Mountain West Conference Preview

Posted by Andrew Murawa on November 13th, 2014

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and the Pac-12. You can find him on Twitter at @Amurawa.

Top Storylines

San Diego State… And Everyone Else. Last season it was the Aztecs and New Mexico who fought tooth and nail all season long for conference supremacy until it was decided on the final night of the season in San Diego when a late 26-7 run from the Aztecs erased a 16-point Lobo lead and earned the Aztecs an outright conference title. This year, with those Lobos down their only three double-digit scorers from last season, there is no clear-cut contender to the Aztecs’ throne. San Diego State is the only Mountain West team deserving of consideration for being placed among the top 25 teams in the country and, unless somebody else proves their worth, may be the only team going dancing come March. Sure, Steve Fisher’s crew will have plenty of questions to answer along the way, but given the steadiness of this program in recent years, the Aztecs are significant title favorites in this conference.

San Diego State Looks Like A Strong Bet To Repeat As Conference Champion

San Diego State Looks Like A Strong Bet To Repeat As Conference Champion.

As for the “everyone else” part, Boise State, Colorado State and UNLV appear to be the next group of teams in a tier behind the Aztecs. Maybe one of them can separate itself from the pack and challenge the Aztecs, but each of these teams will rely heavily on newcomers to fill in big gaps on their roster. The Broncos will need production from young frontcourt players to replace the nation’s best offensive rebounder. The Rams have four Division I transfers expected to play big roles. And the Rebels? Well, it isn’t all that much of an overstatement to say that everyone is new.

Taking Care of Non-Conference Business. Last year, the conference got in trouble early when Boise State, UNLV, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada and Wyoming all struggled mightily in non-conference play, coming out of November and December with little or nothing to show for their efforts. If this conference hopes to turn things around this season and get more than just the Aztecs and maybe one other team into the Big Dance, they need to score quality wins early in the season. Keep an eye on these games, for instance: Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

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.

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

Seven Sweet Scoops: Rabb Moves Up To #1, Rashad Vaughn Goes With UNLV, and More…

Posted by Sean Moran on February 14th, 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. New #1 In The Junior Class

On Tuesday, Scout.com released their updated Top 100 rankings for the class of 2015. In a similar fashion to ESPN, five-star junior forward Ivan Rabb jumped up to the #1 spot formerly held by guard Malik Newman. The 6’9” Rabb has put together an impressive junior campaign for Bishop O’Dowd (CA) High as they get ready for a state title run in California which currently stands at 18-4 and. Rabb has always been an impressive athlete while drawing comparisons to Chris Bosh for his ability to finish down low and step outside for a 15 foot jump shot. After an up and down summer with the Oakland Soldiers AAU program, it seems Rabb has turned the corner. Josh Gershon of Scout.com noted, “This season, Rabb has taken his game to the next level. His motor, skill level, rebounding and production are all at an all time high. He’s proven himself game and game out, making his selection as Scout.com’s top prospect in 2015 an easy choice.” Schools from all over the country are knocking on Rabb’s door and in an interview from late January his high school coach noted that Arizona, North Carolina, and California have showed him the most attention. Given Sean Miller’s success the past few years with kids from the Oakland Soldiers AAU program, the Wildcats would have to be the presumed leader at this point in time.

 

2. Rashad Vaughn Headed to UNLV

Five-star junior shooting guard Rashad Vaughn is headed to UNLV. On Tuesday night, the 6’5” Vaughn announced his college choice on CBS SportsNet and chose the Rebels over Iowa State, UNC, and Kentucky. The No. 13 ranked player in the country was one of the last five-star players to make a commitment and now he will join five-star small forward Dwayne Morgan (#20 overall) and four-star center Goodluck Okonoboh (#39 overall) in Las Vegas next year. ESPN.com currently has UNLV with the No. 6 ranked recruiting class in the country. This past summer Vaughn was looking to transfer from his hometown high school in Minnesota to a national prep powerhouse for better competition and landed in Henderson, NV with Findlay Prep. The close proximity helped the Rebels get involved late in the Vaughn recruitment and UNLV’s assistant coach Todd Simon is the former head coach of Findlay Prep. Vaughn will give the Rebels a scorer from the get-go next year and the Rebels will be expected to improve on this year’s disappointing campaign (so far). “I can see that they are missing a shooter or a scorer,” Vaughn said. “I just feel like they don’t have any shooters to spread the floor. I know we’ve got a couple shooters coming in. With me and my scoring ability, I feel we can pick up the pace. With Goodluck and with Dwayne, I feel we can do something special.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 M5: 02.12.14 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 12th, 2014

morning5_big12

  1. After Kansas’ loss to Kansas State on Monday, Bill Self said that Jayhawks center Joel Embiid could miss some time to focus on recuperating from knee and back injuries. Embiid played just 18 minutes in the loss at Bramlage Coliseum, and the Wildcats exploited his health problems to attack the paint effectively. Embiid hasn’t officially been ruled out for Saturday’s game against TCU, but Self noted Tuesday that “he has no strength” and “he winces when he moves.” The Jayhawks will need their future lottery pick back and at 100 percent if they are to live up to expectations, but it appears they have a little bit of wiggle room to take it easy with their big man in the short term as they face a relative lag in the Big 12 schedule with the Horned Frogs and Red Raiders next on the docket.
  2. Speaking of the Wildcats, Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber is doing a fantastic job of shaking the critics who believe that the second-year head coach can’t win with his own players, and guard Marcus Foster might be the poster boy for the campaign. The Texas native took home National Freshman Of The Week honors for his 34-point outburst against Texas last Saturday, and legitimized it by following up that game with a team-leading 20 points against the Jayhawks on Monday. The Wildcats aren’t a Tournament lock just yet, but they’re getting close, and their standout freshman is a big reason why.
  3. Texas took it to the short-handed Oklahoma State Cowboys throughout an 87-68 win that wasn’t even that close. Javan Felix led the way for the Longhorns, scoring 27 points and hitting six out of eight three-pointers. Perhaps even more impressive was the fact that Texas led comfortably despite being without leading scorer Jonathan Holmes, who missed Tuesday’s game with a knee injury. With the win, Texas picked up a half-game on Kansas in the league standings, while the Cowboys fell firmly onto the bubble. We can only assume that Travis Ford is counting the hours until Marcus Smart can return to game action.
  4. Suffice it to say that Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg has had better weeks. Following a gut-punching blowout at the hands of West Virginia, the Cyclones lost out on the services of Rashad Vaughn, a highly-touted guard prospect from Henderson, Nevada. Vaughn opted to stay close to home, announcing his intentions on Tuesday to attend UNLV and play for Dave Rice. While the Cyclones will lose DeAndre Kane at the end of the season, they still still figure to be in good shape moving forward with Matt Thomas, Monte Morris, Naz Long and Sherron Dorsey-Walker comprising what should be a highly formidable backcourt.
  5. TCU has an opportunity to turn their 0-10 ship around when the Horned Frogs welcome Baylor to Fort Worth tonight. Trent Johnson’s team has been outrebounded in nine of its last ten games, but Baylor’s rebounding core has left a lot to be desired, considering the athleticism of guys like Isaiah Austin and Rico Gathers. Both teams could use a kickstart; The last time either team won consecutive games, Oregon and Ohio State were undefeated, Spencer Dinwiddie was healthy, and Michael Cobbins had only missed one game due to his torn Achilles.
Share this story

Morning Five: 02.12.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 12th, 2014

morning5

  1. Monday night’s trip to the Octagon of Doom had already left a sour taste in the mouths of Kansas fans and now the Jayhawks could without Joel Embiid for an undetermined period of time. Kansas has not specified what Embiid’s injury is, but he is dealing with a sprained left knee and a back injury. According to Bill Self, Embiid is “beat up” and needs some time to recover, but would not rule out that Embiid would even for Saturday’s game against TCU. So although Embiid’s injuries might not have an immediate impact on the Jayhawks it is something to keep an eye on as we get closer to March.
  2. Notre Dame has had its share of academic issues this season and now you can add Demetrius Jackson to that list. After last night’s double overtime victory against Clemson, Mike Brey stated that Jackson needed “a break to get his academic house in order.” Brey later clarified that statement to note that Jackson could be back as soon as next week so it appears that this is not an eligibility issue (at least not yet). Notre Dame already lost Jerian Grant, its leading scorer, due to academic issues and at this point their season is basically over, but if Jackson were to miss any more time it might raise questions about how much longer he would want to stick around South Bend.
  3. Most of you do not pay attention to the NEC, but their conference race may have changed significantly yesterday as Wagner suspended Jay Harris for the remainder of the year. Harris, a transfer from Valparaiso, is the team’s third-leading scorer at 10.3 points per game so clearly his contribution will be missed. The school is not releasing what Harris did to merit the suspension, but has described it as a “violation of school policy” and did not involve something related to the team. Since the school has not released much information about Harris’ violation we have no idea if he plans on staying with the program although he does have one more year of eligibility left.
  4. We are at the point in the recruiting season when most teams are chasing after leftovers, but there are still a few elite recruits left. One of those recruits–Rashad Vaughn–came off the board yesterday as he committed to UNLV. Vaughn’s decision to pick UNLV over Iowa State, North Carolina, Kansas, and Kentucky might come as a surprise to some, but the Minnesota native moved to Nevada to play at Findlay Prep so UNLV is basically in his backyard now. With Vaughn, a consensus top-20 recruit gone, the only two elite players left are Myles Turner and JaQuan Lyle.
  5. Every writer reaches the point where they feel old particularly when talking about a sport based around individuals between the age of 18-22. Our moment may have come yesterday when the NCAA issued a release discussing how a coach may communicate with a recruit and mentioned various forms of communication including Snapchat. We might not be the most tech-savvy college basketball site online, but this is the first time that the NCAA has mentioned a method of communication that we have never used before. We have certainly heard of the app, but never once considered using it. We will be interested in seeing how coaches utilizes this technology that makes us feel the way that Jim Boeheim must feel around everything that is electronic.
Share this story

Seven Sweet Scoops: Rashad Vaughn Decides Saturday, Grandstaff Re-Opens Recruitment, and More…

Posted by Sean Moran (@seanmohoops) on February 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. Rashad Vaughn Ready To Decide

Five-star shooting guard Rashad Vaughn was supposed to be getting ready for his official visit to North Carolina on February 15, but instead decided that he was ready to end the recruiting process. On Tuesday, the 6’5” Vaughn tweeted that he would be making his college decision on Saturday.

Where will Rashad Vaughn end up? Iowa State, UNLV, UNC, or Kentucky?

Where will Rashad Vaughn end up? Iowa State, UNLV, UNC, or Kentucky?

Currently ranked as the No. 2 shooting guard in the country and No. 13 overall, Vaughn will decide between UNLV, Iowa State, UNC and Kentucky. The only two schools that received official visits were Iowa State and UNLV, with those visits taking place on November 8 and November 25, respectively. Vaughn took an unofficial visit to Chapel Hill last year with his mentor Pete Kaffey, but he never made it to Lexington. Vaughn currently plays for Findlay Prep (NV) after transferring from his hometown school in Minnesota. Whichever school gets Vaughn will land one of the top scorers and a guard that will contribute from Day 1.

The contenders:

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: Big Cliff and HoopHall Action, Djuan Piper Update, and More

Posted by Sean Moran on January 24th, 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 Cliff Dominates HoopHall Classic

Cliff Alexander, a five-star power forward and future Kansas Jayhawk, put on a dominant display against Montverde (FL), the #1 prep team in the country, this past Monday at the HoopHall Classic. Prior to his senior season, the 6’8” manchild was rated as the No. 5 recruit in the class of 2014, but after his three-month run at Curie (IL) High it might be time to talk about Alexander as the top player in his class. In a comeback win, Alexander scored 30 points and added 13 rebounds and five blocked shots to raise his season averages to 27 points, 17 rebounds and 5.5 blocked shots per game. Throughout the second half Alexander ran the floor and threw down several vicious dunks that energized his teammates. Montverde did not have any one with Alexander’s size, but they did have Ben Simmons, a top 10 junior, to try his hand a few times. Just like in December when Alexander dominated five-star juniors Stephen Zimmerman (#3 – 2015) and Chase Jeter (#19 – 2015), Simmons was no match for him. Next year Alexander is expected to contribute right away in Lawrence, especially if freshman center Joel Embiid enters the draft, as expected. It will be harder for Big Cliff to physically dominate his opponents at the next level, but his athleticism, raw power, and shot-blocking acumen will help him adapt very quickly and offset the expected Jayhawks’ departures.

2. Calipari Watches Rashad Vaughn

Despite already having a four-man class in 2014, including four-star shooting guard Devin Booker (#31 – 2014), John Calipari is making a late push for five-star shooting guard Rashad Vaughn. The No. 13 ranked player and No. 2 shooting guard in the country is the one of the few impact players left on the board in the class. After Calipari attended one of Vaughn’s practices at Findlay Prep (NV) in the fall, Vaughn started to list the Wildcats as one of the main schools in his recruitment. Calipari was also in attendance in Springfield, Massachusetts, for Vaughn’s first game back from injury, and is pushing for an official visit. So far Vaughn has taken official visits to Iowa State and UNLV and has one scheduled for UNC on February 15. He also has Kansas in his top five, but doesn’t have any plans to set up a visit, per Evan Daniels of Scout.com. Fred Hoiberg has been recruiting Vaughn the longest out of all the aforementioned schools and UNLV has the home-court advantage with Vaughn’s high school transfer. Roy Williams is desperate for a shooting guard based on the team’s current outside shooting deficiencies and Calipari wants to add Vaughn and/or Myles Turner (#2 – 2014) to his #2 recruiting class. This recruitment won’t reach Andrew Wiggins levels in the spring, but it will certainly heat up over the next few months.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 M5: 12.30.13 Edition

Posted by Taylor Erickson on December 30th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. With the Big 12 season soon to be underway, conference foes will battle it out on the hardwood on nearly a nightly basis. Kansas and Iowa State will also go toe-to-toe in a recruiting battle for one of the top remaining prospects in the class of 2014 in 6’5″ shooting guard Rashad Vaughn. Vaughn is Rival’s 7th ranked recruit, and a teammate of Kansas commit Kelly Oubre, who attends Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada, with Vaughn.  Kentucky, North Carolina, and UNLV also made Vaughn’s final five schools, but many believe Iowa State will be the school to beat to earn his commitment.
  2. Speaking of Iowa State, the school announced on Sunday that junior guard K.J. Bluford has decided to leave the program.  Bluford was in his first season with the Cyclones after transferring from Northeast Nebraska Community College, and has averaged 2.7 points per game for Fred Hoiberg’s squad this year. Hoiberg’s strategy to comb the transfer market yearly for new additions to his squad has worked with tremendous success, and given how little impact Bluford has had this season, this loss shouldn’t have a huge impact on Iowa State moving forward.
  3. It’s been obvious through the non-conference season that the top of the Big 12 – Kansas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Iowa State – is perhaps better than anyone thought heading into the season, but lost in the shuffle is the quiet 11-1 start Lon Kruger and Oklahoma have gotten off to, with their lone loss coming at the hands of Michigan State. As Dick Vitale points out in his most recent column, Oklahoma will have a chance to quickly prove how viable that record is as they begin Big 12 play with a gauntlet of games out of the gate. Getting off to a good start will be key in strengthening a resume for post season play.
  4. If history is any indicator, the Christmas break will pay dividends for Kansas as they push towards league play. Bill Self’s team used the break the last week to recover from a variety of injuries, including a bruised nerve suffered by forward Perry Ellis and a nagging hip pointer that has kept guard Andrew White III out of the last few contests. It’s not uncommon to see some Bill Self teams struggle before the break, but it will be important for this team to take a big step forward like many teams in the past.
  5. TCU continued their improved play this season on Sunday with a 77-64 win over Texas Southern, and while the victory is nice, the play of junior forward Amric Fields may be the bigger story.  Fields scored 17 points in the win as he continues his return after missing all but three games a season ago due to an ACL injury. Head coach Trent Johnson has been mindful of Fields’ minutes while Fields works to get back into playing shape.
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

Seven Sweet Scoops: Chicago Elite Classic, Kentucky Interested in Vaughn, and More…

Posted by Sean Moran on December 6th, 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. National Tournaments: Chicago Elite Classic

The top high school talent in Chicago faces off against teams from all across the U.S.

In its second year of existence, the Chicago Elite Classic features seven games on Saturday. With the top teams from Chicago going against top teams from across the country, the Illinois-Chicago will feature a plethora of must see match-ups. The first one involves a point guard battle between Kentucky commitment Tyler Ulis of Marian Catholic (IL) and USC commitment Jordan McLaughlin (#38 overall – 2014) of Etiwanda (CA). The night session features the Lawson twins from Memphis going up against the four-time defending Illinois state champion in Chicago Simeon High School. Four-star forward K.J. Lawson (#27 overall – 2015) has committed to Memphis and his younger brother Dedric is ranked as the No. 5 player in the class of 2016.  After this game, Kansas commitment Cliff Alexander will look to use his brute strength and force to overpower two of the top junior big men country in Stephen Zimmerman (#3 overall) and Chase Jeter (#19 overall), both of whom play for Bishop Gorman (NV). The nightcap features the top player in the country in center Jahlil Okafor going against a guard-laden St. John Bosco (CA) squad that features five-star Connecticut commitment Daniel Hamilton (#18 overall) and one of the top scoring guards in the class of 2015 in Tyler Dorsey (#7 overall).

2. Kentucky Showing Interest in Vaughn?

In a previous interview with ESPNU, John Calipari indicated that he wanted to add two more players to his No. 2 ranked 2014 recruiting class. It appears as though one of those players might be five-star shooting guard Rashad Vaughn (#13 overall, #2 SG), who was profiled in the latest edition of Who’s Got Next? On Tuesday, assistant coach Orlando Antigua stopped by Findlay Prep (NV) to watch one of Vaughn’s practices. Kentucky offered Vaughn a scholarship last year; however it did not seem as though there was much interest between the two parties until recently. Kentucky signed four-star shooting guard Devin Booker (#31 overall, #5 SG) and also just missed on five-star wing Kelly Oubre (#6 overall, #1 SF) and four-star shooting guard James Blackmon Jr. (#33 overall, #6 SG). The interest in Vaughn makes sense for two reasons: 1) he is the top-ranked shooting guard on the board, and 2) he has expressed his desire to spend just one year in college. Right now the Wildcats have four players in their recruiting class in point guard Tyler Ulis (#29 overall, #6 PG), shooting guard Devin Booker, power forward Trey Lyles (#8 overall, #1 PF), and center Karl Towns Jr. (#11 overall, #4 C). Vaughn took official visits to Iowa State and UNLV and also has an official visit set up to UNC in February.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story