Sweet Seven Scoops: DC Hosts Top Talent, Harry Giles Returns & More

Posted by Sean Moran on December 12th, 2014

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Seven Sweet Scoops is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you seven notes from the high-stakes world of college basketball recruiting. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Fouldedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

1. The Nation’s Capital Hosts Top Talent

Where will the top college coaches descend to after their teams finish play this weekend? Most likely Washington D.C., as two top tournaments take place in the nation’s capital — the Gonzaga DC Classic and the National High School Hoops Festival at Dematha High School in Hyattsville, Maryland. While the Gonzaga Classic has tipped things off already, the National Hoops Festival is like a grand prize fight. Some of the top young talent who will be in attendance include top five juniors in Jayson Tatum (No. 1 – 2016) and Thon Maker (No. 4 – 2016), while five-star unsigned seniors Cheick Diallo (No. 8 – 2015) and Antonio Blakeney (No. 22 – 2015) will also showcase their skills at the event. Other notable names include Terrance Ferguson (No. 10 – 2016) and Dennis Smith (No. 7 – 2016), both five-star talents in the 2016 class. Games go on throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday and you can be sure that coaches from everywhere will be stopping by throughout the weekend.

2. Harry Giles: Getting Back To 100%

Before he suffered a torn ACL playing for the Team USA U-16 team in the summer 2013, 6’10” Harry Giles (No. 2 -2016) was without a doubt the top player in his class. At the time, Dave Telep, the head of ESPN college basketball recruiting, noted “What I’m alluding to here is the chance that Giles is that special player — a phenom, if you will. He’s a unique person equipped with the talent, humility, and big-picture view of his game and impact.” After sitting out his sophomore season, Giles was surpassed in the rankings by players such as Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson, but now it seems that he is rounding back into form. During the summer he started for the undefeated U-17 team, averaging 10.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game at what was classified as “90%.” Now, he is the unquestioned leader of Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC) as he looks to lead his team their third state championship in three years. As a freshman, Telep also stated, “In my opinion, everyone else should stop recruiting Giles. If he goes anywhere but UNC, Duke or Kentucky, I’d be shocked. Shocked.” Two years later, those three schools are still battling it out for his services. John Calipari, Coach K and Roy Williams have all made stops to see Giles in action over the past few weeks. Wake Forest and Danny Manning have also made inroads on the local star. Giles has been dominant so far in his junior season, and the young Chris Webber is ready to reclaim his spot as the top talent in the class of 2016. In a recent interview with InsideCarolina, Giles said “I want to go somewhere that’s going to help take you to another level. A place that can help you make your brand bigger. That’s why people go to some colleges – you got John Wall here, Jabari Parker there, [Andrew] Wiggins, they went somewhere to help their brand out.”

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Morning Five: 12.08.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 8th, 2014

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  1. It is beginning to seem like eventually every conference tournament will be held in the New York metro area. The latest conference to join the trend is the Big Ten, which hold its 2018 tournament at Madison Square Garden. According to the Big Ten, this is only part of a rotation as they will be going through different cities over the next four years:  Chicago (2015), Indianapolis (2016), and Washington, D.C. (2017) before going to New York City. While the conference is saying all the right things about this being part of rotation the need to play in New York City is apparently great enough that they were willing to move up their conference tournament that year by a week (Big Ten title game will be a week before Selection Sunday in 2018) that year. If you are a sportswriter you might want to go ahead and book a long-term room in New York City for March 2018 as that year the Big Ten Tournament will be followed by the ACC Tournament (Barclay’s) and Big East Tournament (MSG) going on simultaneously.
  2. Binghamton suffered a big blow on Friday as two-time All-America East selection Jordan Reed announced that he will be transferring at the end of the semester. Reed, who averaged 16.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per game as a freshman and 15.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore, had been on leave from the team since November 26 with the reason reportedly being disagreements with head coach Tommy Dempsey. Given Reed’s production and his experience he should have no shortage of high-major suitors assuming whatever happened between him and Dempsey isn’t enough to scare off programs. As for the Bearcats, we don’t think they can get that much worse as they sit at 1-8 after a loss at home against Pennsylvania in their first game with Reed officially off the roster.
  3. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were writing posts asking when New Jersey Institute of Technology would actually win a game (it was actually six years ago, which in terms of this site’s existence is actually fairly long) so we have to admit that we were shocked when we saw that they have knocked off Michigan on the road. While much of this can be focused on just how bad Michigan was (hey, at least they have a bowl game to… oh, right) we would rather focus on the winning side, which as a 24.5-point underdog is the biggest such underdog to win since Gardner-Webb beat Kentucky in 2007 (favored by 26-points as part of the magical Billy Gillespie experience). We aren’t sure if there is a trend to have more bigger name programs losing to smaller-name programs in recent years (a little help, Pomeroy?), but it certainly seems that way with what we have been seeing recently.
  4. Gerald Hamilton, Skal Labissiere’s legal guardian and the target of quite a bit of criticism, finally responded to his critics. According to Hamilton, they have met with Kentucky, the school that Labissiere committed to, and discussed Labisserie’s history with the NCAA with all parties being satisfied. Of course, this is coming from Hamilton and neither Kentucky nor the NCAA so it obviously could be quite biased and given what we have heard about Hamilton we have to admit that we have a hard time taking anything he says at face value. Our guess is that Labisserie’s eligibility will be one of those cases that is not decided until next season starts.
  5. Speaking of legal guardians and questionable eligibility, Ed Smith, Thon Maker‘s legal guardian, has come out and stated that Maker (the top recruit in the class of 2016) will reclassify to the class of 2015 if he is academically eligible. This isn’t exactly a surprise given all of the movement that Maker has had in the past few years, but it is the first time we have seen them openly discuss it since Maker was moved to Canada. According to Smith, the issue isn’t so much Maker meeting NCAA requirements as he reportedly has a solid GPA, but instead the requirements of the school he just transferred to. While this isn’t the first time we would have seen a transfer backfire it might be the first time we see it backfire because of school-specific academic requirements.
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Morning Five: 09.08.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 8th, 2014

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  1. This weekend might have marked the start of the NFL season for some, but it was also a big one for college basketball recruiting. Florida State was the big winner picking up a pair of top-50 recruits in Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley. Both announcements, which were made separately, came on Friday night and gives the Seminoles one of the top classes in the country early in the recruiting season. Louisville also added to its already strong class with the addition of five-star guard Antonio Blakeney. That announcement probably puts the Cardinals in the #1 or 2 spot in the recruiting standing this year with Arizona being the other top choice. We would have considered Oregon State‘s ability to add two top-tier recruits–Trey Tinkle and Stephen Thompson Jr.–last week to be particularly noteworthy except the recruits were the sons of the team’s coaches. Still the addition of those two plus Derrick Bruce is a potential game-changer for the program that has been mired in mediocrity (at best) for quite a while. Texas A&M also picked up a big piece on Sunday night when D.J. Hogg, a five-star small foward, committed to play for the Aggies. While they have not struggled for quite as long as the Beavers, the Aggies haven’t really been relevant since the 2010-11 season.
  2. We have seen a lot of strange movement with top recruits over the years, but Thon Maker‘s international movements appear to be unique. Maker, who is widely considered the top recruit in the class of 2016, came to the United States from Australia (via Sudan) and now is being moved to Canada along with his younger brother Matur, also a top prospect. Maker could conceivably end up reclassifying to the class of 2015, but with all of this movement we don’t know how realistic that is. The decision to move was made by Maker’s guardian, who will also serve as an assistant coach at his new school. We can only hope that this is being made in Maker’s best interest even if we disagree with the general idea behind all of this movement.
  3. After nearly a month Charleston finally found a replacement for Doug Wojcik as it announced its decision to hire Earl Grant. Wojcik was fired in the wake of allegations of abuse against his players, an issue that has become increasingly common. The process to replace Wojcik took longer than expected and likely drove off many of the potential hires that the school looked at. Grant has spent the past four seasons as an assistant at Clemson and at the age of  37 could serve as a potential long-term coach the school needs (or it could be just a stepping stone for him). We normally don’t like to bring race into the discussion of hiring/firing, but as Gary Parrish points out in his background on the situation at Charleston it likely played a role.
  4. We would expect Miami to be a better team with the addition of several key transfers, but they might have lost a big piece last week when Davon Reed underwent surgery after tearing the meniscus in his left knee during an offseason workout that could  keep him out for four to six months. As a freshman last season, Reed started 10 games while averaging 6.6 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists in a little over 20 minutes per game and scored 11.5 points per game in two ACC Tournament games while coming off the bench. The school has not officially announced whether Reed would redshirt so there is a chance we could see him around the second half of conference play.
  5. We are not sure if the decision by certain Georgia Tech coaches to make impermissible calls just three days after their NCAA hearing was brazen or idiotic, but it helped to get the school two more years of probation. The school’s current probation now extends to June 13, 2017 after its coaches, who were already on probation, made hundreds of impermissible calls and texts. We have gotten to the point where we are not really sure what to make of all of these probation announcements. On one hand, the school was already on probation so you would figure that if they mess up again they should get more than a slap on the wrist. On the other hand, these violations are completely unrelated to the other violations and might not even be violations any more.
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Seven Sweet Scoops: July Recruiting Primer

Posted by Sean Moran on July 10th, 2014

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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. July Recruiting Primer

It’s that time again for college coaches to get out on the road. Over the next three weeks, coaches will criss-cross the country in search of elite high school recruits in the 2015, 2016, and 2017 classes. Last year college coaches had two weekends in April to view high school prospects in a competitive setting, while this year they only had one such week in April. With less time for viewing prospects, coaches will be in a virtual scramble mode throughout the month.

2. July Live Period #1 (July 9 – July 13)

The first live period kicked off on Wednesday. The main draw for the first viewing window is the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas. This Nike event features 80 of the top players in the country, including numerous five-star recruits. The who’s who of college coaches will all set foot in Vegas this week in addition to a plethora of NBA scouts. With so much talent there, some of the top recruits in the country will have a chance to try to establish themselves as the No. 1 recruit in the country. Players vying for this top spot include Ben Simmons (No. 2), Ivan Rabb (No. 3), Cheick Diallo (No. 5), and Malik Newman (No. 6).

Another top destination this week is Chicago for the Adidas Unrivaled camp which features a plethora of top players from the Adidas circuit. Several of the top players expected in Chicago include small forward Jaylen Brown (No. 4), point guard Dennis Smith (No. 6 – 2016), and forward Thon Maker (No. 4 – 2016). The camp consists of daily drill sessions with All-Star games occurring on Sunday.

Las Vegas and Chicago are the prime destinations for college coaches this week, but there are also a variety of other events throughout the country. The NY2LA Next Level Invitational takes place outside of Milwaukee and features some of the top talent in the Midwest as well. On the East Coast, the Reebok Breakout Classic is in action in Philadelphia and the Ty Lawson and Victor Oladipo Skills Academy are live in Maryland. With events taking place all over the country through the weekend, you can be sure that all of the head coaches and assistants will be earning their frequent flyer miles.

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Morning Five: 05.28.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 28th, 2014

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  1. Just when you thought that we did not have to worry about a college coach jumping to the NBA, Billy Donovan stated that he won’t guarantee that he will be back at Florida next season. On the surface, it is a fairly innocuous statement, but given the number of job openings out there and the fact that Donovan has already stated that several NBA teams have been in contact with him it will probably raise a few eyebrows in Gainesville. Donovan is already making $3.7 million per year at Florida over the next seasons after signing a contract extension in February so we don’t think he will be able to parlay this into a much bigger salary particularly at Florida, but it will be something to keep an eye on. Based on the current openings we would have to assume his most likely options would be Cleveland, Utah, and Minnesota because we cannot see the Lakers (read: Kobe) or the Knicks (read: Phil) handing over the keys to a college coach they don’t know.
  2. It seems like we just finished up with the recruiting class of 2014 finalizing their destinations and we are already starting to have to deal with news surrounding the class of 2015 and possibly 2016. According to Evan Daniels, there is a chance that Thon Maker (the #1 player in the class of 2016) might reclassify to the class of 2015. According to Maker’s legal guardian the decision on reclassifying will depend on how Maker is doing academically and physically (adding on weight). If Maker does reclassify, he will almost certainly be a top-five player in the class as he already has Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisville pursuing him.
  3. To some people, any time a job opens up at a BCS level school the media is quick to tout it as a big opening and one that could be potentially career-altering for the right candidate. Myron Medcalf is not so sure and thinks that some of these jobs are much less desirable than you may think. While we agree with him that not all BCS-level jobs are created equal we do have some issues with the ones that he picked. None of the schools listed would be considered among the nation’s elite programs, but some of them–particularly UNLV and FSU–are actually pretty desirable in our eyes. Overall many of the programs listed do have quite a few issues that limit them, but we don’t think that would prevent us from jumping at an opportunity here particularly if we were a mid-major coach trying to move up a level. If we were a hot college assistant we might have second thoughts about taking one of these as our first job if other options were available although some coaches in such a position have already done so.
  4. Maryland is not the only major program that is experiencing a mass (transfer) exodus. UNLV is experiencing its own crisis as Deville Smith announced that he will be transferring for his senior season. Smith was the team’s starting point guard last season averaging 9.7 points and 2.7 assists per game. He is the third Rebel to transfer this off-season joining Bryce Dejean-Jones (the team’s leading scorer; headed to Iowa State) and Demetris Morant (headed to Florida Gulf Coast). When you combine that with Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith declaring early for the NBA Draft, the Rebels have lost their top five scorers from this past season, which will make the Rebels a completely different team next season even if their drop-off in performance might not be as high as you would expect given their impressive incoming freshman class.
  5. When looking back at college basketball history, we often tend to overlook many significant individuals simply because they were not at big-name programs. Legendary coach Don Meyer is one example of that, but the outpouring for his funeral in South Dakota on Saturday–several thousand people attended–should be a clear indicator of the impact he had not only on the game, but beyond the court too. Meyer compiled a 923-324 record during his 38-year career of which only four were losing seasons. Meyer is best known for his time at Lipscomb where he was 665-179 between 1985 and 1999. A second service for Meyer will be held at Lipscomb on June 1.
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