NBA hopeful picks Manny by KO
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - April 12, 2014 - 12:00am

LAS VEGAS – NBA draft hopeful DeAndre Kane of Iowa State said the other day he expects Manny Pacquiao to knock out defending WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley in their rematch at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here tomorrow night (Sunday morning, Manila).

Kane, 24, said he knows little about the Philippines only that Pacquiao comes from the country and his former Marshall University teammate Chris Lutz plays in the PBA. The 6-4 Kane was a freshman redshirt at Marshall when Lutz was a senior. After graduating from Marshall and playing three years with the Thundering Herd, Kane was allowed by the NCAA to transfer to Iowa State to finish his basketball eligibility.

In the recent March Madness, Kane led Iowa State with 24 points and 10 rebounds in an 85-83 upset over the University of North Carolina as the Cyclones advanced to the Sweet 16 only to lose to eventual champion Connecticut on an 81-76 decision. Kane had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists in 40 minutes in his final collegiate contest. In his four-year varsity career, Kane averaged 16 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 34.2 minutes in 132 total games.

Kane is preparing for the NBA by training at the Joe Abunassar Impact facility under coach Drew Moore. He’s the first draft hopeful to report for workouts and Moore said at least 15 are expected to show up. The Impact facility was established in 2006 and has been the training grounds for over 200 NBA players including Kevin Garnett, Joakim Noah, Paul Pierce, Dwight Howard, Monta Ellis, Chris Bosh and Andrei Kirilenko.

Filipino teams were introduced to Impact by former PBA coaching consultant Jim Kelly, now Dallas Mavericks scout, through Talk ‘N’ Text coach Norman Black. The Tropang Texters, Alaska and the varsity men’s senior teams of Ateneo, San Beda, UE and UP have trained at Impact which also has gyms in Los Angeles, Florida and Michigan. The Philippine U-17 Batang Gilas national basketball team is now training at Impact. Coach Jamike Jarin’s squad is set to play a practice game tomorrow and another against Findlay Prep of Henderson, Nevada, next weekend.

Kane is projected to be a first round pick owing to his impressive performance in the NCAA this past season. He singled out LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant as his hardcourt heroes but said he’s not leaning towards any NBA team to play for. Kane said he’ll be happy just to be picked. “I’m dedicating the pursuit of my NBA dream to my dad Kelvin who passed away from a brain aneurism two years ago,” said Kane. “He would’ve been 50 if he hadn’t died and that’s why I changed my jersey number from 24 to 50. It was my dad who put a basketball in my hands when I was five. He encouraged me to play, to improve and be the best I can be.”

As for his hoop heroes, Kane said he admires James, Bryant and Durant for their “tunnel vision” in playing the game. “They leave it all on the floor,” he said. “They work hard, play hard. They’re focused on and off the court.”

Kane said he’s trying to score a ticket to watch the Pacquiao-Bradley fight but if he’s not successful, he’ll find a bar with a closed-circuit coverage to cheer for the Filipino fighter. “I’m a huge Pacquiao fan,” he said. “He’s fearless, it’s hard to imagine how a guy so little can be so strong. I was shocked when he was knocked out by (Juan Manuel) Marquez. I thought before that, he would beat (Floyd) Mayweather if ever they fight. Now, I’m not too sure. But what I’m sure of is Manny will knock out Bradley. Manny lost to Marquez, he won’t let something like that happen again. Down the road, I’m hoping Manny fights Mayweather, that’s the fight everybody wants to see.”

 Kane said if Iowa State had beaten Connecticut, the Cyclones would’ve had a good chance to going all the way. “We missed nine free throws, our leading scorer (Melvin Ejim) shot 11 points below his average and our third leading scorer (Georges Niang) broke his foot before the North Carolina game yet we lost to Connecticut by only five,” he said. “Connecticut is a tough beat and I knew after they beat us, they could win it all. They played with two point guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright – they made things happen.”

Kane said the win over North Carolina was unforgettable. “It was a blessing just to be on the same floor as North Carolina because of their rich heritage with Michael Jordan and their coach Roy Williams,” he said. “It was more of a blessing that we won. I just couldn’t believe it when coach Williams congratulated us by name. It was such an honor.”

Kane said he took up Master’s in Child Development in his first and only year at Iowa State. “There’s nothing much to do at school so I just focused on basketball,” he said. “Iowa State never won an NCAA title but we took the Big 12 tournament championship this season. I’m excited about playing in the NBA now I’m done with college. Is playing overseas an option? I’ve never played internationally. I know Chris is doing well in the PBA. My message to Chris is to keep working hard. How I wish I could shoot like him.”

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