A new NCAA rule allows college coaches to conduct work outs with their teams for two hours per week during the summer. You can read more about the change in tomorrow's paper. For now, here are some observations from practice this morning ... which started at 6:45 a.m. I added that last point in hopes my boss will read this blog entry and be tricked into thinking I'm working hard.
-Transfer J.D. Weatherspoon is at OSU finishing up summer classes. He'll arrive at UT in the fall. His is the only absence.
-Reece Holliday is in the process of shedding a few pounds. It appears he's already dropped five or so. Coaches want him to play small forward (he was a hybrid last year, switching between both forward spots) so he can back up Pearson. The transfer of Curtis Dennis to Iona opens a void at the 3.
-Pearson is making a concerted effort to improve his shooting range, switching to somewhat of a set shot where his feet barely leave the floor. He made just eight 3-pointers last season. Based on a small viewing today, I'd say he still has work to do. He did knock down a handful of 3s though.
-Walk-on forward James Ewing did some decent things today. I'm not advocating increased playing time for him, not yet anyway, but he does look better.
-As for the three freshmen, all of them looked solid going up against their veteran teammates. You saw some good moments and some moments that reminded you that they graduated from high school only a month ago. Guard Josh Lemons is capable of playing good defense in the MAC, coach Kowalczyk said, but he needs to refine his offensive game. Forward Aubrey Williams, who recently turned 17, has added 20 pounds and showed some decent skill around the basket. The most impressive freshman, in my opinion, is center Nathan Boothe. He's down to 240 pounds, dropping 30 in the last year, and moves well. He has touch from the outside, works well off of screens, and is polished around the basket. I think he's going to be a good one.
-Richard Wonnell (ankle) did not participate. He suffered the injury on vacation, attempting to jump over a picnic table. "Typical Richard," Kowalczyk said, smiling.
-Kowalczyk spent much of the morning helping transfer Justin Drummond with his shot. Drummond is a good athlete and a good scorer, but not a great shooter. He made just 25 percent of his 3s last year at Loyola Maryland, but Kowalczyk thinks that number can grow to 40 percent. I didn't pay much attention to Drummond, focusing instead on the freshmen, but he has a nice physique and moves well.
-A couple of late thoughts on the 2013 recruiting class, as I was on vacation when they committed. This was a huge get for UT, and one I don't think happens without last year's 15-game turnaround. Jordan Lauf, Zach Garber, and Jon Jon Williams were all high on UT's radar. These guys turned down offers from the best programs in the MAC to play at UT. Realistically, I'm not sure this class could look any better for UT than it does.