NCB On The Trail: Basketball

Shooting guard Prince Ali (Pembroke Pines, Florida/The Sagemont) School), ranked No. 44 in the ESPN 100, has committed to UCLA over finalists Louisville, Michigan, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Nebraska. Ali had committed to Connecticut last December before decommitting in May, which opened the door for a number of high-major programs to pursue him. That's exactly what happened.

Let's check out what the Bruins are getting in Ali:

Power Forward Alex Owens (Orlando, Florida/Oak Ridge), ranked No. 94 in the ESPN 100, has committed to Providence over finalist Central Florida and Missouri. Owens decommitted from Central Florida back in November. Let's take a look at what the Friars are getting in Owens:

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So-Cal Hoop Review has elite field 

April, 14, 2014
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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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#AskCoachB: Future for Kansas

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
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Freshman center Joel Embiid has yet to officially announce his NBA draft decision, but it looks like fellow freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins will do so on Monday. The school released a statement that the 6-foot-8 freshman from Canada will make an announcement at 3 p.m. ET. When you have an announcement set up, it usually means you are going somewhere, not staying.

Looking ahead to 2015, Naadir Tharpe will be graduating next year, which makes point guard an absolute need in the 2015 class. Everyone will also be keeping tabs on returning wing Wayne Selden and incoming freshmen Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre next season.

The Jayhawks' needs in 2015 could be many depending on which players declare for the NBA draft next year. Here is an early peek at their wish list in 2015. On the perimeter there's Malik Newman, Jalen Brunson, Jalen Adams, Antonio Blakeney, Montaque Gill-Ceasar and P.J. Dozier. Dozier, who has been sidelined with a knee injury this year, will be back and has already shown the talent to be a high-major prospect.

The main targets for the frontcourt are ESPN 60 No. 1 Ivan Rabb, Diamond Stone, Stephen Zimmerman, Chase Jeter and Carlton Bragg.

This is an early, fluid list of recruits Kansas has targeted. There is a very good chance this list will change after the spring evaluation period.

Recruit and return: San Diego State 

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
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In order to return to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at San Diego State and its chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick references:
2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starters:
PG Aqeel Quinn
SG Matt Shrigley
WF J.J. O'Brien
WF Winston Shepard
C Skylar Spencer


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Recruit and return: UCLA 

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
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In order to return to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at UCLA and its chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick references:

2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starting five:

PG Bryce Alford
CG Isaac Hamilton
SG Norman Powell
PF Tony Parker
C Thomas Welsh


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Recruit and return: Stanford 

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
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In order to return to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at Stanford and its chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick reference
2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starting five:
G: Chasson Randle
G: Christian Sanders
G: Anthony Brown
F: Reid Travis
C: Stefan Nastic


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#AskCoachB: Hoosiers will get stronger

December, 16, 2013
12/16/13
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One of the glaring weaknesses with the Hoosiers this year is their lack of outside shooting. With the addition of top-100 players Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr., those concerns will eventually be gone.

Johnson is a terrific guard who can make shots, drive, defend and he makes solid decisions. Blackmon has range and accuracy from deep.

The only certain losses next year are the graduation of Will Sheehey along with Evan Gordon.

They should have an outstanding backcourt with the additions plus returning players such as Yogi Ferrell at the point. If the front-court returns Noah Vonleh Indiana could be the one of the favorites in the Big Ten and a top 25 team again on a national level.

#AskCoachB: Josh Cunningham update

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
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His recruiting is still wide open and he has not narrowed down a final list of schools. According to his AAU coach Lance Irvin, Cunningham lists Iowa State among many others at this point such as Oklahoma, Creighton, Minnesota, South Carolina, Bradley, UMass, DePaul and St. John’s. It's tough to figure out where he will land as he is in the middle of his season.

In a recent game against Mumford (Detroit) he had 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Cunningham is an undersized power forward with the right approach to the game. He has toughness, bounce and slashes his way to the basket. He is a player that you don't want to face in a game. You want him on your team because he is a true fighter who plays with urgency and makes winning plays.

#AskCoachB: Reasons for transfers

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
12:30
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



Last year college basketball had more than 450 Division-I transfers, which has been the highest amount to date. There are many reasons why these numbers have escalated. Recently the NCAA adopted a rule that if you graduate from a school and have a year of eligibility remaining you can go to another school that has a master's degree that your current school does not have. That has added to the number of transfers.

Here are three reasons why we are seeing more kids transfer in college basketball.

1. Playing time and style of play

Everyone wants to play right away and recruits want a guaranteed amount of shots or minutes. When that does not happen, players get frustrated and look away rather than in the mirror. Playing time is earned by your daily performance and progress in practice, not by your reputation coming onto campus. Today everyone is on TV or the Internet so a recruit must not only watch how a team plays before he commits but ask the coach questions about his style of play and the coach’s plans for the player.

2. Coaching changes

Each season we have close to 50 coaching changes in Division I basketball for many reasons. When that happens, assistant coaches leave as well. A letter of intent might be signed with the school but the reason a prospect picked a school is the relationship with the head coach and his staff.

Coaches move on to better jobs or they get released from their duties. Either way it opens up the door for more transfers.

3. Uninformed decisions

Going too fast in the recruiting process just to make a decision leaves questions unanswered and players with more doubt than security. There is no perfect situation, but it's important to go through the process without playing around so each student-athlete can make an informed decision.

Biancardi's Breakdown: Cliff Alexander 

October, 7, 2013
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Cliff Alexander is the No. 3 prospect in the ESPN 100 and the No. 1 power forward. When this active and intense forward steps on the floor, you notice him as soon as he gets involved in the game action. In a class with elite big men at the top, what makes him special?

Let’s break down his game:

[+] EnlargeCliff Alexander
AP Photo/Damen Jackson via Triple Play New MediaCliff Alexander is the No. 3 overall prospect and No. 1 power forward in the ESPN 100.
Power in the paint
Alexander rebounds and protects the rim, and he has powerful moves which allow him to finish plays near and at the rim. Inside the painted area, some guys produce better than others, but Alexander is the king when it comes to dominating opponents. Blessed with a great physique and explosive athletic ability, Alexander is one of the better frontcourt players in the country. In his class, that’s a huge compliment. He scores almost exclusively in the paint and is especially unstoppable finishing a drop-off pass and on offensive rebounding put backs. He may be the best lob catcher in his class with his vertical jump and vision, which helps him rise up in traffic and throw down a dunk.


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The Oklahoma basketball coaching staff knew what it needed to pursue this winter. The Sooners need more offensive firepower, need more scoring going forward.


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