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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

10 NBA Players With Next-Level Talent

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

*Scouting and evaluating NBA talent is a very difficult challenge to be certain, but it is one that many analysts, prognosticators and bloggers relish around this time of year.

We all know the players that are top shelf as far as the NBA brand is concerned, but every season there are a group of young players who sit just on the outside of NBA notoriety.

For now they are on the outside, peeking longingly through the portal of respectability. But a season will come in which their names will reign over the Sportcenter, Youtube and social media airwaves as one of the very best.

For some, that newfound fame will last for the rest of their careers, while others will only be flashes in the pan-fading from the All-Star limelight all too soon. For the 10 players on this list, I predict that day of recognition will be in the upcoming year. All posses tremendous talent and upside. Each is either a young player who may have differed to veterans in the past, or who was late acclimating themselves to the league. They each have the requisite talent to be among the league’s elite at their respective positions but have only scratched the surface of their potential.

With the new season comes the possibility for a shuffle of the deck of possibilities. I am not saying that every player on this list is of the same caliber, but they are all on the verge of taking their games to a level beyond what they are universally known to play. I must also acknowledge that there are far more than 10 of these types of players in the National Basketball Association. These are the ones that I believe will be the most successful this season.

Read more at http://www.rantsports.com/nba/2013/10/21/10-nba-players-with-next-level-talent/?OBADpIL6Kx5K7GsO.99

Ricardo A. Hazell is a freelance Sports Writer for RantSports based in New York City. You may follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.

ricardo hazell

Ricardo Hazell

Director Eric Branco, actor Stephen Hill

EUR on the Scene: Ocktober Music and Film Festival

Star Davis of UCAN magazine, Emelyn Stuart of Stuart Films

Star Davis of UCAN magazine, Emelyn Stuart of Stuart Films

Saturday October 18th marked the closing of the 5th Annual Ocktober Music and Film Festival in New York City.

This year marked the first time the film component was added to the festival and it did not disappointed as many works from the most talented and as-yet unexposed creators in America were exposed to the masses at Harlem MIST Studios.

Crafted with the help of Emelyn Stuart of Stuart Films and  Celebrity A&R Anthony Jones, the Ocktober Music and Film Festival was a resounding hit as dignitaries like Dr. Ben Chavis, DJ Kool Herc and club music icon Colonel Abrams were all on hand to enjoy the quality content of some of the best and brightest creators of media you may never have heard of yet but whose notoriety is most certainly on the rise.  Mr. Jones also stepped in as master of ceremonies during the closing night festivities as some of the hottest new names in music showed their wares to music and film executives alike. The evening featured a Q&A panel featuring A&Rs and music industry executives Kalvin Stevens, J Hatch, Michline Medina, Lance Pope, Donavan McLeod, Lady Life and rapper/label owner Mikey Jay.

Ocktober Music and Film Festival award winners were: “Full Circle” for Best Feature Film, “A Saturday is a Terrible Thing to Waste” for Best Short Film, “For Colored Boys” won for Best Web Series. Best Music Video went to “New Coons” featuring Ohene Cornelius. The Audience Award went to “Stay Cold, Stay Hungry”.

Director Stacey Muhammad accepts award for Best Web Series

Director Stacey Muhammad accepts award for Best Web Series

I had the chance to speak with actor Stephen Hill and director Eric Branco regarding the creative process surrounding this award-winning offering.

“The premise behind it is two lost souls collide,” said Hill.  “It’s about two down and out people who get together and meet. It’s really about their relationship,” added Branco.

“They need each other from an emotional standpoint. They just need somebody who is going to be there for them.  It’s something we have been working on for a while and I’m glad we have finally gotten it together and it’s finally done and we’re able to show it. We’re getting positive reactions,” he continued.

“We’ve seen it on a bigger screen several times now,” said Stephen Hill. “Just three weeks ago we won Best Feature Award at the Coney Island Film Festival.  It was good to screen at MIST. Number one, because it’s in Harlem. It’s right around the corner from my house. It’s really nice to screen something in your neighborhood.  Their facilities were beautiful as well.  This particular film? Just for the record, a lot of people slept on us. So, we’re extremely grateful to the Ocktober Music and Film Festival for giving us the opportunity to screen right in my neighborhood.”

Director Eric Branco, actor Stephen Hill

Director Eric Branco, actor Stephen Hill

“Stay Cold, Stay Hungry” is still making rounds and is slated to show in other film festivals. I was unable to get any definitive word as to when this offering will be released nationally.

In addition, Thomas K. Phillips’ debut offering “The North Star”, which was the opening night offering, is based on the true story of Big Ben Jones and Moses Hopkins-two runaway slaves who escaped a Virginia plantation and made their way to Buckingham, Pennsylvania. It is not a typical slavery film in that, while the horrors of slavery cannot be sugar-coated, this film displays the fighting spirit of escaped Africans, as well as the lengths to which abolitionists of the day were willing to go to undermine the institution of slavery.

A full review on that film is come in the near future. If you missed it this year you may wish to keep the Ocktober Music and Film Festival in mind for your autumn entertainment slate next year.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Predicting the Final Roster of the San Antonio Spurs

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

*Normally, a team that has fallen just short of a championship will not dramatically alter its makeup, but will tweak it by adding to or enhancing it to eliminate weaknesses and fortify strengths.

The San Antonio Spurs are fresh off of a disappointing NBA Finals loss to the Miami Heat and are, despite the constant media pointing to the contrary, wiping that proverbial dirt off their collective shoulders. They are coming into the 2013-14 NBA season more certain than ever as to their ability to reach the pinnacle of professional basketball with their current core.

Tim Duncan proved last year that he is, beyond speculative prattling, the very best power forward to ever play the game. He also showed that he is still one of the top 10 best players in the game and perhaps still the very best big man in the NBA as well. Head-to-head playoff matchups in which he dominated Dwight Howard and Zach Randolph attest to that.

Tony Parker, despite three titles and multiple All-Star appearances, seems to get looked over when the NBA props wagon is dishing out compliments. However, it was he who carried the brunt of the offensive load for San Antonio throughout the playoffs, and he almost single-handedly won Game 6 before running out of gas. History remembers the Spurs failing in their endeavors last season thanks to a timely corner 3-pointer from Jesus Shuttlesworth aka Ray Allen to send the series back to Miami.

Manu Ginoboli has clearly lost a step or two as his 37th birthday looms in the distant future. He was once the free radical molecule within the conservative and methodical offensive body that is the Spurs, and that seemingly unpredictable energy had long been the scourge of NBA defenders. But he was in large part a defensive liability throughout the playoffs last year, and an offensive liability versus Miami. His 11-point average is the second-lowest output of his entire NBA career as well.

The 2013 NBA Playoffs revealed the strengths and weaknesses of a Spurs team that, if some analysts were to tell it, was too old to make any kind of noise. Noticeably absent on the Spurs’ roster last season was another low post scoring threat to compliment Tim Duncan, although F/G Kawhi Leonard did start posting up later in the season. PF Tiago Spillter averaged 10 points per game last season, but he is a cleanup guy at best, and not a very rugged one as he averaged just six rebounds a game last season. Also, he has shown very little ability to score on clear outs. This is true even when he has a size advantage. Boris Diaw has some moves on the low block, but he cannot be relied on to score consistently there because of his age and relative small size.

First-round draft pick Livio Jean-Charles suffered a severe knee sprain during FIBA U-20 back in July, and there’s speculation he would not have joined the Spurs next year anyway. Second-year player Nando De Carlo isn’t particularly spectacular at point guard, and I don’t think he makes this roster, which is rich in point guards. He is good enough to be in the NBA all the same. Former Ohio State Buckeye Deshaun Thomas isn’t a shoo-in to make this roster either. The Spurs are deep at shooting guard and small forward. Here’s what I feel the final roster of the Spurs may look like.

Read more at http://www.rantsports.com/nba/2013/10/03/predicting-san-antonio-spurs-final-2013-14-roster/?ubDHLbuBrFeS4u7i.99

Ricardo Hazell is a freelance sports writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.

ricardo hazell

Ricardo Hazell

Mary Lagenfield-USA TODAY Sports

5 Milwaukee Bucks Who Need To Step It Up This Season

Mary Lagenfield-USA TODAY Sports

Mary Lagenfield-USA TODAY Sports

People talk about various curses when it comes to professional sports championships, and they are usually the ramblings of a superstitious, championship-starved fan base. But there seems to be some validity to it in some instances.

The Chicago Cubs franchise, for example, has to be cursed. They last won a World Series over a century ago. Usually, a sports curse is traced back to a single moment in history. But when it comes to a franchise like the Milwaukee Bucks your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps we can call it the curse of Lew Alcindor?

There are teams that are great, there are teams that are horrible and then there are teams like the Bucks. Teams that wallow in mediocrity and whose various owners haven’t had a clue as to what is necessary to take the team to the next level. The last time the Milwaukee Bucks were within shouting distance of an NBA championship, Sam CassellRay Allen and Glen Robinson seemed more interested in who got more shots per minute than actually winning.

The Bucks have always had pretty good players and also have drafted well. So, I say again, your guess is as good as mine as to why it seems like they’re a lead pipe lock to be a .500 team year in and year out. This season’s rendition of the team features another group of really good athletes that might not necessarily mesh with one another well enough to win — and that, after all, is why they play. The goal is actually an NBA championship, is it not?

This slideshow contains a list of five players currently on the Bucks’ roster that will need to step it up in order for this team to at least contend in the Eastern Conference this season. Though he is not on this slideshow, I would like to give a special shout out to PG Brandon Knight. Him realizing his full potential would be a bonus of all bonuses. It’s not all about crossover dribbles and one-on-one clear outs, bro. Better decisions with the basketball are paramount to winning. 2.7 turnovers per game is just too much.

Read more at http://www.rantsports.com/nba/2013/10/04/5-milwaukee-bucks-who-need-to-step-up-this-season/?4RqRDgtxGHmAYO82.99

Ricardo Hazell is a freelance basketball and football writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.

ricardo hazell

Ricardo Hazell

Troy Toarmina-USA TODAY Sports

5 NBA Players Who Have Run Out of Excuses

Troy Toarmina-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Toarmina-USA TODAY Sports

*Excuses are a common thing these days, but they are still about as socially acceptable in the business world as wearing underwear on the outside of clothing.

But when it comes to some of our favorite professional athletes excuses are a way of life. They are often a buffer between what we want them to be, what they say they are, and who they really are as players. To be certain, reasons and excuses are not interchangeable but they are distant cousins.

A severe injury, for example, is a clear reason as to why a player might miss a game or not be able to perform to the standard we are used to seeing him perform at. But it is very difficult for the fan to figure out which is which at times. Yet we are to spend our hard earned money on athletes whose performances steadily decrease as their salaries increase?

Fans of the NBA brand of basketball remember the infamous Michael Jordan flu game versus the Utah Jazz in the 1997 NBA Finals, Willis Reed‘s Game 7 appearance in the 1970 NBA Finals against the mighty Los Angeles Lakers, and Isiah Thomas‘ 25-point third quarter burst against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1988 Finals, while playing on a severely sprained ankle. With all the Herculean efforts fans have witnessed in this league people are used to seeing the very best persevere over insurmountable odds. I feel like it is high time to call out some folks on this one-those who have not have not displayed anything near that type of fortitude.

Those listed here are players and one franchise whose excuses are just about up. This slideshow is a list of several NBA players and one organization who have not lived up to their potential in the past and their excuses as to their incessant mediocrity have completely run out. The only thing that is stopping them from living up to their potential this season — barring injury of course — is themselves.

Read more at http://www.rantsports.com/nba/2013/10/15/5-nba-players-who-have-run-out-of-excuses/?xtpECkuVVl23zMRC.99

Ricardo A. Hazell is a freelance writer based in New York City. You may follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.

ricardo hazell

Ricardo Hazell

al sharpton

EUR On the Scene: Big Things Have Been Poppin’ For Rev. Al Sharpton

al sharpton

*Last week was a big one for Reverend Al Sharpton.

The founder of the National Action Network (NAN) hosted the Trumpet Awards, giving trophys to such celebrities as Mike Tyson, Queen Latifah and behind the scenes big-wigs like sports agent Joel Sigel.

The evening featured laughs and acknowledgement of community and faith for all honorees who were able to attend and accept their awards. Also, the classic oratory styling of Rev. Al himself were on full display as he held the audience for nearly two hours.

On October 10th, a celebration was held for Sharpton himself as friends, family members and business associates alike intermingled at Studio 48 as the “grown and sexy” tripped the night away to some of the funkiest hits the 70s and 80s could offer.

Sharpton and friends came out to speak at the coronation of the evening. Watch video footage from both proceedings below.