Seven Sweet Scoops: Nation’s Top Soph Ready to Commit, Gordon Down to Three, Leaders Emerge For Randle…Posted by CLykins on November 16th, 2012
Seven Sweet Scoops is the newest and hottest column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting analyst. Every Friday he will talk about the seven top stories from the week in the wide world of recruiting, involving offers, which prospect visited where, recent updates regarding school lists and more chatter from the recruiting scene. You can also check out more of his work at RTC with his weekly column “Who’s Got Next?”, as well as his work dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene.
Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings.
1. Top 2015 Prospect Karl Towns Jr. Ready to Commit
In a rare turn of events in the recruiting landscape, the nation’s No. 1 sophomore has decided that it’s time to end his college recruitment. Karl Towns Jr. is reportedly set to announce his college destination on December 4, via Brian Fitzsimmons of MSG Varsity. Among the teams that the 6’11” center is considering include Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Villanova. Out of St. Joseph High School (New Jersey), Towns is a highly sought-after prospect with a great inside-out skill set. With good size and length, his best aspect is stretching opposing defenses with an outside shot that extends beyond the three-point line. With exceptional ball-handling skills, he is capable of getting in the lane and scoring as well as finding his teammates. In the low post lies a notable weakness with his game. While he can utilize his footwork to score around the rim, he often reverts to attempting fade-away jumpers which is a clear sign that he needs to be more physical down low. Only a sophomore, however, he has more than enough time to improve his overall strength. After taking a number of unofficial visits during the last few months to the schools listed, Kentucky seems to be the one school standing out the most. That stems from his involvement with the Dominican Republic National Team last summer, coached by John Calipari. Duke and Florida have outside shots of landing the New Jersey center, and there is also a good chance that an early commitment could mean that Towns could reclassify into the class of 2014 in the future.
2. Early Signing Period Begins
Wednesday was the first day of the college basketball early signing period. Extending until November 21, a number of the nation’s top prospects will make their college decisions official as they sign their national letters of intent. With the rapid flow of reports of signees, you can follow along with all of the recent updates at ESPN Recruiting Nation.
3. Three Make Latest Cut For Aaron Gordon
With the visiting process complete for the No. 7 ranked prospect in the class of 2013, Aaron Gordon, he has officially narrowed his list down to three. Arizona, Kentucky and Washington made the cut late Thursday evening, nearly one week after he made his final official visit to Kentucky. In reality, it comes as no surprise that these are his final three, as each school has pursued Gordon relentlessly and more effectively as of late. Arizona and Washington have made Gordon their top priority throughout and it’s hard to argue the fact that between the two, one is poised to gain a top-10 prospect early next year. Kentucky entered the race late, but has gained a lot of steam in their pursuit for the 6’8″ power forward. His recent visit to Lexington reportedly went extremely well, as he was said to have been “blown away”. An athletic dynamo out of Archbishop Mitty High School (California), Gordon plans to remain true to his word that he will continue to take his time with his decision, evaluate each of the three schools during the 2012-13 season and sign during the spring signing period.
4. Leaders Emerging For Julius Randle?
More than a month after trimming his list of schools down to six, the highly coveted and No. 4 ranked player in the class of 2013, Julius Randle, seems to have his eyes on two schools in particular. The 6’9” power forward out of Prestonwood Christian Academy (Texas) lists Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Oklahoma and Texas, however it’s the Gators and Longhorns who appear to be receiving the most attention. The buzz surrounding Florida stems from a strong relationship with head coach Billy Donovan, who has a leg up on the rest of the competition after coaching Randle on the United States U-18 team at the FIBA Americas Championship this past summer. For Texas, they present an opportunity for Randle to become their main contributor as a freshman, comparable to that of former Longhorn great and NBA superstar, Kevin Durant, who had a sensational freshman campaign in Austin. Of course, there is also the close-to-home factor that favors Texas than the other five schools. With ground to make up, Kentucky and North Carolina State remain as outside shots in this highly competitive recruiting battle. Since Randle has chosen to bypass the early signing period in favor of a spring decision, this recruitment will remain in the limelight for the next few months.
5. Jabari Parker Visiting BYU After Skipping Stanford
After taking three of his five scheduled official visits, Jabari Parker opted not to take his fourth this past weekend. The No. 2 overall prospect in the class of 2013, Parker was set to visit the Stanford campus in Palo Alto but that did not take place as planned. It remains to be seen if the Stanford visit will be rescheduled, but with the time-frame that Parker has set to finish his college recruitment, this move highly suggests that he will not. He will now look toward his fifth and final official visit to BYU during Thanksgiving weekend. While on his recruiting trip, Parker is also scheduled to speak at the Salt Lake University LDS Institute of Religion. A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, religion plays a key factor in BYU’s pursuit for the 6’8” Simeon (Illinois) small forward. Once his visits are complete, he will then evaluate each of his final five schools – Duke, Florida and Michigan State included – in hopes of making a final decision either in December or January before signing his national letter of intent during the spring signing period.
6. Four Remain For Jermaine Lawrence
Only 15 top 100 prospects remain uncommitted in the 2013 class. One of those players recently made progress in his recruitment by listing his top four schools. Jermaine Lawrence, a forward from Pope John XXIII High School (New York), narrowed his list to Cincinnati, St. John’s, Syracuse and UNLV. The No. 19 ranked senior, Lawrence is a highly promising prospect after raising his stock over the spring and summer. An extremely difficult match-up for opposing defenses, he has improved his overall game by establishing himself as a true inside-out forward. He has worked relentlessly on his perimeter game and can also utilize good footwork in the low post. Lawrence will now begin to schedule his official visits, with a decision targeted for the spring. Can the Bearcats pull the native New Yorker away from his home state? Stay tuned.
7. Abdul-Malik Abu Receiving Interest From Tobacco Road
Before the spring, Abdul-Malik Abu was just another name in the class of 2014. He was unranked and virtually unknown in some cases. Then as the months went by and the AAU period came to a close, his game and recruiting stock skyrocketed. After consistently showing a much improved game showcasing his athletic ability and physical tools, the 6’8” power forward from Kimball Union Academy (New Hampshire) garnered heavy interest from high major programs including Boston College, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan State, West Virginia and Wisconsin, among others. Now, you can add ACC powers Duke and North Carolina to that list. Ranked as the No. 44 overall junior, Abu’s emergence onto the national scene has been and still is a work in progress. He shows tremendous strength around the rim and plays with an extremely high motor. He is also a powerful finisher, expecting to finish with authority each time he touches the ball in the low post. His athleticism comes into play when rebounding the ball, as he can spring and pluck missed shots out of the air with ease. Still raw, he does need to work on his ball-handling and shooting ability to separate himself from other players at his position. With his recent success on the basketball court, Abu now becomes a highly sought-after prospect that will receive even more interest from a number of top schools around the country in the near future.