Team Final wing B.J. Johnson has had an impressive spring on the AAU circuit and the Lower Merion (PA) High School standout has continued his stellar play right into the summer. The 6-foot-7, 175-pounder put his talents on display this past weeked at the Nike Skills U camp at TC Williams High School in Alexandria (VA), impressing onlookers with his smooth scoring ability. Over the weekend, Johnson informed NBE Sports of a new offer that has been extended his way and some new high-major interest, both coming out of the BIG EAST conference.
“Yes that’s true,” replied Johnson when asked about the offer from Villanova. “I really like their program but I really wouldn’t say I have favorites yet. Syracuse recently reached out also.”
by Alex Schwartz
Daiquan Walker and Karonn Davis might not be the biggest names in Philadelphia basketball right now, but there is no question that both of them are talented players.
Walker is a 6-foot-1, 170-pound senior point guard at Constitution High School, while Davis is a 6-2, 190-pound junior point guard at Friends Central School. On Tuesday, NBE had the opportunity to see both players in action and catch up with them to discuss their recruitment and more.
Although Walker had just nine points, his heady play was a key part in Constitution’s 61-53 victory over Council Rock North (PA). He split time at the point, but showed a superb feel for the game when at the one to go along with a quality handle.
Pitt Pounded Albany 89-56 behind the “dynamic duo” of Travon Woodall (25points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds) and Ashton Gibbs (21 points and 7 assists) as their starting backcourt accounted for 46 points and 17 assists with only 4 turnovers. The one player that impressed me from Albany was Junior College transfer Gerardo Suero who finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds while displaying a fearlessness and fight that few of his teammates shared, at least last night.
Woodall looked like the consummate veteran guard, not being rattled at all, and going up with confidence and poise each time he got an open look. Gibbs has worked on his handle and displayed that, he distributed the ball well and of course made shots. Lamar Patterson shot the ball well (2-3 from deep). I thought the one area Pitt failed to take advantage of offensively was feeding the post. They had both Khem Birch and Talib Zanna each open on a much smaller man 3 times each or so, Albany switched everything, and it would’ve been cool to see what those guys could do if the post pass had been delivered.
Coach Will Brown has several players dealing with injuries right now and was caught off guard by Woodall’s shooting — the Brooklyn native was 5-7 from deep and 9-13 overall.
“Halfway through that game I thought that Gibbs was wearing #1 the way Woodall shot the ball,” said Brown, “you come and play a team like Pitt and you give up 47 points in a half and it’s game over because you’re not going to match them points-wise. We thought coming into this game if we could do a decent job on Gibbs we’d be okay because I thought Pitt would need some time to find that second scorer and maybe they still do but we thought that second score might be Patterson but tonight it was Woodall so hats off to Woodall and really to Pitt for shooting the ball really well I think we got them going early with some defensive breakdowns, they got confident and made shots and some big plays.” Brown was asked about any positives he can take from the game and after mentioning he thought the defense got better in the second half the 39-year-old coach went on to explain some of the difficulties the Danes have been dealing with.
“It’s tough to evaluate my team right now because you know Devlin (Luke) is such a big part of what we do and he was out for four months after back surgery and he’s only been practicing for three weeks you know he has 2 and 2 in 26 minutes and last year in league play he averaged 10 and 8 and Puk (John) was in a boot for four months and then two days ago he had an infection in his shin and we didn’t think he was going to play tonight and we limited him to 13 minutes and he couldn’t run so it’s tough for me to evaluate our group as a whole because those two guys are so key to what we do and what we need to do to be successful.” Brown was shocked at the way his team began the game.
“We got rattled early which surprised me because I thought our perimeter guys would be fine but I think Pitt just did a good job,” said Brown. It’s the opener, they don’t lose in this building and they got going early and they played well, I’m not going to knock my guys because we ran into a good team, a physical team, and if they shoot that well quite honestly we don’t have a right being in the game with them.”
Jamie Dixon obviously felt better about his team’s effort than Brown did. He stressed the importance of patience and how he thought Woodall had exercised that particular trait throughout the game and has been practicing very well, while also addressing JJ Moore’s suspension, Malcolm Gilbert’s injury and details about Durand Johnson and others.
Dixon: “Good game for us I think that’s a team Albany that we expect to be at the top of their league (this will be the opening quote at every OOC game presser). We came out offensively very good for the first game there’s no question about that. There’s some things obviously we can improve on I think defensively we did some good things early but I think we gave up too many layups in transition, loose balls and they shot 43% which is something we want to keep lower than that but we’ll learn from it, made some adjustments and saw our young guys learn as the game went on so a lot of good things. Very happy obviously Travon played very well, Ashton played very well, I’d talked to Travon about his rebounding and he had six rebounds so that was most encouraging he’s practiced really well, he’s practiced the last two days really well and he was real patient tonight, 13 shots all good looks all good shots. Ashton and Lamar and Travon all played really well together. I’m trying to get our young guys to understand patience and how with the way we pass the ball and the way we move it that we’ll get great shots. I think we see the other guys the freshmen taking more guarded shots than the other guys were taking and just being less patient and not quite being where we need to be but that’s to be expected we’re talking about a fourth year guy a fourth year guy and a third year guy in those three perimeter players.
On JJ Moore: “JJ Moore obviously was out, we appealed it we appealed it to pretty much the tip off on the thing with the summer league and we thought we had a good case with the NCAA I wouldn’t even call it a summer league game it was more like a 18-to-60 year olds playing, no uniforms, no score book and I think the team he played against was the Over the Hill team or the Over the Hill Gang or something and a couple of you guys may have been playing in the game (I was and I dropped 50 on JJ and told him about it the whole time but like coach said there was no book so that can’t be verified…that last parts not true, I mean I definitely went for 50 but I’m not a smack talker back to the quote) that’s what it was so no criminal offense or anything just something we thought we’d look at and we understand the NCAA finding and it’s one game and we’ll move on.”
On Malcolm Gilbert: “Malcolm fractured his finger yesterday in practice he could’ve probably gone but my thought was if we can get another day out of it and just see how it is and just figure it out.”
On Durand Johnson: “Still figuring out what we’re going to do with Durand Johnson. Durand’s going to be a very good player for us we’re just trying to see what we’re going to do here as we go forward. I have a lot of confidence in him and talked to him about it and we’ll see but he’s going to be a very good player for us and I think that’s it.”
On signings: “I guess we signed a couple of guys and Greg got that word to you as well so we’re excited about those guys.”
More on Moore: “He was working a camp he was there they had a pickup game afterwards he was told it’s a pickup game, no book, no uniforms, played it’s what it is think he’ll be okay it’s not a felony.”
On John Johnson’s minutes and why the disparity between the last exhibition and this game in those minutes (other then the fact that Jamie Dixon’s the coach and he’ll decide to play who he wants when he wants): “We were up a bunch in this game and we weren’t up a bunch in that one. We were down a bunch in the other game. Pretty simple it was good that he got to play with the more experienced guys the veteran guys and obviously he hit a shot, got a breakaway thing but the second half he didn’t get in a rhythm didn’t let the game come to him as much as we want him to. He’s got to get better defensively as all our young guys do as you might expect but we’ll get better at it.
On if John Johnson was ever a candidate for a red shirt: “At this point now he would need an injury at this point but i anticipate him getting better and better and that what I talk to him about and we’ll see but at this point I think he’s going to be a very good player for us but you never know what happens, I told that to Durand just a second ago talking to him.”
More on the signings: “Steve Adams, good player I know he’s not ranked that high (um, okay) but I think he’s going to be very good. Very talented kid he’s excited about being at Pittsburgh you know it’s going to be a very interesting story coming from where he’s come from but he’s very talented, good size and we don’t go by rankings but we think he’s going to be a very good player so that’s where he’s at and then James (Robinson) is just a solid and true winner and great point guard and great kid, two very good kids, two very good students both go to very good high schools and we’re excited about both of them so very fortunate to get both of them as a part of our program.”
More later on other action from Friday.
By Alex Schwartz
MARYLAND OFFICIAL VISIT THE PLAN FOR ELIJAH MACON
If you are looking for a big man to rebound and defend in your Class of 2012 recruiting efforts, 6-foot-9 power forward Elijah Macon could be your man. Yes, he can also finish around the cup and is by no means a major weakness offensively, but his offensive skill set down low is still developing. However, what Macon does do quite well is rebound and defend, two things that are very important. A well built post player with a strong frame, Macon, for the most part, understands his strengths and weaknesses and does not force things. He plays solid interior defense and is an overall sound player who does a lot of the little things.
Miami, West Virginia, Iowa, South Florida, Cincinnati, Xavier, USC and Dayton were the offers listed by Macon this past weekend while playing in the AAU National Championships for the All-Ohio Red program in Orlando. He also mentioned Memphis, Maryland, Georgetown, Kansas and Florida, noting that he has more offers and interest.
By Lauren Kirschman
The first of two 10-day evaluation periods for the month of July come to a close today. One of the top annual events each year to close the period is the Hoop Group’s West Virginia Jam Fest, predominately help in the Morgantown (WV) area. With recent NCAA legislation preventing the games to be held on the WVU campus local high schools hosted contests as well as other sporting centers, including a local ice rink.
On day one of the event there was a large crowd of assistant coaches tracking down Amile Jefferson at University High School for an evening game and, as usual, the Team Final 16U club had their share of coaches on hand when they played. Below are some recruiting notes from the day’s action on Semaj Christon, Melvin Johnson, Rondae Jefferson, Dashawn Suber and more…
By Matt Whitfield
After spending Thursday in Philadelphia for the Reebok Breakout Challenge NBE headed to Reading (PA) and the campus of Albright College to take in some action at the Hoop Group’s Elite Camp Session One. The massive camp is always entertaining and well run for players at all levels. NBE will stay in Reading through the day taking in playoff and all-star game action. Tomorrow we will remain on the Albright College campus for the Hoop Group Elite team camp which will certainly draw an impressive crowd from the college coaching community.
Rutgers head coach Mike Rice was on the scene early on Friday morning, checking out the action by 9 AM. Below are some notes from the early action this morning. More to come throughout the day….
Lennard Freeman, a 6-foot-7 forward out of St. John’s College HS in Washington (DC) seemed to have the attention of the Rutgers head coach this morning. Freeman, who plays on the AAU circuit in the Team Takeover program, mentioned DePaul, Washington, South Florida, Penn, Northwestern and Albany. He has also taken an unofficial visit to NC State.
Transferring to Suffield Academy from Westminster Prep is Myles Marshall. The Class of 2013 prospect was a 2nd-team All-NEPSAC Class B selection last season at Westmnster. At this point he is hearing from Elon, Siena and Iowa.
Class of 2013 shooting guard Stanford Robinson of Paul VI High School is one of the top prospects coming into the Hoop Group Elite camp and his recruitment certainly backs that up.
“I got an offer from Miami, Rutgers and UMASS,” said Robinson. “Xavier has been calling as well as Georgetown, Virginia Tech, Maryland, and a lot of ACC and Big East schools. I got some calls from Syracuse as well.”
Calls from schools in the BIG EAST and other major conferences keep Robinson pushing towards his goals and making him feel like the hard work is beginning to pay off, motivating him to keep pushing.
“The calls from Syracuse makes me feel like I’m an elite player and I need to keep working so I can have more of these schools like Syracuse keep calling.
My goal is to play at an elite [basketball] school.”
Robinson has been to NC State on an unofficial visit and will hope to take a few more trips in August.
One of the players drawing the most attention this week in Reading is Geno Thorpe of Shaler High School near Pittsburgh (PA) and the NJ Playaz AAU program. Word spread on the internet that Thorpe could be making his college decision by September, but the 2013 recruit seemingly backed off that speculation this morning and gave the picture he is unsure of what he’s going to do regarding colleges.
When asked if he was going to make his decision in September. Thorpe responded, “Yeah, but I might reopen it.”
Thorpe mentioned he considers himself open at the moment.
“I’m just kind of open with everything,” he said.
There was speculation recently that Thorpe would be moving to New Jersey for his junior season, Blair Academy and Hudson Catholic being possible destinations, however a little more of an upgrades schedule will keep him at Shaler for now.
“I’m going to Shaler next year….they kind of upgraded the schedule a little bit.”
Currently the school list for Thorpe reads Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Wisconsin, Kansas State, Baylor and Gonzaga. His relationship with the Pitt staff has been documented, but he also has a strong relationship with the Rutgers head coach, who was watching him this morning, as he has known Mike Rice for several years.
“I went to the Robert Morris Camp in 7th grade and that’s how we met up,” said Thorpe.
By Matt Whitfield
Last summer the Team Takeover 17U squad led by Keith Stevens took home the inaugural Nike Elite Youth Basketball League championship by capturing the Peach Jam Championship. This year the 16U team in the Takeover family looks poised to follow the same championship path with a collection of supreme athletes that really grind it out on both ends of the floor. Watching on Saturday at the Playaz Spring Fling to kickopff the 2011 AAU travel season I couldn’t believe how many skilled athletes the team had. In their 2 P.M. games versus Positive Direction, the DC-area squad jumped out to an 11-1 lead and then built a 27-9 halftime lead, despite being thrown together as a team just this weekend literally.
As impressive as the score was, the most impressive thing I thought was how many kids could flat out play, and score, if they had to. This was a well-balanced machine where it was not just a handful of kids controlling the rock all game, it was a team effort.
“Their playing hard,” said Kenneth Johnson the coach of Team Takeover’s 16U squad. “They have a good connection, but I feel like we have four high major guards. They kind of push our team, we got nice wings…It’s always a little bit difficult when you come up here for your first tournament it’s a running the clock type situation. You got 12 players trying to gel. A lot of our guards just finished up their high school season. We have a few guys that played for DeMatha they just finished two days ago. We had to come up here for our first tournament, so we haven’t thrown too many of our sets in. Next week is our training camp and we’re going to have to tighten things up with our offensive sets and get our defensive concepts down.”