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Tag:West Virginia
Posted on: August 9, 2011 9:48 am
 

Twymond Howard ready to focus on basketball



By Jeff Borzello

Twymond Howard has had an on-again, off-again relationship with football over the past few years.

The Pearl (Miss.) product was one of the top players in the state as a high school freshman, but he gave it up to focus on basketball. In the spring, Howard decided he wanted to give football another shot. However, after thinking about it, he is no longer planning to play two sports.

“I’ve decided not to play,” Howard said. “I’m really just ready to focus in on one sport and basketball is my favorite.”

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Howard, a 6-foot-6 forward, is ranked No. 81 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100. Not surprisingly, he is a big-time athlete who excels in transition and when finishing at the rim. Howard can be a matchup problem when defended by bigger players, and he also uses his strength to be an adept defender and rebounder.

Over the summer, Howard felt like he held his own.

“I believe I did pretty good,” he said. “Just play hard at all times.”

Howard said he noticed Ole Miss, Tennessee and Wake Forest the most at his games during the July live period. He holds offers from those three, as well as Mississippi State, Arkansas, Baylor and West Virginia.

He doesn’t have any plans on a timetable for a decision.

“I have no clue yet,” Howard said. “I’m gonna take my time and talk to my mom about it.”

Performance on the court and in the classroom is important to Howard when it comes to what he is looking for in a school.

“Just a great education and how they develop players,” he said.

And we now know football certainly won’t play a factor in his decision.

Posted on: August 1, 2011 2:49 pm
 

Javonte Hawkins backs up top-100 ranking

By Jeff Borzello

One of the last players in the pre-July CBSSports.com Top 100 rankings was Javonte Hawkins, a 6-foot-5 wing from Powers Catholic (Mich.).

After his performance with the Michigan Mustangs on the AAU circuit, though, it’s clear Hawkins isn’t content with his standing.

“I want to show that I’m a player,” he said. “I wanted to come out and play defense. I can shoot, I can get to the hole.”

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Hawkins is a big-time athlete who uses his length and leaping ability to make plays off the bounce and in transition. He can knock down 3-pointers with consistency, and is not afraid to elevate in traffic around the goal. Defensively, he is aggressive and looks to force turnovers.

Michigan, Cincinnati, USC, Miami (Fl.), South Florida, Iowa, Iowa State, West Virginia, Marquette, Colorado and Providence are all showing interest in the Flint, Mich. product.

Hawkins said Iowa, Iowa State, West Virginia, Colorado and Marquette are showing the most interest at this point.

“A place that likes to run,” he said when asked what he is looking for in a school. “A team that plays hard, plays defense and runs the floor.”

His mindset is certainly that of a top-100 player; after July, he has the game to back it up. 

Posted on: July 27, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: July 27, 2011 1:59 pm
 

Isaiah Lewis loading up on college offers

By Jeff Borzello

ORLANDO, Fla. – The July AAU circuit is normally the pinnacle of a top prospect’s season, considering all the high-profile events they attend and big-time coaches they see.

For Isaiah Lewis, improving his all-around skillset takes precedence.

“I mean, the tournaments are cool, but working on my game is more important,” Lewis said. “This year, I’m going to play the point guard in high school, so I’m learning how to be a passer and still score at the same time.”

Lewis, a 6-foot-3 junior from Christ the King (N.Y.), shares the spotlight in high school with Connecticut-bound Omar Calhoun, but he is receiving plenty of notice on his own.

So far, Lewis claims offers from Miami (Fl.), Florida, Florida State, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Arkansas, Oregon State, West Virginia and Memphis. Other schools showing interest include Kentucky, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Syracuse and Villanova.

He said Kansas, Memphis and Florida are showing the most interest right now.

“Grades are a big factor in the school I chose,” Lewis said. “Also, the fan base and whether I think the coaching staff can get me ready for the next level.”

He plans to visit Florida, Florida State and Memphis during August, and could trip to Kansas for the Jayhawks’ Midnight Madness in October.

Two schools are currently standing out for Lewis: Kansas and Memphis.

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“Coach [Josh] Pastner, I just liked the way he talked to me and my father,” he said of Memphis. “He told from the gate, he thinks I can come in, play and contribute. He also told me what he likes about my game.”

Kansas offered Lewis during his sophomore season, and the Jayhawks remain near the top of his list.

“The tradition there is crazy,” Lewis said. “Coach [Bill] Self loves winning. He also compared me to a similar version of Deron Williams, being a big guard who can score and pass.”

While it may seem like the New York City product is going through the process pretty quickly, Lewis has no plans on making a decision anytime soon.

“I’m going to take my time with everything,” he said. “I mean, I’m not saying I’m going to wait, but I may commit after my junior year.”

As we’ve seen with Lewis, getting better is more important than anything.

Photo: The Shiver

Posted on: July 18, 2011 5:02 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 10:53 am
 

2014's Noah Vonleh keeps growing -- literally

By Jeff Borzello

Right now, Noah Vonleh is one of the top-10 prospects in the class of 2014. At 6-foot-7, he is a matchup nightmare due to his versatility and wide-ranging talents.

The scary part? Vonleh isn’t done growing.

“My doctor said I could grow to be 6’10”,” he said.

If the New Hampton (N.H.) product gets taller and keeps his current skill set, his potential is through the roof. Vonleh is very long and rangy, and has the ability to handle, pass and finish at the rim.

“I want to prove that I’m one of the best in my class,” he said. “One of the top five in my class.”

Despite his rapid improvement over the last year, Vonleh is still working on certain things in his game.

“I want to attack the basket better, and not get in too deep. I have to work on my pull up,” he said. “I’m in the gym everyday.”

It’s very early in his recruitment, but Vonleh already has offers from Boston College, Pittsburgh, Providence, Syracuse and Georgia Tech, with interest also from Tennessee, North Carolina, Duke, Connecticut and West Virginia.

At his current size, Vonleh is a five-star prospect. If he gets to 6-foot-10? The sky is the limit.

Photo: Mass Rivals 

Posted on: June 30, 2011 12:04 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 12:12 pm
 

Amile Jefferson continues to star despite injury

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By Jeff Borzello

Amile Jefferson went into the NBPA Top 100 camp in Virginia with the mindset of giving 100 percent effort and impressing everyone.

When Jefferson injured ligaments in his left hand and the trainer told him not to play, it remained to be seen what sort of week he would have.

Jefferson, a 6-foot-7 forward from Friends Central (Penn.), bounced back to lead the camp in scoring, putting up 20.8 points per game. He scored at least 20 points on four occasions, which is even more impressive considering there were only fourteen 20-point performances from the entire camp.

“I just needed to bring intensity and play hard,” Jefferson said. “It’s been tough for me since I messed up my finger in the second game.”

Jefferson is a very difficult match-up for most defenders, given his size, length and athleticism. He is lanky and needs to add strength, but he can post up around the basket or knock down shots from the perimeter. Jefferson runs the floor well and can also take opponents off the dribble.

After his performance at the camp, Jefferson has risen to No. 14 in the CBSSports.com/MaxPreps rankings. Plenty of schools are on his trail.

Currently, he is hearing from Villanova, North Carolina State, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Ohio State, West Virginia, Wake Forest, Stanford, Connecticut and Temple.

Although many people think Jefferson might be leaning toward hometown Villanova, he insists there is no favorite.

“I’m wide open,” Jefferson said.

Photo: Pack Pride

Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:07 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 10:49 am
 

Nate Britt emerges as nation's top point guard

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By Jeff Borzello

Nate Britt entered the NBPA Top 100 camp as a rising junior just looking to test himself against the nation’s best rising seniors.

He came out as the best point guard in the country.

Not just in the class of the 2013 – the entire country.

“It’s a great honor that people think that highly of me,” Britt said.

The 6-foot-1 Gonzaga (D.C.) prospect has been on the scene for several years, but cemented himself as an elite national prospect by winning Gatorade Player of the Year honors in the District of Columbia. Britt is a crafty lefty who knows how to control tempo and make plays in transition if necessary. He can knock down shots from behind the arc and in the mid-range and is continuing to get stronger.

Britt remains humble about where he stands when compared to the rest of the nation’s top-tier players.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t gotten a chance to see everyone.”

With the first day coaches were allowed to call rising juniors coming just two weeks ago, Britt has had his phone blowing up nonstop.

Georgia Tech, Florida, North Carolina State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Marquette, Duke, Maryland and Seton Hall have all reached out.

Britt isn’t ready to think about trimming his list or taking unofficial visits yet.

“Not right now,” he said. “After the summer.”

Photo: Pack Pride

Posted on: June 22, 2011 12:26 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 1:24 pm
 

Recruiting Notebook: Gabe York advances process

By Jeff Borzello

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- With a relatively weak point guard group in the class of 2012, Gabe York could establish himself as one of the best -- if he is able to handle the position full time.

“I’m trying to be a point guard, still getting the hang of it,” York said. “The biggest thing is learning the position.”

York, a 6-foot-1 prospect from Orange Lutheran (Calif.), is one of the best scorers in the country. He has tremendous range and lift on his 3-point shot, and he finishes effectively at the rim.

York doesn’t want to change his scoring prowess.

“I want to be a scoring point guard,” he said. “I don’t want to take away that part of my game.”

Recently, York trimmed his list to 10 schools: Marquette, Notre Dame, Kansas, Louisville, Washington, Oklahoma, UNLV, Arizona, Memphis and Connecticut.

Recently, he took a trip to Washington, and he went to Chicago after the NBPA Top 100 Camp to check out Marquette and Notre Dame. York also plans on going to Arizona at the end of the month.

“I’ll have a better feel for what I want after that,” he said.

Poythress feels pressure to stay home

Playing alongside Tony Parker and several other high-major players on the Georgia Stars this spring, Alex Poythress stood out.

The 6-foot-7 forward from Northeast (Tenn.) made an impact with his athleticism and length. He can power around the rim and is one of the better rebounders in the class. Poythress also has the ability to face-up and knock down jumpers.

“I didn’t do anything different,” he said. “I just played hard and tried to show what I could do.”

Plenty of schools were impressed, as Poythress currently boasts a long list. Vanderbilt, Memphis, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Stanford, Duke, Kentucky, Louisville and Ohio State are all on him.

While Poythress has no favorites, three schools are on him the most, and they all have something in common.

“The in-state schools are probably coming at me the hardest -- Memphis, Vanderbilt, Tennessee,” he said.

Howard has a future in two sports

For all the athletes at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, Twymond Howard might be the best overall athlete.

The 6-foot-6 Howard is a star on the hardwood -- and on the gridiron. As a result, he is being pursued in both sports.

Howard, a small forward from Pearl (Miss.), wanted to prove himself on the basketball court last week in Virginia.

“Just to show I’m one of the top players,” Howard said of his goals. “I feel like I’m one, so I have to play hard. I want everybody to know who I am.”

For now, Howard is hearing from Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Mississippi State, West Virginia, Alabama and Auburn.

“I’ve taken unofficials to Tennessee, Mississippi State and Ole Miss,” he said.

Photo: MaxPreps.com 

Posted on: June 21, 2011 9:41 am
Edited on: June 21, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Joell James out to prove he's more than hype

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By Jeff Borzello

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Despite standing 6-foot-10 and hovering around the 300-pound mark, Joell James knows he won’t dominate against other big-time players on size alone.

“I have to hustle,” James said. “You can have no talent, and still be a better player than someone else just by hustling.”

James, a rising senior from Dwyer High School (Fla.), certainly has talent. For someone so big, he runs the floor and moves around without the ball effectively. James can face-up and knock down shots inside the arc, and he is also adept at scoring around the rim. Because of his size, he is a presence defensively and on the glass.

Rising up the rankings in the spring, James went to the NBPA Top 100 Camp to prove he wasn’t all hype.

“It’s not about your name, it’s about what you do out there,” he said. “I need to show I can do it.”

Because of his stellar play over the last few months, James has been hearing from Florida, Florida State, West Virginia, Ohio State, North Carolina, Maryland, Louisville and Miami the most.

He said Florida, Florida State, West Virginia, Ohio State and North Carolina are standing out to him as a top five, with the Gators currently on top.

“It’s a state school, and coach [Billy] Donovan is a great guy,” James said. “It’s a great program, and they’re known for putting out big men.”

The Floridian has taken trips to in-state schools Florida, Miami (Fla.) and UCF in the past.

A decision does not appear to be on the horizon for James, although he does have more immediate goals for the summer.

“I’m too heavy, I want to lose about 20 pounds,” he said. “And I just want to improve.”

Photo: Pack Pride

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