Tuesday, April 29, 2014


The state of Georgia's Top Ten AAU teams in multiple age groups were released in the most recent ELITE SUPER PREP POWER POLL, and 3 teams from the NORTH METRO ELITE Nike AAU travel program were in their respective top tens.  The highest ranking was #3 for the 14U squad.  5th grade (11U) checked in at #5, and 7th grade (13U) checked in at #7.   Here are the polls:

1.            94 Feet

2.            J3

3.            ELW Future Stars

4.            GA Xclusive

5.            Cherokee Spurs

6.            GA Bearcats

7.            D-ELITE

8.            God's Property Thunder

9.            GA Jayhawks

10.          Heat Check

1.            North GA Heat 

2.            ELW Future Stars

3.            Georgia Excel    

4.            Georgia Heat    

5.            Champion's Chance-Daniel         

6.            North Ga. Vortex            

7.            94 Feet                

8.            North Ga. Irish

9.            DL Impact           

10.          Hoop City Thunder         

11U  - TOP TEN
1.            Georgia Xclusive              

2.            North Ga. Elite

3.            ProComm Warriors        

4.            Lights Out Ballerz

5.            North Metro Elite (NME)

6.            N. Ga. Warriors

7.            Ga. Rising Stars                

8.            Atlanta Attack Elite

9.            North Atlanta Attack     

10.          Hoop City Thunder


1.            Georgia Stars    

2.            Georgia Heat    

3.            Team Rival         

4.            Middle Georgia Game On Red  

5.            TSF Cherokee Hawks     

6.            South Ga Starz Red        

7.            Reach Higher Kings FCA                

8.            Reach Higher Kings MA                

9.            Atlanta Bulls Black Elite

10.          North Georgia Elite

1.            Albany Elite Tigers

2.            Rome Magic

3.            RCB Bulldogs

4.            AOC Thunder

5.            Primetime

6.            N. Ga. Elite

7.            North Metro Elite (NME)

8.            ELW Futures Stars

9.            ATL Hurricanes

10.          Team Impact

1.            GA Stars

2.            ATL Sixers

3.            North Metro Elite (NME)

4.            GA Man Up

5.            Cherokee Spurs

6.            Active Elite

7.            N. Ga. Elite

8.            Reach Higher Kings

9.            ELW Future Stars

10.          Woodstock Wolverines




Monday, April 28, 2014

Sunday Updates from NIKE EYBL

Nike EYBL: Record day for Monk

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The first session of the Nike EYBL concluded on Sunday with a record-setting performance. Class of 2016 five-star guard Malik Monk put an exclamation mark on the final day of the Sacramento session with one of the best performances in Nike EYBL history.
Monk set a new EYBL single-game record by scoring 59 points in the Arkansas Wings' 98-91 loss to All-Ohio. Monk lit up the scoreboard with remarkable efficiency, hitting 15 of 26 shots from the field (including 10 of 16 from three-point range) and 19 of 23 from the free throw line. The Bentonville, Ark., standout also added nine rebounds.

Malik Monk poured in 59 points on Sunday.
"My coach told me to come in ready to play, so I had to do that," Monk said. "But my teammates set me up for the most part for all the points. It was my teammates that set me up."
Monk said that he scored 43 points in a high school game, but he doesn't recall scoring this many points before.
Not surprisingly, though he's only a sophomore, Monk has already drawn plenty of recruiting interest. He has offers from Florida, Arkansas, Kansas, Connecticut, Baylor, Memphis, Indiana and SMU.
Monk doesn't have any leaders and hasn't taken any visits. He doesn't have any trips currently scheduled.
Currently ranked as the No. 12 player in the 2016 class by Rivals.com, Monk said that schools are recruiting him to play the two-guard.
McClure nearing a decision
Four-star Texas Titans combo guard King McClure is just days away from announcing his college commitment.
"The plan for me is to announce where I'm going to school next week," McClure said. "Tuesday, probably."
McClure said that he might make his announcement in a press conference at his school. Otherwise, he'll post his choice to Instagram and let fans know his decision through social media.
The No. 37 player in the 2015 class has narrowed his list to Arkansas, SMU, Kansas, UCLA and Baylor. He briefly discussed each of his finalists.
"Kansas, coach Bill Self, it's one of the greatest programs in the country."
"UCLA, coach Steve Alford, as soon as he got there made an instant impact."
"Baylor, Coach [Scott] Drew, has a guard system."
"Arkansas, (they're) good with guards and have an up-and-down (style of) play."
"SMU, Larry Brown, what can you say. It's Larry Brown. He's one of the greatest coaches to ever coach basketball."
What will be the deciding factor in McClure's recruitment?
"Whichever school can get me better and help me (achieve) my dreams," McClure said. "My ultimate goal is to make it to the NBA. Whatever school can put me in the right position to make it to the NBA is the school I'll go to."
Though he doesn't have the basketball recruiting profile of McClure, fellow Texas Titan guard Soso Jamabo is also receiving loads of college attention. Jamabo is one of the top running backs in the nation and a four-star football prospect.
"I know for sure I want to play football, but if basketball comes along pretty well, then that definitely would be a good option," Jamabo said.
Jamabo mentioned Oklahoma and Baylor as two programs that have spoken to him about playing both sports, though "not too many" of the schools recruiting him have.
Michigan State a factor for Spiece Indy Heat duo

Caleb Swanigan hasn't declared any favorites yet.
Michigan State already has a commitment from four-star Spiece Indy Heat forward Deyonta Davis, and the Spartans are in the mix for Davis' teammate, five-star 2016 center Caleb Swanigan. Swanigan said that Michigan State, Indiana and Pittsburgh are among the schools recruiting him the hardest.
Davis, however, isn't pushing Swanigan to join him at Michigan State.
"Not really," Swanigan said. "He knows I'm going to choose wherever I want to play. He's not putting any pressure on me on where I need to go."
Swanigan said that he doesn't currently have any favorites. He hasn't taken any recent trips and doesn't have any visits planned. He listed winning tradition and familiarity with the coaching staff/comfort level with a program as the most important factors in his recruitment. School size, however, won't play into his choice.
As for Davis' recruitment, he said that the major appeal of Michigan State was the program's proximity to home.
"It was close to home and all my family can come and watch," Davis said.
Davis said that all schools aside from Michigan State have ceased contact with him since he committed to the Spartans.
The four-star forward said that he's most looking forward to the opportunity to "be coached by one of the greatest coaches" when he arrives in East Lansing.
Both Davis and Swanigan impressed in a 53-52 win over the St. Louis Eagles. Swanigan in particular was impossible for the Eagles to handle in the post, showing off a variety of offensive moves to score in the interior. He ended up with a game-high 19 points.
Davis wasn't as involved offensively but threw down one of the highlight dunks of the tournament and finished with a double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds).

Florida commit, 2016 five-star lead Nike Team Florida
Class of 2016 five-star big man Udoka Azubuike dunked, rebounded, defended and blocked shots in Nike Team Florida's 72-71 victory over Mac Irvin Fire on Sunday morning.
Though his offensive game is still very raw -- he didn't score outside of the paint or from the free throw line in the win and scored only eight points -- Azubuike already looks to have a college-ready body and is extremely powerful in the interior. On one memorably play, Azubuike was guarded by a defender in the post, spun over his left shoulder and threw down a massive dunk like it was nothing.
Oh, and Azubuike is only 14-years-old and has been playing basketball for just a few seasons.
On the recruiting side, Azubuike is still very early in the process. He's received interest from Florida and Florida State but is still a ways away from a decision.
If he does decide on the Gators, he'll join one of his AAU teammates, three-star forward Kevarrius Hayes. Hayes committed to Florida last June and remains a solid commit to the Gators.
"Initially, I pretty much knew of Florida before, but I think (my decision to commit) happened when I moved in with my coach because he's a Florida alum so he kind of talked about Florida a lot and talked me up," Hayes sad. "So he had connections. And so I've come to love Florida. I really do like the way they run a fast-paced kind of a game. They like to move fast. It's great. I really do love the way they do things there and they say that they love me and the way I run the floor. So they say I'd be a great piece to their puzzle."
Hayes added that he stays in touch with Florida assistants John Pelphrey and Matt McCall the most.
The Suwanee High School standout said that he's not sure if other schools have continued to contact him since he's been committed because, well, he's just not that interested in other programs.
"After I got Florida, which is the one I wanted, I kind of just stopped paying attention to all that stuff," Hayes said.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Nike EYBL Sacramento: DAY TWO

Saturday marked Day Two of the Nike EYBL Sacramento session, and included strong performance from numerous four and five-star prospects. Lawson brothers lead Team Penny With Memphis coach Josh Pastner on hand, 2015 Memphis commit Keelon Lawson and his uncommitted younger brother, 2016 five-star Dedric Lawson combined to score 43 points in Team Penny's opening game victory over the St. Louis Eagles.
Dedric Lawson won't necessarily follow his brother to Memphis.
Dedric, the higher-ranked of the two brothers, backed up his ranking on Saturday morning. He finished around the rim in multiple ways, initiated the break, and grabbed eight rebounds. Keelon was also excellent and was actually more efficient from the floor (8-14 compared to 9-18 for Dedric); he added 13 rebounds. Keelon Lawson, the nation's No. 36 player in the 2015 class, made a verbal commitment to the University of Memphis last October. "…I know what to do to come in and perform as a freshman," Keelon explained. "It's a hometown (school). And it feels welcome. (Coach Pastner is) a good coach and he keeps his promises." Keelon said that he's still a solid commit to Memphis but that other schools continue to recruit him though he didn't identify any of those programs. Keelon's commitment has an impact on Dedric's thought process, even though Keelon isn't pressuring Dedric to join him at Memphis. "It's a big factor in my recruiting because I love playing with my brother," Detric said. "It's always fun to play with a sibling on a high level. It really has a big deal with it." Not surprisingly, Memphis is a favorite in Dedric's recruitment - but they're not his only leader. Kentucky is also one of Dedric's top schools, and Wildcat coach John Calipari was sitting courtside for Team Penny's game. "Memphis and Kentucky, those are like the only two schools that have been recruiting my since my brother ended up committing," Dedric said. "It's like everyone already thinks I'm already going to Memphis because my brother committed. But that's not the case, so really just Kentucky and Memphis have been on me real, real hard." Dedric shared his thoughts on his co-leaders. "The best thing about Memphis, it's your hometown," Dedric said. "You know you're going to have family that wants to come to the games to support you. I like Coach Pastner. Coach Pastner's a real good guy. He always comes to support us." "And Coach Cal, Coach Cal runs the one-and-done system. He gets you in, he gets you out. Both programs are good collegiate programs that I want to go and produce my talent in." Soldiers draw a crowd After suffering one of the more surprising upsets of the day in the morning, the loaded Oakland Soldiers squad bounced back with a solid victory over Team CP3 in the afternoon game. The Soldiers feature arguably the best frontcourt of any AAU team in the nation with the country's No. 2 prospect Ivan Rabb and No. 4 prospect Stephen Zimmerman. Add in 6-foot-9 inch forward Chimezie Metu, who's ranked No. 46 in the country, and versatile four-star guard Rex Pflueger, among others, and it's easy to see why the Soldiers are considered such a powerhouse. After starting all three of their touted post players (Rabb, Zimmerman and Metu) in their morning loss, the Soldiers took a different approach in the afternoon, bringing Metu in off the bench and playing most of the game with only two forwards. The strategy paid dividends. Playing in front of many of the nation's top college coaches (including John Calipari, Sean Miller, Mike Krzyzewski, Dana Altman, Mick Cronin and Andy Enfield, among others), the Soliders' five-star prospects didn't disappoint. Rabb did about everything a 6-foot-11, 220-pound power forward could be expected to do on the basketball court. He hit a contested fade-away, made several nice passes, finished with his left hand, and even drove the length of the court to score after grabbing a defense rebound. Zimmerman's midrange shot was off in the afternoon session, but he, too, showed why he's such a heavily recruited prospect. The 7-footer made several agile moves in the post as part of an eight-point performance, and, like Rabb, passed the ball well. Though he did show his leaping ability on several impressive rebounds and blocked shots, Metu's offensive game is not nearly as polished as his frontcourt counterparts. The four-star prospect was held to only two points and also committed three turnovers and generally never found any sort of offensive rhythm. Metu's athleticism, however, is quite apparent. Metu and the Soldiers' post players also have to manage the adjustment of playing with such a tall frontline. "It's a little bit different playing with two other big guys, playing a new position, sort of," Metu said. "They're good at what they do so it just make it easier on me." Along with Rabb, Soldiers point guard Max Hazzard led his team with 11 points. Four-star Rex Pflueger's outside shot wasn't falling but he had a nice all-around game and even ran point for stretches. On the recruiting side of things, Metu listed USC, Harvard, Cal and Arizona State as some of his standouts. Arizona, Oregon and Stanford are also still recruiting him. . Metu briefly touched on what stands out about his top schools. "USC, I love their coaching staff. And they're the hometown school so I have to consider them." "Harvard, I mean, it's Harvard." "Arizona State, I like the way they play. They get up and down." "Cal, they just got a new coach but before I like the way they played. I like the way they move the ball around and get good shots." Metu said that some schools are recruiting him to play small forward, others power forward, and others haven't specified. Metu is considering taking more college visits but also could make a decision by the end of the summer. Zimmerman said that he's thinking of releasing a list of favorites sometime after this weekend's EYBL Tournament. He did host Steve Alford of UCLA for an in-home visit and is in the process of scheduling a visit to North Carolina. "Probably the biggest factor (in my decision) is development," Zimmerman said. "Whatever school I go to I want to make sure that they can develop me and make me better as a person and as a player. Also winning is obviously a big thing." Pflueger said that he's considering Florida, Stanford, USC, UConn, Notre Dame, Gonzaga, San Diego State and Virginia. The four-star guard recently took a pair of unofficial visits to the Northern California Pac-12 schools, and hopes that additional trips to other programs will help him narrow down his list. "The first one was at Stanford where I stayed with a good friend of mine whose alma mater is my high school, Mater Dei, Andy Brown," Flueger said. "He just kind of showed me the ropes. He's a fifth-year senior so he knows a lot about it, the ins and outs of it and told md how great of a program it is." "Cal, I only got a brief stay with them. I got to see them on one afternoon. I got to meet the new coaches - it was great to meet them and they were really cool." Pflueger plans to make his decision before the start of his senior season. Boston-area team surprises; Boston College to benefit? Aside from the Oakland Soldiers falling in their first game of the day, perhaps the biggest surprise of the tournament has been the success of Boston-based BABC. Despite having only one four-star recruit on its roster, BABC has gone 3-0 through the first two days of competition. "People doubted us, definitely," said 2015 guard Terance Mann. "Especially in the Boston area, they were like '(we) don't have anybody.' So they doubted us." But as the three games of competition showed, BABC does have talent, even if its players aren't as highly touted as many of its opponents. And several of those players could stay in the Northeast and attend Boston College.
Jeremy Miller has grown an inch and looked impressive on day two of play.
One BABC standout is already committed to the Eagles. 2015 6-foot-10 (he's recently grown an inch) forward Jeremy Miller, who has averaged over 13 points a game during the first two days of the tournament, is an athletic and strong interior presence who's also a very good shooter. Miller committed to Boston College in February and remains committed to the Eagles despite a coaching change. "Well, when (former BC head coach Steve) Donahue was there the style of play really fit mine," Miller said. "I'm a stretch four, I like to shoot it a lot. And they run their set offense through their bigs. So I really liked that. And (new Boston College coach) Jim Christian said he's going to do the same thing so I'm going to stick with it." Other schools have contacted Miller since the coaching change, including Temple, Minnesota and Providence, but the three-star prospect is happy with Boston College. "I've been calling them off since I committed," Miller said. What is he most looking forward to about joining the Boston College program? "Just the college life, to be honest with you," Miller said. "The school itself is a great school. You can do anything with a Boston College degree so that's the reason why I wanted go. Plus, the basketball is good too." Miller could be joined in Boston College by Mann, a four-star prospect ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's No. 92 player in the class of 2015. Though he didn't display great touch shooting from the perimeter in his team's Saturday afternoon win over Detroit-based The Family, Mann showed great athleticism and passing ability, several of the qualities that could allow him to play point guard at the next level. Mann said that Florida State, Boston College, Creighton and URI are some of the main schools involved in his recruitment but that he doesn't have a timeline for narrowing down his options. "I don't know when I'm going to commit though," Mann said. "There's no timetable. I'm just letting it come to me." Mann said that he and Miller have discussed the possibility of playing together at the next level Schools are recruiting Mann to play point or shooting guard. Improving his feel for the point guard spot is an area of emphasis for Mann this offseason. "(I'm working on) just getting better at the point guard position (and) handling the ball in pressure," Mann said. "Especially in the EYBL it's the best of the best, so I'm playing against the better point guards. I'm not even a real, real point guard yet, so it's fun." Mann hasn't had any in-home visits and doesn't have any trips currently scheduled. He has taken unofficial visits to Georgetown, VCU, George Washington, URI and Boston College. Other recruiting notes
  • The nation's No. 13 player, Ohio standout Luke Kennard, verbally committed to Duke last month. A skilled shooting guard, Kennard isn't having any doubts about his decision. "I took an unofficial visit there the weekend of the North Carolina game," Kennard said. "I had a great time. I got there, we took a tour of the campus with the coaches. The campus is beautiful. Coach K, best coach in America and the world, actually. The coaching staff is great. I love the way they play. The atmosphere of the campus and at the basketball games, it's just top-notch. And the good thing I like about it is it's small-town feel but on such a big stage. I really like that about it. Academically, I take academics seriously, and it's a great academic school." Kennard said that other schools haven't been in communication since he made his commitment. "Not really," Kennard said. "I think everybody knows. So I have a lot more time on my hands to do stuff without all of the other coaches trying to contact me. It's kind of just Duke right now."
  • V.J. King, the No. 7 player in the class of 2016, is still taking the recruiting process slow. Though he's received recruiting attention from numerous schools, King doesn't have any favorites, or even a more general list of schools that he is considering. Moreover, he said that he's only taken a pair of visits since his recruitment has begun, one to NC State a few years back and one to Ohio State around eight months ago. "Both schools were awesome," King said. "The facilities were awesome. They're just great places to be, in those environments, working all the time. It was fun to be out there."
  • Point guard Jamal Murray, the No. 16 player in the 2016 Rivals rankings, is still waiting on his first college offer. He did mention that Michigan and Michigan State are among the schools that are involved in his recruitment. Murray has only taken one visit thus far, to Michigan, to watch the Wolverines play Indiana. Murray said that he hasn't really given the recruiting process much thought and is instead focusing on his team and schoolwork.
  • Four-star 2015 prospect Montaque Gill-Caesar recently decided to stay in the 2015 class instead of reclassifying to 2014, which he had considered. "I just thought that it was the best decision for me from a development standpoint," Gill-Caesar said. "I'm comfortable where I'm at, at that school. I don't feel like I need to rush anything. So I feel like if I went 2014 I'd be kind of rushing my development. So that was the main reason behind it." Gill-Ceasar listed Michigan State, Kentucky, Kansas, Florida State, Providence, Illinois, West Virginia and UCF as the main schools currently involved in his recruitment Though Michigan State is frequently speculated to be one of Gill-Caesar's top choices, the four-star recruit denied that the Spartans - or any program - have an edge. "I have no leader right now," Gill-Caesar said. The nation's No. 22 prospect said that he hasn't had any in-home visits with college coaches. He took unofficial visits to West Virginia and Kentucky earlier in his junior year. "Both of their fan bases are really crazy," Gill-Caesar said. "You already know, Kentucky has probably the best fan base out of all of college basketball. And West Virginia is kind of crazy too."
  • Five-star New Jersey point guard Isaiah Briscoe said that Arizona, St. John's, Rutgers, Seton Hall, UConn and Louisville are among the schools recruiting him the hardest. Briscoe hasn't narrowed down his list of college choices. "Probably I'll do it after this live period, see who's backed off and see who's coming in even harder," Briscoe. The nation's No. 19 player has taken unofficial visits to Syracuse, UConn, Rutgers and Arizona. He's yet to host any coaches for in-home visits.
  • Saturday, April 19, 2014

    "Real Deal" AAU tourney off to FAST start

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    THE RIVALS150: Class of 2014 - Class of 2015
    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- This April, only one weekend is open for Division I coaches to evaluate talent at grassroots events. With one less April weekend than in the past to impress coaches, it is important that teams be sharp. Friday night at the Real Deal in the Rock, Malik Monk, Melvin Frazier, Skal Labissiere and the Arkansas Wings looked ready to turn coaches' heads when they are out next weekend.

    Wings talent overwhelms

    During the first half, it looked like we were going to have a great Friday night game on our hands. The loaded Arkansas Wings, who feature five-stars Malik Monk and Skal Labissiere to go with four-star Melvin Frazier and several others, were in a close one with a tough RL9 team from Houston. Both teams feature several deluxe athletes and the Wings held a 31-26 lead at halftime of tough played game where neither team was particularly hot from deep.

    Labissiere missed most of his junior season with a stress fracture in his back.
    During the second half, though, the Wings erupted to run away and hide in an 83-51 win. Not surprisingly, Monk, Labissiere and Frazier all played their part.

    Because he had the best night, we'll start with Monk. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Bentonville (Ark.) High currently ranks No. 12 overall in the class of 2016 and he looked every bit the part. After settling for deep jumpers when Rivals.com watched him in December, Monk was playing in attack mode. He has added at least 10 pounds of muscle since the winter and uses his electric step and big time hops to get to the rim. Monk is also playing some point and said that even if he never plays the position long term, the ball handling focus can only help him. After making noise at the rim, Monk showed off his smooth jump shooting from deep and also locked in defensively.

    If Monk's Friday night play is any indicator of how he will play this spring and summer, opposing shooting guards are going to be in for a long summer. He mentioned that Arkansas, Connecticut and Florida were among those that have been by to see him.

    A five-star like Monk, Labissiere ranks No. 6 overall in 2015. A 6-foot-11 big man from Cordova (Tenn.) Evangelical Christian, Labissiere was playing in his first game since November after missing almost all of his junior season to a stress fracture in his back. The Haiti native played limited minutes, but his skill on both ends of the floor was evident. He has gotten much stronger and while he isn't a high flyer, he can really move his feet, is fast and has great length. He doesn't bite on fakes and causes a lot of problems in the lane as a rim protector. On top of that he rebounds well and doesn't need a ton of offense run for him in order to be productive. He has soft touch but the back foot, spin and fadeaway jumper from about 12 feet on the left baseline was ridiculous.

    With more thought, we can probably come up with a better comparison for Melvin Frazier than Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. However, the 6-foot-6 wing does share some similarities to RHJ. Mostly, he is an athletic, touch and hard working utility forward who just tracks down loose balls, finds openings and makes plays. Like Monk and Labissiere, he can lock in defensively and he is definitely a leader on the floor. Frazier listed offers from Texas A&M, Arkansas, Oklahoma, UTEP and LSU.

    "In the first half you could see that we had only really had one practice together and we had to come together," Frazier told Rivals.com. "In the second we turned it up on defense and got running."

    Friday night notes from the Real Deal

    Gilder scored 21 points on an off shooting night.
    Admon Gilder didn't shoot the ball near as well as he did during the high school season, but the No. 49 prospect in 2015 still led the Dallas Mustangs to a win and scored 21. Had he been making jumpers at his usual clip, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Dallas (Texas) Madison would have put up huge scoring numbers. So, he used his defensive ability and crashed the glass and grinded his way to a solid outing. His best stretch was a personal 9-2 run over a 2:30 span of the first half. He hit a three, took the ball away from an opponent and then scored out of the full court press, hit a pull-up jumper and got out front of the action for an easy lay-in. Even on tough nights he is always going to stretches where he is instant offense and there is a lot of value in that.

    The Greg Monroe ASSISTS 16 and under team had a handful of promising looking players from the class of 2016. We will have to verify some names and schools (they did not have a roster available) but shooting guard Roydell Brown, combo guard Dijon Jarreau, guard Tyree Thompson, scorer Tirrell Gilmore and big man Bryson Gretchen all showed nice flashes of ability. Brown carried the scoring load early and is a good looking 6-foot-3 shooting guard who can hit pull-up jumpers and pressures the defense resulting in lots of trips to the free throw line.

    It isn't the Georgia Stars EYBL team that is playing in the 17 and under division of the Real Deal. They are more or less a 15 and under team playing up two age groups and while they lost to the Arkansas Wings Select team, they showed lots of promise. Freshman Victor Enoh is a hard playing, tough and athletic 6-foot-7 forward with promise. A fellow freshman, 6-foot-9 center Ikechukwu Obiago can really move for such a young big man and he is a teammate of Enoh's at Decatur (Ga.) Greenforest. Carrying the scoring load for the Stars was 6-foot-1 combo guard James Lewis. Because he is an eighth  bgrader he doesn't have a profile and we won't begin dissecting his game until he is a high schooler. But, it is worth noting that he scored 20 in a 17 and under game.

    He didn't put up huge numbers for RL9, but 2016 wing Josh Hall has the traits of an excellent wing prospect. A Texan who attends Lynchburg (Va.) Genesis Academy, Hall has excellent size going at least 6-foot-5 (maybe a bit taller), a good looking jump shot and a nice looking overall game. He also hit a nice floater and moves very well for a young wing with his size. Hall says that he already has offers from Kansas State, Houston (the new staff), Nebraska and Cincinnati. Along with those offers, he mentioned interest from Maryland, Virginia and Wake Forest.

    Parker to leave Duke and enter NBA draft

    jabari parker

    DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke freshman Jabari Parker is passing up his final three years of eligibility to enter the NBA draft.
    The 6-foot-8 Parker, a consensus first-team All-America selection, joins Corey Maggette, Luol Deng, Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers as Blue Devils freshmen to enter the draft after just one year of college basketball. Irving was the No. 1 overall pick in 2011.Duke sophomore Rodney Hood also will enter the NBA draft, Yahoo! Sports reported, citing sources. The forward is in the process of selecting an agent and plans to make an announcement within the next several days, sources told the website.

    In an essay for Sports Illustrated that was released Thursday, Parker wrote: "I realize how much of a privilege and an honor it is to join the ranks of the NBA. I will do everything in my power to help deliver championships to the franchise that drafts me. At the same time, I recognize the obligation to represent the league in an admirable way off the court."
    Parker also wrote that his one year at Duke "has been a cherished chapter in my life. I'm very fortunate to have worn the blue and white. And I will always carry with me the memories of playing in front of the Crazies at Cameron. Now it's time to write the next chapter."

    "Jabari could not have been better," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. "He is the epitome of what you would want a basketball player to be -- outstanding every day on the practice court and in the classroom and a very humble young man. He had a fantastic freshman year and is so deserving of the opportunity to play in the NBA and follow his dream."
    Parker is projected as the No. 2 overall pick, behind one-and-done Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins, on ESPN NBA draft Insider Chad Ford's Big Board.
    The Chicago native led Duke to a 26-9 season. He averaged 19.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 assists per game while setting or tying Duke freshman records for points (670), points per game, rebounds (306), double-doubles (14), double-figure scoring games (33) and 20-point games (18).

    Sunday, April 13, 2014

    Parker to consult Coach K on draft question

    Jabari Parker in pre-Duke days playing for his AAU travel squad the Mac Irvin FIRE.

    Duke freshman star Jabari Parker said Friday he still hasn't decided whether he will enter the NBA draft and will meet with coach Mike Krzyzewski next week to discuss his situation.

    Parker, who is ranked as the No. 2 draft prospect by ESPN.com's Chad Ford, said he has ruled out going on a Mormon mission, leaving his decision between another year at Duke or the NBA.
    Underclassmen have until April 27 to decide to enter the draft, which will be held June 26 in New York.
    "It's a very tough decision, especially potentially leaving behind my coach and the program that really helped me out this year, so I really have to keep them in consideration in this whole process," Parker said Friday on ESPNLA 710.
    Projected to be a top-three pick, Parker has compelling reasons to leave for the NBA, but he also has some good ones to stay at Duke.
    Parker struggled in the third-seeded Blue Devils' loss to 14-seed Mercer in the NCAA tournament's round of 64, a disappointing end to an All-American season. If he returns to Durham, Duke likely will be a favorite to reach the Final Four. Parker would also have a chance to play alongside fellow Chicago native Jahlil Okafor, the nation's top high school senior, who will play for Duke next season.
    Parker, who refuted a report that he already has applied for student housing at Duke for next school year, doesn't view a potential return to Durham as risky.
    "I think there's no risk," Parker said. "I think the community at Duke has really done a good job of taking care of my safety and they make sure that everything is done by the playbook.
    "My parents, they come from different backgrounds. They don't even value money. My situation isn't the best, but they're not complaining and I've been going on this long so why can't I wait another year? That's the mindset in my head that keeps me moving."
    The 6-foot-8 Parker was second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring at 19.3 points per game and led the league in rebounding (8.8 per game). He won the Wayman Tisdale Award, presented to the nation's top freshman, last month and finished second behind Creighton's Doug McDermott for the Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy.

    College Hoops: Off-Season story lines

    Player unions and paying players are issues that touch all of college athletics, including basketball, and they will continue to be talked about during the summer. The 2014-15 season won't be a time to usher in rule changes, like this past season's emphasis on freedom of movement. But here are a few things to keep in mind as college hoops begins its offseason:

    Nik Stauskas
    Declare or return: Almost every year, the saga of who’s coming and who’s going makes for a couple weeks of anxious coaches. There have already been official NBA draft announcements from Kansas’ Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins. Kentucky’s Julius Randle and Michigan’s Nik Stauskas are reportedly going, too, which prompted denials from both players. Generally, the biggest surprises come from those players who decide to return to school. Duke’s Jabari Parker, a projected top-five pick, has not yet publicly announced whether he’ll return for his sophomore season. There’s a growing scuttlebutt that he will stay in school, which would likely cement the Blue Devils as the preseason No. 1 team. For early entrants who don't sign with an agent, the NCAA’s deadline to withdraw from the draft and retain eligibility is April 15. But it’s a pretty soft deadline considering that the NBA’s deadline for underclassmen to declare is April 27, so some players could keep their intentions secret until well after the NCAA’s date.

    Coaching moves: With Boston College hiring Jim Christian and Wake Forest selecting Danny Manning, California remains the lone major conference school with an opening. That means filling it (Xavier’s Chris Mack is reportedly the lead candidate) would potentially make for only a small ripple effect in the offseason. Then again, keep in mind that last year Brad Stevens didn’t leave Butler for the Boston Celtics until July. So until NBA jobs are filled, college coaches like Kentucky’s John Calipari, Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg and even Connecticut’s newly crowned national champion Kevin Ollie could appear on the short list of candidates to fill those slots. Shortly after the national championship game, Calipari issued denials that he’s interested in the Los Angeles Lakers. But nothing can stop the rumor mill until the hiring and firing is completed, and that could go into the summer.

    Transfer status: Maybe the blame belongs on the high school and AAU culture, where players jump around until they find a good fit. Or maybe kids have just wised up and realized that rather than ride the bench for four years, some coach at some school will value them more. Regardless of how it got to this point, the smoldering over transfers has been growing among coaches to the point that it’s about to be a fire. Some even feel that the rules are being outright exploited. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim lamented during ACC media days last October about the transfer who leaves a school due to a sick family member, but then never sees the family after the transfer is completed. Some players have followed the model set forth by coaches themselves by playing for a lower-level school long enough to make a name and then transferring to a bigger stage. Toss in the graduate student waiver, and the culture of transfers seems like the college equivalent of free agency. Until the rules are changed, there are plenty of good players available. Over the next two months players will find new homes, and fan bases will find new reasons to be hopeful about their futures.

    [+] EnlargeJohn Calipari
    AP Photo/David J. PhillipJohn Calipari has already denied being linked to one NBA job, but questions about his job status could linger into the summer.
    Recruiting quirk: Because of the way the schedule fell this year, the NCAA eliminated one of the April evaluation periods and opted against moving it to May. (Easter and SAT/ACT test dates provided the scheduling conflict in April.) One weekend might not seem like much, but it could end up having a big impact on the Class of 2015 for schools outside the major conferences. The spring dates usually allow those schools to identify who they’ll target, and July’s period offers the true evaluation. It could make the entire process a bit slower or cause some schools to gamble on players. Major conference schools that throw around major conference budgets are less affected by the shortened April window since juniors can make official visits after Jan. 1 and many of those coaches have already honed in on the players they want to recruit.

    Silver lining: The earliest either side can opt out of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement isn’t until June 2017, so any talk about increasing the league’s age limit is just talk. For now. But as one-and-done players trickle into the league each year -- there could be about 10 taken in the first round of this year’s draft -- the discussion perks up again. It’s an issue that is gaining momentum from the highest office in the NBA. New commissioner Adam Silver has made it known that he supports raising the age limit from 19 to 20. On Thursday he told ESPN.com that he’d also consider providing a subsidy to college players that would include a complete insurance plan. At the very least, Silver has indicated that he’s open to dialogue with the NCAA and the NBA players’ union. And that is a start in bringing a little more stability to the college game.

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    Starting five: Talent rises, Maryland scores

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    THE RIVALS150: Class of 2014 - Class of 2015
    The national title game matchup of Kentucky and UConn was a stunner when observed within the framework of both teams' regular seasons and NCAA seedings. Never before had two teams with such low seedings, UConn as a No. 7, Kentucky as a No. 8, met for the title. But when you look at the talent each team had on its roster, maybe it wasn't so shocking after all. This week, we'll look at the national finalists, Maryland's newest addition, last weekend's Dick's National High School Tournament and a few other subjects.
    Tons of talent in Arlington

    Aaron Harrison is one of five five-stars in Kentucky's starting lineup.
    Both Kentucky and Connecticut played at an incredibly high level during their tournament runs. Looking at where their players were ranked coming out of high school, the cream rose to the crop at just the right time.
    Between the two teams, a total of six five-stars, two four-stars, one ranked three-star and one non ranked player -- because he was a European recruit -- are among the teams' starting fives.
    We'll start with the Wildcats, because they feature the most "ranked" talent. John Calipari has pulled in the top ranked recruiting class every year he has been at Kentucky and the results speak for themselves. There was a slipup in 2012-13, when the Wildcats didn't make the NCAA Tournament. Other than that, his teams have made the Elite 8 in 2010 and the Final Four three times in the past four years.
    Each member of the Kentucky starting lineup is a five-star prospect from the class of 2013. Power forward Julius Randle ranked No. 2. Point guard Andrew Harrison ranked No. 5. Shooting guard Aaron Harrison ranked No. 7 while center Dakari Johnson and small forward James Young checked in at No. 9 and No. 11. The Wildcats are so loaded that 2012's No. 8 player, Alex Poythress, comes off the bench, and their lowest ranked regular Willie Cauley-Stein (No. 40 in 2012) has seen much of his production replaced by 2013's No. 19 player Marcus Lee during recent games.
    At this point, it is pretty much impossible to argue that Calipari's never ending parade of five-star and one-and-done prospects has produced anything but satisfactory results.
    Kevin Ollie's Huskies don't have near as much ranked talent as Kentucky, but they aren't without players that were highly regarded coming out of high school. The Huskies' highest ranked player is small forward DeAndre Daniels, who ranked No. 10 in the class of 2011. In the backcourt, the Huskies feature a pair of four-star prospects. Junior Ryan Boatright ranked No. 42 in the class of 2011 while star senior point guard Shabazz Napier ranked No. 98 in the class of 2010 and has clearly outplayed his ranking. Starting in the middle is sophomore Phillip Nolan, who ranked No. 118 coming out of high school while senior Niels Giffey is the only unranked starter because he came to UConn from Germany and was never evaluated by Rivals.com as a high schooler.
    Interestingly enough, UConn's two highest ranked bench players Omar Calhoun (No. 39 in 2012) and Kentan Facey (No. 66 in 2013) have hardly even played during the Huskies' run to the title game. Instead they have relied mostly on uranked three-star freshman Amidah Brimah, 2013's No. 118 player Terrence Samuel, unranked senior three-star senior Tyler Olander and a fifth-year transfer Lassan Kromah, who was never evaluated by Rivals.com as a high schooler.
    The national championship game matchup isn't the ultimate argument-ender for whether or not rankings matter, but the fact that two teams that featured lots of highly ranked talent reached the final says plenty about the value of high school player rankings.
    Maryland lands high Euro player
    Anybody who has been following spring recruiting knows the class of 2014 has been incredibly picked over. Only Myles Turner remains as an unsigned five-star, while the next two biggest names on the market are wing Elijah Stewart and point guard Devonte Graham. Both Stewart and Graham are current three-stars who will be elevated to four-star status when final rankings are completed in two weeks, but the point remains that the pickings are slim.
    Given how little talent is available, what Maryland pulled off Monday is even more impressive. Spearheaded by the recruiting efforts of assistant coach Dustin Clark, the Terps went overseas and nabbed seven-footer Michal Cekovsky out of the Canarias Basketball Academy.
    A native of Slovakia, Cekovsky is a high four-star prospect who most college coaches had written off to a pro future in the Euro leagues. However, Maryland stuck with him and can now reap the benefits.
    Though Cekovsky is a bit on the slender side, he is very skilled and should be ready to make an instant impact as part of a strong 2014 recruiting class. He runs the floor well, finishes with either hand, is a skilled offensive player with easy range to 15 feet who passes extremely well out of the high and low post.
    Once the final Rivals150 for the class of 2014 is released, team rankings will get a refresh. The addition of Cekovsky to a class that already includes McDonald's All-American combo guard Romelo Trimble, shooters Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens along with raw seven-footer Trayvon Reed should keep the Terps' class in the national top 10 range.
    Thoughts from Dick's National Tournament

    Ben Simmons has improved since his high school season ended.
    This year, Dick's Sporting Goods took over sponsorship of the National High School Tournament. With each game televised on one of ESPN's networks, it was a good chance to check out some high-level competition from the comfy confines of my living room. I was able to watch most of the games and have a few thoughts.
    First of all, I couldn't have been more impressed with the play of 2015's No. 5 player Ben Simmons of champion Montverde (Fla.) Academy. The LSU commit from Australia took his already impressive game up another notch from where he was during the high school season. Simmons has always shown good skill and athleticism, but the level of physicality that he played with and his contribution on the defensive end and glass were good to see. Simmons looks to have embraced that he is a power forward and is at his best working 15 feet and in. He showed again that he has the skill to ultimately get himself into the conversation for the No. 1 spot in 2015 if he keeps improving at his current rate.
    There won't be as much separation between runner-up Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill's 6-foot-6 twins Caleb Martin and Cody Martin in the final 2014 Rivals150 as their currently is. At the moment, Caleb ranks much higher at No. 59 than his brother Cody, who checks in at No. 106. Both are fine athletes who thrive in transition and they can each play good perimeter defense. Cody has a much more blue-collar approach, crashes the boards and seems to have a better feel for his strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, Caleb settles far too much for deep jumpers. Like his currently lower ranked brother, he is much better in transition, attacking the rim and getting on the glass. Caleb made only 8 of the 25 threes he attempted in three games and was outrebounded by his brother 24-13 over that span. That doesn't mean Caleb shouldn't take any jumpers -- he has proven in the past that he can make some. However, he's not a player that should be taking eight threes per game and would be more productive if he matched his brother's commitment to crashing the glass. Likely, they will end up ranked very close to one another in the final rankings.
    Three players -- Rashad Vaughn, Kelly Oubre and D'Angelo Russell -- went straight from the McDonald's All-American game to play with their high school teams. Of the three, Oubre looked the best and had some very nice moments. Oubre's teammate at Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep, Vaughn looked tired and nothing like he did during the four previous days in Chicago, where he lit up the McDonald's workouts. Russell won a title with Montverde and finally started to look like himself on day four.
    Stewart can play
    A 6-foot-5 senior at Los Angeles Westchester, Elijah Stewart is getting a release from the letter of intent he signed with Loyola Marymount and he should become an extremely heavily recruited player. This won't be a case of a guy looking good because there just isn't much left. Stewart is a player.
    Currently a three-star prospect, Stewart will absolutely be a four-star prospect when the final Rivals150 is updated and it is now just a matter of how high he will debut in the rankings. He is an electric athlete, has the size to play the small forward and skill to be a big shooting guard at 6-foot-5. Stewart defends, crashes the glass and just seems to be getting a handle on how good he can be down the road.
    He can play pretty much anywhere in the country and any high major program that feels like they need help on the wing should make a strong run at Stewart.
    Reworking the rankings
    I'm always thinking about how rankings could be tinkered with and there is one change that I would ultimately like to see. Rather than rank kids with their high school class, I think it might be wise to start ranking them they way they are ranked in Europe and that's by the year they are born.
    In today's landscape, it is entirely possible that there could be current seniors, juniors and sophomores that were born in the same year. Trying to figure out how players who are either quite old or quite young for their graduating class rank has always been a tough question to tackle and there are several ways of looking at it.
    For now, ranking prospects by graduating class remains the most effective way to rank them because not every birthdate is available and they are going to college at different times. However, at some point, we need to take a much longer look at ranking players according to their birth year instead of the current system.
    Eric Bossi is the national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.

    UConn's Ollie set up for long-term success


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    RANKINGS: Class of 2014 - 2015 - 2016
    In September of 2012, the Connecticut basketball program was at a major crossroads. Jim Calhoun, the man who built the program into a national power, was on the way out the door, and academic probation handed down by the NCAA would keep the Huskies out of the 2013 tournament.
    The man tabbed as his replacement, Kevin Ollie, proved on Monday night that he wasn't just the man to keep the UConn program afloat during a tough time. He is the man to take the program to another level.

    Kevin Ollie led UConn to a national title in just his second season.
    By beating Kentucky in Arlington on Monday night, Ollie guided the Huskies to their fourth NCAA title in just 15 years and further cemented their status as one of the nation's elite programs.
    Looking back, it is almost funny to think that anybody ever questioned whether or not he could do the job.
    While there are few people in basketball who can say with a straight face that they saw Ollie leading a National Championship charge in just his second year, he had his supporters. Those with the glass-half-full outlook saw a young, energetic coach with loads of NBA experience who could connect with today's players. Those with the glass-half-empty outlook worried about his inexperience -- only two years as an assistant at UConn -- and what looked to be a very tough situation.
    Raised in the program since Calhoun talked him into leaving Los Angeles to play for him in college, Ollie was confident from the beginning.
    "This is my dream job. I was made for this job," said Ollie the day he was hired.
    Others certainly agree. Jason Smith has been the head coach at Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy for 14 years. The last player of Smith's to play at UConn was current Milwaukee Buck Jeff Adrien. While Adrien never played for Ollie and Ollie hasn't landed any players from the powerful Brewster program just yet, Smith has been impressed and isn't surprised by the rapid success.
    "I think a lot of it is the type of person that he is," Smith said. "I don't know if you will ever meet anybody who has a negative word to say about Coach Ollie. The first time I met him he was very genuine and down to Earth. As a parent and a coach, he is the kind of coach you would want your player to go and play for."
    A summer coach and operator of basketball camps based in Long Beach, Calif., Dinos Trigonis also knows Ollie and UConn. DeAndre Daniels played for Trigonis' Belmont Shore club and committed to play for Calhoun. The transition to Ollie was seamless, and another of Trigonis' summer players -- five star shooting guard Daniel Hamilton from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco -- is going to follow in Daniels' footsteps.
    "He's obviously a player's coach, and his experience in the NBA resonates well with these younger players and their aspirations," Trigonis said. "I think his greatest attribute is his motivational ability. He motivates those guys to play defense and he motivates them to play with a chip on [their] shoulder. He played 12 or 13 years in the NBA with almost a different team every year. He grinded it out, and he's a survivor.
    "Often times, teams [are] a reflection of their coach. DeAndre gets along with him well, and [Ollie] connects with the younger players."
    Trigonis said Ollie does a great job selling UConn's tradition and presenting them as an elite program.
    "He is recruiting Los Angeles hard and his roots give him some traction there," said Trigonis. "I think that [Hamilton's] thing was a combination with him being comfortable with Ollie as a coach and mentor and their track record of producing wing players. I think they did a tremendous job of selling their success with wings. Like last night Ray Allen was there, Rip Hamilton was there, Scottie Burrell and Donyell Marshall were there, and they have many more.
    "Those guys are very involved with the program and he does a good job of selling that. Those guys are part of the culture, and that's attractive to players and parents."
    In addition to the 6-foot-7 Hamilton, who is a silky 6-foot-7 wing scorer who ranks No. 18 nationally, Ollie currently has commitments from junior college guard Sam Cassell Jr (a Rivals150 player coming out of high school when he initially committed to Maryland) and Georgia power forward Rakim Lubin. Obviously, whether or not the Huskies can sustain success will have a lot to do with their future recruiting.

    Class of 2015 guard Jalen Adams could be a good fit for UConn.
    Vin Pastore runs the Mass Rivals Grassroots program and is the coach of one of the Huskies' biggest targets in the class of 2015. Combo guard Jalen Adams from Ashburnham (Mass.) Cushing Academy currently ranks No. 27 in the junior class, and while Pastore doesn't know if Adams will end up at UConn, he can see why his explosive guard would have interest in heading to Storrs for college.
    "Even before this great run, if you spent enough time watching Kevin Ollie's guards play, it is really what any dynamic, free-minded guy would want," said Pastore. "He allows his guys to go make plays and puts them in position to succeed. I think people long before this happened could see Jalen Adams in a UConn uniform. There's no question that he is the type of guard who has done well in a UConn uniform, and he kind of needs that kind of freedom."
    Pastore also thinks that New England kids will take notice of how UConn won led by Shabazz Napier, a kid from New England.
    "That is a 6-foot tall guard who put that team on his back, and that's unheard of. I think everybody fell in love with Shabazz Napier, and I did too. He's from Roxbury and you gotta think that Boston and New England kids were watching."
    Ty Boswell coaches another New England grassroots power, Expressions Elite. One of its former players, Tyler Olander, was on the floor Monday night, and Boswell sees the same qualities in Ollie that everybody else does.
    "I would say that he is humble and isn't like he comes at you with curve balls and you have to try and figure them out," Boswell said. "He's as nice a guy as you would ever meet and he isn't somebody that you have to have your guard up. He's a humble guy who believes in his vision that hard work will get you to the next level."
    Boswell feels that will lead to even more success not just locally, but nationally.
    "I think it solidifies him even that much more because of what he was able to overcome with taking a program with the APR situation and being able to fight through the negative press," said Boswell. "Getting to the national championship and winning it the following year gives him the momentum to recruit anybody in the country, not just New England."
    The bottom line is this, what Kevin Ollie said the day he was promoted to head coach is exactly right. He is made for the UConn job, and after winning the 2014 national championship he clearly has the program in as good of shape as it has ever been. The Huskies figure to remain among the nation's premier programs for a long time to come.