Sgphpscp.gif (2855 bytes)The HOOPSCOOP OnlineSgphpscp.gif (2855 bytes)
Published by The HOOP SCOOP, Inc., P.O. Box 37122, Louisville, KY 40233
Email Address: hoopscooponline@msn.com    Phone (502) 500-4667    Fax (502) 254-2646
Editor & Publisher Clark Francis     All rights reserved - Copyright 2007

HOT RECRUITING INFORMATION FOR MARCH 2007

Friday, March 30, 2007, & Saturday, March 31, 2007

We've been telling you that either USC or Baylor or would end up getting 6'11 Mamadou Diarra from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA for over a year now and it finally became official yesterday when he picked the Trojans over the Bears.  And this is huge, because Diarra, who is ranked #6 on our List of the the Top 5th Year Players, was one of the top three players in high school and prep school that was still available.  Diarra needs to get meaner and tougher inside and become more consistent, but he runs the court like a deer, has a knack for finding ways to score around the basket, is a good rebounder and shot blocker, and has an incredible upside.  So obviously he will be the perfect complement to 6'5 O.J. Mayo from Huntington (H.S.) WV, 6'8 Devon Jefferson from Venice, CA, 6'6 Leonard Washington from Lake Charles (Washington Marion) LA, and 6'5 Marcus Simmons from Alexandria (Peabody) LA in a recruiting class that is now ranked #2 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2007.  So USC, which surprised everybody by finishing with a 25-12 record and advancing all the way to the Sweet 16 of this NCAA Tournament this year, should be even better a year from now, as nine of their top 11 players, including five freshman - 6'9 Frosh Taj Gibson, 6'5 Frosh Dwight Lewis, 6'5 Frosh Daniel Hackett, 6'6 Frosh Kevin Galloway, and 6'7 Frosh Kyle Austin - are expected to back.  In other words, similar to the situation at North Carolina, where key young players started or played important roles a year ago, but this year were beat out by younger players who were just flat out better, some of these players may have to sacrifice playing time a year from now for the good of the USC team.  Remember, Mayo is ranked as the #2 high school players in the senior class nationally; Jefferson is ranked #1 on our list of the top 5th Year Players and was a top 10-ranked high school senior two years ago; Washington is ranked #54 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP; and Simmons is one of the biggest sleepers nationally in the senior class.  We also think it is important to mention that USC assistant coach Gib Arnold, who is one of the hardest working assistant coaches in the business, did a great job of recruiting Diarra.  It also looks like 6'8 Jr Devin Ebanks from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, who is ranked #12 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP, is on the verge of making it official for Miami-FL.  As a matter of fact, we have a source who is telling us that Ebanks has already told the Miami-FL coaching staff that he's going to become a Hurricane.  Ebanks is not only is one of the most naturally gifted players in the junior class nationally, but he has big-time athleticism, the ability to slash to the basket, hit outside shot, and versatility necessary to play multiple positions at the next level.  So obviously Ebanks is the great player that Miami-FL head coach Frank Haith would love to have step in and complement all of the good young players, including 6'7 Soph Brian Asbury, 6'0 Soph Denis Clemente, 6'1 Soph Jack McClinton, 6'8 Frosh Dwayne Collins, 6'8 Soph Jimmy Graham, and 6'3 Frosh James Dews, who are already in the program and this year's recruiting, which includes 6'0 Edwin Rios from Miami (Senior) FL, 6'10 Freddy Asprilla from Miami (Calusa Prep) FL, 6'7 Julian Gamble from Durham (Southern Durham) NC, and 6'2 Lance Hurdle, from San Bernardino (JC) CA.  We also have confirmed that 6'7 Frosh Ben Eaves is transferring from Connecticut to Rhode Island.  And, while it was clear that Eaves was in over his head with the Connecticut, he should turn out to be an good catch of the Rams.  Not only is he an athletic white kid with upside and potential, but Eaves is an inside/outside threat and should fit in well to Rhode Island head coach Jim Baron's system.  As for Connecticut, which had eight freshmen and five sophomores on scholarship in the program this past season, 6'2 Soph Rob Garrison also is transferring and it would not surprise us if ready or not 7'3 Frosh Hasheem Thabet, who only averaged 6.2 ppg and 6.4 rpg this past season, decides to enter his name into the NBA Draft this spring.  In other words, the Huskies may go from having no scholarships available to having as many as three scholarships available in a hurry and, as a result, it makes sense that they are being mentioned with players like 6'4 Marcus Thornton from Kilgore (JC) TX, 6'1 Marcus Walker from Indian Hills (JC) IA, 6'3 Donnell Beverly from Lawndale (Leuziner) CA, and 6'5 Alexander Legion from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, if he gets out of the National Letter-of-Intent that he signed last fall with Michigan.  If you will recall, the Huskies were one of the finalists for Legion's services the first time around.   We also have confirmed via our New England Editor Adam Finkelstein that 6'1 Tremayne Russell from Pittsfield (Maine Central Institute) ME has verbally committed to Florida International and 6'0 Paul Becklens from North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) ME has verbally committed to Toledo. 

We also still do not think that University of Florida head coach Billy Donovan will take the Kentucky job, but the more we think about it the less sure we are about it for one big reason.  Basketball is king in Lexington, KY and it doesn't matter how good you are in hoops in Gainesville, FL, because Florida football will always be first and foremost in terms of priority.  As a matter of fact, Florida, which appears to be on the verge of winning its second consecutive NCAA Championship, doesn't even sell out all of their home games in basketball.  In contrast, Rupp Arena seats 24,000 people and the Wildcats sell out every game no matter what.  Other items that everybody is talking about at this year's NCAA Final Four in Atlanta, include Texas A&M head coach Billy Gillispie electing to stay put and, as a result, who is now in line to take the Arkansas job.  We still like Oral Roberts head coach Scott Sutton as the sleeper candidate, but the names we're hearing the most right now are Kansas head coach Bill Self and Wichita State head coach Mark Turgeon.  However, we can't imagine Self leaving Kansas, which was supposed have been one of his dream jobs, along with Oklahoma State, especially in light of the fact that he doesn't have senior on his roster and a recruiting class that includes 7'0 Cole Aldrich from Bloomington (Jefferson) MN, who is ranked #10 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, and 6'2 Tyrell Reed from Burlington (H.S.) KS, who is ranked #42 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  We also understand that Albany head coach Will Brown turned down the St. Bonaventure job last night, which opens the door for somebody like DePaul assistant coach Gary DeCesare, who has all of the ties that he needs in both New York City and Chicago, IL to rebuild the program in a hurry; Wagner head coach Mike Deane, who can flat out coach and is one of the most astute guys in the business; former Iona head coach Jeff Ruland, who had a tough year, but is one of the best coaches at the mid-major level in the business, and former College of Charleston head coach Tommy Herrion, who compiled an impressive 80-38 record in his four years at the helm of the Cougars.  Some of the names we're hearing for Long Beach State include Northern Arizona head coach Mike Andras, former Arizona State head Rob Evans, former Pepperdine and St. Bonaventure head coach Jan Van Breda Kolff, Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy, Louisville assistant coach Marvin Menzies, UCLA assistant coaches Donny Daniels and Kerry Keating, USC assistant coach Gib Arnold, former UCLA head coach Jim Harrick, former San Diego Brad Holland, and former Minnesota head coach Dan Monson.  It also looks like former Seton Hall head coach Louis Orr has emerged as the leading candidate to get Bowling Green State, former Michigan head coach Tommy Amaker and former St. John's head coach Mike Jarvis are interesting names for Harvard, and West Virginia head coach John Beilein appears to be on the verge of being named as the next head coach at Michigan.  And, if that happens, the Mountaineers will have more than enough money from the $2.5 million buy-out to go after Kansas State head coach Bobby Huggins.  We also understand that new Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith's decision leave the University of Kentucky had nothing to do with pressure from the fans and everything to do with the fact that he didn't get along with Wildcats athletic director Mitch Barnhart.  It also appears that former Tulane head coach Shawn Finney, who is the former head coach at Tulane and worked for Smith at both Georgia and Kentucky; former Georgia and Marshall head coach Ron Jirsa, who worked for Smith at both Tulsa, and Georgia; former Tulsa head coach J.D. Barnett, who Smith played for at High Point College and worked for at Virginia Commonwealth; Jeff Schneider, who was an assistant coach when Smith was a Tulsa; Saul Smith, who is Smith's son and is now an assistant coach at Tennessee Tech; and Darryl Sharp, who was an assistant coach at Iowa State and has all of the right connections to keep the local talent at home, have emerged as the names we're hearing the most as candidates for Smith's staff at Minnesota. 

Thursday, March 29, 2007

HOOP SCOOP associate editor Patrick Stanwood was at the McDonald's All-American Game last night at Freedom Hall in Louisville, KY and he tells us that 6'8 Michael Beasley from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA was clearly the best player in the game, as he finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds, 10-13 field goals, and 2-3 3-pointers and took home all-star game MVP honors.  The two other players that Stanwood was most impressed with were 6'3 Eric Gordon from Indianapolis (North Central) IN and 6'5 Nick Calathes from Winter Park (Lake Howell) FL.  The other former finished with 13 points, 5-13 field goals, and only 1-5 3-pointers, but he did a great job defensively against 6'5 O.J. Mayo from Huntington (H.S.) WV.  The latter didn't shoot the ball well either (only 5-14 field goals and 0-4 3-pointers), but he was the guy who sparked the East team's comeback, as he finished with 13 points, six assists, five rebounds, and two steals, and found other ways to help his team,, despite the fact that he was having an off shooting night.  As a matter of fact, Stanwood tells us that he think Calathes is the best passer in the class.  "He's sees the floor, is extremely unselfish, and has a great feel for the game," says Stanwood.  As for Mayo, who is still  regarded as the #1-ranked player in the nation by some of our competitors, he hit only 4-17 field goals, 1-9 3-pointers, and led the game in bad shots.  In contrast, his teammate - 6'8 Patrick Patterson from Huntington (H.S.) WV - knew what is role was, as he was one of the best inside players in game, as he finished with eight points, five rebounds, and three blocked shots.  Stanwood also was impressed with 6'9 Kevin Love from Lake Oswego (H.S.) OR, who finished 13 points and six rebounds; 6'3 Jerryd Bayless from Phoenix (St. Mary's) AZ, who had 11 points; 6'9 James Hickson from Marietta (Wheeler) GA, who had 14 points, six rebounds, and 7-9 field goals in only 16 minutes; and 6'9 Gana Lawal from Norcross (H.S.) GA, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds.  Stanwood also notes that 6'9 Donte Green from Towson (Catholic) MD had a quiet 10 points, while 6'9 Kyle Singler from Medford (South Medford) OR, 6'5 Austin Freeman from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD, 6'7 Taylor King from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA chipped in with 10 points, nine points, and eight points apiece.  Stanwood also recently was at the Arkansas Regional Junior Phenom Camp at McClellen High School in Little Rock, AR and the big surprise at this camp was 6'5 8th Grader Aaron Ross from Conway, AR.  "We are talking about a kid who can handle the rock end to end," says Stanwood.  Ross also is good enough to get top national consideration, as he scores with nice up and unders time and time again and hits the boards as well as any 2011 kid I've seen.  Ross is a kid who should be mentioned right along with other elite 2011 bigs like LaQuinton Ross, LaBryan Nash,....   He's that good!!!!!!!   Former University of Arkansas Razorback legend Marvin Delph also brought his son 5'8 8th Grader Micah Delph from Conway, AR out and I'm glad he did.  Micah is a strong floor general who falls in the category of elite point guards in the Class of 2011.  I also really liked 6'2 8th Grader David Rivers from Little Rock, AR.  He's another name to keep an eye on, as he plays the one, two, and three-spots, is an above average shooter, has excellent athleticism, and is a great passer.  6'4 8th Grader Darion Griswold from Dumas, AR is a rapidly developing athletic 4-man who looks like a kid could make the transition to the wing and is another guy good enough to be ranked among our top 100 8th Grader nationally.  Other 8th grade standouts included 6'0 8th Grader Shelton Baird from Fayetteville, AR, 5'0 8th Grader Trevon Wilkerson from Little Rock, AR, 5'10 8th Grader Rickey Thomas from Little Rock, AR, 6'2 8th Grader Jaylonn Tullis from Stephens, AR, 6'3 8th Grader Tevin Malone from Summerfield, LA, 5'7 8th Grader Stuart Johnson from Little Rock, AR, 6'3 8th Grader Ky Madden of Little Rock, AR, 5'9 8th Grader Mike Ford from El Dorado, AR, 6'1 8th Grade Xavier Lindsey from Little Rock, AR, 5'8 8th Grader Alex Howell from El Dorado, 6'3 8th Grader Graham Parker from Rogers, AR, and 5'8 8th Grader D.J Feitl from Harrison, AR.  We also enjoyed the 7th Grade division which allowed us a chance to see the talents of 5'8 7th Grader Kyron Richardson from Little Rock, AR, 5'7 7th Grader Blake Trott from Pocahontas, AR, 6'0 7th Grader Xavier Clardy from Conway, AR, 5'8 7th Grader Jordan Daniels from Stuttgart, AR, 5'5 7th Grader Jordan Griffin from Benton, AR, 5'4 7th Grader James Aikens from Little Rock, AR, 5'6 7th Grader Aaron Walton from Little Rock, AR, 5'5 7th Grader Alex Rose from Greenbrior, AR, 5'0 7th Grader Devin Hall from Little Rock, AR, 6'0 7th Grader Byron Goode from Little Rock, AR, and 5'8 7th Grader Blake Tanner of Little Rock, Rock, AR.  The 6th Grade Division also had some star power with 4'11 6th Grader DeSean Turner from Conway, AR, 4'11 6th Grader Joseph Aikens from Sherwood, AR, 5'6 6th Grader Cameron Williams from Little Rock, AR, 5'3 6th Grader Marcus Wright from Conway, AR and 4'9 5th Grader Dominic Taylor from Conway, AR.  This kid last kid is an elite point guard, as he passes, shoots, and defends.  WOW!"  Stanwood also was at the New York Regional Phenom Camp, which featured many of the top kid's along the eastern seaboard and 6'5 8th Grader Aaron Brown from Philadelphia, PA was easily the top player at camp.  "Although I was really impressed with Brown's performance at the Mid-Atlantic Jr. Phenom Camp in January, Brown's dominance in New York was even more special." says Stanwood.  "Brown was super explosive and was dominate on both ends of the floor.  Not only did he put on a dunking clinic, he showed that he could handle the ball in the open court and could pull up off the dribble and knock down jump shots." Some other nationally ranked players at the camp in the 8th Grade Division included 6'6 8th Grader Michael Gilchrist from Somerdale, NJ,  5'10 8th Grader Jacoby Davis from Charlotte, NC, 5'7 8th Grader Stevie Taylor from Gahanna, OH, 5'9 8th Grader Marquis Rankin from Charlotte, NC, 5'10 8th Grader Eric Moody from Richmond, VA, 6'5 5'7 8th Grader Miles Mack from Paterson, NJ, 5'9 8th Grader Joey Gripper from Philadelphia, PA, 6'2 8th Grader Devin Coleman from Philadelphia, PA, 5'8 8th Grader Miles Davis from Plainfield, NJ, 5'11 8th Grader Malik Garner from Philadelphia, PA, 6'3 8th Grader Frankie Smalls from Philadelphia, PA,4'11 8th Grader Maurice Watson from Upper Merion, PA, and 6'5 8th Grader Aaron Brown from Philadelphia, PA.  Stanwood also was really impressed with a pair of sleepers who emerged in 6'5 8th Grader Quashad Williams from Greensboro, NC and 6'4 8th Grader Tyvon Williams from Richmond, VA.  "Tyvon is a man-child," says Stanwood.  "Although he started of slow, by the championship game, Tywon had established himself as one of the top players at the camp and more than worthy of a national ranking.  He also was extremely explosive as he threw multiple thunder dunks in the last two games of the camp.  Keep an eye on this kid; he could be special.  Quashad Williams logged in a nice camp as well, as he was very athletic and was very active around the bucket.  Although Quashad is still a little raw, his size, strength, and athleticism makes him and excellent prospect going forward.  So add his name to the long list of great young talent in North Carolina."  The best players in the 7th Grade Division were 5'9 7th Grader Jordan Adams from Atlanta, GA, 6'4 7th Grader Justin Anderson from Sportslvania, VA, 6'3 7th Grader Nkereuwen Okoro from Bronx, NY, 5'8 7th Grader George Davis from Queens, NY, 5'7 7th Grader Rushon Young from Albany, NY, 5'11 7th Grader Davon Robinson from Bronx, NY, 5'7 7th Grader Miles Woodberry from Atlanta, GA, and 5'1 7th Grader Winston Grays from Cleveland, OH.  Stanwood also wants to extend a special thanks to Rob Taylor for helping with coverage of this event.  Stanwood also attended the GBOA  (Grassroots' Basketball Organization of America) press conference a week ago at the Lake Shore Athletic Club in Chicago, IL and tells us that this organization which will govern selected AAU-like events has the following objectives 1) improving the overall image of grassroots basketball, 2) imposing a dress code for coaches (collared shirt), 3) evoke and enforce change in youth basketball, 4) make academics for students and training for coaching two top priorities, 5) ensure that they speak with one unified voice, 6) establish up ongoing dialogue and a health exchange of ideas and information with the NCAA, 7) create goodwill to ensure that the positive of GBOA are fairly reflected in the media, 8) demonstrate our commitment to the GBOA 4.0  program emphasizing education, fundamental, sportsmanship, and teamwork, and 9) maintain a positive image.  The Board of Directors of the GBOA includes Gary Charles (New York Panthers), Jim Hart (Albany City Rocks), Dinos Trigonis (Belmont Shore), Karl McCray (Atlanta Celtics), Mitch Malone (Texas Blue Chip), Dr. James Dye (SYF Players), Bill Ingram (Arkansas), Jimmy Salmon (Playaz), Larry Butler (Illinois Warriors), Michael Conley (Spiece Indy Heat), Curtis Malone (DC Assault), Corey "Hulio" Smith (Atlanta Celtics), Darren Matsubara (EBO), Boo Williams (Boo Williams Summer League), and Jay Bilas (ESPN). 

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Just like we told you two days ago, Connecticut assistant coach Tom Moore has been named at the new at head coach at Quinnipiac for an annual salary estimated to be in the $375,000 range and Iona head coach Jeff Ruland has been bought out of his contract after finishing with a 2-28 record in his ninth year as head coach of the Gaels.  Some of the names that we're hearing as a possible replacement for Ruland include ESPN television analyst Fran Fraschilla, who used to be the head coach at both St. John's and Manhattan; former Virginia head coach Pete Gillen, who also is a New York guy; Providence assistant coach Steve DeMeo, who used to be an assistant coach at Iona; Louisville assistant coach Steve Masillo, who used to be an assistant coach at Manhattan and has plenty of his own NYC ties; DePaul assistant coach Gary DeCesare, who used to be the head coach at Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY and for many year's helped Sonny Vaccaro run the adidas ABDC Camp; St. John's assistant coach Fred Quartlebaum; and former Seton Hall head coach Louis Orr.  We also are hearing that Albany head coach Will Brown is now the top choice for the St. Bonaventure job and Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell may now be the leading candidate for the South Florida job and that Winthrop head coach Gregg Marshall may take over at Clemson, if Purnell makes the move.  But the big question everybody was asking earlier today at the NCAA Final Four in Atlanta, GA is who is going to be the next basketball at the University of Kentucky?.  Obviously University of Florida head coach Billy Donovan is right at the top of the list, but Wildcats athletic director Mitch Barnhart can't do much of anything right now, because the Gators are still playing in the NCAA Final Four.  Our guess is that Donovan will stay put and Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley , who appears to have a great relationship with Donovan, reinforced this belief earlier in the week when he made comments about Donovan not going anywhere when all of the dust clears later this spring.  In other words, the Gators will do whatever it takes financially to keep Donovan in Gainesville, FL.  We also find it interesting that the University of Memphis and John Calipari have agreed in principle to a new contract.  But nothing has been signed, so there is still nothing holding Calipari back from taking the Kentucky job, if it's offer.  However, we'd be surprised if Calipari ever gets the offer due to the fact that Wildcats came off of probation in football several years ago stemming from the Hal Mumme days and, as a result, the compliance people at Kentucky still dot every I and cross every T twice just to make sure they are in tune with NCAA guidelines.  And, while Calipari was personally cleared of any wrong doing when he was the head coach at the University of Massachusetts, the school was forced to go on probation due to Marcus Camby's association with an agent in the mid-90's and, as a result, Barnhart probably already has decided that Calipari doesn't have the squeaky clean image that he's looking for.  However, in my opinion I think this is a big mistake, as Calipari, who is one of the best recruiters in the business and plays the up tempo style of play that Wildcats fans have longed for since Rick Pitino left 10 years ago, is the perfect guy for the job.  We also hear that Barnhart has pre-existing relationships with Texas head coach Rick Barnes and Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, but the word on the street is that Barnes has already turned it down and Few is not immune enough to criticism to take all the heat that goes along with being the boss of the Wildcats.  UNLV head coach Lon Kruger has won 20-plus games at four different college programs, he's got the clean image that they're looking for, and he's hot, after guiding the Runnin' Rebels to the Sweet 16 of this year's NCAA Tournament.  But Michigan may beat the Wildcats to the punch and Kruger is not a great enough recruiter to satisfy the often overzealous Wildcat fans.  Texas A&M head coach Billy Gillispie is great at rebuilding programs and can recruit like crazy, but his deliberate half-court style will remind Kentucky fans too much of "Tubby ball."  We also hear Villanova head coach Jay Wright's name being mentioned for the Kentucky job, but he's a Northeast guy who is most comfortable in either Philadelphia or New York City.  We also are names like Ohio State head coach Thad Matta and Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, but Matta has already locked up most of the best players in his backyard for years to come and Izzo has one of the biggest buy-outs in the history of the game and he's come up through the ranks of the Spartans program.  So, when it's all said and done, Marquette head coach Tom Crean may be the only guy left standing who has the big time résumé, ability to recruit, and chutzpah necessary to deal with the media to get it done at Kentucky.  But, then again, Crean is not as hot as he was several years ago, he's tough to play for, and even tougher to work for.  Stay tuned! 

Our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson tells us that 7'1 Jr Kenny Frease from Massillon (Perry) OH has made an early verbal commitment to Xavier and this is important for a number of reasons.  First, Frease is an excellent player, as is evident by the fact that he is ranked #44 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  Second, Frease becomes the third junior to have verbally committed to the Musketeers within the last 10 days and, as a result, their recruiting class, which also includes 6'1 Jr Mark Lyons from South Kent (Prep) CT and 6'0 Jr Brad Redford from Frankenmuth (H.S.) MI, moves up to #7 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2008.  Third, Frease not only is ranked among the top 10 centers nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP, but he also is a good old-fashioned big man with a strong physical presence inside.  He's also tough on the boards, has very effective low post moves, and excellent skills around the basket.  All Frease needs to do is improve his quickness and athleticism.  Fourth, all of the hard work that the Xavier coaching staff has put in recruiting Frease obviously has paid off.  Not only was Xavier the first school to start recruiting him when he was a freshman, but they've been there the strongest all the way through, which means they were perfectly positioned to close the deal when the Michigan and Kentucky jobs opened earlier this month (Frease's final four were Xavier, Kentucky, Michigan, and Notre Dame).  Frease also is the 28th player who is ranked among our top 100 juniors in the nationally to have made an early verbal commitment, as 6'1 Jr Brandon Jennings from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA to USC, 6'7 Jr Troy Gillenwater from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA to Oklahoma State, 6'8 Jr Luke Babbitt from Reno (Gelana) NV to Ohio State, 7'0 Jr B.J. Mullen from Canal Winchester (World Harvest) OH to Ohio State, 5'11 Jr Korie Lucious from Milwaukee (St. Pius X) WI to Michigan State, 5'7 Jr Erving Walker from Middle Village (Christ the King) NY to Florida, 6'5 Jr William Buford from Toledo (Libbey) OH to Ohio State, 6'6 Jr Malcolm Lee from Riverside (J.W. North) CA to UCLA, 6'4 Jr Melquan Bolding from White Plains (Archbishop Stepanic) NY to Louisville, 6'11 Jr Beas Hamga from Decatur (Christian) IL to Iowa, 6'1 Jr Anthony Crater from Flint (Southwestern) MI to Ohio State, 6'7 Jr Nate Miles from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA to Connecticut, 6'5 Jr Malik Story from Lakewood (Artesia) CA to USC, 6'7 Jr Darnell Wilkes from Nashville (Pioneer Christian) TN to Cincinnati, 7'1 Jr Kenny Frease from Massillon (Perry) OH to Xavier, 6'5 Jr Nasir Robinson from Chester (H.S.) PA to Pittsburgh, 6'3 Jr Walter Offutt from Ohio State, 6'8 Chris Braswell from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD to Georgetown, 6'5 Jr Scotty Hopson from Hopkinsville (University Heights) KY to Mississippi State, 6'4 Jr Nick Williams from Mobile (LeFlore) AL to Marquette, 6'11 Jr Andy Poling from Portland (Westview) OR to Gonzaga, 6'5 Jr Matt Gatens from Iowa City (H.S.) IA to Iowa, 7'2 Jr James Tyler from Lenoir (Patterson School) NC to LSU, 7'0 Jr Jeff Withey from San Diego (Horizon) CA to Louisville, 6'0 Jr Travon Woodall from Jersey City (St Anthony) NJ to Pittsburgh, 6'9 Jr Malcolm White from Mendenhall (Genesis One) MS to Mississippi, 6'0 Jr Antoine Young from Bellevue (West) NE to Creighton, and 6'2 Jr Jason Clark from Arlington (Bishop O'Connell) VA to Georgetown are all already off the board.  Our New England Editor Adam Finkelstein tells us that 5'11 Jr  Gio Fontan from Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ has made an early verbal commitment to Fordham.  We're talking about a classic floor general who is a great on-the-ball defender, makes those around him better, can both drive to the basket and pull up and hit the open three, and has tremendous leadership qualities.  In other words, it looks the Rams have a a major steal on their hands, as Fontan is a guy who has grown several inches and gotten bigger and stronger during the last year and, as a result, emerged as the starting point guard for one of the best high school teams in the land.  We also have confirmed that 6'3 John Ashworth from Indianapolis (Franklin Central) IN has been released from the National Letter-of-Intent that he signed during the Fall Signing Period with Indiana State, which fired head coach Royce Waltman earlier this month, and now is heading to IUPUI.  Ashworth is ranked #302 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP and is your stereotypical white kid from Indiana without great speed and quickness, but the skills and outside shooting necessary to be an excellent 2-guard at the mid-major level.  Ashworth also promises to be an excellent complement to the other three players - 6'5 Antiquan Beckham from Louisville (Ballard) KY, 6'5 LeRoy Nobles from Cincinnati (Harmony Christian) OH, and 5'9 Adrian Moss from Franklin (H.S.) IN, all three of whom have lots of athleticism and excellent speed and quickness - that IUPUI currently has in their recruiting class.  However, when it is all said and done, we'd be surprised if Beckham ends up at IUPUI next year, as academically it looks like he'll have to first go the prep school route.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The brackets have been posted for the Las Vegas Easter Classic, which will be held on April 5th-8th in Las Vegas, NV, and you can view them by clicking onto VisionSports.com.   Not only will this be the first "live" basketball tournament for Division I college coaches to start the recruiting year, but tournament director Hal Pastner is promising that it will be better than ever, as he expects to have over 300 teams playing in over 750 games during the Easter weekend.  And that's saying a lot, because last year's tournament featured elite players like 6'9 Kevin Love from Lake Oswego (H.S.) OR, 6'9 Kyle Singler from South Medford (H.S.) OR, 6'1 Jr Brandon Jennings from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, 6'3 Jerryd Bayless from Phoenix (St. Mary's) AZ, 6'7 Taylor King from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6'7 Gary Johnson from Houston (Aldine) TX, 5'8 Jai Lucas from Houston (Bellaire) TX, 6'8 Jr Troy Guillenwater from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA, 5'8 Isaiah Thomas from South Kent (Prep) CT, and 6'5 Jr Malik Story from Lakewood (Artesia) CA and attracted head coaches like Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Arizona's Lute Olson, UCLA's Ben Howland, USC's Tim Floyd, Kansas's Bill Self, Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie, Oregon's Ernie Kent, UNLV's Lon Kruger, and San Francisco's Jessie Evans.  This year's field will feature teams like the Southern Cal All Stars, Team Texas, Houston Hoops, St. Louis Eagles, Las Vegas Prospects, Compton Magic Elite, Portland Legends, Belmont Shore, Broward Bobcats Elite (FL), Arizona Stars, Arizona Magic, P. Miller Ballers, Inland Reebok I, Utah Pump N' Run, M33M Magic (TN), Gimie Basketball Klubb (Norway), and Next Level Australia and players like 6'1 Jr Brandon Jennings from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, 6'4 Jr Willie Warren from Ft. Worth (North Crowley) TX, 6'9 Soph Renardo Sydney from Lakewood (Artesia) CA, 6'8 Jr Luke Babbitt from Reno (Galena) NV, 6'5 Jr Demar Derozan from Compton (H.S.) CA, 5'8 Isaiah Thomas from South Kent (Prep) CT, 6'5 Jr Malik Story from Lakewood (Artesia) CA, 6'1 Jr Rotnei Clark from Claremore (Verdigris) OK, 6'2 Jr Jeremy Green from Austin (Bowie) TX, 6'6 Frosh Randy Collins from LaPorte (H.S.) TX, and 6'0 Frosh K. C. Ross-Miller from Irving (God's Academy) TX.  And, as usual, it looks like Pastner has stacked the deck by putting all of the elite teams into super pools and most of them will play on Saturday, April 7th, and Sunday, April 8th, at Cox Pavilion on the campus of UNLV.  Especially noteworthy is the game between the Southern Cal All Stars and Team Texas, which will be played at 10:20 AM on Saturday morning.  Not only will the winner of this game be favored to win the entire tournament, but this also very well could be the battle for the #1 ranking nationally in the Class of 2008, as Jennings is currently is our #1-ranked junior and Warren, who was sidelined most of last spring and summer with a back injury, has taken his game to another level this spring and, as a result, has a number of people, including our Texas Editor Tim Miller, touting him as the best player nationally in his class.  The Las Vegas Easter Classic will tip-off at 10:20 AM on Thursday morning and the headquarters will be at Durango High School for the first two days.  Then, the center of attention on Saturday and Sunday will turn to the Cox Pavilion, where the playoffs will begin with first round games on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM and end on Sunday afternoon with the championship game in the Platinum Division on Court #1 at 4:10 PM.  Pastner also is telling us that the Houston Kingwood Classic, which will be held on April 20th-22nd in Houston, TX, will feature over 700 teams this year and, once again, will be the largest weekend basketball tournament in the United States.  As a matter of fact, this year's tournament is so big that Dana and David Pump have cancelled their tournament in Las Vegas, NV, which was supposed to run at the same time, so that they can field their best team in the Houston Kingwood Classic.  And making the story even more interesting is the fact that the possibility exists that Pump N-Run Elite, which is the team that won the Arizona Cactus Classic in late May and upset DC Assault in the championship of the adidas Super 64 Tournament in Las Vegas, NV, and the Southern Cal All Stars, which went undefeated last summer when 6'9 Kevin Love from Lake Oswego (H.S.) OR was in the line-up, could meet this spring in the Houston Kingwood Classic in what would be the first meeting ever for these two perennial powerhouse programs.  If you will recall, the Pump brothers wanted to schedule this game after they both won their respective tournaments in Las Vegas, NV near the end of July, but, at the time, Pat Barrett, who is the President and CEO of the Southern Cal All Stars, ducked the competition.  Pastner also tells us that he expects to the Main Event to attain an even higher level this summer, as he's gotten numerous phone calls from AAU coaches who used to take their team to the Reebok Big Time Tournament, but now want to play in his tournament.  This year's dates for the Main Event once again will be July 22nd-26th and the headquarters up until the final day will once again be at Durango High School..  We'll provide you with more details when they become available.  Pastner also tells us that the Las Vegas Spring Showcase, which will be held April 27th-29th, in Las Vegas, NV and, like the Las Vegas Easter Classic and Houston Kingwood Classic, will be live for college coaches, is going to be surprisingly good, as a numerous teams take advantage of his discount for entering into multiple tournaments.  Pastner also is starting something new this year, which is the Rivals.com Summer Showcase in Las Vegas, NV on July 5th-8th and, once again, he will wrap-up the summer with the National Youth Basketball Championships/Las Vegas Summer Classic on July 27th-31st.  Obviously Pastner is going to be busy this spring and summer and I'm looking forward to providing with all the highlights from the Las Vegas Easter Classic, Houston Kingwood Classic, and the Main Event

Another guy who is going to busy this spring is Charlie Weber, who once again will be running three events in the Washington, DC area that are already certified by the high school athletic association and one more at Penn State University on Easter Weekend.  Yes, the Penn State Invitational is a new "live" event that well be held on April 6th-8th and all of the games will be played on the campus of Penn State University within a five walk of one another.  Not only does this promise to be one of the top events this April for NCAA Division I college coaches to attend, but the list of teams should be enough to get your attention, as it already includes the New York Gauchos, New England Select, Connecticut Select, Pittsburgh Team Adidas, Team Philly, Jersey Shore Warriors, New Jersey Roadrunners, Positive Image (PA), Donyell Marshall, Cuttino Mobley,Team Maine, Philadelphia Patriots, Pittsburgh Shockers, Capital Athletic, Syracuse Select, Team Boston Elite, Rhode Island Hawks, Massachusetts Rivals, New Jersey Panthers, Wrecking Crew, ACTS Outlaws (FL), U-Turn Warriors, York Blast, The Blast (PA), C.J. Jammers, Crusaders Nation (MD), DC Tar Heels, South Shore Basketball Club (MA), Dunbar Community College (MA), Firm AC (PA),Firm AC National (PA), Garden State Elite, Lancaster Elite, Lancaster Wildcats, Lazz Development, Lehigh Valley Heat, New Jersey Trailblazers, New York Cardinals, Pennsylvania Elite, Pennsylvania Prep Report, Penn Hills, Philadelphia Patriots, Quick Response (MD), Reach One Teach I (PA) Renegades Black (PA), Smartjox (NJ), Three Rivers (PA), Waterloo Wildcats (Canada), and West Chester (PA).  And this list is sure to get longer before it gets shorter, as the deadline for registration (Thursday, March 29th) is quickly approaching.  For more information you can call Charlie Weber at (703) 960-0467 or Wayne Simone at (203) 510-1662 or you can go to their web site at CharlieWeberBasketball.com.  The three events that Weber will be running in Washington, DC are Easter Hoopfest on April 6th-8th, the DC Spring Fling on April 20th-22nd, and DC Shootout on April 27th-29th and some of the sites will include Georgetown University, American University, Catholic University, Gallaudet University, and Howard University.  Simone, who used to be our New England Editor and still a good friend to the HOOP SCOOP, also tells us that there are three good guards still available in his backyard in 6'5 Mike Moore from New Haven (Hillhouse) CT, who was named the MVP in the Connecticut State Tournament, 6'2 Cheroy Bentley from Bridgeport (Harding) CT, and 5'11 Durand Mitchell from Berlin (H.S.) CT.  Moore, who is a scoring wing with athleticism and the ability to shoot and get to the hole, is getting interest from schools like Providence, Rhode Island, College of Charleston, St. John's, and Massachusetts.  Mitchell is a crafty left-handed point guard and scoring machine who is capable of putting up such prolific numbers that one college coach who recently saw him play called him "a one-man wrecking crew."  Right now Fairfield, Boston University, Northeastern, Providence, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts are showing the most interest in Mitchell, but his list is sure to get longer before it gets shorter as the word gets out about him this spring.  Bentley is a combo guard and coach's son who knows how to lead a team, get to the basket, and create his shot out on the perimeter, which explains why schools like UNC-Greensboro, College of Charleston, Georgia, and LSU are all in the hunt. 

Monday, March 26, 2007

Now that the NCAA Final Four is set with Ohio State and Georgetown in the first semi-finals game that will tip-off at 6:07 PM and a rematch of the two teams (Florida and UCLA) that played in last year's NCAA Championship Game in the second semi-finals game that will tip-off at 8:47 PM on Saturday, March 31st, it's a good time to make some predictions and name our National Coach-of-the-Year and National Player-of-the-Year.  First, the predictions.  We don't think UCLA has the inside game necessary to match up against 6'11 Jr Joakim Noah and 6'10 Jr Al Horford and, as a result, look for  it to be a repeat of the Gators' 73-57 win in the title game a year ago.  However, the fact that UCLA head coach Ben Howland, who now appears to be well on his way towards establishing himself as one of the best head coaches in the history of the game, has a a full week to prepare for this game should be more than enough to scare the Gators.  In the other semi-finals game, we do think Georgetown has the horses necessary with 7'2 Jr Roy Hibbert and and 6'9 Jr Jeff Green to more than off-set the tremendous shot blocking and defensive presence that 7'0 Frosh Greg Oden brings to the table for Ohio State.  We also look for this to be hard fought defensive struggle and a big key to the game should be whether the Georgetown guards can shut down the Buckeyes' outside shooting, which has been deadly throughout the NCAA Tournament at crunch time.  And making this story even more interesting is the fact that both teams have proved that they have what it takes to come back and win close games.  Remember, the 17-point half-time deficit that Ohio State had against Tennessee and the fact that the Buckeyes came back from 11-points down late in the game to beat Xavier in overtime.  And don't forget that Green hit the game winning shot with three seconds left against Vanderbilt in the regional semi-finals and the Hoyas were down by as many as 11-points midway through the second half against North Carolina in the regional finals.  The Hoyas also showed that they can even overcome the officials, as most of the close calls seemed to go in favor of the Tar Heels.  And this could be very important against the Buckeyes, as Ohio State also appears to be a team that is protected by the officials.  But we're still predicting that the Hoyas will pull off the upset in a one-point overtime thriller, which will set the stage for next Monday night's NCAA Championship Game between Florida and Georgetown.  And we're predicting a repeat, which will be the first time that a team as won back-to-back championships since Duke did it in 1991 and 1992 and the second time that a team has repeated since John Wooden was at UCLA and the Bruins won their 6th and 7th consecutive NCAA Championships in 1972 and 1973.  Picking the National Player-of-the-Year is easy, as Texas's Kevin Durant not only finished ranked #4 in the nation in scoring with 25.6 ppg and #4 in rebounding with 11.3 rpg, but also was the big reason why the Longhorns, which had one of the youngest teams in college basketball with four freshmen in the starting line-up, still managed to win 25 games this season.  Picking our National Coach-of-the-Year was a lot more difficult, but when Georgetown knocked off North Carolina yesterday, that was enough for Hoyas head coach John Thompson III to edge out UCLA head coach Ben Howland for this award.  However, don't feel too sorry for Howland, because he might be in an even better position to National Coach-of-the-Year honors next year due to the fact that 6'9 Kevin Love from Lake Oswego (H.S.) OR, who is the #1-ranked senior nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, is already in the fold in this year's recruiting class.  And don't worry about whether 6'5 Jr Aaron Afflalo elects to forego his final year of college eligibility next season and enters his name into the NBA Draft this spring.  Love is the best we've ever seen in any sport at any level at any time at making those around him better.  In other words, if Howland can get the Bruins into the NCAA Final Four two straight years with nothing more than a good role player anchoring the middle, just imagine what he will be able to next year when he's got at a skilled physical specimen inside with the best outlet pass that we've seen since Wes Unseld, deceptive mobility and athleticism for somebody his size, and the burning desire necessary to achieve greatness.  We also like Georgetown's chances of making a repeat NCAA Final Four appearance in 2008 even if Hibbert and/or Green both go pro, because the Hoyas will still return a great nucleus that includes 6'8 Frosh DaJuan Summers, 6'1 Jr Jonathan Wallace, 6'3 Soph Jessie Sapp, 6'9 Frosh Vernon Macklin, and 6'10 Jr Patrick Ewing and 6'5 Austin Freeman from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD and 6'1 Chris Wright from Washington (St. John's) DC promise to be two of the top three freshmen in the Big East next year.  As for the other head coaches that we considered for National Coach-of-the-Year honors, next on our list was Oregon's Ernie Kent, who not only proved all of his critics wrong this year, but won 29 games and guided his team to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.  We also want to mention that Washington State's Tony Bennett, Wisconsin's Bo Ryan, USC's Tim Floyd, Louisville's Rick Pitino, Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie, West Virginia's John Beilein, Virginia Commonwealth's Anthony Grant, Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery, Mississippi's Andy Kennedy, Air Force's Jeff Brdelik, and Florida's Billy Donovan were also all at one time or another mentioned in the discussion for this award. 

We thought that Arkansas head coach Stan Heath was safe when the Razorbacks finished with 21-14 record advanced into the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.  But apparently Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles had other plans.  And making the story even more interesting is the fact that Broyles, who has been the athletic director at Arkansas for almost 50 years and was the guy who hired former Arkansas head coach Eddie Sutton and many others, announced in February that he plans to retire at the end of the year.  That Eddie Sutton connection could be important, because Sutton has let it be known within the last year that he wishes he'd never left the University of Arkansas to take the head coaching job at Kentucky in 1985.  So it makes sense that he was angling to get his younger son, Oral Roberts head coach Scott Sutton, who has an impressive 144-102 career record with two NCAA Tournament appearances, including the one this year, the head coaching job at the University of Arkansas.  And, if you don't believe that Sutton has a good enough relationship with Broyles to pull this off, just check out these quotes about the "Recollections On The Retirement of Frank Broyles" that appeared in the Fayetteville Morning News on February 17th.  "I know he's been criticized at times, but I hope people always remember what he's done for the University of Arkansas," said Sutton.  "The Razorbacks' facilities are as good as anybody's in the world, and I applaud Frank and everyone who has been part of that.  He and I had a few problems at the end of my time there, but we got together a few years ago and he's as good a friend as I have now.  I'm so glad Frank hired me."  There also is a precedent for making just such a hire based on the way the sons of former head coaches performed in their first year on the job this season (Washington State's Tony Bennett had a 26-8 overall record and his team finished second in the Pacific-10 Conference with a 13-5 record and Oklahoma State's Sean Sutton had a 22-13 record).  And don't forget the Eddie Sutton name is huge in this part of the country.  Another logical choice for the Arkansas job is Texas A&M head coach Billy Gillispie and, before Heath's team went on a run at the end of the season to advance to the Southeastern Conference title game and into the NCAA Tournament, UNLV head coach Lon Kruger's name was being tossed around for the Arkansas job.  As for Heath, who also guided Kent State all the way to the NCAA Elite Eight six years ago, he'd be an excellent candidate for a lot of the head coaching jobs that are sure to open once some of the elite jobs, like Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, and Iowa, are filled within the next several weeks.  Speaking of the coaching merry-go-round, did you know that there are now officially 37 head coaching jobs that have opened this spring and that 17 of those jobs have already been filled?  The list of guys who are out include Tubby Smith at Kentucky, Tommy Amaker at Michigan, Stan Heath at Arkansas, Steve Alford at Iowa, Dan Monson at Minnesota, Ricardo Patton at Colorado, Robert McCullum at South Florida, Ray Giacoletti at Utah, Ritchie McKay at New Mexico, Steve McClain at Wyoming, Riley Wallace at Hawaii, Dale Layer at Colorado State, Ron Jirsa at Marshall, Anthony Solomon at St. Bonaventure, Dr. Tom Davis at Drake, Michael Perry at Georgia State, Terry Carroll at Denver, Joe Scott at Princeton, Brad Holland at San Diego, Dick Davey at Santa Clara, Rich Zvosec at Missouri-Kansas City, Steve Merfeld at Evansville, Porter Moses at Illinois State, Royce Waltman at Indiana State, Dan Dakich at Bowling Green, Larry Reynolds at Long Beach State, Rob Judson at Northern Illinois, Joe DeSantis at Quinnipiac, Randy Dunton at Liberty, Byron Samuels at Radford, Bill Evans at Southern Utah, Frank Sullivan at Harvard, Al Walker at Binghamton, Kevin Jones at Chicago State, Larry Lessert at Maryland-Eastern Shore, David Spencer at UC-Riverside, and Tim Miles at North Dakota State.  And it appears to be only a matter of time before Gaels head coach Jeff Ruland is bought out at Iona, which will bring the number of head coaching openings that we've tracked to 38.  The list of guys who are in are Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith to Minnesota, Iowa head coach Steve Alford to New Mexico, former Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton to Northern Illinois, Princeton head coach Joe Scott to Denver, Oklahoma assistant coach Rod Barnes to Georgia State, North Dakota State head coach Tim Miles at Colorado State, Georgetown assistant coach Kevin Broadus to Binghamton, Virginia Tech's Brad Greenberg to Radford, Kansas assistant Tim Jankovich to Illinois State, Gonzaga assistant coach Bill Greer to San Diego, Fresno State assistant coach Heath Schroyer to Wyoming, Drake assistant head coach Keno Davis takes over as the head coach Drake, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville head coach Marty Simmons to Evansville, former New Mexico head coach Ritchie McKay at Liberty, former Brigham Young head coach Roger Reid to Southern Utah, North Dakota State assistant coach Saul Phillips takes over at North Dakota State, and Maryland-Eastern Shore assistant coach Meredith Smith takes over at Maryland-Eastern Shore.  And this number should soon increase to 18, as we're also hearing that Connecticut assistant coach Tom Moore is on the verge of being named as the next head coach at Quinnipiac.  Apparently they have upped the ante and are going to give him a lot of money. 

Our Mississippi Editor Lavel Johnson tells us that the University of Mississippi has landed the best junior college player in the state in 6'5 Wesley Jones Pearl River (JC) MS and that the Rebels also have an early verbal commitment from 6'8 Malcolm White from Mendenhall (Genesis One) MS, who is ranked #74 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  White is a raw offensively, but he's a physical specimen out of the same mold as 6'7 Jason Maxiell, who Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy coached when he was an assistant at Cincinnati, and some people think he could turn to be just as good.  Jones, who can shoot the three, is good off the bounce, and finishes everything, is a great scorer and, as a result, should be a great complement to all of the other players - 6'6 Zachary Graham from Lawrenceville (Peachtree) GA, 6'9 Kevin Cantinol from Clearwater (H.S.) FL, 6'0 Chris Warren from Orlando (Dr. Phillips) FL, and 6'2 Trevor Gaskins from Alpharetta (Chattahoochie) GA - that the Rebels already have in a recruiting class that is now tied at #40, along with Oklahoma State and Boston College, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2007.  We also have confirmed that Hofstra has landed 6'7 Darren Townes from Globe Tech (JC) NY.  And, just like the three other players - 6'4 Nathan Lester from Brooklyn (Canarsie) NY, 6'2 Devon Peterson from Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY, and 6'8 Dane Johnson from Brooklyn (Paul Robeson) NY via Mt. San Jacinto (JC) CA - that the Pride have in this year's recruiting class, he's a New York City kid.  Townes, who is originally from New York (Manhattan Center) NY, is a combo forward with lots of athleticism and the ability to block shots, rebound, and finish in transition.  It also appears that Clemson has gotten a very early commitment from 6'8 Soph Devin Booker from Union (H.S.) SC, who is the younger brother of 6'7 Frosh Trevor Booker.  And while this is the first time the younger Booker has appeared on our radar screen, it wouldn't surprise us if he turns out to be a sleeper just like his brother was when we first saw him at the 17-Under AAU Nationals in Orlando, FL several years ago.  Our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson tells us that 6'0 Jr Brad Redford from Frankenmuth (H.S.) MI has made an early verbally commitment to Xavier.  And is interesting for several reasons.  First, Redford is a point guard out of the same mold as Michigan State's Drew Neitzel, thanks to his ability to shoot the lights out, court savvy, ball handling and passing skills, and ability to run a team.  Second, Redford is the second scoring combo guard that Musketeers have landed within the last week.  If you will recall, a week ago they landed 6'1 Jr Mark Lyons from South Kent (Prep) CT, who, for our purposes is a 5th Year Player, but academically is still a junior in high school.  Johnson also tells us that the four leading candidates for the Bowling Green job at former Seton Hall head coach Louis Orr, West Virginia assistant coach Jerry Dunn, Arkansas assistant Dan Hipsher, and Bowling Green assistant coach Lamonta Stone.  And, while the first three already have previous head coaching experience at the Division I level, Stone also would be a great hire.  As a matter of fact, if we'd included him with this year's Ranking of the Top Assistant Coaches at the Mid-to-Low Division I level (Bowling Green head coach Dan Dakich resigned the same day that we published the rankings and, as a result, Stone was taken off the list), he would have moved up from #6 to #8 on the list.  Remember, this is the same guy who won two state championships as a high school coach at River Rouge (H.S.) MI with players like Duez Henderson and Brent Darby, who went on to have successful college careers at Iowa and Ohio State, and was one of the best recruiters in Ohio and Michigan when was an assistant coach at Ohio State during the Jim O'Brien era.  Or, if Stone doesn't get the Bowling Green job, then he'd be a great person to hire as an assistant at schools like Michigan, Minnesota, or Iowa, all of which have a history of recruiting in the state of Michigan.  Johnson also tells us that another candidate for a job on Tubby Smith's staff a Minnesota might be Lou Dawkins.  Not only is Dawkins the coach of 6'7 Jr Draymond Green from Saginaw (H.S.) MI, who is ranked #71 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP and was verbally committed to Kentucky until Smith left to take the heading job at Minnesota last week, but he also played for Smith at Tulsa. 

Sunday, March 25, 2007

When I told you two days ago that Andre Whitehead's and Jim Rothman's Tennessee Report would be coming out right on the heels of Allen Rubin's Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Report, I wasn't kidding.  As a matter of fact, the only thing I had to do to it this weekend was put together the three All-State Teams, which includes the top 15 players in the state regardless of class and position, type in the text that Rothman sent me Friday, and make some minor adjustments to the rankings.  In other words, I already had the list of the top 331 seniors, top 268 juniors, top 160 sophomores, and top 85 freshman that Whitehead had provided me with a week ago ready to go and, as a result, we now have published eight state-by-state and area reports so far this year.  They include Dennis Marshall's Washington, DC/Maryland/Virginia Report, which was published on January 25th; Adam Finkelstein's New England, which was published on February 1st; Larry Kihnley's Kentucky Report, which was published on February 5th; Lavel Johnson's Mississippi Report, which was published on February 13th; Rick Staudt's Florida Report, which was published on February 27th; Ron Naclerio's New York City Report, which was published on March 6th; Allen Rubin's Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Report, which was published on March 23rd, and Andre Whitehead and Jim Rothman's Tennessee Report , which was published early today.  All of this is available exclusively in the Members Section and next on our agenda will be the publication of Alan Utter's California Report, Chris Johnson's Ohio Report, Tim Miller's Texas Report, and Horace Neysmith's Georgia Report.  As for the Tennessee Report, Whitehead, who is by-far-and-away the most knowledgeable person there is regarding high school basketball in the state (and, if you don't believe it, just check out his web site at TennesseePrepHoops.com, which averages 25,000 to 30,000 hits a day) provided the initial list of players.  However, Rothman and myself have made some important chances at the top of list in each class, including moving 6'0 Gerald Robinson from Nashville (Martin Luther King) TN and 6'6 Josh Sain from Jackson (Liberty Tech) TN up to #2 and #3 and dropping 6'3 Terrance Oglesby from Cleveland (Bradley-Central) TN down to #4 on the list of seniors; moving 6'6 Jr Darnell Wilks from Hermitage (Pioneer Academy) TN up to #2 on the list of juniors; and moving 6'2 Soph Greg Wooten from Eads (Briarcrest Christian) TN and 6'6 Soph Johnny Williams from Eads (Briarcrest Christian) TN up to #4 and #7 on the list of sophomores.  And this is important, because we don't want to take Whitehead's entire list and copy it verbatim.  In other words, we want to provide you with a different look and, at the same time, give credit where credit is due.  I also think it's important to point out that 6'6 Josh Sain from Jackson (Liberty Tech) TN is the stereotypical undersized inside guy that numerous schools from the Sun Belt Conference on down are looking for to step in and fill the power forward spot next year.  I know first hand, because I watched him play four times in the City of Palms Classic in Ft. Myers, FL, where he led his team all the way to the title game and finished ranked among the top 10 players in the tournament in scoring with 22.8 ppg.  Whitehead tells us that Sain has already been offered by Alabama and is attracting interest from Arkansas, well as most of the schools in the Sun Belt and Ohio Valley conferences.  And, while we think Sain will be an excellent role at the high Division I level, he probably would be best served by selecting a school at the mid-range level.  That way he could take advantage of his quickness and athleticism inside, instead of attempting to convert to a wing forward spot.  Sain also has a good mid-range game, but he does need to get bigger and stronger and he hasn't made it academically yet, which is another reason why more big time schools haven't turned up the heat yet in his recruitment.  Something else that we find interesting that Rothman did not elaborate on in his article is the growing shift from public schools to private schools, like Collierville (St. George) TN, Eads (Briarcrest Christian) TN, and Memphis (Memphis University School) TN, in the state.  "Whether Briarcrest Christian will dominate the state's private school classification, like Brentwood Academy did the last four years, remains to be seen," says Rothman.  "But with three great sophomores like Leslie McDonald, Greg Wooten, and Johnny Williams, they definitely will be the team to beat."  And Collierville (St. George) TN with 6'5 Jr Elliott Williams and Memphis (Memphis University School) TN with 6'5 Soph Farrakhan Hall and Collierville (St. George) TN should be pretty good as well, as we're talking about the #1 ranked junior and #2-ranked sophomore respectively in the state.  We also think it's worth noting that Jim Rothman has been part producing a Mid-South and/or Tennessee Report for 25 years now dating all the way back to when we started the HOOP SCOOP in 1983.  Obviously is important, because nobody else on the HOOP SCOOP's staff has been with us for the entire last quarter of a century. 

Saturday, March 24, 2007

It comes as no surprise that 6'7 Jr Draymond Green from Saginaw (H.S.) MI, who is ranked #71 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP, has reneged on the verbal commitment that that he made a month ago to the University of Kentucky.  After all, Green's high school coach Lou Dawkins played for Tubby Smith at the University of Tulsa.  Speaking of Smith, who two days ago left the University of Kentucky to take the head coach job at the University of Minnesota, the three names we're hearing the most with regards to who Smith may hire onto his staff at Minnesota are former Tulane head coach Shawn Finney, who last year was the Director of Basketball Operations at Kentucky; former Marshall head coach Ron Jirsa, who was an assistant coach when Smith was at Tulsa and Georgia and actually was the guy who replaced Smith as the boss of the Bulldogs; and Tennessee Tech assistant coach Saul Smith, who is Tubby's son and played for Tubby at the University of Kentucky.  Smith also has been quoted saying that he plans to hire somebody with strong local ties and, if he's really serious, the ideal person is San Diego State assistant coach Brian Dutcher.  Not only is Dutcher the guy primarily responsible for recruiting the "Fab Five" (Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson) to Michigan, but he grow up in Bloomington, MN and he got his start in coaching working for his father (Jim Dutcher) who, at the time, was the head coach of the Golden Gophers.  And making this an even more important connection is the fact that Dutcher's father not only still lives in Minnesota, but he has remained affiliated with the Golden Gophers program as a color analyst for their television broadcasts.  We also suspect that current Minnesota interim head coach Jim Molinari will join UNLV head coach Lon Kruger's staff, along with Western Illinois head coach Derek Thomas, if he gets the Michigan job.  And, we think this will probably happen not just because Kruger has strong Big-10 ties, but also because Big-10 Commissioner Jim Delaney is good friends with Kruger and is pushing hard to get him back into the league.  As for Molinari, did you know that Kruger tried to hire him at UNLV and was instrumental in getting him a hired by former Minnesota head coach Dan Monson three years ago?  We also have been told that we were right about Xavier head coach Sean Miller being a serious candidate for the Minnesota job before Smith shocked the world two days ago by becoming the next head coach of the Golden Gophers.  As a matter of fact, one source tells us that Miller actually turned down the Minnesota job earlier this week and this makes sense, because Miller was getting a contract extension through the 2015-2016 season on the same day that Smith took the Minnesota job.  As for Smith, we now confirmed that he didn't have any idea that he would heading to Minnesota until last Wednesday, just one day before he actually took the job.  We also find it interesting that University of Kentucky 6'11 Jr Randolph Morris wasted no time entering signing with the New York Knicks once Smith took the Minnesota job.  Morris, who averaged 16.1 ppg and 7.8 rpg, will receive a contract worth $1.6 million over two years.  But really that's just pocket change for the NBA, as that's equivalent of going about 26th in the NBA Draft.  Moral to the story, Morris, who entered his name into the NBA Draft two years, but didn't get drafted, might be making the same mistake again.  We also find it interesting that Memphis head coach John Calipari has said publicly that he has no intention of taking the University of Kentucky job.  But, at the same time, a source close to Calipari has told the HOOP SCOOP that he'd take the Kentucky job, if it was offered to him.  I also can't let the New York Times article by Lee Jenkins about O.J. Mayo going to USC slip by without adding my two cents worth.  "It sound like a fairy tale," says Jenkins.  "A stranger walker into the University of Southern California basketball office one day last summer and asked to speak to the head coach.  The stranger did not make an appointment.  He did not call ahead.  Tim Floyd, the team's coach, cannot explain why he agreed to see him.  Nine months later, as USC prepares for the regional semifinal of the NCAA Tournament, Floyd recounted him version of that conversation.  The mysterious man got right to the point.  'How would you like to have the best player in the county?'  the man asked.  Of course Floyd had heard of him.  Everybody in basketball had heard of him.  Mayo was first mentioned in Sports Illustrated when he was in the 7th Grade at Rose Hill Christian in Ashland, KY."  No he wasn't!  Mayo was first mentioned by our Kentucky Editor Larry Kihnley HOOP SCOOP back when he was in 6th Grade and, at the time, was playing on the varsity at Rose Hill.  We also do not agree with the premise that Jenkins tries to create about Mayo mysteriously first making contact with USC last summer.  As a matter of fact, we know that USC head coach Tim Floyd was recruiting Mayo on February 18, 2006.  That's the day Floyd flew across the country to watch Mayo play against Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA in the Cincinnati Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, OH.  And making the story even more interesting is the fact that former Cincinnati head coach Bobby Huggins, then University of Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith, and then UCLA assistant coach Ernie Zeigler were also all in the house to see Mayo and 6'6 Billy Walker from Cincinnati (North College Hill) OH play against the Oak Hill Academy, which, at the time, was the top ranked high school team in the nation.  And I can attest to this first hand, because our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson and I were both there as well.  Our New York City Editor Ron Naclerio tells us that Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY beat New York (Rice) NY, 68-62, to win the New York  State Championship earlier this evening and 6'4 Rashad Green from North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) NH is suddenly now high on the priority of list of St. John's.  And the 2-guard spot is wide open for this athletic excellent outside shooting 2-guard, because 6'4 Jr Avery Patterson, who was the team's leading scorer this past season with 10.4 ppg, 6'5 Soph Ricky Torres have both decided to transfer.  Also earlier this evening Georgetown (Scott County) KY beat Louisville (Ballard) KY, 56-50, to win the Kentucky State Championship and the big hero and tournament MVP was Indiana-bound 6'3 Jr Bud Mackey, from Georgetown (Scott County) KY, who scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half and nine straight points when the game was on the line in the 4th Quarter.  This is the third time that Scott County head coach Billy Hicks has guided his team to the title game, as Georgetown (Scott County) KY also beat Paintsville (H.S.) KY, 89-78, in 1998, and Louisville (Ballard) KY beat Georgetown (Scott County) KY, 71-47, in 1999.

Friday,  March 23, 2007

It's probably the most difficult thing that I have to do all year.  I'm talking about the publication of Allen Rubin's Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Report, which was published exclusively in the Members Section earlier today and includes his ranking of the top 571 seniors, top 472 juniors, top 291 sophomores, top 152 freshmen, top 44 8th Graders, top 21 7th Graders, and top nine 6th Graders.  The biggest part of the problem is that Rubin not only can't type, but he refuses to even turn on the computer that I bought for him 13 months ago.  And making the story even more interesting is the fact that any time we're getting ready to publish a new list, Rubin not only adds 750 to 1,000 new names to list, but he literally makes some sort of change (height, spelling, and/or move in the ranking) to every player ranked among the top 100 players in each class.  In other words, it's truly a clerical nightmare.  So it comes as no surprise that the guy that he farmed out making all of the changes to on this report three months ago not only hasn't finished it yet, but refuses to even return Rubin's phone calls.  And, while I haven't put much pressure on Rubin to get this wrapped up and in my hands until lately (his last report was published on October 16, 2005), I did tell him several months ago that the drop dead date was near the end of March.  I also told him that if he didn't get into my hands before I leave for the NCAA Final Four next week in Atlanta, GA that I would cut his list to 100 players in each class.  So I was fully prepared for a very difficult week when Rubin's report arrived express mail on Monday, as I started on it on Tuesday and finished it earlier today.  In other words, I did in three days what the other guy didn't do in three months.  And, in addition to all of the changes, I also typed in and made corrections to the six All-Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Teams, which includes Rubin's ranking of the top 30 players in the area regardless of class and position, and wrote the article, which is close to 2,000 words, that goes with Rubin's updated Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Report The finished product is 48 pages and includes a total of 1,560 names and it is available two different ways.  The easiest way is via subscription to the Members Section.  The other way is by contacting Allen Rubin at 1-(502) 802-8323 and he will be glad to send you a printed copy of his report for $25, which includes postage and handling.  Actually that's cheap, as this one report blows away what most scouting services, which charge several hundred dollars per year, provide during the course of an entire year.  And, if you call Rubin, make sure you give him a hard time, because nothing else I've done has worked in terms of getting him to get with the program.  Also coming right on the heels of Rubin's Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Report will be our Tennessee Report, which includes our Tennessee Correspondent Andre Whitehead's and Mid-South Editor Jim Rothman's ranking of the top players in the state and an article describing the lay of the land by Rothman, who is one of the better writers on our staff.  I also plan to publish Alan Utter's West Coast Report before I leave for the NCAA Final Four on Wednesday afternoon, but that may get pushed back into early April depending upon how much fine tuning needs to be done.  Fortunately Utter has made things easy, because he's typed in all of the new names and made all of the necessary changes and corrections, and doesn't change his mind what which player should be where every five minutes.  Speaking of all of the NCAA Final Four, did you know that this will be the 35th consecutive NCAA Final Four that I have attended, which is pretty good when one also finds out that I am 47 years old and that there have been 69 NCAA Final Four's ever played.  As for my schedule after the NCAA Final Four, I am planning on attending the Las Vegas Easter Classic in Las Vegas, NV on April 5th-8th, the Derby Classic All-Star Game in Louisville, KY on April 14th, the Houston Kingwood Classic in Houston, TX on April 20th-22nd, the Next Level Tournament in Dallas, TX on April 27th-29th, the Spiece Run N' Slam in Ft. Wayne, IN in Ft. Wayne, IN on May 4th-6th, Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in Chapel Hill, NC on May 25th-27th, Pangos All-American Camp in Los Angeles, CA on June 1st-3rd, East Coast All-American Camp in Brooklyn, NY on June 9th-10th, Rumble in the Bronx in the Bronx, NY on June 15th-17th, NBA Players Association Camp in Charlottesville, VA on June 20th-21st, adidas Phenom 150 Freshman & Sophomore Camp on June 22nd-24th, and Fab Frosh All-American Camp in Chantilly, VA, June 30th-July 2nd.  And don't forget about the fact that the Spring Signing Period, which will begin on April 11th, is just around the corner.

Thursday,  March 22, 2007

Needless to say, I was shocked earlier this afternoon when I found out that University of Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith was about to become the next head coach at the University of Minnesota.  And apparently so were most of the people in the Minnesota Athletic Department.  Apparently the entire process went through a search firm in Atlanta, GA and it all happened very quickly, as is evident by the fact that Smith was initially contacted about the job just two days ago and nobody in a position to know had any inkling about what was in the process of going down as late as yesterday afternoon.  It also appears that Smith agreed in principle to take the job without ever setting foot on campus.  As a matter of fact, we're being told that Smith did not arrive in Minneapolis, MN until late this afternoon and there is already speculation about Smith bringing his entire coaching staff, which includes Wildcats Associate Head Coach David Hobbs, Director of Basketball Operations Shawn Finney, and assistant coaches Scott Rigot and Reggie Hanson, with him from the University of Kentucky.  Remember, there was a lot of speculation about Smith being forced to make major changes to his coaching staff, if he had stuck around as the head coach of the Wildcats.  However, he not only didn't stick around, it appears that he took the first job that he could get within just days after his team lost to Villanova in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.  And we don't blame him one bit, because Smith, who is ranked #9 on our List of the Top Head Coaches in Game Today, posted a 263-83 (76.0%) record in 10 years as head coach of the Wildcats.  He also has a NCAA Championship in 1998, three other Elite Eight, two Sweet 16, and four Final 32 appearances in the NCAA Tournament on his résumé.  In other words, Kentucky's loss is Minnesota's gain, as there is no question that Smith not only is a great coach, but also a class act and a first class person.  Among the names that are already being tossed out to replace Smith at the helm of the Wildcats are Florida head coach Billy Donovan, former Stanford and Golden State Warriors head coach Mike Montgomery, UNLV head coach Lon Kruger, Texas head coach Rick Barnes, Texas A&M head coach Billy Gillispie, Marquette head coach Tom Crean, Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, Villanova head coach Jay Wright.  But we think the perfect fit would be Memphis head coach John Calipari.  Not only was Calipari ranked as one of the top 10-ranked head coaches in college basketball a week ago when we published our Exclusive Ranking of the Top Coaches, but he already has an intense rivalry going with Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, which dates back their days when Pitino was at Kentucky and Calipari was at Massachusetts.  Calipari also is second to none as a recruiter, his teams play a fast paced up tempo style of game, which should be more to the liking of Wildcats fans, and he's got that slick northeastern image similar to Pitino.  And, if Kentucky hires Calipari, then it will be interesting to see if 6'3 Derrick Rose from Chicago (Simeon) IL, who is ranked #1-ranked point guard nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, gets out of the National Letter-of-Intent that he signed with Memphis last fall.  Remember, the rule says that you're signing with the member institution when you sign a National Letter-of-Intent.  But in recent years they have not enforced the rule, which could turn out to be a coup for the Wildcats, if they hire Calipari.  We also have found out about a surprising numbers of verbal commitments within the last 24 hours, as 6'2 Gary Correia from Northfield (Northfield-Mt. Hermon) MA has become Massachusetts eighth recruit, Vermont has landed 5'10 Joey Accaoui from Barrington (St. Andrews) RI, 5'11 Tyrone Cole-Scott from Tyler (JC) TX has verbally committed to Bradley, 6'3 Kwame Morgan from Largo (H.S.) MD has verbally committed to Hampton, 6'1 Jr Mark Lyons from South Kent (Prep) CT has verbally committed Xavier, and 5'10 Jaxon Myaer from Salt Lake City (Judge Memorial) UT and 7'0 Jr Jordan Stone from Smithfield (Skyview) UT have both made verbal commitments to Utah State.  Myaer is a skilled ball handler and passer  who also was attracting interest from Fresno State, Northern Arizona and Montana State and Stone is an active big man who could turn out to be a good catch for the Aggies if he improves his skills at some point down the road.   Lyons, who is a 5th Year junior due to the fact that he's already in his 10th Semester of high school, but still needs another year before he's ready academically to graduate from high school, is a super quick combo guard with the ability to put up big numbers, thanks to his ability to get to the basket and create his own shot from beyond the arc.  Morgan, who averaged 29.7 ppg on a team that was 26-1 this past season, was one of the biggest sleepers to emerged this winter in the Washington, DC area and, as a result, is the perfect complement to the other two players - 6'0 Chris Tolson from Laurel (H.S.) MD and 6'11 Midade Lola-Charles from Laurel (H.S.) MD - that the Pirates already have in this year's recruiting class.  And the big reason why Hampton is recruiting so well in the Washington, DC area is Pirates assistant coach Brian Merritt, who is one of the bright young up-and-coming guys in the business.  Cole-Scott is a prolific scoring combo guard who thrives in an up tempo setting, which means that the Braves now have four excellent perimeter players in this year's recruiting class in Scott, 6'4 DeAaron Williams from Illinois Central (JC) IL, 6'1 Sam Maniscalco from Chicago (St. Patrick) IL, and 6'2 Dwight Buycks from Milwaukee (Bay View) WI.  However, they will probably have to wait another year before they get Buycks, because it looks like he's not going to make it academically and, as a result, is planning on going the prep school route next year.  Bradley also has 6'10 Anthony Thompson from Houston (Klein Forest) TX and 6'9 Will Egolf from Juneau (Douglas) AK in the fold, so it should come as no surprise when we tell you that Bradley's recruiting class is tied at #22, along with Pepperdine, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2007.  Accaoui is another undersized combo guard who can flat out score.  However, we also like this one from a chemistry standpoint, because Accaoui is following in the footsteps of his teammate - 6'8 Garrett Kissell from Barrington (St. Andrews) RI, who signed with the University of Vermont last fall.  We have Correia ranked #100 on our List of the Top 5th Year Players, but our New England Editor Adam Finkelstein tells us that Correia has come on like gangbusters this winter and, as a result, may turn out to be the second best player in the Minutemen's recruiting class, which also includes 6'10 Pap Lo from Winchendon (School) MA, 6'7 Trey Lang from Marietta (Wheeler) GA, 6'8 Trevon Wilcher from Lee (Academy) ME, 6'5 Max Groebe from Miami (Dr. Krop) FL, 6'1 Marcus Matthews from Brooklyn (Bishop Loughlin) NY, 6'8 Matt Hill from Tilton (Academy) NH, and 6'6 Matt Glass from Northfield (Northfield-Mt. Hermon) MA and is ranked #18 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2007.   Clark was one of the better 3-point shooters in the high school ranks this past season, as is evident by the fact that he shot 43% from beyond this arc, but he also has an excellent mid-range and a high basketball IQ.  So Clark should fit in perfectly with the other two players in Wake Forest's current recruiting class, which also includes 6'8 James Johnson from Cheyenne (Central) WY, who is a big time athletic wing forward with a #41 national ranking by the HOOP SCOOP, and 6'1 Jeff Teague from Indianapolis (Pike) IN, who is an explosive point guard with excellent ball handling and passing skills and terrific court savvy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It looks like we knew what we were talking about when we told you several days ago that Xavier head coach Sean Miller was the sleeper candidate for the Minnesota job.  As a matter of fact, we're being told that a press conference will be held on Friday to announce the new coach of the Golden Gophers and we think it's going to be Miller.  The only other option appears to  be Southern Illinois head coach Chris Lowery.  But we find it hard to believe that Lowry will coach the Salukis in a game at 7:00 PM tomorrow night against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament and then turn around to take the Minnesota job on Friday.  And, assuming that all this is right on the money, then suddenly Ohio State assistant coach John Groce, who previously was an assistant coach at Xavier and is currently one of the fastest rising assistant coaches in college basketball, would be the logical choice to return to his old stamping grounds.  However, Xavier assistant coaches Chris Mack, who was the team captain for Musketeers during the 1991-92 and 1992--93 seasons, and James Whitford, who was the top assistant at Miami-OH for seven years prior to joining the Xavier staff two years ago, also must be considered as serious candidates for this job.  We also suspect that depending upon who does get the Xavier job, that Miller will take Mack, Whitford, and/or Xavier assistant coach Kenya Hunter, who is another one of the top bright up-and-coming guys in the business, with him to Minnesota.  But we also suspect that Miller will add somebody to his staff with strong Minnesota ties, which was one of the things that the previous regime didn't have and, as a result, helped lead to their inability to keep a lot of the top players from the Minneapolis area at home.  The two most logical choices are Yale assistant coach Mark Sembrowich, who used to be a high school coach in Minnesota and still has a lot of important connections, and Darryl Sharp, who previously was an assistant coach at Iowa State and was the Director of Basketball Operations at the University of Louisville.  Sharp also is a great recruiter, is tight with all of the local AAU people, and served as an assistant basketball coach this past at Minneapolis (Breck) MN.  We also believe that Oregon head coach Ernie Kent and West Virginia head coach John Beilein are both serious candidates for the Michigan job.  And, if either one of them surfaces in Ann Arbor, MI, the domino effect could be very interesting.  In the case of Beilein, it appears that Eastern Kentucky head coach Jeff Neubeuer has turned down the St. Bonaventure job, because he thinks he might be able to get something bigger (i.e. West Virginia if Beilein gets Michigan).  So suddenly some of the questions the must be asked are would the Mountaineers hire Neubeuer over Kansas State head coach Bobby Huggins and would Huggins even consider the West Virginia job after having been at Kansas State for just one year?  And making the story even more interesting is the possibility that 6'5 O.J. Mayo from Huntington (H.S.) WV and Kansas State's 6'6 Frosh Billy Walker would want to follow Huggins back to West Virginia.  We doubt that Mayo will be able to get out of his signed National Letter-of-Intent with USC.  But, in Walker's case, sitting out next year might be just what the doctored order has he attempts to rehap the torn ACL that forced him to miss most of last season.  In the case of Kent, he's hot (his team is currently 28-7 and still playing the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament) and the word on the street is that NIKE President and CEO Phil Knight will be willing to sweeten the pot for Kent by making a major contribution to the school so that the Wolverines can upgrade their facilities.  This also would make sense, because Kent, who graduated from Rockford (East) IL in 1973, is originally from the Midwest and already has shown that he can get his share of players from inside the state (i.e. Malik Hairston and Tajuan Porter).  This also would open the door for the University of Oregon to hire former Stanford and Golden State Warriors head coach Mike Montgomery, who is one of the top head coaches currently available, but has let it be known that he wants to stay on the West Coast.  We also believe that UNLV head coach Lon Kruger would be a natural for the University of Michigan job and he's not only hot, but he's won 20-plus games as a Division I head coach at four different programs (Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, and UNLV), he's been a head coach in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks, and has taken a team to the NCAA Final Four (Florida in 1994).  And, if Kruger gets the Michigan job, the smart money says that he will hire Western Illinois head coach Derek Thomas, who has recruited like crazy, but struggled to win games during his four years as boss of the Leathernecks due primarily to injuries, as his top assistant coach at the University of Michigan.  Remember, Thomas worked for Kruger as an assistant coach at both the University of Illinois and as a scout for the Atlanta Hawks and he has incredible contacts in Illinois, Missouri, and throughout the Midwest.  We also think Creighton head coach Dana Altman will be the leading candidate for the University of Iowa job, assuming that all the reports are true about Hawkeyes head coach Steve Alford moving onto New Mexico.  Did you know that Altman's dream job is Iowa and that's one of the reasons why he's not been in a big hurry to take any one of a number of good jobs that he had an opportunity to get in recent years?  The four names that we're hearing the most for St. Bonaventure are Albany head coach Will Brown, Niagara head coach Joe Mihalich, Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins, and Connecticut assistant coach Tom Moore.  We also believe New Mexico State head coach Reggie Theus will get the UNLV job, if Lon Kruger moves onto Michigan and it looks like Winthrop head coach Gregg Marshall is the flavor of the day for the South Florida job.  And, if Marshall becomes the head coach of the Bulls or goes anywhere else, then Winthrop assistant coach Randy Peele, who has previous head coaching experience at UNC-Greensboro from 1995 to 1999 and is a "top notch recruiter," is perfectly positioned to take over as boss of the Eagles.  We also believe that Providence assistant coach Steve DeMeo, Louisville assistant coach Steve Masillo, Louisville assistant coach Kevin Willard, Connecticut assistant coach Tom Moore, and DePaul assistant Gary DeCesare will be obvious candidates for the Iona job, assuming that Gaels head coach Jeff Ruland doesn't survive.  It also looks like Georgetown assistant coach Kevin Broadus will get the Binghamton job and the word we're getting is that Princeton wants to hire somebody outside the Peter Carrill family.  Speaking of Princeton, we have to wonder if Joe Scott would be taking the University of Denver job, if 6'0 Jeff Peterson from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD hasn't reneged on his verbal commitment to the Tigers?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Our New York City Editor Ron Naclerio tells us that Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY beat Brooklyn (Boys & Girls) NY, 77-50, to win the PSAL (Public League Athletic League).  However, it was a one-point game at the half (28-27) and Boys & Girls actually took the lead early in the 3rd Quarter.  But then 6'5 Soph Lance Stephenson from Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY got hot and Lincoln won its second straight and fifth PSAL Championship in the last  six years.  And, while we're not ready too proclaim that Lincoln head coach Tiny Morton the John Wooden of New York City high school basketball, this is still pretty darn impressive, because no team previously had ever won more than two consecutive PSAL Championships.  As for Stephenson, who hit 11-15 field goals and finished with 29 points, he has a chance to become the first player ever to win four straight PSAL Championships, if he stays at Lincoln for two more years.  Lincoln also was led by 6'11 Brandon Walters, who finished with 12 points and seven rebounds and 6'2 Devon Peterson, who had eight points and the day before the game verbally committed to Hofstra.  And we think this is a great catch for the Pride for several reasons.  First, Peterson combines that New York City toughness with excellent athleticism, the ability to slash to the basket, hit the mid-range jump shot, and knock down the three.  Second, the addition of Peterson moves Hofstra's recruiting class into a tie at #96, along with San Francisco, Wisconsin, La Salle, Iowa, George Mason, and Idaho, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2007, as well as tied for 3rd in the league, along with George Mason, behind Virginia Commonwealth and Delaware.  Third, Hofstra now has two of the top-10 ranked seniors from the city in this year's recruiting class, as 6'4 Nathan Lester from Brooklyn (Canarsie) NY checks in at #3 and Peterson checks in at #10 on Naclerio's List of the Top Seniors from New York City.  And Hofstra's third recruit - 6'8 Dane Johnson from Mt. San Jacinto (JC) CA and Brooklyn (Paul Robeson) NY - in this year's recruiting class, also is a New York City kid.  As a matter of fact, every player on Hofstra's roster, except for the four foreign players - 6'5 Soph Zygis Sestokas from Lithuania, 6'0 Soph Arminas Urbutis from Lithuania, 6'7 Frosh Mantas Leonavicius from Lithuania, and 6'2 Sr Carlos Rivera from Puerto Rico - is either from the city or the state of New York.  And this is important, because Hofstra head coach Tom Pecora and his staff have done a great job of building the program with local talent and down the road we expect both Lester, who can shoot the lights out, and 6'2 Frosh Charles Jenkins, who red-shirted this year, to develop into two of the top players in the Colonial Athletic Association.  That New York City toughness that we mentioned with Peterson also was very evident in the crowd at Madison Square Garden at the PSAL Championship, as unfortunately numerous fights broke out during the second half of the game and actually spilled out onto the sidewalks of New York after the game.  There were 21 reported arrests, but that doesn't begin to tell how bad it was as hundreds of people were taken to area hospitals and this was major black eye for the youth of our society.  "My assistant coach is a New York City cop whose beat is Brownsville and Bedford-Stuyvesant, which is one of the toughest areas of the city," says Naclerio.  "And he's been involved in life threatening situations where he's had to use his gun on a number of occasions.  But he told me that he's never felt as threatened as he did at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.  Fortunately he took his kids and got out they area where they were sitting before all hell broke loose."  For even more details and coverage about this incident that involved shots being fired and a mob of people that spilled out on the sidewalks at Madison Square Garden and moved up to Time Square, click onto Exclusive Footage of the Fight from WCBS-TV.   Another tragedy occurred last night when Bill Hensley, who was the director of Gym Rats Basketball, was driving force behind the Spiece Run N' Slam in Ft. Wayne, IN, which for years has been one of the premier AAU events in the spring, and was truly one of the great people in the business, died of an apparent heart attack.  We understand that Hensley was out jogging last night when the heart attack occurred, but right now no other details are available.  This is confirmed via several very reliable sources.  Our Mississippi Editor Lavel Johnson tells us that 6'10 Claude Britton from Mendendall (Genesis One) MS, who is ranked #507 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, has verbally committed to UTEP.  However, that ranking is deceptive, because, since transferring from Baton Rouge (Southern Lab) LA, Britton, who is now listed at 6'11, 280-pounds, has lost weight, improved his offensive moves around the basket, and knows how to rebound and defend.  In other words, we're talking about a good old-fashioned space-eater who can clog the lane and make his presence felt inside.  Britton also should be the perfect replacement for 6'8 Malcolm Kirkland from Madison (Central) MS, who verbally committed to the Miners last fall, but later changed his mind and did not sign a National Letter-of-Intent during the Fall Signing Period.  Britton also should be an excellent complement to 6'8 Manuel Cass from South Kent (Prep) CT, 5'10 Randy Culpepper from Memphis (Sheffield) TN, and 6'8 Wayne Portolatin form Lenoir (Patterson School) NC in a recruiting class that is now tied at #37, along with LSU and Oklahoma, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2007.  We also been told by our Washington, DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia Editor Dennis Marshall that 6'0 Jeff Peterson from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD, who originally verbally committed to Princeton, but later reneged when the value of stock increased, now is being recruited by schools like Iowa, Xavier, Saint Louis, and La Salle.  It also looks like 5'9 Adrian Moss from Franklin (H.S.) IN has verbally committed to IUPUI and, while Moss is not ranked among our top 1000 seniors, we still suspect that he is a steal for several reasons.  First, the IUPUI assistant coach Todd Howard, who is the guy responsible for really building this program from a recruiting stand point, is one of the sharpest guys in the business.  Second, Moss is ranked #6 in the state in scoring with 21.4 ppg, tied for #3 in the state in assists with 7.3 apg, and #4 in the state in steals with 2.8 spg.  Third, Moss is a jet-quick point guard with good range, ball handling skills, and tenacity at the defensive end.  Our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson also tells us that recently 6'8 Delbert Simpson from Tyler (JC) TX verbally committed to Baylor, 6'5 Benny Rhodes from Durham (Mt. Zion Christian) NC and 7'1 Tomasz Kwiatkowski from Lee (Academy) ME have verbally committed to SMU, and 6'7 Jr Johnny Coy from Benton (St. Joseph) MO made an early verbal commitment to Arizona State.  Coy is another guy who has been flying under the radar screen, but has grown from 5'11 to 6'7 during the last three years.  Rhodes, who is a 5th Year Player originally from Alameda (St. Joseph) CA, is a slasher/athlete and Kwiatkowski is a rail thin shot blocking 7-footer with plenty of upside.  However, neither appears to be ready to step in and make a major impact next year from the Mustangs.  But, then again, they probably won't have to due to the fact that SMU now has seven players - 6'10 Papa Dia from South Kent (Prep) CT, 6'5 Ryan Harp from Abilene (Cooper) TX, 6'8 Alex Malone from Mansfield (Timberview) TX, 6'0 Mike Walker from South Kent (Prep) CT, 6'8 Robert Nyakundi from Arlington (Bowie) TX, 6'5 Benny Rhodes from Durham (Mt. Zion Christian) NC, and 7'1 Tomasz Kwiatkowski from Lee (Academy) ME - in the fold in a recruiting class that is now ranked #17 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2007.  Simpson was ranked #248 nationally in our Final Ranking of the Top Players in the Class of 2004 when he was a high school senior at Tyler (John Tyler) TX, but he's still intriguing because he can score from mid-range and in, block shots, rebound, and defense.  So obviously it looks like Baylor has added another important piece to the puzzle.  Remember, the Bears will be well stocked in the backcourt next year with 6'3 Jr Aaron Bruce, 6'0 Soph Henry Dugat, 6'1 Soph Curtis Jerrells, 5'10 Frosh Demond Carter, and 6'5 Lace Darius Dunn from Monroe (Excelsior Christian) LA and inside they will have 6'9 Soph Kevin Rogers, 7'0 Soph Mamadou Diene, 7'1 Frosh Josh Lomers, and 6'8 Delbert Simpson from Tyler (JC) TX.  So Simpson should give them some added experience inside, as well as provide some insurance in case the Bears don't get 6'11 Mamadou Diarra from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA, who is the highest ranked 5th Year Player still available and has been listing Baylor and USC as the co-favorites for over a year now.

Saturday, March 17, 2007, Sunday, Monday 18, 2007, & Monday, March 19, 2007

If you want to make a case that parity exists in college basketball, you will not want to use want happened in the first two rounds of the 2007 NCAA Tournament to support your argument.  Did you know that the higher seeded team lost only five of the 32-first round games?  And, in the case of Purdue beating Arizona, Michigan State beating Marquette, and Xavier beating Brigham Young, the #9-seed beat the #8 seed, which hardly makes these upsets.  In other words, the only two real surprises in the games on Thursday and Friday came when #11-seed Virginia Commonwealth knocked off #6-seed Duke and #11-seed Winthrop upset #6-seed Notre Dame.  The higher seeded team also won five of the 16-second round games on Saturday and Sunday, but in the case of Butler beating Maryland, Southern California beating Texas, Tennessee beating Virginia, it was the #5-seed beating the #4 seed, which once again is hardly an upset.  It was a surprise when #7-seed UNLV beat #3-seed Wisconsin and somewhat of a surprise when #6-seed Vanderbilt beat #3-seed Washington State, but where were the teams like George Mason, Wichita State, Bradley, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Northwestern State, and Montana, all of which pulled off stunning upsets a year ago in the NCAA Tournament?  Or to illustrate our point another way, a year ago there were nine first round upsets with one #9-seed, two #10-seeds, two #11-seeds, two #12-seeds, one #13-seed, and one #14-seed advancing into the second round of what turned out to be one of the most exciting NCAA Tournaments ever.  We also think it's interesting that after the second round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago there were four #1-seeds, two #2-seeds, two #3-seeds, two #4-seeds, one #5-seed, one #6-seed, two #7-seeds, one #11-seed, and one #13-seed still alive.  Contrast that with this year, as there are currently four #1-seeds, three #2-seeds, three #3-seeds, one #4-seed, three #5-seeds, one #6-seed, and one #7-seed still alive in the NCAA Tournament.  Maybe it's a coincidence, but it also appeared that the officials did a good job of protecting the top seeded teams in the tournament and nowhere was this more evident than in the two second-round games in Lexington, KY.  If you will recall, Louisville's big men - 6'9 Jr David Padgett and 6'8 Frosh Derrick Caracter - both picked up several cheap fouls early, which not only took the Cardinals out of their game, but also set the table perfectly for Texas A&M's very deliberate half-court style of play.  And even worse was the obvious call that the officials didn't make when 6'6 Sr Justin Cage got the rebound for Xavier and 7'0 Frosh Greg Oden fouled out with nine seconds remaining in the game and his team was down by two points.  If you will recall, Cage was pushed to the floor at the end of this play and, at any other time in any other game, it would have been a flagrant foul, which would have given Xavier two free throws and the ball.  Instead, Cage hit the first free throw and missed the second free throw to set up the game tying 3-point shot that 6'4 Ron Lewis made with four seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.  Just think how much money all this cost the Xavier program, not to mention Musketeers head coach Sean Miller, who no doubt would have been right at the top of the short list for the Michigan and Minnesota jobs, if his team had held on to beat the #1-ranked Buckeyes, which failed to miss a single shot in the overtime.  But, then again, even before the Ohio State-Xavier game, we thought Miller may turn out to be the sleeper candidate who gets the Minnesota job.  Did you know that Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi was an Associate Director of Athletics at the University of Wisconsin when Miller got his start in coaching working for Stu Jackson as an assistant coach during the 1992-93 season?  We also find it interesting that Maturi followed Miller, who was an assistant coach at Miami-OH from 1993-95 during the Herb Sendek era, to Miami-OH.  This too is important, because, even though Miller had already left Miami-OH to work for Ralph Willard at Pittsburgh during the 1995-96 season and Herb Sendek at N.C. State from 1996-2001 by the time Maturi took over as the Director of Athletics at Miami-OH in 1996, there is no doubt that Maturi and Miller have traveled in the same circles and know a lot of the same people.  It also could prove to be important that Miller has worked for three former Rick Pitino assistants in Jackson, Willard, and Sendek, which makes him indirectly apart of the Pitino coaching family tree.  And don't forget that Miller comes from a great basketball family, as is evident by the fact that his father (John Miller) was a former legendary high school coach, his brother (Archie Miller) an assistant coach at Arizona State, and the Miller's are distant relatives of Memphis head coach John Calipari.  We also are hearing names like former Virginia head coach Pete Gillen, George Washington head coach Karl Hobbs, and Massachusetts head coach Travis Ford being mentioned for the South Florida job.  And, if Ford becomes the next boss of the Bulls, then that might also open the door for the Holy Cross head coach Ralph Willard or Louisville assistant coach Kevin Willard to move into the Massachusetts job.  Remember, Pitino is a Massachusetts alumnus and, with a large enough contribution to the school, he probably will be able to name the next head coach of the Minutemen.  This also appears to be the reason why Connecticut assistant coach Tom Moore has the people at Quinnipiac on hold.  Apparently it's Moore's job if he wants it, but it also looks like Wisconsin assistant coach Gary Close, DePaul assistant Gary DeCesare, and Fordham assistant coach Jared Grasso are serious candidates for Quinnipiac.  We also are hearing Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine, Vanderbilt assistant coach King Rice, and Massachusetts head coach Tim Maloney for the Binghamton job and the early list for Michigan, which opened two days ago when Tommy Amaker was fired, includes former Golden State Warriors and former Stanford head coach Mike Montgomery, Kentucky's Tubby Smith, UNLV's Lon Kruger, Washington State's Tony Bennett, California head coach Ben Braun, Xavier's Sean Miller, Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery, and ESPN analysts Steve Lavin and Rick Majerus.  We also are impressed with the two hires earlier today by Georgia State and Northern Illinois.  If you will recall, former Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton had an 11-year 184-160 record, as boss of the Buffaloes, and current Oklahoma assistant coach Rod Barnes had a 141-109 record as the head coach at the University of Mississippi.  However, even more important, Barnes firmly established himself as one of the best recruiters in the Deep South when he helped build the Ole Miss program into one of the better teams in the league during the Rob Evans era.

Friday, March 16, 2007

With the resignations of Bowling Green head coach Dan Dakich and Maryland-Eastern Shore head coach Larry Lessett and the firings of Missouri-Kansas City head coach Rick Zvosec, Chicago State's Kevin Jones, and UC-Riverside head coach David Spencer earlier this week, we have now tracked 29 head coaching openings at the Division I level since the beginning of the 2006-2007 basketball season  The rest of the list of head coaches who are out includes Minnesota's Dan Monson, Colorado's Ricardo Patton, South Florida's Robert McCullum, Hawaii's Riley Wallace, Utah's Ray Giacoletti, New Mexico's Rickie McKay, Wyoming's Steve McClain, Colorado State's Dale Layer, St. Bonaventure's Anthony Solomon, Marshall's Ron Jirsa, Georgia State's Michael Perry, San Diego's Brad Holland, Santa Clara's Dick Davey, Denver's Terry Carroll, Illinois State's Porter Moser, Evansville's Steve Merfeld, Indiana State's Royce Waltman, Quinnipiac's Joe DeSantis, Northern Illinois's Rob Judson, Radford's Byron Samuels, Liberty's Randy Dunton, Harvard's Frank Sullivan, Binghamton's Al Walker, and Southern Utah's Bill Evans.  And, as of now, three of these job have been filled, as Southern Utah has hired former Brigham Young head coach Roger Reid, Maryland-Eastern Shore has been filled for a year on an interim basis by current assistant coach Meredith Smith, and Evansville has hired Southern Illinois-Edwardsville head coach Marty Simmons, who was a player at both Indiana University and Evansville and also was an assistant coach at Evansville from 1990 to 1996 and from 1997 to 2002.  In other words, we're not even halfway home in terms of equaling the 58 head coaching changes that we tracked a year ago.  Instead, our guess is that when it's all said and done the number of head coaching openings this year will be closer two what it's been two-to-five years ago.  If you will recall, two years ago there were 48 head coaching openings, three years ago there were 41 head coaching openings, four years ago three were 45 head coaching openings, and five years ago there were 42 head coaching openings at the Division I level.  We also were very intrigued by the domino effect that could occur now that Charlotte Bobcats head coach Bernie Bickerstaff has announced that he won't be returning as head coach of the team next year.  The two names that we're hearing the most for the Bobcats job are Larry Brown, who, like Charlotte part-owner Michael Jordan, has strong North Carolina ties, and University of Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith, who also was mentioned prominently for this job before Bickerstaff took it three years ago.  Our guess is that Smith's job is secure at the University of Kentucky, but the word on the street is that he's going to be forced to make some changes on his staff.  And this could create some serious problems, because Smith is extremely loyal and, despite what I keep hearing and reading, he's got a pretty good coaching staff.  As a matter of fact, Kentucky is only one of six schools, along with Florida, Kansas, Duke, Louisville, and Virginia, where all three assistant coaches made our Ranking of the Top 100 Assistant Coaches in the Game Today and Shawn Finney, who is the Director of Basketball Operations, is ranked #1  in our Ranking of the Top 40 People Who are in an Administrative Position, Like Director of Basketball Operations, Administrative Assistant, or Video Coordinator.  In other words, if Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart puts Smith in an awkward position this spring, then this might be the time when Smith, who is ranked #9 on our List of the Head Coaches in the Game Today, takes the money and runs.  And that could start a serious domino effect in terms of coaching movement at the Division I level.  Some of the names that are being tossed around, if Smith does leave, include Florida head coach Billy Donovan, Memphis head coach John Calipari, former Stanford head coach Golden State Warriors head coach Mike Montgomery, Villanova head coach Jay Wright, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, Texas head coach Rick Barnes, UNLV head coach Lon Kruger, Texas A&M head coach Billy Gillispie, Marquette head coach Tom Crean, former UCLA head coach and current ESPN Television analyst Steve Lavin, and Massachusetts head coach Travis Ford.  Our guess is that to will be difficult to pry Donovan, Wright, Izzo, and Barnes away from where they are now and that Montgomery probably won't take it either due to the fact that he doesn't want to leave the West Coast and be under the type of microscope and deal with all the of the pressure that goes with a job like Kentucky.  We also would be surprised if they hired Gillispie due to the fact that the Aggies play a boring half-court style, which means that Calipari is the obvious choice among the heavy-hitters.  And, if Calipari does become the next coach at Kentucky, that would open the door for Gillispie to go Memphis and Texas A&M to hire any one of a number of bright up-and-coming guys, like Nevada head coach Mark Fox, New Mexico State head coach Reggie Theus, Wichita State head coach Mark Turgeon, Creighton head coach Dana Altman, Southern Illinois head coach Chris Lowry, Virginia Commonwealth head coach Anthony Grant, Winthrop head coach Gregg Marshall, George Washington head coach Karl Hobbs, North Texas head coach Johnny Jones, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Ronnie Arrow.  It also looks like Old Dominion head coach Blaine Taylor and Phoenix Suns assistant coach Alvin Gentry, who used to be an assistant coach for the Buffaloes, are in the hunt for the Colorado job, although the favorite continues to be Air Force head coach Jeff Bzdelik, who has an impressive 48-15 two-year record at the helm of the Falcons.  It also appears that Denver Nuggets assistant coach and former Metro State head coach Mike Dunlap, who meet with Colorado officials informally last month, has taken his name out of the running for not only the Colorado job, but also the the University of Denver and University of Minnesota jobs.  And can you believe that Iowa head coach Steve Alford is really seriously considering making a move to the University of New Mexico?  Remember, the Hawkeyes will return all but two players from a team that finished 17-14 overall and tied for 4th, along with Illinois and Purdue, in the league with a 9-7 record this season; they have a solid recruiting class currently in the fold with 6'0 Dairese Gary from Elkhart (Concord) IN, 6'7 Jarryd Cole from Kansas City (Winnatonka) MO, and 6'5 Jake Kelly from Carmel (H.S.) IN; and they have a great head start on the future with early verbally commitments from 6'11 Beas Hamga from Decatur (Christian) IL, who is ranked #26 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP, and 6'5 Matt Gatens from Iowa City (H.S.) IA, who is ranked #26 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  Some of the names that we're hearing for the Georgia State job include former Auburn head coach Cliff Ellis, former Miami-FL head coach Perry Clark, former College of Charleston head coach Tommy Herrion, Georgia Tech assistant coach Charlton Young, Maryland assistant coach Chuck Driesell, Washington assistant coach Cameron Dollar, Oklahoma assistant coach Rod Barnes, Jacksonville head coach Cliff Warren.  And don't be surprised if Holy Cross head coach Ralph Willard sneaks into the back door and gets the South Florida job and Louisville assistant coach Kevin Willard takes over at Holy Cross.  We're also hearing names like Auburn assistant coach John Cooper and former New Mexico head coach Ritchie McKay being mentioned for the Liberty job; George Mason assistant coach James Johnson and Virginia Tech assistant coach Brad Greenberg being mention for the Radford job; and New Orleans head coach Buzz Williams and Weber State head coach Randy Rahe being mentioned for the Colorado State job.  It also looks like Eastern Kentucky head coach Jeff Neubeuer is emerging as the clear leader for the St. Bonaventure job. 

Thursday, March 15, 2007

On Wednesday, January 31st, we provided you with a list of players who are expected to play in the 2007 Jordan Brand All-American Game, which will be held on Saturday, April 21st, Madison Square Garden in New York, NY; on the weekend of February 24th-25th we provided you with a list of players who have been selected to play in the McDonald's All-American Game in Freedom Hall in Louisville, KY on Wednesday, March 28th; and on Friday, March 2nd, we provided you with a list of players who are expected to play in the Original Roundball Classic, which will be held on Saturday, April 2nd at the United Center in Chicago, IL.  And now, thanks to a source close to the Kentucky Derby Festival Committee, we are ready to provide you with a list of players who have been invited and are expected to play in the Derby Classic All-Star Game, which will be held on Saturday, April 14th, in Freedom Hall in Louisville, KY.  This list includes 6'2 Antonio Jardine from Philadelphia (Neumann-Goretti) PA, 6'2 Tyrell Reed from Burlington (H.S.) KS, 6'3 Nolan Smith from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, 6'5 Ty Profitt from London (South Laurel) KY, 6'4 Chris Allen from Lawrenceville (Meadowcreek) GA, 6'8 Chase Stanback from Los Angeles (Fairfax) CA, 6'2 Senario Hillman from Irwinton (Wilkinson County) GA, 6'5 Lacedaris Dunn from Monroe (Exelsior Christian) LA, 6'7 Jamell Horne from San Diego (H.S.) CA, 6'9 Austin Daye from Irvine (Woodbridge) CA, 6'9 A.J. Stewart from Jacksonville (Arlington Country Day) FL, 6'7 Rakim Sanders from Barrington (St. Andrews) RI, 6'8 Michael Beasley from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, 6'10 Anthony Randolph from Dallas (Woodrow Wilson) TX, 6'9 Herb Pope from Aliquippa (H.S.) PA, 6'9 George Goode from Raytown (South) MO, 6'5 Jeff Robinson from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, 6'9 Rick Jackson from Philadelphia (Neumann-Goretti) PA, 6'10 Robert Sacre from North Vancouver (H.S.) BC, 6'10 Julian Vaughn from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, 6'11 DeAndre Jordan from Humble (Christian Life) TX, and 7'0 Mike Williams from Alexandria (Bishop Ireton) VA.  In other words, the game will feature two McDonald's All-Americans in Beasley and Smith; nine players who are ranked in the 15-40 range nationally in Randolph, Horne, Allen, Dunn, Day, Jordan, Jardine, Hillman, and Jackson; five players who are ranked in the 41-100 range nationally in Reid, Robinson, Pope, Vaughn, and Sanders; and six players who ranked in the 101-300 range nationally in Stewart, Goode, Sacre, Stanback, Williams, and Profitt.  There also is be one player going to the University of Louisville in (Goode) and two players going to the University of Kentucky (Stewart and Williams) who are playing in the game.  We also provided you in late January with a list of players, which includes 6'9 Kevin Love from Lake Oswego (H.S.) OR, 6'5 O.J. Mayo from Huntington (H.S.) WV, 6'3 Jerryd Bayless from Phoenix (St. Mary's) AZ, 6'9 Donte Green from Towson (Catholic) MD, 6'9 Kyle Singler from Medford (South Medford) OR, 6'8 Michael Beasley from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA, 6'3 Derrick Rose from Chicago (Simeon) IL, 6'9 Patrick Patterson from Huntington (H.S.) WV, 6'3 Nolan Smith from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, and 6'0 Johnny Flynn from Niagara Falls (H.S.) NY, who will play for the U.S.A. Basketball National Select Team in the 10th Annual NIKE Hoop Summit on April 7th at the FedExForum in Memphis, TN.  But we have not yet provided with a list of names for the 2007 World Select Team who will participate in that game.  So will will do so now as that list includes 7'1 Alexis Ajinca from France, Nemanja Aleksandrov from Serbia, 6'8 Nicholas Batum from France, 6'8 Omri Caspi from Israel, 6'6 Nihad Djedovic from Bosnia, 6'2 Chen Jianghua from China, 6'3 Petteri Koponen from Finland, 6'9 Emir Preldzix from Slovenia, 7'1 Giorgi Shermadini from Georgia, 6'2 Aleksandar Ugrinoski from Croatia, and 6'9 Alexis Wangmene from Cameroon.  And, except for Wangmene, who now attends Blairstown (Blair Academy) NJ, all of these guys are professionals.  So college coaches are wasting their time, if they decide to recruit any of these foreign players.  Our International Editor Chris Johnson also tells us that this game will feature an incredible amount of talent, if all of these guys show up.  But, based on past history, they probably won't, as players often have trouble getting a visa into the United States and a release to play by their club team.  Johnson also tell us that the two French players are expected to enter names into NBA Draft this year and be first round picks.  Batum is a potential lottery pick and is being touted as the French version of George Gervin due to the fact that he is a high flying skilled athlete.  Ajinca has a 7'5 wing span, but the fact that he is extremely thin means he's probably still several years from being ready to play in the NBA.  Aleksandrov was the most talented player in all of Europe in his age group until he was slowed by a serious knee injury a-year-and-a-half ago and, as a result, was forced to miss last year's NIKE Hoop Summit.  Djedovic was the scorer in the European 16-Under Championship last summer and now is one of the fastest rising young player on the continent.  Shermadini is the top young center in the Republic of Georgia, but he is probably a year or two away from entering his name into the NBA Draft.  Johnson has known about Ugrinoski for three years now dating back to when former Ohio State All-American Scoonie Penn told him about a former teammate of his who is a terrific passer and playmaker, but is thin and not very athletic.  Caspi, who was the star for 18-Under Israeli team last year, is a skilled athletic combo forward who will likely enter his name into NBA Draft this year.  Jianghua is a Chinese version of Allen Iverson, as he is an extremely talented high flying out of control point guard who has been on the radar screen since the New York Times did a feature article about him three years ago.  Koponen, who has been described as a finished version of Steve Nash, has grown from 5'10 to 6'3 during the last year and drew rave reviews from Jerry West when he saw him play several months ago.  Preldzix is the sleeper of the bunch, as Johnson has seen the name, but doesn't know anything else about him.  Also noteworthy is the fact that the American players who play in the NIKE Hoop Summit are exempt from the two all-star game limit, which explains how Love and Flynn will be able to play in the McDonald's All-American Game, Original Roundball Classic, and the NIKE Hoop Summit and how Bayless, Green, Patterson, Rose, and Singler will be able to play in the McDonald's All-American Game, 2007 Jordan Brand All-American Game, and the NIKE Hoop Summit.  However, it has yet to be determined which all-star game Mayo, who is on the roster for the McDonald's All-American Game, 2007 Jordan Brand All-American Game, Original Roundball Classic, and the NIKE Hoop Summit, and Beasley, who is on the roster for the McDonald's All-American Game, 2007 Jordan Brand All-American Game, Derby Classic, and the NIKE Hoop Summit, will eliminate, if they want to retain their college eligibility.  In other words, after you exclude the NIKE Hoop Summit, if either player plays in three all-star games, then they will have to go play in prep school or go to play in Europe next year due to the fact that the NBA now has a rule requiring a player to be 19-years-old and one year removed from his graduating high school class before being eligible for the NBA Draft. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

If you think ranking players is difficult, try ranking coaches.  And I can tell you first hand, because that's what I've been doing almost exclusively during the last several days and our Exclusive Ranking of the Top Coaches is now available exclusively in the Members Section.  First, we have our Ranking of the Top 50 Head Coaches in the College Game Today and this list really illustrates just how great the coaching is today in the college game today.  As a matter of fact, our top 10-ranked head coaches (Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Bob Knight, Rick Pitino, Jim Calhoun, Lute Olson, Ben Howland, Tom Izzo, Tubby Smith, and John Calipari) collectively have made 39 NCAA Final Four appearances and won a combined 13 National Championships.  We also find it amazing that Florida's Billy Donovan, who has two NCAA Final Four appearances and is the coach of the defending NCAA Champions, didn't make the top 10.  Neither did Wisconsin's Bo Ryan, who is one of the leading candidates for National Coach-of-the-Year honors; Syracuse Jim Boeheim, who has guided the Orangemen to a National Championship and two other NCAA Final Four appearances; Illinois' Bruce Weber, who also has an NCAA Final Four appearance on his résumé'; Ohio State's Thad Matta, who is resurrected the Buckeyes' program in a hurry; Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon; who is currently one win shy of averaging 26 wins per year during his four years at the helm of the Panthers; Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt, who is second to none as both a recruiter and X's and O's guy; West Virginia's John Beilein, who does less with more talent than anybody we've ever seen; Maryland's Gary Williams, who is one of only five head coaches with more than one NCAA Final Four appearance during the first seven years of this decade; Kansas State's Bobby Huggins, who is back after a year's absence from coaching; Holy Cross' Ralph Willard, whose team always has a legitimate shot to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the first round of NCAA Tournament; Georgetown's John Thompson III, who appears to be a chip off the old block; Indiana's Kelvin Sampson, who guided to the Hoosiers to 20 wins and a #1-ranked recruiting class during his first year in Bloomington; Kansas' Bill Self, who has won big at three different schools (Tulsa, Illinois, and Kansas); Boston College Al Skinner, who has proven he can get it done against the best year-in-and-year-out in both the Big East and the ACC; George Mason's Jim Larranaga, whose team pulled off the ultimate Cinderella story a year ago; Rick Barnes, who arguably has the best freshman ever in college basketball; Tennessee's Bruce Pearl, who is an offensive genius; Villanova's Jay Wright, who continues to win big with great guards; Pepperdine's Vance Walberg, who is the best head coach that the average fan has never heard of; Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie, who is one of the hottest up-and-coming guys in the business right now; and USC's Tim Floyd, who has already done the impossible in only two years at the helm of the Trojans.   Are you starting to get the idea that this is a heck of a list?  And so are our Ranking of Head Coaches who are in the Middle of their Career and Have Potential to Move onto our List of the Top 50 Head Coaches in the Game Today, which includes coaches with six to 20 year's of head coaching experience at the college level and begins with George Washington's Karl Hobbs, Iowa Steve Alford, Manhattan's Bobby Gonzalez, Arkansas' Stan Heath, and Washington's Lorezno Romar, and our Ranking of the Top 40 Up-and-Coming Head Coaches in the College Game Today, which includes coaches who have five year's or less of head coaching experience at the college level and begins with Missouri's Mike Anderson, Virginia Commonwealth's Anthony Grant, Mississippi's Andy Kennedy right at the top of the list.  Even more incredible is our Ranking of the Top 100 Assistant Coaches in the College Game Today, which includes only assistants in the top 10 conferences (ACC, Big East, Big-10, Big-12, Southeastern, Pacific-10, Conference USA, Atlantic-10, Western Athletic, and Mountain West) and begins with 1) Florida's Larry Shyatt, 2) Kansas' Joe Dooley, 3) Connecticut's Tom Moore, 4) Louisville's Kevin Willard, 5) Arizona's Josh Pastner, 6) Georgetown's Kevin Broadus, 7) Kansas' Kurtis Townsend, 8) Duke's Steve Wojciechowski, 9) LSU's Butch Pierre, 10) Syracuse's Mike Hopkins, 11) Indiana's Jeff Meyer, 12) Oregon's Scott Duncan, 13) Miami-FL's Michael Hunt, 14) Texas' Rodney Terry,15)  Ohio State's John Groce, 16) Florida State's Stan Jones, 17) Indiana's Ray McCallum, 18) Louisville's Steve Masiello, 19) Iowa's Craig Neal, 20) N.C. State's Larry Harris, 21) USC's Bob Cantu, 22) Memphis' Derek Kellogg, 23) UCLA's Kerry Keating, 24) Texas' Russell Springmann, and 25) Providence's Steve DeMeo.  We also find it very interesting that Kansas, Louisville, Indiana, and Texas all have two assistant coaches ranked among the top 25 assistant coaches in the nation and we think it's especially noteworthy that Jeff Meyer is one of the fastest rising assistant coaches in the nation.  Remember, Indiana has the #1-ranked recruiting class on our list of Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2007, despite the fact that Hoosiers head coach Kevin Sampson hasn't been able to make phone calls to recruits or go on the road to recruit due to NCAA violations dating back to his days at Oklahoma.  In other words, we think both Meyer, Ray McCallum, and IU assistant Rob Senderoff, who is not listed in our Ranking of the Top 100 Assistant Coaches in the Game Today, but is another one the top up-and-coming guys in the business, have done an incredible job.  Also making big jumps on this list up to the #6 spot and #21 spots are Kevin Broadus, who is second to none when it comes to recruiting in the Washington, DC area, and Bob Cantu, who deserves a lot of the credit for USC closing the deal on players like 6'5 O.J. Mayo from Huntington (H.S.) WV and 6'1 Jr Brandon Jennings from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA.  We also think John Groce deserves special mention, because he's done such a great job of locking up the top players in his backyard that the Buckeyes currently don't have another scholarship available until the Class of 2010.  And, of course, their is Steve Masiello, who moves up dramatically due to the fact that Louisville continues to recruit like crazy in the Northeast.  Did you know that the Cardinals have three freshmen in the program - 6'9 Derrick Caracater, 6'3 Edgar Sosa, and 6'8 Earl Clark - from the New York Metropolitan area, they already have an early verbal commitment from 6'4 Jr Melquan Bolding from White Plains (Archbishop Stepanic) NY, they are one of the leaders for 6'4 Jr Tyreke Evans from Aston (American Christian) PA, and it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that 5'11 Soph Lamont Jones from New York (Rice) NY will commit to Louisville either in the summer or fall.  Our Ranking of the Top 75 Assistant Coaches at the Mid-to-Low Division I Level also is very impressive, as 1) Wichita State's Scott Spinelli, 2) Western Kentucky's Jeff Strohm, 3) Kent State's Jeff Oppenheimer, 4) Drexel's Geoff Arnold, 5) George Mason's James Johnson, 6) East Tennessee State's Mike Boyd, 7) Gonzaga's Bill Grier, 8) Ball State's Steve Flint, 9) Manhattan's Ron Ganulin, 10) Creighton's Brian Fish, 11) Old Dominion's Jim Corrigan, 12) Louisiana-Monroe's Nate Dixon, 13) IUPUI's Todd Howard, 14) Virginia Commonwealth's Tony Pujol, 15) Middle Tennessee State's Artie Pepelea, 16) Eastern Kentucky's Ted Hotaling, 17) Siena's Mitch Buonagura, 18) Towson's Jim Meil, 19) Hofstra's Van Macon, and 20) Hampton's Brian Merritt head another incredible list.  Two former head coaches (Kentucky's Shawn Finney and Indiana's Jerry Green) head our Ranking of the Top 40 People Who are in an Administrative Position, Like Director of Basketball Operations, Administrative Assistant, or Video Coordinator.  But this list also reads like a Who's Who of Bright Up-and-Coming guys in the business, as Pittsburgh's David Cox, Connecticut's Pat Sellers, UCLA's Clay McKnight, Louisville's Devon Smith, North Carolina's Jerod Hasse, Louisville's Dan McKale, Ohio State Brandon Miller, Cincinnati's Matt Grady, and Villanova's Jason Donnelly all have a great future.  And our Ranking of the Top 35 High School and/or Prep School Head Coaches in the Nation is second to none, as the top 10 guys on this list - Bob Hurley Sr. of Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ, Jere Quinn from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, Jack Curran of Briarwood (Archbishop Molloy) NY, Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, Kevin Boyle of Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, Mike Jones of Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD, Stu Vetter of Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD, Mike Price of Cincinnati (Oak Hill) OH, Fletcher Arritt of Fork Union (Military) VA, and Gary McKnight of Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA - are all incredible coaches. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

We told you in January that the adidas Junior Phenom Camp will have some serious competition this summer when we mentioned that the Junior All-American Camp, which will be held at the Hoop Magic Sports Academy in Chantilly, VA on August 2nd-5th, is positioning itself to get more than its fair share of the top players on the East Coast, as well as from around the nation.  But we haven't told you yet that Clay Dade, who is director of the Junior All-American Camp, also has recently announced that he will be running a Freshman All-American Camp at the Hoop Magic Sports Academy in Chantilly, VA on June 30th-July 2nd.   And making this camp even more friendly for us to cover is the fact that the facilities are just five minutes from the Washington Dulles International Airport and the dates fall on a weekend that does don't conflict with any other major events.  As a matter of fact, it wouldn't surprise us one bit, if we get a chance to see some of the same players at both the adidas Phenom Top 150 Frosh & Soph Camp and the Freshman All-American Camp.  And, if you don't believe it, Dade tells us that he already has a commitment from 6'3 8th Grader Tony Wroten from Renton, WA, who will be the #1-ranked player nationally in his class next time we update our rankings.  But, at the same time, Joe Keller, who is the President & CEO of the adidas Junior Phenom Camp, tells us that Wroten plans to play for his adidas Team Phenom team this spring and summer.  While this eastern-based camp is sure to attract a high concentration of premier players from traditional East Coast hotbeds like New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, DC and Baltimore, Hampton/Norfolk, Virginia Beach, the Carolinas, and Florida, Dade also seems to be getting a surprising number of players from areas like California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Utah, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Illinois, and Mississippi.  So it should come as no surprise that Dade is also already promoting the fact that players like 6'7 8th Grader LaBryan Nash from Dallas, TX, 6'7 8th Grader LaQuinton Ross from Jackson, MS, 6'0 8th Najee Whitehead from Mt. Vernon, NY, 6'0 8th Grader Davontay Grace from Brooklyn, NY, 6'1 8th Grader Austin Rivers from Winter Park, FL, 6'1 and 8th Grader Benjamin Dillard from Frisco, TX will be in attendance.  And so will I.  However, just like with the adidas Junior Phenom Camp, I am somebody who comes and evaluates the players.  In other words, I am not on the payroll of either camp and, as a result, am free to tell people that I think both camps will be very good.  But, at the same time, I also want to point out that while the exposure that a player will get at these camps is nice, it's not going to mean a hill of beans when it comes time to be recruited to a four-year Division I college or university, making the McDonald's All-American Team, or getting drafted someday in the NBA Draft.  And, anybody telling you otherwise, is selling you a bill of goods.  Instead, some of the legitimate reasons to attend a superstar oriented camp when a player is in the 6th, 7th, 8th & 9th include 1) this is an environment where you're going to recruited in someday, 2) you can find how you stack up against some of the top players in the nation your own age, and 3) hopefully you will learn some things that you can take home and work on and actually improve your game.  In addition, Dade also provides us with a list of some very prominent coaches who are expected to be involved with the camp, including Boo Williams of the Boo Williams Summer League and National Chairman of AAU Boys Basketball, Mike Jones and David Adkins of Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD, Kevin Sutton of Montverde (Academy) FL, O.J. Matthews of Staunton Diaper Dans (VA), Daryl Hennings of Seattle Rotary Style, Michael Moore of Team Next (NY), Kim Felder of the Spiece Indy Heat, Tony Johnson of the Dallas Mustangs, Terrance Wright of the Texas Select Kings, Leroy Taylor of the Houston Hoops, Eric Cooper of Quickshot (CA), Bud Fields of Total Package (TX), Brett Miller of Salt Lake Metro, Lydnon DeBellotte of the DC Blue Devils, Steve Turner of Washington (Gonzaga) DC, Shandue McNeil of the Long Island Lightning, Jerry Watson of All Ohio Basketball, and Jules Milstead and Derrick Artis of the Oakland Soldiers.  Dade also points out that "leading scouting services like the Hoop Scoop, Rivals, and many more will be on hand to evaluate and rank players.  College coaches plus observers and coaches from top high school camps like NIKE Skills Academy, Reebok, and others will be there."  Actually, I find it doubtful any Division II, Division III, and NAIA schools will spend any time recruiting players this young and all of these camps are during dead periods for recruiting.  So any Division I coaches who attend any of these camps will be in violation of NCAA rules.  For those people who want more information about either the Junior All-American Camp or the Freshman All-American Camp, click onto www.jrallamericancamp.com and www.fabfrosh.jrallamericancamp.com.  And for those of you who want more information about either the adidas Junior Phenom Camp and the adidas Phenom 150 Freshman and Sophomore Camp, click onto www.adidasjrcamp.com and www.phenom150.com.  Editor's Note:  NCAA Division I coaches can not leave campus for the purpose of recruiting, except during certain times of the year, and none of the camps mentioned above fall into any of these time periods.  However, college coaches can speak at the camps and they can be in attendance to watch their kids play. 

Monday, March 12, 2007

Our New York City Editor Ron Naclerio tells us that Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY was down by 16 points early in the 4th Quarter yesterday against Middle Village (Christ the King) NY in the  New York City CHSAA (Catholic High School Athletic Association championship game at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY.  However, once again St. Raymond's, which also was down by 21 points mid-way through the 3rd Quarter in the semi-finals last Wednesday against Flushing (Holy Cross) NY and came back to win the game, made an incredible comeback, as they went on a 16-2 run to close the gap to only two with 1:51 left in the game.   And it was only a one point game before 5'8 Malik Boothe from Middle Village (Christ the King) NY sealed the deal when he stepped up to the foul line and hit both free throws to make the score 57-54 with 6:8 seconds remaining.  Boothe only had six points, but he was named the tournament MVP, because he provided the leadership, court savvy, defense, and ball handling and passing necessary to make everybody else around him better.  The leader scorers for Middle Village (Christ the King) NY with 19 points and 18 points apiece were 6'1 Soph Sean Johnson and 6'4 Ryan Pearson and the 6'1 Jr Darryl Bryant was leading scorer for Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY with 18 points.  So this sets up the New York State AA Catholic Championships with the semi-finals between Flushing (Holy Cross) NY and New York (Rice) NY at 6:00 PM and Oyster Bay (St. Dominic) NY versus Middle Village (Christ the King) NY at 7:45 PM at SUNY (State University of New York) at Old Westbury in Old Westbury, NY on Friday, March 16th, and the Championship Game will be at 4:30 PM at Fordham University on Sunday, March 18th.  And immediately preceding this New York State Catholic AA Championship Game at Fordham University will be the New York State Catholic A Championship Game with Buffalo (Nichols) NY versus Bronx (Cardinal Hayes) NY at 2:45 PM and the New York State Catholic B Championship Game with Niagara Falls (Niagara Catholic) NY versus New Rochelle (Blessed Sacrament) NY 1:00 PM.  Naclerio also tells us that Bronx (Wings) NY beat Bayside (Cardozo) NY, 65-60; Brooklyn (Boys & Girls) NY beat New York (Frederick Douglass) NY, 62-58; Brooklyn (Canarsie) NY beat New York (Wadleigh) NY, 64-59; and Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY beat Bronx (John F. Kennedy) NY, 72-60; in the four semi-finals games yesterday in the New York PSAL (Public School Athletic League) at St. John's University and the highlight of the day was watching 6'5 Soph Lance Stephenson and 6'2 Devon Peterson combined for 48 of Lincoln's 72 points.  This also steps up the two semi-finals games tomorrow with Bronx (Wings) NY versus Brooklyn (Boys & Girls) NY at 5:00 PM and Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY versus Brooklyn (Canarsie) NY at 7:00 PM at St John's University with the two winners meeting on Sunday at 3:00 PM in the PSAL Championship Game at Madison Square Garden.  We're also glad to see that University of Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart finally has finally cleared things up about Wildcats head coach Tubby Smith's status at the University of Kentucky.  In an Associated Press article that was published earlier today, Barnhart acknowledged that fans had misinterpreted a statement by him as meaning a coaching change was near.  "They're reading way too much into that," says Barnhart, in reference to a statement that he made urging the fans to wait until the postseason before making judgments on the state of the team.  And we think this is very important, because it still looks like the Wildcats are the team to beat for 6'8 Patrick Patterson from Huntington (H.S.) WV and 5'8 Jai Lucas from Houston (Bellaire) TX, who are the two highest ranked seniors still available.  And making the story even more interesting are the rumors that Smith may hire Lucas' father onto his staff in some capacity.  Not only is John Lucas a former Maryland All-American and star in the NBA, but he is currently one of the best work-out coaches in the game today and that's one of the reasons why we like his son so much.  Did you know that former college and pro players come back to train with the father during the summer and the son never misses a session in the morning, afternoon, or evening when he's not out playing on the AAU circuit.  In other words, Lucas has the heart, desire, and leadership skills necessary to step in and run the show and complement all of the good young players, like 6'5 Frosh Jodie Meeks, 6'6 Frosh Derrick Jasper, and 6'9 Frosh Perry Stevenson, that the Wildcats already have in the program.  Unfortunately a lot of other coaches are not in the same position as Smith is in right now, as the coaching merry-go-round appears to be going full speed ahead as athletic directors at schools with disappointing seasons decide to make changes.  As a matter of fact, since we last touched on this subject just three days ago, five more Division I head coaches - South Florida's Robert McCullum, Marshall's Ron Jirsa, Wyoming's Steve McClain, Colorado State's Dale Layer, and Northern Illinois's Rob Judson - have been fired.  So, by our count, there are now 23 Division I head coaching openings and, as of yet, none of them have been filled.  We're talking about a list that includes Minnesota's Dan Monson, Colorado's Ricardo Patton, South Florida's Robert McCullum, Hawaii's Riley Wallace, Utah's Ray Giacoletti, New Mexico's Rickie McKay, Wyoming's Steve McClain, Colorado State's Dale Layer, St. Bonaventure's Anthony Solomon, Marshall's Ron Jirsa, Georgia State's Michael Perry, San Diego's Brad Holland, Santa Clara's Dick Davey, Denver's Terry Carroll, Illinois State's Porter Moser, Evansville's Steve Merfeld, Indiana State's Royce Waltman, Quinnipiac's Joe DeSantis, Northern Illinois's Rob Judson, Radford's Byron Samuels, Liberty's Randy Dunton, Harvard's Frank Sullivan, and Southern Utah's Bill Evans.  We also think it's interesting to point out that already four of the nine head coaching jobs  in the Mountain West Conference are open and the three teams (Illinois State, Evansville, and Indiana State) that finished ranked 8th, 9th, and 10th in the Missouri Valley Conference this year also have heading coaching openings.  As for the latest coaching rumors, the two names that we've been hearing the most for the Marshall job at former Virginia head coach Pete Gillen and Florida associate head coach Donnie Jones.  Did you know that Jones worked as both a graduate assistant and an assistant coach at Marshall from 1990 to 1996 and is originally from Point Pleasant, WV?  We understand that Steve McClain, who has been the head coach at Wyoming for the last nine years, and Illinois State athletic director Dr. Sheahon Zenger, who was the recruiting coordinator and assistant head football coach at Wyoming in the late 90's, have remained close friends over the years and, as a result, this one could turn out to be a no-brainer.  The list for South Florida also continues to grow as the list of potential candidates now being mentioned includes former Utah head coach and television analyst Rick Majerus, George Washington head coach Karl Hobbs, Xavier head coach Sean Miller, Florida assistant coach Larry Shyatt, former UCLA head coach and television analyst Steve Lavin, Holy Cross head coach Ralph Willard, Winthrop head coach Gregg Marshall, former Virginia head coach Pete Gillen, Butler head coach Todd Lickliter, St. Mary's head coach Randy Bennett, Wright State head coach Brad Brownell, Drexel head coach James Flint, Charlotte head coach Bobby Lutz, Virginia Commonwealth head coach Anthony Grant, Massachusetts head coach Travis Ford, South Alabama head coach John Pelphrey, Louisville assistant coach Kevin Willard, Connecticut assistant coach Tom Moore, and Kansas State assistant coach Frank Martin.  Is this really that great a job or are there just no other big time head coaching jobs that are open, except for Minnesota and Colorado, which really aren't glamorous enough to get anybody excited? 

Sunday, March 11, 2007

It looks like we were right on the money when we told you that things were lining up perfectly for the power conferences this year.  And a quick look at the pairings for this year's NCAA Tournament, which was announced earlier this evening and can be found below, really illustrate what we were talking about, as the number of team's in the tournament from none elite conferences stands at only six versus eight a year ago.  And, if Wright State hadn't won the Horizon League, New Mexico State hadn't won the Western Athletic Conference, and George Washington hadn't won the Atlantic-10 Conference tournaments, then this number might have been only three or four.  In other words, we think these upsets in the post-season conference tournaments killed the chances of teams like Syracuse (22-10), West Virginia (22-9), Kansas State (22-11), Oklahoma State (22-12), Clemson (21-10), Michigan (21-12), and Florida State (20-12) getting into the field of 65.  We also were surprised that Missouri State (22-10) didn't get an invitation to the tournament, based on the fact that the Bears finished with a 22-10 record and were ranked #27 and had the 30th toughest schedule, according the Sagarin Ratings.  Clemson also falls into the same category, as the Tigers finished with 21-10 record and were ranked #26 and had the 34th toughest schedule, according the Sagarin Ratings.  However, Clemson sealed its fate last week when the Tigers were upset, 67-66, in the first round Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.  We also find it interesting that Stanford, which had a 18-12 record and was ranked #53 and had the 18th toughest schedule, according to the Sagarin Ratings, is in the tournament.  Did you know that The Cardinal is also the only team from one of the elite conferences (ACC, Big East, Big-10, Big-12, Pacific-10, and SEC) to win fewer than 20 games and still be invited to play in tournament?  In sharp contrast, a year ago five teams fell into the category of winning fewer than 20 game and making the NCAA Tournament.  They were Alabama (17-12), Seton Hall (18-11), Indiana (18-11), Arizona (19-12), and Wisconsin (19-11).  This time around there also were five teams (Arizona, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Boston College, and Vanderbilt) that won 20 games, five teams (Purdue, Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, and Texas Tech) that won 21 games, and four teams (Villanova, Duke, Michigan State, and Tennessee) that won 22 games from elite conferences that received at-large bids into the NCAA Tournament.  There also were four teams (Syracuse, West Virginia, Kansas State, Oklahoma State) that won 22 games from elite conferences that didn't get invited into the NCAA Tournament.   And making this story even more interesting is the fact that Colorado (20-9) was the only team from a major conference a year ago that won 20 games that did not get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and Hofstra (24-6), Western Kentucky (22-7), Akron (22-9), Sam Houston State (22-9), Old Dominion (21-9), Lipscomb (21-10), and Northern Arizona (21-10) were the only Division I teams that won more than 20 games that didn't make the tournament.  However, this time around the list includes of Division I teams that won 20 or more games and didn't make the tournament includes Akron (26-7), Vermont (25-7), Appalachian State (25-7), Marist (24-8), East Tennessee State (24-9), Air Force (23-8), Drexel (23-8), Massachusetts (23-8), Utah State (23-11), Utah Valley State (22-7), Hofstra (22-9), Bucknell (22-9), Fresno State (22-9), Central Florida (22-9), West Virginia (22-9), Syracuse (22-10), Missouri State (22-10), High Point (22-10), Western Kentucky (22-11), College of Charleston (22-11), Kansas State (22-11), Oklahoma State (22-12), Clemson (21-10), San Diego State (21-10), Sam Houston State (21-10), Santa Clara (21-10), Austin Peay (21-11), Loyola-Illinois (21-11), Kent State (21-11), Bradley (21-12), Michigan (21-12), Delaware State (21-12), North Dakota State (20-8), Cal State-Fullerton (20-10), Southern Miss (20-11), Tulsa (20-11), Alabama (20-11), South Alabama (20-11), Mississippi (20-12), Florida State (20-12), and Siena (20-12).  That's an increase from eight teams a year ago to 41 teams this year that fall into this category.  And this important for several reasons.  First, it's obvious that teams are becoming more creative than ever when scheduling in attempt to win as many games a possible.  Second, there really isn't a magic number anymore in terms of wins in relation to getting into the NCAA Tournament.  Third, on paper the NIT should be terrific.  We also think it's interesting that this year the Atlantic Coast Conference has seven teams with North Carolina (28-6), Virginia (20-10), Maryland (24-8), Virginia Tech (21-11), Boston College (20-11), Duke (22-10), and Georgia Tech (20-11); Big East Conference has six teams with Georgetown (26-6), Pittsburgh (27-7), Louisville (22-7), Notre Dame (22-7), Marquette (24-9), and Villanova (22-10); Big-10 Conference has six teams with Ohio State (30-3), Wisconsin (29-5), Indiana (20-10), Illinois (23-11), Purdue (21-11), and Michigan State (22-11); Pacific-10 Conference has six teams with UCLA (26-5), Washington State (25-7), Oregon (26-7), USC (23-11), Arizona (20-10), and Stanford (18-12); the Southeastern Conference has five teams with Florida (29-5), Tennessee (22-10), Kentucky (21-11), Arkansas (21-13), and Vanderbilt (20-11); the Big-12 Conference has four teams with Kansas (30-4), Texas A&M (25-6), Texas (24-9), and Texas Tech (21-12); the Mountain West Conference has two teams with Brigham Young (25-8) and UNLV (28-6); the Atlantic-10 Conference with Xavier (24-8) and George Washington (23-8); the Western Athletic Conference has two teams with Nevada (28-4) and New Mexico State (25-8); the Missouri Valley Conference has two teams with Southern Illinois (27-6) and Creighton (22-10); the Colonial Athletic Association has two teams with Virginia Commonwealth (27-6) and Old Dominion (24-8); and the Horizon League has two teams with Butler (27-6) and Wright State (23-9) in the field of 65.  I also want to point out that I might not be the only one who puts a lot of emphasis on the Sagarin Ratings, as their top four ranked teams - 1) North Carolina, 2) Ohio State, 3) Florida, and 4) Kansas - are the top four seeded teams in this year's NCAA Tournament field;  their next four ranked teams - 5) Wisconsin, 6) UCLA, 7) Memphis, and 8) Georgetown - are the second four seeded teams in this year's tournament; and three of their next four ranked teams -  9) Texas A&M, 10) Pittsburgh, and 11) Maryland - are either a #3 or #4 seed in the tournament.  For comparison sake the top 20 teams in the RPI Ratings are 1) Ohio State, 2) North Carolina, 3) UCLA, 4) Wisconsin, 5) Pittsburgh, 6) Florida, 7) Southern Illinois, 8) Memphis, 9) Georgetown, 10) UNLV, 11) Kansas, 12) Tennessee, 13) Kentucky, 14) Arizona, 15) Duke, 16) Maryland, 17) Texas A&M, 18) Brigham Young, 19) Villanova, and 20) Creighton.  Below are our predictions for this year's NCAA Tournament and they reflect what a wide open year it's been in college basketball, as we're predicting an upset in 14 of the 32 first-round games, which will played on Thursday and Friday this week.  They included #9-seeded Purdue over #8-seeded Arizona, #9-seeded Villanova over #8-seeded Kentucky, #9-seeded Michigan State over #8-seeded Marquette, #9-seeded Xavier over #8-seeded Brigham Young, #10-seeded Georgia Tech over #7-seeded UNLV, #10-seeded Gonzaga over #7-seeded Indiana, #10-seeded Texas Tech over #7-seeded Boston College, #10-seeded Creighton over #7-seeded Nevada, #11-seeded George Washington over #6-seeded Vanderbilt, #12-seeded Old Dominion over #5-seeded Butler, #12-seeded Illinois over #5-seeded Virginia Tech, #12-seeded Arkansas over #5-seeded USC, and #13-seeded Holy Cross over #4-seeded Southern Illinois.  And upon even further review, it appears that I have picked the #9-seed to beat the #8 seed and the #10-seed to beat the #7-seed in all four games and the #12-seed to beat the #5-seed three out of four times.   However, it also looks like I've gotten a lot more conservative in the second round, as the only upsets that I'm picking are #6-seeded Notre Dame to beat #3-seeded Oregon, #5-seeded Tennessee to beat #4-seeded Virginia, and #10-seeded Gonzaga to beat #2-seed UCLA.  I also look for Texas to upset North Carolina in the regional semi-finals and Memphis to upset Ohio State in the regional finals to set up a Final Four that includes Florida, Kansas, Georgetown, and Memphis.  It also should come as now surprise that I have Florida and Georgetown in the championship game with the Gators becoming the first team to repeat as NCAA Champions since Duke did it in 1990 and 1991.  This also will make the Hoyas one of the pre-season favorites for next year, along with teams like North Carolina, Ohio State, Kansas, Louisville, Memphis, UCLA, Washington, and Texas, if 6'10 Kevin Durant returns for his sophomore season.  For even more thoughts, comments, and analysis about the NCAA Tournament pairings and the selection process, click onto HOOP SCOOP On-Radio Basketball Recruiting Show.

HOOP SCOOP NCAA TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS

Midwest Regional
First Round                                             Second Round  Regional Semi-Finals         Regional Finals   NCAA Semi-Finals  Final Two  NCAA Champion
(Seed) Team (Record) (Sagarin Ranking) (Sagarin Strength of Schedule Ranking)
(1) Florida (29-5) (3) (73)
                                                               
Florida
(16) Jackson State (21-13) (232) (321)
                                                                                                 Floridabvh78649
(8) Arizona (20-10) (12) (2)
                                                               
Purdue
(9) Purdue (21-11) (32) (40)   

                                                                                                                                            Florida

(5) Butler (27-6) (21) (102)
                                                               
Old Dominion
(12) Old Dominion (24-8) (68) (154)
                                                                                                 Maryland
(4) Maryland (24-8) (11) (45)
                                                               
Maryland
(13) Davidson (29-4) (55) (197)   

                                                                                                                                                                Florida

(2) Wisconsin (29-5) (5) (47)
                                                              
Wisconsin
(15) Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (26-6) (86) (264)
                                                                                                 Wisconsin
(7) UNLV (28-6) (29) (77)
                                                              
Georgia Tech
(10) Georgia Tech (20-11) (19) (31)

                                                                                                                                         Wisconsin

(3) Oregon (26-7) (15) (67)
                                                              
Oregon
(14) Miami-OH (18-14) (99) (97)
                                                                                                 Notre Dame
(6) Notre Dame (24-7) (14) (115)
                                                              
Notre Dame
(11) Winthrop (28-4) (37) (232)

                                                                                                                                                                                       Florida

West Regional
First Round                                             Second Round  Regional Semi-Finals         Regional Finals   NCAA Semi-Finals  Final Two  NCAA Champion
(Seed) Team (Record) (Sagarin Ranking) (Sagarin Strength of Schedule Ranking)
(1) Kansas  (30-4) (4) (72)
                                                               
Kansas
(16) Florida A&M (19-13) (231) (314)
(16) Niagara (22-11) (162) 296)

                                                                                                 Kansas
(8) Kentucky (21-11) (18) (1)
                                                               
Villanova
(9) Villanova (22-10) (20) (9)

                                                                                                                                          Kansas

(5) Virginia Tech (21-11) (25) (11)
                                                               
Illinois
(12) Illinois (23-11) (45) (50)
                                                                                                Illinois
(4) Southern Illinois (27-6) (17) (8)
                                                               
Holy Cross
(13) Holy Cross (25-8) (93) (227)

                                                                                                                                                                Kansas

(2) UCLA (26-5) (6) (6)
                                                              
UCLA
(15) Weber State (20-11) (153) (226)
                                                                                                 Gonzaga
(7) Indiana (20-10) (28) (28)
                                                              
Gonzaga
(10) Gonzaga (23-10) (46) (82)

                                                                                                                                          Pittsburgh

(3) Pittsburgh (27-7) (10) (17)
                                                              
Pittsburgh
(14) Wright State (23-9) (88) (145)
                                                                                                 Pittsburgh
(6) Duke (22-10) (13) (3)
                                                              
Virginia Commonwealth
(11) Virginia Commonwealth (27-6) (58) (184)

                                                                                                                                                                                       Florida

East Regional
First Round                                             Second Round  Regional Semi-Finals         Regional Finals   NCAA Semi-Finals  Final Two  NCAA Champion
(Seed) Team (Record) (Sagarin Ranking) (Sagarin Strength of Schedule Ranking)
(1) North Carolina (28-6) (1) (5)
                                                               
North Carolina
(16) Eastern Kentucky (21-11) (168) (279)
                                                                                                 North Carolina
(8) Marquette (24-9) (36) (65)
                                                               
Michigan State
(9) Michigan State (22-11) (22) (29)

                                                                                                                                          Texas

(5) USC (23-11) (35) (57)
                                                               
Arkansas
(12) Arkansas (21-13) (40) (10)  
                                                                                                 Texas
(4) Texas (24-9) (16) (46)
                                                               
Texas
(13) New Mexico State (25-8) (83) (160)

                                                                                                                                                          Georgetown

(2) Georgetown (26-6) (8) (37)
                                                              
Georgetown
(15) Belmont (23-9) (126) (299)
                                                                                                 Georgetown
(7) Boston College (20-11) (34) (13)
                                                              
Texas Tech
(10) Texas Tech (21-12) (64) (33)

                                                                                                                                          Georgetown

(3) Washington State (25-6) (23) (52)
                                                              
Washington State
(14) Oral Roberts (23-10) (96) (168)
                                                                                                 Washington State
(6) Vanderbilt (20-11) (54) (32)
                                                              
George Washington
(11) George Washington (23-8) (71) (172)

                                                                                                                                                                                         Georgetown           

South Regional
First Round                                             Second Round  Regional Semi-Finals         Regional Finals   NCAA Semi-Finals  Final Two  NCAA Champion
(Seed) Team (Record) (Sagarin Ranking) (Sagarin Strength of Schedule Ranking)
(1) Ohio State  (30-3) (2) (35)
                                                               
Ohio State
(16) Central Connecticut State (18-14) (193) (325)
                                                                                                 Ohio State
(8) Brigham Young (25-8) (44) (85)
                                                               
Xavier
(9) Xavier (24-8) (41) (121)

                                                                                                                                        Ohio State

(5) Tennessee (22-10) (24) (7)
                                                               
Tennessee
(12) Long Beach State (24-7) (91) (212)
                                                                                                 Tennessee
(4) Virginia (20-10) (39) (42)
                                                               
Virginia
(13) Albany (23-9) (124) (241)

                                                                                                                                                       Memphis

(2) Memphis (30-3) (7) (119)
                                                              
Memphis
(15) North Texas (23-10) (143) (283)
                                                                                                 Memphis
(7) Nevada (28-4) (31) (141)
                                                              
Creighton
(10) Creighton (22-10) (30) (19)

                                                                                                                                           Memphis

(3) Texas A&M (25-6) (9) (78)
                                                              
Texas A&M
(14) Pennsylvania (22-8) (110) (201)
                                                                                                 Louisville
(6) Louisville (23-9) (33) (69)
                                                               
Louisville      
(11) Stanford (18-12) (53) (18)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

One of the many things that separates the HOOP SCOOP from most of our "so-called competition" is our page with Links to all of the important basketball web sites on the internet.  And among the Links that I've recently added to our web site that you will be sure to want to check out are the Sagarin Ratings, RPI Ratings, Bob Gibbons.net, NY2LA Sports, IllinoisHSBasketball, United States Basketball Writers Association, National Association of Basketball Coaches, Basketball Hall of Fame, New York Catholic High School Athletic Association, New York Public School Athletic League, NYHoops.com, New York City Sporting News, Kentucky Prep Hoops, PA Prep Report, Metro Hoops Basketball, Ron Briscoe Basketball.com, and Hoosierland Report.  This brings the number to an even 100, but I'm always looking for new places to find information and, as a result, encourage anybody who wants to make me aware of a link that I should consider adding to this page to do so by emailing me at hoopscooponline@msn.com.   As a matter of fact, I got a call just other day from Damon Handon, who asked me to check out the new DC Assault web site, which is dedicated to promoting the players in one of the premier club team programs in the nation.  The first think you see is a congratulations "to former DC Assault players Jeff Green ((Georgetown) for being selected Big East Player-of-the-Year and Tre Kelly (South Carolina) for being selected First Team All-SEC;" a link to profiles of all the current players in the program, including Michael Beasley, Austin Freeman, Nolan Smith, Julian Vaughn, Dominique Sutton, Darnell Dodson, Kenny Belton, and Isaiah Tate; and a mention of the fact that Beasley, Freeman, and Smith will all play in the McDonald's All-American Game at Freedom Hall in Louisville, KY on March 28th and that Beasley and Smith will also play in the NIKE Hoop Summit at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN on April 7th.  This web site also includes Player Profiles, Staff Biographies, DC Assault Alumni, Teams, and Foundation Information and it is very professionally done.  So I encourage you to check it out.  Getting back to the business at hand, I also have arranged all of the links on our Links page in somewhat of an order, whereby, you can find most of the national recruiting and basketball web sites down the left-hand side of the page.  I also have even included a link to all of the Scout Sports Sites and Rivals-Student Sports Sites, because, with a few exceptions, I have not included most of the web sites on both networks in this section, unless they bring something unique and interesting to the table, like Juco Junction.com does.  Across the top and starting down the right hand side of the Links page are a list of numerous camps, all-star games, and events; near the left-hand bottom of the page and in most of the two middle sections are links to area and state web sites; and down the right hand side of the page are a lot of important links to organizations, as well as informational links, including to college team and conference web sites and Newspapers.com. 

Friday, March 9, 2007

With the firing of Liberty's Randy Dunton, Georgia State's Michael Perry, Indiana State's Royce Waltman, Harvard's Frank Sullivan, Illinois State's Porter Moser, Southern Utah's Bill Evans, St. Bonaventure's Anthony Solomon; resignation of Utah's Ray Giacoletti, Evansville's Steve Merfeld, Denver's Terry Carroll, and ouster of Quinnipiac's Joe DeSantis and San Diego's Brad Holland; all within the last week, there are now 18 head coaching opening at Division I level.  If you will recall, Minnesota, Colorado, Radford, and Hawaii all opened months ago when Dan Monson was bought out from his contract and Ricardo Patton, Byron Samuels, and Riley Wallace announced that they would step down at the end of the season and Santa Clara and New Mexico both opened in February when Santa Clara head coach Dick Davey announced that he would retire and it was announced that New Mexico head coach Rickie McKay will be fired at the end of the season.  And there are a lot more Division I head coaching jobs that likely will open during the next several weeks.  But especially interesting is the list of coaches who appear to be on the hot seat, like Kentucky's Tubby Smith, Oregon's Ernie Kent, Arkansas' Stan Heath, and Michigan's Tommy Amaker, who have won 20 or more games this season.  And, in the case of Smith, he's won 75% of his games; won the NCAA Championship in 1998; guided his team to three Elite Eight, two Sweet 16, and three Final 32 appearances in his nine years at Kentucky.  So Kentucky fans should be careful what you wish for, because they may actually get it.  Remember, Smith not only is class act, first class person, and good recruiter, but he's also an excellent coach, as is evident by the fact that we plan to rank him once again among the top 10 college coaches in the game today, along with Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Kansas's Roy Williams, Texas Tech's Bob Knight, Louisville's Rick Pitino, Connecticut's Jim Calhoun, Arizona's Lute Olson, UCLA's Ben Howland, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, and Memphis' John Calipari.  In other words, except for Calipari, who is the only coach on this list who might actually be interested in the Kentucky job, the Wildcats would arguably have to take a step down when coming up with a replacement, if Smith decides enough is enough and takes a head coaching job in the NBA, leaves for another college job, or simply sits back and counts all of his money (his buy-out is estimated to be in the $4 million range).  However, let's say that the Kentucky job does open and Wildcats athletic director Mitch Barnhart does hire Calipari.  That would make things really interesting, because one of Memphis' current prime recruiting targets is 6'4 Jr Tyreke Evans from Aston (American Christian) PA, who is ranked #2 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP and also has schools like Louisville, Villanova, North Carolina, and Connecticut at the top of his list.  In the case of Kent, his team is currently 24-7 and has won their last four games, including impressive wins against Washington State and UCLA.  But there is a new athletic director at the Oregon and this one doesn't appear to be about just wins and loses, as the Ducks are in the process of raising the money to build a new facility.  So it's not surprising that the name of former Golden State Warriors and Stanford University head coach Mike Montgomery keeps coming up.  However, we'd be surprised if this actually materialized, especially if the Ducks continue to win and Kent receives some consideration for National Coach-of-the-Year honors.  The popular consensus is that Arkansas has to make the NCAA Tournament in order for Heath to keep his job.  But, with today's one-point win against Vanderbilt and a winnable game tomorrow in the Southeastern Conference semi-finals against Mississippi State, suddenly that isn't totally out of the question.  Michigan didn't help Amaker's cause today with a 10-point loss against Ohio State, but the Wolverines have won 21 games, including wins against Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois, and Purdue, and are still right on the bubble of making the NCAA Tournament.  If either Arkansas or Michigan do open, the name we're hearing the most is UNLV head coach Lon Kruger.  And that would make things really interesting, because New Mexico State head coach Reggie Theus, whose team is 23-8 heading into tonight's game against Boise State, was a star for the Runnin' Rebels in the 70's, knows all the right people in Las Vegas, NV, and is second to none as both a coach and a recruiter.  And, if Theus returned home to his old-stamping grounds, that would open the door for somebody like Louisville assistant coach Marvin Menzies to get the New Mexico State job.  Another place where Menzies, who previously was an assistant coach at San Diego State, USC, and UNLV and has incredible West Coast ties, would be perfect is at the University of San Diego.  We also think former either Seton Hall head coach Louis Orr or former Iowa State head coach Wayne Morgan would be excellent at St. Bonaventure.  Both are terrific recruiters, they both have head coaching experience at the big time college level, and they both need a job.  Or, if St. Bonaventure wants to go in a different direction, then Wagner head coach Mike Deane is an incredible X's and O's guy and has a track record of already building a number of programs from the ground up and Albany's Will Brown is hot after going 22-9 overall and 13-3 in the America East Conference this year.  We also suspect that it's just a matter of time before South Florida head coach Robert McCullum is sent packing and, when he is, you can bet that Virginia Commonwealth head coach Anthony Grant, Florida assistant coach Larry Shyatt, Connecticut assistant coach Tom Moore, South Alabama head coach John Pelphrey, and Holy Cross head coach Ralph Willard will be some of the names being mentioned for this job.  We're also hearing Fordham head coach Dereck Whittenburg's name being mentioned for the Minnesota job and what would you think if Duke assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski got the Utah job?  Did you know that Wojciechowski's wife is from Salt Lake City, UT?  We're also hearing that it may be 50-50 with regards to whether Dave Odom is out at the University of South Carolina.  And, if he is, you can bet that University of Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith's name will be mentioned for the South Carolina job.  Remember, Smith was an assistant coach for the Gamecocks during the George Felton era, he was mentioned as a candidate for the job when it was open six years ago, and he's originally from that part of the country.  Rhode Island assistant coach Pat Skerry would be a perfect fit at Harvard and University of Maryland assistant coach Chuck Driesell and Georgia Tech assistant coach Charlton Young are naturals for the Georgia State job.  It also appears that Quinnipiac wants to hire a young up-and-coming head coach, which means that that Fordham assistant coach Jared Grosso, who graduated from Quinnipiac in 2002 and currently ranks 22nd on the Bobcats' all-time scoring list with 1,134 points, fifth on the all-time list in assists with 404 assists, and fourth on the all-time assists in 3-point field goals with 216, might have the inside track.

Our Florida Editor Rick Staudt also tells us that earlier this week that 6'5 Alvin Mitchell form Ft. Lauderdale (Cardinal Gibbons) FL, who is ranked #114 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, verbally committed to the University of Cincinnati.  And this is big for Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin for a number of reasons.  First, Mitchell was the 6th highest ranked senior nationally, behind 6'8 Patrick Patterson from Huntington (H.S.) WV, 5'8 Jai Lucas from Houston (Bellaire) TX, 7'1 Boubacar Sylla from Simi Valley (Stoneridge Prep) CA, 6'1 Courtney Fortson from Montgomery (Jefferson Davis) AL, and 6'11 Teeng Akol from Centereach (Our Savior New American) NY, who was still available.  Second, what Mitchell does best is score, as he is excellent at creating his own from beyond the arc and is strong and quick enough to be very effective when he decides to go to the basket.  Third, Mitchell is versatile enough to play any position from point guard to wing forward.  Fourth, Mitchell is one of the fastest rising players in the senior class nationally, as is evident by the fact that he didn't get much national acclaim until he played with Team Breakdown at the Reebok Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas, NV last summer and, and as a result, is now ranked #4 in the senior class in the state, behind 6'5 Nick Calathes from Winter Park (Lake Howell) FL, 6'8 Chandler Parsons from Winter Park (Lake Howell) FL, and 7'1 Solomon Alabi from Montverde (Academy) FL and ahead of 6'1 Edwin Rios from Miami (Senior) FL, 6'4 Gary Clark from Montverde (Academy) FL, 5'11 Joey Rodriquez from Winter Park (Lake Howell) FL, 6'6 Adam Allen from Milton (H.S.) FL, 6'5 Lance Kearse from Ft. Myers (H.S.) FL, and 5'11 Chris Warren from Orlando (Dr. Phillips) FL.  Fifth, Cincinnati needs bodies, as is evident by the fact that they have only nine scholarship players in the program in 6'7 Sr Cedric McGowan, 6'9 Sr Ronald Allen, 6'6 Jr John Williamson, 6'8 Jr Marcus Sikes, 6'2 Jr Jamual Warren, 6'3 Jr Marvin Gentry, 6'2 Jr Tim Crowell, 6'1 Frosh Deonta Vaughn, and 6'8 Mike Williams, who is a red-shirt sophomore this year.  The Bearcats do have four players - 6'6 Jason Henry from Cincinnati (Harmony Christian) OH, 6'5 Alvin Mitchell form Ft. Lauderdale (Cardinal Gibbons) FL, 6'3 Larry Davis from Alief (Hastings) TX, and 6'5 Rashad Bishop from Newark (St. Benedict's) NJ - in the fold in a recruiting class that is currently tied at #43, along with Rutgers, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2007, but they also still have seven more scholarships available when you combine this year's and next year's recruiting classes.  Staudt also tells us that about a week ago 5'11 Javi Gonzalez from Miami (Dr. Krop) FL verbally committed to N.C. State.  And this too is important, because Gonzalez, who is ranked #210 nationally in the senior class, is a savvy point guard with good ball handling and passing skills and a knack for making those around him better.  In other words, Gonzalez is ideally suited to step in and provide the perfect complement to 6'8 James Hickson from Marietta (Wheeler) GA, 6'8 Tracy Smith from Durham (Mt. Zion Christian) NC, and 6'6 Johnny Thomas from Greensboro (Day) NC, who also are already apart of the Wolfpack's recruiting class, which is now tied at #17, along with Purdue, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2007.  Staudt also provides us with a list of schools for 6'4 Jr Ray Shipman from Miami (Monsignor Pace) FL, which includes LSU, Florida, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami-FL, and Kansas State.  We also have confirmed 6'7 Daniel Thompson from Springdale (C.H. Flowers) MD  has committed that Mount St. Mary's.   And he's exactly what the Mountaineers were looking for, because Thompson is an athletic power forward with great hands, sneaky skills, an effective mid-range game, and enough versatility to average 15 ppg, 12 rpg, 4 apg this year.  It also looks like 6'0 Jr Rotnei Clarke from Claremore (Verdigris) OK, who is ranked #52 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP and is one of the best 3-point shooters to come down the pike in along time, is in the process of re-writing all of the scoring records in his state.  As a matter of fact, the 60-point performance that Clarke turned in last night against Vian (H.S.) OK in the 3A State Tournament is the highest single-game scoring performance in state history.  The previous record was held by Reggie Weckstein, who had 51 points in a game in 2004.  And, if Clarke's team keeps winning, he also likely will be on track to break both season and career scoring records for the state tournament.  Clarke, who has had six 3-pointers, 12 rebounds, and eight assists in last night's game, also racked up 57 points in a game a week ago and is already well on his way towards becoming the all-time leading scorer in state history.  Our New England Editor Adam Finkelstein tells us that Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA beat North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) ME, 114-94, to win the National Prep Championship last night at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, DC.  And, once again, the big hero was 6'8 Michael Beasley from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA, who finished with 30 points, 20 rebounds, and three blocked shots.  Beasley also was the guy who stepped up and scored back-to-back baskets both times after Bridgton Academy cut the lead to only six points late in game.  Beasley was complemented by 6'2 Johnny Higgins from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA, who had 28 points and did a good job of both hitting the 3-point shot and getting into the lane, and 6'2 Deonte Roberts, who finished with 23 points and once again impressed everybody with his quick first step and tight handle.   Bridgton Academy was led by 6'8 Justin Burrell and 6'1 Brian Rudolph, who combined for 40 points, and once again 6'1 Paul Becklens, who finished with 13 points for North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) ME, was more than just solid, as he shot the three, got into the lane, and was tough as nails.  Fingelstein also points out that Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA knocked off the #1 and #3-ranked prep school teams in the nation in North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) ME and Lenoir (Patterson School) NC on consecutive days to win the National Prep Championship.  "In past years had a poll that determined the champion," says Fingelstein.  "But now there is no doubt about it, as Notre Dame Prep is the definitive championship and Beasley was clearly the best player, as he was clearly a man among boys." 

Thursday, March 8, 2007

If you were a basketball fan in the New York City area last night, would you have gone to watch Providence versus West Virginia and Marquette versus St. John's first round of the Big East Tournament?  Or would you have been one of the 6500 fans at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, NJ attending the big game that featured Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ versus Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, which were ranked #2 and #3 in Chris Lawlor's most recent Super 25 National Ranking of the Top High School Teams in the USA Today, for the Non-Public B championship in New Jersey?  Or would you been at the two CHSAA (Catholic High School Athletic Association semi-finals games at St. John's University in Jamaica, NY?  Our New York City Editor Ron Naclerio opted for the two games right in his backyard and, as a result, got to see Middle Village (Christ the King) NY come back from a seven-point deficit at half-time to beat New York (Rice) NY, 67-64, and Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY come from behind to upset Flushing (Holy Cross) NY, 79-78, in the CHSAA semi-finals.  Holy Cross, which hit seven 3-pointers in the first half, led 42-24 at half-time and was up by as many as 21 points mid-way through the 3rd Quarter.  However, that's when the momentum changed and St. Raymond's came roaring back to actually take the lead when Drexel-bound 6'0 Gerald Colds hit a 3-pointer with three-and-a-half minutes to go.  Then, 6'5 Jr Sylvan Landedesburg answered with a three of his own and Holy Cross went on a 7-0 to go up by four points with 2:08 left in the game.  But Holy Cross, which missed four out of six free throws in the final two minutes of the game, failed to put the game away and that set the stage for 6'1 Darryl Bryant from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY to hit the game tying and game winning free throws with nine seconds remaining.  Holy Cross came back down the court, but was unable to get a shot off and, as a result, it will be Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY versus Middle Village (Christ the King) NY in the championship game of the CHSAA Playoffs on Sunday at 3:00 PM at Fordham University.  5'7 Jr Erving Walker led Christ the King with 27 points, including 10-10 free throws, in the 4th Quarter.  Also chipping in with 22 points for Christ the King was 6'5 Andrew Gabriel.  Rice, which had control of the game for the first three quarters, was led by 6'4 Soph Durant Scott with 28 points.  But down the stretch Christ the King grinded it out and 5'9 Soph Lamont Jones from from New York (Rice) NY missed a 3-pointer with two seconds left that would have sent the game into overtime.  Rice's 17-game winning streak also was ended and they suffered their first loss against a catholic team from the city all year.  Also on Sunday, March 12th, the four quarterfinals games in the PSAL (Public School Athletic League ) will tip-off at St. John's University with #6-seeded Bayside (Cardozo) NY versus #3-seeded Bronx (Wings) NY 11:00 AM, followed by #2- Brooklyn (Boys & Girls) NY versus #7-seeded New York (Frederick Douglass) NY at 1:00 PM, #4-seeded New York (Wadleigh) NY versus #5-seeded Brooklyn (Canarsie) NY at 3:00 PM, and #1-seeded Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY versus #8-seeded Bronx (John F. Kennedy) NY.  In other words, Lincoln head coach Tiny Morton will be going after his 5th PSAL Championship in the last six years .  And, there is no question that Lincoln is the favorite again thanks the fact that they have 6'5 Soph Lance Stephenson from Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY, who, like Sebastian Telfair was when they won the the PSAL Championship in 2002, 2003, and 2004, promises to be the best player in New York City for three straight years.  The PSAL Semi-finals will be Tuesday, March 18th, at St. John's and, if everything goes as expected, it will be Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY versus Brooklyn (Boys & Girls) NY for the fourth time this year in the championship game at 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 18th at Madison Square Garden.  Boys & Girls won the first match-up, 61-60; lost the second match-up, 90-74, and blew a 14-point 4th Quarter lead and lost, 75-74, in the third match-up earlier this year between Lincoln and Boys & Girls, which features a well balanced attack that  Boys and Girls is lead by 6'1 Zamal Nixon, 6'6 Jr David Imes, 6'6 Kendell Cutler, 6'7 Wayne Allison., and 6'3 Malik Jenkins.  Also last night Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ knocked off Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ, 62-46, thanks primarily to the efforts of 6'3 Soph Dexter Strickland and 6'8 Jr Quintrell Thomas, who combined for 12 points in the second quarter, when 6'1 Corey Fisher was on the bench and in foul trouble.  Our New England Editor Adam Finkelstein was at the semi-finals of the National Prep Championship last night at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, DC and he tells us that the 121-118 double overtime thriller between North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) ME and Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA was the best game that he's seen in a long time.  Bridgton Academy had a chance to win the game in regulation when 6'1 Brian Rudolph tried to penetrate and dish, but got called for a charge on what was a questionable call.  Bridgton Academy was also up by three late in the first overtime when 6'5 Dorenzo Hudson from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA hit an off-balance running three to send the game into a second overtime.  And Bridgton Academy was up 121-115 with a minute left to go in that second overtime when 6'4 Jordan Crawford from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA hit a pull-up three to cut it to three.  However, Bridgton didn't score on its final possession and Hargrave got three looks to tie the game in the final minute of the game, although none of them went down.  Crawford had 37 points, including threes from NBA 3-point range, pull-up jumpers off the dribble, and he got to the basket with ease in transition.  6'7 Jeff Allen from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA had 28 points, but was clearly outplayed in second half by 6'8 Justin Burrell from North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) ME, who finished with 21 points and was the dominant force in the paint.  Hudson had 23 points and 6'8 Mike Scott had 20 points for Hargrave Military Academy.  Bridgton Academy's 6'3 Greg Hill led way with 29 points, as he was very impressive shooting from beyond the arc.  6'3 Paris Horne from North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) ME also finished with 21 points, as he attacked basket and hit mid-range pull up jumpers, and 6'1 Brian Rudolph from North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) ME, who was the MVP in the NEPSAC (New England Prep School Athletic Conference) Tournament a week ago when they beat Wolfeboro (Brewster Academy) NH, was great breaking people down off the dribble and even surprised those in attendance with several 3-pointers.  Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA beat Lenoir (Paterson) NJ, 89-75, in the other semi-finals game, but both team's struggled to find their offensive rhythm early in the game.  And making the story even more interesting was the fact that 6'8 Michael Beasley from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA had only two points and three fouls in first half, but had 29 points in second half and was the key reason why Notre Dame pulled away down the stretch.  6'2 Deonte Roberts also chipped in with 17 points for Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA and 6'6 Tirrell Baines and 6'5 Jeremy Hazel led the way for Lenoir (Patterson School) NC with 25 and 13 points apiece.  The National Prep Championship Game will be held tonight between North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) ME and  Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA at 7:00 PM at University of District of Columbia and Fingelstein will provide us with score and all of the highlights tomorrow.  So stay tuned! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

I mentioned that things appear to be lining up perfectly for the super conferences two weeks ago when we were speculating on who would be this year's NCAA Tournament and my most recent check of where things stand in each of the 31 NCAA Division I Conference simply reinforces this opinion even further.  However, unlike a year ago when the magic number for teams in the top six Division I Conferences was 20 (Colorado was the only team in the ACC, Big East, Big-10, Big-12, Southeastern, and Pacific-10 conferences a year ago to win 20 or more games, but not get invited to the NCAA Tournament), this year the bar appears to have been raised to 22 wins in order to be assured of making this year's Big Dance.  And based on this theory alone, the Big East Conference with Georgetown (23-6), Pittsburgh (25-6), Louisville (22-8), Notre Dame (23-6), Marquette (24-8), Syracuse (22-9), West Virginia (22-8), and Villanova (22-9) will have eight teams in this year's NCAA Tournament.  I also think the Atlantic Coast Conference will have eight teams in the field of 65 based on the fact that North Carolina (25-6), Virginia (20-9), Maryland (24-7), Virginia Tech (20-10), Boston College (19-10), Duke (22-9), Georgia Tech (20-10), and Clemson (21-9) all are ranked among the top 32 teams in the nation and have a strength of schedule that  is ranked among the top 40 teams in the nation in the Sagarin Ratings.  And, if that weren't enough, there eight teams also are all ranked among the top 43 teams in the nation and have a strength of schedule that is ranked among the top 52 teams in the nation in the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) Ratings.  As a matter of fact, we think the only way that Clemson doesn't make the NCAA Tournament is if they decide penalize the Tigers, which were 7-9 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, for not having a winning record in the league.  But to our knowledge that's not part of the criteria that NCAA Selection Committee uses when when picking the field of 65.  And supporting what we're talking about even further is the fact that Clemson is ranked #26 and #36 respectively in the Sagarin and RPI Ratings and has a strength of schedule that is ranked #29 and #52 respectively in those same two ratings.  Or to look at this another way, Clemson would clearly be the highest ranked team in the nation in both the Sagarin and RPI Ratings to not make the tournament field, if the selection committee decides that the Tigers are not worthy of a bid.  And making the story even more interesting is the fact that as things stand now the highest ranked team in the nation in the Sagarin Ratings that we don't include in the NCAA field also is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.  We're talking about Florida State, which is currently 19-11 overall, is ranked #40 and #49 respectively in the Sagarin and RPI Ratings, and has a strength of schedule that is ranked #17 and #23 respectively in the Sagarin and RPI Ratings.  So, it's still theoretically possible that Florida State could become the 8th team from the Atlantic Coast Conference selected into the field of 65, if they knock off Clemson tomorrow and then beat North Carolina on Friday.  Also, as things stand now, the Big-10 Conference should get six teams with Ohio State (27-3), Wisconsin (27-4), Indiana (20-9), Illinois (21-10), Purdue (20-10), and Michigan State (21-10); the Big-12 Conference should get four teams with Kansas (27-4), Texas A&M (25-5), Texas (22-8), and Texas Tech (20-11); the Pacific-10 Conference should get five teams with UCLA (26-4), Washington State (24-8), Oregon (23-7), Arizona (20-9), and USC (21-10); Southeastern Conference should get four teams with Florida (26-5), Tennessee (22-9), Vanderbilt (20-10), and Kentucky (20-10); Missouri Valley Conference should get three teams with Southern Illinois (27-6), Creighton (22-10), and Missouri State (22-10); Mountain West Conference should get three teams with Brigham Young (23-7), UNLV (25-6), Air Force (23-7); and the Horizon League should get two teams with Butler (27-6) and Wright State (23-9) into this year's  NCAA Tournament field.  That's a total of 43 teams for nine automatic bids and 34 at-large spots.  The other 22 automatic bids go to Belmont (23-9), Winthrop (28-4), Virginia Commonwealth (27-6), Pennsylvania (22-8), Niagara (22-11), Oral Roberts (23-10), Central Connecticut State (22-11), Eastern Kentucky (21-11), Davidson (29-4), North Texas (23-10), Gonzaga, (23-10), all of which have already won their conference tournament, and the winners of the America East Conference, Atlantic-10 Conference, Big Sky Conference, Big West Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Patriot League, Southland Conference, Southwestern Athletic Conference, and Western Athletic Conference, all which will be determined as the week wears on.  However, a number of things could change depending upon what happens in key games that will be played tomorrow and the next day.  And right at the top of the list is Kansas State (21-10), which will almost have to be in the field of 65, if they beat the winner of the Texas Tech-Colorado game tomorrow, on Friday.  As a matter, of fact, if Texas Tech wins tomorrow and Kansas State knocks off the Red Raiders on Friday, then Kansas State would probably replace Texas Tech as the fourth team in the tournament from the Big-12 Conference.  Or Oklahoma State (20-11) could assure itself a spot in the tournament with a win tomorrow against Nebraska and an upset victory on Friday against Texas A&M.  Remember, we think 22 wins in the magic number that assures schools from major conferences a spot in this year's NCAA Tournament field.  Michigan (20-11) could also make things very interesting with a win tomorrow over Minnesota.  But, unless the Wolverines also knock off Ohio State on Friday, we think Purdue, which plays Iowa on Friday, will retain its spot ahead of Michigan as the bubble team that makes it into the tournament from the Big-10 Conference.  Alabama (20-10) has advanced into the NCAA Tournament field three of the last five years with only 17 wins.  But, unless the Tide rolls over Kentucky tomorrow, a fourth time probably won't a charm for Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried, whose team needs another win or two in order to be assured a spot this time around.  We also like Stanford (18-11), which is ranked #53 and has a strength of schedule that is ranked #16 in the Sagarin Ratings.  However, we like Bradley (21-12), which is ranked #52 and has a strength of schedule that is ranked #10 in the Sagarin Ratings, even better.  But, unfortunately, we don't think the Braves, which have three more wins on their résumé, will get invited to play in the tournament either.  Instead, the smart money is probably on somebody like Old Dominion (24-8), Xavier (23-7), or Massachusetts (23-7), if the NCAA Selection Committee decides to try and increase the odds of a mid-major program coming out the woodwork, like George Mason did a year ago, and/or they want help attendance in the NIT, which now is owned by the NCAA, by snubbing some teams that really should be in the NCAA Tournament field.  Besides, Old Dominion is ranked #39, which is higher than any team that we currently don't have in the field of 65, and has a strength of schedule that is ranked #77 in the RPI.  In the case of the Musketeers and the Minutemen, either team could easily win two more games and still not beat the other in the conference tournament championship.  We also think New Mexico State (22-8), which hosts the Western Athletic Conference Tournament in Las Cruces, NM, could knock off Nevada in the championship game and, as a result, another one of the teams mentioned above would get bumped from the field of 65.  Moral to the story, if you're 27-3 overall and 14-2 in one of the top dozen conferences in college basketball, you shouldn't have to worry about winning the conference tournament (i.e. Nevada).

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Our West Coast Editor Alan Utter covered the Southern Section Finals of the CIF Playoffs at the Honda Center (formerly the Pond) in Anaheim, CA over the weekend and for the second time this season Lakewood (Artesia) CA, which is the #2-ranked team in the state, upset Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, which is the #1-ranked team in the state.  Back in December it was a only a one-point game, but this time around Artesia left little doubt about which team was better as they outplayed Mater Dei down the stretch to take home 77-68 victory.  And making the story even more interesting is the fact that 6'9 Soph Renardo Sidney from Lakewood (Artesia) CA, who finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds and left little doubt why he is the #1-ranked sophomore in the nation, and 6'4 James Harden from Lakewood (Artesia) CA, who had 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, teamed up to form what is currently the best one-two punch in high school basketball on the West Coast.  Also chipping in with 13 points for Artesia was 6'5 Jr Malik Story, but he also only hit 5-15 field goals and 1-7 3-pointers.   The leading scorer in the game and best player for Mater Dei was Duke-bound 6'7 Taylor King, who finished with 31 points, four rebounds, 10-20 field goals, and 4-10 3-pointers.  The Wear twins (6'9 Soph Travis Wear and 6'9 Soph David Wear) also both had good games for Mater Dei, as they combined for 18 points and 14 rebounds, and 6'3 Kamyron Brown from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA also chipped in with nine points and six assists, but hit only 3-13 field goals after dislocating a finger on his shooting hand in the first quarter.  Another one of the top performances of the day was turned in by 6'11 Jr Corbin Moore from Los Alamitos (H.S.) CA, who finished with 27 points, 16 rebounds, 9-10 field goals, and 9-11 field goals, as he led his team to a 67-50 win over Redondo Beach (Redondo Union) CA.  Moore, who is much stronger and more active than he was a year ago, was like a man among boys inside against the shorter Redondo Union players with lay-ups and put-backs.  And, if Moore continues to develop the way has in the last year, he likely will project as an excellent Pac-10 player, as well as a legitimate top 50 player in the Class of 2008.  Utter was also very impressed with 6'3 Jr Jrue Holiday from North Hollywood (Campbell Hall) CA, who scored 38 points in a 61-57 overtime win against La Canada (H.S.) CA.  And matching Holiday almost point-for-point in this game was 6'7 Adam Malik from La Canada (H.S.) CA, who finished with 31 points, eight rebounds, 10-16 field goals, and 4-7 3-pointers, and 5-5 free throws, as he not only was primarily responsible for forcing the overtime, but also clearly out player Holiday's older brother - 6'6 Justin Holiday from North Hollywood (Campbell Hall) CA, who had only 10 points and four rebounds and hit only 4-11 fields.  Malik is an underrated do it all kind of player who could be a major steal for the right mid-major college team this spring.  Pasadena (H.S.) CA beat Playa del Rey (St. Bernard) CA, 79-63, thanks to primarily to the efforts of 6'6 Nigel Ajere, who finished with 27 points and nine rebounds; Corono (Centennial) CA beat Norco (H.S.) CA, 46-39; and Corona (Del Mar) CA beat La Canada (Renaissance Academy) CA, 67-59.  That last game was especially interesting for several reasons.  First, Renaissance Academy put up a good fight to get to the small school championship, even though the school's enrollment totals only 76 students.  Second, Renaissance Academy has a 6'8 Soph Anthony Stover, who finished with only six points, but has a big upside and a lot of natural talent.  Third, 6'8 Jr Stefan Kaluz from Corono (Del Mar) CA, who is originally from Slovakia and is another guy who is currently under the radar screen, finished with 18 points and five rebounds.  Our Texas Editor Tim Miller tells us that 6'3 Marcus Brister from Irving (God's Academy) TX has verbally committed to Iowa State.  And, we find this extremely interesting, because Miller is also telling us that Brister, who was ranked #64 in Mike Kunstadt's Post Season Ranking of Top Seniors in the state a year ago on TexasHoops.com, has a chance to become another Jamal Tinsley.  "Brister is a tough hardnosed penetrating point guard who can beat you with speed and quickness and has a knack for making everybody else around him better," says Miller.  We also find it interesting that Brister played at Duncanville (H.S.) TX a year ago and right now his former team, which features a well balanced attack with 6'8 D'walyn Roberts, 6'6 Soph Shawn Williams, 6'4 Soph Roger Franklin, and 5'7 Brent Stanton, is undefeated (37-0) and appears to be the team to beat  for the Texas 5A State Championship.  Speaking of this week's Class 5A Final Four, which will be played at the Erwin Center in Austin, TX, the semi-finals will feature Houston (Kingwood) TX versus San Antonio (Madison) TX at 3:30 PM and Duncanville (H.S.) TX versus Mesquite (H.S.) TX at 8:30 PM on Friday, March 9th, and the two winner's will square off in the championship game at 8:30 PM on Saturday, March 10th.  We also find it interesting that Dallas (South Oak Cliff) TX, which features 6'11 Jr Jamisen Morgan, who is ranked #79 nationally in the junior class by the HOOP SCOOP, will be going for its third straight state championship when it meets Waco (Connally) TX in the second semi-finals game at 8:30 PM on Thursday, March 8th.  And the winner of that game will play the winner of the other semi-finals game, which is scheduled for 7:00 PM on Thursday, March 8th, between Fort Worth (Dunbar) TX and Beaumont (Ozen) TX on Saturday, March 10th, at 8:30 PM.

Saturday, March 3, 2007, Sunday, March 4, 2007, & Monday, March 5, 2007

ol basketball in New York City like the HOOP SCOOP!  And, if you don't believe it, just check out our updated New York City Report, which features Ron Naclerio's ranking of the top 225 seniors, top 174 juniors, top 125 sophomores in the city; Naclerio's and Michael Moore's ranking of the top 85 freshmen in the entire Metropolitan area; and Moore's ranking of the top 31 8th graders, top 23 7th graders, top 27 6th graders, and top six graders in the entire Metropolitan area.  This report also features seven All Metro New York teams, which includes our ranking of the top players in the New York Metropolitan area regardless of class and position; two All-Freshman Metro New York teams, which include our ranking of the top 10 freshmen in the New York Metropolitan area regardless of class and position; and two All-Middle School Metro New York teams, which include our ranking of the top 10 middle school players in the New York Metropolitan area regardless of class and position.  We also point out that the senior class in both the city and North Jersey, Westchester County, and Long Island isn't very good.  And, at the same time, we mention how many great young players there are on the horizon.  We also are sure to stir up some controversy with our comments about just how much we like 6'5 Soph Lance Stephenson from Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY, who already is the best player in the New York City area, and 6'3 Soph Dexter Strickland from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, who has the potential to be both a prolific scorer with his great outside shooting and excellent point guard with his court savvy and excellent ball handling and passing skills.  However, we don't mention the fact that we have three First Team All-Metro New York-ranked players all from the same team.  We're talking about 6'1 Corey Fisher, 6'5 Jeff Robinson, and 6'5 Soph Dexter Strickland, all of whom play for Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, which, up until its recently loss to Linden (H.S.) NJ, was the #1-ranked team in the USA Today's Super 25 National Ranking of the Top High School Teams.  And this is important, because Strickland probably won't get the notoriety and attention that he deserves until this spring and summer when he doesn't have to play a role supporting two of the best two players in the state of New Jersey regardless of class.   As a matter of fact, Fisher and Robinson are the only two seniors on our First Team All-Metro New York Team, which is interesting in light of the fact that 6'5 Corey Stokes from Newark (St. Benedict) NJ was one of the 24 players recently named to play in the McDonald's All-American Game this later this month.  We also didn't mention that eight of the top 15 and 15 of the 35 players that were named to our seven All-Metro New York teams play for schools in New Jersey.  However, four of those players - 6'1 Corey Fisher from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ is originally from the Bronx, NY, 6'8 Jr Samardo Samuels from Newark (St. Benedict) NJ is originally from Queens, NY, 5'11 Jr Dwan McMillan from Newark (St. Benedict's) NJ is originally from Brooklyn, NY, and 6'6 A.J. Rodgers from Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ is originally from Queens, NY - are really New York City kids, which illustrates how interwoven the entire Metropolitan area has become.  The publication of our New York City Report also now brings the number of the state-by-state and area reports that we've published in just over the last month to six.  If you will recall, we published Dennis Marshall's Washington, DC/Maryland/Virginia Report on January 25th, Adam Finkelstein's New England Report on February 1st, Larry Kihnley's Kentucky Report on February 5th, Lavel Johnson's Mississippi Report on February 13th, and Rick Staudt's Florida Report on February 27th.  And, just like what we've done with these other reports, Naclerio and Moore have the final say with these rankings (I get my say when we publish national rankings).  However, I did manage to talk both of them into ranking 6'11 Brandon Walters from Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY a lot higher than they would have otherwise.  Apparently Walters is having a bad year, but he played well in several of the games that I saw him in the City of Palms Classic in Ft. Myers, FL in December and also surprised me at Five Star's loaded Honesdale session last August.  Moral to the story, more often than not Walters doesn't see the ball much in his high school setting and, as a result, loses interest as the game wears on.  But I really like his upside and potential due to his long arms, athleticism, ability to run the court, block shots, and rebound. 

Friday, March 2, 2007

The rosters for the Original Roundball Classic, which will be held this year at the United Center in Chicago, IL, on Tuesday, April 2nd, have been announced and it's obvious that whoever put together the rosters flunked geography.  Did you know that West Team, which includes West Squad 6'9 Kevin Love from Lake Oswego (H.S.) OR, 6'9 James Hickson from Marietta (Wheeler) GA, 6'1 Corey Fisher from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, 6'1 James Flynn from Niagara Falls (H.S.) NY, 6'5 James Harden from Lakewood (Artesia) CA, 6'9 Nyal Koshwal from Chicago (Boys to Men) IL, 6'5 Corey Stokes from Newark (St. Benedict's) NJ, 6'3 Demetri McCamey from Westchester (St. Joseph) IL, 6'9 Herb Pope from Aliquippa (H.S.) PA, 6'8 Justin Burrell from North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) ME, 6'6 Evan Turner from Westchester (St. Joseph) IL, has five players from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and the East Team, which includes 6'5 O.J. Mayo from Huntington (H.S.) WV, 7'0 Cole Aldrich from Bloomington (Jefferson) MN, 6'7 Taylor King from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6'9 Gani Lawal from Norcross (H.S.) GA, 6'4 LaceDarius Dunn from Monroe (Excelsior Christian) LA, 7'0 DeAndre Jordan from Humble (Christian Life) TX, 6'4 Rico Pickett from Decatur (H.S.) AL, 6'4 Chris Allen from Lawrenceville (Meadowcreek) GA, 6'10 Anthony Randolph from Dallas (Woodrow Wilson) TX, 6'5 Alexander Legion from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, and 6'5 Darquavis Tucker from Saginaw (Arthur Hill) MI, has five players from states west of the Mississippi River?  We also find it interesting that 6'5 O.J. Mayo from Huntington (H.S.) WV, who is the #2-ranked senior nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, is on the rosters for both the Original Roundball Classic and the 2007 Jordan Brand All-American Game, which will be played on Saturday, April 21st, at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY.  Remember, an NCAA rule prohibits prospective student-athletes from playing in more than two post season all-stars game and, as a result, Mayo, who also has been chosen to play in the McDonald's All-American Game, will have to decide between the Original Roundball Classic and the 2007 Jordan Brand All-American Game, if he wants to retain his college eligibility.  We also think it's important to point out there are currently 14 players - 6'5 O.J. Mayo from Huntington (H.S.) WV, 6'3 Eric Gordon from Indianapolis (North Central) IN, 6'3 Jerryd Bayless from Phoenix (St. Mary's) AZ, 6'9 Kyle Singler from Medford (South Medford) OR, 6'8 Michael Beasley from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA, 6'8 Donte Green from Towson (Catholic) MD, 6'3 Derrick Rose from Chicago (Simeon) IL, 6'0 Chris Wright from Washington (St. John's) DC, 7'1 Kosta Koufas from Canton (Glenoak) OH, 6'5 Nick Calathes from Winter Park (Lake Howell) FL, 6'5 Austin Freeman from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD, 6'8 Patrick Patterson from Huntington (H.S.) WV, 6'8 Blake Griffin from Edmond (Oklahoma Christian) OK, 5'8 Jai Lucas from Houston (Bellaire) TX - who are supposed to be the 2007 Jordan Brand All-American Game.  And one of them is 6'3 Derrick Rose from Chicago (Simeon) IL, who not only is passing up playing a chance to play in his hometown in the Original Roundball Classic, but also was one of the big stories last summer in the shoe company recruiting wars when he passed up returning to the NIKE All-American Camp and, instead, attended the Reebok ABCD Camp.  In contrast, the Original Roundball Classic only has nine players (Love, Mayo, Aldrich, King, Hickson, Lawal, Flynn, Harden, and Stokes) who were named to play in the McDonald's All-American Game, but we also think the Original Roundball Classic has better overall depth and fewer political picks.  Our Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Editor Allen Rubin tells us that 6'2 Justin Robinson from Blairstown (Blair Academy) NJ has verbally committed to Rider and 6'5 Ishamyil McFadden from Philadelphia (Simon Gratz) PA has verbally committed to Maryland-Eastern Shore.  McFadden is very aggressive wing player who rebounds well, is a good shooter from 17-feet and in, is fundamental sound, and just keeps getting better.  Robinson is a heady point guard who makes good decisions, knows how to run a team, and can keep you honest with his outside shooting.  Dinos Trigonis, who is the editor and publisher of Full Court Press, tells us that 6'5 Mike Stovall from Chicago (Marshall) IL has verbally committed to Oregon State and 6'2 Lance Hurdle from San Bernardino (JC) CA has picked Miami-FL.  Hurdle, who has was receiving interest from schools like San Diego State, Pepperdine, Marshall, Long Beach State, and Western Carolina, is a combo guard that is ranked among the top 100 junior college players in the nation and was voted as the Player-of-the-Year in his conference earlier this week.  So, he's obviously a good catch for the Hurricanes, as well as an excellent backcourt complement in this year's recruiting class to 6'0 Edwin Rios from Miami (Senior) FL, who promises to be the point guard of the future for the Hurricanes.  Stovall is a guy who has been under the radar screen until recently, but he's a good outside shooter, also has been attracting interest from schools like Iowa and Illinois, and hails from the same program that produced another player who came on like gangbusters a year ago in 6'3 Patrick Beverly.  This also is important, because it reinforces even further the belief that Oregon State head coach Jay John has the program heading in the right direction, despite the fact the Beavers currently have 11-19 overall and 3-14 conference records.  Did you know that Oregon State, which has only two seniors in the entire programs, is only 10 points away from being 4-1 in its last five game and they also have 6'10 C.J. Giles, who transferred from Kansas in December, waiting in the wings and a recruiting class that also already includes 6'1 Calvin Haynes from South Kent (Prep) CT, 6'10 Ijila Mulutinovic from Worcester (Academy) MA, and 6'8 Omari Johnson from Los Angeles (Dorsey) CA?  It appears that 6'8 Jr Luke Babbitt from Reno (Galena) NV cancelled his 3:00 PM press conference that was scheduled for today, but we're still counting him with Ohio State' recruiting class, which is ranked #1 on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2008.   If you will recall, Babbitt had been quoted all over the place during the last several days saying that he's going to Ohio State, so obviously there was no need to have a press conference to tell everybody what they already knew.  And, it's our guess that there was even less reason for people in the local media to show up at the press conference, especially for somebody who had already let it be know that he's decided to pass on all of the West Coast schools and, instead, plans to go to school half-way across the country.  Our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson also tells us that earlier this week 6'1 Chris Long from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA verbally committed to Elon College and 6'4 Justin Bocot from Bloomington (H.S.) IL verbally committed to Southern Illinois.  The addition of Bocot, who is ranked #346 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP, is especially interesting, because the Salukis already have three excellent players - 6'8 Carlton Fay from Granville (Putnam County) IL, 6'11 Nick Evans from Carbondale (H.S.) IL, and 6'3 Brandon Wood from Kokomo (H.S.) IN - in this year's recruiting class, which is now tied at #87, along with Louisiana-Monroe, Delaware, East Carolina, and Wisconsin-Green Bay, on our list of the Top Recruiting Classes To-Date for the Class of 2007.  

Thursday, March 1, 2007

In this day-and-age getting the right exposure for an overwhelming number of players can often be the difference between getting and not getting a Division I school scholarship.  And nobody does a better job of providing this exposure than Rob Kennedy, Billy Hahn and Lamar Barrett, who are the directors of the Eastern Invitational Basketball Camp, which is "Where Stars are Born," is "America's premier EXPOSURE camp," and "offers every aspiring hoopster the opportunity to play against the highest level of COMPETITION anywhere, while getting INSTRUCTION from the games best teachers......"   The Eastern Invitational Basketball Clinic also provides the best camp facilities in the country and their site at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ, which is located about an-hour-and-20-minutes from New York City, is the only major all-star camp during the "live" recruiting period in the New York City Metropolitan Area.  So obviously this made it easy for the over 900 college coaches from all levels of the college spectrum and the numerous scouting services, including the HOOP SCOOP, All-Star Sports Report, H.S.B.I. Report, National Recruiting Report, New Jersey Hoops, EKB, Insider's Report, Rebels Roundball Review, Rivals.com, and Scout.com, to get the most bang for their buck when attending these camps last summer.  The program is also well balanced as each "day begins with station drills to help hone and demonstrate your skills."  Each player also is assigned to a team with players at the same skill level and they play games in the afternoon and evenings.  Then, at the end of the week a summary of each players' skills and progression is provided along with suggestions on how to improve his game.  Eastern Invitational will kick things off this summer with Session I at Connecticut College in New London, CT on June 25th-28th, followed by Session II at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ on July 5th-8th, Session III at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ on July 12th-15th, Session IV at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ on July 28th-31st, and Session V at Rutgers University in Piscataway in Ewing, NJ on August 11th-14th.  They also have added an Academic Elite Week at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ on July 23rd-26th and a Junior Elite Week at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ on August 2nd-5th and once again will have a Specialized Position Camp at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ on June 30th-July 2nd and a Team Camp at the College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ on July 9th-10th.  And, if that weren't enough, Rob Kennedy, who also is the President of the Hoop Group, has all kinds of other camps, tournaments, and events under his umbrella.  We start with the five AAU Team tournaments, which include the Hoop Group Jam Fest in Providence, RI on April 13th-15th, the Pittsburgh Jam Fest in Pittsburgh, PA on April 20th-22nd, the Southern Invitational in Charlottesville, VA on May 11th-13th, the Reebok Summer Classic East at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ on July 11th-12th, and the Triple S Harley Davidson Jam Fest at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV on July 14th-16th.  There also will be all of the Top 100 Camps that will be held this spring, including the Northern Virginia Top 100 in Fairfax, VA on March 17th-18th, the New England Top 100 at Boston University in Boston, MA on March 17th-18th, the Mid-Atlantic Top 100 at Loyola College in Baltimore, MD on March 24th-25th, the Philadelphia Top 100 at Haverford College in Haverford, PA on April 4th, the Albany Top 100 at Siena College in Loudonville, NY on April 11th, and the Metro Top 100 at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ on April 17th-18th.  There also are all of the Pocono Invitational Basketball Camps located in the Pocono Mountains just 10 minutes from Stroudsburg, PA, 90 minutes from New York City, and just over an hour from Philadelphia, PA.  They will begin with the Pocono Invitational Junior Elite Basketball Camp on June 9th-10th, followed by a Father Son Weekend on June 15th-17th, the Kevin Boyle Camp on June 17th-21st, the Point Guard Boot Camp on June 22nd-24th, the Dave Hopla Shooting Camp on June 24th-28th, a Father Son Weekend on July 6th-8th, Pocono Invitational Basketball Camp Hoop School Session I on July 8th-12th, a Father Son Weekend on July 13th-15th, Pocono Invitational Basketball Camp Hoop School Session II on July 15th-19th, the Point Guard Boot Camp on July 20th-22nd, Pocono Invitational Basketball Camp Hoop School Session III on July 22nd-26th, Pocono Invitational Basketball Camp Super Session on July 22nd-August 2nd, a Father Son Weekend on July 27th-29th, Pocono Invitational Basketball Camp Hoop School Session IV on July 29th-August 2nd, the Bob Hurley Camp on August 15th-19th, the Jay Williams Camp on August 20th-24th, a Father Son Weekend on August 24th-26th, and the Dave Hopla Shooting Camp on August 26th-30th, In other words, there will be something going in the Poconos pretty much none stop all summer and the guy in charge of coordinating all of these events on this 32 acre campus is Chris Zupko.  There also will be a Pocono Tournament of Championships in Madison, NJ for grades 5th-8th on March 10th-11th and the Beast of the East will be at Rebounds in Neptune, NJ on May 19th-20th.  Obviously the Hoop Group has something for everybody, but if you're looking for the best events, the Northern Virginia Top 100 promises to have a lot of the players in the Washington, DC area; the Hoop Group Jam Fest will have a lot of great young talent; the Pittsburgh Jam Fest is going to be absolutely loaded; the Southern Invitational is always good, Eastern Invitational's Session II always has a number of players who should have been invited to the Reebok ABCD Camp; the Triple S Harley Davidson Jam Fest should be even better than it was a year ago; the Academic Elite Week will feature players with the grades necessary to get into Ivy League and Patriot League schools, and Eastern Invitational's Session IV is always important, because it provides college coaches with their last chance to watch the players they're recruiting before the Summer Evaluation Period is over on July 31st.  We also highly recommend the Kevin Boyle Camp, the Dave Hopla Shooting Camps, the Jay Williams Camp, and the Bob Hurley Camp.  However, if you know somebody who wants to attend the Bob Hurley Camp, you'd better tell them to register early, because this is always the first camp to sell out.  For details about all the camps, tournaments, and events mentioned above, we encourage you to click onto the Hoop Group.