Friday, March 8, 2013
Cleaning out the notebook
By Dave Telep
This week’s Friday notebook includes the latest on UNC’s chances with Andrew Wiggins, which college coach watched Julius Randle most recently, a 7-foot freshman from North Carolina and much more basketball recruiting news.
Wiggins and UNC? You never know
No. 1 prospect Andrew Wiggins (Thornhill, Ontario/Huntington Prep) is causing cognitive dissonance in my noggin. Basically, this thing is confusing.
Andrew Wiggins may be from Canada, but his dad was born in North Carolina.
For the longest time, I was firmly on the Florida State train. Leonard Hamilton worked him hard. Problem is, the Seminoles have stumbled this year on the court, much like Texas has struggled in a year when it is recruiting Julius Randle. You have to wonder how much -- if any -- of an impact those struggles have on these recruits?
Then, during a call this week with a college coach, the words “I don’t know, I could see him going to UNC” were uttered. That’s the first time I’d heard those words in Wiggins’ recruitment. I also heard this week from another participant in the process, though not a college coach, that Wiggins was most comfortable with Kansas coach Bill Self. At the same time, you hear glowing reviews about his Kentucky visit.
Confused yet? Join the club.
Regarding UNC, his dad, Mitchell Wiggins, was born in Kinston, N.C., and played at North Lenoir High School. Now, for what it’s worth, Kinston is a straight Tar Heel town, though Mitchell Wiggins went to Florida State. But Reggie Bullock is from Kinston and became a Heel. Jerry Stackhouse was also a Kinston guy and a Tar Heel. Wiggins’ grandmother resides in Kinston to this day.
Who knows if this means anything in the end, but it’s an interesting tidbit and potentially a tiny window into this thing nonetheless.
Who watched Randle’s final games?
Not a single head coach who is recruiting No. 1 senior power forward Julius Randle (Dallas/Prestonwood Christian) was at his final high school game last weekend. The state title tilt was a game day for each program on his list.
Kansas, however, did distinguish itself. Self was the only head coach, according to Randle adviser Jeff Webster, to make Randle’s monster semifinal game (40 points, 15 rebounds).
Webster also talked about the status of Randle’s health after missing much of the season with a fractured foot.
“I can’t put a number on it because he had surgery,” Webster said. “With a good summer and getting back to his norm Julius is just a freakish athlete. He’s 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds and jumps out of the gym. He’s physically gifted.”
Randle returned to the court three weeks ago in time for senior night. He then carried his squad to a state championship and was added to the McDonald’s All-American Game roster this week.
Also earlier this week, rumors spread that Randle had trimmed Oklahoma and NC State from his list. After initially stating that all six teams among his finalists were still alive, Randle's mom confirmed via text message Friday morning that NC State and Oklahoma have been eliminated. As a result, Randle will choose between Kansas, Texas, Kentucky and Florida live on March 20 on ESPNU.
Allen paid attention to the details
There are all types of indicators of winning guys. I’m a big believer that the current leader teaches the guys behind him. It’s a simple next-man-up philosophy.
When ESPN 60 shooting guard Grayson Allen (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School) made the following comment, it immediately became a positive check mark in his intangibles column. Allen was barely in high school when his predecessors at Providence were winning games.
“I looked up to Patric Young [Florida] and JP Kuhlman [Davidson] early,” Allen said. “JP was always in the gym shooting, and I saw him in sixth grade and that inspired me. Patric was always lifting, and no matter what drill he gave 110 percent.”
Allen was set to take an unofficial visit to Duke last weekend. Instead, he stayed home one day after winning a state championship.
7-foot frosh sees Tobacco Road and beyond
Freshman 7-foot center Raekwon Long (Charlotte, N.C./Garinger) is a big boy. He has quietly been getting around. Though no head coaches have been to Garinger to see him play a game, he’s seen their offices.
Back in the fall, Long went to Kentucky unofficially and watched UK’s alumni game. He was at Duke for its win over Miami. He saw the Tar Heels host Virginia Tech. He’s met Jeff Bzdelik at Wake Forest, and Alan Major had him on campus at Charlotte. And did I mention he’s been to Clemson and that an Ohio State assistant popped in to see him?
Recent UNC commit Justin Jackson wouldn't mind playing with AAU teammate Justise Winslow in college.
Friends forever or only for the next year?
Earlier this week, ESPN 60 junior small forward Justin Jackson (Tomball, Texas/Homeschool Christian Youth Association) committed to North Carolina. A month from now he’ll be running the travel team circuit with another ESPN 60 wing, Justise Winslow (Houston/St. John’s).
For what it’s worth, UNC is angling for another wing in the 2014 class.
“I would love to play with my teammate Justise, but I haven’t thought about who I’d want to play with,” Jackson said. “I’ll find out who they’re recruiting, and I’ll figure that out.”
Little birdie says to watch out early for Baylor
The streets are cluttered with all kinds of little nuggets. You simply have to listen to the whispers and know where to look.
I’ll give you one of Big 12 interest. Sophomore wing Montaque Gill-Ceasar (Downsville, Ontario/Huntington Prep) has an extensive list, but the program that did the most with him is the Baylor Bears. Scott Drew signed Dominic Woodson from Huntington Prep, so the Bears had plenty of chances to see MGC this year.
Logging miles in North Carolina
This is the best time of year to evaluate high school players. In North Carolina, where I live, we’re a week away from the state title game. In the past few days I’ve had a chance to see junior power forward Gary Clark (Clayton, N.C./Clayton) twice. He went for 35 points and 22 rebounds in front of an NC State assistant earlier this week. In his next game, a season-ending loss with the Pack, Wake Forest, VCU, Old Dominion, Western Carolina and Appalachian State in the building, Clark flirted with a double-double.
A 6-foot-7 forward, Clark is in that tweener area. The spring and summer will determine his overall projection. Mid-majors will line up, and high-level programs will monitor him. Word is, Wake Forest moved on him and made the offer; Clemson might be next on board. Clark watched NC State's game on Wednesday night.
On the western side of the state, sophomore power forward Luke Maye (Charlotte, N.C./Hough) played in front of Roy Williams, Mark Gottfried, James Johnson of Virginia Tech and assistants from NC State and Wake Forest. On his birthday Thursday, Maye was gifted with two fouls early, and Hough was overrun by Akron-bound power forward B.J. Gladden (Charlotte, N.C./Olympic).
Maye has mid-major offers with obvious high-major interest. His father played quarterback at UNC, and before the season-ending loss to Olympic, he bounced Tar Heel recruit Kennedy Meeks and West Charlotte from states.
Evaluating vs. offering
I’m as guilty of it as anyone: You see a college coach in the gym and immediately end up mistaking interest and evaluation for an offer. Just because there’s a head coach or assistant in the stands doesn’t denote the intensity with which a player is being pursued. We frequently tweet and report where and when coaches see players. It’s cool to know, but you can’t jump to conclusions without knowing the context.
This time of year, college recruiters are out in full force gauging how their prospective recruits respond under the duress of the playoffs. Decisions are being made regarding not just offers but whether or not to keep recruiting the player.
The next time you read about your favorite coach in the gym, keep the big picture in mind. You might jump to the conclusion that School X likes the kid when in reality, they may have just eliminated him or are only in the process of evaluating him. Just a little food for thought.