Friday, June 27, 2008

Shan Foster Now a Maverick

It took 51 tries, but Shan Foster, Vanderbilt's all-time leading scorer, is now an official NBA draftee. The Dallas Mavericks, a perennial playoff team, used their only pick in the draft to take the 6'6'' scoring machine.

According to Dallas' website, it looks like Shan will vie for some serious playing time right off the bat, as he will be one of the only 3-point shooters on the team.

"We’re very happy with the guy we got," said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. Commodore Nation couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Minor makes USA baseball squad

Vanderbilt junior Mike Minor will play for the prestigious USA National Baseball team for the second straight summer after the 20-man roster was released today.

The Americans will compete next month in the Harlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands and at the FISU World Championships in the Czech Republic. Minor was 5-3 with a 2.08 ERA for the Americans in 2007, and joins David Price and Pedro Alvarez as other Commodores who have played two years for the National team. Ryan Flaherty and Casey Weathers each played once.

"Without a doubt, this is an outstanding collection of talent both on the mound and in the lineup," said head coach Rob Walton (Oral Roberts). "We have plus arms, solid defenders and a group of quality hitters with great makeup. We look forward to representing the United States in international competition with this team."

The National team begins competition Wednesday, opening a six-game series against the Chinese Taipei National Team in Greenville, S.C. (6:05 p.m. CT).

Is college baseball becoming a "country club" sport?

Seeing that we have had previous discussions on this site about race in baseball as well as the whole high school/college signability issue, it seems appropriate to stir some discussion with this Wall Street Journal article from James Wagner. Recent NCAA figures show that a surprisingly high 86% of college baseball players (across all 3 divisions) are white, begging the question of how this can be when one look at a Major League roster is evidence of the amount of talent outside the white community. Wagner points to a number of factors, but the most interesting to me is the way college scouts do business.

"What bugs many coaches most is that baseball, a sport that has a legacy of integration dating back to Jackie Robinson, has become at the college level a game for the privileged -- a country-club sport. To be noticed by college recruiters, they say, players must participate in travel leagues and showcase tournaments, attend camps and work with well-known trainers and coaches. Only the families of wealthy kids can afford this, coaches say."

The dearth of baseball interest in the African-American community has been well-documented, but could this supposed shift in the atmosphere of the game be partly to blame? I would suggest that the two are more likely complementary, with college coaches and recruiters focusing on such traveling tournaments and showcases where they have the best chance of finding a large pool of talent. The fact that baseball isn't being played as much in the inner-city understandably causes recruiters to look elsewhere, but its a cyclical process. It's tough to get excited when you don't think the system is giving you a chance.

Even more worrisome to me is the lack of Latin American players, as there is obviously both huge interest and huge talent in that community. Part of the onus is on them to accept scholarship offers when they receive them rather than go where they're drafted, but I can't really blame them for doing so in a lot of circumstances.

I guess it just seems unfortunate that in the light of all that has been written lately about the feel good story of Pedro Alvarez, there aren't more stories like that out there. He really is the perfect example of how college baseball can be a great experience for both sides, and I think everyone involved in Pedro's story would agree with that.

So here's to you, Pedro (yet again).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Video of the Day: Move over Usher, Shan Foster to go platinum

In his spare time, Shan Foster decided to write a song about the upcoming NBA Draft (Thursday at 7 p.m. CT). "The Truth" never ceases to amaze us.

Here are the lyrics to Foster's new hit single "I can't wait to play in the NBA"

I can't wait to play in the NBA (2X)

I'm waiting for the draft
working hard to improve to my craft
From New Orleans to Tennessee
I'm the best at shooting the three
I'll take you off the dribble, pass my man
I'm in the lane, now watch me slam

I can't wait to play in the NBA (2X)

Just as a kid, watching TV
Already knew what I want to be
Started off as just a dream
But my family believed in me
Played for Vandy, for USA
But now I'm headed to the NBA

I can't wait to play in the NBA (4X)

Man, I'm going to miss Shan Foster. He is projected to land in the second round (No. 54 by ESPN's Chad Ford). Listening to Foster perform, you realize that a) he has a pretty good back-up plan if this basketball thing doesn't work out and b) he really wants to play in the NBA. We're certainly pulling for him.

How great would it be if Foster performed this live on ESPN on draft night? "From New Orleans to Tennessee, I'm the best at shooting the three." It doesn't get much better than that.

Link: ESPN The Magazine

Around the SEC (6/23)

The football team won the Sugar Bowl. The basketball team came out of the doghouse to win the SEC Tournament. Now the SEC champion baseball team is on the cusp of a College World Series championship. It's certainly good to be a Georgia Bulldog right now. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Georgia and Florida's football teams are getting too much pre-season hype, while Mississippi State and LSU are being underestimated. [The Gainesville Sun]

Tennessee's new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson is tight-lipped about what sort of attack the Volunteers will have this fall. [GoVolsXtra]

Alabama coach Nick Saban was inducted into the Independence Bowl Hall of Fame, which includes coaches Mack Brown and Frank Beamer, and players Brett Favre and Deuce McAllister. [Tuscaloosa News]

First overall pick David Price got promoted to Double-A Montgomery after yet another sparkling outing at Single-A Vero Beach. His new team name: The Biscuits. []

Vanderbilt incoming freshman Chelsea Stewart was honored by being named to the Canadian Under-20 National Soccer Team. []

Not SEC, but still close to home. Tennessee Titan defensive end Jevon Kearse was arrested on West End Avenue by Vanderbilt campus police when they noticed his Cadillac Escalade driving erratically. He was picked up for DUI and refusing the breathalyzer. [Nashville City Paper]