Breaking Down the Top Five Big 12/SEC Challenge Match-ups

Posted by Brian Goodman on June 3rd, 2014

Over the last few years, college basketball has taken some big steps to become more relevant in the national consciousness before non-conference play. The second annual Big 12/SEC Challenge will attempt to drum up some early December interest in basketball before bowl season hits in earnest. The Big 12 won last season’s rendition with seven victories in 10 games and will look to pick up the pieces of its fractured national reputation after a middling March performance. Here’s a quick look at the top five match-ups of next season’s edition.

Cameron Ridley will look to build on an impressive 2013-14 campaign when Texas faces the prohibitive #1 team in the country. (Brendan Maloney/USA Today)

Cameron Ridley will look to build on an impressive 2013-14 campaign when Texas faces the prohibitive #1 team in the country. (Brendan Maloney/USA Today)

  1. Texas at Kentucky (December 5) – Just 12 months ago, Rick Barnes was squarely on the hot seat. Now he finds his team in the Challenge’s marquee game against last year’s national runner-up and what is sure to be the preseason #1 team in the country. Both squads will enter this game with crazy depth, so look for this one to be decided by how each team’s coach handles its pieces at this early juncture. The Longhorns will have a slight leg up on Kentucky in experience with Cameron Ridley, Jonathan Holmes and Prince Ibeh to side with blue-chip prospect Myles Turner,  but much of Kentucky’s frontcourt will be back too after Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson announced their returns in surprising fashion. The guard battles will be nothing to sneeze at, either, with Javan Felix, Isaiah Taylor and Demarcus Holland going up against the loaded Kentucky backcourt of Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison and Tyler Ulis.
  2. Florida at Kansas (December 5) - Andrew Wiggins nearly led the Jayhawks to an improbable comeback in Gainesville last season, but Kansas ultimately fell short in that effort. They’ll have a chance to make it good at Allen Fieldhouse, where despite their overall struggles last season, was a relative safe haven for Bill Self’s team. Wiggins and Joel Embiid are of course now gone, but Kelly Oubre, Cliff Alexander and Sviatoslav Mykhaliuk will step in, and hopefully Bill Self will find a steady point guard who can be relied on to make everything come together. Florida’s Final Four core has moved on as well, so this will be a great chance to see how incumbents Michael Frazier, Kasey Hill, Chris Walker and Dorian Finney-Smith handle a big early test on the road. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Seven Sweet Scoops: A Viewer’s Guide to the McDonald’s All-American Game

Posted by Sean Moran on April 2nd, 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.

Tonight the top high school players in the country gather to participate in the 37th annual McDonald’s All-American game held at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Twenty-four of the top ranked high school seniors will provide the college basketball world with a glimpse of what can be expected from the next touted class of youngsters on ESPN at 9:30 PM ET. The high school class of 2014 might not have the star power similar to last year in a game that featured the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker and Aaron Gordon, but there are still several good storylines and match-ups to keep an eye on during tonight’s contest.

1. Chicago Natives At Home

There are three McDonald’s All-Americans from Chicago this year, including two of the top five players in the country. Five-star center Jahlil Okafor and five-star power forward Cliff Alexander will suit up for the East and West squads, respectively. The two played together on the AAU circuit this past summer and faced off in high school action several times over the last three years. Okafor is considered the No. 1 player in the country and is headed to Duke next year, while Alexander is ranked No. 5 and has committed to Kansas. Alexander put together a monster senior campaign, but it was Okafor who won the Illinois state title. Okafor and Alexander excel with different styles although they are both low post scorers. The 6’11” Okafor has the more refined post game and is almost impossible to stop in a one-on-one situation while Alexander is a DeAndre Jordan clone who looks to dunk and block everything in sight. While these two might not match up in tonight’s game, you can be certain that they will both have the hometown crowd on their feet. To go along with the Windy City twin towers, there is also diminutive 5’9” point guard Tyler Ulis (#29). The four-star prospect is headed to Kentucky and will be the quickest player on the court. The floor general is great at beating his man off the dribble and creating easy shots for his teammates. Ulis will suit up on the East squad along with Okafor, while Alexander will play for the West.

2. Where Will Myles Turner Go?

There is only one prospect in the game that remains uncommitted and he is 7’0” center Myles Turner, who is also the No. 2 ranked recruit in the country. This time last year the Texas native wasn’t even considered a top 100 player, but after a meteoric rise last summer he is now the hottest commodity in high school. Turner just recently took an official visit to Texas after previously visiting Ohio State, Duke, Oklahoma State and Kansas. He has also taken unofficial visits to SMU and Texas A&M, and is also reportedly considering Arizona and Kentucky. It’s been a whirlwind journey for Turner, who plans to sit down with his advisers and family after the Jordan Brand Classic to discuss his choice of suitors.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Three Questions: Where Does Kansas Go From Here?

Posted by Kory Carpenter on April 1st, 2014

It’s been a week since another tough NCAA Tournament loss for Kansas and fans are still scratching their heads at how the Jayhawks went out this season. Few people expected a Final Four berth if freshman center Joel Embiid remained sidelined with his back injury, but a third round loss to #10 seed Stanford was still a shocker. The Cardinal weren’t a particularly good team this season and didn’t appear to pose much of a threat heading into last Sunday’s game. But for the second straight season, the Jayhawks were reminded of how important guard play becomes in March. Starting point guard Naadir Tharpe finished with five points on 2-of-8 shooting with only two assists and two turnovers in the loss. Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden combined to shoot 2-of-11 with six points, and that was all she wrote for the Jayhawks in Saint Louis. Bill Self has plenty of talent coming back and a few top recruits arriving in Lawrence, but he will have some substantial holes to fill as well. Andrew Wiggins has already announced his departure, while Joel Embiid is still reportedly undecided, but it is expected that both players will enter the NBA Draft as high-lottery picks. Here are three questions surrounding the status of the Kansas program heading into the offseason.

Will Naadir Tharpe improve enough next season? (Rich Sugg/The Kansas City Star)

Will Naadir Tharpe improve enough next season for a run in March? (Rich Sugg/The Kansas City Star)

1. Will Point Guard Troubles Doom Next Year’s Team Too? Kansas was sent packing early for the second straight season largely because of mediocre point guard play. Elijah Johnson was forced to play out of position at that spot last year because Self didn’t yet trust Tharpe in that role. Self had no other realistic choice at the position this time around, but his averages of 4.5 PPG and 2.5 APG against Eastern Kentucky and Stanford weren’t good enough for this time of year. Looking to next season, Kansas could remain in trouble at the slot. Tharpe will have another year of experience under his belt, but he also loses two of the better offensive weapons in the country. His backups — rising sophomores Frank Mason and Conner Frankamp — dabbled at the position but were unable to outplay him, leaving Self to go with Tharpe in the NCAA Tournament. On the recruiting trail, Tharpe’s just-good-enough game may have scared some better prospects away. Kansas went hard after five-star point guard Tyus Jones, but did the talented freshman want to risk losing playing time to a senior in Self’s system? Heading to Duke might have been the safer bet.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Who’s Got Next? Top McDonald’s All-American Match-Ups

Posted by Sean Moran on February 3rd, 2014

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

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.

This past week 24 of the top high school seniors in America were selected for the most prestigious prep event in the country, the McDonald’s All-American game. After moving around to different spots for a number of years, this game is now held each year at the United Center in Chicago and gives college basketball fans a chance to catch the soon-to-be top incoming college freshman. NBA general managers and front office staff also descend on the Windy City in order to watch the team practice sessions held the two days prior in order to assess the prospects that will start to enter the NBA Draft in 2015 and beyond. This year’s event features many interesting personnel match-ups that will take place in the practice sessions and in the nationally-televised game. There were also several surprise selections to the rosters and a few noticeable omissions, all of which we’ll cover below.

Top Game Match-Ups

1) Jahlil Okafor, 6’11”, C (#1 overall) vs. Myles Turner, 7’0”, C (#2 overall)

The top two players in the country will face-off at opening tip on April 2. The two big men matched up back in August during the championship of the Adidas Nations tournament in Long Beach, California, but this time around the stage will be much brighter. Jahlil Okafor, the hometown favorite, has been groomed for this day from the time he first stepped on the court for Whitney Young (IL) as a freshman. Myles Turner, on the other hand, was not even a top 100 prospect one year aga, but a scintillating summer and high school season vaulted him up the recruiting rankings and to the top of many NBA Draft boards. Okafor’s game is based on power and a soft touch close to the basket while Turner is a long, lean and versatile center. Okafor has been frustrated this season with the constant double- and triple-teams and will finally face a man-to-man defense when going up against the superb shot-blocker, Turner. Okafor committed to Duke in the fall and Turner is the top uncommitted prospect in the country with the Blue Devils in his final six along with Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Ohio State and Texas.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Seven Sweet Scoops: Chase Jeter’s Official Visit, HoopHall Classic, Myles Turner and More…

Posted by Sean Moran on January 17th, 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. Chase Jeter Sets First Official Visit

On Tuesday night, five-star power forward Chase Jeter announced that he will be making the trip to Duke on March 8 for his first official visit.

The No. 19 ranked prospect in the junior class (2015) is off to Durham for Duke’s senior night against UNC. The decision by Jeter to make Duke his first visit is a huge score for the Blue Devils. Not only does Coach K get the first visit from the 6’9” junior, but he also gets Jeter to make the coast to coast trip from his home state of Nevada. Heavily recruited by Pac-12 schools over the past year and a half, the Blue Devils started showing serious interest this past fall after several viewings during the July recruiting period. Jeter plays at Bishop Gorman (NV) High School and ended his first two years of high school with state championships in each year. As a freshman he was in the shadow of Shabazz Muhammad and as a sophomore it was his big man counterpart in Stephen Zimmerman (#3 – 2015) who garnered most of the attention. Despite the relative lack of attention, Jeter improved rapidly over the past year while putting in hard work in the weight room in order to achieve his goal of getting stronger. Now a junior, colleges such as UCLA, Michigan, Oregon, Louisville, Arizona, and North Carolina are showing strong interest in the up-and-coming Jeter, but it is Duke that nabbed the first visit.

2. HoopHall Classic Preview

The crown jewel of high school tournaments kicks off in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Saturday featuring a plethora of five-star players and highly ranked teams. The first big match-up features Bishop O’ Connell (VA) vs. Rainier Beach (WA). O’Connell features high scoring Maryland commitment Romelo Trimble (#35 – 2014) and Rainier Beach features Louisville wing Shaqquan Aaron (#34 – 2014). The prime time game on Sunday features two prep powerhouses and a point guard delight when five-star Emmanuel Mudiay (#3 – 2014) squares off against four-star and Gonzaga commitment Josh Perkins (#25 – 2014). Come Monday, ESPNU will broadcast four games that will showcase UNC commitment Theo Pinson (#27 – 2014), the top ranked player in the country in Jahlil Okafor, and five-star prospect Stanley Johnson (#7 – 2014). The biggest game will feature man-child Cliff Alexander (#5 – 2014) against the top ranked team in the country in Montverde (FL) which features five-star junior Ben Simmons (#8 – 2015) and five-star guard D’Angelo Russell (#16 – 2014). Each year this tournament hosts the top players in the country and this year is certainly no different.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Seven Sweet Scoops: Luke Kennard Recruiting Battle, Rashad Vaughn Drawing Scrutiny, and More

Posted by Sean Moran on December 20th, 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. Recruiting Battle Heating Up For Two-Sport Star

Last week, five-star shooting guard Luke Kennard scored 51 points in front of Thad Matta. This past Tuesday he went for 37 points in front of John Beilein. Despite just beginning his junior season, Kennard has already seen his fair share of recruiting attention in both basketball and football. The 6’4” guard is currently ranked as the No. 4 shooting guard and No. 15 overall player in the class of 2015 but was also named first-team All-State for his quarterback play. The Ohio native is currently averaging 40 points per game and in August was named as one of Reebok’s top 25 most dynamic athletes. Louisville offered him a football scholarship, but Kennard has received offers from the nation’s elite in basketball as well. In addition to Ohio State and Michigan, he is being heavily recruited by Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana, UNC, Duke, Florida and Michigan State.

2. Vaughn Recruitment Drawing Scrutiny

Five-star senior shooting guard Rashad Vaughn is one of three remaining Top 100 prospects in the class of 2014. The No. 2 shooting guard in the country and No. 13 prospect overall recently left his home state of Minnesota to play his senior season at basketball powerhouse Findlay Prep (NV). Now his hometown newspaper, the Star Tribune, is questioning the role of Vaughn’s mentor, Pete Kaffey. As noted in the article, Kaffey, 27, began a mentoring role when Vaughn was a fifth-grader. Last year, Kaffey spent the season as an assistant coach at Vaughn’s high school, Robbinsdale Cooper (MN) High and also accompanied Vaughn on various unofficial visits to colleges and AAU tournaments and camps throughout the summer. When he decided to transfer he chose Findlay Prep, a program well known “as a pipeline for NBA talent” and also a school that happened to have an assistant coaching position waiting for Kaffey. While there are no allegations of wrongdoing at this time, it will be interesting to see where the 6’5” scorer lands and if Kaffey ends up working in some capacity on the college staff. Right now Vaughn is expected to narrow his college list down to five finalists which will include UNLV and Iowa State along with possibly UNC, Kentucky, Minnesota or Kansas.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Kansas Lands Alexander, Misses On Jones & Okafor

Posted by Taylor Erickson on November 15th, 2013

It’s official. Cliff Alexander, a 6’9″ power forward from Curie (Chicago) High School, is headed to Kansas next season.

Alexander Is Headed to Kansas Next Season

Alexander Is Headed to Kansas Next Season

In a ceremony at his high school on Friday afternoon, Alexander announced his commitment to Bill Self and the Jayhawks for the 2014-15 season, joining fellow top prospect and Kansas commit Kelly Oubre, a 6’7″ swingman from Sugar Land, Texas, via Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. Alexander is a physical athlete that plays above the rim and will be expected to make an instant impact in Lawrence next season. The Chicago big man was believed to be solid on Kansas just a few short weeks ago, but gained momentum to Illinois as of late when many believe Kansas backed off on Alexander in an attempt to focus their efforts on Jahlil Okafor, Rivals’ number one ranked recruit in this year’s class. It was believed that Alexander’s long-standing relationship with former Illini assistant and current Kansas assistant coach Jerrance Howard, coupled with the fact that his girlfriend plays basketball for the Jayhawks, would be enough to lure the talented big man to Kansas. If current Kansas center Joel Embiid bolts for the NBA after this season, as many anticipate, Alexander will easily help fill the void and solidify the Kansas frontcourt along side sophomores Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor next year. Landing Alexander continues Self’s recent success on the recruiting trail after hauling in the second ranked class in 2013 with Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Embiid, among others. The combination of Alexander and Oubre, along with the Jayhawks’ returning talent next season should have Bill Self’s squad poised once again as a legitimate title contender in March 2015. Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 M5: 11.14.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Oklahoma State freshman Stevie Clark is adjusting quickly to the college game. Clark has put up some very efficient numbers in the early going, averaging 12 points and seven assists in just 21 minutes of action per game. If he can maintain a similar level of production behind Marcus Smart as the Cowboys’ schedule toughens up, Clark will have a great case for being the league’s best sixth man. Oklahoma State is still searching for answers down low, but between Smart, Clark, Markel Brown and Phil Forte, the Cowboys have an embarrassment of riches in their backcourt.
  2. Iowa State continues to receive outstanding contributions from its newcomers, but Tuesday night, it was junior forward Dustin Hogue who stepped up for Fred Hoiberg’s team by chipping in 13 points on just six shots to go along with eight rebounds and two steals against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Cyclones will be without Melvin Ejim against Michigan this Sunday in Ames, but encouraging performances throughout ISU’s roster this week and an amazing homecourt advantage could give them just what they need to beat the Wolverines.
  3. The Kansas Jayhawks have found production on their bench to weather early storms of foul trouble, according to Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star. Frank Mason and Brannen Greene are just two players who tend to get lost in the shuffle behind KU’s star-studded starting lineup, but they’ve provided huge minutes in supporting roles as the season has lifted off. As freshmen, they’ll only get better, so opponents shouldn’t expect a huge drop-off when Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden need to catch a few breathers.
  4. There were no surprises in Lawrence on National Signing Day Wednesday. Kelly Oubre, who committed to the Jayhawks earlier this semester, sent in his NLI, cementing his pledge to play for Kansas next season. Oubre figures to take Andrew Wiggins’ place in the KU rotation as an explosive, long-armed wing. Kansas remains in the hunt for Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, who will announce their decisions at the same time on Friday afternoon.
  5. Kansas State bounced back from an ugly early loss to Northern Colorado by taking care of Oral Roberts in a 71-63 win Wednesday night. Freshman Marcus Foster joined some esteemed company, becoming the first Wildcat freshman since Michael Beasley to score 25 points in a game. Head coach Bruce Weber has repeatedly insisted that his veterans need to lead offensively, and while that’s certainly an understandable sentiment, there are no sure things in his lineup. It would be wonderful for Kansas State if Shane Southwell, Will Spradling and Thomas Gipson could be counted on for 40 combined points on a nightly basis, but in the meantime, our unsolicited advice to Bruce Weber is to take your points wherever you can get them.
Share this story

Who’s Got Next? Jayhawks Land Oubre and Buzz Williams Strikes Again…

Posted by Sean Moran on October 14th, 2013

whosgotnext

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.

Jayhawks Sign First Recruit For 2014

Last Tuesday, Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks landed five-star small forward Kelly Oubre from Houston, Texas. Oubre is currently the fourth-ranked small forward in the class and 11th overall and is the first player to make a commitment to the Jayhawks in the class of 2014.  The commitment took place after a whirlwind tour that first saw Oubre visit Lawrence for KU’s version of Midnight Madness, “Late Night in the Phog,” on October 4.  As soon as this event ended Oubre took a weekend trip to Colorado Springs to participate in the USA Developmental Camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center before returning back to school. After getting back, Oubre cancelled his upcoming official visit to Kentucky and on October 8 announced his intention to play for Kansas.

Kelly Oubre

Kelly Oubre is Kansas’ Heir Apparent on the Wing

Oubre is a 6’6” athletic wing who is known for his outside shooting ability. Last year he led his Fort Bend Bush High School to the Texas State Championship where they ran into current Kentucky freshmen Andrew and Aaron Harrison. After averaging 22.7 points per game as a junior, Oubre made the decision to transfer to Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada. This past spring and summer Oubre shot up the national rankings with his play in the camps and on the AAU circuit. He joined two other five-star wings in Justin Jackson (#8 – Scout 2014) and Justise Winslow (#9 – Scout 2014) on the Houston Hoops AAU team which also played in the Nike EYBL. Oubre averaged 15.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting 31.5% from the three-point line.

Kansas gets a small forward who is known for his effortless left-handed stroke. He prefers to launch threes from just below the foul line extended and can shoot out to NBA range. Oubre has the athleticism and skill to get to the basket and finish in the paint, but he prefers to rely on his shooting touch to get baskets. Sometimes this can get him into trouble when he continues to launch from deep when his shot is off. While this situation occurred several times during AAU play, Oubre turned in one of the top performances at the USA camp. Right now Kansas is also heavily involved with five-star power forward Cliff Alexander (#5 – Scout 2014) and five-star center Myles Turner (#2 – Scout 2014). Alexander joined Oubre in Lawrence for “Late Night” while Turner traveled to Colorado Springs for the USA Camp. The Jayhawks are also one of three finalists for the package duo of Jahlil Okafor (#1 – Scout 2014) and Tyus Jones (#4 – Scout 2014), both top five players nationally. Oubre got the ball rolling for the Jayhawks. Who’s next? Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Seven Sweet Scoops: USA Basketball Developmental Camp, Ivan Rabb Receives East Coast Visitors and More…

Posted by Sean Moran on October 11th, 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. USA Basketball Men’s Developmental Camp

This past weekend Colorado Springs played host to the most competitive event of the year for high school athletes. At the U.S Olympic Training Center the top players in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 classes gathered for four sessions of instruction, drills, and scrimmages covering a two-day period. Twelve players from the class of 2014 made the trip in preparation for the 2014 USA U18 National Team, while 34 players from the classes of 2015 and 2016 arrived with hopes of playing in the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championships. All the players competed against each other in individual drills, controlled scrimmages, and full-court, 10-minute games. More highlights from each class below.

2. Malik Newman Update

The five-star guard from Jackson, Mississippi, is currently out due to a swollen right hand which he suffered while going for an alley-oop in practice last week. Despite the recent setback, Newman noted that the past month was a whirlwind with college coaches making the trip to see him play. Newman noted that Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi State, N.C. State, Alabama, and Kansas were some of the schools that stopped by. While the college attention has been fierce, Newman is focused on winning his third Mississippi state championship. “We’re just trying to figure each other out,” Newman noted about his new teammates. “I’m working on everything, but mainly the transition to point guard.”

3. USA Basketball Camp: 2014 Focus

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Kentucky’s Unusual Position: How to Build a #1 Class After Recent Misses

Posted by nvr1983 on October 10th, 2013

While Jayhawk fans celebrated Kelly Oubre’s commitment to Kansas on Tuesday, the announcement left Kentucky and its fans in a situation they are not accustomed to — one in which they are left wondering which recruits are still available. It also comes as the third consecutive major commitment — Andrew Wiggins and Emmanuel Mudiay were the other two — that Kentucky has missed out on, which is a highly unusual development in the Calipari era. Now this is not to say that the Big Blue Nation should go into panic mode and their first glimpses of Julius Randle and the Harrison twins next week will certainly help to alleviate any pending anxiety. Still, for the first time since John Calipari rolled into Lexington in 2009, Kentucky is now in danger of not having the top recruiting class in the country.

Calipari is All Smiles About This Year's Group. What About Next Year? (AP)

Calipari is All Smiles About This Year’s Group. What About Next Year? (AP)

Of course, Kentucky will be getting its share of incoming stars, but it probably will not be the type of ridiculous haul that Wildcat fans have enjoyed over the past four seasons. Calipari already has received commitments from 7’1″ Karl Towns, Jr., a top-10 recruit according to nearly every major recruiting service, and Tyler Ulis, a strong point guard prospect despite his 5’9″, 150-pound frame. The Wildcats are still in the running for eight more five-star recruits in the class of 2014 — big men Jahlil Okafor, Myles Turner and Trey Lyles, and perimeter prospects Tyus Jones, Stanley Johnson, Justise Winslow, Devin Booker and James Blackmon, Jr. — but a closer look suggests that their prospects of landing each are less promising than they might first appear.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 10.10.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 10th, 2013

morning5

  1. Wednesday was a bit of a weird college basketball news day, mostly filled with quotes, non-controversies, and Andrew Wiggins. Ever heard of him? Let’s start with Jesus Shuttlesworth combined with Butch McRae (bonus points for that reference), otherwise known as Kansas’ young superstar, Wiggins. His fantastic Sports Illustrated cover started making the rounds on social media Tuesday night and Luke Winn’s profile story (print or digital subscription only) released yesterday. The comparison he makes is with another couple of former Jayhawk stars who came to the Great Plains to make their basketball marks, Wilt Chamberlain in 1955 and Danny Manning in 1984. Wiggins is the third star in this line of succession, but as Winn writes in his supplemental Wilt, Danny, Andrew: 22 Thoughts column (available online), “It is not a pronouncement that Wiggins will have a Wilt-like impact.” It is, however, an informative and compelling read, but his 22 Thoughts piece might be more fun. Over the series of blurbs, Winn manages to reference Neal Cassady, shows a ridiculous looking drawing of a giant “Wilt” hand dunking a basketball, and reveals some Wiggins-related tweets from starstruck KU students that will have you cracking up at the absurdity of it all. Check out both stories, even if you are so cheap that you have to read the paper copy in the checkout line at the grocery store.
  2. As we all know, Kansas also picked up Kelly Oubre from the class of 2014 earlier this week. The commitment was notable in that it represented the third straight time that uber-recruiter John Calipari had been beaten out for an elite recruit (Wiggins, Emmanuel Mudiay, Oubre). While three times isn’t necessarily a trend, it is a bit odd considering Calipari’s prodigious record of recruiting success. Well, at least one explanation for the commitment was revealed on Wednesday, as Oubre’s father, Kelly Sr., told the Lawrence Journal-World that Self “doesn’t kick you out if you’re not ready.” Although he didn’t name who he was referencing with his barb, it was interpreted by the rest of the world as a shot at Calipari’s one-and-done program (he later told KSR’s Matt Jones that he meant nothing of the sort). Kentucky fans rightfully took umbrage at the allusion, pointing out that a number of talented freshman have in fact become sophomores at Kentucky (Terrence Jones, Alex Poythress, Doron Lamb, to name a few), but the damage was already done. Kentucky vs. Kansas again, anyone — this is getting pretty good.
  3. Or Kentucky vs. Michigan State? Wait, we already have that one on the schedule, coming on November 12, just over a month from now. The background on this is somewhat convoluted, but the gist of it is that a student at Michigan State’s September Madness reported that head coach Tom Izzo said that the Spartans were going to “kick Kentucky’s a–.” John Calipari of course caught wind of it, and did what he does even better than recruiting and coaching — he spun it to his favor. In two separate public venues over the last week, Calipari has made reference to the MSU comment and spun it back to his own players “not knowing” when they will play the other elite teams on their schedule. Leave it to some other enterprising reporter to poll the Wildcat players as to when they will play the defending national champions (answer: December 28), but suffice it to say that the marketing pitch is already in full blast this season. Like we said, non-controversies.
  4. Players don’t know when they play, and coaches don’t know who they play. Does anybody pay attention anymore? We’re only half-kidding. Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger published an interesting piece on Wednesday that revealed George Mason head coach Paul Hewitt and Saint Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli didn’t even realize they were playing in the same conference (the Atlantic 10, if you’ve lost track) this season as recently as July. Even this week, Martelli mentioned that, as he waited for his train to Brooklyn, he wondered where his peer and longtime A-10 competitor Fran Dunphy at Temple was. Then he realized that Temple is now in the Big East, along with Xavier and one-year wonder Butler. Honestly, it’s going to take a while to get used to these changes for everyone. We really can’t blame them for this gaffe (but that doesn’t excuse the fictional Kentucky players that don’t realize who they’re playing).
  5. Some injury news to finish off a strange M5 on this Thursday (we warned you). Texas point guard Javan Felix underwent hip surgery last week and is currently on the mend with an indefinite timetable for his return. With all the pressure on the Longhorn basketball program given athletic director DeLoss Dodds’ recent disparaging comments, this is not good news for Rick Barnes. Felix is the most experienced returning guard on the team, and if he can’t go at 100 percent this season, Barnes is going to need to do the best coaching job of his entire career just to keep this team above water. Down at Florida, Will Yuguete and Eli Carter are still not ready to practice due to their injuries, but more importantly, Billy Donovan has reinstated senior guard Scottie Wilbekin to the team. Wilbekin has had found repeated trouble in his time at Florida, but he has satisfied his head coach in recent months to earn his spot again. The Gators are a tough team to figure this season — they bring in some excellent transfer and freshman talent, but the returnees more or less look like a collection of role players. We know they’ll be good, but can they become great?
Share this story