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John Fanta, Fox Sports College Basketball Analyst

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
June 19, 2023 10:10 pm

John Fanta, Fox Sports College Basketball Analyst

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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June 19, 2023 10:10 pm

John Fanta joined Zach to preview the NBA Draft and discuss if either the Hornets or Trail Blazers should trade their pick for Zion Williamson. 

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Stop by the Pepsi Display at your local Walmart to find out how you can win. John, appreciate the time as always. How you been? Doing great, Zach. It's great to be with you on a Monday night as NCAA draft week begins, following a more than dramatic weekend in the sport of college basketball in June.

That wasn't exactly expected. Always good to talk with you, my friend. Yeah, you've covered the sport for a long time. I know you know all these coaches. When you see what has transpired the last month with Bob Huggins and now he's resigned as the head coach of West Virginia, just how did you react to that? Well, it felt like waking up Saturday morning and reading that Huggins was arrested for a DUI, that it was well beyond repair for him.

And I think that one thing that should get brought up here is, and I don't know if people realize this, and Zach, this is why to me it's so startling. It's so eye-opening to see this be the end for Bob Huggins is that I've been told by multiple people that Bob Huggins was strongly considering retiring after this upcoming season, if not the following. And that decision had nothing to do with the things that had gone on in the previous six weeks. This is a guy who didn't have much longer in him. This is a guy who's been around the block. This is a guy who's the hall of Famer who you don't win 935 career games in the sport of college basketball and be dumb. And what we just watched in the last six weeks was a guy who was going on 70 years of age, 70 years of age, make two absolutely enormous mistakes, two mistakes in a row. One, the first one, the derogatory comments on a Cincinnati radio station. There's 95% of people employed would have lost their job over that.

And rightfully so. Bob Huggins is a privileged percentile of people who actually lived through that and kept their job. And then to follow that up, follow that up with this on Friday night, be pulled over for drunk driving in Pittsburgh, not knowing where he was, he thought he was in Columbus, Ohio, not knowing how he even got there. It's an all time downfall for a college coach in sports history.

And I have no sympathy for Bob Huggins. If he has a drinking problem, which I don't know if he doesn't, I went to DUI back in 2004. I hope he gets the help that he needs, but you make all this money, get an Uber. If you're drinking and you need to get in a car to go somewhere, it's so simple now. Get on your phone and get an Uber. An Uber, get an Uber, but have a driver. Yeah, that too. Have a driver.

How do you not have a driver? It's a great point. And we've heard, most in the college basketball world have heard the stories that, Oh, Bob never has to pay for a cab in West Virginia. Bob never has to look a finger out there and all that. And obviously this didn't happen in Morgantown.

God only knows, we might've never found out about it. If, if, if this happened locally, it wasn't acceptable there. It's not acceptable in Pittsburgh. It's not acceptable anywhere in the country, his behavior, his behavior and what he did. You are supposed to be a leader of young men and, and I'm not, I'm not going to take away where Bob Huggins is in the record book.

Not going to take that away at all. I mean, he, he's a winning coach in college basketball. He's in, he's in the hall of fame. There are people who are good people, bad people in debt, whatever you, however you feel that are hall of fame coaches.

Yeah. He's a hall of Famer. He's a hall of Famer who will unfortunately be defined by a group of people for how it ended, because that's our world and how it ended was an absolute disaster, shocking, startling, eyebrow raising, because Zach, I think my thing is look at all the good that that guy did.

And also look at the different places he was employed by. Also, how many times that y'all do we see somebody who makes a major mistake, but America have second chances in 2004, Bob Huggins got pulled over for drunk driving. It led to his accident in Cincinnati. He became one of the most beloved figures in college basketball. He made the same mistake twice.

And he did the one thing that we all, we are, if you live in a divided society, we all know that if there's one thing that this society could agree upon, it's that you can drink and drive, man. And then when he asked the blame is himself talking to John Fanta right now, you look at the future for who's going to be the next coach at West Virginia. Do you think they'll have a full-time coach by the start of basketball season that they will say that's the guy moving forward? How attractive is that job? How do you look at the West Virginia job right now?

Very attractive job. I think it's a top 30, if not top 25 job in college basketball. Here's why their name image and likeness is at a pro level.

Why? Because they play their games in Morgantown, West Virginia, Zach. It's not like the money's going to somebody else. It's going to go to their college football and college basketball programs. And the ways that things operate in West Virginia, the state legislation, the sort of openness of that state and the openness of the university and the way that they're doing it, they are as good as anybody in NIL at this moment.

Yes, West Virginia University. I mean, they're giving their transfers. They brought in Jesse Edwards from Syracuse. They brought in Kirk Grayson from Arizona. Both guys are getting humongous amounts of money.

I mean, six figures and it's into the six figures. So those guys are getting taken care of. West Virginia's got great NIL. They compete in the best basketball conference in the country, the Big 12, which by all accounts, the Big 12 is going to continue to not only grow, but get better in basketball. They're already bringing in Houston. Kelvin Sampson and his program have been in the top 10 in the country year in year out. Cincinnati can get back on the map.

He will use a great program. And oh, by the way, the Big 12 is strongly pursuing Colorado, Arizona, if not more. West Virginia is in a great basketball league. They have an amazing fan base. They've got tradition.

They wanted a very high level. I personally, this is my opinion. I don't think you should pigeonhole yourself and pursue, pursue, pursue a coach because my opinion is this West Virginia could do better by having an interim for this season, swallowing their lumps and going after a superstar next spring or a guy perceived to be a superstar. Anyway, by having a search in June, let's face it. You're going to have some guys that might be interested in the job this time next year who just can't stop it.

There's just some guys who cannot stomach recruiting a team to their respective school and then saying, you know what? I'm out. Book it.

Goodbye. There are a couple of guys I would look at. Andy Kennedy is a guy at UAB. He's had a lot of success throughout his career. He's got West Virginia ties. Jared Calhoun has done a great job at Youngstown State. He's a guy that's been rumored.

Richie McKay at Liberty. Could we see John Beeline make a return to the college ranks? I've heard John Beeline's interested in getting back into college coaching. Could he be a temporary option this season? If you get a John Beeline, he certainly could keep the team together. But West Virginia assistant coach Ron Everhart is thought to be a guy who could maybe serve as an interim and look out for Northwest Missouri State Ben McCollum, four-time national champion at the D2 level, has very close ties with West Virginia athletics director Ren Baker. This is going to be a highly desired job.

More highly desired than people might understand. It's my opinion though, Zach. Don't just go, go, go and get who you think is a permanent option. Because in my opinion, West Virginia could do better by swallowing some lumps right now and just waiting the eight months and potentially getting a superstar. Because guess what? You're going to need a superstar in the Big 12 where you've got to go up against Kelvin Samson, Bill Seldt, Scott Drew and others.

And I don't think that's the worst thing in the world. Now just because you have a guy on an interim basis and he has success doesn't mean you have to bring him back. But like, look what happened with Texas. Who would have thought Rodney Terry would have ended up sticking around and being able to keep that job? Very, very well said. By the way, by the way, look, look at what has happened with Texas. And just saying, but look at the fact that that Chris Beard is actually employed.

It's that to me, I don't want to get preachy to you on a Monday night. But if that doesn't sum up our world within months of, of, you know, domestic dispute, all men tires, Chris Beard, that just shows you like, Bob Huggins, I'll be honest with you, Zach, had he just found the DUI? And he just found the DUI. I think he's still the coach of West Virginia tonight. I think they give him a suspension and he comes back with coaches. He did so much wrong in a matter of six weeks.

Those derogatory comments meant a any more funny business or anything else out of you and you're gone. John Fanta here with us get into the draft on Thursday. We all know where the hype is that for Victor one, Binyama, you're number one. What are your expectations with them for the San Antonio Spurs? playoffs, contention right away. I expect them to be in the play in tournament next spring.

You know, I think they'll be right around there. I think in three or four years, we could be talking about him as the most talented player in the league. I'm not going to sit here right now and say he comes in the league and he's the best player in the league.

I think that's unfair. I think he'll be one of the most unique talents. He's a guy that once he figures this stuff out, cause it takes time. You got to figure out the NBA and God's neck. I hope he stays healthy. Uh, we're basketball fans.

You and I are sports fans. I want to see some guy at seven foot four with an eight foot wingspan and go through what Chet Holmgren went through this time last year. And there are some concerns about how does a bot, we have never seen a body like this in the NBA, sustain, endure, go through the 82 game marathon. Not that we're seeing superstars go through the 82 game marathon to begin with nowadays, but I'll be very interested to see that. And I, I do think being in San Antonio helps him because great Papa bitch is as good as they come. I think that this will re-energize pop in his career. I thought, I think he was giving thoughts to retirement and the not too distant future.

Now his, his window just opened up to do what I believe is possible with Victor. And that is, and then three to four years of this organization is run correctly. I'll say three. I think after two seasons heading into year three, I think heading into his third year, we will legitimately talk about the San Antonio Spurs as a team that could conceivably be a Western conference championship type of team. Think about their core.

They've been setting up for this. Keldon Johnson, 23. Devin Vassal, 22. Trey Jones, 23. Malakai Brandon, who I think's only scratched the surface, 20. Jeremy Sohan, who's a super freak athletically. His length and versatility is what stands out to me. He's 19 years old.

He's 19. They've got all this core. They've got a supporting cast.

It's only going to get better. They just got a centerpiece to their organization who is generational. And that's why Thursday night at the top, it's going to be a historic moment in NBA history. Who do you think ends up being the second pick a month ago? I would've said Brandon Miller. Now I look at mock drafts and I see a few different names there.

Yeah. So I put out my mock draft here tonight over at and in it, I have Scoot Henderson at number two. I think the fact that he is at the age of 19 to score the basketball the way that he did in G league ignite. And if you're out there and you say, Oh, I don't know about G league ignite. You know, I I'm more familiar with the college game.

I've watched these guys. I understand what you're saying, but I can tell you right now that ignite program, the NBA knows what it's doing and you're going to see Jalen green have success in Houston. As time goes along, you're going to see Scoot Henderson be able to, to be the alpha guard for a team who can score the basketball at three levels. He is quick. He is explosive in his abilities. And he has major upside that I don't think has a, any sort of definition to what that upside is to average 16, five assists, five rebounds in two years with ignited 18 and 19 years of age to have a six foot nine wingspan and unbelievable hot. And when he did face one, but yeah, he wasn't afraid of the moment.

No, he took on the stage and put up 28 points, nine assists and five rebounds in that national TV spotlight and being around him. And I've spent time around both of them. I spent about an hour with students, Chicago during timeline week. And I actually did two of his games the year before that was ignite.

And did that go? Anderson has matured beyond belief the way that the kid has come along in just 18 months is fantastic. This is the guy who he runs a training facility in Georgia. He is a community guy.

Um, this matters to me. I mean, it's a guy who does local food drives in Georgia for his community, uh, gives out different things to different underprivileged family re reads their letters around the holiday season and picks a select group of families that he feels are the most deserving of those things. So he is a world-class individual. I think it's, he's a really, really special talent and I think he's only scratched the surface with a terrific upside. I think that the Hornets it's in their best interest to pick him. Uh, and I say that because Brendan Miller, I like, but I am genuinely concerned about a guy who really struggled in the final month of, of this past season.

And it is one season of college basketball. I'm not going to overreact, but he really struggled to be a shot maker and to be a to be a perimeter player. He is jumper really struggled.

And I, I would say, well, it was like two or three games back, but it turned into really that last month of the season where he, he really didn't have much feel out there. And in the NBA, you could be of great positional size and that's the biggest need. And that's the argument for why Charlotte should do it. I don't want to hear, but one thing I don't like about Thursday night and I hope Charlotte doesn't take this approach. Don't pick Brandon Miller because he's a better fit.

Um, and it fits with Lamela ball better. And I think that's, that's what, that's what Charlotte is battling, battling heading into Thursday is do we pick the best fit or do we pick the best talent? There's no way the Hornets can lose Thursday night with who they pick, but make no mistake about it. If you've got the number two pick in the NBA draft, if you're a talent evaluator, don't sacrifice up because you think that Lamela ball and it's going to play better together with Brandon Miller. If scoot Henderson's the best overall talent, which in my opinion, he is, you pick him at number two and build your future around him. Not because Lamela ball's going to play better with Miller, John Fanta, if you're Charlotte or if you are Portland and the pelicans call you up and they say, we'll give you Zion for the two or three pick. Do either of those teams end up doing that?

I, I think the phone, hang up the phone. If, if one of those two teams does that, I think it'd be idiotic. Just to be honest, I, I don't trust the future for Zion Williamson. Uh, I don't think that, that he, uh, presents the same kind of upside that those guys that I just mentioned could, I wouldn't do it that I think that there's major concerns around science. Uh, I, I just don't think that he's a guy that is going to be the number one option, uh, on a team that can win a championship.

I do believe that's good. Henderson could be that. And I think that with some mold and Brandon Miller could be that for me, uh, I don't trust it. There's a reason there's reason why you're shopping Zion Williamson. It's the number two or number three in the draft.

Why are you buying that when someone's selling it, not in this draft class, I wouldn't do it. When you take a look, John Fanta, we know the three most talked about players when Binyama, Henderson and Miller, like we've been talking about who are the next two players that you're like the most. I love on and Thompson, uh, of, of overtime elite.

I know that the common fan hasn't watched on men play. His first step is absolutely ridiculous sack. Uh, I'm in Thompson is most explosive pure athlete in this class. The pathway to the NBA might be unorthodox, but to have the ball handling ability to make almost 80% of his shots at the, this past year, when he was with OT, the defense capabilities are terrific because it, he is super athletic at around six foot seven with a wingspan that is crazy. Uh, and I think that if he falls to four and it's not a guarantee falls to four, we could see some drama in this draft at the top of it. Okay. I'm in Thompson's winning a lot of people over because he's got mine. He's a point guard.

Yeah. He could play the point guard position if you want it to. And he's shown some potential to be a shot maker, but it needs work.

It does. But we've seen guys like this be able to work with somebody and evolve that shot. So I'm, I'm firmly set on element constant. I'm going to give you two other guys to look out for pace and Wallace of Kentucky. It's just, he's just a hooper. He is, he's a floor general. He's got a great, a fuzz, I thought it says him, he's got terrific strength. And I think that he could be a guy that actually falls into the double digits in this trap, but he shouldn't, he's the guy that you should trust because he plays his tail off and he is, he is ready to go as a defender. He might be a little bit undersized, but he makes up for it with how hard he plays. Another guy that I think played college best bought a high level is getting totally discounted because of his age, but should not is Jaime hot guys out of UCLA. That guy has made every single winning play for Mick Cronin and the UCLA Bruins over the last four years. Look at what UCLA was before hot guys got to campus.

Look at what Mick Cronin says about hot. Cronin called Hawk as the best fundamental all around player that he's ever had. Nick Cronin has coached countless big time players. UCLA doesn't get to a final four and three sweet 16th without timing over the last four years. He was invaluable to UCLA. I think he's going to be invaluable to an NBA team because he understands what it takes to play team basketball and a third guy to watch out for Thursday night, Derek lively, the Duke product.

Where does he land? There's not a ton of great digs in this class. I think lively could go as high as number 10 to a team that potentially frayed with the Mavericks.

I think you can go low as low as 20. Whoever gets them is getting a guy that by the end of this past season was the best shop locker in college hoops. Let me just ask you this, a guy like Jaime Hawk, as you hear nothing about leading into this draft, do you think that could change a little bit with what Jalen Brunson was able to do? Because you heard nothing about Brunson leading into that draft. I hope it does.

I hope it does. But we sometimes with the draft, we get so enamored with all the upside, all the explosiveness, the athleticism, like Zach, sometimes there are guys and there's a couple of that I'm a little bit skeptical on. You know, I'll be honest with you as we get close to the draft. I'm not exactly sure about Jed Howard out of Michigan. I don't know exactly how he's going to pan out. I don't know how Nick Smith out of Arkansas is going to pan out. He surged late this past year, but he was out for the majority of the season.

He dealt with injuries. You know, he's getting more talked about than a Jaime Hockes or even than a Chris Murray out of Iowa because people just say, oh, he stayed in college. And you know, I don't like that he's 21 or 22. So why when a good NBA player's career ends, do we say, oh, you know, he only played 13 years. He didn't play 15. The age argument to me is a dumb one.

I just, I don't like it. If you know how to hope and you know how to win and you can be really good for an organization over 10 years, that's not very common anymore. And also there's a very select number of guys who could do that. So sometimes we look at it, it's like, well, you know, if I'm a team in the lottery, I got to get a guy who I think could be the next star. And that leads to, I'd like a Brunson, uh, guys like a, uh, Josh Hart, you know, was like, Mike guys that ended up falling in the draft. And it's like they, Christian Brown won a ton of games in Kansas and help them win a national championship. And look what you just did in the NBA finals. It doesn't take you more than one hand to identify the rookies who made an impact on winning teams this past year, Keegan Murray being another, you know what the time the trade is between Christian Brown and Keegan Murray. They won off crap time of college basketball games, but apparently sometimes that goes unnoticed over the guy who, well, um, might just be an explosive athlete or have this unlimited upside. If you follow the winning, as much as we follow the money in the NBA draft, follow the winning. And that's why there's some winning organizations who will get winning college players. And guess what? In a shocking turn of events, those guys will contribute to winning at the NBA level. The great John Phantom, make sure you check him out college basketball on Fox, big East, and also the field the 68 at John underscore Fanta on Twitter. I can talk to you for about three more hours, John, but then my producers will probably fire me that get up. You're the bad thing.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-20 01:08:08 / 2023-06-20 01:18:19 / 10

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