Saturday, June 6, 2020

The effect on Cade Cunningham and more fallout from OSU's penalties

Corey Evans • Basketball Recruiting
Basketball Analyst
@coreyevans_10  -  Reprint from Rivals.com
The NCAA handed down harsh penalties to Oklahoma State on Friday as a result of the FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting, and the school strongly disagrees with the punishment. Probation, fines, recruiting restrictions and, most importantly, a postseason ban for the upcoming season were among the sanctions. The university plans to appeal.
What is to come for the future of the program, including its ballyhooed recruiting class led by top-rated senior 
? We look at this issue and more in the wake of the harsh penalties handed down.

OSTATEILLUSTRATEDOSU responds to sanctions

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Will the No. 1 player in the 2020 class still enroll at Oklahoma State even though the Cowboys cannot go to the NCAA tournament? Cunningham is obviously a program-changing talent. Coach Mike Boyton has already told CBS that OSU would not stand in the way if Cunningham asks for a release. What that would mean for his brother, current OSU assistant coach, Cannen Cunningham, is anyone’s guess.

At the time of Cunningham’s commitment, his recruitment was a battle between Kentucky and the Pokes. He chose loyalty toward his family and relationship with Boynton over UK. Kentucky has an available scholarship for the 2020 class.
Cunningham remains blindsided by the penalties, just as most do affiliated with the program, so a decision on his part is not expected soon. The G League made a run at him earlier in the year, but playing overseas would likely trump playing professionally domestically this fall if he passes on college basketball.

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What about the rest of OSU's 2020 class?

For as good as Cunningham is, there was more to OSU’s 2020 class than just the five-star guard. Cal Baptist graduate-transfer Ferron Flavors was set to enroll, as was four other freshmen including 
 and  . The former two were prior travel teammates of Cunningham’s while Alexander-Moncrieffe had been training with Cunningham in recent weeks in the Dallas-Fort Worth region in the lead-up to summer workouts.
One can only assume that the vultures are out attempting to pilfer any of the incoming freshmen that may be second-guessing their original college decisions. Each would immediately become top available prospects that would likely receive full eligibility in the fall if they decided to opt out of their letters of intent.

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Returning players may look elsewhere

Beyond just its 2020 class, what could happen with Oklahoma State’s current roster? The Pokes were set to return a load of talent across the floor. Will 
, the Boone brothers,   or  , decide to split Stillwater in hopes of playing beyond the final Big 12 Conference game and for a program that won’t have a dark shadow hanging over it?
Similar to the situation at Ole Miss for football in 2018 that saw a number of its top talent transfer and receive immediate eligibility due to NCAA infractions, it is well within reason that if the transfer route is one that some decide to take, that landing spots will not be difficult to find.

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Other programs on the lookout

Oklahoma State is the first school to receive penalties reeling from the bribery and corruption case first revealed in September of 2017. What could this mean for ArizonaAuburn and USC? Like Oklahoma State, each saw one of its assistant coaches arrested. Comparable restrictions could be soon levied against them. How each will go about putting out potential fires in the lead-up to the assessment of its own penalties is still to be determined.
Furthermore, what comes of the Notice of Allegations that has been received at places such as KansasLouisvilleNC State, and South Carolina? Could this be a new day for the NCAA in harshly penalizing all those that have transpired against its rulebook?

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Introducing three-star junior Cesare Edwards

In the coming weeks, we will be looking at several under-the-radar prospects that were primed to use the travel circuit to boost their recruiting stock this summer. Now, with grassroots basketball on hold as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, these prospects may not get the exposure in the coming months as they would have otherwise.
Today, we take a look at 
2020 RankingsRivals150 | Team | Position
2021 RankingsRivals150 | Position
2022 Rankings: Top 75

WHO IS HE?
Now standing at 6-foot-10, Edwards has grown two inches since the summer and has seen his game and production steadily improve in the meantime.
A member of the 2021 class, Edwards attends Hartsville High School in Hartsville, S.C. He is someone that can play both facing the basket and with his back to it. Slotted as a three-star prospect but on the cusp of a Rivals150 ranking, Edwards is slated to play with the Upward Stars program this summer on the adidas circuit.
His travel coach, Curtis Wheeler, had high praise for his emerging big man. “He rebounds the ball, can make 3s, and is starting to figure out where he’s more effective on the offensive end,” he said. “He’s making the transition from prospect to player.”


RECRUITING SNAPSHOT
Edwards has begun to see his recruitment improve thanks to a standout string of months on the high school circuit. He holds offers from ClemsonCollege of CharlestonPresbyterian, Texas A&M, VCUVirginia Tech and Xavier.
ArkansasAuburnCharlotteFlorida StateGeorgia Tech, Iowa StateNC State, and South Carolina have also shown varying degrees of interest. No official visits have been taken, though he has been to Charlotte, Clemson and College of Charleston.

WHY I LIKE HIM

The 2021 class is not a great one whenever it comes to high-major big men ,which makes Edwards that much more valuable. He still must work on his quickness and explosiveness, but Edwards is also someone that can impact the half-court game thanks to his well-rounded skill set and feel.
Edwards can extend the defense with the perimeter jumper, has soft touch on the hook jumper over his left shoulder, good hands on the glass and fine instincts as a rebounder and shot blocker. There is not much that he cannot do and while he does need to polish various portions of his game, the progress he has made over the past 12 months and body of work that he has put together is more than intriguing.
While the coronavirus pandemic has postponed his breakout this spring, it won’t be long before he becomes a heavily recruited prospect by the regional high-majors along the east coast. He is a solid three-star prospect and if the travel season does take place, he might have the chance to work his way into a national ranking before his senior year begins in the fall.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Updates from Rivals: Isaac Okoro, A.J. White, Texas A&M




Reprint from Rivals.com
Dan McDonald is back with his weekend primer, McDonald's Nuggets. This week’s edition addresses 
’s value for Auburn, why   should be a high-major target in 2021, the Team of the Week and more gambling picks.
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MASTER CLASS - THE TOP 100 HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS:
Monday - Nos. 81-100
Tuesday - Nos. 61-80
Wednesday - Nos. 41-60
Thursday - Nos. 21-40
Friday - Nos. 1-10
2020 RankingsRivals150 | Team | Position
2021 RankingsRivals150 | Position
2022 Rankings: Top 75
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The word "valuable" gets thrown around a lot in sports. Most sports have an award for Most VALUABLE Player, but that usually just goes to the best player on the team that wins the championship or has the best record in the league. Being the best player and most valuable can be the same, but not in every case.

Let’s take Isaac Okoro, for example. He’s one of the best players in the SEC and one of the best in the country, but I don’t think he’s the best player. But what we’ve learned over the past week is that he just might be the most valuable. Since getting hurt at the end of last week’s game against Alabama, Auburn has dropped two in a row to Missouri and Georgia, programs that are a combined 8-18 in the SEC. It should be noted that those were both road games, but those are games the Tigers pull out with Okoro in the lineup.

That brings me back to my point about his value. His absence and the subsequent losing streak has helped Kentucky build a two-game lead in the SEC standings with five games to play. And how many times this year has Okoro made a big play in a close game late to help Bruce Pearl’s team pull out a victory? More than a few.
I’ve been watching Okoro since his freshman year at McEachern (Ga.) High School and with his AOT team in the Nike EYBL. This is who he is. He was the key behind an undefeated state championship team for McEachern last year in Georgia’s highest classification with a schedule that put it up against top teams all over the country.
People can ask about his natural position. You can question whether he’ll shoot it well enough to be a high-level NBA player. What you just can’t debate any more is that teams are better with Isaac Okoro. He’s the toughest dude on any court he steps on, and he has a knack for making winning plays late in tight games.
I’d still take 
 with the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. He’s the most talented player in this draft class. But after that, if I was an NBA decision-maker in June, I’d have to think long and hard about picking Okoro with one of those next few picks. He’s the type of guy you want on your team and in your locker room, and I’d bet on him continuing to improve any flaws in his game. I would trust him over any other top prospect outside of Edwards.

I often brag about the benefits of living in a city like Atlanta, where it feels like I can watch a high-major prospect at just about any high school gym I walk into. On Wednesday, I watched Chattahoochee vs Heritage-Conyers in the second round of the state playoffs and left with two big takeaways.

 is a prospect I’ve been watching since early in his freshman year. He’s a 5-foot-10 point guard that can score with the best of them. How does 1,785 points for his career sound? But you’ve probably already figured out why you have likely never heard of him if you’re not from Georgia. He’s an undersized guard.

There was a point in time in which I struggled with small guards myself, but I’m over it after watching prospects like 
 and   develop in the Peach State and star in the SEC. I truly believe White can play at the highest level of college basketball. He’s a ridiculously gifted scorer with deep range on his jumper. He’s quick, tight with his handle and makes really good decisions with the ball. For such a talented scorer, he’s very unselfish in keeping teammates involved. He’s become more of a pest on the defensive end this year. He gets better as games go on and never gets rattled (He hit all four free throws in last 30 seconds on Wednesday night.).
I spoke with his head coach, Chris Short, after the game and he had a great story to share about White's instincts as a player. Locked in a tight game for the region championship, Chattahoochee used a 1-3-1 zone to flip the game in its favor. It was a defense they had used before, but there was a tweak that was an idea from White. Instead of putting him in the back to chase the baseline, they shifted it around to place him at the top of the zone. It led to a big run and coach Short credits White’s intelligence for the adjustment.
Clemson, which had an assistant at the game, and Georgia have shown some interest. His offer list includes Charleston Southern, Kennesaw State, Merrimack, North Alabama, Presbyterian, Troy and Winthrop. That list should include some ACC and SEC schools soon.
Speaking of Clemson, the Tigers were also at the game to check in on an under-the-radar wing in the 2021 class: 
. He has the look of a potential Rivals150 prospect. At 6-foot-5, he’s a very gifted scorer who averaged around 25 points per game this year in a tough region. Expect him to have a lot of eyes on him this travel season on the Under Armour circuit with the Atlanta Xpress.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Texas A&M

Buzz Williams
Is anyone paying attention to what Buzz Williams is doing at Texas A&M? It’s starting to look a lot like what happened when he took the job at Virginia Tech. After back-to-back wins over Georgia and Alabama, the Aggies are now 7-6 in the SEC, which is tied for seventh in the league. While that may not seem impressive, consider that Texas A&M was chosen to be 12th in the preseason media poll. This is a team that has gradually improved throughout the season and taken on the personality of its coach. They are tough and they compete. The Aggies won’t be in the NCAA Tournament this year, but I’d bet on them being a regular participant going forward.

GAMBLING PICKS

We’re on FIRE right now with back-to-back 4-1 weeks to put us at 22-18 on the year, which is a respectable 55 percent. Let’s keep the momentum rolling and put some more money in your pocket this weekend.
Buffalo (+4) hit for us last week and we’re taking them again this week at Kent State. The Bulls won the first matchup at home by four and steal this one outright on the road. Let’s also see if we can score with the under (150.5) here as that seems a little high. We’re also staying with Harvard again this week (-7.5) at home taking on Princeton. Harvard is the better team here and needs to avenge a one-point loss from a couple weeks ago.
I’m going to trust Mike Rhoades to get his team back on track here at Saint Louis and end a three-game losing streak. Take VCU (-1), which played Dayton tough earlier this week, to get a road victory here. The under (134) feels like the right side as well.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Three-Point Play: Cliff Omaruyi, Colin Smith, upcoming commits

Clifford Omoruyi
Clifford Omoruyi (https://rivals.com)
 cut his college list to a final five earlier this week and his commitment could be the key to any of his finalists season next year. In this week’s Three-Point Play, we examine his suitors, the national recruitment of  , and upcoming commitments.

2020 RankingsRivals150 | Team | Position
2021 RankingsRivals150 | Position

1. OMORUYI HOLDS THE KEYSWe broke the news on Monday that 

 had narrowed his school list to a final five. While he is rated as just the 55th best prospect in the 2020 class, Omoruyi could hold the keys to the season for each of his finalists, even blueblood Kentucky.  Five remain -- Arizona State, Auburn, Kentucky, Rutgers and UConn. This could be the first Arizona State-Kentucky-Rutgers recruiting battle. For the Sun Devils, they leaped into the favorite’s category earlier this fall thanks to the hiring of Rasheen Davis. The former UMass assistant has a great rapport with Omoruyi and while distance could play a factor, don’t underestimate ASU’s chances.  Auburn is the lone program to have already hosted him. Assistant coach, Ira Bowman, thanks to his time in the northeast prior to his hiring at Auburn, developed solid in-roads with Omoruyi and his family. 
 will graduate this spring, but the Tigers could seemingly improve its interior defense with the four-star.  Rutgers and UConn have remained headliners for Omoruyi for over a year and no one may have invested more into his recruitment than the Scarlet Knights. Assistant coach Brandin Knight has done a tremendous job in his recruiting efforts and its success this season has definitely intrigued Omoruyi, along with the in-state appeal.  Lastly, Kentucky, who sits with the top class in America, has checked all of the boxes except one: notching a true center that can protect the basket and rebound. They haven’t enrolled such a figure since 
 and with him likely gone for the NBA, Omoruyi could be the deciding factor for how far the Wildcats go next year and if John Calipari is finally forced to go the small ball route.

2. COLIN SMITH GOES NATIONAL    is really good. He is deserving of all of the attention he receives. But don’t underestimate his teammate on St. Mark’s,  . The top-50 forward has had a strong sophomore campaign and has shown great progress with his all-around skill set while remaining a multi-positional prospect.


The class of 2022 in the state of Texas is more than promising and Smith is one of the select few leading the charge. His recruitment has already been a high-major affair for over a year. Florida State, Georgetown, MemphisPurdue and Texas A&M have placed a heavy priority upon him and just a few weeks ago, Kansas’ Bill Self was in attendance for him.
Smith is now working on a handful of visits. He has already visited Baylor and TCU, two others that have kept close tabs on him, and will take two trips in the coming weeks. On Feb. 1, Stanford, a school that his sister will play volleyball at beginning in the fall, will host the four-star, before he heads to Michigan on Feb. 8.
Smith is someone that can defend up to three positions, make shots, handle and defend. Thanks to these traits alone, along with the upside that he showcases and tremendous grades in the classroom, Smith may lead one of the more prioritized recruitments on the national platform over the next two years.

3. COMMITMENTS AHEAD

Frank Anselem
Frank Anselem (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)
It has been a slow few weeks on the commitment front, but that is about to change. Well, actually it already did thanks to Wednesday night’s commitment from 
. The Canadian forward has the chance to immediately impact Arizona’s program next year and so will a few others that have scheduled their college decisions.  On Friday,   will come off of the board for the second time. The former Michigan State commit took official visits to LouisvilleLSU and Oregon following his decommitment earlier this fall. All signs point towards the Ducks beginning its 2020 class with the top-50 talent.
One of the few programs that have made up ground on the recruiting trail this 
winter could add again. 
, the oldest son of Michigan head coach Juwan Howard, is ready to end his recruitment on Monday. Plenty of Ivy League suitors have piqued his interests but the three-star could be the next to become a member of the fourth-ranked class in America.
Still some time away, Zion Harmon  will complete his official visit tour to Kansas next weekend. Last weekend, he visited Seton Hall, and has also been to the campuses at Louisville, Maryland and Western Kentucky in recent months. His plan is to commit on his birthday, Mar. 12. WKU gained most of the chatter up until this point and there is a solid chance that he reclassifies into the 2020 class.

Lastly, a commitment could be made any day now by Frank Anselem. The four-star junior has taken official visits to Arizona, LSU and Nebraska. The Tigers have garnered most of the talk of late with Anselem who is all but likely to reclassify into the 2020 class, too.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Recruiting beginning to take off for 2021 four-star Alex Tchikou


Dan McDonald

Reprint from Rivals.com

Athletic post players who are 6-foot-11 will always be in demand at all levels of basketball. When you combine those traits with a little skill, you have one of the most highly ranked prospects in any given class, which is exactly what 
 is in the 2021 class.
His recruitment has taken off in the past six months. He says Arizona StateKansasMississippi StateOregonUCLA and USC are among the schools he’s talking to the most. SyracuseMemphisWashingtonNC StateNorth Carolina and others have shown interest in the No. 24 prospect in the 2021 Rivals150.
2020 RankingsRivals150 | Team | Position
2021 RankingsRivals150 | Position

IN HIS OWN WORDS

Tchikou talked about the programs coming at him the hardest right now.
Arizona State: “I like their program. I took an unofficial visit there for one of their games. I like how they play and how the head coach lets his players play with freedom.”
Kansas: “They talk to me a lot, too. I like them. They show a lot of interest in me.”
Mississippi State: “They came to a tournament last weekend in Kentucky. I like them. They are always trying to keep it 100 with me and to keep them on my mind.
Oregon: “They are the school talking to me the most. I like them a lot. They came to watch me last week and I had probably 20 points and 10 rebounds.”
USC: “I’ve been there a few times. That’s probably the school I’m closest to because my brother and trainer live in Los Angeles. I like USC a lot.”
Tchikou is still new to the process and in no rush to make a decision, but a pair of Pac-12 programs have emerged as the teams to beat early on. He says Oregon and USC are the two schools that he’s developed the best relationships with and is most familiar with. But again, we’re still likely nine months out at least from a decision. Expect new schools to come into the picture and for his recruitment to have some twist and turns between now and decision day.