Since the holiday deadline sneaked up on me, here are some quick thoughts on several events that occurred during the last week. I’ll start with West Virginia University basketball star Kevin Jones going undrafted in last Thursday’s NBA draft. A year ago when Jones decided to test the waters of the NBA and submitted his name for the draft, it was pretty clear he was doing so just to get an evaluation of what he needed to do to improve his stock for this year’s draft.
While I have no idea of the specifics his evaluations revealed, it was evident watching Jones play during his senior season that he had worked hard on his game. He worked hard enough to lead the Big East in scoring and rebounding. That effort seemed to put Jones atop the conference’s list of player of the year candidates and in the conversation as a first round NBA draft choice.
If that is what you thought, like I did, you were wrong on both counts. The Big East coaches weren’t impressed enough to vote Jones as the POY, opting for Marquette’s Jae Crowder. Despite a report last week that Jones had a “first round guarantee” from an NBA team, he went undrafted as 60 other players were taken Thursday night. Even though the credibility of the first round guarantee was suspect, many observers, including Jerry West and Jay Bilas, had Jones going in the second round. Talk about putting a damper on a draft party.
Jones will get his chance to impress the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent.
Friday night a surprisingly strong storm wreaked havoc in the region knocking down trees, thus leaving millions of people without power. Some will likely be without power for over a week. That, coupled with temperatures near 100 degrees, is a brutal life-threatening situation.
Up for discussion is how the storm did, and will, affect two PGA golf tournaments in the region. Last week the PGA Tour was at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. Friday night’s storm left 1.5 million people in the DC area without power. Over 40 trees on the grounds of CCC were knocked down and many others were compromised. A decision was made to play the third round on Saturday, but not to allow spectators on the grounds. A prudent decision given that any number of trees and limbs could come crashing down at any moment.
It was indeed odd watching a PGA event with just a handful of CCC members on hand as a gallery. In any event, full throngs of fans were on hand Sunday as Tiger Woods won the event that his foundation, along with AT&T, sponsored.
Next up is the Greenbrier Classic in White Sulpher Springs this week. This is a very big event for the State of West Virginia. This year Woods and Phil Mickelson head a strong field for the classic. Lionel Ritchie, Toby Keith, Rod Stewart and Bon Jovi will headline concerts. The entire state gets over four days of publicity that is hard to quantify. WVU celebrities like Bob Huggins, Dana Holgorsen, Oliver Luck and Jerry West invariably get some face time to promote the athletic programs that just officially became members of the Big 12 on Sunday.
The problem is the storm left nearly half a million West Virginians without power including most of Greenbrier County. As of Monday the conditions promised to recover slowly throughout the week while the Greenbrier was going full speed ahead with tournament preparations for the event. That decision has some locals more than a little upset. While resources are being used at the Greenbrier for clean up, area gas stations, super markets, hotels and 12,000 residents remain without power. Some are saying the tournament should be cancelled.
Hopefully Greenbrier proprietor, Jim Justice, is using his own resources for clean up operations and not the state’s. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. This event has spawned reports of traffic nightmares since its inception. If the issues that existed early in the week are extended through the week, those problems will be even worse. Just keep fingers crossed for all involved.