Posted on: May 9, 2011 10:08 am
Edited on: May 12, 2011 4:23 pm

5-foot-6 Carr continues to convert doubters

Posted by Jeff Borzello

HAMPTON, Va. – Aquille Carr still isn’t tired of hearing the doubters.

The 5-foot-6 Carr is one of the most explosive scorers in the country, but many onlookers think he’s not big enough to be a factor at the next level.

“I want them to think that,” Carr said Friday at the Southern Jam Fest. “I always hear that. ‘He’s too small, he’s overrated.’ It keeps me working hard.”

Carr began turning heads a couple of years ago because of his scoring exploits in Baltimore. He was named the MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year in 2010, and took his game to a new level during his sophomore campaign. Carr set a school record by scoring 57 points in one game, and has already topped 1,000 career points in just two seasons. This past season, Carr led Patterson (Md.) to a 25-2 record, falling in the state championship.

He owns a 48-inch vertical leap and some of the best dribbling ability in the country. Despite his size, he can get into the lane and finish against bigger players, or use his quickness and athleticism to get baskets in transition. His crossover and ability to change directions allow him to create space and get off open shots from the perimeter.

While some people might underestimate Carr, most high-major schools cannot be counted in that group.

Carr has an impressive school list, led by Memphis, Kentucky, Syracuse, Xavier, Texas, LSU, Wake Forest and Arkansas.

“I want a team that runs most of the offense around their point guard,” Carr said.

He said that Syracuse and Wake Forest are both standing out right now, and he also wants to take a trip to Xavier.


Although high school powers like St. Patrick (N.J.), Findlay Prep (Nev.) and Oak Hill Academy (Va.) are courting Carr for his final two seasons of high school, Carr plans to return to Patterson.

“Patterson is the best fit for me,” Carr said. “They help me there, they help me with my work.”

On Friday, Carr seemed frustrated with early palming turnovers – a violation not normally called on the AAU circuit. After he adjusted to the referees, though, he began to demonstrate why he has become a national sensation.

“I just had to get to my style of play,” Carr said. “I had to get back to my fundamental game.”

It was just another hurdle in a long line of obstacles for the diminutive yet explosive guard.

And, as usual, Carr handled it with ease.

Photo: Baltimore Sun

Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:44 am
Edited on: May 12, 2011 4:22 pm

Race to the Top: Looking at the elite recruits

Posted by Jeff Borzello

The book is just about closed on the class of 2011. 
Sure, there are still players like DeAndre Daniels, Trevor Lacey, Joseph Uchebo, Kevin Ware and others dragging out their recruiting process, but it’s almost time to put the senior class in our rearview mirror.

There was no clear-cut number one player in the class, with different rankings placing Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers or Michael Gilchrist at the top of the class. Davis came out of nowhere in the spring of his junior season, making his case for No. 1 on the AAU scene. Rivers simply kept lighting it up no matter whom he played, while Gilchrist was steady and solid and probably held the No. 1 spot for the longest of anyone in the class.

But that’s all in the past. The final rankings are out, and it’s time to look at them as incoming college freshman, not high school players. As for the high school players, who’s got next? With only one month of the AAU circuit in the books, there is still plenty of spring and summer ball to be played.

This is the first in a summer-long “Race to the Top” feature at CBSSports.com where we gauge which players helped their case as the top player in the class and which players might have dropped a bit in the eyes of observers. We will likely update it after each major event we attend. To start, here’s a look at the candidates for the No. 1 ranking in the classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014.


Photo: Lonnie Webb/MaxPrepsAndre Drummond (pictured): 6’10”, C, St. Thomas More (Conn.) 
Why No. 1: When motivated, he’s unstoppable; combo of size and skill is unparalleled. 
Why Not: Doesn’t dominate consistently; disappears and fails to play hard at times.

Shabazz Muhammad: 6’6”, SF, Bishop Gorman (Nev.) 
Why: Outstanding lefty scorer and unstoppable in the mid-range; good size and build. 
Why Not: Perimeter shooting is inconsistent right now; not as effective going to his right.

DaJuan Coleman: 6’10”, C, Jamesville-Dewitt (N.Y.) 
Why: Has the ability to dominate the interior with his size and bulk; beginning to score in other ways. 
Why Not: Needs to become more toned and get in better shape; does not dominate consistently.

Cameron Ridley: 6’10”, C, George Bush (Tex.), committed to Texas 
Why: Late bloomer continues to improve and has a high ceiling; scores and rebounds effectively. 
Why Not: Needs to develop interior offense more; doesn’t have a wide variety of post moves.

Isaiah Austin: 7’0”, C, Grace Prep (Tex.), committed to Baylor 
Why: Absolute match-up nightmare due to his size and skill; tremendous inside-outside option. 
Why Not: Needs to add weight; spends too much time on the perimeter for a 7-footer.

Brandon Ashley, Ricardo Ledo, Rodney Purvis, Grant Jerrett (Arizona), Kaleb Tarczewski, Amile Jefferson


Julius Randle: 6’9”, PF, Prestonwood Christian (Tex.) 
Why: Unbelievably versatile, can score and defend in different ways; motivated to be No. 1. 
Why Not: Could improve his outside jumper; tends to force drives at times against bigger players.

Jabari Parker:
6’7”, SF, Simeon (Ill.) 
Why: Coming on strong for the top spot; can score inside and out and is becoming quicker. 
Why Not: Struggles defensively to guard quicker or bigger players; working on his handle.

Nerlens Noel: 6’10”, C, Tilton (N.H.) 
Why: Defensively ability is out of this world in terms of blocking shots and rebounding; developing offensively. 
Why Not: Has to add weight to his frame; still somewhat raw on offense and struggles with contact.

Kuran Iverson:
6’8”, SF, Northwest Catholic (Conn.) 
Why: Very high ceiling due to his skill and size; very versatile and knows how to score in different ways. 
Why Not: Takes possessions off and does not play hard all the time; needs to dominate like he can.

Chris Thomas:
6’5”, SG, Westwind Prep (Ariz.) 
Why: Outstanding offensive player; he can shoot from the perimeter, score inside and rack up assists. 
Why Not: Jump shot can disappear at times; defense takes a backseat to his offense in terms of effort.

Others: Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Aaron Gordon, Keith Frazier


Andrew Wiggins: 6’7”, SF, Vaughan (Can.) 
Why: Multi-skilled and can play a variety of positions; has the ability to score on the perimeter or at the rim. 
Why Not: Needs to develop a mean streak; not at the point where he takes over games.

Wayne Selden: 6’4”, SF, Tilton (N.H.) 
Why: Powerful body and an imposing player for his age; is unstoppable going to the rim and can shoot. 
Why Not: He’s simply more physically developed than his peers; has to be more explosive as he ages.

Theo Pinson:
6’5”, SG, Oak Ridge (N.C.) 
Why: Long and athletic, very tough matchup; has excellent passing ability and can finish at the rim. 
Why Not: Needs to add weight to his frame and get stronger; ball-handling is getting better.

Jahlil Okafor:
6’8”, PF, Whitney Young (Ill.) 
Why: Already has good post moves and back-to-the-basket game; finishes at the rim and likes contact. 
Why Not: Not an explosive athlete right now; tends to play below the rim despite his size.

Dakari Johnson: 6’8”, C, St. Patrick (N.J.) 
Why: Dominant space-eater with great skill for his age; very difficult to stop once he gets the ball. 
Why Not: His athleticism needs work; struggles at times against taller players as a result.

Trey Lyles: 6’7”, PF, Arsenal Technical (Ind.), committed to Indiana 
Why: His mix of size and skill is tough to match; can run the floor and scores inside and out. 
Why Not: Doesn’t dominate against inferior opponents; could add strength and weight to his frame.

Others: Justin Jackson.

Photo: Lonnie Webb/MaxPreps
Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:01 am
Edited on: May 12, 2011 4:22 pm

Louisville loses top-10 recruit

Posted by Jeff Borzello

A top-10 recruit is back on the board. 
Rodney Purvis, who had pledged to Louisville back in December, announced he has decommitted from the Cardinals.

"I just want to develop relationships with the new staff," Purvis told CBSSports.com. 
The news comes on the heels of former Louisville assistant Tim Fuller leaving to join Frank Haith at Missouri. Fuller ran point on Purvis' recruitment to Louisville. 
Purvis said Rick Pitino and the Cardinals are still in the mix, though. 

"Yes definitely," he said. 
Purvis is a 6-foot-4 combo guard from Upper Room Christian Academy (N.C.) and is one of the best guards in the class of 2012.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: April 30, 2011 10:44 am
Edited on: April 30, 2011 10:48 am

Reports: UCF used man with ties to agent

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Cenral Florida’s recruiting prowess over the past year was no coincidence.

According to a report by Pete Thamel of the New York Times, UCF used a convicted felon with ties to a sports agency to help recruit marquee high schools players.

Kenneth Caldwell fits the profile of a runner perfectly. The Chicago native says on his LinkedIn profile that he is a recruiter of players for ASM Sports. Andy Miller, who runs the agency, denied the claim, while an associate of the agency told Thamel that Caldwell worked for them. Various comments by Caldwell on social networks also seemed to tie him to Justin Zanik, vice president of ASM Sports.

Pat Forde of ESPN.com was also on the story, and DePaul head Oliver Purnell told Forde that Caldwell and Brandon Bender – a former high school star who played at Louisville for a semester – tried to establish themselves as middlemen to Purnell when he arrived in the Big East.

“They are two of several guys who, when we got to Chicago, said, ‘Hey if you need players we can help you,’” Purnell said.

The reports highlight the relationship between Caldwell and three UCF recruits: basketball players Kevin Ware and Michael Chandler, and football player DeMarcus Smith.

Ware has been the subject of many recruiting stories over the past couple of weeks due to his constant decommitting and recommitting. With Thamel’s story, it now makes more sense.

Ware and his family told Thamel that Caldwell allowed Donnie Jones and the other UCF coaches to patch themselves in on conference calls, which is illegal contact and prohibited by the NCAA.

When Thamel informed Ware of Caldwell’s background, he decommitted from the Knights.

“I’m pretty much just disgusted,” Ware’s mother, Lisa Mack, told Thamel. “Who dreams of something that’s supposed to be about the kids and the achievements he’s received to this point to receive a scholarship? It has been made something dirty. I feel violated.”

Chandler was another player with a whirlwind recruitment. The Indianapolis big man committed to Louisville and Xavier before settling on UCF. Caldwell apparently has ties to Chandler, and the NCAA is currently investigating his recruitment to UCF.

Smith had a strange recruitment as well. He was originally committed to attend Louisville, but signed a letter of intent to attend UCF. His high school coach, Louis Dover, told the Times that Smith was harassed into signing his letter of intent to UCF.

“It’s completely ridiculous,” Dover said. “The whole situation is disgusting.”

Six players from Caldwell’s hometown of Chicago attend UCF, including three from Whitney Young. As Forde noted, Whitney Young coach Tyrone Slaughter is also the director of the Ferrari Youth Basketball AAU program, where Caldwell was an assistant coach at one point.

Caldwell considers current UCF player A.J. Rompza “almost a member of the family,” and also has a son who attends UCF.

For his part, Jones denied that UCF has an associated with Caldwell or Bender.

“I hate it that the perception is that we’re getting these players because of association with people like [Caldwell and Bender],” Jones told Forde. “Those guys have never asked me for nothing.”

Caldwell said he’s a supporter of UCF athletics, but there’s nothing shady going on with him and the Knights’ coaches 

“I don’t make any money off basketball,” he told ESPN.com. “Nobody’s done anything wrong. UCF is just a school that I like. Ain’t nobody ever heard of UCF. Now they have a little success, and they’re not supposed to? UCF gets some players and people act like there was extra help? That’s bulls---.”

How does Bender figure into all this? Aside from being Caldwell’s friend, Bender is an AAU coach and has an association with former Louisville football player Rodney Carter.

When Bender was at the Derby Festival All-Star Classic last week, Forde said he was hanging out at the players’ hotel before getting kicked out due to his reputed ties to an agent.

Braeden Anderson, who committed to Kansas in early April, apparently has ties to Bender. It is worth noting that Anderson committed to DePaul before Purnell began to hear different things about Bender and Caldwell. Once Purnell severed ties with the two, Anderson decommitted from the Blue Demons.

When he reopened his recruitment, Anderson spent time at Carter’s house in Louisville, according to Forde.

There’s a lot to swallow in these three reports, but Ware’s stepfather summarized it well.

“There’s a lot of things that have happened in this process,” Wesley Junior told the Times, “that a lot of kids could learn from.”

I’m sure the NCAA is interested in learning about it as well.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Tags: NCAA, Recruiting, UCF
Posted on: April 29, 2011 11:34 am

Kevin Ware decommits from UCF, saga continues

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Please, end this already.

In yet another addition to a whirlwind couple of weeks for Kevin Ware, the top-100 recruit decommitted Thursday night from Central Florida.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on right now, personal stuff that I don’t really want to speak about right now,” Ware told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I spoke with my family about everything, and I decided it was time to back off on UCF.”

Originally signed to Tennessee, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard was released from his letter of intent after Bruce Pearl was fired in late March – after some drama, of course. Last week, Ware ended his recruitment by committing to Central Florida – after meeting with Louisville head coach Rick Pitino the day before.

Then, Ware was scheduled to play in the Derby Festival in Kentucky. He told CBSSports.com he would not participate in it because of the backlash he would receive from Louisville fans at the game. Reports began to surface shortly thereafter that Ware was wavering on his commitment to UCF and would play in the Festival. Rumors swirled that he was asked to list his college choice as “undecided” at the game. Making matters worse, Ware refused to talk to media during the days leading up to the game.

Following the game, Ware said he was still committed to UCF and never wavered in that thought. As recently as Wednesday, Ware was still planning to play for the Knights in the fall.

Then everything changed . . . but we’re not sure why.


“I talked it over with my family, and there’s a lot of personal stuff that I need to get figured out before I decide on any school that I want to go to,” Ware told the AJC. “I’m just tired from everything. Once I get my final grades in and know what schools are recruiting me, I will definitely have my choice made up then.”

Ware told the paper that Louisville and Georgia were his favorites, but he has not spoken to either school since he committed to UCF.

Ware did not respond to a message from CBSSports.com seeking comment.

Photo: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Posted on: April 29, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: April 29, 2011 11:23 am

Big changes in recruiting model likely coming

Posted by Matt Norlander

Imagine an American recruiting world without AAU basketball.

It probably won't ever exist -- but it could, one day, have much less impact. So imagine this, instead: AAU basketball as an alternative to an NCAA-fueled model; AAU as the underground, counter-culture model. Imagine competition between two year-round, non-scholastic basketball leagues. Think AAU's too embedded into the culture to be uprooted like that? Maybe not.

That scenario, plus a few others, are on the mind of the NCAA as it heads toward implementing new legislation regarding the way teenagers are recruited by college coaches. No official rulings have been made, but we're further along in this process than many realize.

These issues are addressed in John Infante's (he, the author of the always-intelligent Bylaw Blog) post from yesterday. I highly suggest you read it, as it's more educational and opinionated than what I'm giving you here.

But there's a lot going on, so let's look at what's being tossed around the table. It's a bit confusing if you're not entirely clear on the process and all that's in the hopper, so I'll do my best to lay it out.

Among the primary concern for the NCAA and the coaches: logistics of recruiting. Too many loopholes and temptations tangle up administrations for years because there's fault to be had on both sides of the aisle. The way coaches recruit now can be described as a number of things: outdated, set up to fail, constantly five years behind, too tedious. I could go on and on and on. Point is, there seems to be some forward-minded thinking from the NCAA on how to make things better for coaches. 

What I consider to be the best news: The NCAA is considering getting with the times in terms of technology and communication. No restrictions on texting, Facebook, Twitter, you name it. Why prevent coaches from the chase? It's a built-to-spill model, certainly, so the NCAA taking the leash off in that respect is probably a good thing. But the see-the-player-in-person aspect? That's still in danger of getting diced.

This snowball was molded in the meaty hands of NCAA decision-makers last October, when talks began about eliminating the July recruiting process. That process is basically this: coaches fly all about the country to watch AAU basketball and get to see their coveted recruits up close and personal. When it was suggested they should no longer be able to do that, naturally, they had a backlash. Others didn't. Since then, the NCAA has studied how the July recruiting period benefits or hinders everyone involved.

There are two proposals at hand that agree on one date: April 15. That's when conferences would like to see coaches begin to contact recruits in their junior year of high school. Currently, the date is July 1 prior to a recruit's senior year. They also suggest reducing July recruiting from two 10-day sets to the final three weekends of the month, meaning nine total days of in-person evaluation. The exchange for this comes with in-person evaluation in April.

The plans go in different directions from there, but both are being considered. One, proposed solely by the SEC, suggests no in-person evaluations in April; the other five conferences are suggesting otherwise, bringing that period back, which wax nixed a few years ago. Amid all this, the evaluations could come not only with sanctioned AAU events, but also with NCAA or other allied agencies who could set up the games. 

It's a big deal, to be certain. On one level, coaches just want to see players play and get a better idea. Evan Daniels makes the point that seemingly can't be hammered home enough: coaches need more days to watch recruits, not less. But then comes the changeover of players choosing which leagues to play in. If USA Basketball gets behind this model -- something that's been floated out there for years -- doesn't it immediately have much more cache than an AAU program? These are questions for another post, I suppose.

"Either plan would be a major step forward, especially the deregulation of contacts and allowing official visits during the summer," Infante writes. And he's right. Another aspect that plays into this: there is another motion awaiting approval that proposes coaches be allowed to work out with their current players in the summer if said players are going to classes during the "offseason." The change in July recruiting (which, if it still exists but gets altered, will still have a lot of coaches complaining) could give coaches their busiest month of the year: something they deeply, deeply want, even if they won't say it right now.

Arguments and controversy are around the corner, but we shouldn't be afraid of turning that corner. On the whole, progress seems to be happening. Smart men and women are realizing recruiting will never be perfect, but some of the most needed and progressive changes are coming to the process. It could all be in full bloom as soon as the 2012-13 academic year, too. That's if voting and paperwork can get completed by next January and April, which should happen, as the Board of Directors should have its finalized group of proposals arrive in October. If that happens, April of 2013 is when we'd see these new parameters take effect for men's recruiting.

For many coaches, the change is a long time coming.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Recruiting
Posted on: April 29, 2011 9:51 am
Edited on: April 29, 2011 9:52 am

Xavier lands big, big commitment

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Xavier picked up an enormous commitment Thursday night.

No, not in the hyperbolic, “enormous” impact sense – the Musketeers literally received a commitment from an enormous player.

Sim Bhullar, a 7-foot-5, 350-lb. Canada native who plays his high school ball at Huntington Prep (W.Va.), popped for head coach Chris Mack and Xavier.

“I felt really comfortable around the Xavier staff and players and family,” Bhullar told CBSSports.com late Thursday. “And I found they would be the best for my development and just the best situation for me.”

He is more than just a gimmick. Although Bhullar needs to improve his stamina and lateral movement, he has improved drastically over the past few years. His size obviously makes him a factor immediately, but his skill has also gotten better.

Bhullar thinks people might underestimate him when he arrives on campus in two years.

“I think I’m gonna come in and surprise a lot of people and make a huge impact for the Xavier basketball program,” he said.

Bhullar – and his younger brother, talented 7-foot-3 2013 prospect Tanveer – started the high school season at Kiski Prep (Pa.), but transferred to Huntington in the winter (Tanveer ended up at Montverde Academy in Florida). The move has been beneficial, as Bhullar demonstrated on the AAU scene with CIA Bounce two weeks ago.


Whereas he would tire after one or two trips up the floor at Kiski, Bhullar was able to keep up for several possessions and make plays at both ends. He has great hands and can dunk over anyone.

“I think I bring a great inside presence, both on offense and defense,” Bhullar said. “I can dominate the opposing big men, and make sure no one scores on my end with blocks.”

While the long-term effectiveness of players Bhullar’s size can be questioned, he should be able to contribute during his career in the Atlantic-10.

He said Mack is already looking forward to his arrival.

Said Bhullar: “He was excited and he told me that he couldn’t wait to coach me and help me get better.”

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: April 28, 2011 3:49 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 3:50 pm

2011 big man down to two

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Teams looking to add size for next season have slim pickings, but one big man is still on the hunt.

Ibrahima Djimde, a Mali native who plays at Huntington Prep (W.Va.), is currently on a visit to Illinois and will take a trip to Old Dominion next weekend.

Indiana was in the mix for Djimde, but the Hoosiers are likely out of the running after signing Remy Abell earlier in the week.

“Probably out on Indiana,” Rob Fulford, Djimde’s high school coach, said. “No scholarships.”


Djimde is a 6-foot-9 center that runs the floor very effectively and can finish at the rim. He blocks shots at a high rate on the defensive end and also racks up deflections due to his quick hands and timely reactions.

“He rebounds and defends at a very high level,” Fulford said. “[He] will contribute immediately.”

Fulford said there is no chance Djimde will head to prep school next season, saying that he will suit up in college in the fall. Djimde plans on making a decision after his visit to the Monarchs next week.

“He’s looking for an opportunity to play at the highest level he can,” Fulford said.

Will that be in the Big Ten or the CAA? We’ll soon find out.

Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com