Posted on: May 31, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: May 31, 2011 11:52 am
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Posted on: May 26, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 11:58 am
Rankings of the top prospects in the country have different impacts on different players. Some don’t pay attention to them; some live and die by their ranking. Others are cognizant of where they stand and know opponents are gunning for them.
Shabazz Muhammad, one of the top three players in the class of 2012, is in the latter group.
“I think everyone thinks they’re the number one player, but I don’t worry about that,” Muhammad said in a phone interview. “But it affects the way I play, big-time. Having a target on my back, it’s a great opportunity for me.”
The 6-foot-5 swingman from Bishop Gorman (Nev.) has been ranked near the top of his class since he was a freshman in high school. Every game, camp or tournament, Muhammad has had to stand his ground to retain his stature.
Unlike many players who drop in the rankings as their high school careers progress, Muhammad is still in the mix for the top spot.
“That’s the first thing that comes to mind,” he said. “I’m the best player on the court and I have to prove it.”
Muhammad is a lefty scoring machine, using his strength to simply overpower most of his opponents when driving to the rim. He is an excellent finisher in the paint and is deadly in the mid-range. Once he improves his outside shooting, Muhammad could be unstoppable on the wing.
At the high school level, Muhammad can get away with playing inside the arc, but he knows he has to improve his guard skill set at the next level.
“Schools are recruiting me as a shooting guard,” he said. “So I’m working on handling the ball. Schools like Kentucky, Duke, Arizona, they have their shooting guards handle the ball a lot. And the most important thing is my perimeter shooting. The athleticism is already there.”
Muhammad has offers from dozens of schools, but he has trimmed some of the fat and is focusing on seven schools: Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, UNLV, Arizona, Kansas and Texas.
While he says he has no favorites, he did go through each school to discuss what he liked about each one.
Many people think UCLA is the frontrunner for Muhammad, but he denied it.
“It was a great experience,” he said about UCLA. “I’ve been to California and I love the weather. Coach [Ben] Howland is a great guy; I talked to him for a couple of hours. I got to see how it is to be a Bruin.”
Not surprisingly, Kentucky is also on Muhammad’s list. He said it’s different than the other schools on his list because of the location.
“I can be very focused there, since it’s not a city,” Muhammad said. “It’s a good place for a person who is serious about basketball. There are no distractions.”
UNLV is the closest school to Muhammad’s Las Vegas home and high school, and is therefore still in the mix. Proximity could play a factor.
“It’s a local school, and they have really good match-ups every year,” he said. “It’s only 10 minutes away.”
Early in May, Muhammad and his Dream Vision AAU team took a trip to the Jayhawk Invitational in Kansas. While there, he got a chance to check out the Kansas campus.
“Coach [Bill] Self is a nice guy,” Muhammad said. “I took a visit up there a couple weeks ago.”
What impressed Muhammad the most about Duke was head coach Mike Krzyzewski, but it wasn’t his charm or recruiting pitch that opened Muhammad’s eyes.
“Coach K, I talked to him a lot,” he said. “He’s very intellectual, he know what he’s doing. The guy is just smart. It’s a great place to be at.”
The most recent trip Muhammad took was to Arizona, ironically taking place the day after head coach Sean Miller spurned Maryland to stay in Tucson.
“I’ve been talking to them a lot,” Muhammad said. “They have a great coach and a great team. And their system is running, getting up and down.”
He plans on taking a trip to Texas sometime in June; at that point, Muhammad will have taken unofficial visits to all seven schools.
Still, no particular school is standing out.
“Everyone I named is coming at me the hardest,” Muhammad said. “They’re all great [coaches]. I can’t really compare one, two, three.”
Nearly every school on his list is a perennial Final Four contender, making Muhammad’s decision even harder. The main factor in his decision will be program success, both past and future.
“The school’s tradition,” Muhammad said. “I’m looking for the school that has the best opportunity for me to win a national championship.”
Despite going on plenty of unofficial visits and knowing exactly what he is looking for in a school, he has no plans to make a decision anytime soon.
Muhammad doesn’t want to rush into anything.
“I’m taking the process slowly. I probably will take all five of my visits,” he said. “I want to make sure I make the right choice.”
Photos: Wildcat Blue Nation, Lawrence Journal-World
Posted on: May 26, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 10:59 am
Posted by Jeff Borzello
For the past week, rumors have been swirling that Maryland commit Justin Anderson was wavering on his pledge to the Terrapins. There was talk that he already made another commitment to Virginia and just hadn’t announced yet.
Anderson made it a done deal on Thursday.
“Great day to be a Cav!” Anderson tweeted.
Anderson, a 6-foot-5 small forward from Montrose Christian (Md.), is one of the most athletic players in the country. He is a menace in transition and uses his energy and motor to be a lockdown defender at the other end. Anderson is one of the few players in the country that can impact a game without scoring due to his leadership qualities. The lefty has improved his outside shot and excels at crashing the offensive glass.
He joins a solid 2012 class for Tony Bennett that also includes top-100 prospects Evan Nolte and Mike Tobey.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 12:46 pm
Rumors swirled on Tuesday that rising senior Nkereuwem Okoro was on the verge of a commitment.
Sources told CBSSports.com that Okoro could be ready to commit to Iowa State at any moment. Okoro, however, denied it.
“No it’s not [true],” Okoro said. “I haven’t committed yet."
The 6-foot-4 2012 prospect from St. Raymond’s (N.Y.) listed offers from Pittsburgh and Seton Hall, in addition to the Cyclones. Arizona, St. John's and Xavier have shown interest in Okoro at one time or another.
Okoro is a strong, hard-working swingman who prefers to score from the free-throw line and closer. He can score from the mid-range and also finishes well in the paint. Defensively, he’s outstanding, using his non-stop motor to make plays at that end of the floor.
While he might not be ready to make a decision just yet, Okoro knows what he is looking for in a school.
“My relationship with the coaching staff and how I comfortable I feel about the school,” he said.
Posted on: May 23, 2011 10:30 am
Posted by Eric Angevine
You hear a lot of crazy stories these days about the lengths a coach will go to when he wants to land a prized recruit. Aggressively friendly women, intoxication and the occasional luxurious gift make headlines from time to time.
In case you're worried about what Mike Rice is doing at Rutgers, it seems things are pretty much above board. Jerry Carino of New Jersey Hoops Haven recently told the story of an unlikely bonding experience that helped Rice and the Scarlet Knights land two coveted players.
That's right. An evening of rented shoes and punitive calesthenics turned out to be a positive aspect of the recruiting process for Rice, who begins his second season at Rutgers in fine style, landing a scoring combo guard and a burly 6-foot-9 forward who showed flashes of top-notch potential in his two years at Kansas State.
Apparently, it's not all nudie bars and free Navigators at the highest echelons of college hoops recruiting. Sometimes heat-lamp pizza and an extra frame or two is all it takes.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: May 23, 2011 9:32 am
Edited on: May 23, 2011 9:34 am
Posted by Jeff Borzello
On Friday, the 6-foot-9 Mali native made a decision: Soumaoro is headed to Texas Tech.
“This was a very difficult decision for me,” Soumaoro told CBSSports.com. “I loved all my visits to St. John’s, Washington and Texas Tech. I really liked all of them but I felt more connected to coach [Billy] Gillispie and Texas Tech.
“The opportunity to play early in my freshman year was a key for me to join the Tech program to further develop my game and better myself as a student.”
Soumaoro, a talented but raw post player who attends Our Savior New American (N.Y.), is looking forward to his time in Lubbock.
“I will do the best I can to help Texas Tech in the Big 12,” he said.Iowa State nets Percy Gibson
The number of available big men in the class of 2011 continues to dwindle.
Former Dayton signee Percy Gibson, who reopened his recruit when Brian Gregory left for Georgia Tech, signed with Iowa State on Saturday.
“To be able to sign a player of Percy’s caliber this late in the year is remarkable,” Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg said in a statement. “Percy is an extremely gifted player and he has a body that is equipped for immediate contributions next year. He has the ability to score on the block as well as the versatility to face up away from the basket. We are looking forward to getting Percy on campus as soon as possible.”
Gibson, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Detroit, chose the Cyclones over Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
News and Notes
- 2013 guard Dederick Lee committed to Mike Anderson and Arkansas over the weekend. Lee’s father told Brian Snow of Scout.com that Lee would have committed to Missouri if Anderson were still there. “If Coach Anderson coached on the moon, we would have gone there to play for him,” Frederick Lee said.
- As Dave Telep first tweeted, Cal State Bakersfield guard Alex Johnson is transferring to North Carolina State. Johnson, who averaged 13.3 points for Bakersfield, has one year of eligibility remaining.
- In other transfer news, former Niagara transfer Kashief Edwards (12.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is headed to Northeastern. Edwards has one year of eligibility left.
- A couple of Atlantic-10 commitments for 2011: A.J. West (Duquesne) and Youssou Ndoye (St. Bonaventure).
- Former New Mexico commit Abdel Nader popped for Northern Illinois on Friday. The Chicago Tribune called it “one of the biggest recruiting scores in Northern Illinois history.” Nader could prep next season due to academics, though.
Posted on: May 20, 2011 12:29 pm
Wichita Heights (Kan.) has won three consecutive state championships and currently own a 44-game winning streak.
It’s scary to think they could be even better next year given the way Perry Ellis is improving.
“Perry is getting stronger,” said his mother, Fonda. “His shooting has really improved, he is more explosive and more confident.”
Ellis is a 6-foot-8 forward who is ranked among the top-20 players in his class by most services. He can score in a variety of ways, with his back to the basket or in the mid-range while facing up. Ellis runs the floor effectively and knows how to finish at the rim.
He was receiving interest and offers from nearly every big-time school, but trimmed his list in early December. Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Memphis, Oklahoma and Wichita State made the finalists for Ellis, who has since heard from Minnesota and Duke.
“I would say that Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky and Wichita State have all shown the most [interest] this spring,” Fonda Ellis said. “We received a call from Duke’s new assistant Jeff Capel on Tuesday.”
Ellis said the perseverance and time each school put in has made them attractive to her son.
“They are all great programs and they all have been recruiting him for a while,” she said. “He has built strong relationships with most of the coaches since eighth and ninth grade.”
Perry visited Wichita State this week, but does not plan to make any other visits until the fall. He will be on the AAU circuit this spring and summer with the Kansas Pray and Play Players.
His mother said there are no favorites yet, but he is looking for a place where he will be “totally comfortable.”
“He is really not ready to do that yet,” Ellis said in terms of leaning one way or another. “He wants to see what happens this summer first.
“He would like to take his official visits this fall and hopefully commit or sign by early signing [period].”
By that time, Wichita Heights will be on the verge of starting a run at a fourth straight state title – led by Ellis, of course.
Posted on: May 18, 2011 4:55 pm
Posted by Jeff Borzello
When he committed to North Carolina State in November of his junior year, many people felt Joseph Uchebo could develop into one of the better centers in the conference. Due to his athleticism and raw talent, Uchebo’s potential is higher than most players at his position.
Next season, the top-100 recruit won’t be able to fulfill that potential in Division I.
According to a source, Uchebo plans to go the junior college route and enroll at Chipola (Fla.).
“He’s not going to qualify,” the source said.
Since decommitting from NC State in April, the 6-foot-10 Nigeria native was being pursued by Kentucky, Wake Forest, Florida State and others.
Former Maryland commit on visit
Of the three Maryland recruits that received a release from their letters of intent, two have already made their second decision. Nick Faust recommitted to Maryland, while Sterling Gibbs popped for Texas.
The third, Martin Breunig, is taking his time with a decision.
“Everyone with a scholarship has called,” Martin Esters, Breunig’s mentor, said. “A lot of people have asked. We are trying to find out who has a genuine interest.”
Right now, Breunig is on an official visit to Washington. Esters is not sure what other colleges Breunig will visit.
“We have to talk about it,” Esters said. “I am waiting on his impressions from Washington. He is interested in seeing a mid-major, though, to compare.”
He also mentioned that the Terrapins were not out of the mix for the 6-foot-9 Germany native.
DeAndre Daniels decision postponed
The biggest decision of Wednesday was supposed to come from DeAndre Daniels, the top-rated player left on the board.
Of course, going along with his roller-coaster and unpredictable recruitment, Daniels has pushed back his announcement.
“He will announce tomorrow morning,” IMG Academy (Fla.) director Andy Borman said.
Daniels, a 6-foot-8 small forward, is considering Kansas and Texas.