Who’s Got Next? Karl Towns Chooses Kentucky Over Duke, Stevie Clark Signs With Oklahoma State…Posted by CLykins on December 4th, 2012
Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions 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. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings
Kentucky Lands Top Sophomore Karl Towns, Jr.
Right on cue. Tuesday was considered decision day for Karl Towns, Jr. and as expected by virtually everybody that follows high school basketball recruiting, Kentucky was the choice. Previously the nation’s No. 1 sophomore, Towns also revealed that he would be reclassifying into the class of 2014, a move that had been speculated upon for the past couple of weeks. The 6’11” center out of St. Joseph High School (New Jersey) unofficially visited Kentucky for its game against LIU-Brooklyn on November 23, just days after revealing his announcement, further enforcing the belief that Kentucky was the front-runner in this recruitment. Towns had limited his list down to eight in the coming weeks before narrowing it down to two just prior to the announcement. He chose the Wildcats over Duke, with the likes of Florida, Indiana, Michigan State, North Carolina State and Seton Hall also in the mix. “The first thing I have to say is that I’m going to reclassify to the year 2014,” the 17-year old Towns said. “The second decision I have to make is my university. The university I’ve decided to play for in the year 2014 is the University of Kentucky.”
Towns has already gained valuable tutelage under his future collegiate head coach John Calipari while he was a member of the Dominican Republic national team over the summer. His participation allowed him the opportunity to hone his skills and to strengthen an ever-growing post game against players at the professional level, including Dominican Republic teammate and Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford. Along with a refined post game, what really grabs the attention of analysts is Towns’ ability to play on the wing. With arguably the best outside skill set of any high school prospect at his position in the country, he is a constant threat from deep. He is consistent from three and is capable of taking opposing defenders off the dribble with either hand and scoring from the mid-range. His all-around game has drawn many comparisons to that of NBA superstar Kevin Durant.He is currently in tremendous academic standing at St. Joseph High with a 4.0-plus GPA and his move to the junior class was discussed at length in the last two weeks. Towns decision to reclassify will immediately impact the class of 2014 rankings as he will now be slotted behind the No. 1 and No. 2 prospects, Tyus Jones and fellow center Jahlil Okafor.
As for the Wildcats, this recruiting victory adds to the historic string of success that they have attained during the Calipari era. Since taking over at Kentucky in 2009, Calipari has put together four of the last five No. 1 overall recruiting classes. Towns now becomes the youngest Kentucky commitment under Calipari, and the fifth in the last two months which includes seniors Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Marcus Lee and James Young. At the conclusion of Towns’ freshman season in high school, he averaged 11.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and five blocks per game while leading the Falcons to their first non-public group A state championship. He also led the team with 63 three-pointers last season and is on pace to break the career school record in that category.
Stevie Clark Becomes Fifth Oklahoma State Signee
Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford has had quite an impressive recruiting run in the last two years, which is made evident by the early season success that the Cowboys are exhibiting this year. Led by sophomore Le’Bryan Nash and standout freshman Marcus Smart, the vision for those two players during their recruitment was to come in, showcase their talents and become leaders for the Cowboys in the always competitive Big 12. The same can be said for home-state Stevie Clark, who announced his commitment to OSU on Friday. Clark, out of Douglass High School (Oklahoma), chose the Cowboys over conference foe Baylor and UCLA. He originally signed and faxed his national letter of intent to the school before the early signing period deadline but waited until Friday to announce it publicly.
“I love Oklahoma,” Clark said Friday. “I’m an Oklahoma kid. OSU is just up the street, not too far away. If I want to come home for church or watch my little brother play football, I can do that. I’m big on family. That was part of my decision.” The decision made by Clark was crucial for the Cowboys as there will be some uncertainty regarding the collegiate statuses of Nash and Smart, who are both projected to leave school after this season for the NBA Draft. The 5’11”, 175-pound point guard is currently ranked as the No. 62 overall player in the class of 2013 and is the No. 1 player in the state of Oklahoma. His addition makes him the highest-rated prospect in Oklahoma State’s five-man recruiting class that includes Jeffrey Carroll, Gary Gaskins, Leyton Hammonds and Detrick Mostella.
“Stevie is not only one of the best high school players to ever play in the state of Oklahoma, but he is also an excellent student,” Ford said in a school press release. “He’s one of the top guards in the country. He gets a lot of publicity for how he can score the basketball, but he is also a great passer and a great ball-handler. He’s a winner. His team has won three state championships, and are looking forward to trying to win a fourth. I look forward to coaching Stevie every day, and feel like we’ve got one of the top players in the country joining our basketball family.”
Clark has established the reputation as a big-time scoring point guard in high school and on the AAU circuits. He has great range and is fully capable of taking over games with his outside shot. He has developed his all-around game with time, shedding the label that he is nothing more than a three-point shooting point guard. With elite speed he is able to take defenders off the dribble and score from the mid-range or get inside and draw contact. Besides his great scoring ability, Clark is also a good passer yet needs to work on his decision-making before being mentioned in the same conversation with higher ranked point guards in the class.
As a junior at Douglass High, Clark led the Trojans to their third consecutive Class 4A state championship. He averaged 29.3 points (with a career high 65), 13 assists and five rebounds. In the state title game, Clark scored 40 points as the Trojans were victorious. At the conclusion of his junior season, Clark was named the 2012 Gatorade Oklahoma Boys Basketball Player of the Year, recognizing his athletic excellence and high academic standing (3.88 GPA) at Douglass High.
Murray State Adds Three-Star Demarcus Croaker
The Murray State Racers added to their 2013 recruiting class on Sunday evening with a verbal pledge from Demarcus Croaker, a 6’4″ shooting guard out of Jones High School (Florida). Croaker took his first official visit to the Murray State campus over the weekend and felt that the opportunity to become a Racer was too good to pass up.
“It’s the right fit for me,” Croaker said after his decision. “I love the coaching staff and the program. They win championships and I have been their number one priority ever since day one of my recruitment.” Croaker, the No. 39 ranked shooting guard in the class of 2013, will bring in great athleticism to a team that will look to replace arguably the best player in school history, Isaiah Canaan. Croaker’s play really shined on a national stage during the spring and summer on the AAU circuit playing for the Florida Rams alongside a pair of Florida commitments, Kasey Hill and Chris Walker, as well as Kansas commitment Brannen Greene. A terrific athlete, Croaker is very active on the offensive end. He excels in attacking the basket and finishing above the rim. He is also very dangerous in transition, filling the outside lanes and making game-changing plays. At the end of his junior campaign at Jones High, Croaker averaged 21 points, four rebounds and five assists per game while leading the Fightin’ Tigers to the regional semifinals of the Florida Class 4A state tournament.
YouTube Video of the Day
Karl Towns, Jr. freshman season highlights at St. Joseph High: