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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Big 12 Team Preview: Kansas Jayhawks

Posted by KoryCarpenter on November 8th, 2013

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

Where We Left Off: With seven minutes left in its Sweet Sixteen match-up with Michigan, Kansas led by 14 points. With 21 seconds left, the lead had dwindled but the Jayhawks still held a controlling five-point lead. Not long after that, Michigan guard Trey Burke’s last-second three-pointer sent the game to overtime, and the Wolverines held on to win the game, 87-85. That game was a microcosm of Kansas’ season, with senior point guard Elijah Johnson committing five turnovers without tallying a single assist. All five starters either graduated or, in freshman guard Ben McLemore’s case, declared for the NBA Draft. At the time, the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class – led by five-star recruit Wayne Selden – softened the blow of another tough March loss for Bill Self. But a little less than two months later, everything changed when No. 1 overall recruit Andrew Wiggins committed to Kansas and transformed this year’s team from a top-25 squad into national title contenders.

Andrew Wiggins Has A Lot Of Reasons To Be Smiling These Days.

Andrew Wiggins Has A Lot Of Reasons To Be Smiling These Days.

PositivesThe Jayhawks have more talent and balance than almost any team in the country. Andrew Wiggins is the CBSSports.com Preseason Player of the Year, an AP First-Team All-American, and the projected No. 1 pick in next summer’s NBA Draft. He’ll be joined on the perimeter by the No. 12 overall player in the 2013 class, Wayne Selden, forming one of the best backcourts in the country. Freshman center Joel Embiid has only been playing basketball for a few seasons but skyrocketed up the recruiting rankings during his senior year, ending up at 25th overall and a projected lottery pick next summer. He’s unlikely to even start at the beginning of the season. That looks to be Memphis transfer Tarik Black, who graduated early and is able to play immediately at Kansas. Even with three potential lottery picks in the starting lineup, Bill Self has said that sophomore forward Perry Ellis could lead the team in scoring. I wouldn’t bet on that, but Ellis did come on strong late last season, leading the team with 14.3 PPG in the Big 12 Tournament. There isn’t a big dropoff when Self looks to his bench, either. Three freshmen – Brannen Greene, Conner Frankamp, and Frank Mason - were four-star recruits and will be fighting for playing time this season on the perimeter behind Selden and Wiggins.

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Big 12 M5: 10.24.13 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on October 24th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. While Travis Ford and Marcus Smart continue to talk about the budding rivalry with Kansas and Andrew Wiggins, Wiggins seems more worried about not wearing his ankle braces in the shower. Ok, not quite. But the heralded freshman and likely No. 1 pick in next summer’s draft appears to be as down to earth as someone can be in his situation, saying things like, “You can’t take any plays off,” to Gary Bedore of the Lawrence-Journal World at Big 12 Media Day. “The person you are guarding may be as good as you.” Probably not, in Wiggins’ case. But we get the point.
  2. Not unlike coaches in any sport, Fred Hoiberg is looking for anything he can use for motivation heading into this season. This week, he found it in a USA Today Big 12 poll. After seeing his Cyclones picked by one voter to finish 10th in the 10-team Big 12, Hoiberg pounced on the opportunity. “That is the one ranking I showed our guys,” Hoiberg said at Big 12 Media Day on Tuesday. “That is the thing I like about being picked low, and then you try to go out and prove people wrong.”
  3. Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com unveiled his top 30 freshmen heading into the season, and we’ll jsut skip over Andrew Wiggins, of course, landing the top spot. Wiggins was joined by Kansas teammates Wayne Selden (#7) and Joel Embiid (#9) but only one other Big 12 player made the final cut: Iowa State guard Matt Thomas at #25. Here is what Borzello had to say about the 6’3″ shooting guard from Onalaska, Wisconsin: “The Cyclones led the nation in 3-pointers per game last season, but their entire perimeter group is gone. That’s where Thomas steps in. He was one of the best shooters in the country.”
  4. Good coaches are able to change their style of play if needed to fit their personnel, and that is exactly what Bob Huggins will try to do this season at West Virginia. The Mountaineers went 6-12 in the Big 12 last season (13-19 overall), and lost their highest scoring big man in Deniz Kilicli. “We’ve gone from, I think, trying to ineffectively throw it inside to where we’re going to be more of a perimeter team,” Huggins told Mike Casazza of the Charleston (W.V.) Daily Mail at Big 12 Media Day. After last season’s debacle, the change of play is worth a shot.
  5. With the 2014 Final Four being played in the Big 12′s backyard at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Final Four officials spent some time at Big 12 Media Day in Kansas City this week to discuss the event. Dallas Cowboys executive Charlotte Anderson said she expects 80,000 people to attend each game, a new record for the event. She didn’t, however, estimate how many fans will be able to see the court from their seats. The only other question is whether a Big 12 team can get there — Kansas and Oklahoma State certainly will have a reasonable shot.
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Big 12 M5: 10.22.13 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on October 22nd, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. The CBSSports.com crew held a college basketball fantasy draft yesterday and not too surprisingly, Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart went No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Kansas center Joel Embiid was the next Big 12 player taken at #12 overall, followed by Baylor center Isaiah Austin at #18. Kansas freshman guard Wayne Selden (#20) made it five Big 12 players in the top 20, all of whom are underclassmen. Other notable selections included Kentucky freshman Julius Randle at #3 and Duke freshman Jabari Parker at #5. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s three of the five best players in the country (according to CBS) playing at the Champions Classic next month in Chicago.
  2. Chris Johnson at Sports Illustrated wrote a solid article on Oklahoma State coming into the season and how the Cowboys will challenge Kansas for the Big 12 championship. Oklahoma State returns its top three leading scorers in Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown. As Johnson notes, the Cowboys were the Big 12 favorites until mid-April. That is when Andrew Wiggins committed to the Jayhawks, putting Kansas back in the driver’s seat for its 10th straight Big 12 regular season title. With Smart leading the Cowboys’ offense as a sophomore, Oklahoma State has enough firepower to win the conference but everyone knows that knocking off Kansas won’t be an easy task.
  3. Yahoo!’s Jeff Eisenberg had more to say yesterday about Marcus Smart’s recent comments on Andrew Wiggins. “They are saying he is the best college player there is and he has not even played a game yet,” Smart said. “Of course that hypes me up.” It’s not like Smart said anything controversial there, or that he even said anything untrue about the precocious Kansas freshman. He truthfully hasn’t played a college game yet. As Eisenberg says, credit to Smart for actually answering questions and not spewing cliches. The great thing is that Wiggins and Bill Self will use those words as extra motivation when the teams meet at least twice this season, unfortunately still a few months away.
  4. In what is more of a dubious list, Iowa State‘s Melvin Ejim was listed among the 15 least appreciated players by CBSSports.com on Monday. The Iowa State senior big man will be one of the best forwards in the Big 12 this season, without question. But as CBS noted, he nearly averaged a double-double a season ago (11.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG) and he will need to duplicate those numbers if Iowa State has plans to again compete with the top of the Big 12 along with Kansas, Oklahoma State, and Baylor.
  5. According to Kevin Doyle at NBCSports.com, defense is what will carry the Texas Longhorns this season. Rick Barnes: “We haven’t been good the last couple years. We will play harder and play better defense. With the size we have, we’ll be able to protect the rim.” With so many losses in personnel from last year’s team, defense will be the only thing that could save Barnes’ job next spring. The Longhorns are young and the administration may finally be getting restless in Austin.
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Observations From Early Morning in the Phog on Saturday

Posted by Kory Carpenter on October 20th, 2013

There is a reason Bill Self tries to get recruits to visit for the annual Late Night in the Phog each October. The event has led to a number of commitments over the years, most recently when Kelly Oubre, the #12 overall recruit in the class of 2014 according the Rivals.com, committed to the Jayhawks a few days after taking in Late Night festivities this year. But when the schedule didn’t match up with those of a pair of top recruits this year, Self decided to have a Late Night Part II. He opened the doors to Allen Fieldhouse Saturday morning for a scrimmage lasting about an hour, and an estimated 10,000 fans showed up. Here are a few observations from the informal (and raw) scrimmage:

Bill Self Teaching at Kansas' Open Practice Saturday Morning

Bill Self Teaching at Kansas’ Open Practice Saturday Morning

  • The fact that over 5,000 fans were turned away at the door before Late Night in the Phog earlier this month was surely one of the reasons for the open scrimmage, but more importantly were the visits from two of the best recruits in the class of 2014: Jahlil Okafor (C, #1 overall on Rivals) and Tyus Jones (PG, #5). Jones walked in with the team and Jones walked in 15 minutes later to a standing ovation. Everything points to the duo as a package deal to one lucky school next year, and both players have visited or plan to visit four of the same schools: Baylor, Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas. Best guess? Kansas or Duke.
  • The starting five looks to be set, with Naadir Tharpe, Wayne Selden, Andrew Wiggins, Perry Ellis and Tarik Black starting the first scrimmage for the blue team. The only real discussion seemed to be between Black, a senior transfer from Memphis, and Joel Embiid, a true freshman from Cameroon. It was no surprise that Black got the nod from Self this early in the season, especially after watching him play. He looked like a 21-year-old with three seasons of college ball under his belt and was strong around the rim, but…
  • Joel Embiid will be starting before the season ends. He has played only a few seasons of organized basketball in his life, but he has all the tools to be a great player for years to come: solid footwork, a soft touch, the ability to finish with either hand, and a legitimate 7-foot body. When things start to click, whether it happens in November or January, he will be one of the best big men in the country. There is a reason Rick Pitino said Embiid could be the No. 2 overall draft pick behind Andrew Wiggins in next summer’s NBA Draft. He is currently a mid-to-late lottery projection in most mock drafts.

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Big 12 M5: 10.14.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 14th, 2013

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  1. A big part of Iowa State‘s rise under Fred Hoiberg has come from the Cyclones’ ability to trump expectations and get the most out of its talent. After ISU outperformed predictions in the last two seasons, the league’s coaches are done sleeping on them.  Big 12 coaches pegged Iowa State to finish fourth in Thursday’s preseason poll after being tabbed eighth in 2011 and 2012. The Cyclones enter this season hoping to do something they haven’t done since 1997: make the NCAA Tournament for a third straight time. With the transfers that made up the core of Hoiberg’s teams the last two seasons now graduated, the vast majority of ISU’s roster will consist of players “The Mayor” recruited out of high school. Fourth place in the conference is definitely a reasonable goal for Iowa State this season, and it’s not difficult to see them finishing ahead of preseason third-place pick Baylor if things break just right.
  2. Yahoo! Sports‘ Jeff Eisenberg compiled a list of 10 freshmen capable of making big impacts in 2013-14 and you’ll never guess which Kansas newcomer topped the list (OK, you probably will). It’s worth noting that no other Big 12 freshman cracked Eisenberg’s rankings, but we like to think of that as a testament to just how good the freshman class is nationwide. Still, just because they didn’t make the list doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye on other young Big 12 rising talents like Joel EmbiidAllerik FreemanElijah Macon, Wayne Selden and Ishmail Wainwright. Still, Andrew Wiggins is the gem of the league’s incoming class and is just another reason why we can’t wait for the opening tip.
  3. It was announced late last week that two Big 12 teams, Kansas and Kansas State, will hold open scrimmages for their fans. The Jayhawks will open the Allen Fieldhouse doors this Saturday, giving fans who were shut out of “Late Night In The Phog” earlier this month a second chance to see the 2013-14 squad. Kansas State, which didn’t hold a late night event of its own, will also host an open scrimmage on Saturday. The Wildcats aren’t quite looking at a full-on rebuild, but losing Angel Rodriguez, Jordan Henriquez and Rodney McGruder will hurt the defending co-Big 12 champions. Still, with the official start of practice coming earlier this season, the wait until the first regular season games lengthens so public practices are a great opportunity for teams to inject some extra anticipation into their devoted fan bases.
  4. If all goes according to plan this season for Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Travis Ford (and even if it doesn’t), Oklahoma State will need to rebuild in a hurry to stay in the conversation atop the Big 12 moving forward. The Cowboys took one step toward that goal on Saturday when they received a verbal commitment from recruit Mitch Solomon, a 6’9″ power forward who is considered the best 2014 prospect in Oklahoma. Solomon, along with shooting guard commitment Jared Terrell, gives the Cowboys a very solid foundation from which to reload. In 2014, we’d expect Le’Bryan Nash, Michael Cobbins and Phil Forte to be the leaders, allowing the incoming freshmen to be eased into supporting roles and gradually move up from there.
  5. Late last week, UNLV announced that it will partner with Kansas for a home-and-home series beginning in Lawrence in the 2014-15 season, with a return trip to Las Vegas planned for the 2016-17 campaign. Neither Dave Rice nor Bill Self have ever been shy about assembling tough non-conference schedules, so while we aren’t too surprised at this development, we’re nevertheless thrilled to pencil in a pair of must-watch games for the future. The Runnin’ Rebels have more to gain from ambitious scheduling than the Jayhawks due to the difference in competition their respective leagues provide, although Kansas will benefit as well. It’s also worth noting that a trip to Las Vegas gives the Jayhawk coaching staff a convenient opportunity to check out some of the recruits at nearby Findlay Prep, which churns out blue-chip prospects on an annual basis. We’re still waiting on the announcement of that annual Kansas-Missouri series, by the way…
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2013-14 RTC Class Schedule: Kansas Jayhawks

Posted by BHayes on September 16th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler. Periodically throughout the preseason, RTC will take an in-depth look at the schedules of some of the more prominent teams in college basketball.

We have seen rapid and successful overhauls in Lawrence before, but perhaps never on this scale. Kansas is short five starters from a year ago, and in their wake arrives a decorated freshman class headed by a once-in-a-generation talent. Commitments from top-50 recruits Joel Embiid, Wayne Selden, and Conner Francamp had Jayhawk fans believing a quick rebuild was possible, but it was the May signing of Andrew Wiggins, the top player in the high school class of 2013, that has turned hope into belief. Another Big 12 championship and a return to the Sweet 16 would no longer constitute a brilliant coaching job by Bill Self, a man who has crafted many of them. Wiggins’ presence on campus has not only turned those achievements into mere expectations, but also transports hope to Lawrence that the ultimate prize – a National Title – is again a realistic possibility.

Could Perry Ellis Emerge As The Most Important Jayhawk Not Named Andrew Wiggins This Season?

Could Perry Ellis Emerge As The Most Valuable Jayhawk Not Named Andrew Wiggins This Season?

  • Team Outlook: Wiggins’ talent and projected impact has been well-documented, but even if he becomes the star he is expected to be, the Jayhawks will still need to develop the supporting cast around him. Perry Ellis (5.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG) is the one returnee that will almost definitely be a key part of that equation, but Nadiir Tharpe (5.5 PPG, 3.1 APG) and Jamari Traylor (2.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG) should also see minutes. We have seen Jayhawk role players emerge into key contributors after an offseason before, but no matter what happens with that trio, Bill Self will surely be relying on newcomers not named Wiggins to carry the load. Prime among them are freshmen Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid, who are expected to take over starting duties at shooting guard and center, respectively. Like Wiggins, both are projected as top-ten picks in next year’s NBA draft, so it’s a distinct possibility that this could be their lone rodeo in Lawrence. That being said, both need to add significant polish to their games, and despite the top-ten ranking recruiting gurus bestowed upon him, Embiid even drags the “project” title with him to Kansas. Freshmen guards Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene are also consensus Top-100 recruits, and both will have the opportunity to compete with Tharpe and Selden for minutes in the Kansas backcourt. Rounding out the frontcourt rotation is Memphis transfer Tarik Black (8.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG) and redshirt freshman Landen Lucas. Black’s addition was another significant coup for Self this offseason, as he provides the Jayhawks with a player who has actually been through it all before at the college level. Black, like nearly every Jayhawk outside of Wiggins, could end up as a thirty-minute a game starter, a marginalized bit player, or nearly anything in between. There is tons of talent in Lawrence and a superstar to headline the show, but much of the onus for the destination of this Jayhawk campaign rests on Bill Self and how he fits all the pieces together – something Jayhawk fans should feel pretty good about. Read the rest of this entry »
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Looking Ahead: Kansas Jayhawks Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on April 15th, 2013

The chatter about next season began in Lawrence not long after Trey Burke led an improbable comeback against the Jayhawks in the Sweet Sixteen, and with good reason. Kansas loses all five starters this year. The four seniors — Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, Kevin Young, and redshirt freshman Ben McLemore (who technically hasn’t declared for the NBA Draft yet, but there is a better chance of President Obama reading this article in the Oval Office than McLemore returning next season). He is projected to be a top three pick with many publications predicting that he will go #1 overall. Freshman guard Anrio Adams also announced last week that he had received a release from the coaching staff and was set to transfer, but he has since changed his stance and said he is staying at Kansas. It’s hard to guess where Adams will be playing next season, if anywhere. Either way, the Kansas roster turnover resembles that of the 2008-09 season, when most of the national championship team left and Self returned only two players with experience, junior Sherron Collins and sophomore Cole Aldrich. Collins blossomed into a star that season and Aldrich eventually left early for the NBA himself. Is there that kind of talent returning next season? No, but next year’s incoming class is better than that which arrived in 2009, which should help the transition somewhat.

Bill Self Might Need To Be Patient Next Season.

Bill Self Might Need To Be Patient Next Season.

Returning Players With Experience:

  • Naadir Tharpe, sophomore point guard (19.4 MPG, 5.5 PPG, 3.1 APG, 34.3% FG): Naadir Tharpe is a shoot-first point guard who isn’t a great shooter. When he decides to play like a true point guard and looks to distribute the ball to open teammates, he’s not bad. And as the only point guard remaining with any real game experience, expect him to start from day one. But he needs to realize (or Self needs to be in his ear every day this summer) that at some point, he’s not a scorer. There was a three-game stretch in February where he went 5-of-22 from the floor. He was 2-of-15 against TCU, 2-of-11 against Iowa State and 4-of-17 in the NCAA Tournament. But that’s not all his fault. Self had no other options on the bench, and this Kansas team was sometimes timid. Ben McLemore should have taken 18 to 20 shots a game but also had a tendency to disappear. Elijah Johnson shied away from the ball in certain situations. Travis Releford wouldn’t hurt a mouse, and Jeff Withey was a defensive giant with limited offensive post moves. Tharpe is ever-confident, and you could sense that Self didn’t want to kill his aggressiveness even if it meant a few 2-of-11 shooting nights. Next season might be different, however. It might have to be different.

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Dakari Johnson Reclassifies, Tyus Jones Cuts List…

Posted by CLykins on November 9th, 2012

Seven Sweet Scoops is the newest and hottest column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting analyst. Every Friday he will talk about the seven top stories from the week in the wide world of recruiting, involving offers, which prospect visited where, recent updates regarding school lists and more chatter from the recruiting scene. You can also check out more of his work at RTC with his weekly column “Who’s Got Next?”, as well as his work dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene.

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings.

1. Dakari Johnson Joins Class of 2013

As if the class of 2013 couldn’t get any better, it just did. Center Dakari Johnson of Montverde Academy (Florida) has announced his intentions to reclassify into the senior class. With the move, he will join Wayne Selden, Noah Vonleh and Andrew Wiggins as the four elite players from the class of 2014 to forego their junior seasons in high school. As Johnson becomes a part of the ever-more-impressive 2013 class, he will be ranked as the No. 12 overall prospect and immediately become the No. 1 overall center. A native New Yorker, Johnson transferred to Montverde from St. Patrick High (New Jersey) following head coach Kevin Boyle, who took the head coaching job there after the 2010-11 season. Due to transfer rules, Johnson was forced to sit out last season. At 6’10″ and around 255 lbs., he is a handful for the opposition in the low post. He uses his strong frame very effectively with a soft touch around the rim. Due to his size, it proves to be a challenging task for defenders to keep him from where he wants to go down low. He is also very active on the glass, carving out space and rebounding the basketball at a high rate. Among those involved with Johnson include Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State and Syracuse. The Gators were the first school to see Johnson a day after his reclassification. His mother, Makini Campbell, has stated that he will be a spring signee.

Dakari Johnson now becomes the No. 1 center in the class of 2013 with his recent reclassification

2. Tyus Jones Releases List of Eight

The current No. 1 prospect in the class of 2014, Tyus Jones, has narrowed his recruiting list of potential suitors to eight. Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio State made the recent cut for the electric point guard from Apple Valley High School (Minnesota). Jones took over the top spot in the 2014 class after the reclassification of Andrew Wiggins. At 6’1″, Jones is an efficient scorer, as displayed at the 2012 Nike EYBL Finals in the summer, where he was the tournament leader in scoring with 25.8 points per game. Capable of carving up any defense with outstanding speed, he exhibits a great understanding of passing lanes on the court. A heady player, Jones is always one step ahead of the opposition, elevating not only his game but his teammate’s games as well. He was also a vital component for the USA U-17 National Team where he helped lead the squad to a gold medal at the FIBA Americas U-17 Championship, averaging 8.5 points and 5.4 assists per game. Outside of trimming his list, Jones has been apart of a rapid discussion in recruiting circles along with classmate and the No. 2 prospect, Jahlil Okafor. Both players have spoken publicly about being a “package deal” in college. Okafor is currently being pursued by five of the eight schools listed by Jones — Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina and Ohio State. Of those schools, the Blue Devils, Buckeyes and Spartans are currently in great shape of landing the top two junior prospects.

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Jabari Parker Visits Duke, Austin Nichols Nears Decision…

Posted by CLykins on November 2nd, 2012

Seven Sweet Scoops is the newest and hottest column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting analyst. Every Friday he will talk about the seven top stories from the week in the wide world of recruiting, involving offers, which prospect visited where, recent updates regarding school lists and more chatter from the recruiting scene. You can also check out more of his work at RTC with his weekly column “Who’s Got Next?”, as well as his work dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene.

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings.

1. Duke “Welcomes Home” Jabari Parker

This past weekend the Duke Blue Devils hosted their longtime top recruiting target in the class of 2013, No. 2 ranked Jabari Parker. The 6’8″ small forward out of Simeon Career Academy (Illinois) was greeted graciously by the Duke faithful upon arriving to campus for his second official visit. Parker, who also lists BYU, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford, took in Duke’s first exhibition game of the 2012-13 season. Since the summer, it has been perceived that Duke and Michigan State share the role as the favorite for his services. However, apparent updates coming off of Parker’s visit to Durham over the weekend may have very well shifted the tide in Duke’s favor, according to Michael O’Brien of the Chicago Sun-Times. As he has already taken his first official to visit to Michigan State, the Blue Devils are in an even more comfortable position going forward. Parker will now take his third official to Florida this weekend and will round out his schedule with visits to Stanford and BYU on the following weekends. Once he completes his scheduled visits, it has been rumored that a December decision is likely with Parker making it official during the spring signing period which runs from April 17 to May 15.

Jabari Parker, the No. 2 prospect in the class of 2013, took his second official visit to Duke over the weekend

2. Austin Nichols Finishes Official Visits, Approaching Decision

For the No. 12 ranked player in the Class of 2013, the visits are all finished. Power forward Austin Nichols from Briarcrest High School (Tennessee) wrapped up his schedule of official visits this past weekend, completing his final visit to Auburn. Also listing Duke, Memphis, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Virginia, Nichols and his family will now sit down with all of the information they have gathered from his list of schools and will begin the stages of making a final decision. Throughout the process, rumors have ran rampant about where Nichols is leaning. The one school that seems to be consistently at the forefront though, has been Tennessee. After visiting Knoxville two weeks ago, it seemed to be clear that the Volunteers had done enough to seal the deal for the home state native. Though no timetable for a decision has been set, the original plan all along has been for a November commitment during the early signing period.

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Who’s Got Next? Kentucky Adds Two More Studs; Selden Decides For Kansas…

Posted by CLykins on October 17th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Young and Lee Join Historic Kentucky Class

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

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

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

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

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Self Picks Up Another Stud, This Time From the Northeast: Wayne Selden

Posted by dnspewak on October 15th, 2012

Late Night in the Phog served its purpose once again. Just days after witnessing Midnight Madness at Allen Fieldhouse in person, coveted small forward Wayne Selden committed to Kansas on Monday, adding another centerpiece to Self’s impressive Class of 2013 recruiting class. Selden, a 6’5” wing originally from Boston, plays high school basketball at The Tilton School, which produced the likes of Nerlens Noel and several other major prospects. Self stole Selden from just about every dominant school in the East — Connecticut, Syracuse, and the rest of the crew — and beat out John Calipari, Billy Donovan and Ben Howland to his first top-20 recruit since Josh Selby to the fold for 2013.

Bill Self Has No Trouble Recruiting Nationally

Remember, Self has already earned early commitments from in-state point guard Connor Frankamp and Georgia forward Brannen Greene in 2011, and he added point guard Frank Mason from Virginia earlier this month. Selden’s arrival takes this recruiting class to another level, though, and it sets up a 2013 Jayhawks freshman class from all over the nation. By our count, that’s four prospects from four different states in three separate regions of the country, yet another sign Self is willing to go absolutely anywhere to find his basketball players. He found Mario Chalmers in Alaska, after all, so something tells us he probably wasn’t afraid to search for Selden up in the Northeast.

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