Monday, August 31, 2009

Carey's Teammate Also Garnering Interest

Tariq Carey is not the only 2012 prospect from Newark Eastside (N.J.) getting college interest.

Aaron Bodie, a 6-foot-6 rising sophomore forward, is on the radar of several schools, and his list is undoubtedly going to grow as he matures.

“I know St. John’s asked me to bring him up this Tuesday with Tariq,” said Troy Long, Bodie’s coach at Eastside. “St. Joseph’s and George Mason have been inquiring.

“I think his recruitment will be a wait and see. It would be a big story for a public [school] to have so many D-1 kids in one class.”

Keep an eye on this young, athletic forward, who can be one of the best players in the state if he grows a couple of inches and develops his current skill set.

Derrick Wilson Adds Offers

After a solid summer showing with the New York Gauchos, Derrick Wilson’s recruitment is heating up.

The Alaska native who plays his high school ball at The Hotchkiss School (Conn.) notified NBE of two new schools in the mix.

“Virginia Tech and Florida International have offered,” said Wilson, who added that he hasn’t taken any visits this month.

When we spoke to him at the Reebok U All-American Camp in Philadelphia, Wilson said he had offers from Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Rutgers, with interest from Ohio State, Stanford, North Carolina and Washington.

Keala King Trims List

One of the most impressive players of the spring and summer AAU season was Keala King, a smooth 6-foot-5 swingman for California Supreme.

Not highly rated coming into the spring, it seems that King made an impression at nearly every event he attended, and is now considered one of the top-25 recruits in the country.

Although he didn’t take visits in August, choosing instead to work on his game, King has trimmed his school list.

“I narrowed it down to Arizona State, Arizona, Stanford, Cal and Harvard,” King said on Friday. “There are other schools I’m looking at, but those are the ones I like the most.”

King, who is transferring from Dominguez (Ca.) to Mater Dei (Ca.) this year and holds better than a 3.6 GPA, seems to have a leader – Arizona State.

“Yeah, I’m looking into them hard,” he said. “I like them a lot, but I’m kind of looking at other schools too. I want to make sure I make the right decision.”

He said he is going to take an unofficial to Arizona and Oregon, and also check out California.

King is undecided about when he wants to pick a school.

“I want to take my time, but I also want to make a decision before senior year,” he said.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Class of 2012 Intro: Tariq Carey

The state of New Jersey has several of the top players in the classes of 2010 and 2011 this season in the high school ranks, namely Michael GilchristKyrie IrvingDion WaitersMyck Kabongo and more.

But what about 2012? Who is the next to wear the crown as the marquee prospect from the Garden State?

Paterson Catholic prospect Kyle Anderson gets more attention, but Tariq Carey might be the best player in the state.

The 6-foot-1 combo guard from Newark Eastside (N.J.) is developing rapidly, and was impressive when NBE saw him at the Hoop Group HBC Metro Summer Showcase and the St. John’s Elite Camp.

Apparently various colleges have also taken notice of the rising sophomore.

“Oregon State, Villanova, Penn State, Seton Hall, George Mason,” Carey provided when asked about his current school list. He did add that he hasn’t picked up any offers yet.

Even though he does not have to decide on a school for a couple of years, Carey is already checking out potential destinations.

“I’m supposed to be heading up to St. John’s September 2,” he said. “That’s the latest on the schedule dealing with visits.

"I [also] went on a tour of SMU when I went down for their Elite Camp August 7-9, that’s about it.”

Carey’s high school coach, Troy Long, added that he was trying to set up a visit to Villanova in September as well. Long also states that St. Joseph’s and Siena are showing interest in Carey.

Carey discussed that all of the attention from colleges has come very quickly – but he is not going to rest on his laurels until he reaches all of his goals.

“It feels real good,” he said. “Only a year ago I was talking how I wanted to be on the Internet and get noticed, and a year later I’m getting a lot of recognition. I’m still not there yet because I want to try to be a McDonald’s All-American.”

Despite the number of schools currently courting Carey’s services, he’s not content with his standing nationally, and wants to become a household name across the country.

“They wont ever give [me] a chance to be ranked higher than Kyle Anderson,” he said. “I feel that, if I’m not better, we’re equal. I should be number two this year, that’s just my opinion. I mean, he’s good and all but I think the truth should be the truth. If you’re better than somebody, you shouldn’t base them off of what school they go to. But that’s how it goes.”

Carey, whose dream school is Wake Forest, made his presence known at many of the events he attended this summer by himself and with Team New Jersey Elite, and is hoping more people begin to take notice of the competition he is outplaying.

“Everybody knows I’m good and every time I go to a camp, I do really well,” he said. “Like Eastern [Hoop Group Elite], all the big-name freshmen [were] there, include me, and I was still ranked higher than every other freshman.”

“And some of the ranking websites,” he continued, “most of the people that’s ranked higher than me, I destroyed.”

Carey is a smooth player who is not afraid of going up and finishing around the rim with contact. He gets to the basket very well, driving down the lane or along the baseline. The athletic guard also has a decent mid-range game and is crafty with the ball. Defensively, he picks up steals by playing the passing lanes well. His only weakness right now is his outside shot, as he uses his quickness to consistently drive past defenders instead.

“He is a hard-working kid who stays in the gym,” Long said. “He loves challenges and wants to play against the best so if someone is ranked higher than him, he will go at them hard.”

Long also attributes some of Carey’s growth to a current New Jersey high school superstar.

“He is like Kyrie Irving’s little brother,” Long said. “Kyrie always takes care of him and gets him into stuff. He met Kyrie when he was in the 8th grade. They were friends every since. He looks up to Kyrie and Kyrie always gives him advice. They went to the St. John’s Elite Camp together and Kyrie got him into Five-Star with him as well. He’s always giving him tips and pointers.”

While Carey is the go-to-guy on his AAU team, he is constantly honing his game to try and showcase his skills. That goal was fulfilled when he made the all-star game at this week’s Five-Star Camp.

“My coach even said that ‘Tariq is able to do the things he does when he goes to camp because he works on his game,’” Carey said.

The confident Carey is ready to put to rest any doubt that he has the talent and potential to be a big-time player.

Said Carey: “This high school season I will prove that I’m the best player in the class of 2012 in New Jersey.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Notebook: Jerian Grant, Pe'Shon Howard

Although Team Takeover (D.C.) didn’t get as much publicity as some of the top AAU teams this summer, the mid-Atlantic team was one of the most successful teams on the circuit, as well as one of the more entertaining teams to watch.

They went undefeated in pool play at the NIKE Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., and then won the U-17 (and U-16) championship at the AAU Super Showcase in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Team Takeover didn’t have a certain go-to-guy or superstar, but Jerian Grant could have been considered their key to success. His ability to score in a variety of ways as well as get after it on the defensive end spurred several victories.

And now, the list of colleges primed to get Grant’s versatility and services has been trimmed to four.

“They are Notre Dame, Virginia, DePaul and Providence,” said Grant, the son of former NBA veteran Harvey Grant.

Taking it one step further, Grant has planned visits to each of the schools.

“I’ve scheduled for Notre Dame on the 5th, UVA on the 12th, DePaul on the 19th and Providence on the 26th,” he said in a text message.

Grant said he is not looking for anything in particular when he takes his visits, but does want to get a complete sense of each school.

“I’m just trying to get a feel for the school and get to know some of the coaches and players better,” he said.

After Grant takes his visits, he won’t wait very long to make a decision.

When asked when he would choose a school, Grant responded, “Probably sometime in early to mid-October.”

Howard likely waiting for decision

With more and more players committing well before their senior seasons, it is always interesting to see a recruit taking his time to make his decision.

That is the case with Pe’Shon Howard, a 6-2 guard from Los Angeles who attends Oak Hill Academy (Va.).

“I’m still weighing my options and I probably won’t decide until the spring,” Howard said earlier Thursday.

When NBE spoke to Howard at the Reebok U All-American Camp in Philadelphia in early July, Howard gave a school list of South Florida, St. John’s, Rutgers, Marquette, Harvard, Stanford, Virginia Tech and Arkansas.

Since then, he has picked up more interest from both coasts.

“UCLA, USC, Arizona, Virginia, Alabama,” Howard responded when asked if there were any new schools in the mix. He also later added that he believes Tennessee has offered him as well.

Out of the 14 schools on his list, only UCLA and Arizona have not offered the rising senior.

So far, Howard has been to Stanford, UCLA, USC, St. John’s, Rutgers, Arkansas and Arizona, but does plan on taking all five official visits in the coming months. Howard is unsure of which schools he wants to take his officials too, other than Harvard.

For a player who is from California but plays his high school ball in Virginia, it is not surprising that Howard said “not really” when asked if location would be a factor.

As for what he was going to be looking for on his visits, said Howard: “An environment I’m comfortable in, how the team and coaches are during practice or games and just a place I would fit in and enjoy.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Johnson visits Pitt, considers offer

After shoring up its 2010 class with the addition of Cameron Wright earlier this month, Pittsburgh could be on the verge of getting its first commitment of 2011.

John Johnson, a 6-foot guard from Girard College in Philadelphia, took a visit to the Pitt campus this week and might have a new favorite.

“It was beautiful, I loved it,” Johnson said. “[I'm] thinking about taking the offer from them.”

When NBE spoke to him at the Reebok U All-American Camp in July, Johnson named offers from Virginia Tech, St. Joseph's, La Salle and Notre Dame, as well as interest from St. John's, Marquette, UCLA and Clemson.

“It’s more I just can’t think off the top of my head,” Johnson added earlier today.

Johnson said that he doesn’t plan on taking any more visits, and he will likely make a choice soon.

“[I'll] probably decide around the 1st or 2nd week of school,” he said in a text message.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hinds' recruitment picks up

After an excellent summer in which Jabarie Hinds cemented himself as one of the top guards in New York City from the class of 2011, he is seeing his recruitment increase quickly.

Hinds, a 5-11 point guard from Mt. Vernon (N.Y) who played with the Westchester Hawks for AAU ball over the past few months, picked up three new offers as well as increased interest from a variety of schools.

“I got 3 new offers,” Hinds stated in an e-mail message, adding Wake Forest, St. John’s and South Carolina to his previous list of James Madison, UNLV, Virginia, Louisville, Oklahoma State and Seton Hall.

Furthermore, Hinds also has interest from Ohio State, Rutgers, Vanderbilt, West Virginia “and more.”

“[I] didn’t take any visits yet but I’m planning on taking some in September, not sure what schools yet though,” Hinds said.

He also added that he will likely have a list of favorites sometime soon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

NIKE TOC High School Showcase Game

After the more-hyped Boost Mobile Elite 24 was moved from Rucker Park to the Gauchos Gym because of rain, we should have known what to expect with the NIKE Tournament of Champions High School Showcase Game later in the weekend. Originally scheduled for Saturday at Goat Park on the Upper West Side, inclement weather forced it to be moved to Sunday at Gauchos Gym in the Bronx.

The new schedule also created some scheduling difficulties with several of the top players expected to participate – namely Kyrie Irving, Jayvaughn Pinkston, Myck Kabongo, Isaiah Epps, Ashton Pankey, Devon Collier and Corey Edwards – but there was still plenty of talent on hand.

16 players showed up, with two eight-man teams. The “Red” team included Sterling Gibbs, Kyle Anderson, Doron Lamb, Mike Poole, Fuquan Edwin, Sidiki Johnson, Mike Taylor and Shaq Stokes, while the “Black” team featured Shaquille Thomas, Shane Southwell, Tyler Harris, Russ Smith, Myles Mack, Myles Davis, Maurice Harkless and Angel Nunez. Poole, Harris and Smith were late additions to fill the vacated spots.

In a wide-open, all-star-style affair filled with dunks and flashy play, the Red team jumped out to an early lead and were up 73-55 at halftime behind 29 points from Sidiki Johnson and 26 from Fuquan Edwin. With Doron Lamb sitting out most of the second half, the Black team was able to steadily trim the lead. A three-pointer by Myles Mack with 4:20 left cut the lead to one, 97-96.

With the game tied at 107, Edwin came flying in for a tip-in with 40 seconds left to give the Red team the lead. However, Myles Davis was fouled at the other end, knocking down two free-throws. With the clock winding down, Johnson had the ball in the post, seemingly waiting for more time to run off. He finally turned to the basket with 2.6 seconds left for a tough finish – and the game-winning points. A half-court heave by Davis hit the front of the rim as the Red team won 111-109.

Here’s a quick look at each of the performers (along with some of the nicknames given on Sunday):

Sterling “Sterling Sharpe” Gibbs: Became more aggressive in the second half, driving to the basket for finishes. He had several nice lay-ups, scoring with both hands.

Kyle Anderson: Wasn’t involved all that much offensively, but had a nice lefty finish in the lane and held his own in the paint.

Doron Lamb: Didn’t play much in the second half, but was outstanding in the first half despite scoring just four points. His passing ability was on display, as he racked up multiple assists, including several no-look passes and a full-length, underhanded bounce pass to a streaking teammate.

Mike “Deep Water” Poole: Nearly brought down the house with an early dunk, but it rimmed out. He had several nice drives, but was unable to finish with the authority of his first attempt.

Fuquan Edwin: Finished with 35 points, scoring at will in both halves. He ran the floor exceptionally well and had several outstanding dunks. More importantly, he consistently knocked down three-pointers, showing that he is vastly improved in that area.

Sidiki “Gettin’ Freaky” Johnson: The most dominant performer in the first half, by far. He was an absolute menace around the rim, controlling the backboards and getting plenty of putbacks and finishes at the basket. He also ran the floor very well and showed a solid ability to handle the ball and create. Finished with a game-high 36 points.

Mike “Mike Teezy” Taylor: He drove to the basket very well throughout the night, but was unable to rack up many points. He did have a nice pull-up jumper in the first half though.

Shaq “Shaquille O’Neal” Stokes: Got into the lane at will against defenders, although defense was certainly not a priority on Sunday. He finished very well at the rim, and was even involved on the offensive glass on occasion. Could have had many more points if his attempts didn’t rim out.

Tyler Harris: Passed the ball well and had several nice transition lay-ups. Also knocked down a three from the corner. Could be more aggressive offensively, looking for his own shot – especially in an environment like this.

Shaquille Thomas: Long and athletic, Thomas was the perfect fit for the Showcase game. He was active on the offensive glass with a nice tip-in, and was the recipient of many attempted alley-oop passes. Thomas also had some of the best dunks of the day.

Shane “The Contender” Southwell:
Showed excellent handle and point guard ability for a player his size. He beat defenders off the dribble, creating opportunities for himself and his teammates. Of course, Southwell also had multiple turnovers, which has been a problem for him on many occasions that I have seen him play.

Russ “Steal the Show”/”Takeover the Game” Smith: Unarguably the most impressive player in the game. It wasn’t even close. From the second he got his first basket, he showed an aggressiveness and assertiveness that we don’t get to see very often from Smith. The announcers and fans had a feeling of anticipation every time he touched the ball, and was good enough to garner two different nicknames throughout the game. He had an excellent windmill dunk to kick things off, and was able to get to the basket whenever he wanted. His handle and quickness were on display the entire day.

Myles “The Little One” Mack: He didn’t do that much, but did hit the three that brought the Black team to within one point. Unfortunately, that was his only made three of the day.

Myles “The Sniper”/”The Shooter” Davis: Davis got off to an excellent start, scoring 12 points in the first half despite coming off the bench. He hit several deep shots from beyond the arc, off of pull-up jumpers as well as spot-up threes. He also got to the basket and finished well. He and Smith were the two best players for the Black team all day.

Maurice Harkless:
Was not involved or aggressive at all, but did demonstrate excellent handle and versatility for a player his size. Also showed off his athleticism.

Angel “Too Tall” Nunez: Brought down the house on several finishes, including one particular baseline dunk that had everyone out of their seats. Nunez showed his handle and why he is such a match-up nightmare for defenders. He so tall and long, and is able to create off the dribble. He also knocked down a deep three-pointer with a hand in his face early in the second half.

Recruiting Notes:

Angel Nunez:
Connecticut, Louisville, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Arizona, Miami, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, St. John’s
- Plans to visit Louisville in September in September, as well as Connecticut sometime after that

Russ Smith: La Salle, St. John’s, Auburn, Houston, St. Bonaventure, Seton Hall
- Wanted to make a decision earlier this month, but school started; he will likely not choose a school until the late fall

Doron Lamb: The entire Big East, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma, Clemson, Arizona
- Has only visited Kentucky, but does plan on visiting Oklahoma and Kansas soon

Tyler Harris: Tennessee, West Virginia, Hofstra (offer), Connecticut (offer), Duquesne (offer), Delaware (offer), Fordham (offer), Kentucky, Notre Dame

Shaq Thomas: Providence, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia
- Will likely decide in early December
- Doesn’t know if he will reclassify to the class of 2011 or not
- Has still not picked a high school for this coming year; said he will choose between St. Benedict’s (N.J.) and South Kent (Conn.) in the next two days

Myles Mack: Syracuse, Fordham (offer), Virginia Tech (offer), St. John’s (offer), Providence, DePaul, Drexel, Xavier, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Rice

Mike Taylor: Pittsburgh, Villanova, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Seton Hall, Rutgers, St. John’s, Illinois, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Marquette, West Virginia, Georgetown
- All have offered besides Georgetown
- Will attend the Five-Star Camp this week, and visit Pittsburgh shortly after it ends
- Also wants to visit Villanova, and might attend their Elite Camp

Kyle Anderson: Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, La Salle, Marist
- Has only visited Georgetown, and that took place last fall

Monday, August 17, 2009

Class of 2011 Intro: Achraf Yacoubou

For a player ranked in the top-40 nationally in the class of 2011, there is conspicuously little information readily available on Achraf Yacoubou. Zero stories on, not much more on

Of course, that hasn't slowed the constant attention Yacoubou is receiving from colleges across the country.

His current list includes
Connecticut, Villanova, Wake Forest, Kentucky, Maryland, Florida, Pittsburgh
, Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma and Rutgers.

"All of them [have offered] except for Florida," the 6-4, 200-lb. Yacoubou said.

Yacoubou turned heads throughout the spring and summer, playing at the
Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions
, the Nike Hoop Jamboree, the King City Classic and a couple of other events. He couldn't play with Team Odom/Rich Soil in Las Vegas because of a sprained ankle, but his stock is still on the rise.

"I'm up there," Yacoubou said when asked how he compares to other nationally-ranked players. "I'm good enough. I work hard and I think they notice that. I feel like I'm one of the best because I work hard. I'm tough, I'm not afraid of competition."

Yacoubou, who said his ankle is getting better, touts his defense and shooting ability as his best assets.

"I need to work on my ball-handling," he said. "I mean, my handle got better, but I need to work on it more to get to a point guard-handle."

One place where Yacoubou could have picked up a few pointers on playing the lead guard position would be the
Chris Paul camp, occurring this past week in North Carolina

Yacoubou received an invitation to the event, but declined to attend.

"I wanted to take off and work [on my game] since I played in so many events," he said.

This season, Yacoubou will head back to Long Island Lutheran -- sans Tobias Harris, who decided to attend Half Hollow Hills West, a public school. Still, Yacoubou is confident they stack up with the rest of New York pretty well.

"I want to win another state championship," he said.

Before the upcoming school season, Yacoubou wants to take visits to Connecticut, Villanova and Kentucky. He has already seen the campuses of both UConn and 'Nova.

"I'm looking for a place when I can really learn," said Yacoubou, who wants to get a business degree. "I want a big campus and a team that can get me to the next level."

Although he said that there is no timetable for a decision and he seems a long way from narrowing his list, there are two conferences that stand out in Yacoubou's mind.

"I mostly like the Big East and the ACC," he said. "The Big East is a tough conference and very competitive. And the ACC is the same thing, just a little more up-tempo."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cooney gets new offers, Duke interest

When lined up next to Mike Gilchrist and Rakeem Christmas for Team Final, Trevor Cooney might go unnoticed. However, he is certainly getting attention from colleges across the country.

“Pitt has offered and Duke has invited me to their elite camp,” Cooney said in a text message earlier Friday. “The new ones are Ohio State and Pitt and I plan to visit Duke, [Villa]nova and Syracuse this month.”

At the NIKE Peach Jam in mid-July, Cooney said that his list also included Syracuse, Villanova, Notre Dame, Maryland, Wake Forest, Virginia, Rutgers, West Virginia and Delaware.

“Yes, all have offered,” he confirmed.

Cooney has previously said that he has seen all of the interested schools other than Ohio State, but would like to check out the Buckeyes’ campus in order to get a feel for a Big Ten school. However, this was prior to the invitation to the Duke Elite Camp.

The 2011 prospect has no timetable for a decision.

“No, I don’t know yet,” Cooney said. “No time soon.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Christmas Cuts List

The list of head coaches getting a second Christmas sometime in the next year and a half is down to eight.

Rakeem Christmas, the best center in the class of 2011, trimmed his list of potential colleges on Monday. The schools that made the cut were: Baylor, Florida, Georgetown, Indiana, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas and Villanova.

In a statement released by the Academy of New Church (Pa.), Christmas' aunt and legal guardian, Amira Hamid, explained the decision to narrow the list.

"It's been a process, one that we wanted to make sure that the best choices were made for Rakeem," said Hamid, who handles Christmas' recruitment. "He has been receiving scholarship offers since the 8th grade. With such an overwhelming number of schools interested in him, it was important that we did our due diligence with finalizing this list."

The biggest surprise about the news is obviously the one big name missing: Kentucky. The Wildcats have long been considered one of the favorites for Christmas' services, especially considering William Wesley, aka Worldwide Wes, is involved. Many people inside the recruiting business remain skeptical that Christmas is not considering Kentucky anymore.

Christmas, however, left John Calipari and co. off the list.

"I appreciate the interest that many coaches have in me but these are the schools that my family and I think would be a good fit for me" Christmas said in the press release. "My family and I are thankful to everyone that has offered me a scholarship and participated in my recruiting. I'm looking forward to my season at ANC (Academy of the New Church) and playing for Coach Givens. I've played with some of the players during the summer and I had a good time. After summer is over I want to make sure that I do well and improve in class and on the court."

Christmas, who plays with Team Final on the AAU circuit, is ranked as the No. 6 player in the country by, and No. 5 by

Monday, August 10, 2009

Behanan Opening Recruitment?

Ever since Chane Behanan and his family decided to move from Cincinnati to Kentucky, rumors have swirled around regarding Behanan’s early verbal commitment to the hometown Bearcats.

Those rumors intensified on Monday when a article stated that the 2011 prospect was going to open up his recruitment and decommit from Cincinnati.

Rob Taylor, Behanan’s AAU coach with Ohio Basketball Club, could not verify that story or the rumors surrounding the situation.

“I’m not sure any credible source can, or will, state that on record, but there are ‘rumors’ to that effect,” Taylor said in a text message. “I cannot confirm that and Chane denies it publicly.”

Behanan, a 6-7, 235-lb. power forward committed to Cincinnati last August, choosing the
Bearcats over Ohio State and Xavier. He reiterated his commitment to UC as recently as June, with Behanan and his mother telling that decommitment rumors were not true at all and that he was still firmly committed to Cincinnati.

Stay tuned to March Madness All Season and NBE Basketball Report for more on this developing story.


In some other Midwest recruiting news, class of 2010 swingman Rayvonte Rice has added to his varying list of offers and schools.

“TCU has offered,” Rice stated in a text message earlier Monday, “and Minnesota and Cincinnati are interested highly.”

When I spoke to the 6-2, 190-lb. Rice at the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando in late July, he stated that he holds offers from Kent State, Ohio, Oregon State, Western Michigan, Illinois State, Eastern Illinois, Akron, Miami (Ohio), Nevada, DePaul, Drake, Saint Louis, Niagara and Detroit.

He also said he is seeing interest from Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Boston College, Missouri, Northwestern and Stanford.

At the time, Rice said that he wanted to play in a major conference in college.

"I want to go high-major, but it depends on the best situation for me,” Rice said. “I want it to have a good campus and a coach I can trust. I also am looking for playing time."

Rice plans on taking a visit to Missouri Valley school Drake on Wednesday, he said today.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wright Commits to Pitt

Ohio State’s loss is the Wright fit for Pittsburgh.

Former Buckeye commit Cameron Wright visited Pittsburgh’s campus yesterday and decided to commit to the Panthers after a day of contemplation with his family.

“I just talked to Cam and he talked to coach [Jamie] Dixon and he did commit, about 8 p.m.,” said Rob Stircula, Wright’s coach at Benedictine (Oh.). “He said that they were totally excited, and I think they were hoping he would commit yesterday.”

“I found my home, so why wait,” Wright said in a text message Sunday night.

Stircula said Wright’s attitude and personality was completely different during his visit to Pittsburgh’s campus, as compared to his visits to other schools.

“I’ve been on all the visits with him, and I’ve never seen him like that,” Stircula said. “He usually had a poker face, played things really close to the vest, but yesterday he was open and excited. When we got into the car to go home, he said ‘It’s only an hour and 40 minutes from home?’ and I think that was huge.”

According to Stircula, the final decision came down to Pittsburgh and Wisconsin, with Cleveland State in the mix as the in-state school. He said that the difference in proximity between Pitt and Wisconsin, which is seven hours away, was the biggest factor.

“Last night we went out to dinner after the visit, and his family was still planning on visiting Wisconsin next weekend,” he said. “But today, they went to church, went out to breakfast, had some other family members over. And it just felt right – they didn’t want to go all the way to Wisconsin.”

The 6-5, 195-lb. Wright enjoyed his visit to Pittsburgh on Saturday, and immediately put the Panthers near the top of his list.

“I enjoyed myself a lot,” Wright said Saturday night after his visit. “I really liked it. The name brings you in, the Big East and everything. But when I got there, it was just unbelievable.

“The people, the coaching staff, they all seemed very real, and that’s what I enjoyed the most. I’m looking for a good relationship and a staff that’s going to be honest, and that’s the vibe I got.”

Stircula said the fact that Pittsburgh was in the Big East, as well as its reputation as a big-time basketball program and a good academic school, were other keys in Wright’s decision.

“Everything just fell into place,” Stircula said.

In addition to Pittsburgh, Wisconsin and Cleveland State, Wright had offers from Notre Dame, Ohio, Dayton, Akron, Indiana, Michigan State and Georgia Tech, with interest coming from UCLA and West Virginia.

Wright was impressive throughout the July evaluation period, and Stircula said that Wright has an opportunity to be a difference-maker in the Big East – both on and off the court, pointing to his 3.77 GPA in the classroom.

“He can make a big impact,” Stircula said. “He’s quick, very agile. He’s a tough defender; he will get in people’s faces. He’s going to be a complete player, with his competitiveness, he’s the total package.”

After a whirlwind recruitment that included a commitment and decommitment involving his dream school, Ohio State, Wright is happy that he can focus on his senior year and winning a state championship.

“It’s not really a relief it’s over, but a blessing,” said Wright.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wright Visits Pittsburgh

Ohio State’s loss could soon be Pittsburgh’s gain.

Former Buckeye commit Cameron Wright visited Pittsburgh’s campus this weekend with his family and high school coach, and is interested in the Panthers.

“It was a good visit,” Benedictine (Oh.) head coach Rob Stircula said. “We met with Coach Dixon, Coach Herrion and most of the coaching staff. We took a campus tour, met with an academic advisor and also met with the athletic director.”

With summer school ending recently, most of the current Pittsburgh players are home for a couple of weeks until classes start.

Still, the 6-5 Wright liked what he saw and plans to make an official visit to Pittsburgh sometime in the fall.

“I enjoyed myself a lot,” Wright said. “I really liked it. The name brings you in, the Big East and everything. But when I got there, it was just unbelievable. Let’s just say they’re definitely up there.

“The people, the coaching staff, they all seemed very real, and that’s what I enjoyed the most.
I’m looking for a good relationship and a staff that’s going to be honest, and that’s the vibe I got.”

Stircula said there’s a lot to like about the Panthers’ program.

“First, he likes the style of play,” Stircula said. “He fits really well in their system. It’s also a big-time program, and third, its proximity to home.” The campus, which impressed Wright, is only about an hour and 40 minutes from his hometown.

Wright has previously taken visits to Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Dayton, Akron, Cleveland State and Indiana, and plans to check out Michigan State later this month. Stircula added that Wright is heading back up to Wisconsin next weekend to meet with Badgers’ head coach Bo Ryan.

Interestingly, Stircula said that he is not sure of which schools will receive an official visit from Wright, but did state that he might only take an official to the school he chooses. Wright added that he “highly doubts” he will make all five official visits.

Stircula said Wright has offers from Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Ohio, Dayton, Akron, Cleveland State, Indiana, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech, with interest coming from UCLA and West Virginia.

“I want to go somewhere I’ll be happy,” Wright said. “It’s going to be where I fit in the best.”

“He wants to have a connection with the coaching staff,” Stircula added. “He wants to know that he’s wanted and will be able to play. He doesn’t want to rush into it like [he did with Ohio State].”

Wright originally committed to the Buckeyes in October of 2007. It was always his dream to attend the in-state powerhouse.

“He always wanted to go to Ohio State,” Stircula said. “When he got the offer, he wanted to go there, and for the first year, it was a great fit.”

After that, though, things went downhill.

Wright’s main recruiter at Ohio State was assistant coach John Groce, who left for a head coaching position at Ohio in June of last year. There was speculation beginning last fall regarding Wright’s commitment to the Buckeyes, and he ended all the rumors when he spoke with head coach Thad Matta and decided to open up his recruitment in April.

“I never felt anything bad towards them,” said Wright.

Not surprisingly, his interest and number of offers picked up rapidly since his decision to decommit – especially during an impressive July evaluation period.

“I played well for the most part, pretty good,” Wright said. “I held my own. It was about my mental state; I had to find that extra jolt to keep going on.”

His versatility and ability to do multiple things is attractive to college coaches.

“I’m a team player,” said Wright, who envisions himself as a combo guard. “I was brought up to be pass-first, but can score when needed to. I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

While Wright said he does not have a top five currently, Stircula provided some clues as to which schools are at the forefront of Wright’s list.

“If I had to list his favorites, in no particular order, I would say Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Cleveland State, Notre Dame, then Michigan State or Georgia Tech,” Stircula said. “Indiana would be grouped in there, too.”

Stircula added that Wright has basically ruled out the mid-major schools besides Cleveland State, evidently meaning that Wright’s relationship with Groce won’t be a factor in his decision.

Although his list seems long, we won’t have to wait very long for Wright to commit to a school.

“I would say the latest is mid-September,” said Stircula.

Wright was coy about a timetable for his decision.

“You never know,” Wright said. “Tomorrow I’m going to go to church, sit down with my family and then see what the day brings.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Beal wants decision to come soon

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Most talent evaluators and recruiting experts constantly point to the class of 2011 as the next big-time pool of prospects in basketball. One of the top players in the class, Bradley Beal, is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation – and Missouri is heavily involved.

Beal, the top shooting guard in the class and ranked as the No. 7 prospect overall by, helped lead the St. Louis Eagles U-16 team to the finals of the “Silver” bracket in the U-17 division at the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando in late July.

He is a 6-3, 180-lb. scorer who can get baskets in a variety of ways. Beal is adept at getting the ball on the wing and knocking down deep perimeter shots, as well as driving past defenders along the baseline for acrobatic finishes at the rim. His ability to put up points is second to none in the class, and he is also a solid defender due to his athleticism. Beal runs the floor extremely well and can finish in transition.

“My game is very smooth,” Beal said. “I’m really calm and relaxed on the court. I let the game come to me and I don’t force things. I play really hard every time I step on the floor.”

Beal has offers from Kansas, Florida, Illinois, Purdue, Missouri, Minnesota and Wake Forest, as well as interest from Duke, North Carolina and Arizona. He plans on seeing Kansas, Illinois, Purdue and Florida.

“I’m looking for a school that has a great academic system where I can get my degree,” Beal said. “And a place that has a family-like atmosphere and that plays together as a team.

“I also want a school that likes to run. I want them to play happy as a team, and a team that shows love for each other.”

As for Missouri, Beal said he has seen the campus before and likes what he sees.

“They have a nice campus and nice facilities,” said Beal, who plays for Chaminade High School in St. Louis. “They have an up-and-down style.

“I’m very interested in Missouri. I like their style of play, how they get up and down the floor, and I also like how coach [Mike] Anderson just lets his players play.”

Beal also added that he would “most likely” take an official visit to Missouri, but does not know which other schools would be on that list.

Either way, it is likely that the college basketball community won’t have to wait very long to see what happens with Beal’s future plans – he is ready to get his recruitment over with.

Said Beal: “I would like to make a decision before my junior year.”

Monday, August 3, 2009

Rice a fast-rising prospect

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – With the Rising Stars (Ill.) down by three in the waning moments of overtime in the semi-finals of the AAU Super Showcase against Each One Teach One (Fla.), they had several options for the game-tying shot.

They could have gone to Cal-commit Alex Rossi, who hit a three at the buzzer of regulation. Ohio State-bound Lenzelle Smith had been the go-to-guy all game, while Iowa-pledge Ben Brust had helped lead the Stars to a win over All-Ohio Red the day before.

However, the choice for the final shot? Rayvonte Rice.

It didn’t matter that Rice’s attempt hit the back rim and the Rising Stars lost, it was the decision
to leave the fate of the team in the hands of Rice.

“I love close games,” said Rice, who finished with 18 points in the loss. “I love having pressure on me; I should have hit that last shot.”

Rice is a strong, 6-2, 190-lb. swingman out of Centennial High School in Champaign, Ill., and a rising prospect in the class of 2010.

He has a solid build and can score around the basket as well as from the perimeter. He is stronger than most players at his position, which gives him an edge on the backboards and in the paint.

“I’m more of a power guard,” Rice said. “I can play on the wing, and I like to get to the hole.”

With some of the top AAU teams in the country participating at the Wide World of Disney Sports Complex in Orlando, the Midwest-based Rising Stars were overlooked heading into the tournament. However, they finished second in their pool, including a 34-point win over Hoop Planet and a 20-point victory over the Alabama Lasers.

They really made waves, though, when they knocked off the best AAU team in the country over the past three years, All-Ohio Red – led by Jared Sullinger, Adreian Payne and a host of other high-major recruits. The Rising Stars followed that up with a thrashing of Nike Baltimore Elite, home to Memphis-commit Will Barton and Syracuse-bound C.J. Fair.

“We didn’t just want to beat All-Ohio,” Rice said. “We really wanted to get a TV game.”

Although the Rising Stars fell short of getting to the title game and playing on ESPNU, Rice’s excellent performance this summer has seen his interest rise considerably in the past couple of weeks.

Rice lists offers from Kent State, Ohio, Oregon State, Western Michigan, Illinois State, Eastern Illinois, Akron, Miami (Ohio), Nevada, DePaul, Drake, Saint Louis, Niagara and Detroit. He also says he is seeing interest from Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Boston College, Missouri, Northwestern and Stanford.

“I plan on visiting Nevada, Drake and a couple of big schools,” Rice said, later mentioning Ohio as another possible visitation. “I want to go high-major, but it depends on the best situation for me.
I want it to have a good campus and a coach I can trust. I also am looking for playing time.”

Missouri is one of those “big schools” that is likely to receive more than a cursory look from this fast-rising guard.

“I like their program and campus,” Rice said. “I’m highly interested in Missouri. And my coach said they are highly interested in me so I’m planning on taking a visit there.

“I’m going to sit down with my mom to pick the schools I’m going to take my official visits to.”

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Miller becoming a well-known prospect

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Observers hoping to catch a glimpse of Justin Miller at the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando on Sunday likely came away disappointed – but it wasn’t his fault.

Miller, a 6-2 guard from Rockbridge Senior High School in Columbus, Mo., suffered a potential torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder on the first play of the game against an AAU team from Texas. He stole the ball and was going up for a lay-up when two opponents hit his arm.

Afterwards, Miller said he felt dizzy and might have had a concussion. He did not play the rest of the tournament.

“I think a lot of coaches wanted to see Justin play,” his father, Rich, said. “But they’ll get their chances. It’s still early.”

The class of 2011 prospect is a big-time offensive player who can really shoot the ball from three-point range. At the NIKE Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., earlier this month, Miller had a stretch where he hit four straight threes and single-handedly brought the St. Louis Eagles U-16 team back in the game.

“That happened again [yesterday],” Miller said, referring to a pool play game at the Super Showcase. “I just get into a mode when I feel like I can’t miss.”

Miller describes himself as a combo guard that can do a little of everything in the backcourt.

“Most of my game is just getting to the basket,” he said. “Then when defenders play off of me, I can start to shoot – it makes me hard to guard. Also, [when I get into the lane] I look to kick it to a post or a shooter.”

With a very solid summer performance thus far, Miller says his recruiting is going well. He is getting increasing interest from across the country.

According to Miller, all of the Missouri Valley Conference schools are involved, as are Iowa State, Iowa, Missouri and Virginia. Even assistant coach Pat Sellers of Connecticut contacted Miller after the Peach Jam.

“I want to have a coach that is close with the players,” said Miller, who has visited Creighton and attended both the Virginia Elite Camp and Missouri Team Camp. “I have to like the campus because I want to enjoy myself outside of basketball.”

Miller grew up just a few miles away from Missouri’s Columbia campus and has been attending its basketball camps for years.

He knows head coach Mike Anderson and his family well, and says assistant coach Melvin Watkins has been talking to him.

“I like the way they play because that’s how I like to play,” Miller said. “Up and down, pressing, running the floor. I also like their campus.”

With such a variety of schools interested in the rising junior, expect an interesting recruitment followed closely at all levels of college basketball.

“I want to be able to play,” Miller said. “I don’t want to go to a big school and not play. But it has always been my dream to play in a major conference.”