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SUMMER SHOOTOUT NOTEBOOK
By Alex Schwartz
ALLENTOWN, N.J. — Although the Summer Shootout is not necessarily well-known outside of New Jersey, the event is filled with quality teams and talented players on a yearly basis. The 2011 edition was no different, as NBE Basketball Report took in some of the action on Saturday and got to catch up with a handful of Big East recruits.
Isaiah Watkins, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound power forward, really saw his stock increase this summer. A class of 2013 prospect who hails from Toronto and is in his first year at St. Benedict’s (NJ), Watkins already lists a number of high-major offers.
Watkins said that Santa Clara, Missouri, Arkansas, Cincinnati and Virginia have all extended scholarship offers to him. In addition, he is hearing from Harvard, Ohio State, Georgetown, Michigan, Elon, Lafayette, Niagara, Villanova, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Temple, West Virginia, Kansas and more.
“They [are all] coming at me real hard,” Waktins said. “Cincinnati [and] Arkansas coming at me probably the hardest . . . and Santa Clara.”
Watkins has yet to visit any schools, but is hoping to schedule some trips.
“I’m trying to set up a couple visits, but I do got sometime,” he said. “I got this year and then my prep year.”
As for what schools he would like to visit, Watkins remarked, “I have one set up with Cincinnati, I’m going down there and [also to] Temple. And I’m trying to go down there because they’re showing a lot of interest.”
Watkins has no timetable for a commitment, saying, “I’m keeping it open to all possible ideas for scholarships.”
Watkins said he sees himself as a three/four right now, but noted, “I think definitely by the I get out of high school I’ll be a small forward.”
As aforementioned, this is Watkins’ first year at St. Benedict’s, and he discussed the transition coming over from Oakwood Collegiate in Toronto.
“It’s honestly, it’s been great getting to be with guys–what can I say? It’s just been an unbelievable experience,” Watkins said. “They are hard working guys, they go to practice. As far as academically, they’re . . . hard working and great kids.”
Like Watkins, 6-foot-8, 195-pound small forward Tyler Roberson is also going to a new school this year. The class of 2013 prospect previously attended Union (NJ), but is now set to be at Roselle Catholic (NJ).
“Like, mostly because of like schoolwork,” Roberson said of his decision to make the transfer. “[This] could help me with my academics and they also have a good basketball team.”
As far as recruiting goes, Roberson has a host of schools coming after him.
“Kansas, Kansas State, a lot of Big East, like most of the Big East,” Roberson said of his list, adding, “A lot of other schools I can’t remember right now.”
“They’re all coming at me pretty hard,” Roberson said.
Location will not be a factor for Roberson, who said he has yet to visit any schools and has no trips planned.
“Sometime senior year,” Roberson said of his commitment timetable. “It could change though.”
A 6-foot-6, 170-pound out of St. Patrick’s (NJ), class of 2013 small forward Jared Nickens entered July with very little recruiting interest. After his showing in Orlando, that is no longer the case.
“I picked up three offers from SMU . . . St. Joe’s and Seton Hall and [in addition] Wagner and Towson are close to offering,” Nickens said. “VCU is recruiting me the hardest, they been in contact the most.”
Nickens also noted, “I’m in contact with VCU almost everyday through email and I call the coach sometimes.”
Nickens’ father has been in touch with other schools as well, as Jared said, “He told me he called Notre Dame, but I don’t know if they spoke [and also] . . . Hampton and Virginia.”
Did Nickens have any recruiting interest prior to the Live period?
“Well, I been in contact with Colorado State before July, but other than that [I did not],” Nickens said. “Virginia Tech was recruiting me, but the coach [Adrian Autry], he went to Syracuse.”
Of the previous interest from the Hokies, Nickens said, “They actually started recruiting me in October, saw me at an open gym.”
Nickens gave NBE his thoughts on Seton Hall, the lone Big East offer he lists right now.
“I like the program a little bit,” Nickens said. “They give the players freedom, let the guards go. I was up there the other day for an open gym and unofficial visit and I been to some games too.”
Nickens, whose trip to SHU was last Friday, said he also visited Rutgers quite a while back, but the Scarlet Knights are not actively involved with him right now.
“I also have a visit to St. Joe’s scheduled for August 27th,” Nickens said, later adding, “I also might be visiting Maryland in September too.”
Asked when he plans to commit, Nickens replied, “Beginning of my senior year or second signing period, everything pretty much open right now.”
Class of 2013 Canadian point guard Tyler Ennis also had a great July. The 6-foot-3, 175-pounder out of St. Benedict’s (NJ) does not have any favorites, but he does have many choices.
Ennis said that Louisville, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Rutgers, Seton Hall, West Virginia, Arizona, Iowa State, Virginia, Baylor, and more have offered him. He is also garnering interest from Florida, Kansas and Wake Forest.
At this point, Ennis said that Iowa State, West Virginia and Virginia are recruiting him the hardest.
“I haven’t visited anybody yet,” Ennis said, also noting that he has no trips planned.
Asked if he has a commitment timetable, Ennis replied, “Probably more [towards] the end of the junior year I’ll probably look into it more, but no, not right now.”