Seven Sweet Scoops: Okafor, Jones, Alexander and Johnson Commit in Decision Day 2013…

Posted by Sean Moran on November 15th, 2013

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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 rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

1. The Decision Is In: Okafor and Jones Are Off to Duke

The Package Deal is Done: Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones are headed to Duke next fall.

In the Champions Classic, Kansas got the better of Duke; today the Blue Devils are back on top. The package deal announcement came in this afternoon as five-star center Jahlil Okafor and five-star point guard Tyus Jones committed to Duke over Kansas and Baylor this afternoon on ESPNU. The decision bumps Duke up to the No.1 spot in the recruiting rankings and automatically turns the Blue Devils into a title contender next season. The two have long discussed playing together and formed a strong bond through their time as Team USA friends as well as through AAU and camp travel. Okafor is the No. 1 player in the class of 2014 and laid claim to the top spot this past winter when he took over the title from Jones, who is now ranked as the No.4 player overall. Okafor stands at 6’10” and will provide a strong post presence for the Blue Devils, which they are currently lacking. With his size and touch he is almost unguardable in the post and will create a need for constant double teams. Jones stands 6’1” and has been touted as the best true point guard in the land for a few years now. He is a wizard with the ball and has range from the NBA three point line. Every team wants a strong point guard and post presence and Duke just landed both, so in turn they will once again be in contention for a national title in 2014-15. This marks the second year in a row that Coach K has signed the top player from Chicago, with last year’s recruit current freshman sensation Jabari Parker.

2. Big Cliff Off to Kansas

While Kansas lost out on Okafor and Jones, it did land five-star center Cliff Alexander, who played his cards close to the vest throughout the recruitment process and chose the Jayhawks over in-state school, Illinois. The Chicago native is currently ranked as the No. 3 center in the class of 2014 and No. 5 player overall. Other schools in the mix were DePaul and Memphis but the decision ultimately came down to Kansas and Illinois. John Groce was pitching Alexander on being the hometown hero that stayed in the Land of Lincoln, but the lure of playing for the Jayhawks was just too much. Alexander has ties to Kansas assistant coach Jerrance Howard, who had recruited Alexander as part of Bruce Weber’s staff for a while. His girlfriend is also a freshman at Kansas and on the women’s basketball team. At Kansas, Alexander will be able to operate in the high-low offense that Self runs and with his ever-expanding offensive game he will be able to score down low on power moves and also show off his improved outside shot. Alexander will join five-star small forward Kelly Oubre (#6 overall, #1 SF) in the class of 2014 in Lawrence. Over the past few years, Alexander has lived in Okafor’s shadow despite playing the Duke recruit to a draw the past two years. While Okafor decided to head to the east coast, Alexander will make a name for himself in Lawrence. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tom Crean’s Twitter Mistake Reflects Poorly on New Digital Recruiting Freedoms

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 6th, 2012

Christopher Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

In response to an increasing number of maddeningly trivial secondary NCAA violations and a widespread rise in the use of smartphone-friendly forms of communication, the NCAA officially removed the coach-recruit digital contact barrier this June when its new cell phone-related recruiting rules went into effect. The new guidelines allow coaches to bombard players who have completed their sophomore year of high school with instantaneous messaging services such as texting, emailing and Twitter direct messaging. Coaches and assistants long rued the seemingly inane restrictions limiting today’s most efficient and instant forms of communication. Fewer contact controls will facilitate more frequent communication while eliminating the ever-present fear of committing a menial rule-break. Coaches can now rest easy knowing their digitized messages will safely reach a recruit’s inbox without having to regret pressing send. The result: A distinctly modernized recruiting world with streamlined communication and a newfound safeguard from the constant threat of an unsuspecting NCAA bylaw wreaking its retributive justice. The new rules makes life easier on the NCAA, too, as the organization no longer has to spend countless hours monitoring the flow of cell phone communication between coaches and recruits.

The NCAA’s new regulations allow coaches to reach recruits instantly with smartphone communication (Photo courtesy Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images).

For the players, the long-term implications of the new contact protocol aren’t quite as rosy. Coaches that for years had wielded a restricted range of communication devices — and restricted usage on those devices — can now reach their desired prospects with the simple push of a button. The means and power to reach recruits now lies in the palm of their hands. Eliminating letters and unofficial visits in favor of texts and emails seems like a pretty fair deal for both sides, provided coaches don’t abuse their expanded degrees of communicative freedom. And therein lies the problem. In a hyper-competitive recruiting market, where coaches work tirelessly to land top high school talents, recruits can be overwhelmed by a barrage of texts and emails. Building a strong bond between player and coach is an integral aspect to any successful recruiting pitch. Now that coaches can make those connections with a few clicks on their handheld device, excessive contact is inevitable.

On Friday, Indiana coach Tom Crean provided a glimpse of what goes into the Division I college hoops recruiting pitch and brought to light another potential downside to the new guidelines. Here’s the tweet that appeared on Crean’s public feed:

“I am doing great. I have been thinking about you alot since last weekend. A whole lot. How are you doing?”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Big East Recruiting Round-Up: Nerlens Noel Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on February 2nd, 2012

Big East Recruiting Round-up is a recurring feature that will focus on, well, recruiting.  Rumors, buzz, rankings…..everything potentially shiny and new.

Last night ESPN’s Dave Telep broke the news that shot blocking savant Nerlens Noel will reclassify to the class of 2012.  Furthermore, Noel, who has been deliberate and thoughtful about his recruitment all along, provided a highly-anticipated list of seven finalists.  This created a Twitter explosion and new pecking order in the 2012 rankings, with Noel sure to vault to the top.  Without further ado, here is the list (in no particular order):  Syracuse, Connecticut, Providence, Kentucky, Florida, Georgetown and North Carolina.

Step Aside Lebron: Noel's "Decision" is Big (Photo: ESPN.com)

There is only one question left to ask and it is time for you to chime in.

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Mark Gottfried Strikes Again: TJ Warren Commits to NC State

Posted by mpatton on November 2nd, 2011

Mark Gottfried is making a recruiting impact on Tobacco Road. The Wolfpack already had 2012 commitments from Rodney Purvis and Tyler Lewis. Now, Gottfried has struck again with another local talent in TJ Warren. Warren is a 6’7″ small forward from Brewster Academy (NH, though he lives just outside of Raleigh). Purvis and Warren are five-star prospects while Lewis is a four-star prospect. Dave Telep first broke the story and managed to catch up with Warren about his commitment: “When I made the decision it just felt right [...] It was that feeling inside and I’ve been having that feeling for a long time.” Warren is ranked #23 by ESPNU, #23 by Rivals and #22 by Scout. From his recruiting profiles, he’s a big time scorer.

Mark Gottfried Already Secured a Top-5 Recruiting Class for 2012

Former head coach Sidney Lowe should get some credit for convincing CJ Leslie to stick around Raleigh for college, but Gottfried has taken recruiting Triangle talent to another level. The scary news for other ACC teams is, according to Evan Daniels of Scout.com, the Wolfpack may be poised to add even more to their already top-five recruiting class: “They are in good shape with Amile Jefferson [ranked #20 by Scout] and are also recruiting Andrew White [ranked #52 by Scout].”

Gottfried came to Raleigh with a reputation for being a great recruiter, but I’m not sure anyone expected this much success this quickly.

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