Who’s Got Next? Ben Simmons Joins a Beefy LSU Class, Tennessee Lands a Shooter, and More…

Posted by Sean Moran on October 21st, 2013

whos-got-next

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. 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 rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

LSU Stays Hot

Less than one week after adding powerful big man Elbert Robinson from the class of 2014, LSU’s Johnny Jones struck  gold in the 2015 class with the commitment of 6’9” Australian Ben Simmons. In a surprise decision, the five-star forward went with the Tigers over schools such as Duke, Kansas, and Kentucky. Simmons is currently rated as the No. 8 player overall and No. 2 power forward in his class, despite limited time in the United States. Simmons made his first appearance in the United States in early June 2012 in California. In a three-day showcase camp, Simmons took the camp by storm, showing off the skills he honed in Melbourne. In January 2013, Simmons came over to the U.S. for good and enrolled at Montverde Academy (FL), which also happened to be the top high school team in the country. Simmons joined forces with current Florida freshman guard Kasey Hill and Kentucky center Dakari Johnson on the team.

Ben Simmons is the Best LSU Commitment in Years

Ben Simmons is the Best LSU Commitment in Years

The Tigers have been on a roll with their recent big men commitments, but Simmons will provide the team with an added dimension of versatility. In the 2013 class, Jones signed a five-star power forward in Jarrell Martin (No. 14 overall, 2013) and four-star power forward Jordan Mickey (No. 37 overall, 2013), adding to class of 2014 four-star center, Robinson (No. 59 overall, 2014). Martin possesses the most skill of the bunch and has range out to the three-point line, but he is most effective down low. Mickey’s calling cards are his rebounding and defensive abilities while Robinson is a load to handle in the post. Martin and Mickey average 230 pounds while Robinson weighs a massive 320 pounds.

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Morning Five: 10.15.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 15th, 2013

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  1. It’s October 15, the traditional date of Midnight Madness, and although nobody to our knowledge is honoring Lefty Driesell by meeting at the campus track and running a six-minute mile illuminated by car headlights at each turn, the feeling is still pretty much the same — college basketball is nearby. This Friday night will feature the annual ESPNU Midnight Madness coverage of a number of prominent schools holding their celebrations, and a mere 21 days later we’ll jump right into the opening games of the season. Despite all that, the unknown is still more interesting than the known to many people, which explains why recruiting chatter and hype dominate the headlines  and social media. The biggest news on this year’s Columbus Day? Class of 2015 superstar forward Ben Simmons, coveted by every major program in America including Duke and Kentucky, verbally committed to LSU. As The Dagger‘s Jeff Eisenberg explains in his background piece, Simmons’ commitment to a school that hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2009 makes more sense with the knowledge that Simmons’ godfather/LSU assistant coach, David Patrick, played overseas basketball with his father in Australia and the families are apparently quite close. Regardless of the reasons for the commitment, LSU’s Johnny Jones is loading up on talent, especially in the frontcourt.
  2. Patrick, an Australian himself, was the primary link to a number of Aussie stars (including Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova) that he recruited to play for his former employer, Saint Mary’s College, in Moraga, California. Although he was not personally implicated in any wrongdoing during his three years as an assistant coach there, the NCAA found that the program had committed several recruiting violations and slapped the school with a four-year “failure to monitor” probation last spring. As a result, the Gaels’ head coach, Randy Bennett, received a five-game suspension along with a one-year off-campus recruiting restriction, and those penalties were upheld on appeal Monday by the Infractions Committee. During Bennet’s nearly two-week layoff, which will begin in late December and include the first Gonzaga game in Spokane, he will not be allowed to perform any basketball-related activities whatsoever. Can you imagine a Type A personality like Bennett taking a midseason vacation? The NCAA should seriously consider putting an ankle monitor on him during those days.
  3. Wiggins, Wiggins, Wiggins. Remember the hype we mentioned above? Well, after a week that featured the precocious 18-year old as a Sports Illustrated cover boy in an effort to introduce him to America as the Next. Big. Thing., everybody else is now talking and writing about Andrew Wiggins. Even LeBron James got into the act, telling Rock Chalk Blog before a preseason game in Kansas City over the weekend that his best advice for Wiggins is simply to “live in the present.” For a far more thoughtful analysis of Wiggins’ identity and game, TSN‘s Mike DeCourcy has that covered. It’s a well-deserved read to better understand the young phenom, especially given the notion that Wiggins revealed “his true identity a half-dozen times or so each afternoon with a sequence that perhaps only three people on the planet are capable of executing.” Wow. Finally, Grantland chimes in with a piece from Corban Gable called “Livin’ for Wiggins,” a fan manifesto that attempts to outline how one excitable Jayhawker prone to hyperventilation is going to make it through this season. Hey, whatever works, so long as his boss Simmons stays away from college basketball.
  4. The next huge thing doesn’t just apply to teenagers in sports; it sometimes also figures in the management and administrative components of the games we love. Anybody who has marked the meteoric rises of successful young coaches like Brad Stevens, Shaka Smart and Josh Pastner knows that. Myron Medcalf from ESPN.com writes that with these coaches’ continued success, many administrators, especially at mid-major schools, are becoming less hesitant in pulling the trigger on 30-something candidates who show that they really know and can teach the game. It actually makes a good deal of sense. As he notes, recruiting 365 days a year takes a tremendous amount of attention and energy, something that younger coaches have in spades. But truthfully, this should surprise nobody who works in the business world, a similarly cutthroat environment where strong quantitative and analytical skills combined with greater sophistication with technology give the young guys a leg up on many of their older colleagues.
  5. The AP reported on Monday that the SEC will announce later today that it plans on making Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena its “primary” site for the annual SEC Tournament. The tourney will bounce back and forth between Nashville and several other cities (Atlanta, Tampa and Saint Louis) over the next seven years, but from 2021-26 the Music City will hold exclusive ownership over the event. We’ll have more on this later today, but there’s no question that Nashville’s geographic location nearest the five northern SEC schools that take basketball the most seriously has something to do with this decision. The Big Blue Behemoth is merely three hours to the northeast, and both Tennessee schools along with Missouri and Arkansas also do a good job supporting basketball. This is a win from both a competitive and financial standpoint.
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Seven Sweet Scoops: Roy Williams Watches Andrew Wiggins, Leron Black Decommits From Baylor…

Posted by CLykins on January 4th, 2013

7sweetscoops

Seven Sweet Scoops  is the newest and hottest column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting analyst. Every Friday he will discuss the seven top stories from the week in the wide world of recruiting, involving offers, which  prospect visited where, recent updates regarding school lists, and more chatter from the recruiting scene. You can also check out more of his work at RTC with his weekly column  “Who’s Got Next?”, as well as his work dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at  Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account  @CLykinsBlog  for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene.

 Note:  ESPN Recruiting  used for all player rankings.

1. Roy Williams Sees Andrew Wiggins For Third Time

If you’re a fan of North Carolina, you have to be extremely impressed with the amount of attention head coach Roy Williams is showing the No. 1 player in the class of 2013, Andrew Wiggins, as of late. On Thursday, Williams was in Huntington, West Virginia, to watch Wiggins for the third time this season. The recruiting efforts have essentially paid off for the Tar Heels for now, as Wiggins is expected to take a trip to Chapel Hill at the conclusion of his senior season at Huntington Prep (West Virginia). Including North Carolina, who has signed three top-100 prospects from the class of 2013 in Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, and Nate Britt, the 6’8” small forward is also considering Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State, and Syracuse. He has also already taken his first official visit to Florida State and has plans to also visit Kansas and Kentucky at season’s end.

North Carolina will receive an official visit in the spring from Andrew Wiggins

North Carolina will receive an official visit in the spring from Andrew Wiggins

2. Junior Leron Black Backs Out of Baylor Commitment

For a number of underclassmen, the recruiting process can prove to be exciting for those that feel desired by a number of specific programs, thus leading to a quick and abrupt decision without carefully examining each and every option. Such was the case for Leron Black, the No. 11 overall ranked prospect in the class of 2014, who gave a verbal pledge to Baylor back in September after taking an unofficial visit to the school. On Wednesday, Black announced his intention to re-open his recruitment, citing that he made a rushed decision. John Martin of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal was the first to break the news. Shortly after backing out of his Baylor commitment, the 6’7” small forward out of White Station High School (Tennessee) had already heard from Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Missouri, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. Baylor will still remain in the mix; however, the odds will not be in their favor to re-establish a commitment. This time around, Black will be much more patient and disciplined prior to making his final decision, as he will be one of the most highly sought-after juniors in the class due to his great athleticism and ability to finish around the rim. Read the rest of this entry »

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Morning Five: 06.11.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 11th, 2012

  1. After going through the nation’s freshmen earlier in the week, Drew Cannon closed the week by ranking the top 100 players regardless of class. The rankings itself (#1-25, 26-60, and 61-100) should not surprise you, but just how far off the “experts” were in the preseason might. We cannot really fault them because many of us bought into the same preseason hype or overlooked players who turned out to be stars. However, it can be instructive when the same writers do the same thing in back-to-back years on the same player.
  2. Every summer there are a few high school players who make a name for themselves. Sometimes those players turn out to stars, but other times they turn out to be a flash-in-the-pan and do not continue to match that level of performance when they return to their regular environment. Jeff Borzello thinks he may have seen one of those players in Australian prospect Ben Simmons, who he claims could be the #1 prospect in the class of 2015 if he decides to move to the US. We have not seen many foreign-based recruits at the top of the recruiting ratings, but as Steven Adams showed us this year (and will hopefully show us next year at Pittsburgh) we should be on the watch for more elite recruits from overseas. Of course, that should only make things even more difficult for all the writers on the recruiting beat.
  3. Do you remember that minor academic scandal involving several football and basketball players at North Carolina? If you do not, you are about to get a big refresher as new information about the ongoing scandal has come out regarding a class last summer that lacked any instruction and only enrolled football players (18 current and one former player). While this particular class did not involve any basketball players, several other classes that have raised suspicion did. It seems like there needs to be a lot more investigation into this matter before anything can be done (or it can be swept under the rug), but it is worth keeping an eye on throughout the summer months.
  4. All things being equal, we normally support giving a player additional eligibility, but there are the rare occasions where we will question that decision. The decision in favor of Memphis guard Charles Carmouche is one of them. He was suspended for committing an NCAA violation after refusing to pay for a hotel room massage that he received while he was with the team in Maui, then sat out the rest of last season after being taken out of the rotation. He was cleared to play last season with knee tendinitis, but he stayed out anyway — so naturally, the NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility late last week. To top it off, Carmouche, who graduated from Memphis in May, has decided to transfer from the school and will not have to sit out a year because of the graduate transfer waiver. So if you are scoring at home:  He was suspended for committing a NCAA violation; apparently lost his spot in the rotation during the time he was suspended for knowingly committing a NCAA violation; sat out with an injury despite being medically cleared; and he gets to transfer without any penalty. We will let you connect the dots.
  5. Two players who were widely lauded for their decisions to return to school for their sophomore seasons last year learned the hard way that more time in college generally gives scouts and media more opportunities to pick apart their games. Both Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes were preseason All-Americans who were expected to dominate college basketball from the opening tip in November, but despite excellent years from both (after all, Sullinger was a consensus 1st team AA and Barnes made some 2d and 3d teams), their NBA Draft stock indubitably dropped. Despite the criticism, both players are looking forward to proving the naysayers wrong in the NBA next year — Sullinger says that he is used to all the criticism, while Barnes says that his two years weathering criticism of his game at UNC taught him how to be a professional.
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Who’s Got Next? Pollard Picks Bama, Harrell Chooses Cards And More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on June 8th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Lead Story: Top-30 Senior Devonta Pollard Commits To Alabama

McDonald's All-American Devonta Pollard Is A Huge Pick-up For Alabama. (Photo Credit: Kelly Kline)

Small Forward Is Lone Crimson Tide Commit. Class of 2012 small forward Devonta Pollard (#27) was the top unsigned prospect left in the senior class going in to Friday, but the Mississippi native became the latest top 75 player to come off the board when he committed to Alabama. The McDonald’s All-American chose the Crimson Tide over Georgetown, Missouri and Texas and is a guy with great athleticism and length and is a terrific finisher. He is very good in transition and is great above the rim. He is also able to finish with both hands and has a good pull-up jumper in the mid-range game. Pollard is a great shot-blocker as well for a wing and impacts the game on the defensive end. However, one of the biggest things he can improve on is his perimeter shooting. He can develop better range from beyond the three-point line and become more consistent from outside too. The 6’8, 192-pound wing is the lone commitment in the Class of 2012 for Alabama head coach Anthony Grant.

What They’re Saying

  • Standout senior Savon Goodman‘s high school coach, Rob Moore, on who leads for his prized player: “Looks like SMU and UNLV are leading the pack. He loved [SMU head] coach [Larry] Brown. This late in the game he could commit at any time.” Read the rest of this entry »
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