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Published by The HOOP SCOOP, Inc., P.O. Box 37122, Louisville, KY 40233
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Editor & Publisher Clark Francis     All rights reserved - Copyright 2011

HOT RECRUITING INFORMATION FOR APRIL 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011, & Saturday, April 30, 2011

The four most interesting recruiting items that we have to pass along involve the fact that 6'4 Kevin Ware from Conyers (Rockdale County) GA is officially back on the board now that has reneged on the commitment that he made a week-and-a-half ago to Central Florida, 6'3 Bobby Parks from Memphis (Melrose) TN via the Philippines has been released from the National Letter-of-Intent that he signed last fall with Georgia Tech, 6'9 God's Gift Achiuwa from Erie (JC) NY has picked St. John's over the University of Cincinnati and the University of Washington, and University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has totally revamped his coaching staff with the return of his son (Florida assistant coach Richard Pitino) as the Associate Head Coach and addition of New Mexico assistant coach Wyking Jones and Chatham (Hargrave Military Academy) VA head coach Kevin Keatts into assistant coaching positions.  If you will recall, Steve Masiello recently left Louisville to take the head coaching job at Manhattan College, Tim Fuller recently left Louisville to take a similar position at the University of Missouri, and Mark Lieberman moved into the Director of Basketball Operations spot when Ralph Williard recently retired.  And it looks like Pitino really hit the jackpot with his new staff.  His son is one of the bright up-and-coming guys in the business and knows the program inside and out dating back to his days as an assistant coach at Louisville prior to moving onto the University of Florida two years ago.  Keatts has established a reputation for being both a heck of a coach (his teams have won two national titles and finished second three more times during his 10 years as a head coach in the prep school ranks) and a heck of a recruiter, as is evident by the fact that he's had a long list of excellent college players, as well as five current NBA players.  Keatts also is a first class person and is the killer on the recruiting trail that Pitino had to have to keep up with that school just down the road that now literally signs three or four McDonald's All-Americans every year.  Jones also is a class act and you can bet that his strong NIKE and AAU ties will also be very beneficial on the recruiting trail.  We're not willing to go so far as to say that Achiuwa will be God's Gift to the Red Storm, but he is ranked #21 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com and he did put very impressive numbers to the tune of 22.3 ppg and 13.1 rpg this past season.  He also joins 6'3 Nurideen Lindsey from Redlands (JC) OK, 6'6 Amir Garrett from Henderson (Findley Prep) NV, 6'7 Maurice Harkless from South Kent (Prep) CT, 6'3 DeAngelo Harrison from Missouri City (Ft. Bend Dulles) TX, 6'8 Jakarr Sampson from Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH, 6'10 Norvel Pelle from Los Angeles (Price) CA, 6'5 Dominique Pointer from Winston-Salem (Quality Education Academy) NC, and 6'1 Phil Greene, from Bradenton (IMG Academy) FL in a  recruiting class that already was ranked #1 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  And to provide even further context, the Red Storm needed to sign 10 players in this year's recruiting class and they now have two high power junior college players, five players who ranked among among our top 100 seniors nationally, and two excellent role players in the fold.  The word is that Parks, who would be ranked in the 40-70 range nationally if he were in the United States, wants to look at schools like Louisville and Marquette. As for Ware, we hope that three times will be a charm for this athletic 2-guard who signed last fall with the University of Tennessee, but got a release from the Volunteers after Bruce Pearl and his staff got fired and more recently signed a financial aid agreement with Central Florida.  Ware is currently considering schools like Louisville, Georgia, and UCLA and, if he more closely resembles the player that we saw last spring and summer, instead of the one we saw last weekend in the Kentucky Derby Festival Classic, then he is the best high school senior still available.  It also looks like new University of Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt has shored things up at the point guard spot with the additions of 6'2 Riley Grabau from Boulder (H.S.) CO and 5'9 Derrious Gilmore from Jones (JC) MS.  That second one is especially noteworthy, because Gilmore averaged 12.3 ppg, 6.2 apg, and 1.8 spg and also shot 44.7% (46-103) from behind the arc.  It's also being reported that 7'5 Jr Sim Bhullar from Huntington (Prep) WV has made an early verbal commitment to Xavier, 5'11 Jr Chris Harrison-Docks from Okemos (H.S.) MI has made an early verbal commitment to Butler, and 5'11 Remy Abell from Louisville (Eastern) KY has picked Indiana.  If you recall, Abel originally signed with Bradley, but changed his mind when the coaching change occurred earlier this spring.  Abell is currently ranked #388 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  However, after watching him play this past winter, there is no doubt that he is a lot better than that ranking and he will provide the athleticism needed to complement 6'6 Austin Etherington from Arcadia (Hamilton Heights) IN out on the perimeter in this year's recruiting class.  Harrison-Docks is a perfect fit for the Braves, because, what he lacks in size and athleticism, he more than makes up for his high basketball IQ, ability to shoot the basketball, and good bloodline (his father played at the University of Kentucky).  Bhullar is one of the first guys who should come to mind when somebody says "you can't teach size" and, quite honestly, I like him a lot better than I liked Syracuse's Fab Malo at the same stage.  The addition of Bhullar also is interesting, because it looks like the Musketeers are stocking up on big guys in the Class of 2012, as they also earlier this week received an early verbal commitment from 6'10 Jr James Farr from Evanston (Township) IL.  Other signings and commitments that we've run across during the last few days include 6'9 Alex Scotland-Williamson from Lee (JC) TX to UAB, 6'2 Corbin Wroe from Brisbane, Australia and 6'7 Nate Skima from Bellevue (H.S.) WA both the University of Hartford, 6'4 Jayson Guerrier from Alabama Southern (JC) AL to Albany, 6'5 Maurice Aniefiok from Huntington (Prep) WV to Ole Miss, 6'2 Darius Smith from Southern Idaho (JC) ID to Eastern Illinois, 6'3 Bernard Thompson from Conyers (Rockdale County) GA to Florida Gulf Coast, 6'2 Paris Gulley from Southeastern Iowa (JC) IA to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 6'1 John Gilliam from Upland (H.S.) CA to UC-Riverside, 6'10 Nick Mabbutt from Northeast (JC) NE to South Dakota, 6'5 Jr Robert Vandenberg from DePore (H.S.) WI to North Dakota State, 6'5 Karol Gruszecki from North Platte (JC) NE to UT-Arlington, and 6'5 Tallen Robertson from Western Wyoming (JC) WY and 6'4 Jesus Delgado from Cochise (JC) AZ both to UT-Pan American.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

When putting the finishing the touches on our Ranking of the Top 175 Players Nationally in the Class of 2015 (8th Graders), which was published exclusively right here earlier today in the Members Section, it was the résumé and one's body of work that were the key factors in determining who should be right at the top of the list.  And this is important, because 6'9 8th Grader Broderick Jones from Inglewood, CA and 6'9 8th Grader Horace Spencer from Southampton, PA both have the size, athleticism, and potential necessary to be ranked among the top five players in the class; 6'0 8th Grader Allonzo Trier, OK has been a middle school phenom, but has gotten lost in the shuffle since transferring from Federal Way, WA to Dallas, TX to Oklahoma City, OK; and 6'3 8th Grader Jamar Ergas from Scarborough, ON achieved legendary status with a 40-point game in the Hoop Group's Pittsburgh Jam Fest in Pittsburgh, PA.  However, we didn't see it and in the final analysis we decided to go with what we've seen first hand and quite honestly 6'2 8th Grader Malik Newman from Jackson, MS, 6'4 8th Grader Tyler Dorsey from Pasadena, CA, 6'6 8th Grader Mickey Mitchell from Plano, TX, 6'6 8th Grader Kejuan Johnson from Atlanta, GA, and 6'2 8th Grader Austin Grandstaff from Rowlett, TX are the ones who have currently separated themselves from all the rest.  Newman tops the list, despite the fact that he's been programmed to be a "me" player, instead of a "we" player (his next pass might be his first).  On the other hand, Newman does have the size for his position, athleticism, natural talent, bloodline, and ability to get his shot against anybody, which leads us to believe that he's out of the same type of mold a Tyreke Evans.  In other words, you probably won't win any NBA titles with this guy, but he does have the potential to average 25.0 ppg in The League someday.  Dorsey also is flat out better than everybody else, but he's got the ultimate meddlesome parent and a major age advantage, which leads us to believe that other guys are going to pass him up down the road.  The same (having an age advantage) also can be said about Mitchell, who has dominated his age group at AAU National's in recent years, and 6'5 8th Grader Kejuan Johnson, who has done likewise when playing against the top players in his age group over the years.  Grandstaff rounds out the top five due to the fact he was the best player last summer at the adidas Junior Phenom Camp in San Diego, CA and, even when he's hurt, he doesn't duck the competition.  The other guy in the top 10 that we haven't mentioned is 6'7 8th Grader Justin Jackson from Toronto, ON, who is now 6'7, has a great motor and excellent skills, and established his national reputation a couple of years ago at the Hoop Group's Jr. Elite Camp.  There also are some players in this class that quite honestly don't know what to do with and/or have suffered from too much hype to early.  And right at the top of the list is 5'11 8th Grader Perry Dozier from Columbia, SC, who we haven't seen in his own age group for several years and doesn't dominate the same way when he's playing up against older competition.  There also is 6'8 8th Grader Karl Towns from Piscataway, NJ, who, according to our Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Editor Allen Rubin, is better right now than 6'9 8th Grader Horace Spencer from Southampton, PA, but doesn't have a much upside and potential.  Besides, Towns thinks he's a perimeter player, but, with continued growth and development as a post player, has a chance to be a killer inside just like his Dad used to be.  We've never seen 6'6 8th Grader Jaylen Grant from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD.  But the word out of DC is that he might turn out to be the best player in the family, which is quite of statement when one remembers that his father and uncle both played a lot of years in the NBA and his three older brothers have already had very successful high school and/or college careers.  One also can't help but be intrigued by the size, skills, and agility, mobility, and coordination of 6'10 8th Grader Stephen Zimmerman from Las Vegas, NV.  But, before we anoint him as the next great white big man from the West Coast, let's also remember that Zimmerman is very fragile and has trouble finishing around the basket.  At one time 5'6 8th Grader Justin Jenifer Woodlawn, MD was ranked as the #1 player nationally in his class, but he's still awful small and his day of reckoning appears to have already arrived.  There also is 5'7 8th Grader Jerron Love from Bronx, NY, who is a street ball legend, but who was just another player last fall when we saw him last fall at the John Lucas Basketball Resources Midwest Invitational Camp in Louisville, KY. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

There are two things that I've been working on for well over a month whenever I haven't been traveling, covering an event, or dealing with the latest recruiting news and/or business of day.  One is Ron Naclerio's updated New York City Report and the other is our Ranking of the Top Players in the Class of 2015 (8th Graders)And I am happy to report that the former was published exclusively in the Members Section earlier today and the latter will be published in the same place either tomorrow or Friday.  The New York City Report includes Naclerio's ranking of the top 100 seniors, top 75 juniors, top 50 sophomores, top 25 freshmen, top 11 8th Graders, top 10 7th Graders, and top six 6th Graders within the five boroughs of New York City, some interesting analysis and commentary by yours truly, and our six All-Metro New York teams, which include the top 30 players in the New York Metropolitan area regardless of class and position.  And the contrast between the level of talent inside the city and within the metropolitan area is dramatic.  We also have included in this report some of the latest recruiting news from the city, which previously had not been reported by the HOOP SCOOP.  We start with the commitment that 6'3 Evan Conti from Flushing (Holy Cross) NY, who is ranked #12 in the senior class on Naclerio's list, made two days ago to Quinnipiac.  "Conti is not a pure point guard, but he does make his teammates better and he knows when to pick his spots and score," says Naclerio.  "He also knows how to use his body, moves well without the ball, and always puts up consistent numbers."  He also has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and is a good rebounder for his size, as is evident by the fact that he averaged 17.1 ppg, 10.0 rpg, and 5.0 apg this past season.  Conti, who is ranked #420 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, also is expected to be another important piece to the puzzle for Bobcats head coach Tom Moore, because he's got that New York City toughness and competitiveness and he promises to be an excellent complement to 6'4 Zaid Hearst from Salisbury (School) CT and 6'8 Qusmane Drame from Thompson (Marianapolis Prep) CT.  We also are interested in the fact that 6'0 Davontay Grace from Brooklyn (Thomas Jefferson) NY and 6'10 Edson Avila from Brooklyn (Thomas Jefferson) NY have both changed their minds about attending Manhattan College after the coaching change this spring and suspect that they both will end up in prep school due to the fact that Avila still hasn't made it academically and Grace had such a bad senior season that even schools at the mid-major level are now hard pressed to take him.  However, Grace also is a classic example of what can happen when you're ranked too high too early,  If you will recall, we had this guy ranked as the #1 7th Grader in the nation when we published our Ranking of the Top Players in the Class of 2011 back on February 4, 2006.  Unfortunately Grace never grew, never developed a jump shot, never toned down his body, and and we stopped cheating on his height (at that time we had him listed at 6'2).  It also looks like Wichita State may have stolen one in 6'5 Osamuede "Ede" Egharevba from Jamaica (Edison) NY via Charlotte (Evelyn Mack) NC.  "Egharevba is excellent slashing to basket, can pull up and hit the outside shot, and has almost unlimited untapped potential," says Naclerio.  And he's pretty good right now, as Naclerio tells us that Egharevba would be a legitimate First Team All City Player, if he was still in New York and was still a high school senior.  Naclerio also backs this up even further when he tells us that Egharevba is a better all-around player and a better athlete than 6'5 Jermaine Sanders from New York (Rice) NY, who is currently ranked #1 in the city's senior class by Naclerio and #82 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  So how does Wichita State get a kid originally from the sidewalks of New York to go to the plains of the Midwest?  Our guess is Devon Smith, who the Shockers' Director of Player Development and a close confidant of the legendary Howard Garfinkel

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One of those signings that has gone under a lot of people's radar screen, but has significant national ramifications is the the decision that 6'0 Chris Martin from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ made last night to attend Marshall University.  He's good enough to be ranked #109 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP and was the fifth highest ranked senior still available, behind 6'3 Trevor Lacey from Huntsville (Butler) AL, 6'10 Joseph Uchebo from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, 6'5 Tony Kimbro from Jeffersontown (H.S.) KY, and 6'6 Grandy Glaze from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA.  Martin also has an excellent bloodline (his father Bill Martin played back in the mid-80's at Georgetown), is a terrific 3-point shooter, and did a good job accepting his role this past season while playing on a loaded team that also featured the likes of 6'8 Michael Gilchrist, 6'3 Derrick Gordon, 6'10 Frosh Dakari Johnson, and 6'9 Soph Austin Colbert.  He also promises to be the guy capable of playing both guard spots that Thundering Herd head coach Tommy Herrion and his staff were looking for to complement a recruiting class that is now ranked #64 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011 and already included 6'8 Jamir Hanner from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA, 6'8 Dennis Tinnon from Kansas City (JC) KS, and 6'3 Devince Boykins from Forest City (Easr Rutherford) NC.  Hanner is a tough hardnosed power forward who is ranked #14 on our List of the Top 5th Year Players and is the equivalent of top 100 ranked senior nationally.  Tinnon is another tough competitive inside guy with a nose for the ball (he led the junior college ranks this past season is rebounding with 13.4 rpg and also finished ranked #5 in the junior college ranks in scoring with 23.1 ppg).  Boykins is a versatile athletic 2-guard who led his team to its first ever Class 2-A North Carolina State Title and, in the process, was named the Player-of-the Year in his classification.  However, what really has Marshall fans excited is the fact that the Thunder Herd have 6'4 Justin Coleman from Huntington (Prep) WV and 6'9 J.P. Kambola from Newark (St. Benedict's) NJ both sitting out this year as non-qualifiers.  If you will recall, Kambola was ranked #148 nationally in the senior class a year ago when he played for Danny Hurley at Newark (St. Benedict) NJ and Coleman was ranked #28 nationally in the senior class when he signed with the University of Louisville last spring.  And to make the story even more interesting is the fact that Marshall is expected to return eight of its top nine players (5'10 Jr Damier Pitts, 6'4 Frosh DeAndre Kane, 6'6 Jr Johnny Thomas, 6'3 Jr Shaquille Johnson, 6'6 Jr Dago Pena, 6'10 Soph Nigel Spikes, 6'2 Jr Johnny Higgins, and 6'10 Soph Aundra Williams) from a team that finished 22-12 overall and 9-7 in the league.  We also are intrigued with all of the junior college signings and commitments that we've tracked today, which include 6'1 Derrell Armstrong from Allegany (JC)  MD to UNC-Greensboro, 6'6 Julian Scott from Yuba (JC) CA to Southern Utah, 6'1 James Kinney from Eastern Utah (JC) UT to San Jose State, 6'0 Harold Washington from Cecil (JC) MD to Canisius, 6'1 Eric Lawton from Mount San Jacinto (JC) CA to Arkansas-Little Rock, and 5'7 Michael Hale from North Idaho (JC) ID to UT-San Antonio.  Hale averaged 1---7.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, and 4.2 apg and is ranked #104 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com However, even more important is the fact that his junior college coach calls Hale a "dream point guard, because he can really score, but his first priority is running the team."  Lawton is a jet-quick athletic combo guard who originally signed with San Diego State and was ranked #319 in our Final Ranking of the Top Players in the Class of 2009.  Washington averaged 13.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 4.3 apg and he shot 49.0% from the field this past season, but what he does best is making good decisions and run the team.  McKinney is ranked #136 in the junior college ranks by  JucoJunction.com, but he only played in 14 games this past season after breaking his jaw.  Scott is an undersized inside guy with good skills and a knack for getting it done the boards.  Armstrong is ranked #57 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com, was an Honorable Mention Junior College All-American, and averaged 21.3 ppg , 8.9 rpg, 4.5 apg, and 2.1 spg this past season.  It also looks like the University of Iowa has gotten the perfect fit inside with the addition of 6'10 Gabe Olaseni from Bel Aire (Sunrise Christian Academy) KS.  He checks in at 6'10, 225 pounds, has a 7'2 wing span, and is an excellent shot blocker and defender. We also are impressed with the fact that Drake has gotten an early verbal commitment from 6'2 Jr Micah Moore from Natrona Heights (Highland) PA.  Not only is Moore a terrific 3-point shooter, but he's also got a high basketball IQ and was attracting interest from schools like Boston College, Butler, Richmond, Duquesne, William & Mary, and Colgate.  It's also being reported that 6'4 Indiana Faithful from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT has picked Wofford, 6'6 Dwight Meikle from Winston-Salem (Quality Education Academy) NC is bound for Hampton, 6'4 Emory Coleman from Alamogordo (Tularosa) NM and 6'6 Soph Jim Coleman from Alamogordo (Tularosa) NM have both decided to attend New Mexico State, and 6'10 James Farr from Evanston (Township) IL plans to go the prep school route and then be apart of Xavier's recruiting class a year from now. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011, Sunday, April, 24, 2011, & Monday, April 25, 2011

The signings and commitments just keep right on flowing in and the most interesting thing that we've tracked over the weekend involves the decision by 6'5 Anthony Hubbard from Frederick (JC) MD to attend the University of Iowa.  And you can bet that nobody appreciates the opportunity and second chance that this 26-year-old athletic wing forward who averaged 20.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg, and 4.5 apg and shot 64% from the field this past season is getting more than this guy.  Hubbard was expelled from high school back during his sophomore days at Woodbridge (H.S.) VA and spent four years in prison after pleading guilty to armed robbery in 2003.  However, he now has a 3.2 gpa in the classroom, is recognized by his teammates as the team leader, and was recently selected as a Second-Team All-American in the Division I Junior College ranks.  His junior college coach Dave Miller, who has been coaching for 42 years, even goes so far as to say "Hubbard is the best player I've ever coached.  I've had other good ones, but he's special."  Hubbard's maturity and toughness also should provide an excellent complement to 6'5 Josh Oglesby from Cedar Rapids (Washington) IA and 6'7 Aaron White from Strongsville (H.S.) OH in a recruiting class that is now tied at #51, along with Marquette, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011 Rutgers landing 6'2 Elijah Carter from Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH also is very significant for a number of reasons.  First, Carter is a slashing athletic 2-guard who is good enough to be ranked #13 on our List of the Top 5th Year Players.  Second, he's originally from Paterson, NJ and played high school basketball at Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ, which means the Scarlet Knights landed another guy with strong North Jersey ties.  Third, the addition of Carter moves Rutgers' recruiting class, which also already includes 6'8 Kadeem Jack from Somerset (Central Jersey Each One Teach One.) NJ, 5'8 Myles Mack from Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ, 6'8 Derrick Randall from South Kent (Prep) CT, 6'6 Malick Kone from Dyke (Blue Ridge School) VA., 6'1 Jerome Seagers from Red Springs (Flora MacDonald) NC, 6'3 Michael Taylor from Brooklyn (Boys & Girls) NY, and 6'8 Greg Lewis from Baltimore (St. Frances) MD, up to #4 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011 We also finding it interesting that Purdue is off to the races when it comes to getting early verbal commitments from players in the Class of 2013.  The latest being 6'8 Soph Derek Willis from Mt. Washington (Bullitt East) KY, who averaged 13.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.4 bpg, and 2.1 apg on a state tournament team this past season.  The addition of Willis also moves the Boilermakers' recruiting, which already includes 6'1 Bryson Scott from Ft. Wayne (Northrop) IN, 6'4 Basil Smotherman from Indianapolis (Heritage School) IN, and 6'5 Kendall Stephens from St. Charles (East) IL, up to #1 (ahead of Indiana) on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2013 It also looks like Gonzaga has stolen one in 6'5 Guy Landry from Midland (JC) TX and Coastal Carolina has gotten the quality point guard that it was looking for in 6'1 Charles Ashford from Vincennes (JC) IN to go along with the other highly touted junior college players - 6'9 Travis Wilkins from Missouri-West Plains (JC) MO and 6'8 William Kirksey from Missouri State-West Plains (JC) MO  - who are already apart of the Chanticleers' current recruiting class.  Or to put this into even better context, that's a pair of inside guys who are ranked #9 and #13 respectively and a point guard who is ranked #44 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com.  When one also remembers that Coastal Carolina finished the season with a 28-6 record and that they also have 6'6 Tyler Poole from Hickory (H.S.) NC in the fold, it's easy to see why their recruiting class is currently tied at #41, along with USC and Georgia, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011 and why Chanticleers head coach Cliff Ellis doesn't have any plans to retire anytime soon.  Landry didn't put up big numbers (he only averaged 9.4 ppg and 5.9 rpg), but he is ranked #31 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com and he did play a key role on a team that finished second in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Tournament in Hutchinson, KS.  We also are impressed with the fact that Loyola-Marymount head coach Max Good has landed 6'5 C.J. Blackwell from Woodland Hills (Taft) CA.  Not only is Blackwell a tough hardnosed hard-to-guard guy, but he's got great hands, is a terrific rebounder, and is good enough to be ranked #101 nationally in the senior class, despite the fact that he doesn't have a defined position.  In other words, Blackwell is a good player and he's also got a pretty good bloodline, as is evident by the fact that his father (Corey Blackwell) averaged 16.9 ppg and was a three-year starter at the University of Wisconsin in the early 80's and played for one season with the Seattle Supersonics in the NBA. There also is the commitment that 6'8 Jarion Henry from Dallas (Kimball) TX has made to the University of New Mexico.  This left-handed athletic wing forward is ranked #174 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP and he replaces 7'1 Cheir Ajou from Culver (Academies) IN, who recently announced that he will go to prep school for a year, in the Lobos' current recruiting class, which also already includes 6'3 Dominique Dunning from Corona (Centennial) CA and 6'6 Abdul Nader from Skokie (Niles North) IL.  We also have confirmed that 6'2 Jeremy Jones from Seward County (JC) KS is bound for Kansas State and it appears that 6'10 Casey Arent from Sierra (JC) CA is bound for the University of Oklahoma.  And, after averaging a double-double (19.1 ppg and 11.4 rpg) this past season, this 6'10, 240-pound physical specimen should be good insurance in case 6'10 Robert Goff from Hutchinson (JC) KS, who committed to the previous regime last fall, doesn't make it academically.  In the case of Jones, he was the Player--of-the-Year this past season in the Jayhawk West Conference and he is expected to step in next year and compete with 6'2 Frosh Will Spradling and 6'0 Angel Rodriquez from Miami (Dr. Krop) FL to win the starting point guard spot, which will be vacant due to the graduation of 6'1 Jr Jacob Pullen this spring.  It also looks like 6'4 Colin Beatty from Barton County (JC) KS has been released from the National Letter-of-Intent that he signed last fall with Loyola-Chicago and is now heading to the University of the Pacific; 6'5 Deon Jones from Hockessin (Sanford) DE has become first player that that new Tigers head coach Pat Skerry has landed at Towson; and 6'8 Casey Carroll from Saltsburg (Kiski School) PA has become the fifth player, along with 6'7 Tavon Allen from Worcester (Academy) MA, 6'6 Damion Lee from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, 6'0 Aquil Younger from Lansdowne (Penn Wood) PA. 6'8 Kazembe Abif from Lawrenceville (School) NJ, in Drexel's current recruiting class, which is now ranked #55 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  Our Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Editor Allen Rubin tells us that 5'10 Tra'vaughn White from Kansas City (Washington) MO has picked St. Bonaventure and we've also tracked signing and commitments by 6'9 Moriba Defreitas from Williston (JC) ND to South Florida, 6'0 Kareem Storey from Lanham (Princeton Day School) MD to the University of Utah, 6'2 Julius Bilbrow from Inglewood (H.S.) CA to Fresno State, 6'6 Daniel Herrera from Miramar (Doral Academy) FL to Duquesne, 6'3 Darious Clark from Cecil (JC) MD to Illinois State, 6'2 Marcus Dubose from Mendocine (JC) CA to East Tennessee State, 6'1 Demerius Smith from Kennedy-King (JC) IL to Chicago State, and 6'7 Jordan Walker from Midland (JC) TX to Cal State-Bakersfield. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

They had been touting this as the best Kentucky Derby Festival Classic in years and there in no question that the game more than lived up to expectations.  Setting the tone early and making a strong case for top 10-national ranking was 6'11 Cody Zeller from Washington (H.S.) IN, who currently checks in at #19 on our national list.  He finished with 16 points, nine blocked shots, three steals, and 7-11 field goals en route to Orange Team MVP and also was involved in one of the more memorable plays of the game when he took a charge by 6'4 Kevin Ware from Conyers (Rockdale) GA with only 52 seconds left in the game.  We also were impressed with 6'8 LaQuinton Ross from Washington (H.S.) IN, who played about as well as we've ever seen him play and within the confines of the team, as he also did a good job of giving up the ball and finding the open man on the fast break.  Ross finished as the leading scorer and rebounder in the game with 26 points and 14 rebounds.  But we also want to point out that he had had five assists, seven turnovers, two steals, 10-18 field goals, 1-3  3-pointers, 5-6 free throws and he was so good in the practices that Dan Owens, who is the Recruiting Chairman for the Game, told us that Ross was the best player in the game.  There also was 6'6 Brandon Dawson from Gary (Lew Wallace) IN, who more than lived up to his #9 nationally ranking, did most of his damage in the second half, and hit a number of key free throws at crunch time that allowed his team to come from behind and pull out a 126-122 win.  The MVP for the losing White Team was the University of Louisville-bound 6'8 Angel Nunez from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA, who finished with 16 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals, one blocked shot, one steal, 6-10 field goals, 2-5 3-pointers and 2-2 free throws.  However, our choice for the White Team's MVP honors would have been 6'7 LeBryan Nash from Dallas (Lincoln) TX.  He finished with 19 points, six rebounds, three assists, three turnovers, one blocked shot, one steal, 9-15 field goals, and 0-3 3-pointers and impressed us with his size, athleticism, versatility, willingness to run the court, and complement 6'6 Chane Behanan from Bowling Green (H.S.) KY.  Speaking of Behanan, he did a good job of combining strength and athleticism around the basket en route to a double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds) and also was a candidate for his team's MVP honors.  We also thought Western Kentucky-bound 6'3 Derrick Gordon from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ was one of the unsung heroes in the game with 16 points, four rebounds, three steals, 7-15 field goals, and 0-2 3-pointers.  One of the guys who helped himself the most in the game was 6'10 Amir Williams from Beverly Hills (Detroit Country Day) MI.  A lot of people questioned his being named to play in the McDonald's All-American Game, but he clearly won the match-up inside against 6'11 Zach Price from Jeffersontown (H.S.) KY and finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, one blocked shot, and 4-5 field goals.  Price had six points and 10 rebounds, but the biggest disappointment in the game was 6'4 Kevin Ware from Conyers (Rockdale County) GA, who finished with eight points, four rebounds, and eight turnovers.  And two of those turnovers and his costly charging foul occurred in the final two minutes of the game, which was when the Gold Team was making its run to win the game.  And this is important, because Ware quickly went from being the hero (the unsigned guy that the University of Louisville has to get) to the goat (a guy that more than a few Cardinal' fans were heard saying they wouldn't mind seeing him go to Central Florida).  We also find it hard to believe that 6'3 Deuce Bello from High Point (Westchester Country Day) NC finished as the White Team's leading scorer with 20 points.  Bello is a phenomenal athlete and he's got more than his share of acrobatic moves to the basket.  But outside shooting is not his forte and he also doesn't have a very high basketball IQ.  The best of the rest were 6'4 Dezmine Wells from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA and 6'3 D'Angelo Harrison from Missouri City (Ft. Bend Dulles) TX.  The former had 12 points and eight rebounds, but also missed big dunk and made several costly turnovers.  The latter did absolutely nothing in the first half, but hit 2-4 3-pointers in the second half and finished with eight points, five assists, and three rebounds for the game.  We're also still trying to figure out what happened to 6'3 Trevor Lacey from Huntsville (Butler) AL, who had five points right of the bat, but was missing in action the rest of the game.  The rest of the players were either just solid or clearly in over their head, as 6'4 Levi Randolph from Madison (Bob Jones) AL had eight points, three rebounds, and 2-9 field goals; 6'5 Tony Kimbro from Jeffersontown (H.S.) KY had eight points, two rebounds, 3-6 field goals, and 0-2 3-pointers; 6'10 Braeden Anderson from Wilbraham (Wilbraham & Monson) MA had eight points, four rebounds, and 4-6 field goals; 6'6 George Fant from Bowling Green (Warren Central) KY had six points, four rebounds, and 3-8 field goals; 6'3 DaiJon Parker from Alpharetta (Milton) GA had five points, two rebounds, 2-2 field goals, and 1-1 3-pointers; 6'3 Aaron Cosby from Northfield (Northfield-Mt. Hermon) MA had five points, two assists, four turnovers, and 2-10 field goals; 6'3 Andre Hollins from Memphis (White Station) TN had four points, two rebounds, and 2-11 field goals; 5'10 Anthony Hickey from Hopkinsville (Christian County) KY had five points, three assists, two steals, 2-6 field goals, and 1-2 3-pointers; and 6'6 Austin Etherington from Arcadia (Hamilton Heights) IN had two points, 1-7 field goals, 0-3 3-pointers

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The only significant thing that we've run across today on the recruiting trail are the reports about 5'7 Kiwi Gardner from Phoenix (Westwind Prep) AZ picking Providence College.  However, this comes as no surprise to us after the way Gardner played back in November at the National Prep Showcase in New Haven, CT.  If you will recall, Gardner had 26 points, five rebounds, six assists, three turnover, and two steals and singlehandedly kept his team in the game until the final minutes against the likes of players like 6'9 Jr Khem Birch, 6'8 Angel Nunez, 6'6 Grandy Glaze, and 6'8 Jamir Hanner on Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA.  And this is important, because it looks like new Providence head coach Ed Cooley, was in the right place at the right time last fall when he was watching 6'7 Adam Jones from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, who signed with Fairfield during the Fall Signing Period, play at the National Prep Showcase.  Currently we have Gardner ranked #201 nationally in the junior class, but it appears that he has reclassified back up a year and now is the sole recruit Providence's current recruiting class now that 5'10 Kyan Anderson from Ft. Worth (North Crowley) TX and 6'5 Markus Crider from Huber Heights (Wayne) OH are both back on the board.  We also are bored with all the shenanigans surrounding 6'4 Kevin Ware from Conyers (Rockdale County) GA, who signed an athletic aid agreement two days ago with Central Florida, but now insists that he still open due to the fact that the school is bound, but he is not by the agreement.  If he didn't want to take the heat from the local fans, he should have waited until after tomorrow night's Kentucky Derby Festival Classic to make any kind of decision.  And now if he actually does change his mind and doesn't go to Central Florida, then it will be clear that he's not a man of his word.  On the other hand, we are impressed with the way Howard University head coach Kevin Nickelberry is building the program from the ground up after suffering through a 6-24 season during his first year on the job.  This spring four local products - 6'3 Brandon Ford from Brandywine (Gwynn Park) MD, 6'6 Brandon Bailey from Largo (H.S.) MD, 6'5 Prince Okafor from Greenbelt (Eleanor Roosevelt) MD, and 6'8 Oliver Ellison from Washington (Gonzaga) DC - have joined 6'0 Simuel Frazier from Norfolk (Maury) VA, who was the school's lone signee last fall; 6'9 Frosh Theodore Boyomo, who sat out this past season after being sidelined with a pre-season injury; and 6'3 Glen Andrews and 6'4 Trey Lee, who transferred to Howard from Tulsa and Coastal Carolina respectively and will be eligible to play in January 2012.  As things stand now, Howard's recruiting class is tied at #93, along with Morehead State, Lafayette, Yale, Arkansas-Little Rock, and Maryland-Eastern Shore, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011 However, if we also counted red-shirt freshmen and transfers when ranking recruiting classes, we'd be talking about a top 40-ranked recruiting class, which would be clearly the best in the league.  Also flying under the radar screen is the fact that 6'7 Frosh Tony Mitchell, who originally signed with the University of Missouri a year ago and was ranked #29 nationally in our Final Ranking of the Top Players Nationally in the Class of 2010, has been sitting out at North Texas and should be eligible to play beginning in December of 2011. And this is huge, because Mean Green head coach Johnny Jones and his staff could go to war with not one, but two  potential future NBA players in the starting line-up next year.  The other is 6'6 Jordan Williams from The Colony (H.S.) TX, who is ranked #71 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP and currently we have this recruiting class tied at #43, along with the University of Toledo, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.   However, North Texas would have a top dozen ranked recruiting class, if we included this non-qualifier (Mitchell) when ranking recruiting classes.  They also should be benefit from the addition 6'10 Forrest Robinson from Eastland (H.S.) TX, who will provide some valuable size inside, and 6'2 Brandon Walton from Casper (JC) WY, 6'2 Chris Jones from Garland (Lakeview Centennial) TX, and 6'0 Trey Norris from Grand Prairie (South Grand Prairie) TX, who are exactly what the doctor ordered to replace 6'5 Sr Tristan Thompson and 5'11 Sr Josh White, both of whom will graduate this spring.  We also have three more junior college signings to pass along, as 6'9 Branimir Mikulic from Santa Fe (JC) FL is bound for High Point, 6'0 Percy Woods from Harum (JC) PA has made it official for Maryland-Eastern Shore, and 6'5 Mitch Bruneel from Southern Idaho (JC) ID will take his act to Utah State. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Editor Allen Rubin talked with a number of the top players over the weekend at the Hoop Group's Pittsburgh Jam Fest in Pittsburgh, PA and it comes as no surprise that 6'8 Jr Amile Jefferson from Wynnewood (Friends Central) PA has Villanova, Temple, Stanford, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Texas, and Ohio State right at the top of his list.  Seton Hall, Arizona, UCLA, Villanova, St. John's, Xavier, and Kentucky appear to be the leaders for 6'8 Jr Kyle Anderson from Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ.  Maryland, Rutgers, Georgetown, Virginia, Clemson, and Virginia Tech were the schools mentioned 6'8 Jr Jerami Grant from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD.  The early favorites for 6'8 Soph Beejay Anya from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD appear to be Texas, St. John's, UCLA, Maryland, Georgetown, and Pittsburgh.  The list for 6'9 Mitch McGary from Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH includes schools like Arizona, Texas, Connecticut, Florida, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Florida State, Maryland, and Marquette.  Among those showing the most interest in 6'10 Jr C.J. Gettys from Findlay (H.S.) OH are Penn State, Virginia Tech, Xavier, Toledo, Oregon State, Bowling Green, Holy Cross, UNC-Wilmington, and Eastern Michigan.  It looks like Boston College, Butler, Richmond, Duquesne, Drake, William & Mary, and Colgate are all in the hunt for 6'2 Jr Micah Mason from Natrona Heights (Highlands) PA.  There is a wide range of schools, like Dayton, LSU, Cincinnati, Ball State, Oakland, and Ohio University, showing varying degrees of interest in 6'8 Jr Deontae Hawkins from Dayton (Dunbar) OH.  The three favorites for 6'7 Jr Marshall Wood from Rustburg (H.S.) VA are Richmond, William & Mary, and Liberty.  We also are sure that Duquesne, St. Francis-PA, and Youngstown State are doing everything they can to convince 6'2 Jr Justin Dobbs from Pittsburgh (Allderdice) PA to stay close to home.  We also find it extremely interesting that 6'4 Kevin Ware from Conyers (Rockdale County) GA signed an athletic aid agreement yesterday with Central Florida (NCAA rules prohibit a student-athlete from signing more than one National Letter-of-Intent in the same year and Ware signed with the University of Tennessee last fall, but was released after the recent coaching change).  If you will recall, the University of Louisville was supposed to have been the favorite for this athletic 2-guard who is ranked #16 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  And making the story more interesting is the fact that Ware is supposed to play this weekend in the Kentucky Derby Festival Classic in Louisville, KY.  Talk about going from being the fan favorite to the goat in a New York-minute.  All he had to do was wait until next week to let his decision by known.  However, for our purposes the highest ranked senior still available is now off the board and his addition moves the Knights' recruiting class, which also already includes 6'10 Michael Chandler from Indianapolis (Lawrence North) IN, 6'6 Rod Days from Weston (Sagemont) FL, 6'6 Kasey Wilson from North Port (H,.S.) FL, and 6'8 Wayne Martin from Jacksonville (Providence School) FL, moves it into a tie at #26, along with Western Kentucky and Oregon, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  We also find it ironic that Chandler originally verbally committed to University of Louisville back when he was a sophomore in high school, but later changed his mind, then committed to Xavier, and then reneged again.  It also looks like the new coaching staff at the University of Wyoming has snagged one of the better big men still available in 6'10 Lekan Ajayi from Winston-Salem (Quality Education Academy) NC and his teammate - 6'9 Dwight Meikle from Winston-Salem (Quality Education Academy) NC is back on the board after being released from the National Letter-of-Intent that he signed last fall with St. John's.  It's being reported as a mutually arrived at decision.  But do you suppose that the Red Storm are after a bigger fish - i.e. 6'9 God's Gift Achiuwa from Erie (JC) NY, who averaged 13.1. ppg and 13.5 rpg and is ranked #21 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com?  Achiuwa will be on campus at St. John's this weekend and he also still has the University of Washington and University of Cincinnati on his list.  It also looks like 6'2 Jarrett Jones from Evanston (Township) IL is bound for New Hampshire and 6'2 Jr Javion Watson from San Ysidro (H.S.) CA has made an early verbal commitment to Long Beach State.  There also is the usual daily plethora of junior college signings and commitments, which include 6'6 Nathaniel Butler from John A. Logan (JC) TX to Texas Christian, 6'4 Cedric Martin from Lee (JC) UT to the University of Utah, 6'5 Rashard McGill from Tallahassee (JC) FL to Southern Miss, 6'2 Xavier Roberson from Paris (JC) TX to South Alabama, 6'9 Brennan Cougill from Kirkwood (JC) MO to Wisconsin-Green Bay, 6'0 Rodney Melvin from Midland (JC) TX to Appalachian State, 6'5 Jonathan King from East Mississippi (JC) MS to Stephen F. Austin, and 6'2 Brandon Thompson from South Plains (JC) TX to Long Island. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We've tracked nearly 50 signings and commitments since the middle of last week and the most significant thing on the list is the signing of 6'11 Philip Jurick from Chattanooga State (JC) TN by Oklahoma State.  And there is no doubt that Jurick is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Cowboys, because he is both a physical presence and an excellent shot blocker who just missed averaging a triple-double with 10.5 ppg, 12.6 rpg, and 9.5 bpg this past season.  Jurick also has dramatically improved since his high school days when he ranked #139 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP as a senior at Chattanooga (East Ridge) TX and originally signed with the University of Tennessee.  He is now ranked #8 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com, was recently named a Second Team NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) All-American, and promises to be an excellent complement to 6'7 LeBryan Nash from Dallas (Lincoln) TX and 6'0 Cezar Guerrero from Bellflower(St. John Bosco) CA in a recruiting class that is now ranked #22 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  We also find it ironic that Jurick was the second highest ranked junior college player still available, behind 6'8 Karron Johnson from Midland (JC) TX, who signed with Oklahoma State last fall, but now is back on the board after being suspended from his junior college team for the entire season.  It also looks like the new coaching staff at the University of Tennessee has landed one of the best high school seniors still available in 6'5 Josh Richardson from Santa Fe (Edmond) OK, who is ranked #113 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  Richardson averaged 16.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 3.6 apg this past season and he's got the ball handling and passing skills necessary necessary to project as a point guard with size at the big time college level.  He also is a lock down defender, has a terrific basketball IQ, and is such a good student that he has been offered a scholarship by Harvard.  We also are not surprised that 6'7 Jr Negus Webster from Huntington (Prep) WV, who previously had made a verbal commitment to the University of Louisville, is back on the board and we suspect that 6'4 Jr Rodney Purvis from Raleigh (Upper Room Christian Academy) NC.  It also looks like 6'10 Joseph Uchebo from Raleigh (Word of God) NC has been released from the National Letter-of-Intent that he signed last fall with N.C. State and 5'11 Kyan Anderson from Ft. Worth (North Crowley) TX has been released from the National Letter-of-Intent that he signed last fall with Providence College.  The fact that Uchebo is back on the board is especially significant due to the fact that he is now the third highest ranked unsigned senior, behind 6'4 Kevin Ware from Conyers (Rockdale County) GA and 6'3 Trevor Lacey from Huntsville (Butler) AL.  There also has been some action in the 5th Year Player ranks, as 6'8 Ryan Rhoomes from Newark (Nia Prep) NJ has picked Texas Christian, 6'9 Brandon Mobley from Delafield (St. John's Northwest Military) WI has signed with Seton Hall, 6'6 Larry Brown from Fork Union (Military Academy) VA is bound for Winthrop, and 6'8 Montray Clemons from Charlotte (Evelyn Mack) NC has become the sixth player in DePaul's current recruiting class, which is now ranked #30 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011 and also already includes 5'10 Shane Larkin from Orlando (Dr. Phillips) FL, 6'9 Durell Robinson from Mendenhall (H.S.) MS, 6'4 Jamie Crockett from Crete (Crete-Monee) IL, 6'3 Macari Brooks from Richton (Rich South) IL, and 6'4 Charles McKinney from Winston-Salem (Quality Education Academy) NC.   We also have tracked signings by 6'0 Trey Davis from Dallas (Wilson) TX with George Washington, 6'4 Teddy Okereafor from Christ Church (School) VA with Virginia Commonwealth, and 6'4 LeAntwan Luckett from Ridgeland (H.S.) MS with Alcorn State and early verbal commitments by 6'9 Jr Kaileb Rodriguez from Highland Ranch (Thunder Ridge) CO to the University of California and 6'1 Jr Craig Sneed from Montgomery (Carver) AL to Mississippi State.  And heading a long list of junior college signings and commitments are 6'1 Anthony Downing from Independence (JC) KS, who is ranked #54 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com and has signed with Missouri State; 6'5 DeShawn Mitchell from Snow (JC) UT, who is ranked #76 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com and has inked with the University of Hawaii; and 6'1 Ty Nurse from Midland (JC) TX, who is ranked #86 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com and is bound for Texas Tech.  It also looks like University of Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin has taken advantage of his strong contacts in the junior college ranks to get 6'9 Cheikh Mbodji from Grayson County (JC) KS.  Originally from the Senegal, this long athletic four-man is a versatile athlete who is capable of doing a little bit of everything, which makes him ideally suited to step in and complement 6'7 Shaquille Thomas from Newark (Nia Prep) NJ, 6'5 Jermaine Sanders from New York (Rice) NY, 6'2 Ge-Lawn Guyn from South Kent (Prep) CT, 6'8 Octavious Ellis from Memphis (White Station) TN, and 6'3 Jeremiah Davis from Huntington (Prep) WV in a recruiting class that is now ranked #18 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  We also are impressed with the fact that Alcorn State has landed 6'6 Brandon Givens from Jones County (JC) MS and 6'8 Terrell Parks from Iowa Central (JC) IA is bound for Western Illinois.  Parks averaged 16.6 ppg and 12.3 rpg en route to 19 double-doubles this past season and Givens was recently named the MVP in the Mississippi JUCO All-Star Game.  From there the list is long, as we've also tracked 6'4 Jarmar Gulley from Highland (JC) IL to Missouri State, 6'0 Brenton Williams from Santa Fe (JC) FL to South Carolina, 5'11 Neil Watson from Coffeyville (JC) KS to Southern Miss, 6'2 Stacey Wilson from Coffeyville (JC) KS to Murray State, 6'6 Doug Anderson from Mott (JC) MI to Detroit, 6'0 Lorenzo McCloud from Santa Rosa (JC) CA to Pacific, 6'6 Travis Fulton from Irvine Valley (JC) CA to Pacific, 6'3 John Balwigaire from Mesa (JC) AZ to Wright State, 6'4 Xavier Johnson-Blount from Cochise (JC) AZ to Montana State, 6'11 Julian Sargent from Miami-Dade (JC) FL to Florida Atlantic, 6'7 Demetrius Harris from Mineral Area (JC) MO to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 6'7 Jarrell Crayton from Sheridan (JC) WY to Boise State, 511 Alan Jones from Southeastern Illinois (JC) IL to Troy, 6'7 Nyandigis Meikobu from Cochise (JC) AZ to Iona, 6'7 James Anacreon from Snead State (JC) AL to Iona, 6'7 Kris Gulley from Independence (JC) KS to Long Beach State, 6'6 Corey Stern from Howard (JC) TX to Texas State, 6'1 Jerome Clyburn from Santa Fe (JC) FL to Austin Peay, 6'6 Hauns Brereton from Western Nebraska (JC) NE to Hawaii, 6'4 Terneil Rhodes from Brunswick (JC) NC to Norfolk State, 6'7 Thomas Staton from Independence (JC) KS to Missouri-Kansas City, 6'4 Aaron Martin from St. Petersburg (JC) FL to South Carolina State, and 6'1 Marese Phelps from Wallace State (JC) AL and 6'7 Davron Williams from Wabash Valley (JC) IL both to North Carolina Central.

Saturday, April 16, 2011, Sunday, April 17, 2011, & Monday, April 18, 2011

It was easily one of the best games that we will see all spring and summer.  We're talking about Team Loaded's stunning 77-67 win over the Playaz Basketball Club in the quarterfinals of the playoffs in the Gold Division over the weekend at the Hoop Group's Pittsburgh Jam Fest in Pittsburgh, PA.  And to reinforce our point even further is the fact that four of the five best players that we saw all weekend were participants in this game.  They were 6'8 Jr Kyle Anderson from Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ, 6'2 Myles Davis from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA, 5'11 Jr Tyler Lewis from Lewisville (Forsyth Country Day) NC, and 6'6 Andrew White from Chester (Thomas Dale) VA.  Those first three are already household names on the grassroots basketball circuit.  But, after adding 30-pounds and gaining a great deal of confidence, White made a strong case for being one of the biggest sleepers to emerge this spring.  White had 17 points and we liked his length, athleticism, and ability to run the court and thrive in an up tempo setting the first time we saw him.  Then, he hit four threes and scored 27 points against the Playaz and followed that up with 21 points in his team's 66-62 win against All-Ohio Red while playing hurt in the semi-finals.  Unfortunately White did not play in the Gold Division Championship Game against Team Takeover, but there is no doubt that this current high school senior who plans to be a 5th Year Player next year at Charlottesville (The Miller School) VA has superstar written all over him.  Only time will tell if he emerges as a future NBA player, but you can bet that his list, which currently includes the likes of schools like N.C. State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Providence, Clemson, Wake Forest, Old Dominion, and South Florida, will get longer before it gets shorter after all of the college coaches see him this summer.  In other words, we're talking about somebody who is the equivalent of a top 25-ranked high school senior nationally and he's got most of ingredients necessary (size for his position, great athleticism, excellent outside shooting, and an excellent work ethic and a great motor) necessary to be a great player.  However, White was not the best player on Team Loaded, as Lewis did a great job of making his teammates better, making big shots, and putting up prolific numbers to the tune of 17 points and three treys in the quarterfinals, 26 points in the semi-finals, and 33 points in the championship game.  A lot of people still question Lewis' lack of size and whether he has the foot speed necessary to defend at the big time college level.  But Lewis is second to none as an outside shooter, has a special knack when it comes time to penetrating and dishing, is a tremendous floor general, has an incredible basketball IQ, and his team usually wins (did you know that Lewis also led Team Loaded to the championship in this tournament a year ago)?  So with this in mind it should come as no surprise that Bobby Lutz and Rob Moxley, who are two of the most astute evaluators of talent in the business, made Lewis such a recruiting priority back when they were at the University of Charlotte that one or the other of them saw Lewis play every game he played in during the Live Evaluation Period in July the summer before his sophomore season.  We mention this, because as fate would have it the former, who spent last year as an assistant coach at Iowa State and the latter, who held a similar position at Middle Tennessee State, both recently were hired by new N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried.  And, this is important, because Lewis, who verbally committed to N.C. State last fall and, after the coaching change occurred, let it be known that he committed to the school and necessary just the previous coaching staff, obviously will be an important future piece to the puzzle for the new regime.  Team Loaded also has a third player we need to mention in 6'0 Jr Frank Mason from Petersburg (H.S.) VA and, although what he does best is slash to the basket, he also made several big outside shots and free throws en route to 23 points in the quarterfinals and and 11 points in the semi-finals.  Unfortunately he too was hurt and didn't play in the championship game.  We also have to be mention the incredible performance turned by Davis, who had 32-points and six 3-pointers in that great quarterfinals game.  As for Anderson, he chipped in with 21 points, but did not quite live up to our expectations throughout most of the tournament.  Remember, Anderson is ranked #2 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP and he truly is a guy without a position, as he's best inside, where he can take advantage of his incredible length and knack of being in the right place to get the rebound, at the defensive end, and bringing the ball up the court and utilizing his great court vision and passing skills at the offensive end.  The best player, and arguably the most consistent player, in the tournament was 6'7 Jr Jerian Grant from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD, who had 20 points in the championship game and clearly would have been the tournament MVP, if one had been named.  Grant, also has an incredible bloodline (his uncle Horace Grant played in the NBA for 17 years, his father Harvey Grant played in the NBA for 11 years, his oldest brother just wrapped up a successful four-year college career at Clemson, his second oldest brother was a red-shirt freshman this past season at Notre Dame, and his younger brother Jaylen Grant is one of the top 8th Graders in the nation) and is a true thoroughbred with tremendous athleticism and is impossible to stop in transition.  And Grant had plenty of help, as 6'8 Soph Beejay Anya from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD was arguably the best pure big man that we saw in the tournament, 6'2 Jr James Robinson from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD was more than solid throughout the tournament and had 19 points in the championship game, 6'1 Jr Patrick Holloway from  Fairfax (Paul VI) VA might have been the most consistent 3-point shooter that we saw all weekend, 6'6 Jr Arnard Abdula-Moto from Alexandria (Episcopal) VA is a force to be reckoned with and is capable of playing both inside and outside, 6'8 Jr Barrington Alston from Christ Church (H.S.) VA is another high energy athlete who runs the court and had several of the best dunks that we saw all weekend, and 6'5 Jr Keithan Savage from Alexandria (Episcopal) VA and 6'2 Jr Joe McDonald from Landon (School) VA were great role players and have excellent mid-major futures.  We also really liked quickness, athleticism, and energy that 6'9 Jr Elijah Macon from Columbus (Marion-Franklin) OH brings to the table when he stays within 15-feet of the basket and blocks shots, rebounds, and utilizes his soft shooting touch.  Unfortunately, like so many big guys in this day-and-age, it looks like Macon has caught the disease, whereby, he thinks he's a perimeter player and, as a result, the value of his stock may drop, unless he wakes up soon.  The fact that he can't seem to make up his mind about going to West Virginia (he reneged over a year ago, but still has the Mountaineers near the top of a list that includes South Florida, USC, Cincinnati, Tennessee, and Xavier) and his questionable academic situation are also major causes for concern.  On the other hand, Macon did lead an otherwise well balanced team that also included 6'7 Jr Jalen Robinson from Columbus (Northland) OH, 6'2 Jr Myles Hamilton from Lakewood (St. Edwards) OH, 6'7 Jr Deonte Hawkins from Dayton (Dunbar) OH, 6'0 Jr Terry Rozier from Shaker Heights (H.S.) OH, 6'7 Jr Kenny Kaminski from Medina (H.S.) OH, to a final four finish in the Gold Division Tournament.  And the fourth team in the final four was Team Takeover Canada CIA bounce, which featured an interesting cast of characters that included 7'5 Jr Sim Bhullard from Huntington (Prep) WV, 6'3 Jr Jarryn Skeete from Toronto (Wasatch Academy) ON, 6'8 Jr Anthony Bennett from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, 6'10 Jr Richard Peters from Phoenix (Westwind Prep) AZ, 6'9 Jr Stefan Jankovic from Huntington (Prep) WV, and 6'7 Jr Negus Webster from Huntington (Prep) WV.  Webster is already verbally committed to the University of Louisville, but he can't shot, isn't very strong physically, and doesn't get enough done to be more than just a solid role player at that level.  We also didn't like Peters, who originally committed to the previous regime at the University of Oklahoma; Jankovic, who is your stereotypical European with his skill-set and outside shooting and lack of toughness inside; and Bennett when he drifted outside and shot 3-pointers.  But we have to respect Bennett's athleticism and physical attributes, which project him as a high major player.  The Skeete did a good job of running the show and can more than just keep you honest from behind the arc, which leads us to believe he'll have a nice mid-major future.  Bhullard is one of the biggest guys I have ever seen, he's gotten a lot better since I last saw him last fall, and he's got good hands and timing, which allows him to get more than his fair share of blocked shots, rebounds, and put-backs around the basket.  However, one also has to wonder when the day of  reckoning will be with regards to foot speed and agility, as he continues to advance to higher levels during the course of his career?  We also have wonder the same thing about Bhullard little brother - 7'2 Soph Tanveer Bhullar from Huntington (Prep) WV, who also played an important role on the Team Takeover Canada CIA bounce team that advanced all the way to the championship game of the 16-Under Gold Division Tournament.  Everybody also was impressed with 6'7 Jr Glen Robinson from Saint John (Lake Central) IN and 6'9 Mitch McGary from Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH, who led the SYF Players to the Silver Division Championship.  McGary is a tough hardnosed white kid who blocks shots, rebounds, scores inside and outside.  The fact that he also has an incredible wing span, is an excellent passer, has quick hands, and brings a lot of energy to the table means that he would project as a 50-100 range player nationally, if he were going to be a high school senior next year.  Robinson is more of an inside/outside guy than an outside/inside guy.  But he's got a lot of his Dad's natural talent and athleticism and he's not being plagued by injuries like he was the last time we saw him a year ago.  Or to get right to the chase, Robinson is a steal for the University of Michigan and he's arguably a top 50-ranked senior nationally.  We also liked the really athletic 6'4 Jeremiah Jones from Merrillville (H.S.) IN, who also appears to be prep school bound, and 6'6 Jr Elijah Ray from Gary (Bowman) IN, who uses his athleticism and willingness to compete to be very effective around the basket.  Two of the players that our Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Editor Allen Rubin were touting the most during his day-and-a-half at the tournament were 6'8 Jr Amile Jefferson from Wynnewood (Friends Central) PA and 6'10 Jr Daniel Ochefu from Westtown (Friends) PA.  However, when we saw Ochefu, he didn't get much done at the offensive end and, as a result, we thought he fell more than into the raw physical athlete category than the finished product category.  Rubin also keeps singing the praise of 6'5 Soph Rondee Jefferson from Chester (H.S.) PA.  But Rubin who rarely stays to the end of any event, was long gone when Jefferson hit in the game winning shot against Garner Road in the fourth overtime of the semi-finals in the 16-Under Gold Division.  Jefferson finished with 15 points, but the two leading scorers for Team Final in that game were 6'9 Soph Austin Colbert from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ with 17 points and 6'0 Soph Yosef Yacob from Radnor (Archbishop Carroll) PA, who set the tone early with three 3-pointers and finished with 18 points.  Colbert also more than held his own inside when matched up against 7'2 Soph Tanveer Bhullar from Huntington (Prep) WV in the championship game, as he finished with 12 points and led his team to a 65-61 win in the title game.  Bhullar only had seven points in that game, but he also effects the game in so many other ways with his length and size.  There also was a long list of other players that we want to mention, which includes 6'11 Brian Akinkugbe from Lanham (Princeton Day School) MD, 6'3 Jr Michael Frazier from Tampa (H.B. Plant) FL, 6'5 Jr Nkeruwen Okoro from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY, 6'4 Jr Torian Graham from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, 6'0 Jr Micah Mason from Natrona (Highlands) PA, 6'5 Jr Trey Boutilier from Toronto (Henry Carr) ON, 6'4 Jr Darrick Wood from Alexandria (T.C. Williams) VA, 6'6 Jr Jahleen Montague from Atlantic City (H.S.) NJ, 6'6 Jr Stephon Mosley from West Orange (Seton Hall Prep) NJ, 6'0 Jr Dallas Anglin from West Orange (Seton Hall Prep) NJ, 6'3 Jr Ray Lee from Romulus (H.S.) MI, 6'7 Jr Marshall Wood from Rustburg (H.S.) VA, 6'10 Jr C.J. Gettys from Findlay (H.S.) OH, 6'3 Jr Ron Curry from Haddonfield (Paul VI) NJ, 5'11 Jr Evan Payne from Cuyahoga Falls (Walsh Jesuit) OH, 6'2 Jr Gavin Stephenson from Baltimore (Mt. St. Joseph) MD, 6'2 Soph Nate Britt from Washington (Gonzaga) DC, 6'5 Soph Trey Boykins from Jacksonville (Arlington Bishop O'Connell) VA, 6'8 Soph Isaiah Hicks from Oxford (Body of Christ) NC, 6'4 Soph Rasheed Jordan from Philadelphia (Vaux) PA, 6'4 Soph Stephen Vasturia from Philadelphia (St. Joseph's Prep) PA, and 6'4 Frosh Isaiah Whitehead from Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY.  We didn't get a chance to see any 14-Under Games, but the word is that 6'3 8th Grader Jamar Ergas from Toronto, ON is one to write down for the future.  He had scored 40 points and was like a highlight film with 14 dunks in a single game. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

There are a number of important things that will be happening this weekend and we want to take the opportunity to tell you about two of them right now.  The first is the "The Clinic's To End All Clinics IV," which will be the first ever All Zone Clinic and will tip-off at 9:00 AM sharp on Saturday, April 16th, in Draddy Gym at Manhattan College in the Bronx, NY.  The cost is $150.00 per person and the clinic will feature legendary coaches like Jim Boeheim from 9:00 AM-10:00 AM, Dave Odom from 10:10-11:00 AM, Bobby Huggins from 11:10 AM-12:10 PM, Lunch Catered by the Carnegie Deli from 12:20 PM-1:20 PM, Don Casey from 1:30 PM-2:20 PM, Rollie Massimino from 2:30 PM-3:30 PM, and Dave Odom and Don Casey from 3:40 PM-5:00 PM.  For more information you can call Howard Garfinkel at (212) 246-3063 or (646) 275-9818 between the hours of 9:00 AM and midnight today or go to his web site, which can be found by clicking onto GarfsCoachingStars.com.  The second is the Hoop Group's Pittsburgh Jam Fest, which will start tonight and continue tomorrow and Sunday at the 12,000 seat Peterson Events Center on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA.  This year's tournament will feature the largest national base that the Pittsburgh Jam Fest has ever had and will feature teams from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, Florida, and Canada.  Rob Engemann, who is now the Director of Team Events for the Hoop Group, also tells us that this year's event will feature 96 teams in the 17-Under Division, 72 teams in the 16-Under Division, 54 teams in the 15-Under Division, 24 teams in the 14-Under Division, and 18 teams in the Open Division.  He also tells us the 17-Under Division is the best it's been in years, the 16-Under Division is also loaded, and the top seeded teams in the 15-Under Division are also all really good. 

It has to be the biggest breaking story to-date of the Spring Signing Period.  We're talking about the decision by 6'9 Kevin Johnson from Woodland Hill (Taft) CA to attend Seton Hall.  Johnson is ranked #56 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP and was the third highest ranked player still available, behind 6'4 Kevin Ware from Conyers (Rockdale County) GA and 6'3 Trevor Lacey from Huntsville (Butler) AL.  And, if Johnson gets into better shape and continues to develop his post skills, he has the size, physical attributes, and natural talent necessary to make money playing the game someday.  We also think this is a perfect marriage, because Seton Hall needs a monster inside in order to be competitive next year in the tough Big East Conference and Pirates head coach Kevin Willard is an excellent developer of talent.  The addition of Johnson moves Seton Hall's recruiting class, which also includes 6'2 Aaron Cosby from Northfield (Northfield-Mt. Hermon) MA, 6'11 Isaiah Hill from Grand Prairie (God's Academy) TX, 6'5 Haralds Karlis from Canarias Basketball Academy, 6'1 Sean Grennan from Toms River (Monsignor Donovan) NJ, and 6'1 Fred Wilson from New Haven (Hillhouse) CT, up to #11 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  However, Seton Hall's recruiting class could drop back down into a tie at #22, along with Western Kentucky and Oregon, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011 due to the fact that it looks like Hill will go to prep school next year before enrolling the year after at Seton Hall.  And this makes even more sense, as the word on the street is that Hill plans to start playing later this spring with the Boo Williams Summer League Team. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

One of the things that separates the HOOP SCOOP from our competition is our ongoing list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date.  And, despite the fact that there are only a handful of elite players still left on the board, the race for the top several spots on our list of Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011 is still very much up for grabs.  As things stand right now, St John's has the #1-ranked currently class with nine players - 6'3 Nurideen Lindsey from Redlands (JC) OK, 6'6 Amir Garrett from Henderson (Findley Prep) NV 6'7 Maurice Harkless from South Kent (Prep) CT, 6'3 DeAngelo Harrison from Missouri City (Ft. Bend Dulles) TX, 6'8 Jakarr Sampson from Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH, 6'9 Norvel Pelle from Los Angeles (Price) CA, 6'5 Dominique Pointer from Winston-Salem (Quality Education Academy) NC, 6'9 Dwight Meikle from Winston-Salem (Quality Education Academy) NC, and 6'1 Phil Greene from Bradenton (IMG Academy) FL - all in the fold.  However, if the University of Kentucky lands 6'3 Trevor Lacey from Huntsville (Butler) AL and a least one other player who is the equivalent of somebody in the 100-300 range nationally, the Wildcats will move into the #1 spot on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  And it's our guess that this door will open when 6'3 Frosh Brandon Knight. who averaged 17.5 ppg and 4.2 apg, and 6'8 Frosh Terrence Jones, who averaged 16.9 ppg and 8.9 rpg, both forgo the rest of their college eligibility and enter the NBA Draft.  Obviously this will create several important voids that must be filled immediately.  But it also could potentially create a very interesting scenario if the NBA owners impose a lockout at the end of the current season.  What happens if there are 20 or 30 guys who have kept their name in the NBA Draft after the May 8th deadline, there is indeed a lockout once the season is over, and there is nowhere for all of these players to go but overseas?  Something nobody seems to be talking about is the possibility that the NCAA could to take advantage of the situation and provide all these players with a one-time exemption and let them play college basketball next year.  This may not seem likely, but stranger things have happened.  There are already have been 27 players (Laurence Bowers, Kim English, Ashton Gibbs, Augustus Gilbert, Tobias Harris, Tyler Honeycutt, Scotty Hopson, Kyrie Irving, Reggie Jackson, Reggie Johnson, Malcolm Lee, Travis Leslie, Shelvin Mack, Darius Morris, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Jereme Richmond, Iman Shumpert, Chris Singleton, Greg Smith, Isaiah Thomas, Trey Thompkins, Tristian Thompson, Nikola Vucevic, Kemba Walker, Derrick Williams, and Jordan Williams) fill for early entry into this year's NBA Draft.  And you can bet there will be a lot more before the April 24th filling deadline.  There also are sure to be many more players who will join the list of 12 players (Tyler Honeycutt, Kyrie Irving, Malcolm Lee, Travis Leslie, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Jereme Richmond, Greg Smith, Isaiah Thomas, Trey Thompkins, Nikola Vucevic, and Kemba Walker) who have already signed with an agent and, as a result, have already foregone their amateur status.  All this is important, because the possibility does exist that the talent level in college basketball could be enhanced dramatically next year and the University of Kentucky could be the biggest beneficiary if Knight and Jones both return and they add another great guard like 6'3 Trevor Lacey from Huntsville (Butler) AL or 6'4 Kevin Ware from Conyers (Rockdale County) GA to a recruiting class that already includes 6'8 Michael Gilchrist from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ 6'10 Anthony Davis from Chicago (Perspective Charter) IL, 6'2 Marquis Teague from Indianapolis (Pike) IN, and 6'10 Kyle Wiltjer from Portland (Jesuit) OR.  Or on the flip side, if the Wildcats don't sign anybody else this spring and the University of Louisville lands 6'4 Kevin Ware from Conyers (Rockdale County) GA, then the possibility does exist that Cardinals, which already have 6'6 Chane Behanan from Bowling Green (H.S.) KY, 6'5 Wayne Blackshear from Chicago (Morgan Park) IL, 6'8 Angel Nunez from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA, 6'10 James "Zac" Price from Jeffersontown (H.S.) KY, and 6'5 Ryan Taylor from Louisville (Western) KY all in the fold, could move up to #2, ahead of Kentucky on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011There is no doubt that this would raise a lot eyebrows, as the Wildcats' recruiting class has three of our top four-ranked seniors and the Cardinals' class potentially could have three players in the 10-20 range nationally.  However, the question is not which school signed the three best players?  Instead, the intent is to measure both quality and quantity and quite honestly this system works very well when we rank every recruiting class on the entire Division I spectrum.  Another interesting scenario involves 6'8 DeAndre Daniels from Bradenton (Pendleton School) FL, who is our #1-ranked 5th Year Player and appears to be seriously considering three schools (Duke, Kansas, and Texas).  If Daniels picks the Blue Devils, then Duke's recruiting class, which also already includes 6'4 Austin Rivers from Winter Park (H.S.) FL, 6'0 Quinn Cook from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, 6'6 Michael Gbinije from Richmond (Benedictine) VA, and 6'11 Marshall Plumlee from Arden (The Christ School) NC, would move up to #3 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011 However, if Kentucky only gets 6'3 Trevor Lacey from Huntsville (Butler) AL, Louisville get's 6'4 Kevin Ware from Conyers from Conyers (Rockdale County) GA, and Duke gets 6'8 DeAndre Daniels from Bradenton (Pendleton School) FL, then nothing would change on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011 A commitment by Daniels to Texas also could be enough to move the Longhorns' recruiting class, which already includes 6'2 Myck Kabongo from Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV, 6'5 Sheldon McClellan from Houston (Bellaire) TX, 6'5 Julien Lewis from Galveston (La Marque) TX, and 6'8 Jonathan Holmes from San Antonio (Antonian) TX, up to as high as #3, if Louisville doesn't get Ware or anybody else this spring.  And the same also can bet said about Kansas, if the Jayhawks add both Lacey and Daniels to a recruiting class that already includes 5'11 Naadire Tharpe from Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH, 6'4 Ben McLemore from Humble (Christian Life) TX, and 6'10 Braeden Anderson from Wilbraham & Monson) MA. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Today is the first day of the Spring Signing Period, but we don't expect a lot of action when it comes time for the top players to make their college decision.  As a matter of fact, the only two players - 6'4 Kevin Ware from Conyers (Rockdale County) GA and 6'3 Trevor Lacey from Huntsville (Butler) AL - left on the board that are ranked among our top 50 seniors nationally both appear to be a long way away from picking a school.  As things stand right now, the University of Louisville is the leader for Ware, who is ranked #16 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP and has the skills and athleticism necessary to step in right away and make an immediate impact a year from now at the 2-guard spot.  However, UCLA, Georgia, Florida State, Kentucky, Baylor, Virginia, and Central Florida are also on Ware's list and he won't even begin setting up visits until next week.  Lacey is ranked #30 nationally in the senior class and he will begin what promises to be a busy five days when University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari makes an in-home visit on Friday.  Then, it will be off to Tuscaloosa, AL on Saturday, where Lacey will make an on-campus visit and attend the University of Alabama's annual Crimson-White spring football game, where over 90,000 fans are expected to be in attendance.  Next, Kansas' Bill Self will make an in-home visit on Sunday, April 17th, and finally new N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried will return to his old stamping grounds on Tuesday and make the final in-home visit.  Instead, the big news of the day appears to be Marquette's signing of 6'3 Todd Mayo from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA and the two early verbal commitments by a pair of foreign exchange students to Northwestern.  They are 6'11 Jr Alex Olah from Whitestown (Traders Point Christian Academy) IN and 6'7 Soph Milos Kostic from Hammond (Bishop Noll) IN and Wildcats assistant coach Ivan Vujic, who originally is from Split, Croatia and is the obvious connection, deserves a raise for getting this done (especially so early).  Olah is not ranked among the top 500 juniors nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, but he led his team to the Indiana Independent School State Championship, where he was named MVP, and has improved dramatically since arriving in the United States a year ago from Romania.  And, at 6'11, 240-pounds, he's got the skills, mobility, work ethic, frame, and upside necessary to project as a NBA player down the road.  Schools like Illinois, Purdue, Boston College, California, and Texas A&M were also showing interest, but the fact that Northwestern is a great academic institution also appears to have been one of the deciding factors in his decision.  Kostic is ranked #193 nationally in the sophomore class and he averaged 7.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, and 2.7 apg on a team that advanced all the way to the Indiana Class 2A State Championship Game three weeks ago in Indianapolis, IN.  He also is your stereotypical Eastern European player in that he doesn't like to bang inside, but has an excellent skill package out on the perimeter and is a really good outside shooter.  However, it's the upside and potential of this native of Serbia and the fact that he is ideally suited for their system that should get Wildcats head coach Bill Carmody and his staff excited.  As for Mayo, he's ranked #7 on our List of the Top 5th Year Players, has a great bloodline (he's the younger brother of O.J. Mayo), and is capable of putting up prolific numbers to the tune of 22.0 ppg.  Mayo also has the skills necessary to play point guard and he's an excellent passer (6.0 apg).  But, when you can score like he can, why diminish what he does best by making him run the show?  We also were not surprised that over the weekend 6'4 Soph Billy Garrett from Chicago (Morgan Park) IL made an early verbal commitment to DePaul and were intrigued by the fact that 6'10 Braeden Anderson from Wilbraham (Wilbraham & Monson) MA picked the University of Kansas.  Is Anderson good tough to step in and start or make a major impact as a freshman next year for the Jayhawks?  Probably not due to the fact that he's still very raw around the basket.  But he does have nice size and athleticism.  And, once he gets bigger and stronger physically and develops some post moves, there is no telling how good be may become down the road.  Garrett is ranked #128 nationally in the sophomore class by the HOOP SCOOP, but he's capable of playing either guard spot, averaged 15.0 ppg a good team this past season, is a straight "A" student, and is the son of DePaul assistant coach Billy Garrett, whose job is to lock up the top players in the Windy City.  So, obviously in this case, it is mission accomplished.  Among the signings and commitments that are being reported today, the only thing new is 6'3 P.J. Torres from New Rochelle (H.S.) NY picking Duquesne over schools like College of Charleston, Hofstra, and Rhode Island; 6'5 Dwayne Davis and 6'5 Darren White, both of whom played important roles on the Midland Junior College team that finished second in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Tournament in Hutchinson, KS, picking Southern Miss and Campbell respectively; 6'2 Travis Smith from Gulf Coast (JC) FL and 6'2 Shaquille Harris from Enterprise-Ozark (JC) GA both signing with Mercer; 6'9 Bernard Webb from Salt Lake (JC) UT opting for Cal State-Fullerton, and 6'10 Dominique Youmans from Snow (JC) UT selecting South Carolina State.  Other verbal commitments that we've recently run across include 6'1 Wesley Washpun from Cedar Rapids (Washington) IA to the University of Tennessee, 6'9 Kris Obasekia from Manuel (H.S.) TX to Oral Roberts, 6'8 Breon Dixon from Tifton (Tift County) GA to Troy, and 6'11 Jaleel Roberts from Greensboro (Day) NC to UNC-Asheville.  We've also have tracked early verbal commitments by 6'6 Jr Dominic Hoffman from Gladstone (Gill St. Bernard's) NJ to Bucknell and 6'3 Soph Jared Fay from Chestnut Hill (Brimmer & May) MA and 6'3 Soph Jake Fay from Chestnut Hill (Brimmer & May) MA both to Fordham. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Most of the recent action in the recruiting world has been by junior college players and we start with the verbal commitment that 5'11 Pierre Jackson from Southern Idaho (JC) ID made a couple of days ago to Baylor.  Jackson not only was the MVP of the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Tournament last month in Hutchinson, KS, but he also was named a First Team NCJAA All-American, along with 6'3 Jeff Early from Monroe (JC) NY, 6'7 Carlos Emory from Howard (JC) TX, 6'7 Chris Evans from Wabash Valley (JC) IL, 6'8 Carl Hall from Northwest Florida State (JC) FL, 6'0 Lonnie Hayes from Missouri State-West Plains (JC) MO, 5'11 Marsell Holden from San Jacinto (JC) TX, 6'5 Larry McGaughey from Lawson State (JC) AL, 6'2 Tyris McGee from Cowley County (JC) TX, and 6'4 Tavares Speaks from Cape Fear (JC) NC, and he appears to be the quick fix that the Bears need at the point guard position.   He also may be the last piece to their puzzle, as 6'7 Jr Quincy Acy and 6'11 Frosh Perry Jones are both expected to return and 6'8 Quincy Miller from High Point (Westchester Country Day) NC and 6'3 Quddus "Deuce" Bello from High Point (Westchester Country Day) NC, both of whom signed with the Bears last fall, are expected to step in and make an immediate impact next season.  The addition of Jackson also moves Baylor's recruiting class up to #11 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  However, even more important, Jackson's presence should make Baylor one of the team's to beat in college basketball next year.  Remember, this is a guy who averaged 18.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.4 apg, and 1.9 spg on the team that won the NJCAA Championship.  And, believe it or not, another player that was mentioned above on the First Team NCJAA All-American Team is bound for Liberty.  We're talking about 6'4 Tavares Speaks from Cape Fear (JC) NC and this athletic two-guard averaged 18.2 pgg and 3.0 rpg and also played a key role in his team's appearance in the NCJAA Tournament in Hutchinson, KS.  Speaks also has an excellent mid-range game, is a quality defender, and can score in bunches.  There also is the verbal commitment that 6'4 Dylan Talley from Blinn (JC) TX recently made to the University of Nebraska.  He was an Honorable Mention Junior College All-American and finished as the #6-ranked scorer in the junior college ranks this past season with 22.9 ppg.  He also rebounds well for his size (6.0 rpg) and has good enough ball handling and passing skills (3.8 apg) to play some point guard.  The Cornhuskers beat schools like LSU, Colorado, USC, and Seton Hall for Talley's services and, as a result, now have the guy that the need to step in and replace 6'3 Sr Lance Jeter, who will graduate this spring.  Our Mid-South Editor Jim Rothman tells us that 6'9 Stanley Simpson from John A. Logan (JC) IL verbally committed to the University of Memphis over the weekend and this too appears to be a perfect fit, as the Tigers are in desperate need of another big guy who can complement 6'8 Frosh Tarik Black, who averaged 9.1 ppg and 5.0 rpg this past season, and 6'6 Adonis Thomas from Memphis (Melrose) TN, who until now was the only member of Memphis' recruiting class.  Simpson is ranked #7 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com, but back in his high school days the book on him was that he was an underachiever, as inconsistency, not being a tough customer, and not playing hard were the order of the day.  On the other hand, Simpson is 6'9, is extremely athletic, and, at times, he's shown flashes of brilliance.  It also looks like South Florida has found the prolific scoring combo guard that they need to step in and make an immediate impact in 6'0 Blake Nash from Williston State (JC) ND.  He averaged 22.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.5 apg, 2.3 spg, shot 55.0% from the field and 42.0% from behind the arc, and was recently named to the Second Team NJCAA All-American Team, along with 6'2 Quintorius Bivins from Atlanta Metropolitan (JC) GA, 6'4 Xavier Blount-Johnson from Cochise (JC) AZ, 6'4 Tyler Brown from Marshalltown (JC) IA, 6'1 Raymond Cintron from Mississippi Gulf Coast (JC) MS, 6'10 Monterale Clark from Highland (JC) IL, 5'9 Michael Hale from North Idaho (JC) ID, 6'5 Anthony Hubbard from Frederick (JC) MD, 7'11 Philip Jurick from Chattanooga State (JC) TN, and 6'1 Corey Wilford from Connors State (JC) KS.  We also understand that the University of Oklahoma has gotten its first verbal commitment during the Lon Kruger era with the addition of 6'1 Sam Grooms from Chipola (JC) FL.  Grooms averaged 11.0 ppg and 6.0 apg and he was the floor general for the team that was ranked #2 in the junior college ranks most of the season.  He picked the Sooners over Baylor, Tennessee, Houston, South Florida, and Louisiana Tech and joins 6'10 Robert Goff from Hutchinson (JC) KS, who committed last fall to the previous regime, in a recruiting class that is now tied at #55, along with Florida, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  We also have confirmed that 6'3 D'Mitri Riggs from Wabash Valley (JC) IL has verbally committed to Southeast Missouri State, 6'6 Olivier Mbaigoto from St. Petersburg (JC) FL has picked Central Michigan, 6'2 Alan-Michael Thompson from Brunswick (JC) NC is bound for Louisiana-Lafayette, and 6'7 Andre Ingram from Butler County (JC) KS has decided to return home and attend the University of Minnesota.  Ingram averaged 14.3 ppg and shot 63% from the field this past season.  However, at 6'7, 235 pounds, what makes him really intriguing are his length and athleticism, high energy level, and upside and potential.  Thompson is ranked #115 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com and is a terrific 3-pointer shooter, as is evident by the fact that he was 56-123 from behind the arc this past season.  Mbaigoto is ranked #108 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com, averaged 15.2 ppg and 6.3 rpg, and is extremely athletic, very versatile, and good enough to step in and make an immediate impact for the Chippewas next season.  Riggs is ranked #63 in the junior college ranks by JucoJunction.com, averaged 17.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.3 apg, and hit 48.0% of his trifectas and 84.0% from the foul line.  It also looks like Morehead State has landed the floor general that the Eagles were searching for to step in and run show in 6'0 Devon Atkinson from Brunswick (JC) NC and new Towson head coach Pat Skerry has moved quickly to secure his first commitment from 6'7 Marcus Damas from Westchester (JC) NY.  The former is a pure point guard who averaged 9.2 ppg and 7.0 apg this past season.  The latter is versatile enough to play the two, three, and the four spots and he's got the skills and athleticism necessary to step in and make an immediate impact a year from now.  And, if that weren't enough commitments by players from the junior college ranks, we've also confirmed that 6'3 Kannon Burrage from Des Moines Area (JC) IA has verbally committed to UT-San Antonio, 6'4 Lavanne Pennington from Barstow (JC) CA has verbally committed to San Jose State, 6'3 Mansa Habeeb from Southeastern Iowa (JC) IA has verbally committed to the University of Idaho, 6'7 Taaj Ridley from Lawson State (JC)) AL has verbally committed to Iona, and 6'7 Connell Crossland from John A. Logan (JC) IL has verbally committed to Texas Christian.  That last one is especially interesting, because Crossland is listed as a lefty wing forward, but he teamed with Stanley Simpson and averaged a double-double with 17.0 ppg and 12.3 rpg.

Saturday, April 9, 2011, Sunday, April 10, 2011, & Monday, April 11, 2011

There were a lot of surprises over the weekend at the Big Shots DC Assault Tournament, which was held at the Capital Sports Complex in District Heights, MD.  And right at the top of the list was 6'8 Soph Mike Kobani from Ft. Washington (National Christian) MD.  We're talking about a 6'8 explosive athlete power forward who runs the court, is unstoppable getting to the basket, and has incredible length and a great nose for the ball when it comes time to rebounding and blocking shots.  Kobani is currently ranked #13 in the sophomore class in the DC area by Van Johnson of Baseline Hoop Sports, Inc. and is totally under the radar screen nationally.  However, if he's anything close to the 16-years-old age that his high school coach (Trevor Brown) claims, then Kobani definitely is one of the biggest sleepers to come down the pike in a long time.  And to make the story even more interesting is the fact that Kobani came to the United States from Nigeria last fall, but appears to be more fluid and athletic than most foreign players who have only been in this country for a short period of time.  Kobani also has an extremely quick first step, an incredible wing span, and a great motor, which made him a force to be reckoned with every time he took the court.  He had 24 points and nine rebounds the first time we saw him.  Then he followed up that up with several 30-plus point performances and had a 20-point performance in his final game of the tournament.  In other words, Kobani is the strong athletic post player that every college coach dreams about finding and physically he's a man right now.  He also was clearly the best player that we saw all weekend, as a well as a legitimate McDonald's All-American candidate two years from now.  The other big surprise was the stellar play by 5'7 Soph Aquille Carr from Baltimore (Patterson) MD.  What Carr lacked in size he more than made up for with his jet-like speed and quickness, charisma, and court presence.  Carr also never seemed to wear out, as he had 33 points in a 16-Under game, put up prolific numbers all weekend while playing for the Baltimore Panthers in the 17-Under Division, and then joined Virginia Elite117's when they faced National Christian in the game prior to the championship game on Court #1.  What Carr does best is get to the basket, score, and/or draw the foul and get the and-one.  But he also surprised us with his ability to stop on a dime and hit the mid-range shot or pull-up and knock down the trey.  Carr also hit what would have been the game winning free throws with only seconds remaining against Team Philly in the semi-finals of the 17-Under Division.  But 6'7 Jr Brandon Taylor from Hamilton (Trenton Catholic) NJ came down and hit the game winning 3-point shot at the buzzer.  Taylor is another guy who doesn't get the respect that he deserves, because he spends way too much time out on the perimeter shooting threes, instead of taking care of business around the basket, which he actually does quite well.  Taylor also finished with 26 points and was the driving force behind Team Philly's 50-39 win in the championship game and he's got the size, strength, talent, and athleticism necessary to be ranked in the top 50-100 range in the junior class nationally.  Taylor also is match-up problem, because he's strong enough and skilled enough to be very effective inside and bigger guys don't have the speed and quickness necessary to guard him out on the perimeter.  We also were surprised that the Fairfax Stars, which featured a solid group of mid-to-low major players that included 6'6 Jr Mohamed Allie-Cox from Middleburg (Academy) VA, 6'8 Jr Terry Woods from Oakton (Flint Hill) VA, 6'7 Jr Matt Murphy from Alexandria (Edison) VA 6'4 Jr Troy Thomas from Arlington (Yorktown) VA, and 6'2 Jr Jack Early from Arlington (Yorktown) VA, knocked off DC Assault in the quarterfinals and SELF Carolina Elite in the semi-finals en route to the championship game.  But it was kind of like Butler versus Connecticut in the title game of the 17-Under Orange Division, as Team Philly's toughness, athleticism, and ability to shut you down defensively were the deciding factors in the game.  They also had a good supporting cast to go along with Taylor, as 5'10 Jr Maurice Watson from Philadelphia (Boys Latin) PA, who is an exceptional student and is a very efficient point guard, did an excellent job running the show; 6'2 Ky Howard from Bryn Mawr (Shipley) PA, who also is an excellent student and could end up being a major steal for right mid-major school a year from now after he refines his game and gets bigger and stronger physically next year in prep school, was like a jack-of-all-trades; 6'5 Jr Malik Gardner from Philadelphia (Chestnut Hill Academy) PA was the unsung hero that did all of the blue collar stuff around the basket; and 6'2 Jr Chazz Paterson from Hamilton (Trenton Catholic) NJ impressed us with his ability to defend and knock down the outside shot.  On the other hand, we were not surprised by 6'8 Jr Montrezl Harrell from Tarboro (North Edgecomb) NC, who is a physical specimen and a stud athlete around the basket.  However, he also has the foot speed and ball handling skills necessary to handle it out on the perimeter, which means Harrell is interchangeable at the three and four spots and, as a result, a perfect fit for Virginia Tech.  We also liked 6'6 Devin Waddell from North Bethesda (Georgetown Prep) MD, who is a high energy athlete that provided the perfect complement inside to Harrell on the SELF Carolina Elite team, but were just lukewarm with regards to 6'2 Jr Codi Miller-McIntyre from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, although he did makes some 3-point shots.  One of the biggest disappointments in the tournament was 6'0 Jr Daquan Cook from Baltimore (Digital Harbor) MD, who is ranked #77 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  He is very explosive in transition, but doesn't make good decisions, is not a good outside shooter, has a tendency to be a little bit too wild for his own good, and simply doesn't get enough done.  Another one of the bigger disappointments was the DC Assault 17's, which didn't make it past the second round, despite the fact they went to war with the likes of 6'5 Jr Torian Graham from Raleigh (Word of God) NC, 6'9 Jr Jordan Goodman from Jacksonville (Arlington Country Day) FL, 6'1 Soph Nate Britt from Washington (Gonzaga) DC, 6'6 Soph Derrick Fenner from Washington (Gonzaga) DC, and 6'6 Soph Rodney Bullock from Hampton (Kecoughton) VA.  Britt was his usual steady self and Bullock is an undersized inside guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder and impressed us with his quickness around the basket.  Unfortunately Graham was a total no-show, Fenner still does not appear to have the confidence that he did at an earlier age, and Goodman appears to be all flash and no substance.  And to illustrate our point even further is fact that Goodman needs a haircut, had lousy body language and wore two totally contrasting shoes on the court, and, for the most part, wasted what he does best, which is using his size and quickness around the basket, by bringing the ball up the court and playing way too much out on the perimeter.  In other words, Goodman has all of the tools necessary to be a McDonald's All-American, but, once again, gets what he deserves, which is his #122 national ranking by the HOOP SCOOP.  In contrast, the DC Assault 16-under team, which featured 6'8 Soph Junior Eton from Jacksonville (Arlington Country Day) FL, 6'1 Frosh Romelo Trimble from Arlington (Bishop O'Connell) VA, 6'5 Soph Trey Boykins from Jacksonville (Arlington Bishop O'Connell) VA, 6'3 Soph Andrew Calomeris from Olney (Good Counsel) MD, and 6'8 Soph Gabe Williams from Huntington (Prep) WV was pretty good.  Williams is really raw, but his size and athleticism make him worth noting.  Calomeris is a tough hardnosed multi-dimensional skilled white kid with Ivy League grades and an extremely high basketball IQ.  Boykins is a like a jack-of-all-trades.  He's got the long arms, great hands, and nose for the ball necessary to be an excellent rebounder for his size and the foot speed and athleticism, nice shooting touch, and ball handling skills necessary to be very effective out on the perimeter.  Trimble is a reclassified freshman, but still promises to be the next great player to play for Joey Wootten and he's equally proficient when he pulls up and shoots the jumper or when he decides to go to the basket.   Eton is long and athlete and he's got the toughness and body necessary to be a force around the basket.  Two of the best 3-point shooters that we saw a weekend were 6'0 Soph Robert Johnson from Chesterfield (Lloyd C. Byrd) VA and 6'6 Jr Milan Durant from Upper Marlboro (Riverdale Baptist) MD.  The most intriguing guy was arguably 7'0 Issac Freeman from Manassas (Osborne) VA.  He only had four points against the two 6'8 athletes on Cecil Kirk, but showed a soft touch on his hook shot and he's got a size 20 shoe.  Speaking of Cecil Kirk their best player was 6'2 Jr Lionel Greene from Bel Air (John Carroll) MD and he did a nice job getting to the basket and knocking down the outside shot.  We also liked the slashing ability of 6'4 Soph Roddy Peters from Suitland (H.S.) MD, the post-up game of 6'5 Soph Ryan Bland from Richland (St. Augustine Prep) NJ, and the raw athleticism displayed by 6'6 Soph Andre Davis from Baltimore (Western Tech) MD.  There also is 5'11 Soph Montana Mayfield from Philadelphia (Roman Catholic) PA, who is a prolific scoring combo guard and suddenly the value of his stock rise dramatically when one finds out that he's a reclassified sophomore.  The LBA Seawolvees didn't have 6'7 Soph Kyle Wilson from Ft. Worth (Dunbar) TX, who is out with an injury.  But we still liked all of the other good young players, like 6'0 Soph Tim Singleton from Dallas (Hillcrest) TX, 5'8 Soph Anthony Sharp from Mesquite (H.S.) TX, and 6'9 Frosh Elbert Robinson from Garland (Lakeview Centennial) TX, on this team.  Robinson is not a finished product right now, but he's got the body, incredible wing span, and shoe size necessary to be very intriguing.  Sharp is a prolific scoring point guard and Singleton also has a good combination of athleticism and the ability to knock down the outside shot.  One of the biggest names in the 16-Under Division was 6'6 Soph Brandon Austin from Philadelphia (Imhotep Charter) PA.  However, we question his jump shot and actually liked his teammate on the Team Philly 16's even better, as 6'7 Soph Dominic Reid from Hamilton (Trenton Catholic) NJ used his long wing span to garner rebounds and block shots and excellent shooting touch to hit mid-range and long range jump shots en route to 22 points against Maryland 3D Basketball.  There also were some terrific young players at this event and we start with 6'9 8th Grader Karl Towns from Piscataway, NJ, who is a physical specimen inside and also has the perimeter skills and ability to make shots from behind the arc necessary to fit the inside/outside description.  And what the about the DC Assault 13-Under Team, which played up a year in the 14-Under Division, where they beat Basics First, 58-15, in the championship game?  Damon Handon, who is the guy who runs the day-to-day operations of the DC Assault program, tells us that this should be the next great team in his program, as 6'4 7th Grader Sam Green from Bowie, MD and 5'6 7th Grader Alani Moore from Germantown, MD are two of the best players nationally in the Class of 2016 and 5'7 7th Grader Anthony Cowan from Largo, MD, 6'0 7th Grader Reggie Gardner from Largo, MD, and 6'2 7th Grader Mickey Bell from Rockville, MD are also pretty darn good players.  Green is a fluid athlete who runs the court, is active on the boards, and is extremely effective around the basket.  Moore has excellent ball handling and passing skills, is very quick off the dribble, and thrives in an up tempo setting.  Cowan impressed us with his ball handling and passing skills and ability to make shots.  Gardner is a pure wing player who can also light it up.  Bell is a tough hardnosed combo forward who plays good defense, shoots the three, and is active on the boards.  Another one to write down for the future is 5'3 5th Grader Bryce Laskey from Pittsburgh, PA, who also was playing up year on the 11-Under Pittsburgh Storm team.  Laskey has a great understanding of the game and is not gun shy, as is evident by the fact that he scored 20 points and knocked down three 3-pointer in the game that we tracked.

Friday, April 8, 2011

It has to be one of the most significant coaching changes that we've run across in a long time.  We're talking about the fact that Kevin Sutton was fired a week ago and Kevin Boyle, who has been the head coach at Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ for the last 23 years, was has been hired as the new head coach at Montverde (Academy) FL.  It also looks like Boyle's long time right hand man (Chris Chevannes) will take over the reigns as head coach at the school that won the City of Palms Classic this past December, was ranked #1 in the nation in the USA Today's Super 25 most of the season, and for years has been recognized as one of the premier high school programs in the land.  However, there are still plenty of questions that are unanswered.  First, like so many small catholic and private high schools in this day-and-a-age, finances appear to be an issue and, even before Boyle's departure, we'd been hearing rumors that a closure of the school might be inevitable.  Second, what's going to happen to the two highly touted underclassmen that Boyle had on his team a year ago?  If you will recall, 6'10 Frosh Dakari Johnson from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ is ranked #1 nationally in the freshman class by the HOOP SCOOP and 6'9 Soph Austin Colbert from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ is ranked #19 nationally in the sophomore class by the HOOP SCOOP.  The word we're getting is that there is a very good possibility that Johnson will follow Boyle to Montverde (Academy) FL, but Colbert will likely stay closer to home.  And to make things even more interesting is the fact that Colbert is a very smart kid and, as a result, we're already hearing rumors about him transferring to someplace like Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD.  Third, what's going to happen to 6'0 Soph Kasey Hill from Montverde (Academy) FL, who is ranked #5 nationally in the sophomore class and promises to be the next great high school player from the Sunshine State?  Fourth, will 6'7 Soph Chris Davenport, who is ranked in the state by our Florida Editor Rick Staudt, stick around and play for Boyle?  Or will he return home to Atlanta, GA, which is where he was when we first started tracking him back in middle school?  Fifth, will Montverde (Academy) FL, which is a college preparatory and sports academy, continue to utilize its international connections or will Boyle attempt to make Montverde Academy the Oak Hill of the South or the Findlay Prep of the Southeast?  Sixth, what's going to happen to Kevin Sutton, who previously spent 10 years working for the legendary Stu Vetter as an assistant coach and is widely regarded as one of the top head coaches in the high school game today?  We do know that Sutton was recently selected to coach the 2011 Junior National Team and tomorrow will coach the Team USA in the NIKE Hoop Summit in Portland, OR.  We also think it's interesting to point out that when Sutton was fired, both Boyle and Michael Peck, who is the head coach at Henderson (Findlay Prep) NV were immediately mentioned for the Montverde Academy job.  We also understand that Kasey Kesselring, who is the head master at Montverde (Academy) FL and was the one responsible for making the hire, knew exactly what he wanted to do well in advance of pulling the trigger.  So, with this in mind, maybe Kesselring should start a clinic for college athletic directors who appear to be totally lost when it comes time to making the two most important decisions of their career, which is hiring the football coach and the basketball coach.  Why pull the trigger, if you don't have everything lined up well in advance?  Instead, it's more often the case that this hapless bunch fires the head coach and then announces to the world that they don't have a clue what they are going to do, then appoints a selection committee or hires a search firm in an attempt to cover their you know what is case things go astray down the road, and then takes two or three weeks to do what an astute athletic director should be able to do in two or three days.  Remember, it's all about the relationships and a good athletic director already has a list of potential candidates that he'd be interesting in hiring.  Even more important, a good director of athletics also should informally over the years have talked to each potential candidate, have gauged their level of interest, and know what it likely will take financially to get it done, if someday the job opens and he has to hire a new head coach.  It's should be as easy as having lunch at the NCAA Final Four or playing golf with the guy when he's in town. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Next season starts this weekend for people in our business and the first stop on our spring and summer tour will be at the Big Shots DC Assault Tournament, which will be held at the Capital Sports Complex in District Heights, MD on Saturday, April 9th, and Sunday, April 10th and will feature an interesting array of players that include 6'7 Jr Montrezl Harrell from Tarboro (North Edgecomb) NC, 6'1 Jr Daquan Cook from Baltimore (Digital Harbor) MD, 6'3 Jr James Ford from Christ Church (School) VA, 6'3 Jr Lionel Greene from Bel Air (John Carroll) MD, 6'8 Jr Aaron Roundtree from Wilson (Greenfield) NC, 6'4 Jr Shaq Patterson from Martinsville (Magna Vista) VA, 5'8 Jr Maurice Watson from Philadelphia (Boys Latin) PA, 6'1 Soph Nate Britt from Washington (Gonzaga) DC, 6'2 Soph Brandon Austin from Philadelphia (Imhotep Charter) PA, 6'4 Soph Kris Jenkins from Washington (Gonzaga) DC, 6'7 Soph Kyle Wilson from Ft. Worth (Dunbar) TX, and 6'6 Soph Derrick Finner from Washington (Gonzaga) DC.  The tournament will have three different divisions in the 17-Under age group and we are told that we should expect to find some major sleepers in the Orange Bracket, which will include first round games on Saturday with the Under Armour Baltimore Panthers versus BWSL Woods on Court #1 at 2:50 PM, the LBA Seawolves versus Delaware Assault Griffin on Court #2 at 2:50 PM, Team Redemption versus Maryland Sure Shots on Court #1 at 4:00 PM, DC Assault Blue versus Team Philly on Court #2 at 4:00 PM, Cecil-Kirk versus Virginia Assault Gold on Court #9 at 4:00 PM, Loudoun Triple Threat versus SELF Carolina Elite on Court #10 at 4:00 PM, Fairfax Stars versus Maryland 3D Basketball on Court #7 at 5:10 PM, and Richmond Phenoms 16 versus DC Assault Gold on Court #8 at 5:10 PM.  The second round will feature winners bracket quarterfinals games at 6:20 PM and 8:40 PM on Saturday night, the semi-finals games will be at 1:40 PM on Sunday afternoon, and the Championship Game will be on Court #1 at 5:10 PM on Sunday afternoon.  We also hope to get a head start on the future by watching the 15- Division, which will begin on Saturday with DC Assault Gold 14 versus Carolina Elite 15 on Court #1 at 9:00 AM, Ivery Terps 23-15 versus DC Assault, 15 on Court #2 at 9:00 AM, 6th Man Warriors 15 versus Maryland 3D Basketball 15 on Court #1 at 10:10 AM, Team Philly White 15 versus DC Assault Gold 15 on Court #2 at 10:10 AM, Cecil-Kirk 15 versus Virginia Assault 15 on Court #9 at 10:10 AM, Team Philly Blue 15 versus Under Armour Baltimore Pant on Court #10 at 10:10 AM, and DE Assault-Barnes 15 versus Team Hines 15 on Court #1 at 11:20 AM.  The 15-Under winner's bracket quarterfinals game will be at 1:40 PM and 2:50 PM on Saturday, the semi-finals games will be at 5:10 PM on Saturday and 10:10 AM on Sunday, and the Championship Game will be on Court #1 at 12:30 PM on Sunday.  The other championship games, all of which will be held on Sunday, will include the title games in the 17-Under White Division on Court #2 at 2:50 PM, 17-Under Blue Division on Court #1 at 4:00 PM,  the 13-Under Division on Court #5 at 1:40 PM, the 12-Under Division on Court #5 at 12:30 PM, the 11-Under Division on Court #5 at 11:20 PM, and the 10-Under Division on Court 5 at 10:10 AM.  We also plan on attending the Pittsburgh Hoop Group Jam Fest in Pittsburgh, PA on April 15th-17th; the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic, which will be played at the new KFC Yum Center in Louisville, KY on Friday, April 22nd; the Providence Hoop Group Jam Fest in Providence, RI on April 29th-May 1st; the Bill Hensley Memorial Run-N-Slam in Ft. Wayne, IN on May 6th-8th; the John Lucas International Middle School Combine in Houston, TX on May 14th-15th, the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in Chapel Hill, NC on May 27th-29th, the Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, CA on June 3rd-5th, the Rumble in the Bronx at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY on June 10th-12th, the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA on June 16th-18th, adidas Phenom Top 150 Camp in San Diego, CA on June 24th-26th; Blue Chip Basketball Camp in Georgetown, KY on June 29th; LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, OH on July 6th-8th: Big Shots Myrtle Beach I on July 11th-12th, NIKE Peach Jam in North Augusta, SC on July 12th-15th, 14-Under AAU Nationals at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, FL on July 16th-21st, Las Vegas Fab 48 at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, NV on July 22nd-25th and adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas, NV on July 22nd-26th, Desert Duel in Phoenix, AZ on July 27th-28th, and adidas Junior Phenom Camp in San Diego, CA on August 5th-7th.  Needless to stay, I plan on being very busy once again this spring and summer.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The beginning of the Spring Signing Period is one week from today (Wednesday, April 13th) and, with the verbal commitment over the weekend by 6'4 Ben McLemore from Humble (Christian Life) TX to the University of Kansas, only four of our top 100-ranked seniors - 6'4 Kevin Ware from Conyers (Rockdale County) GA, 6'3 Trevor Lacey from Huntsville (Butler) AL, 6'9 Kevin Johnson from Woodland Hills (Taft) CA, and 6'5 Tony Kimbro from Jeffersontown (H.S.) KY - are still available.  McLemore is ranked #50 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP and he has the talent, athleticism, and outside shooting necessary to provide the perfect complement to 6'0 Naadir Tharpe from Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH, who is our #2-ranked 5th Year Player and signed with the Jayhawks during the Fall Signing Period, in the backcourt a year from now.  This also comes as no surprise, as the other co-favorite on McLemore's list (the University of Missouri) had a coaching change a couple of weeks ago and the Jayhawks must replace 6'4 Sr Brady Morningstar and 6'3 Sr Tyrel Reed, both of whom will graduate this spring, and 6'2 Frosh Josh Selby, who is expected enter his name into the NBA Draft this spring.  We also think 6'8 Evan Nolte from Alpharetta (Milton) GA is a perfect fit for the University of Virginia.  We're talking about a long lanky athletic wing forward who can shoot the lights out and is good enough to be ranked #48 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  Nolte joins 6'10 Jr Mike Tobey from Lakeville (Hotchkiss School) CT in a recruiting class that is now tied at #14, along with Notre Dame, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2012,  as Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett and his staff continue to get a great head start on the future.  We also are impressed with the fact that Drexel has landed 6'6 Damion Lee from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, who was one of the best 3-point shooters that we saw this past season in the prep school ranks.  And to make the story even more interesting is the fact that more often than not when we saw St. Thomas More play this past season, Lee got more results than 6'10 Jr Andre Drummond from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, who is ranked as #1 nationally in the junior class by some of our competitors.  Ironically, the same also can be said about 6'7 Tavon Allen from Worcester (Academy) MA, who signed with Drexel during the Fall Signing Period and teamed with Drummond this past spring and summer on the Connecticut Basketball Club.  When you also throw 6'0 Aquil Younger from Lansdowne (Penn Wood) PA and 6'8 Kazembe Abif from Lawrenceville (School) NJ, it's easy to see why we now have the Dragons' recruiting class tied at #46, along with Wichita State, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  Also within the last 24 hours we have confirmed that 6'1 Gary Browne from Jacksonville (Arlington Country Day) FL has verbally committed to West Virginia and 6'3 Marcus Falley from Oxnard (JC) CA has decided to attend the University of the Pacific.  Falley averaged 19.0 ppg this past season and is a good outside shooter, as is evident by the fact that he hit 81-212 treys this past season.  Browne was recently ranked #39 in the state's senior class by our Florida Editor Rick Staudt.  But we suspect that he one of those under the radar screen type guys, as this prolific scoring combo guard put up big numbers while playing on the Puerto Rican National Team.  The addition of Browne also moves the Mountaineers' recruiting class, which also already includes 6'7 Keaton Miles from Dallas (Lincoln) TX, 6'0 Jabarie Hinds from Mt. Vernon (H.S.) NY, 6'5 Aaron Brown from Lansdowne (Penn Wood) PA, 6'8 Tommie McCune from Saginaw (H.S.) MI, 6'8 Dominic Rutledge from Western Texas (JC) TX, and 6'9 Pat Forsyth from Brunswick (H.S.) OH, up to #5 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  It also looks like new Texas Tech head coach Billy Gillispie has wasted no time getting it done on the recruiting trail with a pair of verbal commitments from 6'8 Jaron Nash from Tyler (JC) TX and 6'10 Kader Tapscoba from Tyler (JC) TX.  The latter is a long athletic shot blocker and the former is an agile athletic inside/outside guy who finishes well around the rim and handles the ball well for his size out on the perimeter.  And what about the verbal commitment that 6'6 Maurice Kemp from Miami-Dade (JC) FL made to East Carolina?  This is a guy who averaged 16.9 ppg and 9.9 rpg, but this First Team All-Florida Community College Selectee handles it and shoots it well enough to be listed as a wing forward and, as a result, we're talking about a major steal for the Pirates.  One also has to assume that 5'11 Stilman White from Wilmington (Hoggard) NC, who a week ago verbally committed to North Carolina, will be a career back-up for the Tar Heels.  However, this is still important, because the addition of White moves North Carolina's recruiting class, which also includes 6'8 James McAdoo from Norfolk (Christian) NC, 6'5 P.J. Hairston from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, and 6'9 Jackson Simmons from Sylva (Smoky Mountain) NC, up to #11 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2011.  There also have recently been a pair of verbal commitments by two reclassified juniors in 6'6 Jr Nik Stauskas from Southborough (St. Mark's) MA to Michigan and 6'10 Jr Andre Washington from Roanoke (Catholic) VA to Wake Forest, as well as a bunch of commitments by high school seniors that include 6'2 Bryan Smith from Brooklyn (Midwood) NY to Fordham, 6'7 Henry Brooks from Lithonia (Miller Grove) GA to Pennsylvania, 6'1 Anthony Collins from Housto

n (Westbury Christian) TX to South Florida, 6'8 Max Bielfeldt from Peoria (Notre Dame) IL to Michigan, 5'10 T.J. Curry from Middle Village (Christ the King) NY and 6'3 Chavaughn Lewis from Manhasset (St. Mary's) NY both to Marist, 6'2 Austin Keel from Winter Park (H.S.) FL to Central Michigan, 5'11 Mike Powell from Chicago (Brooks) IL to Rhode Island, 6'3 Tyler Kalinaski from Olahte (East) KS to Davidson, 6'3 Adrian Rodgers from Pittsfield (Maine Central Institute) ME to USC-Upstate, and 6'4 Dominique Williams from Haines City (H.S.) FL to Charleston Southern.  We also have a long list of recent junior college commitments that include 6'0 Freddie Jones-Goldstein from Motlow State (JC) TN to South Alabama, 5'11 Lateef McMullan from Citrus (JC) CA to Portland State, 6'9 D.J. Shelton from Citrus (JC) CA to Washington State, 6'1 Deonte Alexander from East Mississippi (JC) MS to Lipscomb, 5'11 Darius Gatson from Trinity Valley (JC) TX to Sam Houston State, 6'1 Jordan Nelson from Lincoln (JC) IL to Evansville, 6'0 Kevin Broussard from Coffeyville (JC) KS to Stephen F. Austin, 5'9 Hal Bateman from Des Moines (JC) IA to Stephen F. Austin, 6'8 Demario Hines from Trinity Valley (JC) TX to IPFW, 6'6 Joe Eberhard from Irvine Valley (JC) CA to Sacramento State, 6'8 Mike Coger from Brunswick (JC) NC to Delaware State, 6'8 Rinaldo Mafra from Southeastern Iowa (JC) IA and 6'1 Mason Leggett from Southeastern Iowa (JC) IA both to Jacksonville State, and 6'6 Aaron Williams from Dodge City (JC) KS, and 6'7 Chris Key from Shelton State (JC) AL both to Chicago State.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sometimes its funny how things turn out.  If you will recall, 6'4 Soph Chase Stigall hit a 3-pointer at the 19:40 mark to give Butler a 25-19 lead early in the second half in last night's NCAA Championship Game.  And, at that point, it looked like Butler had the momentum and that the game might be slipping away, as Connecticut had four players (Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Alex Oriakhi, and Roscoe Smith) who started the second half with two fouls apiece.  But in hindsight it should be obvious that Huskies head coach Jim Calhoun was just bidding his time after Oriakhi picked up his second foul midway through the first half and Walker did likewise and also sat for a while late in the first half.  We mention all of this, because this was right before the Huskies started their 23-3 run and, like they say, the rest is history.  And that fact that it wasn't worse is a testament to the coaching and tournament experience of Butler, which easily could have gotten blown away by Connecticut's length, toughness, and athleticism after everything started going South for the Bulldogs.  Remember, the Huskies really turned up the heat defensively in the second half, the officials were letting them play, and Butler was already on track to set a record for the worst field goal percentage (18.8%) in NCAA Final Four history.  Final score was 53-41 and Butler's 41 points was the lowest by a title-game loser since 1949.  We also have to give at least some of the credit to Calhoun, as he's clearly one of the best there has ever been at making adjustments, overcoming adversity, getting his players ready to play, and dealing with all the peripheral distractions that go along with being in the NCAA Final Four.  Last night's win also moves Calhoun into a very elite category of coaches who have won three or more NCAA Championships (John Wooden won 10 titles in 12 years at UCLA, Mike Krzyzewski and Kentucky's Adolph Rupp have both won four apiece, and Bob Knight and now Jim Calhoun have both won three NCAA Championships).  And, just like with Krzyzewski when he moved back up to #1 on our list with Duke's championship a year ago, this should firmly establish Calhoun in the #2 spot in our Ranking of the Top 50 Head Coaches in the College Game Today, which can be found by clicking onto our Exclusive Ranking of the Top Coaches in College Basketball However, he may not stay in the #2 spot for very long, as the possibility does exist that Calhoun may retire or even be forced out.  Remember, the Connecticut program is facing potential NCAA violations and it appears likely that it could go on probation and, in a worst case scenario, even have to vacate their National Championship.  Hopefully this won't happen, as it would be unprecedented and bad for the game.  On the other hand, Calhoun, Kenba Walker and Jeremy Lamb, both of whom were named to the all-tournament team, Alex Oriakhi, who was the unsung hero for his team with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocked shots in the championship game, and the entire Connecticut team were great for the game last night.  If you will recall, this was a team that finished tied for 9th in the league in conference play, but made one of the great post-season runs in the history of college basketball after winning five games in five days to claim the Big East Conference Tournament Championship and then was the only team left standing when they cut the nets down last night after the conclusion of last night's NCAA Championship Game.  They also earned it the old-fashioned way, as their personality and grit and determination were almost an extension of their coach.  In other words, this is a great lesson for the ever increasing entitlement crowd that populates grassroots basketball today.  As for Stevens, two consecutive runner-up finishes insures him a spot among the all time great coaches in the history of the game, as well as spot on our list of the top coaches in the game today.  As a matter of fact, if he had to come up with a revised version of our top 10 active head coaches today, Steven would check in at #7, behind Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Calhoun, North Carolina's Roy Williams, Kentucky's John Calipari, Louisville's Rick Pitino, and Michigan State's Tom Izzo and ahead of Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, Florida's Billy Donovan, and Kansas' Bill Self.  We also find it interesting that while Stevens can't seem to beat the top two guys on the list, he's got some pretty big scalps on his résumé after knocking off Michigan State a year ago in the NCAA Final Four and Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, and Florida en route to this year's NCAA Final Four.  In other basketball news, we were total amazed that N.C. State hired former Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried earlier today and it looks like Lamar may have it the jackpot by hiring former Texas Tech head coach Pat Knight.  Not only is he a chip-off-the-old block with his ability to coach and knowledge of the game, but, now that he's out of his father's shadow and at a school with a great basketball tradition, there also is no telling what heights Knight might be capable of achieving.  As for the us, we'll catch up on recruiting and verbal commitments tomorrow and let you know what's on our spring and summer agenda later this week.

Saturday, April 2, 2011, Sunday, April 3, 2011, & Monday, April 4, 2011

Before we get to our observations about all the jobs that have been filled over the weekend, what happened in yesterday's All-American Championship at the M.O. Campbell Center in Houston, TX, and what we think might happen in tonight's NCAA Championship Game, I want to take a moment to remind people that it was 39 years ago tonight that Larry Finch scored 29 points in the NCAA Championship Game against UCLA.  Over the years that great achievement has been overshadowed by the fact that it was UCLA's seven straight NCAA title and Bill Walton's 44 points and 21-22 field goals in that same game is arguably the greatest individual single performance in the history of the Final Four.  Obviously this is important, because Finch died on Saturday at the age of 60.  And, even more tragic is the fact that Finch, who also was an assistant coach at Memphis State during the Dana Kirk era and then lead the Tigers to a 220-130 record as the school's head coach from 1986 to 1997, suffered a debilitating stroke in 2002 and has been in an assisted living facility for the last night years.  Finch also was one of the people who helped put Memphis State basketball on the map with 1,869 points during his career, which spanned from 1970 to 1973.  He also was a class act and arguably an even better person than he was a basketball player or a coach.  Finch was one of those people who never met a stranger and always seemed to have a kind word and/or something positive to say.  Finch also was a great ambassador for the Mid-South, as he was born in Memphis, TN in 1951, attended high school at Melrose in late 60s, and was the guy who got Penny Hardaway to stay home.  If you will recall, Hardaway and David Vaughn led the Tigers to an Elite Eight finish in the 1992 NCAA Tournament.  With regards to coaching rumors, can you believe that the University of Utah went for the assistant of the New Jersey Nets?  Larry Krystkowiak does have previous head coaching experience with the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA and the University of Montana and the University of Idaho in the collegiate ranks, but do you really think he's going to walk in and compete with all of the Pac-10 schools for players on the West Coast?  We do think hiring Frank Haith at Missouri, Pat Skerry at Towson, and Archie Miller at Dayton are all good hires.  Not only is Miller, who has been his brother's right hand man at Arizona the last two years, one of the rising stars in the business, but he previously was an assistant coach at Ohio State and he's originally from Beaver Falls, PA, where he played for his legendary father (John Miller) at Black Hawk High School.  Skerry is another guy without any previous head coaching experience, but is an astute evaluator of talent and he's wired into the New England prep school scene after making stops as an assistant coach at Northeastern, College of Charleston, William & Mary, Rhode Island, Providence, and most recently the University of Pittsburgh.  Haith's teams have not been as successful as he might like in the tough ACC Conference the last three years, but it's hard to argue with the fact that the Hurricane's have posted a 129-101 record during his seven-year reign as the head coach.  However, it's Haith's ability to recruit that should get Missouri fans excited and keep his old boss (Rick Barnes) up late at night in anticipation of future recruiting battles.  If you will recall,  Haith was the architect of the University of Texas' #1-ranked recruiting class, which included 6'3 Daniel Gibson from Houston (Jones) TX, 6'8 Mike Williams from Camden (Wilcox Central) AL, 7'0 LaMarcus Aldridge from Dallas (Seogoville) TX, 6'7 Dion Dowell from Texas City (H.S.) TX, and 6'10 Conner Atchley from Clear Lake (H.S.) TX in 2004 and Haith has recruited well enough in recent years at Miami-FL that the Hurricanes should be a pre-season top 20-ranked team a year from now.  This also opens the door for Kansas State head coach Frank Martin to make the move from Manhattan, KS to South Beach.  Not only does Martin have strong Miami ties dating back to his coaching days at Miami (Senior) FL, but two players - 7'0 Adrian Diaz from Hialeah (Miami Lakes) FL and 6'0 Angel Rodriquez from Miami (Dr. Krop) FL - in his current recruiting class are from South Florida.  Besides, the Kansas State Athletic Department has really put the handcuffs on with regards to being able to buy scouting services.  Can you believe that Kansas State assistant coach Delonte Hill makes $420,000 a year, but the Wildcats coaching staff doesn't subscribe to the HOOP SCOOP?   However, if the athletic director at Miami-FL flunks Hiring the Right Coach 101, then you can bet there will be a long list of candidates that includes the likes of former Virginia head coach and current television analyst Pete Gillen, Florida International head coach Isiah Thomas, Florida Atlantic head coach Mike Jarvis, former Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey, former Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried, former Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel, former Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez, Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker, and Duke assistant coach Chris Collins.  Another great move is Loyola-Illinois hiring Saint Louis University associate head coach Porter Moser.  Not only does Moser have previous head coaching experience at Illinois State, but he's a Chicago guy through-and-through, as is evident by the fact that he's originally from Naperville, IL, played high school basketball at Lisle (Benet Academy) IL, and is a huge Chicago Cubs fan.  We also find it interesting that Virginia Commonwealth's Shaka Smart has turned down N.C. State and appears to be following in the footsteps of the other two mid-major head coaches (George Mason's Jim Larranaga and Butler's Brad Stevens) who were not in a big hurry to make an upward move after guiding their team to the NCAA Final Four.  Our advice to N.C. State would be to tell Arizona's Sean Miller that he's the new coach and, when he says he's not interesting, give him a blank contract and tell him to fill in the amount.  Instead, they will probably hire somebody like Wichita State's Gregg Marshall, who guided Winthrop to seven NCAA Championships in nine years and is hot right now after the Shockers won the NIT last week.  However, one has to wonder if Marshall is ready to enter the lion's den and compete with the likes of Duke or North Carolina year-in and year-out.  A better choice for N.C. State would be Minnesota's Tubby Smith, and, after his 10-year stint at the University of Kentucky, there is no doubt that Smith can handle anything anybody throws at him.  It also would be a great way for one of the classiest guys in the business to end his career, if he could follow in the footsteps of Norm Sloan in 1974 and Jim Valvano in 1983 and guide the Wolfpack to a National Championship.  As for the All-American Championship, the best player in the first game was 6'9 Jr Tony Parker from Lithonia (Miller Grove) GA.  Not only did Parker finish with 21 points, nine rebounds, and 10-17 field goals, but he also was a beast inside and, as a result, once again reinforced the fact that we think he's the #3-ranked junior nationally, behind 6'5 Jr Shabazz Muhammad from Las Vegas (Bishop Gorman) NV and 6'8 Jr Kyle Anderson from Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ.  Speaking of Muhammad, he was one of the bigger disappointments in the game.  He didn't play bad, but Muhammad had a quiet 17 points and his level of expectation is a lot higher than that of anybody else in the game.  We're also still trying to figure out how 6'8 Jr Perry Ellis from Wichita (Heights) KS was named the MVP for his team in the second game.  Ellis finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, 5-6 field goals, and 2-2 3-pointers.  But he wasn't nearly as good as 6'3 D'Angelo Harris from Missouri City (Ft. Bend Dulles) TX, who was the leading scorer in the game with 21 points and knocked down 3-5 3-pointers, and 6'4 Julien Lewis from Texas city (La Marque) TX, who had 17 points, three assists, three steals, 7-14 field goals, and 2-6 3-pointers, and 6'3 Jr Rasheed Sulaimon from Houston (Strake Jesuit) TX, who had 13 points, six assists, three turnovers, 5-12 field goals, and 2-4 3-poniters.  The three best players on the other team (the East Squad) in the second game were 6'6 Maurice Harkless from South Kent (Prep) CT, who had 15 points, four rebounds, two steals, and 7-12 field goals; 6'0 Naadir Tharpe from Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH, who had 10 points, seven assists, zero turnovers, 4-7 field goals, and 2-3 3-pointers; and 6'10 Jr DaJuan Coleman from DeWitt (Jamesville-DeWitt) NY, who finished with 12 points, six rebounds, 6-8 field goals and also did a good job of getting up and down the court.  Getting back to the first game, it was 6'3 B.J. Young from Florissant (McCluer North) MO, who finished with 17 points and 7-10 field goals, that sparked his team's impressive second half comeback (The South led 51-35 at the intermission, but let the North back in the game and had to fight for its life to win in double overtime).  We also were impressed with the South's overall balance, as 6'5 Mychael Henry from Chicago (Orr) IL finished with 14 points, five rebounds, and 6-13 field goals; 6'3 Jr D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera from Indianapolis (North Central) IN had 11 points, three assists, 4-6 field goals, and 2-3 3-pointers; and 6'9 Jr Hanner Perea from LaPorte (La Lumiere School) IN, 6'1 Tracy Abrams from Chicago (Mt. Carmel) IL, and 5'11 Ryan Boatright from Aurora (East) IL chipped in with 10 points apiece.  The biggest surprise in the game was 6'7 Dominic Pointer from Winston-Salem (Quality Education Academy) NC, who had 18 points, three assists, three blocked shots, 5-8 field goals, 2-4 3-pointers, and 6-7 free throws and also was arguably the best defender in the game.  We also should probably mention the double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds) turned in by 68 Jr Robert Carter from Thomasville (H.S.) GA and the seven assists, seven turnovers, and six assists that 6'3 Josiah Turner from Winston-Salem (Quality Education Academy) NC had to go along with his 13 points, five rebounds, 4-14 field goals, and 1-2 2-pointers.  As for tonight's NCAA Championship, I think history will repeat itself from a year ago and Butler will come up just a little bit short, as Kemba Walker once again step up and show that he has the grit, determination, and toughness necessary to give Jim Calhoun and the Connecticut Huskies their third NCAA Championship in the last 13 years.  Make the final score 60-56 in another one of those low scoring half-court games where every possession can be like life and death. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

The hot coaching news earlier today at this year's NCAA Final Four was the decision by Lon Kruger to leave UNLV and become the next head coach at the University of Oklahoma.  And there is no doubt this is a perfect fit when one remembers that Kruger has strong Big-12 roots dating back to his playing and coaching days at Kansas State.  If you will recall, Kruger is ranked #18 in our Exclusive Ranking of the Top Coaches in College Basketball, he's got professional head coaching experience with the Atlanta Hawks, he's also made head coaching stops at the college level at the University of Illinois and University of Florida, where he led the Gators to the NCAA Final Four in 1994, and he's a class act and an excellent game tactician.  This also opens door to speculation about whether current Minnesota Wolves assistant coach Reggie Theus will get the call to return to his old stamping grounds, where he was a player on Jerry Tarkanian's 1977 NCAA Final Four Team.  Another interesting name for the UNLV job is Brigham Young head coach Dave Rose, who compiled an impressive 167-57 record when he was the boss at Dixie Junior College, which is less than a two-hour drive to Las Vegas, NV.  Rose also is one of the hottest guys in the business right now, especially after this year's impressive 32-5 season, and his right hand man (Dave Rice) played on UNLVs 1990 NCAA Championship Team and was the one constant in the program during a span of 11 years, as he work as an assistant coach at UNLV for the likes of Jerry Tarkanian, Tim Grgurich, Bill Bayno, and Charlie Spoonhhour.  The word on the street also is that long time Duke assistant coach Steve Wojciehowski has been offered the Dayton job and that St. John's assistant coach Mike Dunlap is going to become the next boss at the University of Utah.  And, if this happens, all of the hard work behind the scenes by LSU head coach Trent Johnson and former Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried to get this job will have been to no avail.  And, if Wojciehowski, who is ranked #7 in our Ranking of the Top 100 Assistant Coaches in the College Game Today (must be an assistant coach in one of the top 10 conferences at the Division I level), doesn't become the next head coach of the Flyers, then don't be surprised if Akron head coach Keith Dambrot sneaks in the backdoor.  Dambrot's big claim to fame is that he was the high school of LeBron James, but his team's have averaged 23.1 wins per season the last seven years at Akron and the Zips finished with a 23-13 record and made the NCAA Tournament three weeks ago.  That also would open the door for Ohio State assistant coach Jeff Boals, who previously was an assistant coach at Akron and helped Dambrot build the program, to return to the University of Akron as the head coach.  Boals' name also has been mentioned for the Dayton job, along with Ohio University head coach John Groce and Texas Christian head coach Jim Christian.  We also have reason to believe that former St. John's head coach Norm Roberts will get the Fairfield job and find it interesting that UCLA assistant coach Scott Duncan will be taking a similar position at the University of Wyoming.  A lot of people will think this is a step down, but Duncan and new Cowboys head coach Larry Shyatt have been best friends for 25 years and Duncan, who is ranked #11 in our Ranking of the Top 100 Assistant Coaches in the College Game Today (must be an assistant coach in one of the top 10 conferences at the Division I level), used to work for Shyatt back when he was the boss at Clemson.  This also opens the door for Tyus Edney, who is the Director of Basketball Operations and is one of the bright up-and-coming guys in the business, to get an assistant coaching position at UCLA and for former University of Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey to go back and work for his old boss at the University of Florida.  Remember, Gators head coach Billy Donovan was on Rick Pitino's staff at the University of Kentucky back when Pelphrey was a player and Pelphrey worked for Donovan at both Marshall and Florida.  It also looks like the pipeline from Purdue to Missouri State is still in tact as Boilermakers assistant coach Paul Lusk is now following in the footsteps of former Purdue coach and player Cuonzo Martin, who earlier this week left Missouri State to become the head coach at the University of Tennessee.