Seven Sweet Scoops: Big Blue Madness, Visits for Top 10 Recruits, & Georgetown vs. Indiana…Posted by Sean Moran on October 18th, 2013
Seven Sweet Scoops is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you seven notes from the high-stakes world of college basketball recruiting. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul, dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date 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.
1. Big Blue Madness
Since the arrival of John Calipari at Kentucky, Big Blue Madness has been the event to visit as a recruit. Last year it was current Kentucky freshmen Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young, and Marcus Lee that showed up in Lexington and this year it will be a new batch of fresh faces. Attendees expected at Rupp Arena include some of the biggest names from the 2014, 2015, and 2016 classes, including one of UK’s 2014 commitments in point guard Tyler Ulis (#29 overall, #6 PG). Ulis and Big Blue Nation will do their best to impress senior small forward Stanley Johnson, power forward Trey Lyles, and shooting guard James Blackmon Jr. Johnson is the top small forward in the country; however he still has a ways to go with his decision. Right now the big fish for Kentucky are Lyles and Blackmon, both of whom committed to Indiana early in their high school careers and later de-committed after their junior years. Lyles is a 6’9” power forward who is ranked seventh in the country and is the most fundamentally sound post player in the senior class. Blackmon stands at 6’3” (#56 overall, #10 SG) and is one of the best long distance shooters in the class. Kentucky is thought to be the leader for both of the Indiana natives.
2. Stanley Johnson – Making the Rounds
As noted above, Stanley Johnson is taking his official visit to Kentucky for its Midnight Madness this Friday. Johnson is currently the top rated small forward in the country and No. 6 overall. The California native also took an official visit to Arizona last week for their Red-Blue game and watched former AAU teammate and soon to be freshman sensation Aaron Gordon win the team slam dunk contest. The other three schools still in contention for Johnson’s services are Oregon, Florida, and USC. While schools such as Arizona, Kentucky, and Florida are used to getting top 10 recruits, a commitment for the Trojans or Ducks would represent a landmark victory for either of those programs. Johnson is a bulldozer in the open court and considered one of the strongest perimeter players in high school. With his strength and improved ball-handling ability, he can get to the rim at will. Along with his skill set, he is also a winner. In 2012 he won a Nike AAU championship with the Oakland Soldiers and followed that up by leading Mater Dei to a California state championship. All five schools will take their best shot at landing Johnson over the next few months.
3. Myles Turner Off to See Columbus
The Ohio State Buckeyes currently have the number two ranked recruiting class in 2014. Already locked in are five-star guard D’Angelo Russell (#17 overall, #3 SG), five-star small forward Keita Bates-Diop (#20 overall, #6 SF), four-star small forward Jae’sean Tate (#53 overall, #14 SF), and three-star center Dave Bell, who tracks as a contributor down the road. Originally Thad Matta and the Buckeyes were looking at Jahlil Okafor, the top ranked player in the country, to finish off their stellar recruiting class. However now the Buckeyes have their sights set on 7’0″ Myles Turner, the hottest player of the summer. In a span of five months, Turner experienced an Anthony Davis-like rise up the rankings as he went from unranked to No. 2 overall. Turner will step foot on the Columbus campus this weekend to check out the Buckeyes on an official visit. You can be sure that Matta will brief Turner on his former Ohio State big men. Greg Oden, Kosta Koufos and Byron Mullens were all one-and-done big men in Columbus before venturing off to NBA riches.
4. Okafor and Jones to Enjoy KU’s Open Practice
Two weeks after putting on “Late Night in the Phog,” the Kansas Jayhawks will host Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones this weekend. Okafor is the top-ranked center in the country and No. 1 overall recruit, while Jones is ranked No. 4 overall and as the second best point guard. After the Jayhawks put on their Midnight Madness, they received a commitment from small forward Kelly Oubre. Now, Bill Self has the weekend to entice the most talked about package deal in college basketball. One way to give Okafor and Jones a taste of what to expect is to hold an open practice. On Saturday night, Kansas will hold a practice and scrimmage that is open to the public and is sure to be packed with the Jayhawks faithful clamoring for Okafor and Jones to come to Lawrence.
5. Justise Winslow Sets Remaining Visits
Per Reggie Rankin of ESPN, class of 2014 small forward Justise Winslow set dates for his remaining three official visits. Winslow is ranked as the No. 9 overall player and is the No. 3 small forward in the class of 2014. He stands 6’5” and is known for his lockdown defense, but he can also put the ball in the basket as shown with his 14.8 points per game in AAU play. On Friday the Houston native will take a trip to Tucson to see Sean Miller and the Arizona Wildcats, which will be followed up with a visit to Duke on October 25 and Stanford on November 7. So far Winslow has taken official visits to UCLA and Florida along with an unofficial visit to College Station for the Texas A&M vs. Alabama football game. Along with tomorrow’s Arizona visit, the main weekend to watch occurs on October 25 in Durham. Both Okafor and Jones will be visiting that weekend, and all three players have familiarity with each other from the AAU circuit and USA basketball.
6. Two Way Recruiting Battle Heating Up For Bryant Crawford
Indiana and Georgetown are turning up the heat on junior point guard Bryant Crawford. Standing at 6’1”, Crawford is currently the No. 28 prospect and top-rated point guard in the class of 2015. He is coming off a strong sophomore season at Gonzaga High School in Washington D.C. where he replaced current UNC freshman Nate Britt and led his team to an undefeated regular season in the famed Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC).
John Thompson III and Georgetown have taken advantage of having the WCAC right in its backyard and currently feature two players in their starting line-up (Markel Starks and Mikael Hopkins) from local Catholic schools. Tom Crean and Indiana also have shown a strong interest in players from the WCAC including freshman guard Stanford Robinson and All-American Victor Oladipo. At the USA Developmental Camp in Colorado Springs Crawford sat out recovering from a torn meniscus. Despite the injury, Crawford noted that “Indiana is coming at me the hardest. I hear from them the most.” While Indiana is making Crawford a top priority, John Thompson is fighting to protect his home turf. The Hoyas stopped by Crawford’s high school several times over the past month including once this week.
7. Roy Williams Looking to Re-Establish West Coast Pipeline
It appears as though Roy Williams is trying to re-open the West Coast pipeline to Chapel Hill. In his early tenure at UNC, Williams brought in Marvin Williams, Quentin Thomas, and Deon Thompson from out west, each of whom helped UNC to championships. Williams also brought in Larry Drew II and the Wear twins from the West Coast who later transferred back after some unsuccessful seasons. After a six-year hiatus, Williams has offered three of the top big men in the class of 2015 in a 48-hour span last week. After visits to Oakland and Las Vegas last week, Williams offered Ivan Rabb (#4 overall, #1 PF) from Bishop O’Dowd (CA) along with Stephen Zimmerman (#2 overall, #1 C) and Chase Jeter (#19 overall, #6 C) from Bishop Gorman (NV). Roy is California Dreamin’ again.