NCB On The Trail: Syracuse Orange

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The Jordan Brand Classic features the best talent high school basketball has to offer. Here are some of the most intriguing potential matchups in this terrific annual event, which airs Friday night at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

Tyus Jones (Duke) vs. Tyler Ulis (Kentucky)

This matchup will be the battle for who can get the most assists. Both are terrific pass-first point guards who can play fast or slow. They can make open shots in order to keep the defense honest, and their decision-making on the offensive end of the floor is excellent, as well. Ulis can apply more heat on the ball defensively, while Jones is stronger and the better finisher in heavy traffic. It will be interesting to see who makes the fewest mistakes with the ball and who will win the assist category as Jones and Ulis push each other on both ends of the floor.


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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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#AskCoachB: Lydon to Syracuse

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
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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.



Ranked at No. 57 in our ESPN 60, Tyler Lydon is a long and skilled forward who makes the defense respect him. He is starting to fill out physically and was very productive for the New Hampton School down the stretch of the season. He is from New York and Syracuse has always been his dream school.

Once again the Syracuse staff landed a 6-foot-8 forward with great positional length. He also has a deceptive bounce and skill to put the ball on the floor and make shots. Gaining more overall body strength with be key.

It was a smart move by Syracuse to get a verbal commitment early on because he came out of last summer with some heavy interest from schools such as Providence, Boston College, Maryland, Florida, Kansas and Notre Dame, among many others.

His size, skill and versatility, at a young age, are very promising.
In order to return to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at Syracuse and its chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick references:
2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starting five:
G: Tyler Ennis
G: Trevor Cooney
F: Michael Gbinije
F: Jerami Grant
C: Rakeem Christmas


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When we analyze and evaluate the skill set of today's basketball player, we speak quite often about their ability to drive to the rim and finish as well as knocking down 3-point shots.

What has been forgotten and not emphasized enough from coaches and workout coaches is their middle game. The ability to score the ball inside the arc and before one gets to the rim in tight quarters is a true gift. I would love to see today's player really work on their middle game to be a more well-rounded scorer.

Let's take a look at which ESPN 100 prospects possess the all-important middle game in the senior class.


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Playing the comparison game 

February, 20, 2014
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It's a constant topic of conversation: Which player does this prospect remind us of?

Well, given that the current college basketball season has been dominated by freshmen, we took a look at Jeff Goodman’s latest ranking of college freshmen and played the comparison game.

Duke’s Jabari Parker reminds us of Duke signee Jahlil Okafor.
Although they obviously don’t play the same position or have the same style, the similarities are there, and not just the superficial ones such as their hometown of Chicago or college destination. Although Parker does his work primarily from the perimeter and Okafor on the block, Okafor has that same level of maturity that will allow him to adjust to offensive structure just as quickly as Parker has. Furthermore, Okafor likely will take over for Parker and become the immediate focal point of the way Duke plays in the half court. The Blue Devils have tailored what they do offensively to Parker this season, and they’re likely to do the same for Okafor next season.


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The most successful recruiters are the ones with both a philosophy and a strategy.

They analyze their rosters, the competition and style of play in order to systematically build the most comprehensive team possible.

But as the old saying goes, even the best laid schemes often go awry, so flexibility and adaptability become equally imperative to long-term recruiting success.

That can be especially true during the college season, when a number of factors can change the course of a team’s plans.

Sometimes a team evolves in ways in which their coaches didn’t project, one player develops more than expected while another’s learning curve is less. And so that program needs to bring in a different position player than they once thought.

Most often, recruiting needs evolve according to turnover within the roster. Transfers are the most obvious example, but for many of the nation’s most prestigious programs, it’s the ramifications of the NBA draft that become especially hard to project.

With that in mind, here is a look at five programs whose recruiting needs now look much different than they did at the beginning of the season:


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#AskCoachB: A point for Syracuse

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
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.

He is from a physical standpoint. Joseph (Nashua, N.H./Cushing Academy) has good speed in the open floor to push the ball on missed shots and turnovers. His versatility as a point guard will serve him well. Down the road, the 6-foot-3 Joseph can be a strong defender as well.

The learning curve will be understanding the nuances of the position, which usually takes years. Tyler Ennis has been outstanding in both the physical and mental portion of being a high-level point guard. Right now, Ennis is projected to be a middle-to-late first-round draft pick in the NBA. I believe his draft position will only creep higher.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



The Orangemen have done an excellent job at targeting underclassmen. The recently landed ESPN No. 12 Malachi Richardson (Hamilton, N.J./Trenton Catholic Academy) is an outstanding shooter with excellent size and incredible overall polish for a young prospect. Also committed is power forward Tyler Lydon (Pine Plains, N.Y. /New Hampton School).

ESPN No. 19 small forward Derrick Jones (Philadelphia/Archbishop Carroll High School) is a dynamic athlete and finisher who plays at the rim. They are also heavily involved and in the final six schools for Donte DiVincenzo (Wilmington, Del./Salesianum School) He is an AAU teammate of Richardson and they both play for Team Final.

Scout's take: Richardson fits well 

December, 13, 2013
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ESPN 60 Malachi Richardson (Hamilton, N.J./Trenton Catholic Academy) ended his recruitment this afternoon by selecting Syracuse over finalist Villanova, Indiana, Connecticut, Arizona and Rutgers.


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#AskCoachB: Favorites for Richardson

December, 12, 2013
12/12/13
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@Akaiser, thank you for making your first tweet to ESPN Recruiting Nation! Malachi Richardson is ranked No. 12 in the Class of 2015, and the 6-foot-5 shooting guard recently cut his list to six schools: Syracuse, Villanova, Rutgers, Arizona, Indiana and UConn.

Nova is involved because of the early effort and relationship coach Jay Wright made with Richardson in his freshman year. He's been on the Villanova campus several times and it's close to home. He recently visited Syracuse for their game against Indiana.

The school that lands this big=time shooter with offensive polish will be getting a bona fide 3-point shooter who strokes it with confidence. Richardson can pass and play defense, too, as he is not afraid to take a charge. I have seen him with his AAU club Team Final, which has had many outstanding Division I players and some high major stars such as Dion Waiters, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, just a few players coached by Rob Brown.

I believe it will come down to Nova and Syracuse for Richardson.

#AskCoachB: Talking Tyler Ennis

December, 9, 2013
12/09/13
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.



I agree, as I absolutely loved Tyler Ennis in the high school ranks. What I respected most about his game was the poise in which he played with and how he led.

As a freshman he is doing an outstanding job leading the Orange to a top-5 national ranking in an unassuming fashion. Over nine games he is playing 31 minutes per game, and he is making the most of those minutes.

He serves as Syracuse’s primary ball-handler, making decisions and scoring when needed. His assist to turnover ratio is 5:1, which is tremendous . He is nailing the 3-point shot at a 42 percent clip, which is impressive since the college 3-point line is a foot further than then the high school line (20-foot-9 vs. 19-9).

It’s obvious that Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, and Aaron Gordon are elite players and difference makers as freshmen, but Ennis is definitely in the conversation as a top-10 freshman.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

1. Kentucky
Dakari Johnson, Julius Randle, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress make up the most powerful frontcourt in the game. They can score, block shots and rebound with anyone.

2. Arizona
Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski, Aaron Gordon.
This threesome is strong, long and explosive, and they use those gifts on both ends of the floor.

3. Syracuse
C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman, Baye Keita.
This bunch has both length and girth while protecting the basket and finishing inside.

4. Florida
Patric Young, transfer Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech) and Will Yeguete.
If Freshman Chris Walker becomes eligible in December this group could do serious damage together. They are extremely productive and could be dominant on the inside if Walker is playing.

Player of the Year
Marcus Smart. Nothing seems to faze this All-American. When you easily could have walked away from the college game and you come back, that means you are extremely confident in your ability. He has put up terrific numbers across the board, dominated the action at times and makes his team win -- that's what a POY does.

Prep school stars shine at Showcase 

November, 25, 2013
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The National Prep Showcase has annually served as the unofficial start to the prep school basketball season, and the 2013 edition was no different, hosting 23 top teams over the course of three exciting days of action.

A variety of top prospects stood out over the course of the weekend. UNLV-bound ESPN 100 big man Goodluck Okonoboh (Boston/Wilbraham & Monson) put on his latest display of shot-blocking prowess, turning away eight attempts on Saturday night, while Colorado-bound big man Tory Miller (Lee’s Summit, Mo./New Hampton) emerged as perhaps the most impactful true post player in the field.

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Roundtable: Recruiting rivalries to watch 

October, 29, 2013
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Duke vs. North Carolina. Kentucky vs. Louisville. Connecticut vs. Syracuse.

Some of the greatest rivalries in sports play out on the college basketball court, but this season marks a changing of the guard in many of those rivalries as conference realignment has done away with annual matchups like UConn vs. Syracuse while carving out the potential for new ones.

Rivalries also exist in recruiting, and while they’re often an extension of natural rivalries on the court, that isn’t always the case.

Jim Calhoun and John Calipari had a huge recruiting rivalry when they were the head coaches at UConn and UMass, respectively -- despite the fact their teams never played -- stemming from the recruitment of Marcus Camby.

So whether it’s an extension of a conference rivalry, a personality clash between high-profile coaches or even the consequence of a particularly contentious recruitment process, recruiting rivalries can take shape in a number of ways.

Here’s a look at some of the most notable recruiting rivalries, whether historic or up-and-coming based on the implications of realignment, as chosen by our RecruitingNation experts:

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