NCB On The Trail: Basketball Recruiting

A closer look at Cheick Diallo 

February, 23, 2015
Feb 23
video The late signing period for the 2015 class is drawing near. In the coming weeks, we’re going to take a deeper dive into each of the uncommitted players in the top 25 of the ESPN 100.

Next up:

Cheick Diallo
6-foot-9, 225 pounds | Power forward
Centereach, New York | Our Savior New American School
No. 11 overall (No. 4 PF)

Recruitment so far

Potential schools
Pittsburgh -- Official visit: Jan. 26, 2014
Kentucky -- Official visit: June 27, 2014
Kansas -- Official visit: Sept. 19, 2014
Iowa State -- Official visit: Sept. 27, 2014
St. John's -- Official visit: Oct. 17, 2014

Diallo has had a fairly even recruitment thus far, especially the past year. The native of Mali really saw his stock boom after dominating the NBPA Top 100 camp after his sophomore year in high school, and high-majors from all over became involved. Diallo doesn’t talk to the media much, so there aren’t too many hints being given out about where he’s leaning. He’s been focused on Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa State and St. John’s for the past several months, but it’s hard to gauge a true leader.

We recently caught up with ESPN 60 point guard Dennis Smith Jr. -- who is No. 4 overall in the class of 2016 and the No.-1 ranked point guard in the class -- for a chat about where he is at in the recruiting process as his junior high school season comes to a close.

The five-star Smith is a strong and physical true point guard with tremendous basketball instincts who has elite play-making ability that allows him to not only run the team and get teammates involved but score in variety of ways. The program that ultimately lands Smith will have an immediate impact player at the most important position on the court.

RecruitingNation: What schools have offered you so far that you are most serious about?
Dennis Smith Jr.: I have offers from North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, NC State, Kansas, Louisville, Miami, Ohio State, Florida and local Fayetteville State.

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When college coaches run out of good options in the senior class, they are forced to get creative.

They can mine the junior-college market, explore immediately-eligible transfers or look for overseas prospects who can make an impact.

Another increasingly popular strategy in recent years has been to look for juniors open to the idea of reclassifying, heading to college a year earlier than planned.

Top prospects such as Andre Drummond, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Noah Vonleh are just a few of the most recent examples.

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Four star power forward Ted Kapita ended his recruitment on Thursday, committing to head coach Mike Anderson and the Arkansas Razorbacks over offers from Missouri, Memphis, South Florida and Kansas among others.

Here's a look at what the ESPN 100 prospect will bring to Arkansas.

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Heading into this season, Duke’s depth was supposed to be one of its biggest advantages -- especially on the perimeter. Discussions about whether Grayson Allen would get enough minutes and whether Rasheed Sulaimon would become one of the best sixth men in the country were commonplace.

Mike Krzyzewski had more options than nearly every other coach in the country when it came to adjusting his style or personnel. He could go small, he could go with two big men, he could use two point guards, he could flood the court with shooters.

[+] EnlargeJustise Winslow, Rasheed Sulaimon
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsThe dismissal of Rasheed Sulaimon (right) has left Duke with only eight scholarship players after a string of transfers and early departures to the NBA.
Yet as the stretch run nears, the Blue Devils are down to just eight scholarship players and won’t be making any additions moving forward. There are no players coming back from injury or suspension, no midseason players becoming eligible. It will be one of the biggest storylines over the next two months as Duke competes for a national title.

Of course, it hasn't really impacted the Blue Devils yet -- they are 3-0 since Sulaimon was dismissed, including a road win at Virginia and a home demolition of Notre Dame -- but it’s worth exploring nonetheless. How exactly did Coach K and Duke get in this position?

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The 17th annual National Prep School Invitational spanned the course of four days and included more than 30 games of action. Here are some of the most notable storylines:

1. Rest easy, Ohio State fans:

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ESPN 100 shooting guard Tyler Dorsey gave Oregon a commitment on Monday. He chose the Ducks over Kansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Arizona State and California. Here's what the California native will bring to Eugene next year.

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When Kentucky landed a commitment from Tai Wynyard last week, it was met with mostly shrugs.

[+] EnlargeKansas/Temple
John Geliebter/USA TODAY SportsSviatoslav Mykhailiuk is coming off the bench at Kansas, and several other international players are vying to become impact players at the college level.
After all, not many people on American soil had seen the New Zealand native. At least Wynyard had gone on a visit tour of Kentucky, Villanova and Texas, so he wasn’t a complete unknown.

Take Kansas freshman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk or Gonzaga freshman Domantas Sabonis, for example. They were McDonald’s All American-caliber players according to scouts, but nobody really knew what to expect when they arrived on campus. Moreover, recruitniks and analysts were left scrambling to find information on the players.

International prospects always bring intrigue – primarily because not much is known about them. There are the short YouTube videos and the stat lines from various FIBA and international competitions. Even the coaches recruiting the player have sometimes only seen the player live one time. As a result, it’s a complete mystery how the player will respond to the American style of basketball.

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videoNow that the rosters are set for the 38th annual McDonald’s All American Game -- featuring the top 24 senior high school basketball players in the country -- let's take a closer look at the East team and a few of the many strengths its players will bring when they take on the West team April 1 at United Center in Chicago (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).

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videoNow that the rosters are set for the 38th annual McDonald’s All American Game, let's take a closer look at the West team and its strengths as it prepares to take on the East squad. The most anticipated high school all-star game in the country takes place April 1 at United Center in Chicago (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).

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Small forward Kaleb Johnson committed to head coach John Thompson III and Georgetown after visiting Washington this past Sunday. The four-star prospect and ESPN 100 selection also had a combination of offers and interest from Auburn, East Carolina, Oklahoma State, South Florida, Harvard, Yale, Davidson and William & Mary.

Let's take a look at what Johnson will bring to the Hoyas.

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The disparaging comments started early this season -- like first-night-of-the-season early.

That’s when Missouri lost at home to UMKC and Ole Miss fell in overtime against Charleston Southern. After back-to-back seasons of only three NCAA tournament bids for the SEC, most thought it would be more of the same this campaign.

[+] EnlargeBen Simmons
Courtesy Steven RyanLSU landing No. 1 prospect Ben Simmons is huge not just for the Tigers but for the SEC as a whole.
Not much has changed since, with only four SEC teams in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology -- including two teams (LSU and Georgia) among the “Last Four Byes.” If that holds, it means the SEC will have received 14 NCAA tournament bids over the last four seasons, the lowest among the Power 5 conferences by a significant amount.

That should shift dramatically over the next few seasons, though, as the SEC’s “other” teams have improved the talent level in the league with the Class of 2015 more than perhaps any other conference. Kentucky has the No. 1 class in the country and Florida sits at No. 8, but those two are the annual staples at the top of the standings -- this season’s Gators notwithstanding.

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ESPN 60 power forward Chris Lewis has committed to Harvard after also considering Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Notre Dame, Stanford, California, Yale and Brown among others. Landing a player of Lewis' stature in the fold for the class of 2016 this early is huge for head coach Tommy Amaker.

Let's take a look at what Lewis will bring to the Crimson.

Why he committed: "Chris wanted a balance of great academics and basketball," his father, Mo, told

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Thon Maker's next move

January, 14, 2015
Jan 14
[+] EnlargeThon Maker
Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty ImagesThon Maker was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in 2016 before moving to Athlete Institute in Canada.
Four countries, three high schools, three AAU circuits.

Thon Maker, a 17-year-old 7-footer, is the vagabond of elite high school basketball.

South Sudan, Australia, soccer, basketball, school in Louisiana, school in Virginia, school in Canada. Just going through the bullet points is exhausting -- and that's without even mentioning Maker's unique talents and enormous potential.

Maker is the most intriguing prospect in high school basketball. He would be in the mix for the No. 1 spot in his class if he wasn't in Canada, but that's not what has attracted so much attention. It's the YouTube videos, the endless storylines -- and the comparisons to a number of NBA stars haven't hurt.

The chatter surrounding him has shown no signs of slowing down, either.

"It's the unknown that scares people," said Ed Smith, Maker's guardian.

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Four-star shooting guard Brandon Sampson ended his recruitment Monday by committing to head coach Steve Lavin and St. John's after also considering California, UCLA, USC, and his hometown LSU.

Let's see why Sampson selected the Big Apple and what he brings:

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