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A.J. Hammons wasn't to be denied

Shooting 3's (for real, the season begins tonight!)

Hammons engages in beat the clock

A.J. Hammons (Carmel, Ind./Oak Hill) had a decision to make. Purdue had one scholarship remaining for a big man and Hammons was on the clock because Purdue wasn’t messing around. On Friday, power forward Stefan Jankovic (Mississauga, Ont./Huntington Prep) was going to begin his official visit with the Boilermakers. Not anymore.

At 10:22 p.m. Thursday evening, Hammons made his decision and within the hour, Jankovic’s trip was cancelled. Purdue had its man and he’s a big one. Hammons is 7-feet and 275 pounds. Minnesota and Cincinnati wanted him. Matt Painter got him and just in time. The fact that he committed a night before Jankovic was set to arrive on campus is poetic justice.

Because of the timing of the decision Hammons had to rush to call Cincinnati and Minnesota, so the staffs wouldn’t hear about the pledge somewhere else or have to read about it online. For all the guys we’ve written about that missed out on their first choice for whatever reason, hats off to Hammons.

ETA for D.S.R

Maybe the happiest man in high school basketball is Oak Hill Academy coach Steve Smith. With a roster laced with ESPNU 100 players, in an era where guys like attention, Smith is incrementally eliminating recruiting distractions. Pretty soon, everyone on his team will be committed, allowing for maximum focus on the season. Hammons popped on Thursday for Purdue and now his top player, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Indianapolis, Ind./Oak Hill) is set to announce on Saturday.

Here’s how I see it: D.S.R. is likely to become a Hoya. Louisville, Memphis and NC State probably know what’s coming. I was at Oak Hill last weekend and D.S.R. convinced me he wasn’t ready to decide but in the background, the Hoyas were rumbling around in his head. A week later, I think they’re going to be his choice.

John Thompson III was up one time to see the Indiana native but he sent assistant Kenya Hunter up there three times to check in on him. Surely the other schools did the same but barring a last-second change of heart, I’m going with the Hoyas.

Maryland’s Mea Culpa

For years, the D.C. Assault travel team has kicked out top-notch talent in the D.C. area and exported it directly away from College Park and the Maryland Terrapins. Recruiting is a relationship business and former Maryland coach Gary Williams and the Assault coaches didn’t have a relationship; neither seemed to mind. Williams is a hall of famer who won a national title and guided Maryland basketball to elite status. Assault found enough colleges willing to take its talented players like Nolan Smith, Michael Beasley, Quinn Cook, Keith Bogans, Wally Judge and a litany of others. Both parties prospered, just not together.

However, times are changing. Dalonte Hill, one of the original D.C. Assault players, is now a member of the staff at Maryland. It didn’t take new coach Mark Turgeon long to tap into Assault and once Hill was on board; he’s had the ear of Assault’s talent. For the first time -- maybe in well, forever -- there will be at least two of Assault’s better players -- juniors Rodney Bullock (Hampton, Va./Kecoughtan) and Roddy Peters (Fort Washington, Md./National Christian) -- on campus for Midnight Madness.

In the end, maybe Maryland doesn’t offer either one or take a commitment. That’s not the point. The point is they are there and a key relationship (at least in Turgeon’s eyes) has been constructed.

And One ...

Charles Buggs (Arlington, Tex./Hargrave Military) is going on an unofficial visit to Clemson this weekend. There’s no game and not even many students will be on campus but it’s a chance for the Tigers to get to know him. Word I’m getting is that anyone not named Tubby Smith better get on board with Buggs quickly. The Minnesota Golden Gophers head man is personally in charge of recruiting Buggs and he’s doing a good job. Arkansas is on tap for the following weekend; he visited Santa Clara earlier. For the time being, Minnesota is the team to beat for Buggs.