Okafor, Jones, Alexander & Johnson: Next Year’s Title Contenders Start Today

Posted by Bennet Hayes on November 15th, 2013

For any college basketball purists awaking from a decade-long slumber, I have bad news. The senior superstar is an extremely endangered species. I know, I know – the game cannot be the same without them, surely. But the good news? There’s a new breed of players taking over the sport, and if you happened to catch wind of the goings-on in Chicago on Tuesday night, you could be convinced that the raw excitement they bring to the game is every bit as compelling as the nostalgic narratives of their predecessors. We of course are talking about the freshman stars in today’s college basketball world, and it’s a discussion that, quite frankly, has never been hotter. Tuesday night’s Champions Classic gave college basketball and its starring freshmen a rare November national stage, and the kids did not let us down. After that display, I can’t blame anyone for wanting to simply enjoy this season before dealing with the next one, but the reality of the one-and-done era is that this will be our lone ride alongside Wiggins, Parker, Randle and the rest of the gang. So peering ahead, who’s in line to fill their shoes, and where will they be doing it? Today will go a long ways towards answering the second question, as four of the consensus top five players in the class of 2014 (according to RSCI hoops) will announce their college decisions this afternoon.

Jahlil Okafor And Tyus Jones Are The Class Of 2014's Prettiest Package; Today We Find Out Where They Will Be Playing Their College Basketball Next Season

Jahlil Okafor And Tyus Jones Are The Class Of 2014’s Prettiest Package; Today We Find Out Where They Will Be Playing Their College Basketball Next Season

Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones have nabbed the majority of headlines heading into this recruiting bonanza day. Okafor’s status as the top player in the class has fairly added to his surrounding buzz, but the duo has found more notoriety from their package deal pledge. Jones and Okafor said they were going to play their college ball together from day one, and there has been little wavering from that stance here in the final days, which all but assures either Duke or Kansas (according to sources) of landing two top-five talents in one fell swoop. Bill Self and the Jayhawks are also a possibility for another talented Friday decision-maker, as Chicago-bred big man Cliff Alexander will choose between Kansas, Memphis, and Illinois. The last top recruit set to announce his decision Friday is California wing Stanley Johnson. The timing of Johnson’s announcement is surprising, as he previously declared he would wait and make his choice next spring. It appears that folks in both Arizona and Kentucky are bullish on the local team’s odds to land the top wing in the class of 2014, while USC also remains a possibility.

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Morning Five: 11.15.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 15th, 2013

morning5

  1. Regardless of what happens the rest of the season Tuesday night will be one of the biggest nights of the season given the amount of attention the sport received with the stars being showcased at the Champions Classic. In a similar way, Friday could be one of the bigger days of the 2014-15 season and will have a bigger impact on next year’s championship picture than Tuesday will have on this season’s championship. In one of the bigger recruiting announcement days that we can remember, four of the top 10 players in the country–Jahlil Okafor (#1), Cliff Alexander (#3), Tyus Jones (#4), and Stanley Johnson (#9)–will announce where they are headed. As Roger Kuznia notes the key will be Okafor and Jones, who have consistently said they are going to be a package. Most recruiting analysts we have heard discuss the class have said that wherever that duo ends up–Duke and Kansas are said to be the favorites–should be the #1 recruiting class and the presumptive favorite to win the 2015 national title. Alexander is reportedly choosing between DePaul, Illinois, Kansas, and Memphis with Illinois and Kansas leading the way. As ridiculous as it sounds there is the possibility that Okafor, Alexander, and Jones all end up at Kansas. As for Johnson, he is choosing between Arizona, Kentucky, and USC with Arizona considered the heavy favorite.
  2. We all know that being a coveted high school prospect doesn’t guarantee you a future as a NBA player just like not being a heavily recruited high school player does not mean you can’t make it to the NBA. What we didn’t realize was how many NBA stars did not even make the Rivals 150 when they were in high school.  Now you can quibble over whether some of these guys qualify as stars, but they are all certainly solid NBA players. The other interesting aspect of the analysis is how many of these guys left college and still were not considered elite players when they entered the NBA based on where they were drafted.
  3. If you are looking to go to a Duke-North Carolina game to cross it off your bucket list, you might want to start saving. According to TiqIQ, the average price of a ticket to this season’s game at Duke is $1,728 on the secondary market. Part of the reason for the ridiculous prices at Duke is their limited supply playing in such a small venue (average ticket price overall is $409) and the rivalry has developed a certain cachet thanks in large part to the coverage that ESPN and other major outlets give it. There have been plenty of other big games over the years, but due to the small size of Cameron we doubt that any other game comes close matching the demand that Duke-North Carolina at Cameron has.
  4. Although this is the second week of Luke Winn’s Power Rankings this season, to us it is really the first week since he now has some data from this season to process. In this week’s edition, Luke goes through his usual number-crunching (we are assuming the Russ Smith/Aaron Craft “Turnometers” will be returning soon), but the numbers that jumped out as us were the disparity in shooting frequency of Chris Jones and T.J. McConnell. Jones has toned down his shooting frequency to 27.8 percent to fit in with Russ Smith while McConnell is only taking 9.5 percent this season. We would be interested to see this trended for different programs to see how much of that is related to the program/offense and how much is related to the player. As Luke points out, the Arizona difference appears to be player-related (Mark Lyons took 27.9 percent last year).
  5. Schadenfreude. If Kentucky fans were not familiar with the word, they should be after their loss against Michigan State thanks to the (dumb) idea that a Kentucky fan had to print “40-0″ shirts before the season even started. With the Wildcats loss on Tuesday, the shirts appeared to lose their value. That is to Kentucky fans. To opposing fans they are a comedy goldmine. This reminds us a little of two college students (New York Giants fans) who sought out the discarded New England Patriots 19-0 shirts by travelling to Nicaragua to get the shirts given away by a humanitarian agency. Obviously, this form of taunting takes much less work.
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Big 12 M5: 11.14.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2013

morning5_big12

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

Posted by Sean Moran on November 12th, 2013

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.

Okafor and Jones Set to Announce on Friday

The much anticipated college decision date has been set for center Jahlil Okafor and point guard Tyus Jones. On Friday at 3:00 PM CT the two friends and five-star recruits will choose between Duke, Kansas, and Baylor. Okafor is currently ranked as the No. 1 player in the class of 2014 and Jones is currently ranked No. 4 overall. A package deal has long been rumored for these two players over the past two years and appears set to come to fruition on Friday. Okafor will make his announcement at Whitney Young (IL) High School in Chicago while Jones will simultaneously announce at Apple Valley (MN) High School. Kansas and Duke are the two favorites in this recruiting race as both Bill Self and Coach K have tried their hardest to sell the duo on their schools. First the two coaches will go head to head Tuesday night in the Champions Classic at the United Center and then they both will square off again for the services of Okafor and Jones. While the winner of Tuesday’s night game will get the short term praise, the winner of Friday’s recruiting battle will position themselves quite nicely for another title run in 2015.

Wildcats Reel in Lyles

As noted in the most recent Seven Sweet Scoops, Kentucky now has the number one ranked recruiting class in 2014 with the addition of five-star power forward Trey Lyles. On November 5, the No. 1 power forward in the country and No. 9 recruit overall chose the Wildcats over their in-state rival, Louisville. Lyles is a native of Indianapolis and like many recent talented Indiana prospects, he de-committed from his original college choice. Before Lyles played a game at Indianapolis (IN) Tech, he had committed to play for Tom Crean and the Hoosiers at the start of his freshman season. Two years later, prior to beginning his junior year, Lyles decided to re-open his recruitment and received early interest from numerous schools. Kentucky was the presumed leader from the start and Calipari closed the power forward with his pitch about getting players to the NBA. Lyles has been a top 10 player in his class from the time he entered high school and is now the fourth player to sign with Kentucky in the class of 2014. The first member to sign with Kentucky was center Karl Towns Jr. (#11 overall, #4 C) who will now have another low post counterpart in Lyles. In AAU play, Lyles was hampered by injuries early but still averaged 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game on the competitive Nike EYBL circuit. He is a true post player and is very effective when he catches the ball in the post. He uses a mixture of good footwork and a soft touch when going against the defense and can score after one or two post dribbles or with an over-the-shoulder hook shot. He is also comfortable facing up for turnaround jumpers. With power forward Julius Randle on the one-and-done route; Lyles will have an opportunity to provide the Wildcats with another strong low post presence next season.

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Big 12 M5: 11.12.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 12th, 2013

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  1. Tonight’s Champions Classic match-up between Kansas and Duke features two of college basketball’s top programs, coaches and freshmen, but there’s another battle going on between the two schools that won’t be decided until later this week. Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones will announce their collegiate choices Friday afternoon, according to a tweet from Okafor. The Jayhawks and Blue Devils have long been discussed as the top two competitors for the long-rumored packaged deal, and while the chase hasn’t been the public roller coaster that some recruiting stories can be, it looks like we’ll finally have some resolution.
  2. Yesterday, we touched on Naz Long‘s coming-out party Sunday afternoon in which he went off for 27 points against UNC Wilmington. The performance has the Des Moines Register’s Randy Peterson wondering if Long could see more playing time when Melvin Ejim returns. It’s important to note that Long and Ejim don’t play the same position, but finding enough minutes to go around is always a good problem to have, especially in November. After all, Long is no stranger to playing alongside major talent — his AAU teammates included Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.
  3. For the second straight game, Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield posted a career-high in the scoring column, making his presence felt by dropping 23 points on North Texas last night. Hield is now averaging 21 points per game, and he still has a long way to go, but if Hield and the Sooners keep this up, they could lead the Sooners to another NCAA Tournament bid.
  4. West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins believes he’ll need every ounce of production he can get out of point guard Juwan Staten. After a rash of defections saw five transfers leave the Mountaineers (on top of three graduating players) over the summer, West Virginia is looking awfully thin. Staten played all 40 minutes of Friday’s season-opening win over St. Mary’s, and it will be interesting to see if he can be Huggins’ Iron Man in Morgantown like Kevin Jones and Da’Sean Butler before him.
  5. The question of who emerges alongside Michael Cobbins to produce defensively in Oklahoma State‘s frontcourt won’t be solved in the Cowboys’ first two games, but head coach Travis Ford hopes to have a clearer idea after tonight‘s game against Utah Valley State in Stillwater. Sophomore Kamari Murphy will be available after missing the season opener with a mild shoulder injury and is one candidate that Ford hopes will make the leap.
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Morning Five: 11.12.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 12th, 2013

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  1. Well that didn’t take long. Less than a month after suspending Chane Behanan indefinitely and saying that his return to the team was “not probable”, Rick Pitino reinstated Behanan to the team. Pitino has a reputation for overstating his position or changing his mind (or something less euphemistic), but this is a pretty impressive about-face on a national stage. [Ed. Note: We are sure that Big Blue Nation can give a full list of every such instance for Pitino.] Behanan could possibly play as early as tonight in Louisville’s game against Hofstra. Apparently, Behanan did enough during 25 or 30 days (depending on who is counting) to earn his way back onto the team. Or maybe Pitino realized that he needs an interior presence.
  2. At this point we would hesitate to call Harvard a sleeper team even though most of the public probably would not even consider them a threat in the NCAA Tournament, but they took a bit of a hit recently as they announced that Kenyatta Smith (Harvard) will be out indefinitely with a foot injury. Given the depth that the Crimson have they should be able to handle the temporary loss of Smith, 6’8″ center who averaged 5.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game last season, much better than you would expect. The one game that it might affect them (and could alter their season) is a game at Colorado on November 24. November games are rarely that meaningful, but for Harvard’s hopes of getting a reasonable NCAA seed they need to win that game. Now, Harvard has not set a timetable for Smith’s return, but we are assuming that their definition of indefinite is a little different than Rick Pitino’s.
  3. It is not quite Miami’s “Big Three”, but for college basketball it might as well be. This Friday, three of the top five prospects in the class of 2014–Jahlil Okafor (#1), Cliff Alexander (#3), and Tyus Jones (#5)–are all expected to announce their college decisions. Okafor and Jones have repeatedly said that they will be a package deal and many believe that Kansas and Duke are the leaders with Duke being the slight favorite. As for Alexander, who at one time was considered to be part of a package deal with Jaquan Lyle, he is reportedly down to four schools with one of them being Kansas. We have no idea how Okafor/Jones might coordinate with Alexander, but there exists the realistic possibility that Bill Self could land a haul on Friday that would blow away anything that Andrew Wiggins could be expected to do in his one year in Lawrence.
  4. Most Syracuse fans are probably more focused on the state of their team this year as they adjust to the ACC, but should probably pay attention that was is going on with their class of 2014 signee Chris McCullough, who was dismissed from Brewster Academy for a violation of school rules. We have no idea where McCullough is headed, but for his sake hopefully it is a place where he will be able to finish with enough credits to be academically eligible for the 2014-15 season. If he is not, that would be a huge loss for Syracuse as McCullough, a five-star forward, is expected to be the centerpiece of the incoming Syracuse class.
  5. With the new polls coming out that can only mean one thing: a new year of Gary Parrish’s Poll Attacks. Before we get into Gary’s attack(s) we should point out that it is pretty ridiculous to come out with a new poll after one game especially since most of the games were against cupcakes. Anyways, they decided to do it and some people decided to be dumb with their votes. Gary’s targets this week in the AP Poll was Jon Wilmer who made the curious decision to rank Colorado 16th and not rank Baylor even though Baylor beat Colorado by 12 in the only game either team has played this year. His attack on the Coaches’ Poll is more of an attack on the system that lets Mark Fox rank Georgia 25th even though they are probably a bottom-tier SEC team. Honestly, it is way too early in the year to really care about polls (actually polls are always sort of ridiculous since they do not have any affect on the championship), but it is amusing to see some people be so careless with it or make a mockery out of the entire system.
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Seven Sweet Scoops: Kevon Looney, Devin Booker, James Blackmon Jr. Commitments & More…

Posted by Sean Moran on November 1st, 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. Kevon Looney Surprises All and Heads West

The #14 player in the class of 2014 surprised almost everyone on Thursday afternoon with his college commitment. Kevon Looney, a five-star forward, decided to head west and chose UCLA over Duke, Florida, Tennessee, Michigan State and Wisconsin. The commitment is a huge deal for head coach Steve Alford who struggled recruiting in his first summer at UCLA. Not only did Alford get a talented prospect and likely McDonald’s All-American, but he also signed his first five-star recruit and put to rest any doubts about his recruiting skills. Looney is a 6’8” combo forward that hails from Milwaukee and will join talented shooting guard Isaac Hamilton (#31 – 2013) in sunny Southern California next year. The Bruins will lose the Wear twins to graduation after this year and most likely forward Kyle Anderson will be off to the NBA as well, leaving plenty of playing time available for Looney. Alford spent time in July following Looney around from game to game and eventually sold UCLA to Looney. “UCLA is a great campus, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen,” said Looney. “They have a great style I can fit in.”

2. Kentucky Moving Up the Recruiting Rankings

Soon after five-star forward Kevon Looney made his announcement to UCLA, four-star shooting guard Devin Booker made his announcement as well. The 6’5” shooting guard chose Kentucky over Missouri, Michigan State and Michigan. Booker currently attends high school in Mississippi, but used to live in Michigan as he currently resides with his father, a former star at Missouri. Despite those connections, Booker still chose to play for John Calipari and the Wildcats. With the commitment, Booker joined five-star center Karl Towns Jr. (#11 overall, #4 center) and point guard Tyler Ulis (#29 overall, #6 PG) in the 2014 Kentucky class. Earlier in the summer, the smooth-shooting Booker noted that he enjoyed playing with point guard Ulis and this connection played a large part in his commitment as he indicated to Scout.com. “Going into my college decision a lot of it was playing with Tyler [Ulis]. I’ve been playing with Tyler at camps the past two years. He finds you wherever you are at. He just makes the game a lot easier for me.”

3. James Blackmon Jr. Going Back Home… Again

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Okafor and Jones Visit Duke, Cliff Alexander Off to Illinois, and More…

Posted by Sean Moran on October 25th, 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. The Package Deal: Okafor and Jones Visit Duke

Where will Okafor and Jones be playing together next year?

The much anticipated weekend has arrived for Coach K and Duke. The top-ranked center and point guard in the class of 2014 are taking their official visits to Durham, North Carolina, today. Package deals in college basketball are often talked about but rarely come to fruition, especially one involving such star power. Jahlil Okafor, a 6’11” center out of Chicago, is the top ranked player in the country, and his buddy Tyus Jones, a 6’1” point guard out of Apple Valley, Minnesota, is the fourth-ranked player in the country. Both seniors have indicated that they will attend college together and have whittled their list of potential suitors down to three. Last week Kansas played host to the duo, but this week Duke gets to take its crack at selling the duo on moving east. With Okafor’s size and strength he is almost unguardable in the low post and would provide Duke with its best low post presence since the Carlos Boozer days. Jones would provide Duke with its best point guard since Jason Williams and he has long been discussed as the overall best point guard in high school basketball dating back to his sophomore year. Along with these two players, five-star small forward Justise Winslow (#9 overall, #3 SF) from the class of 2014 will also make the trip. His recruitment was discussed last week. All in all, it’s a huge weekend in Durham.

2. Cliff Alexander Makes His Last Official Visit

Cliff Alexander, a five-star power forward from Chicago, is staying in-state this weekend and making the two-hour drive south down to Champaign for his last official visit to Illinois. Alexander is a 6’8” manchild who is currently the No. 5 prospect in the class of 2014 and eerily reminiscent of L.A. Clipper DeAndre Jordan. Over the past few weeks Alexander and his family have taken in the sights and sounds of Midnight Madness at Memphis and Kansas. A decision is expected in November with Illinois, DePaul, Arizona, Kansas, Memphis, and Michigan State all receiving interest. Expect John Groce and the Illinois coaching staff to pull out all the stops this weekend for Alexander. While the Illini already have a strong recruiting class in 2014 with four-star power forward LeRon Black (#46 overall, #9 PF) and four-star point guard Quentin Snider (#31 overall, #7 PG) committed, Alexander would be the crown jewel. He can run the floor, block shots and dunks everything around the basket. His offensive skills outside the paint are rapidly improving and he put himself in the conversation for the number one player in the country. Not only would Groce get a player with future NBA talent, he would also lay claim to Illinois becoming a major player for all that Chicago talent.

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Morning Five: 10.21.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 21st, 2013

morning5

  1. As you may have noticed from ESPNU’s coverage, Friday night was the closest thing we have this year to Midnight Madness as the new practice rules have led to a dilution of the event as teams have spread out their first official practice dates. The big spectacles were widely covered by ESPN and its array of analysts, but the biggest event of the weekend may have happened behind the scenes at Kansas two weeks after “Late Night in the Phog” as the Jayhawks hosted Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones on their official visit. The pair, who have repeatedly expressed their desire to play together, are the top package deal this season (or almost any season that we can remember). Although they may have missed the typical March Madness theatrics that many recruits have become accustomed too they were able to see the current group of Jayhawks play in an open scrimmage with a full house at Allen Fieldhouse. For their part, both Okafor and Jones appear to have enjoyed their visits, but they are visiting Duke this coming weekend, which as of now is their last scheduled visit, so there is a chance that we could be hearing their choice fairly soon.
  2. The Okafor-Jones combo might be getting all the hype, but the potential for a Cliff Alexander-JaQuan Lyle combo deal is not far behind. That pair made a visit to Memphis over the weekend and while they both reportedly enjoyed their visit the more interesting point is that Alexander’s mother sounded less than certain that the pair would be committing together. Alexander is the key piece here and has also visited Kansas and DePaul with a visit planned for Illinois next weekend. He is still considering visiting Michigan State, but is set to announce his decision on November 16 on ESPNU.
  3. The details of coaching contracts are usually too boring to be worth mentioning, but those in Shaka Smart‘s contract caught our attention. The base salary of $450,000, supplemental income rising from $850,000 to $950,000 then $1 million, and duration of 10 years are not particularly noteworthy. What is interesting is that he will get an extra $5,000 for each win over a member of the AAC (think Shaka wants to move to the AAC?) and $2,000 for beating Old Dominion. He also receives $4,000 for each player that graduates by the summer that that player’s eligibility is up and $2,000 if it happens within one year of that player’s eligibility expiring. As for other schools that are looking at luring Shaka away from VCU, if he leaves before April 30 of next year his buyout is $650,000 and drops by $100,000 every year after that. Oh, and it will also cost the school that lures Shaka away a home-and-home or an additional $250,000.
  4. With his preliminary hearing for allegedly stealing from a friend’s apartment less than a month away, Savon Goodman decided to leave the UNLV program on Friday. Goodman has been charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary, and grand larceny after being accused of stealing $500, a pair of shoes, and 26 video games from a friend’s apartment in May. In August, Dave Rice announced that Goodman would not play this season and his future with the program was uncertain, but did not rule out the possibility of Goodman’s return (and we have seen players return to play from far worse than what Goodman is accused of doing). We are not sure what eventually made Goodman decide to leave the program ahead of his preliminary hearing on November 12 as the Rebels as a team in need of inside players so it would seem that the door would have been open for him to return after this season if he behaved in a way that Rice and the program felt was appropriate.
  5. It looks like former Auburn guard Varez Ward could avoid facing charges of point-shaving by entering into a pre-trial diversion program. Ward is the second Division I player to face such charges, but unlike San Diego’s Brandon Johnson his involvement in the game he is accused of shaving points in seems to be minimal as he appeared to his injure his leg after playing only 19 seconds (against Arkansas on January 25, 2012). However, the reason for the apparent deal is that he has no history of felony convictions or drug addictions (Ward has previously pleaded not guilty). Ward still needs his deal to be approved by the U.S. Probation Office and a federal judge before it can be official.
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With Okafor and Jones Visiting Kansas, Allen Fieldhouse Sells Itself

Posted by Taylor Erickson on October 19th, 2013

Bill Self has been making strides on the recruiting front the past few seasons in college basketball when it comes to convincing top-shelf talent to make a pit stop in Lawrence for a brief eight months before bolting for the NBA, and it doesn’t appear he’s too interested in slowing down.  In front of an estimated attendance of 10,000 fans early Saturday morning, Kansas held an intrasquad scrimmage and open practice to provide fans with a glimpse of what they can expect when the season tips off in a few short weeks.  This comes two weeks after Kansas hosted its annual “Late Night in the Phog” on October 4, which featured a variety of skits and dancing, followed by a short scrimmage. Four days after visiting Kansas for Late Night, shooting guard Kelly Oubre of Findlay (NV) Prep committed to play for Self’s squad in 2014-15.  The hype and excitement surrounding this season’s Late Night event created such a buzz that as many as 7,000 fans were turned away as Allen Fieldhouse had reached capacity.  KU Athletics released a news brief following the event, apologizing for fan conduct problems when the doors opened, leaving some who had spent hours in line left out of the action. Little did Bill Self know that this would prove to be a blessing in disguise.

Photo Credit:  KUSports.com

Photo Credit: KUSports.com

Absent from Late Night were Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, two top recruits in the nation who have long been rumored to be a “package deal” for the school lucky enough to host the duo next season. Instead, these two had identified this weekend as their official visit to Kansas, which provided the school an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone by hosting the open scrimmage Saturday morning.  From a PR standpoint, this was a great chance to make up for the crowd management catastrophe from two weeks ago and give those who weren’t able to make it inside a chance to see Kansas in action. But make no mistake about it, this was about Okafor and Jones. Self can provide these two all the information they need as to how they will be used in his system, and can give them the opportunity to explore facilities inside and out, but at Kansas, the best recruiting tool might be Allen Fieldhouse itself. While it is still too early to know exactly how Okafor and Jones felt about their visit, it appears those fans in attendance did all they could to make the two feel comfortable, giving them a standing ovation as they entered the building Saturday morning. Okafor in particular appeared to enjoy himself, sharing fan tweets welcoming him to Kansas throughout the day on the social media network.

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Big 12 M5: 10.17.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 17th, 2013

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  1. As we mentioned earlier this week, Kansas will hold an open scrimmage this Saturday, but one new development is that the Jayhawks will have a couple VIPs in attendance. According to The Kansas City Star’s Rustin DoddJahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, two of the top five prospects in the class of 2014, will check out the scrimmage as part of their official visits. Okafor, a center, wowed scouts and writers over the summer with his advanced footwork and fundamentals, while Jones is considered among the top point guards in the class by several recruiting services. The two have long been rumored to be a package deal, and when one of the nation’s best coaches schedules an open scrimmage that just so happens to fall during your visit, you know things are getting serious. The event will also be a nice chance for the many KU fans who were shut out of “Late Night At The Phog” to get a look at their favorite team.
  2. West Virginia will also debut its squad in front of a home crowd this weekend. The Mountaineers may not be a factor in this year’s Big 12 race, but with many new faces coming in, fans will have a chance to get acquainted tomorrow night. This season’s team figures to be very perimeter-oriented, although not to the extremes of Huggins’ 2006-08 WVU squads. Eron Harris and Terry Henderson combined to shoot 37% from distance on 231 attempts last season, Gary Browne will look to improve on his frosty 20.4% clip from last season, and 6’10” Kevin Noreen will also step out from time to time.
  3. The Big 12 coaches slotted Kansas State fifth in their preseason poll last week, and while that’s a respectable goal after losing three core players from a conference championship team, the Wildcats will need seniors Will Spradling and Shane Southwell to become vocal leaders if they are to realize their potential. Both Spradling and Southwell held supporting roles in the past, opting to let their play speak for itself, but their performance will be especially important on a team that’s lacking in post depth and bringing in five freshmen.
  4. CBS Sports contributor and friend of RTC Jon Rothstein spent some time with Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg on Wednesday. The Cyclones will pester opposing defenses with big, versatile shooters like Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim, but the piecemeal backcourt of Marshall transfer DeAndre Kane, freshman Monte’ Morris and JuCo transfer K.J. Bluford shouldn’t be trifled with, either. We’re not sure if the Cyclones’ offensive production will match last season’s performance, which landed them sixth in the country in offensive efficiency, but we can’t rule it out, either. This unit will score, but improvement on defense is imperative if Iowa State is to crash Kansas and Oklahoma State’s party at the top of the standings.
  5. While we’ll be keeping very close watch on Marcus Smart, it can be easy to lose sight of the benefits his presence will bring to Oklahoma State‘s future. The attention Smart has brought the OSU program has already yielded one ESPN Top 100 recruit in Jared Terrell, and recent commitment Mitch Solomon could find himself on that list with a good senior season. Additionally, Oklahoma State remains in the hunt for big fish such as Myles Turner and Devin Robinson. There are certainly other factors at work, but it’s nearly impossible to argue that Smart’s play last season and his surprising decision to stay in Stillwater have given the program a level of exposure it wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
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Seven Sweet Scoops: USA Basketball Developmental Camp, Ivan Rabb Receives East Coast Visitors and More…

Posted by Sean Moran on October 11th, 2013

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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. USA Basketball Men’s Developmental Camp

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

2. Malik Newman Update

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

3. USA Basketball Camp: 2014 Focus

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