VOL. 133 | NO. 128 | Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Grizz Rookie Jevon Carter Promises to be Everything Wade Baldwin Was Not
By Don Wade
Two years ago, the Memphis Grizzlies used the 17th overall pick in the NBA Draft on Vanderbilt guard Wade Baldwin. It was considered a bold move. An offensive talent, yes, but also known to be less than coachable and team-oriented. But Baldwin showed offensive flashes in the preseason. There was a period of time when everyone from point guard Mike Conley to power forward Zach Randolph was openly saying Baldwin had some Russell Westbrook-like tendencies. They meant it only in a good way.
The concerns over Baldwin, however, soon proved accurate. He couldn’t be counted on for back-up minutes in the back court. Andrew Harrisons passed him by. Before last season, the Grizzlies cut their losses and let Baldwin go. His perceived potential, which was fueled by his athleticism, was no match for his immaturity and on-court carelessness.
All of which makes the guard the Grizzlies chose at No. 32 with the second pick in the second round this year, Jevon Carter out of West Virginia, look like the anti-Baldwin.
Jevon Carter, from West Virginia, participates in the NBA draft basketball combine May 17, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Although Carter averaged a career-best 17.3 points as a senior, no one is expecting him to ever approach that scoring average in the NBA or to have the natural ability to drive and finish at a level that Baldwin seemed to promise.
But as the 2018 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, a guy who averaged 3.03 steals per game – second in the nation – Carter would be seem to have a lot to offer if he can just run the offense, distribute a little bit (6.6 assists last season) and hit the occasional open jumper.
After the Grizzlies drafted Carter, his old college coach Bob Huggins tweeted the following: “I will certainly miss coaching this young man. His work ethic and determination left a perfect blueprint for many Mountaineers to come. Couldn’t be happier for you or the @memgrizz … make us proud!”
As the story goes, Huggins first saw Carter in an 8 a.m. AAU game. Given the early hour, many of the players were moving as though still unfolding themselves out of bed. Not Carter. On defense, he was picking up his man full-court. Huggins, morning coffee in hand, noticed.
And Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff, in every clip he has watched of Carter, hasn’t had to spend much time trying to find him either.
“The first thing you see is the tenacity he plays with,” Bickerstaff said. “Any game he plays in, he stands out.”
Said Carter: “I really don’t know how not to go hard. My dad always told me the easiest guy to guard is the guy without the ball. He can’t score if he doesn’t have it.”
Carter did his share of scoring as a high school and AAU player, but he says when he arrived at West Virginia he realized he would have to add to his repertoire to stay on the court. He also knew that good offensive games could be elusive and that Huggins had no patience for pedestrian effort on defense.
“I’m going to have bad games offensively,” Carter said, “but I shouldn’t defensively. And (Huggins) is not gonna let you slouch.”
Said Bickerstaff: “That attitude, that toughness, translates. It was easy to see why his coaches loved him.”
The things Lane Kiffin does not need …
Just when you think there are no more stories left connected to Lane Kiffin’s days as head coach of the University of Tennessee football team, we get this from “Marty Smith’s America,” an ESPN podcast: When Kiffin returned to Knoxville as offensive coordinator with Alabama, security wanted him to wear a bulletproof vest.
“It’s crazy,” Kiffin said. “They were literally talking about a bulletproof vest on the ride in. I’m like, ‘Come on guys, this is football.’ They’re like, ‘No, really.’ They had security with me the whole way walking on the field and stuff like that.”
Kiffin said he declined the advice to wear the vest. He also said UT fans did make their feelings known – “a lot of four-letter words” – but he just chalked that up to the passion of Vols fans.
Kiffin coached but one year at UT before going to USC to become head coach. So it’s true there was some Rocky Top loathing.
Now, after going 11-3 at Florida Atlantic University, he has been handed a 10-year contract extension. Yes, really. And FAU probably didn’t need to give Kiffin a 10-year extension any more than he needed to wear that vest.
The $84M quarterback and his 18-year-old passenger van
Here’s a feel-good story. Or maybe just a plain old this-does-not-make-sense story.
Whichever, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, the proud owner of an $84 million guaranteed salary, also proudly drives a 2000 GMC Savana passenger van.
Props to nfl.com for bringing to this to our attention after Cousins, @kirkcousins8, tweeted a picture of himself behind the wheel of the dented van: “People like to give me a hard time, but it still runs well …”
Hey, an investment’s an investment. And 18 years ago, the star quarterback paid his grandmother $5,000 for it.