NCB On The Trail: Cheick Diallo

HYATTSVILLE, Md. -- The Washington, D.C., area was the epicenter of high school basketball over the weekend, with multiple events going on near the nation's capital. The main attraction was the National High School Hoops Festival held at DeMatha Catholic (Md.).

Here are five key observations from the weekend:

After the early-signing period, Kentucky is at the top of the class rankings. But with seven of the top-10 prospects in the ESPN 100 still uncommitted, there is plenty of work left to be done before the best class in the land is crowned.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the No. 1 class contenders, what they would have to do to finish in the top spot and what their chances are of finishing there (percentage):

Kentucky (75 percent)

Yes, the Wildcats are No. 1 now, but ironically none of their three commitments -- Skal Labissiere (No. 11), Isaiah Briscoe (No. 13), and Charles Matthews (No. 44) -- are from a top-10 ranked player in the class and so they’re far from a sure thing. John Calipari will likely look to add two more pieces to his class, one in the frontcourt and another in the backcourt. If he can get Ivan Rabb (No. 5), Cheick Diallo (No. 7), Caleb Swanigan (No. 8), Stephen Zimmerman (No. 10) or Carlton Bragg (No. 18) up front and then Jaylen Brown (No. 2), Malik Newman (No. 3), Brandon Ingram (No. 12) or Antonio Blakeney (No. 14) in the backcourt, UK has a good chance of finishing on top. If they have a mass exodus to the pros, and end up taking more than two players off this list, the top ranking will be a virtual certainty.


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Kentucky reclaims familiar No. 1 spot 

November, 14, 2014
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Heading into Thursday afternoon, Kentucky had a borderline top-40 recruiting class nationally. There was just one player in the fold, four-star guard Charles Matthews.

Less than one hour later, Kentucky was back in a familiar spot -- with the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.

The Wildcats landed commitments from Skal Labissiere (No. 11 in the ESPN 100) and Isaiah Briscoe (No. 13). Labissiere might have the highest ceiling of any prospect in the class, and Briscoe’s strong summer cemented his status as the premier point guard in 2015.


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Last weekend, Kentucky had about 90 NBA scouts on its campus for a practice that was televised on ESPNU -- yet this weekend will feature an even bigger event for the Wildcats.

Friday brings Big Blue Madness to Lexington, where the Kentucky faithful will pack Rupp Arena for their first look at the 2014-15 edition of the Wildcats, the likely preseason No. 1 team in the country. More important, it is also the biggest recruiting weekend of the year for John Calipari and Kentucky. Seven five-star prospects from the classes of 2015 and 2016 are expected on campus this weekend, in addition to four-star commit Charles Matthews.

Calipari and his staff haven’t tried to downplay the event to the prospective recruits, either.

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Big men dominate in class of 2015 

September, 29, 2014
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A closer look at the class in 2015 shows that 10 of the top 15 prospects are either power forwards or centers. But don’t be mistaken as not all big men are the same. This is certainly not a one-size-fits-all talent pool.

Let’s look at how they are different in size, body type, skill, athletic ability and basketball IQ.

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LeBron James Skills Academy recap: Day 3 

July, 12, 2014
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It was an eventful day at the LeBron James Skills Academy as the night session of games was cancelled due to player fatigue and injuries. Isaiah Briscoe, Malik Newman, Stephen Zimmerman, and Troy Brown are just a few of the casualties that succumbed to the injury bug. However, despite one session of games there was an epic encounter between the most dominant player in camp in Ben Simmons and super junior Jayson Tatum, as well as a number of fine performances from those that you'll read about in this edition.

Best all-around

Jayson Tatum
2016, WF, 6-foot-7, 193 pounds


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Nike Bigs and Ones Skills Academy recaps 

June, 26, 2014
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UNION, New Jersey -- The first wave of Nike’s annual Skills Academies came to Kean University this week for The Bigs Skills Academy and The Ones Skills Academy, for big men and point guards, respectively.

A total of 34 players -- 19 guards and 15 big men -- took part in three days of skill development led by longtime NBA coach Kevin Eastman while picking up extra tutelage from NBA stars such as Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Carter-Williams and Trey Burke, among others, as their college counterparts went through similar sessions on the next court. Here’s a look at who stood out:


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The NBPA top 100 dream team 

June, 23, 2014
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After watching over 100 prospects at the NBPA top 100 camp during a four-day period, I thought who would I want to coach if I had one practice before playing one game.

I am making my decisions based on their performances and stats from the camp courtesy of Statva.com, along with prior evaluations from the high school year and the spring evaluation period.

Assembling this team wasn't just about sheer talent. It was more about the prospects’ skill level, productivity, and how well they know their roles and are able to blend their talent into a team concept. The roster below has everything I would want and need to win a game.

Here is the starting lineup, sixth man, and bench:

Starting lineup


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NBPA Top 100 camp wrap 

June, 22, 2014
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The NBPA Top 100 camp always displays some of the best collections of talent in the summer.

The most impressive part of this event was the fact that the players played hard and competed from start to finish. Here are some players who stood out.

Best point guards

Perry Dozier (Columbia, South Carolina/Spring Valley)
PG/SG, 2015, 6-foot-4, 185 pounds


Perry is a rare combo guard. Many players who are designated as combo guards are generally not a point guard or a shooting guard. Dozier is actually both, as he can play either guard spot with equal efficiency. He was much more productive and assertive than I had seen in the past, and he showed the ability to run a team. Dozier averaged just over 8 points per game for the camp, but he showcased the ability of a top-20 player in the class.


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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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EYBL Session III recap 

May, 19, 2014
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HAMPTON, Va. -- The third installment of the 2014 Nike EYBL came to the Boo Williams Sports Complex this weekend. Here’s a look at some of the major storylines:


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College basketball’s incoming freshman class features some elite rim protectors. They are the guys who are able to patrol the paint on defense and turn away a wide variety of would-be scorers. Here are the best shot-blockers in the class and one name to know in 2015:

1. Myles Turner, Texas
He went on national television and announced he was going to “hook em.” Well, he might have also meant he was going to “block em.” Arguably the best shot-blocker in the rising freshman class, Turner will provide an immediate boost to Texas’ defense with his ability to turn away shots at the rim. What’s going to be interesting is to see how Rick Barnes elects to use Turner in combination with returning center Cameron Ridley, not to mention last season’s starting power forward Jonathan Holmes. The trio is likely to see plenty of time on the floor together next season, which could mean more of a 2-3 zone from the Longhorns. That allows both Turner to anchor himself to the front of the rim when he plays in the middle, as well as show his mobility in challenging shots on the perimeter from the wing position.


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Nike EYBL awards 

April, 28, 2014
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The first session of the Nike EYBL unveiled a plethora of talent that will be showing up on college campuses in the near future. Ivan Rabb is ranked as the No. 1 player in the 2015 class, but if this weekend showed us anything, that ranking is anything but solidified going forward. LSU commit Ben Simmons exhibited his vast skill set throughout the weekend and is coming on strong, and this is just the Nike side of the story.

Best Prospect

Ben Simmons
2015, PF, 6-foot-9, 220 pounds
Status: Committed to LSU
Simmons has that prototypical Division I frame with length and upside. His skill set is perimeter-oriented and quite polished. He can face up and dissect the defense with his passing or drain the 3-point shot. His motor fluctuates and it would be ideal to see him impact the game in the paint more at both ends going forward.


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Northeast Hoops Festival recap 

April, 14, 2014
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HANOVER, Mass. -- The seventh annual Northeast Hoops Festival featured many of the top programs from New England, New York and beyond, allowing us the opportunity to both check in on high-profile prospects and get a glimpse at others primed to make a name for themselves during the upcoming April evaluation period.

Top Prospect Watch, 2015


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Rankings week is here, and Wednesday our focus in on the 2015 class. Here are 10 things you need to know about the newly updated ESPN 60:


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