The New Basketball Recruiting Blog

October 1, 2008

We come across so much basketball recruiting information that it’s sometimes hard not to talk about players and events not related the ACC. Rather than try to create a blog for each conference, we have launched the Basketball Recruiting blog, which is plain-jane in name and hopefully stuffed with basketball recruiting content. Today we discuss top point guard John Wall’s basketball recruiting status, and share a little video to boot.

What’s that, you say? John Wall info belongs on the ACC recruiting blog, since he lives in NC and list the Wolfpack? Sure, but we’ve written about Wall a lot already, and readers of the new blog are also interested in Mr. Wall. However, we still have some ACC basketball recruiting news to pass out, so here we go:

Talib Zanna goes to the Big East

Talib Zanna (C, 6’9″, 2009) seemed like a Pitt lean for a while, but a few people hoped Virginia or Virginia Tech might convince him otherwise. Alas, it was not to be and he’ll be playing for the Panthers in the Fall of 2009.

Wake Forest visiting Cheek

With the on-campus visits getting most of the press these days, we kind of forget the old standby of the in-home visit. Lest we forget that Wake Forest is in the mix for sharpshooter Dominic Cheek’s services, Adam Zagoria mentions that Wake will be visiting Cheek on Wednesday.

Harrison Barnes

The next great recruiting battle is answering to the name Harrison Barnes (SF, 6’6″, 2010), who holds a ton of offers, including Duke, UCLA and Kansas and UNC’s Coach Roy Williams has watched Barnes play.

Derrick Favors

So Derrick Favors (PF, 6’9″, 2009) has cut his list to six, and now he’s just returned from a visit to Georgia Tech, and it sounds good for the Yellow Jackets:

“Georgia Tech, of course, is right here in the city, and that’s always a great thing. It would allow people around here, such as his family and his friends, the opportunity to see him play in person. And Georgia Tech has a great tradition of putting players in the NBA on a regular basis …”

Tech has been thought to be a leader for Favors, despite claims to the contrary, and Tech would love to have the big time power forward.

Michael Snaer

Finally, Michael Snaer talks basketball recruiting in this interview, in which he discusses his visits:

You took official visits to Missouri and Florida State prior to coming to MU. How would you compare and contrast the three visits, and what you saw on each? The whole recruiting process, it’s like they’re all saying the same things, so it’s the little things that you’ve got to bring out. And one of the real good things that attracted me to Marquette is that they just play hard. How tough they are and how hard they work.

Florida State and Missouri are bigger schools and have football teams. Basketball at Marquette, meanwhile, is the biggest show on campus. How much does the thought of being ‘the’ show at MU appeal to you? It feels good, but it really doesn’t matter to me because at the end of the day you’ve still got to win games. Either way, it doesn’t really matter to me. I’m still going to play as hard as I can, no matter what.

I really have appreciated how Snaer has handled his recruitment. He has pretty much taken his visits as planned, and seems to be doing his best to really evaluate each school. It’s only one of the biggest decisions of his life, after all.

Melvin Tabb

Even though we dropped Talib Zanna as an ACC target when he committed to Pitt, we’re adding Melvin Tabb (PF, 6’8″, 2009) to the tracking list, with an offer from Clemson and a recent visit to NC State. He’s actually been contacted by a few other ACC schools as well.


John Wall improves his game

September 17, 2008

John Wall fits the profile of a player who could easily develop an attitude problem. As a basketball point guard, he went from being a local high school star to a national high school star very quickly last summer, and went from being a ‘highly rated’ college prospect to possibly – ahem – possibly being a number one NBA pick in the 2010 draft.

Hype is a silly thing, and it would be normal for a teenager, which is exactly what Wall is, by the way, to develop a serious me-first attitude when being showered with attention and praise by national press. To be sure, John Wall isn’t exactly a household name like Lebron James or Kobe Bryant. He’s only famous to those fans who follow high school basketball recruiting and scouts. But it’s enough.

Wall developed a reputation for taking plays off and tirades. Message boards teemed with stories of prominent college coaches leaving games in disgust and there still continue to be tales of back-door dealings in Wall’s recruitment. But these stories have settled a bit, and for now another player, Lance Stephenson, is considered to be the ‘head case’ of the class.

Dave Telep has penned an article about John Wall’s attitude, how it’s improved, what initiated the change and where he thinks he needs to go from here:

“Then coach (Levi) Beckwith helped me out a lot. Attitude-wise, I had a bad one when I got (to Word of God). He changed all that around and didn’t let me play with that. (They) set me down and made me realize I had to trust my players and have a better attitude.”

These days, Wall’s attitude is in check. He’s grown up, learned some tough lessons and continues to check himself. “I got frustrated last year when I made passes and they were dropped,” he explains. “Now, I just pat (those guys) on the back and tell them to get it next time, so it doesn’t stop me from playing.”

Wall also talks about what he’s been told, by everyone, what he needs to work on in his game. He needs to develop an outside shot. He needs to play defense more consistently. These are the types of things that will make or break Wall during his likely one-year tour in the NCAA. It’s unclear if Wall will end up as the #1 pick in 2010. Ricky Rubio is no slouch as a point guard either, and he’s already playing pro ball against pro players. But Wall has the quickness and athleticism to be great.

Dominic Cheek eliminates Indiana?

A few days after saying he would visit Indiana, Dominic Cheek(SG, 6’5″, 2009) is no longer considering going to make an official visit to the Hoosiers. He will, however, have an in home visit with Tom Crean.


John Wall says ‘Not So Fast’ on Baylor

August 15, 2008

Everybody thinks Wall is headed to Baylor, but he says no decision has been made, and Alex spoke with Wall to get the scoop, and he says he is still open:

There was thought that the Bears hired Clifton specifically to got Wall, but John says that he thinks Scott Drew and Co. hired him because “they . . . thought he was a good man.” Regardless of the reason why Baylor hired Clifton, does that give the program a major lead to land the talented point guard from Word of God (NC)? “No, no, they’re not the top choice,” said Wall of Baylor, also adding, “I’m still wide-open.”


Richard Howell to NC State

July 28, 2008

Last week Georgia Tech was getting the ink, this week it’s NC State. Scout.com is reporting that Richard Howell (PF, 6’7″, 2009) has committed to NC State.

Sidney Lowe has had a big week.

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Lorenzo Brown finally commits to Wolfpack

July 27, 2008

Lorenzo Brown (PG/SG, 6’4″, 2009) finally made it official and chose the Wolfpack. A great commit for Sidney Lowe, who had been leaning to the Pack for a while.

Brown is a ‘real’ combo guard; meaning, not really a pure PG and not really a pure SG. A lot of times, players will try to play a ‘smaller’ position, such as a SG playing point, but those combo guards are really players slightly out of position. Brown is really a combo guard, who has some PG skills, such as passing and court vision, and he can slash and shoot like a SG.


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.


Ryan Harrow commits to NC State

June 30, 2008

Ryan Harrow (PG, 6’0″, 2010) has made it official: He’s headed to play at NC State. The Georgia star had made no secret that he liked the Pack.

Wake Forest, Clemson and Auburn were some of the other schools that were in the picture, although only NC State had offered from the ACC. Harrow is a very quick guard with excellent ball handling. He can burn and slip right through the defense, but will probably need to get stronger by the time he gets to NC State.