Many eyes are on this Tiger
Memphis freshman Derrick Rose is keeping all the NBA hype about him in check. He just wants to win.
MEMPHIS - Derrick Rose is a rarity in college basketball, a hyped high school all-American who has gone to great lengths just to fit in.
By all appearances, the freshman has drawn no jealousy from his Memphis teammates, only admiration.
While Southern California's O.J. Mayo and Kansas State's Michael Beasley are more familiar to the casual fan, Rose is well known within basketball circles, especially in the NBA.
"There is no question he would be a top-10 pick in the draft," said one NBA executive who requested anonymity.
Some have projected Rose as the first pick, though Beasley is getting much of the mention in that regard.
Even though the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Rose is projected to be a high lottery pick if he enters the draft after this season, he acknowledges there is plenty of room to grow.
Still, he has helped lead Memphis to a 10-0 record, which includes wins over Mayo's USC team, Oklahoma and Connecticut before Saturday's 85-71 victory over previously unbeaten Georgetown.
Rose is averaging 15.9 points, shooting 51 for 109 from the field (46.8 percent) and 11 for 30 (36.6 percent) from beyond the arc. He is averaging 4.3 assists and 3.4 turnovers.
Those numbers aren't overwhelming, but they don't tell the entire story. Rose already is strong enough to muscle past guards. He uses his quickness to drive and gets rid of the ball quickly to teammates, often not getting the assist but the pass that leads to it.
The 19-year-old Chicago native can be compared to Deron Williams, the highly regarded third-year point guard for the Utah Jazz.
"I think Derrick will be a better shooter than Williams and is quicker," one scout said.
Rose admits the adjustment to the college game hasn't been smooth.
"It's been kind of tough," he said after scoring 18 points and collecting six assists in Saturday's win over Georgetown. "When I first came here, I wasn't used to playing high intensity the whole game, so Coach got on me, and that first week was really different."
Coach happens to be John Calipari, the former 76ers assistant and New Jersey Nets head coach. Calipari says Rose hasn't acted like the high lottery pick he is projected to be.
"It's so refreshing to have a talented player that young who is humble and wants to win," Calipari said.
Being the freshman in the spotlight on a veteran team can be difficult, but the Tigers have welcomed Rose with enthusiasm.
"The hype he's gotten, he deserves it," said 6-7 junior Chris Douglas-Roberts, who is also on the radar of NBA scouts. "Look what he's doing. He came out of high school as a phenom."
Douglas-Roberts says the best of Rose is yet to come.
"He is just mature and isn't even close to what he is going to be, and that is scary," Douglas-Roberts said. "He is mature running our offense and knowing when to pull it back."
Rose hears the constant NBA talk but insists it doesn't consume his thoughts.
"I try not to think about it," he said. "We still have a lot of games to play, and that is all I'm worried about."
Rose is an old-school point guard, who delivers the ball and scores without the showboating so prevalent in the college game these days.
"He is one of those guys who is kind of like my wife - more concerned about everybody else and making them feel good than he is about himself," Calipari said. "He'd rather pass and help somebody else than take it himself and take the limelight, and it's just unusual and very refreshing."