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Insider

Elite 24 Saturday notebook

8/25/2012

VENICE BEACH, Calif. -- The best 3-point shooter doesn’t always win the shootout. On Friday at the Under Armour 3-point Challenge as part of the Elite 24 event, Conner Frankamp (Wichita, Kan./North) was the favorite going in and blew away the competition.

Frankamp shot an astounding 49 percent from behind the arc last high school season and torched the nets in Lithuania for Team USA’s gold-medal squad. Still, as he knew, shooting on the beach with the wind could be a problem. Frankamp was out on the court early, sizing up the sun, the wind and all the variables he had zero control over. He definitely honed an approach and was businesslike in his quest to win the championship. In a contest where challengers struggled to break double digits, Frankamp scored 17 and 19 in his two rounds.

Kansas has a player coming next year. This kid is coachable, technical and always quietly motivated. He’s bought into the Kansas aura, and Bill Self will play this young man heavy minutes.

Speaking of playing a lot as a freshman, Julius Randle (Dallas, Texas/Prestonwood) will get that chance. Randle dominated the dunk competition at Elite 24 Friday. It’s impressive when one of the best players at the game rises up. Since he arrived in Venice Beach, Randle has been tight with his workouts and, as you’d expect, quietly set the tone. Not many followed his lead, and they’ve taken the chance to approach the event like an NFL player would the Pro Bowl. Randle, he’s businesslike.

The Under Armour Elite 24 game is Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET live on ESPNU and Watch.ESPN.com.

Elite 24 Notebook

Jamar Ergas (Toronto, Canada/Riverside Academy) -- never heard of him? You will. He finished second to Randle in the dunk contest, and if his skill could ever match his leaping ability, this 2015 wing will have a chance to be a premier recruit.

The Harrison twins -- Andrew and Aaron -– have Maryland, Kentucky, Baylor and SMU on their list. One of them (I couldn’t tell them apart) said they would make officials to Maryland and SMU. The rationale for no visit to UK was that they’ve been there so much, they have all the information they need. My gut in July was that Kentucky was the team to beat. I'm feeling now like Maryland closed the gap and is making its move. Stay tuned.

Nick King (Memphis, Tenn./East) is announcing on Monday. There’s reason to think he stays home and plays for the Tigers. Could they double-digit in their own city with power forward Austin Nichols (Memphis, Tenn./Briarcrest)? Nichols visits Virginia (Sept. 8), Vanderbilt (Sept. 15), Tennessee (Oct. 20, sister goes there) and Duke (Oct. 6). Austin’s father told ESPN Memphis won’t receive an official because it’s home and one isn’t needed. Earlier he trimmed North Carolina, Florida and Kansas from his list. Out here, Nate Britt (Washington, D.C./Oak Hill) said he’s been working on Nichols but it’s in vain; UNC isn’t an option.

Rondae Jefferson (Philadelphia, Pa./Chester) used his trip out west to take an unofficial. He landed in Tucson, Ariz., visited the Wildcats and then made his way to the Elite 24. Florida, Arizona and Memphis are very strong.

Jabari Bird (Oakland, Calif./Salesian) and Aaron Gordon (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty) worked out Friday morning on their own at the Ritz Carlton basketball court. (Yes, we’re staying at the Ritz. Tough gig, I know) They are AAU teammates and dedicated hoopers. Bird visits California (Sept. 1), Colorado (Sept. 8), Oregon (Sept. 22) and Washington (Sept. 29). He’ll visit Colorado and Washington with Gordon. Look, you never know if guys are going together, but they clearly work well together, work out extra together and share two common schools: Colorado and Washington.

Keith Frazier (Dallas, Texas/Kimball) likes those Florida Gators. Texas A&M is a co-leader. Memphis, Texas, Oklahoma State, Kentucky, Washington, UCLA and UNLV have varying degrees of interest. Frazier had no idea Elliott Pitts had committed to Arizona, and we don’t anticipate the Widcats or Kansas Jayhawks going strong on him at this stage.

Junior Rashad Vaughn (Minneapolis, Minn./Robbinsdale Cooper) finished second to Frankamp in the 3-point contest. Maryland, Baylor, Minnesota, Texas, Iowa State and Kansas have offered. North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky are looking.

We have to give it up to Nate Taphorn (Pekin, Ill./Pekin). He flew out here just to prove he’s a great shooter. The bad part is his Thursday flight was canceled, so he drove from Peoria to Chicago and caught a 7 a.m. Friday flight to L.A. He never slept a full day before the 3-point competition.

There are 14 undecided seniors at the Elite 24. In previous years, one could sense commitments coming. This group doesn’t have a player that will pop in August and maybe not until mid-September. As a group, these kids need visits. Not only do they need visits, very few leaders have emerged. Guys like Wayne Selden (Boston, Mass./Tilton) and Nichols are open books. These guys simply don’t know and don’t have leans. The vibe here is that players are going to take their time and need time to decide.