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ESPN’s Jeff Goodman Talks about his relationship with Tom Billeter, and Comments on Zach LaVine

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman joined Jeff Thurn on Tuesday’s edition of Overtime. 

Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) covers college basketball for ESPN.

Goodman talks about his relationship with Augustana men’s head basketball coach Tom Billeter: 

“Listen, I’ve known him for what probably 15 years. Met him in Orlando at an AAU event back when he was an assistant at Texas A&M and I was kind of pulling for him to get the head job, the University of South Dakota job this past year, months ago. One, I think he would be really good, and he’s pretty poignant in that area. Great recruiter, great coach. That’s my plug for Tom Billeter. There you go.”

Goodman ran into Billeter three summers ago when he was doing a story on Ryan Marks, a coach at UT-Pan American, showing him what life was like following a low major Division I head coach. The pair caught up at an AAU camp down there. Also, last year or two years ago, Goodman drove through here on his way from Creighton to do a story with Brad Bigler, head coach at Southwest Minnesota State, and stopped to get something to eat with Billeter.

Did the Cavaliers get the No. 1 pick right by selecting Andrew Wiggins? 

“I still say now, but I think Jabari Parker is going to be a more solid, reliable 18 to 20 points a game scorer. Now, you can make a case that the Cavs needed defense and a guy that can put people in the seats and that will be Andrew Wiggins. But I also make a case for the Cavs that really need a guy that can really shoot the basketball, a guy that can be a good leader, a guy with a high basketball IQ, and with a little more toughness and reliability. I feel like Jabari Parker fills more needs for Cleveland than Andrew Wiggins does.”

Besides Joel Embiid with his health concerns, was there another guy that Goodman felt was a stretch for NBA teams: 

“Yeah, to me Zach Lavine out of UCLA going as high as he did to Minnesota at pick No. 13. A guy that averaged single figures scoring. Great athlete. Jumps out of the gym, but I question his basketball IQ. I know he shot the ball from deep, uh, I still question whether he will be a good shooter at the next level. Didn’t really guard anybody. You saw it in his reaction and I didn’t see it because I was at the draft and I was trying to track down stuff, but I saw it on the reply after was drafted by Minnesota, and it was abysmal. It was a joke.”

Was LaVine’s reaction shock-related? 

“I think it was I’m pissed I got drafted by the Timberwolves. This is a kid that averaged nine points a game. You should be ecstatic you were drafted No. 13. You should be jumping up and down instead of swearing after you heard your name called. Again, it’s immaturity and some of these kids aren’t just ready. From that standpoint to leave college after one year, and that’s why I am hoping the rule changes and they have to go at least two.”

Last week, Timberwolves assistant general manager Rob Babcock compared LaVine to Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook on Overtime.

ESPN’s Dan Dakich has also weighed in on LaVine on Overtime, and called the pick ridiculous.

To hear more of Goodman’s interview with Thurn, listen below:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Thurn can be heard daily on ESPN 99.1 from 3 to 6 p.m.

Zach LaVine, UCLA, Minnesota Timberwolves and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, 2014 NBA Draft
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

*For comments and story ideas, email Sam at, and follow him on Twitter @samtastad.


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