Questions Loom About Florida’s NCAA Chances

Posted by Greg Mitchell on December 11th, 2014

Florida entered Selection Sunday last March with just two losses and was a mortal lock for a #1 seed. This season the Gators entered the second week of December with twice that many losses after letting a 15-point halftime lead slip away against Kansas. It seemed as if Florida might flip the script on its early struggles when the Gators jumped out to that lead in Allen Fieldhouse, and had they held on they may have briefly put to rest all the hand-wringing over injuries and missed players. Instead of grabbing the most impressive road victory of the young season, the Gators folded down the stretch, and that missed opportunity raises legitimate questions over whether Florida is in early trouble in terms of the NCAA Tournament.

Billy Donovan's Gators have a lot of work to do if they want to make their sixth-consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. (AP)

Billy Donovan’s Gators have a lot of work to do if they want to make their sixth-consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. (AP)

The name of the school on the front of the jersey and the coach walking the sidelines gives the Gators a benefit of the doubt that most other schools in this position would not receive. We’ve already seen this exhibited when voters in both polls put an inexperienced team with a lot of question marks in their preseason top 10. Over the last decade-plus, Florida has not only earned this respect and still, quite frankly, might be the second best team in the SEC. Their four defeats have all come at the hands of teams currently ranked in the top 22 of KenPom’s ratings, and three of these were away from the O’Connell Center. The concern, however, is whether Florida’ remaining schedule provides enough opportunities to put together a Tournament-worthy resume. The SEC doesn’t do the Gators any favors since its two games against Kentucky is their only real chance at a marquee win. It’s not ideal, but a lack of headline-grabbing wins shouldn’t be fatal for a school that doesn’t have to fight for respect.

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Five Impressions from Florida’s Loss To Miami

Posted by Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) on November 18th, 2014

There are several ways that you can frame Florida’s home loss to Miami. The popular way nationally is that yet another SEC team lost a non-conference game. That this loss included one of the league’s two flag-bearers just fuels the ubiquitous “sky is falling” narrative. There’s certainly no sugarcoating it: The SEC is off to a disastrous start. But all things considered, I don’t think this loss falls into a worrisome category. Florida’s frontcourt was decimated last night, with Dorian Finney-Smith, Alex Murphy and Chris Walker all out of the lineup for various reasons. This meant Billy Donovan had to provide 36 minutes of action to former walk-on Jacob Kurtz and 31 minutes to transfer Jon Horford, who was strictly a role player at Michigan. Horford played great (17 points, seven rebounds) and Kurtz more than held his own (six points, eight rebounds) but these are not the roles Donovan envisioned for this pair. With a full squad on the floor, Florida would have had a decided advantage on the glass against a smaller group of Hurricanes. Here are a handful of thoughts on a loss that shouldn’t leave Gators fans hanging their heads.

  • Michael Frazier. The Gators scored just one point over a four-minute stretch starting at the eight-minute mark in the second half, and this stretch coincided with Angel Rodriguez’s three-point barrage that got the Hurricanes back in the game. This was already an area of concern for Florida: When the Gators need a basket, who would go get it? Last year a combination of Scottie Wilbekin and near-flawless execution solved that problem. This year the de facto answer seems to be Frazier, the most experienced and accomplished scorer on the team. But the junior couldn’t answer the bell against Miami, missing four shots over that drought, including a few desperation jumpers late in the shot clock. One game doesn’t make a season, but Rodriguez got the better of Frazier last night.
The Gators need more from Michael Frazier, especially in crunch time (tampabay.com).

The Gators need more from Michael Frazier, especially in crunch time (tampabay.com).

  • Backcourt Potential. It was a mixed bag for the Florida guards last night. Eli Carter stole the show for the Gators, pouring in 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting and scoring from all over the floor. It was he, not Frazier, who got the Gators’ final shot (although it ended in a charge). Frazier had a pedestrian night (13 points) and Hill had a miserable shooting performance, including a crucial missed layup late in the second half, but he still handed out eight assists. Despite the so-so results, Carter’s return to the scorer he was at Rutgers gives Florida a dynamic-looking backcourt. We know Frazier will make shots and Hill will be able to break down the defense, so Donovan will have a dangerous backcourt that can score in bunches if Carter’s leg holds up and freshman Chris Chiozza proves serviceable.

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SEC Season Preview: Florida Gators

Posted by David Changas on November 14th, 2014

The SEC microsite will preview each of the league teams over the next week, concluding today with Florida.

Florida Gators

Strengths. Florida lost four starters from last season’s Final Four team that ran through the SEC with 21 consecutive wins. Still, as long as Billy Donovan is roaming the sidelines in Gainesville, his teams will compete at a high level. And even though the Gators watched as seniors Scottie Wilbekin, Patric Young, Casey Prather and Will Yeguete departed the premises, there is anything but a dearth of talent on the roster. The Gators are led by their only returning starter, guard Michael Frazier II, the team’s third-leading scorer who made 44.7 percent of his three-point attempts last season. They also return Dorian Finney-Smith and Kasey Hill, who were both solid contributors. But the biggest X-factor for Donovan’s team is forward Chris Walker, the enigmatic sophomore who missed 19 games last season with NCAA issues. Walker’s return was a boon for Florida, but he will need to make a massive leap if the Gators look to make another deep run in March.

Billy Donovan will need to be patient with his young team. (secsportsinsider.com)

Billy Donovan will need to be patient with his young team. (secsportsinsider.com)

Weaknesses. As with many college basketball teams in this era, there are a lot of unknowns with this group. The Gators’ roster is heavy on transfers, and thus there is very little returning experience. Alex Murphy is a Duke castoff, and Jon Horford, whose brother Al starred on the back-to-back national championship teams of the last decade, should start, along with former Rutgers transfer Eli Carter, who saw limited action early last season. If Walker does not develop as quickly as hoped, and the defense, which is a big preseason concern for Donovan, does not improve as the season progresses, the Gators could be in for a bit of a rough ride. And with the strong leadership of those seniors all graduated, someone else will need to step up and take charge on the floor.

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The Freshman 15: Preseason Freshman of the Year Watch List

Posted by Alex Joseph on November 12th, 2014

The 2013-14 NCAA freshman class was packed with stars. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Noah Vonleh were all top 10 picks in the 2014 NBA Draft. Not far behind that group were Zach LaVine (No. 13), James Young (No. 17) and Tyler Ennis (No. 18). Will the 2014-15 NCAA freshman class deliver nine first-round draft picks? While it’s doubtful, it’s certainly possible. This is a deep class full of talented players with completely different skill sets. RTC has compiled a list of 15 hopeful freshmen that have a solid shot at winning this upcoming season’s INTEGRIS Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year award.

Let’s start with the player most pundits believe will hold up the trophy at the end of the season.

The Favorite

Duke's Jahlil Okafor is the favorite (left) but the guys on the right (Arizona's Stanley Johnson,

Duke’s Jahlil Okafor is the favorite (left) but the guys on the right (Arizona’s Stanley Johnson, Kansas’ Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre and UNLV’s Rashad Vaughn) will also be right in the mix.

Jahlil Okafor, Duke – 6’11”, 272 pounds: If it weren’t for Emmanuel Mudiay (who chose to play overseas in lieu of a year of college), Okafor might be the consensus No. 1 NBA draft pick in 2015. Okafor has the size and length (7’5” wingspan) to not only be an interior force on offense, but he’s going to be a solid rim-protector on defense. Don’t be fooled by his weight, either. At 272 pounds, Okafor has surprisingly great mobility and athleticism. His ability to run the floor and his soft hands will make him a prime candidate to receive transition lobs on the fast break. As of now, Okafor is strictly a back-to-the-basket player who needs to develop a consistent mid-range jumper to round out his game. He also needs to work on his free throw shooting, as he figures to spend a lot of time there this season.

In the Discussion

  • Stanley Johnson, Arizona – 6’7”, 235 pounds: Johnson might actually be the most complete player in this class. He is a polished, two-way player and an above-average ball-handler for his size. He uses his high motor skills and never-ending energy to produce in transition, absorbing any and all contact as he makes his way to the rim. The knock on Johnson right now is that he needs to become a more consistent shooter and develop more range. Depending on what Arizona head coach Sean Miller wants to do with him, Johnson could find himself as the starting shooting guard in the Wildcats’ lineup. His versatility allows him to play multiple positions, but if he starts at the two, then he is going to need to become a floor-spacer with consistency. It will be interesting to see how Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson play next to each other, as they have very similar size and playing styles.

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Welcome to the Show: Breakout Freshmen in the Former SEC East

Posted by Christian D'Andrea on November 12th, 2014

Playing in the SEC means facing off against some of the most talented freshmen in the country, week in and week out. While Kentucky rightfully gets most of the credit for bringing in a cache of five-star prospects every season, the rest of the conference has produced plenty of gems of their own. Last season, players like Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones, South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell and LSU’s Jordan Mickey all broke on to the scene and made themselves potential first round NBA Draft picks. So who will be next?

Today, we’ll break down the first-year players who are primed to have the biggest impact for their teams in 2014-15. We’ll start with the side of the conference formerly known as the SEC East.

Georgia: Yante Maten. Maten, a 6’8″, 240-lb power forward, impressed in Georgia’s closer-than-expected exhibition win over Georgia Southwestern last week. He posted a 12/10/4 pts/reb/ast line and added a pair of blocks while playing the most minutes of anyone on the roster. He’s strong in the paint and has shown capable of passing from the low blocks when called upon, but he’s not the kind of shooter that will stretch the floor or pull defenders away from the basket. If Nemanja Djurisic stays at power forward all season (rather than sliding over to the three), he seems destined for a primary role off the bench this winter. Even in that capacity, he’ll have plenty of time to prep himself for a potential starting role in 2015-16.

Yante Maten

Yante Maten Was Impressive in Georgia’s Exhibition Game Last Week

Florida: Devin Robinson. Robinson had a disappointing unofficial start to his Gators tenure in the team’s exhibition win over Barry last week. The five-star freshman made just two of his 10 shots and picked up four fouls in 17 minutes of action. Even so, big things are expected from the small forward from Virginia. Robinson has the speed and athleticism to guard three positions and the shooting range to create match-up nightmares for opposing wings. He’ll have to prove that the Barry performance was just a case of the nerves catching up to him, but he’ll have several opportunities to find playing time on a team that must replace four seniors from last year’s squad.

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Duke and Florida Going All Out For Recruits On Saturday, Arizona Adding 7’1″ Dusan Ristic?

Posted by Sean Moran on March 7th, 2014

http://rushthecourt.net/mag/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/7sweetscoops.png

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. Big Saturday Night in Durham

In the last weekend of regular season hoops, Durham, North Carolina, will be the center of attention on Saturday night. Between a visit from archrival UNC, Senior Night festivities, and ESPN Gameday in attendance, there will be quite the buzz going on in Cameron Indoor Stadium. In order to take advantage of the big night, Duke has invited a plethora of big name recruits and top targets to campus. The biggest name on the list is five-star center Myles Turner. The 7’0” center is the top unsigned target in the 2014 class and the No. 2 prospect overall, and the Blue Devils are trying to add him to their already No. 1 ranked recruiting class. From the junior class, five-star power forward Chase Jeter (#18 – 2015) will make his official visit, as will five-star guard Luke Kennard (#14 – 2015). In addition, Coach K will have several players on campus for unofficial visits, including top sophomore Harry Giles, five-star wing Josh Langford (#15 – 2016), and four-star point guard Junior Smith (#26 – 2016). Several of the players noted above, including Jeter, Kennard, Giles, and Smith, are also considering North Carolina. With a win, the Blue Devils will look to continue their recruiting momentum with more five-star signatures. A loss, however, could certainly be devastating. Last year, UNC was in the exact same spot and brought Andrew Wiggins and five-star shooting guard Rashad Vaughn (#13 – 2014) to Chapel Hill. Duke jumped out to a 15-0 lead and the recruits quickly lost interest in the game they were brought in to see.

Myles Turner is visiting Duke on Saturday. Will the Blue Devils impress him enough to join No. 1 Jahlil Okafor?

2. Florida Celebrates SEC Championship

Florida has the SEC Championship locked up, but they will be looking to end the season with an 18-0 conference record. Going against rival Kentucky on Saturday afternoon, Billy Donovan is bringing in his 2014 commitments along with plenty of other recruits for 2015 and 2016. While not on the level of Duke’s haul, Florida will play host to 11 players in total. Four-star Devin Robinson (#24 – 2014), Chris Chiozza (#44 – 2014), and Brandone Francis (#37 – 2014) will all be suiting up for the Gators next year, and they will be joined by a pair of four-stars who are receiving strong interest from the Gators. Guard Antonio Blakeney is one of the Gator biggest targets in the class, ranked No. 39 in the country. He will be joined by 6’3” four-star guard Austin Grandstaff (#47 – 2015), who recently de-committed from Oklahoma State, and 6’8” Noah Dickerson (#49 – 2015). Alonzo Mourning’s son, Trey, will also be in attendance, as will four-star wing KeVaughn Allen (#84 – 2015) while on an official visit. The Gators will be celebrating their regular season accomplishments and will try to impress a few more players who will help them continue the tradition.

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Kevon Looney, Devin Booker, James Blackmon Jr. Commitments & More…

Posted by Sean Moran on November 1st, 2013

7sweetscoops

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. Kevon Looney Surprises All and Heads West

The #14 player in the class of 2014 surprised almost everyone on Thursday afternoon with his college commitment. Kevon Looney, a five-star forward, decided to head west and chose UCLA over Duke, Florida, Tennessee, Michigan State and Wisconsin. The commitment is a huge deal for head coach Steve Alford who struggled recruiting in his first summer at UCLA. Not only did Alford get a talented prospect and likely McDonald’s All-American, but he also signed his first five-star recruit and put to rest any doubts about his recruiting skills. Looney is a 6’8” combo forward that hails from Milwaukee and will join talented shooting guard Isaac Hamilton (#31 – 2013) in sunny Southern California next year. The Bruins will lose the Wear twins to graduation after this year and most likely forward Kyle Anderson will be off to the NBA as well, leaving plenty of playing time available for Looney. Alford spent time in July following Looney around from game to game and eventually sold UCLA to Looney. “UCLA is a great campus, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen,” said Looney. “They have a great style I can fit in.”

2. Kentucky Moving Up the Recruiting Rankings

Soon after five-star forward Kevon Looney made his announcement to UCLA, four-star shooting guard Devin Booker made his announcement as well. The 6’5” shooting guard chose Kentucky over Missouri, Michigan State and Michigan. Booker currently attends high school in Mississippi, but used to live in Michigan as he currently resides with his father, a former star at Missouri. Despite those connections, Booker still chose to play for John Calipari and the Wildcats. With the commitment, Booker joined five-star center Karl Towns Jr. (#11 overall, #4 center) and point guard Tyler Ulis (#29 overall, #6 PG) in the 2014 Kentucky class. Earlier in the summer, the smooth-shooting Booker noted that he enjoyed playing with point guard Ulis and this connection played a large part in his commitment as he indicated to Scout.com. “Going into my college decision a lot of it was playing with Tyler [Ulis]. I’ve been playing with Tyler at camps the past two years. He finds you wherever you are at. He just makes the game a lot easier for me.”

3. James Blackmon Jr. Going Back Home… Again

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SEC M5: 10.31.13 Edition

Posted by Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) on October 31st, 2013

SEC_morning5

  1. James Young was the star of Kentucky’s Blue/White scrimmage. The 6’6” freshman wing scored 25 points, including three out of five from beyond the arc. Young with his length, athleticism, and ability to shoot is a type of player John Calipari hasn’t really had since taking over at Kentucky. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Terrence Jones had plenty of length and athleticism, but neither was a reliable outside shooter. If Young’s exhibition play is any indication of what he will be, then Kentucky will truly be able to hurt teams in a variety of ways given the low-post options they have. Another interesting tidbit is that Alex Poythress took only five shots. Last week we discussed Poythress’ importance to this Kentucky team, and the need for him to be more aggressive. It’s only one scrimmage, but this isn’t a good start for Poythress in that regard.
  2. Marshall Henderson‘s suspension is no longer indefinite. Ole Miss announced on Tuesday that the reigning SEC scoring champ will miss three games this upcoming season. Athletic director Ross Bjork and the Ole Miss administration got creative: Henderson will miss the season opener against Troy, but the balance of his suspension will be carried out in the Rebels’ first two SEC games against Auburn and Mississippi State. Henderson’s “flair for the dramatic” (to put it lightly) first got widespread attention after his interactions with the Auburn crowd, but the January 9 game he will miss is in Oxford. The January 11 Mississippi State game is in Starkville, and I imagine Bulldog fans will be upset they won’t see Henderson on the court (for a number of reasons). Ole Miss did a good job making this suspension look meatier than a brief absence against lesser competition while not sacrificing their season.
  3. Auburn cruised in its Tuesday exhibition game against Victory University winning 109-67. Chris Denson led the team with 21 points and asserted himself early by going 5-6 in the first half. This is a positive sign for Auburn because Denson will be counted on to replace Frankie Sullivan’s scoring. Tony Barbee gave point guard minutes to freshman Tahj Shamsid-Deen and junior college transfer Malcolm Canada, and liked what he saw. ““Those two together, they play well off of each other,” Barbee said. “They both bring something different to the floor. You look at their assist-to-turnover numbers, that’s unbelievable. We will take that every night if we can get it.” Shamsid-Deen hit three three-pointers as well, and should be an intriguing young player for a program that needs excitement. Christian talked about him in his impact freshman piece, and I (foolishly) failed to discuss him in my piece on SEC freshman poised to see big minutes at point guard this season.
  4. Billy Donovan secured another blue chip recruit on Wednesday, as five-star 2014 forward Devin Robinson committed to Florida. Robinson is a big signing for Donovan because he will need to replenish his frontcourt after this season. Patric Young, Will Yeguete, and Casey Prather are all seniors. Despite this loss of talent the Gators should still be in good shape in 2014-15, at least in terms of potential. Robinson’s offensive game is apparently more perimeter-oriented, but at 6’8” it’s likely he can defend post players. Five-star 2013 forward Chris Walker will be around, if he doesn’t leave for the NBA after becoming eligible this December. Since this is such a strong draft class it’s likely Walker stays. Transfers Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris will also be around, and we pointed out, Finney-Smith could be a breakout rebounding star.
  5. South Carolina plays USC Aiken this Sunday in an exhibition game, and Frank Martin wants his team to learn from their in-state opponents. “I love being around people that love the game of basketball, and [USC Aiken coach Vince Alexander] and his staff love the game and have done an incredible job here,” Martin said before the Pacers’ Tip-Off Banquet, where he was the guest speaker. “They’ve created a culture of winning here at Aiken, which is something we’re trying to build at Carolina.” Martin has spent a lot of time around Alexander and the Aiken program, and it’s neat he’s made these efforts to enter the state’s basketball culture. Exhibition games are ho-hum experiences for many fans. But it’s nice that Division II schools like USC Aiken and their players get a chance to play in the in-state Division I arenas.
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Morning Five: 10.31.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 31st, 2013

morning5

  1. Many times interviews with players tend to be essentially fluff PR pieces so we have to commend Andy Katz for his excellent interview with controversial Ole Miss star Marshall Henderson. Henderson’s exploits both on and off the court have been well-documented, but it was interesting to see him be so open about his missteps publicly. Henderson will have to sit out three games this season (season opener then the team’s first two SEC games), but otherwise appears to have avoided any more significant punishment. Hopefully, Henderson can stay focused enough to have a long basketball career whether it is in the NBA or abroad.
  2. Maryland was dealt a significant setback when it was announced that starting point guard Seth Allen had broken the fifth metatarsal in his left foot and will be out 8-10 weeks. The injury, which occurred at the end of Tuesday’s practice, will lead the Terrapins to shift Dez Wells to the point guard position and should create issues for the team during Allen’s absence particularly with their opener coming a little over a week against a Connecticut team that boasts one of the best backcourts in the country. Allen should be back in time for the majority of the team’s ACC schedule so the Terrapins still have some hope of recovering from what is a poorly-timed injury.
  3. Yesterday we mentioned that Kansas would be without Naadir Tharpe for their opener due to the discovery that he had played in a summer league game. It turns out he was not the only one as the NCAA suspended Kuran Iverson for Memphis’ opener for playing in an unauthorized summer league game too. Iverson’s situation is a little different than Tharpe’s in that he had not played a season before committing the violation (playing a summer league game near his home and near his college) that he self-reported. He will be forced to sit out the team’s season opener against Austin Peay, but will be able to play in the team’s second game of the season, which will be a much stiffer test against Oklahoma State
  4. The beginning of this season already promised to be a rough one for Billy Donovan with his Florida team with multiple players out with injuries, Scottie Wilbekin potentially missing games due to a suspension, and Chris Walker still in academic limbo. Unfortunately things just got tougher as sophomore guard Michael Frazier will be out indefinitely after being diagnosed with mononucleosis. The combinations of injuries/illnesses and suspensions will likely force the Gators to start freshman Kasey Hill and sophomore DeVon Walker at the guard positions for the season opener against North Florida before they go on the road to take on Wisconsin on November 12.
  5. Billy Donovan did get some good news yesterday as 5-star forward Devin Robinson committed to play at Florida. The addition is particularly big for the Gators as Robinson (a Virginia native) is their first out-of-state 5-star recruit since 2011 (Bradley Beal) and only their second since 2004 (Corey Brewer). In the end (we are assuming this is the end of Robinson’s recruitment although we might be speaking too early), Florida beat out Indiana, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State for Robinson’s services. Robinson will join two other top-50 recruits (Brandone Francis and Chris Chiozza) to comprise what is shaping up to be a very impressive class of 2014 for Florida. With Florida’s high turnover coming after this season (four players are seniors including three interior players) Robinson should expect to see playing time fairly early.
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Seven Sweet Scoops: Okafor and Jones Visit Duke, Cliff Alexander Off to Illinois, and More…

Posted by Sean Moran on October 25th, 2013

7sweetscoops

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 Package Deal: Okafor and Jones Visit Duke

Where will Okafor and Jones be playing together next year?

The much anticipated weekend has arrived for Coach K and Duke. The top-ranked center and point guard in the class of 2014 are taking their official visits to Durham, North Carolina, today. Package deals in college basketball are often talked about but rarely come to fruition, especially one involving such star power. Jahlil Okafor, a 6’11” center out of Chicago, is the top ranked player in the country, and his buddy Tyus Jones, a 6’1” point guard out of Apple Valley, Minnesota, is the fourth-ranked player in the country. Both seniors have indicated that they will attend college together and have whittled their list of potential suitors down to three. Last week Kansas played host to the duo, but this week Duke gets to take its crack at selling the duo on moving east. With Okafor’s size and strength he is almost unguardable in the low post and would provide Duke with its best low post presence since the Carlos Boozer days. Jones would provide Duke with its best point guard since Jason Williams and he has long been discussed as the overall best point guard in high school basketball dating back to his sophomore year. Along with these two players, five-star small forward Justise Winslow (#9 overall, #3 SF) from the class of 2014 will also make the trip. His recruitment was discussed last week. All in all, it’s a huge weekend in Durham.

2. Cliff Alexander Makes His Last Official Visit

Cliff Alexander, a five-star power forward from Chicago, is staying in-state this weekend and making the two-hour drive south down to Champaign for his last official visit to Illinois. Alexander is a 6’8” manchild who is currently the No. 5 prospect in the class of 2014 and eerily reminiscent of L.A. Clipper DeAndre Jordan. Over the past few weeks Alexander and his family have taken in the sights and sounds of Midnight Madness at Memphis and Kansas. A decision is expected in November with Illinois, DePaul, Arizona, Kansas, Memphis, and Michigan State all receiving interest. Expect John Groce and the Illinois coaching staff to pull out all the stops this weekend for Alexander. While the Illini already have a strong recruiting class in 2014 with four-star power forward LeRon Black (#46 overall, #9 PF) and four-star point guard Quentin Snider (#31 overall, #7 PG) committed, Alexander would be the crown jewel. He can run the floor, block shots and dunks everything around the basket. His offensive skills outside the paint are rapidly improving and he put himself in the conversation for the number one player in the country. Not only would Groce get a player with future NBA talent, he would also lay claim to Illinois becoming a major player for all that Chicago talent.

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