Letting you in on 'The Big Secret'

BY JOE SANTORO

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

It appears that former Nevada Wolf Pack sophomore JaVale McGee won't have to cram his 7-foot frame into a Toyota or Honda hoping to battle rising gas prices this summer. The tallest jump shooter in the Western Athletic Conference is going to be a very rich young man later this summer. A quick check with 16 different Web sites with NBA mock drafts has McGee being selected in the first round in all 16 next month. The best bet has McGee getting selected by the Golden State Warriors with the 14th pick, the Philadelphia 76ers with the 16th pick, the Washington Wizards at 18 or the Denver Nuggets with the 20th pick. It seems like the best thing Pam taught her son was to be seven feet tall.

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Three of those mock drafts have former Reno High center David Padgett getting picked late in the first round (likely to the San Antonio Spurs) and one has former Pack guard Marcelus Kemp going to the Miami Heat late in the second round. Draftexpress.com says that McGee's agent, Roosevelt Barnes, has labeled his client "The Big Secret." How, exactly, is McGee a secret? The guy had just one relatively successful, up-and-down season in college basketball and now he is suddenly a first-round draft pick. There are no secrets left in college basketball.

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Here's hoping that Padgett, the son of former Carson High School boys hoops coach and ex-Nevada star Pete Padgett, gets the honor of being picked in the draft. No player deserves it more. Padgett battled through numerous injuries during his high school and college career to have one of the best college careers ever for a Northern Nevada player. If Padgett can stay healthy, he could be the real "Big Secret" in this year's draft.

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Don't count out the Detroit Pistons just yet. Down by 17 in the third quarter Wednesday night in Boston, the Pistons refused to quit and ended up making the Celtics sweat. Expects the Pistons to even the series at 3-3 tonight. In a perfect world, we'd also like them to win Game 7 in Boston but the league needs Boston in the Finals and the officials won't allow Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess to take a deep breath without calling a foul.

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Jose Guillen looked around his Kansas City Royals locker room this week and publically declared that there are "too many babies here." Who, exactly, named Guillen, a guy that gets traded or released about twice a year, the Royals' spokesman? You can be sure that Guillen wouldn't have said that if Mike Sweeney were still in the Royals locker room.

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Enough, already, with calling the Tampa Bay Rays as the most surprising team in baseball. The Rays have a ton of young talent with more on the way. Nothing the Rays have done this year has been all that surprising. Then again, the only ones calling the Rays a surprise are the national media, a mindless group that has spent all its time the last decade sniffing around the New York Yankees, Mets and Boston Red Sox.

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The biggest surprise in baseball has been the fact that Willie Randolph still has a job.

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Have you wrapped your mind around a possible Rays-Chicago Cubs World Series yet? After last fall with the flash-in-the-pan Colorado Rockies had the hot goaltender and somehow got to the Series, you should be well aware that anything is possible. We can just see it now. Game 7 in St. Petersburg with 10,000 and change on hand to see the Cubs win their first World Series in a century. It will be incredible. Get with it Tampa-St. Pete. You have the most exciting team in baseball. Buy a few tickets.

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In an effort to prevent our impressionable nation of sports fans from talking like idiot television announcers, we offer the following weekly feature in this space: "Sports Cliches We Hate." This week's installment is "score the basketball." How else can you score in basketball? We mean on the court. Last time we checked, you can't score without the ball. Football announcers don't say "score the football." Golfers don't say "score the golf ball." Hockey players don't say, "score the hockey puck." We get it. Basketball players use a basketball. You don't have to remind us.

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The San Francisco Giants are going to honor Omar Vizquel before tonight's game at AT&T Park with an appearance by Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio. Vizquel broke Aparicio's record for games played by a shortstop this week (2,583 games). In case you are wondering, Giants second baseman Ray Durham was not Aparicio's double play partner with the Chicago White Sox in the 1950s and 60s.

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Vizquel should be a sure Hall of Famer five years after he retires. The scrappy little shortstop has over 2,600 hits, nearly 400 stolen bases and more than 1,300 runs scored. It's nice to see a real shortstop like Vizquel finally get some well-deserved recognition after being overshadowed for years at the position by power-hitting hulks with no range like Cal Ripken and Alex Rodriguez.

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