Big East M5: 01.31.14 Edition

Posted by George Hershey on January 31st, 2014

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  1. Creighton and Villanova have shot up the rankings this season with great guard play and effective outside shooting. ESPN‘s John Gasaway wrote an article recently looking at the teams with the highest percentage of attempts that come from behind the arc. Creighton takes 43.1 percent of its shots from deep, but Gasaway points out how effective they have become at shooting two-pointers (54.8 percent of their twos in conference action) and how their defense is also much improved (surrendering 1.02 points per possession). Villanova has a similar profile in all three aspects. They take 42.7 percent of their shots from three, making 54 percent of their twos and allowing 1.04 points per possession. It’s interesting just how similar the two best teams in the league are and we will probably see a much closer game the second time these teams meet in Omaha. 
  2. Former Ohio State walk-on and current Grantland writer Mark Titus may not have the most accurate power rankings out there, but he definitely has the funniest. Titus likes to make jokes, but he is also very smart about basketball and makes compelling points along the way. This week he has Creighton Doug McDermott in his eighth national spot. Although he jokes about McDermott and his impressive recent play, he has a great quote about Creighton as a team, saying, “The Bluejays have become appointment viewing. If their shooting outburst against Villanova wasn’t enough to convince you of this, McDermott’s heroic effort should cement their status. No matter who they’re playing, you can turn on a Creighton game and be pretty sure you’re going to be thoroughly entertained for two hours.” The team’s ability to go off at any time and McDermott’s NPOY-level play has truly made this team a can’t-miss viewing appointment. 
  3. Buzz Williams must have been listening to all the Marquette writers and fans this week. With articles from Cracked Sidewalks, Anonymous Eagle, and Paint Touches all calling for the underclassmen to get more playing time, Williams put JaJuan Johnson and Deonte Burton into the starting lineup in last night’s impressive win, with John Dawson coming off the bench early. All three played at least 10 minutes while Burton led the trio with nine points and six rebounds. The key with the freshman is to remain aggressive while staying under control and understanding the situation. They showed their confidence attacking the rim and being pesky on defense, but also forced a few unnecessary shots. It seems like Williams likes the energy and production they bring which should help them get more comfortable with the college game in preparation for next season.
  4. Seton Hall has its first McDonald’s All-American since Andre Barrett and Eddie Griffin arrived in 2000. Coney Island native Isaiah Whitehead was named to the team on Wednesday as he finishes up an outstanding high school career. Zach Braziller at the New York Post talked to Whitehead after the announcement, as he follows in the footsteps of Lincoln High School legends Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson. This is a great honor for Whitehead and his arrival next year should excite Seton Hall fans as he leads a stellar class of New York and New Jersey local products.
  5. With the losses of Brandon Austin, Kris Nunn, and Rodney Bullock, Providence guard Josh Fortune has had to consistently play almost the entire game throughout conference play. He has played at least 30 minutes in all but one game, and even played 50 (!) against St. John’s. While Fortune has played a key role for the Friars as Bryce Cotton’s backcourt mate, he has had to focus on basketball while his mother is stationed 6,000 miles away as a colonel in the Army. Kevin McNamara writes about life off the court and how Fortune has to deal with the intermittent communication with his mother. Fortunately for head coach Ed Cooley, Fortune has stepped up and been a consistent producer all season, helping Providence battle for what appeared to be an unlikely NCAA Tournament berth.
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Who’s Got Next? Justin Jackson in Chapel Hill Along With Desi Rodriguez and Malik Marquetti

Posted by Sean Moran on December 31st, 2013

http://rushthecourt.net/mag/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/whosgotnext.jpgWho’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.

Justin Jackson is Ready for Chapel Hill

The top prospect in Roy Williams’ No. 4 rated recruiting class of 2014 is a rather unorthodox Top 10 recruit. Small forward Justin Jackson has been on the national radar since his freshman year in high school, a year that included a Sports Illustrated feature as a 15-year old. But he won’t be labeled a one-and-done prospect the minute he puts on a Carolina jersey like many of his highly-touted classmates. Standing at 6’8” and only 180 pounds, the No. 9 ranked player in the country has a slender build that belies a diverse skill set. In the summer of 2011 Jackson was primarily known as a three-point specialist on the Houston Hoops AAU team that was comprised of kids two years older than him. Now in his senior year, Jackson is anything but a long-range specialist, instead relying heavily on his strong mid-range game.

Justin Jackson is headed to North Carolina. (Bart Young/USA Basketball)

Justin Jackson is headed to North Carolina. (Bart Young/USA Basketball)

A rarity in the analytics age of close shots around the basket and corner threes, his patented shot is a floater from eight to 12 feet along with a soft one-dribble jump shot. During the spring and summer of 2013, Jackson teamed up with two other Top 10 prospects in Kelly Oubre (#6 overall – 2014) and Justise Winslow (#10 overall – 2014) to become one of the most efficient players on the AAU circuit. He averaged 17.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent from the field. He also shot 40 percent from the three-point line, but only attempted 37 treys in 24 games. Previously just an outside shooter, it seemed as though Jackson was not as confident in his jumper entering his senior season and discussed areas for improvement with Scout.com‘s Evan Daniels. “Definitely get stronger and just getting my three-point shot back,” Jackson said. “I’ve been working on it.” Ten games into his senior season, he is averaging 31.7 points per game and was recently named the Most Outstanding Player at the High School OT Invitational held in Raleigh, North Carolina. Read the rest of this entry »

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Who’s Got Next? Isaiah Whitehead and an Under the Radar Jalen Hudson

Posted by Sean Moran on December 24th, 2013

http://rushthecourt.net/mag/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/whosgotnext.jpgWho’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.

The Next Brooklyn Star: Isaiah Whitehead

With an alumni list that includes Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair, and Lance Stephenson it’s safe to say that Brooklyn’s Lincoln High has produced its fair share of talented and hyped prospects. Next up on the list is five-star senior shooting guard Isaiah Whitehead. At 6’4” and 200 pounds, Whitehead currently is rated the No. 12 player in the country and top overall shooting guard; however the Seton Hall recruit has seen his fair share of ups and downs over the past four years. Highly touted as Brooklyn’s next big thing when he entered high school, Whitehead was physically more advanced than most of his classmates at the time. While others continued to grow and get stronger, Whitehead hit a plateau. Despite leading Lincoln to a PSAL (Public Schools Athletic League) AA title as a junior, he entered the 2013 spring AAU season as a four-star recruit and the No. 8 shooting guard in the country. Playing for the Juice All-Stars, an AAU program run by his high school coach Dwayne “Tiny” Morton, Whitehead started off hot in April and never cooled off. He played on both the Under Armour and Nike AAU circuits, along with various camps and showcase tournaments. He averaged 16.3 points per game in Nike play while shooting 38 percent from the three point line and in each setting he came away with awards and accolades while steadily climbing up the recruiting rankings. In his last event of the summer, Whitehead received co-MVP honors in the Elite 24, a nationally televised all-star game played under the Brooklyn Bridge which featured numerous top players throughout the country.

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Big East M5: 11.18.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 18th, 2013

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  1. Villanova is off to a strong start, and the bloggers over at Big East Coast Bias got together to discuss the Wildcats. The writers are all impressed by senior James Bell, who is off to a torrid start this season, averaging 18 points and 8.5 rebounds per game through three contests. They also delve into Villanova’s standing among the “City 6,” the team’s non-conference slate heading into the Battle 4 Atlantis later this month, and the overall Big East play so far this season (hint: Doug McDermott is good).  The roundtable is a good read for anyone just getting caught up with this early season.
  2. Speaking of Doug McDermott, he flashed some early season heroics in an 83-79 win over a good Saint Joseph’s team, giving the Bluejays the lead with a late jumper and drawing a foul to secure a victory for the Bluejays in a come-from-behind victory. While McDermott will get a lot of credit for the win, and deservedly so with 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting, Ethan Wragge, Devin Brooks and Grant Gibbs all played huge roles in the victory as well. Wragge led the way for the Bluejays with 21 points, while Brooks scored 16 in just 21 minutes of play. McDermott has never really been a question for Creighton, but many wonder how the rest of the team will respond to the increased competition in the Big East; this win over Saint Joseph’s may have gone a long way towards assuaging some of those concerns.
  3. In college basketball recruiting, there are a few selector schools, and the rest of the nation is usually fighting an uphill battle against them when it comes to landing the true blue-chip prospects that define the sport. As a major program in a basketball hotbed like Chicago, one would think that DePaul would be a player in the local recruiting battles, but they are all too often left standing at the altar. The most recent example is Cliff Alexander, the third-ranked player in ESPN’s Top 100, had both the Blue Demons and another in-state program, Illinois, on his final list, before ultimately choosing Kansas. Chicago Sun-Times writer Ken Morrissey was none too impressed, calling the signing event “a funeral.” “I feel bad for Illinois coach John Groce and DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. When Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari loses a stud recruit, he shrugs and signs another McDonald’s All-American. For Groce, there is no shrugging. I’m guessing there’s something that looks a lot like dry heaving. A player of Alexander’s skills can make all the difference in the world to an Illinois. Or he can bring a program to its knees. I believe Illinois was kneeling Friday.”
  4. In happier Big East recruiting news, Seton Hall‘s lauded 2014 recruiting class is all signed and ready to go. The class, which is currently ranked ninth by 247sports.com, includes top shooting guard prospect Isaiah Whitehead, four star power forward Angel Delgado, guard Khadeen Carrington, and forward Ismael Sanogo. The class is expected to be a transformative one for a Seton Hall program that hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2006 and has gone without a conference title for 20 years. The class also makes a strong mark for the Pirates in their local recruiting areas, with Whitehead and Carrington coming from Brooklyn and Sanogo making the short trip to campus from Newark.
  5. Much has been written about the Seton Hall-Niagara 102 free throw game and what it means for a game that is taking a large step to eliminate the hand-checking that we’ve seen slow down the game in recent years, but that wasn’t the only game with a Big East team that was hugely affected. Marquette-Ohio State, a rematch of last season’s aircraft carrier game that wasn’t, devolved into a brutal slugfest of a game, ending in a 52-35 Buckeye win, a game so hard to watch that it put CBS Sports‘ Matt Norlander to sleep: “I have no shame — in fact, I think this feeling is pride — in telling you that I passed out on my couch for 20 minutes while attempting to get through this one, knowing full well I had to write about it once it was over.”  Many of these games and free throw shooting contests have been hard to watch, but as a fan of the game I still hold onto hope that this is a good thing in the long run. Ugly games in November are a small price to play for exciting, clean basketball come March.
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Big East M5: 11.04.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 4th, 2013

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  1. Headlined by national player of the year candidate Doug McDermott, Creighton is probably the most intriguing new member of the Big East, and with the season fast approaching, they want everyone to know that they are not afraid of the spotlight.  Fox Sports‘ Reid Hargrave went in depth on the Bluejays, and their fit within the new-look conference, coming away under the impression that Creighton should fit in just fine: “Just watch these kids play, spreading the floor and using non-stop ball screens and attacking from the perimeter with deadly shooting and always looking for the extra pass. This isn’t grind-it-out Big East basketball. This is the finesse game you’re more likely to see in Europe… But there’s nothing traditional about this new Big East, a conference still searching for its basketball identity.” Hargrave believes that the team’s offensive prowess takes credit away from what should  be a sound defensive unit, even when stacked up against a deeper lineup of conference rivals than what they are accustomed to. The story also includes this note — which should terrify the rest of the league — from head coach Greg McDermott on his superstar son: “But being with him every day, there’s no question he’s getting that shot off quicker.”
  2. A lot of the questions surrounding Creighton have to do with the schedules that they’ve faced in the past.  Doug McDermott thinks that recent history shows that the Bluejays are not afraid of playing high major competition, and the league that they’re coming from had quality teams similar to what they will face this winter. McDermott cites a stat that Creighton’s only losses in 11 recent games against power conference foes have been to the likes of Duke and North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament. Omaha.com‘s piece also brings up 2013 Final Four participant, Wichita State – a team from the Missouri Valley with high-major type talent that Creighton faced annually. The major adjustment in schedules for Creighton, Butler and Xavier will come in the consistent talent and athleticism that they will face on the floor, even from lesser Big East competition like DePaul and Seton Hall.
  3. The new Big East is quite attractive because of the basketball focus of the league. While most schools would love to have remained in a conference with the Syracuses, Louisvilles and UConns of the world, getting away from the myriad of issues surrounding college football is a good thing for the basketball-focused Big East programs, and  the league’s coaches, like Georgetown’s John Thompson III, seem to agree: “The identity is basketball is our religion. It’s a basketball conference.”  The three schools joining the “Catholic Seven” –  Butler, Creighton, and Xavier – definitely share the sentiment, as evidenced by the environments in which they play. Creighton is a regular among top-10 attendance lists, as the Bluejay faithful pack CenturyLink Center, while Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse is one of the toughest places to play in the country. The Big East may not send 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament anymore, or have a handful of top 10 teams at any given moment, but it is back to being all about the hoops.
  4. There is a lot that is new about DePaul basketball this year. The school is in a new league, the staff has added two new coaches, and the roster features eight new players this season. This isn’t a bad thing, as the Blue Demons have struggled to get the program jump-started and have gone without an NCAA Tournament bid since 2004. Oliver Purnell returns a few established players in Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young who he hopes can guide a young roster back towards the pack in the Big East. Despite being chosen at the bottom of the conference, with two established star players returning, the Blue Demons may surprise some teams yet.
  5. Villanova blog VU Hoops took a look at recruiting in the Big East and how the 10 teams compare with one another and other power conferences across the nation. Seven of the programs have at least one four-star recruit verballed already, with schools like Georgetown, Marquette  and Seton Hall — who has arguably landed the biggest name in guard Isaiah Whitehead — controlling the coveted rankings. The article goes on to compare the Big East to the rest of the recruiting landscape: “When it all shakes out, the new conference will most likely trail the SEC, ACC and Big Ten in terms of the number of commits ranked in the top 150 but not by much. Considering the Big East has fewer teams than each of those conferences, I think the numbers are very impressive and a good sign as the conference moves into the future.”
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Seton Hall’s Fishy Recruiting Tactics

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 20th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

There will be some measure of disbelief the first time you see it. Don’t hesitate to look, just know that when you start scratching your head, trying to think of an explanation, your eyes do not deceive you: the above link takes you directly to a list of Seton Hall’s 2014 recruiting class, which now counts three top-100 commitments, including Thursday’s huge addition: Lincoln High School (NY) shooting guard Isaiah Whitehead, a consensus five-star prospect ranked well within the top 40 of any recruiting database, ended his high profile recruitment Thursday when he committed to the Pirates. Whitehead, an explosive 6-foot-3 shooting guard with possible one-and-done designs, received offers from Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, UCLA, Syracuse, and other big-name high-major programs. Before Thursday’s decision, Whitehead was believed to have narrowed his lengthy list to two schools: St. Johns (who Whitehead visited Wednesday, and thus the school many expected Whitehead to choose) and Seton Hall. As word of the five-star guard’s announcement circulated, it was easy for one’s mind to wander: what led Whitehead to choose Seton Hall, a long-dormant program under Kevin Willard, over the Steve Lavin-led Red Storm? Was there something behind Whitehead’s decision not made apparent at his announcement? That seemed to be the implication from a New York Post report divulging the imminent hiring of Dwayne “Tiny” Morton, Whitehead’s middle school teacher and high school coach (and founder of Juice All-Stars, Whitehead’s AAU team), to Seton Hall’s staff. The sequence of events did not really leave much room for interpretation: Whitehead appeared to be a “package” deal.

If Seton Hall can't compete with top programs for high-level recruits, bundling players assistants is a legal, yet questionable, workaround (Photo credit: Under Armour/Mary Kline)

If Seton Hall can’t compete with top programs for high-level recruits, bundling players assistants is a legal, yet questionable, workaround (Photo credit: Under Armour/Kelly Kline)

I’ll answer the question that surely popped into your brain sometime over the last five seconds: No, there is nothing illegal about Seton Hall’s reported decision to hire Morton. The NCAA instituted a rule last season prohibiting the hiring of third-parties connected to recruits to any position other than one of the three assistant spots allotted to each team. Morton is expected to become one of the Pirates’ three assistants, making his new position perfectly valid – in the eyes of the NCAA. How the rest of the college hoop world (fans, rival coaches, and players) feel about this is another story entirely. Before you make a conclusive judgment, there is a pattern of repeated behavior worth discussing that might influence your opinion. Whitehead may be the latest package deal in Seton Hall’s 2014 class, but he’s not the only one. It was just over a month ago that 2014 four-star forward Angel Delgado’s commitment to Seton Hall was followed weeks later by the Pirates’ hiring of Oliver Antigua, who knew Delgado through his assistant’s role on the national program of Delgado’s native Dominican Republic. Or go back five months earlier, when 2013 point guard Jaren Sina – who reneged on his verbal commitment to Northwestern after the Wildcats replaced former coach Bill Carmody with Chris Collins – opted to join Seton Hall right around the time Fred Hill, a former Northwestern assistant instrumental to the New Jersey-based Sina’s initial commitment to the Wildcats, was added to the Pirates’ staff. That makes Morton’s potential addition Seton Hall’s third prospect-tethered hire under Willard over the past six months.

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Morning Five: 09.20.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 20th, 2013

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  1. Yesterday, the NCAA announced that it was opening up the bidding for the 2017-2020 Final Fours. Cities have until October 11 to submit their bids. The obvious major criteria is that the event will be hosted in a dome with a capacity of at least 60,000 and be able to provide at least 10,000 hotel rooms within a reasonable distance of the venue. We have expressed our distaste for playing basketball games in giant domes, but we understand the NCAA’s reasoning–greater access for fans and more money for the NCAA. Final Fours have traditionally been held in a select group of cities so we will be interested to see if the NCAA steps outside of its usual rotation.
  2. One of the reasons that we tend to stay away from recruiting stories is the random speculation that seems to follow many recruits. Yesterday was another example of this with Isaiah Whitehead, who eventually announced that he was committing to Seton Hall, but not before Twitter managed put out a variety of rumors about where Whitehead was going, what kind of package deal was involved, and if another package deal would be voided by this package deal. In the end, Kevin Willard was able to land a five-star point guard and the most highly touted Seton Hall recruit in recent memory. The questions regarding how he got Whitehead (almost certainly because Willard agreed to hire Whitehead’s high school coach as an assistant), which we will discuss separately, are another issue, but despite how shady it may seem it is still within NCAA guidelines.
  3. It has been four years since Michigan star Rumeal Robinson was arrested on fraud charges and it appears that another star of that era–Tate George–may soon be joining him. George, who hit a turnaround desperation game-winner in the 1990 Sweet 16 (only to be outdone the next round by some guy named Laettner), is accused of wire fraud totaling $2 million including $250,000 that he reportedly stole from fellow former Connecticut star Charlie Villanueva. According to reports, George convinced Villanueva and others to invest in a project in Bridgeport, Connecticut, but was never able to return the money on their investments and when it started falling apart fired his accountant then sent fraudulent letters claiming to be the accountant. The size of the fraud may pale in comparison to some more famous recent cases, but the fame of the individuals involved–especially in Connecticut–should make this front page news there for some time to come.
  4. We have posted quite a few links to articles about the relationship between higher education and the NCAA’s mission during our six and a half years of running the site, but I don’t think we have ever posted anything about the same relationship between high school education and sports. That is until The Atlantic published an article questioning how we as a country distribute our money and focus in high schools. The primary focus of the article is on high schools since they are a bigger part of American culture and learning, but the same argument can probably be made about college sports and how we allot our educational resources. As the article notes, organized sports are offered to school-aged individuals, but in the form of a club system rather than being integrated into schools. We have seen some suggestions of moving college sports to a club model and with the reported push towards a “Division 4″ model we would not be surprised if this model is advocated in the future.
  5. Grantland’s feature on Korleone Young might fall outside of our usual realm of college basketball, but as one of the more prominent prep-to-pro busts in history it is certainly worth a read if only as a cautionary tale. Perhaps the most interesting part to college basketball fans is the part in the middle of the piece about Myron Piggie, who has become an infamous figure in AAU and NCAA lore. Piggie is most well-known for his relationship with Corey Maggette and JaRon Rush and his payments to the team’s players. You may remember Piggie from the prank that Maryland pulled on Duke in 2005 or the outrage at Duke walking away from the scandal unpunished.
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Morning Five: 07.01.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 1st, 2013

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  1. We have expressed our feelings about the use of family hardships waivers by players to avoid having to sit out a year, but the case of Joseph Young may raise the stakes. Young, who led Houston in scoring last season with 18 points per game, left the program after his father decided to quit rather than be reassigned within the program. On Friday, Young announced that he will be transferring to Oregon and there is some speculation that he will apply for a hardship waiver because his father is no longer at Houston. As we have noted before we have our qualms about the use of hardship waivers to be able to play right away, which go beyond the scope of this space (as would our commentary on whether players should have to sit out at all when transferring when their coaches can move around without suffering any adverse consequences), but letting a player get a waiver because his father did not like taking a different job with the same pay seems like a stretch in terms of family hardship no matter what your perspective is.
  2. We usually see transfers going up or down a level, but the move to a program of similar caliber is much less common. So the move by Zach Price from Louisville to Missouri is somewhat unique, but given the circumstances should not be that surprising. Price, who entered Louisville as a highly touted big man, only averaged 1.7 points per game as a sophomore as he was stuck behind a rotation of solid frontcourt players and saw limited playing time. Price will join a growing contingent of transfers at Missouri which is quickly becoming Transfer U with its lineup largely built around transfers.
  3. Thursday night was a big night for many former high school stars, but it was also a disappointing for many who had what were considered legitimate NBA dreams a few years ago. Perhaps the best example of this is Renardo Sidney, who was considered a can’t miss prospect coming out of high school, but had a complicated and disappointing college career to put it mildly. Following the NBA Draft Dana O’Neil tried to track down the enigmatic Sidney and while she was unsuccessful her inability to even find out where he was living should serve as a cautionary tale to the next sure thing.
  4. Package deals are not a particularly novel idea in the world of college recruitment, but the manner in which Isaiah Whitehead and Ja’Quan Newton announced the possibility that they would be a package deal–through a series of tweets–is somewhat unique. Whitehead, a five-star  shooting guard, and Newton, a four-star point guard, are reportedly looking at several schools with Minnesota and Syracuse being the leaders. With the possibility of adding two top-50 players you can be sure that the recruitment of these two players will heat up.
  5. When the NCAA announced this spring that it was banning several schools from postseason play it led to outrage among some individuals as it appeared to primarily affect schools with less resources in particular historically black colleges. Now at least one of those schools–Alabama State–has been declared eligible for postseason play after the school submitted additional data leading the NCAA to withdraw its initial sanctions. One of the more interesting aspects of this announcement is how it will affect the players who transferred from Alabama State with the expectation that they would be able to play next year as the NCAA grants a waiver to athletes transferring from a school banned from the postseason due to a low APR score. Now that Alabama State’s postseason ban has been overturned the NCAA will have to make a decision on how to proceed with determining the eligibility of those players.
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Seven Sweet Scoops: Dakari Johnson Reclassifies, Tyus Jones Cuts List…

Posted by CLykins on November 9th, 2012

Seven Sweet Scoops is the newest and hottest column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting analyst. Every Friday he will talk about 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. Dakari Johnson Joins Class of 2013

As if the class of 2013 couldn’t get any better, it just did. Center Dakari Johnson of Montverde Academy (Florida) has announced his intentions to reclassify into the senior class. With the move, he will join Wayne Selden, Noah Vonleh and Andrew Wiggins as the four elite players from the class of 2014 to forego their junior seasons in high school. As Johnson becomes a part of the ever-more-impressive 2013 class, he will be ranked as the No. 12 overall prospect and immediately become the No. 1 overall center. A native New Yorker, Johnson transferred to Montverde from St. Patrick High (New Jersey) following head coach Kevin Boyle, who took the head coaching job there after the 2010-11 season. Due to transfer rules, Johnson was forced to sit out last season. At 6’10” and around 255 lbs., he is a handful for the opposition in the low post. He uses his strong frame very effectively with a soft touch around the rim. Due to his size, it proves to be a challenging task for defenders to keep him from where he wants to go down low. He is also very active on the glass, carving out space and rebounding the basketball at a high rate. Among those involved with Johnson include Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State and Syracuse. The Gators were the first school to see Johnson a day after his reclassification. His mother, Makini Campbell, has stated that he will be a spring signee.

Dakari Johnson now becomes the No. 1 center in the class of 2013 with his recent reclassification

2. Tyus Jones Releases List of Eight

The current No. 1 prospect in the class of 2014, Tyus Jones, has narrowed his recruiting list of potential suitors to eight. Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio State made the recent cut for the electric point guard from Apple Valley High School (Minnesota). Jones took over the top spot in the 2014 class after the reclassification of Andrew Wiggins. At 6’1″, Jones is an efficient scorer, as displayed at the 2012 Nike EYBL Finals in the summer, where he was the tournament leader in scoring with 25.8 points per game. Capable of carving up any defense with outstanding speed, he exhibits a great understanding of passing lanes on the court. A heady player, Jones is always one step ahead of the opposition, elevating not only his game but his teammate’s games as well. He was also a vital component for the USA U-17 National Team where he helped lead the squad to a gold medal at the FIBA Americas U-17 Championship, averaging 8.5 points and 5.4 assists per game. Outside of trimming his list, Jones has been apart of a rapid discussion in recruiting circles along with classmate and the No. 2 prospect, Jahlil Okafor. Both players have spoken publicly about being a “package deal” in college. Okafor is currently being pursued by five of the eight schools listed by Jones — Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina and Ohio State. Of those schools, the Blue Devils, Buckeyes and Spartans are currently in great shape of landing the top two junior prospects.

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Who’s Got Next? Wainright Opts For Baylor; Missouri Adds Two…

Posted by CLykins on October 25th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, 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 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. 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.

Scott Drew Hauls in Wainright

After making an official visit to the Baylor campus for their “Midnight Madness” festivities nearly two weeks ago, small forward prospect Ishmail Wainright made it official last Thursday evening by verbally committing to the Bears. Wainright, the No. 26 ranked prospect in the ESPN 100, picked Baylor over Ohio State, St. John’s and Texas.

Scott Drew Continues to Pile Up the Top Recruits at Baylor

A Missouri native, the 6’6″ Wainright was formerly a Missouri commitment back in May 2011. At the conclusion of that summer, he decided to reopen his recruitment after a successful AAU campaign. As Wainright began the recruiting process all over again, over 30 of the top schools in the country reached out to the Missouri small forward. With his recent commitment to Baylor, Wainright will join power forward Jonathan Motley as the only two commitments for the Bears from the class of 2013.

When describing Wainright’s overall game, he is a tremendous athlete and one of the most physically imposing small forwards at the high school level. On the offensive end, Wainright does most of his damage scoring around the rim, either in transition or driving to the basket when creating for himself off the bounce. He is also a great passer with even better court vision. He has a knack for making the right play at the right time when creating opportunities for his teammates to make plays. A glaring weakness of his offensive game, however, has been his shooting. Prior to the summer, Wainright was not a good shooter. Most defenses took note of that fact by playing him loosely, forcing him into taking shots from the outside. As exhibited during the early recruiting period in the summer, though, Wainright showed an ever improving jump shot. To round out his game, Wainright needs to make it a point to continue working on his shooting touch before ending up on the Baylor campus. On the defensive end, Wainright is as good as they come. With great length, strength and athleticism, Wainright is arguably one of the best defenders from the class of 2013. He can guard multiple positions on the floor in part due to his great frame. He is a nightmare for the opposition and will continue to be well into his college career.

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Big East M5: 10.24.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on October 24th, 2012

  1. DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti‘s contract with the school has been extended through 2017, according to Sports Illustrated. SI’s article focuses on the impact on the men’s basketball program, which is currently looking for a new home arena. Without necessary space on the DePaul campus, Lenti is looking at possibilities in downtown Chicago: “My preference would be if we can’t be on campus, I’d like to be somewhere downtown. I think we have over 120,000 alumni that are in the major metropolitan area so you’d like to have something that people could come to from work and have the same kind of excitement and energy that so many of our other Chicago teams have generated.”
  2. Multiple sources have reported that 2014 blue chip prospect Chris McCullough currently lists Syracuse as his top choice. The 6’10”, 220-pound forward is rated with five stars by ESPN, Scout, and Rivals, who has him listed as the #10 recruit in his class. In the past McCullough has discussed going to school with guard Isaiah Whitehead as a package deal, and Syracuse would seem to fit the bill in that situation, as the Orange have made offers to both players. The two also share offers from Rutgers, St. John’s, Arizona, Iowa State, UCLA, and others.  While McCullough has yet to commit anywhere, that may not last long based on a Facebook post of his which he made shortly after making it known that Syracuse was his leader:
  3. Georgetown has released images of its new basketball uniforms for the 2012-13 season.  The new jerseys, designed by the Jordan brand, are very similar to the current uniforms but add a number of team-specific designs and watermarks, not unlike the Nike Hyper Elite jerseys that conference rivals Syracuse and Connecticut unveiled in 2010. Georgetown’s jersey features the year ‘1984’, representing Georgetown’s national championship season, Hall of Fame coach John Thompson, and images from the Georgetown campus. It is currently unclear when the new jerseys will be unveiled, or when they will be put on sale for the public.
  4. Grantland‘s Shane Ryan began his college basketball season preview of the “20 (or so) Most Interesting Teams” with profiles of what he calls the four “Dangerous Outsiders” – Florida State, Saint Louis, San Diego State, and Cincinnati. In true Grantlandian fashion, the article was complete with numerous references to Akria Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and quotes from Les Misérables. Ryan refers to the Bearcats as “The Giant Killers,” citing their upset of Florida State (“The Grinders”, if you were wondering) in the NCAA Tournament which busted his bracket. Ryan describes Cincy’s long range shooting and aggressive defense as strengths, while weak defensive rebounding, which may be compounded with the loss of Yancy Gates, as the major weakness. He goes on to project a third place finish in the Big East and a run to the Elite Eight this season for Mick Cronin‘s team.  I think most Bearcats fans would take that.
  5. SBNation‘s excellent USF blog Voodoo Five published the first part of its season preview yesterday, focusing on USF’s excellent 2011-12 season as well as the program’s attendance issues. Blogger (and RTC emeritus) Collin Sherwin goes into detail about the “religious experience”-like quality of the Bulls’ first March Madness berth in decades, but expresses disappointment in USF’s fan contingency in Ohio for the games. With USF football struggling mightily this season, basketball may be the school’s banner varsity program in the 2012-13 academic year, so time will tell whether or not the fans embrace Stan Heath‘s surprising club. With the Big East soon losing a number of strong teams, it is nice to see one of the conference’s newer members pulling itself up by its bootstraps like USF seems to be doing.
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Big East Morning Five: 11.21.11 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on November 21st, 2011

  1. The biggest basketball-related story in the conference is still the allegations that Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine molested two former ball boys, but we would prefer to cover the reactions in more depth in a post to run later this morning. That said, it is worth noting that recruiting has already been affected as highly regarded Class of 2014 prospect and New York native, Isaiah Whitehead, dropped the Orange from his list of schools. It’s worth pointing out that Whitehead won’t be matriculating anytime soon, so plans could change based on how the story develops, but in reading the quote from Whitehead’s mother, she didn’t exactly leave the door wide open. Whitehead’s high school coach later told ESPN New York that Whitehead’s mother was confused and thought the allegations were about head coach Jim Boeheim. Regardless of the truth, the rumors and accompanying misinformation are indicative of the fact that Boeheim will have his work cut out for him on the recruiting trail as these allegations continue to swirl.
  2. It was a rough weekend in their home gym for Steve Lavin and St. John’s. Hosting the 2K Sports Classic, the Johnnies held Arizona to 41% from the floor but turned the ball over 17 times in an 81-72 loss to the Wildcats in the semifinal. Then, in the third-place game against Texas A&M, Lavin’s young club went just 22-38 from the free-throw line including two missed by Nurideen Lindsey with 2.3 seconds left that made the difference in a 58-57 loss. But the low point was undoubtedly having Anna Cate Kennedy — daughter of Aggies’ new coach Billy Kennedyreceiving her fair share of credit for the win for her ear-splitting screams during St. John’s free-throw attempts. The story is old by now so not much else needs to be said, but it can never be fun when the media only half-jokingly claims you were beaten by a seven-year-old girl.
  3. While some Big East teams have struggled against lesser opponents in the early going, Marquette has not been one of them. The Golden Eagles scored their third 30-point win last night, a 96-66 win over Mississippi in the Paradise Jam semifinals, to improve to 4-0 on the season. The hometown Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes head coach Buzz Williams in saying “we have struggled defensively.” I am not sure what numbers he is looking at, because the Golden Eagles currently rank No. 22 in defensive efficiency, but since they are No. 6 in offensive efficiency, I guess defense is the “problem.” The real issue will be deciding on a starting point guard, where Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan are battling for the majority of the minutes.
  4. As if the country needed any more proof about the ability of Connecticut sophomore Jeremy Lamb, the All-American candidate sprained his ankle in Saturday’s practice and still scored 25 points in 37 minutes against an overmatched Coppin State team. Coppin State is not very good, but Lamb was apparently touch-and-go for the game even as he arrived at the arena. There are still some doubters who think UConn can’t repeat without star guard Kemba Walker. Those people need to start watching Lamb because as good as he was last year, he is going to be a different player this year.
  5. There was lots of high praise for the Cincinnati Bearcats heading into the season. Letting an underwhelming Presbyterian team rally for a 56-54 win after being down 15 points with less than eight minutes to play is the kind of dud to make that praise look foolish. CBS Sports columnist Gary Parrish gave the loss his “loss to hide from” this weekend and deservedly so. Mick Cronin‘s team better hope they don’t end up on the bubble when February rolls around, because that kind of embarrassing loss, even early in the season, won’t look great in the eyes of the tournament committee.
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