Who’s Got Next? McDonald’s All-American Preview

Posted by Sean Moran on April 1st, 2015

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 recruitment 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.

The 38th annual McDonald’s All-American game tips off at the United Center in Chicago tonight at 8:00 PM ET. With the Final Four just around the corner, this star-studded game provides an inside look at the players that will impact the college game as freshmen next season. For example, there are four freshmen on each of the Duke and Kentucky rosters that participated in this game last year. While the diehard recruitnik already knows all about the players who populate the East and West teams, here is a high-level overview of what to watch for tonight for those who are more focused on the college game.

No. 1 Recruiting Class

Arizona currently has the No. 1 recruiting class but only one of its four signees is playing in the game. Kentucky is ranked No. 2 and it only has one player playing as well. What gives? For starters, Arizona has signed three five-star prospects but only shooting guard Allonzo Trier is playing in the game. Trier is an electric scorer who is certain to get his fair share of points tonight. The other future desert Wildcats are small forward Ray Smith, who is the No. 15 prospect in the country, 6’5” point guard Justin Simon (No. 20) and 6’11” forward Chance Comanche (No. 44). Power forward Ivan Rabb (No. 5) has also narrowed his choice down to California and Arizona. As for Kentucky, combo guard Isaiah Briscoe (No. 18) is the lone representative in this year’s game and the physical New Jersey product will do his best tonight by attacking the basket and creating for his teammates. The crown jewel of the Kentucky recruiting class is currently the No. 3 recruit in 6’11” forward Skal Labissiere. The Haitan native has immense long-term potential but he also has the NCAA interested in his background. Guard Charles Matthews, who is not currently ranked in the top 50, rounds out the class. Once the Final Four is over and several current Wildcats announce their NBA decisions, expect this class to grow by several more names and for Kentucky to once again lay claim to the top recruiting class in the nation.

Unsigned Players

A common refrain from both parents and NBA scouts attending the McDonald’s All-American practices was that it is in the best interests of the players to wait as long as they could before making a commitment. That way the families would have an opportunity to see what was going on with the coaching carousel in addition to learning which players are declaring for the NBA. As a result in this shift of thinking, there are a record number of unsigned seniors in this year’s class. Keep an eye on the below names.

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Who’s Got Next? Elite Big Man Diamond Stone Selects Maryland

Posted by Sean Moran on March 30th, 2015

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 recruitment 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.

Maryland exceeded expectations by going 28-7 in its first Big Ten season and now Mark Turgeon’s club is doing the same on the recruiting front with the unexpected weekend commitment of five-star center Diamond Stone, the No. 4 prospect in the senior class. The 6’10” big man from Milwaukee committed to the Terps on Friday night and in turn significantly raised expectations for Maryland next season.

Stone’s name first popped on the radar in 2012 as he established himself as an overpowering freshman. He won a Wisconsin Division 4 championship that year and didn’t stop from there, having just capped off his fourth title in a row at Dominican High School with a 23-point, 15-rebound performance. Through it all, Stone maintained his status as one of the top players in his class and at times held down the overall No. 1 ranking. Over the past two summers, Stone was a regular with the USA basketball program, winning gold medals at the U-16 FIBA Americas event and at the U-17 FIBA World Championships. He started all 12 games for Team USA and averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds and 13.4 points and 9.7 rebounds, respectively, during those international events.

Recruitment

Stone’s recruitment has been a long and winding road with many twists and turns. Local powers Wisconsin and Marquette established themselves early with the Golden Eagles rumored to be the leader with Stone taking numerous unofficial visits to the campus right next door. Schools from all over the country soon joined that pair in the race as Stone received offers from Georgetown, Indiana, Duke, North Carolina and UCLA. When Buzz Williams left for Virginia Tech a year ago, Marquette received a commitment from Henry Ellenson and dropped out. The four schools that remained were Wisconsin, Connecticut, Oklahoma State and Maryland, with the College Park school seeming like the longest shot. UConn was discussed as the leader as recently as last summer (and a package deal with Malik Newman was supposedly in play), but Stone took official visits to all four schools in October and liked Maryland the best.

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Who’s Got Next? Cal’s Big Recruiting Weekend & Jayson Tatum’s First Visit

Posted by Sean Moran on March 4th, 2015

whosgotnext

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 recruitment 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.

Big Recruiting Weekend in Berkeley Already Paying Dividends

Three-star small forward Davon Dillard committed to California Sunday afternoon after watching the Golden Bears take down Oregon State on Senior Night. It was billed as the biggest recruiting weekend in three years in Berkeley and definitely the biggest weekend in Cuonzo Martin’s short tenure. Lacking a recruit in the class of 2015, California played host to its top target in Ivan Rabb, a 6’10” five-star recruit from the Bay Area, five-star power forward Caleb Swanigan, and the three-star Dillard. While Cal didn’t get the coveted commitment from Rabb, Dillard’s commitment keeps the positive momentum moving. In Martin’s first season, a NIT berth most likely awaits for the Golden Bears (17-12 overall; 7-9 in Pac-12 play). They will graduate their third-leading scorer in David Kravish and there is a good possibility that 6’5” junior Tyrone Wallace could leave school early for the NBA Draft. With Dillard locked up, though, the Bears will get a tough-minded and athletic forward who can finish above the rim and is also a threat from outside the arc. With one good commitment now in the fold, Martin can focus on landing a big man to replace Kravish. Rabb has been Martin’s top target from the moment he took the job in Berkeley and he will look to convince the Bishop O’ Dowd star to stay at home and help get his local school get back to the NCAA Tournament. Along with Cal, Rabb is also considering Arizona, UCLA, Kentucky and Kansas. While Rabb is in the mix for the Bears, it might be harder to sign Swanigan, who has visited schools all over the country including Arizona, Kentucky, Duke, Notre Dame and Purdue. In an extremely important weekend for the future of the program, California put together an impressive showing on the court and then locked up an athletic wing with Martin’s first recruit at the school.

Top Junior Takes First Official Visit

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Derryck Thornton & Duke’s Big Night, DeAndre Ayton, Thon Maker & More

Posted by Sean Moran on February 26th, 2015

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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. Duke Attracts Five-Star Recruits For Rivalry Game

It was a great last Wednesday night in Durham. Not only did Duke notch a thrilling comeback victory against their Tobacco Road neighbors from Chapel Hill, but it also did so in front of a few high-profile recruits from the classes of 2015 and 2016. From this year’s senior class, five-star senior power forward Caleb Swanigan (No. 11) was in Cameron Indoor Stadium on an official visit along with Luke Kennard, a five-star shooting guard who has already committed to the Blue Devils. Last week we touched on some of the schools interested in the 6’8” Swanigan, but since then the Indiana native has taken in Purdue’s victory over Nebraska in addition to the UNC game. The Duke coaching staff is looking to add another big man to the mix to replace the expected loss of freshman superstar Jahlil Okafor. So far Duke has 6’10” Chase Jeter, a five-star power forward, locked up in addition to Rice transfer Sean Obi, who is currently redshirting after averaging 11.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game at Rice. In addition to Swanigan and Kennard, the Blue Devils also hosted Harry Giles, the No. 1 prospect in the junior class, as well as the top two point guards in the junior class in Derryck Thornton (No. 5 – 2016) and Dennis Smith (No. 6 – 2016). Giles and Smith are both local North Carolina products and have offers from both Duke and UNC in hand. Giles noted, “I’ve been to every Duke and UNC game at both places, and this was the craziest and best game,” he said. “I plan on attending the March 7th game at UNC, too.” It could have turned out to be a somber ending for Duke and its prized recruits in attendance, but instead they were treated to another Duke home win and a raucous celebration.

2. Derryck Thornton and Reclassification

While senior Caleb Swanigan was taking his official visit to Duke, junior point guard Derryck Thornton was making an unofficial visit all the way from Nevada. After the game, ESPN’s recruiting staff caught up with the two propsects with the most noticeable quote coming from Thornton. “They want to know if I would consider going to the class of 2015 because Tyus Jones could be leaving,” he said. “I believe I could take that step both academically and on the court. It’s something I definitely have to think about and discuss with my family.” That quote sticks out for a few reasons. While Tyus Jones was a top 10 recruit coming out of high school, his NBA stock wasn’t nearly as high due to concerns about his height and athleticism. Right now, DraftExpress lists him at No. 26 in the draft, but with his recent play Jones could be getting more serious about his draft potential. Duke has not recruited a point guard in the 2015 class yet, and given the aforementioned quote, Coach K is most likely trying to prepare his program for a possible departure. Thornton is one of the top point guards in his class and might be considered the best “pure” point as well. He has strong interest from Kentucky in addition to Louisville, California, and Miami. Will he think about re-classifying? Read the rest of this entry »

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Arkansas Goes Per Kapita, Dorsey to Oregon, Barcello Blows Up…

Posted by Sean Moran on February 13th, 2015

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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. Ted Kapita Lands In Arkansas

Ted Kapita, a four-star center and intriguing prospect, committed to Arkansas on Thursday. The big man from Africa is ranked No. 43 in the class of 2015 but has a high upside and has slowly been improving his skill level at Huntington (WV) Prep. Kapita already has a professional body. With long arms and a chiseled frame, the 18-year old does not look like your normal high schooler. He can run the floor and throw down highlight reel dunks that will no doubt draw some “ooohs” and “aaaahs” from the Razorbacks’ faithful next year. His coordination and overall skill set are still trying to catch up to his body, though. He’s a strong rebounder in the paint but sometimes thinks too long before reacting. Kapita played with Pan Africa this past summer at the Nike Global Challenge, and in his first game in front of a plethora of NBA scouts, he put up a monstrous stat line with 36 points and 16 rebounds. Unfortunately he struggled to do much of anything the next game out. At Arkansas, Kapita will join four-star guard Jimmy Whitt, who is a smooth jump shooter. The pair will look to turn their inside/outside potential into consistent production in the SEC.

Tall and Talented: Ted Kapita is headed to play for Arkansas.

Tall and Talented: Ted Kapita is headed to play for Arkansas.

2. Oregon Lands High Scoring Tyler Dorsey

Dana Altman’s Oregon teams routinely rank among the nation’s top 100 teams in adjusted tempo. This means that the Ducks like to get up and down the court, and they recently got the perfect recruit for their style of play in four-star guard Tyler Dorsey (No. 34 – 2015). The 6’4” guard from Southern California who chose Oregon over Kansas and a host of Pac-12 suitors will look to step in and fill the shoes of Joseph Young right off the bat. Young is currently averaging 18.7 points per game and will end his Oregon career as the team’s leading scorer for the second year in a row, so it’s a good thing that Dorsey can put the ball in the bucket. A year ago Dorsey was ranked in the top 10, but after committing to Arizona early, things quickly started to go south. A disappointing spring AAU season led to rumors about the firmness of that commitment, and sure enough, Dorsey decided to look elsewhere when five-star shooting guard Alonzo Trier (No. 16 – 2015) committed to the Wildcats over the summer. In addition to looking for a new school, the rising senior was also looking to repair his reputation in the national rankings. Now at a new school this year (Maranatha (CA)), Dorsey has routinely scored 40 or more points in games, including a 48-point effort against USC-bound Benny Boatwright. After a brief dip in production and consistency, the explosive Dorsey is again scoring at will and will look to continue his productive ways in Eugene. Read the rest of this entry »

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Who’s Got Next? A Look at the Top McDonald’s All-American Match-Ups

Posted by Sean Moran on February 2nd, 2015

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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 recruitment 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.

The rosters for the 38th McDonald’s All-American game were released last week, with 24 of the top high school players in the country set to play in Chicago’s United Center on April 1. But before they play in front of a nationally-televised audience for fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the next big thing, they will compete against each other in a series of practices that will be highly scrutinized by media and NBA scouts. Let’s take a look at some of the top practice match-ups that will only be seen by a select few as well as several to keep an eye on during the actual game.

Top Practice Match-Ups:

No. 1 Jaylen Brown, 6’7”, SF, Wheeler (GA) vs. No. 2 Ben Simmons, 6’8”, SF, Montverde (FL)

NBA Scouts will be salivating with this one. The top two players in the country will have two practice sessions to compete against each other in drills and scrimmages. Ben Simmons and Jaylen Brown already faced off once this year at the City of Palms tournament in December, with Brown getting the better of the individual match-up while also leading his team to the championship. While they didn’t spend a lot of time guarding each other in that game, it will be interesting to watch how they attack each other in the practices leading up to the McDonald’s game. Simmons is a unique wing with stellar passing skills and a strong ball-handling ability that allows him to act as a point forward. Brown is very reminiscent of current Arizona freshman Stanley Johnson, someone capable of using his strength to attack the basket and punish smaller and weaker defenders. Perimeter shooting is not a strength for either player at this point in their development, but both have markedly improved over the last year and are more than capable from hitting a few from deep.

Simmons will head to LSU next year to play for his godfather and assistant coach David Patrick, while Brown is still undecided on his collegiate destination. He has taken official visits to Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA, UNC and most likely Michigan while taking numerous unofficial visits to in-state Georgia and Georgia Tech.

No. 11 Malik Newman, 6’3”, G, Callaway (MS) vs. No. 14 Allonzo Trier, 6’4”, SG, Findlay Prep (NV)

Malik Newman and Allonzo Trier are two of the most prolific scorers in the prep game and have been scorching the nets from the moment they both entered high school. They spent three years playing on the U-17 Nike EYBL AAU circuit and as a result have had numerous individual battles. While Newman and Trier are similar in their ability to put points up in a hurry, their high school careers have been quite different. Newman has spent all four of his years in Mississippi while Trier has played in Oklahoma, Maryland and Nevada. Trier is also the more methodical of the two while Newman gets shout-outs from NBA players who drop 52 in a game.

Allonzo Trier will lace up his shoes at Arizona next year and Newman will wait until the spring to decide on his destination.

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Sweet Seven Scoops: Bright Lights LoVett, Fultz Rising Up, & More…

Posted by Sean Moran on January 24th, 2015

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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. Bright Lights Hits Chicago

Chicago basketball fans have been spoiled over the last few years from watching Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander, and Tyler Ulis play in the area. While there aren’t any future top five NBA Draft picks currently in the Windy City, senior guard Marcus LoVett has seized the opening and is becoming the big city’s hottest act. The 5’11” four-star guard has bounced around the past few years in both high school and AAU, averaging around 30 points per game as a freshman for Providence of Burbanks (CA) and becoming a YouTube sensation. Now a senior, LoVett is the point guard at Morgan Park, the back-to-back 3A state champion. He’s hit buzzer-beaters and scored 20+ points numerous times. Kansas offered him a scholarship in the fall when the buzz around him was starting to build, but other schools are showing interest as well. On Tuesday night, LoVett hit a game-winning jump shot in front of assistants from Florida State, Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. He also took in an Illinois game over the weekend. Right now LoVett is ranked at just No. 91 overall, but with the buzz that is slowly building around him, it would not be a surprise to see him catapult up the rankings after his senior year.

2. Stock Riser: Markelle Fultz

Dematha Catholic (MD) High School sports one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country, so it’s no surprise that the junior varsity team has a bunch of talented players. Last year, 6’4” guard Markelle Fultz was a sophomore playing on the JV team; one year later he is the star for the No. 1 team in the Washington D.C. area. The previously unranked Fultz jumped into ESPN’s top 60 for the junior class (No. 55 overall) and is now considered a four-star prospect who college coaches are extremely interested in. He scored a total of 53 points in two games at the famed Hoop Hall classic last weekend and has received scholarships from schools such as Arizona, Wake Forest, Georgetown, Maryland, and Washington, among others. It didn’t take long for Fultz to make a name for himself, but he has shown how quickly things can change.

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Who’s Got Next? Carlton Bragg & Chris Lewis Goes With Harvard

Posted by Sean Moran on January 21st, 2015

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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 recruitment 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.

Kansas Lands Its First 2015 Recruit

Kelly Oubre committed to Kansas shortly after taking his official visit during the school’s 2013 Late Night in the Phog event, but after hosting a number of five-star players during this year’s version, no immediate commitments were forthcoming. That wait ended a couple of weekends ago when five-star forward Carlton Bragg selected the Jayhawks. Bill Self has logged top five recruiting classes in each of the past two years with Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid featured in the 2013 class and Cliff Alexander and Oubre last year’s class. It was only a matter of time until Self got started building his star-studded 2015 class.

The tourney upsets his Kansas teams have suffered will not be forgotten (Getty).

No surprise that Bill Self is racking up another stellar recruiting class. (Getty)

Bragg is a 6’9” power forward who plays for Villa Angela – St. Joseph (OH) High School (one of the top programs in the Buckeye State), and is currently ranked as the No. 12 player in the country and the No. 3 player at his position. The athletic forward started to climb up the rankings during the summer before his junior season and continued to improve from there, resulting in strong interest from the likes of Self, John Calipari and John Groce. Bragg’s versatility should blend in nicely with Kansas’ high-low offense given his ability to convert short hook shots, but he is also very comfortable stepping outside and knocking in jumpers from 15 to 18 feet. While he does have nice form and touch on his jumper, Bragg also has the tendency to fall in love with it, something Self will work with him on correcting. On the defensive end, Bragg moves his feet well and can defend the pick-and-roll while also protecting the rim with his quick leaping ability. Read the rest of this entry »

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Tyler Dorsey’s Hot Start, Recruits in Chapel Hill & More…

Posted by Sean Moran on January 9th, 2015

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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. Tyler Dorsey – Getting His Groove Back

It wasn’t that long ago when senior guard Tyler Dorsey was a top 10 player in his class and among the players considered as the top shooting guard in the Class of 2015. In a quick fall from grace last spring, however, Dorsey tumbled, losing his five-star status and subsequently de-committing from Arizona. The Southern California native kept working on his game, though, and now he is putting together a dominant stretch of play at Marantha (CA) High as the No. 40 ranked player in the country. He recently contributed a 36-point, 16-rebound performance after posting consecutive 40-point games, and in one of those contests, representatives from Cal in attendance included head coach Cuonzo Martin and two of his assistants. In Martin’s first year in Berkeley he is not playing second fiddle to anyone in the Pac-12, going after two of the top players in the state in Dorsey and local five-star prospect Ivan Rabb. In addition to Cal, Dorsey took fall visits to Colorado, Oregon, Kansas, and Arizona State.

2. Big Weekend In Chapel Hill

After dropping a home game last weekend to Notre Dame, the Tar Heels have another big game coming up on Saturday against Louisville. UNC upset the heavily-favored Cardinals last year, but this year a loss would drop them to 1-2 in the ACC standings. The stakes are a even higher with the Tar Heels hosting the No. 1 player in the country, small forward Jaylen Brown, on an official visit in addition to a plethora of other talented players. Brown took official visits to Kentucky, Kansas, and UCLA in the fall, and the Georgia native has taken unofficial visits to Georgia and Georgia Tech as well. In addition to Brown, UNC brings four-star small forward Brandon Ingram, five-star juniors Harry Giles and Dennis Smith and sophomore point guard Matt Coleman and Luke Maye (2015 commitment) to campus. The Heels would do well to create a raucous environment in the Dean Dome this weekend.

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Who’s Got Next? Blakeney to LSU & UNC Gets a Felton…

Posted by Sean Moran on January 8th, 2015

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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 recruitment 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.

Antonio Blakeney Looks to Turn LSU into a Basketball School

LSU is a football power that signs five-star recruits and churns out top 10 recruiting classes on a routine basis, but with last week’s commitment from five-star guard Antonio Blakeney, the Tigers’ basketball program is now joining in on the fun. It’s rare for LSU to nab five-star recruits in roundball, much less two five-star recruits in one class, but LSU now has commitments from the No. 5 ranked shooting guard to go along with forward Ben Simmons, one of the top high school players in the country.

Blakeney, a 6’4” shooting guard, originally committed to Louisville after taking in the school’s first ACC football game but subsequently backed out of the decision. Rumors then ran wild that the Floridian, who played on a Nike-backed AAU team, had de-committed due to Louisville’s contractual shoe affiliation with Adidas. Blakeney went on to visit three different SEC schools — LSU, Kentucky and Missouri — before choosing the Tigers based on his relationships with head coach Johnny Jones and assistant coach David Patrick. In an interview with Scout.com, Blakeney discussed his reasoning behind the decision: “Kind of just the story and the plan he [Jones] has for the program, period. LSU is a football school and he’s trying to change it to a basketball school. Last few years he’s gotten good players like Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey. All those guys were top 80 in the country.”

While Blakeney has clearly developed a bond with the coaching staff in Baton Rouge, he will also gets to play with his AAU teammate and friend, the uber-talented Simmons. The Australian-born senior is a 6’8” small forward who came to the United States during his freshman season and played with Blakeney last summer on the Nike EYBL circuit. Possessing the ball-handling skills of a guard, Simmons is listed as the first or second-best player in his class by every recruiting publication. He committed to the Tigers more than 15 months ago in large part because Patrick is Simmons’ godfather and had played professionally with Ben’s father in Australia.

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

Posted by Sean Moran on December 12th, 2014

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

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

1. The Nation’s Capital Hosts Top Talent

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

2. Harry Giles: Getting Back To 100%

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

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Who’s Got Next? Rawle Alkins Carries the NYC Torch & the Underrated Ed Morrow

Posted by Sean Moran on December 10th, 2014

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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 recruitment 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.

The Next Big Thing in NYC

Lance Stephenson. Isaiah Whitehead. Rawle Alkins? New York City is known for its prep basketball, and while the overall talent has been in a steady decline as of late, there have still been a few torch-bearers over the years. Stephenson led Lincoln High School through 2009 and then passed the mantle down to Whitehead, who is now a high-scoring freshman at Seton Hall. Alkins, the 6’5” junior wing from Christ the King High School might be the next big-time prospect out of the city. He is currently considered a four-star recruit in his junior class, ranked No. 31 overall and the No. 8 small forward, but with a strong start to his season that ranking could begin to skyrocket very soon.

Similar to Stephenson and Whitehead, you will never hear the criticism that Alkins needs to work on his strength. The broad-shouldered player looks like a fullback but moves like an elite runner. He recently showcased his power and agility at the Chicago Elite Classic last Saturday. Playing against one of the local Chicago teams in St. Rita High School, which features Kentucky-bound four-star guard Charles Matthews, there was no question regarding who was the best player on the court. In leading Christ the King to a blowout win, Alkins finished with 28 points, six rebounds, seven assists and five steals on 11-of-16 shooting. The main weakness in Alkins’ game centers on his outside shooting ability, but he hit four threes from all over the court, in addition to showing his repertoire of rim-rattling dunks, pull-up jumpers, and nifty assists. While it was obvious to anyone watching who the star was, Alkins hammered that point home when he went one-on-one with Matthews and finished things off with a driving lay-up.

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