NCB On The Trail: Syracuse Orange

With the recent commitment of Daniel Giddens to Ohio State, 33 of the top 100 players in the Class of 2015 already have verbally committed, even though the July evaluation period is just beginning. These prospects sometimes get less media attention because they have already made their decisions, but they are still being constantly evaluated by our staff.

Let’s take a look at five committed prospects from the 2015 class who are performing well and could see jumps in their rankings:

Five 2015 classes off to fast starts 

June, 3, 2014
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As we turn our attention to the Class of 2015 and the newly released ESPN 100, here’s a look at five college basketball programs that have a head start on the 2015 recruiting trail:


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ESPN 60 power forward Moustapha Diagne made a verbal commitment to Syracuse on Saturday night, announcing his decision live at the fourth annual Mary Kline Classic, a charity all-star event put on in honor of the late Mary Kline, and hosted by her son Alex.


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Minneapolis Nike EYBL recap 

May, 25, 2014
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The fourth session of the Nike EYBL gave teams one more opportunity to add league wins and earn the right to participate in the Peach Jam that will crown a champion in July.

Check out some of the many terrific prospect performances we witnessed this weekend at the EYBL:


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Roundtable: Jordan Brand Classic 

April, 18, 2014
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It has been a busy few weeks for the top prospects in the ESPN 100.

It began at the beginning of the month when they arrived in Chicago for the McDonald's All American Game. Immediately after that game concluded, some players jumped on a red-eye to New York for the Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament. Last week it was a trip to the West Coast for the Nike Hoop Summit in Oregon. This week, that string of all-star events gets a fitting culmination as the top players in the Class of 2015 return to New York for the Jordan Brand Classic.

Given what we've seen, not just in the past few weeks but in the past few years, is there anything left to learn? Here are a few players whom our Recruiting Nation staff will be watching during Friday's Jordan Brand Classic (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET):


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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
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.



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
PM ET
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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