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Shooting guard Javon Bess, who is heading to Michigan State, is a sleeper and should have a very good freshman season. Michigan State is losing point guard Keith Appling, and on Monday, shooting guard Gary Harris declared for the NBA draft. Bess will now have a chance to work his way into the rotation and be a factor next season.

Bess plays on the wing and possesses point-forward abilities, as he is long, athletic and constantly making plays with his high motor. Bess can be productive not only in statistical areas but also in other facets of the game that don't show up in the box score. He's a great teammate, he brings energy to the game, gives energy to his teammates and handles the ball against pressure in the full court.

When it comes to scoring, I like the way he attacks the rim, finishes and makes shots when he has time to set his feet. Versatility is what makes him special, as he is also a good passer who finds an open teammate quickly and unselfishly from the wing spot. He brings a many talents to the offensive end and probably could be equally effective on defense, where he shows good lateral quickness with long arms and nice anticipation in the passing lanes.

As his skills improve, he will contribute even more. Tom Izzo and his staff have a long and extremely successful history of winning -- and player development.

Roundtable: ESPN 100 commit predictions 

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
10:00
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The ESPN 100 has just three remaining uncommitted prospects, and the competition remains furious for their services.

Myles Turner, No. 2 in the ESPN 100, leads the way, followed by No. 94 Elijah Stewart, who was released from his letter of intent to Loyola Marymount following the firing of coach Max Good, and No. 98 Josh Cunningham.

Devonte Graham wasn’t ESPN 100 eligible by virtue of his post-graduate status, but there is no denying he is a wanted man after receiving his release from Appalachian State. He will take official visits to Kansas and North Carolina State while also considering Virginia, Virginia Tech, Xavier and Providence.

So where are these remaining four prospects headed? No one knows for sure just yet, but here are a few educated guesses:


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GARDEN GROVE, Calif. -- Gerry Freitas put together the most talent-laden So-Cal Hoop Review event in its tenure with 110 teams in attendance. Many of the elite players were on hand including UCLA commit Lonzo Ball, ESPN Super 60 prospects Kendall Small, Stephen Thompson Jr. and Jeremy Hemsley, as well as well as 2017 studs DeAndre Ayton and Cody Riley. Here's a look at the field.

Most upside

Lonzo Ball
2016, PG, 6-foot-5, 185 pounds
Status: Committed to UCLA
Ball is the most physically gifted point guard in the West and quite possibly the country. His passing has some Jason Kidd written all over it and he'll rebound and score from all three levels. However, his on-ball defense needs much work and his shot mechanics (low release) need polishing.

DeAndre Ayton
2017, PF, 6-10, 220 pounds
Status: All major conferences will be involved with him before it’s all said and done
Ayton is a physical specimen with a Kevin Garnett frame. His fundamentals (plays too straight up and down) and post skills (lacks feel with back to the basket) need a lot of work. However, there is no one on the West Coast with his size, athleticism, and overall upside.


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HANOVER, Mass. -- The seventh annual Northeast Hoops Festival featured many of the top programs from New England, New York and beyond, allowing us the opportunity to both check in on high-profile prospects and get a glimpse at others primed to make a name for themselves during the upcoming April evaluation period.

Top Prospect Watch, 2015


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The two best prospects were Jahlil Okafor for the USA Team and Karl Towns Jr. for the World Team.

Okafor displayed his dominating low-post game and was virtually unguardable. He produced double- figure points (14) and rebounds (10) in only 27 minutes of play. If he gets into optimal physical condition, he can decide his future.

Towns was the only player on the World Team who could score with either hand. Okafor made it difficult for him to score because of his franchise size. He was in foul trouble most of the game so he had to sit and lost some of his aggressiveness.

Towns' future at Kentucky and beyond is extremely bright.

When you look ahead to the college game next season, Okafor should be battle-tested and ready to produce at a high level at Duke.

Towns has all the upside you could ever want in a big man. When you combine his size, shooting skills and impressive basketball instincts -- along with his defensive upside -- he could be really good at Kentucky.

With plenty of hard work and sacrifice in the offseason, they could be two of the better players in college basketball next season.
PORTLAND, Ore. -- In the 17th annual Nike Hoop Summit on Saturday, the USA team defeated the World team 84-73 for the first USA win since 2011. The USA squad featured a balanced attack as four players scored in double figures: Justise Winslow (Duke signee) led the USA team with 16 points, Jahlil Okafor (Duke) and Kelly Oubre (Kansas) each scored 14 points and Tyus Jones (Duke) added 13.

Let's take a look at what we learned from this year's Hoop Summit.


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When our final rankings came out the other day Elijah Stewart came in at No. 94.

Stewart can play, as he has a rangy frame and is a terrific jump-shooter. He’s an explosive athlete who can compete and perform in any conference. He loves to attack the rim in combination with his jumper, which makes him hard to guard. An area of improvement would be his ball handling, as he attacks with speed more than control.

UNC has inquired, as have USC, UCLA and many other programs.

If Tar Heels go after him hard, they will get a visit. His quick-trigger jumper is just what they need.

Weekly Commitment Update

April, 11, 2014
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ACC
Maryland
Michal Cekovsky C
HT: 7-0 WT: 225
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 14
Stars: 4

SEC
Georgia
Yante Maten PF
HT: 6-8 WT: 230
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 39
Stars: 3

Fred Iduwe C
HT: 6-11 WT: 220
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 46
Stars: 3

Missouri
Kevin Punter Jr. SG
HT: 6-4 WT: 170
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: Junior College

Big East
Providence
Kyron Cartwright PG
HT: 5-11 WT: 155
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 44
Stars: 3

St. John's
Adonis DeLaRosa C
HT: 6-10 WT: 270
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 49
Stars: 3

Conference USA
Texas-San Antonio
Arroyo Edwards SG
HT: 6-5 WT: 190
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: Junior College

Middle Tennessee
Perrin Buford SG
HT: 6-7 WT: 205
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: Junior College

Missouri Valley Conference
Missouri State
Loomis Gerring SF
HT: 6-5 WT: 200
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: Junior College

MAC
Miami (OH)
Kalif Wright SF
HT: 6-7 WT: 240
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: Junior College

Ball State
Bikramjit Gill PF
HT: 6-8 WT: 210
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: Junior College

Ohio Valley Conference
Murray State
Wayne Langston PF
HT: 6-7
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: Junior College

Southeast Missouri State
Marcus Wallace PG
HT: 6-1
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Southland Conference
Nicholls State
Quinton Thomas SG
HT: 6-2 WT: 195
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Chris Tawiah C
HT: 6-10
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: Junior College

Sam Houston State
Jamal Williams SF
HT: 6-4 WT: 175
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Northwestern State
Deji Adekunle C
HT: 6-11 WT: 235
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: Junior College

Northeast Conference
Fairleigh Dickinson
Marques Townes SG
HT: 6-3 WT: 200
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 3

Southern Conference
Davidson
Nathan Ekwu SF
HT: 6-7 WT: 235
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Sun Belt Conference
Louisiana-Monroe
Justin Roberson PG
HT: 6-1
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: Junior College

Big Sky Conference
Southern Utah
Sherron Wilson SF
HT: 6-6 WT: 215
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 2

Patriot League
Loyola (MD)
Andre Walker SG
HT: 6-0 WT: 155
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Atlantic Sun Conference
USC Upstate
Ramel Thompkins SF
HT: 6-7 WT: 170
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

MEAC
South Carolina State
Ty Solomon PG
HT: 5-10 WT: 170
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending
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The Buckeyes have the nation's No. 5 class, and it is loaded with versatility. ESPN No. 22 Keita Bates-Diop leads this class and is a combination of a power forward/small forward. His shooting touch extends to the arc, and he has the size to produce in the paint, which makes him hard to defend.

He scores in the low post with turnaround shots off the glass and faces the basket with quick drives along the baseline. He can pass and has good length to block shots, which is a strength.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta does a great job of helping his players find success by moving them to different spots on the floor. Matta can play Bates-Diop at the power forward spot and play small ball or put him at the small forward position and have a big lineup. He's comfortable defending a couple of different positions and is a very valuable piece to the Buckeyes' future success.

#AskCoachB Live

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
1:00
PM ET
Have a question for ESPN RecruitingNation's Paul Biancardi? Tweet @PaulBiancardi using #AskCoachB. He'll answer your questions at 1 p.m. ET.

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The Tigers lose four seniors who played a significant role, including Joe Jackson, Michael Dixon, Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford.

Memphis does add ESPN 100 prospect Dominic Magee and three other junior college players. What's important to know is that redshirt freshman combination guard Markel Crawford will be ready to go for the 2014-15 season.

Memphis still has plenty of talent in the frontcourt, as Kuran Iverson, Austin Nichols, Nick King and Shaq Goodwin can produce at a high level. The Tigers might struggle at the point guard spot, but there is enough talent there to have a good season.

Also don't forget coach Josh Pastner and his staff already have a verbal commitment from ESPN 60 prospect K.J. Lawson in 2015. He is a stud.
video
Scouting the country each year I’ll not only see players’ skills, athletic ability and basketball IQ, but I’ll also witness their character along the way. This year’s class might not have any NBA superstars at the moment, but it will have difference-makers for the college game, both in the short term as well as those who will make a difference in time because of their character traits combined with their talent.

As we wrap up the Class of 2014, here are my five final thoughts:

1. The land of the giants

[+] EnlargeJahlil Okafor
AP Photo/The Sun News/Charles SlateDuke center signee Jahlil Okafor finishes the season as the nation's top prospect.
When you look at the top of a class it's so rare to have three post players sitting in the top three spots. Jahlil Okafor, who held the top spot for much of the season, finishes the season as the nation’s top prospect. The center from Chicago is a dominating presence in the paint. A Duke signee, Okafor led his high school team to a 4A state championship and was named the McDonalds Morgan Wooten player of the year.

He is special because he scores down low in the paint with his back to the basket. His combination of size, touch and fluid footwork is too much for one defender and when he doesn’t score, he attracts a double-team, which gives his team an advantage. He operates with patience and poise and when he reads the double-team he will accurately pass out to the open man. Defensively he guards the post and is improving at ball-screen defense as he is a barrier to the rim for his team.

Myles Turner, the nation’s No. 2 prospect, challenged hard for the No. 1 position and shows a big upside. Turner, who is uncommitted, is an elite shot-blocker and scores baskets with a soft touch and range. Cliff Alexander is going to be an absolute difference-maker for Kansas with his ability to rebound, finish and block shots, and he does it in an aggressive manner. Trey Lyles is one of the most skilled post players in this group and his future teammate at Kentucky Karl Towns Jr. has franchise skill-to-size ratio. Thomas Welsh is a fundamentally sound big who will anchor the middle at UCLA.


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video
The finish line was already in site in February when we last updated our ESPN 100 rankings. After watching many of these prospects for the better part of the past four years, the evaluation process was no longer about learning new things as much as it was monitoring recent developments.

As a result, our most recent and final version of the 2014 ESPN 100 bears a resemblance to its predecessor, except for a select few prospects who seized their opportunity to make one lasting impression.

With that in mind, here are the players whose stock rose the most in the final ESPN 100 of the 2014 class.


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Ryan Silver, director of the Earl Watson Elite AAU program, orchestrated a terrific camp in Colorado as he attracted many of the best players in the state as well as a few gems outside the region. A look at a handful that stood out:

Best Player

Tres Tinkle
2015, WF, 6-foot-7, 215 pounds
Status: Claims offers from Boston College, USC, and Utah, with heavy interest from Cal, Gonzaga, Colorado, Arizona State, Oregon State and Davidson.
The clever lefty from Missoula, Mont., has long arms and big hands and affects the game in multiple ways. He has a knack of finding ways to score at all three levels and his ability to attack the basket is uncanny. He needs to polish his off hand while attacking, but he is a top-50 national recruit.

Best All-Around Big Man


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The race is getting quite interesting for ESPN 100 forward Josh Cunningham. He had plans to make a decision this week but now will wait another week. Cunningham is going to take his last official visit to South Carolina this weekend. He told me last month that he likes coach Frank Martin because he is a top defensive coach and Cunningham likes to play defense.

Cunningham has taken official visits to Iowa State, Creighton, Oklahoma and Northwestern. He's also still considering Indiana, Bradley, DePaul and Minnesota.

It looks like he will make his announcement on April 18 so stay connected here with Recruiting Nation for all of the latest on his recruitment.

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