NCB On The Trail: #askcoachb
@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.
His recruiting is still wide open and he has not narrowed down a final list of schools. According to his AAU coach Lance Irvin, Cunningham lists Iowa State among many others at this point such as Oklahoma, Creighton, Minnesota, South Carolina, Bradley, UMass, DePaul and St. John’s. It's tough to figure out where he will land as he is in the middle of his season.
In a recent game against Mumford (Detroit) he had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Cunningham is an undersized power forward with the right approach to the game. He has toughness, bounce and slashes his way to the basket. He is a player that you don't want to face in a game. You want him on your team because he is a true fighter who plays with urgency and makes winning plays.
Jordan Vandenberg is playing as well as ever in his career as a fifth-year senior. His defense is helping NC State to a four game winning streak since he returned to the lineup from a high ankle sprain suffered five minutes into the first exhibition this year. He defends the rim and has helped the defensive rebounding category quite a bit as well, pulling down 6.5 rbg. Vandenberg is running the floor greater than ever before in transition with most of his scores coming from plays at the rim for dunks. He is averaging 8.8 points a game and shooting 70 percent from the floor because most of his baskets come from lob catches at the rim and tip-ins/put backs on missed shots. Occasionally he will make a back to the basket move and end up at the free throw line. Speaking of the free throw line, he is only converting at 50 percent.
He is intriguing because of his size (7-foot-1) but most of his game does not translate to the NBA level as an investment pick in the first round. But the NBA scouts are now attending his games to see if he is someone that they could possibly draft in the second round or invite into a camp as a free agent. If none of the above happens he will have a chance to go overseas and play professionally.
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.
@PaulBiancardi Love your work.. give me your top 4 front courts?? Player of the yr?— frank (@Frank_UkCats) December 4, 2013
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.
Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski, Aaron Gordon.
This threesome is strong, long and explosive, and they use those gifts on both ends of the floor.
C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman, Baye Keita.
This bunch has both length and girth while protecting the basket and finishing inside.
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.
Good timing on your question as I just spoke with Rashad Vaughn last night. Vaughn, who said he has no timetable for a final decision, is one of the few difference makers left on the board and he has been playing not only at a high level but efficiently as well. In November, he visited Iowa State and UNLV and enjoyed both visits. He recently set up a visit to North Carolina for the weekend of February 15 when the Tar Heels host Pittsburgh and that would be his third official visit. Kentucky has jumped back in the race and the Wildcats are trying to get him on an official visit. He told me he plans on visiting Kentucky, but has not set up anything yet. If he visits there, that would leave him with one remaining visit with four schools left on his list. Arizona, Baylor, Kansas and Minnesota all pushing for that last visit.
From @Josh_Suchon: @PaulBiancardi What do you think of SDSU's recruiting class -- Fab Five 2.0?
Josh, so good to hear from you! San Diego State's class is outstanding -- in fact, it's ranked No. 14 in our class rankings.
This is the type of class that can leave a real mark on the program if it develops and grows together as a unit. The Aztecs have four bona fide prospects who can help immediately. Power forward Zylan Cheatham (Phoenix/South Mountain) is a defender and shot-blocker. Malik Pope (Elk Grove, Calif./Laguna Creek) has been under the radar on the recruiting trail because of injuries; he would have possibly been in our top 30 if healthy. The prospect that I am most high on is Trey Kell (San Diego/St. Augustine), as he makes shots and plays under control. Point guard Kevin Zabo (Gatineau, Quebec/Brewster Academy) should help maintain the Aztecs' uptempo style of play.
Not Fab Five 5 2.0, but besides Stanford's group, it's the best-assembled class out west in 2014. Plenty of promising years ahead for the Aztecs under Steve Fisher.
@PaulBiancardi how is Ohio state class is rated 3 & UNC is rated 4 when we have 3 in the top 15 and they have 3 in top 25(12,20,25)???— Rich Bwoi (@Lbucketz24) November 30, 2013
Great question! When it comes to ranking recruiting classes, it's a simple numerical formula based on the more highly ranked players a school lands, the higher the class ranks.
The formula we use awards points to each player ranked in the ESPN 100. Schools that land multiple ranked prospects receive bonus points. In the event two schools end up with the same number of points, the class with the higher ranked player gets the nod. Players not ranked in the ESPN 100 are also awarded points based on their evaluation grades.
The Tar Heels have three players in the top 15 who are outstanding and the Buckeyes have a total of four players, three in the top 25 and with David Bell as the fourth, it gives Ohio State a slight edge.
#AskCoachB Who you got for best potential in the 2015 class so far— David Michael (@Mn_Sports8) November 18, 2013
I will give you two names, because to give you just one is too hard and no fun. First, the No. 1 player in the class, Malik Newman. A shooting and scoring guard by nature with a strong body, he has an aggressive, attacking style and the right swagger to get buckets. He shoots it from deep behind the arc and finishes well at the rim because of his college-ready frame. Where he is now and where he will be is far apart, which give him plenty of upside. Potential means nothing unless one maximizes the ability. I believe Newman has plenty of room to grow.
The other prospect is Ben Simmons, who is verbally committed to LSU. The young man from Australia has a rare combination of size, skill and bounce. His greatest skill is his feel for the game and his passing, as he can also score inside the lane or facing up. When Simmons becomes more assertive throughout the game, his high ceiling of talent will be reached.
From Twitter (@james_peden9): Who are some young teams that we should be keeping and eye on that you think are on the rise? #AskCoachB
Besides the Kentucky Wildcats, who have to be the youngest team in the NCAA this season, there are a few teams to keep your eye on.
Take a look at the Clemson Tigers, who have no seniors and will be led by junior K.J. McDaniels, who is one of the best athletes in the ACC. They are picked near the bottom of their league, but after watching them practice and calling their game against South Carolina, I believe they could be much higher in the standings.
The Boston College Eagles have a very promising and young team returning, led by junior Ryan Anderson and sophomore Olivier Hanlan, who was the ACC freshman of the year.
Out west, BYU has no seniors and is loaded with skill and the impactful guys are juniors Matt Carlino and junior Tyler Haws.
A program on the rise is SMU, as their top three scorers this season are all underclassmen: sophomore Nic Moore, freshman Ben Moore and freshman Keith Frazier. Looking ahead to next season, they add the No. 5 prospect in 2014, point guard Emmanuel Mudiay.
Watch for these four programs to make a move this year and be strong in the future.
Kentucky coach John Calipari has again assembled the nation’s No. 1 class.
If the Wildcats can the hold the top spot, it will give them five No. 1 classes in six years. It would be a remarkable accomplishment. The one prospect they will make a run for in the late signing period is center Myles Turner, the No. 2 player in the ESPN 100. Turner has an incredible upside because of his elite shot-blocking ability and high level of skill on offense. Not many players his size can make 3-point shots, but he does with effectiveness.
Austrian prospect Dante Exum has mentioned that Kentucky could be on his short list of schools if he chooses to play college ball in the United States. He finishes his schooling in December, but I maintain that he will go straight to the NBA because of his lottery draft status.
There is not much left on the ESPN 100 board that makes sense for Kentucky. However the transfer market would be of interest, especially a fifth-year player because of the experience they’d bring. That's something the Wildcats could always use.
Mark Gottfried certainly has brought a new level of excitement to Raleigh. The recruiting efforts by the Wolfpack have been strong since Gottfried took over at State as they have had nationally ranked classes.
With only one senior on the roster in 7-foot-1 center Jordan Vandenberg and another impressive class coming in next year, it could get real exciting, especially if super-scoring sophomore forward T.J. Warren stays. Don't forget -- Alabama transfer Trevor Lacey is sitting out and will be eligible next year, and the staff is high on him.
More help is on the way with a highly rated group coming in. NC State's 2014 class stands at No. 21 in our class rankings. The player I look for to be a big part of next year's success is power forward Abdul-Malik Abu. He will come in and make a difference in the paint because of his live body, skill and mature approach to the game.
This is a growing year for the Pack. Yes, I do believe next year could be a special year in Raleigh.
Winslow has always been in the conversation to attend Duke and be a part of the plan with Okafor and Jones. On his official visit to Duke, he was with Okafor and Jones. He was also teammates with Okafor this past summer when both represented USA Basketball while playing in Prague. The team was coached by Florida's Billy Donovan.
Will Justice Winslow join Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor at Duke and become #1 Rank over UK in 2014? @Chief_Justise #AskcoachB @PaulBiancardi pic.twitter.com/jGx1Pw6H1e— David Schneider (@BigShotsSkills) November 15, 2013
Winslow has not given a clear-cut time frame on his decision. But now that the smoke has cleared, he may have a better picture of the landscape for next season. Right now, Duke is the favorite to land him. Winslow also took his four other official visits to Arizona, UCLA, Stanford and Florida.
If he goes to Duke, the Blue Devils will easily claim the No. 1 spot in our class rankings.
Stanley Johnson had a fantastic summer by scoring, rebounding and playing hard.
If I had to pick five guys this summer who played with the best motor, he would be on that list. He has made big improvements in his game, especially shooting from distance with more efficiency and effectiveness.
He is best at driving the ball as he finishes through contact, cutting his way into the paint.
His preseason summer ranking at No. 12 says that he should be an impact player at the college level and that fact that he cracked the top 10 (now at No. 9) means he earned his way in with other elite prospects. At RecruitingNation, we not only rank recruits but grade them out and give them a full evaluation. Please take a look at those other areas for Johnson and I believe you will agree.
This year you can easily make a case for at least a dozen or so teams to be in the final four and to win a National Championship, as so much talent is spread out this season with so many exciting freshmen.
With all the talk about how great the freshmen class is this year, it will be a team with experience that wins national title this season.
With that said, I am going with Michigan State, as head coach Tom Izzo has been to six final fours, which is remarkable in itself. His team has all the pieces, and at the key positions he has two seniors who keep improving, producing and should be all-Big Ten in PG Keith Appling and C Adreian Payne. Add to that a couple of athletic stars in Gary Harris and Brandon Dawson, plus the coaching of a future hall of fame coach in Izzo.
Before Michigan State wins it all they will be playing a loaded and big Arizona team in the championship game.