Seven Sweet Scoops: Kevon Looney, Devin Booker, James Blackmon Jr. Commitments & More…Posted by Sean Moran on November 1st, 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 email@example.com.
1. Kevon Looney Surprises All and Heads West
The #14 player in the class of 2014 surprised almost everyone on Thursday afternoon with his college commitment. Kevon Looney, a five-star forward, decided to head west and chose UCLA over Duke, Florida, Tennessee, Michigan State and Wisconsin. The commitment is a huge deal for head coach Steve Alford who struggled recruiting in his first summer at UCLA. Not only did Alford get a talented prospect and likely McDonald’s All-American, but he also signed his first five-star recruit and put to rest any doubts about his recruiting skills. Looney is a 6’8” combo forward that hails from Milwaukee and will join talented shooting guard Isaac Hamilton (#31 – 2013) in sunny Southern California next year. The Bruins will lose the Wear twins to graduation after this year and most likely forward Kyle Anderson will be off to the NBA as well, leaving plenty of playing time available for Looney. Alford spent time in July following Looney around from game to game and eventually sold UCLA to Looney. “UCLA is a great campus, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen,” said Looney. “They have a great style I can fit in.”
2. Kentucky Moving Up the Recruiting Rankings
Soon after five-star forward Kevon Looney made his announcement to UCLA, four-star shooting guard Devin Booker made his announcement as well. The 6’5” shooting guard chose Kentucky over Missouri, Michigan State and Michigan. Booker currently attends high school in Mississippi, but used to live in Michigan as he currently resides with his father, a former star at Missouri. Despite those connections, Booker still chose to play for John Calipari and the Wildcats. With the commitment, Booker joined five-star center Karl Towns Jr. (#11 overall, #4 center) and point guard Tyler Ulis (#29 overall, #6 PG) in the 2014 Kentucky class. Earlier in the summer, the smooth-shooting Booker noted that he enjoyed playing with point guard Ulis and this connection played a large part in his commitment as he indicated to Scout.com. “Going into my college decision a lot of it was playing with Tyler [Ulis]. I’ve been playing with Tyler at camps the past two years. He finds you wherever you are at. He just makes the game a lot easier for me.”
3. James Blackmon Jr. Going Back Home… Again
On April 8, 2013, James Blackmon Jr. opened his recruitment back up after originally pledging to Tom Crean and Indiana before he had ever played a high school game. Almost seven months later, Blackmon Jr. made the decision again to become a Hoosier. On ESPNU Thursday evening, Blackmon chose Indiana over Kentucky, Michigan and Michigan State with the decision coming down to the wire between Indiana and Kentucky. Standing at 6’3,” the Marion, Indiana, native is currently rated as the No. 6 shooting guard in the country and No. 33 overall. Blackmon shot 48 percent from the three-point line while scoring 19 points per game this past summer in AAU play and will now join combo guard Robert Johnson (#55 overall, #19 SG) in giving Indiana two of the top shooters in the country.
4. Devin Robinson Off to the University of Florida
Billy Donovan added another four-star recruit to his 2014 recruiting class on Wednesday afternoon. Small forward Devin Robinson, the No. 24 prospect in the country from Richmond, Virginia, chose the Gators over Indiana, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma State. Florida already had 5’11” point guard Chris Chiozza (#44 overall, #11 PG) and 6’4” shooting guard Brandone Francis (#37 overall, #8 SG) locked up. Now with the commitment of Robinson, Donovan will have a variety of options to choose from on the wing in the 2014-15 season. Current sophomore shooting guard Michael Frazier will have one more year of experience under his belt as will 6’8” sophomore transfer Dorian Finney-Smith. Frazier is a pure shooter while Finney-Smith is an athletic defender and rebounder. Robinson’s height is similar to that of Finney-Smith’s, but his shooting ability is on par with Frazier who shot 47 percent from deep as a freshman. The future is looking bright in Gainesville.
5. What’s the Latest on the Big Okafor/Jones Package Deal?
If you hadn’t heard, two of the top players in the country are planning on playing their college ball together next year. Last week two of the top five players in the country in center Jahlil Okafor (#1 – 2014) and point guard Tyus Jones (#4 – 2014) took their official visits to Duke along with small forward Justise Winslow (#10 – 2014). Duke has been the long-rumored favorite in the race for the package deal of Okafor and Jones with Kansas and Baylor also in the mix. After the visit to Duke, rumors ran rampant that Kansas had turned into the clubhouse leader, which caused Jahlil Okafor to tweet:
To all these "sources" saying they know where I'm going to school because someone "close" to me told them. Quit the lies. I DONT KNOW YET
— Jahlil Okafor (@BigJah22) October 30, 2013
The early national signing period begins Wednesday, November 13, and goes through November 20. Expect the rumors to swirl for another few weeks.
6. Cliff Alexander Eliminates Michigan State
Cliff Alexander (#5 overall, #3 center), or “Big Cliff” as he is known, recently eliminated Michigan State from his recruitment by stating “no relationship” with the Spartans. One of the top players in the class of 2014 just finished his official visits last week with a trip to Champaign, Illinois. The Spartans did not receive an official visit; however Tom Izzo put in more work on Alexander than any other head coach early on in his high school tenure by making numerous trips to Chicago. Alexander has Kansas, Illinois, Memphis, Arizona and DePaul in his final five with Illinois and Kansas thought of as the leaders. Alexander is supposed to make an announcement in the next few weeks.
7. Chicago Elite Classic Match-Ups Announced
The second annual Chicago Elite Classic announced its match-ups for December 7 which features a day full of games involving high level high school talent. The event consists of seven contests with the top Chicago-area teams facing off against teams from all parts of the country. The two prime time match-ups feature Whitney Young (IL) vs. St. John Bosco (CA) and Curie (IL) vs. Bishop Gorman (NV). Whitney Young features Okafor, the number one player in the class of 2014, and Georgetown commitment Paul White (#49 – 2014) who will go up against five-star Connecticut commitment Daniel Hamilton (#18 – 2014) and junior guard Tyler Dorsey (#7 – 2015). Other top players include Cliff Alexander (#5 – 2014), Stephen Zimmerman (#2 – 2015), Chase Jeter (#19 – 2015), Ulis, and USC commitment Jordan McLaughlin (#38 – 2014).