Seven Sweet Scoops: Big Cliff and HoopHall Action, Djuan Piper Update, and MorePosted by Sean Moran on January 24th, 2014
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. Big Cliff Dominates HoopHall Classic
Cliff Alexander, a five-star power forward and future Kansas Jayhawk, put on a dominant display against Montverde (FL), the #1 prep team in the country, this past Monday at the HoopHall Classic. Prior to his senior season, the 6’8” manchild was rated as the No. 5 recruit in the class of 2014, but after his three-month run at Curie (IL) High it might be time to talk about Alexander as the top player in his class. In a comeback win, Alexander scored 30 points and added 13 rebounds and five blocked shots to raise his season averages to 27 points, 17 rebounds and 5.5 blocked shots per game. Throughout the second half Alexander ran the floor and threw down several vicious dunks that energized his teammates. Montverde did not have any one with Alexander’s size, but they did have Ben Simmons, a top 10 junior, to try his hand a few times. Just like in December when Alexander dominated five-star juniors Stephen Zimmerman (#3 – 2015) and Chase Jeter (#19 – 2015), Simmons was no match for him. Next year Alexander is expected to contribute right away in Lawrence, especially if freshman center Joel Embiid enters the draft, as expected. It will be harder for Big Cliff to physically dominate his opponents at the next level, but his athleticism, raw power, and shot-blocking acumen will help him adapt very quickly and offset the expected Jayhawks’ departures.
2. Calipari Watches Rashad Vaughn
Despite already having a four-man class in 2014, including four-star shooting guard Devin Booker (#31 – 2014), John Calipari is making a late push for five-star shooting guard Rashad Vaughn. The No. 13 ranked player and No. 2 shooting guard in the country is the one of the few impact players left on the board in the class. After Calipari attended one of Vaughn’s practices at Findlay Prep (NV) in the fall, Vaughn started to list the Wildcats as one of the main schools in his recruitment. Calipari was also in attendance in Springfield, Massachusetts, for Vaughn’s first game back from injury, and is pushing for an official visit. So far Vaughn has taken official visits to Iowa State and UNLV and has one scheduled for UNC on February 15. He also has Kansas in his top five, but doesn’t have any plans to set up a visit, per Evan Daniels of Scout.com. Fred Hoiberg has been recruiting Vaughn the longest out of all the aforementioned schools and UNLV has the home-court advantage with Vaughn’s high school transfer. Roy Williams is desperate for a shooting guard based on the team’s current outside shooting deficiencies and Calipari wants to add Vaughn and/or Myles Turner (#2 – 2014) to his #2 recruiting class. This recruitment won’t reach Andrew Wiggins levels in the spring, but it will certainly heat up over the next few months.
3. Djuan Piper – Cuts Down His List
Three-star senior small forward Djuan Piper is a late bloomer on the national scene, but thanks to his play for Rainier Beach (WA), the #2 prep team in the country, he is finally starting to get recognized. This past weekend at the HoopHall Classic, Piper showed off his athleticism and versatility with 12 points, four rebounds, and four blocked shots. After his game, Piper noted that he was down to three schools: Gonzaga, Minnesota, and Washington. As of right now, he has an official visit scheduled to Minnesota on February 7, which already has one commitment from the state of Washington in three-star power forward Josh Martin, while Washington just received a commitment from his three-star teammate David Crisp (2015). Towards the later part of the summer, Piper was receiving strong mid-major interest from schools such as Richmond and Illinois State, but with his high school play coaches such as Richard Pitino, Lorenzo Romar and Mark Few have taken note.
4. Underrated East Coast PG Pays A Visit to UMass
Three-star junior point guard Kevin Dorsey runs the ship for one of the top high school teams on the East Coast at Paul VI (VA). After a win over St. Anthony’s (NJ) in the HoopHall Classic, Dorsey took a 30-minute drive north to Amherst, Massachusetts, to check out the UMass campus. At 16-2, UMass is having one of its finest seasons in recent memory and has strong interest in the 6’0” guard. With offers from UMass and VCU, Dorsey is a hot commodity in the Atlantic 10 and also holds offers from Creighton, Virginia Tech, SMU, Old Dominion and Virginia Tech. When asked about his favorites, Dorsey said “UMass and VCU are probably the two biggest right now.” Both teams rank in KenPom’s top 30 in adjusted tempo, meaning Shake Smart and Derek Kellogg both like to push the pace, which fits in perfectly with Dorsey’s skill set. A blur with the basketball, Dorsey loves to penetrate on the offensive end and he doesn’t mind getting low in a defensive stance and hounding the opposing point guard from end to end. While he is not currently ranked in the top 100, Dorsey is definitely the type of player that will help keep UMass and VCU at the top of the A-10 and competitive nationally.
5. Point Guard Battle In Chicago
Top five big men Jahlil Okafor (#1 – 2014) and Cliff Alexander (#5 – 2014) dominate the headlines in Chicago, but on Saturday it will be all about the little guys. Four-star point guard and Kentucky commitment Tyler Ulis (#29 overall, #6 PG – 2014) squares off against four-star junior Jalen Brunson (#29 overall, #2 PG – 2015) in a must-see match-up in the area. The top two point guards in the state of Illinois faced off last April during AAU action with both guards having strong games, but Brunson’s team got the better of Ulis’ group. Brunson will try to use his size advantage to penetrate and free himself for an open three while Ulis will look to use his speed and quickness to get in the lane for floaters or step-back jumpers. It might not be Okafor vs. Alexander, but this match-up certainly isn’t too far behind.
6. T.J. Leaf Picking Up Offers
Four-star sophomore forward T.J. Leaf is picking up scholarship offers left and right. The 6’9” stretch forward is currently ranked as the No. 22 player in his class and No. 6 power forward from Foothills Christian (CA) High School. Leaf’s most recent offer came from Gonzaga, but he also holds offers from UCLA, Arizona, Indiana, Cal, Colorado, San Diego State and New Mexico. With a high skill level despite his young age, Leaf is one to keep an eye on down the road. A jump shooter that likes to attack off the dribble, Leaf has taken unofficial visits to UCLA and Indiana and was also invited to take part in Team USA’s Developmental Camp this past October. As a freshman, Leaf was also named to the All-CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) second team.
7. Payton Pritchard Visits Madison
Another West Coast sophomore in Oregon’s Payton Pritchard took an unofficial visit this past weekend to Wisconsin and watched the Badgers’ home loss to Michigan. At 5’10”, Pritchard is a three-star point guard in the class of 2015 from West Linn (OR) High School and was recently named Oregon’s player of the month for December after averaging 6.3 assists in the Les Schwab Invitational. This included a game-winning jump shot against Jahlil Okafor’s Whitney Young squad. In the fall Pritchard took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame and currently holds a scholarship offer from Oregon State. Just like T.J. Leaf, Pritchard took part in the USA Men’s Developmental Camp and torched the nets with his silky smooth outside shot.