By Brian Bosworth, National Recruiting Analyst
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Connecticut Basketball Club (CBC) has produced recent stars Kris Dunn (McDonald’s All-American, Providence) and Andre Drummond (#9 overall pick by Detroit Pistons) along with a host of others at colleges around America. The next wave of stars was on display at the Elite 75 with eight CBC players in action overall. Kahlil Dukes (2013 G), Paschal Chukwu (2014 C), Jared Wilson-Frame (2014 G/F), Daniel Garvin (2013 F), Sean Obi (2013 F/C), Kurt Steidl (2013 G/F), Kamali Bey (2013 G/F) and Levy Gillespie (2014 G) all represented the Connecticut program. NBE had a chance to catch up with a few of CBC’s top performers throughout the day and discuss their ongoing recruitment.
Kahlil Dukes – Dukes has had a breakout spring scoring the ball and running the show for CBC and has been rewarded with his first high major offer. Read more
by Alex Schwartz
PHILADELPHIA – There were only a few game sets at the Philadelphia Reebok Showdown Series on Sunday, the final day of the event. As was the case on Day One, NBE Sports was there to catch some impressive performances and collect a few school lists.
Lamar Kimble: While he did not enter the weekend as the most well-known player on the Team Final Blue 15s, there is no question that Kimble was the squad’s best performer in Philly. The 5’11 point guard out of Neumann-Goretti (PA) led the team to the title in the U16 age division. A true floor general who plays under control, Kimble handles the ball extremely well does a great job of distributing it. He has superb vision and is adept at finding the open man. Kimble has a nice spin move that he uses to get to the rack and he knows how to finish once there. Not a flashy player, Kimble just produces and gets things done on the court. He had a team-high 20 points in the championship game.
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.
Wagner came into their game at Pitt with some definite ideas about attacking the Panthers.
“I felt like our game plan going in was to extend our defense up the court because we felt we could get into their legs that way,” said Dan Hurley, Wagner’s second year coach. “They’ve got bigger perimeter players on the wings, Lamar Patterson played for me in high school and he played the 4, so we wanted to run them at both ends of the court, run them off a lot of staggers, run them off a lot of flair screens, just make them guard a lot of offense, extend the court and try to wear on them a little bit.” Hurley’s plan, especially the part about making the Panthers guard a lot of offense, is one that every coach should follow the rest of the season.
Simply put, Pitt struggles to guard teams that spread them out and make them move their feet. Wagner guards Kenneth Ortiz and Latif Rivers controlled the game from the beginning, and got plenty of help from Tyler Murray and Jonathon Williams. Ortiz frustrated Pitt All American Ashton Gibbs into a 5-16 night that included 4 turnovers (seemed like 7-8 to me) while on the other end Ortiz, Rivers and Murray took their turns scoring at the rim or with jump-shots. Williams got some big buckets in isolation sets from the wing driving baseline and spinning back for easy lay-ins as the 6’6″ Juco transfer finished with 7 points and 9 rebounds.
Rivers sealed it from the line late going 6-6 for the game to finish with 18 points. “Latif is coming back you know he finished the season with a torn labrum in his shoulder and he played through it because that’s the kind of guy he is and the type of teammate he is,” said Hurley. “That injury is a four or five month recovery and he’s almost been relearning to shoot and maybe ten games or so to feel comfortable and that’s the Latif we recruited, clutch, big free throws you know he’s from Jersey just like Kenny (Ortiz) and they have that toughness and belief.” Hurley said his team is full of kids like Rivers and Ortiz.
These guys have a brotherhood,” said Hurley, “this isn’t something we’re putting together on a year-to-year basis these guys practice hard they relate well to each other on and off the court and it’s a blessing to coach these guys.”
Ortiz scored 12 while assisting on 7 other Wagner baskets. Murray was was 3-5 from deep. Naofall Folahan grabbed 8 rebounds of his own while bothering Pitt defensively at the rim. Wagners guards grabbed 9 boards as well. Hurley thought staying with UConn earlier this season helped his team meet the challenge of facing Pitt. “I think it gave us the confidence,” said Hurley, “we had it at an 8-point game with 8 minutes to go and we didn’t play as well there as we did here but I think it gave our guys confidence knowing the caliber of team and players that they are. I think we had confidence we could come in here and if guys executed we’d have a chance to win the game.” Ortiz and Rivers were both beaming in the press conference after getting the biggest win of their careers against some familiar faces.
“It’s definitely really big for us as individuals and for us as a team,” said Rivers, “they’re a top ranked type team and to be able to come into their home and win is huge.”
“The Big East is what we all grow up talking about,” Ortiz said, “this is something big me and Tif talked about this our whole life growing up talking about doing big things and we got our chance and took advantage and that’s a great feeling.”
Wagner outplayed Pitt for 40 minutes.
As a result, the Seahawks got a much deserved win. Hurley said he advised his kids to get their cell phones charged when I asked him if he’d hear from his father yet following the win. “I said to the coaches and players to make sure they get their phones charged because we’ll all be getting a lot of texts and a lot of calls.”
As Hurley and his two stars left the media room they wished everyone a good Christmas and happy holidays.
By the way they bounced out of the room it was quite evident that their best present came two days early this year.
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.
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.
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 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.
The July live evaluation period will be an important one for Brian Bernardi. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard out of Xaverian High School in New York City already has several solid mid-major programs putting scholarship offers on the table and it is expected schools from high-major conferences will also be tracking his progress this month during the two 10-day live periods.
The current school list for Bernardi is long and includes a variety of schools throughout the college basketball spectrum. Boston College, Xavier, Hofstra, Virginia, Fordham, Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, Temple, Siena, Fairfield, SMU, Boston University , East Carolina, Marist, James Madison, Manhattan and Wagner were listed as the programs actively recruiting him.