NCB On The Trail: #askcoachb

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ESPN 100 guard Isaiah Whitehead is a prospect who could be a major factor in the resurgence of Seton Hall basketball. He has been up and down in terms of his consistency and production, but he owns all the tools to be a great college player. Whitehead has a strong body, a competitive spirit, potent scoring skills and great court vision.

Now the flip side to that is there are nights he doesn't move well without the ball to get open. And he sometimes displays poor shot selection and takes a high volume of attempts, which freezes his teammates out of the action.

At the Elite 24 game in New York last summer, Whitehead dropped 26 points in front of the home crowd and did it within the flow of the game. He is at his best when he is attacking the basket because he can take a hit and finish. His jumper is more than capable from distance, and he thrives in the transition game. When he plays the right way and within the team concept, he can be very good.

Whitehead is on the East roster for the Jordan Brand Classic (7 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN2) but may have to sit out due to a sore hamstring.

There is talk that his high school coach, Tiny Morton, will join the Pirates' coaching staff and have the chance to coach him again at Seton Hall. Whitehead certainly has the talent to make Seton Hall relevant again.
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I don't believe Jabari Parker's decision on whether to turn pro has any bearing at all on the college decision of ESPN 100 No. 2 overall prospect Myles Turner.

Turner wanted to finish taking his visits and then try to figure out what his best option would be. He is done with visits; now it’s time for him to weigh all the pros and the cons. He is looking for a situation where he has a strong relationship with the head coach and the overall chemistry of the team. Furthermore, he wants a coach who has proven track record developing his players over the course of a year or over time, and preparing them for the next level will be important.

Whether Parker stays at Duke or declares for the NBA draft won't affect Turner's decision. His list of schools is still the same: Arizona, Duke, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Texas, SMU and Texas A&M. Look for him to make his decision sometime after the Jordan Brand Classic game, which is at 7 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN2.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.


Shooting guard Javon Bess, who is heading to Michigan State, is a sleeper and should have a very good freshman season. Michigan State is losing point guard Keith Appling, and on Monday, shooting guard Gary Harris declared for the NBA draft. Bess will now have a chance to work his way into the rotation and be a factor next season.

Bess plays on the wing and possesses point-forward abilities, as he is long, athletic and constantly making plays with his high motor. Bess can be productive not only in statistical areas but also in other facets of the game that don't show up in the box score. He's a great teammate, he brings energy to the game, gives energy to his teammates and handles the ball against pressure in the full court.

When it comes to scoring, I like the way he attacks the rim, finishes and makes shots when he has time to set his feet. Versatility is what makes him special, as he is also a good passer who finds an open teammate quickly and unselfishly from the wing spot. He brings a many talents to the offensive end and probably could be equally effective on defense, where he shows good lateral quickness with long arms and nice anticipation in the passing lanes.

As his skills improve, he will contribute even more. Tom Izzo and his staff have a long and extremely successful history of winning -- and player development.
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The two best prospects were Jahlil Okafor for the USA Team and Karl Towns Jr. for the World Team.

Okafor displayed his dominating low-post game and was virtually unguardable. He produced double- figure points (14) and rebounds (10) in only 27 minutes of play. If he gets into optimal physical condition, he can decide his future.

Towns was the only player on the World Team who could score with either hand. Okafor made it difficult for him to score because of his franchise size. He was in foul trouble most of the game so he had to sit and lost some of his aggressiveness.

Towns' future at Kentucky and beyond is extremely bright.

When you look ahead to the college game next season, Okafor should be battle-tested and ready to produce at a high level at Duke.

Towns has all the upside you could ever want in a big man. When you combine his size, shooting skills and impressive basketball instincts -- along with his defensive upside -- he could be really good at Kentucky.

With plenty of hard work and sacrifice in the offseason, they could be two of the better players in college basketball next season.
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When our final rankings came out the other day Elijah Stewart came in at No. 94.

Stewart can play, as he has a rangy frame and is a terrific jump-shooter. He’s an explosive athlete who can compete and perform in any conference. He loves to attack the rim in combination with his jumper, which makes him hard to guard. An area of improvement would be his ball handling, as he attacks with speed more than control.

UNC has inquired, as have USC, UCLA and many other programs.

If Tar Heels go after him hard, they will get a visit. His quick-trigger jumper is just what they need.
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The Buckeyes have the nation's No. 5 class, and it is loaded with versatility. ESPN No. 22 Keita Bates-Diop leads this class and is a combination of a power forward/small forward. His shooting touch extends to the arc, and he has the size to produce in the paint, which makes him hard to defend.

He scores in the low post with turnaround shots off the glass and faces the basket with quick drives along the baseline. He can pass and has good length to block shots, which is a strength.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta does a great job of helping his players find success by moving them to different spots on the floor. Matta can play Bates-Diop at the power forward spot and play small ball or put him at the small forward position and have a big lineup. He's comfortable defending a couple of different positions and is a very valuable piece to the Buckeyes' future success.
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The Tigers lose four seniors who played a significant role, including Joe Jackson, Michael Dixon, Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford.

Memphis does add ESPN 100 prospect Dominic Magee and three other junior college players. What's important to know is that redshirt freshman combination guard Markel Crawford will be ready to go for the 2014-15 season.

Memphis still has plenty of talent in the frontcourt, as Kuran Iverson, Austin Nichols, Nick King and Shaq Goodwin can produce at a high level. The Tigers might struggle at the point guard spot, but there is enough talent there to have a good season.

Also don't forget coach Josh Pastner and his staff already have a verbal commitment from ESPN 60 prospect K.J. Lawson in 2015. He is a stud.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



The race is getting quite interesting for ESPN 100 forward Josh Cunningham. He had plans to make a decision this week but now will wait another week. Cunningham is going to take his last official visit to South Carolina this weekend. He told me last month that he likes coach Frank Martin because he is a top defensive coach and Cunningham likes to play defense.

Cunningham has taken official visits to Iowa State, Creighton, Oklahoma and Northwestern. He's also still considering Indiana, Bradley, DePaul and Minnesota.

It looks like he will make his announcement on April 18 so stay connected here with Recruiting Nation for all of the latest on his recruitment.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

Now that we have reached in the championship game, I would definitely say Connecticut. When Kevin Ollie took over this program on a full-time basis, there was a bit of uncertainty about him as a coach and as a recruiter because he was new to both fields. Anytime you have on-the-court success it opens doors for the next line of recruits. They now consider you and your program and will listen to you. This magical run for Ollie solidifies to the public and -- more importantly -- to the UConn program that he and his staff should get some nice residual benefits from future recruiting classes.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

@Trealo_G: @PaulBiancardi what u think about Brandon Jennings younger brother Terrance Phillips as a prospect I think he a mid-major PG #askcoachB

Currently a junior, Terrence Phillips was inserted into the starting line up this season when Shelton Mitchell went down with an injury.

Phillips led his team to a No. 6 seed in the Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament. I like Phillips' quickness in the open floor and his ability to drive and kick in the half court. He needs to become better at scoring, especially at making open 3-pointers.

Right now his recruiting interest is coming more from the mid-majors. He lives in Atlanta, and Georgia State has been on him hard. Virginia Tech was interested before its recent coaching change. At this point he is a mid-major point guard with the ability to play high-major basketball if the jump shot and decision-making improve. He does bring energy, which coaches love.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.


Looking into the future, I really like Chase Jeter, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman. At a young age he understands how to use his body inside on the blocks and is not afraid of contact. He has good hands and shows solid footwork to get angles to make post moves inside. Jeter keeps improving and plays the game with a constant energy level. He runs very well in transition, can finish with a powerful dunk and has a keen understanding of rebounding on both ends. I think the team that lands this ESPN 60 prospect will be getting an extremely productive and hardworking forward.

It's still early in the recruiting process as he owns dozens of offers, including the likes of Duke, Kansas, Arizona, Harvard, Gonzaga, Connecticut, North Carolina, Oregon and Louisville.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.


With the transfer of Jeremy Hollowell, the Hoosiers lose a small forward with a multidimensional offensive game. I like the way he creates shots for himself at his size (6-foot-8), which allows him to be an effective player in the lane when he is guarded by smaller opponents. Conversely, when he has a bigger defender on him, he can drag him away from the basket and produce.

ESPN 100 prospect Josh Cunningham is different, as he is more of an undersized power forward who scores best on open shots but does not have the range of Hollowell. Cunningham, a 6-7 senior from Chicago Morgan Park, beats opponents with straight-line drives as he lacks the ability to shake his defender.

The biggest difference is that the uncommitted Cunningham, ranked No. 99 in the ESPN 100, rebounds and defends better than Hollowell. I like Hollowell's offensive game when he is focused, and I like Cunningham as the better defender.

If Indiana can land Cunningham, the Hoosiers would pick up a good player who could contribute as a freshman.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

When you go to a Final Four, your legacy changes as a coach and a player. However, the way you recruit should not change because that philosophy is what got you to a Final Four and that should stay intact. Far too often I have seen coaches change their methods and try to go after higher-profile kids, thinking they can now land bigger fish. In the case of Wisconsin, coach Bo Ryan has a style when recruiting: He goes after skilled players with toughness and solid basketball IQs. He likes to find interchangeable players who can hurt a defense from different spots on the floor (think Nigel Hayes). The staff looks for big men with ball skills who can also produce inside and guards who like to score inside as well as behind the arc.

Making the Final Four won't instantly land Wisconsin better recruits, but the actual benefits come down the road with future classes, especially in 2016 and 2017 because it will be fresh in their minds when they start to think about schools. Going to the Final Four builds recruiting momentum for the upcoming years by opening doors and getting people's attention. When the Badgers want to pursue top 2015 prospects such as Diamond Stone, who is No. 5 in the ESPN 60, or Henry Ellenson, who is No. 47, it will certainly help. Wisconsin was already involved with these two prospects, but now they will get an even better look.

#AskCoachB: Future for Kansas

March, 31, 2014
Mar 31
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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.
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.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.
Karl Towns Jr. has franchise size and a high degree of skill.

As a 7-foot-1 player at close to 250 pounds, he is most comfortable, confident and best at facing the basket shooting jumpers or passing. Don't be surprised to see this big man hanging out at the high post, in ball screens and dribble handoffs, making jump shots and handing out some assists. Towns can and will go inside and call for the ball with a big man's demeanor.

When his body starts to shed away the baby fat and when he learns how to play in a stance from low to high, opponents will be in trouble.

I like him now, but expect him to improve from potential to player in time.

His upside is NBA-like because of his elite shooting touch from anywhere on the floor, along with his mammoth size.

His playing resume is impressive, as he was a member of the Dominican Republic Senior National Team, a two-time New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year and a three-time all-state selection.

Recently he was selected to play in the Jordan Brand Classic and the McDonald’s All-American Game. His most prestigious award came this week as he was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year.

Kentucky fans will enjoy and appreciate him as a person, student and basketball player.

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