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Leuer praise keeps rolling in

Leuer_01.JPGA few days ago we talked about a CBSSports.com article that had USA Select Team coach Jay Wright praising Wisconsin senior Jon Leuer, this time it's ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla doing the gushing.

In a column posted Friday on ESPN.com, Fraschilla said Leuer will be on his short list of Big Ten Player of the Year candidates. You have to be an ESPN Insider to read the column, so below is what he had to say about Leuer:

These were a few of the college players who impressed me at the camp. It doesn't mean that I necessarily think these guys are all surefire NBA players, but I think they strengthened their standing with NBA scouts.

Jon Leuer, Wisconsin, 6-foot-10
Wright raved about Leuer during practice sessions and he was right on the money. Leuer has an excellent shooting touch to 20 feet and is your classic "stretch power forward" who will be murder in pick-and-pop situations. While not a bruising player, he held his own around the basket. And his length allowed him to elevate to create space for his deft stroke when he was in the paint. While Michigan State and Purdue have a number of Big Ten Player of the Year candidates on their rosters this coming season, Leuer will definitely be included on my list.


Leuer impresses in Vegas

When Wisconsin senior Jon Leuer went to Las Vegas to train with the USA Basketball Select Team last week, he was certainly a household name in Madison and the Big Ten. After a week of impressive workouts and scrimmages against the USA National Team, Leuer is quickly becoming a household name NATIONALLY.

Don't believe me? Just ask Villanova head coach Jay Wright and CBS Sports' senior writer Gary Parrish. In Parrish's Five for Friday column he offered the following:

2. Who's the best college player with USA Basketball?

All five of the guys -- LaceDarius Dunn, Jacob Pullen, Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Marcus Morris -- I listed last week as frontrunners for preseason First Team All-America honors are here, so take your pick. But the question that intrigues me isn't the one about who's the best as much as it's the one about who's proved to be better than the people running these workouts anticipated.

I asked Villanova's Jay Wright that exact question.

His answer was Wisconin's Jon Leuer.

"He's really good," Wright said. "Maybe I haven't followed him as well because he's from the Midwest, and maybe he wouldn't surprise anybody else. But he's got great size, he puts it on the floor, he passes it, he can shoot it. He's just a ballplayer."

An NBA ballplayer?

"Yes," Wright answered.

Moments later, I told Leuer that Wright was raving about him.

"Really?" Leuer said. "That's a good guy to get a compliment from."

Ryan part of John Wooden tribute

Of the many tributes to the late John Wooden, CollegeChalkTalk.com may have come up with the best and most fitting. The legendary UCLA coach passed away on June 4 and the site recruited some of the game's top coaches and former UCLA players to write about one of the blocks on Wooden's famed Pyramid of Success.

Wooden's Pyramid of Success contains 15 philosophical building blocks for winning at basketball and at life. CollegeChalkTalk.com enlisted coaches like Bo Ryan, Steve Lavin (St. John's), Phil Martelli (Saint Joseph's), Tubby Smith (Minnesota), Rick Barnes (Texas), Tom Izzo (Michigan State) and Ben Howland (UCLA), along with players like Bobby Hurley and Kevin Love to discuss one of the pyramid topics.

Wisconsin's Ryan addressed the building block titled "Team Spirit" and offered the following commentary:

One of the many things I admired about Coach Wooden's teams was that everyone on the team, one through 15, seemed to be involved, yet understood his individual role.  His teams were the ultimate esprit de corps and I have tried to emulate that spirit with my teams.

As Coach Wooden once said, "Team spirit means you are willing to sacrifice personal considerations for the welfare of all."

True team spirit exists when guys on the bench live through the guys on the floor, knowing that they've been a part of getting to this moment.  Everyone involved in the program knows that the actions on the floor and the success of a team are a direct result of group preparation and involvement.  The value of the experience comes from the efforts.

At Wisconsin we always talk about everything being geared toward team goals and a team championship.

Our energy is always focused on what is coming next.  Coming together as a cohesive group and fortifying strengths. Success is shared by all and blame is spread across everyone's shoulders.

NBA Summer League Recap - July 19

• NBA Summer League Main Page   |   Standings  |   Statistics

The 2010 NBA Summer League is in the books with the final games wrapping up on Sunday. The five Badgers playing in the league may not have posted gaudy numbers, but all were consistent contributors on some of the league's top teams.

Here is a breakdown of each of the former UW stars now donning the NBA logo:

Marcus Landry - Indiana Pacers/New York Knicks
Landry had a productive summer, playing for both the Pacers and Knicks during Summer League action. With Indiana (3-2) in the Orlando League, Landry saw duty in four contests, averaging 14.5 minutes per game. Highlighted by a nine-point, five-rebound game vs. Boston (July 9), Landry averaged 7.3 points, 3.0 boards, 1.5 assists and 0.8 steals.

Playing for the Knicks (3-2) in the Las Vegas League, Landry again appeared in four games, upping his numbers to 8.3 points per game in 12.8 minutes. A key figure in New York's 3-2 record, Landry also averaged 2.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks per game.

Trevon Hughes - Houston Rockets
Back-up point guard Trevon Hughes showed the Rockets (3-2) that when given the opportunity, he still knows how to score. Hughes appeared in four games, but saw more than 10 minutes of playing time just once, filling up the box score with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals in 17 minutes of Houston's 100-91 loss to Toronto. Overall, Hughes averaged 2.5 points, 1.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 steal per game.

Greg Stiemsma - Minnesota Timberwolves
Former Badger big man Greg Stiemsma appeared in all five contests, playing 13.8 minutes per game for the Minnesota Timberwolves (1-4). He may have averaged only 0.6 points per game, but he flashed his rebounding and defensive prowess Wisconsin fans have come to love. The Class of 2008 Badger averaged 2.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

Joe Krabbenhoft - Portland Trailblazers
Krabbenhoft averaged 9.0 minutes per game for the 4-1 Blazers. The 2009 Wisconsin graduate grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes of action in Portland's league-finale win over Chicago on Sunday. For the week, Krabbenhoft appeared in all five of the Blazers' games and finished with per game averages of 1.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists and 0.6 steals.

Brian Butch - Denver Nuggets
Butch's season was cut short by a knee injury, but his Nuggets went on to finish the league with a 4-1 mark. Butch started the first two games - both Denver wins - averaging 7.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 0.5 steals per game.

Butch underwent successful surgery on Tuesday, July 13 and has begun his rehabilitation in Denver.

The next step for these former Badgers will be to hope for an invitation to an NBA training camp, which begin in late September.

Butch injured as he and Hughes make NBA Summer League debuts

The NBA Summer League has begun in Las Vegas and two of the league's five former Badgers have suited up in the early going. Through the first two days of competition, the results as far as UW fans are concerned are mostly disappointing. Here are the notables:

MOST CRUSHING DEVELOPMENT: After starting the first two games and performing well for the Nuggets, C Brian Butch suffered a crushing injury that could keep him off the court for quite some time. Butch was taken off the court on a stretcher Saturday night after injuring his left knee. The Nuggets released the following statement:

Nuggets C Brian Butch dislocated his left patella during the third quarter of today's 92-74 summer league win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Butch will return to Denver on Monday and will be examined by Nuggets Team Physician, Dr. Steve Traina.

On Friday, Butch scored 8 points and grabbed 4 boards while adding a block and a steal in 20 minutes of Denver's 88-70 win over Dallas. Prior to the injury on Saturday, Butch tallied 6 points, 8 rebounds and two blocks in 14 minutes on the Nuggets 92-74 win over the Lakers.

GETTING HIS FEET WET: In his first action as a professional, Rockets rookie Trevon Hughes dished out 2 assists in 5 minutes of Friday's 100-82 win over Phoenix. He did not get in during Houston's 87-78 win over Dallas on Saturday.

UP NEXT: Marcus Landry and the Knicks begin their season Sunday when they take on the Butch-less Nuggets at 3 p.m. on NBA TV. Joe Krabbenhoft also looks to get his first action Sunday as his Blazers tangle with Trevon Hughes and the Rockets at 5 p.m. on NBA TV.

Complete UW in NBA Summer League schedule/info

M... is for Morley and MVP

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Wisconsin alum Michael Finley and the Boston Celtics tipped off the NBA Finals Thursday in Los Angeles, but several time zones East, fellow Badger Zach Morley is collecting his own hardware.

2009-10 MVP.jpgPlaying for Autocid Ford Burgos in Spain, Morley was named the 2009-10 LEB Gold Spanish League MVP while leading his team to the league championship series.

Morley's Burgos team holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five games championship series against Vive Menorca. Burgos will look to close out the series with a home win Friday night. If necessary, game five would be played Sunday.

Morley averaged 15.1 points per game this season while shooting over 52 percent from the field. The 2005 UW alum also posted averages of 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.8 blocks and made a living at the free throw line, converting 81.1 percent of his attempts.

Overall, Morley topped 20 points in 11 games this season, including a season-high 30 points with eight rebounds in a Dec. 11, 2009 win over Clin.Rincon.

Morley has been playing professionally overseas since leaving Wisconsin after the 2004-05 season. In two years with the Badgers, Morley averaged 8.1 points, 5.3 rebounds 1.7 assists and 0.9 steals in 65 career games.

Trevon Hughes' NBA journey starts with Bucks

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Hughes_Penney_Bucks.jpgTrevon Hughes didn't have to travel far for his first steps into the NBA waters. Hughes was one of 12 NBA-eligible players invited to the Milwaukee Bucks first pre-draft workout at the Bucks Training Center Monday.

Hughes and the other prospects were put through several drills as well as live action competitive situations in front of scouts and Bucks executives.

"I think it went pretty well," Hughes told reporters after the session. "We ran up and down. We played one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three with some shooting drills. I felt good about it."

Other notable invitees to the Bucks' pre-draft workout included: Craig Brackins (Iowa State), Jerome Randle (Cal), Samardo Samuels (Louisville), Derrick Caracter (UTEP), Trevor Booker (Clemson) and Jerry Smith (Louisville).

When asked about the prospects of potentially staying in Wisconsin for his professional career, Hughes admitted that it would be a great fit.

"I went to high school out here. I went to college out here. The best way to end it is to stay, right?"

Hughes also said Monday that he has three more workouts scheduled with NBA teams and more could follow. The NBA draft is June 24.

Coincidentally, former Badger Kirk Penney was also in attendance Monday as he is using the Bucks facility to train. Here are the comments Hughes and Bucks Assistant General Manager Jeff Weltman after the workout:

Jeff Weltman - Assistant General Manager

On Trevon Hughes...
"Trevon worked really hard today and we were happy to have him in as a local kid in our first visit. We thought that was good for him and good for us. He'll get his chance to show his talents to a lot of teams because he's a very competitive player."
 
On the positives about Hughes...
"We like his toughness and competitiveness and he got better every year and he's a winner. We were eager to have him in and he's a guy we've liked for a while."
 
Trevon Hughes

On the workout...
"I didn't know what to expect. That's what I was anxious for, to come in here and show them what I've got."
 
On how the session went...
"I think it went pretty well. We ran up and down. We played one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three with some shooting drills. I felt good about it."
 
On his expectations...
"I don't have any expectations. I just want to workout to the best of my ability, show them my athleticism and take it from there."
 
On how many workouts he has planned...
"I have about three more right now that are scheduled. More to come, I'm pretty sure. Right now it's a dead-week with the NBA pre-draft camp coming up on Wednesday."
 
On what he needs to work on...
"Developing a more consistent jump shot. I can shoot it but the (3-point) line is further back. (I'll) keep working out there and make better decisions offensively and in the one-on-one game, because it's not like high school and college anymore. There's more one-on-one in the NBA."
 
On how his experience with Wisconsin prepared him for the next level...
"Playing at Wisconsin taught me how to play a slow-paced game in a half-court, offensive setting, ball screens and getting everyone involved. (Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan) was big on that because he was a guard in college."
 
On if he wants to be a Buck...
"Definitely. I went to high school out here. I went to college out here. The best way to end it is to stay, right?"
 
On how much his intangibles help...
"Just being vocal out here (helps). Everybody is competing with one another but at the same time everybody wants some feedback so they can get through the workout. So when you see somebody struggling, be that vocal leader. Or sometimes lead by example, be the first one." 

NUGGETS SIGN BRIAN BUTCH

Butch_Brian_ILL_0506_2.jpgThe Denver Nuggets have signed former Badger Brian Butch, team Vice President of Basketball Operations Mark Warkentien announced over the weekend.

Butch (6-11, 240) averaged 17.7 ppg and 11.9 rpg in 39 games for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League this season. The Wisconsin product also was named MVP of the 2010 NBDL All-Star game after scoring 18 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

A native of Appleton, Wis., Butch earned consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors as a senior in 2008. For his career, he is one of just eight players in UW history with at least 1,000 points and 600 rebounds. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, he earned his undergraduate degree from UW in May of 2007.

Read Brian's final blog entry from his stint in the D-League

Wisconsin now has three players in the NBA, including Michael Finley (Celtics) and Devin Harris (Nets). Marcus Landry was waived by the Boston Celtics, just four days after being re-signed on April 5th.

Hughes continues NBA audition tour

Hughes_Trevon_12_2_09d.JPGFresh off an impressive showing (12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 0 turnovers) in the College All-Star Game at the Final Four, Wisconsin senior Trevon Hughes is on to the next round of NBA auditions.

Hughes left Madison on Tuesday to compete in front of NBA scouts at the 2010 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (P.I.T.). Each year for 57 years the P.I.T has invited 64 of the best college basketball seniors from across the nation to participate in a four-day, twelve-game tournament in front of representatives from every NBA team.

Hughes and Team K&D Rounds Landscaping will begin their tournament schedule Wednesday at 8 p.m. (CT).  Hughes is teamed with, among others: Ryan Wittman (Cornell), Deon Thompson (North Carolina), Jason Love (Xavier) and Donald Sloan (Texas A&M). Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan has familiarity with Thompson, having coached him last summer in the World University Games.

Hughes is one of just four Big Ten players invited to the P.I.T., including Raymar Morgan (Michigan State), DeShawn Sims (Michigan) and Lawrence Westbrook (Minnesota). Hughes also joins fellow Wisconsin alums who have recently competed in the P.I.T. like Marcus Landry (2009), Brian Butch (2008), Kammron Taylor (2007) and Kirk Penney (2003).

Penney dominating D-League, including a 40-point night

Penney_Kirk_2008.jpgIn just four games with the NBA Development League's Sioux Falls Sky Force, Kirk Penney is feeling right at home. The former Badger star and New Zealand standout is averaging 23.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists thus far. Penney is also shooting .583 from the field and a scorching .529 (9-of-17) from 3-point range.

Penney scored 31 points in his second game with the Sky Force, a 113-104 win over Springfield on March 27. The 6-5 guard then topped that effort with a 40-point performance in a 123-110 win over Bakersfield on April 2. Penney played 44 minutes in that game, connecting on 16 of 23 shots, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. He also added eight rebounds and two assists in the win.

The Sky Force (32-18) are 4-0 since Penney joined former Badgers Greg Stiemsma and Joe Krabbenhoft on the roster.

Kirk Penney NBDL highlights
ON WISCONSIN