Seven Sweet Scoops: Derryck Thornton & Duke’s Big Night, DeAndre Ayton, Thon Maker & More

Posted by Sean Moran on February 26th, 2015

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 Fouldedicated 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

Note: used for all player rankings.

1. Duke Attracts Five-Star Recruits For Rivalry Game

It was a great last Wednesday night in Durham. Not only did Duke notch a thrilling comeback victory against their Tobacco Road neighbors from Chapel Hill, but it also did so in front of a few high-profile recruits from the classes of 2015 and 2016. From this year’s senior class, five-star senior power forward Caleb Swanigan (No. 11) was in Cameron Indoor Stadium on an official visit along with Luke Kennard, a five-star shooting guard who has already committed to the Blue Devils. Last week we touched on some of the schools interested in the 6’8” Swanigan, but since then the Indiana native has taken in Purdue’s victory over Nebraska in addition to the UNC game. The Duke coaching staff is looking to add another big man to the mix to replace the expected loss of freshman superstar Jahlil Okafor. So far Duke has 6’10” Chase Jeter, a five-star power forward, locked up in addition to Rice transfer Sean Obi, who is currently redshirting after averaging 11.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game at Rice. In addition to Swanigan and Kennard, the Blue Devils also hosted Harry Giles, the No. 1 prospect in the junior class, as well as the top two point guards in the junior class in Derryck Thornton (No. 5 – 2016) and Dennis Smith (No. 6 – 2016). Giles and Smith are both local North Carolina products and have offers from both Duke and UNC in hand. Giles noted, “I’ve been to every Duke and UNC game at both places, and this was the craziest and best game,” he said. “I plan on attending the March 7th game at UNC, too.” It could have turned out to be a somber ending for Duke and its prized recruits in attendance, but instead they were treated to another Duke home win and a raucous celebration.

2. Derryck Thornton and Reclassification

While senior Caleb Swanigan was taking his official visit to Duke, junior point guard Derryck Thornton was making an unofficial visit all the way from Nevada. After the game, ESPN’s recruiting staff caught up with the two propsects with the most noticeable quote coming from Thornton. “They want to know if I would consider going to the class of 2015 because Tyus Jones could be leaving,” he said. “I believe I could take that step both academically and on the court. It’s something I definitely have to think about and discuss with my family.” That quote sticks out for a few reasons. While Tyus Jones was a top 10 recruit coming out of high school, his NBA stock wasn’t nearly as high due to concerns about his height and athleticism. Right now, DraftExpress lists him at No. 26 in the draft, but with his recent play Jones could be getting more serious about his draft potential. Duke has not recruited a point guard in the 2015 class yet, and given the aforementioned quote, Coach K is most likely trying to prepare his program for a possible departure. Thornton is one of the top point guards in his class and might be considered the best “pure” point as well. He has strong interest from Kentucky in addition to Louisville, California, and Miami. Will he think about re-classifying?

3. Speaking of Reclassification – Thon Maker

It certainly did not come as a surprise when 7’0” forward Thon Maker announced that he was moving into the 2015 class — the sinewy forward’s jump to the 2015 class has been rumored for months. Maker has been near the top of the rankings since the day he started high school and currently sits as the No. 6 prospect in the senior class. Throughout his prep career, Maker has been on the move, regularly changing schools and AAU teams. He has strong interest from schools such as Kentucky and Kansas but it is questionable whether he will end up in college or go the Emmanuel Mudiay route. In a recent article about him, an anonymous source noted, “Somebody would give him six figures.” ESPN has already done a lengthy feature on the journey of Maker that’s worth a read. At seven feet tall with an ability to score both inside and outside the paint, huge potential exists for the talented prospect, but where he ends up next is anyone’s guess.

Thom Maker is now a part of the 2015 graduating class. (

Thom Maker is now a part of the 2015 graduating class. (

4. Scout’s Ultimate 100

Several times each year, the major recruiting services come out with their latest Top 100 rankings by class. Last week, added a new wrinkle and came out with a Top 100 prospect list regardless of class. Who was No. 1? It wasn’t a senior like Ben Simmons or Jaylen Brown, nor was it a junior like Harry Giles. Instead the top ranking went to Deandre Ayton, a 6’11” sophomore from Balboa City School in San Diego. When you see Ayton in person, it’s easy to see why he is so highly regarded. Despite his young age, he already has the height, athletic ability, and a serious reserve of skill. He can sprint the floor and is extremely quick off the bounce for a rim-rattling dunk or a blocked shot. Last summer he dazzled NBA scouts at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas and during the fall he had 17 points and 18 rebounds in an exhibition game against North Carolina (Ayton played with a team in the Bahamas). Ayton is fluid in his movements and can knock down shots from the perimeter and already has schools lining up to get his services.

5. Sophomore Guard Making a Name in Chicago

Two years ago, Villanova-bound point guard Jalen Brunson was building a big reputation as a sophomore within the state of Illinois, but it took until the spring AAU season of 2013 for Brunson’s name to arrive on the national scene. The same scenario is repeating itself with 6’3” shooting guard Alonzo Verge Jr. The wiry guard is a born scorer, just like his father who ripped the nets as an all-stater with his scoring exploits in the late 1980s. Now Verge Jr. is doing the same thing. The Chicago Sun-Times did a feature on him last weekend by noting that he was averaging 30 points per outing over his last nine games; he then went out and scored 41 points against Proviso East (IL). After the game the sophomore picked up an offer from Providence, with undoubtedly many more offers to come once his name goes national.

6. Coaches Going After Junior Josh Langford

A plethora of schools made their way to Alabama this past week to check out 6’6” junior guard Josh Langford. Playing for Madison Academy (AL), Langford scored 15 points and totaled seven rebounds in leading his team to a Northwest Regional Tournament Class 3A championship. Both Auburn’s Bruce Pearl and Alabama’s Anthony Grant were spotted watching the in-state star while Michigan’s John Beilein and some assistant coaches from Michigan State also made the trip. Mississippi State and Florida are also involved, but the battle for the skilled and athletic wing could come down to the state schools in both Alabama and Michigan.

7. Butler Picks Up a Sophomore Recruit

Chris Holtmann has not been the acting Butler coach for very long, but it certainly didn’t take long for him to lock down a key recruit, even if it is one from the 2017 class. Sophomore David Caraher committed to Butler this week after receiving other early interest from schools such as Wake Forest and Virginia. Caraher is a North Carolina native and has close ties to Tyler Lewis, the former N.C. State point guard who is currently redshirting at Butler. The 6’5” wing is currently ranked No. 75 by 24/7 sports.

Sean Moran (79 Posts)

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