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                  Editor & Publisher Clark Francis     All rights reserved - Copyright 2000

HOT RECRUITING INFORMATION FOR AUGUST 2000

Thursday, August 31, 2000

Thanks to our New England Editor Wayne Simone, we are able to pass along the list of teams that will participating in the New York Slam Jam Fest, which is sponsored by HoopsTV.com, at Hofstra University, September 8th-9th; the Charlie Weber Invitational Tournament at College Park, MD, September 16th-18th; and the Adidas HOOP Challenge at Yale University, September 29th-October 1st.  The New York Jam Fest, which is a joint effort by Weber, Simone, and Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY head coach Gary Decesare, will feature the Albany City Rocks, Brampton Blue Devils (ON), Brooklyn Beast, CAS Warriors Elite (NY), Central Jersey Hawks, Connecticut Gold I, Connecticut Gold II, Connecticut Rebels, Connecticut Select, Dewey Street, Footstoppers (DC), Gauchos I, Gauchos II, Greater Boston, Jersey Shore Warriors, Keystone Blazers, Long Island Jaguars, Long Island Lightening, Long Island Panthers, Long Island Roadrunners, Mt. Pleasant (Philadelphia), New Jersey Rap, New York Jaguars, New York Ravens I, New York Ravens II, Marist High School, New York Wolfpack, Positive Image, Rising Stars/L.I. Thunder, New Jersey Roadrunners, St. Michael's Union City, Sam Rines, Sky's the Limit, South Jersey Select, Springfield Slam (MA), Student Athletes, Team Philly, Toronto Elite, and Toronto Panthers.   The field for the Charlie Weber Invitational Tournament includes the Atlanta Bulldogs, Atlanta All Stars, Atlanta Celtics, Baltimore Blue, Baltimore Cecil Kirk, Baltimore Select, Belmont Shore, Beltway All Stars (DC), Blue Ridge Wildcats (VA), Boo Williams All Stars, Capital Athletes, Carolina Ballers, Central Jersey Hawks, Charlotte Aces (NC), Connecticut Gold, Connecticut Jammers, Connecticut Rebels, Connecticut Select, DC Assault, DC Stars, Dewey Street (Buffalo), Diaper Dans (VA), Durham Disciples, Eastern Ontario Guardsmen, Footstoppers (DC), Garner Road (NC), Georgia Jazz, Georgia Stars, Greater Boston, Greensboro Gaters, Hunting Park Warriors (PA), James Lee (VA), Keystone Blazers, Long Island Lightning, Long Island, Long Island Rising Stars, Maryland Stallions, Mark Trail War Eagles, Metro All Stars (DC), Montrose, New England Force, New York Ravens, New York City Gauchos, Oliver Rec (MD), PG Select (MD), Philly Hoops, Pittsburgh Shockers, Positive Image (PA), Potomac Valley Blue Devils,  Raleigh Heat (NC), Rhode Island Breakers, Richland AAU (NJ), Richmond Metro, St. Michael's Union City, Sam Rines All Stars, South Jersey Select, Squires Richmond, Stormin's Classic, Student Athletes Broncos (NY), Tallahassee Wildcats, Team Excel, Team Georgia, Team Philly, Tennessee Travelers, Toronto Elite, Tru Playoz B-Ball, Upstate Carolina (SC), West Virginia Green Rangers, Wolfpack (NY), and Youth Interlock.  Simone's Adidas Hoop Challenge will feature the Albany City Rocks, Brampton Blue Devils, Cheshire Cats, Central Jersey Hawks, Connecticut Gold I, Connecticut Gold II, Connecticut Jammers, Connecticut North Stars,Connecticut Rebels, Connecticut Select 17's, Connecticut Starters A, Connecticut Starters B, Connecticut Warriors, Dawson Blues, Dewey Street, Glastonbury Hawks, Jersey Jaguars, Long Island Lighting Blue,Long Island Thunder/Rising Stars, Metro Boston, Middlesex Magic, NEPA Green, NEPA White, NHA Peak, Nork York City Jaguars, New York Wolfpack, Philly Hoops, Rhode Island Breakers, New York Riverside Church, Springfield Slam, St. Michael's AAU, Student Athletes, Sullivans Eagles, Gauchos, and Willie Howie.  For updates on schedules, hotel information, directions, etc. for all three tournaments, click on http://eteamz.com/connselect.   Or you can call Weber at (703) 960-0417, Simone at (203) 596-9264 or Decesare at (718) 824-5050 for more information on the New York Slam Jam Fest.  Weber is also who you need to talk to about the Charlie Weber Invitational Tournament and Simone is the person to contact for questions and information on the Adidas Hoop Challenge.  All three promise to be great events, as is evident by the fact that I plan to be at both the Charlie Weber Invitational Tournament and the Adidas HOOP Challenge.   I'll also attend the Five-Star Tournament, which again should be at Staten Island College, into my schedule during the weekend of the Charlie Weber Invitational, especially since for the second straight year neither our New York Editor Ron Naclerio nor myself were able to attend what always is one of Five-Star's best sessions - Honesdale II.   However, Rob Matera of the Bob Gibbons All-Star Sports Report was in Honedale, PA last night for the Orange-White All-Star Game and he tells us that 6'8 Kenny Adeleke from Brooklyn (Paul Robeson) NY, who finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds, was the MVP in the top all-star at a good camp for the second time in a month.  Remember, he also was named the MVP in the all-star game at Eastern Invitational's best week at the end of July.   Also very impressive was 6'10 Deng Gai from The Sudan, who finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, four dunks, and a 17-foot jumper.   But what makes Gai so good are his incredible athleticism for somebody his size, his explosiveness and his shot blocking ability.   As a matter of fact, Matera thinks Gai might be the most explosive player, as well as the best shot blocker, nationally in the high school and prep school ranks today.  Matera also says that 6'6 Jr Curtis Sumpter from Brooklyn (Bishop Loughlin) NY and 6'5 Michael Blackshear from Philadelphia (Simon Gratz) PA both played well.  Sumpter finished with 14 points, while Blackshear at 14 points and 14 rebounds.  We hope to have more highlights from the camp, as well as all the awards winners in a few days, but it likely will take at least that long, because Howard Garfinkel, Tom Konchalski, et al. are still in Honesdale, PA for their final guard camp of the summer.

We told you last week that the University of Florida was a lot stronger on 6'8 David Lee from St. Louis (Chaminade) MO than most people realize.  Well, you should be able to write it down tomorrow.  The word we get is Lee has press conference scheduled for 1:00 PM CST and he's announcing for the Gators.  Obviously any time you get a player who is ranked among our top 10 nationally it is huge, but it also is big for head coach Billy Donovan for another reason.  If you will recall, Donovan has made a living getting players like Lee, Mike Miller, Brett Nelson, Matt Bonner, and Teddy Dupay, all of whom are white middle class kids who, except for Dupay, are from outside the normal geographical area where you'd expect Florida to get players.  This is important, because Donovan appears to be a master at figuring out who he has a chance to get and then working as hard as any head coach in the nation to get it done.  Not only is he able to sell the warmer climate found in the Sunshine state, but he's also not had to go head to head against a lot of in-state schools for any of these players.  Let's take a closer look.  Dupay verbally committed to Florida as a junior.  So nobody else really had a chance.  The University of New Hampshire is the only Division I program in the state, so all Florida had really to do was hang in there until Duke dropped out of the Bonner sweepstakes.  There is no question that West Virginia is right at the top of schools with in-state support, but the Mountaineers were never really a factor for Nelson.   Instead, Kentucky and Duke were probably biggest competition for this sharpshooter who likes to pull the trigger from just about anywhere.  There are no Division I programs in South Dakota.  So once again the competition for Miller was Kentucky.   Lee had the state school (Missouri) among his top five, but really it was only a two horse race between Duke and Florida.  And the deciding factor appears to have been Donovan versus Mike Krzyzewski.   That's not knocking Krzyzewski either.  As a matter of fact, Krzyzewski wins more of these than he loses.   However, in this case, Lee had a great relationship with Donovan and, as a result, it's already over. 

Late last night our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson told us that 6'5 Dennis Coutee from Jeffersonville (H.S.) IN, who is a consensus 50-125 range player nationally, had verbally committed to the University of Louisville.    Actually this comes as no surprise, because we told you that it was done a week ago.   Coutee didn't have a good summer, but he's an excellent athlete, a good spot-up shooter, and he's a local kid (Jeffersonville, IN is right across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY).  So this is a very good get.  Another one that shouldn't surprise us, especially since earlier this week we reported that 6'9 Harvey Thomas has surfaced at Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD and is verbally committed to Georgetown, is 6'1 Tony Bethel from Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD also making it official for the Hoyas.  And talk about a perfect marriage!  Bethel is a tough hardnosed competitor who played his way into the top 100 this summer based on his performance at the adidas ABCD Camp.  Plus, he's the best 3-point shooter in the Washington, DC area.  We also have confirmed that 6'7 John Hurley from Braintree (Thayer Academy) MA has verbally committed to Holy Cross.  Hurley has excellent handling and passing skills for his size, but he's also very athletic and isn't afraid to go inside and dunk on bigger people.  As a matter of fact, he dunked on 6'8 David Lee from St. Louis (Chaminade) MO in the National 17-Under AAU Tournament in Orlando, FL in late July.  Holy Cross beat Northeastern, Bucknell, New Hampshire, and Boston University, but for that level he's an absolute steal.  Not only is he young for his class, but he's got a great upside.   As a result, he ranks among our top 300 nationally.

Sources on the West Coast have confirmed 6'9, 250 lbs. Cameron Rowe is transferring from Texas Southern to UCLA.  Actually, your guess is as good as ours about Rowe's ability, but if he were a race horse you could sell him for a lot of money at Keeneland, because he's got a great bloodline (his father is former UCLA All-American Curtis Rowe).  Getting Rowe now also is important, because he won't count against the five scholarships that UCLA currently can offer in the 2000-2001 recruiting class.   Instead, he counts with the Class of 2000, because UCLA hasn't started school yet and, as a result, he'll be enrolling with the current incoming class.  Speaking of enrolling immediately, Bethune-Cookman is still looking for a point guard who can step in and run the show.  As a matter of fact, the position is so wide open that anybody who steps in to fill the void would be the only point guard in the entire program.   However, time is running out, because the fall semester at this low level Division I school in Daytona Beach, FL began earlier this week.   We have confirmed that 6'9 Terry Licorish from Toronto (Westhill) ON has transferred to Durham (Mt. Zion Christian) NC.  So has 6'9 Jr Amare Stoudamire from Lake Wales (H.S.) FL, who is tied with 6'6 Jr Leonard Cooke from Old Tappan (H.S.) NJ as the #1 junior nationally by the HOOP SCOOP (those ranking will be published either late tonight or tomorrow morning due to the significant number of things we had to write about today).  We also have heard, but yet to confirm, that 6'10 Deng Gai from The Sudan will be enrolling at Milford (Academy) CT and not Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, which had been previously reported.  Also, Allen Rubin wants us to correct something.  He checked and found out that 6'2 Lamar Butler from Oxon Hill (H.S.) MD only scored 13 points in the top All-Star Game at Eastern Invitational's best week in late July.  We previously had reported that Butler had scored 20 points in that game and, as a result, questioned why Rubin missed on him.  We also want to correct something else.  Charlie Rodriguez, the 6'8 junior from Fresno (Clovis West) CA can't get an exit visa out of the Dominican Republic.  Last week we incorrectly reported that it was Puerto Rico, but we did manage to beat the Fresno Bee, which is the newspaper in Fresno, CA, on the story by a full six days and we also provided more details when we broke it last Friday.  Today the Fresno Bee had a few lines talking about how Rodriguez is stuck in the Dominican Republic due to a visa problem.   Last, but not least, in terms of corrections, 6'3 Ricky Shields from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA is a 5th year player.  If you will recall, we had him on our list of the top seniors nationally earlier this month, but also questioned that, whereby, we said there was a good possibility that he could moved to our 5th Year, Prep School, and Foreign List, if our suspicions were ever confirmed. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Recently we heard that Fordham was on the verge of getting an outstanding point guard, but it wasn't 6'1 Eric Bush from Barton County (JC) KS, who the Rams had been after most of the spring and summer.  Apparently this outstanding point guard didn't pass the necessary classes that he needed to graduate from junior college and be immediately eligible at a Division I school.  So he's back at Barton County.    Instead, Fordham has gotten 6'3 Antoine Knighton from Atlanta Metro (JC) GA and he should give head coach Bob Hill the depth he needs next year behind his two returning senior guards - 5'9 Jason Harris and 6'2 Bevon Robin, who combined to form one of the best guard combinations in the Atlantic-10 last year.  Speaking of Robin, he had a terrific summer, as he was named the MVP in the prestigious Rucker League in New York City.  Both of the big guys - 6'11 Glenn Batemon from Detroit (Cass Tech) MI and 6'11 Yankuba Camara from Chester (H.S.) PA - that Fordham signed last fall didn't make it academically and, as a result, Batemon is heading to North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) ME and Camara has enrolled at Southern Idaho (JC) ID.   Also not making it academically was 6'8 Michael Haynes from Millersburg (Military) KY, but the two that Fordham had to have - 6'8 Jeff McMillan from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT and 6'9 Liberto Tetimadingar from Worcester (Academy) MA - are both ready to go.  McMillan, who should be one of the leading candidates for Rookie-of-the-Year in the League from Day One, is a monster inside.  So he should provide the perfect complement inside to 6'9 Duke Freeman-McKamay, who was one of the most improved players in the league last year, while Tetimadingar, who is versatile enough to play three or four positions, should be outstanding at the wing forward spot.  And it looks like Fordham already has a head start on replacing  Harris and Robin next year, because 6'1 William "Smoosh" Parker from Southern Idaho (JC) ID, who is playground in New York, has already enrolled in school.  Parker will sit out this season, but he'll have three years to play, if he gets everything together academically.  Also at the top of Fordham's wish list is another NYC legend - 6'1 Adrian Walton from Milford (Academy) CT - and 6'10 Deng Gai from The Sudan, who supposedly will be at Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT this fall.  While Fordham's recruiting class won't be ranked among the top 10 nationally, like it was last year by the HOOP SCOOP (they have three scholarships to give), they should be even stronger than ever in the New York City area, because long-time Five-Star coach Shay Berry is moving from adminstrative position into the #2 assistant spot and nobody is a better recruiter in the area than Fordham's top assistant Mike Brown.

Three weeks ago we were talking about the 30-period day Contact Period between September 7th and October 6th, which is when college coaches can be on the road for a total of no more than 18 days.  Unfortunately we incorrectly reported that the 18-days that coaches could be out were man-days, whereby, it counts as one-day per time a coach goes out.  In other words, if you two coaches are out on the same day it counts as two days.  While this will be the case during the winter Evalution Period from November 16, 2000 through March 15, 2001, Division I schools will be able to send two coaches out at the same time up to a total of 18 days in September and early October and it will only count as one day per time a total of two coaches go out.  But that's not the first important day on the current NCAA Recruiting Calendar, which began on August 1st and runs through July 31st.   Actually, August 1st through September 6th is a Quiet Period, but beginning on Friday, September 8th, college coaches can start sending mail to juniors.  So in response to that obvious need for college coaches, tomorrow  we plan to finalize and publish our list of the top 100 juniors nationally exclusively in the Members Section.  We've already mentioned that September 7th through October 6th is the next Contact Period, which obviously is the time when coach recruiters focus in on their prime targets by making in-home visits and watching their every move at the numerous events which are scheduled on every weekend throughout the month of September.  Next, comes another quiet period from October 6th through November 15th, which is the perfect time to bring players in for official on-campus visits for things like Midnight Madness and home football games.  Then, November 16th through March 15th is an Evaluation Period, whereby, "50 evalution days selected at the discretion of the institution and designated in writing in the office of the director of athletics; institutional staff members shall not visit a prospect's educational institution on more than one day per week during this period."  It is also our understanding that a coaching staff is not permitted to see a prospect play more than five times between September 7th and March 15th, but a tournament that runs over the course of several days, like the Fullcourt Press Fall Hoops Classic in Lynwood, CA, September 8th-10th, only counts as one viewing of the player by the coaching staff, even if somebody from the staff is there all three days.  However, it would count as three days towards the 18 allowed in the next month.  The next Contact Period, which runs from March 16th through March 22nd, is when the National Junior College Tournament in Hutchinson, KS, as well as numerous state tournaments, takes place.  Another Quiet Period runs from March 23rd through April 5th and during that time there is a Dead Period, which during the NCAA Final Four in Minneapolis, MN, from March 29th through April 3rd at noon.  Then, there is another Contact Period between April 6th and April 20th, except it's a Dead Period from April 9th through April 12th, because the Spring Signing Period always begins on the second Wednesday in April  (it's also a Dead Period from November 6th through November 9th in observance of the beginning of the Fall Signing Period).  That's followed by another Quiet Period, which stretches from April 21st through July 7th.  Then, on July 8th the Summer Evaluation Period begins.   However, unlike in past years, July 15th through July 24th will be a Dead Period.   That's very important, because, unlike during a Quiet Period, you can't bring recruits onto campus for unofficial visits when it's dead.  Then, the Summer Evaluation Period will begin again on July 25th and end on July 31st.

North Carolina is making a strong push from 7’1 DeSagana Diop from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, who ranks #14 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, but we still think Virginia is the school you have to beat. Speaking of Virginia, this is a huge recruiting year for the Cavaliers, because another recruiting class, similar to the one they landed two years ago, would ensure Pete Gillen’s status as one of the premier head coaches in college basketball for a long time to come. It also would volt Virginia into college basketball’s elite with Duke, North Carolina, and Maryland and it would establish Gillen’s two recruiters - Tommy Herrion and Walt Fuller - as two of the top up and coming young guys in the business. Remember, two years ago Gillen had Bobby Gonzalez, who at the time was recognized as one of the top recruiters in the nation, going head-to-head against all the big boys for Travis Watson, Roger Mason, and Majestic Mapp. Well, a year ago Gonzalez moved onto become the head coach at Manhattan and the Cavaliers didn’t need to sign numbers, as they only brought in two recruits - 6’5 Maurice Young from Forestville (Bishop McNamara) MD and 6’8 J.C. Mathis from Bronx (John F. Kennedy) NY. However, getting Young so early and beating the schools they had to beat on Mathis late was impressive. So is the list of players they’re currently involved with, including Diop, 6’9 Ousmane Cisse from Montgomery (St. Jude) AL, 6’11 Jamal Sampson from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6’8 Elton Brown from Newport News (Warwick) VA, 6’8 Jason Clark from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, 6’8 Levi Watkins from Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD, 6’10 Jordan Collins from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD, and 6’8 Sherrod Ford from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA. The also are right at the top of the list, along with Duke, for 6’4 Jr J.J. Redick from Roanoke (Cave Spring) VA, who ranks as one of the top juniors in the nation, as well as the one of the best 3-point shooters regardless of class. Duke has always been Redick’s favorite school, but the Blue Devils just landed an outstanding 2-guard - 6’3 Daniel Ewing from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX - in the class ahead of him. Also, already in the fold is 6’2 Keith Jenifer from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, who committed to the Cavaliers in the July. And Jenifer isn’t the only Virginia connection to Hargrave Military Academy. Did you know that Virginia’s third assistant coach Scott Shepherd was formerly the head coach at Hargrave and the current head coach at Hargrave (Kevin Keatts) was an assistant under Shepherd at Hargrave? And there are other connections that the Virginia staff should be able to take advantage of as well. Did you know that Fuller and Boo Williams, who runs the Hampton Roads AAU program, which includes Brown, Clark, and Redick, have been good friends for years? Also, Sampson’s uncle is former Virginia All-American and National College Player-of-the-Year Ralph Sampson.

Tuesday, August 29, 2000

Last week we reported that 6'8 Harvey Thomas, would be back at Durham (Emmanuel Christian) NC, but now it looks like he will enroll at Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD, which had been rumored during the summer, after all.    However, that's not the big news about Thomas. Apparently his unofficial visit to Georgetown last week went so well that he has decided to verbally commit to the Hoyas. This is huge, because Thomas is a big time athlete who is capable of playing both inside and outside as a freshmen for the Hoyas. Thomas, who ranks #29 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, also is the highest ranked player thus far to have verbally committed to a Big East school.  And getting players in the 30-100 range nationally appears to be the recruiting trend in the league this year. As a matter of fact, Thomas edges out 6'5 John Allen from Coatesville (H.S.) PA, who ranks #35 nationally and is bound for Seton Hall, 6'1 Chris Thomas from Indianapolis (Pike) IN, who ranks #38 nationally and is committed to Notre Dame, and 6'3 Billy Edelin from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, who ranks #46 nationally and is heading to Syracuse. And just missing being ranked among our top 50 nationally is 6'2 Ben Gordon from Mt. Vernon (H.S.) NY, who verbally committed to Connecticut in early August.    Plus, 6'9 Garnett Thompson from Suffolk (JC) NY, who picked Providence a week ago, would be ranked among our top 100 nationally, if we were to count him as a high school senior. So would Boston College-bound 6'2 Jermaine Watson from Marion (Tabor Academy) MA, who is returning to prep school for another year, and 6'3 Drew Schifino from North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) ME, who is going the prep school route, but who is supposed to sign again with West Virginia this fall. Also in the top 100 range nationally are 6'8 Jordan Cornette from Cincinnati (St. Xavier) OH, who committed to Notre Dame in the spring, and 6'7 Eric King from Milford (Academy) CT, who falls into that 5th year category and is supposed to sign again with St. John's. If you also include 6'3 Travis Eisentrout from Berlin (Berlin-Brothers Valley) PA, who has verbally committed to West Virginia, nine different schools in the Big East already have verbal commitments from 11 different players. And we look for that trend to continue, as Syracuse is recruiting like crazy nationally, West Virginia appears to be on the verge of big recruiting year, and Connecticut is always a serious player with many of the top players in the nation. But nobody in the league has landed a bonafide superstar or even a likely McDonalds' All-American. Not yet, anyway. Syracuse is believed to the favorite for 6'6 Julius Hodge from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY, who ranks #4 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, but name one other top 20 player in nation who currently has any school in the Big East at the top of his list. However, this should not be a big surprise, because the senior class in normally fertile recruiting areas, like New England, New York City, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, which Big East schools rely heavily upon, is way down this year.

In addition to the commitment by 6'8 Harvey Thomas from Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD to Georgetown, we've also confirmed that 6'10 Larry Turner from Milledgeville (Baldwin) GA, who ranks #85 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, has made it official for the University of Georgia.  And 5'8 Kenneth Brunner from Southern Idaho (JC) ID isn't out of the question yet for the Bulldogs yet either.  As matter of fact, he is still Athens, GA and there is still an excellent chance that he will be eligible to play beginning second semester, if he does several things.  First, he had to get all his transcripts together and prove that he can meet the necessary admissions standards.  Despite all the negative national publicity to the contrary, apparently he has done that now.  Second, he has to through an interview process before a special commitment, which will include the president of the school.  While Brunner may have had a troubled past, nobody will ever accuse him of not being well spoken, so this should be just a formality.  The key will be whether Brunner gets a part-time job, stays out of trouble, and does well in the classes that he enrolls in as a part-time student this fall.  So, things are starting to fall into place to the second year head coach Jim Harrick, who also already has received a commitment this fall from 6'2 Michael Liggons from Rome (Coosa) GA, has two excellent players waiting in the wings in Jarvis and Jonas Hayes, who transferred to Georgia in the spring from Western Carolina, and some talented freshmen in the program, including 6'6 Chris Daniels from Albany (Monroe) GA, 6'8 Stephen Thomas from Carrollton (H.S.) GA, and 6'2 Rashad Wright from Statesboro (H.S.) GA.  And one may also fall tomorrow for Georgia Tech first year head coach Paul Hewitt.  We're talking about 6'8 Nehimiah Ingram, also from Milledgeville (Baldwin) GA, who is expected to pick the Yellowjackets.  Ingram, who is ranked #122 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, isn't ranked as high as Turner, but actually we like him better right now, because he plays so much harder.  However, like they say, you can teach size and if the light ever clicks on with Turner, he could develop into one of the better players nationally in his class. 

It looks like the current regime at the University of Michigan has finally gotten one of the top in-state players to verbally commit early.   That's right!    Vincent Baldwin, the Editor of the Michigan & Ohio Prep Spotlight, is reporting that 6'5 Jr Lester Abrams from Pontiac (Northern) MI, who ranks among our top 20 juniors nationally has gone ahead and told the Michigan coaching staff that he plans to become a Wolverine.  And Baldwin should know, because Abram plays for his AAU team.  Apparently Abrams has always wanted to go to the University of Michigan - at least that's what he told our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson when he led his team to the championship and was named MVP in the 16-Under Division last spring at the NIKE Kentucky Prep Classic in Louisville, KY.  Abrams is an excellent rebounder and terrific shot blocker, but his future is at the wing forward spot, because he also can shoot the lights out, handle the ball on the perimeter, and has tremendous savvy for somebody so young.  He also is a world-class athlete, which is why he should be ranked second in the Michigan's loaded junior class behind 6'2 Jr Anthony Roberson from Saginaw (H.S.) MI and ahead of 6'10 Jr Paul Davis from Rochester (H.S.) MI, 6'7 Jr Matt Trannon from Flint (Northern) MI, and 6'4 Jr Ricardo Billings from Detroit (Rogers) MI. 

Our Mid-South Editor Jim Rothman has tells us that there are a number of interesting new developments with regards to the University of Memphis basketball program.  First, 6'5 Lou Wright from Memphis (Raleigh-Egypt) TN, who signed with Tigers last fall, is only a partial qualifier.    So he will enroll at Southwestern Tennessee (JC) TN.  Second, 6'6 Arthur Barclay from Camden (H.S.) NJ, who was the big reason why 6'2 Jr Dajuan Wagner from Camden (H.S.) NJ says he picked Memphis in the first place, is a non-qualifier and, as a result, his status is uncertain.  Third, Memphis has accepted 6'2 point guard Antonio Burks from Hiwassee (JC) TN into school, but he won't be able to play this coming season.  Instead, he will sit out this season and then have three years to play.  Fourth, 6'3 Rashid Dunbar from Bayonne (Marist) NJ, who originally signed with Miami-FL last fall, but decided not to enroll in school when Leonard Hamilton left to take the Washington Wizards head coaching job, has decided to attend Memphis.  If this partial qualifier, who was in Memphis on an unofficial visit over the weekend, makes the necessary grades while sitting out the 2000-2001 season, he will have three years to play.     Speaking of Rothman, he has sent us his updated Tennessee Report, which, not surprisingly, is especially in-depth when it comes to players in the Memphis area.   We plan to start working on it tomorrow, so look for us to publish it later in the week. 

Monday, August 28, 2000

It's now common knowledge that 6'9 Jason Parker from Fork Union (Military) VA cancelled his scheduled visit to Wake Forest today and, instead, flew to Lexington, KY last night and plans to enroll at the University of Kentucky.  There are still eligibility questions that have to be answered, but if Parker is eligible to play this season, the Wildcats will have four inside players - Parker, Marvin Stone, Jules Camara, and Marques Estill - with NBA potential.  And if that's the case and Kentucky is also loaded at the wing spots with Keith Bogans and Tayshaun Prince, why isn't Kentucky one the teams to beat in college basketball?  Obviously, because point guard is still a question mark.  One that isn't common knowledge yet is the commitment by 6'8 Marco Killingsworth from Durham (Mt. Zion) NC to Auburn.  Right now Killingsworth ranks #75 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, but he came on like gangbusters this summer.  So it wouldn't surprise us he turns out to be just as good as 6'9 Abdou Diame from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, who signed with Auburn last fall and finished ranked #22 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP last spring.  However, Killingworth isn't there yet, so we're willing to let this killer inside and on the boards continue to work hard, get better and, in the process, earn it.  We also have confirmed that 6'4 Eric Osmundson from San Diego (St. Augustine) CA has verbally committed to Utah, where should be a perfect fit.  If you will recall, he was the white 3-point shooter who played on the same team with 7'1 Tyson Chandler from Compton (Dominguez) CA at the NIKE All-American Camp.  However, our West Coast Editor Dinos Trigonis tells us that Osmundson is really more of a poor man's Kirk Hinrich.  "He can play some point guard, shoot it, and is a tough hardnosed kid.   And just like Hinrich, he's a great kid.  He's a top 200 senior nationally and a perfect for Rick Majerus."  And what about Osmundson's teammate - 6'4 Floyd North, also from San Diego (St. Augustine) CA?  North ranks #82 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, but he's getting underrecruited, as schools like St. Louis, Oregon, and Rutgers are at the top of his list, probably because he didn't attend either NIKE Camp or adidas ABCD Camp.  Making the situation even more intriguing is the fact that North also is a major league baseball prospect, which means the major league team that drafts him will pay his college tuition.  In other words, he won't count towards the five scholarship limit for the school that signs him and that alone should be enough for a lot of schools to take a another look.  

Never say never! A great example of this cliché came over the weekend when 6’2 Jermaine Watson from Marion (Tabor Academy) MA verbally committed to Boston College. If you will recall, three years ago when former Boston College head coach Jim O’Brien was forced out, Leo Papile, the head coach of B.A.B.C. (Boston Amateur Basketball Club), said publicly that the Eagles would never get another one of his players. Not that Papile was that big a Boston College fan in the first place. But he had tremendous respect for O’Brien, who guided Ohio State to a NCAA Final Four Appearance a year ago March, as both a coach and a person and, as a result, at the time the Boston College roster read like a Who’s Who of former B.A.B.C. players. So the fact that the current regime in only three years has been able to overcome the hard feelings that existed at the time of O’Brien’s exodus says a lot. No, the Eagles aren’t on the verge of winning the Big East or even finishing near the top of the league. However, head coach Al Skinner and his right hand men -Tim O’Shea and Bill Coen - laying the foundation the same way (piece-by-piece) they did when they were so successful at Rhode Island. No, none of the three players they signed in last year’s recruiting class - 6’2 Ryan Sidney from Ann Arbor (Pioneer) MI, 6’7 Andrew Bryant from Denison (H.S.) TX, and 6’1 Ludmil Hadjisotirov from Winchendon (School) MA - ranked among our top 100 nationally. However, all three have an excellent upside and are good enough to contribute right away. They also did pretty well recruiting the year before when they landed 6’8 Uka Agbai from Briarwood (Archbishop Molloy) NY, who started the second half of last season as a freshman, and 6’0 Troy Bell from Minneapolis (Holy Angels) MN, who was named the Freshman-of-the-Year in the Big East last winter. Watson is not a true point guard, but he is the most talented player Skinner has landed since he’s been at Boston College and he should provide the perfect complement to Bell in the back court. Now all the Eagles need is a great big guy and the icing on the cake would be if they landed 7’1 Craig Forth from East Greenbush (Columbia) NY, who ranks #68 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, but who has the potential to develop into the next Eric Montross. However, that may be a tall order, because Syracuse, North Carolina, and Wake Forest are all also heavily involved.

Saturday, August 26, 2000, and Sunday, August 27, 2000  

It's two down and one to go for John Eurey, who is the head coach of the Houston Superstars.  The two down are 6'3 Daniel Ewing from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX, who picked Duke almost a month ago, and 6'3 Kenny Taylor from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX, who verbally committed to Baylor this weekend.  The one to go is 5'11 Terrance Ford from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX, who appears to have Texas, Louisville, Georgetown, and UCLA near the top of his list, but who is still a long way away from making a decision.   Ironically, Ewing and Taylor are both lights out 3-point shooters, while Ford might just be the  best pure point guard in the class.  As a matter of fact, Ford's only weakness might be that he's too quick and too unselfish for his own good.  As a result, both Ewing and Taylor get all kinds of open looks.  And don't let Taylor's #182 ranking deceive you.  He is an absolute steal for Baylor, because there is no telling how good he can become once he gets out of the shadow of Ford, who ranks #17 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, and Ewing, who ranks #26 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP.  And Taylor wasn't the only player to make a verbal commitment over the weekend, as 5'10 Bakari Altheimer from Oakland (St. Elizabeth) CA, who has a 3.5 gpa, announced for Santa Clara.  Mitch Stevens, the West Coast Editor for HighWired.com, had the scoop on this one and tells us that Altheimer was attracting attention from Utah, Utah State, UTEP, St. Mary's, San Francisco, Colorado State, Oregon State, and Portland State.

We're still a long way away from publishing our official 5th Year, Prep School, Foreign Player List, but we are ready to give you sneak preview of who we think will be in the top 10.  Right at the top of the list is 6'10 Deng Gai from The Sudan, who supposedly will be at Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT this fall.  And if that happens, look out, because St. Thomas More already has 6'9 Julian Sensley, who will rank as the #2 player on our list, right behind Gai.   We've never seen Gai, but our Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Editor Allen Rubin saw Gai at Eastern Invitational's best week in late July and he was so good that he took home camp MVP honors.  "At 6'10, Gai runs the court extremely well and is an excellent rebounder and shot blocker," says Rubin.   "His defense is ahead of his offense, but Gai does have good post up moves and jumper out to about 10 feet."  Right now Sensley is more of a finished product, but Rubin thinks Gai has more potential.  "You just can't teach somebody to be 6'10 and that athletic," says Rubin.  Finishing a close third on our list behind Gai and Sensley is 6'7 James White from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, followed by 6'9 Sherrod Ford from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA and 6'9 Terry Licorish from Toronto (Westhill) ON.  Just missing the top five is 6'1 Adrian Walton from Milford (Academy) CT.   He's followed by 6'2 Jermaine Watson from Marion (Tabor Academy) MA, 6'6 Duane John from Toronto (Boylan) ON, 6'8 De’on Dixon from Fork Union (Military) VA, and 6'3 Drew Schifino from North Bridgton (Bridgton) ME.

The rumors about UCLA’s Fab Five recruiting class are alive and well. However, there are still some key questions that must be answered. Like, who, besides 6’11 Mike Fey from Olympic (Capital) WA, actually will be in their recruiting class (Fey verbally committed to UCLA several weeks ago) and exactly how much influence does Pat Barrett have when it comes to influencing his players? You know Barrett! He’s the head coach of the Southern California All-Stars. Well, it should come as no surprise that the word on the street is Barrett is pushing 6’5 Cedric Bozeman from Santa An (Mater Dei) CA, 6’5 Josh Childress from Lakewood (Artesia) CA, and 6’11 Jamal Sampson from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA to UCLA. But there is also evidence that Barrett may not have as much clout as most people think. If you will recall, Bozeman verbally committed to UCLA a year ago, but has since backed off and, as a result, is now back on the recruiting board again. Bozeman will likely still end up at UCLA, especially if 6’1 Aaron Miles from Portland (Jefferson) OR, who has developed a very close friendship with Bozeman during the six months, also picks the Bruins. But he’d better not wait to long and right now there is still some eliminate of doubt. As a matter of fact, if Bozeman had to do it today, we think it would be Florida, not UCLA. Also, Childress recently told a source close to the HOOP SCOOP that the package involving Bozeman, Miles, Sampson, and himself is still a definite possibility, although the school he’s thinking about isn’t UCLA. Instead, he says it is Kansas. And now we’re hearing that the top five schools for Sampson are Syracuse, Kansas, Virginia, St. Louis, and Connecticut. Making it even more interesting is we’re hearing the Connecticut coaching staff hasn’t gone through Barrett to recruit Sampson. As a matter of fact, our sources tell us the Connecticut coaches haven’t even spoken to Barrett. Not once! Sure, UCLA and Arizona are also on Sampson’s list, but as it stands now, it looks like the Bruins have some serious ground to make up. So what do you do if you’re UCLA? One-in-the-hand is worth two-in-the-bush, and UCLA’s recruiting list reads like a Who’s Who of the top players in the senior class nationally. Right now, it’s still almost too close to call between Michigan and UCLA for 6’7 Andre Patterson from Los Angeles (Washington) CA, who ranks #16 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP. If 6’11 David Harrison from Brentwood (Academy) TN, who ranks #19 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, doesn’t stay home and attend Vanderbilt, the smart money should be on UCLA, which has always been right at the top of his list. And if UCLA doesn’t get Miles and/or Bozeman, 5’11 Terrance Ford from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX, who ranks #17 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, would be the perfect guy to step in and run the show. Right now Texas is the leader over Louisville and Georgetown, but the Bruins are making a strong push. And of course, 6’6 Dijon Thompson from Redondo Beach (Redondo Union) CA, 6’11 Chad Bell from Los Angeles (Westchester) CA, 6’8 Dennis Latimore from Halstead (H.S.) KS, and 6’6 Chuck Hayes from Modesto (Christian) CA are also good enough to take immediately. So, if you’re UCLA head coach Steve Lavin, the question suddenly becomes, do you wait to see if Miles, Bozeman, Childress, and Sampson all fall your way or do you take whoever wants to pull the trigger first?

Friday, August 25, 2000

In the last two years George Mason has stolen three players - 6'11 Jesse Young from Canada, 6'4 Raoul Heinen from the Netherlands, and 6'9 Deon Cooper from Columbia (Central) TN, all of whom are good enough to play for anybody in the country at the high Division I level.  Well, now it looks like they've done it again, because 6'1 Lamar Butler from Oxon Hill (H.S.) MD has committed to the Patriots.   How good is Butler?  Well, it looks like we missed on him in our recent rankings.  As a matter of fact, he was ranked no higher than #54 in the Washington, DC/Maryland/Virginia Area when we came out with our rankings in the spring and I didn't see him play this summer, except for a few minutes at the Pro Am Tournament in Washington, DC in late June.  As a result, he didn't make our recent list of the top 50 point guards nationally.  However, he should have, because he scored 20 points in the top All-Star Game at Eastern Invitational's best week.  Unfortunately, he still got overlooked, because our Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Editor Allen Rubin, who mentioned 37 players in his report on Eastern Invitational, apparently doesn't put a lot of value into all-star games.  As a result, Butler, who Rubin now confirms is a top 200 player nationally, still got overlooked.  We also have four or five different people who usually do a great job of helping us in the Washington, DC area, but none of them told us that Butler was one of the fastest rising players in the area, much less the nation.  And apparently a lot of Division I coaches were asleep as the switch as well, as George Mason only had to beat Xavier, Dayton, George Washington, and Notre Dame for his services.  Obviously, it's safe to say that George Mason would have had a much harder time getting Butler, especially this early, if Butler has gone to NIKE or the adidas Camp or played in the Peach Jam or the AAU Super  Showcase or the 17-Under National AAU Tournament in Orlando, FL.  After making some phone calls, we find that Butler legitimately is one of the top 10 seniors in the Washington, DC area, as well as the best 3-point shooter in the area, along with 6'1 Tony Bethel from Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD.  As a result, he's closer to top 100 nationally than top 200.  And it looks like we've been asleep at the switch on another player in the area as well.  Can you believe that 6'0 T.J. Thompson from Kensington (Newport School) MD committed to George Washington almost two weeks ago, but we never reported it?  However, that's my fault.  Apparently it just got lost in the shuffle.  Getting back to George Mason, they also are hoping to steal another player who may have slipped below the radar screen in 6'6 Tyree Spinner from Fairfax (Paul VI) VA, who didn't play anywhere this summer due to injuries.  However, that may be easier said than done, because Spinner is a much better football player than he is a basketball player.  As a result, he will likely have his choice among the premier football powers in the nation, but even that will likely take another year, because he's so far behind academically that a year of prep school is almost guaranteed.   Instead, we think George Mason has a good shot to get 6'2 Darren Tarver from Wabash Valley (JC) CA and 6'2 Delonte West from Greenbelt (Eleanor Roosevelt) MD, whose value also skyrocketed this summer.  However, getting West may be a war, because he's Manhattan's #1 priority and Siena, St. Bonaventure, St. Joseph's, and Rhode Island are also in hunt.

We still have not confirmed that DC Team Assault assistant coach Trevor Brown has the head coaching job at Ft. Washington (National Christian) MD, but the word is that he's been calling coaches in the area trying to schedule scrimmages.  So we think you can probably write this one down.  And if that happens, the Beltway League will have three powerhouse teams, because the league also features Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD and Upper Marlboro (Riverdale Baptist) MD.   Unfortunately, Kensington (Newport School) MD left the league two years ago and likely won't return any time soon or at least until the current athletic director is gone.   However, if the Newport School ever does rejoin the Beltway League, it would be great for basketball in the area, because the league would then have four teams that year-in-and-year-out would be able to rival the top teams in the always tough WCAC (Washington Catholic Athletic Conference).  Several weeks ago we mentioned that 6'1 Tony Bethel would probably transfer from Forestville (Bishop McNamara) MD to Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD.  Well, you can write that one down!  We also would be surprised if 6'2 Jr Marshall Strickland isn't at Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD and, once that becomes official, the smart money has to be on the legendary Morgan Wootten coaching two more years, assuming that his health holds out.   Remember, Strickland and 6'9 Jr Travis Garrison will easily be the top two juniors in the area this year!  It looks like Washington (St. John's) DC is trying to get 6'5 Steve Leven back, but our sources tell us there is now way.  Instead, this hardnosed athletic white kid will be at Kensington (Newport School) MD.  So the only question now is who is the leader -  Rutgers or UNC-Charlotte?

One of the top 10 juniors in the nation, as well as the player who was tied as the leading scorer with 16.3 ppg at the adidas ABCD Camp this summer, was 6'8 Jr Charlie Rodriguez from Fresno (Clovis West) CA.  We mention Rodriguez's accomplishments in this country in the past tense, because  he now promises to be one of the best players in Puerto Rico.  No, he hasn't decided to move back to his homeland.   Instead, it appears that he returned to Puerto Rico earlier this month to visit family and friends, but now can't get a visa to return to the United States, despite the fact that he was adopted several years ago when he first came to this country by a family in Fresno, CA.  The adoption was perfectly legal, because the family paid over $12,000 to "dot all the I's and cross all the T's."  However, there is a major problem with his initial immigration into this country.   Apparently it is similiar to the situation that 6'9 Apolinar Fernandez and 6'8 Jack Martinez of the Dominican Republic and 6'3 Jon Stefansson of Iceland all faced last March when the Long Beach Press-Telegram broke a story about their illegal immigration into this country.   Actually the problem stems from the falsification of official immigration documents, so it is Puerto Rico's contention that Rodriguez got to the United States illegally in the first place.  And just like with the Artesia kids, there have always been questions regarding Rodriguez's real age (it's been widely assumed that he already is an 19-year-old junior).  As a matter of fact, further investigation may find that all this is tied into together, because it has be rumored that former Artesia head coach Wayne Merino was the one responsible for placing Martinez at Clovis West in the first place.  While we believe it is extremely unlikely that Merino did anything wrong himself, it appears to very possible that the same person who falsified the documents for the Artesia players may also have done the same thing for Rodriguez.  And even they can overcome the immigration problems, there still appears to be an eligibility question, which is why Clovis West High School coach Vance Walberg is reportedly proposing a compromise, whereby, Rodriguez is reclassified as a senior.  However, if the uproar among other coaches in Fresno is any indication, we doubt that this is going to work. 

Thursday, August 24, 2000

With last night's verbal commitment by 6'5 Josh Carrier from Bowling Green (H.S.) KY to the University of Kentucky, there are now 15 schools that we know about that have commitments from more than one player.  And considering it's the end of August, that a ridiculous number.  It's even more ridiculous when one remembers that schools can no longer have huge recruiting classes, because the new infamous five and three rule takes effect this fall.  If you will recall, last spring the NCAA passed a new rule that not only prohibits schools from signing more than eight players during a two year period, but also limits them to only three scholarships the year after they sign five players.  So, based on our rating scale, whereby, we assign every player recruited to a Division I team a rating on a scale of 1-10, the most points any school can now have is 50 points and that's only if that school lands all five of the top five players in the nation.  In other words, 40 points will likely be enough to get you the #1 ranked recruiting class.  Let's look at a couple of examples, but first remember our rating scale, whereby, a top five player nationally is worth 10 points, a top 10 player nationally gets nine points, a top 40 player is worth eight points, a top 70 player is worth six points, a top 100 player is worth four points, a top 300 player is worth three points, anybody in the top 300-1000 range gets two points, and anybody not ranked among the top 1000 is worth one point.   Louisville already has 6'2 Carlos Hurt from Alief (Alief-Elsik) TX and, as we reported in the Members Section several days ago, they also likely will get 6'9 Ousmane Cisse from Montgomery (St. Jude) AL, 6'9 Terry Licorish from Toronto (Westhill) ON, and 6'5 Dennis Coutee from Jeffersonville (H.S.) IN.  If that falls together as expected, Hurt and Cisse both rank among the top five nationally, which means they both get 10 points apiece.  Licorish is a legitimate top 30 player nationally and Coutee just misses being ranked among our top 100, so that's another 11 points.   After that Louisville's recruiting possibilities are numerous, but if the Cardinals were to land another player who ranks among the top 40 nationally, 10+10+8+8+3 would give them 39 points.  How would that stake up against UCLA, which also is talking about a Fab Five recruiting class?  Well, the Bruins already have a verbal commitment from 6'11 Mike Fey from Olympia (Capital) WA, but he doesn't rank among our top 100 nationally, so he only gets three points.  However, UCLA would be in great shape if 6'5 Cedric Bozeman from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, who ranks #10 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP and is worth nine points, 6'1 Aaron Miles from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 6'5 Josh Childress from Lakewood (Mayfair) CA, and 6'11 Jamal Sampson from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, all whom rank in the 11-40 range and are each worth eight points apiece, all fall into place.  It wouldn't be enough to catch Louisville, but it would beat everybody else, as 9+8+8+8+3=36 points.  Syracuse also appears to be well on its way towards a top recruiting class.  The Orangemen already have 6'3 Billy Edelin from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, who ranks in the 40-70 range nationally.  If they get 6'6 Julius Hodge from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY, who ranks among our top five nationally, and 7'1 Craig Forth from East Greenbush (Columbia) NY, who ranks among our top 70 nationally, and 6'8 Marcus Austin from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, who ranks among our top 100 nationally, that would give the Orangemen 26 points (10+6+6+4=26 points).  Since Syracuse recently missed out on 6'6 Duane John from Toronto (Boylan) ON, who committed to Missouri last Friday, they have made a strong push for 6'6 Dijon Thompson from Redondo Beach (Redondo Union) CA, plus they're still involved with a lot of other players as well.  But let's say they get Thompson.  Thompson ranks #42 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP.  So, like Edelin and Forth, he would be worth six points and, if they get him, Syracuse would finish with 32 points.  Arizona already has commitments from 6'2 Salim Stoudamire from Lake Oswego (H.S.) OR and 6'10 Channing Frey from Phoenix (St. Mary's) AZ, both of whom rank in the 70-100 nationally.  However, the Wildcats are involved with many of top players in the nation, including 6'11 Rick Rickert from Duluth (East) MN, 6'9 Dennis Latimore from Halstead (H.S.) KS, 6'0 Jonathan Hargett from Durham (Emmanuel) NC, 6'1 Aaron Miles from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 6'5 Josh Childress from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6'11 Jamal Sampson from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, and 7'0 Tyson Chandler from Compton (Dominguez) CA.  Let's say they get Hargett, who ranks among our top 10 nationally, Rickert, who just misses being ranked among our top 10 nationally, and Latimore, who just misses being ranked among our top 40 nationally.  That would give the Wildcats 9+8+6+4+4=31 points.  And how about Florida?  The Gators already have two outstanding recruits in 6'7 James White from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA and 6'11 Kwame Brown from Glynn (Brunswick) GA.  Brown only ranks in the 40-70 range nationally, but we know he's better than that, so we're going to cheat a little and give White nine points, instead of just eight.  So right now Florida has 15 points (9+6=15).  Let's say Florida also gets 6'8 David Lee from St. Louis (Chaminade) MO and 6'6 Cedric Bozeman from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, both of whom rank among our top 10 nationally.  15+9+9=33 and they still would have another scholarship to give.   If they got those four, plus Hodge, who ranks #4 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, that should easily give Florida the best recruiting class in the nation, because 33+10=43 and that would be very to beat.  Isn't this fun!  Actually, the possibilities are endless.  However, for now we have ranked our top 20 recruiting classes to date (below), based on the verbal commitments that we've accumulated so far. 

Especially interesting is the fact that Kentucky finishes no higher than 6th with 12 points (eight points for Carruth and four points for Carrier).  Instead, the winner is Memphis, which gets 12 points for 6'2 Dajuan Wagner from Camden (H.S.) NJ and six points for 6'4 Anthony Rice from North Clayton (College Park) GA.  That's right!  It is only a 1-10 scale, but exceptions can be made and great players, like Kevin Garnett, Stephon Marbury, Kobe Bryant, and Zach Randolph get 12 points, instead of just 10.  Right behind Memphis, also with 18 points, but three players, instead of just two, are Ohio State with 6'1 Brandon Fuss-Cheatham from Cincinnati (Moeller) OH, 6'7 Matt Sylvester from Cincinnati (Moeller) OH, and 6'9 Terrance Dials from Youngstown (Boardman) OH and Missouri with 6'9 Robert Whaley from Benton Harbor (H.S.) MI, 6'9 Jeff Ferguson from Benton Harbor (H.S.) MI, and 6'5 Duane John from Toronto (Boylan) ON.  Next are Florida, which has 15 points, with 6'7 James White from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA and 6'11 Kwame Brown from Brunswick (Glynn Academy) GA and Iowa State, which has 14 points, with 6'0 Ricky Morgan from Pontiac (Northern) IA, 6'6 Tommy King from Western Nebraska (JC) NE, and 6'9 Adam Schaper from Wheatfield (Kankakee Valley) IN.  Then comes Kentucky, followed by the University of Washington (12 points, but three players) with 6'8 Mike Jensen from Kent (Kentwood) WA, 6'7 Josh Williams from Yakima (Davis) WA, and 6'8 Anthony Washington from Seattle (Garfield) WA.  Wake Forest with 6'1 Taron Downey from Oxford (J.F. Webb) NC and 6'9 Jamal Levy from Homestead (Berkshire) FL and Notre Dame with 6'8 Jordan Cornette from Cincinnati (St. Xavier) OH and 6'1 Chris Thomas from Indianapolis (Pike) IN are both tied at #8 with 11 points, followed by USC (10 points) with 6'11 Rory O'Neil from Ridgecrest (Burroughs) CA, 6'2 Errick Craven from Torrance (Bishop Montgomery) CA, and 6'2 Derrick Craven from Torrance (Bishop Montgomery) CA.   Louisville, which is the highest ranked team with only one recruit, checks in at #11 with 6'2 Carlos Hurt from Louisville (Moore) KY via Alief (Alief-Elsik) TX.  Next is California with 6'9 Julian Sensley from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT.  Also with nine points, is Massachuetts with 6'2 Jeremiah King from Paterson (Catholic) NJ and 6'5 Eddie Basden from Greenbelt (Eleanor Roosevelt) MD.  The Minuetmen are followed by Alabama with 6'1 Maurice Williams from Jackson (Murrah) MS, 6'3 Daniel Ewing from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX, Seton Hall with 6'5 John Allen from Coatesville (H.S.) PA, North Carolina with 6'6 Jackie Manuel from West Palm Beach (Cardinal Newman) FL, all who are tied at #14 with eight points apiece.  Checking in right now at #18, but sure to move up is Arizona (8 points, but two recruits) with 6'2 Salim Stoudamire from Lake Oswego (H.S.) OR and 6'10 Channing Frey from Phoenix (St. Mary's) AZ.  And then there is another tie at #19 among Connecticut with 6'2 Ben Gordon from Mt. Vernon (H.S.) NY, Syracuse with Billy Edelin from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, Iowa with 6'4 Pierre Pierce from Westmont (H.S.) IL, Kansas with 6'8 Wayne Simien from Leavenworth (H.S.) KS, and 6'6 Roger Powell from Joliet (Township) IL.  Rounding out the top 25 are Oregon State (6 points) with 6'0 Joe See from Concord (DeLaSalle) CA and 6'2 J.S. Nash from Moreno Valley (Rancho Verde) CA and Florida International (6 points) with 6'2 Carlos Morbein from Miami (Christian) FL and 6'8 Johan Rivera from Miami (Christian) FL.

Our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson tells us that Vanderbilt has gotten an early commitment from 5'11 Jr Mario Moore from Nashville (Antioch) TN.  This is big not just because the Commodores are keeping one of the top young players in the area home and doing it early, but also because Moore ranks among our top 40 nationally in the junior class.  As a matter of fact, he was the third best player, behind 6'11 David Harrison from Brentwood (Academy) TN and 6'5 Jason Holwerda from Chattanooga (Christian) TN, on the loaded Tennessee Travelers team this summer.  Moore makes excellent decisions, plays with lots of savvy, and is an excellent ball handler and passer.  He's also pretty athletic, which means he will give head coach Kevin Stallings the speed and quickness that he'll need to play with the elite teams in the Southeastern Conference in the future.  This also is huge, because it gives Vanderbilt just one more thing to sell Harrison, who ranks #19 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP.  If Harrison goes to Vandy and with Moore already committed and several good recruiting classes already in the fold, it's beginning to look like Stallings may do something that no other head coach has ever done at Vanderbilt - win and win big!!!

Quin Snyder has only been at Missouri a year, but the only assistant coach who has been on his staff the entire time is Tony Harvey.  That's because it was announced yesterday that John Hammond has moved onto the become an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers, which ironically is also who drafted former Missouri star Keyon Dooling two months ago.  With Hammond's departure, Harvey moves into Hammond's spot as the #1 assistant, plus he gets the title associate head coach, and UNC-Charlotte assistant Lane Odom moves into the #2 spot.  Odom is a close personal friend of Snyder's already, but this is  also a great move, because Odom been around the game all his life (his father is Wake Forest head coach Dave Odom) and he brings with him all the contacts that his family has in terms of recruiting international players.   Speaking of Missouri, did you know that 6'6 Najeeb Echols from Chicago (Whitney Young) IL may be in Columbia, MO this weekend for an unofficial visit.   And if that happens, it suddenly may be too close to call between Illinois and Missouri for this athletic slasher who ranks #28 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP.   We still think 6'5 Cedric Bozeman from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, who ranks #10 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, will end up at UCLA, but we weren't joking around when we mentioned him with Florida when we were talking about the potentially top recruiting classes.  As a matter of fact, right now Florida might be the leader.  Florida also now appears to be the heavy favorite for 6'8 David Lee from St. Louis (Chaminade) MO, who ranks #9 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP.   Sure, Duke is still second, but apparently the gap has widened lately, because he gets along so well with Gators head coach Billy Donovan

Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Despite the fact the Louisville Courier-Journal several days ago reported it as a done deal pending what happens on the visit, which was today, we still aren't ready to declare 6'9 Jason Parker from Fork Union (Military) VA officially for the University of Kentucky.  The big question is whether somebody will challenge his ACT score.  Remember, the NCAA invalidated his SAT score, which increased over 350 points the last time he took it.  If he's a partial qualifier, he still would likely be eligible at a four-year Division I school, if he takes the test again and passes it in the fall.  However, if they throw the test out, he may be a non-qualifier and, then, he may be better off going the Division II or junior college route.  Speaking of Kentucky's recruiting, we have confirmed that 6'6 Chuck Hayes from Modesto (Christian) CA and 6'7 Andre Patterson from Los Angeles (George Washington) CA both will be on campus for Kentucky's Midnight Madness and we assume 6'9 Brandon Bender from Louisville (Ballard) KY will also be in attendance.   After all, Bender's one of these guys who loves the recruiting process and, as a result, he always seems to show up when there is a crowd.    This week Bender's list of schools includes Kentucky, Louisville, Colorado, and West Virginia.  Hayes, who ranks #63 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, has UCLA, Kansas, and Kentucky at the top of his list, while Michigan, UCLA, and Kentucky are atop Patterson's list.  We also have confirmed that University of Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith will be back in time from his international coaching duties to personally make the in-home visit with 6'8 David Lee from St. Louis (Chaminade) MO on October 6th.  However, we still think Duke and Florida are the two you have to beat.  We've also heard that Kentucky is still involved with 6'9 Robert Little from Fairfax (Paul VI) VA, who ranks #84 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, and they're among the top two, along with Cincinnati, for 6'7 Jason Maxiell from Carrollton (Newman Smith) TX, who ranks #36 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP.   However, we still think Texas will be right there in the end with Maxiell.

It looks like West Virginia has really stepped up its recruiting this fall and one of the reasons is the recent addition of former Virginia Commonwealth assistant coach Chris Cheeks, whose valuable contacts in the city of Richmond, the state of Virginia, and the Washington, DC area are already starting to pay big dividends.  Don't believe it?  Well, 6'9 Harvey Thomas from Durham (Emmanuel) NC is supposed to be at Georgetown tomorrow for an unofficial visit and then over the weekend he'll be in Morgantown, WV.  Add Maryland and UCLA to his list and that's a pretty good top four for this athletic combo forward who had a great summer and, as a result, now ranks #29 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP.  Tennessee and Arizona are still right at the top of the list for 6'0 Jonathan Hargett, also from Durham (Emmanuel) NC, who ranks #8 nationally, as well as the #3 point guard in the class by the HOOP SCOOP, but Georgia Tech is still very much in the hunt and he's also another prime target for the  Mountaineers.  And if they get both Thomas and Hargett, the Mountaineers will probably hit the trifecta, because they're also heavy favorite for 6'7Tyrone Sally from Durham (Emmanuel) NC.  Currently Sally ranks no higher than #184 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, but, if he ever puts the total package together, he would be a legitimate top 50 player nationally his class.  And those aren't the only players who played for former Durham (Mt. Zion Christian) NC head coach Joel Hopkins who may be heading to West Virginia.  As a matter of fact, you can write this one down.  Chris Garnett, the 6'10 center who originally signed with Eastern Kentucky, announced that he is transferring to West Virginia within the last week.  And how about 6'9 Brandon Bender from Louisville (Ballard) KY?  Did you know that West Virginia is his new flavor of the week?  And, of course, there is 6'1 Tony Bethel, who, by the way, is transferring from Forestville (Bishop McNamara) MD to Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD.  Right now it looks likes the top three for Bethel are West Virginia, Villanova, and Massachusetts.  Speaking of Massachusetts, Allen Rubin told me several days ago that Massachusetts was the close to getting 6'2 Jeremiah King from Paterson (Catholic) NJ.  I wish I'd printed it, because it became official yesterday.  King ranks #202 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, but he's a terrific get for the Minutemen.  He's a jack-of-all-trades, as he defends, plays hard, creates havoc in the open court, and finds ways to score.  He's also very athletic, which means he'll be the perfect role player at both guard spots.   Remember, Massachusetts landed two good guards in the last recruiting class in 6'4 Jameel Pugh from Sacramento (Grant) CA and 5'10 Anthony Anderson from Lynn (English) MA, who, by the way, made it academically and will be eligible this year as a freshman, plus they got 6'5 Eddie Basden from Greenbelt (Eleanor Roosevelt) MD, who ranks #70 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, last week. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2000

For the third time in the last four months, we've confirmed a verbal commitment only to have the player later say that he didn't make the commitment.  First, it was 6'5 Dwayne Mitchell from New Orleans (John K. Kennedy) LA, who was supposed to have picked Mississippi State.  Then, it was 6'4 Levar Seals from Chicago (Providence-St. Mel) IL, who was supposed to have verbally committed to Siena.  Now, it is 6'5 Duane John from Toronto (Boylan) ON, who was supposed to have secretly committed to Syracuse, but then made it official for Missouri.  Well, sometimes things change, especially when a kid is making one the most important decisions of his life, and when the player, the mother, father and/or the coach tell you that the commitment never took place, you have report it that way.  "It never took place," said Ro Russell, who is John's high school coach.  "He almost committed to Syracuse last spring, but when Louie Orr took the Siena job, he had second thoughts.  He still liked Syracuse, but just felt more comfortable with Missouri after taking an unofficial visit recently, especially since they already have another kid from Canada."   He's talking about 6'9 Jeff Ferguson from Benton Harbor (H.S.) MI, who verbally committed to the Tigers, along with 6'9 Robert Whaley from Benton Harbor (H.S.) MI, in June.  Getting this all out in the open is important to Russell, because he's been getting a lot of calls from college coaches who think the commitment by John to Missouri might not be firm.  "It is," says Russell.   He also is concerned, because he knows how important a person's word is and doesn't want this in any way to effect Syracuse's recruitment of 6'6 Julius Hodge from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY, who ranks #4 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP.   While it is important to clear the air from Russell's perspective, that doesn't mean that we aren't going to stand by our original source.  A good reporter can't reveal his source, but if you knew who our source is, you'd understand why we feel there is no need to retract.  While it is always better to have somebody who will go on record, we often get information that we can't directly attribute from a college coach or somebody close to a program.  So all this falls into a grey area, whereby, I believe both Russell and our source and I'm not too concerned about who's right or wrong.  Instead, I'm concerned about getting the real story as accurate as possible, which is John verbally committing to Missouri and John transferring from Toronto (Boylan) ON to Homestead (Berkshire School) FL.  That's right!  Most people don't know that John will be attending high school at this basketball factory in Florida, so that's just an added bonus that resulted from a conversation earlier today with Russell.  Forget about the games, John will get better in practice every day.  Obviously, Russell has to be disappointed to be losing John, who might be the best player in Canada this year.  But he tells us that he wants to do what's best for the kid.  As a result, John will be listed as a high school senior in the United States, instead of a 5th year, prep school, and/or foreign player, and he'll be ranked in the 50-100 range nationally by the HOOP SCOOP.  However, that doesn't mean that this big time athlete doesn't have the potential to move a lot higher, as he continues to play against top notch American competition and becomes a more consistent 3-point shooter.  Russell also wanted me to point out that 6'1 Kyle Wilson from Vancouver (White Rock Christian) ON is only 16-years-old, but he's also on our 5th year, prep school, and/or foreign list.  Once again he's gotten us talking about a grey area that needs further explanation.  Currently it is our editorial policy to list all players from Canada, all foreign players, and anybody else we're not sure what to do with together with 5th year and prep school players.   However, that is subject to change, if we ever get all our state-by-state and national lists caught up and I can find the right person to put together a good Canadian list.

Yesterday, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that 6'9 Jason Parker from Fork Union (Military) VA had decided to attend the University of Kentucky.  Remember, Parker was recently denied admission to the North Carolina, which was where he had signed a National Letter-of-Intent each of the last two years, after his SAT score, which had improved over 350 points, was declared invalid.  While this comes as no surprise, I wouldn't get overly excited if I was a Kentucky fan just yet for two reasons.  First, Parker, whose ACT score was approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse, may have to sit out at least the first semester this year, because there is still the possibility that his ACT score could be challenged and declared invalid.  Second, Kentucky already has three excellent inside players in Marvin Stone, Jules Camara, and Marquis Estill.   The Wildcats also are in great shape at the wing spots with Keith Bogans and Tayshaun Prince and now they have quality of depth with the addition of 6'7 Erik Daniels from Cincinnati (Princeton) OH and 6'3 Gerald Fitch from Macon (Westside) GA and the return of J.P. Blevins.   So the only question mark is still point guard.  Apparently, University of Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith thinks that an added year of experience for his son (Saul Smith) and the addition of 6'1Cliff Hawkins from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA will solve the problem.    But we're not so sure.  Saul deserves an "A" for effort, but he's not a true point guard, isn't a good penetrator, and  doesn't always make the right decisions when the game is on line.  Hawkins is an excellent defender, terrific passer, and outstanding penetrator, but his decision making and outstanding shooting are very questionable.  Maybe Smith will be able to compensate for these deficiencies in other areas, but with a great point guard, Kentucky would have all the pieces to the puzzle and, as a result, would be one of the pre-season favorites to win the NCAA Championship next March.  Speaking of great point guards who are still available, does anybody know what the latest is on 6'2 Tony Parker from France?   Even more amazing is the fact that Kentucky doesn't appear to be in the market for a great point guard next year either.  Instead, Smith told us this summer that he plans use Fitch some at point guard in the future and we've all heard the talk about moving Bogans to point (if he's still around) to free up the 2-spot for 6'3 Rashaad Carruth from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA in another year.  So Kentucky fans may have to wait until the Class of 2002 graduates before they get a great point guard, but if they get the guy at the top of their list, it may be worth the wait.   We're talking about 6'2 Jr Anthony Roberson from Saginaw (H.S.) MI, who ranks as the #3 junior nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, behind 6'6 Jr Leonard Cooke from Old Tappan (H.S.) NJ and 6'9 Jr Amare Stoudamire from Orlando (Dr. Phillips) FL.  Roberson didn't have a great summer, but he had a tremendous spring, as he reminded us of Stephon Marbury with his ability to handle, create and shoot the lights out from well beyond the NBA 3-point line. 

The University of Louisville landed 6'1 Carlos Hurt from Alief (Alief-Elsik) TX, who ranks #5 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, in June and more recently his family moved back to Louisville, KY, so they can follow his college career first hand.  As a result, he's not just the cornerstone to potentially a great recruiting class, but he's also the leading candidate for Mr. Basketball honors in the state over 6'9 Brandon Bender from Louisville (Ballard) KY and 6'10 Tony Key from Russellville (H.S.) KY, both of whom also could end up Louisville.   More on that in minute, but the player Louisville has to have and will likely get (really it just a matter of time) is 6'9 Ousmane Cisse from Montgomery (St. Jude) AL, who ranks #2 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP and was one of the leading candidates for National Player-of-the-Summer, along with 6'6 Julius Hodge from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY and 6'4 Kelvin Torbert from Flint (Northwestern) MI.   However, it may take a while before they get Cisse, because his legal guardian wants him to go through the recruiting process.  Instead, we think the Cardinals may land two other players first.  We're talking about 6'5 Dennis Coutee from Jeffersonville (H.S.) IN and 6'9 Terry Licorish from Toronto (Westhill) ON.  Coutee's high school coach Mike Broughton got an administrative job in July at the University of Nebraska, so a lot people thought that it was a done deal - that Coutee would quickly follow.  However, that hasn't happened.  Instead, it still looks like Louisville is the team to beat.   Remember, the Cardinals jumped into the lead in the spring when they took Coutee's best friend and former high school teammate 5'11 Bryant Northern from Jeffersonville (H.S.) IN.  Iowa still is in hunt for Coutee and Indiana, which was out for a while, but is now making a strong push again, also still is a possibility.  However, don't be surprised if Louisville gets this one done sooner than later.  We also think the Cardinals are the heavy favorite over schools like Michigan State, Iowa, Syracuse, and Memphis for Licorish, but, like so many foreign players, academics are still a big question mark.   Louisville also is among the top five, along with Michigan State, Iowa, Kansas, and North Carolina, for 6'6 Alan Anderson from Minneapolis (DeLaSalle) MN, they're battling Texas and Georgtown for 5'11 Terrance Ford from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX, and they've still in the hunt for 6'11 David Harrison from Brentwood (Academy) TN and 7'1 DeSagana Diop from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA.  They also are still actively recruiting Key, although he is academically questionable for high school this year, much less college next year.   Prep school, junior college, or even enrolling at four-year school, like Louisville, and paying his own way for a year as a Prop 48 casualty are all options.   Right now Kentucky appears to be favorite for Bender, but with Bender anything is possible.  Also, it looks like 6'5 Erik Brown, who transferred from Morehead State to Louisville a year ago, but flunked out of school last winter, is back in school and, if he gets the necessary 2.4 gpa, could be eligible beginning second semester.   And if that happens, Louisville could be a lot better than people think later in the season, especially if they decide to go small with Reece Gaines and Marquis Maybin at the guards, insert Brown into the three spot, and move Luke Whitehead to the four. 

Monday, August 21, 2000

Our New York City Editor Ron Naclerio tells us that Providence College has landed a major sleeper in 6'9 Garnett Thompson from Suffolk (JC) NY.  Originally from Central Islip (H.S.) NY,   Thompson went to Farmingdale (JC) NY two years ago and then he grew four inches.   Still, he was one of the best kept secrets in the nation, as nobody seemed to know about him until this summer when he established him reputation while playing in the Rucker League at 155th and the Pro Am Tournament at Hunter College.  This lefty played more out on perimeter in the Rucker League, as he put the put the ball on the floor, handled, passed, created, defended, and showed decent range on his jumper.  Plus, he blocked a surprising number of shots.  However, he played more inside at Hunter College, where he had a high game of 37 points versus the team that won the championship, as he showed an  unorthodoxed Walter Berry jump hook, good spin moves, and the foot work necessary to play  inside.  How good is Thompson?  "If I got a major Division I coaching job tomorrow, I'd definitely take him with me," said Naclerio.  This marks the second playground legend that Providence assistant coach Steve Demeo has gotten out of New York City in the last year.  If you will recall, 6'3 Shieku Kabba from Bronx (Regional) NY verbally committed to the Friars last winter.  Another school that is particularly strong in New York City right now is Hofstra.  As a matter of fact, Naclerio tells us that head coach Jay Wright actually could land a Fab Five recruiting class, which would include 6'4 Chris McRae from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY, 6'6 Wendell Gibson from Briarwood (Archbishop Molloy) NY, 6'7 Kenny Adekele from Brooklyn (Paul Robeson) NY, 6'0 Carl Krauser from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, and 6'3 Juel Wiggan from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA.  Currently Gibson's list includes Hofstra, Iona, St. Peter's, Fairfield, Manhattan, Canisius, and Siena.  Adekele likes South Florida, Clemson, DePaul. Boston College, Rhode Island, Southern Cal, New Mexico, and Hofstra.  Krauser's top five are Hofstra, Villanova, Pittsburgh, Xavier, and Massachusetts. Villanova, Illinois, Providence, Rugters, Hofstra, and East Carolina are all in the hunt for Wiggan.   Massachusetts is believed to be the heavy favorite for McRae, but East Carolina, Providence, Hofstra, and Rutgers are also on his list.

Reggie Tisdale, the Editor & Publisher of Indiana Basketball News, called late last night to give us the scoop on 6'9 Will Caudle from Indianapolis (Warren Central) IN going to Xavier.   Caudle averaged 14 ppg, 10 rpg, and 2 bpg last season, but we're still not sure how good he is, because he missed or play injured most of the summer and, as a result, it was difficult to get a good evaluation.  Caudle is very athletic, has lots of potential, and is surprisingly quick for somebody his size, which is why schools like Purdue and Iowa were making a strong push.  However, in the end, he didn't even look twice at the Boilermakers and the Hawkeyes, neither of whom got a visit, after making an unofficial visit to the Xavier campus over the weekend.  Xavier is already stocked at the wing spots with Lloyd Price, David Young, and Romaine Guessagba-Sota and the point guard spot also in great hands with Maurice McAfee and Lionel Chalmers.  So all the Musketeers need is another inside player or two to complement Kevin Frey.  Caudle obviously is great start, but also right at the top of their list is 6'9 Adam Waleskowski from Kettering (Alter) OH.  However, Dayton will be tough to beat on this one, because Waleskowski's older brother already plays for the Flyers.   Speaking of a potentially heated recruiting battle this fall between Xavier and Dayton, another prime target for these traditional overachievers is 6'5 Keith Jackson from Cincinnati (Purcell Marian) OH.

The Tim Thomas Playaz Gold beat the Newark Rams, 93-78, in the championship game of the Tony Samartino Future Stars Tournament at Temple University yesterday, but the big story of the tournament was the outstanding play by players in the Class of 2003.  There were at least a dozen players in this class with mid-to-high major potential and five of those sophomores were on the loaded Tim Thomas Playaz Red, which lost to the #1 seeded BABC in the quarterfinals.  The best player in the tournament for Tim Thomas' younger team was 6'4 Soph Marquis Webb from Paterson (Catholic) NJ, but the best prospect on the team is 6'2 Soph Jamar Nutter from West Orange (Seton Hall Prep) NJ, who edges out 6'2 Soph Art Bowers from Newark (Hodgson-Voc Tech) DE, 6'6 Soph Demetrius Nichols from Barrington (St. Andrew's) RI, 6'7 Soph Will Sheridan from Hockessin (Sanford) DE.  The other outstanding sophomores in the tournament were 6'1 Soph Mike Nardi from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, 6'2 Soph Ray Barbosa from Allentown (Allen) PA, 6'9 Soph Darryl Watkins from Passaic (Tech) NJ, 6'4 Soph Torian Temple from Newark (Hodgson-Voc Tech) DE, 6'2 Soph Mike McGhee from Boston (English) MA, 6'7 Soph Tavon Nelson from Baltimore (Lake Clifton) MD, and 6'5 Soph Harry Brown from Baltimore (Walbrook) MD.  The MVP of the Tournament was 6'5 John Allen from Coatesville (H.S.) PA, but the player who consistently put up the best numbers 6'9 Dwayne Jones from Aston (American Christian) PA.  Other outstanding performances were turned by 5'11 Jr Elijah Ingram from Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ, 6'2 Jermaine Watson from Marion (Tabor Academy) MA, 6'2 Jr Marshall Strickland from Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD, 6'9 Jr Torin Francis from Marion (Tabor Academy) MA, 6'3 Jr Randy Foye from Newark (East Side) NJ, 6'2 Ernest Turner from Somerdale (Sterling) NJ, 6'7 Jamal Nichols from Philadelphia (Ben Franklin) PA, 6'5 David Bell from Philadelphia (Olney) PA, 6'5 Jr Zakee Boyd from Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ, 6'3 Jeff Granger from Newark (St. Benedict's) NJ,  6'3 Jr John Winchester from Bayonne (Marist) NJ, 6'2 Jeremiah King from Paterson (Catholic) NJ, and 6'8 Jason Herring from Philadelphia (Lutheran) PA.

Saturday, August 19, 2000, and Sunday, August 20, 2000

The word out of Southern California is that 6'7 Jerry Dupree from San Bernardino (JC) CA is ready to become the 4th player in USC's current recruiting class.  If you will recall, the Trojans landed the Craven twins, Derrick and Errick, both from Torrance (Bishop Montgomery) CA in early July, and more recently got a committed from 6'10 Rory O'Neil from Ridgecrest (Burroughs) CA.  Southern Cal is Dupree's dream school, according to our West Coast Editor Dinos Trigonis, but as it stands now, we can't find anybody who is ready to go and record and declare that this one is over.  As things stand now, the Trojans  only have one scholarship available and they also have offers on the table to Dupree,  6'8 Isaiah Fox from Santa Monica (Crossroads) CA, and   6'11 Chad Bell from Los Angeles (Westchester) CA.  Which ever one of the three bites first will definitely become a Trojan, but we suspect the USC coaching staff will find a way to make another scholarship available, if they can get Dupree now and also get Bell, Fox, or another big guy in the future, like 6'9 Brandon Bender from Louisville (Ballard) KY.  Speaking of Bender, he's a great example of how quickly things can change in the recruiting game.  As a matter of fact, during the middle of July, USC was right at the top of Bender's list, but now they no longer appear to be even interested.  Which means it's look more and more like Bender will end up at either Kentucky or Louisville.

Our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson tells us that 6'3 Drew Schifino from Pittsburgh (Penn Hills) PA, who signed with West Virginia last spring, but failed to make the necessary score to become eligible as a freshman at a 4-year Division I school this fall, is heading to North Bridgton (Bridgton Academy) ME.   We also have confirmed that 6'10 Mike Southall from West Salem (H.S.) WI, who signed with Kentucky last fall, but who ran into legal problems this spring, is heading to Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA and 6'1 Taron Downey from Oxford (J.F. Webb) NC is enrolling at Fork Union (Military) VA.  Apparently, Downey, who is fully qualified academically, felt his interest would skyrocket with an added year to mature in prep school.  Already he's been proven correct, as he had an excellent summer while playing for the Raleigh Razorbacks and, as a result, last week verbally committed to Wake Forest.  Others who appear to be heading the prep school route, but who previously weren't on our list when we touched on this topic a week ago, include 6'10 Brian Carter Gibralter (Carlson) MI and 6'11 Darris Manciel from Detroit (Pershing) MI, both of whom are going to the Winchendon (School) MA.  However, 6'7 Barry Thompson, originally from Racine, WI, won't be back at Winchendon this fall.  Instead, we have confirmed that he has enrolled to Odessa (JC) TX.  Somebody who shouldn't be on our 5th year list (yet anyway) is 5'10 Todd Galloway, who is transferring from Baltimore (City College) MD to Middleburg (Notre Dame) VA.   Galloway may be a candidate for the 5th year list next year, if he returns to prep school for another year, but we're told that he's only going into his 7th and 8th semesters of high school this year, so will adjust him accordingly.  As a result, Galloway will move into our top 200 nationally among seniors, because he's pretty good.  We're not sure if 6'4 Germain Fitch from Huntsville (Butler) AL will be a 4th or a 5th year player next year, but the word is that he's heading to Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA.  And last, but not least, Worcester Academy is getting 6'10 Chavis Thompson from Florence (Wilson) SC, who signed with Georgia State last spring.

Friday, August 18, 2000

This one is so hot that Syracuse University head coach Jim Boeheim doesn't even know about it yet.  Apparently three weeks ago 6'6 Duane John from Toronto (Boylan) ON gave Syracuse a secret verbal commitment.  However, today he not only reneged, but, instead, verbally committed to the University of Missouri.  John is not ranked among the top seniors in the nation, because he's from Canada.  Instead, he will appear on our 5th year, prep school, and foreign player list.  But if this phenomenal were ranked among seniors in this country, he would be in the 50-100 range nationally.  He plays the same position as 6'6 Rickey Paulding, who signed Missouri a year ago, but if Tigers head coach Quin Snyder wants to speed the game, Paulding, John, and point guard Wesley Stokes, who signed with Missouri last spring, all thrive in an uptempo setting.  As for Syracuse, obviously there is a good reason why they wanted John's commitment to remain a secret.  If 6'6 Julius Hodge from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY, who ranks #4 nationally among seniors by the HOOP SCOOP, also picked the Orangemen, then Hodge and John would be competing for the same playing time, because too play a similiar position.  While this won't hurt Syracuse's chances with Hodge, it is a setback in what looked like a Fab Five recruiting class.  If you will recall, Syracuse also already has a verbal commitment from 6'3 Billy Edelin from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, they're the leader for Hodge, and we think they're a near lock for 6'9 Marcus Austin from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ and, as we mentioned yesterday, for 7'1 Craig Forth from East Greenbush (Columbia) NY.

Previously we've reported that 6'9 Harvey Thomas would likely transfer to Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD and, if that had happened, N.C. State would have been in great shape to get this shot blocking athlete who shot the ball so well in the National 17-Under AAU Tournament this summer that we're convinced he will exclusively be a wing forward someday.  However, it appears that Thomas will be back at Durham (Emmanuel) NC this fall and that may hurt the Wolfpack's changes, because they never have had strong ties to the Durham (Mt. Zion Christian) NC program, which was Thomas' previous school before Joel Hopkins made the move to Durham (Emmanuel) NC last spring.  Well, Hopkins is gone (he took a Division II job at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC), but the fact remains that it will be a tougher road for the N.C. State coaching staff if Thomas is at Emmanuel Christian, despite the fact that this new basketball factory is right in their backyard.  Instead, it looks like Thomas is  wide open, as Georgetown, West Virginia, UCLA, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, Seton Hall and N.C. State all appear to be the hunt.  Speaking of Emmanuel Christian, we're still hearing that 6'9 Amare Stoudamire may return to the school this fall.  Remember, Stoudamire, who is originally from Lake Wales (H.S) FL, followed Hopkins from Mt. Zion Christian to Emmanuel Christian last spring, but then was rumored to be heading to Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA. More recently we confirmed that he has enrolled at Orlando (Dr. Phillips) FL, but that's not a sure thing, either, as Oak Hill, Mt. Zion Christian, and Emmanuel Christian are all still hoping that he will show up at their place within the next couple of weeks for the start of school.   However, even if Stoudamire doesn't show up at Emmanuel Christian, this boarding school in Durham, NC will feature Thomas, who ranks #29 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, 6'0 Jonathan Hargett, who ranks #8 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, and 6'8 Marco Killingworth, who ranks #75 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP.  They also have two other players who came to Emmaneul Christian, along with Killingsworth, from Alabama in 6'8 Darrell Thomas and 6'3 Jeremy Law, as well as 6'7 Tyrone Sally, 6'10 Deonte Smith, and 6'5 Donte Hammond.  And if that weren't enough, the word on the street is that two of the best underclassmen  in the state of Virginia - 6'6 Soph Marcus Sikes from Petersburg (H.S.) VA and 6'5 Jr Kevin Lathers from Amelia (H.S.) VA - both will be enrolling at Emmanuel Christian this fall.  This is especially important, because the will ensure Emmanuel Christian of incredible backcourt in the future.  Sikes' nickname is "Little McGrady", because he reminds everybody of a young Tracy McGrady.  At 6'5, Lathers plays point guard, which makes him the heir apparent to Hargett next season.  Lathers, who is still a major sleeper, because he hasn't played much AAU ball and isn't near a big city, is extremely versatile, as he rebounds, defends, handles, and distributes.  He's also very unselfish and has great court vision.  As a result, he too has the talent and potential to be a great one!

Usually our Philadelphia Area Editor Allen Rubin has the scoop on our New York Editor Ron Naclerio when it comes to verbal commitments in the Northeast, but yesterday Naclerio beat Rubin by a full 24-hours on 6'5 Eddie Basden from Greenbelt (Eleanor Roosevelt) MD, who verbally committed to the University of Massachusetts.  However, Rubin does tell us that the Minutemen are close to getting one of several combo guards, either of  whom would be the perfect complement to Basden in the is recruiting class.  We're talking about 6'1 Tony Bethel from Forestville (Bishop McNamara) MD, who ranks #100 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, and 6'2 Jeremiah King from Paterson (Catholic) NJ, who ranks #202.  Obviously, Bethel is the better player, because he shoots it so well, plus he was terrific at the adidas ABCD Camp in early July.  However, King would be a terrific role player at the high Division I level, because he plays hard, defends, and makes things happen.  King also gets to the hole and has an excellent upside, especially if he grows any more.  Rubin also tells us that Boston College, Georgia Tech, Miami-FL, and Vanderbilt are the leaders for 6'3 Jermaine Watson from Marion (Tabor Academy) MA.  Drexel, Pennsylvania, Iona, Rider, Towson, Princeton, Brown, Maryland-Baltimore County, Colgate, Lehigh, and Bucknell are all in the hunt for 6'8 Steve Showers from New Tripoli (Northwestern Lehigh) PA.   Danny Hargrove, the 6'4 wing guard from Glassboro (Faith Christian) NJ is receiving the most interest from St. Joseph, Drexel, Lehigh, and Youngstown State.  Villanova, St. Joseph's, La Salle, Rhode Island, Seton Hall, and Temple are all showing a lot of interest in 6'7 Jamal Nichols from Philadelphia (Ben Franklin) PA.

Our New York Editor Ron Naclerio checks in a tells us the Posse beat Vacant Lot, 76-58, to capture their second consecutive Rucker League title in New York City last night. The MVP was Fordham's 6'2 Bevon Robin, who had six three's and 30 points in the title game.  He was complemented inside by Iona 6'10 Nakia Miller, who chipped in with 12 points, 13 rebounds, and seven blocks.   The leading scorer for the losers was 6'0 Adrian Walton from Milford (Academy) CT, who finished with 21 points, although he only hit 8-28 from the field, including only 2-13 in the first half.  Also chipping in with 14 points and 11 rebounds was 6'6 Leonard Cooke from Old Tappan (H.S.) NJ.  However, the championship was anti-climatic after watching the 106-105 double-overtime victory by Vacant Lot over Terror Squad in the semi-finals the previous night.  Stephon Marbury had a vintage game with 32 points and numerous assists, but Walton had 27 points, including a three at the buzzer to send the game into a second overtime. Cooke also had 18 points and 15 rebounds, while 6'6 Julius Hodge from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY came off the bench and contributed five points and a lot of effort against Marbury at the defensive end.  Charles Jones, formerly of the Los Angeles Clippers, hit two fouls shots to put Vacant Lot up by four with nine second left, 106-102.  But then Marbury came down and hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.   And that was it, even though it looked like one of the officials had blown his whistle to signify a foul.  However, instead of going into triple overtime, the ref waved off his own foul call, which obviously led to typical New York insanity.   

Thursday, August 17, 2000

Our New York Editor Ron Naclerio has the scoop on 6'5 Eddie Basden from Greenbelt (Eleanor Roosevelt) MD, who has verbally committed to the University of Massachusetts.  This is huge not just due to the fact that Basden ranks #70 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, but also because he provides just one more piece to the puzzle for head coach James "Bruiser" Flint.  If you will recall, Flint was one of the coaches who we thought was on the bubble last winter.   However, after landing a recruiting class last spring, which included 6'7 Jackie Rogers from Barton County (JC) KS, 6'4 Jameel Pugh from Sacramento (Grant) CA, 5'10 Anthony Anderson from Lynn (English) MA, 6'6 Jarrett Kearse from Philadelphia Community (JC) PA, 6'5 Raheim Lamb from Boston (English) MA, and 6'6 Willie Jenkins from Memphis (Fairley) TN and was ranked #21 nationally, and with Basden now in the fold, Flint should quickly become one of the hottest young coaches in the nation.   Basden needs to work on his 3-point shooting, but he is extremely talented, very athletic, and is coming off a spring and summer where the value of his stock has skyrocketed.  Naclerio also has an early list of schools on 6'6 Jr Leonard Cooke from Old Tappan (H.S.) NJ, who will rank as either the #1 or #2 junior in the nation, along with 6'9 Amarie Stoudamire from Orlando (Dr. Phillips) FL, when we start working on our list of the top juniors nationally in the near future.  Cooke says he likes Seton Hall, Connecticut, St. John's, and North Carolina, but adds that going directly out of high school into the NBA draft in two years is also a strong possibility. 

Last night we heard that 6'10 Matt Short from Yreka (Yreka Union) CA had verbally committed to the University of Oregon, but I were traveling, so I were not able to confirm it until today.  White Snyder isn't ranked that high by the HOOP SCOOP, he has improved dramatically over the last two years and, as a result, could develop into an impact player in the Pac-10 down the road.   As a matter of fact, he showed us that he can rebound, defend, pass, and shoot, plus we liked his upside when we saw him at the Rim Rattler All-West Camp at Lynwood High School in Lynwood, CA in early July. It looks like the package that includes 6'1 Aaron Miles from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 6'5 Josh Childress from Lakewood (Artesia) CA, 6'6 Cedric Bozeman from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6'11 Jamal Sampson from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA is still alive and well, but it may surprise you who we think may be the leader.  As a matter of fact, this comes straight from Childress who told a source close to the HOOP SCOOP earlier this week that they're all strongly considering going to Kansas.  St. Louis leads for 6'8 Chris Davis from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA, but he is currently taking an unofficial visit to Iowa State.  California, Oregon, Arizona, Southern California, Villanova, Kentucky, UCLA, New Mexico, UNLV, and San Diego State are all showing interest in 6'8 Isaiah Fox from Santa Monica (Crossroads) CA. 

Normally, I'm not that high on big white kids, but I really like the upside for 7'1 Craig Forth from East Greenbush (Columbia) NY, who ranks #69 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP.  He reminds me of former North Carolina All-American Eric Montross in many ways, although Montross developed a lot earlier than Forth.  We bring this up, because Forth was at Syracuse earlier this week for an unofficial visit and we think it's only a matter of time before they get this one done.  We also still think Syracuse is the leader for 6'6 Julius Hodge from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY, but this one may now be a two horse race, because N.C. State is really turning up the heat.  Speaking of N.C. State, I got an e-mail recently from somebody who was critical of our ranking of 6'9 Josh Powell from Riverdale (H.S.) GA, who verbally committed to the Wolfpack in July.  We have Powell ranked #97 nationally and I think that's fair, because he has yet to prove that he has the perimeter skills and 3-point shooting range to play the three and does not he like to bang with the big boys inside.  He is athletic, he is 6'9, and he does have lots of potential, but he's got a long way to go.  As a result, unlike some of our competitors, I can't justify skyrocketing a player in our rankings just because he signs with an ACC school.  However, if he earns it, we will adjust our list accordingly.   The e-mail also asked me if I would drop Hodge, who currently ranks #4 nationally by the HOOP SCOOP, and 6'9 Harvey Thomas from Durham (Emmanuel) NC, who checks in at #29, if either picked N.C. State.  Actually, I might have to raise them both regardless of where they go school, because Thomas was terrific when we saw him in the National 17-Under AAU Tournament in Orlando, FL and Hodge is just oozing with both talent and potential.  As a matter of fact, I think he's got better skills and is a better 3-point shooter than Tracy McGrady at the same stage, although McGrady was physical a lot more developed and a lot stronger at this stage. 

It’s been rumored for months, but finally it looks like 5’9 Kenneth Brunner from Southern Idaho (JC) ID will end up at the University of Georgia. The big holdup was whether Brunner would complete the necessary hours in summer school to graduate from junior college. Well, three cheers for Brunner, because he did pass the necessary classes this summer and, as a result, it appears that his transcript meets the minimum criteria necessary to be eligible at a four-year school this fall. However, he has not been admitted into school yet, so any body who is reporting this as a done deal, is jumping the gun. And that probably won’t happen until Monday or Tuesday of next week. As we speak, Brunner is driving across the country (today he was in Dallas, TX) and isn’t expected in Athens, GA until sometime tomorrow. Then, he will meet with the University of Georgia admissions people and, if everything is as it appears on his transcript, admission into school should be nothing more than a formality. However, local media and especially the Atlanta Constitution, which has run three articles in the last two days, is making a big issue out of taking Brunner, who has been in and out trouble much of his life. At an early age he lived on the streets and was even homeless for time. But thanks primarily to the efforts of his high school coach Russell Otis, Brunner enrolled at Dominguez High School in Compton, CA and quickly became one of the top five players in the nation in his class when he was a freshman and sophomore in high school. As a junior, he dropped to top 10 in his class and as a senior he was ranked now higher than top 20 or 30, primarily because he didn’t grow. However, this hardnosed, jet-quick, aggressive point guard still beat Baron Davis, who went on to star at UCLA and is now in the NBA, in all their head-to-head match-ups during the summer and fall of their senior. Brunner went onto have a successful freshman season at Georgetown, but then transferred to Fresno State, where he had several off-the-court altercations and, as a result, dropped out of sight for a while and later went the junior college route. So while the local media is blasting the University of Georgia and head coach Jim Harrick for taking such a tough kid, we think the University of Georgia should be commended for giving him another chance. Actually, Athens, GA, where they roll the sidewalks up at dusk, is a far cry from the tough street environment that Brunner was raised around in Los Angeles, CA and, as a result, it might be the perfect place for him to finally live up to his expectations. It also may give him a shot at career in the NBA, because at Georgia he instantly not only solves the Bulldogs point guard problems, but he should help make them one of the better teams in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division.

Wednesday, August 16, 2000

All summer our New York City Editor Ron Naclerio has been singing the praises of 6'6 Jr Leonard Cooke, who transferred from New York (La Salle) NY to Old Tappan (H.S.) NJ last spring.  Remember, Cooke was named the MVP of the adidas ABCD Camp by the HOOP SCOOP, but it looks like he has taken his game to another level while playing all summer at the famous Rucker League at 155th Street in New York City.  As a matter of fact, just last night Cooke scored 26 points to lead Vacant Lot, which also featured 6'6 Julius Hodge from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY and 6'0 Adrian Walton from Milford (Academy) CT, into the semi-finals tonight against the Terror Squad.  And that will be a very important test for the kids (Cooke and Hodge), because the Terror Squad features a player who we once had ranked as the #1 6th grader in the nation.  No, we're not talking about 5'10 Frosh Sebastian Telfair from Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY.  Instead, we're talking about 6'1 Stephon Marbury of the New York Nets, who has only missed one game all summer in the Rucker League.  And that's important, because it shows that Marbury still has that fire and love for the game that is necessary to achieve greatness and win championships.  Getting back to Cooke, what he's done this summer is phenomenal, says Naclerio.   "He's not just dominating against juniors and seniors in high school.   He's doing it against men.  He's dominating against guys who make a living night-in and night-out playing in the NBA.  Sure, Cooke is an 18-year-old junior, but if he's this good right now, just think how good he'll be in two years when he's 20.   My guess is that at that point he will go straight to the league."  Speaking of Naclerio, his Tommy Hilfiger Team, which features playground legend Rafer Austin, pulled off a major upset last night against the loaded Bad Boys team, which included Erick Barkley, Shamgod Wells, Kareem Reid, John Strickland, and believe it or not, Michigan State-bound 6'8 Zack Randolph from Marion (H.S.) IN, who was the #1 ranked senior in the nation last year by the HOOP SCOOP.   Barkley hit his first five 3-pointers, but Austin went for 35 points, plus Georgetown's 6'10 Jamal Watkins had 11 points, 18 rebounds, and seven blocks, as Tommy Hilfiger knocked off the Bad Boys, 70-66. 

Our Philadelphia Area Editor Allen Rubin was at the Sonny Hills Future Stars Tournament at Temple University earlier tonight and talked with some of the top players in the area, including 6'8 Olu Babalola from Richland (St. Augustine) NJ, 6'2 Ernest Turner from Somerdale (Sterling) NJ, 6'9 Dwayne Jones from Aston (American Christian) PA, and 6'5 David Bell from Philadelphia (Olney) PA.  Originially we thought Babalola would be a lock for Villanova, but apparently the Wildcats don't need anybody at his position and, as a result, they are not involved.  Instead, Babalola's list includes South Florida, Rutgers, Marquette, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and La Salle.  Villanova, Rutgers, Maine, Marquette, and UNLV are currently the top five for Turner.  St. Joseph's, Rhode Island, Penn State, Virginia, Massachusetts, Temple, Rutgers, La Salle, and Richmond are all in the hunt for Jones.  Bell likes George Washington, Providence, Georgia Tech, La Salle, Virginia, Seton Hall, and Maryland. 

For the last year and a half we have raised the possibility every so often that 6'9 Jason Parker from Fork Union (Military) VA may not be eligible to play next year at North Carolina.  Well, now he appears to be eligible according to NCAA guidelines, but not by North Carolina standards.  Well, the school that we thought all along might sneak in the backdoor and get Parker, who has always wanted to play basketball at North Carolina, was UNC-Charlotte.  This made perfect sense, especially if Parker was a non-qualifier, because he could live at home, pay in-state tuition, and attend UNC-Charlotte as a regular student while he gets his grades in order.   So it comes a major shock that UNC-Charlotte isn't right at the top of his list.   Apparently the 49ers don't have any scholarships available.  However, we find that hard to believe, especially if a player as good as Parker, who is a local kid, wants to come.  Remember, these things usually have a way of working out.  Instead, Michigan, which had been another one of the schools right at the top of Parker's list the first time he went through the recruiting process, and Kentucky, which is still looking for another quality inside player, appear to be the early favorites.  However, Cincinnati, Florida State, and Wake Forest are also being mentioned and our hunch is that it is going to get even more interesting.   

Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Well, University of Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith has finally ended all the speculation by adding former University of Alabama head coach David Hobbs and former University of Kentucky player Reggie Hanson to the basketball staff.  However, neither will be able to go out on the road, because Smith is moving up assistant Mike Sutton.  He will move into the recruiting position previously held by Shawn Finney, who became the head coach at Tulane a month ago.  Actually, being on the road is not really a new assignment for Sutton, because he filled in nicely this summer for Finney and a year ago he filled in for Smith, who was coaching abroad with an international team, much of the month of July.  Hobbs will move into Sutton's old position, which should suit him perfectly, because for years he held the same position at Alabama will working for Wimp Sanderson in the late 80's and early 90's.  And this isn't the first time Smith, Hobbs, and Sutton have been together.  If you will recall, all three served as assistant coaches at Virginia Commonwealth under head coach J.D. Barnett in the early 80's.  Hanson, who is moving into the spot vacated by Simeon Mars, has spent the past eight years playing professional basketball in Japan.   However, he's got strong University of Kentucky ties, as he played for the Wildcats under both Eddie Sutton and Rick Pitino and was the team captain, along with John Pelphrey, when he was a senior in 1991.  If that weren't enough changes, Smith also promoted George Felton to associate head coach, which is kind of ironic, because the last time Felton had the words "head coach" in his title, Smith was an assistant under Felton at South Carolina. 

The word on the street in the DC area is that 6'1 Tony Bethel from Forestville (Bishop McNamara) MD may be transferring to Rockville (Montrose Christian) MD.  Well, we think it's more than just a rumor.  As a matter of fact, it may already be a done deal.  Speaking of Montrose Christian, it looks like this basketball factory just outside of Washington, DC won't be getting 6'9 Harvey Thomas from Durham (Emmanuel) NC.  Instead, he has elected to remain at Emmanuel Christian.  We also are still waiting to see where 6'7 James White ends up.  Our guess is that it will be either Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA or Kensington (Newport School) MD, which is where he was in the first place.  However, you can scratch the previous plans for White to attend York (Crispus Attucks) PA.   Apparently out-of-state players are no longer being admitted into school, as the administration makes an effort to limit recruiting outside the area.  We still haven't confirmed whether 6'3 Billy Edelin, who was kicked out Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD last spring, is a done deal for Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, but we'd be surprised if that doesn't happen soon.  We're also hearing that 6'3 Ben Bowling from Hazard (Perry County Central) KY is bound for Oak Hill and we'd be surprised if 6'2 Jr Marshall Strickland, who is transferring from Winchendon (School) MA to the Washington, DC area so he can be closer to his family, isn't at Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD.  The bigger question will be whether Strickland will play at DeMatha one or two years.  Remember, Strickland will be a 5th year player next year.  Our guess is that if the legendary Morgan Wootten doesn't retire after next season, Strickland will be allowed to play, because nobody will want to challenge Wootten.  However, if Wootten retires, the coaches in the tough DC Catholic League will cry foul and, as a result, it will be almost impossible for Strickland gain an extra year. 

Speaking of 5th year players, I have received several emails pointing out that 6'7 James White from Kensington (Newport School) MD and 6'9 Julius Sensley from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT were both left off our post summer list of the top seniors nationally.  This was done on purpose, because both are 5th year players.  This may not seem like a big deal, but for Bobby Jacobs, who is the Executive Director of Slam Dunk to the Beach, not knowing that 6'9 Rodney White from Keningston (Newport School) MD two years ago almost turned out to be a major disaster.  You see, New York State High School rules prohibit schools from that state from playing anybody who has a player on their roster who is in their 9th semester or more of high school.  And at Slam Dunk to the Beach two years ago, White, who had been a freshman in high school twice, fit this criteria.  White was eligible to play according to Maryland state rules, so they listed him as a senior and tried to sneak it through.  However, New York (Rice) NY head coach Maurice Hicks knew White's status and if Newport School had beaten Wheaton (Good Counsel) MD in the semi-finals at Slam Dunk to the Beach, Hicks was prepared to forfeit the championship game.  Fortunately for Jacobs, this didn't happen, but you can bet he pays a little more attention to our 5th year list, especially when he's bracketing the New York teams.  Listing 5th year players separately also is important, because these players have an unfair advantage.  Nearly all of them are 18, 19, or even 20 years old and that is a huge advantage in terms of maturity both physically and mentally.   While we haven't yet finalized a 5th year list and won't until school starts in several more weeks, we have put together a preliminary list of players who have decided to hang around for that extra year.   It includes White, Sensley, 6'9 Sherrod Ford from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, 6'6 Barry Thompson from Winchendon (School) MA, 6'1 Adrian Walton from Milford (Academy) CT, 6'8 Jason Clark from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, 6'0 T.J. Thompson from Kensington (Newport School) MD, 6'7 Omari Westley from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, 6'8 De'on Dixon from Fork Union (Military) VA, 6'2 Jermaine Watson from Marion (Tabor Academy) MA, 6'3 Jermaine Harper from Dyke (Blue Ridge School) VA, 6'11 Chris Alexander from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA, 6'5 Todd Townsend from New Hampton (Prep) NH,6'6 Eric King from Milford (Academy) CT, 6'11 Christian Charles from York (Crispus Attucks) PA, 6'5 Dustin Hellenaga from Winchendon (School) MA, 5'11 Todd Galloway from Middleburg (Notre Dame) VA, 6'1 Carl Krauser from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, 6'5 Pierre Tucker from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, Darrio Scott from Lynchburg (Virginia Episcopal) VA, 6'1 Solomon Brown from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, 6'10 Adrian Moss from Fork Union (Military) VA, 6'8 Keith Butler from Fitchburg (Notre Dame) MA, and 6'7 Tanner Ogden from Fork Union (Military) VA.  It also includes 6'8 Tremayne Singletary, 6'5 Tabius Tate, 6'2 Keith Jenifer, 6'8 Mauricio Bramwell, 6'6 Ryan Gomes, all of whom are supposed to go the prep school route, but as of yet we're not sure where, and players like 6'2 Steve Moore from Compton (Dominguez) CA, who may get an extra year of high school eligibility, but who still makes the list, because he will starting his 9th semester of high school this fall.  We also put foreign players and anybody else who we're not sure what to do with on the 5th year list.  Right at the top of this group is 6'10 Deng Gai from The Sudan.  Remember, he's the guy who made his American debut at Eastern Invitational's best week in late July, as he took home camp MVP honors. Others who have to be mentioned here are 6'9 Terry Licorish from Toronto (Westhill) ON, 6'1 Kyle Wilson from White Rock (Christian) BC, 6'6 Duane John from Toronto (Boylan) ON, 6'3 Jabulah Murray from Toronto (Eastern Commerce) ON, and 5'11 Sheldon Tingle from Roxdale (North Albion) ON.  And the list will get a lot longer before we're done, because a number of foreign players will sign with American schools this fall and we suspect that we'll find out a few more  players who currently listed as high school seniors are actually 5th year players.  And the first guy we're going to check on is 6'3 Ricky Shields from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA.  If you know of others, feel free to call me at -1-(502)-493-0043 or email me at clark@hoopscooponline.com.   While there is nothing wrong with being a 5th year player, it is important to be consistent and by applying the 9th semester rule, we think our mission has been accomplished. 

Monday, August 14, 2000

Last week we provided you with a preview of many of the top events that will be held in September, but we didn't tell you about the event that is next on our agenda.  We're talking about Five-Star Honesdale II, which is always a loaded week.  And this year will be no exception as 6'6 Jr Leonard Cooke from Old Tappan (H.S.) NJ, who was the #1 ranked player at the adidas ABCD Camp by the HOOP SCOOP, 5'10 Frosh Sebastian Telfair from Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY, 6'8 Jr Jason Fraser from Amityville (H.S.) NY, 6'3 Dommanic Ingerson from Santa Barbara (H.S.) CA, 6'5 John Allen from Coatesville (H.S.) PA, 6'1 Ben Gordon from Mt. Vernon (H.S.) NY, 6'8 Kenny Adeleke from Brooklyn (Paul Robeson) NY, and 6'10 Mark Konecny from Waterbury (Holy Cross) CT head what promises to be an all-star cast.   The dates are August 25th-31st and will wish we could be there for the entire week, because the Developmental League at this session always gives us a big jump on the future with the young kids in the Northeast.  However, we can't be there until, Tuesday, August 29th, so we'll only get to see the playoffs and the all-star games.  Five-Star's Hoop Classic, September 15th-17th, also will be loaded, as the field will include New York Riverside Church, which will be adding 6'8 David Lee from St. Louis (Chaminade) MO to their roster, BABC, Illinois Warriors, Howard Pulley Panthers, Boo Williams, Albany City Rocks, Shreveport Bossier Select, Gauchos, New York Ravens, Tim Thomas Playaz, Prep Stars-Canada, Baltimore Blue,  Los Angeles, Rockfish, Mad Moves (Las Vegas-NV), NJ All-Stars and Jersey Shore Warriors.

It's funny how things turn out.  Back in the mid-80's, based on the recommendation of Dave Benezra, who then was our West Coast Editor and is now the Editor and Publisher of Recruiting USA, we had Josh Oppenheimer ranked among our top 50 nationally.  Looking back on it we have to admit that was much too high for Oppenheimer, although he did sign with the University of  Rhode Island and did play several years professional in Israel.  So he did turn out to be a pretty good player.  And he's also turned out to be one of the rising stars in the coaching community and, as a result, we think now is good time to take full credit for having discovered him.  All this becomes important, because Oppenheimer, who has been an assistant coach at Duquesne the last two years, is moving to Delaware, where he will become the #1 assistant coach for new head coach Dave Henderson.   It's also important, because it gets Oppenheimer into the Duke family and with those type of connections, it should only be a matter of time before he evolves into a big-time head coach. 

Saturday, August 12, 2000, and Sunday, August 13, 2000

We have published exclusively in the Members Section our post-summer rankings of the top players nationally in the Class of 2001, plus we also have broken it down further by ranking the top 50 players at each position.  Previously we had talked about  making it a tie for #10, because it is just too close to call among 6'6 Cedric Bozeman from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6'5 Josh Childress from Lakewood (Mayfair) CA, 6'11 Rick Rickert from Duluth (East) MN, 6'1 Maurice Williams from Jackson (Murrah) MS, 7'0 DeSagana Diop from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, 6'1 Aaron Miles from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 6'7 Andre Patterson from Los Angeles (Washington) CA, 5'11 Terrance Ford from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX, and 6'3 Rashaad Carruth from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, all of whom are all good enough to be strongly considered for top 10 status. .  However, we decided against it, so the #10 spot belongs solely to Bozeman.   And it was even more difficult narrowing down the top 100, as there are about a 130 players who legitimately deserve to be ranked among our top 100.  So, it should come as no surprise that 6'4 Joshua Chambers from Homestead (Berkshire) FL, 6'5 Karl Hollingsworth from Jonesboro (Mt. Zion) GA, 6'4 Josh Carrier from Bowling Green (H.S.) KY, 6'1 Tony Bethel from Forestville (Bishop McNamara) MD, 6'9 Terrance Dials from Youngstown (Boardman) OH, 6'8 Emeka Okafor from Houston (Bellaire) TX, and 6'2 Jaison Williams from Aurora (Hinckley) CO are all tied for the last spot at #100.  Everybody talks about the overwhelming number of quality big guys who are in this class and that certainly is true when compared to recent years.   However, when compared to the other positions, the center position is still the weakess in terms of both depth and players who have stepped up and established themselves as bonafide superstars.  And we're getting tired of waiting, which is why 6'11 Eddy Curry from South Holland (Thornwood) IL and 7'0 Tyson Chandler from Compton (Dominguez) CA, who check in at #6 and #7, both just missing making our top five.  And they get that ranking based on potential and not because they did anything special during the summer.  The best position appears to be point guard, which features #11 players from that position ranked among the top 40 nationally.  The deepest position is power forward, athough it is not overwhelming at the top, as only four players at that position are ranked among our top 30 nationally.  The wing forward spot has pretty good depth, but it starts out slow at the top with 6'5 Josh Childress from Lakewood (Mayfair) CA heading the list at #11, followed by 6'7 Andre Patterson from Los Angeles (Washington) CA at #16, 6'9 Anthony Richardson from Raleigh (Leesville Road) NC #21, and 6'9 Jason Levy from Homestead (Berkshire) FL at #25.  The wing guard spot has turned out to be much better than expected with 6'4 Kelvin Torbert from Flint (Northwestern) MI and 6'6 Julius Hodge from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY, who were our two leading candidates for Player-of-the-Summer, heading the list.  You can get our ranking of the top 100 seniors nationally by clicking on Top100 and/or you can get the complete national list by clicking on Class 2001. You can also get our rankings of the top players by position by clicking on Top Centers, Top Power Forwards, TopWing Forwards,Top Second Guards, and Top Point Guards.

Friday, August 11, 2000

Reggie Tisdale, the Editor & Publisher of Indiana Basketball News, usually has the scoop on what's going on in the state of Indiana and today is no exception, as he tells us that Ball State has a verbal commitment from 6'2 Matt McCollom from Mt. Zion (H.S.) IL.  McCollom, who was ranked no higher than top 100 in the state of Illinois, apparently had a good summer, because schools like Illinois State, St. Louis, Michigan State, and Utah all have been showing interest, plus he made an unofficial visit to Missouri last weekend.  And McCollom isn't the only player from Mt. Zion who will sign with a Division I school this fall.  As a matter of fact, two of his teammates - 6'4 Neil Plank has already committed to Wisconsin and 6'8 Jake Sams has verbally committed to Indiana State - have already made their college decisions.  McCollom isn't the only new addition for the Cardinals, as Tisdale also tells us that new head coach Tim Buckley also is getting a transfer.  We're talking about 6'2 Chris Williams, formerly of Oak Park (Fenwick) IL, who is transferring from Loyola-Chicago.  However, Williams will have to sit out a year in accordance with NCAA rules and, as a result, will not count with Ball State's recruiting class. 

Our Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania/South Jersey Editor Allen Rubin has a list of schools for 6'8 Brandon Brigman from Philadelphia (St. John Neumann) PA.  They are Rhode Island, Virginia Tech, South Florida, Seton Hall, West Virginia, and Rutgers.  The only news our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson has for us are unconfirmed reports about 6'9 Kei Madison from Iowa Western (JC) IA reaffirming his commitment to attend Indiana University.  If this is true, it would mean that the Hoosiers don't have any scholarships available and, as a result, won't be able to bring in a point guard in this recruiting class.  However, Madison would be smart not to sign until spring, because everything could change if current IU assistant coach Mike Davis gets a head coaching job or if Bob Knight doesn't remain on his good behavior.   The lastest list for 6'6 Cedric Bozeman from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA,who now ranks among our top 10 nationally, includes Florida, Duke, Kansas, and UCLA.  However, sources, who in the past have proved to be very pro UCLA, tell us that Bozeman and 6'1 Aaron Miles from Portland (Jefferson) OR are both already secretly done for the Bruins.  And when that happens, they think 6'11 Jamal Sampson from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA and 6'5 Josh Childress from Lakewood (Mayfair) CA will also fall in line and UCLA will ahve a banner recruiting class.  Houston, Texas A&M, Iowa State, Connecticut, Georgia Tech, Miami-FL, and Baylor are all in the hunt for 6'9 Lamar Roberts from Houston (Lamar) TX, who now ranks among our top 60 nationally after exploding on the summer camp circuit last month.  The latest list for 6'9 Emeka Okafor from Houston (Bellaire) TX, who ranks among our top 100 nationally, includes Rice, Georgia Tech, SMU, Houston, Baylor, Stanford, and Xavier.  Texas is believed to be the leader for 5'11 Terrance Ford from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX, who, along with Miles is widely regarded as one of the two premier point guards in the senior class nationally.  However, he also has UCLA, Georgia, Louisville, Villanova, and Georgetown on his list.  Minnesota, Purdue, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, Arkansas-Little Rock, Tulsa, and Houston are all in the hunt for 6'8 Chris Rhodes from Houston (Westbury Christian) TX.  Illinois, Texas A&M, Tulsa, and Colorado State are among those showing interest in 6'4 Daryl Mason from Bryan (H.S.) TX.   Louisiana Tech, Houston, Colorado State, Nebraska, and UT-Arlington are the most involved with 6'2 Dante Stiggers from Alief  (Hastings) TX. 

Thursday, August 10, 2000

Finally, it looks like a busy day for verbal commitments and the first one comes as a mild surprise, because we thought North Carolina would be very tough to beat for 6'7 James White from York (Crispus Attucks) PA.   Remember, his father has always been a Tar Heels fans and he'd been calling the North Carolina basketball office almost daily right up until the new regime took over.   But then, just like with 6'6 Julius Hodge from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY, something strange happened.  As a matter of fact, St. Raymond's head coach Gary Decesare told us that North Carolina was one that backed off Hodge right after they got the verbal commitment from 6'6 Jackie Manuel from West Palm Beach (Cardinal Newman) FL and not the other way around.  Decesare says that UNC head coach Matt Doherty told him that Manuel and Hodge were very similar and they wanted to bring in a more athletic wing player.  We still thought White was the #1 priority for North Carolina, but, if you will recall, we reported that several weeks ago that the North Carolina coaching staff had been recruiting 6'6 Dijon Thompson from Redondo Beach (Redondo Union) CA surprising hard.  We also knew that Florida head coach Billy Donovan was making a strong push for White, so the comment about this being a "Bret Bearup special" is way out of line.   Remember, a lot of  people think Bearup uses his influence to push players to certain schools.  One of those schools is the University of Florida, because of his close friendship with Donovan and the prime example everybody seems to cite is Donnell Harvey.  Well, the real reason why Harvey picked Florida was loyolty.  If you will recall, Florida and Auburn were the only two schools that recruited Harvey from start to finish.  Remember, for a long time it didn't look like Harvey would make it academically and, as a result, most schools, like Kentucky, which was where he originally wanted to go, backed off.  And when they tried to get back involved it was too late.  Also, Donovan is one of the hardest working recruiters in the business (we know for a fact he was out every day during the July evaluation period).  He also might be one of the most astute at identifying who he can get, as he has made a living going into states where basketball isn't king and where he wouldn't have to compete with a lot of different schools and stole the top player (i.e. Mike Miller, Brett Nelson, and Matt Bonner).   And apparently Donovan judged the White situation correctly as well.   Remember, Manuel called Donovan and verbally committed to the University of Florida on Sunday, July 9th, while he was still at the adidas ABCD Camp.  However, when he got home, he called Donovan back and reneged.  Then, within a day or two, he verbally committed to North Carolina.  The irony is that it looks like Donovan got the better player, because Manuel may just turn out to be a summer camp phenom.  If you will recall, we've seen Manuel a lot in the last several years and he has not duplicated the incredible week he had at the adidas ABCD Camp, where he finished ranked #6 in camp by the HOOP SCOOP before or since.  However, there are also questions with White, like developing a consistent 3-point shot and better skills, so it will be truly interesting to follow the careers of both Manuel and White to see who ultimately comes out on top.

Dave Benezra, the Editor and Publisher of Recruiting USA, told our Philadelphia Area Editor Allen Rubin this morning that 6'10 Rory O'Neil from Ridgecrest (Burroughs) CA has verbally committed to USC.  And Benezra should know, because O'Neil, whose best days are still ahead of him, has played for Benezra, who is the director of the Los Angeles Rockfish club team program, for the last several years.  O'Neil, who ranks among our top 150 nationally, becomes USC's third recruit.  He joins the Craven's twins (Derrick and Errick), both of whom committed to the Trojans the first week in July.  Benezra also told Rubin that 6'9 Nick Lewis from Phoenix (Brophy Prep) AZ has committed to San Diego and 6'8 Mike Jensen from Kent (Kentwood) WA has committed to the University of Washington.   Jensen didn't attend anything in the spring nor was he at the NIKE All-American Camp or the adidas ABCD Camp in early July.  However, after an impressive performance at the adidas ABCD Camp in Las Vegas, NV, he appeared to be the flavor the week, as some scouts even started touting him among the top five on the West Coast.  It's also interesting, because he should complement the other two players - 6'8 Anthony Washington from Seattle (Garfield) WA and 6'7 Josh Williams from Yakima (A.C. Davis) WA, from which the Huskies got commitments, because Jensen is an excellent 3-point shooter and is mobile and versatile enough to be very effective out on the perimeter.  We also heard that East Carolina has gotten a commitment from 6'2 Mitchell Bittle from Winston-Salem (R.J. Reynolds) NC, but according to Rubin, who has done some checking, that is not correct.   Instead, it appears that the Pirates have landed 6'3 Devin Boddie from Durham (Jordan) NC.  As for Bittle, who is still on the board, we look for him to either stay home and sign with Wake Forest or go just down the road to UNC-Charlotte.   Our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson tells us that Bowling Green has gotten a commitment from 6'7 Cory Myink from Maria Stein (Marion Local) OH.  And that's not the only good news for the Falcons, as 6'9 Ray Austin, who is originally from Youngstown (Rayen) OH, is transferring from Illinois State to Bowling Green.

Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Our Ohio Editor Chris Johnson has confirmed that 6'0 Joe See from Concord (DeLaSalle) CA has made a verbal commitment to Oregon State and 6'6 Derick Payne from Washington (Coolidge) DC via Pittsfield (Maine Central Institute) ME will be attending San Jacinto (JC) CA this fall.  Johnson also tells us that it is being reported that 6'8 Thomas Davis from Kilgore (JC) TX and 6'10 Shawnson Johnson from Lee (JC) TX both have made verbal commitments to LSU.  However, as of yet, this is unconfirmed.  And making this even more interesting is that fact that the LSU team is playing in Italy and, as a result, won't be back until August 18th. Speaking of verbal commitments, last week we reported that UNC-Charlotte has a verbal commitment from 6'9 Matmatas Niparavicius from Lithuania.  But one of our readers sent us an email telling us that was incorrect.  Instead, they said that Niparavicius had previously committed to St. Bonaventure.  Well, we've done some checking and reconfirmed that Niparavicius is going to UNC-Charlotte and will be eligible this fall.   As a result, he is a late addition for the Class of 2000, so we have taken him off our list of signings for players in the Class of 2001 and Beyond.   As long as we're making sure we're accurate, we got a call two days ago from the mother of 6'3 Rashaad Carruth from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA and she wanted us to correct several things that we'd written about her son a month ago.   First, Linzy Davis, who was Carruth's AAU coach, did not pay Carruth's tuiton at Oak Hill Academy.  Second, she and her husband (Carruth's stepfather) were the two people with the most influence on Carruth when it came to picking a college.  Third, when it came time for her son to pick a college, it was their decision and their decision alone.  She did point out that Davis has provided a lot of help over the years when it came to helping her son develop as a basketball player, but that Davis wasn't as important in the decision making process as everybody had been led to believe.  Obviously this is correct, because for six months Davis told us that there was no way Carruth would go to Kentucky, despite the fact that Carruth had said all along that the Wildcats were one of his favorite schools.  However, Carruth made it official for the University of Kentucky on Monday, July 10th at a press conference at the NIKE All-American Camp.

Neither of these two items are a surprise, but former UC-Irvine head coach and current Cincinnati assistant coach Rod Baker has been named as the new associate head coach at Rutgers and 6'8 Jordan Cornette from Cincinnati (St. Xavier) OH has reaffirmed his commitment to Notre Dame.  The Cornette decision is big, because it means that the new coaching staff has gotten   both players - Cornette and 6'1 Chris Thomas from Indianapolis (Pike) IN - who had verbally committed to the previous regime to honor their commitments, despite the fact they were free to change their mind and pick any other school in the nation.  Baker going to Rutgers may look like a step down at first, but actually it is a step up, because it means more money and a better title, plus it allows him to return home.  So now the speculation obviously will begin regarding who will take Baker's place at Cincinnati.  Our guess is that it will be a former player and the only person who fits that description who is already in coaching is Keith Legree.   If you will recall, Legree got his start in coaching a year ago when John Loyer was hired has the head coach at Wabash Valley (JC) IL, but joined Larry Harrison when he become the new head coach at the University of Hartford this spring.  We find it especially interesting that both Loyer and Harrison were both assistant coaches at Cincinnati when Legree was being recruiting by the Bearcats.   Also, interesting is the fact that Legree was one of Cincinnati head coach Bobby Huggins all time top recruiting priorities and, while he lost him to Louisville the first time around, Huggins did get Legree on the rebound when he transferred from Louisville.  As a result, Legree played his last two seasons for Huggins at Cincinnati.  Speaking of Cincinnati, several people have pointed out that the commitment by 6'1 Ben Gordon from Mt. Vernon (H.S.) NY to Connecticut should help the Bearcats chances in the sweepstakes for 6'4 Kelvin Torbert from Flint (Northwestern) MI, who ranks #3 nationally in the senior class by the HOOP SCOOP.  Remember, Torbert's top three schools are Michigan State, Cincinnati, and Connecticut.  And we agree with this accessment not because Torbert should be worried about beating out Gordon, but because the Huskies will be loaded at the one, two, and three spots with Gordon, Taliek Brown, Marcus Cox, Tony Robertson, Scott Hazelton, and Caron Butler all competing for the same playing time.  However, don't count the Huskies out just yet, because they are still living off their NCAA Championship from a year ago and their coaching staff is second to none when it comes to identifying the right pieces to the puzzle and getting it done. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2000

Yesterday was a travel day and, as a result, we were out of the loop much of the day, so we're only now getting to the three important commitments that have occurred during the last two days.  Ironically, all three players - 6'1 Ben Gordon from Mt. Vernon (H.S.) NY, 6'0 Ricky Morgan from Pontiac (Northern) MI, and 6'11 Michael Fey from Olympia (Capital) WA - were ranked higher before the summer started than they will be when our post-summer rankings are published later this week.  As a matter of fact, Morgan and Fey both played themselves out of our top 100 nationally.  Morgan had a terrific spring and, as a result, had moved all they way up to #71 nationally.  However, the Michigan Mustangs didn't have good chemistry at the adidas Big Time Tournament and, at least part of the responsibility falls on Morgan's shoulders, as he failed get his teammates better and make people better.  As a result, we think Morgan will be good role player for Iowa State, but Cyclones need somebody better, if they expect to continue winning big in the tough Big-12.  Actually they already have somebody better in Jake Sullivan, but it is still a question mark whether Sullivan, who is a tremendous competitor and outstanding 3-point shooter, but only 6'1, will develop into a pure point guard.  So it looks like Morgan is a good insurance policy.  Fey, who was ranked #59 before the summer began, didn't impress us at the adidas ABCD Camp, where he finished ranked #19 among centers.  One might argue that Fey isn't athletic enough to look good in that type unstructured setting, but we also question his toughness and we don't think he has good hands.  However, he does have excellent skills, rebounds well, and is a great kid, so we think he's a good start to a top notch recruiting class for UCLA, assuming that the Bruins also get 6'1 Aaron Miles from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 6'6 Cedric Bozeman from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6'5 Josh Childress from Lakewood (Mayfair) CA, and 6'11 Jamal Sampson from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA.  And to give you an idea of just how good a class that would be, if UCLA had signed those five players last spring, their recruiting class would have been ranked second only behind Oklahoma State, which signed seven players, instead of the maximum five that are now being mandated by new NCAA rules.  Speaking of the five and three rule, which will limited schools to eight scholarships over a two-year period, we understand that UCLA is already planning on testing that rule by appealing for two extra scholarships if Jason Kapono and Dan Gadzuric both declare hardship and are drafted in the NBA draft next spring.   Unfortunately, we think their chances winning such an appeal are slim and none, but we hope we're wrong, because it's a terrible rule.  Getting back to the subject at hand, Gordon, who was ranked #36 by the HOOP SCOOP pre-summer, did have a good adidas ABCD Camp, where he was ranked #22 overall and #6 at the wing guard position, but 6'2 wing guards are not at a premium in the ACC and Big East, unless they are truly special.  Also, Gordon, who is very good, but not special, was so bad when the Duke coaching staff saw him during the middle of July, that they dropped out of the picture and took 6'3 Daniel Ewing from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX instead.  And Gordon's other top school, Seton Hall recently got a commitment from 6'5 John Allen from Coatesville (H.S.) PA, so that apparently opened the door for Connecticut to jump into the picture.  Well, not only did the Huskie jump into the picture, but they got this one done just two days after Gordon made an unofficial visit to Storrs, CT.  While Connecticut is also currently loaded at both guards spots, but down the road there should be more playing time for Gordon, because 6'1 Taliek Brown is the only guard the Huskies signed in the previous recruiting class. 

Monday, August 7, 2000

Now that the summer camp season is over, it's time to start thinking about the fall recruiting season and, specifically, the 30-period day in September and early October when college coaches can be on the road a total of 18 days.   That doesn't mean you can send your entire staff out 18 days.  In other words, if you two coaches are out on the same day at a different event, it counts as two days.   Thus, it becomes even more important than ever for the head coach to do most of the recruiting, because you can bet that Roy Williams, Lute Olson, Bobby Huggins, et al. won't send an assistant to do their job.  The period kicks off with two of the premier events of the entire fall, September 8th-10th, with the New York Slam Jam Fest at Hofstra University in Homestead, NY and the Full Court Press Fall Hoops Classic at Lynwood High School in Lynwood, CA.  The New York Slam Jam Fest is only in its first year, but Charlie Weber, Wayne Simone, and Gary Decesare are all old pros at running events, so it promises to be second to none.  In recent years the Full Court Press Fall Hoops Classic has proved to be the best event of the entire year in terms of talent for Dinos Trigonis, because there isn't any competition that weekend for the top talent in Southern California.  Then, the next weekend, September 15th-17th, it really gets interesting, because the Charlie Weber Invitational in College Park, MD and the Five-Star Invitational at Staten Island, NY will be going head-to-head for the second time in three years.  Our guess is that Weber's tournament will be stacked with good southern teams, while Five-Star will get more than their fair share of the top teams from the Northeast.  So the battle will be for teams in the Middle Atlantic states, which Weber should win, as well as some of the top teams from the Midwest.  However, getting teams out of the Midwest may not be as easy as it used to be, because Bill Hensley also will be running a first time fall Spiece event, September 15th-17th, at their brand new state-of-the-art facility in Ft. Wayne, IN.  On the third weekend of the month, September 22nd-24th, Rob Kennedy and his crew from Eastern Invitational are holding the Converse Jam Fest at Rutgers University, which promises to be a prime time event, and on Saturday, September 23rd, Rick Barrett will have his annual Midnight Madness All-Star Game at Cherry Hill, NJ, which has been another priority for the HOOP SCOOP in recent years.  On the final weekend of the month, September 29th-October 1st, Wayne Simone won't have any major competition with his adidas Hoops Challenge at Yale University, so you know that he will have nearly all of the top teams from New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.  And not competiting with numerous other events is one of the big keys these days to running a successful event, which is why Simone and Weber are going to move their July event at Penn State University to late June next year.  With 15 courts, easy access  for traveling teams (Penn State is six hours or less to a lot of places), and HoopsTV.com behind them, it's our guess that the HoopsTV.com Summer Invitational will quickly become the premier pre-July event in the nation.  For more information call Simone at 1-(203)-596-9264 or Weber at 1-(703) 960-0467.

It looks like Bobby Jacobs, the Executive Director for Slam Dunk to the Beach, has lined up his strongest field ever.   No, he didn't get Camden (H.S.) NJ with 6'2 Jr Dajuan Wagner, who ranks as the #1 senior in the nation by the HOOP SCOOP, but it seems like he got just about everybody else.  Let's start with his latest addition.  Brooklyn (Lincoln) NY features 5'10 Sebastian Telfair, who not only is ranked as the consensus #1 freshman in the nation, but also was one of the big stories at the adidas ABCD Camp this summer when he finished ranked #43 overall in camp and #13 at the point guard position, according to the HOOP SCOOP.  Jacobs also has Montgomery (St. Jude) AL, which features our #2 ranked senior in 6'9 Ousmane Cisse from Montgomery (St. Jude) AL.  Remember, he's that's the guy who destroyed 7'0 Tyson Chandler from Compton (Dominguez) CA in their head-to-head matchup and took home camp MVP honors at the NIKE All-American Camp.  Speaking of Chandler, who still gets ranked by a lot of scouts as the #1 player in the senior class nationally, based on his size, mobility, quickness, and a potential, rumor has it that Jacobs will pair St. Jude against Dominguez in the first round in order to ensure a  rematch between Cisse and Chandler.  If that weren't enough, Slam Dunk to the Beach also has three other players who rank among the very elite nationally in the Class of 2001 in 6'1 Maurice Williams from Jackson (Murrah) MS, 6'5 Josh Childress from Lakewood (Mayfair) CA, and 5'11 Terrance Ford from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX.  And 6'3 Daniel Ewing from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX, who recently committed to Duke isn't far behind.  In addition to Compton (Dominguez) CA, Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX, Montgomery (St. Jude) AL, Jackson (Murrah) MS, and Lakewood (Mayfair) CA, all of whom have already be mentioned, the eight team Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament will also likely include New York (Rice) NY, Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, and Fairfax (Paul VI) VA.  However, that may not be etched in stone, because Midwest City (H.S.) OK, which features 6'9 Jr Sheldon Williams and 6'4 Jr DeAngelo Alexander, also should be good to consider to the top bracket.  If you will recall, Williams and Alexander were two of the outstanding juniors who led Athletes First to the final four of the adidas Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas, NV and the championship of the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando, FL.  And the other four-team tournaments should also be outstanding, as the rest of the field includes Cleveland (Benedictine) OH, Lakewood (St. Edward) OH, New Orleans (St. Bernard) LA, Lilburn (Berkmar) GA, Louisville (Pleasure Ridge Park) KY, East Greenbush (Columbia) NY, Brooklyn (Bishop Loughlin) NY, Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ, Somerdale (Sterling) NJ, Cape May Court House (Middle Township) NJ, Atlantic City (H.S.) NJ, Richland (St. Augustine) NJ, New Castle (H.S.) PA, Coatesville (H.S.) PA, Ft. Washington (Germantown Academy) PA, Frederick (Thomas Johnson) MD, Towson (Catholic) MD, Baltimore (Southern) MD, Severn (Archbishop Spalding) MD, Washington (Archbishop Carroll) DC, Lewes (Cape Henelopen) DE, Felton (Lake Forest) DE, Greenville (A.I Dupont) DE, Bear (Hodgson Voc Tech) DE, Hockessin (Sanford) DE, and New Castle (Williams Penn) DE.   Among the other big name players to watch will be 6'9 Jawad Williams from Lakewood (St. Edward) OH, 6'5 John Allen from Coatesville (H.S.) PA, 6'2 Ernest Turner from Somerdale (Sterling)  NJ, 6'1 Melvin Scott from Baltimore (Southern) MD, 6'9 Marcus Austin from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, 7'1 Craig Forth from East Greenbush (Columbia) NY, 6'9 Robert Little from Fairfax (Paul VI) VA, 6'6 Olu Babalola from Richland (St. Augustine) NJ, 6'6 Tyree Spinner from Fairfax (Paul VI) VA, 6'0 Ted Mumford from Brooklyn (Bishop Loughlin) NY, 6'6 Clark Williams from Lilburn (Berkmar) GA, 6'4 Brew Story from Cleveland (Benedictine) OH, 6'5 Kwana Chase from Greenville (A.I. Dupont) DE, 6'0 Jr Elijah Ingram from Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ, 6'5 Jr Curtis Sumpter from Brooklyn (Bishop Loughlin) NY, 6'4 Jr Matt Walsh from Ft. Washington (Germantown (Academy) PA, 6'7 Lee Melchionni from Ft. Washington (Germantown Academy) PA, 6'11 Jr Ted Skuckas from Ft. Washington (Germantown Academy) PA, 6'0 Jr Dwayne Lee from Jersey City (St. Anthony) NJ, 6'4 Jr Darshawn Lucky from Baltimore (Southern) MD, 6'5 Jr Anthony Carmelo from Towson (Catholic) MD, 6'1 Darnell Hopkins from Towson (Catholic) MD, 6'10 Soph Grant Billmeier from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, 6'3 Soph Art Bowers from Bear (Hodgson Voc Tech) DE, 6'9 Soph Williams Sheridan from Hockessin (Sanford) DE, and 6'5 Soph Matt Stevenson from Towson (Catholic) MD.

Saturday, August 5, 2000, and Sunday, August 6, 2000

We couldn't write a better ending.  The Wisconsin Playground Warriors, which are one of the leading contenders for Team-of- the-Summer after taking home the championships from both the NIKE Bluegrass Classic in Louisville and the NIKE Peach Jam in Augusta, GA, had a two point lead with only four seconds left in the NIKE Global Challenge in Portland, OR.  However, the Houston Hoops had the ball underneath their own basket and 6'2 Carlos Hurt from Alief (Alief-Elsik) TX was the guy who made  the inbounds pass inside to 6'9 Emeka Okafor from Houston (Bellaire) TX.   Normally when your big guy gets the ball in the low post, you expect him to try and score.  Instead, Okafor passed the ball back out to Hurt, who drained his 8th 3-pointer of the game, as the Houston Hoops not only won championship game, 73-72, but also sent their legendary 22-year-old coach Josh Pastner out in style reminiscent of Al McQuire's last game when he won the NCAA Championship at Marquette in 1977.   Actually, Pastner, who has compiled a 106-13 record the last two years, was more like Jim Valvano when he was overwhelmed by the moment when N.C. State won the NCAA Championship in 1983.  "We decided to go for the win," said Pastner.  And Hurt proved he has ice in his veins, as he hit 8-12 3-pointers en route to a 26 point effort and the tournament MVP honors.  Pastner will go onto to become the graduate assistant coach at Arizona in just a few days and Hurt is heading to Louisville, KY, where he will attend Louisville (Moore) KY and then the University of Louisville.  But the Houston Hoops will be back, because Pastner's father Hal Pastner, who directs the program, has a great group of underclassmen waiting in the wings.  And so will NIKE's end of the summer event, which for the last three years has ended the summer in dramatic fashion.  The only drawback might have been the international teams,  which didn't thrive in this setting.  However, we were very impressed with the Yugoslavian team, which finished a strong 6th in the tournament and featured 6'10 Bojko Mladenov, 6'10 Marko Jovanovic, 6'2 Aleksandar Gajic, 6'4 Vladimir Popovic, and 6'4 Mirko Kovac.  Mladenov, who has excellent post moves, long arms, and good skills, is their best player, but he's already 19-years-old and the word is that he already plays on a professional team in Europe.  Jovanovic isn't as strong Mladenov inside, but he's got better shooting range and he's got better quickness and mobility, which allows him to do a lot of the dirty work in the paint.  Gajic is an excellent penetrating point guard who either finds a way to score over the trees inside or find the open man with his terrific passing ability, vision, and court awareness.  Popovic is a slasher/shooter and Kovac is primarily a 3-point shooter, although he was the guy who really stepped it up in the last several game, as he was named to the 10-man all-tournament team.  Also making the all-tournament team were 6'4 Marcus Spears from Baton Rouge (Southern Lab) LA, 5'10 Terrance Ford from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX, 6'11 Jamal Sampson from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6'1 Aaron Miles from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 6'8 David Lee from St. Louis (Chaminade) MO, 6'6 Wendell Gibson from Briarwood (Archbishop Molloy) NY, 6'3 Ricky Shields from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, 6'5 Joah Tucker from Glendale (Nicolet) WI, and 6'0 Travis Diener from Fond du Lac (Goodrich) WI, who also stepped up and made big shot after big shot in the championship game.  And there is no doubt that Diener is one of the best point guards in the nation.  He's money in the bank when the game in on the line and he almost always finds a way to make his teammates better.   He's also deceptively quicker than he looks and can get his shot off against anybody.  However, the big hero for the Playground Warriors, as well as the leading scorer with 21 points in the championship game, was Tucker.  He's a tweener for the next level, but he sure knows how to get done for the Playground Warriors.  We also have to mention 6'4 Drake Diener from Fond du Lac (Goodrich) WI, who stepped up with 11 points, including several big three's of his own, 6'3 Deone Tatum from Milwaukee (Vincent) WI, who is a world-class athlete, 6'10 John Chappell from New Berlin (West) WI, who did most of the blue collar work inside, and 6'1 Greg Brown from Milwaukee (Vincent) MI, who finished ranked near the top in scoring in the tournament.  Speaking of the leading scorer's in the tournament heading into the final day, do you know who was ranked #1?  If you guessed Hurt, you were right on the money!.  He edged Lee who was the second leading scorer in the tournament (17.6 ppg).  Earlier we mentioned that we might drop Lee out of our top 10 nationally, but that stat alone is enough to make us reconsider.  Add the fact that he told us today that he's so tired that he's having a hard time just keeping his eyes open.  Lee is the ultimate warrior who plays every game like it's his last and, especially in this day and age, guys like that should be rewarded, not penalized.  We also have a hard time leaving Miles, Ford, 6'1 Maurice Williams from Jackson (Murrah) MS, 6'6 Cedric Bozeman from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6'5 Josh Childress from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6'7 Andre Patterson from Los Angeles (Washington) CA, and 7'0 DeSagana Diop from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA all out of our top 10 nationally, so maybe we'll just have to go with 16 guys in our top 10.  The third leading scorer in the tournament heading into the last day was 6'2 Michael Lee from Portland (Jefferson) OR, who we felt should have been on the all-tournament team, with 16.4 ppg.  Next were 6'8 Mory Correa from NIKE Camp Paris and Travis Diener, both with 16.2 ppg.  Then came 6'7 Anthony Ighoclaro from Team Toronto and 6'4 Jr Chris Rodgers from Portland (Wilson) OR, both with 16.0 ppg, 6'5 Josh Childress from Lakewood (Mayfair) CA with 15.8 ppg, and 6'11 Jamal Sampson from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA with 15.6 ppg.   Speaking of Sampson, we finally got to see him healthy and, as a result, the value of his stock also rises dramatically.  And apparently Connecticut, Kansas, Virginia, Syracuse, North Carolina, St. Louis, and UCLA agree, because they are all still high on his list.  However, unlike Childress and 7'0 Tyson Chandler from Compton (Dominguez) CA, both of whom mentioned Arizona right at the start, Sampson only mentions the Wildcats in passing.  Apparently, he is unconfortable with the fact that they already have a verbal commitment from 6'11 Channing Frye from Phoenix (St. Mary's) AZ.  Getting back to the top scorers, Brown, Spears, and 6'4 Inaki Narros from Spain, all of whom averaged 14.4 ppg, round out the top 10.   Next was 6'7 Josiah James from the Virgin Islands with 14.0 ppg, followed by 6'8 Mike Jensen from Kent (Kentwood) WA with 13.8 ppg, Shields with 13.6 ppg, Tatum with 13.6 ppg, 6'2 Aaron Fitzgerald from Seattle (John F. Kennedy) WA with 13.4 ppg, Kovac with 13.2 ppg, Gibson with 13.0 ppg, and 6'7 Jesus Dominguez from Spain with 12.6 ppg.  Earlier today the Portland Legends beat the Boo Williams Summer League Team, 67-64, for third place and the Southern California All-Stars knocked off Yugoslavia, 68-56, in the 5th Place game.   The winner of the consolation bracket was the Virgin Islands with a 74-57 victory over New York Riverside Church.  We've already mentioned James from Virgin Islands, but actually we liked 6'9 Hidalgo Williams, who is only 17-years-old, better in terms of potential.  Not only is he just as athletic, but he's two inches bigger and two years younger.  Both have run the floor well and have strong moves inside.

Last night the Houston Hoops beat the Portland Legends and the Wisconsin Playground Warriors beat the Boo Williams Summer League Team to set up the championship, which will be played at 3:00 PM PST on Sunday, August 6th, in the NIKE Global Challenge in Portland, OR.  But things started to get interesting yesterday afternoon when Boo Williams took the air out out of the ball with 11-and-a-half minutes left in the second half against the Southern California All-Stars.  At that point the Boo Williams Summer League Team was down, 39-37, and it remained that way until 6'3 Ricky Shields from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, who is tremendous slasher/athlete, went in for a layup to tie the game with about 7-and-a-half minutes left.   So with the score tied and possession of the ball Southern California All-Stars head coach Pat Barrett decided to hold the ball and, as a result, the next shot taken was a 3-pointer by 6'5 Josh Childress from Lakewood (Mayfair) CA in the final seconds of regulation.  However, he missed and the game went into overtime.  Then it went into a second overtime and then a third.  At that point we pick up the action, as Boo Williams was down by two and sitting on the ball waiting for the last second shot.  With 10 seconds left they call timeout.  When play resumed they successfully get the ball into bounds on the left side to 6'4 Jr J.J. Redick from Roanoke (Cave Spring) VA, who is one of the best 3-point shooters in the class nationally.  The Southern California All-Stars quickly double teamed Redick, so he dumped it off to 6'8 Elton Brown from Newport News (Warwick) VA, who was wide open about 15 feet away just beyond the 3-point line.  And he hit nothing but net to make the final score 47-46.  While at the time it was easy to question Boo Williams' strategy of holding the ball while down down points in both regulation and in the third overtime, Boo told us after the game he had to do it, because physically they just couldn't play with the Southern California All-Stars.   Also, Williams was missing two of his inside guys - 6'8 Jason Clark from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA and 6'8 James Smith from Virginia Beach (Cape Henry) VA and being on the road the entire month of July was starting to take its toll.  This was especially evident when the Wisconsin Playground Warriors beat Boo Williams in the semi-finals, 67-57, last night.  The leading scorer in the game was Shields, but once again 6'1 Travis Diener from Fond Du Lac (Goodrich) WI made a number of big shots and made his teammates better, as he led the Playground Warriors with 18 points.  However, the big matchup was in the other game, because the Portland Legends featured 6'1 Aaron Miles from Portland (Jefferson) OR and the Houston Hoops had both 5'11 Terrance Ford from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX and 6'3 Carlos Hurt from Alief (Alief-Elsik) TX.   Hurt, who had 23 points, was clearly the best of the three, but he also is not a true point guard.  Ford is a lot more athletic and explosive than Miles, but he also is almost too quick for his own good and, as a result, he forces turnovers and tends to get out of control at times.  Miles shoots it better and always is in control of the game, but he's not as naturally talented.  In other words, it's almost too close to call.  One day we like Miles better and the next day we like Ford better, but the bottom line is you can win the NCAA Championship with either guy at the point.   However, the big hero for the Portland Legends in this game was 6'2 Michael Lee from Portland (Jefferson) OR, who made big shot after big shot.  Also ranking up there among the top point guards in the nation is 6'6 Cedric Bozeman from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, who not only has finally convinced us that he's capable of running the show at point guard at the next level, but that he's one of the top 10 seniors in the nation.  Our only problem now is who do we take out?  Perhaps 6'8 David Lee from St. Louis (Chaminade) MO, who appears to be tired and, as a result, not quite as good as he was earlier in the summer.  Getting back to Bozeman, he got elbowed just above the eye in the first overtime in the game against Boo Williams and, as a result, had to go to the hospital.  Whether he would have made the difference in the third overtime is anybody's guess, but both Bozeman and 7'0 Tyson Chandler from Compton (Dominguez) CA, who had been playing with a sprained ankle, both missed the game against the St. Louis Eagles last night.  However, the Southern California All-Star still won, 83-67, to set up the 5th Place against the Yugoslavian Team, which was the only foreign team to advance into the winner's bracket, at 12 Noon PST.  Then, at 1:30 PM PST it will be the Portland Legends versus Boo Williams for third place, followed by the championship game at 3:00 PM PST.

Friday, August 4, 2000

In addition to going to the gym everyday here in Portland, OR, we've been working on our post-summer nationally player rankings and there is no change in terms of who we think is the #1 senior in the nation.  That honor still goes to Memphis-bound 6'2 Dajuan Wagner from Camden (H.S.) NJ.  Next is 6'9 Ousmane Cisse from Montgomery (St. Jude) AL and rounding out our top five in order are 6'4 Kelvin Torbert from Flint (Northwestern) MI, 6'6 Julius Hodge from Bronx (St. Raymond's) NY, and 6'2 Carlos Hurt from Alief (Alief-Elsik) TX.  The second five in order consists of 6'11 Eddy Curry from South Holland (Thornwood) IL, 7'0 Tyson Chandler from Compton (Dominguez) CA, 6'8 David Lee from St. Louis (Chaminade) MO, 6'0 Jonathan Hargett from Durham (Emmanuel) NC, and 6'11 Rick Rickert from Duluth (East) MN.  Our second 10 in order consists of 6'1 Maurice Williams from Jackson (Murrah) MS, 7'0 DeSagana Diop from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, 6'5 Josh Childress from Lakewood (Mayfair) CA, 6'7 Andre Patterson from Los Angeles (Washington) CA, 6'1 Aaron Miles from Portland (Jefferson) OR, 5'11 Terrance Ford from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX, 6'3 Rashaad Carruth from Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, 6'6 Cedric Bozeman from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6'3 Dommanic Ingerson from Santa Barbara (H.S.) CA, and 6'11 David Harrison from Brentwood (Academy) TN.  Our next 20 in order consists of 6'8 Anthony Richardson from Raleigh (Leesville Road) NC, 6'1 Charles Frederick from Boca Raton (Pope John Paul VI) FL, 6'3 Daniel Ewing from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX, 6'5 JaQuan Hart from Flint (Northern) MI, 6'8 Jamal Levy from Homestead (Berkshire) FL, 6'8 Elton Brown from Newport News (Warwick) VA, 6'6 Najeeb Echols from Chicago (Whitney Young) IL, 6'9 Harvey Thomas from Durham (Emmanuel) NC, 6'5 Winsome Frazier from Miami (Northwestern) FL, 6'11 Jamal Sampson from Mater Dei (Santa Ana) CA, 6'6 Dwayne Mitchell from New Orleans (John F. Kennedy) LA, 6'9 Jawad Williams from Lakewood (St. Edward) OH, 6'0 Brandon Fuss-Cheatham from Beaver Falls (Black Hawk) PA, 6'5 John Allen from Coatesville (H.S.) PA, 6'7 Jason Maxiell from Carrollton (Newman Smith) TX, 6'1 Chris Thomas from Indianapolis (Pike) IN, 6'6 Jackie Manuel from Ft. Lauderdale (Cardinal Newman) FL, 6'6 Dijon Thompson from Redondo Beach (Redondo Union) CA, 6'3 Earnest Shelton from Memphis (White Station) TN, and 6'6 Alan Anderson from Minneapolis (DeLaSalle) MN.  Rounding out the top 50 in order 6'0 Travis Diener from Fond du Lac (Goodrich) WI, 6'4 Pierre Pierce from Westmont (H.S.) IL, 6'8 Dennis Latimore from Halstead (H.S.) KS, 6'9 Brandon Bender from Louisville (Ballard) KY, 6'3 Billy Edelin formerly of Hyattsville (DeMatha) MD, 6'3 Chey Christie from Biloxi (H.S.) MS, 6'9 Robert Whaley from Benton Harbor (H.S.) MI, 6'2 Ernest Turner from Somerdale (Sterling) NJ, 6'8 Ed Nelson from Ft. Lauderdale (St. Thomas Aquinas) FL, and take your pick for #50 among 6'11 Kwame Brown from Brunswick (Glynn Academy) GA, 6'4 Anthony Rice from North Clayton (College Park) GA, 6'5 Greg Tinch from Albany (Westover) GA, 6'4 Lavar Seals from Chicago (Providence-St. Mel) IL, 6'2 Melvin Scott from Baltimore (Southern) MD, and 6'1 Ben Gordon from Mt. Vernon (H.S.) NY.  Among those who were left out were 6'7 James White from York (Crispus Attucks) PA and 6'9 Julian Sensley from Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, because they are both 5th year players.  Our ranking of the top 10 juniors nationally in order include 6'9 Jr Amarie Stoudamire from Orlando (Dr. Phillips) FL, 6'6 Jr Leonard Cooke from Old Tappan (H.S.) NJ,  6'2 Jr Anthony Roberson from Saginaw (H.S.) MI, 6'5 Jr Antonio Lawrence from Jacksonville (Jackson) FL, 6'9 Jr Major Wingate from Florence (Wilson) SC, 6'9 Jr Shavlik Randolph from Raleigh (Broughton) NC, 6'8 Jr Sean May from Bloomington (North) IN, 6'2 Jr Chadd Moore from Huntsville (Lee) AL, 6'9 Sani Ibrahim from Atlanta (W.D. Mohammed) GA, and 6'1 Jr Sean Dockery from Chicago (Julian) IL.

In case you didn't notice in our rankings listed above, we want to highlight the fact that 6'9 Amarie Stoudamire is listed at Orlando (Dr. Phillips) FL, because we have confirmed that he recently enrolled at this school.  That doesn't mean he won't still end up at Mouth of Wilson (Oak Hill) VA, but as it stands now he has not enrolled at this basketball factory in Virginia.  We also have confirmed that 6'0 Brandon Brooks from Portland (Jefferson) OR, who signed with Arizona State last spring, is heading to junior college at Indian Hills (JC) IA, where he will join 6'5 Jerome Harper from Columbia (Keenan) SC.  Obviously, we'd rather have Duke's Jason Williams and Chris Duhon or Arizona's Jason Gardner and Gilbert Arenas, but can you think of another guard duo that will be any better in college basketball next year than Brooks and Harper?  We talked with 6'5 Josh Childress from Lakewood (Mayfair) CA and he give us the same old list, which includes Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Stanford, and UCLA.  However, he did tell us several things that were interesting, like his mother is pushing North Carolina and that Kansas and the Tar Heels are working him the hardest.  He also brings up the possibility of a package with 6'11 Jamal Sampson from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA, 6'1 Aaron Miles from Portland (Jefferson) OR, and 6'6 Cedric Bozeman from Santa Ana (Mater Dei) CA.  Bozeman's list includes UCLA, Florida, Duke, and Kansas, so if he's part of the package, it looks like UCLA or Kansas.  We also got a list from 7'0 Tyson Chandler from Compton (Dominguez) CA, which includes Arizona, UCLA, Memphis, Syracuse, Florida, and Cincinnati.  However, a very reliable source close to Chandler says they're all wasting their time.  That's right!  Ready or not Chandler will take the money and run straight into the NBA draft next spring.  We also talked with the director of New York Riverside Church Ernie Lorch today and he tells us that Iona, Hofstra, James Madison, Marist, St. Peter's, and Fairfield are all interested in 6'6 Wendell Gibson from Briarwood (Archbishop Molloy) NY.   Hofstra appears to be the leader for 5'11 Ted Mumford from Brooklyn (Bishop Loughlin) NY, but Duquesne, Iona, St. Peter's, Marist, and Fairfield are also in the hunt.  As for the NIKE Globe Challenge in Portland, OR, there isn't much new to report, expect that the Club Partizan (Yugoslavia) beat the Playground Warriors earlier today in overtime, which means one of the foreign teams finally won a game.  Also, the Houston Hoops either will have major chemistry problems, because they've added 5'11 Terrance Ford from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX to their roster, which also includes 6'2 Carlos Hurt from Alief (Alief-Elsik) TX, or they will be very tough to beat once the playoffs begin tomorrow morning.  Stay tuned! 

Thursday, August 3, 2000

Our Ohio and International Editor Chris Johnson is reporting that UNC-Charlotte has a verbal commitment from 6'9 Matmatas Niparavicius from Lithuania.  However, unlike most Eastern European players, Niparavicius has speed and quickness to go along with his powerful build and long wing span.  Instead, he needs to develop his ball handling and shooting skills.   Niparavicius played on the Lithuanian Junior National Team, along with 6'11 Saulius Kuzminskas, who signed last spring with California, in the recent European 18-Under Championships in Croatia.  But the best prospect on the Lithuanian Junior National Team is 6'9 Vytautas Danelius, who, by the way, also wants to come to the United States and may attend New Hampton (Prep) NH this fall.    Not only was he the leading rebounder in the tournament, but he also was one of the top scorers.  Speaking of foreigns with an interest in UNC-Charlotte, the 49ers staff  stashed 6'5 Hector Ramero at Independence (JC) KS last fall and they probably will get him back after he graduates from junior college.   Johnson also tells us that things have come full circle now that Ohio State has hired former Penn State head coach Bruce Parkhill as an assistant coach to replace Rick Boyages, who was named the new head coach at William & Mary earlier this spring.  Most people are aware that Parkhill has been an associate athletic director at Penn State since resigning as head coach after the 1995-96 season.  However, Johnson is probably one of the few people who knew that Parkhill began his head coaching career at William & Mary. 

These truly are the dog days of summer.  The college coaches have all gone home, but after a full month of continuously being on the road the players are tired, the AAU coaches are tired, and we're tired.  This was particularly evident earlier today when watching the some of the game in the NIKE Globe Challenge in Portland, OR.   So it comes as no big surprise that Bret Bearup's infamous annual trip to Europe has been cancelled.  And it's only going to get worse in the future, because the NCAA plans to limit the number of days that Division I coaches can be out next year to July 8th-14th and July 25th-31st.  The beginning won't be any problem, because the NIKE All-American Camps and adidas ABCD Camps both go head-to-head on July 8th-10th.  But then it's anybody's guess what will happen with the adidas Big Time Tournament, NIKE Peach Jam, AAU Super Showcase, and National 17-Under AAU Tournament, which in our opinion were the top events of the summer.  This year NIKE moved the Peach Jam in Augusta, GA back a week to compete with with adidas Big Time Tournament, but they'd be smart to move it back into the slot where it's been in previous years, which would be July 11th-14th, right after the NIKE All-American Camp.  Remember, the players will still be out all month, because the summer circus has become a big cash cow for many of the camp, tournament, and event directors.  As a matter of fact, the growing number of events during the spring and the fall is one of the biggest trends in the business right now.  In other words, all this is not going away just because the NCAA is taking the college coaches off the road.  The college coaches may all be well rested when they come back out on July 25th, but by the time they get back out, the level of play will have deteriorated dramatically.  They could run all four of the events listed above in late July, but that would be a total disaster for everybody.   Instead, the adidas ABCD Camp and the NIKE Peach Jam should go head-to-head on July 11th-14th.  And if they do, it will be an easy decision which tournament I cover.  Not only would I rather go to Las Vegas, NV versus August, GA, but NIKE runs all their events like the gestopo, whereby, you can't talk to the players, unless you go through them first to set up player interviews.   As a result, they are not media friendly.  In contrast, at the adidas Big Time Tournament everything is laid back the way grassroutes basketball is supposed to be.  In other words, if there is player you want to talk to after a game, you make sure it's fine with his coach, then you ask the player a few questions, and you're done two minutes.  The same goes for the AAU Super Showcase and the National 17-Under AAU Tournament.  So let's hope they fit both of the AAU events into that July 25th-31st time period.  Speaking of the two tournaments that the AAU people held in Orlando, FL last week, they know how to run an event.  Not only did they do a terrific job, but just being in their new air-conditioned facility watching all the outstanding talent on hand was one of our highlights of the summer.

Wednesday, August 2, 2000

A year ago this week 6'7 Gerald Wallace from Childersburg (H.S.) AL, 6'9 Mario Austin from York (Sumpter County) AL, 6'6 Caron Butler from Pittsfield (Maine Central Institute) ME, 6'9 Eddie Griffin from Philadelphia (Roman Catholic) PA, and 5'9 Andre Barrett from New York (Rice) NY all made verbal commitments.  However, right now it still appears to be the calm before the storm, because we've only picked up two new commitments - 6'5 John Allen from Coatesville (H.S) PA picked Seton Hall yesterday and 6'6 Tommie King from Western Nebraska (JC) NE has committed to Iowa State - so far this week.  And the Allen commitment had been expected to for some time, especially after Pirates head coach Tommy Amaker continued to support Allen when he had off the court problems. Allen, who ranks among our top 30 nationally, will provide depth at both wing spots and should be the heir apparent to the 2-guard spot when Darius Lane graduates in two years.  Not only does this show that Amaker and his staff have done a tremendous job recruiting, but it also is an indication that Seton Hall may be in a position to compete for the NCAA Championship a lot sooner than most people think.  King is also an interesting story, because it appears that he was a playground legend in Seattle, WA before having to go the junior college route.  As a matter of fact, Erik Brooks makes an interesting comparison in the Ames Tribune.  "Playground star makes a name for himself at a small junior college, and major Division -I schools take notice," says Brooks.  "The player chooses Iowa State.   Jamaal Tinsley?  Yes.  It’s also the story of Western Nebraska Community College forward Tommie King, ISU’s most recent oral commitment for the 2001-2002 season.  King did his playing on the Campbell Hill Elementary School and Liberty Park playgrounds around Seattle, where he was as much a force on the basketball court as Tinsley was on the asphalt of Brooklyn."  King averaged 22.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.7 spg, and 1.5 bpg, while playing all five positions as sophomore at Renton (H.S.) WA.  However, he was kicked out of school after this sophomore year and, as a result, was below the radar screen until he showed up last year at Western Nebraska, where he averaged 16.8 ppg and 6'7 rpg.  Brooks also says notes that King scored in double figures in 29 of 34 games and scored 20 or more 13 times.  "He had a season-high 31 points in the Region IX Tournament against Sheridan."   Apparently Iowa State wasn't the only school showing a lot of interest, as he was also getting serious interest from schools like LSU, Cincinnati, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas State. 

The summer evaluation period for college coaches ended on July 31st, but that doesn't mean the summer is over by any means.  The Inaugural NIKE Global Challenge in the Tualatin Parks & Recreation Center in Beaverton, OR begins tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 PM and we will be there, because it promises to be one of the best events of the entire summer.  It will feature 10 NIKE 17-and-under traveling teams in the Arizona Stars, Boo Williams Summer League Team, Emerald City Pioneers, Georgia Stars, Houston Hoops, Portland Legends, New York Riverside Church, Southern California All-Stars, St. Louis Eagles, Wisconsin Playground Warriors, as well as six international teams in Adecco Estudiantes from Madrid, Spain; Club Partizan from Belgrade, Yugoslavia; Nike Camp Paris from Paris, France; Olympiakos; B.C. from Piraeus, Greece; Team Toronto from Toronto, Canada; and Team Virgin Islands, Virgin Islands.

Our Mid-South Editor Jim Rothman thinks 6'3 Earnest Shelton from Memphis (White Station) TN, who ranks among our top 40 nationally, is down to five schools now that Duke has gotten a verbal commitment from 6'3 Daniel Ewing from Sugar Land (Willowridge) TX.  And that list includes Wake Forest, Memphis, Alabama, North Carolina, and Tennessee.  Rothman also tells us that 6'3 Jonathan Lee from Bartlett (H.S.) TN is considering Missouri, Mississippi, Memphis, UAB, and Central Florida.  Our West Coast Editor Dinos Trigonis tells us that Utah appears to be the leader for 6'3 Cody Pearson from Sherman Oaks (Notre Dame) CA, but also says that San Diego State, Long Beach State, Pepperdine, Rugters, Cal State-Fullerton, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, and Washington State are still in the hunt.  Trigonis also has a long list for 6'6 Kirk Synder from Upland (H.S.) CA, which includes Oregon, Oregon State, Rutgers, UNLV, Pepperdine, Cal-State Fullerton, San Francisco, Long Beach State, New Mexico, Nebraska, Washington State, UTEP, SMU, Boise State, and Rutgers.

Tuesday, August 1, 2000

Clearly the place to be the last few days of July was Eastern Invitational Basketball Camp III at the College of New Jersey in Trenton, NJ.  Not only were there over 30 players who are 6'7 or bigger with mid-to-high major talent in attendance, but there also was a plethora of outstanding underclassmen.  Our Philadephia/Eastern Pennsylvania/ South Jersey Editor Allen Rubin was there and he tells us that the MVP of the camp was the new kid on the block - 6'10 Deng Gai from The Sudan.  Gia, who is a cousin of Connecticut's Ajou Ajou Deng, would rank as one of the premier players in the senior class nationally, but he's already too old to be eligible as a high school senior and, as a result, is going the prep school route, most likely to Oakdale (St. Thomas More) CT, Winchendon (School) MA, and Blairstown (Blair Academy) NJ.  Right now Rubin thinks 6'9 Ousmane Cisse from Montgomery (St. Jude) AL is better, because he's more Americanized, but he thinks Gia may have more long term potential.  "He's a terrific shot blocker and outstanding rebounder," says Rubin.  "Right now his defense is ahead of his offense, but he does have a nice turnaround jump shot, which is very effective from within 10-feet."  Gia also has good hands and great athleticism, which allows to runs and jump with the best of them.    The All-Star Game MVP was 6'7 Kenny Adeleke from Brooklyn (Paul Robeson) NY.  He had 19 points and eight rebounds, as he edged out 6'8 Jr Jason Frazier from Amityville (H.S.) NY, who had 14 points in the all-star game and was one of the best rebounders in camp, for game MVP honors.  One of the players who has exploded the most this summer is 6'9 Sherrod Ford from Chatham (Hargrave Military) VA, so it comes as no surprise that Virginia, Villanova, Providence, Massachusetts, and Maryland followed him closely throughout the camp.  Also playing well and showing a14-footer was 6'8 Marcus Austin from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ.  The best senior guard at Eastern Invitational III was 6'1 Tony Bethel from Forestville (Bishop McNamara) MD, who plays under control, but also can shoot the three.  Bethel has had a terrific summer and, as a result, ranks among our top 100 nationally, but he was only the third best point guard in camp behind 6'2 Jr Gerry McNamara from Scranton (Bishop Hannan) PA and 6'1 Jr Taquan Dean from Neptune (H.S.) NJ.  Other juniors who impressed Rubin were 6'6 Jr Nick Caner-Medley from Portland (Deering) ME, who is one of the best players to ever come out of Maine; 6'3 Jr John Winchester from Bayonne (Marist) NJ, who is a big time shooter; 6'9 Jr Kevin Steenberg from Clarksville (River Hill) MD, who needs strength, but scores and rebounds well inside and has a huge upside; 6'3 Jr Donnie McGrath from Sommers (John F. Kennedy) NY, who gets everybody involved and is a very good outside shooter; and 6'5 Jr Nick Stafford from Springfield (Central) MA, who is a good mid-range shooter and has the ability to post up.  While theseniors and juniors were good, the sophomores at Eastern Invitational III were ridiculous.  At the top of the list was 6'10 Soph Jermaine Bell from Rochester (Franklin) NY, who ranks among the top five players in his class nationally.  Bell is still extremely thin, but he's very talented and has the ability to beat you both inside or out.   Rubin also thinks 6'3 Soph Marquis Webb from Patterson (Catholic) NJ, 6'2 Soph Arthur Bowers from Newark (Hodgson Voc-Tech) NJ, 6'7 Soph Darryl Watkins from Wayne (Passaic Tech) NJ, 6'6 Soph Demetrius Nichols from Barrington (St. Andrews) NJ, 6'10 Soph Grant Billmeier from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, 6'0 Soph Mike Nardi from Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ, 6'2 Soph Jamar Nutter from West Orange (Seton Hall Prep) NJ, 6'7 Soph Sheray Thomas from Montreal (La Salle) QU, 6'7 Soph William Sheridan from Hockessin (Sanford Prep) DE, 5'11 Soph Marlon Smith from Briarwood (Archbishop Molloy) NJ, 6'8 Soph Mokan Konate from Leominster, (Ayer) MA, and 5'10 Soph T.J. Bannister from Jacksonville (Arlington Country Day) FL all have big time talent.   Webb is a prototype wing guard who shoots the three, gets to the basket, and plays good defense.  Bowers is an athletic 2-guard with good shooting and passing skills.   Watkins, who plays with power, is good around the basket and is an excellent shot blocker.  Nichols is an athletic wing forward with excellent shooting range.   Billmeier isn't very athletic, but he gives great effort and has excellent skills, which enables him to draw a lot of fouls and, as a result, get to the foul line a lot.   Nardi reminds Rubin of a young Bobby Hurley, although he shoots it better than Hurley at the same stage.  Nutter, who promises to be the next great one at Seton Hall Prep, is an athletic 2-guard who gets to the basket and shoots it extremely well.  Thomas is a combo forward with good athleticism, a medium range jumper, and lots of potential.  Sheridan has an impressive body and is strong around the basket, plus he also can step out and hit the 15-footer.  Like most New York City guards, Smith has the ability to get to the basket, but he also has a good mid-range game.   Konate has nice size, but he's really more of an outside player, because he handles and passes it extremely well.  Bannister, who along with Bell and Webb were the only sophomores to play in the top all-star game, is a pure point guard with quickness and the ability to distrubute the ball and run a team. The camp also had a strong contingent of players from Yugoslavia, including 6'10 Darko Markovic, 6'9 Marko Jovanovic, 6'9 Bojko Mladenov, 6'2 Vuk Radivojevic, 6'8 Nenad Krstic, 6'6 Ivan Andonov, 6'3 Vladimir Popovie, and 6'5 Mirko Kovac, all of whom will be playing in the NIKE Tournament in Portland, August 3rd-6th.  The Top 40 Game All-Star MVP was 6'7 Anthony Thompson from Harrisburg (H.S.) PA with 16 points and five rebounds.  The Underclassmen All-Star game MVP was 6'9 Jr Eric Davis from Rydal (Abington Friends) PA with 15 and 12 rebounds.

Well, it looks like Bobby Huggins will be staying in Cincinnati.  That's right!  The head coach of the Bearcats turned down an offer that was reported to be in the $8 million range over four years to coach the Los Angeles Clippers.  However, by staying at Cincinnati, he should have a lot more control over his own destiny.  Remember, nobody, except Larry Brown, who we regard as the best coach in basketball at any level, has ever gotten the Clippers into the NBA Playoffs and the Clippers management is notorious for making stupid moves (i.e. drafting Darius Miles third in June).  However, someday we do think Huggins will move onto the NBA, most likely to the Denver Nuggets, which are now owned by Stan Kroenke.  In case you didn't know, Kroenke and Huggins have several very close mutual friends, which makes this a natural fit.  But it won't happen as long as Dan Issel, who is extremely popular in Denver, CO right now, is the head coach.  But let's speculate on who might be the next head coach at Cincinnati anyway.   The first name that gets mentioned is current Bearcats assistant coach Rod Baker, because he already has Division I head coaching experience at UC-Irvine.   But that's not who we had in mind, plus we're hearing rumors that Baker may be in line for the open assistant coaching position at Rutgers.  Apparently Baker wants to return home (he's from the East) and Rutgers assistant coach Tod Kowalczyk is taking a similar position at Marquette.  Instead, the perfect fit would be Mick Cronin, who has been the recruiting coordinator at Cincinnati for the last three years.  And the job he's done has been nothing short of spectacular.  If you will recall, when Cronin was hired as the #3 assistant four years ago, Cincinnati was about to go on probation and their recruiting had fallen short for a variety of reasons.   Well, since that time Cincinnati has emerged as one of the premier programs in college basketball.  Evidence of that fact came a year ago when the Bearcats landed two of the premier players in the nation in 6'9 DerMarr Johnson and 6'2 Kenny Satterfield and were the #1 ranked team in the country most of last season.   This spring they reloaded again with the #5 ranked recruiting class in the nation, which featured three of the top junior college players in the nation - 6'7 Antwan Jones from Tallahassee (JC) FL, 6'9 Jamaal Davis from Barton County (JC) KS, and 6'4 Emmanuel McElroy from Tyler (JC) TX.  As a matter of fact, no program in the college basketball today is better at reloading quickly than Cincinnati.  And the person responsible for deciding who the Bearcats are going to recruit is Cronin.  "He's the best I've ever had," says Huggins.   "He smart, organized, and it isn't work for him."  The only thing holding Cronin back is his age (only 28 year old), but the longer Huggins stays at Cincinnati, the more likely Cronin will be the heir apparent to the job.  A good comparison might be what happened when Michigan State hired long time assistant coach Tom Izzo to replace Jud Heathcote when he retired in 1994.

As promised yesterday, here are the awards winners from Five-Star Pitt VI.  The Most Outstanding Player in the NBA was 6'10 Larry Turner from Milledgeville (Baldwin) GA. The Most Promising Prospect was a tie between 6'6 Lee Melchionni from Ft. Washington (Germantown Academy) PA and 6'1 Jr Dan Oglesby from Hamdon (Hamdon Hall) CT, who was a senior until two weeks ago.   So next year he will be listed as a 5th year player.  The top playmaker was 5'10 Walt Chavis from Steelton (Steelton-Highspire) PA.  The best rebounder was 6'8 Nehemiah Ingram from Milledgeville (Baldwin) GA.   The playoff MVP was 5'7 Tyrece Sullivan from New Haven (Hill House) CT and he, along  with Turner, Oglesby, and 6'5 Adam Sommer from Pickerington (H.S.) OH, led the Cavs to the NBA Championship.  Sommer also was named MVP in the all-star game and the Best Role Player in Camp.  The Mr. Hustle Award went to 6'3 Joey Goodson from Washington (Gonzaga) DC.  The top free throw shooter and the Sportsmanship Award winner was 6'2 Pat Lang from Atlanta (Marist) GA.  Others who played well in the NBA were 6'9 Jr Roy Enright from Omaha (Burke) NE, 6'6 Pat O'Malley from Charleston (Washington) WV, 6'11 Ted Skuchas from Ft. Washington (Germantown Academy) PA, 6'6 Darren Tielsch from McKee's Rock (Montour) PA, 6'8 Steve Sorenson from Hudson (Western Reserve Academy) OH, who is the son of former Ohio State All-American Dave Sorenson, and 7'0 Jan Jagla from Germany.   If you will recall, Jagla was ranked as one of the top sophomores in Ohio two years ago when he was at Media (Highland) OH, but he then moved back to Germany.  Right now Penn State and St. Bonaventure appear to be the leaders for Jagla, but that list should get longer before it gets shorter after his week at Five-Star. Also playing well, but not making the all-star team were 6'4 Jake Muhlheisen from Lincoln (Southeast) NE, who has already committed to Nebraska, 6'5 Larry O'Bannon from Louisville (Male) KY, 6'7 Jr Adrian Hill from Canton (McKinley) OH, 6'6 Darrio Scott form Lynchburg  (Episcopal) VA, 6'2 Travis Eisentrout from Belin (Brothers Valley) WV, and 6'11 Jr Tom Knapp from Northville (H.S.) MI.