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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Former Grizzlies sharp shooter Erik Kangas gets hall of fame nod

Like Travis Bader, Erik Kangas could jump.

Before there was Travis Bader, there was Erik Kangas. 
The DeWitt native could shoot from anywhere on the floor and is the easy comparison to the soon-to-be junior. Bader previously said he's trying to become more of a slasher and plans to differentiate himself from Kangas.
Kangas was the first player from the Lansing-area school to do several things, including playing professionally, and for his many accomplishments, he's being added to the school's hall of fame, according to the Lansing State Journal.
Kangas played for Oakland from 2005-09, setting the school's all-time mark for 3-pointers made, a record Bader is chasing at a feverish pace.
In Kangas' Summit League First Team senior season in 2008-09, he hit a league-record 135 3-pointers. He capped the season with a runner-up finish at an all-star 3-point contest at The Palace.
The LSJ story adds that Kangas now resides in Auburn Hills, working at a marketing firm in Troy. His induction officially takes place at halftime of the school's Sept .14 football game against Haslett.
Other notable DeWitt firsts by Kangas (Courtesy of the Lansing State Journal): 
  • First player to earn a full Division I men's basketball scholarship
  • First player to be listed on the Mr. Basketball ballot in 2005 (He finished 7th)

Pre-draft workouts a huge help to Reggie Hamilton's draft status

Speaking frankly about one of his recent pre-draft workouts with an NBA club, former Oakland guard Reggie Hamilton said "Nothing good happened."
That surprised Oakland coach Greg Kampe, who has had several teams calling to follow up about Hamilton, including that particular team.
Kampe said Wednesday there's a good chance Hamilton will get drafted, but if by chance he doesn't "he's going to have his choice where he goes to camp."
The biggest perceived weakness in Hamilton's game has been his passing, on which several NBA teams have drilled him.
"They see now that he can pass," Kampe said.
Hamilton, the nation's leading scorer, knew teams were questioning his ability at the point, despite averaging 5.1 assists per game to go with 26.2 points (making Hamilton responsible for nearly 40 points each night).
"They look at my numbers, and for some reason, they ignore five assists per game," he said.
The high-scoring Hamilton had similar assist numbers while increasing his scoring average by nearly 10 points per game last season over the previous year. He began his Oakland career passing to the likes of highly-efficient post players Will Hudson and Keith Benson, who both have since gone on to play professionally.
That aforementioned 2010-11 Oakland team got to play under the bright lights of the NCAA tournament, something Hamilton's senior-year team didn't accomplish. Kampe also thought that may have initially stunted Hamilton's exposure.
"With the nation watching, you can get yourself drafted," Kampe said.
(Just to note: Hamilton had a game-high 25 points in Oakland's most recent NCAA tournament game vs. No. 9 Texas in March 2011.)
Hamilton said he wasn't fixating on multiple offers to play overseas while he was working out with several NBA teams, including the Bulls, Pistons and Pacers, where hall of famer Larry Bird revealed his was a big fan of Hamilton.
"It does relieve some stress, but I'm focusing on staying here," he said.
If he gets drafted, Hamilton would be the second Oakland player taken by an NBA team in as many years, and would be the program's third to play in the NBA if he makes a team's roster.
"Our style of play is conducive to getting to the NBA," Kampe said.
We'll all know a lot more about what the future holds by about 9 p.m. Thursday.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Oakland lands Dayton transfer Ralph Hill

Dayton transfer Ralph Hill announced via Twitter Sunday night he would be playing for Oakland in the 2013-14 season, saying: "Next year I will be attending Oakland University!!! Blessed to have this opportunity!"
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Hill will be forced to sit out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Hill only played seven games in his freshman season in 2010-11. He played 25 games last season, but did not start, averaging just 1.4 points and 1.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore.
Hill was granted his release by coach Archie Miller May 1.
“I really love UD, but I’ve played basketball all my life and finding the best role and fit for my future is what has brought me to this decision,” Hill said in a statement announcing his departure.“This is one of the toughest choices I’ve ever had to make. I know I will always follow the guys (I’ve been teammates with). They are my brothers. But sometimes you have to do what you think is best for you."
Hill could be an inside presence once eligible, replacing departed Kyle Sikora and teaming with a junior Corey Petros and a sophomore Lloyd Neely.
In addition to Sikora's exit, Oakland also learned it would not be immediately seeing commit Michael Lewis because of academic issues.
Duke Mondy, expected to start at point guard this season, is the latest transfer to hit the floor for Oakland after parting with Providence. The Golden Grizzlies also played Laval Lucas-Perry (Michigan) and Reggie Hamilton (UMKC), both transfers, in the backcourt last season while Hamilton's predecessor, Larry Wright, landed at Oakland after leaving St. John's.
Hill is a former Division I All-Ohio Third Team from Westerville North High School. He averaged 22.6 points per game his senior season.
The Flyers lost to Iowa in the first round of the NIT and finished 20-13 in Miller's maiden campaign in 2011-12.  
Hill also visited Cleveland State and was reportedly choosing between Oakland and Akron. 
Former Oakland standout Brian Gregory coached the Flyers until last season when he took over at Georgia Tech.  
UPDATE: Hill said this Monday about the Gregory-Oakland connection: “I actually didn’t know that until one of the coaches, maybe Coach Tungate or Coach Kampe told me they had talked to BG and he had said something about me. It was funny how it ended up working out like that.”

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Reggie Hamilton: 'I'll play wherever'

Former Oakland guard Reggie Hamilton has been getting several workouts with NBA clubs this summer, having already worked out with the Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Cavaliers and his hometown Bulls.
In a recent story from The Hoops Report, agent Austin Walton revealed Hamilton also has suitors overseas citing "multiple six-figure offers."
"To be honest, I'll play wherever," Hamilton told The Hoops Report. "Once you're inside the gym, it doesn't matter what state you're in. You're in the gym ... I'll play wherever has the best opportunity for me and my family at this point. It's just not about me, it's about helping my family and those who helped me come this far. I pray I'm able to play in a place that helps me help them."
The story adds that Hamilton has bulked up to 185 pounds, nearly 10 pounds heavier than his listed weight with Oakland. He mentioned working on his mid-range game, taking many more pull-up jumpers than in the past.
According to Walton, Hamilton will be working out with the Pacers Monday.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Oakland's Greg Kampe excited for technology upgrade in recruiting

The midnight hour Friday ushered in a new era in Division I basketball recruiting, as the NCAA seems satisfied allowing coaches to be chained only by the data plans attached to their cellphones. Coaches are now allowed to call and text recruits as much as they want -- as well as sending recruits who have finished their sophomore year in high school messages via social media.
"We think it's a great rule change," Oakland coach Greg Kampe told the Detroit Free Press. "You're so limited and that's one of the reasons I think there's so many transfers. The inability to really get to know kids. ... There were (more than) 400 transfers this year."
The move might even be enough to get Oakland coach Greg Kampe using Twitter. A longtime holdout and noted opponent of the social network, the coach mentioned on WXOU's "The Greg Kampe Show" that he would not be entering the fray anytime soon. Friday, he had a different view on the medium.
The Twitter handle @CoachKampe would be an easy and descriptive name for an official Twitter, but what do you think it should be? 

Friday, June 8, 2012

More about a potential practice facility for Oakland

I recently sat down with Oakland director of athletics Tracy Huth to discuss the possibility of adding a practice facility on campus. We spoke at length about the possibilities and it was clear the development is very much in the early stages. Below is an excerpt from our interview in which Huth explains the need for such a building.

Is a practice facility something that could become a reality soon?  
“We’ve really taken time over the last few years to look at what it is we really need facilities wise. Based on our facility needs, we’ve looked at a lot of things. If you mention a practice facility, that’s just part of it, to be honest. We’re looking at the concept of a student-athlete development center.
“As we’ve gone through the years here, we’ve seen how we operate and what our needs are and what our student-athletes and what we’re trying to do as far as the provision for our campus community and our students and just what we know the external committee is looking for as well — what is it we would really want to do in order to be able to serve our constituent base and most importantly, our student-athletes.
“The practice facility is part of it, but that’s one of what we recognize as a core component of what we need space-wise. The other piece of that is the academic center. We have well over 300 student-athletes right now and we’re using a converted room or single space of about 700+ square feet to service well over 300 student-athletes. … It’s a real challenge for us to be able to service the academic and student-service needs of our student-athlete population. That’s another core component we’re looking at.
“Another piece of this is that we don’t have adequate locker room space. Our locker room spaces are a community-type locker room with separate little rooms but the showers and sinks, the restroom type area, are just community or shared facility. The size of the space is not appropriate for the size of our student-athlete population. When this building was reconstructed along with the campus recreation facility, we had just over 200 student-athletes. We’ve added sports and student-athletes and so the size of our space and even our office area really does not compute for what we have.
“Those are some of the core component areas. There’s an area of this as to where offices, we have people sharing offices, their ability to meet to meet with student-athletes individually is hampered.
“There’s a lot of needs now based on being 14 years into this and when this building was reconfigured it doesn’t now fit the size and the scope of going from 200 student-athletes to 350 and additional sports.
“The concept has come and you look at it and think ‘What do we need a practice facility for?’ The O’rena is as much a community space as it is a varsity athletic space. It’s used for commencements, convocations and speakers. It’s used for the external community, the internal community. It’s used for a lot of other things than just basketball and volleyball. There’s a situation there that when we have to take that space off-line, it has a direct impact and a negative impact on our student-athletes. During the Republican debate, that facility was off-line for nine days.The only other court space on campus is the recreation center, but that space was taken off-line for much of that time as well. And plus now, you’re into a shared space where you also have the students over there or else we’re finding alternate facilities off campus that we’re trying to use when that space is off-line. … We’re pretty much in the heart of our basketball season (during December commencement) and we’re telling them you can’t have your facility for four days. It doesn’t bode well and you think about our No. 1 priority is the safety, health and well-being of our student-athletes, we’re really not serving them in that capacity. We also know that part of what we do is serve the mission of this institution and so when we do these other activities, we’re really serving that purpose and the mission of the institution which we want to do and we know is important. It’s just that the effect of that can not be the best thing for our operation.”
Read the story from Saturday's Oakland Press here

Friday, June 1, 2012

Butler's early departure may not mean anything for Oakland

This week we learned Butler is leaving the Horizon League -- a full season early than anticipated. And although its hastened departure seems like it would be a good thing for Oakland, it may not mean much.
The league still had not been in contact with Oakland as of Friday afternoon and commissioner John LeCrone made it clear when Butler first announced its intent to leave that the Horizon has operated as an odd-numbered conference in the past, which its shaping up to have next season. 
The circumstances surrounding Butler's earlier-than-expected exit, as outlined by ESPN's Eamonn Brennan, don't necessarily concern Oakland, but fans and media alike assume LeCrone and Co. will be knocking down the O'rena doors sometime in the near future. LeCrone seems content playing an abbreviated 16-game schedule with its nine remaining basketball members, rather than a full 18-game slate with 10 teams, Brennan reports.
"LeCrone said the league will have a true-round robin schedule and be fine next season. He said the league will look at expansion but made not overtures as to what direction the Horizon League would move in the near future." 
It remains to be seen if Oakland could manage to get its sports aligned in time for the fall seasons, if the Horizon were to extend membership, but considering the benefits the new conference would offer the school's programs, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Oakland declines. Regardless of what year it were asked to join.

Former Grizzlies center Keith Benson invited to D-League Elite camp

Wane.com from Fort Wayne, Ind., reports former Oakland star Keith Benson has been invited to the NBA Developmental League's Elite Mini Camp next week in Chicago.
The two-day event is said to feature the D-League's finest, including Benson's teammate with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Anthony Mason Jr.
Wane.com reports more than 50 NBA front-office execs are expected to be on hand evaluating talent.
Benson caught on with the Skyforce in February after being cut by the Atlanta Hawks, the team who drafted Benson No. 48 overall in last year's draft, after a lockout-shortened training camp. Benson played briefly in Italy during the lockout also.
Benson was called up by the Golden State Warriors late in the season on a 10-day contract, making his NBA debut. 
The D-League saw a record 50 call-ups during the abbreviated NBA season. At season's end, 1/4 of each team's roster had NBADL experience.
During the season-ending episode of "The Greg Kampe Show" on WXOU, the program's namesake informed listeners Benson had been invited back to work out with the Hawks and would also be at a Cleveland Cavaliers post-draft workout.
In the meantime, Benson has been working out at Oakland, preparing for his next move. 
Benson has indicated via Twitter he plans to attend the NBA summer league, which was cancelled last season due the labor stoppage. 
The NBA draft is June 28 in Newark, N.J.
The camp is reportedly Monday and Tuesday at the Moody Bible Institute.