Friday, February 1, 2013
Cleaning out the notebook
By Dave Telep
This week’s Friday notebook includes an introduction to one of the nation’s most impressive freshmen, a look at Indiana’s big recruiting weekend, why John Calipari’s words resonated with the nation’s No. 2 junior, Illinois putting in work on the recruiting trail and much more.
Small town, big star
The estimated population of Pinetown, N.C., is 1,825. With those numbers, odds are 6-foot-8, 225-pound Edrice Adebayo (Pinetown, N.C./Northside) won’t blend in among his neighbors. If the freshman power forward wants to go incognito, he can slide over to neighboring Washington, population 27,000.
Eastern North Carolina produced Dominique Wilkins, Damien Wilkins, Julius Peppers and, most recently, Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell. It’s the kind of place you don’t pass through; you have to make a point to be in. It’s rural and off the beaten path. The people who live there are welcoming and love their sports.
However, you don’t run into players around there by accident. What happens is that local legend either grows into epic proportions or a player goes out of town and gets noticed. With Adebayo, both happened.
On Wednesday night, the winds blew me to Southside High, where Adebayo’s Northside team played a league game. Nine of the 10 participants looked like normal, small-town high school kids. And then there was Adebayo.
The 15-year-old scored 24 points on limited touches, pulled down 18 rebounds, blocked four shots and made 12-of-18 free throws. None of us have seen enough freshmen to make big claims with heavy conviction. What I can say about Adebayo is that you’re unlikely to find too many power forwards in the 2016 class better than this guy.
This kid has numerous physical and basketball traits working in his favor. He’s super long. Twice he leaped over Southside players for rebounds well above the cylinder -- the kind of boards that count the same as other rebounds but stick in your memory much longer. Twice he went coast to coast (yes, he can handle the ball) and once, like a locomotive briefly veering off the track, he sidestepped a brave soul who was going to step up and take a charge.
Athletic, nimble and graceful with his actions, Adebayo plays hard and effortlessly. However, he was cognizant about picking up fouls, knowing full well his presence was needed.
Adebayo got a lot done, especially considering how infrequently his teammates were able or willing to get him dedicated post touches. Yet this freshman who was recently named a team captain never once showed frustration. He was directing teammates and remaining engaged. The kid can also pass. In a way you rarely see freshmen big men do, he saw the floor, was unselfish and was a capable assist man. It was impressive.
Did I mention he also played with six stitches above his eye courtesy of an elbow he took the night before? He’d spent a long night in the emergency room and was there until 2 a.m. But the thought of sitting out didn’t cross his mind.
Adebayo, as Harrell once did, is averaging 19 rebounds a game. “I know it sounds like I’m padding the stats, but I’m not,” Northside coach Mike Proctor said.
“He’s very competitive,” Proctor added. “He’s been raised right. He does anything I ask. I can fuss at him and he takes coaching well. He does not take losing well.”
North Carolina is chock full of good players in the 2016 class. Adebayo and Harry Giles (Winston-Salem, N.C./Wesleyan Christian) headline what’s shaping up to be a strong class in the state and nationally. There are two elite national-caliber forwards in North Carolina, but one is more difficult to find than the other. Enterprising college coaching staffs will make the effort.
Theo Pinson will choose between UNC, Duke, IU, Louisville and Georgetown on May 22.
Indiana hosting a prospect party
The gang at ESPN’s “College GameDay” will roll into Bloomington, Ind., this weekend for the big Michigan vs. Indiana showdown. They won’t be alone.
Did you really think that just because Tom Crean’s brothers-in-law square off in the Super Bowl he would take it light this weekend?
Cal’s words resonate with Okafor
The nation’s No. 2 junior, center Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young), talked about Kentucky’s approach with him. It’s a chock full of what is becoming a standard recruiting pitch by John Calipari.
“Calipari’s approach is a little different,” Okafor said. “He told me he’d like to have me, but he also said his program wasn’t for everybody. They have great players, and that can elevate your game. He kept it real with me and he told me what to expect.”
Expect one of Okafor’s visits to be Kentucky.
DePaul takes one off the board
Two weeks ago, DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell was in Springfield, Mass., at the Spalding Hoophall Classic. Many thought he was there because Chicago Simeon was in the building. Turns out, seeing the Wolverines’ underclassmen was secondary. Purnell was in the house for senior wing R.J. Curington (Dyer, Ind./Oak Hill Academy).
On Thursday night, Curington committed to Blue Demons. He’ll give Purnell a confident shooting threat, especially from mid-range and along the baseline, where Curington has a good feel for those spots on the floor.
Marquette likes those Chicago guys
It makes sense that Marquette recruits hard in Chicago. It’s a geographical fit and an option for Windy City kids who want to get away, but not too far away. Dwyane Wade is the biggest Chicago success story for the Golden Eagles, and Marquette has Chicagoan Steve Taylor on the roster this season.
So it shocks no one to hear among insiders that the most ardent pursuer of ESPN 60 junior forward Paul White (Chicago/Whitney Young) is, you guessed it, Buzz Williams.
Face time with the right guys
Illinois coach John Groce was in the house at Chicago State University last Saturday for the big Whitney Young vs. Simeon showdown to check up on junior targets White and Okafor in addition to his two Simeon senior signees, Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn.
The fact that Illinois is making a run at Okafor is noteworthy. However, the Illini can’t get any traction with No. 1 junior Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley), and if my package deal theory for Okafor and Jones holds up, that isn’t a good sign.
Also in the building but not playing that night was junior center Cliff Alexander (Chicago/Curie), another prime Illini target.
Speaking of Illini signees, in one of his first games of the year, Illinois signee Austin Colbert (Gladstone, N.J./Gill St. Bernard’s) had 20 points and 20 rebounds in a recent game. Colbert had been sitting out due to New Jersey transfer rules.