Wednesday, September 30, 2009

12 impact freshmen


Freshman, freshman, who doesn’t love a freshman? They make everything better, right? Well, at least they do before the season officially tips off. In today’s 12 @ 12, we look at the top dozen instant impact rookies in college basketball.

1. John Wall, Kentucky – No brainer pick here. He is picked by some as the National Player of the Year. That may be a little too much for a guy that hasn’t proven himself as a winner at the highest level yet but there is no question that he’s the most talented rookie in college basketball. Getting to the Final Four (and beyond) would certainly end the knock that he doesn’t win the big one, wouldn’t it?

2. Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech – Those in Atlanta have compared him to Dwight Howard and while the comparisons aren’t dead on, Favors will certainly be a major factor. He’s a double-double guy from the outset and a challenge-free run through the high school and grassroots ranks, Favors is ready to play against a high competition.

3. Kenny Boynton, Florida (pictured) – The Florida Gators need to push the reset button. And the in-state star should do it. Boynton will start from day one and his presence will be felt immediately. He can score. He can defend. He can shoot. And more importantly, he wins, wins, wins.

4. John Jenkins, Vanderbilt – Don’t be surprised if the 6-5 guard leads all freshmen in scoring this year. After all, he scored over 40 points a game as a high school senior. He is one of the elite shooters in the country, too. Jenkins is quietly one of the best freshmen in the country right now.

5. Michael Snaer, Florida State – Toney Douglas is gone. And he took his 21.5 points per game with him. Snaer, a score-first guy, has to love that. The California guard is similar to Douglas in the sense that the two can score with the best of them. Snaer is bigger, more athletic and has deeper range, too. Don’t be surprised to see him average 15 points this year.

6. Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati – From a straight basketball perspective, he’s a major talent. The New Yorker is big, strong, athletic and when he wants to be, a fierce competitor. Stephenson is his own worst enemy but leaving Coney Island for Cincy could be the magic he needs to have his best basketball year to date.

7. DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky – You could argue that the 6-10 center is the most talented player in the class. He’s one of the most skilled post players to come out of high school in a long, long time. His passing skills are just as good as his rebounding. And his rebounding is just as good as his scoring. If John Calipari can channel it all together, Cousins could be argued for the number one pick in the draft in June.

8. Dante Taylor, Pittsburgh – Is there a power forward better suited for the Panthers more than Taylor? Doubt it. He’s as rugged, skilled and tough as they come and his game just screams Pitt. He’ll be a fan favorite not just because of his effort but because of his likely 16 points and nine rebounds a game as a rookie.

9. Mouphtauo Yarou, Villanova – How the basketball world continues to sleep on this guy is amazing. The .com recruiting world knows plenty about him and understands his value but most college basketball pundits aren’t seeing the light with him. Sure, most African imports struggle in college. Yarou is very much the exception.

10. Avery Bradley, Texas – Last July, we saw the quick rise to elite status for the Washington state native. His rise was quick and very noticeable. The rise hasn’t ended. Bradley is an elite defender and it could be argued he’s the best on the ball defender in the country. Right now. Oh, and his offense is outstanding, too.

11. Abdul Gaddy, Washington – The Huskies are now the home to the best three guard rotation in the West. With Gaddy, the best pure point guard entering college, Isiah Thomas and Venoy Overton, Washington will be dancing for a while in March. Gaddy makes the other two so much better.

12. Wally Judge, Kansas State – Sure, there may be others that you could argue make this 12th spot. But Judge quietly had a huge senior season and is physically, mentally and athletically ready for the next level. While he is no Michael Beasley, Judge will likely lead the team in rebounding and maybe even scoring this season.

Truth be told, 12 may not be enough for one day. We’ll have an additional 12 freshmen of impact on Thursday.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

True Hoops Elite Showcase notes

I spent Saturday at the True Hoops Elite Showcase at Norcross High School and had a chance to watch a number of talented young guys in action. Here is who caught my eye:

Devonte Pollard (pictured) was the best long-term prospect at the camp. The 6-foot-7 lefty from Kemper County High School (Miss.) is a very bouncy big man that plays with good energy and bounce around the cup. Pollard has the look of a top 65 level player (or maybe better) in the 2012 class. He’s a great athlete and tries to rip the rims off when he in the area. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and Georgia State have all been in to see him so far this fall, he said.

Keon Brown, a 2011 power forward from Evangel Christian in Chester, Va., was an interesting prospect at the True Hoops camp. The 6-foot-7 forward scored with ease in the paint. He’s a nice mid-level sleeper to watch in the junior class. American, Hartford and St. Francis have offered, Brown says. Boston College, Wake Forest, Western Kentucky, Virginia Commonwealth and DePaul are interested, too, he says.

Zachary Reynolds, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Mt. Zion (N.C.), was one of the top post players in the camp. The class of 2011 prospect was a tough customer in the low-post because of his toughness, shot-blocking abilities and his non-stop energy. His energy was an intimidating factor.

Class of 2013 prospect Dennis Miles, a well put together 6-foot-5 wing, the top freshman at the event. He’s a strong kid that can hit shots from the wing but also cause problems because of his athleticism from the wing. He has a future at a high-major school in time.

NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD

After shining last week at the Elite 75 camp.75 camp, Hendrix Emu, Joemar Black, Tyler Brunson and Delron Summey were back at it at the True Hoops Elite Showcase.

Emu displayed his great passing touch. Black showed off his athleticism. Summey used his versatility. Mix the trio with Reynolds, one of the top big men at the camp, and Mt. Zion should enjoy a successful year on the hardwood.

For a deeper look into the top performers from Georgia at the event, be sure to check out D1Spects.com.

12 @ 12: Top dozen in N.C.


CLASS OF 2009 NORTH CAROLINA HOT DOZEN
1. John Wall, PG, Word of God, KENTUCKY
2. Ryan Kelly, PF, Ravenscroft School DUKE
3. Mason Plumlee, PF, Christ School DUKE
4. Rashanti Harris, C, Patterson School GEORGIA STATE
5. Karron Johnson, SF, Laurinburg OKLAHOMA STATE (Did not qualify)
6. Hassan Whiteside, C, Patterson School MARSHALL
7. Garrius Adams, SF, Middle Creek MIAMI
8. Lakeem Jackson, SF, Christ School SOUTH CAROLINA
9. Arsalan Kazemi, PF, Patterson School RICE
10. DeAndre Kane, SG, Patterson School MARSHALL
11. Jason Calliste, SG, Quality Education DETROIT
12. Earnest Ross, SG, Panther Creek AUBURN

NORTH CAROLINA HOT DOZEN HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS
1. Quincy Miller, PF, Quality Education Academy, 2011
2. Reggie Bullock, SG, Kinston, 2010 NORTH CAROLINA
3. C.J. Leslie, PF, Word of God, 2010
4. Damontre Harris, PF, Trinity Christian, 2010 SOUTH CAROLINA
5. Ian Miller, PG, United Faith, 2010 FLORIDA STATE
6. P.J. Hairston, SG, Dudley, 2011 NORTH CAROLINA
7. Marquis Rankin, PG, Vance, 2011
8. Marshall Plumlee, PF, Christ School, 2011
9. Luke Cothron, PF, Flora McDonald Academy, 2010
10. J.T. Terrell, SG, West Charlotte, 2010 WAKE FOREST
11. Melvin Tabb, PF, Enloe, 2010 WAKE FOREST
12. Peter Jurkin, C, United Faith Academy, 2012

Hot dozen archive
California
Georgia
New Jersey
Texas

Monday, September 28, 2009

12 @ 12: Weekend randomness


Whoa, what a weekend for recruiting news. That is the focus of today’s 12 @ 12.

1. Kyrie Irving will announce very soon (if he hasn’t already) that he will be a Duke Blue Devil. In fact, I’ve had several people tell me that he committed to Coach K during his visit to the ACC. Word as of Monday morning is that Irving could still visit Texas A&M. Regardless, the multiple sources that I’ve talked to say Irving to Duke is a done deal. That isn’t a shocker at all. The only thing surprising that he took just one official visit. I thought he’d visit more places first. Ten seconds into talking to Irving in Orlando for TheDevilsDen.com this summer, I knew that he’d be going to Duke. I covered Duke basketball recruiting for two years for Rivals.com and every single player that committed to Duke all said the right things the right way. Irving said all of the right things regarding the Blue Devils.

2. Harrison Barnes has also said all of the right things in the right way regarding Duke (and all of the other schools for that matter). But like Irving, from the first time I talked to Barnes, he just screamed Duke. He told the National Hoops Report about his official visit tour on Thursday. All signs point to him a November decision. He will take his visits as planned and then go from there. If I were to pick a dark horse, I like Oklahoma in this one.

3. With Irving likely headed to Duke, the 94.8 million Kentucky fans on the Internet now all want to know who is the next target to commit to John Calipari. My guess? How about Josh Selby? Evan Daniels of Scout.com broke the news on Sunday night that the Baltimore native trimmed his list to six schools over the weekend. Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, Miami, Indiana and Baylor have made the cut. The family hasn’t set up a visit yet with any of the finalists. Translation: things will probably get crazy before they become calmer with Selby. He’s probably going to sign in the spring, too. Patience grasshoppers. All 94.8 million of you.

4. Also cutting his list this weekend was New Yorker Tobias Harris (pictured above). Harris is down to seven schools and Maryland, West Virginia, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Louisville, Kentucky and Syracuse have made the cut. If I had to pick the front-runners in this one, it would be Syracuse, Maryland, Georgia Tech and West Virginia (and in that order) going into October. He visited Syracuse over the weekend. Gut says the ‘Cuse are sitting the prettiest, too. If he pops for the Orange, that is a scary, scary class.

5. The big omission on Selby and Harris’s respective lists is Connecticut. And the Husky nation was a little disturbed to say the least. But they shouldn’t. UConn happen to have two of the best high school players on the planet on campus this weekend. Florida guard Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond visited the Storrs campus. Rivals.com ranks both players tops in their respective classes. Where was Michael Gilchrist?!? Connecticut fans shouldn’t fret. I’ve been pretty open in my belief that UConn will fight until the end with Miami for Knight.

6. With a lot of big-timers cutting their lists, Scout.com caught up with Jelan Kendrick and tried to get a peek into his recruitment. The only real revelation is that the 6-foot-6 point forward likes to do yoga.

7. Portland, Oregon forward Terrence Jones is now down to seven schools, according to Scout.com. Still not sure which direction he goes in but something tells me he stays in Pac-10 country.

8. The Nike Team Florida workout was this weekend and the .com recruiting world was there for it. (Rivals, Prep Stars, Scout, ESPN and others were there to cover it.)

9. I’ll be in Florida this coming weekend for the adidas Superstar Showcase at Lynn University. Basketball in Boca Raton? Yeah, sign me up.

10. Here is a commitment that you probably looked past but shouldn’t have: Jonathan Arledge to George Mason. The 6-foot-8 power forward from the D.C. area was described to me as a Thomas Robinson like player. If so, then the CAA has an all-conference player coming to the league next year.

11. If you recruit bad apples, the bruises usually come to the surface. Point in case – Binghamton. Wow, what a debacle. In a week’s time, the team lost five key players a month and a half before the season starts.

12. This is a basketball blog. But it is football season. And I like football. And you like reading this blog. We all win. Here are 12 thoughts from the weekend on the gridiron.

A. Minutes after Mark Sanchez was about to be the topic of conversation for the week at ESPN, Brett Favre slung the ball 50 yards for a game-winning score. He just won’t go away.
B. Really enjoyed this tweet from Daniel Jeremiah, former NFL scout: “Did Jack Youngblood get as much credit for playing with a broken leg as (Tim) Tebow is getting for playing with a cold?”
C. As impressive as Favre’s last second heave-ho pass was, Greg Lewis’s catch and dragging of the feet was amazing.
D. As impressive as Favre’s last second heave-ho pass was, Carson Palmer’s last second touchdown to Andre Caldwell was more important. The Bengals beat the Steelers because of that. Yes, the Bengals.
E. The Detroit Lions finally won a game. And everyone at Ford Field should have received a free Ford Focus. The fans have suffered enough.
F. The Baltimore Ravens are deadly now that they have some offense. When do Ravens fans start booking hotels in Miami?
G. I’m not sure who had the worst uniform weekend? New York Jets, the Seattle Seahawks or the Oregon Ducks.
H. Football in the rain – much more fun to watch it then play in it.
I. Who is the Heisman leader right now? I’m sticking with Colt McCoy of Texas.
J. Who is the early NFL MVP leader right now? I still really like Drew Brees here but after watching Peyton Manning on Sunday night dismantle the Arizona Cardinals, it is hard not to politic for him to win another trophy this early in the year.
K. Want to have fun with some numbers? 3-0. 16 points allowed all season. Want to guess who those stats belong to? How about the Denver Broncos? Incredible.
L. The Dallas Cowboys play the Carolina Panthers tonight. And we, the football world, will learn at least two things: 1. Dallas has a brand new stadium. And Jesus walked on water there. 2. Jake Delhomme will throw an interception. Or eight.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kyrie Irving to...

...Duke? Hearing that may be happening by Monday at the latest from multiple sources. He raved about his trip on Twitter on Sunday.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fastbreak Friday: Sept. 25


It is Friday and that means visits. Lots of them. Scout.com takes a look at the weekend's visitor's in their On Campus report. We just break ‘em down.

ACC visitor of the weekend: Kyrie Irving (pictured) is visiting Duke. And he’s excited. The top 15 prospect is making his much anticipated visit to Durham and there are no secrets that the Blue Devils are high on his list. While he’s never publicly said it, there is a common belief that Duke is the leader for his services. While it wouldn’t surprise many if he commits shortly after his trip, Irving probably won’t. That’s not how he has handled his recruitment to date. Don’t be surprised to read glowing comments from Irving regarding Duke after this season.

Big East visitor of the weekend: Michael Bradley is visiting Connecticut. That isn’t the most earth-shattering news this weekend. Having Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond, two guys that could be the best players in their respective classes, on campus is the big news. Huge news actually. Amazing news. Nevertheless, neither Knight nor Drummond will commit to UConn this weekend. (Although I do think UConn does land both. Yes, even Knight.) But Bradley, a sleeper big man from Tennessee could be wowed by the highest level school recruiting him and pop for the Huskies. And is there a better high-major program than UConn when it comes to finding untapped talent and developing big men? Food for thought.

Big Ten visitor of the weekend: Northwestern can’t land the big ones, right? That’s the belief in recruiting circles. That could be changing. Bill Carmody and his staff came to Atlanta and plucked a good one away in Jershon Cobb. This week the staff is hosting Florida guard Will Sheehey for an official visit. The 6-5 guard wants to play at the highest level but also go somewhere that offers a great education. While Sheehey won’t be an all-conference level player he could be a three-year starter for the program alongside Cobb.

Big 12 visitor of the weekend: Kansas State is continuing to think outside the box. Frank Martin and his staff are recruiting outside of normal Big 12 recruiting circles for players. Shane Southwell, a native New Yorker, is visiting the Little Apple this weekend. Southwell won’t win you over by scoring a lot of points. That isn’t who he is. The strong bodied 6-foot-6 wing is more of a point forward that is a terrific passer and an aggressive dribble drive wing. K-State is a serious contender for the 2010 prospect.

Pac-10 visitor of the weekend: Huntington Beach (Calif.) wing Anthony Brown is making the trip north to see Stanford. That’s a big deal. The 6-6 high-ceiling prospect is a major Pac-10 target and truth be told, he has the personality of those that play at Stanford. Wouldn’t surprise us at all if he is the latest Johnny Dawkins commitment.

SEC visitor of the weekend: Like recruiting drama? Follow Adrien Payne’s recruitment. The Ohio big man is visiting Kentucky this weekend. His recruitment changes at a daily clip and while West Virginia is probably still the behind the scenes leader, keep an eye on this one. Remember, drama. This one could be fun and by fun I mean confusing and ever-changing.

Mid-major visitor of the weekend: Two places to watch this weekend – BYU and Harvard.

Kyle Collinsworth will make the short trip across the street from his Provo High to BYU for an official visit. The 6-foot-6 wing is quite familiar with the program. His brother, Chris, played for the Cougars before leaving for a two-year Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints mission.

Since Tommy Amaker took over at Harvard, the Ivy League school has raised the bar for recruiting within that league. This weekend is the biggest recruiting weekend for Amaker and his staff since he got the job. Dwight Powell, a National Hoops Report top 15 player, will be in Boston. He won’t be the only top-notch player there. Rod Odom, a top 150 level player, will also be in town.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Barnes ready for official visits

Harrison Barnes is getting ready to pack his bags for a month long of official visits. The nation’s top player has scheduled a slate of official visits and ready to make the next step in his recruitment.

Barnes will visit Oklahoma (Oct. 2), UCLA (Oct. 9), Kansas (Oct. 16), Duke (Oct. 23) and Iowa State (Nov. 6).

As always, Barnes is taking a very methodical and intelligent approach to his recruitment and wants to make sure he is finding out the information he is looking for.

“To date, the Fall Contact Period is going extremely well. I credit my previous unofficial visits for equipping me in making this process manageable,” Barnes said. “Initially not knowing what to expect while orchestrating the in-home and official visit schedules I didn't want to confine myself into making a fall decision without having adequate time to process all the information.

“As a result of this portion in the recruiting process being so positive and reaffirming, I'm feeling confident what I once thought would be a regular signing period decision now will be an early signing period decision. It has been humbling to see the support the six programs have shown me over the last year.”

Just a Minute with Gary Parrish of CBS Sports


When college basketball fanatics log on to the Internet, there is a good chance they go to CBSports.com to read what Gary Parrish has to say. He is one of the premiere college hoops columnists in the country and a must-read.

After seven years at the Memphis Commercial Appeal, three years with CBS and several years of freelance work for recruiting publications like Prep Stars, Parrish brings a unique perspective to the basketball landscape.

Parrish, however, can not justify or explain his taste in basketball shoes. (See above.)

Did this offseason in college basketball felt like a bad year of VH1 smut reality television? It seems like there was drama every where you looked.

“It’s been wild. With the Rick Pitino stuff then John Calipari taking a hit with the NCAA stuff and then Billy Gilespie with his DUI. Someone was joking the other day that Ken McDonald is the sanest coach (in Kentucky) right now. It’s been wild. You’d like to think the majority of what we do is writing about, you know, basketball, wins and losses and made three-pointers. But in reality, we’ve spent a lot of time away from the court. You have the Josh Selby de-commitment or a coach having an affair in a restaurant or a coach getting pulled over and having a pretty embarrassing mug shot, it seems to be one off the court issue after another this off-season. I don’t know that is just college basketball. We are dealing with it in all sports. I don’t know if it is because having a 24/7 news cycle now where nothing goes unreported or today’s culture is just changing. It seems different one way or another.”

Will all of these off the court issues hurt the game or will the beat go on and nothing changes? Will basketball just continue be all about basketball? How much will these distractions impact, if at all, schools like Kentucky, Memphis and Louisville? Arizona had a lot of distractions and it obviously affected that program tremendously. Could any of these schools go that route?

“It all matters to varying degrees. I don’t think it affects the sport of college basketball. When we didn’t get to see Amare Stoudemire, LeBron James, Dwight Howard and all of those guys in college basketball, we still watched. I don’t the game or the sport gets hurt by any of this because we’ve seen that the game always prevails but I think the individuals that are involved in all of these off the court issues it matters.

“The Pitino thing is pretty obvious. His credibility and ability to lead young men, whatever that means, has been called into question. He’s lucky to have survived this. Coaches have been fired for much less. Larry Eustachy, Mike Price, Dick Price, who was at Memphis before Calipari, they have all done in much less than what the Pitino has owned up to. If you believe Karen Sypher’s side, it is much worse. Coaches have been fired for worse. He says it won’t affect him going forward but can he really preach about discipline anymore after he lacked some, at least for one night. My impression coming out of July was tthat they thought they were going to get Fab Melo pretty quickly. I know they felt like they had that one knocked out. This was all before the news of the abortion and all of that. I wonder if Fab Melo was put off because of that. I don’t know if it did or not. There is some turmoil and some uncertainty within that program. Schools that are recruiting against Louisville will certainly point all of this out when they recruit. One of the keys to this business is not giving your opponent any fuel for ammunition. Louisville right now has a lot of ammunition against that program.

“For Kentucky, anything they do recruiting won’t affect Cal’s problem. It won’t affect Kentucky and it won’t affect the way he recruits. The only difference is the perception of what he is doing at Kentucky. I think they are playing in the National Championship game this year. It’s very possible. There will not be columns about the return of Kentucky basketball. There will be stories about how long Calipari will remain as the head coach of Kentucky basketball. That is the problem that Cal has gotten himself into whether it is his fault or not. His perception has taken a huge hit this offseason. He’s the only coach in the history of the sport to have two Final Fours at different schools removed from the history books. While the state of Kentucky will celebrate his success, the other 49 states will mock him. That’s just what Kentucky will have to deal with moving forward.”

With all of this stuff going on, there are a lot of things that have been lost in the shuffle. You look at guys like John Riek, Renardo Sidney, Lance Stephenson – in other years, everyone in the media would be asking publicly, “How in the world did these guys get into college?” Because of these major stories, how much are other stories being looked over? Do people even know who the pre-season number one team is in the country right now?

“I think so. You don’t write about Cole Aldrich. Instead, we are writing about Xavier Henry’s dad making wild public comments. You don’t write about John Wall as much because you are writing about John Calipari’s NCAA issues. You don’t write about Samardo Samuels having a breakout year as much because you are writing about an abortion. For those of us that write about college basketball 12 months out of the year, if it wasn’t for these things, we’d be writing about actual basketball. Imagine that. Given that we have a bank robber signing at Utah State or a Big East coach having an affair in a restaurant or the highest profile coach in America dealing with NCAA issues, there is plenty of to write about outside of basketball. Honestly, I’m thankful for it because I’d much rather write about issues than straight up basketball. I does seem like the game is put on the backburner. Of course, once the game starts, that will all change. But there is no question in an offseason where we could have written about Aldrich or Willie Warren or Greg Monroe, we’ve spent writing about the sketchy side. That’s unfortunate for the sport, but not for me.”

Let’s actually talk a little about hoops if we can. What are the storylines that we will be talking about in a couple of months?

“I think the story going in is Kentucky. John Calipari, one of the biggest stars in the sport, is coaching one of the biggest programs in the sport. With a roster that is, you could argue, that is the most talented of any roster in the country. John Wall could be the best player in the country. I just think he is that kind of talent. You throw him next to Patrick Patterson, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and that seems to be better than everyone out there. It could be a fascinating story to see play out. Right or wrong, fair or not, John Calipari is the evil character in the eyes of everyone outside of the Kentucky program. You ask a poll on CBSSPorts.com about who the dirtiest college basketball coach is in the country and John Calipari will win it. That’s the public perception. Obviously, it is intriguing that the perceived dirty college basketball coach is running a program that puts 24,000 people in the seats every game. If they get off to a hot start and look up and they are the number one team in the country and Wall is just phenomenal and Patterson is an All-American, then that is the most interesting storyline.

Obviously, Kansas is in a good position, too. They are a year removed from winning a national title and they return everybody from last year’s team. They were way better than what people thought they would be last year. I don’t want to say they will be a consensus number one team but I’m not sure how you can justify voting anyone else in outside of Kentucky. That’s not easy to do, to stay at the top. You look at what happened to Florida. They are still trying to recover from losing all of those guys at the same time. Bill Self, and I think it’s a credit to his ability to rebuild a program, is probably a better coach than people give him credit for. He lost everybody and overachieved with a young team last year. To me, it’s a Kansas, Kentucky story early and if everything plays out, you could have a rematch of Self and Calipari just a year removed from when they played each other.”

Is it too early to project your Final Four predictions?

“Not really. I’ve done my pre-season rankings and I know they never line up the way you think. Someone will have an injury and someone will have chemistry problems. Typically, you just know. There was a reason why North Carolina was the pre-season number one team in the country. We have a pretty good idea of who is going to be good. I am big on talent. The team with the best players win. It’s that simple. Florida won two national titles in row. Why? Because they had the most first round picks on their team. Why did North Carolina win last year? They had the best roster. Looking in those terms, you have to pencil in Kansas and Kentucky as Final Four favorites. After that, I still like North Carolina. They lost a lot, obviously. But North Carolina is one of the few programs that can lose a lot and yet still have a lot. They add a guy like John Henson, which will help tremendously. But I think they’ll have some point guard issues. But if they can get that straight, then they are really good. If you give me Kansas and Kentucky then some combination of Michigan State, North Carolina, Texas and someone that is ranked between 10 to 20 in the preseason poll like an Ohio State or Clemson or a Washington, someone like that.”

Are there any players that you see blowing up and breaking out this year?

“I don’t know if “blowing up” is the right word but I talked to Cole Aldrich this summer and he’s bigger and stronger than he was last year. I think he’s going to be phenomenal. I think John Wall is the most exciting player in the country. If I had to start a college basketball team from scratch tomorrow, I’d start it with Cole Aldrich. You can’t go wrong having that guy up front. You know he’s going to get you rebounds and score down there and frankly he was overshadowed last year because Blake Griffin overshadowed him. Cole might not just be the best big man in the country, he may be the best player in the country. He deserves all the attention he gets.

“I’m thinking off the top of my head here but I think a guy like Devin Ebanks could be a guy that really takes off this year. He’s talented and he had a good freshman year. He wasn’t dominate but he was good. And the thing with Devin is that he has that NBA talent. It has been a trend lately that the teams that gets a guy back that they should have had back win. Where is North Carolina last year if Ty Lawson went pro the year before? Florida wins two in a row because everyone came back. Kansas should have lost Cole Aldrich to the NBA because he was a top 10 pick. They bring him back. Willie Warren fits into that. Greg Monroe fits into that. Devin Ebanks fits into that. Guys who could be in the NBA but went back to college are usually difference makers for wins, losses and success.

“You look at a guy like Gordon Hayward at Butler. I think he’s just fabulous. I don’t know how many people had a chance to see him last year. I know he got a lot of attention this summer playing with USA Basketball but I think with Butler being a top 15, top 20 team and with a schedule that will put them on television a little more, I think he’s going to really impress a lot of people. I think he’ll post big numbers and get the attention he deserves. I love his game.”

Is there a young coach out there that you can see rising up and being the “must-get” guy like Anthony Grant was last year?

“I’ll go back to Butler and Brad Stevens. Here’s a guy that took over the program and has had great success. He’s young. He looks the part. He handles himself that right way. He’s done nothing but win. He’s found some under-the-radar guys. He found Gordon Hayward, who was a pretty unheralded recruit. Now a lot of that is because he didn’t spend a lot of time playing summer basketball. But Brad has taken a winning program and just enhanced it like Mark Few has done at Gonzaga. I thought his name would pop up more last year but if they have the type of year that I think they are going to have this year, they are going to run through their league. Plus, they have a really good team. Matt Howard down low and Shelvin Mack are two tremendous players. I think Stevens will get a lot of attention after this year.

“The other guy that I can see getting a lot of attention is Ken McDonald over at Western Kentucky. He really overachieved last year and he brings nearly everyone back except Orlando Mendez-Valdez. He brought seven new guys and he’s recruiting well by Sun Belt standards. He’s stringing together NCAA tournament appearances. That’s what all this is about. If you at one of the non BCS tournaments and you go to a couple NCAA tournaments, you are saddening in line for a BCS job.

“I always go back to the Darrin Horn story. There were questions about him surviving at Western Kentucky and far away from getting a SEC job. But a kid makes a 30-footer in the NCAA tournament and they get a nice draw and Darrin is the Sweet 16. Now he’s a millionaire coach at a SEC job. That’s how this business works.”

Archived Just a Minutes:

Jody Demling, Louisville Courier-Journal
Jeff Goodman, Fox Sports
Rob Harrington, Prep Stars
Jerry Meyer, Rivals.com
Aran Smith, NBADraft.net
Dave Telep, Scout.com

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NHR Mailbag: Sept. 23


Wow, what a week for questions! The readers asked and the National Hoops Report answers. Let’s dive into this week’s edition of The Mailbag.

What do you think are Nova's chances with 2011 recruits Michael Gilchrist, Rakeem Christmas (pictured), Trevor Cooney and Quinn Cook or any other players?

If were to rank the order of interest for the prospects you mentioned regarding Villanova it would go like this: Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney, Quinn Cook and Michael Gilchrist.

I don’t see Christmas leaving the Philly area for his one year in college. But I also wouldn’t be surprised to see his recruitment play out like Derrick Favors (drawn out but eventually staying close to home). Cooney’s recruitment will get interesting if Duke offers him a scholarship. But at the end of the day, I can see this one being a Big East battle.

Cook’s recruitment is a hard one to gauge. There are a lot of big-time programs, including Villanova, in the mix. He’s visiting schools, doing his homework and looking at the best fit. Wherever he can play right away is where he’ll go, in my opinion.

And Gilchrist. Where do we start? Kentucky, at least in public perception, seems to be the leader but the nation’s top junior and his family say he is open. I believe them. I don’t think they are in a big rush to make a decision either. So that’s why he is fourth on this list. A year from now, that could be quite the opposite. When you are tops in your class, what’s the rush to pick favorites this early?

South Carolina's 2010 recruiting class - how did that happen? Very impressive!

Very impressive indeed. How did it happen? Good recruiters that did their homework, that’s how. Damonte Harris is the catch of the class and the Gamecocks were involved with him long before meteoric rise this summer. The big man was number one on a lot of wish lists and USC had to fight off a lot of schools to get him.

The same can be said about in-state guys Bruce Ellington and R.J. Slawson. The Gamecocks were way ahead of the curve with both guys and landed the in-state pair before a lot of schools could work their recruiting magic.

Now the trick is landing Stacey Poole, Jr., who I believe is a heavy Kentucky lean. But after the success that South Carolina has had so far, maybe I should reconsider my thinking on Poole to UK. Darrin Horn and his staff are on a roll right now.

What kind of class do you think Mark Fox will put together? It seems Georgia has been in the mix for a lot of players, but never really led for any. Could there be a JUCO or two brought in the spring?

Great question. I’m not exactly sure what kind of class Fox and his staff will put together. Losing out on Jeremy Lamb and Trae Golden, two local products, was a big hit to their efforts. The new UGA staff has done a good job of establishing themselves with the top players in the class in the state. Missing out on those two really puts things up in the air right now, at least from my perspective.

They are looking at all kinds of options and junior college could very well be an option. The SEC isn’t getting any easier with the likes of John Calipari entering the league. Mix that with Bruce Pearl and Billy Donovan as well as a great recruiting class from South Carolina in 2010, the Dawgs will need immediate help. Junior college could be that route this year. A lot of schools are looking at that level for big men, too.

A lot of names from the junior college ranks will probably creep up come October after coaches go to some of the top JC showcases and jamborees.

Who do you envision as UGA’s first commit this year?

That is a tough one. Hard to really pick that one after Lamb, Golden and Ralston Turner all went elsewhere. Clearly landing a two guard is a priority for the Dawgs but the first commit, if I was to guess, could be Miller Grove (Ga.) big man Dante Williams. The 6-9 forward has been to Athens and he could make a return trip in the near future. UAB and Virginia Commonwealth are strong contenders for him right now, too.

Butler is in a good position to get Khyle Marshall. What does he do well and how do you see him fitting at forward alongside Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward?

Butler is strong, like you mentioned. So is Missouri, UNLV and UAB. Marshall is a good player but he’s underachieved from what I’ve seen on the spring and summer circuit. He’d be a match-up problem in the Horizon League because of his athleticism. He’s bouncy and aggressive. Truth be told, Marshall would be a perfect transition for Butler when Avery Jukes graduates.

How did Dwight Powell’s visit with Stanford go? Is GT still in the mix with the talented big man? What is the latest with Jelan Kendrick and Tobias Harris?

Powell’s visit to Stanford went well from all accounts and I did find it interesting that he didn’t commit to Johnny Dawkins. I thought there was a strong chance that he would pull the trigger. Paul Hewitt is in Boston today (Tuesday, September 23) to visit with Powell’s mother. Powell will visit Harvard this weekend and Georgia Tech on Oct. 8. I’d expect a decision shortly after that visit.

Kendrick’s recruitment will go deep into the spring and take a million turns before it is all said and done.

Tobias Harris – that one is the biggest mystery to me. Can 11 schools be even? Even after he trims the list to five in the very near future, I still don’t have a good feel for that one.

Is there an under-rated shooting guard in Georgia left in the 2010 class?

Yes. In fact, there are quite a few under-rated guards left in Georgia. Hoops talent in the Peach State is going through a recession. In fact, the entire country is in 2010. There just aren’t as many high-level players in the talent pool this year. That generally means teams are finding value in under-recruited players. A couple of guards come to mind – Chris Davis, a 6-2 guard from Stockbridge, and Cameron Solomon, a 6-4 wing from Lovejoy.

I watched both guys last week at the SEBA Atlanta All-Star Shootout and thought the two were the best guards in the event. Their recruitments are all over the map with schools from all three levels recruiting them. If neither player signs early, it will be interesting to see where they end up in the spring.

Cady Lulane visited VCU this past weekend. Any word on how his visit went and when he anticipates making his decision?

Lulane’s visit to VCU went well from what I’ve been told. He’s visiting Georgia this weekend officially. But a whisper that I’m hearing is that UMass is looking like the team to beat. I’d anticipate him signing in the fall and being a big recruit for the Minutemen.

Anything new on the recruitment of Florida big man Anthony Lee?

The big news from what I’m hearing out of Florida is that Virginia Commonwealth is out. The big man Eustis is headed to George Mason this weekend. Temple, Nevada, Washington and others are also in the mix with the 6-8 forward.

With Boston College now in the mix for Michael Bradley how did that affect the chances of Drake or VCU getting a verbal from him? Are the mid-majors wasting their time?

The mid-majors were there first and they can hang their hat on that. You could argue that Virginia Commonwealth is moving closer to the mid-major that really isn’t a mid-major status. The Rams are selling their CAA to the pros line to the Chattanooga sleeper over and over again. Makes sense, really. But the longer Bradley waits, the more high-majors are going to come in and he’ll have a tough decision to make. He is probably best served going to a good mid-level school, playing early and growing on the court.

First off, how do you feel about DePaul's two recent verbals for 2010, Brandon Young and Moses Morgan? Will they be able to come in and make an early impact for the Blue Demons? Secondly, with at least one scholarship currently open, and some believing it will wind up being three, should DePaul go after the best available talent or pursuing more towards need and try and get size?

I like both Young and Morgan. I thought Young, a 6-2 point guard from the D.C. area, was one of the best sleepers I saw this summer. He has a lot of talent and could be the point guard that DePaul has lacked since Jerry Wainwright took over the program. That’s encouraging.

But will Young and Morgan help DePaul get better in the Big East? I don’t think so.

At this point, the Blue Demons need guys that can help them win basketball games. The best available makes the most sense in large part because the size that is available right now is significantly lacking.

What's going on with the recruitment of Reco McCarter out of Goldsboro, N.C.? None of the sites have updated his recruitment in months.

That’s a good question. Reco McCarter is almost a mythical figure for me. I’ve never seen him play. He’s harder to find then a missing sock in the dryer. That being said, I really don’t have a good feel for what he’s thinking.

What can you tell us about 2010 Virginia big man Josh Henderson? He seems to be a late bloomer and is receiving interest from a few ACC and SEC schools.

I wish I could answer your question better. I haven’t seen him play and in speaking to a lot of coaches, they are still trying to find out more about him. Sorry, I wish I could dive into his situation better.

Have a question regarding recruiting, high school hoops, college basketball, rankings, coaches or anything that relates hoops, ask away. National Hoops Report editor Justin Young will answer your submissions in next week's edition of The NHR Mailbag. To submit your question, email nationalhoopsreport@gmail.com, via Twitter, or in the comments section below.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

12 @ 12: Top dozen in N.J.


CLASS OF 2009 NEW JERSEY HOT DOZEN

1. Dominic Cheek, SG, St. Anthony (N.J.) VILLANOVA
2. Dexter Strickland, SG, St. Patrick (N.J.) NORTH CAROLINA
3. Lamar Patterson, SF, St. Benedict’s PITTSBURGH
4. Justin Crosgile, PG, DePaul Catholic ST. JOSEPH’S
5. Tamir Jackson, SG, St. Benedict’s RICE
6. Lance Brown, SG, Paterson Catholic FORDHAM
7. Austin Johnson, PF, Blair Academy RUTGERS
8. David Bruce, C, Linden SAINT JOSEPH’S
9. Paris Bennett, SF, St. Patrick’s GEORGE MASON
10. Steve Spinella, SG, Apex Academy SOUTH CAROLINA
11. Dylan Talley, SF, Eastside BINGHAMTON
12. Jamee Jackson, PF, St. Anthony QUINNIPIAC

NEW JERSEY HOT DOZEN HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS

1. Michael Gilchrist, SF, St. Patrick, 2011
2. Kyrie Irving, PG, St. Patrick, 2010
3. Dion Waiters, PG/SG, Life Center, 2010 SYRACUSE
4. Myck Kabongo, PG, St. Benedict 2011 TEXAS
5. Isaiah Epps, PG, Plainfield (N.J.) 2010 PITTSBURGH
6. Kyle Anderson, SF, Paterson Catholic 2012
7. Darius Quarles, SF, Life Center 2010 SAINT JOSEPH’S
8. Devon Collier, PF, St. Anthony 2010
9. Myles Davis, PG, St. Peter’s Prep 2011
10. Ashton Pankey, PF, St. Anthony 2010
11. Julian Washburn, PF/SF, St. Patrick 2010
12. Fuquan Edwin, PF/SF, Paterson Catholic 2010 SETON HALL

(Editor's note: We listed Markus Kennedy, a 2010 Villanova commitment, as the No. 10 player of the current N.J. high school players. However, he is now at Winchendon in Maine and therefore no longer eligible for this list. We moved Pankey and Washburn to 10 and 11, respectively.)

Hot Dozen archive
California
Georgia
Texas

Monday, September 21, 2009

Several stand out at Elite 75 camp


GASTONIA, N.C. – Nearly 180 players packed into Ashbrook High School over the weekend for the Elite 75 showcase and a number of young players and under the radar guys took advantage of the stage.

ELITE 75 STARS

Hendrix Emu, Evangel Christian (Va.) – Meet one of the top surprises and top players from the camp. The 6-foot-4 guard shined with his athleticism, his active play, attention to defense and ability to always be involved in a play. He was great in transition and knew to always be in motion to the basket. The class of 2011 prospect played the part of a high-major guard quite well.

Joemar Black, Mt. Zion (N.C.) (pictured above) – Everyone was asking, “Who is that kid?” The 6-foot-2 guard was always making plays and was either giving Emu a pass to score or receiving one from Emu in return. Emu, a Flint, Michigan native, showed that he could score from deep with a jumper or in the lane with a dunk or with a floater on the baseline. His offensive game was one of the best of the day.

Josh Clyburn, Victory Christian (N.C.) – The class of 2010 big man was one of the top post players on Sunday. He ran the floor quite well, scored in transition with a number of athletic plays. The 6-foot-8 forward showed he can handle the ball and knock down face-up jumpers. Good day of work from Clyburn.

Tyrek Coger, Upper Room Christian (N.C.) – Few defenders wanted to get in the way of the towering 6-foot-7 center. He’s a big kid for a 2013 prospect and physically had his way with the younger competition. Once he got his big hands on the ball, he turned and usually scored with a simple drop step score.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

One of the best things about the Elite 75 camp is the chance to see a lot of young players. There were more young guys that stood out this year than older guys

Tyler Brunson Mt. Zion (N.C.) – Last year at the Elite 75 camp, a kid named C.J. Barksdale emerged on the national scene. This year’s youngster to watch is Brunson. The long-armed 6-foot-6 combo forward is an eye-catcher because of his length, perimeter skills and ability to run the floor. The natural gifts are there. Now the trick for the 2012 prospect is matching it with a good mental approach.

A.J. Davis, Greater Atlanta Christian (Ga.) – The class of 2013 prospect is one of the top young players in the Atlanta area and he showed why on Sunday. The 6-foot-6 son of former NBA player Antonio Davis showed off an array of skills. He can score with the perimeter shot but also made an impact with his length around the cup. Davis will be fun to watch develop.

Shaq Patterson, Martinsville (N.C.) – At 6-3 and high school senior strong, this class of 2012 guard was impressive because he knew how to overpower defenders on his way to the basket. Moreover, Patterson is a great rebounder on the wing.

Troy Williams, Pheobus (Va.) – Get ready to hear his name a lot over the next four years. The 6-foot-5 wing from the class of 2013 has already drawn good reviews from the always talented Hampton Roads area. He’s a versatile guy that has great length, good ball skills and plenty of room to grow into his body and into a major player.

Montavis Hall, Victory Christian (N.C.) – Charlotte is quickly becoming a recruiting hot bed for schools in the ACC, SEC and even the Big East. The Queen City is also a place where a lot of programs are looking for future stars. Hall, a 6-foot-5 wing, will probably get a peek or two this high school year by the big boys. He’s got the traits that the good ones have.

NOTES FROM THE NOTEPAD

After his MVP performance last weekend in South Carolina, Ian Miller was back at it again at the Elite 75 camp. He seemed to only be playing at half speed and was one of the top guards in the event…Big man Jervaughn Pressley had his right-handed jump hook falling at a consistent clip on Sunday…South Carolina junior guard Ron Trapp (Lancaster HS) was an intriguing prospect. He was a slasher supreme all Sunday long and got the rim when he wanted…Virginia Tech bound forward Jarrell Eddie and class of 2011 forward C.J. Barksdale both looked heavier in their upper-bodies…Liked the court savvy of 2013 point guard Anthony Bagtas from Westlake (Ga.)…Class of 2013 wing Sindarius Thornwell was one of the top prospects from the Palmetto State in the camp…Great speed to the basket from Jacoby Davis, a 2011 point guard from West Charlotte High…Didn’t get to see Daquan Cook, a 2012 point guard from D.C. enough to see why everyone was signing his praises from Saturday. Wish there was more time to do so.

RECRUITING REVIEW

Clyburn, one of the top sleepers in the event, says he doesn’t have a Division I offer at the moment. However, Mercer, Gardner-Webb and High Point have all said they want to come by and see him in an open gym. A host of other programs are keeping in touch, too. He could be a high school season high-riser.

Black, the guard from Flint, Michigan, said he has heard from Penn State, Cincinnati, San Diego and Oakland to date. Now in the 2011 class, Black said he hopes to have more schools enter the mix this year.

Emu said he has heard from Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Western Kentucky, UNC Wilmington and Alabama to date.

Delron Summey, a class of 2011 prospect from Mt. Zion via Jacksonville, Fla., said he has offer from Farifield and interest from Clemson, Jacksonville, North Florida, Oregon, Virginia Commonwealth and Auburn.

12 @ 12: Weekend randomness


1. Are the Sooners moving into elite status as far as recruiting goes? For the fourth straight year, Jeff Capel has reeled in a five-star prospect to Norman. On Sunday, Texas wing Cameron Clark committed to the Sooners.

Clark joins Keith Gallon, Willie Warren and Blake Griffin as the fourth top 25 prospect to join the program. Yet, for some reason, OU isn’t being mentioned in the same breath as North Carolina, Kansas and Duke as major recruiting powerhouses at the moment.

2. Kyrie Irving (pictured above) drops Indiana out of contention, huh? That’s surprising news. Probably the second most surprising recruiting news of the year behind Fab Melo’s decision to go to Syracuse and not Louisville. The National Hoops Report has always believed the New Jersey guard was a heavy Duke lean and borderline lock. Still do. Kentucky, Texas A&M and Georgia Tech will also host the elite level point guard for an official visit.

3. There were a number of commitments that happened over the weekend and there were some that were probably sexier in recruiting circles than JerShon Cobb to Northwestern but this one is important. The 6-4 guard from Atlanta tripped to Evanston and loved his time in the Chicago area. Cobb is a smart guy that can play multiple positions and should fit in perfectly with the way Bill Carmody. Don’t be surprised to see Cobb start three of his four years for the Big Ten school.

4. Terrible news about Tony Wroten, Jr. The class of 2011 superstar tore his ACL in a football game over the weekend and will likely miss his junior season of basketball. His father played in the NFL and Wroten, Jr. could be the best athlete in the country. Those in Seattle say he can pick his college for hoops, football or baseball. Bummer to hear of the injury.

5. Really liked J.P. Olukemi in high school when he was at Stoneridge Prep. He had to go the junior college route and now he’s headed to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys landed a good one and a guy that can help the team right away when he puts on the bright orange for Travis Ford. There are always a few JC guys that can be a difference maker. Olukemi should be one of those guys.

6. Gary Parrish (who will be featured in a National Hoops Report Q&A soon, I promise!) loves the young ones. Ugh hum, the freshmen. His words, not mine. He believes a freshman will have an impact on this year's National Championship team. Who will it be?

7. Andy Katz took a good look at the role of the sports agent in today's college game. Next time you go to a live recruiting event in July, there will probably be 10 guys at the event that you have no idea that they are movers and shakers. Can you spot ‘em?

8. Mike DeCourcy breaks down his top 10 point guards
in college basketball.

9. As the high school season draws closer, it is time to start thinking about the best high school tournaments around the country. Flyin' to the Hoop release it’s schedule last week and the field looks amazing for the Jan. 16-18 event in Dayton, Ohio. Brandon Knight, Tristan Thompson, Adreian Payne, Jelan Kendrick, Corey Joseph, James Bell, Luke Cothron, Jamail Jones, Jordan Sibert and a host of other top 2010 players highlight the field. This looks like the best field the event has ever put together.

10. 24 hours of basketball? That’s like a 24-hour cooking channel or an all music channel. Ridiculous. That’s really dumb.

11. God save us.

12. Crazy weekend for NFL and rather ho-hum weekend for NCAA football. Here are my 12 thoughts on the sport that uses an oblong ball:

A. I bought a ticket on the Jacory Harris band wagon around 8:30 last Thursday night.
B. And I retract my statement about Miami being not being back. They are. Very much so. Harris is one of the several reasons why. Why aren’t the Canes being considered as a top five team right now? Big game awaits them against Virginia Tech this Saturday.
C. Speaking of Miami, one of the most famous U alums, Ray Lewis, had one of the best defensive plays I’ve ever seen when he sprinted through the line on 4th and 2 to stuff Darren Sproles. Lewis’s tackle inside the red zone was the game-winning play. Amazing.
D. Final note on Miami – Jimmy Graham, former UM hooper, caught a touchdown against Georgia Tech. At 6-8 and with a motor that doesn’t quit, don’t be surprised to see him being mentioned as a NFL prospect. Why not? Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Martellus Bennett are all former big-time hoopers that earn paychecks on Sundays.
E. Dallas built a new stadium. Not sure if anyone caught that on Sunday night.
F. Eli Manning has his critics. None of them were talking on Sunday night after that performance.
G. So Washington beats USC by a field goal at home and that warrants a top 25 position? College football makes zero sense to me.
H. Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson can only score touchdowns that are longer than 20 yards.
I. The 49ers remind me a little of the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Reminder: The Bucs won the Super Bowl that year.
J. If Michael Crabtree joins the 49ers and is used in the offense as a go-to receiver right now, the 49ers will remind me of any team with Terrell Owens.
K. Who is the Heisman leader right now? Colt McCoy is my pick in mid-September because he plays for the best team in the country.
L. Who is the early NFL MVP leader right now? Drew Brees is my pick because he’s the most dangerous player in the league after two weeks.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

SEBA camp unveils prospects

It was a busy weekend for the National Hoops Report. We spent Saturday at the Southeast Basketball Academy camp and Chris Davis (pictured above) was one of the standouts of the day. The 6-foot-1 guard from Stockbridge (Ga.) and others are included in my breakdown of the camp on D1Spects.com.

On Sunday, we trekked to the Elite 75 Showcase in Gastonia, N.C. The coverage from that event will be available here on the National Hoops Report website on Monday.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

NHR on the road


The National Hoops Report is on the road again this weekend for a pair of events. Our first stop is at the Southeast Basketball Academy Atlanta All-Star Shootout at Oglethorpe University on Saturday. Billy LoPresti and his staff are in their seventh year of this great fall event. And every year, a number of sleepers emerge from the loaded Peach State. For full coverage of this event, be sure to check out D1Spects.com on Monday.

On Sunday, the National Hoops Report will be at the Elite 75 Showcase in Gastonia, N.C. This event is one of the best around thanks to the hard work and organization of Ced Canty and his staff. Last weekend in South Carolina, Ian Miller (pictured above) shined at the N.C. vs. S.C. Battle of the Classes. The future Florida State guard jump started his track to the ACC at this event two years ago. We will have full coverage of the camp here on the blog on Monday.

Who will emerge this weekend? We are ready to find out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fastbreak Friday: Sept. 18


Scout.com takes a look at the weekend's visitor's in their On Campus report. And truth be told, it is a rather slow week for visitors. But some elite level schools have some elite level players in town.

ACC visitor of the weekend: Super junior Austin Rivers says he is committed to Florida. In fact, he is adamant. But the son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers is visiting Duke this weekend unofficially. Form your own opinion on whether or not he is firmly committed to the Gators. The buzz regarding his thoughts about looking at other schools started in the summer and Duke was the first, and sometimes only, school to be mentioned. Surprisingly, this chain of events isn’t a big topic of discussion in the hoops arena. Nevertheless, Rivers will be in Durham this weekend to simply “take a look.”

Big East visitor of the weekend: None of note this week. Bummer.

Big Ten visitor of the weekend: None of note this week. Bummer, part two.

Big 12 visitor of the weekend: It is a HUGE weekend in Norman, Oklahoma as a number of top players are making their way to Sooner country. Texans Cameron Clark, a big time 2010 wing, and LeBryan Nash, a big time 2011 wing, lead the charge. The two are probably the most likely to commit to OU. Also joining the fun are a pair of coach’s sons – Ray McCallum and Trey Zeigler. The Michiganders played together with Team Detroit and McCallum even lived in Norman when his dad, Ray, Sr., was an assistant coach for Kelvin Sampson.

Pac-10 visitor of the weekend: Reprint: The National Hoops Report is a huge fan of Dwight Powell. The Canadian is a very skilled post player that can burn you on the blocks with his back to the basket game. He can face up at the elbows and knock down the jumper. He’s good on the glass. He’s clearly great in the classroom. And he’s the number one target for Johnny Dawkins and the Stanford coaches. Powell is probably leaning to the Pac-10 program at the moment with Georgia Tech close behind. But don’t be surprised if he commits after a visit. (We wrote this last week but Powell didn’t visit on the 11th. He will this weekend.)

Also of note: Arizona is hosting Anthony Brown and Rod Odom for official visits. Brown has long considered the Wildcats even throughout the coaching roller coaster. He is one of the most versatile players in the West.

SEC visitor of the weekend: Brandon Knight is visiting Kentucky. That is a big deal. The muscular guard is the first elite level player from the 2010 class to visit UK in the new John Calipari era. The Wildcats clearly have him high on the must-get list and the staff has been working hard to get the top guard in the country in town. Keep an eye on this trip.

While Knight is the guy that the fans all want to see in Lexington, it is Stacey Poole, an aggressive guard and son of a former Florida Gator, could be the high school player to commit this weekend. Poole told Rivals.com that he is leaning UK’s way. Wouldn’t be a shocker if he pops before the sun rises on Monday.

Other visitors that are visiting potential favorites: Trevor Releford (Alabama), Casey Prather (Florida) and Demontre Harris (South Carolina).

Mid-major visitor of the weekend: A lot of choices here but the one that stands out the most is Tyreek Duren visiting LaSalle. Team Final was one of the best AAU teams on the circuit this year because of Duren’s play at the point. The 5-11 Philly native is the latest future A-10 star in the backcourt. He could be a star in his hometown, too.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

NHR Mailbag: Sept. 17


Another week, another great set of questions submitted to the National Hoops Report Mailbag. We cover a lot of ground in this edition.

Derrick Favors or Dwight Howard? (high school only)

Boy, that’s a tough one. It is like picking a favorite child. Sort of. It is hard to compare the two because while Favors is compared to Howard a lot, the two are quite different. Favors is more skilled offensively. Howard is much more athletic, stronger and hungrier. Favors has more upside at this stage (but not by much). Howard is a more physically imposing player now and even back then. But if I had to choose, give me Howard. And I’ll even say give me him 10 times out of 10. He’s the best player I’ve ever seen at this level and the most physically intimidating player I’ve ever covered.

With the University of Arizona most likely handing out three scholarships for the 2010 class, who will they land out of their current targets – Ray McCallum, Cory Joseph, Doron Lamb, Trey Zeigler, Anthony Brown, Terrence Jones, Adreian Payne, Alex Kirk and Rod Odom?

That is a tough question but a good one. When Lute Olson was there, it was much easier to gauge who the next Wildcat would be. With Sean Miller now at the helm, it isn’t as easy. Miller and his staff are recruiting with a much broader stroke and recruiting more players.

If I were to rank them in likeliness to land it would be as follows: Doron Lamb, Alex Kirk, Terrence Jones, Anthony Brown, Rod Odom, Cory Joseph, Ray McCallum, Trey Zeigler and Adreian Payne.

What do you think of Kevin Ware? Is this guy a potential Javaris Crittenton if he works on his jump shot?

Crittenton is on another level when it comes to competiveness and leadership skills. He was one of the most competitive kids that I’ve seen in Georgia. He won a lot of games on his own and knew how to put the dagger in when it was needed. Not sure I know of many kids that are in the state right now that bring that to the table. To be fair, Crittenton is not a jump shooter. Never really has been either. Ware is more athletic and faster than Crittenton but the Rockdale County (Ga.) guard lacks the basketball smarts to be a full-time point guard at the highest level in my opinion. He could be a similar player to Senario Hillman at Alabama.

How good is Mfon Udofia? Do you see him starting over a healthy Moe Miller? Jarrett Jack a fair comparison?

I think Mfon Udofia is tremendous. In fact, not only do I see him starting, I think he’s an All-ACC freshman and one of the 20 most important incoming freshmen. The reason? Simple. Udofia brings a mental toughness to Georgia Tech that it lacked last year. He’s a winner, a big-time competitor and the veterans respect the freshman quite a bit. Jack is a fair comparison but I liken him to Sean Singletary, formerly of Virginia. Those two are ultimate fighters that happen to play basketball and both guys raise the level of play on the teams that they are on.

Also, what do you know about Shaka Smart's first 2010 commitment, Rob Brandenberg?

To be honest, I don’t know much about him. But don’t despair, I had to tap into the best guy in Ohio to find out. My man Brian Snow at Rivals.com likes him. He said Brandenberg is an athletic two guard that is at his best going to the rim. Snow called him a late bloomer that can a little bit of everything. Brandenburg is an under the radar guy who has his best basketball is ahead of him, Snow says.

Who is the next Josh Pastner, a young, energetic elite recruiter?

Great question. The first name that came to mind is Jerrance Howard at Illinois. The former Illini guard stepped right into the recruiter’s role for Bruce Weber and delivered immediately. In fact, the recruits that Howard helped land in 2009 (Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and Joseph Bertrand) should keep Illinois in the top three in the Big Ten for the next three or four years. Howard is well-respected in the state (one of the bed hoops hotbeds in the nation) and has Illinois back on the minds of the young players in the state.

If there was one rule you would like to change in college basketball what would it be?

I would open the spring period back up for evaluations for college coaches. April needs to be open. Moreover, it has to be open. Closing the all-too-important April to coaches made zero since. This year we have seen that. More staffs are behind the eight ball. More players are dragging out their recruitments, too. That isn’t a bad thing either. But having April open to coaches allows schools, coaches, parents and players to make more educated decisions regarding their futures. It is a shame that it is closed right now. I’m not exactly sure who is benefiting from the rule.

It was recently reported that Allen Payne from Cincinnati is scheduled to visit VCU later this month and he indicated they are currently his leading school (http://www.ohshoops.com/2009/09/payne-offers-up-favorite.html). What do you know about Payne and is he a good fit considering VCU may need more bigs?

The thing with Payne that I like and that dozens of coaches like his is versatility on the wing. He’s big enough where he can cause problems for teams on the outside and athletic enough to be a threat as a rebounder around the basket. He’d be a very good player if VCU can land one of the big men that they are actively recruiting. Payne could be an important commitment for Shaka Smart. Word is, however, that his recruitment could go anywhere and may not be a VCU lean.

Have a question regarding recruiting, high school hoops, college basketball, rankings, coaches or anything that relates hoops, ask away. National Hoops Report editor Justin Young will answer your submissions in next week's edition of The NHR Mailbag. To submit your question, email nationalhoopsreport@gmail.com, via Twitter, or in the comments section below.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

12 @ 12: Best basketball books


Want to get into the basketball mood now that football is in full swing? Pick up a book, dive into it and get your mind right for the upcoming season. Here are our 12 picks to read in today's edition of 12 @ 12.

1. Sole Influence by Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger – Arguably the best book regarding grassroots basketball, the stories behind the scene and the tall tales that used to go untold. It was the book that made me want to dive into the high school basketball and recruiting world. Now only if Sole Influence 2 were in the works. The stories are countless and the scandal is even bigger.

2. Big Game, Small World by Alexander Wolff – This is, without question, my favorite basketball book of all-time. It’s simplistic. It’s easy to read. It’s a journey. Wolff traveled the world and captured the way basketball is played, worshipped and respected in that community. Absolutely brilliant read.

3. My Losing Season by Pat Conroy – Every one loves winners. We worship them, we honor them and we want to read about them. But Conroy was a loser. At least in this amazing tale of his playing days at The Citadel. Like every great sports book, the message goes far beyond the game. The book is a great look at how to deal with adversity.

4. The Miracle of St. Anthony by Adrian Wojnarowski – Absolute gold and probably the best story ever told about a high school team and the dramas that follow. Wojnarowski dives deep into the world of St. Anthony basketball and the best high school basketball ever in Bob Hurley. There have been several documentaries that have captured the program but this book does it best. A must own, a must read (and a must read again and again).

5. Paddy on the Hardwood by Rus Bradbury – I love a good sleeper when talking about recruits. If you like books that are under the radar, pick this one up. Bradbury moved to Ireland to coach and to learn how to play the fiddle. His tales are well-written, detailed and intriguing.

6. Can I Keep My Jersey? by Paul Shirley – The former Iowa State big man has bounced across the globe to play basketball for a living. He kept his tales along the way and eventually published a book about his quest to play for money. His humor is dry and his stories are real. Getting to the NBA is the goal for most players. Staying there is an absolute dream. Shirley does a great job of painting the picture of what it is like to live the professional life.

7. Season on the Brink by John Feinstein – Many consider this the best sports book of all-time. It’s a good one, no doubt about it. Feinstein, one the best sports authors of all-time, spends a season with Bobby Knight. It is as close as you can get to the most opinionated coach in sport.

8. Raw Recruits by Alexander Wolff and Armen Keteyian – Before there was Sole Influence, there was Raw Recruits. The book was the first major publication to uncover Sonny Vaccaro and his role with grassroots basketball and high level (and high dollar) recruiting. Read it today and it almost seems G-rated.

9. Heaven is a Playground by Rick Telander – Before he became known as one of the top sports columnists in the country for the Chicago Sun-Times, Telander spent a summer in Brooklyn and played on the blacktops with the local kids. His book about that summer is a must own, must read and must re-read books regarding basketball out there. If you don’t read it at least once every other year, you should.

10. The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam – Prior to Feinstein’s book about Knight and Indiana, Halberstam spent a season with the 1979 Portland Trailblazers. Halberstam uncovers the life behind the team and eloquently describes how a professional team runs throughout a season.

11. The Last Amateurs by John Feinstein – You could argue that Feinstein’s work could capture all 12 spots. He does great work. This book is about a season in the Patriot League. His book is in the same concept of others on the list. But very much worth the read.

12. Birds, Dogs and Kangaroos: Life on the Back Roads of College Basketball by Rich Zvosec – I recently finished this book by Zvosec, a former Division I head coach at the low-major level, tells the tales of working at that level. College basketball isn’t always about what happens in Chapel Hill or Lexington or Lawrence or Westwood. The best stories usually come from tiny towns in middle America. Zvosec’s book is a great look at coaching at that level.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Incoming: SEC rookies ready to lead


Buckle up. The SEC just became a little more interesting. The upcoming season of basketball in the conference will have John Calipari, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Renardo Sidney (maybe), Kenny Boynton, Anthony Grant and Mark Fox on the sidelines for the first time.

Recruiting in the SEC started late with the new hires but boy are there some superstars coming to the league this year. In what will prove to be several years of wow moments in recruiting, the 2009 recruiting classes tipped things off in a big way.

RANKING THE CLASSES

1. Kentucky - You could make an argument that this incoming group of Wildcats is one of the best recruiting classes of all-time, at least on paper. John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins (pictured above) are lottery picks. Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton could be All-Americans in two years (or less).

2. Mississippi State - Assuming Renardo Sidney plays (and that is a big assumption right now), this class is scary. Sidney is a mega-talent when he is focused. John Riek is a project but his size (7-3) is game-changing. Guys like Shaunessy Smith and Wendell Lewis will help now and even more down the road.

3. Florida - Kenny Boynton is the gem of the class and with the influx of talent coming to Lexington, the Sunshine State star is overlooked. He’s a game-changer that should shine from day one. Erik Murphy bolsters the frontline.

4. Vanderbilt – The Commodores are only brining in one player. And boy is he a good one. John Jenkins could be the top scoring freshman in the league. He has NBA range and a knack for shining in the moment.

5. LSU - A lot to like with this two man class. Both Aaron Dotson and Eddie Ludwig are perfect for Trent Johnson’s system. The two are heady players that can pass and score. Dotson (see below) has a chance to be a stud.

6. Tennessee - Bruce Pearl and his staff didn’t need much in 2009 but they got enough. Kenny Hall is an ideal big man in the team’s up-tempo style. He has long term star potential in the system. Melvin Goins, a junior college transfer, will be an important bench player.

7. Arkansas - A lot of depth to work with for the Razorbacks. The team went for size and got it. Marshawn Powell should see the most time of the bunch right away. Junior college transfers Jemal Farmer and Delvon Johnson could be factors early, too.

8. Alabama - After missing the cut academically a year ago, Tony Mitchell is finally in Tuscaloosa. He was a top 50 player in the 2009 high school class. He is a big-time scorer. The junior college transfers – Charvez Davis and Chris Hines – could be asked to play significant roles this year.

9. South Carolina - Long term, Lakeem Jackson should be the star of the bunch. In the here and the now, don’t be surprised to see Steve Spinella as the team’s starting two guard. Ramon Galloway could be the SEC freshman sleeper though.

10. Ole Miss - The Rebels know how to find ‘em. Reginald Buckner, a Memphis native, will factor into the Rebels frontline rotation early and often. He’s a big, strong, athletic and versatile forward.

11. Auburn - The Tigers added players with good size at their respective positions as well as depth in the frontline. Earnest Ross and Andre Malone could develop into good scoring wings in the SEC.

12. Georgia - The two man class of DeMario Mayfield and Vincent Williams won’t strike fear into any team in the SEC. Both will likely be role players during their college careers.

SEC SUPERLATIVES
Best perimeter scorer: Kenny Boynton, Florida
Best low post scorer: DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky
Best passer: DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky
Best shooter: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Best rebounder: DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky
Best shot-blocker: John Riek, Mississippi State
Best defender: Kenny Boynton, Florida
Most versatile: Reginald Buckner, Ole Miss
Best basketball IQ: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Best pro prospect: John Wall, Kentucky
Best speed: John Wall, Kentucky
Best motor: John Wall, Kentucky
Best strength: Daniel Orton, Kentucky
Best leaper: Lakeem Jackson, South Carolina
Best toughness: Kenny Boynton, Florida
Best leader: Ben Eblen, Alabama
Impact player: John Wall, Kentucky
Biggest sleeper: Shaunessy Smith, Mississippi State
Sleeper class: LSU

THREE BOLD PREDICTIONS

1. The Kentucky kids will have the Wildcats in the Final Four. John Calipari has been in the headlines more than any college basketball coach since the Final Four. One of the reasons why is his tremendous first recruiting class at the University of Kentucky. He and his staff reeled in the nation’s top player, John Wall, and a host of other players that should not only play right away but should have this playing for the National Championship.

Wall could be the best player in college hoops this season. He’s certainly the best point guard in college hoops. There are some that even subscribe to the thought that Wall is better than Derrick Rose at this stage of the game.

DeMarcus Cousins was though to be the best high school player in the country as a junior. The Alabama native is a major talent and is one of the most skilled big men to come out of the high school ranks in some time. His impact should be equally important to UK as Wall.

Fellow big man Daniel Orton’s impact may not be as big right away but the Oklahoma native is a very important sign for the Wildcats. The Billy Gillespie holdover

Keep an eye on Eric Bledsoe. He’s too good to play second fiddle. His impact will be greater than people realize. He and Wall will play together and in the up-tempo style that UK will play. And the two could be the best backcourt in the country. And Bledsoe could be one of the elite guards in the nation by the season’s end, too.

Darnell Dodson and Jon Hood are sometimes lost in the big shadow cast by Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe and Orton.

2. LSU’s Aaron Dotson will be the steal of the class of 2009 recruits. There is a lot of star power entering the league (see Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, etc.) and it is easy to lose sight of some of the other players coming into the conference. Don’t lose sight on Dotson. He picked the perfect system and the perfect coach. Dotson’s skill set will have him on the floor early and often for the Tigers. His impact may not be eye-popping from a numerical standpoint as a rookie but over the course of time, Dotson will prove to be one of the best guards to join the SEC in the 2009 class.

3. Georgia transfer Gerald Robinson will be an all-conference level player for the Bulldogs. The former Tennessee State guard won’t play this season because of transfer rules. And that hurts in the here and now. What doesn’t hurt is Robinson’s amazing speed and athleticism. Robinson led TSU in scoring last year at 17.8 points a game. There is no reason to believe he can’t score the same amount of points a game. His addition will lay low this season simply because he is out of sight, out of mind.

BIGGEST COUP

When John Jenkins committed to nearby Vanderbilt, the pledge made a small splash on the national scene. Little did the hoops recruiting world know that the 6-foot-5 guard from Gallatin, a town just 40 minutes away from Vandy, could be the one of the top scorers entering SEC play as a rookie.

Jenkins is one of the deadliest scorers and shooters in all of college basketball, even as a rookie. He averaged 42.3 points a game as a senior in high school and ended his high school season about as good as any prep player nation wide.

Kevin Stallings and crew beat the nation to the punch on the local star and their efforts should pay off as Jenkins has an absolute star potential in the SEC.

BIGGEST MISSES

There is reason to believe that if Dennis Felton landed Derrick Favors, he would still be the head coach of the Bulldogs. Favors went to Georgia Tech instead and Felton was fired from Georgia two weeks later.

Kentucky freshman Eric Bledsoe was committed to Ole Miss for one day. The top 25 prospect made the call and pledged his services to the Rebels and as quick as he said yes, he reneged later that night.

Mississippi State is doing just fine in the frontline thanks to the addition of Renardo Sidney, John Riek and sleeper Wendell Lewis. But the Bulldogs had a legitimate shot at Houston big man Keith Gallon. His sister played on the women’s basketball team and MSU had the current Oklahoma freshman on campus a couple of times.

Rarely do Alabama natives leave the state. But Christian Watford left. The 6-foot-8 forward from the Birmingham area would have been a major score for either Alabama or Auburn. Both teams could have used an instant impact player on the low blocks.

Monday, September 14, 2009

12 @ 12: Wrapping up the weekend


Oh what a weekend. Big commitments. Big time events. Big time football. Monday’s 12 @ 12 covers all the bases.

1. Memphis scored a commitment from local star Joe Jackson (pictured) on Friday. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. He was going to Memphis from day one. Now pair him up with Will Barton, a fellow top 10 recruit in the class of 2010, and Josh Pastner has the deadliest duo of speed and scoring coming to his program next fall. Remember, Pastner was at Arizona for a good part of the Point Guard U years and won a National Championship with the litany of guards that all suited up in Tucson.

2. Great pick up for Herb Sendek and Arizona State last week when Keala King, a top 25 guard from L.A., pledged to the program. It made me wonder how many N.C. State fans are wishing they held their criticisms back when Sendek was in Raleigh. He’s a big-time coach and landing big time players in Tempe. Maybe a move is what it took. Maybe Sendek’s laid back personality meshes better with the West Coast kids. The Phoenix area is a huge sell to kids that play a winter sport. Whatever the case, Arizona State is reeling in big time talent and winning.

3. In other point guard commitment news, Phil Pressey announced he would be taking his game to Missouri. Love this commitment for the Tigers. He is perfect in Mike Anderson’s up-tempo style. Pressey will have to improve on the defensive end of the floor but he is quick, heady and has won everywhere he has played. The Tigers have been searching for a point guard like Pressey since Anderson took the job.

4. When Tony Bennett was announced as the new head coach at Virginia, nearly everyone in the college basketball world was surprised. The former Washington State coach won with under-recruited players in Pullman and proved himself as one of the game’s finest coaches. Now that he is at UVa, the need to land more talented players to fit his system was at an all-time high. Bennett took a step in the right direction with James Johnson. And Johnson is from San Diego. Johnson picked UVa over offers from Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

5. Had a very interesting conversation with a high-major assistant coach the other day about the state of recruiting in 2010. In a nutshell he said: “We are involved with a lot great players in 2010 and in year’s past, those players would have three to five schools on their list. But this year, we are leaving an in-home visit and there are still seven, eight, nine schools that are given their presentations. And we are in the middle of September now. We know we are good with some kids but we can’t help but ask just how good we are with him?” Think the time away from April is a good idea for the kids and the coaches?

6. That being said, anyone have a real read as to where these guys are going to go to college: Tobias Harris, Josh Selby, Roscoe Smith and Adrien Payne?

7. I’m very interested in seeing how Dequan Jones plays this year at Miami. He has big time athleticism and a big time ceiling as a player. The muscular 6-foot-6 wing barely played in conference play last year and with Jack McClinton no longer leading the way for Frank Haith, the opportunity is there. He could be the most improved player in the ACC this season.

8. Houston Yates guard Joseph Young committed to Providence last week. The news was not earth-shattering and barely received much attention on the national level. Then THIS came out. Young’s father, Michael, is a coach at the University of Houston and a former Phi Slamma Jamma player. Amazing quotes. Oh to be a fly on the wall for a dinner conversation at the Young house last week.

9. Patterson School head coach Chris Chaney will take a year off from prep school basketball, reports Fox Sports national basketball report Jeff Goodman. Chaney is a fine coach and has won more games than any coach in the prep school ranks since 2005. It will be interesting to see where he lands on his feet again.

10. Really enjoyed the Battle of the Classes event last weekend at the University of South Carolina. The day was only three games long. Nearly all of the top players from the Carolinas were at the event. Everything was well organized. The venue was perfect. I wish more events in the fall could be this good and this well organized.

11. I’ve never understood why kids have press conferences to announce their college decisions. The news always leaks prior to the big announcement or the news wasn’t that surprising to begin with.

12. The NFL season is here and it was a wild first weekend of action. College football wasn’t too shabby either. Here are my dozen non-basketball thoughts from the weekend:

A. What a game in Atlanta on Thursday night between Georgia Tech and Clemson. AJC college football maven Tony Barnhart said it best in a Tweet: “I was impressed with the way Georgia Tech started and finished. Teams that lose a 24-0 lead rarely hang tough and win.”

B. A lot has been made of the offensive genius of Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach. He’s a master of the spread and the Red Raiders are one of the hardest teams to prepare for. But why isn’t Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson talked about in the same regard? The triple option is like knocking over a beehive and then trying to figure out which bee you want to catch. Very, very tough to defend.

C. Jay Cutler spent the off-season complaining, whining and pushing his selfish agenda. On Sunday night, football karma was served up in a major way for Cutler.

D. Drew Brees says Arena Football is not dead.

E. Matt Barkley, Southern Cal’s Golden Boy freshman quarterback, went to Columbus, Ohio and helped lead his team to a huge 18-15 win over Ohio State. But running backs Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson and the Trojan offensive line deserve the most credit. Wow, what an effort on the road.

F. I wonder what time the Carolina Panthers called Jeff Garcia on Sunday afternoon.

G. Michigan is now in the top 25 because they beat Notre Dame? College football is turning into baseball. Nostalgia means too much in the here and the now.

H. It seemed like every game in the NFL had several big, physical hits that lead to big, physical football fights. Should be a great year on Sundays.

I. I have two requests for Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin. 1. Please stay away from the media for your team’s sake this week. 2. Please, please, please, please, please keep talking. You are the Don King of college football.

J. If I could play for one coach in college football, it would be Pete Carroll at Southern Cal.

K. If I could play for one coach in the NFL it would be Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons.

L. Best nugget from Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback (a column that I’ve clearly stolen the concept from for 12@12):
Well, I've got my (Michael) Jordan story. I was a 25-year-old college basketball writer at the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1982, covering the Final Four. North Carolina beat Georgetown in New Orleans, and Jordan, a freshman, made the winning shot from the left elbow in the final seconds.
The next morning, early, a few writers (I remember college friend Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer) went out to the lakefront airport in New Orleans to see the team before it jetted back to Chapel Hill. There, we spoke to James Worthy and Matt Doherty about winning the title, and off in the distance I noticed Jordan, who'd thrown down the winning shot nine hours earlier, in a coat and tie with a shirt about three neck sizes too big, with his big gym bag slung over his shoulder, carrying a film projector in his right hand and eight or nine canisters of film in his left hand. Yes, film. Those were the days of real film, not videotape. I said to Doherty: "Why is Jordan carrying all that stuff?" Doherty said, "The freshman always carries the film and the projector.''
Read that, college coach enablers.