Austin Rivers: A Player We’d Like To See In the ACC

July 5, 2010

It seemed like Austin Rivers was destined to stay near his home in Florida.

After he committed to the in-state Florida Gators, it seemed like a done deal. The Gators would get one of the best point guards in the 2011 class, Austin would stay close to home (Gainesville is relatively close to Winter Park, FL) and everything seemed settled.

But as Rivers continued to improve, he began to consider that he may have committed too early, and after mulling it over, eventually de-committed from the Gators and decided to weigh other offers. He still is considering Florida as a high possibility, but the full court press from other schools such as UNC and Duke is now in full effect.

Rivers, whose father is the famed ex-Atlanta Hawks PG, Doc Rivers, knows all about the world of basketball from his father’s current job as coach of the Boston Celtics, and an older brother who plays for Indiana:

“[Doc Rivers’] four kids like the idea of having a father who coaches in the NBA. Spencer loves shooting baskets at TD Garden before games. Austin Rivers is accustomed to seeing his father at a lot of his Winter Park High School games and fully understood that he had other responsibilities. Jeremiah Rivers will be a redshirt senior guard at Indiana.”

So where will Austin Rivers end up? Right now it’s still up in the air, but he is a special talent that we’d love to see in the ACC.

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Desmond Hubert: Heavy ACC Interest

June 29, 2010

Desmond Hubert is one of the better big men available in the 2011 class, a pure post player who comes in at 6’9″ and plays his high school basketball in New Jersey.

Desmond has said he will probably land in the Big East or the ACC, and in our related story on BasketballElite.com, Alex Kline reports that he has offers and interest from plenty of those schools.

Desmond is a big man who “plays” big, meaning he’s not drifting outside to shoot from the perimeter and works hard to get garbage buckets, or be in the right position for a slashing guard to feed.


ACC Basketball Recruiting: Brandon Ashley

June 9, 2010

By Alex Kline

Brandon Ashley basketball recruiting
Image from ESPN

Brandon Ashley isn’t your typical sophomore in high school. Standing at 6-foot-8, this young, athletic man is developing his game for the next level. At Bishop O’Dowd in California, Ashley is striving at a very young age.

While playing with both Bishop O’Dowd, as well as his AAU team the Oakland Soldiers, Brandon is bound for a big summer. Slam.com ranks him as the seventh best prospect in the class of 2012. This summer he will attend events at the Nike Hoop Jamboree in St. Louis, Peach Jam and Las Vegas. Along with that, Ashley is on the US National team and will attend tryouts very soon.

While his game is still developing, Ashley competes with the ranks of big men in his class like Jamesville-Dewitt’s DaJuan Coleman and Andre Drummond of St. Thomas Moore. While Ashley has not received as much hype as he deserves he will get there soon. His game is progressing along the way. “My game is developing right now,” said the 6’8 Power Forward. “I have a pretty good inside game and am currently working on my outside game. I have a solid jumper and my handle is progressing.” It may be progressing but colleges are already taking note.

That being said, Ashley is drawing plenty of interest from different schools. West Coast schools have primarily noticed his abilities so far. “California, Washington, Arizona, UCLA and Stanford have offered me,” said the California native. “There are no early favorites right now. I am still open to all schools.” Ashley is taking the recruiting process slow and is in no hurry whatsoever. “I haven’t really visited any schools yet. I have been in Stanford and Cal’s gyms but that is about it so far.” Look for more offers to roll in this summer for Brandon.

On a final interesting note, North Carolina recently got in contact with Brandon and expressed some interest in him. “UNC will always be a great school but at the moment they aren’t any higher on my list than any other school,” stated Ashley.

From the looks of it, Brandon will take his recruitment slowly. He has a long way to go in developing his game to the next level but he is bound for greatness sometime soon. Check him out on the west coast sometime and for people on the east coast he will be at the Peach Jam ready to do work!


Is UNC Pulling A Fast One With James McAdoo?

June 5, 2010

It’s no secret that any college basketball team needs big men, and it’s also no secret that the UNC Tar Heels need big men in the worst way after the sudden transfer of the Wear twins.

After looking at Kadeem Jack, a 6’9″ player who ultimately decided to attend prep school for a year, the Tar Heels landed senior transfer Justin Knox.

Now, it seems that one of their highly regarded 2011 recruits, James McAdoo, may be able to reclassify and attend UNC a year earlier than he planned.

What he would need to do is take three classes over the summer and he’d be able to join the UNC squad in the Fall, helping them out in the post sooner.

All of this has a lot of non-UNC fans crying ‘foul’, saying that UNC is playing fast and loose with the rules in order to help their powerhouse basketball team.

However, the truth is that players reclassify all of the time, and it’s actually no different than what hundreds of players do every year by playing a year after high school in prep school. It’s just that instead of extending their high school career by a year, McAdoo would be shortening it.

Duke player Andre Dawkins did this just last season after the sudden transfer of Eliot Williams.

What McAdoo would be giving up would be the year of accolades for being a high school All-American, meaning he wouldn’t be able to play in the McDonald’s All American game or the Jordan Brand Classic.

However, if McAdoo is physically ready to play in college, it will get him closer to his goal of playing in the NBA faster, and that’s no small thing. So after he participates in the USA Basketball U17 championships, he will have a decision to make, and the Tar Heel nation will wait.


UNC Lands Justin Knox

May 26, 2010

The North Carolina Tar Heels post depth got a little relief yesterday as Justin Knox, the 6’9″ senior transfer from Alabama, decided to play his final year of eligibility in Chapel Hill next season.

Knox chose UNC after considering several options, including Georgia Tech. There were stipulations in his transfer from Alabama that prevented him from choosing schools in the SEC or in the state of Alabama, eliminating many schools that would have been viable options.

However, Knox and his family were excited to join the North Carolina program and are looking forward to next season. With the lack of big men on the UNC roster, Knox has a good shot at extended playing time.

Justin’s father told the Winston-Salem Journal:

“He’s still got a lot of work to do between now and when he gets to Chapel Hill,” Darien Knox said. “He has summer school coming up. He’s got to work out while he’s here in summer school, but he’s excited about the opportunity.”


The New Media Business of College Basketball Recruiting

May 22, 2010

Make no mistake about it, college basketball is big business.

Recently I was discussing the quest for 2010 big men on the campuses of Kentucky and North Carolina with some fans from both schools.

The reason both schools are working so hard to line up big men for the 2010 year isn’t because they can’t find players. These two schools are so nationally recognized that they have thousands of big men who would bolt to their program if given the opportunity.

In addition to being on a national power, the teams play nearly all of their games on national television, with massive fan bases. Both schools’ basketball programs have a deep reach into pro basketball, which means that players that attend those schools will make connections with coaches, players, scouts and ex-players who can help them land a big paycheck in the future, even if it’s not playing on a roster.

But both schools can’t take just any post player. They need power players, players who are good enough to help them maintain their status as a national force. This is because for big time college basketball, it’s not just about winning, it’s about money.

As a result, college basketball recruiting is a huge piece of the business of college basketball, and has been a cottage industry for some time. There are scouting services and websites that have proliferated over the past few years.

Traditional media and scouting services hate, absolutely hate, the sudden infusion of new people into what used to be their own domain. They sneer at the concept of ‘fan’ websites following high school recruiting and claim that it’s all amateur. This, despite the fact that many new services are run by coaches, journalists or ex-players.

On one hand, the criticism is correct. There is an issue already in high school basketball recruiting where independent people can inject themselves into the recruiting process where college coaches can’t. Traditional newspapers will complain that anyone can start a website, obtain media credentials and get right next to highly sought after recruits. This is a straw man argument, however, because ‘anyone’ can start a newspaper, ‘anyone’ can start a newsletter, and there is no difference between a media outlet which is a printed paper circulating to 10,000 people and a website with 10,000 unique readers.

The only difference between any of these media outlets is management and integrity. Claiming that somehow printed scouting services or newspapers are any more legitimate just because of the method of distribution is a hollow argument. I would point to examples such as the New York Post and other methods of yellow journalism that pervade printed, established media to illustrate that the legitimacy of a media outlet is completely dependent on the ethics of the publisher, and nothing else.

It’s quite easy today to pick up any newspaper and find a story with poor or non-existent source attribution, laden with opinionated bias represented as fact, and in many cases, outright interpretation of the facts. Irresponsible journalism is rampant across printed media, television media and the radio airwaves, so the idea that these legacy media outlet have any credibility in pointing out who is a legitimate news source is a farce.

Are there people injecting themselves irresponsibly into the world of college basketball recruiting? Absolutely. But it’s not limited to online publishing.

One specific item is how there is so much focus on ‘ranking’ players in a particular class. I must preface the following by mentioning that many colleagues who I respect and who have contributed at one time or another to our sites run ranking services and publications. They work hard to produce accurate representations of the talent levels in a given class.

But I have always maintained that our site’s focus was on actual scouting and following the players. Ranking a player as number 10 in his class is not the same as discussing how a specific player will fit in at a certain program or what that player’s specific abilities are.

Rankings are fun for the fans, and they have their place. But for us, we are more focused on strategy, contribution and long term prospects. The perfect example is a 6’8″ post player who can rebound like mad but doesn’t score much. He’s incredibly valuable to a team with scorers on the wings, but in a ranking system he’s likely a dud.

This is not to take rankings to task. I mention the concept of rankings merely to point out that rankings were created by established, printed media, decades ago, in almost all cases by people who had never coached or played basketball at any level.

In other words, exactly the way that those same media outlets complain about the ‘new media’ today.

The difference is now there is far more scrutiny. For us, our sites have contributions from journalists, players, ex-players and coaches. Some of our contributors have worked for or played for NBA teams, some for Division I programs. So while we constantly hear the ‘old media’ complaining about our new media, we can’t help but wonder who decided they were the experts.


Kadeem Jack Dunks

May 20, 2010

Kadeem Jack, the 6’9″ post player from the class of 2010 has gone from being a player who was sort of off the radar to being front in center over the past few weeks, as chronicled here.

Thanks again to ScoutsFocus, who provided a nice interview a few days ago with Jack and his thoughts regarding UNC, Kentucky, Miami and Arizona and where he might end up.

Now ScoutsFocus has an updated post with new Kadeem Jack video, and this time he’s sneaking in and dunking over McDonald’s All American Jayvaughn Pinkston:

Kadeem Jack Dunk

While the clip is short, it shows the one thing that I love when I watch a big man play at any level: timing. Timing can’t be taught, and timing is the basis for so many important skills: rebounding, shot blocking, putbacks and catches on the run. Now, this small clip doesn’t automatically put Jack into Dennis Rodman territory, but it’s a nice little slice of what I’ve seen from him before.