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Editor & Publisher Clark Francis     All rights reserved - Copyright 2010

HOT RECRUITING INFORMATION FOR APRIL 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Like the old adage says "better late than never".  And this is especially true with regards to the pair commitments made early today by 6'9 Terrence Jones from Portland (Jefferson) OR and 6'6 Terrence Ross from Portland (Jefferson) OR to the University of Washington.  Not only were they the two highest ranked seniors still left on the board, but their addition also moves the Huskies' recruiting class, which also includes 7'0 Aziz N'Diaye from Southern Idaho (JC) ID and 6'7 Desmond Simmons from Richmond (Salesian) CA, up to #9 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  Jones is ranked #12 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP and, when he decides he wants to stay inside, he can be a dominant force with his size, skills, and athleticism in the paint.  In other words, he's the perfect replacement for 6'9 Enes Kanter from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA, who verbally committed the Huskies several months ago, but earlier this month reneged on that commitment and, instead signed, with the University of Kentucky.  Jones also promises to be an excellent complement to N'Diaye and 6'9 Jr Matthew Bryan-Amaning, as these three front court players should provide Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar and his staff with the most powerful front court in the league next season.  And Ross, who is ranked #42 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP and is a big time athlete and 3-point shooter, promises to be the perfect replacement next year for the 6'6 Sr Quincy Pondexter, who was the team's leading scorer and rebounder this past season with 19.4 ppg and 7.4 rpg.  However, while all this is great news for the Huskies, it's bad news for Wildcats head coach John Calipari, who also missed out on landing 6'9 C.J. Leslie from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, who yesterday picked N.C. State over Kentucky.  But before you start to feel too sorry for Calipari and all of those Wildcat fans who were hoping to land a recruiting class that is just as good as the one they landed a year ago, just remember that Kentucky already has 6'3 Brandon Knight from Ft. Lauderdale (Pine Crest) FL, 6'10 Enes Kanter from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA, 6'5 Doron Lamb from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, 6'5 Stacey Poole from Jacksonville (Pine Crest) FL, and 6'2 Jarrod Polson from Nicholasville (West Jessmaine) KY in the fold in a recruiting class that is now ranked #5 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  Editor's Note:  Ross signed his binding National Letter-of-Intent with the University of Washington.  However, after receiving a phone call by University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari, who appears to be turning up the heat for the player who is arguably the best senior on the West Coast, Jones did not sign and, as a result, is technically still on the board.  And, if Calipari is successful in getting Jones to change his mind, there will be almost as much bad blood between Washington and Kentucky fans as there is between Louisville and Kentucky fans now that 6'2 Jr Marquis Teague from Indianapolis (Pike) IN picked Kentucky over Louisville.  And making the story even more interesting is the fact that the top two schools for 6'3 Jr Tony Wroten from Seattle (Garfield) WA, who is ranked #8 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP, are the University of Washington and the University of Kentucky. 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A lot of coaches will tell you that they will stop recruiting a player if he reneges on their school.  The feeling being that they don't want somebody who suddenly isn't sure that he wants to be apart of their program.  I mention this because last night 6'9 C.J. Leslie from Raleigh (Word of God) NC once again cast his lot with N.C. State.  If you will recall, Leslie originally made an early verbal commitment to the Wolfpack at the end of his freshman season.  But he reneged on that commitment well over a year ago and there were rumors at the time that Leslie wanted to go play for John Calipari at the University of Memphis.  Then, Calipari got the Kentucky job and for the better part of the last year the Wildcats have been believed to be the leader for this incredible athlete with long arms, the ability to run the court like a guard, and the skills and talent to be as good as he wants to be.  Getting Leslie to play hard and become more consistent will be the challenge that N.C. State head coach Sidney Lowe and his staff will face after Leslie enrolls into school this fall.  And, if they are successful, then the sky is the limit for both the player and the program.  Leslie also is the perfect replacement for 6'9 Marquez "Luke" Cothron from Red Springs (Flora MacDonald Academy) NC, who reneged on the N.C. State several months ago and, as a result, is now the highest ranked 5th Year Player still available.  The addition of Leslie also moves the Wolfpack's recruiting class, which also includes 6'0 Ryan Harrow from Marietta (Walton) GA and 6'4 Lorenzo Brown from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, up to #12 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  However, even more important is the fact that N.C. State has landed three players in this year's recruiting class who are potential NBA players.  Leslie was a McDonald's All-American.  Harrow has jet like speed and quickness and is ranked #16 on our list of the top seniors nationally.  And Brown is ranked #3 on our List of the Top 5th Year Players and has dramatically improved in the last year.  This also comes as no surprise due to the fact that Lowe has a group of assistants (Larry Harris, Monte Towe, and Peter Strickland) who are among the best in the business.  On the other hand, they'd better on top of their game, as Wake Forest checks in at #6, Virginia checks in at #7, North Carolina checks in at #8, and Duke checks in at #13 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010Our New York City Editor Ron Naclerio thinks the University of Utah has a major steal on their hands in 6'0 Josh Watkins from Howard (JC) TX.  "He's one of those playground legends who was often ineligible in high school," says Naclerio.  "He's a strong, physical, tough hardnosed point guard who is good at getting into the lane and making his teammates better."  He also was considering schools like Texas Tech, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Oklahoma, and Saint Louis and he may be good enough to step in and make the same type of impact that Jamal Tinsley did a decade ago at Iowa State.  He's also a winner, as is evident the fact that he led his team to the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Championship in Hutchinson, KS, where he was named the tournament MVP and finished with 26 points and seven rebounds in the title game.  We also are intrigued with the pair of big men that have signed with Illinois-Chicago.  We're talking about 6'8 Dorian Taylor from Morton (JC) IL, who averaged 16.0 ppg and 9.7 rpg this past season, and 6'9 Darrin Williams from Wallace State (JC) AL, who was the 6'9, 295-pound anchor in the middle on a well-balanced team that finished in 5th Place in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Tournament in Hutchinson, KS.  There also is the verbal commitment that 6'8 Dwight McCombs from Morraine Valley (JC) IL made to Central Florida.   McComb is ranked #60 nationally in the junior college ranks.  But this 6'8, 240-pound, force to be reckoned around the basket and he averaged 22.3 ppg, 13.3 rpg, and 5.1 bpg and shot 70.0% from the field, which ranked him first in blocked shots, third in field goal percentage and rebounding, and 11th in scoring in the NJCAA Division II ranks.  And just as impressive are his incredible athleticism, 7'4 wing span and 42-inch vertical leap, which makes him ideally suited to step in and play in the up tempo style that new Knights head coach Donnie Jones is expected to employ at Central Florida.  It also looks like Lamar continues to stockpile perimeter players from the junior college ranks.  The latest being 6'1 Tremell Adams from from South Suburban (JC) IL, who averaged 22.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, and 3.3 apg and was 74-197 (38%) from behind the arc.  Adams also was named the Region IV Player-of-the-Year and a First Team All-American in the Division II junior college ranks.  He joins 6'5 Vincenzo Nelson from Itawamba (JC) MS, 6'2 Devon Lamb from Southwestern Christian (JC) TX, 6'1 Tremell Adams from South Suburban (JC) IL, 6'2 Kavon Rose from Lamar State (JC) TX, 6'6 Brandon Davis from Southwestern Christian (JC) TX, 6'1 Tre Lynch from Lancaster (H.S.) TX, 6'8 Michale Kyser from Lancaster (H.S.) TX, 6'4 Demetris Smith from Pflugerville (H.S.) TX, and 6'7 Darius Harris from Port Arthur (Memorial) TX in a recruiting class that is now ranked #15 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The signings and commitments just keep rolling right in and we start today's diatribe with the two signings that Central Michigan has received from 6'0 Paris Paramore from Triton (JC) IL and 6'9 Andre Coimbra from Northeastern Oklahoma (JC) OK.  The latter is a long athletic power forward who can rebound, block shots and score around the basket, which makes him ideally suited to step in right away and help 6'7 Colin Voss from East Grand Rapids (H.S.) MI, 6'10 Nate Van Arendonk from Grand Haven (H.S.) MI, and 6'9 Jevon Harden from Detroit (Loyola) MI, all of whom also are apart of this year's recruiting class, replace 6'8 Sr Chris Kellermann, who is the only starting front-court player that will graduate this spring.  The former is a versatile combo guard who is capable of doing a little bit of everything, including distributing the basketball, running the show, rebounding well for his size, hitting the outside shot, and using his strength and quickness to get both to the basket and to the foul line.  And, when you also add 6'5 Trey Zeigler from Mt. Pleasant (H.S.) MI, and 6'0 Derek Jackson from Cleveland (Benedictine) OH into the equation, it's easy to see why people in the league are talking about this being one of the best recruiting classes in the history of the Mid-American Conference.  And for our purposes we're talking about a recruiting class that is now ranked #11 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010If you will recall, we have Zeigler ranked #36, Jackson ranked #214, Voss ranked #246, Van Arendonk ranked #283, and Harden ranked #469 nationally in the senior class and, although, neither Paramore nor Coimbra are junior college All-Americans, they do have the experience and maturity necessary to step in and complement the mix of youth and experience that will be on hand next season in the Chippewas' program.  It also looks like new University of Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold and his staff are off to the races with regards to landing a big recruiting class this spring.  And the marquee player in this recruiting class is 6'1 Bobby Miles from City of Industry (Workman) CA, who is arguably one of the biggest sleepers in the nation to have emerged in the last several weeks.  Yes, that's the point guard who knocked our socks off when we saw him a week-and-a-half ago at the Double Pump High School Boy's Spring Tournament in Lakewood, CO.  If you will recall, I liked this tough hardnosed competitor who can both score and run a team so much that I touted him as a top 50-100 range senior nationally.  He is joined by 6'7 Trevor Wiseman from Valencia (Golden Valley) CA, 6'10 Vander Joaquim from Eastern Utah (JC) UT, 6'8 Dominck Brumfield from Big Bend (JC) WA, 6'7 Josten Thomas from Southern Idaho (JC) ID, 6'4 Jordan Coleman from Calabasas (H.S.) CA, and 6'4 Bo Barnes from Phoenix (Westwind Prep) AZ and, as a result, we're talking about a recruiting class that is now ranked #21 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010And in that class the Warriors have added a little bit of everything.  Barnes is a 3-point specialist.  Coleman has big time athleticism.  Thomas is a force to be reckoned with around the basket.  Brumfield can play both inside and outside.  Joaquin has great length and athleticism.  And Wiseman is versatile enough to play almost any position on the court.  We also are impressed with the fact that the University of California has landed 6'3 Emerson Murray from Vancouver (St. George's School) BC.  Our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson tipped us off last fall about Murray being a really good under the radar screen type guy and, as a result, this excellent 3-point shooter from Canada is ranked #116 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  And this is important, because, as things stand right now, Murray was the fourth highest ranked high school senior still available, behind 6'9 Terrence Jones from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 6'9 C.J. Leslie from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, and 6'6 Terrence Ross from Portland (Jefferson) OR.  Murray also should be a perfect complement to 6'2 Gary Franklin from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6'4 Allen Crabbe from Los Angeles (Price) CA, 6'8 Richmond Solomon from Los Angeles (Price) CA, and 6'5 Alex Rossi from Winnekta (New Trier) IL in a recruiting class that is now ranked #9 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010Crabbe is an exceptional all-around player, Solomon is an athletic man with a tremendous amount of upside, and Rossi and Franklin are two of the best 3-point shooters in the country.  We also are intrigued by the latest twist and turn in the on-going saga that involves 6'2 Jr Matt Carlino from Bloomington (South) IN, who is ranked #47 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  Remember, this is a guy who was a middle school phenom and, as a result, was a top recruiting priority for schools like the University of Arizona and Arizona State prior to when he made an early verbal commitment to Indiana University in August of 2008.  And soon after making that commitment his family packed up and moved from Phoenix, AZ to Bloomington, IN.  Then, a month ago Carlino reneged on the Hoosiers and re-opened his recruitment.  And now he has picked UCLA and it looks like they convinced him that he will be the point guard of the future for the Bruins.  Now don't get me wrong, I like this skilled wing play guard who can shoot the basketball better than most.  But a point guard Carlino is not.  We're also will be interested to see if UCLA gets 6'9 Terrence Jones from Portland (Jefferson) OR, especially in light of the fact that the word on the street is that his teammate and close friend - 6'6 Terrence Ross from Portland (Jefferson) OR - is expected to make it official for the University of Washington on Friday.  If Jones and Ross both pick the University of Washington, then the Huskies' recruiting class, which currently is tied at #97, along with Virginia Tech and New Mexico State, and already includes 7'0 Aziz N'Diaye from Southern Idaho (JC) ID and 6'7 Desmond Simmons from Richmond (Salesian) CA, will move up to #9 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  On the other hand, if Jones picks UCLA, then the Bruins' recruiting class, which currently is tied at #30, along with Baylor, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010 and currently includes 6'8 Josh Smith from Covington (Kentwood) WA, 6'5 Tyler Lamb from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, and 6'1 Lazeric Jones from John A. Logan (JC) IL, will move up to #7 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010If Jones picks Kansas, then the Jayhawks' recruiting class, which is currently ranked #76 and includes 6'2 Josh Selby from Baltimore (Lake Clifton) MD and 6'2 Royce Woolridge from Phoenix (Sunnyslope) AZ, will into a tie at #24, along with Illinois and Florida State, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  Or if Jones picks the University of Kentucky, then the Wildcats' recruiting class, which currently is ranked #5 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010 and includes 6'3 Brandon Knight from Ft. Lauderdale (Pine Crest) FL, 6'10 Enes Kanter from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA, 6'5 Doron Lamb from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, and 6'5 Stacey Poole from Jacksonville (Providence School) FL, will move up to #2 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010It also looks like Gonzaga is loading up with outside shooting with an early verbal commitment yesterday from 6'2 Jr Gary Bell from Kent (Kentridge) WA and today's commitment by 6'4 Keegan Hyland from South Portland (H.S.) ME.  Bell, who is ranked #213 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP, can shoot the lights out, is a tough hardnosed defender, and plays for one of the top club team programs in the nation (Seattle Rotary Select).  Hyland got some Atlantic-10 looks last summer and briefly verbally committed to the University of Vermont last fall.  But then he suffered a stress fracture and fell under the radar screen when he missed all but two games last season.  More recently he was planning on going the prep school route at Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH prior to accepting the scholarship offer when it was made by the Gonzaga coaching staff.  There also are the two recent additions to the University of Oklahoma's recruiting class by 6'7 Chris Washington from Connors State (JC) TX and 6'9 Nick Thompson from Eastern Utah (JC) UT.  That first one is especially significant due to the fact that Washington averaged a double-double (19.2 ppg and 12.9 rpg), was named a First Team NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) All-American, and led his team to a 30-4 record and an appearance in the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, KS.  These two additions move Oklahoma's recruiting class, which also already includes 6'5 Cameron Clark from Sherman (H.S.) TX, 6'3 T.J. Taylor from Denison (H.S.) TX, and 6'6 Tyler Neal from Oklahoma City (Putnam City West) OK, into a tie at #27, along with LSU, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010And, if we counted transfers when ranking recruiting classes, this class would be ranked #15 due to the fact that the Sooners also have landed 6'2 Frosh Carl Blair, who averaged 9.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, and 3.7 apg this past season for the University of New Orleans.  He also will be eligible to play right away, because his former school is dropping from the Division I to the Division III ranks.  We also understand that the Albany has landed 6'3 Russell Moore from John A. Logan (JC) IL and 6'7 Theo Hatcher from Central Arizona (JC) AZ.  The big prize here is Hatcher, who has a high basketball IQ, is versatile enough to play three different positions, and can shoot the lights out, as is evident by the fact that he hit 55-120 (46%) from beyond the arc this past season.  The University of Mississippi also appears to have really helped itself with the recent additions of 6'7 Isaiah Massey from Tampa (TAAG Academy) FL and 6'5 Donald Williams from Antelope Valley (JC) CA.  Massey is an aggressive athletic power forward who is a force to be reckoned with on the boards and Williams, who originally signed with the University of Kentucky, where he red-shirted as a freshman two years ago, is a terrific 3-point shooter.  We also want to mention that 6'6 Jr James Siakam from Carbondale (Brehm Prep) IL has picked Vanderbilt, 6'7 Elliott Berry from Pasadena (JC) CA has verbally committed to UC-Riverside, 6'4 Jawanza Poland from Hutchinson (JC) KS has signed with South Florida, and 6'7 Darrious Curry from Houston (Stratford) TX has made it official for West Virginia.  Yes, that's the same guy who originally signed with UTEP, but got out of his National Letter-of-Intent earlier this month after the coaching change.  And his athleticism and outside shooting make him exactly what the doctor ordered for the Mountaineers, which have an immediate need to fill at the small forward spot with the graduation of 6'7 Sr Da'Sean Butler and the early entry into the NBA Draft of 6'9 Soph Devin Ebanks Poland sat out this past season, but averaged 13.5 ppg and 3.6 rpg and was named the Freshman-of-the-Year in the tough Jayhawk Conference when he was at Cowley County during the 2008-09 season.  Berry averaged 16.9 ppg and 8.8 rpg and is ranked #24 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com.  Siakam is a currently a junior, but this athletic combo forward has enough credits to graduate a year early from high school and, as a result, appears to be ideally suited to fill the defending/shot blocking/rebounding void that Commodores head coach Kevin Stallings needed to fill in his current recruiting class. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The big story that occurred over the weekend while I was at the Hoop Group Providence Jam Fest in Providence, RI involved 6'3 Cory Joseph from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, who picked Texas over Villanova, Connecticut, Minnesota, and UNLV.  We're talking about a big time athlete, lights out 3-point shooter, and a true combo guard meaning that he can play either guard spot equally well.  And this is important, because Joseph, who is ranked #15 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Longhorns, which had a plethora of talented guards in the program a year ago, but never seemed to be able to find the right chemistry en route to a disappointing 24-10 season.  This also makes perfect sense when one remembers that the Longhorns coaching staff has already locked up two of Joseph's club team teammates in 6'9 Tristan Thompson from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, who is ranked #7 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, and 6'2 Jr Myck Kabongo from Newark (St. Benedict's) NJ, who is ranked #10 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  And even more impressive is the fact that Kabongo also heads a list of players, which also includes 6'5 Jr Sheldon McClellan from Houston (Bellaire) TX, 6'5 Jr Julien Lewis from Galveston (La Marque) TX, and 6'7 Jr DeAndre Daniels from Woodland Hills (Taft) CA, in a recruiting class that is ranked #1 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  Our New York City Editor Ron Naclerio tells us that 6'0 Jr Sterling Gibbs from West Orange (Seton Hall Prep) NJ has made an early verbal commitment to the University of Maryland, 6'0 Jordan Bronner from New Rochelle (Iona Prep) NJ has picked Hampshire, and 6'8 Kadeem Jack from New York (Rice) NY has put off making a college decision and, instead, now plans to go the prep school route.  And Naclerio thinks this is a good move due to the fact that Jack is still blossoming into a big time player and is young for his grade.  Bronner is ranked #556 nationally in the senior class and is a good old-fashioned point guard who knows how to run a team and make his teammates better.  The same also can be said about Gibbs, who is ranked #36 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP, but does not get nearly the respect that he deserves from our competition due to the fact that he's a no frills type of guy and does all of the little things that often go unnoticed, but are necessary to help his team win.  We also find it interesting that Gibbs decided not to follow in the footsteps of his older brother (Ashton Gibbs) and pick the University of Pittsburgh, which was one of the finalists on his list, along with schools like Indiana, Florida, St. John's, Rutgers, and Seton Hall.  Nor did Gibbs elect to stay home and be apart of the rebuilding job at any one of the three aforementioned Big East schools that have recently made head coaching changes.  Instead, Gibbs is expected to be another important piece to the puzzle for the Terrapins, which next year will attempt to replace 6'6 Sr Greivis Vasquez with 6'0 Terrell Stoglin from Tucson (Santa Rita) AZ and 6'3 Pe'Shon Howard from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA.  It also looks like Loyola-Marymount has stolen another one in 6'9 Godwin Okonji from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, who is ranked #118 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP and was the unsung hero on one of the best high school teams in the nation each of the last two years.  Okonji is extremely unselfish and is a great shot blocker, defender, and rebounder, which explains why more often than not he will end up with more rebounds than points.  Okonji also joins 5'10 Anthony Ireland from Winchendon (School) MA and 6'3 Ayodeji Edbeyemi from Ft. Washington (National Christian) MD, both of whom also are in the fold in this year's recruiting class, and, as a result, the Lions appear to be in a perfect position to make another major leap next year.  If you will, recall, Loyola-Marymount head coach Max Good and his staff will have their top eight players - 6'7 Soph Drew Viney, 6'4 Jr Vernon Teel, 6'3 Soph Jarred DuBois, 6'8 Soph Kevin Young, 6'4 Jr Larry Davis, 6'7 Frosh Ashley Hamilton, 6'10 Frosh Edgar Garibay, and 6'3 Frosh Given Kalipinde - back from a team that was one of the most improved in college basketball a year ago.  We also have confirmed via our Mississippi Editor Lavel Johnson that Duke has gotten an early verbal commitment from 6'9 Jr Tyler Adams from Brandon (H.S.) MS.  Currently we have Adams ranked #50 nationally in the junior class.  But he is a perfect fit for the Blue Devils for several reasons.  First, he's a four-year player and, as a result, should continue to maintain the continuity of the Blue Devils program.  Second, he's a prototypical big bodied low post player who bangs, scores, and rebounds in the paint.  Third, he's not a super athlete, but he's got an excellent skill set and is out of the same mold physically as a number of successful big men, like Elton Brand and Sheldon Williams, who have played for Mike Krzyzewski over the years.  There also is the fact that 6'8 Brice Kofane from Charlottesville (The Miller School) VA has signed a National Letter-of-Intent with Providence College.  He averaged 12.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg, and 3.2 bpg and recorded 10 double-doubles this past season.  However, it's his motor, athleticism, and upside and potential that get the Providence coaching staff excited.  Kofane also joins 6'3 Gerard Coleman from Tilton (School) NH, 6'2 Joseph Young from Houston (Yates) TX, and 6'7 Ron Giplaye from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA in a recruiting class that is now tied at #40, along with Pittsburgh, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  Our Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Editor Allen Rubin tells us that 6'7 Jaylen Bond from Plymouth Meeting (Plymouth Whitemarsh) PA has committed to the University of Pittsburgh, 6'4 Jr Trey Davis from Richmond (Benedictine) VA has made an early verbal commitment to the University of Richmond, and 6'7 Jay Copeland from Suffolk (King's Fork) VA has signed with Ball State.  And Copeland appears to be exactly what Cardinals head coach Billy Taylor and his staff were looking for, as this shot blocker/defender/rebounder averaged 13.0 ppg, 13.0 rpg, and 3.0 bpg this past season.  Davis is ranked #203 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP and it appears that this versatile athletic wing player is following in the footsteps of his father (John Davis) who played for the Spiders in the mid-80s.  Bond is your stereotypical tough hardnosed athletic inside guy who plays hard, runs the court, and gets it done around the basket.  He also should be an excellent complement to 6'6 J.J. Moore from South Kent (Prep) CT, 6'2 Isaiah Epps from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, and 6'4 Cameron Wright from Cleveland (Benedictine) OH in a recruiting class that is tied at #40, along with Providence, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  Rubin also tells us that 6'4 Patrick Swilling from New Orleans (Brother Rice) LA has picked St. Joseph's.  Apparently Swilling, who is a big time football prospect that was being recruited by schools like LSU, Auburn, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee, did not want to follow in the footsteps of his father who was an all-pro linebacker and played for the New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions, and Oakland Raiders.  Ironically, Swilling becomes the second player from the Bayou State to commit to the Hawks in this year's recruiting class.  The other was 6'3 Langston Galloway from Baton Rouge (Christian Life) LA, who is ranked #79 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  And this is easily explained when one finds out that Galloway is the nephew of St. Joseph's assistant coach Geoff Arnold and that Swilling and Galloway have been close friends since they began playing AAU ball together at the age of 13.   We also have confirmed that 6'8 Darius Leonard from Raleigh (Kestrel Heights) NC has gotten out of the National Letter-of-Intent that he signed last fall with Iona and now is heading to Kent State, where he will join 6'6 DeAndre Nealy from Mott (JC) MI, 6'4 DeShawn Clay from Humble (Christian Life) TX, 6'7 Kenny Knight from Cincinnati (Aiken) OH, 6'2 Mike Porrini from Gulf Coast (JC) FL, 6'7 Mark Henniger from Massillon (Jackson) OH, 6'4 Eric Gaines from Country Club Hills (Hillcrest) IL, and 6'4 Carlton Guyton from Mineral Area (JC) MO in a recruiting class that is now ranked #27 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  It also looks like 6'10 Gorgui Sy Dieng from Huntington (Prep) WV has finally made it official for the University of Louisville.  Yes, that's the same guy who was the MVP for his team two weeks ago in the Derby Classic and then took his game to another level weekend before last at the Double Pump High School Boy's Spring Tournament in Lakewood, CO.  Not only is he exactly what the doctor ordered for the Cardinals inside next year, but he also provides the perfect complement to 6'4 Justin Coleman from Huntington (Prep) WV, 6'0 Russell Smith from South Kent (Prep) CT, and 5'11 Elisha Justice from Pikeville (Shelby Valley) KY in a recruiting class that is now ranked #16 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010. 

Saturday, April 24, 2010, Sunday, April 25, 2010, & Monday, April 26, 2010

The big story at the Hoop Group Providence Jam Fest, which was held over the weekend in Providence, RI, was expected to be all of the good young big men who grace the high school and prep school ranks in New England.  However, it was a plethora of great 3-pont shooters that stole the show.  And right at the top of the list was 6'6 Soph Ricardo Ledo from Barrington (St. Andrews) RI, who hit five 3-pointers in the second round of the playoffs against Delaware Team Takeover, five seven 3-pointers in the semi-finals against the Connecticut Basketball Club, and four 3-pointers in the championship game against the Westchester Hawks.  Ledo also had 25 points in the title game and was the most consistent player that we saw all weekend.  But, in the end, he was unable to get his team over the hump in the final minutes, as the Westchester Hawks pulled off a major upset 67-59 upset in the championship game.  Ledo also has big time athleticism and great moves to the basket, which made him our choice as the best player in the tournament based on performance.  The only drawback is that he's a reclassified sophomore, which means he will be ineligible to play in the McDonald's All-American Game when he is a high school senior.  But he really is that good!  There also was the 32 points and eight 3-pointers that 6'6 Jr Tyler Harris from Dix Hills (Half Hollow Hills West) NY made against the Connecticut Knights in the semi-final.  And what about the impressive performance by 6'1 Jr Chris Martin from Washington (St. John's) DC, who had 23 points and five 3-pointers in the championship game.  Martin, who is rumored to be moving back to New York City, where he will play his senior season at Mt. Vernon (H.S.) NY, also more than picked up the slack for Harris, who finished with only three points in the title game, and, as a result, gets our vote over Harris for tournament MVP honors in the 17-Under Division.  The most prolific scorer at the entire event was 6'3 Mike Anderson from Tampa (TAGG Academy) FL, who had a 40-point game early in the playoffs and had 22 points and three 3-pointers when his team was eliminated in the semi-finals by the Westchester Hawks.  We also can't say enough about 6'2 Jr Sean Grennan from Tom's River (Monsignor Donovan) NJ, who is a tough hardnosed competitor and does a great job of scoring from mid-to-long range and creating his shot and scoring with a hand in his face.  The biggest upset of the tournament was orchestrated by the Granite State Jayhawks, which knocked off the New England Playaz, 69-61, in pool play.  And the big secret to this New Hampshire team's success was the outside shooting of 6'3 Jr Conner Green from Nashau (Bishop Guertin) NH and 6'4 Jr Sean McClung from Nashau (Bishop Guertin) NH, who knocked down eight treys and combined for 34 points against a group that featured 6'8 Markus Kennedy from Winchendon (School) MA, 6'8 Jr Alex Murphy from Southborough (St. Mark's) MA, 6'0 Jr Naadir Tharpe from Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH, and 6'1 Jr Aaron Cosby from Northfield (Mt. Hermon) MA.  We also have to mention the four 3-pointers 6'3 Soph Jules Tavares from Wilbraham (Wilbraham & Monson) MA had in the semi-finals, as he provided the perfect complement to 6'6 Soph Ricardo Ledo from Barrington (St. Andrews) RI, 6'5 Jr Mike Carter-Williams from Barrington (St. Andrews) RI, 6'9 Soph Khem Birch from Winchendon (School) MA, and 6'6 Ryan Romich from Groton (Groton-Dunstable) MA on Expressions Elite, which in our opinion was the most talented team in the tournament.  We also have to give kudos to 5'10 Jr Andrew Mitola from East Hanover (Hanover Park) NJ and 6'1 Frosh Jaren Sina from Gladstone (Gill-Saint Bernard's) NJ, who provided most of the firepower in Hoop Heaven Heat Elite's run to the title game in the 16-Under Division.  Mitola doesn't have the size and strength necessary to get recruited higher than the low Division I level.  But it seemed like he shot the lights out in every game (i.e. he had 26 points and six 3-pointers in the quarterfinals) and made a living off of passes from Sina, who did a masterful job of running show and making those around him better.  And this savvy point guard with a high basketball IQ and an excellent understanding of the game well beyond his youthful age, also stepped up and scored 25 points and had five 3-pointers in the semi-finals.  There also was the masterful performance turned by 6'3 Soph Ryan Arcidiacono from Langhorne (Neshaminy) PA, who led the Pennsylvania Playaz to a 56-54 win against the Hoop Heaven Heat Elite in the championship game of the 16-Under Division.  Arcidiacono, who is ranked #4 in the sophomore class in the area by our Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Editor Allen Rubin, did a great job of both knocking down the outside shot and penetrating and dishing en route to 18 points in the title game.  However, when it is all said and done, we think Arcidiacono will project as a 2-guard due to the fact that he is such a good 3-point shooter and he may not have the speed and quickness necessary to get a jet quick point guard at the big time college level.  We also have to give an assist to Steve Keller of the National Recruiting Report, because he was the first one to tip us off about 6'8 Frosh Kuron Iverson from West Hartford (Northwest Catholic) CT being a superstar in the making.  Not only did Keller provide us with a top five billing, but he also told us that Iverson had the size and ball handling and passing skills necessary to make Magic Johnson-like comparisons.  However, we still weren't prepared for Iverson's 27-point performance, which included doing everything from blocking shots, rebounding, and scoring inside to bringing the ball up the court, beating his man off the dribble, and hitting the open man with a pass, which almost always was right on the money.  In other words, we're talking about a point/center with an incredible wing span, tremendous athleticism, and upside and potential that is off the chart.  The only down sides are that he's a year-and-a-half older than his grade and it appears that he doesn't always play with the effort and intensity that he showed when I saw him in the first round of the playoffs against the Connecticut Basketball Club on Saturday night.  On the other hand, if Iverson plays like this on a consistent basis, he is clearly better than 6'5 Frosh Brian Bridgewater from Baton Route (Episcopal) LA, 6'3 Frosh Nigel Williams-Goss from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, 5'11 Frosh Kasey Hill from Mount Dora (Bible) FL, and 6'7 Frosh Julius Randle from Plano (Prestonwood Academy) TX, and 6'2 Frosh Rodney Purvis from Raleigh (Upper Room Christian Academy) NC, who prior to this weekend were our top five-ranked freshmen nationally.  We also got our first look at 6'7 Frosh Jordan Washington from Queens (Pathaways) NY, who is currently ranked #6 nationally in the freshman class by the HOOP SCOOP,  in the championship game of the 15-Under Division.  Unfortunately Washington got did not score a single point prior to getting ejected for yelling at the official early in the game.  He also didn't appear to have a killer instinct and he was too slow and lethargic to project as anything more than a tweener with some size and potential for the mid-major level.  And when one also finds out that Washington is another guy who is older than most of the players in his class, it's easy to see why this might be a good time to sell, if Washington was a stock.  Instead, the player who caught our eye on the New Heights Blue Team, which lost to B.A.B.C. in 73-59 in the championship game in the 15-Under Division, was 6'5 Frosh Shamik Shephard from Brooklyn (Shore Shore) NY, who scored 19 points and had explosive athleticism that he used to go coast-to-coast.  B.A.B.C. featured a well-balanced attack that was led by 6'3 Frosh Wayne Selden, who is bound for Tilton (School) NH, where he will reclassify next year; 6'3 Frosh Kamail Robinson from Springfield (Central) MA, and 6'7 Frosh Goodluck Okonoboh from Tilton (School) NH, who scored 14 points, 14 points, and 12 points respectively in the 15-Under Championship Game.  Another player who didn't live up to expectations was 6'11 Soph Andre Drummond from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, who is ranked as high as #1 nationally in the sophomore class by some of our competitors.  Drummond did have 11 points, 16 points, and 14 points the three times I watched his team play.  But he's another guy who spends too much time away from the basket, he's not nearly aggressive enough when he around the basket, and it also doesn't seem like he's gotten his timing back after being slowed by injuries this past winter.  Instead, the catalyst behind the Connecticut Basketball Club's advancement into the semi-finals was 6'7 Tavon Allen from New Haven (Hillhouse) CT and he really impressed with us his size for his position, athleticism, and ability to both get to the basket and make a living with his mid-range shot and outside shooting.  There is no question that Allen was one of the best players in the tournament and, although he plans to go the prep school route next year, he is still a great sleeper for the top 100 in our Final Ranking of the Top Seniors Nationally in the Class of 2010.  We also have to mention 6'11 Jr Dennis Clifford from Milton (Academy) MA, because this agile big man with a long wing span, good hands, a soft touch, and good post moves was one of Rob Kennedy's favorite players.  Speaking of the President of the Hoop Group, he and all of his people (Steve Ott, Mike Farrelly, Chris Zupko, Joey Gallo, Brad Wachtel, et al.) need to get a special mention for putting on a well-organized and first class run event. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

This weekend I will be at the Hoop Group Providence Jam Fest in Providence, RI and this is always an important event due to the fact that every year you can count on seeing all of the top club team programs in New England (BABC, New England Playaz, Massachusetts Expressions, Massachusetts Rivals, Connecticut Select, Connecticut Basketball Club, the Rhode Island Breakers), as well as a number of good teams from New York and New Jersey.  And this year's tournament promises is no exception, as the list of top players expected to be in attendance includes 6'8 Markus Kennedy from Winchendon (School) MA, 6'6 Jr Mike Carter-Williams from Barrington (St. Andrews) RI, 6'5 Jr Jermaine Saunders from New York (Rice) NY, 6'5 Jr Achraf Yacoubou from Brookville (Long Island Lutheran) NY, 6'0 Jr Naadir Tharpe from Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH, 6'7 Jr Tyler Harris from Dix Hills (Half Hollow Hills West) NY, 6'11 Jr Ryan Canty from Tilton (School) MA, 6'10 Jr Edson Avia from Brooklyn (Thomas Jefferson) NY, 6'11 Jr Vince Van Nes from Northfield (Northfield-Mt. Hermon) MA, 6'11 Soph Andre Drummond from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, 6'9 Soph DaJuan Coleman from Dewitt (Jamesville-Dewitt) NY, 6'8 Soph Khem Birch from Winchendon (School) MA, 6'7 Soph Alex Murphy from Southborough (St. Mark's) MA, 6'5 Soph Ricky Ledo from Barrington (St. Andrews) RI, 7'0 Soph Kaleb Tarcewski from Southborough (St. Mark's) MA, and 6'8 Frosh West Hartford (Northwest Catholic) CT.

With the hiring of Virginia Tech assistant coach Bill Courtney at Cornell, former Louisiana Tech head coach Keith Richard at Louisiana-Monroe, and Ohio University head coach Chris Holtmann at Gardner-Webb, 40 of the 48 head coaching jobs that have opened this year have now been filled.  If you will recall, former Siena head coach Fran McCaffery has replaced Todd Lickliter at Iowa, former Colorado head coach Jeff Bzdelik has replaced Dino Gaudio at Wake Forest, former UTEP head coach Tony Barbee has replaced Jeff Lebo at Auburn, former Northern Colorado head coach Tad Boyle has replaced Jeff Bzdelik at Colorado, former Wright State head coach Brad Brownell has replaced Oliver Purnell at Clemson, former Cornell head coach Steve Donahue has replaced Al Skinner at Boston College, former Iona head coach Kevin Willard has replaced Bobby Gonzalez at Seton Hall, former Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell has replaced Jeff Wainwright at DePaul, former UCLA head coach Steve Lavin has replaced Norm Roberts at St. John's, former USC head coach Tim Floyd has replaced Tony Barbee at UTEP,former USC assistant coach Gib Arnold has replaced Bob Nash at Hawaii, former Ohio State assistant coach Alan Major has replaced Bobby Lutz at Charlotte, former Pittsburgh assistant coach Tom Herrion has replaced Donnie Jones at Marshall, former Hofstra head coach Tom Pecora has replaced Dereck Whittenburg at Fordham, former Marshall head coach Donnie Jones has replaced Kirk Speraw at Central Florida, former The Citadel head coach Ed Conroy has replaced Dave Dickerson at Tulane, former Texas Tech head coach James Dickey has replaced Tom Penders at Houston, former Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo has replaced Mack McCarthy at East Carolina, former Gonzaga assistant coach Leon Rice has replaced Greg Graham at Boise State, former Wright State assistant coach Billy Donlon has replaced Brad Brownell at Wright State, former Sam Houston State head coach Bob Marlin has replaced Robert Lee at Louisiana-Lafayette, former Siena assistant coach Mitch Buonaguro has replaced Fran McCaffery at Siena, former Providence head coach Tim Welsh has replaced Tom Pecora at Hofstra, former Appalachian State head coach Buzz Peterson has replaced Benny Moss at UNC-Wilmington, former Appalachian State assistant coach Jason Capel has replaced Buzz Peterson at Appalachian State, former C.W. Post head coach Tim Cluess has replaced Kevin Willard at Iona, former Wisconsin-Green Bay head coach Tod Kowalczyk has replaced Gene Cross at Toledo, former Wisconsin-Green Bay assistant Brian Wardle has replaced Tod Kowalczyk at Wisconsin-Green Bay, former Golden State Warriors assistant coach Russell Turner has replaced Pat Douglass at UC-Irvine, former Pennsylvania assistant coach Jerome Allen has replaced Glen Miller at Pennsylvania, former Mt. St. Mary's head coach Milan Brown has replaced Sean Kearney at Holy Cross, former University of Pennsylvania assistant coach John Gallagher has replaced Dan Leibovitz at Hartford, former Newark (St. Benedict's) NJ head coach Danny Hurley has replaced Mike Deane at Wagner, former NBA scout and assistant coach Paul Cormier has replaced Terry Dunn at Dartmouth, former Northern Colorado assistant coach B.J. Hill has replaced Tad Boyle at Northern Colorado, former Sam Houston State assistant coach Jason Hooten has replaced Bob Marlin at Sam Houston State, and former Arkansas Baptist head coach Corliss Williamson has replaced Rand Chappell at Central Arkansas.  That leaves Oregon, Rutgers, Chicago State, The Citadel, Columbia, St. Francis-NY, Howard, and Mt. St. Mary's left to be filled.  Also noteworthy is the fact that there have been an average of 45 heading coaching openings per year over the last eight years, which means we're already over the average and there should be several more based on the potential ripple effect that potentially could take place once the University of Oregon and Rutgers get filled.  Speaking of those two jobs, the name we're hearing the most right now for the Oregon job is UNLV head coach Lon Kruger and we still think ESPN television analyst Fran Fraschilla is a no-brainer for the Scarlet Knights.  As for Bill Courtney, we think this is a great hire for Cornell.  Remember, this is the guy who recruited all of the players on George Mason's NCAA Final Four team in 2006 and he's got more than his share of recruiting ties in the Northeast, Midwest, and Washington, DC area after having also made stops as an assistant coach at Bowling Green, Providence, Virginia, Virgnia Commonwealth, and Virginia Tech.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It really does illustrate just how powerful the University of Kentucky has become on the national recruiting stage in the just over a year that Wildcats head coach John Calipari has been on the job.  We're talking about the fact that 6'2 Jr Marquis Teague from Indianapolis (Pike) IN, who is ranked #3 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP, earlier today picked Kentucky over Louisville, which was the school that had been believed to be the leader for Teague's services for over a year-and-a-half.  And to add insult to injury is the fact that Teague's father played for Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino back when Pitino was the boss at Boston University and last fall Pitino hired Shabako Lands, who previously was an assistant coach at Teague's high school, as a special assistant to the head coach.  Teague is a tremendous athlete with great ball handling and passing skills, tremendous explosive and ability to get to just about any spot he wants to on the court, and terrific instincts and an incredible basketball IQ, which makes him ideally suited to be the next in a long line of great guards (Dajuan Wagner, Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, and Brandon Knight) to play for Calipari for a year and then enter the NBA Draft after their freshman year.  In other words, it looks like Calipari has already replaced 6'3 Brandon Knight from Ft. Lauderdale (Pine Crest) FL, who is ranked #3 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP and signed a week ago with the Wildcats, before he's even enrolled in school and played a game.  This also comes on the heels of the early verbal commitment that Calipari and his staff received a week ago from 6'8 Jr Michael Gilchrist from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, who is the best player in the nation regardless of class, and, as a Kentucky's recruiting class in now ranked #3 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011 However, even more important, the Wildcats have a pair of juniors in the fold who are clearly better than the two players (John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins) that recently decided to forgo the rest of their college eligibility and declare for the NBA Draft.  And making the story even more interesting is the fact that Kentucky also has recently landed Knight, 6'5 Doron Lamb from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, and 6'10 Enes Kanter from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA and is believed to be among the favorites for 6'9 Terrance Jones from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 6'10 C.J. Leslie from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, and 6'6 Terrence Ross from Portland (Jefferson) OR.  Get any two of the three aforementioned players (Jones, Leslie, and Ross) and the Wildcats will have an even better recruiting class than they had a year ago when they landed 6'4 John Wall from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, 6'10 DeMarcus Cousins from Mobile (LeFlore) AL, 6'10 Daniel Orton from Oklahoma City (Bishop McGuiness) OK, 6'0 Eric Bledsoe from Birmingham (Parker) AL, 6'7 Darnell Dobson from Miami-Dade (JC) FL, and 6'7 Jonathan Hood from Madisonville (North Hopkins) KY.  Obviously this is huge, because Kentucky appears to be on track to land what clearly may be the three best back-to-back-to-back recruiting classes in the history of the game. And this ability to reload in a hurry is why we have Calipari ranked as the #1 coach in the game today in our Exclusive Ranking of the Top Coaches in College Basketball, which was published on Monday, March 15th.  And, while this is great news for Wildcats fans, it's not good news for coaches like Pitino and Indiana University head coach Tom Crean, who has missed on getting the best player to come out of his backyard since Greg Oden, Michael Conley, and Eric Gordon.  As for Pitino, losing Teague is not that big a deal from the standpoint that the Cardinals needed to a point guard to come in and run the show.  If you will recall, 6'0 Frosh Peyton Siva will be around for three more years.  But it is devastating for several other reasons.  First, Pitino and his staff have a good nucleus around which to build, but need several great players in order to get the program back to the highest level, as well as keep up with their arch rival (the University of Kentucky).  Second, Pitino has never recruited a player as hard nor as long as Teague and, as a result, missing out on this one will make people start to wonder what he's going to do now?  However, before you start to feel too sorry for the Cardinals, remember that they already have 6'5 Jr Wayne Blackshear from Chicago (Morgan Park) IL, 6'5 Jr Ryan Taylor from Indianapolis (Lawrence North) IN, and 6'10 Jr James "Zac" Price from Lakewood (St. Edwards) OH in a recruiting class that is now ranked  #2 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It looks like we were half right when we told you yesterday that we expect 6'7 Titus Rubles from Grand Prairie (God's Academy) TX and 6'4 Kervins Calixte from Grand Prairie (God's Academy) TX to make it official today for Oral Roberts.  Calixte was the one who pulled the trigger earlier today and he clearly is a steal for the Golden Eagles.  "He's an excellent 3-point shooter and a lock down defender," says our Texas Editor Tim Miller.  He's also ranked #29 our List of the Top 5th Year Players, which makes means he's be ranked in the top 100-300 range nationally if he was a high school senior." We also suspect it's just a matter of time before Rubles follows in Calixte's footsteps and makes us 100% correct with regards to yesterday's prediction.  Rubles is an athletic combo forward and explosive athlete who is just oozing with upside and potential.  He also is a good rebounder, has an excellent motor, and is a versatile defender.  However, he does need to improve his outside and ball handling and passing skills, if he wants to play out on the perimeter, and he needs to get bigger and stronger physically, if he wants to play the power forward spot at the next level.  Miller also tells us that 6'4 Christian Kabongo from Grand Prairie (God's Academy) TX has made it official for New Mexico State.  And this is big because Kabongo is a big time slashing athlete who knows how to score and is ranked #4 on our List of the Top 5th Year Players.  This also is a testament to the fact that Aggies assistant coach Chris Pompey is one of the best there is on the recruiting trail.  We also have confirmed that 6'5 Jr Khristian Smith from Indianapolis (Pike) IN has verbally committed to the University of Cincinnati, 6'8 Cody Larson from Sioux Falls (Roosevelt) SD has picked the University of Florida, and 6'9 Soph Zach Peters from Plano (Prestonwood Christian) TX has made an early verbal commitment to the University of Kansas.  We're talking about a 6'9, 235-pound, power forward who plays with the same tenacity as former North Carolina All-American Tyler Hansbrough and is a force to be reckoned with around the basket.  Peters also is a winner, as is evident by the fact that he averaged 15.3 ppg and 9.0 rpg and led his high school team to the TAPPS 5A State Championship.  Larson originally picked the University of Iowa, but re-opened his recruitment after the coaching change and now appears to be following in the footsteps of Mike Miller, who also is from South Dakota, played in the same club team program (the Dakota Schoolers), and played two years at the University of Florida.  Currently we have Larson ranked #54 nationally in the senior class and, just like Miller, he's versatile, athletic, and skilled enough to play either forward position.  As a matter of fact, the biggest difference between Larson is Miller was Miller's hype.  Or to put this another way, we think Larson is one of the more underrated players in the senior class nationally (a lot of our competition doesn't have him ranked in the top 100) and he promises to be a great complement to 6'8 Patric Young from Jacksonville (Providence School) FL, 6'6 Casey Prather from Jackson (Northside) TN, and 6'6 Will Yeguete from Melbourne (Florida Air Academy) FL in a recruiting class that is now tied at #12, along with California, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  Smith is the same type of under the radar guy that the Bearcats Mick Cronin and his staff have made a living off of in recent years and it looks like they plan to stash him in prep school next year at Pittsfield (Maine Central Institute) ME.  We also expect 6'6 Josh Langford from Huntsville (Lee) AL to sign with Auburn tomorrow and right on his heels could be a verbal commitment by 6'9 Marquez "Luke" Cothron from Red Springs (Flora MacDonald Academy) NC.  And this would be huge for the new regime, as Langford, who is ranked #108 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, and Cothron, who is ranked #6 on our List of the Top 5th Year Players, are two of the top players nationally still available, as well as the top two home grown players still available.  It also looks like 6'7 Mamadou Seck from Southeastern Illinois (JC) IL has picked Southern Illinois, 6'5 Marcus Williams from Cochise (JC) AZ has picked Sam Houston State, and 6'5 Ben Smith from Northeastern Oklahoma (JC) OK has picked Wichita State.  Smith is a Third Team NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) All-American and he averaged 20.9 ppg and 11.4 rpg this past season.  Williams is an undersized 2-guard who put up prolific numbers (19.8 ppg) and is ranked #33 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.comSeck averaged 15.4 ppg and 9.7 and was ranked #11 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com, which makes him a major steal for the Salukis, which are loading up with junior college players in this year's recruiting class.  If you will recall, Southern Illinois head coach Chris Lowery and his staff already have 6'7 Ernest Watson from Trinity Valley (JC) TX, 6'1 Mykel Cleveland from Southwestern Illinois (JC) IL, and 6'0 Troy Long from Southeastern Illinois (JC) IL in the fold in a recruiting class that is now tied at #40, along with Purdue, and New Mexico, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  It also is being reported that 5'11 Corey Stanton from Springfield (H.S.) TN, who is ranked #151 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, has gotten out of his National Letter-of-Intent to Wright State and is following the coach who originally signed him (Bobby Brownell) to Clemson.  The same also can be said about 6'3 Jalen Steele from Knoxville (Fulton) TN, who is ranked #207 nationally in the senior class and originally signed with Auburn.  But, instead of following Jeff Lebo to East Carolina, he's opted to cast his lot now with Rick Stansbury at Mississippi State. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Being committed to a four-year Division I college or university is like a woman being pregnant.  Either you are or you're not.  I bring this up because 6'10 Jr Michael Chandler from Indianapolis (Lawrence North) IN appears to be the latest big name junior attempting to have it both ways.  “I wouldn’t say I’ve de-committed, because that makes it sound like a bad thing," says Chandler.  "But I’ve decided to open it up and look around again.  I wanted to look around a little bit before I made things final and sign my letter of intent.”  If that's not a player reneging on his commitment, I don't know what is.   And this is huge for several reasons.  First, is a very good player, as is evident by the fact that we have Chandler ranked #31 nationally in the junior class.  Second, good big men a hard to find and, if Chandler ever becomes more of a dominant force inside (and not just a 6'10 shot blocking/scoring finesse guy), he could evolve into a super player.  Third, without Chandler in the fold, the Cardinals no longer have the #1-ranked recruiting class on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  However, 6'5 Jr Wayne Blackshear from Chicago (Morgan Park) IL, 6'5 Jr Ryan Taylor from Indianapolis (Lawrence North) IN, and 6'10 Jr James "Zac" Price from Lakewood (St. Edwards) OH all still do count as apart of this recruiting class and, as a result, Louisville's recruiting class only drop one spot to #2, behind Texas and ahead of Virginia Tech, North Carolina, USC, Tennessee, Syracuse, Illinois, Texas A&M, and Arkansas, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  And, if the Cardinals can ever firm up a verbal commitment from 6'2 Jr Marquis Teague from Indianapolis (Pike) IN, who is ranked #3 nationally in the junior class and has been rumored to be close to making a verbal commitment to Rick Pitino and his coaching staff for well over a year now, then they once again will have the #1-ranked recruiting class on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  But that might be easier said than done, as the University of Kentucky has been making a strong push for Teague.  It also looks like 6'4 Chris Blake from Trinity Valley (JC) TX and 6'8 Nick Minneroth from Jackson (JC) MI have both signed with the University of Detroit, which means that the Titans now have a recruiting class that is ranked #18 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  If you will recall, 6'2 Ray McCallum from Beverly Hills (Detroit Country Day) MI recently decided to stay home and play for his father and last fall they also landed 6'7 Jordan Manuel from Indianapolis (Howe) IN and 6'5 Frank Williams from Raytown (H.S.) MO.  Blake, who recently was named a Third Team NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) All-American, is a big time scorer and athlete that averaged 18.6 ppg and 2.8 spg this past season.  Minnerath is an athletic white kid who averaged 21.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, and 2.6 bpg and shot an incredible 47.0% from behind the arc.  We also have been informed by David Matthews, who is the President of the Colorado Chaos club team program, that two of his players have picked schools.  The first is 6'4 Jr Brett Olson from Highlands Ranch (H.S.) CO, who has decided to stay home and make an early verbal commitment to the University of Denver.  Olson has a big upside, is a good 3-point shooter, and appears to be ideally suited to step in and contribute in Pioneers head coach Joe Scott's system.  The second is 6'5 Thomas Bropleh from New Hampton (Prep) NH, who has decided to become former Gonzaga assistant coach Leon Rice's first recruit at Boise State.  Bropleh was named Colorado's Mr. Basketball a year ago as a high school senior at Denver (George Washington) CO and this past season was a 5th Year Player at one of the top prep school programs in the nation.  And what about the fact that East Carolina has landed 6'4 Tony Smith from Seward County (JC) KS?  We're talking about a highly skilled lead guard who averaged 14.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 6.5 apg, and 2.3 spg and has good court savvy and great size for his position.  We also have confirmed that Boise State has moved quickly to add its second recruit in 5'10 Tre Nichols from McLennan (JC) TX.  And his backcourt mate - 6'2 Nafis Richardson from McLennan (JC) TX - has made it official for Sam Houston State.  It also looks like the University of Nevada has a major steal on its hands with the addition of 6'11 Illiwa Baldwin from Pratt (JC) KS, who is ranked #100 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com and averaged 13.3 ppg and 10.7 rpg en route to First Team All-Jayhawk Conference honors.  We also understand that 6'1 Juevol Myles from Tallahassee (JC) FL has picked Kansas State.  He's a pass-first point guard who averaged 12.0 ppg and 3.7 apg.  And Myles should fit in perfectly, because he's a tough hardnosed competitor and he knows what it takes to win. There also is the addition of 6'9 Andre Clark from John A. Logan (JC) IL to Texas Christian's recruiting class, which already includes 6'4 Sammy Yeager from Weatherford (JC) TX, 6'5 J.R. Cadot from Western Wyoming (JC) WY, and 6'8 Amric Fields from Oklahoma City (Putnam City West) OK and is now tied at #32, along with Georgetown, Kansas State, and Louisiana Tech, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  Clark only averaged 7.3 pp, 6.5 rpg, and 1.5 bpg this past season.  But he originally signed with University of Arkansas and he's got the size, athleticism, and potential necessary to be ranked #5 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com.  However, even more important is the fact that Horned Frogs head coach Jim Christian now has two high powered junior college players in the fold in this year's recruiting class.  Remember, Yeager is ranked in the #22 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com and averaged 21.6 ppg and 6.0 rpg this past season.  And, but not least, is the fact that we expect 6'7 Titus Rubles from Grand Prairie (God's Academy) TX, who is ranked #219 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, and 6'4 Kervins Calixte from Grand Prairie (God's Academy) TX, who is ranked #29 our List of the Top 5th Year Players, to both make it official for Oral Roberts tomorrow. 

Monday, April 19 2010

For months now nobody has believed me when I told them that the University of Kentucky may be on the verge of landing an even better recruiting class than it did a year ago.  However, with the verbal commitment over the weekend at the Jordan Brand Classic by 6'5 Doron Lamb from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, it's suddenly pretty obvious that I knew what I was talking about.  If you will recall, a month ago 6'10 Enes Kanter from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA, who is ranked #2 on our List of the top 5th Year Players and was the best player his age in Europe prior to arriving in the United States last summer, picked the Wildcats.  And just five days ago 6'3 Brandon Knight from Ft. Lauderdale (Pine Crest) FL, who is ranked #3 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, joined Kanter and 6'5 Stacey Poole from Jacksonville (Providence School) FL, who is ranked #76 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, to make this a three-man recruiting class with a 7.5 talent rating average per recruit, which is the highest in the nation by any school that has more than one player in its recruiting class.  So, with the addition of Lamb, who is ranked #13 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, Kentucky's recruiting class moves up to #5 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  The Wildcats are also believed to be among the favorites for 6'9 Terrence Jones from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 6'10 C.J. Leslie from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, and 6'6 Terrence Ross from Portland (Jefferson) OR, all of whom are ranked in the 11-40 range nationally by the HOOP SCOOP.  Get any one of these three players and Kentucky's recruiting class will move up to #2 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  And, if they get any two of these three players, then we really will be talking about a better recruiting class than the Wildcats had a year ago.  They also will have the #1-ranked recruiting class and a better class than a year ago, if they land any one of the three above mentioned players (Jones, Leslie, or Ross) and get another player who is the equivalent of a top 100-ranked senior nationally.  Or, if they land all three of the above mentioned players, then we really would be talking about one of the best recruiting classes in the history of the game.  Remember, that's what a lot of our competitors were saying a year ago about Kentucky's recruiting class, which included 6'4 John Wall from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, 6'10 DeMarcus Cousins from Mobile (LeFlore) AL, 6'10 Daniel Orton from Oklahoma City (Bishop McGuiness) OK, 6'0 Eric Bledsoe from Birmingham (Parker) AL, 6'7 Darnell Dobson from Miami-Dade (JC) FL, and 6'7 Jonathan Hood from Madisonville (North Hopkins) KY.  So, with all of this in mind, we now have good news and bad news for University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari and his coaching staff.  The bad news is that the fans are going to expect you to recruit like this every year.  The good news is that they already have 6'8 Jr Michael Gilchrist from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, who is the best player in the nation regardless of class, in the fold and they are making a strong push for 6'2 Jr Marquis Teague from Indianapolis (Pike) IN, who is ranked #3 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP, and they also are one of the favorites for 6'8 Jr Quincy Miller from Winston-Salem (Quality Education Academy) NC, who is ranked #7 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  The other big recruiting news that occurred over the weekend at the Jordan Brand Classic involved 6'2 Josh Selby from Baltimore (Lake Clifton) MD, who finally made it official for the University of Kansas.  Selby is capable of playing either guard spot and is ranked #6 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  In other words, Selby is ideally suited to step in immediately and replace 5'11 Sr Sherron Collins, who was the Jayhawks' leading scorer and best player this past season.  And to make the story even more interesting is the fact that Kentucky and Kansas are both right at the top of the list of 6'9 Terrence Jones from Portland (Jefferson) OR, who is ranked #12 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP and is the top unsigned player still available.  Jones also has been close friends since childhood with 6'6 Terrence Ross from Portland (Jefferson) OR and, with the exception of UCLA, which is only in the hunt for Jones, they both have the same five schools on their list.  So you can bet that Kentucky, Kansas, Washington, Oregon, and Oklahoma are doing everything they can to convince the two Terrences that they need to go to their school as part of a package.  As things stand now, Kansas' recruiting class is ranked #62 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  However, if the Jawhawks also get both Jones and Ross, then we will be talking about the #7-ranked recruiting class on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  It also looks like another former John Calipari assistant coach is cleaning up at Lamar.  We're talking about Steve Roccaforte, who now has a recruiting class that is ranked #17 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010 and includes 6'5 Vincenzo Nelson from Itawamba (JC) MS, 6'2 Kavon Rose from Lamar State (JC) TX, 6'2 Devon Lamb from Southwestern Christian (JC) TX, 6'6 Brandon Davis from Southwestern Christian (JC) TX, 6'1 Tre Lynch from Lancaster (H.S.) TX, 6'8 Michale Kyser from Lancaster (H.S.) TX, 6'4 Demetris Smith from Pflugerville (H.S.) TX, and 6'7 Darius Harris from Port Arthur (Memorial) TX.  And, if you don't believe that the Cardinals deserve to have the highest ranked recruiting class in the nation among schools at the mid-to-low major level, just check out the résumé of each of the four junior college players they signed.  Lamb recently was named to the Second Team NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Division I All-American Team and is a prolific scoring 2-guard who averaged 27.7 ppg, 11.0 rpg, and 5.6 apg this past season.  Davis averaged 20.7 ppg and 5.7 apg and is one of the best outside shooters to come down the pike in a long time, as is evident by the fact that he shot 49.0% (210-431) from behind the arc.  Nelson has a great motor, is terrific at getting to the basket and finishing, and he recently took home MVP honors in the Mississippi Junior College All-Star Game.   Rose is a versatile athlete who originally signed with Oregon State when he was the #2-ranked player in the city as a high school senior at Detroit (Finney) MI.  We also are impressed with the fact that Texas Christian has landed 6'4 Sammy Yeager from Weatherford (JC) TX, Iowa State had landed 6'3 Marcus Brister from Eastfield ((JC) TX, and Arizona State has landed 6'8 Dwight McCombs from Morraine Valley (JC) IL.  Did you know that McCombs finished ranked 11th in scoring with 22.3 ppg, third in rebounding with 13.3 rpg, and first in shot blocking with 5.1 bpg in the Division II Junior College ranks?  Yeager is ranked in the #22 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com and this past seasons he averaged 21.6 ppg and 6.0 rpg.  Brister averaged 17.5 ppg and 7.5 apg and recently was named a First Team Division III Junior College All-American.  We also have confirmed that new University of Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold has gone back to his old stamping grounds to get a pair of junior college players in 6'10 Vander Joaquim from Eastern Utah (JC) UT and 6'7 Josten Thomas from Southern Idaho (JC) ID.  Thomas registered 10 double-doubles en route to 15.3 ppg and 8.2 rpg, which ranked him second in the conference in both categories.  Joaquim was the starting center on a 27-10 team that advanced to the final four of the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Tournament in Hutchinson, KS and he is following former Nebraska assistant coach Walter Roese, who was the guy who originally signed Joaquim for the Cornhuskers.  We also have confirmed via our New York City Editor Ron Naclerio that 6'4 Maurice Barrow from Middle Village (Christ the King) NY has signed with Fairfield, 6'1 Ernest Rouse from Briarwood (Archbishop Molloy) NY has made it official for Harvard, and 6'3 Lamount Samuel from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA has picked Robert Morris.  Samuel is your stereotypical slashing combo guard who thrives in transition.  Rouse is a very good outside shooter and Barrow will be a Metro Athletic Conference level version of Ron Artest.  There also are the verbal commitments made by 6'6 Will Yeguete from Melbourne (Florida Air Academy) FL to the University of Florida and 6'9 Cameron Bairstow from Australia to New Mexico; an early verbal commitment by 6'7 Jr Jerrell Wright from Philadelphia (Dobbins Tech) PA to La Salle, and a plethora of signings and commitments made by junior college players that include 6'3 Kendall Durant from Weatherford (JC) TX to the University of Alabama, 5'10 Deremy Geiger from Grayson County (JC) TX to the University of Idaho, 6'8 Ahyaro Phillips from Lamar State (JC) TX to James Madison, 6'2 Lashay Page from Chipola (JC) FL to Southern Miss, 6'8 Wil Carter from Salt Lake (JC) UT to San Diego, 6'3 Lamb Autrey from Collin County (JC) TX to Santa Clara, 6'7 Ruben Cabera from Collin County (JC) TX to UT-Pan American, 6'3 Jordan Wood from Snow (JC) UT to the University of Montana, 6'5 Jaron Jones from Carl Albert (JC) OK to Eastern Kentucky, 6'4 Phillipe Martin from Northeastern Oklahoma (JC) OK to UC-Riverside, 6'2 Marlon Rivera from Santa Fe (JC) FL to Florida Gulf Coast (JC) FL t, 5'11 Leke Lewu from Sante Fe (JC) FL to Jacksonville State, and 6'6 Dushawn Brooks from Butler County (JC) KS and 5'11 Fred Ford from Vincennes (JC) IN both to Youngstown State. 

Friday, April 16, 2010, Saturday, April 17, 2010, & Sunday, April 18, 2010

There were four big stories over the weekend at the Double Pump High School Boy's Spring Tournament in Lakewood, CO.  The first and most important was the total dominance shown by 6'5 Soph Shabazz Muhammad from Las Vegas (Bishop Gorman) NV, who led his team to a runner-up finish in the Gold Division and, once again, reinforced our belief that he is the best player nationally in the Class of 2012.  He had 35 points against the Lakeshow Seniors in the first round of pool play on Friday night, 32 points against Southeast L.A. Elite in the playoffs on Saturday night, and 31 points in the title game.  However, even more important, Muhammad continues to grow, has incredible athleticism, and has no weaknesses in his game.  He even showed us his outside shot, which was the one things we'd not seen before.  Ironically, his father tells us that shooting the basketball was what Muhammad did best when he was younger.  But he's so good as getting to the basket, he does not show that part of his game as much as he probably should.  Regardless, Muhammad has a great motor and the drive and determination necessary to achieve greatness.  And this is important because with normally progression and development this guy will play in a lot of all-star games someday at the highest level.  He really does have superstar written all over him!  Unfortunately 6'8 Soph Winston Shepard from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV and 6'9 Jr Angelo Chol from San Diego (Hoover) CA never seemed to get into the flow of things and, as a result, Dream Vision struggled to win when I saw them against Southeast L.A. Elite and they got beat 76-72 in the championship game by a well-balanced Kansas City Pump N Run team, which was featured 6'7 Jr Christian Kirk from St. Charles (West) MO, 6'1 Jr Corey Hilliard from Raytown (South) MO, 6'4 Jr A.J. Spencer from Shawnee Mission (Northwest) KS, and 6'2 Jr Jevon Lyle from Kansas City (Cardinal O'Hara) KS.  Kirk deserves special mention, because he is a good old-fashioned blue collar power forward who scores inside and gets more than his share of rebounds.  He also was their most consistent player, as he had 15 points in the championship game and 13 points and 15 points the other two times I saw Kansas City Pump N Run play.  The second big story involved 6'10 Gorgui Sy Dieng from Huntington (Prep) WV.  Yes, that's the same guy who finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, eight blocked shots, and 7-10 field goals and took home MVP honors last week in the Derby Classic.  And he was dramatically better here.  Not only does his confidence level continue to improve from half-to-half and game to game, but he also was the second best player that we saw at what turned out to be a very good event.  He's got tremendous athleticism, great body control, and the ability to block shots, rebound, and score inside.  He also can run the court like a guard, can step out and knock down the mid-range jump shot, and has pretty good ball handling and passing skills for somebody his size.  He's also only been in this country for six months, which means his upside and potential are off the chart.  The word we get is that he's a done deal for the University of Louisville and, assuming that our sources are correct and he continues to improve, he's exactly what the doctored ordered for Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino.  As a matter of fact, Dieng was so good that we think he quickly could evolve into Louisville's best big man, which is a major statement when one remembers that 6'9 Soph Samardo Samuels and 6'9 Soph Terrance Jennings will both have two years of experience under their belt next season.  Dieng also was exactly what the doctored ordered for the Pump N Run Elite, which was in need of a dominating presence inside to go along with 6'6 Soph Jordan Tebbutt from Tualatin (Horizon Christian) OR, who is one of the top sophomores on the West Coast; 6'5 Jr Kevin Bailey from Fresno (Clovis East) CA, who combines big time athleticism with a nice shooting stroke and is one of the more unheralded players on the West Coast; 6'8 Soph Ben Carter from Las Vegas (Bishop Gorman) NV, who needs strength, but isn't afraid to mix it up inside and can also step out and beat you with his 3-point shot; 6'0 Jr Jordan Daniels from Etiwanda (H.S.) CA, who was the point guard ran the show and was quick off the dribble; and 6'8 Jr Eric Norman from San Diego (Horizon) CA, who is another skilled face-up power forward with a nice shooting touch.  The third big story was the fact that 6'1 Bobby Miles from Workman (City of Industry) CA might be the best player you've never heard of nationally in the Class of 2010.  We're talking about a strong physical athletic point guard who has excellent body control, is good at scoring off the dribble, and knows how to run a team.  He's also good enough to step in and make an immediate impact next year in the Pac-10 Conference and be ranked in the 50-100 range nationally when we publish our Final Ranking of the Top Players Nationally in the Class of 2010 later this spring.  But right now Miles says he plans to go the prep school route and attend Phoenix (Westwind) AZ next year.  On the other hand, he will consider going to college next season, if the right offer comes along.  He also says that he has not taken the SAT since his junior year, but adds that he has 3.0 gpa and was also very on top of his game when he filled us in on the rest of the players on his team with regards to name, height, and school (the Southeast L.A. Seniors roster was not listed in the book).  Miles also was the catalyst for Southeast L.A. Elite, which jumped out to a 20-9 led early, led throughout most of the game, and lost to Dream Vision, 65-62, in what was the best game that we saw all weekend.  And Miles isn't the only unheralded player on this team that you need to know about, as we also were very impressed with 6'0 Jr Anthony Holiday from Lakewood (Norwalk) CA, 6'6 Aaron Hines from Bellflower (St. John Bosco) CA, 6'4 Jr David Hall from Lynnwood (H.S.) CA, and 6'4 Connor Kjor from Senora (H.S.) CA.  Kjor is a tough hardnosed white kid who can fill it up from behind the arc.  And, if the rumors are true about Kjor being bound to Air Force, he will be a steal for the Falcons.  Hall is long explosive athletic slashing wing forward who will have to go the junior college route next year.  And so will the high flying Holiday.  He needs strength and at times is out of control, but he's a true thoroughbred with his great moves and explosiveness to the basket.  Hines is the physical specimen who did all of the dirty work inside and, as a result, he's got a good mid-major future.  The fourth big story involved the Indiana Elite 16's, which beat Kansas City Pump N. Run, 77-62, in the Championship Game of the 16-Under Division and got a 41-point effort from 6'4 Soph D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera from Indianapolis (North Central) IN in the title game.  Currently we have this strong physical slashing wing ranked #27 nationally in the junior class.  But until the title game he was just another player on a team that also featured 7'0 Soph Obij Aget from Beckley (Mountain State University Academy) WV, 7'0 Soph Peter Jurkin from Charlotte (United Faith) NC, 6'9 Soph Hanner Perea from Charlotte (United Faith) NC, 6'5 Soph Cameron Harvey from Westchester (St. Joseph) IL, 5'11 Soph Chris Harrison-Docks from Okemos (H.S.) MI, 6'8 Soph Kenny Kaminski from Medina (H.S.) OH, 6'0 Soph Jermaine Myers from Culver (Academies) IN, and 6'4 Soph Ronnye Beamon from Culver (Academies) IN.  Just imagine being a player on a team that is down to 30-4 to a team with a starting line-up that includes Aget, Harvey, Harrison-Docks, Myers, and Beamon and then looking over to the scorer's table and seeing another 7-footer (Jurkin), a 6'9 athlete (Perea), and an incredible physical specimen (Smith-Rivera) getting ready to enter the game.  But that's exactly what happened when we saw the Indiana Elite 16's in pool play on Saturday.  We also were impressed with the Indiana Elite 17-Under team, which featured 5'11 Soph Kevin Ferrell from Indianapolis (Park Tudor) IN, 6'3 Jr Jeremiah Davis from Muncie (Central) IN, 6'10 Jr Cody Zeller from Washington (H.S.) IN, 6'8 Jr Vinny Zollo from Winchester (Clark County) KY, 6'6 Jr Austin Etherington from Arcadia (Hamilton Heights) IN, and 7'0 Jr Cheir Ajou from Culver (Academies) IN, and the Indiana Elite 15-Under team, which was led by 6'6 Frosh Collin Hartman from Indianapolis (Cathedral) IN.  Hartman is a long athletic explosive power forward who reminds us of Josh McRoberts when we first saw him at the same stage.  Not only did Hartman run the court, block shots, and score in transition, but he also capped things off in the second round of the playoffs by hitting the game winning 3-point shot to give his team a one-point victory.  Also hitting the game winning shot, as well as a number of other 3-pointers throughout the course of the game in the quarterfinals against the Dream Vision 16-Under Team, was 5'10 Soph Deante Blakemore from Minneapolis (Washburn) MN.  We're talking about a jet-quick undersized combo guard who makes things happen and is the catalyst for Net Gain Sports, which also featured 6'4 Frosh Riley Dearing from Minnetonka (Hopkins) MN, 6'6 Soph Nate Kratth from Watertown (H.S.) MN, and 6'6 Soph Ater Mongyanga from Rochester (Century) MN and was the surprise team with a final four finish in the 16-Under Division.  And that's saying a lot, because the Dream Vision 16's, which featured 6'3 Frosh Nigel Williams-Goss from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, 6'4 Frosh Tyree Robinson from San Diego (Lincoln) CA, 6'4 Frosh Tyrel Robinson from San Diego (Lincoln) NV, 6'6 Soph Ronnie Stanley from Las Vegas (Bishop Gorman) NV 6'4 Frosh Rashaad Muhmmad from Las Vegas (Bishop Gorman) NV, 6'1 Frosh Dalante Hoover from San Diego (Parker) CA, and 6'6 Frosh Stephen Domingo from San Francisco (St. Ignatius) CA, won the 14-Under Nationals last summer.  However, the outside shot wasn't going down and Net Gain Sports had more than enough answers in this high octane fast-paced up-and-down affair and, as a result, pulled off the upset.  The biggest disappointment in the tournament was 6'7Soph Xavier Johnson from Temecula (Chapparal) CA, who is ranked #24 nationally in the sophomore class by the HOOP SCOOP.  Johnson has big time talent, but this silky smooth athlete doesn't play very hard and often isn't very productive until late in the game.  In one game he had 12 points.  But six of those points came off of treys when his team was up by 30 points.  He did make things interesting by hitting some key baskets and free throws in the final minute of the game in his team's loss to the San Diego All-Stars in the second round of the playoffs.  However, if Johnson had played like this the entire game, Double Pump Elite #1 would have won by double-digits, instead of going down in flames. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

This weekend I am looking forward to seeing a lot of the best players from the Southwest and West Coast at the Double Pump High School Boy's Spring Tournament in Lakewood, CO.  The field will feature 48 teams in the 17-Under Gold Division, 30 teams in the 17-Under Silver Division, 18 teams in the 16-Under Division, and 18 teams in the 15-Under Division.  That's a total of 114 teams at four sites on 11 courts and the place where we will get the most bang for our buck is the Gold Crown Field House, which has six courts and is the tournament headquarters.  Things will tip-off tomorrow at 5:00 PM and pool play will run through 4:00 PM on Saturday afternoon, which is when the first round of the playoffs will begin.  The quarterfinals in all four divisions will be held on Sunday, April 18th, at 10:50 AM and Noon, followed by the semi-finals at 1:10 PM and 2:20 PM and all four the championship games 3:34 PM.  The breakdown of teams by pool in the 17-Under Gold Division is as follows:  Pool A has Lakeshow Black, Jefferson Academy, and the Texas D-I Ambassadors; Pool B has Arizona Pump N Run #2, Colorado Hawks, and the Utah Pump N Run Red; Pool C has the California Supreme, Utah Pump N Run White, and Willamette Reign Navy; Pool D has Arizona Pump N Run #1, BTI Double Pump, and Minnesota Pump N Run; Pool E has Double Pump Elite #1, Kansas City Pump N Run, and Williamette Reign White; Pool F has the I Can All Stars, Rocky Mountain Fever, and San Diego All Stars Gold; Pool G has Double Pump Elite #2, Shining Stars Black, and St. Louis Gameface; Pool H has the Nor Cal Pharoahs, Southeast L.A. Elite, and The Force Basketball; Pool I has the Midwest Stars, Pump N Run Elite, and Tru-Playez BB Club; Pool J has Colorado Chaos 17's Blue, Dream Vision - Nevada, and Lakeshow Seniors; Pool K has Next Level White, Step Off Lightning, and Tru-Playazz BB Club; Pool L has Bear Claw Club, Danny Granger Elite, and Colorado Chaos 17's White; and Pool M has Indiana Elite, Nor Cal Pump N Run Black, and the Southeast L.A. Stars.  The breakdown of teams by pool in the 17-Under Silver Division is a follows:  Pool O has Colorado Chaos 17's Green, Gillette, and Basketball at it's Best; Pool P has the Colorado Champs, Next Level Select, SF. Rebels 16's, Pool Q has Colorado Springs Flight, Danny Granger Select, and Shining Stars White; Pool R has Future Stars BB Academy, Greeley Reign, and BTI All Stars; Pool S has BTI Force and the Colorado Chaos 17's Black; Pool T has the Colorado Titans, Denver Summit, and Lakeshow White; and Pool U has BTI Select, Colorado Chaos 17's Red, and the ThunderRidge Grizzlies.  The breakdown of teams by pool in the 16-Under Division is a follows:  Pool 6A has the Colorado Chaos 16's Blue, Dream Vision - California, Willamette Reign; Pool 6B has BTI Select Colorado Champs, Utah Pump N Run Red; Pool 6C has Lakeshow, Net Gaines Sports, and San Diego All-Stars; Pool 6D has BBG Basketball, Colorado Hawks, and the Force Basketball; Pool 6E has the Colorado Icons, Indiana Elite, and Rocky Mt. Fever 16-Under Orange; Pool F has Colorado Chaos 16's Red, Kansas City Pump N Run, and Shining Stars 16's Black; Pool 6G has the Colorado Titans, Midwest Stars, and Nor Cal Pump N. Run; Pool 6H has the BTI All Stars, Denver Hooperz Blue, and Rocky Mt. Fever 16-Under Black; Pool 6I has Big Ear, Double Pump 2012 Elite, and Next Level Elite; Pool 6J has Bear Claw and the Premier Knights; and Pool K has the Colorado Chaos 16's White, Minnesota Pump N Run, and San Francisco Rebels 15's.  The breakdown of teams by pool in the 15-Under Division is a follows:  Pool 5A has 707 Ballers Elite, Colorado Champs #1, Utah Pump N Run Red; Pool 5B has the Colorado Miners, Danny Grangers 15's, Pump N Run Freshmen; Pool 5C has the Colorado Chaos 15's, Double Pump Freshmen, and Shining Stars 15's Black; Pool 5D has the Colorado Hawks, Minnesota Pump N Run Black, and Shining Stars 14's Black; Pool 5E has the Bear Claw Club, Denver, BAC Red Shield, and Kansas City Pump N Run; Pool 5F has the Colorado Champs #2, DTA, Williamette Reign; Pool 5G has Chauncey Billups Elite, Indiana Elite, Next Level Elite; Pool 5H has the Denver Hooperz White, Minnesota Pump N Run Maroon, and Rocky Mountain Fever; Pool 5I has the Colorado Fever, Lakeshow, and ThunderRidge Gizzlies; and Pool 5J has the Midwest Stars, Colorado Chaos 15's Blue, and Team Denver.  Some of the top players who we expect to be in attendance are 6'8 Jr Angelo Chol from San Diego (Hoover) CA, 6'0 Jr Gelaun Wheelwright from Corona (Centennial) CA, 6'10 Jr Kevin Johnson from Los Angeles (Taft) CA, 6'4 Jr Kory Alford from Allbuquerque (La Cueva) NM, 6'5 Soph Shabazz Muhammad from Las Vegas (Bishop Gorman) NV, 6'7 Soph Winston Sheppard from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, 6'6 Soph Xavier Johnson from Temecula (Chapparal) CA, 6'5 Soph Jordan Tebbutt from Tualatin (Horizon Christian) OR, 6'8 Soph Roscoe Allen from Las Vegas (Bishop Gorman) NV, 6'10 Soph Robert Upshaw from Fresno (Edison) CA, 6'3 Frosh Nigel Williams-Goss from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, 6'3 Frosh Tyrel Robinson from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, 6'3 Frosh Tyree Robinson from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, 6'6 Frosh Roschon Prince from Long Beach (Poly) CA, and 6'1 Frosh Rashad Muhammad from Las Vegas (Bishop Gorman) NV.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Today is the first day of the Spring Signing Period, but the big story of the day involves 6'8 Jr Michael Gilchrist from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, who is the #1-ranked junior nationally by the HOOP SCOOP.  It's no surprise that Gilchrist picked the University of Kentucky.  But it is a major surprise that Gilchrist picked today to make the announcement, which clearly overshadows all of the other commitments by big name players, like 6'3 Brandon Knight from Ft. Lauderdale (Pine Crest) FL, who also picked the University of Kentucky; 6'2 Ray McCallum from Beverly Hills (Detroit Country Day) MI, who picked the University of Detroit; 6'5 Trey Zeigler from Mt. Pleasant (H.S.) MI, who picked Central Michigan; 7'0 Aziz N'Diaye from Southern Idaho (JC) ID, who has picked the University of Washington; and 6'5 Hugh Robertson from Tallahassee (JC) FL, who has picked South Florida.  And that's saying a lot, because we have Knight ranked #3 nationally in the senior class and we think he has even more upside and potential than 6'4 Frosh John Wall, who appears to be the next in line of great point guards to play a year for John Calipari and then enter their name into the NBA Draft after their freshman season.  However, Gilchrist is on another level, as he's only one of two players to have been ranked as the best player in the nation since he was sophomore in high school in the 28-year history of the HOOP SCOOP.  The other was LeBron James.  Gilchrist also is one of the best rebounders to come down the pike in a long time and nobody has a better motor or more heart, as a lot of his points come off hustle, running the court, and being in the right place at the right time.  Gilchrist also has an incredible wing span, world-class athleticism, and his team usually wins (his high school team was one of the best in the nation the last two years and his club team was one of the best AAU teams in the nation last spring and summer).  The verbal commitment by Gilchrist also promises to be the start of what potentially could be a third consecutive great recruiting class.  Remember, the Wildcats also are making a strong push for 6'2 Jr Marquis Teague from Indianapolis (Pike) IN, who is ranked #3 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP, and they also are one of the favorites for 6'8 Jr Quincy Miller from Winston-Salem (Quality Education Academy) NC, who is ranked #7 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  With regards to this year's recruiting class, which also already includes 6'10 Enes Kanter from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA and 6'5 Stacey Poole from Jacksonville (Providence School) FL, the addition of Knight moves it into a tie at #11, along with Villanova and Tennessee, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  And the Wildcats aren't done yet, as they are believed to be one of the leaders for 6'9 Terrence Jones from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 6'5 Doron Lamb from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, 6'10 C.J. Leslie from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, and 6'6 Terrence Ross from Portland (Jefferson) OR.  Get any one of these four players and Kentucky's recruiting class will move up to #5 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  Get any two of these four players and Kentucky's recruiting class will move up to #2 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  Get any three of these four players and Kentucky's recruiting class will move up to #1 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  And under that last scenario the Wildcats will also have a better recruiting class than they did a year ago when they landed 6'4 John Wall from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, 6'10 DeMarcus Cousins from Mobile (LeFlore) AL, 6'10 Daniel Orton from Oklahoma City (Bishop McGuiness) OK, 6'0 Eric Bledsoe from Birmingham (Parker) AL, 6'7 Darnell Dobson from Miami-Dade (JC) FL, and 6'7 Jonathan Hood from Madisonville (North Hopkins) KY.  And, in case you don't believe me, I'll break it down for you even further.  Wall is better right now than Knight.  But Knight may turn out to be better, especially if he learns how to change speeds and improves as much as Wall has in the last year.  Cousins has a huge edge over Kanter.  But Kanter was the best player in his age group in Europe prior to arriving in the Unites States last summer and is the equivalent of a top 15-ranked high school senior nationally.  Jones, who is ranked #12 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, is a lot better at the same stage than Orton.  And Lamb, who is ranked #13 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, is a lot better at the same stage than Bledsoe.  It's even more lopsided when we compare either Leslie or Ross with Dobson.  It's also not even close between Poole and Hood.  As for the verbal commitments by McCallum, who recently was named to the prestigious McDonald's All-American Team, and Zeigler, who is ranked #36 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, neither one is a surprise, as blood is almost always thicker than water.  We're talking about that fact that in both cases they elected to stay home and play for their father.  In the case of McCallum, he promises to be the last piece to the puzzle for a team that will return its top three players (6'5 Soph Chase Simon, 6'7 Jr Xavier Keeling, and 6'9 Soph Eli Holman) that won 20 games this past season.  McCallum also joins 6'7 Jordan Manuel from Indianapolis (Howe) IN and 6'5 Frank Williams from Raytown (H.S.) MO in a recruiting class that is now tied at #43, along with Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, and Kansas State, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  And the story is similar with regards to Zeigler, who joins 6'0 Derek Jackson from Cleveland (Benedictine) OH, 6'7 Colin Voss from East Grand Rapids (H.S.) MI, 6'10 Nate Van Arendonk from Grand Haven (H.S.) MI, and 6'8 Jevon Harden from Detroit (Loyola) MI in a recruiting class that is now ranked #18 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  N'Diaye, who is ranked #20 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com and Robertson, who is one of the top ranked 2-guards in the junior college ranks, are great catches for the Huskies and the Bulls respectively.  Robertson averaged 11.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 2.1 apg on a 25-6 team and was also named to the Panhandle All-Academic Team.  N'Diaye is the physical presence inside that Lorenzo Romar and his staff were searching for after 6'10 Enes Kanter from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA recently reneged on the Huskies and then verbally committed to the University of Kentucky.  We also have received word from Bobby Sibley of the Louisiana Basketball Report about 6'2 Cedric Jenkins from Reserve (Riverside Academy) LA picking Southern Miss and 6'2 Tyler Washington from Port Allen (H.S.) LA picking Southeastern Louisiana.  "Washington is a very athletic guard that can pass, shoot, handle, and lock you up defensively," says Sibley.  Jenkins is similar to Memphis guard Roburt Sallie, but with a more consistent shot and better feel for the game.  Jenkins also is a four-time all-state player and is prove winner, as he has won four state titles in high school."  Other verbal commitments that we added to our list today include 6'10 Maurice Walker from Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH to the University of Minnesota, 6'2 Kurt Alexander from Iowa Central (JC) IA to Drake, 6'2 Tyree Graham from Brunswick (JC) NJ to UAB, 6'3 Kaylon Williams from Kirkwood (JC) IA to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 6'10 Carlton Geathers from Hemingway (Carvers Bay) SC to the University of South Carolina, 6'3 Walter Lemon from Chicago (Julian) IL to Bradley, 6'3 Bo Ingram from South Plains (JC) TX to UT-Arlington, 6'7 Jourdain Allou from Navarra (JC) TX to Montana State, 6'7 DeArmond Davis from Mt. Vernon (H.S.) IN to IUPUI, 6'4 Ben Mingledough from Radnor (Archbishop Carroll) PA to the University of Delaware, and 6'4 Mopo Pierre from Piney Woods (H.S.) MS to UT-Martin. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It will be remembered as one of the most spectacular plays of the entire spring and summer.  We're talking about the way 6'8 Jr DeAndre Daniels from Woodland Hills (Taft) CA came out of nowhere, grabbed the ball, and brought the house down with one of the most incredible dunks that those in attendance have ever seen.  This spectacular move accounted for just two of Daniels' 26 points in the Championship Game over the weekend at the Fullcourt Press Easter Classic in Las Vegas, NV.  And, in the process, Daniels helped guide Belmont Shore to a 72-62 win over Stoneridge Prep in the title game.  However, even more important, Daniels appears to have made a strong case for being ranked as the best player in California's junior class.  He's got incredible athleticism, is an excellent 3-point shooter, and is unstoppable in the key.  The only down side is that Daniels has been reclassified and, as a result, won't be eligible to play in the McDonald's All-American Game next spring.  But he is that good!  The University of Texas-bound Daniels also hit the game winning free throw in his team's 53-52 win against Branch West Elite in the semi-finals and clearly was the best player at the event en route to tournament MVP honors.  Daniels also had plenty of help as 5'11 Jr Cezar Guerrero from Bellflower (St. John Bosco) CA chipped in with 20 points in the championship game, and 6'8 Soph Grant Jerrett from La Verne (Lutheran) CA, who is the top-ranked sophomore in the state, was Belmont Shore's leading scorer with a dozen points in the semi-finals.  The sharp shooting 6'2 Soph Gabe York from Orange (Lutheran) CA led the Compton Magic with 25 points in the other semi-finals game.  But he was unable to overcome a well-balanced attack, as Stoneridge Prep won an 89-87 double overtime thriller and then advanced into the championship game.  The best player for Branch West was 6'0 Jr Askia Booker from Los Angeles (Price) CA, who had 22 points and scored in a variety of ways in the semi-finals game.  The Las Vegas Prospects, which were led by 6'2 Michael Thompson from Las Vegas (Canyon Springs) NV, beat the Danny Granger Hurricanes II in the Elite Division Silver Division Championship.  Polynation beat Team Ariza in the 16-Under Championship.  The San Francisco Rebels beat the Danny Granger Hurricanes, 66-60, in the 15-Under Championship.  And Polynation beat the Las Vegas Prospects 65-61 in the 14-under title game.  Some other players who played well enough to receive special recognition from Dinos Trigonis and/or made the Elite Division All-Tournament Team include 6'6 Steven Thornton from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA, 6'9 Chili Tzazenua from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA, 6'2 Evan Rocquemore from Foothill (Henderson) NV, 6'5 Solomon Singer from Santa Monica (H.S.) CA, 6'10 Josh Amaya from Gilbert (Mesquite) AZ, 6'10 Henry Buckley from Las Vegas (Impact Academy) NV, 6'8 Kevin Panzer from Mission Viejo (Capistrano Valley) CA, 6'8 Steven Adams from Pasadena (H.S.) CA, 6'2 Maverick Ahanmisi from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA, 6'2 J'Quon Wroten from Las Vegas (Cheyenne) NV, 6'5 Jonathan Conley from Los Angeles (Ribet Academy) CA, 6'3 Mark Jackson from Woodland Hills (Taft) CA, 6'1 Kevin Olekaibe from Las Vegas (Cimarron-Memorial) NV, 6'6 Kelvin Smith from Las Vegas (Impact Academy) NV, 5'8 Ervin Ware from Cerritos (Gahr) CA, 5'10 Jr Jahii Carson from Mesa (H.S.) AZ, 6'4 Jr Kory Alford from Albuquerque (La Cueva) NM, 5'10 Jr Austin McBroom from North Hollywood (Campbell Hall) CA, 6'0 Jr Bruce English from La Verne (Lutheran) CA, 6'0 Jr C.J. Cooper from La Verne (Lutheran) CA, 6'5 Jr Wesley Saunders from Los Angeles (Windward) CA, 6'2 Jr Alexis Moore from Long Beach (Poly) CA, 6'0 Jr Kelly Assinesi from Greenville (St. Joseph) SC, 6'7 Jr Chris Strong from Albuquerque (Eldorado) NM, 6'4 Jr Dominique Dunning from Corona (Centennial) CA, 6'5 Jr Stephon Maxwell from Woodland Hills (Taft) CA, 6'6 Jr Odera Nweke from Richmond (Terry) TX, 6'3 Jr Alex Carmon from Long Beach (Poly) CA, 6'1 Jr Shakir Smith from Tucson (H.S.) AZ, 6'0 Jr Aaseem Dixon from Las Vegas (Centennial) CA, 6'7 Jr T.J. Burke from Tempe (De Niza) AZ, 6'9 Jr Dalvin Brown from Phoenix (Maryvale) AZ, 6'5 Jr Cameron Forte from Phoenix (McClintock) AZ, 6'8 Jr Greg Sequele from Los Angeles (Ribet Academy) CA, 6'0 Jr Tyrel Corbin from Salt Lake City (West) UT, 6'8 Jr Gatete Djuma from Salt Lake City (West) UT, 6'2 Jr Christian Gore from El Paso (Franklin) TX, 6'7 Soph David Andoh from San Jose (St. Teresa) CA, 6'7 Soph Grant Verhoeven from Visalia (Central Valley Christian) CA, 6'3 Soph Eli Stalzer from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, and 6'1 Soph Demetrius Balark from Glendale (Kellis) AZ.

Monday, April 12, 2010

With the Spring Signing Period just two days away, everybody is anxiously awaiting the decisions of all of the highly touted seniors, like 6'3 Brandon Knight from Ft. Lauderdale (Pine Crest) FL, 6'2 Josh Selby from Baltimore (Lake Clifton) MD, 6'9 Terrence Jones from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 6'5 Doron Lamb from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, 6'3 Corey Joseph from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, 6'2 Ray McCallum from Beverly Hills (Detroit Country Day) MI, 6'9 C.J. Leslie from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, 6'5 Trey Zeigler from Mt. Pleasant (H.S.) MI, 6'6 Terrence Ross from Portland (Jefferson) OR, and 6'8 Kadeem Jack from New York (Rice) NY, who are still on the board.  However, as the week begins, almost all of the action right now has been in the junior college ranks.  We start with 6'8 Ricardo Ratliffe from Central Florida (JC) FL, who has picked Missouri over Clemson, Cincinnati, Arkansas, and Alabama.  And he is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Tigers, which were in need of a physical presence inside.  Ratliffe is best described as a good old-fashioned 6'8, 245-pound blue collar power forward and he averaged 27.4 ppg and 11.3 rpg this past season.  And Ratliffe is not the only player that Missouri head coach Mike Anderson and his staff landed over the weekend.  He is joined by 6'2 Matt Pressey from Navarro (JC) TX, who is ranked #76 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com and is the older brother of 5'8 Phil Pressey from Dallas (Episcopal School of Dallas) TX.  If you will recall, the younger Pressey signed with the Tigers last fall.  And so did 6'7 Tony Mitchell from Dallas (Pinkston) TX, 6'5 Ricky Kreklow from Columbia (Rock Bridge) MO, and 6'8 Kadeem Green from Creedmoor (United Faith Christian) NC.  Thus, explains why we now have Missouri's recruiting class ranked #4 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  However, even more important, Ratliffe is the #1-ranked junior college player in the nation by JucoJunction.com and Mitchell and Pressey are the top two-ranked seniors in the Lone Star State by our Texas Editor Tim Miller and they both belong in the 20-40 range nationally.  In other words, nobody in the country has landed three players any better than Ratliffe, Mitchell, and Pressey and Kreklow, Green, and the other Pressey give this class some quality depth.  So, with five of their top eight players expected to return next year and a terrific recruiting class now in the fold, it's safe to assume that the Tigers will be even better next time around than they were this past season when they went 23-11 and lost to West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.  It also looks like Gonzaga has hit the jackpot with the addition of 6'4 Marquise Carter from Three Rivers (JC) MO.  We're talking about 6'4 point guard who averaged 17.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, and 5.5 apg and led his team to a runner-up finish in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Tournament in Hutchinson, KS.  Carter also scored 35 points in the title game against Howard (JC) TX and was recently named to the First Team Junior College All-American Team.  We also think Utah State has stolen one in 6'3 Antonio Bumpus from Harcum (JC) PA.  Not only did he average 18.2 ppg and 4.8 rpg, but he's also versatile enough to play both inside and outside and was named to the Third Team Junior College All-American Team.  We also have confirmed that 6'11 Diyaaldin Kelley from Harcum (JC) MD, who is ranked #146 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com, has picked Maryland-Eastern Shore and we're hoping that a third time will be a charm for 6'8 Brandon McGee from Wabash Valley (JC) IL who now is appears to be heading to Georgia State.  Remember, McGee played as a freshman at Indiana University during the final year of the Kelvin Sampson era and then sat out a year as a red-shirt at Auburn before finally surfacing this past season in the junior college ranks.  McGee averaged 14.0 ppg and 8.0 rpg and, along with 6'10 Eric Buckner from Gulf Coast (JC) FL, who picked the Panthers several months ago, he should give Georgia State head coach Rod Barnes the one-two punch that he was looking in this year's recruiting class.  And, when you also add 5'8 Devonte White from Roswell (Centennial) GA, 6'6 Harold Doby from Oldsmar (Christian) FL, and 6'0 Javonte Manyor from Snellville (South Gwinnett) GA into the equation, it's easy to see why we have Georgia State's recruiting class tied at #35, along with Maryland and Dayton, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  It also looks like Southern Illinois has been busy this spring.  If you will recall, earlier this month the Salukis landed 6'0 Troy Long from Southeastern Illinois (JC) IL.  And now Southern Illinois head coach Chris Lowery and his staff have received verbal commitments from 6'1 Mykel Cleveland from Southwestern Illinois (JC) IL and 6'7 Ernest Watson from Trinity Valley (JC) TX.  Watson is an athletic combo forward with long arms, a great motor, and the ability to score in a variety of ways.  Cleveland is a pure point guard with great court vision, good ball handling and passing skills, and a good understanding of how to run a team.  So the fact that Cleveland is good at creating his own shot and is capable of putting up prolific numbers is just an added bonus.  We also understand that 6'2 Ray Jones from Connors State (JC) KS has verbally committed to Southern Utah and 6'2 Antoine Mason from New Rochelle (H.S.) NY has verbally committed to Niagara.  Mason is a terrific athlete and is ranked #440 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  Jones was the point guard on a 30-4 team and he averaged 8.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, and 4.0 apg this past season. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It was a good night for the University of Louisville in last night's Derby Classic, as the three players who will play for the Cardinals next year all played well and the one player they are still actively recruiting in the game ended up being the MVP for his team.  We're talking about 6'10 Gorgui Sy Dieng from Huntington (Prep) WV, who finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, eight blocked shots, and 7-10 field goals.  However, even more important, Dieng did a good job of setting picks and screens, running the court, and not being mechanical, like so many foreign big men are during the first year or two after they arrive in this country.  And, if Dieng does sign with Louisville this spring, he is good enough to step in and contribute right away.  But it's his upside and potential that should really get Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino and his staff excited.  Dieng not only has the size, natural talent, and athleticism to evolve into the next Nazr Mohammed, but he also is a lot better than Mohammed was at the same stage.  And that's saying a lot because we had Mohammed ranked #100 nationally in our Final Ranking of the Top Players in the Class of 1995.  And, if Dieng was not named the MVP for his team, 6'4 Justin Coleman from Huntington (Prep) WV, who verbally committed to the Cardinals two months ago and is ranked #30 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, would have been.  Coleman finished with 24 points 10-18 field goals, 3-7 3-pointers, five rebounds, four assists, and five turnovers and brought the house down with some acrobatic moves to the basket and several incredible dunks.  The other two Louisville recruits also played well, as 6'2 Russell Smith from South Kent (Prep) CT finished with 12 points, 5-13 field goals, 2-6 3-pointers, six rebounds, five assists, two turnovers, and two steals, and 5'11 Elisha Justice from Pikeville (Shelby Valley) KY had 12 points 5-11 field goals, 2-4 3-pointers, five assists, two turnovers, and four steals.  Justice also was a crowd favorite due to the fact that he has already accepted a spot as a preferred walk-on at the University of Louisville and now appears to be getting interest from the University of Kentucky, which may offer him a scholarship.  Either way Justice promises to be a good role player at the high major level.  On the other hand, this tough hardnosed competitor who can shoot the lights out, has deceptive speed and quickness, and is always round the ball would be a great catch for somebody at the lower Division I level.  All he lacks is size!  The best player on the losing White Team was 6'2 Ray McCallum from Beverly Hills (Birmingham Detroit Country) MI, who not only scored a game high 25 points, but also finished with seven assists, three turnovers, one steals, 7-12 field goals, 4-7 3-pointers, and 7-8 free throws and was the guy primarily responsible for getting his team to come back from a big second-quarter deficit to make things interesting down the stretch.  In other words, McCallum more than lived up to his reputation of being a McDonald's All-American and clearly has earned a spot among the top 20 seniors nationally when we update our Final Ranking of the Top Players Nationally in the Class of 2010 later this spring.  Also more than living up to our expectations was 6'8 Nate Lubick from Southborough (St. Mark's) MA, who is ranked #18 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, but was not named to play in the McDonald's All-American GameThis Georgetown-bound power forward got most of his 15 points and nine rebounds off hustle, as he ran the floor and often was in the right place to get a put-back and/or a rebound.  We also were impressed with Lubick's ability to stay out of foul trouble and deceptive athleticism and mobility and, as a result, we think he will be a great college player, as well as a solid player someday in the NBA.  The player who was arguably the best player in the game for the first three quarters was 6'0 Ryan Harrow from Marietta (Walton) GA.  He finished with with 16 points, five rebounds, 12 assists, nine turnovers, four steals, 8-15 field goals, 0-4 3-pointers.  But what really impressed us the most was Harrow's ability to change speeds and blow past defenders when he decided to go to the basket.  There also was 6'2 Trae Golden from Powder Springs (McEachern) GA, who got hot down the stretch and finished with 21 points, 8-20 field goals, and 3-8 3-pointers.  One of the biggest surprises in the game was 6'4 Markel Brown from Alexandria (Peabody) LA, who finished with 15 points, 7-10 field goals, and 1-2 3-pointers and made a strong case for a 100-nationally ranking with his speed and quickness and ability to slash to the basket and get things down in transition.  And what about the 10-point/13-rebound effort turned in by 6'10 Dwight Powell from Bradenton (Pendleton School) FL?  Powell still won't put a body on you.  But he made some great moves to the basket and more than hold his own when matched up against Dieng and Lubick, who were the two best big men in the game.   We expected more out of 5'10 Bruce Ellington from Monack Center (Beckeley) SC, who finished with only five points, but did have six assists, zero turnovers, and three steals.  The same also can be said about 6'5 Justin Martin from Indianapolis (Lawrence North) IN, who had 14 points, but was only 1-7 from behind the arc.  Also scoring in double-digits were 6'4 Jordan McRae from Hinesville (Liberty County) GA, who finished with 14 points six rebounds, 6-15 field goals, 1-6 3-pointers; 6'8 Josh Hairston from Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD, who finished with 13 points, six rebounds, three steals, 5-16 field goals, 0-4 3-pointers; 6'5 Trey Zeigler from Mt. Pleasant (H.S.) MI, who finished with 11 points, five rebounds, 5-8 field goals, and 1-1 3-pointers; and 6'5 Stacey Poole from Jacksonville (Providence School) FL, who had 10 points, five rebounds, 5-15 field goals, and 0-3 3-pointers.  The Kentucky-bound Poole did bring the house the down with several incredible dunks and, as a result, that was the one bright spot for the Wildcats fans who were in attendance.  Also chipping in with nine points, six rebounds, 4-7 field goals, and 1-4 3-pointers was 6'7 Anthony Brown from Huntington Beach (Ocean View) CA, who is ranked #72 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP.   The other three players in the game were more than just solid, as 6'9 Moses Abraham from Camp Springs (Progressive Christian Academy) MD had six points, eight rebounds, and 2-6 field goals; 6'5 Victor Oladipo from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD had six points, five rebounds, five assists, three steals, 3-9 field goals, and 0-2 3-pointers; and 6'5 Tyler Lamb from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA had four points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal, 2-6 field goals, and 0-3 3-pointers. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The list of top players who were in attendance earlier today at the 12th Annual East-West Roundball Classic, which was held at duPoint Manual High School in Louisville, KY, includes 6'3 Larry Mimms from Louisville (Valley) KY, 6'3 Garett Ross from Corydon (Central) IN, 6'0 Josh Kays from Bardstown (Nelson County) KY, 6'4 Jr Josh Stroud from Fairdale (H.S.) KY, 6'2 Jr Jake Simpson from Louisville (Pleasure Ridge Park) KY, 6'1 Jr Malcolm Foster from Elizabethtown (John Hardin) KY, 5'10 Jr Ryan Bowling from Owensboro (H.S.) KY, 6'4 Jr Ben Mason from Pineville (Bell County) KY, 6'0 Jr Trey Wyatt from Taylorsville (Spencer County) KY, 5'10 Jr Desmond Brown from Louisville (Central) KY, 6'0 Jr Isaiah Jones from Louisville (Central) KY, 5'11 Soph Charles Foster from Louisville (Trinity) KY, 6'6 Soph Nathan Dieudonne from Louisville (Trinity) KY, 6'7 Soph Hayden Stephenson from Greenup (County) KY, 6'0 Soph Trevor Tiller from Paintsville (H.S.) KY, 5'11 Soph Keith Miller from Louisville (St. Xavier) KY, 6'3 Soph Corey Gregg from Ashland (Paul Blazer) KY, 6'0 Frosh Chris Gillespie from Paris (Bourbon County) KY, 6'1 Frosh Kyle Brown from Oliver Hill (West Carter) KY, 6'5 Frosh Jordan Miller from Fulton (City) KY, 5'10 Frosh Ty Saragas from Harlan (H.S.) KY, 5'8 8th Grader Martinus Williams from Louisville (Conway) KY, and 5'10 8th Grader Zach Chaykowsky from Barlow (Ballard Memorial) KY.  The two best prospects clearly were Dieudonne and Charles Foster and, as a result, it's easy to see why Trinity High School will remain one of the top programs in the state for at least the next two seasons.  If you will  recall, these players played important roles this past season on the first team ever to win the King of the Bluegrass, the Republic Bank Classic Holiday Classic, and the L.I.T. (Louisville Invitational Tournament), which are arguably the three best regular season high school tournaments in the state.  Right now Dieudonne is an athletic shot blocking/rebounding four-man with a soft touch around the basket and out to mid-range.  However, unless Dieudonne grows several more inches, he likely will project as a wing forward due to the fact that he has the foot speed and athleticism necessary to defend out on the perimeter.  Foster is an explosive point guard who competes, finishes, hits the outside shot, and makes his teammates better.  Right now it's like comparing apples and oranges when figuring out which one is better.  But Dieudonne and Foster both will project someplace on the Division I spectrum two years from now and, depending upon how hard they work and continue to develop, they both have a chance to get recruited by schools at the high major level.  We also liked Stroud's toughness and athleticism and the way he dominated on the boards and helped bring the ball up the court.  On the other hand, we're not sure what position Stroud will play at the next level due to the fact he never showed us an outside shot and he's a tweener in size.  We also liked the way Desmond Brown knocked down the outside shot, but would have been even more impressed if he'd finished better in transition.  Wyatt also impressed us with his outside shooting, excellent passing, willingness to compete, and knack for being in the right place at the right time.  Miller has a knack for getting to the hole and beating you with his jump shot.  Sampson has the versatility, toughness, and ability to score both inside and outside necessary to be the next good player at PRP.  And what about Stephenson, who is very active inside and intrigued us with his size, hands, wing span, post moves, and ability to run the court?  Gillespie was a man among boys with his size, strength, athleticism, and ability to dominate both inside and outside.  Williams was the best middle school player at the event and displayed poise beyond his age, as well as speed and quickness, an ability to defend, and a nice looking outside shot.  Mimms is a run and jump athlete and a good sleeper for the NAIA level or Division II and Division III levels.  What Ross does best is shoot the basketball.  Kays is a combo guard with a nice stroke.  A special thanks to Rick Bolus, Kris Vance, and Jeff Allgood, who did a great job of making this an easy to cover event right in our own backyard. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Earlier in the week I mentioned that this weekend I will be attending the 12th Annual East-West Roundball Classic, which will showcase some of the top players from the Bluegrass State and will be held at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, KY during the morning and afternoon, and the Derby Classic All-Star Game, which will be held at Freedom Hall in Louisville, KY in the evening, on Saturday, April 10th.  And after that things will really get interesting, as there is only one weekend between now and the end of June that I do not have an event or tournament to cover.  Next weekend I will be at the Double Pump Spring Tournament, which will be held at the Gold Crown Field House in Lakewood, CO.  Then it will be off to Providence, RI to cover the Hoop Group's Providence Jam Fest on April 23rd-25th.  Next I will be at the Bill Henlsey Memorial Run'N Slam, which will be held the Spiece Fieldhouse in Ft. Wayne, IN on April 30th-May 2nd.  That will be followed by the AAU 17-Under Indiana State Tournament in Franklin, IN on May 7th-9th and the DC Assault Take Your Best Shot Tournament in District Heights, MD on May 14th-16th.  The next weekend, which is May 21st-23rd, I have to be home, because it's my father's 80th birthday.  Then it will be off to the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in Chapel Hill, NC on May 28th-30th, followed by the Pangos All-American Camp at Cabrillo High School in Long Beach, CA on June 4th-6th, the Rumble in the Bronx at Fordham University on June 11th-13th, the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA on June 17th-19th, the Generation Next All-Star Camp in Milwaukee, WI on June 20th, the Phenom 150 Camp in San Diego, CA on June 25th-27th, and the "Blue Chip" High Potential Basketball Camp at Georgetown College in Georgetown, KY on June 30th.  I also once again plan to attend the adidas Invitational (formerly the It Takes 5ive) in Indianapolis, IN on July 6th-7th, LeBron James King City Classic in Cleveland, OH on July 8th-9th, the NIKE Peach Jam in North Augusta, SC on July 12th-15th, the 14-Under/8th Grade AAU Nationals in Lake Buena Vista, FL on July 14th-21st, all of the tournaments that will take place in Las Vegas, NV on July 22nd-26th, the Phoenix Desert Duel at Mesquite High School in Phoenix, AZ on July 27th-28th, and the Junior Phenom Camp in San Diego, CA on August 6th-8th.  That leaves the July 9th-10th open and, if the rumors are true about Sonny Vaccarro getting back into the game and running a superstar oriented camp, I will probably be in Las Vegas, NV on these dates.  Or I may do what I did a year ago and go to Jeff Schneider's Big Shots Tournament in Myrtle Beach, SC.   I also have not decided yet what I will do the last three days of July.  The most likely options are the Best of the Summer Tournament, which will be held at the Anaheim Sports Centers in Anaheim, CA, or the AAU 17-Under Nationals in Lake Buena Visa, FL.  Regardless, this promises to be a crazy summer and the best place to keep up with everything that is going on right here in the Members Section

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The last two times St. John's has been in the process of hiring a new basketball coach my recommendation has been that they should fire the school president (Rev. Donald Harrington) and bring back former Red Storm head coach Fran Fraschilla, who was fired by Harrington in the spring of 1998.  I mention this now, because Fraschilla now appears to be the leading candidate to replace Fred Hill, who was fired earlier today at Rutgers.  And, if Fraschilla does get the Rutgers job, it would be poetic justice.  If you will recall, Fraschilla was on the verge of taking the St. John's program to another level prior to his ouster 12 years.  However, the last two regimes have not been able to recruit in the New York Metropolitan area the same way Fraschilla did and, as a result, the St. John's program has slipped a long way since the days of Lou Carneseca.  Not only is Fraschilla both a terrific recruiter and an excellent coach, but he also has strong roots in the city dating back to his childhood days in Brooklyn, when he was a student at Brooklyn College, an assistant coach at New York Tech, and the head coach at both Manhattan and St. John's.  Moral to the story, this would be a grand slam home run hire and the battle to keep the top players at home will get just that much more intense.  Our New York City Editor Ron Naclerio also tells us that new Iona head coach Timmy Cluess has upped the recruiting ante even more by hiring former Fordham interim head coach Jared Grasso.  And it would not surprise us one bit if all the players that Grosso got verbal commitments from this winter at Fordham followed him to Iona.  Naclerio goes even further by telling us that Cluess might be the best coach in the city next year regardless of who Rutgers hires and it might be only a matter of time before Cluess is the next head coach at St. John's.  Other names being mentioned as possible successors to Fred Hill at Rutgers are Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg, former Ohio State head coach Jim O'Brien, Robert Morris head coach Mike Rice, and Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody.  And, regardless of who the Scarlet Knights hire, the new head coach should strongly consider hiring former Seton Hall assistant coach Dermond Player and/or Kevin Boyle, who is the head coach at Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ. 

Now also is a good time to catch up on all of the verbal commitments that have occurred during the last week.  And right at the top of the list is the early verbal commitment made by 5'11 Jr Shabazz Napier from Groton (Lawrence Academy) MA to the University of Connecticut.  We're talking about an explosive athletic combo guard who is ranked #84 nationally in the junior class and is ideally suited to play in the Huskies up tempo setting.  However, Napier is not so good that he will scare off either 6'5 Doron Lamb from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA and/or 6'3 Corey Joseph from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, who are the two players that we think Jim Calhoun and his coaching staff have the best chance of landing this spring.  It also looks like we knew what we were talking about two weeks ago when we told you that the next shoe to drop for Western Kentucky will be 6'4 Kahlil McDonald from Blinn (JC) TX.  This is a guy who is ranked #12 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com and appears to be ideally suited to complement 6'2 Brandon Peters from Houston (Yates) TX, 6'1 Ken Brown from Cerritos (JC) CA, 6'8 Stephon Drane from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, and 6'6 Kene Anyigbo from Houston (Bellaire) TX in a recruiting class that is now tied at #31, along with Virginia Commonwealth, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  However, even more important, Hilltoppers' head coach Ken McDonald has not one, not two, but three guards who can thrive in an up tempo setting and, as a result, are the perfect replacement for 6'3 Sr A.J. Slaughter, who was Western Kentucky's leading scorer this past season and will graduate this spring.  It also looks like Lamar head coach Steve Roccaforte has hit the jackpot with the addition of a pair of junior college players in 6'2 Devon Lamb from Southwestern Christian (JC) TX and 6'6 Brandon Davis from Southwestern Christian (JC) TX.  Lamb, who last week was named to the Second Team NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Division I All-American Team, is a prolific scoring 2-guard who averaged 27.7 ppg, 11.0 rpg, and 5.6 apg this past season.  Davis averaged 20.7 ppg and 5.7 apg and is one of the best outside shooters to come down the pike in a long time, as is evident by the fact that he shot 49.0% (210-431) from behind the arc.  Lamb and Davis both scored over 1000 points during their junior college career and, as a result, they should provide both experience and prolific scoring necessary to complement 6'1 Tre Lynch from Lancaster (H.S.) TX, 6'8 Michale Kyser from Lancaster (H.S.) TX, 5'10 Nuno Muandaumba from Phoenix (Westwind Prep) AZ, 6'4 Demetris Smith from Pflugerville (H.S.) TX, and 6'7 Darius Harris from Port Arthur (Memorial) TX in a recruiting class that is now tied at #29, along with Kent State, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010Antonio Curro, who is the Editor & Publisher of the NY2LASports.com web site, tells us that 6'5 Jr Quevyn Winters from Milwaukee (Washington) WI has made an early verbal commitment to Baylor.  And he thinks this skilled wing forward who can score inside, outside, and from mid-range is a great catch for the Bears.  He's not a super athlete, but he has great basketball instincts, is a tough hardnosed competitor, and his team usually wins.  Did you know that Winters hit the game winning shot in the championship game against the Mac Irvin Fire in the Swish N' Dish Spring Warm-up, which was held this past weekend in Milwaukee, WI and featured a number of the top club teams in the Midwest?  It also looks like Southern Illinois has gotten an excellent leader in 6'0 Troy Long from Southeastern Illinois (JC) IL.  Long is more of a combo guard than a pure point.  But this past season he averaged 11.8 ppg and 2.3 apg, was named all-conference and all-region, and led his team to an 8th Place finish in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Tournament in Hutchinson, KS.  And what about the fact that 6'0 Joseph Ragland from North Platte (JC) NE has verbally committed to Wichita State?  This prolific scoring combo guard averaged 18.4 ppg, shot 46% from behind the arc, and finished with 1,286 points, which makes him the all-time leading scorer in school history.  There also is the verbal commitment that Saint Louis received from 7'0 Rob Loe, who, at only 17-years-old, averaged 18.8 ppg and 7.0 rpg for the New Zealand junior national team in the 2009 FIBA Under-19 World Championship.  It also looks like 6'8 DeMon Brooks from Charlotte (Hopewell) NC has reneged on the commitment that he made to Howard University and is now heading to Davidson, 5'11 Jr Jahii Carson from Mesa (H.S.) AZ is now back on the board after reneging on Oregon State, 6'5 Jalen Steele from Knoxville (Fulton) TN has asked for and received his release from Auburn, and 6'8 Gilvydas Biruta from Newark (St. Benedict's) NJ has wasted no time and is trying to get out of the National Letter-of-Intent that he signed last fall with Rutgers.  We also have confirmed the following commitments:  6'2 Sherrard Brantley from Northwest Florida (JC) FL to the University of Georgia, 6'8 Anali Okoloji from Sarasota (Impact Basketball Academy) FL to Seton Hall, 6'0 Darian Norris from Salt Lake (JC) UT to the University of San Diego, 6'2 Shay Shine from Iowa Western (JC) IA to High Point, 6'1 Jarvis Davis from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA to Central Florida, 6'7 Tim Toler from Danville (JC) IL to Northern Illinois, 6'7 Alonzo Edwards from Lon Morris (JC) TX to North Texas, 6'7 Joel Gierbolini from Lon Morris (JC) TX to Long Island, 6'8 Justin Cecil from Central Florida (JC) FL to Mercer, 5'10 Fabyon Harris from Chicago (Hyde Park) IL to SMU, 5'11 Anthony Cousin from Butler County (JC) IL to Illinois State, 7'0 Zach House from Sauk Valley (JC) IL to Southeast Missouri State, 6'0 Nick Niemcyzk from Three Rivers (JC) MO to Southeast Missouri State, 6'6 Troy Pierce from Butler County (JC) KS to Charleston Southern, 6'1 Ashton Khan from Wolfeboro (Brewester Academy) NH to Canisius, and 6'6 Ramell Taylor from Ft. Scott (JC) KS to Southern Utah. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

We're not there yet.  But we're getting close.  We're talking about the fact that there have been 38 Division I head coaching openings already this year and there have been an average of 45 head coaching openings per year over the last eight years.  This includes today's firing of Wake Forest's Dino Gaudio, today's resignation by St. Francis-NY head coach Brian Nash, and the fact that Columbia head coach Joe Jones has decided to make the move to Boston College, where he will become Steve Donahue's top assistant.  And 20 of those 38 jobs have already been filled, as former Siena head coach Fran McCaffery has replaced Todd Lickliter at Iowa, former UTEP head coach Tony Barbee has replaced Jeff Lebo at Auburn, former Cornell head coach Steve Donahue has replaced Al Skinner at Boston College, former Iona head coach Kevin Willard has replaced Bobby Gonzalez at Seton Hall, former Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell has replaced Jeff Wainwright at DePaul, former UCLA head coach Steve Lavin has replaced Norm Roberts at St. John's, former USC head coach Tim Floyd has replaced Tony Barbee at UTEP, former Hofstra head coach Tom Pecora has replaced Dereck Whittenburg at Fordham, former USC assistant coach Gib Arnold has replaced Bob Nash at Hawaii, former Marshall head coach Donnie Jones has replaced Kirk Speraw at Central Florida, former Texas Tech head coach James Dickey has replaced Tom Penders at Houston, former Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo has replaced Mack McCarthy at East Carolina, former Wisconsin-Green Bay head coach Tod Kowalczyk has replaced Gene Cross at Toledo, former Providence head coach Tim Welsh has replaced Tom Pecora at Hofstra, former Gonzaga assistant coach Leon Rice has replaced Greg Graham at Boise State, former Pennsylvania assistant coach Jerome Allen has replaced Glen Miller at Pennsylvania, former Sam Houston State head coach Bob Marlin has replaced Robert Lee at Louisiana-Lafayette, former Newark (St. Benedict's) NJ head coach Danny Hurley has replaced Mike Deane at Wagner, former Sam Houston State assistant coach Jason Hooten has replaced Bob Marlin at Sam Houston State, and former Arkansas Baptist head coach Corliss Williamson has replaced Rand Chappell at Central Arkansas.  Obviously the trend has been for Division I head coaches to move up the ladder, as McCaffery, Barbee, Donahue, Willard, Pecora, Marlin, and Williamson all fall into this category.  This also appears to be a good year for former Division I head coaches to return to the sideline, as Lavin, Floyd, Dickey, and Welsh all fall into this category.  There also were three head coaches (Purnell, Jones, and Kowalczyk) that made what appear to be lateral moves and four assistant coaches (Arnold, Rice, Allen, and Hooten) who have moved up the ladder into head coaching jobs.  That leaves Lebo, who has taken a step down, and Hurley, who is making the move from being a head coach at the high school level to a head coach at the college level.  The 18 head coaching jobs that have yet to be filled include Oregon, Wake Forest, Clemson, Charlotte, Tulane, Marshall, Siena, UNC-Wilmington, Iona, Wisconsin-Green Bay, UC-Irvine, Holy Cross, Cornell, Columbia, Dartmouth, St. Francis-NY, Howard, and Gardner-Webb.  And that number could become 19 as soon as tomorrow or Friday, if Fred Hill doesn't survive at Rutgers.  And, if that happens, it would bring the total number of head coaching jobs in the New York Metropolitan area that have opened this year to nine, as St John's, Seton Hall, Fordham, Hofstra, Iona, Columbia, St. Francis-NY, and Wagner have all recently had regime changes.  We also have to give DePaul the award for hiring the coach who is the biggest geographic misfit in his new job.  Now don't get me wrong.  We have Oliver Purnell ranked #34 on our List of the Top Head Coaches in the Game Today and there is no doubt that he has done a wonderful job at Clemson, where he has compiled at 138-90 record during the last seven years.  And that includes four straight 20-plus win seasons and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances.  However, it appears that Purnell doesn't know anybody in Chicago, IL and recruiting in the Windy City is all about the relationships.  So obviously it will be interesting to see who Purnell hires and whether the new regime will be successful in the never ending battle of convincing the top players in the city to stay home.  The early list of names for the Clemson job includes Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith, Butler head coach Brad Stevens, Virginia Commonwealth head coach Shaka Smart, Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel, and new UTEP head coach Tim Floyd.  There is no doubt that the timing might not be right for Floyd to take the Clemson job.  But did you know that Floyd was the first choice the last time around when Purnell got the job?  We lost interest long ago with regards to what is going at the University of Oregon.  That job officially opened three weeks ago.  But everybody has known that this was coming for months and, as a result, the Ducks deserve a "F" when it comes to moving swiftly and making a good hire.  And to compound this problem even further is the fact that money should be no object when it comes making this hire.  We also were shocked by the fact that Dino Gaudio got the ax at Wake Forest today.  This is a guy with a 61-31 record since taking over for the late Skip Prosser three years ago and guided his team into the second round of this year's NCAA Tournament with a win over the University of Texas.  And, if that weren't enough, the Demon Deacons also have a great recruiting class waiting in the wings.  If you will recall, their class is currently ranked #4 on our list of Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010 and it includes 6'3 J.T. Terrell from Charlotte (West Charlotte) NC, 6'7 Travis McKie from Richmond (Marshall) VA, 6'0 Tony Chennault from Philadelphia (Neumann-Goretti) PA, 6'7 Melvin Tabb from Raleigh (Enloe) NC, and 6'9 Carson Desrosiers from Lawrence (Central Catholic) MA.  On the other hand, we are not surprised by the fact that Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins took his name out of the running for the Charlotte job.  Not only is Hopkins the hire apparent to current Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, but he also is a former Orangemen player and being the next head coach at Syracuse would be a dream come true.  Instead, the names we're hearing the most to become the next boss of the 49ers are Kansas assistant coach Joe Dooley, Xavier assistant coach Pat Kelsey, Texas assistant coach Russell Springmann, Ohio State assistant coach Alan Major, and Florida State assistant coach Stan Jones.  However, Kelsey also appears to be one of the early favorites to return to Wake Forest as the head coach.  Another great name for the Wake Forest job is Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel.  We're also hearing that former Charlotte assistant coach Rob Moxley is close to getting the Gardner-Webb job and we have confirmed via our New York City Editor Ron Naclerio that Timmy Cluess has come out of nowhere to the Iona job.  And Naclerio thinks this is a great hire.  He also reminds us that Cluess was Danny Green's high school coach at Manhasset (St. Mary's) NY, where he compiled a 264-78 record and won eight consecutive Nassau-Suffolk Catholic League Championships from 1997-1998 to 2004-2005.  Cluess next spent a year at Suffolk (JC) NY, where he led a team with only eight players to a 22-10 record and a 4th Place finish in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Division III Tournament.  Cluess has spent the last four years at C.W. Post, where his team's have gone 98-23.  And that includes a 30-1 record and a runner-up finish in the Division II ranks during the 2008-2009 season.  "Most people have never heard of this guy," says Naclerio.  "But he's a hell of a coach and it's great to see a former high school coach from our area finally get a big break."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

There is no doubt that last night's game between Duke and Butler will go down in history as one of the all time great NCAA Championship Games.  But even more important than the 61-59 final score are the valuable lessons that can be learned by players at all levels of the basketball spectrum.  In other words, if you work hard, develop into a cohesive unit, execute to perfection, and have the tremendous heart and desire of a champion, sometimes the biggest, strongest, and most athletic team doesn't always win.  And now that a small mid-major school has come within a last second shot that almost went in of winning a National Championship, you can bet that a lot of coaches will be selling their players on the fact that they can become the next Butler.  So, with that in mind, now obviously is the perfect time to start talking about expanding the NCAA Tournament.  But why stop at 96 teams or 128 teams?  For years I've been a strong proponent that every Division I team should get an invite to the tournament and that the seeding should be based on the Sagarin Ratings, which are reflective of what each team has done against Division I competition, and does not take into consideration meaningless things like the strength of schedule of your opponents (i.e. the RPI Ratings).  That way every game during the entire course of the regular season and the conference tournaments would have meaning and they also could expand the N.I.T. (National Invitational Tournament) into an even bigger tournament early in the season.  By my count there are currently 347 schools playing at the Division I level.  And, if they opened up the field to everybody, the bottom 184 would play in the 92 first round games of the tournament.  The top 163 teams would get a first round bye, which would set up the second round that would include 256 teams and 128 games and would take just one more week to play.  This also would eliminate the controversy that always goes with the NCAA selection process and it would expand fan interest even further, as the potential for upsets and team's getting hot at the right time is really what makes March Madness the most unique and the most interesting event in all of sports.  And, while this is an interesting argument that we will continue to debate in the future, this is the transition period from last season to next season.  Last night the 2009-2010 basketball came to a spectacular end and next year starts this weekend with all the numerous tournaments and events that will be taking place around the country.  I will be at the 12th Annual East-West Roundball Classic, which will showcase a lot the top players from Kentucky and surrounding states and will be held at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, KY during the morning and afternoon, and the Derby Classic All-Star Game, which will be held at Freedom Hall in Louisville, KY in the evening, on Saturday, April 10th.  Speaking of the Derby Classic it should be pretty good this year as the list of players includes 6'0 Ryan Harrow from Marietta (Walton) GA, 6'8 Nate Lubick from Southborough (St. Mark's) MA, 6'8 Josh Hairston from Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD, 6'2 Ray McCallum from Beverly Hills (Detroit Country Day) MI, 6'5 Justin Coleman from Huntington (Prep) WV, 6'4 Jordan McRae from Hinesville (Liberty County) GA, 6'2 Trae Golden from Powder Springs (McEachern) GA, 6'5 Tyler Lamb from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6'5 Trey Zeigler from Mt. Pleasant (H.S.) MI, 5'10 Bruce Ellington from Monack Center (Beckeley) SC, 7'0 Meyers Leonard from Robinson (H.S.) IL, 6'7 Anthony Brown from Huntington Beach (Ocean View) CA, 6'5 Stacey Poole from Jacksonville (Providence School) FL, 6'1 Eric Atkins from Baltimore (Mt. St. Joseph) MD, 6'5 Victor Oladipo from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD, 6'10 Dwight Powell from Bradenton (Pendleton School) FL, 6'5 Justin Martin from Indianapolis (Lawrence North) IN, 6'4 Markel Brown from Alexandria (Peabody) LA, 6'9 Moses Abraham from Camp Springs (Progressive Christian Academy) MD, 6'2 Russell Smith from South Kent (Prep) CT, 6'10 Gorgui Dieng from Huntington (Prep) WV, and 5'11 Elisha Justice from Pikeville (Shelby Valley) KY.  The only McDonald's All-American Game on this list is McCallum.  However, there are three other players (Harrow, Lubick, and Hairston) who should have been in the McDonald's All-American Game and there are 11 other players in the game (Coleman, McRae, Golden, Lamb, Zeigler, Ellington, Leonard, Brown, Poole, Atkins, Oladipo) who are good enough to be ranked in the top 30-100 range nationally.  The game also has it's usual strong flavor of players with local interest, as Coleman, Smith, and Justice are bound for the University of Louisville; Poole is bound for the University of Kentucky; Oladipo is bound for Indiana University; Atkins is bound for Notre Dame; Martin is bound for Xavier; and Golden and McRae are bound for the University of Tennessee.  The game also will feature three players (McCallum, Zeigler, and Dieng) who are still on the board.  Those first two are expected to stay home and play for father at the University of Detroit and Central Michigan.  Dieng is expected to follow in the footsteps of his teammate (Coleman) and sign with Louisville during the Spring Signing Period, which will begin on Wednesday, April 14th.  We also will be interested to see if the rumors are true about Rutgers head coach Fred Hill being on the verge of termination (we've heard that it could happened as soon as Thursday or Friday of this week) after an out-burst at a Rutgers baseball game last week.  If Hill gets the ax, then the three Big East schools (St. John's, Seton Hall, and Rutgers) in the New York Metropolitan area will have achieved a trifecta, as they all will have made a coaching change this spring.  We also can't wait for all of the dominos to start falling with regards to all the high level seniors who are still available as the Spring Signing Period quickly approaches.  As things stand now, we predict that 6'3 Brandon Knight from Ft. Lauderdale (Pine Crest) FL will pick the University of Kentucky, 6'2 Josh Selby from Baltimore (Lake Clifton) MD will pick the University of Kansas, 6'3 Cory Joseph from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV will pick Villanova, 6'2 Ray McCallum from Beverly Hills (Detroit Country Day) MI will pick the University of Detroit, and 6'5 Trey Zeigler from Mt. Pleasant (H.S.) MI will pick Central Michigan.  We also find it interesting that the University of Kentucky is among the favorites for 6'9 Terrence Jones from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 6'5 Doron Lamb from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, 6'9 C.J. Leslie from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, and 6'6 Terrence Ross from Portland (Jefferson) OR.  If Kentucky does indeed add Knight to a recruiting class that already includes 6'10 Enes Kanter from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA and 6'5 Stacey Poole from Jacksonville (Providence School) FL and lands any three of the above mentioned players (Jones, Lamb, Ross, and Leslie), then the Wildcats would have the #1-ranked recruiting class in the nation.  However, even more important, they appear to be on the verge of landing an even better recruiting class than the one they brought in a year ago when they landed 6'10 DeMarcus Cousins from Mobile (LeFlore) AL, 6'4 John Wall from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, 6'10 Daniel Orton from Oklahoma City (Bishop McGuiness) OK, 6'7 Darnell Dodson from Miami-Dade (JC) FL, 6'0 Eric Bledsoe from Birmingham (Parker) AL, and 6'7 Jonathan Hood from Madisonville (North Hopkins) KY.  On the other hand, we hope that some of their current recruits will stick around a little longer than the last group.  If you will recall, Cousins, Wall, Orton, Bledsoe, and Dodson (ready or not) all plan to enter their name into the NBA Draft this spring.  That leaves Hood as the only player in last year's class who plans to return. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010, Sunday, April 4, 2010, & Monday, April 5, 2010

Will Duke play like it did (almost flawlessly) when the Blue Devils totally annihilated West Virginia, 78-57, in the second NCAA Semi-Finals Game on Saturday?  Or will Butler become college basketball's version of the movie Hoosiers with a win in tonight's NCAA Championship Game in Indianapolis, IN?  That's the question that currently is on everybody's mind.  And, if David can slay Goliath, one has wonder what Bulldogs' head coach Brad Stevens will do for an encore, as as seven of the nine players who played in Butler's 52-50 win against Michigan State in the other semi-finals game are expected to return next year.  And that includes 6'9 Soph Gordon Hayward, and 6'3 Soph Shelvin Mack, who are clearly the heart-and-sole of this year's NCAA Final Four Team and combined for 33 points and 11 rebounds in the semi-finals against Michigan State.  We also have to wonder if Stevens will get out while the getting is good and bolt for a bigger, better, and a much more high paying job (i.e. the University of Oregon).  And, if he does, will Butler athletic director Barry Collier, who is the guy that hired Stevens and preceded Ohio State's Thad Matta, former University of Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter, and Stevens as boss of the Bulldogs, once again elevate an assistant coach to run the show?  Or will go outside the family this time in an attempt to keep the program at the level that it has currently attained?  Or will Collier, who was once a heck of a coach in his own right, decide to return to the sidelines and take over the program in himself?  But regardless of the future, if Butler wins tonight, it will be one of the truly great stories in the history of college basketball.  If you will recall, the last time a team that did not belong to one of the powerhouse conferences won it all was 20 years ago when UNLV beat Duke in the title game.  And you have to go back to 1966 when Texas Western beat Kentucky in the title game to find where a true mid-major program knocked off one of the traditional powers in college basketball in the NCAA Championship Game.  On the other hand, if Duke wins it all, this once again eliminate any doubts about who should be at the top of the list of all active Division I head coaches, as four NCAA Championships and 11 NCAA Final Four appearances would put Mike Krzyzewski tied for second, along Adolph Rupp, on the all-time list of coaches who have won National Championships and tied for second, along with Dean Smith, on the all-time list of coaches who have made the most NCAA Final Four appearances.  Obviously UCLA's John Wooden is first on both lists with 10 NCAA Championships and 12 NCAA Final Four appearances.  As for this current Blue Devils team, their effort against West Virginia, which included 29-55 (52.7%) field goals, 13-25 (52.0%) 3-pointers, and only five turnovers, was one of the best that I've ever since in the all of the years that I've been attending the NCAA Final Four.  And that's a strong statement, because my string of consecutive NCAA Final Fours now stands at 38 and when I arrive at the game tonight this will be the 122nd NCAA Final Four game that I will have personally attended.  On paper tonight's NCAA Championship should not be close, especially if 6'8 Jr Kyle Singler, 6'5 Sr Jon Scheyer, and 6'2 Jr Nolan Smith, who combined for 63 points and hit 12-23 3-pointers in the semi-finals, get the same open looks and knock down the shots the way they did against West Virginia.  On the other hand, if Hayward steps up early, like he did the other night, and the Bulldogs can stay out of foul trouble, hold their own on the boards, and control the tempo of the game, then.......

Friday, April 2, 2010

The NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Division I All-American Teams were announced yesterday and the list of 10 players named to the First Team includes 6'6 Jae Crowder from Howard (JC) TX, 6'9 Ricardo Ratliffe from Central Florida (JC) FL, 6'3 Matt Pressey from Navarro (JC) TX, 6'6 Michael Glover from Eastern Utah (JC) UT, 6'1 CoCo Ware from East Mississippi (JC) MS, 6'0 Joe Ragland from North Platte (JC) NE, 6'4 Calel Walker from Butler County (JC) KS, 6'7 Chris Washington from Connors State (JC) KS, 6'1 L.A. Farmer from Wallace State (JC) AL, and 6'8 Jesse Perry from John A. Logan (JC) IL.  The Second Team includes 6'2 Luke Martinez from Williston State (JC) ND, 6'5 Norvell Arnold from Southeastern Iowa (JC) IA, 6'8 Stephen Rogers from Mesa (JC) AZ, 5'10 Michael Hale from North Idaho (JC) ID, 6'4 John Brown from Roane State (JC) TN, 6'2 Devon Lamb from Southwestern Christian (JC) TX, 6'11 Eloy Vargas (Miami-Dade) FL, 5'10 Marcus Williams from Cochise (JC) AZ, 6'4 Marquise Carter from Three Rivers (JC) MO, and 6'2 Marcos Knight from Middle Georgia (JC) GA.  The Third Team includes 6'4 Ben Smith from Northern Oklahoma (JC) OK, 6'5 J.R Cadot from Sheridan (JC) WY, 6'4 Antonio Bumpus from Harcum (JC) PA, 6'5 Brandon Wilson from Jones County (JC) MS, 6'10 Andre Almedia from Arizona Western (JC) AZ, 6'9 Karron Johnson from Moberly (JC) MO, 6'4 Chris Blake from Trinity Valley (JC) TX, 5'9 Diante Watkins from Richard J. Daley (JC) IL, 6'8 Antione Lundy from Neosho County (JC) KS, and 6'3 Brian Bryant from Northwest Florida (JC) FL.  The Honorable Mention Team includes 6'3 Tyler Brown from Marshalltown (JC) IA, 6'8 Aaron Brackett from Allegany (JC) MD, 6'0 Freddie Goldstein from Motlow State (JC) TN, 6'7 Jonathan Brooks from Coastal Georgia (JC) GA, 6'5 Alex Jackson from Frederick (JC) MD, 6'7 Courtney Carr from Shelton State (JC) AL, 6'7 Roberto Colonette from ASA (JC) NY, 6'2 Brandon Riley from USC-Salkehatchie (JC) SC, 6'1 Cephas Oglesby from Cape Fear (JC) NC, 6'3 Darrell Blanton from Kennedy-King (JC) IL, and 6'2 Lazerie Jones from John A. Logan (JC) IL.  We also have confirmed that 6'6 Jae Crowder from Howard (JC) TX, who was named the Player of the-Year in the Division I Junior College ranks, plans to sign a binding National Letter-of-Intent with Marquette University in a couple of weeks.  And this is huge for a number of reasons.  First, we're talking about a tough hardnosed competitor who is capable of playing either forward position and is such a great athlete that he'd probably be just as good playing on Sunday's as he will be at the big time college level and perhaps someday in the NBA.  Second, Crowder is a winner, as is evident by the fact that he led South Georgia Tech (JC) GA to the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, KS a year ago and Howard (JC) TX to the NJCAA Championship in Hutchinson, KS a couple of weeks ago.  Third, Crowder joins 6'3 Vander Blue from Madison (Memorial) WI, 6'10 Monterale Clark from Hill (JC) TX, 6'1 Reggie Smith from Harvey (Thornton) IL, 6'6 Jamail Jones from  Montverde (Academy) FL, and 6'4 Devonte Newbill from Philadelphia (Strawberry Mansion) PA in a recruiting class that is now ranked #2 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2010.  And this comes on the heels of last year's #1-ranked recruiting class, which included 6'7 Erik Williams from Cypress (Cypress Springs) TX, 6'0 Junior Cadugon from Humble (Christian Life) TX, 6'6 Jeronne Maymon from Madison (Memorial) WI, 6'3 Dwight Buycks from Indiana Hills (JC) IA, 6'2 Darius Johnson-Odom from Hutchinson (JC) KS, 6'10 Brett Roseboro from Quakertown (H.S.) PA, and 7'2 Youssouphe Mbao from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA.  Unfortunately Cadugon never got into the flow of things this year after being sidelined with an injury early in the season, Williams has never regain the phenomenal athleticism that had before he broke his foot in late December of his junior year of high school, Maymon has the father from hell and since transferred to Tennessee, and Roseboro never enrolled into school.  And all  of this is important, because Golden Eagles head coach Buzz Williams and his staff obviously are second to none when it comes to reloading in a hurry.  And they also do a great job of working with what they have on hand in the program, as is evident by the fact that Marquette was one of the surprises teams in the Big East this year with 22-12 overall and 11-7 conference records. 

Our North Carolina Editor Rick Lewis tells us that 5'11 Jr Marquis Rankin from Charlotte (Vance) NC has made an early verbal commitment to Virginia Tech and we think he will be the next in a long line of excellent guards to play for Hokies head coach Seth Greenberg.  "What Rankin does best is get to the rack," says Lewis.  "He needs to finish better, but he's got great speed and quickness and is terrific in transition."  Rankin also is extremely talented, as is evident by the fact that he is ranked #39 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  And this is important, because suddenly Virginia Tech is off to the races in terms of our recruiting class rankings for the junior class.  If you will recall, the Hokies also already have early verbal commitments from 6'7 Jr C.J. Barksdale from Danville (George Washington) VA and 6'4 Jr Robert Brown from Clermont (East Ridge) FL and, as a result, now have the #3-ranked recruiting class on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  And, when one also remembers that Barksdale is ranked #35 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP and is just oozing with athleticism, upside, and potential, it's easy to see why Greenberg recently got a contract extension.  It also looks like Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins and Xavier assistant coach Pat Kelsey have emerged as the two leading candidates for the Charlotte job.  The three names that we're hearing for the Marshall job are former Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez, former Charlotte head coach Bobby Lutz, and Appalachian State  head coach Buzz Peterson.  The list of coaches being mentioned for the Iona job includes ESPN television analyst Fran Fraschilla, Louisville assistant coach Steve Massillo, Florida assistant coach Richard Pitino, and former St. John's head coach Norm Roberts.  However, in the case of Roberts, it looks like he's got it backwards.  You're supposed to take the Iona job first and then move up the ladder to St. John's.  On the other hand, Roberts is one of the best guys in the business and it won't be long before somebody hires him, especially if they want somebody with the contacts necessary to recruit both in the Midwest and in New York City.  But the most intriguing thing that we've run across at this year's NCAA Final Four is the change in the balance of power in the coaching ranks in the New York Metropolitan area.  And the question everybody seems to asking is what do I think of new St. John's head coach Steve Lavin?  There is no question that Lavin will be great in the press conference and in the short term will reenergize the fan base and increase season ticket sales.  But just how good a recruiter Lavin will be in the New York Metropolitan area remains to be seen.  If you will recall, Lavin has strong Midwest and West Coast ties, but he's never had to recruit in the East and, as a result, it will be important for him to hire somebody who can get the top players in his backyard.  The latest two names that we've heard as potential candidates for his staff are Loyola-Maryland head coach Jimmy Patsos and former Virginia head coach Dave Leitao,  However, it also will be important to hire somebody who can introduce Lavin to all of the top high school coaches and AAU guys in the city and help him get players right away.  Might we suggest former Seton Hall assistant coach Dermond Player, who already had one stretch at St. John's during the Mike Jarvis era and has all the right connections dating back to his days at Riverside Church and Rice High School, or former Hofstra assistant coach Van Macon, who has helped land more than his fair of New York City kids in recent years.  Speaking of Macon, right now he plans to join his former boss Tom Pecora, who recently became the new head coach at Fordham.  And so will Pecora's other two assistants David Duke and Mike Kelly.  It also looks like new Hofstra head coach Tim Welsh has already assembled an incredible staff that includes one of Welsh's long time former assistant coaches Steve DeMeo, who is now a head coach in the Division II ranks, former Boston College assistant coach Mo Cassara, who also has incredible contacts in the prep school ranks, and Providence College assistant coach Allen Griffin, who is a rising star in the business.  And the new regime at Seton Hall promises to be no slouch when it comes to recruiting in the city, as Kevin Willard plans to bring with him from Iona his right hand man Dan McHale, who is one of the bright up-and-coming guys in the business, and assistant coach Shaheen Holloway, who is originally from Queens, NY, has all of the right contacts for the purposes of recruiting in the both city and North Jersey, and is one of the best players in Seton Hall basketball history.  In other words, Lavin had better be on top of his game from the opening jump, as the competition to keep the local guys at home will be even more intense than ever.  And, the same also can be said at the lower Division I level, as the everybody seems to think that Danny Hurley, who is now the head coach at Newark (St. Benedict's) NJ and is the son of the legendary Bob Hurley, will become the next head coach at Wagner College.  I also was impressed with former San Antonio Spurs and University of Kansas point guard Jacque Vaughn when his former coach Neil Dougherty introduced me to him last night at the Five-Star party.  Vaughn tells us that he wants to get into the coaching ranks and, with his understanding of the game and big time name recognition, you can rest assured that it won't be long before he has a Division I assistant coaching job. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson was the McDonald's All American High School All-Star Game last night at the Value City Arena in Columbus, OH and the game almost had a Hollywood movie-like ending.  The East team, which trailed 102-91 with 3:04 in the 4th Quarter, went on a 13-2 run to tie that game with 32 seconds left in the game.  However, it ended more like a Greek tragedy when 6'3 Brandon Knight from Ft. Lauderdale (Pine Crest) FL drained a 3-pointer with three seconds left in the game to give the West a 107-104 victory.  And, in the process, it ruined a "heroic" performance by local star and "hero" 6'8 Jared Sullinger from Columbus (Northland) OH, whose 60-foot desperation shot at the buzzer just missed the rim.  Sullinger started the day in a hospital where got an IV after waking up dehydrated due to possible food poisoning after he and some other players ate some hot chicken wings the night before.  His father said at that time that his son was questionable for the game.  But being the warrior that he is, Sullinger was not going to miss this game in his home city and was in the starting lineup.  Sullinger finished with 22 points and was named MVP on the East Team after making 7-11 field goals, including 2-3 from behind the 3 point arc, and a perfect 6-6 from the charity stripe.  Sullinger also added seven rebounds, which was second behind co-leaders 6'8 Patric Young from Jacksonville (Providence School) FL and 6'9 C.J. Leslie from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, who finished with nine rebounds for the West and East teams respectively.  Sullinger also tied East squad teammate 6'3 Kyrie Irving  from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ for a game high three steals.  The MVP for the West Squad was 6'8 Harrison Barnes from Ames (H.S.) IA after scoring a team-high 18 points and hitting 7-10 field goals and 3-3 free throws.  The McDonald's All American Game is the culmination of several practices and scrimmages that were conducted in front of numerous media, scouts and NBA General Managers and the players who impressed me at these practices and scrimmages on the West Squad were 6'8 Harrison Barnes from Ames (H.S.) IA, 6'9 Terrence Jones from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 6'3 Brandon Knight from Ft. Lauderdale (Pine Crest) FL, 7'0 Fabricio DeMelo from Weston (Sagemont) FL, 6'2 Ray McCallum from Beverly Hills (Detroit Country Day) MI, 6'3 Corey Joseph from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, 5'9 Tristian Thompson from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, and 6'8 Patrick Young from Jacksonville (Providence School) FL.  The best players on the East Squad were 6'8 Jared Sullinger from Columbus (Northland) OH, 6'3 Kyrie Irving from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, 6'8 Tobias Harris from Dix Hills (Half Hallow Hills West) NY, 6'6 Reggie Bullock from Kinston (H.S.) NC, 6'11 Perry Jones from Duncanville (H.S.) TX, 6'9 C.J. Leslie from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, and 6'2 Josh Selby from Baltimore (Lake Clifton) MD.  "DeMelo has lost some weight from last summer, is more active than he used to be, and appears to have a better understanding of the game," says Johnson.  "Thompson is another guy who has lost weight and his body looks more like it did when he was a sophomore and junior.  Joseph has a great looking release on his jumper and is as good a shooter as there is.  McCallum showed he is more athletic than people think he is and was one of the big surprises in the dunk contest.  Irving appears to have grown an inch or two since I saw him last summer and is now 6'3.  That, coupled with his speed, anticipation, and offensive skills, will give him a chance to ultimately be the best player in the class over Sullinger, Barnes, and Knight.  Harris was unstoppable offensively, showing a deadly jumper and several crafty moves.  Selby attacks the basket as well as anyone and Jones impressed the NBA guys with his tremendous physique coupled with great athleticism and skills."  Finally, there were seven unsigned players at this game, which is probably more than there has been in many years. There are three factors involved in this.  First, with the deadline for entering the NBAdraft now moved from May until April 25th, kids now have a better idea who is leaving for the pros and they can see where can have immediate playing time.  Second, everyone knows that the coaching carrousel goes on in late March and early April.  Third, a lot of these guys are waiting to see if some other dominos will fall first, as Kentucky and and Connecticut were mentioned by five of the seven players and Florida and Kansas were mentioned by three of the seven players.  In other words, some players are waiting to see where others go and then will react to those decisions.  Kentucky, Syracuse, Kansas, Connecticut, and Florida are final five for 6'3 Brandon Knight from Ft. Lauderdale (Pine Crest) FL.  The list of schools mentioned by 6'3 Corey Joseph from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV are Texas, Minnesota, UNLV, Connecticut, and Villanova.  The final four four 6'2 Ray McCallum from Beverly Hills (Detroit Country Day) MI are UCLA, Florida, Arizona, and Detroit.  The list for 6'9 Terrence Jones from Portland (Jefferson) OR includes Oregon, Washington, Ketucky, UCLA, and Oklahoma.  The finalist for 6'9 C.J. Leslie from Raleigh (Word of God) NC are Kentucky, N.C. State, Florida, and Connecticut.  The final five for 6'2 Josh Selby from Baltimore (Lake Clifton) MD are Kentucky, Kansas, Arizona, Connecticut and Tennessee.  The school still in the hunt for 6'5 Doron Lamb from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA are West Virginia, Kentucky, Kansas, and Connecticut.  Editor's Note:  Johnson did not provide us with any information about who did not play well in the practices or the game, but our sources tells us that 6'8 Josh Smith from Covington (Kentwood) WA was a bust due to the fact that he was way out of shape and 6'5 Jayvaughn Pinkston from Brooklyn (Bishop Loughlin) NY more resembled the player who laid an egg at the Prime Time Shootout in February than the tremendous competitor that we saw last summer at the adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas, NV.