Sunday, December 28, 2014

West Coast swing off to fast start Basketball Recruiting Analysis

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Friday morning, made our annual post Christmas trip to the West Coast for various Southern California area events. After a quick stop at the Under Armour Holiday Classic in San Diego, it was on to the Maxpreps Holiday Classic in Palm Springs. With 37 points in the day's first game, relatively unheralded sophomore Richard Polanco was the day's breakout player.
Richard Polanco had a huge day on Friday.
Polanco seizes opportunity
The biggest reason that drove down to San Diego from Los Angeles for the Under Armour Holiday Classic before making the trek to Palm Springs for the Maxpreps event was to check out four-star sophomore point guard Jaylen Hands of Chula Vista (Calif.) Mater Dei. That fellow sophomore Richard Polanco of San Diego (Calif.) Army & Navy was taking the floor was an added bonus. As it turned out, Polanco ended up stealing the show. A strong 6-foot-6 wing, Polanco went absolutely nuts from deep. He made eight three-pointers and at one point over the course of the second and third quarters he made seven straight. When he wasn't bombing threes, Polanco showed that he can handle the ball, rebound and be a crafty playmaker for others. Obviously, he's not going to shoot the ball like that every time out, but with his size and sturdy frame, that he can shoot is a huge selling point when it comes to college coaches that will eventually have interest. Polanco isn't a high flyer, but already has a pretty good feel for how to use his body and mostly needs to eliminate a little extra flash from his game that can lead to careless turnovers. A native of the Dominican Republic, Polanco has been in the States for a few years now. He said that the only school he has really heard from at this point is Virginia. The only downside to Polanco's big outing was that there weren't any college coaches in the building. The 26th is the end of a short dead period on the recruiting calendar, so nobody was allowed to be there. However, it is a safe bet they will find their way to see him throughout the rest of the tournament after word of his big day spreads. As for the previously mentioned Hands, the 6-foot-1 floor general was playing with a taped right wrist and at times went to great lengths to avoid using his right (natural) hand. He is lightning quick and explosive, but didn't shoot the ball very well and was clearly less than 100 percent in his team's blowout loss at the hands of Polanco and Army & Navy. One other Mater Dei player actually showed some promise despite losing 67-39. Six-foot-7 freshman combo forward Miles Norris has good size, long arms and soft touch around the rim. His team got rocked on Friday morning, but he looks like he will be a good one down the road.
More Friday notables
Chance Comanche dominated the interior Friday.
Future Arizona big man Chance Comanche looks to have settled in quite nicely at Beverly Hills (Calif.) High. The 6-foot-10 insider was pretty much as dominant as he wanted to be against an overmatched and undersized Redmond (Wash.) High squad. That's the key, though. In the past, Comanche might have been prone to floating to the perimeter when he wasn't tested but on Friday he went to work on the interior and scored at will. The No. 32 player in the class of 2015, Comanche runs well, has soft touch and is still quite thin. However, it was also clear that he has been in the weight room and the added muscle on his frame was easily identifiable. Chalk it up as a good outing for Comanche in his first game at the Maxpreps event. The game between Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon and Sacramento (Calif.) High featured five players currently ranked by in either the class of 2016 or 2017. Sierra Canyon had point guard Devearl Ramsey (No. 46 in 2016) and power forward Cody Riley (No. 10 in 2017) while Sac High countered with power forward Solomon Young (No. 84 in 2017) and shooting guard Christian Terrell (No. 120 in 2016). As it turned out, the game was a bit sloppy and none of the highly rated guys ever really got off. Ramsey hit some tough jumpers off the dribble while Riley was under the weather and Young proved that he's a no-nonsense power broker -- albeit a bit undersized -- in the low post while Terrell showed flashes on offense. Late, the difference looked to be Sierra Canyon sophomore point guard Remy Martin's ability to simply take his man one on one and go make a play. A four-star prospect who currently ranks No. 55 in the class of 2016, Friday wasn't Daron Henson's best day. After making some early shots, the 6-foot-7 small forward from Bishop Hills (Calif.) Alemany went cold from deep. Cold streaks are going to happen it is how Henson handles them moving forward that will shape his commitment. Live bodied and long armed, he has to get more active on the glass and develop more in between game for those days when his deep jumper isn't falling. Once he balances out his game, his recruitment will soar. During the summer, Henson's teammate Earnest Sears caught's attention playing for the Dream Vision 15U squad. A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who can't weigh much more than 160 pounds, Sears again intrigued. He's only a sophomore and has to get much stronger, but Sears has a knack for making plays going towards the rim off the dribble.
Derek Ogbeide plays like a man on the interior.
The Georgia staff is pretty certain that they have stolen one in Derek Ogbeide and the 6-foot-9 center from Mableton (Ga.) Pebblebrook is on watch list for the final Rivals150 in the class of 2015. A bully with strength who plays with tenacity in the lane, Ogbeide is all big man and stays in the lane. During the first half of his Friday game, he was mostly ignored by teammates as they jacked on three after another so it was hard to get a good feel. Apparently, he was more involved by teammates during the second half and will get a chance to watch him again on Saturday. La Verne (Calif.) Damien has a nice perimeter trio in four-star senior combo guard Jeremy Hemsley, senior small forward Malik Fitts and junior three-star Bryce Peters. Headed to San Diego State, Hemsley is very athletic and very aggressive. He's looking to make plays off the dribble but at times is a bit out of control which leads to turnovers. Fitts had the hot hand from three on Friday night and looks like somebody that mid majors should be on. Peters, narrowly missed the 2016 Rivals150 coming out of the summer and will be in major contention again. He is athletic, can make some shots and has some pop off the bounce. Hands down, one of the biggest steals on the West Coast is UC Riverside landing 6-foot-4 shooting guard Eric Rwahwire out of Saddleback Valley Christian. The three-star prospect can fill it up from deep, has a great frame and plays hard on both ends of the floor. It will be a pretty big surprise if he doesn't go on to have a big career at Riverside and prove to be a thorn in the side of "bigger" West Coast programs who passed on him. Next up at Saddleback is thin but athletic and active power forward Irshad Hunte. Standing around 6-foot-8, Hunte is a high energy four man who can really run up and down the floor. He attacks the glass, tries to block shots and doesn't mind getting in the mix physically despite his skinny build. A three-star prospect, he will be one to monitor on at least the upper mid major level. Finally, the other player that we wanted to see in San Diego early Friday was junior four man Tim Harrison. Checking in at around 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8, he is a thin power forward at San Diego (Calif.) Francis Parker. A three-star prospect, Harrison runs well is a good enough athlete and looks like he has some touch. Early foul trouble and a guard dominated game kind of limited him but the overriding thought from watching him is that he has to be more physical on both ends of the floor. Strength will come with physical maturity, but physicality and toughness are a mindset. Harrison's already solid recruitment will be even more interesting if he can unleash his inner pit bull.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tarkanian: Jacksons explode Basketball Recruiting Analysis

THE RIVALS150: 2015 | 2016
LAS VEGAS -- Day 2 of the Tarkanian Classic was a statement day if your last name was Jackson and you are in the class of 2016. Elite wing Josh Jackson is making it clear he wants his top ranking in the class back while four-star combo guard Frank Jackson spoke loud and clear about how legit he is as a prospect with a 54-point outburst. Five-star senior Stephen Zimmerman continued to put on a show and discussed his recruitment for the first time in a while.
Jackson looking to reclaim top spot
Josh Jackson poured in 27 points on Thursday.
It is still early and there are still plenty of games to play and more players to see at the top of the very talented class of 2016. However, if the rankings were redone today, there is no question that Napa (Calif.) Prolific Prep's Josh Jackson would move from No. 3 back into the No. 1 slot that he held between the summers of 2013 and 2014.
In a word, the 6-foot-7 shooting guard is scintillating and he showed the full arsenal of drives, passes, mid-range shots, post game and open court play during a 27-point outing on Thursday night.
A nuclear athlete who flies through the air and has absurd quickness and end-to-end speed, Jackson has been the best transition player in the country -- regardless of class -- for a bit now. However, his upgraded feel for the game in a half-court setting, his passing ability and the fact that he can be just as good defensively as he is a scorer make him a complete package. What is most scary is that for as skilled and talented as Jackson is, he is still somewhat raw and not yet making the tipoff-to-buzzer difference he's eventually going to make.
With his crowd-pleasing dunks, hustle and an easy smile, Jackson is a player who has true star power and his future is ridiculously bright. Athletically, he is similar to Andrew Wiggins and he has similar size, but he is a better ball-handler and more naturally aggressive scorer (though like Wiggins, he could be even more aggressive there).
The class of 2016 is going to be a lot of fun to watch develop here over the next year and a half and Jackson is a big part of that.
Zimmerman still unsure of decision
Stephen Zimmerman has taken five official visits.
Since beginning a string of official visits that took him to Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and UNLV, the nation's No. 10 senior Stephen Zimmerman hasn't spoken much about his recruitment.
After an impressive performance for tournament host Bishop Gorman in a win over Aurora (Colo.) Overland, Zimmerman discussed his official visits in the video above. The main takeaway is that he will wait until after his high school season to make a decision and that taking the official visits and getting to know each staff and campus has only made his decision more difficult.
From a playing standpoint, there's not much left to say about Zimmerman. He backs up his status each time he takes the floor, he is in the best physical condition of his career and he remains as highly skilled as any big man in the senior class.
Lone Peak junior can play
Frank Jackson exploded for 54 points.
It isn't like Highland (Utah) Lone Peak combo guard Frank Jackson is some kind of secret. The 6-foot-2 junior who recently opened up his recruitment after an early commitment to BYU (who had their full staff watching him, so did Utah) is ranked No. 31 overall in the class of 2016. But, he probably doesn't have the notoriety that he should.
On Thursday, Jackson was masterful as he hit deep threes, pull-up jumper after pull-up jumper and used his strength and athleticism to get to the rim during an eye-popping 54-point effort.
Wired to score, Jackson is a complete player on the offensive end who keeps the flow of the game moving. While he is a scorer first, he does so without ever taking bad shots and he is a very good passer and creator for others off the dribble. He locks up defensively and is the kind of kid who will be a very solid college player.
"I really try to involve my teammates as much as I can," Jackson told "That's what I thought I did. I still had 54 but team basketball is very important to me."
A native of the Washington D.C. area who moved to Utah four years ago, Jackson said that he backed off his BYU commitment because he wanted to see what else is out there and wanted to take another look around. In addition to BYU and Utah, he has offers from Arizona and Arizona State while UCLA, Stanford and Duke have gotten involved as well.
More Thursday notes
Rivals150 point guard Sedrick Barefield didn't have his best summer in 2014. On Thursday, the SMU-bound floor general looked back in form as he pumped in 30 points for Corona (Calif.) Centennial. The No. 126 player in the class of 2015, Barefield has leaned up some (he had gotten almost too strong and it was limiting his movement) and it has resulted in returned quickness to help him get by defenders. On top of that, Barefield had the jumper working at a high level. Pretty clearly, he is a guy who got in the gym and did a serious assessment of what was and wasn't working with his game and he has improved since July.
Because Bishop Gorman features five-star senior big men Zimmerman and Chase Jeter, junior four-star power forward Zach Collins has to come off the bench. At pretty much any other high school in America, the 6-foot-10 four man would be the focal point of the offense, but at Gorman, he plays his role and he plays it well. Collins can shoot, has a big frame that is filling out and he is very mobile. Gorman plays some possessions with him, Jeter and Zimmerman together and the ground they cover on the bottom of a 2-3 zone is something you don't often see on the high school level.
He didn't have his strongest game on Thursday, but 6-foot-8 power forward Gavin Baxter is likely going to make his way into the Rivals150 for the class of 2016. He looks to have stretched out a bit since the summer, can really run the floor, handles pretty well, has some bounce and looks to be a pretty good jump shooter for his size. He lacks strength right now, but it will come with maturity.
Huntsville (Ala.) Lee has a pair of intriguing prospects in senior power forward Geron Scissum and junior shooting guard Tracey Burnett. Scissum is a long and lanky 6-foot-7 ball-handling four man who really likes to attack the rim off the bounce. He is active on the glass and plays hard on both ends of the floor. Burnett is a well-built 6-foot-4 two guard who has good range on his jumper and plus athleticism. Both appear to be good mid-major prospects and Burnett reported that his first and only offer (more are surely to follow) came from Troy.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hoops Festival: Fultz makes his name Basketball Recruiting Analysis

HYATTSVILLE, Md. -- Held on the campus of DeMatha High School, the two day National High School Hoops Festival has become a must stop event over the years. Saturday, the 2014 edition kicked off with several five-star players taking the floor. Terrance Ferguson, Antonio Blakeney, Jayson Tatum and more big names had big outings as expected. However, junior shooting guard Markelle Fultz made a name for himself during host DeMatha's win.

Fultz finished with 16 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Fultz makes his name

Saturday's nightcap at the National High School Hoops Festival was highly anticipated and the battle between host Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha and St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade lived up to the billing. Thanks in large part to junior shooting guard Markelle Fultz, the host Stags survived 24 points and eight rebounds from Chaminade's star junior, five-star wing Jayson Tatum.

Fultz's numbers weren't outrageous in the 55-54 win, but they were impressive. The 6-foot-4 scorer finished with 16 points, six rebounds and three assists and he did so in a variety ways. After the game, Fultz said that his pull-up jump shooting was only the second most dangerous part of his offensive game behind his ability to get to the rim. Make no mistake, Fultz is quick and bouncy and can get to the rim. But, it's his ability to create and make mid range scoring opportunities with just one or two dribbles that stands out.

"At first I wasn't really making shots so coach told me to get in the lane and start getting going," said Fultz. "So I started doing my one dribble pull-up and that started going for me and I think that went pretty well for me."

Though late-bloomer isn't a fair description for a high school junior, Fultz has seen his recruitment really take off since the fall. He says that Georgetown, Wake Forest, Washington, Maryland, Xavier, Towson and DePaul are among the programs that have offered and he has already seen Georgetown, Maryland and Xavier unofficially.

Fultz -- who looks like a lock to enter the rankings in the four-star range in the spring -- says that he will probably look to set up official visits beginning in January and hopes to make a decision by May. Until those visits start, though, he is letting the attention he's earned through hard work sink in.

"I'm just enjoying it right now, I'm really enjoying it," said Fultz. "From having no scholarship offers to having over 14 scholarship offers has been overwhelming."

Blakeney shrugs off slow start

It wasn't a vintage performance from five-star senior shooting guard Antonio Blakeney, but it was a strong one all the same.

The No. 13 player in 2015, Blakeney shook off a poor start and made the plays that Orlando (Fla.) Oak Ridge needed him to make to score a hard fought 75-72 overtime win over the St. James (Md.) School.

A 6-foot-4 shooting guard, Blakeney arrived in the D.C. area just an hour or so before tipoff after taking the ACT in Orlando on Saturday morning. Looking a little rusty, he struggled to make just 3-of-11 from the field and picked up three fouls in the first half.

Carter made eight of his 10 shots on Saturday.
After regrouping at halftime, Blakeney was a different player in the second half. He got his pull-up jumper going from between 15 and 22 feet, made some key defensive plays and provided just enough offense to keep his team within striking distance before he made game winning plays in overtime finishing with 33 points (12-28 FG, 4-10 3PT) in a 75-72 win.

On the recruiting front, Blakeney is still in a holding pattern. He has one official visit left to use and he'll pick from N.C. State, North Carolina and Oregon for that while Kentucky, LSU and Missouri continue to give chase as well.

West Charlotte duo dominates

In the day's second game, senior teammates Simeon Carter and Isaiah Blackmon put on one heck of a show as Charlotte (N.C.) West rolled over Potomac (Md.) High 83-54. A three-star power forward, Carter made 8-10 shots while scoring 17 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Not to be outdone, Blackmon was even more efficient. The six-foot tall combo guard made all 14 of his field goal attempts while scoring 31 points, grabbing three rebounds and dishing out four assists.

During the summer, Carter showed flashes of potential and the 6-foot-8 four man is putting it all together. He is relatively lean, but has wiry strength, runs the floor and he is very quick off the floor. Once he adds some weight in a college weight room he is looking like a guy that could help out on the high major level. Not surprisingly, Carter reports that he is now getting recruited at that level. SMU has offered and had Larry Brown and an assistant on hand to see him and he also claims offers from Virginia Tech, Maryland, Georgia, Nebraska and South Carolina.

Quick and elusive off the dribble, Blackmon is wired to score and can be a real pest on the ball. So far, he only has an offer from Old Dominion (who was there watching him) but he also reports some interest from High Point and Western Carolina. He sure looks like a guy that regional mid majors should be taking a look at and it's surprising that none of the low to mid major programs in his home state have offered a scholarship.

More Saturday notables

Make no mistake, 2016's No. 4 player Jayson Tatum from St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade is one highly skilled wing player. Now pushing 6-foot-8, Tatum handles the ball like a point guard, can make shots off the bounce, has post game and has a pretty complete game on the offensive end. On Saturday he went for 24 points, eight rebounds and three assists and he did so with his pull-up jumper and newfound strength that lets him finish around the rim. Because he is so talented, there are times that his teammates tend to just stand around and watch him and wait for him to make something happen. When that happens, the Chaminade offense can bog down a bit and it limits Tatum's opportunities to find cutters and the result is a few forced shots. Tatum's best play on the evening came at the end of the third quarter when he drove the middle of the lane heading to his right and found four-star junior teammate Tyler Cook for his only bucket of the game with a sweet no look dish to Cook who came flying in along the baseline for a big dunk.

Bacon has solidified himself as a legitimate McDonald's All-American candidate.
Arguably the best individual performance of the day came from 6-foot-6 junior shooting guard Terrance Ferguson. The product of Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep who ranks No. 8 in the class of 2016 went off for 33 points and five rebounds in a loss to Centereach (N.Y.) Our Savior. Long and athletic with deep range, Ferguson connected on eight three pointers and had a couple of high wire finishes around the rim -- including a nasty straight up leap for a tip dunk -- while playing aggressively. Much of his ranking has been based on obvious potential but Ferguson has sometimes been a bit too passive. For now, it looks like he's coming out of his shell and that's a scary thought for defenders.

At this point we don't need to spend a bunch of time describing the game of Florida State bound five-star prospect Dwayne Bacon. The No. 22 player in the class of 2015, Bacon is pushing for a bump in the final rankings and has solidified himself as a legitimate candidate for the McDonald's All-American game.

For much of the spring and summer, three-star point guard Justin Robinson battled injury and the Virginia Tech signee just missed the cut for the Rivals150. When the 2015 rankings get finalized, though, Robinson is looking like a pretty safe bet to make the final list. The southpaw looked terrific scoring 31 points and dishing out five assists in front of his future head coach Buzz Williams. He is an attacking guard, can make some shots and leads his team vocally.

Robinson's junior teammate Craig LeCesne also had some nice moments in St. James loss to Oak Ridge. A 6-foot-7 combo forward who has started to fill out, LeCesne can stretch defenses with his shooting and the three-star prospect now has the strength to bang some on the interior. He made 8-of-11 shots and finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Our Savior big man Cheick Diallo looked a little more comfortable on the floor this weekend than he did last weekend in Kentucky as he makes his return from injury. . Currently ranked No. 6 in the class of 2015, Diallo played hard, ran the floor and looked a bit stronger as he made 9-11 shots to score 22 points while grabbing five rebounds. Pittsburgh signee Damon Wilson chipped in with 18 points of his own and the four-star looks like he should be a nice wing scorer in college. Wilson plays some point for Our Savior, but he seems most comfortable off the ball where he can be a secondary decision maker and focus on getting his offense.

Seven points and four rebounds doesn't really jump out on you when looking at the stat sheet, but the contributions of 6-foot-7 power forward Thomas Bruce were huge in DeMatha's win over Chaminade. A steal for Binghamton, Bruce controlled the lane with his willingness to play physical and athleticism and he nearly shut out Chaminade's four-star junior power forward Tyler Cook who had just three points and one rebound before fouling out.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Talent invades Atlanta
Dan McDonald Basketball Recruiting Contributing National Analyst

ATLANTA -- The metro Atlanta area has become a hot spot for top high school basketball tournaments. Over the weekend, the city hosted three quality events as the On The Radar Hoops Thanksgiving Showcase, Atlanta Hardwood Jam Fest and the Holiday Hoopsgiving tournament all took place. The three events brought several top teams to Atlanta and those teams featured many highly regarded basketball prospects. was on hand to take in all the action.

Malik Beasley had a big weekend.
St. Francis still a contender
Alpharetta (Ga.) St. Francis has all the key pieces back from a state championship team last year in the single A private classification in Georgia, and they certainly played like it in a Saturday night matchup with Douglas County.
The star of the night for St. Francis was Florida State signee Malik Beasley. The 6-foot-4 four-star wing pumped in 36 points and did so with flair. He's more than capable of getting hot from three-point range and has a nice pull-up jumper, but what will get Seminole fans most excited during his time in Tallahassee is his ability to throw down highlight reel dunks. Along with his 36 points he tallied nine rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Beasley's backcourt mate Kobi Simmons had a rough outing shooting the ball, but still managed to finish with 25 points, five assists and five rebounds. The five-star junior prospect has a lengthy list of schools making him a priority. Schools such as Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, Ohio State, Missouri and Syracuse have been involved with the 6-foot-5 lead guard and he just recently took an unofficial visit to Kentucky.
Xavier signee Kaiser Gates missed the game with an injury while Coastal Carolina signee Josh Coleman chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds for St. Francis.
Sophomore big man has huge effort
Though he's just a sophomore, Atlanta (Ga.) Pace Academy power forward Wendell Carter has been a known commodity in the metro Atlanta area for a few years now.
Many times when kids receive a lot of hype before ever playing a high school game, they fizzle out and don't live up to expectations. That's not the case with Carter, who just recently transferred to Pace from Fulton Leadership Academy.
Already ranked 14th overall in the 2017 class, Carter lived up to the hype in Friday afternoon matchup with Columbia (AL). He scored 18 mostly on free throws, but that's not where he did the most damage. The potential five-star prospect seemingly grabbed every possible rebound he could, finishing with 25 of them unofficially. He's a very intriguing prospect long term with his size, strong hands, and soft touch in the post.

Derek Ogbeide continues to improve.
According to his travel coach Chris Monroe, schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, North Carolina and Connecticut have been involved with Carter so far. Look for that list to continue to grow over the next couple years if he continues to play like he did this weekend in Atlanta.
New kids on the block?
Pebblebrook made a Final 4 run last year in Georgia's highest classification, and like St. Francis, they return all their top performers from last year's team such as Clemson bound point guard Ty Hudson and Georgia bound big man Derek Ogbeide. What could take them to the next level though is the addition of three-star junior guard Jared Harper, who transferred to the school from Mt. Vernon (Ga.) Christian.
In a Saturday matchup with Berkmar, usually one of the better programs in Georgia, Pebblebrook came out a little flat but held a 72-37 lead with three minutes left in the game when the starters came out.
It's not just Pebblebrook's talent that overwhelmed Berkmar. It was the unselfish play that makes them such a tough team to defend. Take Jared Haprer for example. The 5-foot-9 guard known for his ability to kill opposing teams with his three-point stroke finished with 20 points but also dished out six assists in the blowout win. Per Haper's father Pat Harper, Ole Miss, Kansas State, Richmond, Old Dominion, UAB, Brown, Penn, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State have offered scholarships. Auburn, Creighton and Xavier have shown varying levels of interest.
Georgia signee Derek Ogbeide continues to show signs of improvement. His 17 points came mostly off dunks and put-backs, but he did score off an impressive low post move and connected on a mid-range jumper from the left elbow. The three-star prospect is known more for his presence in the paint on the defensive end at this point in his career, and he showed why on Saturday night with his 12 rebounds and five blocks.
Pebblebrook will be tested this year with a tough national schedule. Next week, they take on AA state runner-up Augusta (Ga.) Laney High School in the Nike Explosion event. They travel to California in late December to participate in the Max Preps Holiday Classic. In January, they will take on Montverde (Fl.) in the Wally Keller Classic and will face Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha in the Hilton Invitational at Norcross High School.