NCB On The Trail: Pac-12

UCLA announces two ESPN 100 signings

November, 13, 2014
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Second-year UCLA head coach Steve Alford announced the signing of two ESPN 100 guards on Thursday.

Suiting up for the Bruins in 2015-16 will be ESPN 100 shooting guard Prince Ali (No. 46 overall) and ESPN 100 point guard Aaron Holiday (No. 85).

"Prince is an extremely talented player who has established himself as one of the premier backcourt players in the country," Alford told the school's website. "He's a big, athletic guard who has tremendous versatility and comes to our program with a strong understanding of a winning culture.

"Aaron is a very talented player who we know will really help our backcourt next season. He is a quick, tough guard who possesses the ability to be both an efficient scorer and a lockdown defender."

Holiday is the younger brother of former Bruin and current New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday.

UW signs 10th ranked class

November, 13, 2014
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University of Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar announced the signing of six student-athletes to national letters of intent on Thursday.

The class features two ESPN 100 prospects, shooting guard Dejounte Murray (No. 47 overall) and power forward Marquese Chriss (No. 53), along with three three-star performers, small forward Matisse Thybulle, power forward Devenir Duruisseau and point guard David Crisp. Junior college transfer Malik Dime rounds out the class.

"This class is extremely versatile and should have an immediate impact on our program next season," Romar told the schools website. "I'm very proud of how hard our coaching staff and program worked as a whole to put this class together. It meets a lot of needs for us and it ranks up there with any class we've ever had because of its versatility."

Romar's class is currently ranked 10th on ESPN.com.

Oregon State lands two ESPN 100's

November, 13, 2014
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New Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle signed four players to national letters of intent on Wednesday, including two ESPN 100 prospects, the school announced.

Joining the Beavers in 2015 will be ESPN 100 small forward Tres Tinkle (No. 77 overall), who is Wayne's son, ESPN 100 shooting guard Stephen Thompson Jr. (No. 69), the son of Oregon State assistant coach Stephen Sr., along with four-star center Drew Eubanks and three-star point guard Derrick Bruce.

"We are very excited that we can finally comment on the recruits," Coach Tinkle told the school's website. "A lot of work went into this recruiting class. People are going to be excited for more than just what they see on the court; they'll discover what each of these individuals stands for and the kind of character they have."

Tinkle and his staff are expecting a fifth letter of intent from two star center Gligorije Rakocevic before the early signing period concludes on Wednesday.
ESPN 100 big man Josh Sharma made a verbal commitment to Stanford on Tuesday, just two days after wrapping up his official visit. Sharma had previously narrowed his list to Stanford, Boston College, and Wisconsin. Here's a look at what Sharma brings to the Cardinal:

Why he committed: Sharma is a unique prospect who combines a high ceiling on the basketball floor with an already high academic profile. "I was definitely looking for a high academic school with great basketball," Sharma told ESPN.com. "So what other school than Stanford? They just have so much to offer." The fact that Sharma's game might actually be a better fit in the Pac-12 also wasn't totally lost on him, even if that wasn't the primary driving force behind his decision.

What he brings: He's 6-foot-11, runs the floor like a deer, and gets above the rim with extraordinary athleticism for a player his size. While he hasn't necessarily turned potential into production quite as quickly as some would like, that's not uncommon for big men, and he's made clear strides in recent years. His most immediate contribution will be as a shot-blocker, while he'll also add value as a rim-runner and finisher. Long term though, he's the type of prospect who could really blossom as he continues to develop his skills and establishes an identity to his offensive game.
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:


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Recruiting is a little bit like playing cards. You have to consider both your hand and your competition's before deciding how much you want to wager.

For high-profile college coaches, a scholarship offer is sometimes no more than a minimum wager to test the waters. Sean Miller is one head coach who tends to use his offers liberally, having extended 21 of them in the current 2015 class.

What’s undeniable is that once he decides he wants to go all-in, there aren’t many coaches who win more big hands. In fact, with Allonzo Trier becoming the latest ESPN 100 prospect to make an early commitment to Miller, you could argue that he has yet to miss on one of his top 2015 targets.

[+] EnlargeIvan Rabb
AP Photo/The Augusta Chronicle, Sara CaldwellIf the Wildcats get a commitment from Ivan Rabb, they might end up with the best class in the country.
The Arizona Wildcats hold additional verbal commitments from two other five-star prospects in Justin Simon and Ray Smith. They also held a commitment from Tyler Dorsey up until last June, and while the origin of that split is debatable, the bottom line for Arizona was that they thought they could get better, and they did. They never stopped recruiting Trier and Isaiah Briscoe, even after Dorsey committed, and so ultimately they had a good hand but chose to double down and ended up winning big.

Now, that’s not to say that Arizona has their pick of all the best prospects in the country. Not at all. Only that Miller plays his hands especially well, analyzing not only the talent of the player but also his ties to the situation and those of his competition before deciding how much time and resources he wants to invest.

Chase Jeter is the perfect example. The five-star big man from Las Vegas committed to Duke on Monday night. Sure, Arizona would have loved to have him. They offered, actively recruited him, and even made his final six. But make no mistake about it, they were never all-in. They knew they weren’t getting him long before he went on national TV and had prioritized another big man much earlier in the process -- namely Ivan Rabb.

Rabb was not only the top-ranked prospect in the ESPN 100 heading into the July evaluation period, he was also a product of the same AAU program, the Oakland Soldiers, that has supplied Arizona with arguably the biggest recent pipeline in all of college basketball recruiting in recent years with Nick Johnson, Brandon Ashley, Aaron Gordon, and Stanley Johnson among others.

Now, Rabb is the last remaining target left on Arizona’s big board and the exclamation point that could punctuate what could ultimately be the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class.

Oakland Soldiers program director Mark Olivier doesn’t know where Rabb will ultimately decide to go to college. Rabb is currently in Dubai with Team USA's U17 team and hasn’t given indication of any favorites or time frames. In fact, Rabb’s high school coach at Bishop O’Dowd, Lou Richie, is far more involved in his recruitment. One thing Olivier does expect though is that Rabb will make his own decision.

“I look at Ivan and I don’t think he’s that type of kid in that he’s going to go there because somebody else went there,” Olivier said.

Nevertheless, it would be only natural for the player who first began wearing a Soldiers uniform when he was in the 7th grade to want to follow so many of the players that he grew up admiring, especially Johnson, who took Rabb under his wing during last year’s EYBL season.


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Five-star shooting guard Allonzo Trier has ended his recruitment by committing to the Arizona Wildcats while on his official visit. Trier gives Arizona head coach Sean Miller his third ESPN 100 five-star commitment in the 2015 class, along with point guard Justin Simon and small forward Ray Smith.

Here's how the No. 19-ranked senior will fit in Tucson:


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ESPN 100 forward will play for Utes

July, 29, 2013
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Class of 2014 power forward Brekkott Chapman (Roy, Utah/Roy) will play his college basketball in his home state after committing to the University of Utah on Monday, ESPN.com has confirmed.

Chapman, who is currently ranked No. 49 in the ESPN 100, chose the Utes over offers from Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, Colorado and Gonzaga, among others. He is the first recruit from the 2014 class for Utah.

Three-star PF Price-Martin picks USC

July, 28, 2013
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Class of 2014 three-star power forward Malik Price-Martin (Miami/Northeast) verbally committed to the USC Trojans on Sunday, ESPN.com has confirmed.

The 6-foot-9 Price-Martin held offers from Kansas State, UConn, Louisville, Memphis, NC State and Miami, among others. He is the first recruit for new Trojans head coach Andy Enfield from the 2014 class.

Georgia center commits to Oregon State

July, 23, 2013
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Oregon State coach Craig Robinson landed his first commitment from the 2014 class on Monday night with a pledge from center Isaiah Manderson (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton), multiple sources are reporting.

The 6-foot-10 Manderson chose the Beavers over Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Auburn.

Arizona PG Casey Benson picks Oregon

July, 8, 2013
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Multiple outlets are reporting that Oregon landed a commitment from point guard Casey Benson (Tempe, Ariz./Corona Del Sol) on Sunday night.

The senior-to-be is the first commitment for head coach Dana Altman from the 2014 class. Benson chose the Ducks over Arizona State, Gonzaga, Colorado, Oregon State and Rice, among others.

Washington State lands PG for 2015

July, 1, 2013
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Point guard Tramaine Isabell (Seattle/Lakeside) verbally committed to Washington State on Monday, multiple sources are reporting.

The 6-foot-1 Isabell is entering his senior year but is expected to spend a post-graduate year before enrolling at Washington State in 2015. He also held an offer from Seattle University.

Isabell is the first recruit from the 2015 class for the Cougars.

SG Ahmad Fields picks Utah 

December, 21, 2012
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Shooting guard Ahmad Fields (Washington, D.C./Massanutten Military Academy) ended his recruitment on Friday with a verbal pledge to Utah, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Fields chose the Utes over USC, Colorado, St. Joseph's and Drexel, among others.

"I felt comfortable on my visit," he told the paper. "I had a great visit, and family is an important thing. It's me and my mom, so I wanted to go where I felt I fit, and I felt it at Utah."

Fields is the fifth recruit for the Utes in 2013, joining guard's Parker Van Dyke (Salt Lake City/East), Brandon Miller (Salt Lake City/Brighton) and Delon Wright (Lawndale, Calif./City College of San Francisco) along with center Marko Kovacevic (Scottsbluff, Neb./Western Nebraska C.C.).

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Julian Jacobs signs with USC 

November, 21, 2012
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Senior point guard Julian Jacobs (Las Vegas, Nev./Desert Pines) signed his official letter of intent with USC this week after mulling offers from Santa Clara, St. Mary's and Utah, the school announced.

"We are happy to add JuJu to our class," said head coach Kevin O'Neill. "He can play multiple positions and is a lockdown defender. He is talented and has great athleticism."

Jacobs joins four other signees for the Trojans: ESPN 100 PG Kendall Harris (Richardson, Texas/Berkner), SF Roschon Prince (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), PF Nikola Jovanovic (Serbia/Arlington Country Day) and PG Kahlil Dukes (Hartford, Conn./Capital Prep).

"I'm really happy with our recruiting class," said O'Neill. "I feel really good about all of the guys and I'm looking forward to them joining the Trojan Family."

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Jabari Bird headlines Cal class 

November, 15, 2012
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ESPN 100 SG Jabari Bird (Richmond, Calif./Salesian) signed his official letter of intent with California, the school announced on Thursday.

"We have watched Jabari grow as a player for a long time," head coach Mike Montgomery said. "He is a legit size guy that can play both wing positions. He is a scorer. He is a winner. When the game is on the line, he makes a play. He is a player that is well recognized nationally. Everyone knew about Jabari and we are very happy to keep him home. He has a very solid family and a great group that he plays for at Salesian. Jabari is one of the top prospects in America and he is coming to Cal, we couldn't be happier."

Bird will be joined by guard's Jordan Mathews (Santa Monica, Calif./Santa Monica) and Sam Singer (Miami/Ransom Everglades) in Berkeley next season.

"We are really pleased with the three young men that have joined our program at this point for next year," Montgomery added. "We really shored up our perimeter position substantially. We have three really good men from three really good basketball backgrounds that are very skilled. The real positive for me is they are terrific individuals. They have great personalities and are going to be tremendous contributors to the University of California."

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