Tag:2012
Posted on: January 27, 2012 12:26 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 1:17 pm
 

Shabazz Muhammad keeps everyone guessing

No. 1 prospect Shabazz Muhammad has not given any hints as to where he's headed next year. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Everyone wants to know where Shabazz Muhammad will play his college basketball next season. As the consensus top prospect in the class of 2012, his decision has the attention of fans, casual observers, recruitniks, coaches – everyone.

Muhammad’s classmates at Bishop Gorman (Nev.) are no different.

“Probably 10 times a day in school,” Muhammad said last week when asked how often he hears the question. “Everyone wants to know. I don’t mind it. I just say I don’t know yet.

“I’m still looking at all my schools.”

Muhammad, a 6-foot-5 small forward, has had a pretty static list for the past year. UCLA, Kentucky, UNLV, Duke, Arizona, Kansas and USC are the ones jockeying for his services right now.

He’s taken his time throughout the process, only taking official visits to Kentucky and Texas A&M so far. He won’t make a decision until he’s taken all five of his officials.

“Probably when I’m done with my visits,” Muhammad said. “I have three more officials, and I’m definitely going to take them. I’ll have them scheduled in a month or so.”

For now, he said he’s looking at Duke, Kansas and Arizona for the remaining visits. Because they’re so close to home, UCLA and UNLV likely won’t receive official visits.

“It’s worthwhile to go to a farther school for an official, since they’re paying,” Muhammad said.

UNLV seems to be gaining some traction in his recruitment, especially after picking up Pittsburgh transfer Khem Birch. Moreover, the hometown school has been on Muhammad as long as anyone, and the Runnin’ Rebels performance this season is just proving that the program is on the rise.

They’re certainly in the mix for Muhammad.

“The program is really coming along,” he said. “They got Khem Birch, some other recruits. They’re a great program, they’re going to be a great team. I’m really looking forward to getting more involved with the recruitment.”

Muhammad also said he would be OK staying at home in Las Vegas.

John Calipari and a couple of assistants were in attendance for Muhammad’s game at the Hoophall Classic against DeMatha Catholic (Md.). The Wildcats are continuing to turn up the heat on Muhammad.

“The interest level is high,” Muhammad said. “Coach Cal was at my game. I talked to them a week ago. I just think I fit really well in their style of play.”

Another school that sent a head coach and two assistants was Duke, as Mike Krzyzewski was front-and-center for Muhammad’s nationally-televised game.

“Coach K is just a mastermind,” he said. “I’m really getting excited about going down there.”

The school that has been associated with Muhammad’s recruitment for most of the past two years was UCLA. The Bruins are squarely in the mix for him, and the addition of top-five prospect Kyle Anderson in the fall can only help.

“Who wouldn’t want to play with Kyle?” Muhammad said. “How he sees the floor is just remarkable.”

Another school in the running for an official visit from Muhammad is Arizona. The Wildcats have the top recruiting class in the country right now, and adding the No. 1 prospect would cement its spot atop the rankings.

Moreover, Sean Miller would have one of the most talented rosters around.

“I think I would fit really well,” Muhammad said. “They run a high-tempo style.”

Style of play is Muhammad’s most important factor in his recruitment. He prefers a mostly half-court style where he could use his tremendous scoring ability to his advantage, but he also wants some fast-break opportunities where he can get out in transition.

Muhammad won’t let the pressure get to him; he’s set on taking his time and making an informed decision after his season ends.

“It’s kind of weighing on me, but I’m still weighing my options out.”

Posted on: January 24, 2012 3:00 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 3:01 pm
 

Notebook: Balamou getting high-major interest

By Jeff Borzello

Chris Obekpa is the marquee player on Our Savior New American (N.Y.), but college coaches have been surprised when they go to check out the Nigerian big man.

Obekpa isn’t the only high-major player on the team. Felix Balamou, a native of Guinea West Africa, has been impressive throughout the season.

“He’s one of the most underrecruited kids in the country,” OSNA assistant coach Eric Jaklitsch said. “He’s exploded his senior year.”

There is a chance Balamou will have to reclassify to the class of 2013 and do a post-grad year at a prep school due to academics. However, that will likely only increase his recruiting attention.

St. John’s, Providence and Virginia Tech are already among the schools showing interest.

“He’s 6-foot-3 with a 6-foot-6 wingspan and a nice set of athleticism,” Jaklitsch said. “He has a chance to be really special.”

Brantley plays different role away from AAU

When he’s playing with BABC on the AAU circuit, junior Jaylen Brantley is one of the best 3-point shooters in the country. At Wilbraham and Monson (Mass.), things are a little different.

Brantley is the focal point of the defense, expected to carry most of the load offensively. Nerlens Noel, Wayne Selden, Georges Niang and co. are not there to help him out.

“There’s not a lot of open shots,” Brantley said. “Our team is not as gifted as BABC, so I’m trying to be a leader.”

Brantley currently has offers from Syracuse, Florida, Louisville, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Richmond, Rhode Island, Iowa State and Missouri. Connecticut is interested.

He’s visited Georgetown and UConn.

“I’m looking for a good coach, a team that’s a contender, and academics,” Brantley said.

Former New Mexico commit exploring options

At 7-foot-2, Chier Ajou is bound to get plenty of attention from college coaches. The questions surrounding his recruitment have only forced more schools to get involved.

“I don’t know where he’s going to end up,” St. Thomas More (Conn.) coach Jere Quinn said.

Ajou is a native of the Sudan who is also related to Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng and former Connecticut big man Ajou Deng. He was once committed to New Mexico, but the two have parted ways.

“I haven’t talked to them,” Ajou said.

There are some academic situations with Ajou that he is looking to fix at St. Thomas More, but for now, plenty of schools are in the mix.

Oklahoma, Central Connecticut State and Cincinnati are among the “eclectic ray of schools” that have talked to Quinn about him.

“Everyone asks about him,” Quinn said 

Notes: Torin Childs-Harris is hearing from Hofstra, Quinnipiac, Central Connecticut State and Sacred Heart . . . A.J. English has interest from Duquesne, Delaware, Towson and others.

Posted on: January 23, 2012 4:18 pm
 

Notebook: Amedeo Della Valle taking his time

By Jeff Borzello

Amedeo Della Valle didn’t emerge on the scene until about four months ago, but he’s still managed to cement himself as one of the best available guards in the country.

Della Valle, a 6-foot-5 native of Italy, has been starting for Findlay Prep (Nev.) this season. Getting a chance to play alongside top-10 guys like Brandon Ashley and Anthony Bennett has given him an opportunity to get seen by plenty of schools.

He is currently hearing from Gonzaga, UCLA, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgetown, California, Oklahoma State, Saint Mary’s, Utah and Portland.

The only school he has visited so far was Arizona.

“It was a game against San Diego State, which they lost,” Della Valle said. “But I got to walk the campus, see the facilities.”

Della Valle is a natural point guard, but with Dominic Artis and Nigel Williams-Goss entrenched in the Findlay backcourt, he’s been playing out of position a bit. Moreover, with Bennett injured, Della Valle has been defending bigger players.

It’s given him the chance to demonstrate his versatility.

“I can play the one and the two,” Della Valle said. “I can defend combo guards.”

Della Valle is taking his time with a decision, and said he will likely choose a school until April. There are no favorites, and no other visits planned just yet.

“I want to play right away,” he said. “I also want a great coach. And style of play is important.”

Other Findlay notes:

- Five-star forward Anthony Bennett said he hasn’t talked to any coaches in awhile, instead focused on recovering from injury and the season. He plans to take all five visits and will wait until after the end of the season. Washington, Kentucky, Florida, UNLV and Oregon are the five schools on his list.

- Winston Shepard saw his stock rise a bit since the Hoophall Classic, getting an offer from Connecticut in the past two weeks. New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Oklahoma State and UTEP were his final five, with St. John’s and Oregon also sniffing around. Shepard doesn’t have any visits planned, but he has already tripped to New Mexico.

- Former UNLV commit Nigel Williams-Goss hasn’t narrowed things down yet. The junior guard still has the Runnin’ Rebels in the mix, but Washington, Oregon, Harvard, Arizona and UCLA are coming at him the hardest.

Photo: Findlay Prep

Posted on: January 20, 2012 3:58 pm
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Posted on: January 20, 2012 10:34 am
 

Amile Jefferson could be on verge of decision

By Jeff Borzello

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – For the past couple of months, it has seemed like Amile Jefferson was on the verge of making a decision.

This time, he might really mean it.

“It’s getting close,” Jefferson said over the weekend. “I’m hoping it’s soon. It’s day-to-day. We’re going to sit down and give each coach one more call.”

Jefferson, a 6-foot-9 forward from Friends Central (Pa.), is ranked No. 13 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100. He is considering five schools heading into the home stretch: Villanova, Ohio State, North Carolina State, Kentucky and Duke.

“There’s a lot of pressure,” Jefferson said. “You get the pressure from fans. There’s no more courting. People want you to make a decision.”

Duke is one of the schools getting plenty of attention with Jefferson the past few weeks. Mike Krzyzewski turned up the heat on him recently, becoming a major player in his recruitment after sniffing around for a while.

The Blue Devils are squarely in the mix.

“Duke was always a school I had interest in,” Jefferson said. “I’ve been talking to Coach K. You go there, you know you have a chance to compete for national championships and play with some of the best players in the country.”

Before Duke was one of the finalists, Jefferson had taken official visits to Villanova, Ohio State, NC State and Kentucky – but not to Duke. In fact, he hasn’t seen the Durham campus since his sophomore year.

However, it doesn’t look like that will hurt the Blue Devils’ chances.

“I don’t think so,” Jefferson said. “I’ve seen a lot and I talk to coach K and coach [Chris] Collins a lot.”

Is Duke the new favorite? We’ll see by the end of the month – maybe.

Photo: Adidas Nations

Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:20 pm
 

Ricardo Gathers has four favorites

By Jeff Borzello

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Since Ricardo Gathers decommitted from St. John’s in early November, several new schools have tried to get involved in his recruitment.

While he doesn’t seem to be in a rush to finish the process, Gathers has shed some light on his suitors.

After his Riverside (La.) team lost to Gonzaga (D.C.) on Saturday at the Hoophall Classic, the No. 52-ranked player in the class of 2012 said he had been hearing from Baylor, LSU, St. John’s, California, North Carolina State and Florida.

His four favorites are: Baylor, St. John’s, Florida and North Carolina State.

The Red Storm remain in the mix despite parting ways two months ago.

“I like their style of play,” the 6-foot-8 power forward said. “How they go so hard.”

Two schools mentioned recently with Gathers are Kentucky and Duke, but he said neither is showing consistent interest.

Duke contacted him once. “Not frequently,” he said.

As for Kentucky, head coach John Calipari came to one game, but the Wildcats have yet to contact him directly or offer him a scholarship.

Gathers plans to make a decision after the season, but he wants to take trips to North Carolina State, Duke, Florida and Baylor before announcing his final commitment.

Photo: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Posted on: January 16, 2012 1:40 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 1:45 pm
 

Connecticut joins race for Tony Parker



By
Jeff Borzello

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – It seems every time Tony Parker discusses his recruitment, another school enters the picture.

This time, it’s Connecticut.

“[Jim] Calhoun called me recently,” Parker said after his team’s loss to St. Anthony (N.J.) at the Hoop Hall Classic. “I’ll sit down with my dad. They’re one of his favorite schools.”

Parker, a 6-foot-8 big man from Miller Grove (Ga.), is one of the top uncommitted players left in the class of 2012. He still has Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, Ohio State and Memphis on his list, with Kansas showing recent interest.

Parker said he plans to make a decision during the spring.

“It’s getting closer, it’s starting to get hectic,” he said. “But I don’t really feel any pressure.”

Parker struggled against the swarming defense of St. Anthony on Monday, finishing with just six points and three rebounds. Duke and Kentucky had three representatives each to watch Parker, with Mike Kryzewski and Jim Calhoun both in attendance. Kevin Ollie from Connecticut also took in the game.

Parker enjoys the eyeballs watching him.

“The light is on me,” he said. “I don’t feel any added pressure because if I choose them, I’m going to play in front of them everyday. It’s kind of fun.”

Kentucky recently began showing more interest in Parker, and the Wildcats are in the mix for his final official visit. The Wildcats have already secured a commitment from Alex Poythress, Parker’s friend and AAU teammate on the Georgia Stars.

Poythress has been helping Kentucky recruit Parker.

“Their interest is good,” Parker said. “I get the Kentucky calls everyday from [Poythress], making sure I’m watching the game. It’s a great place.”

Although several teams are trying to jump into the process late in the game, Ohio State is one of the programs that have been involved since the start. Assistant coach Drew Dickerson represented the Buckeyes on Monday.

If Jared Sullinger leaves early, Parker would be the ideal replacement.

“They’re a great program,” he said. “They do a lot with their bigs, which really works in my favor. They really recruit good around their bigs. I have a deep relationship with the coaching staff.”

Parker plans to take his final official visit before making a decision. He said Kentucky, Kansas and Connecticut are all in the mix for it, but it will likely come down to Kentucky or Connecticut for his last trip.

Unless another team enters the picture, of course.

Photo: Five Star Basketball 

Posted on: January 5, 2012 5:52 pm
 

St. John's loses another: Darrick Wood decommits

By Jeff Borzello

St. John’s continues to take hits.

After losing two members of its vaunted recruiting class from 2011, the Red Storm also received a decommitment from top-50 2012 prospect Ricardo Gathers. Now, both 2012 commits are gone.

Darrick Wood, a 6-foot-5 guard from Washington D.C., rescinded his pledge to St. John’s on Thursday.

“I just wanted to open up my recruitment,” Wood told CBSSports.com. “Weigh my options a little more before the spring hits.”

However, St. John’s remains as his favorite.

“I still consider STJ my top school,” Wood said.

While there are rumors about potential NCAA clearinghouse issues with Wood, he maintains his academics are in good shape. He is currently enrolled at Bridgton Academy in Maine.

When Wood committed to St. John’s, he also considered Oklahoma State, USC, Virginia Tech and South Florida.

 
 
 
 
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