Seven Sweet Scoops: Luke Kennard Recruiting Battle, Rashad Vaughn Drawing Scrutiny, and MorePosted by Sean Moran on December 20th, 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. Recruiting Battle Heating Up For Two-Sport Star
Last week, five-star shooting guard Luke Kennard scored 51 points in front of Thad Matta. This past Tuesday he went for 37 points in front of John Beilein. Despite just beginning his junior season, Kennard has already seen his fair share of recruiting attention in both basketball and football. The 6’4” guard is currently ranked as the No. 4 shooting guard and No. 15 overall player in the class of 2015 but was also named first-team All-State for his quarterback play. The Ohio native is currently averaging 40 points per game and in August was named as one of Reebok’s top 25 most dynamic athletes. Louisville offered him a football scholarship, but Kennard has received offers from the nation’s elite in basketball as well. In addition to Ohio State and Michigan, he is being heavily recruited by Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana, UNC, Duke, Florida and Michigan State.
2. Vaughn Recruitment Drawing Scrutiny
Five-star senior shooting guard Rashad Vaughn is one of three remaining Top 100 prospects in the class of 2014. The No. 2 shooting guard in the country and No. 13 prospect overall recently left his home state of Minnesota to play his senior season at basketball powerhouse Findlay Prep (NV). Now his hometown newspaper, the Star Tribune, is questioning the role of Vaughn’s mentor, Pete Kaffey. As noted in the article, Kaffey, 27, began a mentoring role when Vaughn was a fifth-grader. Last year, Kaffey spent the season as an assistant coach at Vaughn’s high school, Robbinsdale Cooper (MN) High and also accompanied Vaughn on various unofficial visits to colleges and AAU tournaments and camps throughout the summer. When he decided to transfer he chose Findlay Prep, a program well known “as a pipeline for NBA talent” and also a school that happened to have an assistant coaching position waiting for Kaffey. While there are no allegations of wrongdoing at this time, it will be interesting to see where the 6’5” scorer lands and if Kaffey ends up working in some capacity on the college staff. Right now Vaughn is expected to narrow his college list down to five finalists which will include UNLV and Iowa State along with possibly UNC, Kentucky, Minnesota or Kansas.
3. Tarkanian Classic Making a Splash
In its second year of existence, the 2013 Tarkanian Classic has enough star power to draw 50 colleges and the CBS Sports Network to Las Vegas for a 44-team, four-day event. The classic is hosted by Bishop Gorman (NV) High which has two top 20 players in the class of 2015 in center Stephen Zimmerman (#3 – 2015) and power forward Chase Jeter (#19 – 2015). The inaugural champion is Mater Dei (CA) and it returnsto the field to defend its crown. To tip off the tournament, five-star Mater Dei forward and Arizona commitment Stanley Johnson (#7 – 2014) scored 42 points in a blowout win. The game of the tournament will take place today when Findlay Prep (NV) battles Prime Prep (TX) in a game that features a plethora of top 10 players including the aforementioned Vaughn, Kansas recruit Kelly Oubre (#6 – 2014), and Arizona recruit Craig Victor (#17 – 2014) going up against SMU recruit and the top point guard in the country, Emmanuel Mudiay (#3 – 2014).
4. City of Palms Showcasing Future College Stars
Some of the top stars in college basketball such as Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Kasey Hill, and Kyle Anderson all took the court at Bishop Verot (FL) High School over the past few years as part of the City of Palms Classic that runs through December 23. This year’s field futures some of the best high school teams and players in the country including big man Jahlil Okafor, the #1 player in the country. Along with Okafor, fans from schools such as Ohio State, Seton Hall, LSU and UNC can swing by to watch their schools’ future five-star recruits in action including D’Angelo Russell, Isaiah Whitehead, Ben Simmons and Joel Berry. Along with these highly ranked players there are several well regarded players from the classes of 2015 and 2016 lacing up such as Tyler Dorsey, Antonio Blakeney, Jaylen Brown, and V.J. King. Last year Montverde Academy won the title behind the play of Hill, Dakari Johnson, and Devin Williams, and they are looking to repeat this year in front of numerous fans and college coaches in attendance.
5. The Forgotten Star: Mickey Mitchell
Two years ago as a freshman, 6’7” Mickey Mitchell stole the show during the City of Palms Championship game which featured a Julius Randle versus Isaiah Austin match-up. In front of a packed house and Dick Vitale, Mitchell hit several threes and got the crowd out of its seat with a rim rattling put-back dunk. Previously a top five player in his class, Mitchell tore his ACL and sat out his sophomore season. He also missed the spring and summer AAU circuit but still committed to Ohio State in August where he will join his older brother, Mike Mitchell, currently a linebacker on the Buckeyes’ football squad. As a five-star junior, Mitchell is now ranked No. 18 in his class and is currently averaging close to 14.5 points and nine rebounds a game for Plano West (TX) High. By missing his sophomore year and committing early, there hasn’t been a lot of buzz for Mitchell lately, but the former top five prospect could vault up the rankings with a strong return from his ACL injury.
6. West Virginia Looking for Big Time Recruits. In their first Big 12 season last year, West Virginia limped to a 13-19 overall record and missed the NCAA Tournament. While it will be a challenge for the Mountaineers to make it back this year, Bob Huggins is looking to drastically increase the talent cache in Morgantown. On Wednesday night, Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels tweeted the following:
Sounds like West Virginia is turning up the heat on JaQuan Lyle & Montaque Gill-Caesar. Bob Huggins will see them tomorrow.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) December 19, 2013
Both Lyle and Gill-Caesar currently play for Huntington Prep (WV) which is just three hours away for Huggins. Lyle was previously a Louisville commitment, but backed off in the fall and re-opened his recruitment. The five-star 6’4” guard is currently ranked No. 22 overall and the No. 4 point guard in the country. Gill-Caesar stands 6’5” and is currently ranked as the No. 4 small forward and No. 18 overall in the class of 2015; however there are strong rumors that he might reclassify to the class of 2014. Last year Gill-Caesar played on the wing alongside Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins and went against him most days in practice. If Huggins is able to land either one of these five-star recruits, he will be one step closer to getting West Virginia back to the Dance.
7. Raymond Doby Selects DePaul. Oliver Purnell may have lost out on Cliff Alexander, a five-star center out of Chicago, but on Wednesday he continued his recent success in recruiting players from the Mac Irvin Fire, one of Chicago’s top AAU programs. Raymond Doby is a 6’6” forward that hails from the Midwest but is currently spending his senior season at Montrose Christian, one of the top programs in the Washington D.C. area. The three-star forward averaged 4.7 points and four rebounds per game on the summer AAU circuit but is effective scoring in both the post and the perimeter. Next year, Doby will join up with current freshmen Billy Garrett Jr. and Tommy Hamilton IV, both of whom played on the Mac Irvin Fire and are currently averaging over 25 minutes per game. The Blue Demons will lose two starters from their frontcourt to graduation in forward Clevleand Melvin and center Sandi Marcus which will allow Doby to see some immediate playing time.