Midnight Madness Recruiting Preview

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
Top-10 prospect Noah Vonleh recently reclassified to 2013. He'll be at Syracuse this weekend. (Nike)

Midnight Madness. The start of the college basketball season. The festivities, the fans, all the fun hoopla. And, of course, the biggest visit weekend of the recruiting calendar. Sure, most of the focus will be on college basketball squads beginning their quest for a national championship, but there are a ton of important recruiting goings-on this weekend.


Top-20 senior Wayne Selden will join star Aaron Gordon at Kansas this weekend. (Nike)

Kansas welcomes two five-star recruits

Bill Self already has two top-40 players in the fold for 2013 in Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene, and the Jayhawks picked up a point guard this week in Frank Mason. But Self is working hard to add some more to the recruiting class. This weekend, five-star prospects Aaron Gordon and Wayne Selden are heading to Lawrence, along with top-100 big man Joel Embiid (Frankamp will be there as well). Gordon has Washington and Arizona out front, but Kansas and California are making strong pushes. Selden has been relatively quiet lately, but he has several schools on his list.

Can Calipari do it again?

The past two weeks have been huge for Kentucky's 2013 class, receiving commitments from top-10 prospects Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and James Young. But John Calipari isn't done yet. This weekend, Big Blue Madness will play host to the four 2013 commits, plus underclassmen Trey Lyles, Cliff Alexander, Jaquan Lyle and Karl Towns. The key one, though, is top-50 big man Marcus Lee, who is down to California and Kentucky. Could be a great weekend in Lexington be the deciding factor?

Syracuse hosting Wale –- and some stud recruits

Last year, the Orange had Meek Mill as the musical guest and were able to get Nerlens Noel and Tyler Ennis on campus. This season, Ennis returns – as a 2013 commit. Moreover, Syracuse dipped back into the Maybach Music Group and pulled out D.C. rapper Wale for Friday's festivities. Plenty of recruits will be on campus, too. Rysheed Jordan is one of the best point guards available, and the Orange are right there for him. Noah Vonleh recently reclassified into 2013, and the top-10 prospect is heading to the Carrier Dome for a visit. B.J. Johnson and Chinoso Okoboh are also on official visits.

North Carolina looking to add to solid two-man class

It's been a quiet several months for North Carolina in the 2013 class, since Isaiah Hicks and Nate Britt both committed in 2011. The Tar Heels will be looking to add a third member, though, as top-50 targets Kennedy Meeks and Troy Williams will be in Chapel Hill this weekend. Hicks and Britt will be there to help convince them to become Tar Heels. 2014 stars Justin Jackson and Shelton Mitchell are also scheduled to make appearances.

Will North Carolina State keep the momentum rolling?

Taking Calipari out of the equation, no one is hotter on the recruiting circuit right now than Mark Gottfried. He picked up top-10 point guard Cat Barber and top-100 big man Kyle Washington in consecutive weekends, then nabbed top-50 juniors Caleb and Cody Martin earlier this week. Barber and the twins will be on campus this weekend, as will top-40 big man Dominic Woodson. Woodson is the key visitor, as the Wolfpack is strongly in the mix to get a commitment from him. Five-star junior Theo Pinson will also be in Raleigh this weekend.

Rollin' Deep

Jermaine Lawrence has become a primary target for St. John's; he will be on campus. (Nike)

St. John's is welcoming back Steve Lavin to the sideline after a one-year hiatus, and the Red Storm are coming strong for their Midnight Madness. Chiddy Bang is the musical guest, and several key recruits will be on campus. Five-star forward Jermaine Lawrence and top-30 junior Isaiah Whitehead are the headliners, but Bryce Aiken, Chris Atkinson, Adonis Delarosa, Jessie Govan, Devonte Green, Ethan Hubbard, Jon Severe, Mohamed Touray, Dimenscio Vaughn, Andre Walker, DaQuan Washington and Tremont Waters are also tripping to Jamaica.

San Diego State has the pieces to make a deep NCAA tournament run this season, but the Aztecs are also looking toward the future on Midnight Madness. Five-star scorer Isaac Hamilton will be the main visitor, along with commit Dakarai Allen. 2013 target D'Erryl Williams will also be in attendance, as will juniors Isaiah Bailey, Daniel Hamilton and Bear Henderson. 2015 studs Marcus LoVett and Tyler Dorsey will be visiting, too.

Last year it was DePaul that had a dozen underclassmen on campus; this year, Purdue is the Midwest team inviting a ton of visitors for Midnight Madness. Commits Byson Scott, Kendall Stephens and Basil Smotherman will all be on campus, while Hyron Edwards, Eron Gordon and Jordan Ash lead a long, long list of underclassmen.

Key Visitors

- Josh Pastner has reeled in one of the best recruiting classes in the country so far, and three of his four Memphis commits will be on campus this weekend. The big undecided visitor will be 2013 big man Austin Nichols, a local product who decided to take an unofficial to the Tigers.

- Four-star forward Tyler Roberson trimmed his list to six a couple of weeks ago, and Rutgers made the cut. The Scarlet Knights will make their pitch to Roberson this weekend when he is on campus. Kansas, SMU, Kentucky, Syracuse and Villanova are also pursuing him. Expect Mike Rice to get some underclassmen on campus as well.

Can Marquette continue to make a strong push for scoring guard JaJuan Johnson? (Nike)

- JaJuan Johnson is headed to Marquette this weekend, and he could be closing in on a decision in the next couple of weeks. Miami (Fla.), Alabama and Texas are also in the mix for the 6-foot-5 scorer. He will be joined on campus by 2014 prospects Paul White and L.J. Peak, plus 2015 star Diamond Stone.

- After missing out on the Harrison twins, Mark Turgeon has made a quick turnaround and is now focusing on point guard Roddy Peters, one of the best uncommitted players at his position. The Terrapins have long been in the mix for the local product, and will look to beat out Rutgers, Georgetown, Xavier and others. Phil Booth leads a host of Baltimore/D.C-area 2014 prospects who are expected on campus.

- Baylor has only one pledge in its 2013 class so far, but we know Scott Drew has a few tricks up his sleeve. This weekend, top-100 prospects Ish Wainright and Stevie Clark are the main visitors. Wainright is down to the Bears, Texas, Ohio State and St. John's, while Clark is looking at Oklahoma State, UCLA and Florida State, in addition to Baylor. 2014 stars Emmanuel Mudiay and Justise Winslow, along with 2015 studs Elijah Thomas and King McClure, could also make appearances.

- Seton Hall will play host to a few key 2013 prospects in top-100 big man Austin Colbert, as well as guards Jevon Thomas and Isaiah Lewis. Moreover, five-star junior Dwayne Morgan is heading to South Orange for an unofficial trip.

- Ed Cooley has done a great job on the recruiting trail since getting to Providence, nabbing five-star guards Kris Dunn and Ricky Ledo in the 2012 class. For the 2013 group, he's made former Penn State commit Brandon Austin a primary target. Austin will be on campus this weekend, along with former Cincinnati pledge Ron Patterson.

- Other noteworthy trips: Jelan Kendrick (UNLV); Bo Zeigler (South Florida); Sterling Brown (SMU); Malik Newman (Mississippi State); JaQuan Newton, Marcus Derrickson, Franklin Howard (Georgetown); Rashad Vaughn (Minnesota); Anton Beard, Devin Booker (Missouri).

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