Throughout the past week, there have been many great performances and match-ups at high school events such as Austin Rivers (#1 – Duke) and Bradley Beal (#6 – Florida) at the Jordan Brand Classic; there have been numerous developing stories such as where Oklahoma is on Perry Ellis’ (#20) list and what Greg Whittington’s (Georgetown) impact on Otto Porter’s (Georgetown) commitment to Georgetown will be; there’s been a key commitment which will make a big impact on the ACC; the New York Times did an interesting article linking Facebook and recruiting; a West Virginia commit joined the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard; and much more.
What We Learned
The Best SG in the Class of 2011. Going into the Jordan Brand Classic on Saturday night you knew that the battle between Rivers and Beal would be the primary match-up to watch. Both of these guys are great scorers and can hit shots from anywhere on the floor. They also have excellent three-point range and finish well above the rim. In this game, Rivers got the best of Beal as he finished with 16 points, six rebounds and four steals (the steals being very impessive due to the lack of defense in all-star games) whereas Beal had 15 points and eight rebounds. Neither player shot the ball very well, combining for 11-32 shooting from the field and 1-8 shooting from the three-point line. However, the bad three-point percentage is in large part due to both guys taking very long threes that they wouldn’t normally take in a serious game. Look for these two guys to be two of the best scorers in college basketball starting next season.
Perry Ellis Likely Not Oklahoma-Bound. From what Fonda Ellis, Perry Ellis’ mom, told me (see full quotes from her in the “What They’re Saying” Section, below), it seems as though Oklahoma is losing ground in the Ellis sweepstakes (#20). This loss of interest looks to primarily be a result of the Sooners’ coaching change from Jeff Capel to former UNLV head coach Lon Kruger. Although Kruger said in a phone call to Ellis last week that he was still the Sooners’ top priority and that he wanted him to take an official visit to the OU campus, Ellis will have to get used to an entirely new coaching staff there. Ellis is also considering Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Memphis and Wichita State and told me in an interview last month that he’s looking to “be comfortable, have a good relationship with the coach and be in a system I like.”
Greg Whittington and Otto Porter’s Commitments. According to what Greg Whittington (Georgetown) told me Sunday after The Capital Classic, he is the one who got Otto Porter (#40 – Georgetown) to become a Hoya this past week (see full quotes from Whittington in the “What They’re Saying” Section, below). Whittington was able to convince Porter to commit to Georgetown due to the conference they’ll be in, among many other things. However, one thing that seemed to really help the Hoyas was the coaching change at Missouri since the Tigers were believed to have been the frontrunners. According to an ESPN source, the new staff at Missouri did not even have a chance to meet with Porter and his family before Porter made his decision to attend GU. Porter was a big-time pickup for the Hoyas since he is very long and has one of the best mid-range games in his class. He is a match-up problem for almost everyone he faces due to his height and he rebounds the ball and runs the floor well too. He is also good on the defensive end on the floor and is a solid ball-handler. Porter needs to improve on his strength more than anything else but his all-around game is solid and he should make a positive impact at Georgetown next year.
What You Missed
Power Forwards Dominated Jordan Brand Classic. Anthony Davis (#4 – Kentucky) and James McAdoo (#7 – North Carolina) were the co-MVPs in the 10th annual Jordan Brand Classic Saturday with Davis recording 29 points (second highest in event history to LeBron James’ 34 points) on 13-15 shooting from the field and 11 rebounds, and McAdoo tallying 26 points on 10-16 shooting from the field and 14 rebounds. Davis also added four blocks and McAdoo hit the game-clinching free throws with 1.6 seconds left which gave the East a 113-109 victory over the West. Both players ran the floor well and were able to knock down the perimeter shot. Although Davis had the better overall game, McAdoo was more impressive since he showed the ability to not only score in the paint, but he also made several nice mid-range jumpers and multiple three-pointers which showed off his range. Both showed good court vision and passing skills as well as an ability to make the pass in transition or out of the low post when double-teamed. Kyle Wiltjer (#26 – Kentucky) also brought back his sky hook from the McDonald’s game to this event and Johnny O’Bryant (#28 – LSU) consistently knocked down a turn-around jumper that will be deadly if he adds other moves to his arsenal.
ESPN’s Mr. Basketball Recipients Announced. McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic participant Michael Gilchrist (#2 – Kentucky), junior All-American Championship participant Tony Parker (#15), sophomore Jabari Parker and freshman Dakari Johnson won the 2010-11 ESPN RISE Mr. Basketball USA awards for their respective classes Thursday for both individual and team success. For the class of 2011, Gilchrist barely edged out Rivers and Beal by one vote each because of his MVP-winning performance in the McDonald’s game and leading his high school, St. Patrick, to a #2 ranking in the final Fab 50. Gilchrist’s leadership role and the fact that he never took a possession off were two other key factors in the selection process, according to ESPN RISE Senior Editor Ronnie Flores. As for Tony Parker, the fact that he won his third consecutive Georgia Class AAAA state championship and led Miller Grove to a #6 ranking in the final Fab 50 proved to be why he won the award over last year’s sophomore selection, Ellis, and All-American Championship participant Shabazz Muhammad (#5). Jabari Parker also won the award due to Simeon’s second consecutive Class 4A Illinois state title and Johnson was picked due to his good performances against other top prospects and key role in St. Patrick’s 26-1 season.
Facebook and Recruiting. The New York Times published a very interesting article Sunday about how many fans use social media networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to try to lure big-time prospects to their favorite schools. The article pointed out that the NCAA banned colleges from interacting with recruits via wall post on Facebook in 2007 and, even if a fan is acting as an individual and not a booster, that fan is not permitted to contact a recruit for the purpose of enticing him to attend a particular university. This rule has been violated many times without a lot of fans even knowing it’s illegal and as an example can still be seen on DeAndre Daniels’ (#24) Facebook fan page. According to the NCAA, the burden of monitoring and regulating the sites falls on the colleges themselves. The article cited a couple of examples of when colleges reached out to creators of Facebook pages solely created in order to entice players to commit to a particular university, such as when Duke’s compliance office asked the creator of the John Wall Come to Duke! group on Facebook to cease and desist and when Syracuse’s compliance office posted a note on Supporters for DaJuan Coleman to Stay in Syracuse‘s wall asking that it be shut down. However, college officials argue that there is no practical way to comprehensively monitor an instantaneous medium like Facebook to ensure NCAA compliance. It will be interesting to see whether a university will get punished for a Facebook-related violation and whether fans will continue to create groups such as those previously mentioned.
Desmond Hubert is a Tar Heel. North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams got a very good pick-up in Class of 2011 center Desmond Hubert this week since he both addressed a pressing need (frontcourt depth) and also got a talented player. “When I was making my decision I took basketball out of the equation,” said Hubert after The Capital Classic, “and I thought which school would I feel more comfortable at if I wasn’t playing basketball and it was North Carolina.” Hubert added, “I just wanted to get it done with. I had a good idea of what was what and I wanted to make my decision before this game.” Hubert took an official visit to North Carolina this past weekend and also said he enjoyed it but wanted to wait a few days before he made his decision. Hubert is a defensive-oriented big-man who is a good rebounder and shotblocker. He has nice length and is able to provide good back-side defense and boxes out really well. Hubert also runs the floor well and is very mobile which will allow him to fit right into Roy Williams’ uptempo system. However, he needs to become much better on the offensive end as his skills are very undeveloped there. Getting stronger is another thing he can work on as that will certainly help him when he battles against other bigs.
Gary Williams Misses Out on a Big Opportunity. Whereas Roy Williams had a great week with the commitment of Hubert, Maryland head coach Gary Williams was on the losing side of things as he failed to lure a big-time player in to replace Jordan Williams who is likely entering the 2011 NBA Draft. Gary Williams already has a solid class going between Nick Faust (#37), Sterling Gibbs and Martin Breunig. However, this would have really helped Maryland out in the frontcourt and would have set them up as a very young team with a lot of talent. Although the Terps should still look forward to watching Faust light up the Comcast Center next year, they would have also liked to see an athletic center who runs the floor well and provides a great defensive presence.
Your Seven-Day All-Americans
Jabarie Hinds, West Virginia, Point Guard – Hinds joined a group featuring guys like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard by winning the MVP award at the Capital Classic. Hinds scored the first five points of the game for the United States All-Stars and had 19 points on 9-13 shooting from the field while adding five rebounds. He was consistently able to create his own shot as his quick first step constantly got him by his defender. Once by his defender, he had the ability to finish in the lane, hit the mid-range jumper or hit an open teammate around the basket or out on the perimeter. He also exhibited good ball-handling skills against tight defense and played good defense by forcing turnovers which ended up being easy transition points for his team.
Devin Coleman, Clemson, Shooting Guard – Coleman also came up big for the United States All-Stars in The Capital Classic as he tied Hinds for a game-high 19 points including 3-7 from behind the arc and an eight-point run by himself that gave the United States squad an early 21-12 lead, a lead which they never relinquished. He made the defense pay whenever they gave him space to get off a three-point shot as he didn’t let any opportunities go to waste. Coleman also moved well without the ball and was able to create shots for himself whether he had the ball or off it. His defense was solid as well as he forced two turnovers and he got involved in many parts of the game by dishing out an assist in transition and crashing the boards on both ends of the floor.
Dezmine Wells, Xavier, Small Forward – Wells had a great game in the Jordan Brand Classic regional game as he finished with 21 points on 8-14 shooting from the field. He knocked down shots from all over the court whether it was the mid-range game or out on the perimeter. He also scored whenever he got into the lane and made the most of transition opportunities by converting on a lot of them. Wells played good defense too since he was able to use his athleticism and strength to keep his opponent in front of him and out of the lane. He simply was able to get to the basket consistently and used his slashing abilities to his advantage.
Joseph Uchebo, Undecided, Power Forward – Uchebo was the star player in the Jordan Brand Classic regional game as the seven-footer who was recently released from N.C. State recorded 21 points and 13 rebounds. He also had two blocked shots and was a defensive presence for the East Team as they defeated the West, 98-95. A big part of Uchebo’s success was his ability to knock down three throws (5-6) so if opposing players fouled him he was still able to earn points at the charity stripe. He displayed good hands down low on the block too and showed an agressive mentality in the post that college coaches love to see.
Jarnell Stokes, Undecided, Center– After an impressive showing at the Nike EYBL two weekends ago, Stokes again played well at the Real Deal in the Rock. The most impressive aspect of Stokes’ improved play was the fact that he went up against two top-10 prospects in Grant Jarrett (#8 – Arizona) and Kaleb Tarczewski (#6) and was able to beat the two elite big men in two completely different ways. Against Jarrett, he went right after him in the low post and used his strength to control the paint and get up easy shots. Against Tarczewski, he used his perimeter skills to create shots in the mid-range and even hit the three-ball. Stokes said last week at the Nike EYBL that he was very high on Tennessee before Bruce Pearl got fired, he then listed Arkansas, Duke, Memphis and North Carolina as the schools who have been contacting him recently.
Andrew Wiggins, Small Forward, Freshman – Wiggins is one of the top freshman in the country and again proved it at the Jordan Brand Classic international game. He finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks as he led the White Team to a 70-63 win. He also held the player he was guarding to just 6-19 shooting due to his great defense. Wiggins is an athletic wing-player who is an effective slasher and a great finisher whenever he gets to the rim. He also excels in transition and is hard to stop once he gets into the lane. He can get the perimeter shot as well and has shown range out to a few feet beyond the three-point line. The freshman lists Kentucky, Syracuse, Florida State, Duke and North Carolina among the top schools to contact his parents.
Chris Walker, Power Forward, Sophomore – Walker was the standout Saturday at the Real Deal in the Rock and is a great athlete with excellent length who has good hands and is a very good shot-blocker. Walker displayed the ability to score facing the basket and is a good enough ball-handler so he can take opponents out of the lane and take them off the dribble. He excels in transition and is a great finisher around the rim as well. Walker’s leader is currently Florida while he has visited Kentucky and is also interested in Florida State, Alabama, Kansas, Syracuse, Texas, Baylor, Duke and UConn, in that order.
Andre Drummond, Center, Junior – Drummond (#1) demonstrated a lot of talent in just a couple of moves at the Real Deal in the Rock this past weekend. However, he only displayed it on those few plays and was generally very inconsistent. Drummond is clearly the best player in the class of 2012 and has all the tools needed to become one of the best high school players we’ve seen. He has an unbelievable combination of size, athleticism, and skill that you rarely see and can be compared favorably to Amare Stoudemire. He has the low post game and rebounding ability to become an elite big man but also has the ball-handling, quickness and athleticism to excel on the perimeter (to see his full evaluation, click here). He is currently considering Connecticut, Duke, Georgetown, Kentucky and Pittsburgh and will make a huge impact from day one no matter where he goes.
Dusan Ristic, Center, Sophomore – The Serbian sophomore was another standout at the Jordan Brand Classic international game where he had 22 points and 12 rebounds for a black squad that fell to the white squad, 70-63. Ristic is a mobile big man who shows all the physical tools you want to see in a prep sophomore. He has good hands, runs the floor well and has great length and gets a lot of easy buckets off of offensive rebounds. Ristic has played internationally for FMP Zeleznik (Serbia) the last two years and will in all likelihood not go to college in the United States.
What They’re Saying
- Greg Whittington on Otto Porter’s commitment: “I’m the one that got Otto to come. I was talking to him and told him all about Georgetown and he said alright I’ll come. I told him Georgetown is a great place to be and you can’t go wrong with the Big East.”
- Fonda Ellis, Perry’s Mom, on Oklahoma’s chances: “It is hard for a coach to jump in on Perry now. Perry likes the comfort of knowing the coaches for three years plus so we will just see.”
- Junior Isaiah Austin (#2 – Baylor) on who he looks forward to playing with at Baylor: “I would say Quincy Miller and Duece Bello… they are great players and I can only imagine what the three of us can do on one court on the same team.” Austin on why he chose Baylor: “It’s a great program, the school has great academics and the coaches are great… they always check up on me whenever they can. They aren’t just worried about me as a basketball player but they care about the type of man I am too. It was also close to home and I always promised my mom she would be able to watch me play for as long as I played.”
- Tyrone Johnson (Villanova) on winning the ESPN RISE National High School Invitational (NHSI): “It was great, it is the best tournament I’ve ever played in. I was blessed to play on ESPN for three straight nights when most guys don’t even do it once. Getting the victory was awesome and to end my career winning the National Championship on TV was great.”
- Jabarie Hinds on winning The Capital Classic MVP award: “It feels great to be the MVP, it’s a great honor to come out here and win it. Everyone on the court is really good.”
A Look Ahead
My final class of 2011 recruit rankings will be released Tuesday so here are a few things to look out for:
The Battle for Number One. Austin Rivers (#1 – Duke) has held the title as the best prospect in the class of 2011 for about a year now but he has a very serious challenger in Anthony Davis (#4 – Kentucky). Davis has really come on strong in the last month by being the best player at both the McDonald’s All-American game and the Jordan Brand Classic as well as playing well at the Nike Hoop Summit. Davis’ transformation from an unknown 6’2 guard to a highly touted 6’10 power forward is very rare and he is one of the most versatile players in the class because of it. His physical tools are unmatched in the class of 2011 but Rivers’ scoring ability and killer instinct is also unmatched. While only one player can be number one, both will be great players in the future.
The Emergence of Khem Birch. Although Khem Birch (#14 – Pittsburgh) is already ranked in the top-15, moving even a few spots up is impressive due to all of the elite talent at the top of the class. He has shown an improved set of scoring moves in the post and is still a dominant rebounder and shotblocker on both ends of the floor. He also runs the court really well and finishes around the rim like few others in the class do. I’ve always seen Birch as a defensive player first but his late offensive surge is showing everyone that he can get it done on both ends. A couple of areas he can get better at include his mid-range game and his strength but he will be an impact player for the Panthers from day one.
Big Movers. Quinn Cook (#23 – Duke), Otto Porter (#40 – Georgetown) and Sir Dominic Pointer (#46 – St. John’s) will be a few others moving up in the rankings but someone else will move up more in the rankings than anyone else by a long shot. This mystery man has had solid performances in various all-star games but has shown a lot of potential between his size and athleticism. He has great physical tools and has shown an improved skill set which isn’t surprising due to his great work ethic. Make sure you check out the new and final class of 2011 rankings to see who this mystery man is and where your favorite players will be ranked.