Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Salute to Jennings

Today's Calls: Brandon Jennings vs. the NCAA/NBA, Rich Harden vs. CC Sabathia, Ryan Dempster vs. Justin Duscherer, Michael Beasley vs. Kevin Durant, Elton Brand vs. Corey Maggette, Tony Stewart vs. Joe Gibbs and More! ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Brandon Jennings, I salute you. ↵

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↵Unfairly hazed by a college basketball system out to exploit him for a season before he turns pro and locked out by a pro basketball system that unfairly mandates he wait a year before they exploit him, Jennings is opting out of the whole thing. ↵

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↵The super-stud prep PG will show the ultimate in leadership and opt for a one-year exile in Europe, rather than play the game dictated by the NCAA/NBA cabal. ↵

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↵Nevermind that if Jennings was in the NBA Draft -- the 2008 NBA Draft, mind you -- he would have been a lock 1st-round pick, perhaps even top 10. ↵

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↵Nevermind that the system of college coaches, NBA scouts and mainstream pundits will rush to crush him for doing exactly what he should be doing. ↵

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↵Ironically, the least cynical actor in all of this is the kid. ↵

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↵Everyone has ulterior motives in this; at least his are transparent: His goal is to play professionally -- and the NBA undoubtedly wants him -- but the system won't allow him access to it. ↵

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↵Would I have gone to Europe if I were him? No: I would have signed a shoe deal (plus sold the rights to my story) and used that to finance a maniacal domestic training regimen, entirely geared around preparing myself for the 2009 NBA Draft, then becoming the most NBA-ready player in the class. I would create a template for any top prep to do this. ↵

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↵I hope this sets a new trend, next year and beyond: I hope that the other half-dozen or so high school seniors with obvious NBA futures opt out of the nuisance of the college basketball system to use their "one-and-done" year to focus on training for their NBA careers. ↵

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↵I hope that the NBA changes its policy, if not to unwind the age-limit (they never will) then at least allow/encourage preps to jump straight to an exclusive one-year NBA development program, through the D-League. ↵

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↵In this game of 1-on-2, Brandon Jennings wins. ↵

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↵MLB Midseason Pennant Race Insanity! The Cubs say: I'll see your C.C. and raise you a Rich. If Harden can stay healthy, the Cubs have a top-line pitcher every bit as potentially ace-ish as the Brewers got in Sabathia. Think these teams are desperate to win this year or what? ↵

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↵More MLB Instant History: C.C. Sabathia for NL Cy! ... The Cubs should make sure that Ryan Dempster pitches exclusively at Wrigley. ... Geovany Soto the NL All-Star starting C for the next decade? Not if Brian McCann (2 HR) has anything to say about it. ... Who needs Harden, with Justin Duchscherer pitching as well as anyone in the league right now. ... So the Rays can sweep the Red Sox, but Tampa gets blanked by the Yanks?... Is the Tim Lincecum magic wearing thin? ↵

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↵NBA Free Agency: Sixers land Elton Brand, instantly upgrading Philly into a playoff lock in the East. Presuming (always "presuming") Brand is healthy, he is one of the East's top post players. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, the Warriors -- presumably freaked by the evaporating free-agent pool and freaked by their appropriately restless fan base -- signed Corey "MLE" Maggette to a 5-year deal. ↵

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↵NBA Summer League: On second thought, Michael Beasley kind of sucks.* He scored 9 points on 1/13 FG shooting, with 7 fouls called against him. I'm sure he'll rebound, but -- geez, man! ↵

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↵Meanwhile, let's focus on Mario Chalmers: 19 points and 9 assists. See, Beasley? Now THAT is consistency! "The Superintendent" (because that SO needs to be his nickname) is going to be a rookie gem. ↵

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↵(* - "Sucks" is obviously a joke, playing off yesterday's "OMG, Beaz rules!!!" meme.) ↵

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↵Didn't expect to see Kevin Durant suiting up for OKC's summer team, but he did, scoring 22 in 28 minutes and leading the Nameless to a win over the league host Magic. ↵

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↵NASCAR: What is Tony Stewart going to announce today about his relationship with Gibbs Racing? My money (and presumably Tony's) is on a defection. ↵

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↵NFL: Michael Vick files for bankruptcy. Of course he did. ↵

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↵Favre Watch: I love how team honcho Ted Thompson is handling this whole thing so maturely -- by ignoring Brett Favre's text-messages, like they are bit players on "Gossip Girl." Yes, Ted, THAT is the way to endear yourself with Packers fans when you inevitably let Favre go and he un-retires with another team. ↵

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↵The Last Word: The Sonics are gone. The team's nickname has been removed from the team's Web site on NBA.com. ↵

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↵Now, the question is: What's the new name? ↵

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↵Outlaws? OK'ers? Carpet-baggers? Super-Soul-Suckers? ↵

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↵Memo to Clay Bennett: Your team needs a name. Sooner rather than later. (But, um, no, you can't use "Sooner.") ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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