Jayhawks, while getting their first glimpse against big-time competition of just how good they could be.

    Now, heading into Monday's national championship game rematch in New Orleans, Kentucky carries itself with a distinct confidence and swagger, clearly knowing just how good it is. And a battle-hardened Kansas squad can't be broken so easily just five months later.

    What does it mean?

    It means that Monday night should be a classic.

    The Wildcats enter the college basketball season's final game as a 6.5-point favorite in Las Vegas, though it appears to be almost a unanimous belief that the game should be close wire to wire.

    As the lead-up to the game begins, here are five key things to watch Monday night, as Kansas looks for its second national title in five years while John Calipari searches for his first crown in a heavily-decorated coaching career.

    1) Who can turn the paint into no man's land?

    Against Louisville, Kentucky star freshman became the first player since 1988 to post at least 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in a Final Four game. In the nightcap, Kansas junior Jeff Withey swatted seven shots of his own, and made it all but impossible for Ohio State star Jared Sullinger to get clean looks in the second half.

    Both also were huge in terms of altering several other shot attempts, which is tougher to spot by just looking at a box score.

    [ Video: Did Ohio State blow it or did Kansas just have more magic? ]

    And on Monday, they'll go right at each other.

    While Davis led the nation in blocks per game in the regular season and Withey was seventh, Withey leads all NCAA tourney participants with 27 in five games. Davis isn't too far behind in second with 23. Both are playing at a high level, and both should be able to record a few more.

    But who gets better help in the paint?

    Withey is flanked by first-team All-American Thomas Robinson, who had 19 points and eight boards against Ohio State, while Kentucky's Terrence Jones had a rough night against Louisville, finishing with six points and seven rebounds on a night marred by early foul trouble.

    Read More »from Five things to watch Monday night when Kansas and Kentucky battle for the national title


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