NCB On The Trail: Charles Matthews

LAS VEGAS -- The LeBron James Skills Academy concluded on Saturday with an impressive North Carolina squad methodically putting away a talented Syracuse team 65-52 in the championship. North Carolina was a well-rounded team that received a number of stellar performances from the likes of Ivan Rabb, Aaron Falzon, Malik Monk, Jake Lindsey, Cassius Winston and Aaron Holiday.

Here were some of the standout performances and interesting storylines from the LeBron camp:

Intriguing matchup

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:


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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Kevin Durant Nike Skills Academies took place under the direction of former NBA player and coach John Lucas. NBA superstar Kevin Durant was on hand each day participating in scrimmages and giving guidance to the high school and college campers. This camp showed why the SG/SF positions in 2015 are maybe the most talented and deepest positions in the class. Many of these prospects own terrific positional size with some striking wing spans.

Who stood out the most during the event? Let's break it down:

Best at creating separation


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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Today is the last day of regular-season games as the playoffs approach. The players are competing at a high level as they work to build positive momentum to put their team in position to compete for the NBPA Top 100 Camp Championship.

Here are a few standout performances and the best matchup we witnessed on Friday.

Best matchup of the day

Dennis Smith Jr. vs. Derryck Thornton
This was a premier matchup between two of the best point guards in the Class of 2016 as Smith is the ninth overall player and Thornton stands 32nd.

Smith has the size, strength and shake as he was getting a piece of the paint on Thornton to score, dish out the assist or create fouls. Thornton countered with his basketball IQ, speed and quickness as a floor general. Thornton’s quickness allows him to get up under Smith as he had some solid on-ball defensive possessions. Thornton’s team came out in top while Smith continues to establish himself as one of the best point guards in the country regardless of class.


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The ESPN 60 has officially grown into the ESPN 100 for the Class of 2015, and there are plenty of intriguing storylines among the top rising seniors in the country:

[+] EnlargeIvan Rabb
Chris Williams/Icon SMIIvan Rabb maintained his tenuous hold on the No. 1 spot in the 2015 class.
1. Top spot still up for grabs. Ivan Rabb has retained his spot as the top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2015, but make no mistake about it: This remains a very tight race that will continue to play out for the next 12 months. Rabb’s versatility and efficiency during the Elite Youth Basketball League regular season, in addition to his vast physical upside, were enough for him to retain his title. But he has plenty of competition. Ben Simmons has been coming on as strong in recent months as any prospect in the class, as he is now turning potential into production on a much more consistent basis. In a class full of scoring guards, Malik Newman stands out as the most talented of them all, and very likely the best pure scorer in the ESPN 100. Diamond Stone has had an equally dominant spring in the Under Armour Association, playing his way into the top four and asserting his claim as a contender in the race for the No. 1 spot.

2. Oh, Henry. No player has made a more dramatic jump up the rankings than Henry Ellenson, who went all the way from No. 47 to No. 5 in the ESPN 100. Ellenson averaged 18 points and 9 rebounds per game for Playground Elite during the EYBL season, showing a versatile and unique game for a 6-foot-9 power forward, all while continuing to raise his level of his production with each passing week. He can shoot the ball from the 3-point line but is also a threat to put the ball on the floor. He is perhaps most effective when he’s able to get out and run in transition.

3. Other risers. Ellenson is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to players whose stock is rising. Jaylen Brown had a terrific spring on the adidas Gauntlet circuit and played his way into the top 10. Chase Jeter jumped more than 20 spots to land at No. 13, while Michigan State-bound big man Deyonta Davis moved up 30 spots to No. 18. Other spring stock risers include Justin Simon, who went from 45 to 23; Jalen Adams, 46 to 33; and Jalen Coleman, who hopped 24 spots to land at No. 34 in the ESPN 100.

4. Announcing his arrival. Previously a member of the 2016 class, Caleb Swanigan is making his debut in the 2015 rankings at No. 17 after announcing his reclassification last month. The wide-bodied 6-9 big man has nimble feet for a player of his size and an even bigger presence on the backboards. He led the entire EYBL in rebounding this season and was equally dominant cleaning the glass on both ends. His recruitment has also heated up, with Arizona and Kansas joining a long list of scholarship offers that already included Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue and many others.

5. More notable newcomers. While Swanigan might be the most notable of the new prospects in the ESPN 100, he’s far from the only one. In a class in desperate need of point guards, Corey Sanders has helped to fill a major void. He was unranked in the last ESPN 60 but now makes his ESPN 100 debut ranked No. 31 in the class. Former UConn commit Prince Ali is another prospect who was on the outside looking in the last time we updated rankings, but he has more than proved himself in recent months. Tres Tinkle, Admon Gilder and De'Jounte Murray make their debuts in the top half of the ESPN 100.

[+] EnlargeJessie Govan
Bart Young/USA BasketballGeorgetown commit Jessie Govan is trending back up the ESPN 100.
6. Down but not out. As some prospects go up the rankings, others must go down, but sometimes that’s just the spark of motivation they need to reassert themselves in the coming months. Jessie Govan and Terance Mann are examples of prospects who slipped out of the rankings at one point in time but are now trending back in the right direction. At No. 23, Tyler Dorsey is a prospect who could make another climb up the ESPN 100 before all is said and done, while the same can be said for P.J. Dozier, Charles Matthews, Doral Moore and K.J. Lawson.

7. Big and getting bigger. The 2015 class was already well known for the amount of size and frontcourt depth, but that has become an even bigger (no pun intended) trend in these most recent rankings. In fact, 11 of the top 15 ranked players in the class come at either the center or power forward positions, making this far and away the most frontcourt-dominated class we’ve seen in recent memory.

8. Plenty of positional size. Size is a characteristic of this class, not just among the frontcourt positions, but across each of the five positions on the floor. Even the perimeter players atop the class have terrific size relative to their spot on the floor. Jaylen Brown is no slouch of a wing at 6-5, while Brandon Ingram’s 6-8 frame is ideal. Malachi Richardson has equally imposing size at the shooting guard position at 6-6. Conversely, we don’t see a player 6 feet or under until Kendall Small (ditto on the no pun intended) checks in at No. 60.

9. Scoring guards. While the big men dominate the top of the rankings, many of the best guards in the class all seem to come from a similar prototype. They handle the ball more than natural 2-guards and yet are more focused on their individual offense than pure point guards. Instead, guys such as Newman, Antonio Blakeney, Allonzo Trier and Isaiah Briscoe can be best described as scoring guards -- guards who act as the primary playmakers for their respective teams but look for their own offense first and foremost before passing as a result of forcing the defense to collapse or rotate.

10. On the cusp. The final spots in the ESPN 100 are always some of the most debatable, essentially because there are so many prospects who can make a legitimate claim on the top 100 status. That was particularly true this year, when proven players such as Bryant Crawford and Rex Pflueger were left just on the outside looking in, along with other deserving prospects such as Joseph Toye, Matt Ryan, Chimezie Metu, Marcus Derrickson and several others.
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With Myles Turner's commitment to Texas serving as an unofficial close to the 2014 recruiting class, it’s time to focus on the 2015 crop.

Here are 10 questions that the recruiting world will seek to answer in the next year:

1. Will it be one and done?


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ESPN 60 (Class of 2015) small forward Charles Matthews (Chicago/Saint Rita) ended his recruiting Wednesday morning by committing to the Kentucky Wildcats over Illinois, Marquette, Kansas and Michigan State.


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Roundtable: Must-get prospects for 2015 

February, 25, 2014
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With the vast majority of the top prospects in the ESPN 100 now off the board, the focus of the recruiting world is now rapidly shifting to the 2015 class where programs from all levels of college basketball are looking to position themselves for a successful recruiting cycle.

Some are already ahead of the curve. LSU landed a huge early score in Ben Simmons (Melbourne, Australia/Montverde Academy), Arizona has its next big-time guard in Tyler Dorsey (Los Angeles/St. John Bosco) and Syracuse has a pair of ESPN 60 products in Malachi Richardson (Hamilton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) and Tyler Lydon (Pine Plains, N.Y./New Hampton).

Memphis, Michigan State, Marquette, and Illinois have early commitments from ESPN 60 products as well, while the Fighting Illini are joined by Connecticut, Washington, Villanova, New Mexico, Rutgers, and Mississippi State in already having two verbal commitments.

With the 2015 dominoes beginning to align, we asked our team of Recruiting Nation experts to pinpoint which programs have already established their top priority, or “must-have recruit,” in the coming year.


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#AskCoachB: Duke's 2015 priorities

February, 12, 2014
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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.



Recruiting never stops, and coaches are always working on classes one or two years down the road. While Duke currently holds the top recruiting class in 2014, coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff are diving right into the Class of 2015 and beyond.

In the Class of 2015, size is a big need for Duke. The biggest name on the Blue Devils’ board is ESPN 60 No. 1 overall player Ivan Rabb (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O'Dowd), an extremely athletic post who scores, rebounds and blocks shots.

Other names on the list are Diamond Stone (Milwaukee/Dominican), a skilled low- and high-post player; Thomas Bryant (Rochester, N.Y./Huntington Prep), a wide yet mobile big with a soft touch; and Chase Jeter (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman ), a fundamentally sound inside and outside threat.

Some names to know on the perimeter are ESPN 60 No. 2 Malik Newman (Jackson, Miss./Callaway), Luke Kennard (Franklin, Ohio/Franklin), Brandon Ingram (Kinston, N.C./Kingston) and Charles Matthews (Chicago/St. Rita).

If you are a Duke fan, the biggest thing to remember right now is that the Blue Devils are still in the running for ESPN’s No. 2 2014 prospect Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Trinity), who is expected to make a decision when his season is over. While the Duke staff has 2015 targets on the board, wrapping up the 2014 class comes first.

Notes: Cartwright could be double value 

September, 6, 2013
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This time of the year, there's always something brewing. From campus visits to the value of Stanford's newest pledge, we've dumped out the notebook into a nice, tidy column to catch you up.

Cartwright's value could be two-fold


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Starting 5: Point guard debate 

August, 20, 2013
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Editor's note: Every week in "Starting 5," we'll roll out five stories, themes and nuggets from the basketball recruiting world to set the table with the stories that need to be told and give you a leg up on the watercooler conversations around the office.

This week we look at three point guards using different lenses, what plans KU has for Late Night in the Phog, the recruiting revivals at UConn and Minnesota plus reduced lists from bigs Paul White and Makinde London.


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LAS VEGAS -- The first night of the last evaluation period couldn’t have gone any better for Dinos Trigonis, Gary Charles, Grant Rice, and the rest of the Las Vegas Fab 48 staff. Whether it was top-10 junior Stephen Zimmerman closing the gap at the top of the 2015 rankings with his outstanding all-around play or No. 5 senior Emmanuel Mudiay dazzling all comers with his point guard wizardry, Wednesday's performances were high level.

Here's a look at the players who had college coaches chirping on Day 1 in Las Vegas.

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ESPN 100 prospects star at Peach Jam 

July, 12, 2013
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Editor's note: This is the latest entry in Dave Telep's July Road Trip blog. Throughout the month, Dave will check in each day he's on the road while covering some of the biggest basketball recruiting events in the country. He'll let you know where he's at, offer some highlights of the day and give a quick look at what's next.

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Thirty minutes before the start of the second session at the Nike Peach Jam on Thursday, the rains came. And it rained. And rained harder. And kept raining and then rained some more. A torrential downpour gave the event a new perspective.

Watching assistant coaches sprint to the gym so they wouldn’t be late to a game was kind of fun. Without any scholarships to give out, the best seat in the house for me was in the car until there was a letup in the downpour.

Sandwiched around the rain, however, there was some great action on the court and a who's who of big-time college coaches on hand to watch. Here are some nuggets from the first official day of the Nike EYBL finals at the Peach Jam.

[+] EnlargePaul White
Dave Telep/ESPN ESPN 100 PF Paul White put on a show in front of coaches from Florida, Memphis, Wisconsin, UConn, Michigan State and Illinois.
White turns in one of his best days of the summer

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