Tony Chenault video; Lance Stephenson rumors

July 24, 2008

Some video of Tony Chenault (PG, 6’1″, 2010), a Wake Forest recruit:

Chenault has Wake on his list of options and seems to like the Deacons at this point.

The Lance Stephenson Saga: St. John’s Edition

At one time, way back in the day, hearing that a top recruit was considering St. John’s was just another day in college basketball. Now, it seems unlikely, so when a story….er, rumor…surfaced that Lance Stephenson, a player who already has as many detractors as fans, was suddenly thinking of playing closer to home, people started wondering what was up. It seems the story, expounded and debunked by Adam Zagoria, was that a position would be given to Lance’s high school coach if he played for St. John’s.

Lance Stephenson Dime Magazine

The saga of Lance Stephenson has officially put Lance into the category of ‘more packaging than player’ as a high schooler. A few weeks ago, Lance made news when he was cut from the USA basketball U-18 roster. When Brandon Jennings decided to try his luck playing in Italy instead of Arizona, people immediately started talking about Lance doing the same. Bear in mind that almost none of these things which have gotten so much attention were Lance playing well, or even at all in the case of the USA Basketball roster.

FOX Sports’ Jeff Goodman has been a critic of Stephenson in the past and wrote this about Lance’s recruitment:

How about the fact that Kansas’ Bill Self was the only high-major coach in the gym watching Stephenson.

That’s right. Self and his good buddy, Norm Roberts of St. John’s, are basically the only ones actively recruiting Stephenson.

In short, Lance has become famous in the recruiting world for being famous. He’s a very good player, but he’s not – at this point in his career – even the best player in the class of 2009. This is not to say he doesn’t have promise and star potential, but at this point, the media machine around Lance is more interested in “Lance the Personality” instead of “Lance the Basketball Player”. Here is the blunt truth: right now, the NBA isn’t any higher on the Lance Stephenson Show than Bob McKillop was. In other words, Lance needs to play a lot stronger to secure a place in the first round. Right now, we are not talking lottery. We are talking maybe first round. This isn’t to bring Lance down, but it’s time to stop talking about Lance going the Brandon Jennings route until Lance proves himself a lot more.

John Henson

While Lance has been getting press for things other than basketball, UNC commit John Henson (SF, 6’10”, 2009) has been getting press for playing the game well. Here is an interview with the future Tar Heel, in which he expounds on his game and why he chose UNC:

What do you contribute your high level of play and improved stock to?
“I think it’s just a combination of my hard work and being in the right situation to perform and show my skills against the best players.”

Right now it seems like there are three players in the running for the #1 ranking: Henson, Favors and John Wall. Of course, there is still a year left before the final rankings (which are worth about 8 cents American) are published, but Henson has not just played well, he’s been absolutely phenomenal, against Renardo Sidney (PF, 6’9″, 2009) and Derrick Favors(PF, 6’10”, 2009). The most interesting thing about Henson is that even though he’s playing against the best power forwards in the country, he’s most likely a wing in the NBA.

Ryan Harrow, suddenly popular

Think the phone stops ringing when a player commits? Not always, especially when that player is a relative unknown and hasn’t signed a LOI. Ryan Harrow was contacted by several schools after he committed to the NC State Wolfpack:

“I’m going to State,” he said. “That’s my school.”

Since his commitment to State, several schools, including Clemson, Florida, Tennessee, have called.

“But I’m going to State,” he said. “I like Coach [Sidney] Lowe and the atmosphere there a lot.

In high school football, players commit and de-commit all the time, which makes the recruiting process almost silly by comparison to basketball. But with more de-commitments happening in the b-ball world, it’s small wonder that players keep listening to offers even after they make their decision. Although players can change their minds until they sign their LOI, players committing early cause problems for colleges, who take the scholarships off the board once they get a player’s verbal agreement. Maryland coach Gary Williams would have rather spent his scholarships elsewhere rather than have a player hold onto it for months and then bail to another school. There probably needs to be limits as to how early a player can commit, and most college coaches agree.

Ra’Sean Dickey to leave Georgia Tech

Some news that slightly affects recruiting for Georgia Tech: fresh on the heels of getting the commit from Mfon Udofia, fifth year senior Ra’Sean Dickey has decided to leave school and pursue his pro career overseas. I remember watching Dickey play in rural Marlboro county, SC, at a time when he was being looked at by schools like UNC, not far from where Charlotte Bobcats PG Raymond Felton played high school ball. Ra’Sean’s potential took a detour due to injuries, so hopefully he can find success playing pro ball elsewhere.

Mfon Udofia picks Georgia Tech

July 23, 2008

Mfon Udofia (PG, 6’2″, 2009) has decided to play ball for Paul Hewitt and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech was considered the favorite and gives Hewitt a big name for the class of 2009.

So now that Georgia Tech is putting together a nice class for 2009, will Glen Rice, Jr. be the next recruit to commit to play in Atlanta?

Rating High School Players

July 22, 2008

David Money of has a great read about the rankings, how they are compiled, and so on. He’s done a good job of gathering info from Jerry Meyer and Justin Young, the two main guys who put together the rankings:

No area is left neglected. Year in and year out, Young and Meyer attend high school games across America. In the off season of the high school leagues, the AAU circuit winds into full motion, stocked full of America’s top talent. At events such as Bob Gibbons’ Tournament of Champions (Durham, NC), Tyson’s The Real Deal on the Hill (Fayetteville, Arkansas), Nike Peach Jam (North Augusta, GA), and the Las Vegas Summer Jam; it is not unusual to see Billy Gillispie sitting next to Rick Pitino, Jim Boeheim sitting next to Billy Donovan, or Tom Crean sitting next to Ben Howland. Of course, included in this crowd is either of the senior analysts, Justin Young or Jerry Meyer.

I’ve been asked in the past if I’m going to put a Top 100 on the site, and I’ve thought about it a great deal. The reason I’m not entirely sold on the idea is that, frankly, beyond the top 10 players, it gets pretty subjective. I’ve seen a lot of players myself, and while it’s one thing to name the best player at an event or the best player on a team, it’s another to say, rank one player #74 and another number #75. It gets formulaic.

I’m not sure rankings really serve a purpose, being designed for the fans of schools who want some idea of how good a player is, and want hope for the future. However, a lot of Top 100 and even Top 50 players never become superstars. In 2004, one ranking had Dwight Howard as #1 (not bad), but other rankings were not so accurate: Juan Palacios was ranked higher than Jordan Farmar, Joakim Noah and Rajon Rondo, who all went pro before Palacious, which made sense after their seasons. I am not slamming the person who put together the rankings, merely pointing out the difficulty of judging talent when the talent isn’t the bona-fide, “lock” superstar variety. Longtime fans are aware that a lot of Top 50 players come into the college ranks and don’t set the world on fire.

Rankings also are subject to the overall talent level in any given year. Is the #1 player this year as good as the #1 player last year? The rankings tend to create an aura of ‘NBA Lottery’ around the top 10 or top 20 players. I saw Dwight Howard play in high school, and his talent is rare. He’s one of the best I’ve seen at that level. Ranking him #1 is almost not fair to him, because he was a future NBA All Star and potential Hall of Famer, and it was apparent even then.

The ‘star’ rating system is possibly more accurate, but does not really give enough leeway. Is a player who starts for a Division II school a ‘no-star’ or a ‘one-star’ high school player? The athletic ability (and discipline, and grades) that a player needs just to play college ball at any level would put them as very good high school player. It seems that generally the star rating system is designed to rate various level of Division I talent, but nothing lower. It’s also prey to the same issues as the ranking system, in that a ‘five star’ player of any given year is no better or worse than any other ‘five star’. A combination of the two methods helps, but seems somewhat at odds. If a player is ranked #5 and is a five star player, he is supposedly better than a five star player ranked #10 or #12. Again, it starts getting subjective. Things get skewed at the high school level. I’ve seen players who averaged 20 ppg in high school who ended up in the NBA, while other players who averaged 35 ppg barely cracked their collegiate rosters.

What ratings, rankings and evaluations should probably do is focus on each individual player, and only that player. A Top 10 or Top 20 is not so difficult, but when it comes to evaluating players higher than this, it matters more the projection of a player’s career as opposed to the rating or ‘star’. Again, those methods have some merit, and fans clamor for the ratings, but it is more valuable to say a player is a ‘potential high major star’ or ‘high major contibutor’. Splitting those descriptions tells a lot more about what the player will do.

So, I think we will adopt this method when we discuss player’s games. I think the most accurate method is to project where we think the player’s talent level is in accordance to what level they can achieve.

Jontel Evans picks Virginia; L.D. Williams Video

July 21, 2008

Jontel Evans (PG, 5’11” ,2009) has decided on the Virginia Cavaliers. Evans is physically strong and a tough player, also being a star football player in high school:

Like Singletary, Evans was also a big-time football player in high school — he ran for over 1,500 yards and scored 27 touchdowns as a running back this past season.

L.D. Williams at the Triad Pro Am

Although not high school recruiting, here is some video of athletic, above-the-rim forward L.D. Williams of Wake Forest. This video is from the Triad Pro Am, Rusty Larue’s summer league:

Doron Lamb to Oak Hill; Zanna an ACC target

July 20, 2008

It seems pretty clear at this point that Doron Lamb (PG/SG, 6’4″, 2010) will play the 2008-2009 basketball season for Oak Hill Academy, and Alex has a bit of info that backs that up. Lamb is one of the top guards in the Class of 2010 and will probably get a lot more ink before he makes his decision.

Josh Selby, Talib Zanna
Meanwhile, another top guard from the class of 2010, Josh Selby (PG/SG, 6’2″), had the odd misfortune of playing basketball really well at the wrong time. Selby poured in 25 for DeMatha in a game after the NCAA open evaluation period, doing scoring battle with Rashad Whack (SG, 6’2″, 2009) and Talib Zanna (C, 6’9″, 2009). Clemson and Virginia Tech are in the mix for Zanna, who is somewhat under the radar but can score the ball. We are adding Zanna to the ACC Targets list.

And now, finally, some good news for Maryland fans

Jeff Ermann of is reporting that Will Regan (C, 6’8″ , 2010), not only has an offer from Maryland, he has the Terps at the top of his list, and may be a package deal with Terp target Taran Buie (PG, 6’0″, 2010):

Regan’s teammate on the Albany AAU squad is touted 2010 combo guard Taran Buie, who is also one of the Terps’ top prospects in the class. According to Regan, when he informed Buie about his Maryland offer, Buie told him, “Just say the word and we’ll play together.”

I wouldn’t put that down as a lock, but it is encouraging after the off season that Maryland fans have gone through. Regan also has an offer from Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech picks up two

July 19, 2008 is reporting that Virginia Tech has picked up two commits, one in the Class of 2009 and another in the class of 2010.

Cadarian Raines (C, 6’8″, 2009) a big man from Petersburg, VA, committed to the Hokies, and then later in the same day Jarrell Eddie (SF, 6’7″, 2010) committed as well.

John Wall Watch

Despite recent reports that John Wall had narrowed his list to three, apparently Kansas is now in the mix, and NC State is still alive as a finalist.

Wall also is making it no secret that he’d like to be one-and-done, but he absolutely intends to finish his degree as a promise to his widowed mother:

Wall’s father, also named John, died seven years ago of liver cancer. The younger Wall felt he needed to take care of his mother, Frances Pulley, and his two sisters. Pulley said she wants her son to go to the NBA for himself. She also said she has harped on the importance of a college degree since Wall was an eighth-grader, and the message stuck. Wall watched NBA stars Vince Carter and Shaquille O’Neal return to college and finish their degrees, and if he makes it to the NBA, he intends to follow their lead.

NC Pro-Am

Word out of the NC Pro Am at North Carolina Central is that incoming Duke recruit Elliot Williams has looked really good, although summer league games are not the best way to judge players. Several UNC and Duke players are involved, including Ed Davis, Kyle Singler, Justin Watts and Larry Drew. Hopefully we’ll have an in-depth write up soon.

Dee Giger picks Harvard

Dee Giger (SG, 6’6″, 2009) a teammate of Duke commit Mason Plumlee, has decided to play for Harvard, where former Duke player Tommy Amaker coaches. Giger plays for Christ School near Asheville, NC.

Earnest Ross picks up Big 12 Offer

Earnest Ross (PG/SG, 6’4″, 2009), who is being watched by several ACC teams, has picked up an offer from Colorado.

Triad Pro-Am Rundown, Wake Forest incoming frosh

July 18, 2008

Rusty Larue, the former Wake Forest and Chicago Bulls guard, put together a summer league of professionals and amateurs three years ago, and it’s still going strong. The talent level in the Triad Pro-Am is pretty high; NBA All-Star Chris Paul played in two games before jumping a plane to Vegas to work out with the Olympic team this week.

The big draw of the night is usually the Wake Forest recruits and players; in the first game I watched, James Johnson scored 40, leading his team over Harvey Hale’s squad. Johnson was unstoppable, slashing to the basket for dunks or layups, or pulling up and nailing threes.

Coach Gaudio talks with Mike Drum and yes, that’s James Johnson in the background.

There aren’t a lot of high school players who play in the Triad Pro-Am, but all three Wake Forest incoming recruits were in action, including McDonald’s All American Al-Farouq Aminu, Ty Walker and Tony Woods.

Tony Woods

The first incoming Wake player to take the floor was Tony Woods (C, 6’10”, 2008). Woods looks every bit of 6’10” and then some. However, I’ve seen him play better. He seemed winded quickly, and despite some nice moves here and there, often seemed tentative with the ball. I’m not sure if it was because of Coach Deano Gaudio standing a few feet under the basket, but whatever the reason, Woods showed only a few glimpses of the aggressive finisher I’ve seen in other games. That being said, Woods is that rare commodity in college basketball, a legit center. There is no 3 or 4 to his game, he is a back to the basket player, with size and bulk to bang in the paint.

Ty Walker

Walker is not the big body that Woods is; while Woods looked bigger than his listed 6’10”, Walker looked smaller than his listed 7 feet, but I saw the games in different gyms. Walker runs the court like a forward, looking more like a 4 than a 5. He and Ish Smith arrived late to their game and I did not get to see them play as much. Walker did not get many touches, but seemed to get pushed out of the action in the halfcourt sets.

Al-Farouq Aminu

The big draw of the night was Chris Paul, but the second biggest was no doubt Aminu. Aminu is exactly what I’ve seen before; a future NBA 3 who never sees a shot he doesn’t like. The thing is, he looks and handles the ball like a legit 3 but he can shoot like a 2, with that perfect fluid shot that barely touches net as it slips through. He did have a nice slashing spin move to the basket a couple of times. He can get off his own shot, and he handled the ball well even against PG Ish Smith. However, I think his strengths are finding the seams in the d for jumpers or layups. This kid is big time.

Other notes

James Johnson is a stud. Of all the players I saw, he was the best, even better than Aminu.

The player who had everybody scrambling for their roster sheet was Jamal Durham, a 6’6″ player for Winston-Salem State. In a game where Wake star Jeff Teague showed his unbelievable quickness, Durham looked really good.

Chris Paul doesn’t mind walking around the parking lot in his nice white socks.

LD Williams loves to play above the rim.

Lees-McRae incoming freshman Kyle Boardman is a pure PF who surprised me with his outside shot. He plays strong with the ball and although he is not a high flyer, he can bang in the paint. Speaking of Lees-McRae, current LM PG Jesse Hoots was one of the better PGs that played in the Triad Pro Am.

While we’re talking about Lees-McRae, which is in Banner Elk, NC, they just picked up Juco player Vlady Nikolov, a 6’1″ guard.

Lakeem Jackson to South Carolina

July 17, 2008

Lakeem Jackson

Lakeem Jackson (SF, 6’5″, 2009) has decided to play basketball at South Carolina, choosing the Gamecocks over Georgia Tech. Jackson was considered a South Carolina lean, and gives new head coach Darrin Horn his first commitment for the Gamecocks.

Jackson is an athletic, aggressive slashing SF who has a knack for finding the holes in the defense. He’s also a lock down defender who excels in the transition game.

Plumlee, Wear play well in Argentina

July 16, 2008

I haven’t mentioned the U-18 USA Basketball team results, but there are several ACC targets who made the roster and are playing in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship right now in Argentina. Mentioned in the blurb below from the Winston-Salem Journal, Duke commit Mason Plumlee (PF, 6’11”, 2009) continues to look good and UNC commit Travis Wear has gotten in on the action:

The USA Basketball men’s U 18 National Team (2-0) took control early and ran away with a 115-51 victory over the Bahamas (0-2) yesterday afternoon at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Formosa, Argentina. For the second game in a row, Travis Wear, who has committed to North Carolina, scored 15 points to lead the USA.

The U.S. took the lead 1:30 into the game; all 12 players scored. Mason Plumlee of Arden scored 14 points and had 14 rebounds.

In its tournament opener Monday, the United States defeated Venezuela 82-73. Wear led the U.S. with 15 points and seven rebounds, and Raleigh Ravenscroft’s Ryan Kelly added 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

Ryan Kelly (PF, 6’10”, 2009) is a guy who several ACC teams are competing for as well, but what is really intriguing is that in addition to UNC, NC State and Wake Forest, Kelly lists Davidson. Davidson’s coach Bob McKillop is coaching the U-18 team right now and certainly is getting a lot of time with Kelly. The other point is that although Davidson has been a competitive program under McKillop, getting more big recruits will keep them in the national scene.

The Al Woods Show

I had a blast talking with Al Woods during his show yesterday, and I appreciate him having me on. We talked about the site, Brandon Jennings, and several other things basketball-related. If you want to hear the show, click the link below and listen to the show for July 15, 2008. I am on in the first segment. on The Al Woods Show

July 15, 2008

I’ll be appearing on the The Al Woods Show tonight at 8pm. If you want to listen, you can listen online here:

The Al Woods Show

But it will be available online at the same link, so if you can’t make it today (July 15, 2008), you can still tune in. Click on the link above and listen to the July 15 show.

Al runs a recruiting service that helps kids get recruited, and he’s a good guy.