Posted on: July 14, 2011 9:04 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 9:17 pm

Recruiting already busy for Justin Jackson

By Jeff Borzello

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – Houston Hoops swingman Justin Jackson doesn’t get much burn sitting behind Duke commit Rasheed Sulaimon and four-star guards J-Mychal Reese and L.J. Rose.

That hasn’t mattered so far, though, as the 6-foot-6 sophomore is ranked among the top 2014 prospects in the country.

“I want to prove I can hang with the older guys,” Jackson said.

Jackson has the potential to be a match-up nightmare down the road, given his outstanding length and accurate shooting ability from behind the arc. He'll need to add weight, but his range and form are among the best in the country. Jackson can go off the dribble, using his height and reach to make plays in the mid-range and with floaters.

He isn’t trying to show off in front of all the college coaches, though.

“I’m just playing my game, not doing too much,” Jackson said. “Just playing my game.”

The homeschooled Houston product is honest about what he needs to work on.

“I’m trying to get better at everything,” Jackson said. “Get strong, play better through contact.”

Despite not getting as much playing time as some other players, he already has plenty of suitors for his future destination.

Jackson said he has offers from Ohio State, Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M and Oklahoma, with interest coming from North Carolina, Kansas, Washington, Georgetown, Marquette and Michigan.

Just imagine what will happen when he’s the star of the team.

Photo: USA Basketball

Posted on: July 11, 2011 10:55 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 11:13 am

Emmanuel Mudiay making early impression

By Jeff Borzello

AKRON, OHIO – Emmanuel Mudiay is one of the top players in the class of 2014 – and in a refreshing twist, he’s the proper age for his grade.

“I’m probably the youngest player here,” Mudiay said at the LeBron James Skills Academy last week. “I just turned 15.”

More on Recruiting

The 6-foot-4 Grace Prep (Tex.) product is a tremendously gifted player for his age. He handles the point guard position well, and is very difficult to keep out of the lane due to his athleticism, length and size.

While he is certainly ranked near the top of his own class, Mudiay is aiming for something higher.

“I’m just trying to play my game, I want to send a message,” he said. “I want to show I can play with the best of the best.”

Although it’s early in his recruitment, Mudiay is already hearing from plenty of schools. Most of the Big 12 is on him, including Texas, Baylor and Kansas, while Arizona has also made an impression.

One school is standing out, but it’s too early to tell if they will be the favorite until the end.

“Texas is my dream school,” Mudiay said. “But I’m not going to think about it right now.”

Posted on: July 6, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 7:26 pm

Malik Price-Martin gets over nerves quickly

By Jeff Borzello

INDIANAPOLIS – While Malik Price-Martin was looking forward to playing in front of coaches on the AAU circuit, it wasn’t easy for him when the ball first went up.

“I was nervous at first,” Price-Martin said.

After the top-25 2013 prospect settled down, though, he enjoyed it.

“It was a good experience,” he said.

More on Recruiting

Price-Martin, a 6-foot-8 forward from Monsignor Pace (Fla.) who runs with the Florida Rams, is extremely long and lean. He can knock down perimeter shots but is at his best when running the floor and finishing in transition. Price-Martin is also effective around the basket.

Not surprisingly, plenty of schools are in the mix for the Miami native.

“I knew Ohio State, Miami (Fla.), Texas and Louisville would be here watching me,” Price-Martin said.

Connecticut -- which had two coaches in attendance for Price-Martin’s first game -- and Syracuse are also coming at him strong.

Price-Martin has taken two trips: Ohio State and Miami (Fla.).

Posted on: July 6, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 1:11 pm

2014 prospect Craig Victor impressive early

By Jeff Borzello

INDIANAPOLIS -- As the July live period kicked off in Indianapolis, most players, coaches and scouts were lethargic in the early going.

One player who took no time to ratchet up the intensity was Craig Victor, a 2014 prospect from St. Augustine (La.) who runs with New Orleans Elite.

“I’m young, but I can compete with the older guys,” Victor said. “I want to show coaches I can play with them too.”

Victor is a 6-foot-8 forward who can run the floor and finish in transition. He has a good back-to-the-basket game, complete with a solid turnaround jumper and efficient footwork. Victor also rebounds and defends at a high level.

It’s early in his recruitment, but Victor is hearing from Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Florida State, LSU and Georgetown.

“I like Georgetown, Alabama, North Carolina, and I like Tennessee’s game too,” he said.

Posted on: June 28, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2011 1:21 pm

Danuel House's school list goes from 2 to 35


By Jeff Borzello

Before the Best Buy Classic in Chicago over Memorial Day Weekend, Danuel House was hearing from two schools, TCU and Jacksonville.

After a breakout performance in the Windy City, House has seen his stock skyrocket.

“It was at two, then 32, now 35,” he said. “It’s still new to me.”

House, a 6-foot-6 small forward from Elkins, Texas, has offers from Louisville, Baylor, Texas, California, Colorado, USC, Houston and, yes, TCU and Jacksonville. Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, Maryland, Florida State, South Florida, Gonzaga and Providence have also reached out to the rising senior.

“It’s good exercise for the brain,” said House, referring to rattling off his long list of suitors. “It’s fun.”

House is a terrific athlete who is at his best when driving to the basket and finishing at the rim. He is great in transition and also handles the ball fairly well. His outside shot needs work, but he does have the ability to knock down 3-pointers. With his length and athleticism, he is a solid defender.

It doesn’t take long to see his potential, which makes it even more surprising that it took so long for House to burst onto the scene.

“People were seeing me for the first time,” he said.

Playing alongside Isaiah Austin on Texas Pro, don’t expect House's stock to collapse anytime soon.

Posted on: June 28, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 11:17 am

Chris Walker with quick ascent to the top


By Jeff Borzello

Unlike some of his counterparts in the class of 2013, Chris Walker’s rise to the top-tier of the rankings has not been a long process.

Walker’s athleticism and rebounding ability have always been attractive, but when he grew to 6-foot-10 and still improved his all-around game, he became a can’t-miss prospect.

“It was just me playing hard,” Walker said. “I tried to show everyone what I could do. I put in the work. I improved my game tremendously.”

His improvement is obvious immediately. While he still needs to work on his post moves, Walker has impressed with his ability to run the floor and make plays in transition. He can face-up and score with short jumpers or drives to the rim. Because of his length, he is a good shot-blocker.

The big man from Holmes County, Fla., has heard from a number of schools, including Kentucky, Florida, Florida State, Syracuse, Memphis, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Kansas.

Five are standing out right now: Kentucky, Florida, Syracuse, Memphis and Kansas.

“I want a college that, off the court, makes you a better person,” Walker said. “I also want a great relationship with the coaches.”

Posted on: June 28, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 10:20 am

Marcus Smart gets defensive


By Jeff Borzello

In a camp setting or on the AAU circuit, the mindset of several players revolves around impressing scouts and coaches with offense.

For Marcus Smart, he is far more likely to garner attention for being arguably the best perimeter defender in his class.

“With my school team, we’ve been the No. 1 defense for the last few years,” Smart said. “Defense wins games; you have to be able to play defense.

Smart is a 6-foot-4 swingman from Marcus, Texas, with a strong build and a physical brand of basketball. At the NBPA Top 100 camp last week, Smart took Duke-commit Rasheed Sulaimon completely off his game by bodying him throughout the contest.

He is not all defense, though. Smart is a big-time athlete who can finish in transition and even showed some perimeter skills by knocking down 3-point shots. He has a non-stop motor and is one of the fiercest competitors in the country. Smart can also rebound fairly well and is capable of handling the ball.

While Smart is going to be an immediate fan favorite at whichever school he attends, the Gatorade Player of the Year in Texas isn’t too far along in his recruitment.

He listed offers from the entire Big 12, and he also recently picked up an offer from North Carolina.

Smart also added that North Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma were the three schools standing out.

“I don’t know when I want to decide,” he said. “It depends on school.”

Smart, who hasn't taken many visits, knows what he is looking for in a school.

“It has to have a good educational program, first,” Smart said. “And how I get along with the players and coaches.”

Photo: The News Connection

Posted on: June 27, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 2:08 pm

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera focuses on five


By Jeff Borzello

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera isn’t worried about which position he's going to play at the next level.

The 6-foot-3 combo guard from Indiana can fill it up like a scorer but has the IQ and passing ability of a lead guard.

“I want to improve as an all-around player,” Smith-Rivera said. “I want to work on my point guard skills, but I want to be a complete basketball player.”

The former Xavier commit isn’t ready to make another decision, but Smith-Rivera did say he has a few schools standing out.

“Texas, UCLA, Georgetown, Xavier, Louisville,” he said. “That’s my top five.”

Smith-Rivera has also visited Michigan State, but he isn't focused on the Spartans.

“I want to decide at the end of the summer,” Smith-Rivera said. “As of right now, who knows? There’s no favorite.”

When we spoke to Smith-Rivera in April, he admitted that Xavier still had a slight edge despite his decommitment. Now, the future Oak Hill Academy (Va.) guard is not leaning toward anyone.

“I wouldn’t say they have a leg up, but Xavier does have a lot to offer,” he said. “But so do the other schools.”

Photo: Indy Star

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