NCB On The Trail: basketball recruiting

#AskCoachB: Best in West Virginia

December, 26, 2013
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

Although superpower Huntington Prep plays in West Virginia, none of its ranked seniors are from the state.

The highest ranked player is three-star power forward Obi Romeo (Lewisburg, W.Va./Greenbrier East) who committed to St. Joseph’s.

The big man plays with an energy and excitement that is contagious. Romeo has only been in the state of West Virginia for a couple of years, arriving from Nigeria. Although he played AAU basketball for the East Coast Fusion, he is still learning the game, and it's conceivable that Saint Joe's could redshirt him to allow him to develop over a five-year period. He has good physical attributes such as size, length, ability to run and make plays at the rim.

Romeo owns an enormous wingspan and uses that length to protect the rim on defense and score in the paint at the rim. What he does best is rebound and block shots while scoring on offensive rebounds and hustle plays. He has shown the coach-ability and work ethic to improve. Romeo had offers from Big South and A10 schools, as well as interest from WVU and Arkansas before committing to Saint Joe's.

Kentucky should be just fine 

September, 12, 2013
Six months ago, John Calipari seemed virtually invincible on the recruiting trail. He was riding a wave of momentum fueled by his 2012 national championship, incredible recent success in the NBA draft, and being on the verge of delivering one of the top recruiting classes in the history of college basketball.

But then, unexpectedly, a few breaks went against Kentucky. Top-ranked Andrew Wiggins capped the 2013 class by picking Kansas, and then Calipari lost out to his former mentor, Larry Brown, as his top point guard target of 2014, Emmanuel Mudiay (Dallas/Prime Prep Academy), picked SMU last month.

So have Calipari and Kentucky lost a step?

Where will top prospects end up? 

September, 5, 2013
With only 13 five-star prospects left on the board, all it takes is a quick glance down their recruiting lists to come to a quick conclusion: The vast majority are being recruited by a long list of the same schools. So when it’s all said and done, some of those schools are going to be left out in the cold.

Remaining 5-Star Prospects
[+] EnlargeTyus Jones
AP Photo/Damen Jackson Point guard Tyus Jones has visited Baylor and will see Kentucky, Kansas and Duke.
Jahlil Okafor (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young), 6-10, 265, C: He and Tyus Jones will visit Kansas and Duke in October after seeing Baylor together last weekend. They’ll visit Kentucky on separate dates because of scheduling conflicts. Okafor is also scheduled to see Arizona independently.

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Myles Turner trims list to 8 schools 

August, 7, 2013
Five-star center Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Trinity) has confirmed that he has trimmed his list to eight schools. In no particular order, the finalists for high school basketball’s hottest prospect are Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Arizona, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Texas.

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Trey LylesCourtesy David Dixon/tnl1.comNo. 4 recruit Trey Lyles trimmed his list to Kentucky, Louisville, Florida and Butler this week, but it could come down to a battle between John Calipari and Rick Pitino.

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Trey Lyles cut his final college list to four earlier this week down here at the Peach Jam, and the onetime Indiana commit kept the dream alive when both Louisville and Kentucky remained in the hunt.

Lyles is a stud, ranked No. 4 in the ESPN 100. Think a 6-foot-9, 250-pound version of Tim Duncan. Not overly athletic, but super skilled and with an extremely high IQ. The senior power forward out of Arsenal Tech in Indianapolis can score with both hands in the paint, has terrific touch around the basket, can bury shots from midrange, and can even step out beyond the arc and drain shots from deep.

No. 1 point guard Tyus Jones and No. 1 overall Jahlil Okafor have soaked up the majority of the headlines in the 2014 class thanks to their talents and their willingness to play together in college, but Lyles could have as much of a winning impact as anyone in this entire group. He’s a versatile scorer who can rebound, pass and help lead a team. He’s more than capable of being a double-double guy as a freshman in college thanks to his rebounding instincts.

Florida and Butler also made the cut in Lyles’ final four, but this one could very well come down to a Battle of the Bluegrass. In fact, many of those close to this recruitment feel it will ultimately be John Calipari vs. Rick Pitino.

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Rebels land instant-impact PF Hymon 

July, 10, 2013
Class of 2014 power forward Marcanvis Hymon (Memphis/Whitehaven) committed to Ole Miss Tuesday over offers from Memphis and SEC rival programs Mississippi State, Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee. The commitment was the first for the Rebels’ 2014 class.

Rebels coach Andy Kennedy should be smiling after this pledge, as his team adds a dependable, blue-collar player who simply finds ways to help his squad succeed. Let’s dissect his game to see what he will bring to Oxford.

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Rutgers nabs local 3-star CG Williams 

July, 8, 2013
The more you do this college recruiting job, the more imperative it is to find guys a team can win with. Collecting highly rated guys is nice, but as former Butler coach Brad Stevens can attest, you win with players who properly fit your program.

Rutgers scored a commitment from 2014 guard Mike Williams (Brooklyn/Bishop Loughlin) Monday, giving head coach Eddie Jordan one of those great fit kind of guys for his squad. During the spring, Williams graded out as one of the kids I thought played with the best motor. He’s a 6-foot-2 combo guard with a beautiful stroke and a nasty streak in his game.

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Best of the LeBron camp Day 2 

July, 8, 2013

LAS VEGAS -- The second day of the LeBron James Skills Academy on Sunday was a bit of a downer as No. 10 recruit Myles Turner (tweaked hamstring) was held out of action prior to his much anticipated encounter with Cliff Alexander. However, many other prospects exhibited the type of skill necessary to stand out at the event, led by the most complete scoring guard in the country in No. 11 prospect Rashad Vaughn.

Here are some superlatives from Day 2.

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Junior forward Zach Brown (Houston/South Kent School) committed to Wichita State over Texas, Kansas State, Providence, Creighton and Washington on Saturday. Brown is the Shockers' first commitment in the Class of 2014.

Brown's stock has risen recently after a strong spring.

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Biancardi's Breakdown: Julius Randle 

March, 19, 2013

With No. 3 overall prospect Julius Randle committing to Kentucky on Wednesday, we’ve decided to take one last look at his game to see what he will offer his team at the next level.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pounder was named a McDonald’s All American and selected to play in the Jordan Brand Classic. Randle recently led his Dallas Prestonwood Christian squad to its second consecutive state crown despite missing the bulk of the season with a foot injury.

Here’s a final breakdown of Julius Randle’s game.

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SG Johnson entrusts talent to UW staff 

October, 14, 2012
For Darin Johnson it was the right time to make a decision.

After taking some time to think about which school best fit his future, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound shooting guard (Sacramento, Calif./Sheldon) announced Sunday he will play college basketball at Washington.

“They’ve got a good thing going with that staff,” Johnson said. “I’m trying to get to the next level. I feel like they’ve got the perfect plan for me."

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SG Darin Johnson commits to Washington 

October, 14, 2012
Darin Johnson announced Sunday he will play college basketball at Washington.

"Just committed to the University of Washington!!" the senior said on his Twitter page, giving a verbal commitment to the Huskies.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound shooting guard (Sacramento, Calif./Sheldon) picked Washington over Oregon and San Diego State. He recently visited Washington with Huskies point guard commit Nigel Williams-Goss (Henderson, Nev./Findlay Prep) and forward Aaron Gordon (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty), who is rated the No. 6 player in the ESPN 100.

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SG Darin Johnson looks back on UW trip 

October, 10, 2012
When Darin Johnson looks at Washington’s basketball team, he sees a program that produces pros.

[+] EnlargeWashington's Tony Wroten
Steven Bisig/US PRESSWIREThe ability for Washington to turn out pros like Tony Wroten Jr. is a big part of the program's appeal to Darin Johnson.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound shooting guard (Sacramento, Calif./Sheldon) sees Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr. preparing for their rookie seasons. He sees second-year guard Isaiah Thomas playing well for the Sacramento Kings. Johnson sees the success of those players and looks at the Huskies’ coaching staff as a group that does a good job developing guards.

“They have produced a lot of pros,” Johnson said. “They develop guards that come into their program. That’s big, not only getting to the next level, but to also develop them, so when they get to the next level they actually do something.”

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Coach: Aaron Gordon enjoys UW visit 

October, 5, 2012
Aaron GordonScott Kurtz for ESPN.comAaron Gordon, the No. 6 player in the ESPN 100, visited Washington last weekend.

From a high school standpoint, San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty coach Tim Kennedy considers Aaron Gordon “as good as it gets.”

The 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward has the ability to take over a high school game, whether it is on the perimeter or in the post.

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Oakland getting a leader in PG Felder 

September, 17, 2012
Oakland head coach Greg Kampe landed point guard Kahlil Felder (Detroit/Pershing) on Monday, giving the Golden Grizzlies a guard who will be an immediate impact player as soon as Kampe puts the ball in his hands.

"I thought Oakland was the right fit; I had a good relationship with the coaching staff, especially coach Kampe," the 5-foot-9, 165-pound Felder said.

Felder, who ran with REACH on the travel circuit, is a tough-as-nails leader who is a coach on the floor and a winner. He has all the tools a coach wants in a lead guard: He can handle, pass and make open shots. The lefty competes at a high level as well.

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