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Seth Davis dishes on Jabari Parker possibly returning to Duke, DeAndre Daniels’ NBA potential

Seth-DavisHas Jabari Parker played his last game at Duke? That is a question NBA teams would like to have answered sooner rather than later as we inch closer to the June 26 draft. Parker is still a potential lottery pick. He picked a terrible time to have one of his worst games of the season against Mercer, but the talent is undeniable.

The longer Parker waits to announce his decision, the more speculation we hear about the possibility of him playing another season under Mike Krzyzewski. College basketball analyst and expert Seth Davis discussed Parker’s future with Larry Brown Sports on Friday.

“I’ve been saying for a while that I think there’s a good chance he’ll come back,” Davis said. “When I say good chance I mean relative to his situation. 99% of the kids in his position wouldn’t even hesitate to turn pro. He’s a different kind of kid. So instead of being 99% gone I would put him more 85% gone.”

Davis, who is serving Subway’s new Flatizzas with Jared the Subway guy at the Final Four this weekend, said Parker is ready for the NBA but could simply decide that he would rather play another year of college ball.

“Physically, emotionally, psychologically he’s ready,” Davis said. “It’s just a question of what he wants out of life. There’s worse things in life than being a sophomore in college. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Davis also offered his thoughts on the Final Four. He’s staying with Florida as his championship pick but could envision any of the four remaining teams cutting down the nets. Speaking of NBA potential, Davis believes UConn’s DeAndre Daniels has the tools needed to be an NBA All-Star.

“I think we could look five or 10 years down the road and say DeAndre Daniels was the best player on that UConn team,” Davis said. “He literally has no idea how good he is. It can be maddening to coach him and watch him. If that kid ever figures out how good he really is he can be an NBA All-Star. I think he’s that good.”

If you happen to be in Dallas this weekend, stop by Subway on 1222 Commerce Street and say what’s up to Seth and Jared. Enjoy the end of the Madness.

Lauralee McIntyre receiving modeling, co-hosting offers since CWS exposure

UCLA Eric Filia girlfriend Lauralee McIntyre

Lauralee McIntyre had an instant rush of fame after being frequently shown on ESPN during UCLA’s championship run at the College World Series, and the exposure may lead to multiple jobs for the 22-year-old.

McIntyre, whose boyfriend Eric Filia was the offensive star for the Bruins, talked with Larry Brown Sports about the opportunities she has received since the tournament. She told us what it was like to blow up in notoriety, and the story of how she and Filia began dating.

Though McIntyre was shown on TV during each of UCLA’s five College World Series games — including the two games in the finals against Mississippi State — she really didn’t realize until returning home to Los Angeles that she was blowing up online.

“Honestly, in Omaha, I had no idea. The Internet connection there was really slow, so I actually didn’t have access to any of the blogs or tweets,” McIntyre told Larry Brown Sports in a phone interview. “I couldn’t accept Twitter followers or anything like that until a few days afterwards.

“I didn’t really realize it until after it had happened.”

McIntyre did say she heard from friends and family that she was receiving some attention online.

[Previously: Eric Filia's girlfriend has been very popular at the CWS]

“My sisters and other people would contact me and say, ‘Hey, I saw you on this blog’ or ‘I saw your picture on this,’ but I was so high off of my boyfriend winning the College World Series, it didn’t really hit me or affect me, if that makes sense.”

McIntyre, who graduated from UCLA in June with degrees in anthropology and political science, says she was surprised by all the attention she received, but she welcomes it.

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Gary Payton: This Lakers team is nothing like ’04 Lakers

gary paytonLBS had the pleasure of speaking with former NBA Defensive Player of the Year and nine-time All-Star Gary Payton last week. Our conversation covered a wide range of topics. I asked him what it was like to guard Michael Jordan in the 1996 NBA Finals, how his talented ’03-’04 Lakers team compares to the current Lakers, and what it was like trying to learn the triangle offense. We also discussed whether trash talk ever goes too far on the court, as many felt it did in the Kevin Garnett-Carmelo Anthony spat.

Payton spoke to us to promote his participation with Thuzio. Thuzio is an online service that helps connect athletes with fans for unforgettable experiences. For instance, you can go here to book Payton for a lunch or dinner, fantasy draft, pick-up game, appearance, speaking engagement, or even to provide personal coaching instruction. You can see the other athletes Thuzio has available for booking at their website.

Before the NBA season began, many people saw similarities between the current Lakers team and the 2003-’04 squad. The ’03-’04 team brought in Payton and Hall of Famer Karl Malone to join Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. When the Lakers acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash over the offseason, it looked like the team was assembling another star-studded cast. Payton doesn’t see it that way.

“I don’t see any similarities,” Payton said bluntly. “People have to understand basketball and have to understand this team is nothing like what me and Karl Malone did. When Malone and I joined the Lakers, we started off the season 19-3*. When Malone got hurt, that’s when our season went down the pits. But it didn’t even go down the pits — we made it to the NBA Finals.”

Payton says that Lakers team had multiple distractions that made it difficult to achieve what they wanted to.

“People don’t understand that Kobe Bryant was going through the stuff that he was going through, and it was taking a toll on him,” Payton said of Bryant, who was going through his sexual assault case at the time. “If we’d had the Kobe Bryant of now instead of the one who was going through problems, it would have been a little bit different.

“Shaquille (O’Neal) was going through a lot of things with the organization at the time, too. He was fighting with the organization about a lot of different stuff and he really did not want to be there.

“When Karl Malone got back, he re-injured his shoulder, and that hurt us in the long run. We ran into the Detroit Pistons who were hungry. They made a push and they beat us,” Payton told Larry Brown Sports.

“I don’t see any similarities from our team to this team. This team is not is going to be in a championship. They got to get a lot of things together. We had a great coach in Phil Jackson and we still struggled. He still made us become a basketball team that made it to the playoffs and finals.”

Payton said he struggled adjusting to the Lakers’ offensive system that season. I asked him how difficult it is to try learning the triangle offense for the first time.

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Shawn Johnson: Retirement has been blessing in disguise

Shawn Johnson won a gold medal and three silvers at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, but her inability to fully recover from a devastating knee injury forced her to retire earlier this month. Johnson spoke to LBS on Tuesday about her decision to retire, her experience at the 2008 Olympics, and what she plans on doing in the future.

Johnson spoke with LBS on behalf of Procter & Gamble, which is providing a $75,000 grant from the USOC’s P&G|Team USA Youth Sports Fund to benefit the USA Gymnastics Fitness Program. Procter & Gamble will also donate $1 to the USOC’s P&G|Team USA Youth Sports Fund for every follower the @thankyoumom Twitter account receives. Our interview is below.

LBS: What ultimately made you decide to retire earlier this month?

Johnson: It was kind of just sitting down and facing reality that we just ran out of time and my knee wasn’t allowing me to go any further. I knew the talent that was out there, and I knew that I wasn’t up to par. Giving my spot up to another girl that could potentially qualify at trials and make it was something I thought was best on both sides.

LBS: You said you ran out of time. Do you think things would have been different if there were more time to recover before the Olympics?

Johnson: Honestly, I don’t know. It’s hard to go through all the what-ifs, and I try not to do that because it can get you down on things. To say ‘What if I had another year?’ I don’t know what would happen. I don’t know if my knee would have healed better — I don’t know what would have happened. Everything happens for a reason, and not making the team and deciding to retire has been a blessing in disguise. It’s bittersweet, but things are working out for the best.

LBS: Has the time off been a break for you given how hard you’ve been working and training been all your life?

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Jennie Finch talks about what it takes to be an Olympic softball player

Softball may no longer be an Olympic sport, but Jennie Finch was a key member of the U.S. National Team during two of the four years it was part of the Summer Games. LBS spoke with Finch, a former gold medalist and University of Arizona star player, about what it takes to reach that level as a player. We also discussed softball’s efforts to regain Olympic status.

Finch was touring on behalf of the Capital One Cup (see the current NCAA standings), and we spoke last Friday as the Women’s College World Series was beginning. She mentioned Oklahoma, Cal, and Alabama as the teams from whom she was expecting the most. She was right on — Oklahoma and Alabama are meeting in a three-game championship series that begins on Monday night. Finch mentioned Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts, Alabama’s Jackie Traina, Cal’s Valerie Arioto, and Arizona State’s Katelyn Boyd as the players who have impressed her the most. It will come down to Ricketts and Traina for the national title.

So what does it take to reach that star level as a player?

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Kenny Smith wouldn’t be surprised if Thunder lost in first round of playoffs

Many people are picking the Oklahoma City Thunder to reach the NBA Finals — and possibly win the NBA title — but TNT/CBS analyst Kenny Smith is not sold on them. Smith sees some weaknesses with the Thunder and would not be surprised if they lost early in the postseason. LBS spoke with The Jet who was touring on behalf of Coke Zero to promote their Enjoy More Madness program. Fans can gain unique codes from Coke Zero products – as well as from the Watch & Score Instant Win Game – entering these codes through their My Coke Rewards account at Enjoy More Madness. We talked about how Kentucky would do against an NBA team, about some of the issues facing the Orlando Magic, and how he would handle Andrew Bynum. He had some really good opinions, so you should definitely read the whole thing, especially his thoughts on the Magic partying in New York City.

So why is Smith worried about the Thunder?

“The West is wide open. If Oklahoma City won it or lost in the first round, I might not be surprised,” Smith told LBS. “I just think their youth … they’re talented but they’re still inexperienced in certain areas. Because of their inexperience, it wouldn’t surprise me if they lost to a lower seed.”

When reminded that the Thunder made it to the Western Conference Finals last season, Smith said he still has some concerns.

“I was a little surprised the way they handled the adversity last year with the whole Russell Westbrook stuff. If they can get over that, then they’re the team to beat in the West,” Smith believes, “but the way they handled that wasn’t beneficial. That’s going to show its head again. There is going to be a game where he takes a lot of shots and people say ‘he shot too much,’ and I don’t think they handled that well.”

Whoever comes out of the Western Conference will likely face the Heat, Smith thinks.

“I still like Miami. Even though Chicago is probably the best team collectively, I think the individual talents of Miami are still too great, and they still play as a team.”

We talked about whether Kentucky could beat an NBA team the way so many informed people, including his colleague Charles Barkley, believe. He tried to put that talk to rest.

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Warrick Dunn Talks Michael Vick, Jim Mora, Tim Tebow, and the Running Back Wall with LBS

LBS had the pleasure this week of speaking with former three-time Pro Bowl running back, and current part owner of the Falcons, Warrick Dunn. Warrick is hosting a care package stuffing event and free concert with country star Rodney Atkins Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. The event is for the Crown Royal Heroes Project, and Dunn is inviting Dallas locals to come out to before the game and stuff care packages for Dallas servicemen and women overseas. For every bag stuffed, Crown Royal will donate $10 to the Texas Wildfire Relief Fund.

We talked with Warrick about his time at Florida State, his pro career, and the running back wall. He had some really interesting thoughts on Tim Tebow, his former Atlanta teammate Michael Vick, and his former Falcons coach Jim Mora, who is being considered for the UCLA job. He also talked about his biggest regret as a player. Our conversation follows.

How did you end up at FSU over LSU if you’re from Baton Rouge?

It felt like home. I felt at ease when I went on a visit, and I just felt like it was the right place for me to be. Coach Bowden made me feel at home, and the players and community accepted me. In hindsight, it’s the best move I’ve ever made in my life. I bleed garnet and gold.

At the time, LSU wasn’t as good as they are now. I wanted to play running back and Florida State gave me the opportunity to play running back. LSU had six running backs coming in, all who were the top running back in their respective states, so it’s kind of hard to compete with that when I was an option quarterback in high school. I was kind of lucky that Florida State was recruiting my running back at the time.

When you were in the NFL, you generally played in two-back systems throughout your career. Do you think we’re at the point where that is the only way for teams to go?

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