by Alex Schwartz
Several high-major programs landed commitments in the past week, including a couple from the Big East. That includes a program from the Midwest coming into the New York metro area to land a top 25 recruit.
Jermaine Lawrence, a New York native who attends Pope John XXIII (NJ), popped to Cincinnati, per his Tumblr account. Lawrence, a 6-foot-9 power forward, is ranked No. 24 in the NBE Sports Class of 2013 Post-July Top 125.
Lawrence selected the Bearcats over St. John’s and UNLV. He is the fifth member of Cincinnati’s 2013 recruiting class and is a significant addition.
RJ Curington of Oak Hill Academy (VA) pledged to DePaul, according to Brian Snow of Scout.com. A 6-foot-5 shooting guard, Curington was among the better available players in the nation in the class of 2013 and is a nice late pickup for the Blue Demons.
Scout.com’s Josh Gershon had the news that Dion Wade of Findlay Prep (NV) came off the board to Auburn. A 6-foot-7 small forward, Wade is the second player from Findlay Prep in the class of 2013 to pick the Tigers. The other is Benas Griciunas, a 6-foot-10 power forward.
by Alex Schwartz
Signing week is now in the books, but a number of other 2013 players made their college commitments since our last Recruiting Notebook on Monday. Some popped before the signing period ended and some after it.
The best senior to come off the board in the past few days is Brandon Austin of Imhotep Charter (PA). Austin is a 6-foot-6 point guard/small forward and he is now a future Providence Friar, per his Twitter account.
A long, versatile player with an impressive skill set, Austin was at one point committed to Penn State. Ranked No. 47 in the NBE Sports Class of 2013 Post-July Top 125, Austin picked the Friars over Texas and UConn.
Manhattan got an incredibly huge coup in landing JUCO stud Chris Thomas of Chipola College (FL). The news was broken by Scout.com’s Evan Daniels. Thomas is a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who was at one point ranked amongst the top 10 players in high school in the class of 2012 before opting to take a unique route and enrolling at a junior college.
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The opening July evaluation period has come to a close, ending on Sunday, giving players, coaches and media a short little break to catch their breath before doing it all again this week. NBE Sports spent time at the Lebron James Skills Academy (prior to the official opening of the evaluation period), Reebok Breakout Challenge, Hoop Group Elite Session II, Adidas Invitational, Reebok Showdown Championship, Nike Global Challenge and Nike Skills U in the past week. Hopefully everyone has enjoyed our coverage and we have greatly enjoyed bringing you news and notes from all the action.
Next up this week will be the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League Championship at the Peach Jam. NBE will also be getting coverage of the Under Armour Summer Jam in Milwaukee (WI). In the meantime, here are some additional recruiting notes gathered by Matt Whitfield from his time bouncing back and forth between the Nike Global Challenge and Nike Skills U last weekend…
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By Brian Bosworth, National Recruiting Analyst
Mass Rivals is another of New England’s dominant AAU programs that was well represented at the Elite 75. Kaleb Joseph (2014 PG), Dmitri Floras (2014 PG), Idris Taqqee (2014 SG), Tyonne Malone (2016 SF) and Josh Sharma (2015 F) all suited up and were joined by injured stars Noah Vonleh (2014 F, ankle) and Jeremy Miller (2015 F, concussion.) Both Vonleh and Miller told me they expect to be healthy and ready to go for the kickoff of the July live period at the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis. Chris Baldwin (2015 F) was also invited to the event but stayed home to nurse a sore back.
Of the Mass Rivals guys in attendance Kaleb Joseph had the best day attacking the basket in early drills and getting everyone else involved once five-on-five action got going. He caught up with NBE before things started to discuss his expanding recruitment. Read more
Over the last several years much has been written on the shortcomings or pitfalls of the fly-by-night prep schools that seem to come out of the woodwork each year across the country. Some are termed diploma mills or accused of funneling their players to certain programs or conferences.
At the complete opposite spectrum of the schools that operate in the gray areas of the sport is Northfield Mount Hermon. If anything, the program could be accused of funneling its players to a certain conference…the Ivy League!
A tremendous mix of academics and athletics makes Northfield Mount Hermon special. In the last several years the program headed by John Carroll in Northfield (MA) has been a virtual factory of Ivy League basketball players. NMH is considered the best combination of academics and basketball in the United States and in the 2010–2011 season eight NMH alums were in the Ivy League, more than any other school in the nation. That number contines to rise with players like Evan Cummins, Joe Sharkey, Jvonte Brooks and Armani Cotton in recent years following the path and will continue to attract players to the program, like Anthony Dallier, who are looking for similar opportunities.
Andrew Chrabascz, a 6-foot-7 forward weighing 235 pounds out of Cushing Academy in Massachusetts, enters the summer AAU and camp season with plenty of eyes on him. Top mid-major programs galore have been recruiting Chrabascz and will hold their breath as he hits the AAU trail with powerful BABC for the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League championships at the Peach Jam and end of July events in Orlando (FL). High major programs continue to track the multi-faceted game of Chrabascz, who is a skilled power forward.
One thing is certain, Chrabascz will produce. He is almost like a Georges Niang-lite, whose production last year with BABC on the AAU trail pushed his recruitment from the mid-major range to a schoalrship to Iowa State with plenty of other programs in hot pursuit when he made his decision. On the Oakland leg of the EYBL regular season, Chrabascz showed he is continuing to work towards being an effective face-up 4, and his shooting out to 17 feet or so is worthy of such a position. He was also willing to go inside and mix it up, effectively working on the glass at both ends and also finishing in traffic.
Major Canady, a powerful and quick point guard measuring 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, from Kiski Prep near Pittsburgh (originally from North Carolina) has had a very good start to the AAU circuit playing with the Ohio Basketball Club. NBE caught him in action with OBC at the Under Armour Pittsburgh Jam Fest hosted by the Hoop Group. Canady and his teammates reached the event’s championship game in the 17U division before falling to a very talented Sports U club.
With the success during the key April evaluation periods Canady has seen his recruitment begin to pick-up. He has a variety of schools on his trail, but the list has lengthened since college coaches were able to be on the road for two weekends in April. With a head start in getting a look at this intriguing point guard, you can expect many schools to be very anxious to see him in action once again this summer.
By Brian Batko
The Hoop Group Jamfest rolled into Pittsburgh Friday night with several intriguing 1st and 2nd round games in the 17 and under and 16 and under divisions. Many of the games were blowouts, as the elite teams were mostly matched up with the lower level squads for the early rounds, but there were still some high level players in action on Friday. Teams like Sports U/Team Izod’s 16U, Atlanta Xpress 17U, and DC Assault Gold 17U are littered with Division 1 prospects who put forth impressive performances, albeit in limited action.
Karl Towns (Sports U 16U, 2015, St. Joseph Metuchen) – Only a freshman, Towns was easily the most talented player on the floor in Sports U’s 65-38 win over Blaze (WV), grabbing any rebound he wanted to and clogging the lane with his 6’10” frame. While not the most physically imposing Sports U big man – that would be 6’8” 2014 power forward Quadri Moore – Towns showed why he’s going to be one of the hottest names in the 2015 class. He’s still very thin at this point but his perimeter skills are awfully promising for such a young post player. Offensively, especially on the low block, Towns is still somewhat raw. He was forced into a travel after one catch in the post and failed to get position in the halfcourt a couple times. The rising sophomore also needs to get much stronger, as he was fouled multiple times by much smaller players and was unable to finish inside. The good news on that front, though, is that Towns is an excellent free throw shooter, going 6-6 at the line with great form. His free throw shooting ability translates to the outside, as well, where he has a nice stroke from beyond the arc. Towns, who finished with a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds, went 1-3 from downtown, hitting one from a few feet behind the line. Defensively, his natural gifts make him an intimidating shot blocker, but he also has very active hands and was able to get a steal or two in trapping situations. Despite his aggressiveness, Towns does a pretty good job of avoiding fouls, which is encouraging for a young prospect. Competing with and against players a year older than him – and in front of Jamie Dixon (Pitt), Bill Carmody (Northwestern), and a slew of other college coaches – Towns proved himself a (literally) big name in the class of 2015.
This weekend starting Friday evening colleg coaches will hit the road for AAU events across the country. Stops in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and areas far and wide will be popular destinations for Division 1-A head coaches and assistants as they are allowed to evaluate talent for the first time in the busy April AAU schedule in a few years. While the intensity of the action is likely to be ratcheted up a few nothches, CIA Bounce big man Isaiah Watkins is taking it all in stride.
The 6-foot-8 Watkins attends St. Benedict’sPrep in Newark (NJ) and performing in front of college coaches is a regular event for him and his Gray Bees teammates. It was one of the reasons why he chose to attend a school like St. Ben’s and play with a powerful AAU program like the Canadian CIA Bounce program, which participates in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL).
Yet, Watkins is looking forward to showcasing his improvement as a player, but also has goals for himself to continue to impove against the top flight competition he will be facing.
There are a lot of new faces within the St. Benedict’s Prep basketball program in Newark (NJ) this season. From new head coach Mark Taylor to Class of 2015 must-see point guard Isaiah Briscoe and more new talent on the Gray Bees’ roster it is an exciting new era for the program in Newark. One player that still seems to be under the radar nationally is Isaiah Watkins, another member of the Canadian AAU program CIA Bounce that will look to excel this year for Taylor’s squad.
“What drew me to St. Benedict’s was the goal of becoming better,” Watkins told NBE earlier this evening. “Improving every day and hopefully being able to win at the highest level possible.”
The improvement of Watkins has been ongoing through the spring and summer according to Nolan Shulman, National Recruiting Analyst of Flagrant Fouls and Editor-in-Chief of the Ultimate Recruiting Handbook which is the authority on Canadian basketball prospects. Shulman also noted that Watkins will come to work every single day at St. Benedict’s, which should only enhance his goal of improving.
College basketball is becoming more and more of a guard’s game. So when a prospect comes along standing 7-foot-3 and weighing 315 pounds entering his junior year of high school plenty of debate ensues in regard to his place in the game. This is nothing new to Tanveer Bhullar who actually saw his older (and bigger) brother Sim go through the process. Like his brother, expect Tanveer to be one of the most evaluated, and debated, prospects in the country in the 2013 class.
“Obviously with the similarities in body type it’s natural that people are going to compare Tanveer to Sim,” Nolan Shulman, National Recruiting Analyst of Flagrant Fouls and Editor-in-Chief of the Ultimate Recruiting Handbook which is the authority on Canadian basketball prospects, told NBE this morning. “They both have very similar strengths. Great hands, great touch, and great size.”
The Canadian invasion is gaining momentum in college basketball and it certainly looks like the best is yet to come as the CIA Bounce AAU program had a pair of nationally ranked clubs at their top levels this past spring and summer. Another Canadian likely to land in the high-major level in college basketball in the Class of 2012 is Nazareth Long. From an early age when previously attending Montrose Christian, Long showed the ability to make his team go at both ends of the floor. Defensively, he pressures the ball from end-to-end, not allowing the opposing point guard to initiate his offense easily. Furthermore, he gets back in transition well and plays the passing lanes. Offensively, he controls tempo and has the ability to get his team into its half-court sets. He also runs the floor well, finishing at the rim on fast breaks.
Originally from Mississauga, Ontario, Long began his career in the States at Montrose Christian and then spent last season at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas where he will finish up his prep career before college. NBE recently had the opportunity to converse with Long about his summer on the AAU tour and his recruitment. See below for details of the conversation:
One of the players that has made a quick ascension in the Class of 2013 in recent weeks is St. Anthony;s of Jersey City (NJ) guard Hallice Cooke. After playing well in the early July events on the East Coast, Cooke and his teammates at Sports U./Team Izod made a major splash by taking home the 16U crown at the UA Summer Jam presented by NY2LA Sports. Their championship run was culminated last Friday afternoon with a 51-48 win over the Illinois Wolves to take home the 16U Platinum Bracket Championship.
NBE was able to catch up with Cooke this afternoon to get his thoughts on the impressive early July run and hear the latest on his recruitment, which is starting to explode rapidly. Another impressive 10 days to close July and Cooke could become one of the most heavily recruited players on the East Coast in the 2013 class…
NBE Basketball Report (NBE): What is your current height and weight?
Hallice Cook (HC): I’m 6’3 and my weight is 175.
NBE: Where do you live?
HC: I live in Union City, New Jersey
NBE: Can you talk about what is the best part of attending St. Anthony’s and playing for Coach Hurley?
By Alex Schwartz
READING, Pa. — Featuring over 60 high schools from seven different states, The Hoop Group Elite Team Camp drew numerous Division I coaches to Albright College. At least half of Big East was represented there Sunday, the second and final day of the camp.
Head coaches from both of New Jersey’s Big East programs, Rutgers and Seton Hall, were in attendance along with at least one assistant. NBE Basketball Report also spotted or was informed that assistants from Cincinnati, DePaul, Pittsburgh, St. John’s, Villanova and West Virginia were in Reading.
Amongst the attractions for the Big East schools were Kyle Anderson ’12, Nate Britt ’13, Reggie Cameron ’13, Hallice Cooke ’13, Will Ferguson ’13, Shep Garner ’14, Amile Jefferson ’12, Kris Jenkins ’13, Ja’Quan Newton ’14, Villanova-commit Daniel Ochefu ’12, Stanford Robinson ’13, Terrence Samuel ’13, Shamiek Sheppard ’13, Kavon Stewart ’13, Mike Young ’13, and more.
By Matt Whitfield
The Hoop Group’s Session One Elite Camp wrapped up on Friday afternoon with a series of championship games and all-star contests. The camp’s Top 20 All-Star game draws the most interest and NBE spotted staff members from South Florida, Quinnipiac, Cornell, Wagner, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Rutgers, Drexel, Rice and Villanova.
One of the Top 20 All-Star participants was Quenton DeCosey, an athletic 6-foot-5 wing from St. Joseph of Metuchen (NJ) and the Team Izod/Sports U AAU travel program. DeCosey told NBE on Friday he has offers from Rice, Seton Hall, Temple and Towson. Virginia, West Virginia, St. John’s, Georgetown, St. Joseph’s and Rider are showing interest.
by Alex Schwartz
READING, Pa. – The July Live Evaluation period kicks off today, but NBE Basketball Report’s coverage of the month began yesterday with the first day of Hoop Group Elite Camp. With players from 25 states (plus DC) as well as 14 foreign countries, there is talent from all over the map at Albright College this week.
One of the top young players at camp is 2014 star Ja’Quan Newton, a 6-foot-1 point guard out of Neumann-Goretti (PA). Newton said he is already garnering interest from Villanova, Syracuse, Rutgers, Temple, Kansas, Miami, Penn State, St. Joseph’s, and others.
By Ron Bailey
Last weekend’s Capital Classic was the 38th time that event has been held, making it one of the oldest and most revered high school senior all star games in the land. An incredible player list has taken part, including Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and a host of other future (at the time) stars. There are sure to be some standouts in this year’s class as well.
Of course the BIG EAST is represented by Capital Classic players with the following players participating this time around: Trevor Cooney (Syracuse), Myles Mack (Rutgers), Jabarie Hinds (West Virginia), Greg Whittington (Georgetown), Achraf Yacoubou (Villanova), Tyrone Johnson (Villanova), Malcolm Gilbert (Pittsburgh) and a guy that could very well end up in the league, Kelvin Amayo. They are discussed below.
First off, the Villanova pair played well, as Johnson dropped 17 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Yacoubou, called ‘Ashe’ by teammates and friends contributed 10 points and nine rebounds. Jay Wright’s program has stressed backcourt players, and seems well situated with these two, both of whom can score, rebound and defend, doing so with stature – Johnson is 6’3” and Ashe stands 6’5”.