Seniors Under The Radar: Part Two
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
Follow @Yannis KoutroupisYannis Koutroupis
The NBA may be the only organization in the world where going to school for four years and having a degree is looked at as a negative in a lot of cases. In the NBA Draft especially, the younger a prospect is the better.
Future pros staying in school for four years is virtually unheard of these days. With the draft’s age limit only requiring a prospect to be one year removed from high school, most players can’t wait to put their education aside to pursue a career in the NBA.
Believe it or not, though, there are still guys who do things the old school way and stay in school for four years before making the jump. Over the next several weeks leading up to the draft, we will be telling the stories of some of the seniors trying to fulfill their lifelong dreams. In this week’s edition we feature Iona’s Scott Machado, Mississippi Valley State’s Paul Crosby and Texas Wesleyan’s Ronnie Moss.
The Summer Isn’t Long Enough For Machado
Everyone, especially young adults in college, wishes summer was longer was longer than it is. Iona point guard Scott Machado is no different, but his reasoning triumphs most. Along with having the opportunity to be just the sixth Gael to play in the NBA, Machado also has the Brazilian National Team offering him a roster spot for the London Olympic Games.
Unfortunately for Machado, he’s been forced to prioritize one over the other since they possibly conflict.
“My first goal is to be in the NBA,” Machado said to HOOPSWORLD. “That’s my dream. I want to be in the NBA. If the NBA team I end up with allows me to go to Brazil then I’ll go, but if it’s going to deter me from being on the court or going to summer league, then I’m going to stay just so that I’m established with a chance to solidify my position.”
Machado’s previous experiences with the Brazilian National Team are something that has really helped him establish himself as one of the top point guard prospects in the 2012 NBA Draft. It was during that time that he received a preview of what life in the league would be like.
“I was playing with a bunch of pros,” Machado said. “They all took the game seriously. Whether they were making money for their families or themselves, it was their job and they took it very seriously. You also have to love the game. Just by going out there, I noticed that right away. There was a lot of people who do what I do. To stand out, you have to play as the best and be like the best. Just showcase your talent. You can’t be afraid to do what you’re capable of doing.”
This season at Iona, Machado proved that he was capable of racking up the assists in an efficient manner. He led the nation with 9.9 assists per game while sporting a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. As a true point guard who loves to set his teammates up to score, Machado should benefit from having a supporting cast full of equal talent level. That was not a luxury that he had while in college.
“It excites me a lot,” Machado said. “Because everyone around me is going to be really talented. I’ll be playing with guys that I can just pass the ball to and they’ll knock it down wherever. It’s something that’s exciting, something I can’t wait for.”
While preparing for individual workouts, Machado is in Los Angeles training at Impact Basketball. He’s receiving dedicated personal training for the first time in his life. The focus on their training is on one-on-one moves, extending the range on his jump shot and just polishing up his overall game.
“I feel like I’m a player who can still get a lot better,” Machado said. “I can help a team out.”
Machado’s draft range currently is all over the place. While widely regarded as a mid-second round pick, the lack of depth at point guard could help him creep into the early portion of the second round or even late in the first.
Crosby Brings It All The Time
There are a lot of players who shy away from contact, avoid the physicality in the paint and get thrown off their game completely when they’re bodied up. Then there are guys like Mississippi State Valley big man Paul Crosby, who thrives off of it. His interior play was instrumental in leading his program to their first NCAA tournament appearance in 22 years. Now, Crosby is looking to take what he did at MSVU, and a little bit more, to the next level.
“I know I’m going to bring hard work and dedication,” Crosby said to HOOPSWORLD. “I can rebound, shoot, all kinds of stuff. I can do a lot. I’ll do whatever they need me to. I know some people aren’t willing to do that. I’m one of the guys who doesn’t care, I’m the junkyard dog. I’ll do whatever you need me to.
“A lot of guys think I’m just an inside guy, but really I can stretch the defense. I can shoot from the mid range and three. I can dribble, create for others and myself. A lot of people at the next level don’t know that because of the type of offense we played. We only had seven players on my team this year, so I had to take care of most of the big man responsibilities at the five when I’m supposed to play the four. But like I said, I’ll do anything for my team. I’ve been working. I can stretch the defense out now.”
Along with an expanded offensive arsenal, teams can also expect Crosby to bring relentlessness to the table. After playing the last two years for one of the most demanding defensive coaches in the country in former Kentucky standout Sean Woods, Crosby can never be found taking a break on the court.
“Coach Woods helped me develop a lot,” Crosby said. “He brings the best out of you. When you don’t come and bring it every day and slack off, he’s going to let you know it. Some people don’t like that, they don’t like constructive criticism. I liked that, it made me play 100 percent. I wouldn’t be where I’m at now, not taking plays off and stuff like that, if it wasn’t for him. He always let me know and I know him for that.”
With his time under Coach Woods complete, Crosby has moved onto Keyport, N.J. where the guys at Real Gymm are helping him get ready to impress NBA teams in the weeks leading up to the draft. Crosby’s name tends to get lost in the shuffle at times with all of the other talented power forwards in this year’s draft class, but his defensive mindset, underrated offensive abilities and unselfishness could go a long way in setting himself apart from the rest.
Ronnie Moss Isn’t Who You Think
On the surface, it would be very easy to just write off former TCU guard Ronnie Moss as a D-I castoff who finished his career in the NAIA so he could do as he pleased. However, that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
“It was just one of those things where I needed to go one way and TCU wanted to go in another direction,” Moss said to HOOPSWORLD. “I haven’t looked back since. Instead of living in the past, I’ve tried to move forward from that.
“What led to me going to Texas Wesleyan was I had one more year of eligibility left and I really didn’t want to be at another D-I college for two more years. I’d be 25 coming out of college. I just wanted to get the process done, get my degree. I thought about going overseas. I had that in my mind for a week. That wasn’t something I wanted to do, though. I wanted to work on my degree and play right away.”
Moss helped lead the Rams to a strong 25-8 campaign in 2011-12, capped off with a national tournament appearance. Moss was second on the team in scoring with nearly 22 points a night.
That shouldn’t surprise anyone who saw him develop into one of the premier scorers in the Mountain West Conference his first three years in college, but scoring doesn’t define Moss’ game.
“I’m not just a scorer on the basketball court,” Moss said. “I can actually run a team and get other guys involved. I’ve heard in the past I’m a selfish player who just wants to shoot and score the ball. That’s not the case. The circumstances in my career were different.
“I did what I had to do to help my team win. But at the same time, I love to pass the ball. To be honest, I would rather pass than shoot first. But, if I have to score I’ll score. Off the court, I’m a good locker room guy willing to help anybody, talk to anybody. I’m not a bad person, just competitive on the court. I’m a hard-nosed worker. A guy who wants to win and get better, willing to do whatever it is to help the team.”
Moss’ time in the NAIA has only increased his desire to be a pass-first player and get out of the opposing defense’s spotlight, which he spent every second of his senior year in.
“There were some games where we would run through teams,” Moss said. “That’s at any level, though. I felt like the competition was the same because coaches are telling their guys I’m a D-I transfer. So these guys are giving it their all, 110%. It’s a little bit harder because it’s more mental. You might have guys running a box and one, box and two on you.”
As the saying goes, everything happens for a reason. While Moss’ name may have more buzz behind it had he stayed at TCU, he learned some very valuable things in his journey through the NAIA ranks. He’s more prepared to make the transition to being a pass-first guard than he’s ever been. But if he does need to score, he’s got plenty of experience of doing so to fall back on.
Senior NCAA and NBA analyst Yannis Koutroupis will be hosting his weekly chat on Friday May 4th at 11 am EST. You can get your questions in here!