MWC: Fresh Start

By David Scott - October 26, 2006

LAS VEGAS - We could re-hash the incident at Kansas that wound up leading to the place where J.R. Giddens now finds himself. We could get into the "he said," "they said" and the terse way Giddens' Jayhawk career ended. We could probably even Google the subject and find some loose ends and dangling participles from the circumstances that led to Giddens winding up in New Mexico for Ritchie McKay’s Lobos.

We could do all that and more, of course. Instead we're going to start with a smile. Specifically the smile on Giddens face during his time here in Vegas for MWC Media Day. With a mini Jordan show replica dangling from his necklace and red Lobos golf shirt, Giddens is ready to put all that other stuff behind him.

“I’m soooooo ready,” Giddens says, “I’ve been practicing with guys for a year now (as he sat out due to transfer rules) and I’m ready for some fresh meat.”

And he’s also ready for the attention that is going to paid to him.

“Yeah, I feel that laser beam on my back. I’m coming in as a highly touted transfer and I know that,” said Giddens, an Oklahoma City native. “I was born for this. I’m made for this showcase.”

In a league that gets more McDonald's eaters than McDonald's All-Americans, Giddens is arguably the league's greatest talent - at a time when the talent level in the MWC has risen dramatically. But Giddens credentials are spectacular - he was a 2003 McDonald's high school All American and he went mano-a-mano in a dunk contest with King LeBron James when he was still just a Prince.

"Someone like Giddens, sees what this league has done for some players who have gone on to the NBA like Danny Granger, Andrew Bogut, Marcus Banks - and they like the idea of being a big fish in maybe a smaller pond," said Wyoming coach, Steve McClain.

Giddens is thrilled with the chance of a new start and his coach, McKay, is happy to give him the opportunity. "I don't know if we'll have him for one or two years, but if he has the chance to be a lottery pick, I will tell him he has to go (after this, his junior season)."

But Giddens isn't thinking that far ahead yet. He's too busy running.

"We're like a track team," laughed the Oklahoma City native. "We might as well have batons out there. It's a real up-tempo style we'r eplaying and I love that. I love basketball, and I love my new family here at New Mexico and I'm grateful to Coach McKay. I think that our fans have one eye open right now, but we'll get both of them open once we start playing."

* The MWC is developing quite a track record of acquiring transfers from the so-called "elite-level programs." Giddens is one and his teammate, Aaron Johnson from Penn State is another. San Diego State (and transfer and JuCo friendly coach Steve Fisher) has both Louisville's Lorrenzo Wade and Florida's Mohammed Abukar in its transfer stable. UNLV has Lon Kruger's son, Kevin, who came over from Arizona State and sitting out this year for the Rebels is Houston transfer Lamar Roberson. Wyoming actually got a walk-on from Colorado, Ryan Dermody, who will be eligible mid-season.

Said Utah coach Ray Giacoletti, "There are certainly some schools in the league that are more equipped than others to accept transfers."

Said Wyoming coach Steve McClain, "Sometimes you recruit a kid that you know you may not get the first time around, but you may get him on the bounce."

* That's going to do it from here at MWC media day from the Aladdin in Vegas. We've got a few hours to kill before heading back East, and it's probably a good time to try our hand at taking home some of the MGM Grand's spare change.

Thanks for following along and getting your blog on with us. All the talking is just about done for all the conferences and it's very close to tip-off time for the 2006-07 college hoops season.

Hang loose. . .

Posted by David Scott at 06:21 PM on October 26, 2006

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