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!

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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.


Portsmouth Invitational – Day One Recap

April 20, 2010

The following article is provided By Carl Berman of NetScouts Basketball and appears here with permission.

NetScouts Basketball

NetScouts Basketball provides consulting and scouting to basketball teams worldwide. They have the largest database of collegiate scouting reports and are the expert on International Basketball in the USA.

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Portsmouth Invitational – Day One Recap

By Carl Berman

We have quite a few scouts and correspondents at the PORTSMOUTH INVITATIONAL as well as my partner, Chris Denker. We’ll be reporting on the action there this week. It’s pretty late now so we’ll make the Day One update a quick one.

Which players helped themselves?

RYAN THOMPSON. The 6′6 SG from Rider lit it up in the first game to the tune of 37 points an 14-for-20 shooting and 4-for-5 on three-pointers. He showed that he is athletic enough to play anywhere.
A.J. SLAUGHTER. The 6′3 guard from Western Kentucky shot 10-for-12 and 4-for-5 on threes to go for 28 points in only 21 minutes of action.

GERALD LEE. The 6′10 PF from Finland by way of Old Dominion showed a nice mid-range game in shooting 8-for-15 to score 16 points to go along with nine rebounds.

HAMADY N’DIAYE. the 6′11 post from Rutgers by way of Senegal doesn’t have a lot of offensive skills but he is very long and can run the court. He came up with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

DONALD SLOAN. The 6′3 guard from Texas A&M shot very well in scoring 20 points and was around the ball to grab six rebounds.

DEON THOMPSON. The 6′9 UNC PF grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with 13 points. He was tough on the offensive glass with six offensive boards.

JEREMY LIN. Lin looked capable of playing with the big boys as he scored 8 and came up with six assists and only one turnover in 25 minutes of play.
Who didn’t impress us?

SYLVESTER SEAY. The 6′9 swing from Fresno State mostly relied on his outside shot which didn’t go down as he shot 1-for-8.

DENIS CLEMENTE. Coming off a nice NCAA tournament for Kansas State the speedy PG was sloppy with the ball in committing five turnovers and only scored four points.

ADAM KOCH. The Northern Iowa forward couldn’t get free and only had four shots, five points and three turnovers in 25 minutes.
We’ll be reporting on the three games tomorrow.

Carl Berman is a Managing Partner of NetScouts Basketball and can be followed on twitter @carlberman.


Ranking The Point Guards of 2010

April 19, 2010

It’s not the practice of ACCBasketballRecruiting.com to ‘rank’ players, because we try to evaluate players based on long term prospects and not so much on their rank within their graduating high school class. There are several reasons for this; first, because there are a lot of ranking services around and our rankings would not be much different in the top players. Secondly, because ranking players between classes makes an unbalanced comparison between classes. Would the number one point guard in 2010 be as good as John Wall of 2009? It’s not really a fair comparison.

That said, we will take a few moments to talk about the top point guards in the 2010 class, and only the position within this class.

This year’s best point guard is probably Kyrie Irving (PG, 6’1″, 2010), a Duke commitment and a speedy ballhandler who can push the ball extremely well in transition. In all of the all-star games this season, Irving has shown he can play on the biggest stages and has had solid outings every time. Now, almost every scouting service out there has Brandon Knight (PG/SG, 6’3″, 2010) as the top point guard in the country, but we don’t agree with that. The reason is not Knight’s ability, which he has loads, it’s the fact that Knight looks too much like a streaky shooting guard. Can he play the PG in college? Yes, he can. He’s a solid ballhandler and passer. But we’ve yet to see that one distinct difference between an off guard running point and a true point, which is, actually running the offense and knowing where players are going to be before they arrive at the spot. Irving has it. Ty Lawson, Chris Paul, John Wall and Raymond Felton all had it. The thinking is that Knight will need to use his athletic talents at slashing to the hoop and develop his point guard skills so he can move to the NBA, but only time will tell if he’s able to do it.

Just behind Irving is Cory Joseph (PG, 6’3″, 2010), an as-of-yet uncommitted player from Nevada who plays the point with intensity and presence. Although he’s behind several other players on most lists, our opinion is that he’s solid and the second best in 2010 right now.

Probably next after Joseph is a tough call between Josh Selby (PG, 6’2, 2010) who just committed to Kansas, and Kendall Marshall (PG, 6’3″, 2010), a North Carolina commit. Selby is a little too much combo guard right now but is tough and can get to the hoop, while Marshall is a pure PG who should flourish in the UNC system.

We’d put Brandon Knight next and then Joe Jackson (PG, 5’11”, 2010), a Memphis-bound player with gifted offensive moves but who will need to prove they can defend effectively at the collegiate level.

The next four to round out the top ten would be Ray McCallum (PG, 6’1″, 2010), an extremely solid PG who will play for his father at Detroit, Ryan Harrow (PG, 5’11’, 2010), headed to NC State, Phil Pressey (PG, 5’10”, 2010) and Ian Miller (PG, 6’2″, 2010), a Florida State commit.


Basketball Players and the Lies People Tell Them

April 8, 2010

I have to say that this article, published on HoopsWorld.com, and written by Steve Kyler, really hit home with me. When the article discusses “runners”, these are guys I’ve dealt with and interacted with many times when scouting a player or teams:

A “runner” – an employee of the agent gets close to the player and his family – makes the initial relationship. When it’s time for the athlete and the family to make the decision, a lot of times the runner acts as an intermediary feeding informed information to the family about what teams are scouting the player and what teams may have the player in their rankings.

Yes, and those guys are the ones completely unregulated by the NCAA, and they try to get close to kids and eventually get a payoff. When you are a lifelong fan of basketball, you tend to see athletes from their televised games, and that’s usually when their presence has reached a much higher maturity. NBA players have to be really polished, comfortable in interviews, articulate. That’s something that a lot of us learn as we become adults, we shed the slang and sometimes self-conscious speech of our teenage years and become confident and communicative. But high school basketball players are kids, regardless if they are 6’8″ and can dunk like madmen, they still are teenagers. Most players I’ve personally met are actually polite and respectful, something I’m not sure could have been said about myself at their age.

But teenagers don’t have the world experience of adults. One thing you learn as you actually move out from school age to ‘real life’ is an ability to survive a very harsh world, and these ‘runners’ are slick talkers who can get into a kid’s good graces all too easily. For many young players who come from meager backgrounds, they have very little knowledge of their own real worth and very little understanding of how to find out things like if they actually have an NBA career ahead of them, or whether they are really on a coach’s radar. Many players and their families whom I’ve met don’t know basic things like the fact that college coaches don’t scout players by reading your local paper’s box score. When a guy shows up at their kid’s game and tells them he knows a couple of college coaches (which he likely does), the parents and the kid think they’ve gotten lucky and that this guy is the only person who can land them a big time scholarship.

This can be disasterous when players have a legitimate shot at a pro career. Even players who are talented enough to land on an NBA roster can miss out, especially if they are not prepared or if they are not talented enough to really make a splash in the NBA. That won’t stop the hangers-on from filling kids’ heads with visions of dollar signs and SportsCenter highlights:

Beyond the top three prospects this year – John Wall, Derrick Favors and Evan Turner – the next ten players could go in any combination of orders, and while “a runnner” may say “Dude you’re a lock for the top 19” there is no truth or substance to those claims.

That doesn’t stop players from making a bad decision on an empty promise. Have you ever asked yourself, what is this kid thinking?

The article goes on to explain a bit about how players can get paid even while in high school and college, and there’s not much the NCAA will do about it. It’s a huge gaping hole in the system, this part is 100% true:

Let’s make one thing clear: whether directly or indirectly, most of the college players projected in the top 100 have an agent or someone involved with an agent in their lives and likely have had that since AAU basketball.

It’s hard for young players to understand what they’re involved in and even harder for kids who come from families without a lot of good parental guidance.

Read the full article here.


McDonalds All American Game Is Wednesday

March 30, 2010

The biggest, or at least the most famous, most publicized, and most glamorous high school basketball all star game of the year is the annual McDonald’s All American games, with games for both the girls and the boys. We’ve chronicled the ACC recruits in this year’s game, which is played this Wednesday on ESPN.

There’s little defense to speak of, and the wide open play is often not a good representation of how players will be when they arrive in college. For some players, it has in the past created such hype that it solidified their position as immediate draft picks, but with the age limit of the NBA that’s far less likely. Brandon Jennings may have been able to secure an overseas deal and skip college by showing off his incredible point guard style in the Mickey D’s game.

For most players, it’s a statement simply to land on the roster of the game that serves as notice that they are likely college, and often pro, stars. J.J. Reddick shot the lights out in his 2002 appearance, landing the MVP in a game that featured Amare Stoudamire, Chris Bosh, Sean May, Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony. I remember watching that game in Madison Square Garden and knew he was going to be a big deal at Duke.

But the game’s wide open style often puts certain players at a disadvantage. While many teams would love to have a guy like Jennings or John Wall streaking up and down the court, a team also needs guys who know how to rebound, defend, set picks and pivot in the post. The All American game won’t always tell you the player who will be able to hit big shots at the buzzer to get to the Final Four, or the player who will set the record for most steals in a career in the NBA. It might, but it probably won’t.

What the game will show you is a few minutes of free flowing offense and give a glimpse, if you’re lucky and the players get a few balls to bounce their way, of what players can do. It can show you ballhandling skills or how a big man can run the court.

And, of course, it’s fun to watch and fun to dream.