The summer live period begins in a few weeks, and several competing narratives emerged during the spring that will provide context for what transpires next.
Schools that already boast top rising senior commitments greedily seek even more robust talent, and those on the outside increasingly will become worried, with desperation approaching just around the corner. Read story
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Top-20 junior Theo Pinson committed to North Carolina over co-finalists Indiana, Georgetown and Louisville. The 6-6 WF at High Point (NC) Wesleyan announced at a school ceremony for Roy Williams’ Tar Heels and will give UNC its third blue-chip commitment. Pinson competes for CP3 on the Nike-backed EYBL circuit and has been a steady, highly effective national presence for three years.
Though not a great shooter, Pinson is a terrific run/jump athlete who excels as a transition scorer and as a wing defender. He’s also a very talented passer who does an excellent job setting up teammates for easy buckets. He plays with a high energy level and has been a consistent winner at the prep level. Read story
Kansas signed the nation’s top prep prospect, gaining a dramatic victory for No. 1 senior Andrew Wiggins. A 6-7 wing at Huntington (WV) Prep, Wiggins announced for the Jayhawks over Florida State, North Carolina and Kentucky.
Wiggins initially belonged to the Class of 2014, but he moved forward and thus will join KU for the 2013-14 season. No one expects him to stay on campus for more than one season, but he could become a superstar immediately and depart with an eternal legacy. Wiggins is a sensational athlete with a streaky jump shot but more than enough facets to dominate even when he isn’t shooting well. He’s also potentially an elite defender — always important for Bill Self — and can guard multiple positions. Read story
Duke landed its first junior commitment, getting the nod from 6-3 WG Grayson Allen of Jacksonville (FL) Providence. A very good jump shooter with above-average athleticism, Allen had drawn more than a dozen high-major offers and enjoyed an increasing reputation among college coaches. He impressed tremendously during his junior season and is playing this spring and summer on the EYBL circuit with the Southern Stampede.
Allen is a pure wing guard, not a wing forward and not a combo guard. Thus, at Duke his defensive role will be limited while he slots as one of the Devils’ ever-threatening perimeter shooters. He’ll certainly face intense competition for playing time but possesses top-50 talent, at worst. Read story
It's that time of year for our annual report: Life After March Madness. We’ve once again examined each of the final 16 teams in this year’s tournament while providing insight with our Recruiting Power Index, which projects their chances of making another deep postseason run.
We’ve also tracked the numerous coaching changes that have added to the twists and turns in college basketball since the end of the season, and readers should delight in our look at some Class of 2013 prospects who are likely to shock fans with their own exploits in seasons to come. Read story
Rysheed Jordan made his pick, choosing St. John’s over co-finalists UCLA and Temple. A 6-3 PG from Philadelphia, the blue-chip senior impressed us a great deal during this past season and should become an immediate factor for the Red Storm. He’s tall, reasonably well-built and a tremendous driver who excels at twisting and finishing in traffic.
Jordan also is a sure dribbler and talented passer, even if he has a tendency to become wild and force attempts that don’t exist. The other big question he must address is his jump shot, which has improved but still is not a consistent component of his game. Nevertheless, his ability to create off the bounce may vault him into our final national 20. Read story
The McDonald’s All-American Game didn’t scintillate in terms of providing a realistic basketball exhibition, but fans did enjoy the opportunity the watch players for the first time, in many cases, and certainly for the first time surrounded by their elite peers.
The West defeated the East 110-99, and Aaron Gordon led the way with 24 points and eight rebounds. Gordon made several different splashes during the week, announcing for Arizona and giving the Wildcats yet another frontcourt stud around which to build a title-contending squad. Read story
UNLV will lose star freshman Anthony Bennett to the NBA draft this summer, but the Runnin’ Rebels already have reloaded in the Class of 2014. Blue-chip junior Dwayne Morgan, a 6-7 WF at Baltimore (MD) St. Frances, announced for Dave Rice’s program and gives them a potential McDonald’s All-American in 2014.
Morgan is a talented shooter and overall scorer who has the body type to play a combo forward role as well. He’s certainly not as athletic as Bennett, but he possesses and admirable combination of physical tools and skills to contribute as a freshman. Read story
Julius Randle committed to Kentucky and gave the Wildcats an unprecedented sixth McDonald’s All-American recruit. John Calipari beat out finalists Kansas, Florida and Texas, after previously trimming several other iterations of his list. Randle is a national top-five talent who will give Kentucky an elite scorer both with his back to the basket and facing the rim.
Kentucky’s roster situation remains unknown. The ‘Cats now hold seven total commitments, and unlike last year, no one yet knows which players from this season’s disappointing squad will exit for the NBA. Additionally, UK remains a major player for No. 1 senior Andrew Wiggins, who potentially could expland the size of the size to eight. Read story
Georgetown landed a prized long-time target. Isaac Copeland, a 6-8 junior BF/WF at Charlottesville (VA) Miller, committed to the Hoyas over a host of other high-major schools. The slender forward is highly versatile, shooting accurately to three-point range while utilizing his overall intelligence and ball skills to be far more than a one-dimensional performer.
Copeland slots as more of a big forward defensively than he does as a wing, but he’s very springy off two feet with a running start and is fluid enough that potentially he could defend some wing forwards. He’ll need to get stronger and become a more consistent rebounder, but he’s a national talent and could crack the national top 35 by the end of this summer. Read story
Houston junior Justin Jackson committed to North Carolina, following an official visit that compelled him to make his decision. A 6-7 WF at Houston (TX) HCYA, Jackson chose UNC over Arizona — which he also visited officially — Texas A&M, Washington and others.
Jackson is a big-time scorer who excelled last spring and summer as an underclassman playing against 17-under competition on the Nike circuit. Though thin at 185 pounds and slightly stationary, he’s a very good perimeter shooter who’s comfortable anywhere from 8-21 feet. He shot threes very well for the Houston Hoops last year, yet he also posts big numbers using a deceptive post-up game as well as attacking the offensive glass. Read story
The McDonald’s All-American teams were announced in mid-February, and 24 of the country’s best seniors will make their way to Chicago for events that will culminate in the game itself on April 3.
As typically is the case, most of Prep Stars’ top 24 seniors earned invitations to the game. And a couple of the omissions — including top-five forward Julius Randle — occurred due to ineligibility. McDonald’s doesn’t invite those who missed their senior season (due to injury or whatever other factors) or those who are fifth-year prospects. Read story
Cincinnati won’t lack for star talent the next couple seasons. The Bearcats prevailed for their most significant target of the 2013 recruiting cycle, gaining the nod from Jermaine Lawrence. A 6-9 big forward at Sparta (NJ) John XXIII, Lawrence chose the Bearcats over co-finalists St. John’s, Syracuse and UNLV.
Athletically, Lawrence confronts few competitors. He’s very quick and explosive off the floor, thus making him a very effective finisher, rebounder and shotlblocker. He still must gain strength and add more offensive polish — he can score facing the basket but doesn’t yet do so consistently — and he’s less battle-tested against fellow elites than most other top-25 prospects. Read story
Top-10 junior point guard Joel Berry has made his collegiate choice. The 6-0 floor general at Orlando (FL) Lake Highland committed to North Carolina shortly following his official visit to Chapel Hill. Many believed early that the Tar Heels held a lead, and Roy Williams was able to close the show prior to the spring evaluation period.
Berry also had drawn offers from Florida, Miami, Kansas, Florida State and others, and for good reason. He’s a big-time athlete who scores prolifically if a fullcourt setting and is a capable, if streaky, jump shooter as well. Because he’s stronger than most players in his class, he also should arrive to UNC as a superior defender to most freshmen. Read story
Kentucky’s legendary recruiting class became a little more legendary. The Wildcats earned a commitment from top-15 senior Dakari Johnson, a 6-10 C at Montverde (FL) Academy. In addition to the Wildcats, Johnson’s finalists included Georgetown and Syracuse.
Johnson toured the travel circuit last summer as a prospective rising junior (Class of 2014). Like Andrew Wiggins and Noah Vonleh, however, he altered his classification forward and thus helped strengthen a senior class that already ranked among the most loaded in recent memory. Read story
CHRIS MCCULLOUGH: VIDEO PACKAGE
This Syracuse-bound junior is the highest-ranked prospect in his class to have committed
LERON BLACK: VIDEO PACKAGE
Now uncommitted, the junior big man is drawing heavy national interest
JERMAINE LAWRENCE: VIDEO PACKAGE
A range of East and West comprise Lawrence's list of finalists
PARKER CHOOSES BLUE DEVILS
The nation’s No. 2 senior is off the board. Jabari Parker, a 6-8 combo forward at Chicago (IL) Simeon, committed to Duke over finalists Michigan State, Florida, Stanford and BYU. The sensational scorer at one time appeared headed for a spring decision, but fall visits with the Blue Devils carried the day and now Duke has perhaps its next superstar.
Parker is natural scorer. His pull-up jump shot is one of the most unstoppable weapons in high school basketball, and he has easy three-point range. At 6-8, 225 pounds, he’s also a strong driver and uses his body to punish defenders going to the rim. His dribbling, passing and rebounding are superb as well, and all in all he’s an easy player to spot as an elite talent. Read story
PARKER SETS DECISION DATE
No. 2 senior Jabari Parker will announce the winner on December 20. The near-super 6-8 WF/BF at Chicago (IL) Simeon will choose from between Duke, Michigan State, Florida, Stanford and BYU. Parker’s father, Sonny, told USA Today that he believes his son will chose the Blue Devils — which appeared to generate momentum during the fall — or Spartans.
Parker is an elite scorer who’s likely to become a star at whichever campus he chooses. Read story
RYSHEED JORDAN: VIDEO PACKAGE
A blend of East Coast and national programs remain involved for the blue-chip senior
AQUILLE CARR: VIDEO PACKAGE
Although his ultimate signing remains unclear, this exciting guard could pack the stands at SHU
ISAAC HAMILTON: VIDEO PACKAGE
Very rarely does a mid-major such as UTEP get a prep All-American
TOWNS MAKES TWO BIG DECISIONS
Kentucky received a commitment from arguably the nation’s top sophomore — sort of. The ‘Cats won out for Karl Towns, a 6-11 BF at Metuchan (NJ) St. Joseph. We rank Towns No. 2 in the Class of 2015, and clearly he’s a big-time talent who had attracted widespread high-major interest.
But not only will Towns suit up for the Wildcats, he’ll do so one year early. Following a recent trend, he will re-classify forward and thus join the 2014 class. That means he’ll tour next summer with other rising seniors such as Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones. Read story
KEITH FRAZIER: VIDEO PACKAGE
Frazier ranks among the most gifted unsigned senior prospects
TROCHA SIGNS WITH AGGIES
Although the news mostly skirted by newspapers, Texas A&M added borderline top-100 senior Tony Trocha to its 2013 class. A 6-10 C at Houston (TX) St. Thomas, Trocha originally hails from Colombia and will be one of few college basketball players to emerge from that country.
He’s thin but does possess impressive long-term potential. We like Trocha as a three- or four-year contributor who could end up playing professionally if he can enhance his offensive tools. The Aggies haven’t put together a star-studded class, but they hope players under the radar such as Trocha will provide some pleasant surprises as they go forward. Read story
N.C. State, North Carolina and Syracuse — all future ACC programs — made leaps among our top-ranked classes, as all three earned top-75 signatures during the signing period. That said, the initial top five classes is unchanged after the handful of top players to commit. Otherwise, the other big names atop the class that remain unsigned will wait until later this season or next spring to announce their collegiate choice.
If you’ve followed recruiting at all during the past several years, you’ll know already to expect Kentucky holding down the top spot. The Wildcats continue their unabashed recruiting reign, gaining pledges from four top-25 prospects. Read story
DUKE RECRUITING: VIDEO PACKAGE
The Blue Devils will welcome a pair of blue-chip talents to campus next season
KENTUCKY RECRUITING: VIDEO PACKAGE
John Calipari once again inks the nation's top class
AARON GORDON: VIDEO PACKAGE
Top-10 senior BF will wait until spring
EMBIID, VONLEH ANNOUNCE
While some of the top undecided seniors may bypass the fall signing period and wait for the spring, a couple of major commitments have transpired over the past 48 hours. Kansas won out for intriguing center Joel Embiid, a relative hoops neophyte who demonstrates impressive promise as a shotblocker and versatile scorer.
We watched Embiid at this fall’s Nike Team Florida workout, and he easily was the top senior prospect to attend the event. He’s difficult to rank because it’s his potential, rather than his current production, that make him a potentially big-time talent. We tend to be more conservative on rankings for newcomers, but others already view him as a blue-chip insider. Read story
JABARI PARKER: VIDEO PACKAGE
Michigan State, Duke, Florida, Stanford and BYU are battling it out
AROUND THE HORN
No. 2 senior Jabari Parker cut his list to five: Michigan State, Duke, Florida, Stanford and BYU. The Chicago forward has been the most celebrated prospect in the Class of 2013 and resided as our choice for No. 1 prior to Andrew Wiggins' re-classification.
Many have speculated that the Spartans will be difficult to beat. They enjoy a proximity advantage over their co-finalists, and MSU has pursued him avidly for years. That said, following Parker's official visit to Durham, Chicago Sun-Times preps writer Michael O'Brien tweeted that the Blue Devils should be considered the clear leader. That bit of sparse information delivered by a third party is arguable, perhaps overstated, and obviously subject to change. Nevertheless, most scouts had nearly written Duke off a few months ago and they now must be considered a legitimate threat. Read story
ORANGE, TIGERS MAKE HUGE GAINS
With the fall signing period just over one week from now, Syracuse earned a leg up with the junior Class of 2014. The Orange triumphed for an early pledge from 6-8 BF Chris McCullough of Wolfeboro (NH) Brewster Academy.
McCullough boasts one of the most impressive upsides in the junior class. He’s a terrific run/jump athlete who utilizes his great quickness to terrorize opponents on the offensive glass. He also loves to explode for lob finishes and frequently outruns other big men in transition. His skill level requires polish, but for a young big man he already possesses the makings of inside-out offense. Read story
ANDREW WIGGINS: VIDEO PACKAGE
Re-classified senior is the new No. 1 in 2013
TIGERS CLAIM IN-STATE STAR
LSU gained its most significant addition and top 2013 priority, earning a pledge from blue-chip forward Jarell Martin. A 6-8 WF/BF at Baton Rouge (LA) Madison, Martin played his way into the national top 15 after a series of stirring performances at the Pangos All-American Camp this past June.
Although certainly tall and strong enough for the post, we prefer Martin as a combo forward due to his outstanding athleticism and fluidity on the wing. He does possess at least some perimeter skills as well, though in truth he may need to begin his collegiate career as an inside-out performer. Read story
WOODSON CHOOSES BEARS
Baylor has added its future interior anchor. The Bears topped co-finalist N.C. State and others for 6-9 C Dominic Woodson, a native of Texas spending his senior year at Huntington (WV) Prep. Woodson is a massive big man who thrives with his back to the basket, utilizing his body to establish low position and wielding an effective jump hook to loft in buckets.
He’s also a tough rebounder and surprisingly skilled interior passer. Where Woodson must improve is in the fullcourt game; his conditioning is sub-optimal and he can be outrun by more lithe athletes. He’s also not an explosive finisher, but plenty of big men — recently including Jared Sullinger and DeJuan Blair — have fit that description yet still proceeded to accumulate All-American accolades. Read story
WILLIAMS SELECTS INDIANA
After a topsy-turvy recruitment, Troy Williams has made his decision. The 6-6 WF at Mouth of Wilson (VA) Oak Hill committed to Indiana over Louisville, Arkansas and other high-major programs.
Back in the spring, North Carolina and Kentucky became Williams’ finalists. He planned to announce then but delayed his timeframe after poor play caused the Tar Heels and Wildcats to reconsider. As the weeks wore on, however, he improved his production and redrew interest from UNC, among others. Williams is a terrific run/jump athlete with great speed and explosive leaping ability. Read story
WIGGINS TO BECOME NEW NO. 1
A new sheriff has arrived. Andrew Wiggins, the nation’s top prospect regardless of class, has reclassified from 2014 to 2013 and will take over the top position in our upcoming fall rankings. The 6-6 WF from Canada at Huntington (WV) Prep was easily the most dominant performer on this year’s travel circuit.
By age, he actually belongs to the 2013 class, so the move doesn’t threaten him physically. He’s a sensational athlete who combines elite quickness and leaping ability with elite skills. He’s a prime three-point shooter who also can create for himself and others. Read story
ROZIER SHINES IN SCRIMMAGE
We attended the Oak Hill versus Hargrave Military Academy scrimmage in Virginia, and the two powerful programs both boast ample high-major talent.
On a court occupied by top-100 seniors such as Troy Williams, Donte Clark and Nate Britt, it was Hargrave’s Louisville-bound point guard Terry Rozier who stood out most. The strong and athletic guard has improved his scoring output and buried several long three-pointers. He’s also a capable finisher at the rim and handles and defends at the high-major level. He’d been a 2012 signee but required a year of prep school, and now he projects as an early contributor for the Cardinals. Read story
DOMINIC WOODSON: VIDEO PACKAGE
Top-40 center will choose either Baylor or N.C. State
LEE TO ADVANCE ON LEXINGTON
It’s almost a foregone conclusion at this point, isn’t it? Kentucky, which has notched arguably the most impressive recruiting run in college basketball history, won out for another big-time pledge. Marcus Lee, a 6-9 BF at Antioch (CA) Deer Valley, chose the Wildcats over co-finalist California as well as previous interest from Kansas, Duke, Indiana and others.
Lee emerged as one of the spring’s surprise stories. The Class of 2013 generally did not produce many national surprises during the travel season, and thus Lee stands out as a uniquity among his peers. Read story
JAYHAWKS PREVAIL FOR SELDEN; MORE NEWS
Kansas earned a commitment from top-25 senior guard Wayne Selden. The 6-4 WG/PG at Tilton (NH) School chose the Jayhawks over Syracuse, UCLA, Missouri, Ohio State and Florida. He originally was a 2014 prospect but re-classified forward and will join a collegiate program next fall.
Selden is a strong and versatile guard who competes fiercely on both ends of the court. Because he’s a combo guard, he either can be a huge point guard or average-size wing. He’s a pretty good jump shooter (set shot) who is comfortable knocking down jumpers off screens. Although not a dynamic handler or passer, he runs point capably and certainly defends it with vigor. Read story
AARON GORDON: VIDEO PACKAGE
Uncommitted big man is a top-five talent
RODDY PETERS: VIDEO PACKAGE
Maryland gets a big-time athlete and scorer
WILDCATS ADD ANOTHER STUD
Kentucky and John Calipari just can’t be stopped. The Wildcats topped Michigan State, Arizona, Kansas and others on Thursday, getting a commitment from elite senior James Young. The 6-6 WF at Troy (MI) High is a big-time shooter and southpaw athlete who can finish above the rim as the need arises.
Williams began his spring with a torrid set of performances at the EYBL opener in Minneapolis. At that point he said that he wanted an offer from Kentucky, and over the ensuing weeks the Wildcats obliged. Williams carried his stellar play through the summer and ranks as a national top 10 talen. He becomes the third such player — joining twin guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison — from the senior class headed to Lexington. Read story
JULIUS RANDLE: VIDEO PACKAGE
This elite Texan will pick from six schools
BIG EAST, ACC SCORE PLEDGES
Villanova gained its second commitment from the senior class, drawing a commitment from Josh Hart. A 6-5 WF/WG at Washington (DC) Sidwell Friends, Hart chose the Wildcats over Penn State, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Memphis and others.
Hart is an impressive all-around wing who should give the Wildcats a solid four-year player. He ranks No. 92 in the Class of 2013 and has been vetted against outstanding competition. While some Big East programs have landed higher-ranked prospects at the top of the class, Villanova has landed a pair of top-100 talents who will provide continuity. Hart joins another DC-area product, big forward Kris Jenkins, in the Wildcats’ class. Read story
SHEPHERD, MASON MAKE PICKS
TCU notched one of its most significant recruiting victories in years. The Horned Frogs, warming up to their new home in the Big 12, received a pledge from talented face-up big man Karviar Shepherd. The 6-9 BF at newly formed Dallas (TX) Prime Prep had interest from numerous high-majors and could become an All-Big 12 player.
Although not an elite run/jump athlete, Shepherd shoots well to 17 feet and is a fairly effective shotblocker. He’s also a steady rebounder who should improve in that area as he gains strength. Read story
KENTUCKY WINS OUT FOR HARRISONS
The John Calipari machine continues to crank out production at an extremely efficient rate. On Thursday night, Kentucky received commitments from top-five twin guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison. The twins announced their joint decision on national television and announced for the ‘Cats over Maryland and SMU.
Andrew is the pure point guard of the two. Standing 6-4, 200 pounds, he’s a sensational passer who is able to penetrate the lane thanks to very good athleticism and terrific strength, and his passing creatively is among the best in the senior class. His jump shot does require honing and that could become an issue going forward, but otherwise he should become a terrific player in Lexington. Read story
HARRISON TWINS: VIDEO PACKAGE
Andrew and Aaron Harrison will give Kentucky a potent scoring punch
HARRISONS READY; MORE DECISIONS
Don’t look now, but more and more names are falling from the ranks of the uncommitted. Not every player to commit over the past 48 hours has been a superstar, but recruiting classes are expanding each day and the tension is building for those who still haven’t made a college choice.
The biggest story actually isn’t a commitment at all, but rather a timeline. Elite Texas twin guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison will announce for Kentucky, Maryland or SMU on Thursday evening, giving some program potentially the most lethal backcourt in the country. Most expect UK or UMd to win out, with the Mustangs considered the darkhorse. Read story
JOEL EMBIID: VIDEO PACKAGE
Developing center will crack national top 100
THOMAS REOPENS; MORE NEWS
When juco sophomore guard Chris Thomas committed to Xavier, he was billed as a potential superstar for the Musketeers. Previously a top-10 prospect in the Class of 2013, Thomas pledged to XU early and detoured from the high school ranks to Chipola (FL) JC. But now heading into his 2012-13 campaign, Thomas has backed off his pledge and is back on the open market.
Since he announced his decision to reopen, opinions have been mixed about the magnitude of the blow to Xavier. Thomas unquestionably has sent up some red flags with offcourt (and oncourt) behavior, and thus some have taken the position that the Musketeers actually are catching a break. Read story
KEITH FRAZIER: VIDEO PACKAGE
Big-time slasher has athleticism to spare
MICKEY, JACKSON MAKE DECISIONS
Jordan Mickey is off the board. The 6-7 senior BF at Arlington (TX) Gracy chose LSU over Oklahoma State, Ohio State, SMU, Arkansas and others. A fleet and agile big man who possesses shooting range to the three-point stripe, Mickey is slightly small for a big man but compensates for that with excellent fullcourt speed and fluidity. He isn’t a finished product on offense but demonstrates enough flash to suggest that he could blossom at the next level.
Getting Mickey gives the Tigers a huge win. He’s a national top-50 prospect and gives the club someone to build around going forward. We view him as a two- or likely even three-year player before he realistically could jump to the NBA, and thus he should be able to exert a tremendous impact on the program. Read story
MIDWEEK PLEDGES BRING MORE HEAT
Now just six weeks from signing day, more and more commitments are coming through. This week, several high-majors have received pledges that address needs and enable them to focus on remaining priorities in advance of November.
Clearly, some prospects are tiring of the recruiting process. The calls — from coaches and media alike — are becoming more frequent and urgent. By committing now, some have decided to end the suspense in time to focus on their senior seasons. South Carolina picked up big-time athlete Desmond Ringer, a 6-8 BF at McDonough (GA) Eagles Landing. Read story
The dizzying rate of conference expansion fundamentally has reshaped college basketball. The switches and additions have created tantalizing new matchups, ripped traditional rivalries asunder and laid waste to any notion that conferences are geographical entities.
So what does it all mean? Readers can examine this season’s teams and form conclusions based on the current snapshot, but what are the historic implications? In the chart below we’ve listed what conferences have gained or lost since the latest wave of changes began in 2010. Read story
AKOY AGAU: VIDEO PACKAGE
Elite defender on his way to Louisville
PARKER STILL CLINGING TO TOP SPOT
Sports Illustrated didn’t bring relaxation to Jabari Parker’s summer. The venerable weekly magazine published an issue in May featuring Parker on the cover, describing him as “The Best High School Basketball Player Since LeBron James …”
For the record, we at Prep Stars never believed that assertion to hold any validity — several players could have made that claim since James graduated in 2003, including Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and others — but clearly the cover and accompanying article generated extensive water cooler talk. Even if the Chicago star ultimately falls short of James, people said, Parker surely must be by far the best talent in the Class of 2013. Read story
COMMITS GALORE! FALL CATCHES FIRE
No question it’s fall, and the commitments are accumulating rapidly. Monday brought a pledge from elite juco sophomore Chris Jones, who committed to Louisville. He’s an explosive point guard scorer who impressed us with his strength, aggression and shooting ability during his high school years, and he should become an outstanding player for Rick Pitino. The Cardinals have loaded up in the backcourt, getting Jones, NC WG Anton Gill and VA PG Terry Rozier.
Staying in the backcourt, elite VA PG Anthony Barber is headed to N.C. State. The super-quick and fast floor general is one of the country’s most dynamic scorers off the dribble, and he gives the Wolfpack numerically the most talented player presently committed to an ACC program. Read story
JEFFERSON PICKS WILDCATS
Arizona landed one of its top targets, getting hard-slashing 6-6 WF Rondae Jefferson from Chester (PA) High. Most experts considered Jefferson a long-time lean to Sean Miller’s program, but Syracuse, Temple, Florida, Rutgers and others also made a pitch.
A powerful and aggressive driver who enjoyed a superlative summer for Team Final on the Nike circuit, Jefferson now appears to be a likely McDonald’s All-American. He isn’t a great jump shooter and that’s the limiting factor he’ll have to address for college, but his effectiveness primarily is predicated about his ability to handle, drive, hit the glass and defend. He’s a big-time addition to U-A. Read story
STEVIE CLARK: VIDEO PACKAGE
COMMITS BEGIN IN EARNEST
And so it opens. The true onset of commitment season has begun, and the early week brings big news to several major programs. Duke picked up a key piece with KS WF Semi Ojeleye, a burly power wing who will give the Blue Devils a likely four-year contributor. Though not a vintage Duke shooter, Ojeleye competes on both ends of the court and is a powerful slasher.
He also could spend some time inside whenever Duke opts to go small. He currently ranks in the national top 50 and, if he improves his shooting and dribbling, could rise the charts even further. Read story
CLASS OF 2013: CONFERENCE SCORECARD
CA WF Jabari Bird's pledge to Cal this week awarded the Pac-12 its first top-25 commitment from the Class of 2013. As you can see from the chart below, the Big East has jumped ahead of the field despite the fact that three members of the conference (Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia) are departing. For this chart we listed schools by the conference in which they'll compete during the 2013-14 season, corresponding to when this year's prep seniors will be college freshmen.
The Big Ten also has performed well, particularly given that the conference features fewer teams than the larger Big East, SEC or ACC. The Pac-12 continues to struggle even with Bird's commitment, and those results recently have shown up on the court. Read story
BEARS GET ELITE WING
California had been considered the frontrunner for big-time 6-5 WF Jabari Bird, and the Bears got their man. Bird chose Cal over Oregon, Washington and Colorado after taking an official visit to Berkeley last weekend. He earned high praise during the summer by proving to be a clutch performer for the Oakland Soldiers, and at Cal he’ll be given the opportunity to compete for a big role in the offense from day one.
Bird does need to gain strength. He’s very slender and thus opponents can exploit him off the dribble or as offensive rebounders. He gives far more than he takes, however, launching sweet mid-range jump shots and blending in drives to keep foes honest. Read story
TEAM RECRUITING RANKINGS: EARLY LOOK
For any top program, recruiting is much easier when nationally elite prospects reside within the state. And when a program’s home address happens to fall within an elite talent hotbed like Florida, all the better. Billy Donovan’s program in Gainesville has capitalized immensely during his reign with the Gators, and Florida leads the nation thus far recruiting the senior class.
The Gators have accumulated three commitments, two of those residing in the national top 10. Big man Chris Walker boasts explosive athleticism and dazzling long-term potential, while point guard Kasey Hill also is sensationally quick and capable of enormous scoring performances. Read story
ANTHONY BARBER: VIDEO PACKAGE
CLARK PICKS TIGERS
Missouri made a key addition at point guard, getting 6-0 floor general Wes Clark from Romulus (MI) High. A stalwart on the travel circuit for The Family, Clark enjoyed a strong summer and parlayed his performances into national top-100 consideration. He began his spring as a regional target, blending a mix of mid- and high-major interest.
His collegiate arc shifted upward during the ensuing months, however, and he landed the offer he wanted from Missouri. The Tigers have had success with diminutive point guard Phil Pressey, and while Clark isn’t 5-8 he’s still on the shorter side for a college floor general. Pressey will be a senior when Clark is a freshman, and he should make a strong challenge to become the starter during his sophomore season. Read story
KING'S DOMAIN HIS OWN BACK YARD
By far the most significant factor that determines success at Memphis is local recruiting. The Tigers typically go as their recruiting goes within the city, and that’s why the fanbase understandably is ecstatic about the commitment from Nick King.
King, a 6-7 WF at Memphis (TN) East, chose the Tigers over Tennessee, Texas, Vanderbilt and others. He’s an accurate southpaw jump shooter who also jumps very well off two feet, particularly when he gets a running start. He doesn’t boast a great first step and thus doesn’t create his offense as well as one would prefer, but he projects as a national top-35 prospect and should enjoy a fine career for Josh Pastner’s program. Read story
SOONERS GET A PAIR
Oklahoma has picked up a pair of pledges, both in-state prospects and part of Lon Kruger’s rebuilding effort in Norman. Jordan Woodard, a 6-0 PG at Edmond (OK) Memorial, chose the Sooners over Memphis and has competed on the Nike travel circuit and competed against strong high school foes.
He doesn’t boast an immense national reputation and has been vetted at the highest grassroots level and, as a bonus, gives the program an Oklahoma native to represent the state even more fully. Read story
ZENA EDOSOMWAN: VIDEO PACKAGE
ENNIS CHOOSES ORANGE
Syracuse gained its future point guard to lead the club into the ACC, getting a commitment from NJ PG Tyler Ennis. A big-time shooter with a solid head on his shoulders and loads of backcourt versatility, Ennis chose Syracuse over Louisville, Villanova, Illinois and many others. He helped spearhead the CIA Bounce attack and is one of the country’s best point guard shooters.
Ennis had been considered a long-time Syracuse lean, so his commitment arrived with less fanfare than typically is the case with McDonald’s-level prospects. He’ll soon lead his club into a new conference and a relatively period of instability within the program as fans adjust to their new surroundings, and his presence keeps the roster at a very talented level. Read story