HARRIS COUNTY - HSA INSIDER

A weekly look at all things Houston sports this week from the Harris County - Houston Sports Authority

A weekly look at Houston sports. Harris County - Houston Sports Authority

They captured our imagination, then they captured our hearts.

Those Houston Astros kept us on the edge of our seats for seven epic nights with head-shaking defensive plays and an offense that wouldn’t quit. They kept us trusting each other and kept us believing.

They took a swing at history and came away with their first World Series title.

Today, Houston will come together with the Astros to celebrate each other with a #HoustonStrong parade downtown. It’ll put an exclamation point on an incredible season and another huge sports event.

And, yes, we’re already working on the next big event – the 2024 College Football Playoff National Championship.

Houston was awarded the Jan. 8, 2024 game which will be played at NRG Stadium.

In less than two years, Houston has hosted the 2016 Final Four, the 2017 Super Bowl and the 2017 World Series. The Final Four and Super Bowl together generated an estimated $600 million for the economy and showcased not only Houston’s sports venues, but also a thriving downtown area with the Hilton-Americas,  Discovery Green and the George R. Brown Convention Center that’s perfect for a big-event experience.

In event terms, Houston has everything in place.

“Both the Final Four and Super Bowl had very successful footprints with the fan fests and music fests,’’ said Doug Hall, VP of Special Projects for the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority “

“The downtown experience has been great for the fans and the light-rail component connects us with the venues. It gives us the best of both.’’

Bill Hancock, executive director of the CFP, said Houston had demonstrated it’s mettle for college sports adding, ““Houston is one of the most venue-rich cities in the country with a great, modern stadium, multiple convention centers/arenas and a downtown park that will make for a terrific festival setting for our attendees.”

Hall estimates the 2024 championship game could bring $300 million to the local economy.

* * *

The Houston Business Journal released its list of Houston’s top-20 most influential sports leaders this week and it’s a who’s-who.

Take it from Houston Rockets owner Tilman Feritta, who told HBJ, "From ownership to presidents to general managers and coaches ... I don't think you've ever had it as strong (as it is now in Houston).

As you’d expect, Fertitta, Astros owner Jim Crane, Astros manager A.J. Hinch, Texans owner Bob McNair topped a list that also included two women -- Janis Burke, chief executive officer for the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority, and Suzie Thomas, the executive vice president, general counsel and chief administrative officer for the Houston Texans.

Others on the list included  Dynamo CEO Chris Canetti, Texans President Jamey Rootes, Houston Golf Association executive director Steve Timms and Joel Cowley, President/CEO of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

For the full list:

https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2017/10/31/see-houstons-top-20-most-influential-leaders-in.html?ana=e_hstn_bn&u=urYkvDVVf%2BSFvNNiDGWL5g0f4c79be&t=1509549134&j=79089411

* * *

With visions of all those incredible Astros plays still dancing through your heads – one of George Springer’s homeruns, an Alex Bregman defensive play or a performance from Justin Verlander or Charlie Morton – start thinking about your nominations for the inaugural Houston Sports Awards. You’ve seen moments from the Texans, the Rockets, college and high school teams, so make a list. There will the 10 different awards presented at the Feb. 8 event at the Hilton-Americas and the selection committee wants to know what you think.

Go to www.houstonsportsawards.com to submit your nominations and get sponsorship, ticket and table information.

 

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The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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