Who’s Got Next? The Impact of Friday’s Big Announcements

Posted by Sean Moran on November 18th, 2013

whos-got-next

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.

Friday marked a landmark day for college basketball recruiting. In a span of one hour, four consensus top 10 prospects in the 2014 recruiting class announced their college decisions. If there is anything fans learned this week it’s how important top freshmen are to some of the premier programs in the country. Jabari Parker (Duke), Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Julius Randle (Kentucky), and Aaron Gordon (Arizona) all captured the nation’s attention during last week’s game action, but on Friday it was time to learn where the next batch of sensational freshmen were going to play their college ball. Normally Kentucky is the school associated with showcasing talented incoming freshmen, but with Friday’s announcements it was Duke, Kansas, and Arizona all coming out as this year’s big winners. Not only will these three schools stay in the national title picture in 2014-15 as a result, but each has served notice that it has adapted its philosophy and will not back down to Kentucky for top recruits in the future.

Okafor and Jones will make Duke one of the teams to beat in 2014-15

Duke received the first good news of the day when five-star center Jahlil Okafor and five-star point guard Tyus Jones simultaneously revealed Duke hats from their high school gymnasiums. It was widely known that the 6’11” Okafor and the 6’1” Jones planned to play at least one season of college basketball together and Duke capitalized on their friendship that had formed through USA Basketball training camps. Okafor hails from Chicago and is considered the No.1 player in the country while Jones comes from Apple Valley, Minnesota, and is ranked No.4 in the country as a point guard. The commitments give Duke two players who will fill key positions of need for the Blue Devils.

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ACC M5: 11.18.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 18th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Pitt News: Great article from a couple of weeks ago from Pittsburgh student Jasper Wilson, who spent some time with Panther alumnus Ricardo Greer. Greer was a star (though he took a backseat role to All-American Brandin Knight his senior season), who graduated in 2001. Now Greer plays basketball in France, where he’s played the majority of his professional career. Wilson does a great job illuminating Greer’s life with the boons and challenges that come with playing basketball in Europe. Really great work.
  2. Run the Floor: Suffice to say Boston College‘s season hasn’t opened the way Steve Donahue planned. The Eagles are 1-4. Their one win came by three, at home against a bad Florida Atlantic team (the same team Duke beat by more than thirty points). Their losses are all to decent teams (Providence, Massachusetts, and Toledo), but decent losses don’t help your RPI–especially home losses against Toledo. Donahue’s team may just be taking some time to come together, but their performances are starting to look eerily consistent.
  3. CBSSports.com: Gary Parrish thinks that Lebron’s Decision influenced consensus top-five recruits Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor in their decision to pick a school together. It’s an interesting idea, and I think it also applies to the super-classes that John Calipari has strung together. Jones and Okafor chose Duke, giving the Blue Devils the top class in the country for next season. Consensus top-ranked prospect Okafor, a back to the basket center, will give Mike Krzyzewski his most skilled big since at least Carlos Boozer (and possibly Elton Brand). 
  4. Tar Heel Blog and One Foot Down: A couple of ranked teams got embarrassed this weekend. Lathan’s article from Friday looks especially prescient after North Carolina lost to Belmont at home. The Tar Heels went a shocking 22-48 from the free throw line, which certainly contributed to their loss. But they also choked up a six-point lead in the final minutes thanks to some hot shooting from Belmont. Notre Dame also lost at home to Indiana State (the first November loss of Mike Brey’s tenure) thanks to putrid offense and absolutely nothing from its backcourt. [side note: Syracuse also produced an abhorrent free throw line this weekend, putting up the old 12-28 from the charity stripe]
  5. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Virginia‘s loss to VCU raised a lot of questions about the team’s ability to close games. Yes, Tony Bennett is playing an inexperienced point guard, but that’s no excuse for letting any game close on a 10-1 run. After the game, Bennett noted that his team needed to be mentally stronger (quoting Bob Knight in the process). Unfortunately, mental strength won’t cause a shot-creator to appear. Joe Harris is one of the best players in the ACC, but he’s not a guy that will break you down at the end of the shot clock. He has to find a way to be more effective (probably drawing a foul on a drive into the lane) because Virginia won’t come close to it’s potential if it continues playing like it did against the Rams.
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Morning Five: 11.18.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 18th, 2013

morning5

  1. Friday’s major commitments turned out to be a case of the rich get richer. The big announcement was the simultaneous commitment of Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones to play for Duke next year. As we said on Friday morning just the addition of those two should give Duke the #1 recruiting class in the country this year and quite possibly make them the preseason favorite for the 2015 national title. In perhaps the most controversial move of the day Cliff Alexander selected Kansas, but not before picking up an Illinois hat, putting it down, and then finally putting on a Kansas hat. The move generated a fair amount of criticism with many Illini fans and possibly the coaching staff thinking that they had the inside track on Alexander, an Illinois native. We doubt that the two teams will play next season, but we imagine the reception that Alexander would receive would not be unlike what Eric Gordon received on his only trip to Illinois. In the wake of the other news, Stanley Johnson‘s commitment to Arizona got lost in the shuffle, but the addition of another Mater Dei star (Aaron Gordon is also from there should help the Wildcats reload and help ensure that they will still be a force when Gordon presumably leaves Tucson after this season.
  2. In a reminder that fans should not be too hard on a recruit when he spurns your school, Quentin Snider announced that he was backing out of his commitment to Illinois (Friday was not John Groce’s finest day) and recommitting to Louisville. Snider originally committed to Louisville in August 2011 before backing out of that commitment at the end of July 2013 and chose Illinois in September 2013, but when Jaquan Lyle backed out of his own commitment to Louisville the Cardinals needed a point guard for the class of 2014 and Snider decided to return to his original commitment. Although Snider never officially announced it, Lyle’s committment and backing out of his committment at Louisville likely played a large role in Snider’s vascillation.
  3. The case involving Duke Mondy and Dante Williams that led the two Oakland players to temporarily be arrested on rape charges before being dropped. Without getting into too many details (you can go to TMZ for that, seriously) it appears to be a case of the players getting involved with a woman after their curfew while on a road trip and the woman becoming upset at the end and accusing the players of rape. While the players were able to avoid any serious legal repercussions it appears that they may be facing a rather stiff punishment from the school.
  4. At this point in the season we do not know what to think of Florida with their ever-changing roster. While Billy Donovan did reinstate Dorian Finney-Smith, who responded with 17 points and nine rebounds in his first game back, they are still without Damontre Harris, who remains off the team. With all of the uncertainty around the Gator lineup they remain one of the harder teams to get a handle on early in the season. Having said that if Donovan can get some semblance of a rotation by Christmas time they could be a tough out in March once again.
  5. Last year, Jack Taylor made international headlines with his 138-point performance. This year, he barely gets a mention in the Morning Five with his 109-point outburst yesterday. Taylor’s performance yesterday is third all-time trailing just his effort last year and a 113-point game in 1954. His stat line (and his output) would be a solid five game stretch for most players: 35-of-70 from the field, 24-of-48 3, and 15-of-17 from the  free throw line. Perhaps our favorite part of the game summary is the school mentioning the “big games from others” who scored between 10 and 15 points. For perspective, Taylor scored 53 in the first nine minutes of the second half.
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Seven Sweet Scoops: Okafor, Jones, Alexander and Johnson Commit in Decision Day 2013…

Posted by Sean Moran on November 15th, 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 Decision Is In: Okafor and Jones Are Off to Duke

The Package Deal is Done: Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones are headed to Duke next fall.

In the Champions Classic, Kansas got the better of Duke; today the Blue Devils are back on top. The package deal announcement came in this afternoon as five-star center Jahlil Okafor and five-star point guard Tyus Jones committed to Duke over Kansas and Baylor this afternoon on ESPNU. The decision bumps Duke up to the No.1 spot in the recruiting rankings and automatically turns the Blue Devils into a title contender next season. The two have long discussed playing together and formed a strong bond through their time as Team USA friends as well as through AAU and camp travel. Okafor is the No. 1 player in the class of 2014 and laid claim to the top spot this past winter when he took over the title from Jones, who is now ranked as the No.4 player overall. Okafor stands at 6’10” and will provide a strong post presence for the Blue Devils, which they are currently lacking. With his size and touch he is almost unguardable in the post and will create a need for constant double teams. Jones stands 6’1” and has been touted as the best true point guard in the land for a few years now. He is a wizard with the ball and has range from the NBA three point line. Every team wants a strong point guard and post presence and Duke just landed both, so in turn they will once again be in contention for a national title in 2014-15. This marks the second year in a row that Coach K has signed the top player from Chicago, with last year’s recruit current freshman sensation Jabari Parker.

2. Big Cliff Off to Kansas

While Kansas lost out on Okafor and Jones, it did land five-star center Cliff Alexander, who played his cards close to the vest throughout the recruitment process and chose the Jayhawks over in-state school, Illinois. The Chicago native is currently ranked as the No. 3 center in the class of 2014 and No. 5 player overall. Other schools in the mix were DePaul and Memphis but the decision ultimately came down to Kansas and Illinois. John Groce was pitching Alexander on being the hometown hero that stayed in the Land of Lincoln, but the lure of playing for the Jayhawks was just too much. Alexander has ties to Kansas assistant coach Jerrance Howard, who had recruited Alexander as part of Bruce Weber’s staff for a while. His girlfriend is also a freshman at Kansas and on the women’s basketball team. At Kansas, Alexander will be able to operate in the high-low offense that Self runs and with his ever-expanding offensive game he will be able to score down low on power moves and also show off his improved outside shot. Alexander will join five-star small forward Kelly Oubre (#6 overall, #1 SF) in the class of 2014 in Lawrence. Over the past few years, Alexander has lived in Okafor’s shadow despite playing the Duke recruit to a draw the past two years. While Okafor decided to head to the east coast, Alexander will make a name for himself in Lawrence. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kansas Lands Alexander, Misses On Jones & Okafor

Posted by Taylor Erickson on November 15th, 2013

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

Alexander Is Headed to Kansas Next Season

Alexander Is Headed to Kansas Next Season

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

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Duke Trying to Strike a Balance With Its Perimeter Defense

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 15th, 2013

Everyone knew Duke would be a very different team this season compared to 2012-13. Last year’s team was built around three seniors — Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, and Seth Curry. Plumlee was an athletic big man, but the other two relied on a high skill level to make up for a lack of elite athleticism. That team was clearly better offensively than defensively and had a very good year with a run to the Elite Eight and a loss to eventual national champion, Louisville. With the addition of some quicker and more athletic players, the expectation for this season was that Duke would get back to the effective pressure defense that Blue Devil championship teams of the past had shown. That was clearly not the case in Tuesday’s Champions Classic loss to Kansas. The offense was good, scoring 83 points in a 75-possession game, but the defense was not, allowing Kansas 1.25 points per possession and matching the worst performance Duke’s defense had in any game last year.

Duke could not stop Kansas down the stretch. (Photo: Getty images)

Duke could not stop Kansas down the stretch. (Photo: Getty images)

So what went wrong? There could be multiple reasons. but they may not all be fixable this season. The first explanation is that this is still a young and developing Duke team and it was only the second game of the year. Perhaps the ease with which the red-hot shooting Blue Devils dispatched Davidson in their opener gave the Blue Devils a false sense of where they really were as a team. That mentality seemed to be at issue down the stretch against Kansas. In his postgame interview, Mike Krzyzewski lamented the fact that his team just couldn’t get stops when they needed to, as if they were in a mindset that they could just outscore Kansas.

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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

morning5_big12

  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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