Seven Sweet Scoops: Okafor vs. Big Cliff, Turner Calls SMU A “Darkhorse” and Alford Checks Out RabbPosted by Sean Moran on February 21st, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Jahlil Okafor vs. Big Cliff
On Friday night, two of the top players in the country will clash in order to claim Windy City bragging rights. Five-star center Jahlil Okafor (#1 – 2014) and five-star power forward Cliff Alexander (#5 – 2014) face off in the Chicago Public League Championship tonight. Along with this must see individual match-up, the two teams involved are also considered the top teams in the state of Illinois. Alexander’s Curie (IL) squad is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation and Okafor’s Whitney Young (IL) team is ranked No. 15 by MaxPreps.
The match-up has already been called the “Game of the Decade” by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Joe Henricksen and has now been picked up for viewing by ESPN3. From the time Okafor and Alexander started playing in high school the attention has shined brightly on them both; however it’s fair to say that Alexander has always been in Okafor’s shadow. A top 5 player in his class since 2011, Okafor has always been a load to handle download with his rare gifts of size and strength. Alexander meanwhile has slowly but surely risen up the class rankings until he exploded over the summer in AAU play. He continued his dominant play over the past few months and has one final chance to emerge from Okafor’s shadow on Friday. Back in November both players were ready to make their college selections and it was the higher ranked Okafor who received first dibs on national TV. Okafor went with Duke and Alexander appeared next and selected Kansas, which also happened to be Okafor’s second choice. Both players will have a major impact at their respective schools next year and could be competing for the No. 1 draft spot in 2015. DraftExpress currently has Okafor in the No. 1 slot and Alexander in the No. 3 slot. It’s rare for two elite players to match-up in a city playoff game, but both Okafor and Alexander will go head to head for the third time in their high school careers and one will come out as the King of Chicago.
2. Myles Turner Calls SMU A “Darkhorse”
On Wednesday night SMU took on Houston at home and won their tenth league game 68-64 to move into sole possession of third place in the AAC. While the victory was big for this year, the Mustangs had a visitor in the house which could be huge for next year. Five-star center Myles Turner made an unofficial visit and said “It’s my first time to Moody and it’s awesome. It’s definitely changed a lot from last year, which was the last time that I came. The team and the fans have showed a lot of energy. The place looks beautiful and they got a full support system now, so everything is great.” For the past several months, Turner had a set list of six schools: Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Duke, Kansas, Texas, and Arizona. After visiting SMU, Turner noted that “they are somewhat in the running now. They are kind of like a darkhorse so to say.” The 7-foot Turner is the No. 2 prospect in the country. The Mustangs already have the top point guard and No. 4 prospect in Emmanuel Mudiay and the fact that they have jumped into the conversation for Turner is huge news.
3. Larry Brown Adds California Point Guard
Larry Brown was on the lookout for a point guard in the class of 2015. One week after having four-star point guard Juwan Evans (#38 overall, #4 PG – 2015) in for an unofficial visit, the Mustangs received a commitment from three-star point guard Sedrick Barefield. It was a quick courtship for the 6’1” guard out of Southern California. Assistant coach K.T. Turner saw Barefield play in early December when he was offered a scholarship and had him on campus last week. Shortly after the visit, Barefield committed. He chose the Mustangs over schools such as Boston College, California, Connecticut, Harvard, San Diego State and others. Brown has the top point guard in the class of 2014 lined up in Emmanuel Mudiay but he is pretty much a lock to be a one and done candidate. The talent pool in Texas is deep in the junior class and SMU is looking to make a big splash now that they have their point guard lined up.
4. Steve Alford Making A Play for Ivan Rabb
UCLA head coach Steve Alford took advantage of his Northern California road trip this weekend and stopped by to watch the No. 1 player in the class of 2015 in power forward Ivan Rabb. The 6’10” Rabb is getting attention from all of the major Pac-12 schools along with Louisville, Georgetown, North Carolina, and Duke. Arizona and California were the schools showing him the most love, but Alford stopped by his game against San Leandro (CA) on Tuesday night. One night later, Rabb went to Berkeley to watch two of his potential schools go head-to-head. The Bruins crushed Cal on their home-court 86-66 which must have left just a little bit of an impression on Rabb. The versatile power forward has put together a strong junior season and has similarities to a young Chris Bosh which Alford would love to put on the court in Los Angeles.
5. Fun Week Ahead for Matt Ryan
Four-star junior small forward Matt Ryan (not the QB) is going to have one of the best college basketball viewing parties this week. Last night, the No. 100 rated prospect and No. 19 small forward took an unofficial visit to Chapel Hill and watched the Tar Heels take on their rival in Duke. Originally, Ryan was scheduled to attend UNC’s win over Pittsburgh this past Saturday but changed plans once the UNC-Duke game was re-scheduled. After visiting Chapel Hill, Ryan will make the eight mile trek down to Durham to watch the Duke-Syracuse game. Not a bad three days for the 6’7” sharp shooter from Iona Prep (NY). One reason the New York native is able to make the weekend trek is due to a torn labrum in his hip that he suffered almost a month ago. Before the injury, the junior was adding in offers left and right and has an impressive list with schools from all parts of the country interested in the wing.
6. Another JaQuan Lyle Update
As one of only two unsigned seniors, there have been a lot of JaQuan Lyle recruiting updates lately and here is one more for the five-star point guard. As the No. 22 ranked recruit in the country and No. 4 point guard there are many schools with an interest in the Indiana native. Lyle recently told SNY.tv that he has a top four of Oklahoma State, Kansas, Memphis, and Oregon. Lyle recently visited Oregon and will take official visits to Stillwater and then Lawrence. He plans to decide in mid-March and noted that if he isn’t “sold on one of those schools” he will take visits to Providence and/or Georgetown. After de-committing from Louisville this past summer, the 6’4” guard has certainly exhausted his college search.
7. Boston College Lands Local Product
One day after a huge upset win over No. 1 ranked Syracuse, the BC Eagles landed a commitment from three-star junior forward Jeremy Miller. A New England native, the 6’9” power forward currently attends New Hampton Prep (N.H.) and had interest from Clemson, Florida, VCU, George Washington, and Temple. The Eagles don’t have any commitments in the class of 2014 and Miller represents the Eagles first commitment in the class of 2015.