Big 12 M5: 12.09.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 9th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1.  The Kansas City Star’s Rustin Dodd tied up some loose ends from Kansas‘ heartbreaking loss to Colorado. In case you were too caught up in Saturday afternoon’s football action, lost in the shuffle of Askia Booker’s buzzer-beater were Joel Embiid showing off an impressive array of post moves against the Buffaloes’ undersized frontcourt rotation and Andrew Wiggins putting up a season-high 22 points. The Jayhawks very clearly have a few things to work on, but it’s tough to be too disappointed with Kansas’ two losses in non-conference play, as both came on last-second shots in games away from Allen Fieldhouse.
  2. Iowa State needed an extra frame to beat Northern Iowa when Panthers guard Seth Tuttle banked home a three-pointer at the end of the second half. The Cyclones showed how vulnerable they can be when their threes don’t fall, as they shot just 28% from the perimeter in regulation. They made them when they mattered, though, as Melvin Ejim buried a pair of treys in overtime. Somewhat surprisingly, the win was Fred Hoiberg‘s first as a head coach over Northern Iowa. Iowa State, one of the most impressive programs in the still-young season, takes a well-deserved break until Friday, when Hilton Coliseum should be rocking for a meeting with Iowa.
  3. Reserve center D.J. Bennett has given Lon Kruger some quality minutes down low on the defensive end. The Sooners boast one of the highest-scoring offenses in the Big 12, but the defense isn’t quite where it needs to be for Oklahoma to comfortably rank in the top half of the conference. If Bennett can continue to help the team get stops on the other end, that may change.
  4. Dave Hickman of The West Virginia Gazette wrote an interesting piece late last week where he delved into the Mountaineers’ surprisingly low attendance numbers. If you ask us, the culprit isn’t hard to find: West Virginia‘s non-conference schedule has been short on attractive names. With all due respect to the following programs, no one is lining up to camp out for Mount Saint Mary’s, Duquesne, or Georgia Southern. To boot, the annual Backyard Brawl with Pittsburgh was put on hiatus when the two teams separated conferences. We’ll see how many fans show up at WVU Coliseum on Tuesday, when Gonzaga pays a visit to Morgantown.
  5. Oklahoma State guard Stevie Clark returned to action Friday night against South Carolina after serving a four-game suspension handed down by Travis Ford for undisclosed reasons. Assuming Clark stays on Ford’s good side, the freshman will have plenty of time to ease back into the lineup, as the Cowboys play just two games between now and December 21, when they will take on a Colorado team that will almost certainly be ranked later today.
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Big 12 M5: 12.06.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on December 6th, 2013

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  1. Oklahoma took care of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 78-56 in a game moved up five hours from its original start time last night to avoid conflict with worsening weather conditions in Norman. The surprise performance came from junior forward D.J. Bennett, whose nine points, three boards and career-high five blocked shots added a different edge to the Sooners’ frontcourt. Bennett has dealt with a partially torn tendon since earlier in the season, and because of that hasn’t seen a lot of floor time, but this could be the start of his comeback. Goodness knows the Sooners could use someone who is effective down low when Ryan Spangler isn’t on the floor.
  2. It wasn’t easy, but Kansas State found a way to get by the Fighting Marshall Hendersons from Ole Miss, 61-58, on Thursday. Henderson tried his darndest to single-handedly win the game for the Rebels, but his 4-of-18 shooting (off the bench) did more harm than good. It’s fascinating to see how different the Wildcats play when Thomas Gipson is in the lineup — the junior tallied 15 points, six rebounds, and two blocks in the contest. And here’s an update on the attendance at Bramlage Coliseum: It certainly looked like the Wildcat faithful showed up last night. The 11,990 fans in the building made last night the third-highest attended game this season at Bramlage.
  3. A year and change into his sophomore season, Isaiah Austin is pretty pleased with his decision to attend Baylor. “Coming out of high school, everyone wants to go with the hype and Kentucky was the hype out of high school,” Austin told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “But I made the best decision for me — coming here to Baylor playing under Coach Drew, who is just as great of a coach as coach Calipari is… we have just as great of faculty and staff and everybody. Kentucky is not better than us in any way, shape or form.” Oooh, them sounds like fighting words! Just in case you don’t miss it, Kentucky-Baylor from AT&T Stadium is tonight. A little big-time Friday night college hoops never hurt anybody.
  4. It was also more than a year ago when Iowa State guard Bubu Palo was arrested on charges of sexual abuse before those charges were dropped in mid-January. Now, Palo is seeking reinstatement to the men’s basketball program and in a text message to the Ames Tribune said his appeal was denied by the Iowa State Board of Regents. According to ISU’s Student Disciplinary Regulations, decisions made by the Regents can be appealed in district court. The Tribune is also reporting that Palo was initially exonerated from the SDR but that decision was appealed to ISU president Steven Leath, who in turn removed Palo from the team. I hope he can return to the floor as soon as possible. I know I’d hate to be missing out on a season like the one Iowa State is having right now.
  5. While Marcus Smart finishes off his sophomore campaign and the Stevie Clark situation is still very much up in the air, Oklahoma State received a letter of intent from Jared Terrell, the four-star point guard who committed to the Cowboys back in September. He’s 6’3″ and 220 pounds which will scare the living bejeezus out of opponents next year, and according to Travis Ford, can drive to the hoop, hit mid-range jumpers and make threes. I wonder if this official announcement translates into anything with Stevie Clark and his future with the team.
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Big 12 M5: 12.05.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on December 5th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. While you weren’t looking, Texas Tech is going through a meat-grinder of a non-conference schedule. Their losses include one to Alabama and undefeated Pittsburgh but now you can add Arizona to the list. The season schedule was made well in advance of Tubby Smith coming to town but they still have to contend with a pair of much improved LSU and Arizona State squads. There’s no shame in losing to a team like the incumbent #1 on its home floor. Due to Michigan State’s loss to North Carolina last night, if Arizona can finish out the week unbeaten, they would become the nation’s newest No. 1 team on Monday. Take pride in that, Texas Tech. You played the best and lived to tell about it.
  2. The Oklahoman sat down with Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins, who split time at the point last season but is now in a larger role out on the wing. Going into today’s game, Cousins is posting 11.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and three assists per game among the Sooners’ four-guard lineup. “I think it’s going pretty good,” Cousins said. “I’ve been getting a lot of minutes trying to pick up from last year, and I’ve got a bigger role. I like the role I take. I think it’s a good fit.” No kidding. We should point out that Oklahoma’s game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi originally scheduled for 7:00 PM will actually tip off at 2:00 PM at the Lloyd Noble Center due to some inclement weather moving into Norman tonight. Adjust your pocket watches accordingly.
  3. It’s getting a little awkward around Oklahoma State basketball as of late. Stevie Clark, the freshman backup point guard, was suspended by coach Travis Ford and sent home from the Old Spice Classic. Here’s what Ford had to say on the issue yesterday: “Wait and see. We’ll wait and see.” According to Ford, Clark is still a part of the team but we don’t have a clue as to why he was suspended. Whatever unfolds here will have implications for not only this season but for the future at point guard for Oklahoma State. Smart is definitely leaving for the NBA and if Clark (9.8 PPG, 5.0 APG) were to transfer or worse, get kicked off the team, it’s back to square one for Ford. I guess we shall wait and see.
  4. Here was the headline from this recent piece in the Kansas City Star: “With Marshall Henderson in town, Kansas State hopes for better home basketball crowd.” As far as “official” attendance numbers go, the difference between paid attendance and arena capacity never exceeded 1,000 seats. I haven’t seen a K-State home game on TV yet so I can’t tell if a lack of attendance is apparent from that perspective; but if it is, that’s really disappointing. In the Bob Huggins/Frank Martin era, Bramlage was arguably the best home environment in the Big 12 outside of Lawrence. I guess you could call it “The Octagon of Plenty of Room,” amirite? I regret this already.
  5. A high school recruit has grabbed the attention of five of the league’s 10 teams and many others. Cheick Diallo is a 6’9″, 220 pound center who attends Our Savior New American in New York. Diallo is primarily known as a defender but is improving on his offensive game by averaging 12.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game on the Elite Youth Basketball League circuit. He currently holds offers from Kansas, Texas, West Virginia, Iowa State and Baylor. But if there’s a Big 12 leader in the clubhouse for Diallo, it might be the Cyclones, where he has already made an unofficial visit to campus in September. What does all this mean? Not much at this point, but it’s fun to see half the conference battle over one guy.
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Big 12 M5: 11.27.13 Edition

Posted by Taylor Erickson on November 27th, 2013

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  1. For Bob Huggins and West Virginia to rebound after a dreadful season last year, improved point guard play this season was identified by Huggins in the preseason as a must. That responsibility falls on junior guard Juwan Staten. In a 78-60 win over Old Dominion on Tuesday in the Cancun Challenge, Staten finished with 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting while dishing out 9 assists against just one turnover. West Virginia will play tomorrow in the championship game against the winner of St. Louis and Wisconsin, who will provide a formidable test for the Mountaineers to determine how they stack up against some of the better teams in the nation.
  2. On Monday, Gary Bedore of KUSports.com explored the possibility of Kansas head coach Bill Self replacing Mike Krzyzewski as head coach of the U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball team when Mike Krzyzewski hangs up the whistle in his Olympic coaching career after the 2016 games. Self, however, doesn’t feel the possibility is very realistic with names like Doc Rivers and Greg Popovich also thrown out as replacements. During the offseason, Self addressed the possibility of eventually coaching at the NBA level, saying if given the opportunity, he might be tempted to consider it. After landing the Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor duo who teamed up for the USA U19 team, it’s hard to argue that Krzyzewski’s involvement in USA Olympic hoops hasn’t at least benefited in a small way his recruiting at Duke.
  3. After struggling to a 3-3 start against what was considered to be a fairly soft non-conference schedule, Kansas State will look to use the short Thanksgiving break to regroup as their schedule intensifies with a home match-up against 3-0 Ole Miss on December 5, followed by a neutral site (although only by definition) tilt with Gonzaga on December 5 in Wichita, Kansas. Through the first six games, Bruce Weber’s squad has averaged 62.7 points per game, ranking 326 in the nation out of 351 teams. If there’s a silver lining for Wildcat fans, Weber’s complicated motion offense took a bit of time last season before really clicking and helping K-State finish in a tie for first place in the Big 12.
  4. We talked Monday about the suspension of Oklahoma State freshman guard Stevie Clark, and on Tuesday, head coach Travis Ford released a statement on the situation, saying that Clark was not with the Cowboys due to personal matters and continues to be a valued member of the Cowboy basketball family. On Monday, there was a thought that perhaps Clark had left the team, although his mother denied the rumor. Regardless, his departure from the Oklahoma State lineup will be something to keep an eye on moving forward and whether it has a significant impact on the Cowboys’ overall play.
  5. Speaking of Oklahoma State point guards, if you haven’t had a chance to see this yet, take a look at the 70-foot shot Marcus Smart drilled to end the first half against South Florida on Monday night. Smart picked right up where he left off against Memphis, scoring 23 points in the first half and 25 total to go along with four assists and four steals in a 93-67 rout. Smart’s intensity early this season appears to be destined to remind everyone that he’s still among the best in college basketball this year.
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Morning Five: 11.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 27th, 2013

morning5

  1. Over the years we have seen a lot of championship rings go on sale, but we cannot remember the last time we saw such an item from an active player on the auction block. So you can imagine our surprise when we saw an auction for a 2012 Final Four ring from Chane Behanan. Now on some level we can understand why Behanan would not have a specific attachment to a ring that might symbolize a loss to Kentucky when he has a championship ring from a year later, but we are almost certain this would be considered a violation if it is Behanan selling the ring based on what happened to the Ohio State football players and Oregon basketball players. We doubt that Behanan will admit to selling the ring so we are just wondering what excuse the Louisville administration will come with as to how this ended up on the auction block.
  2. There were a couple of interesting announcements yesterday. The one that will probably garner the most attention is Oklahoma State announcing that suspended guard Stevie Clark was not with the team “due to personal matters”. The school has not released any more information and the best insight into the matter that we have is that Clark’s mother agrees that he deserved to be disciplined. We have no idea as to when Clark will return to the Cowboys, but fortunately their schedule is so soft that they probably won’t need him for a while (they most likely will not play a ranked team until January 18). On the other end of the spectrum is San Francisco guard Cody Doolin who decided to leave the team “due to personal reasons”, which sounds similar, but suggests that the departure was of his own volition rather than being imposed upon him. Clark may be more well-known due to his team’s prominence, but the loss of Doolin, a senior point guard who was averaging 13 points and 7 assists per game this season will likely have a more detrimental effect on his team.
  3. Yesterday, Washington disclosed that Shawn Kemp Jr. had been diagnosed with Graves’ disease in September. We won’t get into the details of the disease (here’s a basic primer if you want information). We are also not sure what led the school to disclose the information since it is a fairly common diagnosis that is a benign condition if treated by competent medical professions, which Washington certainly has, and it has been nearly three months since he was diagnosed so we are not sure that it is particularly newsworthy outside of the fact that the school disclosed his medical condition without any apparent reason.
  4. We love the passion that college students bring to college games. It is one of the reasons we wish more early-season tournaments would play games at on-campus sites. Unfortunately sometimes those groups go overboard. One stark example of that comes from the Missouri student section where a group of students known as the Antlers were thrown out of their second game this season for yelling a variety of unimaginative, offensive things at opposing players. Our general tendency is to forgive people for doing stupid things, but based on what the group is saying with their Twitter account it is pretty clear that they don’t get it. At this rate we imagine that the group might eventually get banned from going to any sporting events at the school.
  5. We are still trying to figure out what Joe Nocera’s angle is at The New York Times where he appears to be spending quite a bit of time trying to be their NCAA attack dog (perhaps a book deal?). His latest article on “The North Carolina Five” focuses on the state of North Carolina attempting to prosecute individuals for essentially acting as agents to players who were still in school at North Carolina. To be honest we are not that familiar with Nocera’s writing from before his current crusade, but his logic seems pretty weak in this article. If we have any issue with the state of North Carolina taking on these cases it is that they should probably be focused on more important things (like fake academic departments at state institutions).
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Big 12 M5: 11.26.13 Edition

Posted by Taylor Erickson on November 26th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. While it’s quite obvious Oklahoma State is just fine at the starting point guard spot with Marcus Smart, their bench depth at the position may have taken a bit of a hit when head coach Travis Ford announced Monday that freshman guard Stevie Clark had been suspended and would not make the trip with the team to South Florida on Monday night for the first round of the Old Spice Classic. Rumors began surfacing on Monday fueled by Clark’s Twitter account that led many to question whether he had quit or been kicked off the team, however, The Oklahoman confirmed that Clark was still a member of the Cowboy backcourt, at least for the time being. Clark has averaged 9.8 points per game and has a team high 20 assists this season.
  2. Texas fell to BYU 86-82 on Monday night in the CBE Classic in Kansas City, and while the outcome may have disappointed some Longhorn fans, Texas has to be encouraged with how they competed with a fringe-Top 25 Cougar team. More importantly, the performance by Texas big man Cameron Ridley may have been the best of his career, contributing 12 points, 10 rebounds, and six blocks. If Texas has plans of competing in the top half of the league this year, establishing interior scoring will be key.
  3. Interested in catching a Kansas home game at Allen Fieldhouse this season? If so, you had better bring your checkbook. A report issued on Monday by Vivid Seats, an online ticket marketplace, stated that tickets for Jayhawk home games on the secondary ticket market were selling for an average price of $265, tops in the nation ahead of Kentucky ($200) and Duke ($179). One of the hottest topics in college athletics revolves around the idea of paying athletes, and given the fact that fans are paying on average a quarter of a thousand dollars per game to watch these players, you can’t help but understand the argument.
  4. For as much criticism as Baylor head coach Scott Drew takes in the eyes of the public for his coaching track record, there’s no denying the positive impact he’s had on the program since arriving in Waco. On Monday night, Baylor made their first appearance in 26 years in the EA Sports Maui Invitational against host school Chaminade. It’s not that Drew has turned down opportunities to play in Maui, it’s just that it’s hard to get such an invitation. The Bears won their first game of the tournament handily by overcoming an amazing performance by Chaminade guard Christophe Veridel, who poured in 42 points in a loss for the Silver Swords.
  5. The Big 12 has capitalized on opportunities for impressive non-conference wins so far this season, with the most recent coming last week when Iowa State won at BYU. Iowa State senior guard DeAndre Kane was an important factor in the win, contributing 21 points and 11 rebounds, earning Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors for the second time this season. After the departure of Korie Lucious a season ago, it was important for Fred Hoiberg to once again blend transfer talent in Ames this season, and it appears the addition of Kane will allow the Cyclones to challenge for a top spot in the conference this year.
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Big 12 M5: 11.14.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2013

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  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.
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Big 12 Team Preview: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 7th, 2013

This week, the Big 12 microsite will finish previewing each of the league’s 10 teams. Today: Oklahoma State.

Where We Left Off: After a crushing loss to an under-seeded Oregon team in the NCAA Tournament, Marcus Smart made the pain go away for OSU fans, shocking Stillwater and the rest of the college basketball world by announcing his return for the 2013-14 season. That news briefly led prognosticators to peg the Cowboys as the most realistic challenger to dethrone Kansas atop the standings, but then Andrew Wiggins committed to the Jayhawks. Now, not only do we have a bona fide conference race, but a POY race too. The product is a scenario where each team’s destiny, whether you’re talking about the conference title race or the bigger picture of the NCAA Tournament, could very well hinge on how their respective stars perform.

Travis Ford has all the pieces he needs to make a serious run at Kansas. (Getty)

Travis Ford has all the pieces he needs to make a serious run at Kansas in the standings. (Getty)

Positives: Smart may be the heart and soul of Travis Ford‘s team, but Oklahoma State wouldn’t be a Final Four contender without a very good supporting cast. It isn’t without flaws (more on that in a bit), but there may not be a team in the country that can match Oklahoma State’s backcourt tandem of Smart and Markel Brown. While the former is a surefire lottery pick, the latter has improved every season he’s been on campus. He can still destroy a rim as ferociously as he did in his earlier years, but he’s upped his stroke from the free throw line as well as beyond the arc while lowering his turnover rate despite more possessions every season. There isn’t much more you could want from a four-year player. Phil Forte gives the Cowboys a one-dimensional but very capable long distance bomber, and junior wing Le’Bryan Nash is a refined three-point stroke away from being a total match-up nightmare.

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Sizing Up a Key Freshman at Every Big 12 School

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 29th, 2013

Brian Goodman is the lead Big 12 correspondent for RTC. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman

The 2012-13 season saw a handful of freshmen throughout the Big 12 make their presences felt around the league. Everyone knows about Marcus Smart, but he was far from the only rookie player who proved himself capable. Perry Ellis, Isaiah Austin, Rico Gathers and Georges Niang also showed opposing players and coaches that they belonged in the conference too. Further down the standings, Josh Gray, Javan Felix and Terry Henderson gave glimpses of what they can do when given opportunities to show their stuff  (although Gray later transferred out of the conference).

Andrew Wiggins will be the top freshman in the Big 12, but after him, it's not so black and white. (credit: ESPN.com)

Andrew Wiggins will be the top freshman in the Big 12, but after him, it’s not so black and white. (credit: ESPN.com)

Once again, the Big 12 will welcome a stellar class of incoming talent this season. We took a look around the conference and plucked one freshman from each team who we think will make the strongest impression. Top to bottom, the Big 12 doesn’t offer quite the depth the SEC — which claims eight of the top 12 prospects from ESPNU’s Top 100 (just to use one recruiting service) — will roll out, but we’re looking forward to watching newcomers from every Big 12 team make strong impressions in their opening campaigns.

Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: Like you, we’ve seen the YouTube clips and read the scouting reports and articles in publications ranging from Sports Illustrated to GQ. Also, like you, we’re ready for Wiggins to make his debut and show everyone in actual games why he’s been the projected top overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft for so long. We agree with Bill Self in that we don’t expect Wiggins to average 20 points per game – today’s suppressed scoring environments and Self’s reputation as a coach who prefers a balanced attack makes that outcome a longshot. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t think the phenom will make a huge impact on both ends of the floor.

Matt Thomas, Iowa State: Despite starting just two games last season, Tyrus McGee was the Cyclones’ second-leading scorer thanks to a white-hot 46.4% shooting clip from long range. Now that he’s gone, though, Fred Hoiberg needs someone to fill the shooting void, and we can easily see Thomas emerging as that guy. The 51st-ranked recruit on ESPNU’s Top 100, Thomas boasts the kind of range that can break games open and cut deficits in a hurry. Once he commands the attention of the league’s defenses, passing lanes will open up to deliver the ball to the likes of Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang.

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Who’s Got Next? Karl Towns Chooses Kentucky Over Duke, Stevie Clark Signs With Oklahoma State…

Posted by CLykins on December 4th, 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.

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings

Kentucky Lands Top Sophomore Karl Towns, Jr.

Right on cue. Tuesday was considered decision day for Karl Towns, Jr. and as expected by virtually everybody that follows high school basketball recruiting, Kentucky was the choice. Previously the nation’s No. 1 sophomore, Towns also revealed that he would be reclassifying into the class of 2014, a move that had been speculated upon for the past couple of weeks. The 6’11” center out of St. Joseph High School (New Jersey) unofficially visited Kentucky for its game against LIU-Brooklyn on November 23, just days after revealing his announcement, further enforcing the belief that Kentucky was the front-runner in this recruitment. Towns had limited his list down to eight in the coming weeks before narrowing it down to two just prior to the announcement. He chose the Wildcats over Duke, with the likes of Florida, Indiana, Michigan State, North Carolina State and Seton Hall also in the mix. “The first thing I have to say is that I’m going to reclassify to the year 2014,” the 17-year old Towns said. “The second decision I have to make is my university. The university I’ve decided to play for in the year 2014 is the University of Kentucky.”

Standout sophomore Karl Towns, Jr. becomes the fifth Kentucky commitment in the last two months

Towns has already gained valuable tutelage under his future collegiate head coach John Calipari while he was a member of the Dominican Republic national team over the summer. His participation allowed him the opportunity to hone his skills and to strengthen an ever-growing post game against players at the professional level, including Dominican Republic teammate and Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford. Along with a refined post game, what really grabs the attention of analysts is Towns’ ability to play on the wing. With arguably the best outside skill set of any high school prospect at his position in the country, he is a constant threat from deep. He is consistent from three and is capable of taking opposing defenders off the dribble with either hand and scoring from the mid-range. His all-around game has drawn many comparisons to that of NBA superstar Kevin Durant.He is currently in tremendous academic standing at St. Joseph High with a 4.0-plus GPA and his move to the junior class was discussed at length in the last two weeks.  Towns decision to reclassify will immediately impact the class of 2014 rankings as he will now be slotted behind the No. 1 and No. 2 prospects, Tyus Jones and fellow center Jahlil Okafor.

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The Line That Is Dotted: Who Signed Yesterday In The ACC

Posted by KCarpenter on November 15th, 2012

The beginning of the early signing period is a beautiful time for nervous fans and coaches. When a recruit signs that official letter of intent, everything feels a little more real than the mere assurances of a player’s word. On the other hand, in practice, for a lot of players and schools, the signing is just a formality; a bit of paperwork that simply emphasizes a decision that may have been truly made months (or years) ago. For the ACC, signing day brought few surprises this year. Most of the big names who signed had already committed in advance, while the numerous undecided players stayed undecided.

Consensus No. 1 Prospect Andrew Wiggins Makes Move to 2013 Official

The Charlotte Observer put together a nice, comprehensive list of those who followed through on their previous verbal commitments by putting pen to paper. The more interesting part of this story, however, lays with those who have yet to commit. These top undecided prospects could have big impacts for four teams in the ACC that already have very strong incoming recruiting classes.

  • Florida State: The Seminoles have already put together a great recruiting class with Jarquez Smith and Xavier Rathan-Mayes. The question for Leonard Hamilton’s team is whether it can turn this great recruiting class into a truly legendary category. Since the reclassification of Andrew Wiggins to this class and the commitment of Wiggins’ longtime friend and teammate Rathan-Mayes, Florida State may have the inside track on landing potentially one of the brightest overall talents in years. Still, to land Wiggins, Florida State is going to have to beat out John Calipari and Kentucky, no easy task. As icing on the cake (or perhaps as consolation), Florida State also has a shot at point guard Stevie Clark, and a longer shot at sensational scoring guard Keith Frazier.
  • North Carolina State:  For the second year in a row, Mark Gottfried is scheduled to have one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, even with some expected recruits still outstanding. Center BeeJay Anya is likely to make the Wolfpack his choice in the next couple days (especially considering that there doesn’t seem to be any other schools in play) and Julius Randle, one of the top talents in the class seems excited to visit Raleigh to watch NC State play against North Carolina in late January. Obviously that likely means that Randle’s decision is months off, but the signs are encouraging for the Wolfpack.
  • Duke:  The Blue Devils only have one piece outstanding and they know they are going to have to wait. Jabari Parker is their man and he has made it clear that he won’t make his decision during the early period. Still, with or without Parker, Duke has a nice pair of incoming players with Semi Ojeleye and Matt Jones.
  • North Carolina: The Tar Heels have a solid pair in Nate Britt and Isiah Hicks, but they have two outstanding and uncommitted prospects. Kennedy Meeksa big center from Charlotte has narrowed his choices down to UNC or Georgetown, but it’s unclear which way he is leaning and when his decision will come. While at least one reputable analyst thinks UNC has the edge, this is far from done deal, though an answer seems more likely to come sooner than later. The other outstanding piece for North Carolina? None other than Andrew Wiggins. For Roy Williams, landing Wiggins is probably a long shot, but North Carolina is still on the top prospect’s short list.
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Who’s Got Next? Kentucky Adds Two More Studs; Selden Decides For Kansas…

Posted by CLykins on October 17th, 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 who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. 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.

Young and Lee Join Historic Kentucky Class

Young’s Addition Bolsters UK’s Already Star-Studded Class (US Presswire)

If your familiar with the phrase “the rich get richer”, that describes Kentucky basketball recruiting. After landing a pair of top-five prospects from the class of 2013, twin brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison, the Kentucky Wildcats received verbal commitments from two more highly ranked 2013 prospects, in the form of James Young last Thursday and Marcus Lee on Wednesday afternoon. Young is a 6’6″ shooting guard out of Rochester High School (Michigan) and is the No. 5 ranked prospect in the ESPN 100. Lee, a 6’9″ power forward out of Deer Valley High School (California), is the No. 28 ranked recruit. Along with Kentucky, Young listed Kansas, Michigan State and Syracuse in his final four while Lee had just listed California as his only other possible destination. Young and Lee will now join the Harrison twins and unranked prospect Derek Willis as a part of Kentucky’s 2013 recruiting class.

“Kentucky has always been my dream school,” said Young, who revealed his choice by holding up a “Kentucky Bound” blue T-shirt. “I’m not just looking for the NBA. I’m looking for an education and a national championship and that’s about it.” Young emerged as a prime recruiting target for the Wildcats in the spring and had listed Kentucky as the team to beat for his services since the summer. Young has made two consecutive visits to Lexington, once for Kentucky’s alumni weekend and the other this past weekend for “Big Blue Madness.”

Kentucky will now possess the most lethal perimeter trio in all of college basketball for the 2013-14 season with the addition of Young to complement the Harrison twins. In the left-handed Young, the Wildcats are getting one of the best pure scoring guards in the country. An aggressive scorer who can stroke it from deep or utilize his mid-range game, Young is exceptional at scoring off the catch and has a plethora of moves to get to the rim. On the defensive end, he uses his athleticism and length well to disrupt the opposition. The one aspect of his game that needs the most work is his ball-handling. In transition, he can fill lanes but with improved ball security, he could be even more deadlier running the fast break and making plays for either himself or his teammates.

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