From another recruiting scandal to new developments on an old recruiting scandal, this week has been full of news and headlines in the high school basketball world and also includes the best class of 2012 guard in the country de-committing. There have been several updates as well on top prospects from sophomores to seniors regarding their favorite schools and numerous guys have continued to step up their performances throughout the AAU circuit. Let’s take a deeper look…
What We Learned
Louisville Loses Purvis. In a somewhat expected move, the best Class of 2012 guard in the country, shooting guard Rodney Purvis (#7), backed out of his commitment to Louisville after assistant coach Tim Fuller left to take a job at Missouri. However, Louisville has brought in a new assistant coach, Kevin Keatts, who has coached many guys from Purvis’ AAU team and has done well recruiting in the Raleigh area, Purvis’ hometown. Before he chose the Cardinals, Purvis considered Duke, Kentucky, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Xavier, among others, but has already come out with a new list featuring Duke and Kentucky (again), Louisville (still), and North Carolina State. North Carolina and Missouri are also expected to jump in because Purvis is an RTP native and has obvious ties with the Tigers since their new assistant coach is the reason he chose the Cardinals orginally. Purvis said he’ll be looking for a stable coaching situation and a strong relationship with a staff going forward (to see the rest of Purvis’ comments, check out the “What They’re Saying” section below) and that he hasn’t ruled out Louisville. Another thing to note is that he hasn’t yet talked to new NC State head coach Mark Gottfried.
High School Powerhouse Oak Hill Adds Elite Shooting Guard. In a surprising move, Class of 2012 shooting guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (#32) will be transferring from North Central High School (IN) to powerhouse Oak Hill Academy (VA) for his senior season. Smith-Rivera will be joining an already talented squad that has junior wings Jordan Adams (#50) and Damien Wilson as well as center A.J. Hammons (#48). The news was confirmed Saturday night by his mother, Kelana Rivera, but shocked North Central head coach Doug Mitchell (see the “What They’re Saying” section below). Smith-Rivera was a three-year starter and played a key role in North Central’s 2010 state championship. He committed to Xavier last year but later de-committed and told us that Texas, Baylor, UCLA and Georgetown are his favorites right now. He also hasn’t made any public statements about this transfer but Rivera cited playing for Oak Hill head coach Steve Smith and the good opportunity to prepare for college as to why he’s doing so.
Tony Wroten, Jr., Involved In Academic Scandal. Just one week after the Kevin Ware and UCF recruiting scandal, the Seattle Times discovered that the Garfield High School (WA) athletic director in 2010, Jim Valiere, had given Class of 2011 point guard Tony Wroten Jr. (#14 – Washington) and another star athlete passing grades in a Spanish class that never existed. Wroten, Jr., and the other student, Valentino Coleman, told an investigator that Valiere did little more than occasionally quiz them in the hallway last year. The UW commitment needed the class since it requires two years of foreign language credits to enroll. Now you would think that after an investigation discovered this incident, the Athletic Director would try to keep his hands clean, but right after this he created a tiny three-person remedial Spanish class taught by a substitute teachers specifically for Wroten, Jr. This class was district-approved but keep in mind that Garfield High School is already overcrowded and is cutting teachers due to the economy like everyone else. Despite all of this controversy and scandal, if Wroten, Jr., passes his final semester of Spanish this school year, the situation will not affect his UW eligibility, school officials said.
What You Missed
NCAA Contacts UCF Amid Recruiting Scandal and Kevin Ware Update. After extensive reports last week about improper recruiting practices at Central Florida centering on Class of 2011 shooting guard Kevin Ware and others, the NCAA has contacted UCF by phone regarding the situation. The school is also conducting an internal investigation after reports regarding potential recruiting violations surfaced. On the other end of the spectrum, you have Ware who recently tweeted his new list of schools; among those he mentioned are: Georgia, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville and UCLA. He also said that Louisville and Georgia are his two front-runners but he needs to see which schools are still interested in him so he doesn’t know exactly where everything stands right now (to see more about his favorite schools, check out the “What They’re Saying” section below).
A Look at the Top Uncommitted Class of 2011 Prospects. With high school seniors having little time left to make their college selections, I took a look at the recruiting situation of a few of the top guys left on the board. Shooting guard Trevor Lacey (#37), the highest prospect left unsigned, took a visit to Kansas over the weekend and to Kentucky last week. He also planned on taking a visit to either Connecticut or North Carolina State but his father recently said that’s no longer going to happen. He also plans on making his decision on May 18and since he won’t visit UConn or NCSU, it seems as though his final four are Alabama, Auburn, Kansas and Kentucky. Small forward DeAndre Daniels is another big-time prospect discussed in the update and has cut his list down to Duke, Kansas and Texas. The Blue Devils jumped on Daniels late but they seem like the favorite since he de-committed from the Longhorns and hasn’t had much contact with them since. However, the Jayhawks were long considered his favorite before Duke came into the picture, in part because Bill Self is bringing in Christian Garrett, Daniels’ AAU teammate, as a preferred walk-on. There have been many conflicting reports regarding when he will commit but with the window closing he will be forced to make a decision soon.
Mid-Atlantic Region Hotbed of High School Talent. When you think of the University of Maryland, you don’t think of a school that reels in top recruits year after year. However, when you look at all of the talent in the mid-Atlantic region you could make a strong argument that it should. Considering just current high school seniors, there are more than ten guys in our top 50 from Maryland, New Jersey or Virginia. There are many teams to recruit from in both the high school game and AAU circuit whether it is 2011 ESPN RISE NHSI champion Montrose Christian (MD) or Team Takeover (DC), who won last year’s Nike EYBL Championship and is currently undefeated to start this summer (10-0). Maryland also has several other highly respected high schools in the region such as Oak Hill (VA), Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha, St. Patrick (NJ), and St. Anthony (NJ) to pull prospects from. So what does all of this mean? It means that former head coach Gary Williams has left a lot of talent untapped and that new coach Mark Turgeon will have considerable opportunities to bring in top level talent to College Park.
Missouri Picks Up 2013 Duo. After just one weekend, new Missouri head coach Frank Haith has picked up two big sophomore recruits in small forward Ishmail Wainright and power forward Tyrek Coger after both took unofficial visits over the weekend. Haith has wasted little time in using assistant coach Tim Fuller to bring in an elite Class of 2013 recruits and has done an excellent job since both Wainright and Coger could make immediate impacts on the program in a couple of years. It’s also no coincidence that the two committed together since they’ve been planning on attending the same college for a while (check out the “What They’re Saying” section below for more on this). Coger knows Class of 2012 shooting guard Rodney Purvis (#7) as well, so he may have a new target to convince to sign with Missouri.
Calipari Loses Out on Another Duo. Kentucky head coach John Calipari is certainly the best recruiter in the country, but he is starting to earn a niche in this weekly category. The Wildcat head man lost out on two more recruits in a single weekend as sophomores Tyrek Coger and Ishmail Wainright both committed to Missouri instead. Moving back a year to the Class of 2012, you can’t help but feel a little dubious about whether he can reel in the best recruiting class in the country for the third year in a row at Kentucky. Just going down the names of UK prospects, it seems as though center Andre Drummond (#1) is a Connecticut-lean, small forward Shabazz Muhammad (#3) is a toss-up, power forward Brandon Ashley (#4) likes several Pac-10 schools and center DaJuan Coleman (#5) favors his native Syracuse. However, it is John Calipari we’re talking about and the Wildcats have many other elite prospects considering them but don’t be surprised if Kentucky falls from its #1 perch in recruiting the Class of 2012.
You’re Seven-Day All-Americans
Mike Gesell, Undecided, Point Guard – Gesell is a trustworthy, fundamentally sound point guard who you can depend on to make smart decisions and take care of the ball. He has a great motor and will to win and has numerous intangibles that all coaches desire. He also showed the ability to knock down some jumpers around the floor inside the three-point arc. A Nebraska native, Gesell is currently considering Creighton, Drake, Iowa, Nebraska and Utah and was the 2011 state Gatorade Player of the Year. He is said to have a huge interest in Kansas and in Big 12 schools in general, although none have yet offered. However, it’s unlikely the Jayhawks will offer him.
Denzel Valentine, Michigan State, Shooting Guard – Valentine is one of the more versatile players in the Class of 2012 along with point guard Kyle Anderson (#22) and put it on display at the Spiece Run ‘N Slam. He has a rare combination of size, skill and basketball IQ and can play any backcourt position. He will provide the Spartans with many different lineup options since he can fit in practically anywhere. Valentine exhibited very good passing skills and length which opens up more passing lanes than usual since he can simply pass the ball over defenders. He had a prolific mid-range game as well and utilized it once he got by his first defender whether it was off a pick or through dribble-drive penetration.
Jameel McKay, Undecided, Small Forward – McKay is a tough, quick wing player who is consistently productive and showed over the weekend at the Spiece Run ‘N Slam that he can score no matter who he goes against. He simply out-toughed smaller defenders whereas against bigger defenders he used his quickness and speed to turn the corner and create space to drive. His recruitment is a mystery since his plans for next year are not yet set in stone. We don’t know whether he will go to prep school or community college in 2011-12 but wherever he goes expect him to develop some more strength.
Alex Poythress, Undecided, Power Forward – Poythress continued to dominate this weekend at the Wallace Prather Classic. He showed his versatility by scoring inside and out whether it was from outside the arc or finishing around the basket. He also excelled at slashing into the lane and exploiting holes in the defense which he consistently used to score. Poythress hit the mid-range jumper as well which brought his offensive arsenal full circle, allowing him to score from anywhere on the court. He was impressive crashing the glass on both ends of the court too. The Tennessee native is currently considering Florida, Memphis, Miami (FL), Tennessee and Vanderbilt and has additional offers from Cincinnati, Georgia and Louisville. However, look for him to start picking up offers from elite schools like Kentucky because he is rapidly moving up the Class of 2012 prospect rankings.
Adam Woodbury, Undecided, Center – Woodbury is a big-bodied lefty who you can nearly always count on to produce. He has a few different moves he can use to score on the low block and is a good finisher around the basket. He is also a very good rebounder and can hit the mid-range jumper with needed time and space which adds to his scoring arsenal. Woodbury has become more aggressive and showed less hesitation this weekend at the Spiece Run ‘N Slam when he had the ball around the rim. He used his size and length well on the defensive end too by making it hard for opponents to get position in the paint and by altering shots. The Iowa native is currently considering Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Virginia and holds additional offers from Colorado, Creighton, Drake, Harvard, Nevada and Utah.
Kasey Hill, Point Guard, Sophomore – Hill displayed excellent ball-handling and passing skills at the Sunshine Showdown and utlized the dribble to consistently get in the lane. He could also pass the ball well once he got into the paint since he was constantly penetrating and forcing the defense to collapse on him. However, what impressed me most about Hill was his excellent floater which he used to perfection this weekend as a means of scoring. The class of 2013 floor general currently holds offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Louisville, Providence and Syracuse and will pick up more elite offers as his recruitment continues.
JaQuan Lyle, Shooting Guard, Freshman – Lyle is a versatile freshman who can play any backcourt position similar to juniors Kyle Anderson (#22) and Denzel Valentine (Michigan State), and showed at the Spiece Run ‘N Slam this weekend that he is comfortable playing the role of a distributor or getting to the basket. He did a good job passing and displayed nice court vision and excelled in the mid-range game where he knocked down numerous short jumpers. Lyle has shown interest in Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Virginia Tech and Xavier and will definitely pick up more offers as he progresses during the summer.
Deonte Burton, Small Forward, Sophomore – Burton has a strong, long and imposing physique and great athleticism. He is an explosive player who excels in transition and is a great finisher around the rim. At the Spice Run ‘N Slam, he displayed good slashing skills and the ability to consistently get into the paint. He is also a solid shooter to a few feet inside the three-point line and can rebound and get his teammates involved. Burton is a prospect with a lot of potential due to his natural abilities and is a guy you certainly want to keep your eye on. He is currently interested in Clemson, Illinois, Marquette and Maryland with offers from everyone but the Golden Eagles.
Jabari Parker, Small Forward, Sophomore – Parker is one of the best prospects in the Class of 2013 and will certainly be in the argument for the top spot in the rankings. He is a great all-around prospect who has tremendous athleticism and puts in very good effort which results in him maximizing his potential. He showed a slight need to improve his lateral quickness and ball-handling skills at the Spiece Run ‘N Slam but at this point it’s just nitpicking since he is so talented. His top five schools right now include Kansas, Georgetown, Illinois, Michigan State and Washington.
What They’re Saying
Junior Rodney Purvis (#7) on de-committing from Louisville: “It was hard losing Tim Fuller and then having to focus. I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that I would open up my recruitment. I just want to develop a new relationship with the new staff. Louisville isn’t out or anything like that.”
Senior Kevin Ware on his favorite schools: “Louisville and Georgia are my [frontrunners]. I just have to talk to the coaches and see if they are still interested in me. I really don’t know where things stand.”
Sophomore standout Nerlens Noel on what he’s looking for in a college: “I’m looking for a good program with a good, loyal and honest coaching staff that can develop a player like myself to play at the next level in the pros.”
Central Florida Associate Director of Athletics for Communications Joe Hornstein on reports of potential recruiting violations: “We take the current allegations of NCAA violations very seriously. Our review of this matter began immediately upon receiving notice. It is premature for us to provide comment regarding these allegations at this time, without having the opportunity to thoroughly and completely review the facts. Following our review we will appropriately address this matter.”
Sophomore star Tyrek Coger on playing with fellow sophomore Ishmail Wainright: “We both said we wanted to play in college together… when we were in eighth grade… we wanted to play at the same college together, I was like, I’m down for it.”
North Central High School (IN) head coach Doug Mitchell on D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (#32) transferring: “This is the first I’ve heard of it. He hasn’t talked to me at all. It’s a complete surprise to me. I suppose I shouldn’t comment any further until I have a chance to talk to him.”
Sophomore stud Noah Vonleh on his favorite school: “Syracuse…I like them a lot. They’re one of my favorites right now.”
Junior Shabazz Muhammad (#3) on what UCLA has been telling him: “The UCLA staff said they could use me a lot in the halfcourt game they play. Coach Howland is a mastermind in the half court, and they said they’re going to try to get to running a lot this year.”
Sophomore sensation Chris Walker on Florida: “I like all of their coaching staff,” Walker said. “I have talked to Coach Donovan and Norm Roberts and they were really cool. They talk to me about how I would fit in the program and stuff like that. Some schools are recruiting me at the three and some at the four. Florida is recruiting me at the four.”
A Look Ahead
Class of 2013 Watchlist To Be Released. My class of 2013 watchlist of sophomores to look out for will be released later this week. There have been many great performances by underclassmen and many have deserved recognition so it’s about to time release who some of these young fellas are that are playing so well. The watchlist includes some of the highest profile recruits in the country and a Gatorade National Player of the Year winner from this past season. The AAU circuit has really helped us discover some previously unknown talent and we have witnessed spectacular games that seem like a senior’s stats. Make sure you check out our watchlist later this week so you know who the up-and-comers are in the world of high school hoops.