By Jeff Borzello
The NBPA Top 100 Camp wasn’t the first breakout opportunity for Alex Caruso.
That came a week earlier at the Pangos All-American Camp, when Caruso went from having just one offer from Sam Houston State to getting pursued by high-majors from coast to coast.
“I finally got in the public eye,” Caruso said. “The opportunity to go to Pangos and now [the NBA Camp], that was huge.”
The 6-foot-5 shooting guard from A&M Consolidated School (Texas) is not content just yet, either.
“Everybody will find out eventually,” he said.
Caruso is a surprisingly athletic wing who can do a little of everything. He excels with floaters and other non-traditional finishes in the lane, and is very good when he leaves his feet in traffic. Caruso can handle the ball well and is a solid passer. He has a good jump shot and is capable of dunking in the lane or off putbacks.
“I’m a competitor naturally, so I’m trying to get stronger,” Caruso said of what he is looking to improve.
He now holds offers from Texas A&M, Arizona State, Richmond, Northern Colorado.
The entire Pac-12 outside of Washington is showing interest to Caruso, along with Boston College, Georgia Tech and Texas Tech. He also took visits to Creighton and Pepperdine recently.
While he is not ready to name a favorite, Caruso gave some hints as to which schools are standing out.
“I’m from College Station, so I like A&M,” he said. “Arizona State, Colorado, I’m intrigued.”
Shaq Cleare continues long road from Bahamas
When Shaq Cleare came over from the Bahamas three years ago, he was a clean slate.
“That’s when I really started playing basketball. I mean, I played over there, but it wasn’t organized,” Cleare said. “I was starting from scratch.”
The 6-foot-9 big man from The Village School (Texas) is now one of the best centers in the country, being pursued by Maryland, Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Florida, Providence and Arizona.
“A place where I fit in,” he said of what will be factors in his decision. “A coach that is there all the time.”
Many have linked Cleare with Maryland, which he has stated in the past is his favorite. Now, though, he is open to other schools.
“They’re one of my favorites, at the same level as some others,” Cleare said. “I like all the schools.”
Elijah Macon looks outside of scoring
It’s not often you get a big man who doesn’t care about getting the ball, but that was the case with Elijah Macon at NBPA Camp.
“I’ve been working on rebounding and blocking shots," Macon said. "I’m not looking to score. You got people who want to score, be ball hogs. I’m not going to be that type of player.”
The former West Virginia commit is now listening to Miami (Fla.), Maryland, Memphis, Nebraska, South Florida, Florida State and Tennessee, in addition to the aforementioned Mountaineers.
He wants to visit Maryland and Miami this summer.
Marcus Hunt still hard at work
Despite increasing his recruitment in a major way this spring, Marcus Hunt is still anxious to get better.
“I wake up every morning at 6 a.m. and get in the gym,” Hunt said. “I get out, I run, I lift weights. I do different things.”
Hunt has offers from Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Georgia State, East Carolina, Georgetown, VCU, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Massachusetts, UTEP, Wichita State, Tennessee, South Carolina and Memphis, with Kansas, Connecticut and Pittsburgh seemingly on the verge.
He has visits planned to Alabama, Georgia and Georgia Tech.
“Good education, good basketball program and somewhere I can come in as a freshman and play a big part,” Hunt said. “And coaching.”
-- Shawn Smith, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Providence School (Fla.), is hearing from Missouri, Kansas State, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Florida State and Cincinnati. Smith recently came from Missouri and said he enjoyed his visit. “I’ll cut my list at the end of the summer,” he said.
-- Brice Johnson had his NBPA Camp experience cut short early because of a concussion. “I was playing well, and then that happened,” Johnson said. The setback hasn’t slowed his recruitment, though, as Florida, South Carolina, Clemson, Ohio State, Miami (Fla.), Florida State and Tennessee are all making a run at Johnson. He wants to visit Ohio State, Miami and Virginia Tech.
Photo: Texas Basketball Inc.