RT @DraftExpress2: Brandon Jennings’s Roma contract was for a guaranteed $1M over 3 years, but he netted over $1M in his 1 year there thank…
What’s former American high school baller-turned-Lottomatica Roma pro Brandon Jennings during his summer break now that his Milwaukee Bucks have been bounced from the NBA playoffs? Hanging out in India, of course!
Jennings is today scheduled to attend the NBA/Junior WNBA National Skills Challenge Finals, “culmination of the largest school-based initiative ever conducted by the NBA in India.” Indeed, the project cosponsored by HP involved clinics for some 500 Indian coaches and the teaching of “basketball and life skills” to schoolchildren in five cities.
The big league’s official ‘site notes that Jennings will be doing some basketball/life skills work in Mumbai tomorrow and Pune thereafter. In fact, NBA gives the Buck another accolade for his young career, noting that Jennings “will become the first NBA player to host an event in [Pune].”
Good morning! So without further ado, here’s a roundup of some recent stories relating the Europe, basketball, and European basketball.
• What is the Euro Step? It’s The Continent’s contribution to NBA basketball! Here’s a great story on how a European technique – Sarunas Marciulionis is credited with its introduction to American hoops – has been adopted by the likes of Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and John Wall.
• As though the prospect of an NBA lockout in 2011 weren’t bad enough, is the 2013 Eurobasket tournament itself now in danger as well? According to the Associated Press:
“The cash-strapped Slovenian government has delayed a decision on whether to support the country’s bid to host the 2013 European basketball championship.
“The government is expected to pay governing body FIBA €6.5 million for the hosting rights.
Throughout Brandon Jennings’ outstanding debut season in the NBA, the first reaction among American audiences was one of high surprise enough to raise the question “Why was this guy drafted so low?”
After letting the B.J. effect sink in and watching the Milwaukee Bucks inexorable rise to contending playoff team, the question – especially as posed to BallinEurope – morphed into “How much did playing in Europe help this guy?”
Today, thanks to an interview with the former Lottomatica Roma player over at NBA Fanhouse, we get the answer right from the horse’s mouth. When prompted to “talk about your experience in Italy,” Jennings replies immediately:
With Brandon Jennings ripping things up with the Milwaukee Bucks early in the NBA season, the interweb is alive with proclamations on the relative success of his “European experiment,” i.e. his much ballyhooed year spent playing with Lottomatica Roma in lieu of a year with an NCAA program.
John McMullen, NBA specialist over at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer website, notes that he’s been converted to the Jennings church, noting that at first he didn’t have much faith in the player after an “unimpressive” year with Roma:
“…During 27 games in the overly-structured, fundamentally obsessed Italian Lega A, Jennings averaged just 5.5 points, 1.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.5 steals in 17.0 minutes per game. He shot a miserable 35.1 percent from the field and a dismal 20.7 percent from three-point range in Lega A play.
New blog post: The final Brandon Jennings story http://bit.ly/GCJ78
Jurica Golemac is a role player. Roberto Gabini was a leader in pectore, nearly a non-player captain. Are they worth much more than Brandon Jennings? From the viewpoint of the end of the season, the end of the story, it seems to be. To judge the Jennings experiment, we have to start at the beginning, but the statement is well marked in our heads: B.J.’s Italian journey can’t be considered a success.
What has already been reported by a multitude of media became official yesterday evening: Jasmin Repesa resigned from his coaching job at Lottomatica Roma. But the story that sounds pretty familiar is probably bigger news in the United States, as Roma is the team of Brandon Jennings. So I imagined a US version of the news that we might see in the upcoming days published all around the globe:
The team of former Oak Hill Academy standout Brandon Jennings accepted yesterday the resignement of their Croatian head coach Jasmin Repesa (pronounced Jawss-Meen Repp-eeh-sawhh). Pallacanestro Virtus Lottomatica Roma (what an awful name by the way, they should call themselves Roma Gladiators to make it easy) currently holds an overall record of 9-6 while being being at 5-1 in the prestigious Euroleague tournament, where Jennings has averaged 7.8 point per game so far. The US-born PG was recently benched in the domestic competition, which resulted in a five-game losing streak.
Rumored pressure by club officials to give the American standout more playing time may be one of the reason for the decision from the coach from Ex-Yougoslavia. The team will play tomorrow against DKV Joventut Badalona, future NBA Draft lottery pick Ricky Rubio’s team, in a decisive game to enter the Sweet 16.
Former Sacramento Kings Draft pick Dejan Bodiroga (pronounced Day-ahn Bau-dee-raw-gah), who recently become GM of the Italian team, is currently in intensive talks with a multitude of high-profile coaches in order to find a way out of the crisis and help Jennings out of his shooting slump. Brandon Jennings himself should profit from this decision, as he did not have the best relationship with the former coach at least since he was kicked out of practice for not going hard enough in a game setup situation in the beginning of the season.
Will Brandon Jennings regret his choice to join Roma? “Hey, he’s only played one game with his team, what are you saying?” could be the answer from any of Oak Hill Academy product’s fans. But the situation isn’t smiling so much on B.J. now. Roma is an open building site, and the risky debut match against Caserta (home victory, 83-81 in overtime) has explained why Lottomatica isn’t yet ready to be in the fight nor to be led by Jennings.
After the arrival of Datome, coach Jasmin Repesa has 12 “real”players, seven of them in the backcourt rotation. Considering Becirovic the main acquisition from the market, de la Fuente as the only pure small forward in the roster, and Allan Ray a guy whose contract costs nearly $700,000, one need not be a genius to understand that there aren’t a lot of minutes for B.J; this is amplied because Ibby Jaaber is a skilled defender, a concept that the American boy seems far from assimilating.
So how could Jennings see his minutes on the floor increase? First thing: He must get better in the halfcourt game. Second, he must become more reliable and less spectacular in handling the ball. Third, must become more unselfish. At the moment, Becirovic is “the” man on Roma, the top point guard, and it would not be strange to see stat lines like his against Caserta (14-of-14 on free throws, 10 fouls received, 7 assists) often repeated during the season: He is the mind of Lottomatica, and has the ball in his hands for at least 12 seconds on every play. In learning from Becirovic, Jennings could improve as a player, and that’s what Repesa wants, because Becirovic and Jennings on the floor together are more dangerous than Becirovic and Jaaber. And we are curious to see a backcourt trio of Jennings, Becirovic and Ray.
Many hypothetical solutions and deep rotations are in play; surely this sort of platoon system doesn’t help B.J., who has to play almost 25 minutes a game to develop his talent and be more confident in a league that is not so easy to face, especially for a 18-year-old. Jennings has one year (plus the Euroleague competition) to keep his promises and take over the team. But until something changes, Roma is property of Becirovic.
This may be a sudden fall back to Earth for a guy predicted as a top-seven pick in the 2009 NBA draft, but no doubt this experience will strengthen him. Under one condition: Jennings must be patient, and his time will come.
And for those saying “Hey, he played only one game with his team, don’t be so critical,” you’re right, but look at his line in the boxscore: 10 shots in 21 minutes? Calm down, Brandon!
written by Francesco Cappelletti
Thanks to THE man at SLAMmagazine, Ben Osbourne, we have learned that Brandon Jennings will sign with Under Armour. Under Armour might be as well known to Europeans as European travel calls are to NBA players: not at all.
I’m not even sure if Under Armour is sold in Europe right now. (Oh wait: It is – even a German soccer club is wearing Under Armour jerseys.)
Looking at this picture, I can’t really tell what kind of untied sneakers Brandon is wearing; all I know is that the picture was taken in the Lottomatica practice arena while the sun was shining. So we will see if Brandon releases his own pair soon and if it will be available in Europe or if Under Armour is investing in Brandon’s NBA future.
What’s interesting and more important for us is that Brandon will start his own blog soon – in October 2008:
The blog will allow fans the opportunity to follow Brandon’s experiences in Rome and his pursuit of his athletic goals.
Let’s hope Brandon does not take the Euroleague players’ blogging as an example and write one post within the whole season. Welcome to the family, Brandon!