Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Kennedy Not Likely to Stay Local for College

Greg Oden. Kosta Koufos. B.J. Mullens.

The list of highly-touted big men that have passed through Ohio State recently is long and distinguished, but Buckeye fans might have to make room for another name on that list: Markus Kennedy.

Kennedy, a 6-9, 225 lb. prospect out of St. Patrick (N.J.), is quickly making a name for himself on the AAU circuit with Team NJ ABC after playing behind Kansas recruit Quintrell Thomas last season.

And, although his college days are still a couple of years away, the class of 2010 big man lists Ohio State as his current favorite.

“I like the way they use their big man,” said Kennedy, who also lists Louisville, Michigan State, Rutgers, Xavier, Georgetown and “most of the ACC and Big East” among his potential suitors.

“Academics are important,” he added when asked what he was looking for in a school. “And if the team is like a family, I like that.”

Unfortunately for Big East fans in the Northeast, Kennedy said he wants to go away for college, which could rule out several schools in the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia area.

After watching Kennedy play several times over the past month, it is clear that he has the potential to be a dominant force at both ends of the floor – if he improves his conditioning and stamina. He gets tired very quickly and does not get up-and-down the floor very well after a few minutes on the court. He will need to play in a halfcourt setting in college.

However, he did say that conditioning is the main thing he is trying to work on over the summer.

“I’m just running a certain number of miles per day,” Kennedy said. “I need to get more stamina and improve my agility.”

On the positive side, Kennedy already has a variety of skills that are only likely to get better as he gets older and matures. First of all, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, he is supposed to be 7-foot-2 when he finishes growing. If that ends up being true, look out.

Offensively, Kennedy is an outstanding force inside. He can finish around the rim, and is a ferocious dunker with both hands. He moves without the ball extremely well, constantly making himself available. He gets great position inside, enabling him to get easy baskets once he gets the ball. Kennedy has a variety of back-to-the-basket post moves off which he can get points. Additionally, he has decent hands. If he does not have a shot, he looks to pass the ball and does not force shots. He has a tendency to miss a few open lay-ups at times down low, but he also has the ability to finish with contact.

Defensively, he is a very shot-blocker who also changes shots without even touching them. On the other hand, he falls victim to pump-fakes on occasion and is often out of position or fails to box out when he tries to help out in the lane.

Kennedy is a charismatic and somewhat goofy player off the court, but he is all business on the hardwood and could be one of the top centers in his class in a couple of years.

“I think I can hang with [the top players in my class],” he said. “Other players have a bigger name than me, but I can hang with them.”

With two more years of tutelage from St. Pat’s coach Kevin Boyle, Kennedy will refine his game – and potentially more importantly, his physique and conditioning. Luckily, he knows what he needs to improve and he seems determined to work hard.

Said Kennedy: “I just want to get better for my high school team.”

Monday, July 28, 2008

Confident Boynton Putting on Summer Show

Big-time scorers need confidence. They need confidence to be able to go against the best defenders and still be able to get points. They need confidence to make difficult shots over multiple defenders. And most importantly, they need confidence to be able to take – and make – shots in the closing seconds of games.

Luckily for Kenny Boynton and his teammates, he has plenty of confidence – and the talent to back it up.

“I think I’m the number one player in the country,” Boynton said. “Whenever I go up against someone, I do really well.”

At the Reebok U All-American Camp in Philadelphia, Boynton was arguably the best player the entire week. He was named to the All-Star Game and consistently showed the coaches and scouts in attendance why he might be the best pure scorer and shooter in his class. Going against the best perimeter defender in the country in Avery Bradley, Boynton was still able to get to the basket at will and get his shot off from deep. Furthermore, he was not afraid to take big shots, putting up potential game-winners in back-to-back games; he missed the first, but knocked down the second.

He has kept up his impressive summer, scoring 37 points on Tuesday against Bradley and the Northwest Panthers at the Reebok Summer Championships in Las Vegas.

“[My biggest strengths are] definitely be scoring ability and my ability to shoot,” said Boynton, who is a member of Team Breakdown, along with 2010 star Brandon Knight.

The 6-3, 187-lb. shooting guard from American Heritage School (Fla.) has unbelievable shooting range. At the camp, he continuously pulled up from anywhere and knocked down shots. Boynton has the utmost confidence in his shot and demonstrated that on a regular basis. As we mentioned above, he loved to have the ball in his hands when the clock was winding down. He has an awkward shooting motion, but he hit shots with defenders in his face; his unblockable step-back jumper was outstanding. He utilizes a lot of pump fakes and body fakes to get defenders off-balance. Boynton can also blow past defenders and explode at the rim. He gets great lift on his jumper and is very athletic. He can handle the ball and run the break, and is also a solid passer.

On the other hand, though, Boynton seemed out-of-control at times and forced shots when there were better options available. Despite his outstanding overall camp, he did force things on occasion.

“I need to work on my shot selection,” said Boynton, who is ranked as the No. 8 player in the Class of 2009 by both and “I just have to be smart, improve my basketball IQ.” He also mentioned defense as an area that he needs to work on before the school season starts.

Part of the reason Boynton may be thriving even more than usual this summer is the fact that he really enjoys playing AAU ball as opposed to high school.

“I love it,” he said. “The competition is so much better out here compared to playing in high school. You’re getting all the top players.”

As for his future, many recruiting experts think that Boynton will end up at Duke – if he ends up leaving his home state. Boynton mentioned the Blue Devils on his list, as well as Florida, Texas, Memphis and Georgia Tech. In a recent story by Jeff Goodman of, Kansas State and USC were added to the list while the Yellow Jackets were no longer an option.

“The most important thing is the coach,” Boynton said when asked what he is looking for in a school. “I want to play as a freshman, too.”

With the confidence and scoring ability he has demonstrated this summer, though, playing time will certainly not be a problem for him – no matter where he ends up.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Catching Up With...Aaric Murray

Aaric Murray continues to move up in the recruiting rankings and gather offers from schools across the country – but the rising senior is in no rush to make a decision.

“I’m not really sure of a time,” Murray told the NBE Basketball Report recently. “I want to make sure that I won’t be mad or regret my decision.”

However, the 6-10, 230 lb. center did add that he would like to choose before the start of his final high school season. When asked what schools were recruiting him, Murray gave a laundry list of Big East and Atlantic-10 teams.

“West Virginia, Saint Joseph’s, Villanova, Marquette, Temple, La Salle,” he said. “Do you want me to keep going? Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Connecticut, Kentucky. . .”

While he says he does not have a current favorite, various recruiting outlets point to West Virginia as his likely destination. It will be interesting to see whether the new additions of Dalton Pepper and Dan Jennings to the Mountaineers’ recruiting class will affect his decision.

Murray said the most important thing he is looking for at a school is its coach and how well Murray gets along with him.

“The coach is really the only thing,” he said. “I need to have a good relationship with the coach and find a coach I can relate to. I want to see how the coach treats his players.

“I listen a lot, so what you say stays with me. I want a coach who will tell me something new.”

Murray added that academics will play a role when choosing a destination. “I also want to find a school where I fit in, can get my degree and keep up and graduate,” he said.

Murray was one of the most impressive players at the Reebok U All-American Camp at Philadelphia University in early July. He was named to the All-Star Game and was widely considered a top big man prospect at the camp.

The first thing you notice about Murray is his enormous size and length. Still, he is well-built and extremely athletic. He can finish effectively around the rim, and threw down multiple monster dunks. The lefty also has some nice post moves around the basket. He moves well without the ball and is solid at cutting to open spots on the court. Defensively, he gets in front of his man and denies the ball very well, but he is also a solid shot-blocker. Murray grabbed several offensive rebounds and also did well at the other end. According to Murray, his biggest strengths are defense and talking on the court.

Despite his outstanding performance in Philadelphia, Murray said he will continue to practice and train in the offseason, trying to improve his footwork and strength.

“I always say don’t ever be satisfied; I need to work hard at everything,” said Murray, who is ranked as the No. 41 recruit and No. 6 center in the Class of 2009 by both and

“I’m never satisfied.”

Sunday, July 20, 2008

High School Coverage Update, Pt. 2

Well, all the smoke has cleared from last week's non-stop coverage of the July live recruiting period, as yours truly was at the Reebok U All-American Camp in Philadelphia, the Reebok Summer Classic East at Rider University and the Joe Brown Memorial Tournament at Fairleigh Dickinson University. I'm in the process of writing dozens of stories about a variety of things -- those should be posted in the coming weeks. However, while I'm doing those, here's a look at some other stories I've penned from the Reebok U camp.
"6-10 Center Talks IU, Reebok Camp"
"Creek Impresses in Philly"
Coming Soon: Maurice Creek story for Inside Indiana magazine

NBE Basketball Report
Reebok U All-American Camp Rankings: Top-20 in the Class of 2009, top-10 underclassmen

Thursday, July 17, 2008

High School Coverage Update

Well, all the smoke has cleared from last week's non-stop coverage of the July live recruiting period, as yours truly was at the Reebok U All-American Camp in Philadelphia, the Reebok Summer Classic East at Rider University and the Joe Brown Memorial Tournament at Fairleigh Dickinson University. I'm in the process of writing dozens of stories about a variety of things -- those should be posted in the coming weeks. However, while I'm doing those, here's a look at my tournament recaps for the three above events. All in all, there is player analysis for nearly 100 different players and school lists for many of them.

Reebok U All-American Camp
Day Three: Tuesday
Day Four: Wednesday
Day Five: Thursday

Reebok Summer Classic East

Joe Brown Memorial Tournament

Monday, July 14, 2008

Taylor Commits to Pittsburgh

Fresh off of an outstanding couple of weeks at a variety of camps and tournaments, five-star recruit Dante Taylor has announced his commitment to Pittsburgh.

The story was first reported by Dave Telep of, and verified through a text message to NBE Basketball Report.

“Pitt was there from the beginning when I didn’t have a big name,” the National Christian Academy (Md.) prospect told

When I spoke to him at the Reebok Summer Classic on Saturday at Rider University, Taylor said he was looking for a place where he would feel comfortable.

“I want a program where I can fit in,” Taylor said. “I’m also going to look at the percentage of players that they send to the NBA, and a place where it’s like a family.”

The Greenburgh, N.Y. native chose the Panthers over Memphis, Kansas, Syracuse, Villanova and a host of other schools, including Connecticut and West Virginia. On Saturday, he said that he did not have a favorite and was not likely to make his decision until midseason of his high school campaign.

Ranked No. 18 by and No. 23 by, Taylor is a 6-9 forward with a nice array of skills offensively. He can really score the ball and is a difficult match-up problem for most defenders due to his athleticism and ability to take players his size off the dribble. Taylor is an aggressive player who loves to attack the lane. He can also score in the paint and runs the floor very well. He has outstanding leaping ability and can finish extremely well around the rim. Taylor has the ability to score facing the rim or with his back to the basket. Defensively, he can block shots and he is also very active on both the offensive and defensive boards.

“I can play hard everyday,” Taylor said. “I can score and can do certain stuff that other big men can’t do. I’m a big-time player.”

When asked about his strengths and weaknesses, Taylor said: “I love running the floor, but I need to work on my three-point shot.”

According to various reports, Taylor played very well at the NBA Top 100 camp, and was also one of the better players at the Lebron Skills US Skills Academy. At the Summer Classic, Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon intently watched Taylor and nearly half of the Big East schools were in attendance for National Christian’s “scrimmage” against New Heights 2010.

Taylor announced his commitment at the Triple S Harley Davidson Shootout at West Virginia University. He will also attend the AAU Nationals in Orlando, Fla. at the end of July.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

St. John's Still Favorite for Lawrence

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Despite the fact that he is not even playing, college coaches continue to flock towards rising senior Omari Lawrence.

Lawrence, a 6-4 guard from Bronx, N.Y., tore a ligament in his shoulder and will undergo surgery next Tuesday. The procedure will force him to miss three months in order to recover. However, he is getting new interest from various schools seemingly everyday.

"The new schools are Marquette, Florida, Kentucky and Louisville," Lawrence said at the Joe Brown Memorial Tournament at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

However, he also said that one school remains at the top of the heap.

"St. John’s is definitely my favorite," Lawrence said. "On my visit, I liked the school, and my family did too. I liked the coach, and I felt comfortable."

Other schools courting him include West Virginia, Clemson, Arizona and Memphis.

"I want to go to a place that will develop me all four years," Lawrence said. "I want to get to the next level, so I need a teacher."

Next season will also mark Lawrence’s debut at South Kent Prep in Connecticut, where he will join former St. Raymond’s teammate and close friend Kevin Parrom. Parrom left New York after an altercation with St. Ray’s coach Oliver Antigua, and Lawrence made the choice to follow him last month.

"What happened between Kevin and Antigua were involved in my decision to leave," Lawrence said. "We've played together for a lot of years now and I’m looking forward to it. They also play a national schedule, so I’m excited for that."

Lawrence, who said he plans to announce his college intentions either before the high school season starts or immediately after it ends, has talked with Parrom about their future destinations, but "nothing too serious."

Although he is ranked just No. 136 by and No. 78 by, Lawrence feels he compares favorably with some of the top players in the country.

"Every time I’ve gone up against them, I’ve matched up well or I’ve outplayed them," said Lawrence, who lists leadership and versatility among his biggest strengths and outside shooting as his main weakness.

While Lawrence plans to be completely healthy by the time the high school season begins, he said there is one part of being on the sideline that he enjoys.

Said Lawrence: "I get to live life like a normal kid."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Site Update

Well, I'm sitting in my hotel room in New Jersey, awaiting the Reebok Summer Classic East at Rider University for the next two days. I just finished up three days at the Reebok U All-American camp at Philadelphia University, and spoke to dozens of players and coaches while there. As a result, I have plenty of stories to post here in the coming weeks. After the Reebok Summer Classic, I'm heading up to Fairleigh Dickinson for the Joe Brown Memorial Tournament for a day. It's the best time of the year if you are a fan of the recruiting scene.

For complete coverage of these tournaments and more, stay locked into the Big East Basketball Report and March Madness All Season.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Gibbs Ready to Blaze Own Path

Note: This article was originally posted at the Big East Basketball Report.

Even though he is still a freshman in high school, Sterling Gibbs is quickly becoming a household name across the country – and it’s not because of his brother.

The 5-foot-10, 160 lbs. Seton Hall Prep product is the younger sibling of Pittsburgh signee Ashton Gibbs, but has been creating his own path recently.

He was named the Rookie of the Year at iS8 and was very impressive throughout the Rumble in the Bronx, where his New York Panthers fell in the championship game to the New York Gauchos.

On two separate occasions this weekend, Gibbs came alive late in the second half to help give the Panthers a victory. On Saturday, in their much-anticipated match-up against Renardo Sidney and the LA Dream Team, Gibbs knocked down three straight three-pointers in the second half and then converted a basket and foul to put the game out of reach. In the semifinals against the Miami Tropics on Sunday, Gibbs scored 14 points after the intermission to propel the Panthers to the title game.

Gibbs said he learned a lot by being on the court late in the game and helping his team get the win.

“It really helped my decision-making,” he said. “Just being in different scenarios helped. I was definitely more aggressive.”

On the other hand, while Gibbs is a very good three-point shooter, he pushes the ball when he shoots and also needs to put on some weight.

“I need to work on my strength and my pull-up jumper,” he said.

With three years of high school still left for Gibbs before he enters college, there is plenty of time for him to work on certain aspects of his game – this summer, he just wants to get better.

“I want to win some tournaments,” he said. “I also want to make the all-star game at some camps.”

Gibbs is already starting to get looks from colleges, as many expect him to be rated as one of the top point guards in the country for the Class of 2011. He said that Pittsburgh, Florida, Maryland, Seton Hall and Rutgers are some of the main schools interested in him.

“I’m looking for a good education, and somewhere that’s not far from home,” Gibbs said. “I also need a style of play that will fit me, and a place where I will fit in.”

What about a possible reunion with his brother at Pittsburgh? Gibbs wouldn’t rule it out.

“I don’t know, maybe,” Gibbs said. “It was good playing with him in high school.”

Monday, July 7, 2008

Scott Set to Prove Doubters Wrong

Note: This article was originally posted at the Big East Basketball Report.

With future Connecticut guard Kemba Walker no longer at his side with either the New York Gauchos or at Rice High School, it is Durand Scott’s turn to take the reins and become one of the best guards in New York City – and he knows it.

But does everyone else?

“Everyone’s not giving me the respect I deserve,” Scott said. “I need to show everybody what I got.”

If his performance at the Rumble in the Bronx is any indication, that respect will come sooner rather than later. Durand Scott had arguably the best overall weekend of any player at the tournament, and saved his best for last. In the Gauchos’ championship game against the New York Panthers, Scott had 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

The 6-foot-5, 185 lbs. swingman demonstrated a very solid all-around game. He showed the ability to knock down three-pointers on a consistent basis, but also drove past defenders with ease if they came too close to him. He went baseline for several baskets early in the tournament against the New Jersey Panthers. Scott can pass the ball well, and is adept at finishing in traffic. He can knock down shots from anywhere – behind the arc, mid-range, pull-up, contested, wide-open.

Scott does not just excel at one end of the court, either. “He is one of the best defensive players in the country and can guard all five positions on the court,” NY Gauchos assistant Chad Babel told the NBE Basketball Report recently. “His best attributes are his leadership, will to win, and his refusal to lose.”

Scott, who came late to the opening game because he had to take care of his studies, said he wants to continue to play at a high level through the next couple of months. “I want to just dominate all summer,” he said.

Although he is only ranked No. 83 by, Scott feels as if he compares favorably with the top players across the country.

"It’s like my father and brother are always telling me – ‘no one is better than you,'" he said.

Babel agrees, saying that he feels Scott is among the top 25 players in the country. "To me, he is the most underrated player in the country," Babel said. "Some would say that’s biased because I’m his coach but I pride myself on being harder on my players then anyone."

Right now, Scott’s recruitment is wide-open with a multitude of schools courting the confident youngster. He said that Pittsburgh, Louisville, Connecticut and West Virginia and other schools are looking at him from the Big East, while Virginia, Miami and Xavier are also interested in him. He said he is not leaning in any particular direction just yet.

Over the summer, Scott needs to become more of a go-to-guy and a leader for the Gauchos in preparation for his senior season with Rice. Furthermore, despite the fact he exudes swagger, Scott realizes he has things he needs to work on.

“I need to become more of an individual player, more of a scorer,” Scott said. “Last year, I usually looked to my teammates more, but now I need to do whatever my coach wants me to do.

“I have to just play.”