Tag:Shaq Cleare
Posted on: August 24, 2011 11:26 am

Top-25 big man Shaq Cleare picks Maryland

By Jeff Borzello

In a class filled with great big man, Shaquille Cleare is perhaps the biggest of them all.

On Wednesday, the 6-foot-9, 280-lb. center ended his recruitment by committing to Maryland. Aaron Harrison Sr., Cleare’s AAU coach with the Houston Defenders, confirmed the news to CBSSports.com.

Long thought to be a Maryland lean, Cleare chose the Terrapins over Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Florida, Arizona and others. The pick-up is huge for new head coach Mark Turgeon and his staff.

“A place where I fit in,” Cleare told me in June when asked about the biggest factors in his decision. “A coach that is there all the time.”

Cleare, ranked No. 25 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100, is a space-eater down low that carves out areas on the block and goes to work. He has very good strength and solid footwork, which he uses in a variety of post moves. Cleare moves well without the ball and gets great position for entry passes. Once he improves his stamina and conditioning, his ceiling will rise tremendously.

Cleare, a Village School (Tex.) product, is the second commitment in Turgeon’s 2012 class, joining guard Seth Allen.

Photo: ESPN Rise

Posted on: August 1, 2011 1:48 am
Edited on: August 1, 2011 1:49 am

Orlando AAU Wrapup: Top Performers, Notables

By Jeff Borzello

ORLANDO, Fla. – While Las Vegas gets more publicity for the events held there during the second July live period, the AAU Super Showcase and AAU Nationals have just as much talent and competition as the Sin City. Sure, it doesn’t have the Strip, but there are 12 air-conditioned courts in one area – as opposed to the constant driving and navigation of the Vegas deserts.

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This year, Orlando was even more loaded than usual. Some of the top U-17 teams were there for the Super Showcase, including Peach Jam champion BABC, EYBL regular-season champion Team Takeover, Peach Jam semifinalist Georgia Stars and the top-five Houston Defenders. Mitch McGary, Rodney Purvis, Robert Carter, Devonta Pollard, Gary Harris, Archie Goodwin and plenty more top-25 players were on hand as well. Both Florida Rams teams arrived for Nationals, as did CBC, Houston Hoops and the studs of Texas Pro. 2013 was well represented, with five-star prospects Nerlens Noel, the Harrison twins, Chris Walker, Troy Williams, Anthony Barber, Jonathan Williams III, Brannen Greene and Isaiah Hicks present in Florida.

At the Super Showcase, the surprise was the semifinal run made by Hoop Heaven Heat Elite, an under-the-radar team from New Jersey headlined by Alabama-commit Jaren Sina. BABC ended their run in the semifinals, while the Houston Defenders bounced Team Takeover on the other side of the bracket. In the title game, BABC couldn’t create offense from its defense and the Defenders ended BABC’s string of dominance in convincing fashion. The AAU Nationals will go until the end of the month, but many coaches, scouts and players are checking out early. While there are still great games happening, it wasn’t hard to see that nearly everyone was hitting a wall. With that said, here’s a look at who impressed at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Disney World this week.

Top Performers

Andrew Harrison, Houston Defenders: With a game that reminds some of Dwyane Wade, Harrison is unarguably the best guard in the country – regardless of class. He is impossible to stay in front of because of quickness and handle, and his 6-foot-5 size makes him a matchup nightmare. 

Aaron Harrison, Houston Defenders: While his twin brother is the point guard, Aaron is the scorer. He has tremendous range on his jumper, and is good enough to knock down several in a row. Harrison also finishes well at the rim.

Georges Niang, BABC: He won’t impress you with his size, athleticism or length, but the Iowa State-bound Niang is simply productive. He is not afraid to do the dirty work inside, and will bang with anyone. No matter the opponent, Niang gets the job done.

Danuel House, Texas Pro: Teammate Isaiah Austin is the higher-profile player, but House stood out in Orlando. The wing is strong, athletic and really knows how to finish in the lane. If he tightens his handle, he’s going to be tough to guard.

Alex Poythress, Georgia Stars: Poythress has been talking about becoming more of a small forward, and he showed off his expanded game in Orlando. He knocked down 3-pointers consistently and was still his usual active self around the rim.

Jake Layman, BABC: Layman (right) has broken out as much as anyone the past few weeks, with some saying he’s a future pro. The King Phillip (Mass.) product is very long and skilled on the wing, but is athletic and quick enough to guard any perimeter position.

Jaren Sina, Hoop Heaven Heat Elite: Someone has to get credit for leading Hoop Heaven to the semifinals of the Super Showcase, and the Alabama-bound Sina gets the nod. He is a strong and savvy guard who can get to the rim and knock down outside shots. Sina is also a very good passer.

Marc Loving, All-Ohio Red 16s: Some people have soured on Loving in recent months, but he was outstanding when we saw him. Loving is tough to guard due to his ability to hit from the perimeter or take defenders off the dribble and finish at the rim.

Tyler Cavanaugh, Albany City Rocks: With DaJuan Coleman not in attendance, the onus fell to Cavanaugh to carry the City Rocks – and he came through. He carved out areas in the post to make plays, and was also able to stretch the defense with outside shots.

Kasey Hill, Florida Rams Black: Hill continues to get better and better at each event. He has improved his ball-handling ability, enabling him to stay under control more consistently. His passing is also eye-opening, especially in transition.

Other Notables: Jaylen Brantley isn’t a pure point guard and isn’t big enough for the two, but he is a lights-out shooter and doesn’t make mistakes . . . Fred Van Vleet (right) continues to impress onlookers and opponents – Wichita State got a steal . . . Kethan Savage of Team Takeover showed his usual driving ability, but also knocked down outside shots . . . 2013 stud Nick King is a very difficult matchup for most opponents due to his versatile skill set . . . Overshadowed by Chris McCullough at Salisbury School (Conn.), Samuel Dingba is becoming a touted prospect in his own right . . . Tony Farmer has all the physical tools; he just needs more consistent effort . . . Watching Florida Rams wing Chris Davenport for the first time, it was clear he had talent – no surprise SEC and ACC teams are on him . . . Dillon Graham is tougher than he looks; he had no problem attacking the rim in traffic . . . Buoyed by a big-time spring performance, Jerome Hairston is still tough to stop off penetration . . . Playing off the ball with Marcus Paige at the point, Mike Gessell still made plays off the dribble and from behind the arc . . . A name to remember continues to be Landry Nnoko – he is a big-time rebounder and shot-blocker who is developing . . . Allerik Freeman has a great offensive game, with the ability to score at the rim against bigger plays . . . Dartmouth-commit Alex Mitola doesn’t have a pretty shot, but he has deep range . . . Shaq Cleare never backed down from Nerlens Noel, going at his chest from the get-go . . . Chicken Knowles is a future matchup nightmare if he keeps developing his outside shot . . . Archie Goodwin might be the best scoring guard in the country . . . I haven’t seen anyone catch alley-oops with the explosiveness of Derrick Griffin in a long time . . . Another impressive Florida Rams Black player was Dallas Moore, who simply knows how to knock down shots . . . In the past, Wake Forest-commit Andre Washington has been underwhelming, but he was active at both ends in Orlando . . . Moses Kingsley isn’t there offensively, but his length and athleticism make him a presence defensively and on the glass . . . Darryl Hicks gets it done offensively – he has great 3-point shooting ability and is getting stronger  . . . Hoop Heaven Heat Elite’s Chris Jenkins sent coaches and scouts scurrying for the roster books after hitting at least six 3-pointers against BABC . . . Desmond Ringer is going to be one of the best big men in 2013, given his productivity in the paint. He has a good body and overpowers most defenders . . . Dominic Woodson is a name that made its way around Orlando throughout the week – the big man is on the rise in 2013.

Photos: ESPN (Aaron Harrison), Sun-Chronicle (Jake Layman), Northern Star (Fred Van Vleet)

Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:08 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 10:25 am

Notebook: Alex Caruso continues stellar play

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.”

Other Notes:

-- 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. 

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