NCB On The Trail: Chris Chiozza

Class of 2014's best passers 

May, 5, 2014
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Members of the Class of 2014 have (mostly) made their decisions. Which incoming freshmen should you get to know? Here is a look at the best passers -- and one name to know in 2015:

1. Tyus Jones, Duke
He is the consummate point guard. His passes are always away from the defense and he has that snap on the ball that you just can’t coach. On the fast break, he will come to complete stop and let the trailer fill the lanes and make a precise pass for a layup or 3-point shot. In tight quarters he can penetrate and pitch effectively by making a soft pass or a bounce pass and he demonstrates the outstanding vision, poise and patience to be a great set-up man. Some players pass to get rid of the ball, but when Jones passes, it usually leads to an assist.

Biancardi’s Breakdown: Best for '14 

December, 30, 2013
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Basketball is played right through the new year, so as we look back and plan ahead let’s take a look halfway through this season at which 2014 prospects have performed best in 14 categories.

1. Best in the low post: Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young), Duke signee
If a team needs to score a basket in the lower half of the painted area, Okafor is the one to pass it to. He has secure hands to catch almost any pass and a soft touch with superb footwork. He also has a wide mobile body to seal his man and the patience to throw the ball back out and re-post his 7-foot-3 wing span.


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Florida adds flexibility 

December, 11, 2013
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It’s as easy as 1,2,3 because that’s what Florida coach Billy Donovan has put together in the nation’s No. 11 class -- a trio of prospects who play point guard, shooting guard and small forward. This group brings a unique blend of positional players who certainly are not married to one position. They are extremely strong on the perimeter and demonstrate interchange parts in their performances.


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Florida announces signing class

November, 21, 2013
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Florida coach Billy Donovan announced his 2014-15 recruiting class on Thursday as the early signing period came to an end.

Signing with the Gators were three ESPN 100 prospects: SG Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, Fla./Arlington Country Day), SF Devin Robinson (Chesterfield, Va./Christchurch) and PG Chris Chiozza (Memphis/White Station). Donovan also will welcome SG Zach Hodskins (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton) as a preferred walk-on.

"We are really excited about these guys and their future at the University of Florida," Donovan said. "They all have tremendous potential, and we're glad they're Gators."
With seven ESPN 100 commitments in as many days, the last week has been incredibly busy on the recruiting wire, but the best could still be yet to come with Reid Travis, Cliff Alexander, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones all likely to make decisions in time to sign during the early signing period, which begins next week.

In case you missed any of last week’s headlines, here’s a rundown: Devin Robinson chose Florida over Indiana on Wednesday; later that night, big man Michael Humphrey picked Stanford over Arizona; Devin Booker started a busy Thursday by picking Kentucky over Missouri; James Blackmon Jr. pulled a surprise by spurning Kentucky to recommit to Indiana; Kevon Looney’s commitment to UCLA was equally surprising, with most predicting Duke, Florida or Tennessee; former UCLA pledge Trevon Bluiett picked Xavier over Butler and Michigan State on Friday; and Trey Lyles chose Kentucky over Louisville on Tuesday.

That flurry of activity, along with the upcoming announcements, has brought more clarity to a lot of top national programs. Here’s a look at some of the implications:


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Roundtable: What makes a good PG? 

November, 5, 2013
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Tyus JonesAP Photo/Damen Jackson via Triple Play New MediaTop-rated point guard Tyus Jones embodies all the important traits of an elite floor leader.

The RecruitingNation writers all agree that point guard is the most important position on the floor. But what is the most important part of being a great floor general? And which player in the 2014 class best exhibits those traits? That's where our experts disagree.


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Scout’s take: Robinson picks Gators 

October, 30, 2013
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Small forward Devin Robinson (Chesterfield, Va./Christchurch School), the No. 28 player in the ESPN 100, has committed to Florida over Indiana, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State. His pledge gives coach Billy Donovan a third ESPN 100 performer in the Class of 2014, alongside No. 27 Brandone Francis and No. 42 Chris Chiozza.

Why did Robinson commit to Florida and how will he fit with the Gators? Let's break it down:


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Notebook: Bruins host big visitor 

September, 20, 2013
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Truth? It’s not a big campus visited weekend. Take a look at the pedestrian football schedule and you’ll see what I mean. However, there are a few stragglers on campus this weekend, some of which are crucial to a few programs this year and next.


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Elite 24 lives up to its name

August, 23, 2013
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Emmanuel MudiayKelly Kline/Under ArmourThe Under Armour Elite 24 has always had top-level talent and this weekend's edition is no different, as ESPN 100 No. 5 player Emmanuel Mudiay is part of star-studded cast.
BROOKLYN, NY -- The 8th annual Under Armour Elite 24 game and dunk/skills competition will feature some of the nation's most outstanding basketball prospects. Previous games included top prep players such as Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats), Brandon Jennings (Detroit Pistons), Jrue Holiday (New Orleans Pelicans) and Lance Stephenson (Indiana Pacers) participated in this famed event.

This two-day event will take place at the Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park under The Brooklyn Bridge.

Catch all the action live on ESPNU, with the Dunk and Skills competition Friday at 7pm ET and the Elite 24 game Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.

5 Reasons to watch

1. Stars will be shining bright

The Elite 24 has been known for its star power, and this year's roster is stronger than ever. From top to bottom this game has the best players in the country regardless of class and position. This game has an abundance of gifted prospects, which is going to make it exciting and entertaining to witness as the best high school players go head to head.

The Elite 24 has 13 of the top 25 players in the 2014 ESPN 100 and 5 of the top 10, led by ESPN No. 3 Tyus Jones, No. 5 Emmanuel Mudiay and No. 7 Chris McCullough (Syracuse). The game also has a bevy of underclassman phenoms such as 2015 ESPN 60 prospects No. 1 Ivan Rabb, No. 2 Malik Newman and No. 7 Stephen Zimmermann, along with 2016 ESPN 25 No. 2 Thon Maker.

2. It's all about the matchups

Point guard: Jones vs. Mudiay
Jones is a pure point guard who has tremendous vision and makes great decisions. He is outstanding in handing out the assist in transition or when the game slows down. Mudiay brings outstanding size and athletic ability along with excellent penetration and passing skills. They're not only two of the best players in their respective positions, but two of the best in the nation.

Shooting guards: Rashad Vaughn vs. D'Angelo Russell
All-star games are about scoring points and these two guys do it as well as anyone in the 2014 class. Vaughn is always on the attack and can score with a long jumper or a finish at the rim. Russell is smooth and under control, always ready to launch his deadly long-range jumper. They are two of the best at creating their own shot when there is no offensive flow.

Small forwards: Kelly Oubre vs. Justin Jackson
Teammates for the AAU Houston Hoops, the battle between these two will be electrifying, as both are high-level scorers with great length, athletic ability and skill. Oubre is a dynamic finisher and will mix in some jumpers. Jackson is perhaps the best scoring small forward in the class, possessing touch and instinct from anywhere on the floor. Can Oubre contain Jackson's lethal mid-range jumper?

Power forwards Myles Turner and Zimmermann are two of the best frontcourt players in the country. Turner might be the best shot blocker in his the 2014 class and Zimmermann has tremendous skill for his age.

3. The college game looks better than ever

When this roster of players enters the college game it will bring with it excitement, skill, superior athletic ability and plenty of potential to the college game.

All of the players participating in this year's event are being recruited at the highest level. Turner is the hottest prospect in the nation and Jones being pursued by the likes of Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Ohio State. Some have already made their pledges, with Jackson, Joel Berry and Theo Pinson committed to North Carolina, Romelo Trimble and Dion Wiley pledging with Maryland, Chris Chiozza headed to Florida, McCullough at Syracuse and Russell to Ohio State. For the ones not committed yet their lists have been trimmed down, with college coaches and their fanbases will be closely watching.

The college game will continue to be extremely healthy. This list of prospects will influence and impact their future schools as well as the landscape of college basketball.

4. History lesson

This event has had numerous players go on and be successful in the NBA. When looking at the numbers, 37 Elite 24 players have become first-round NBA draft picks, with 23 ending up in the lottery, over the past eight years.

Three have become no. 1 overall picks: 2011 alum Anthony Bennett, 2009 participant Kyrie Irving and 2008 prospect John Wall. This year participants should add to that impressive list in the near future.

5. Last event of the summer

It seems as if the summer basketball circuit flies by each year, with so many players making a mark by competing and traveling around the country. As the summer season comes to an end, the Elite 24 gives players, college coaches, fans, and postseason all-star game voting members one last opportunity to view some of the best players in the nation on a national stage until their high school seasons begin. Many of the senior prospects will be candidates for postseason accolades and as the fall rolls around, so this makes the Elite 24 a special game.

Elite 24 player breakdowns

August, 22, 2013
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Chris McCulloughDustin Snipes/Icon SMISyracuse forward commit Chris McCullough is looking to put his athleticism and skillset on display this weekend at the Under Armour Elite 24 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Breakdowns of the key prospect competing at Under Armour Elite 24 showcase. The 2013 Under Armour Elite 24 will be held at the Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Friday and Saturday. The game airs live on ESPNU at 7 p.m. ET Saturday, while the Slam Dunk Contest and Skills Competition will air Friday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

2014

Tyus Jones
Point Guard
Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley
6-foot-2, 180 pounds
College: Undeclared

Jones is a true point guard that pushes the pace, runs his team and makes great decisions off the ball screen in addition to being an excellent finisher for his size. He has an an all-business approach and is a winner.

NBA Comparisons: Tony Parker/Ray McCallum/John Stockton

Emmanuel Mudiay
Point Guard
Dallas/Prime Prep
6-5, 198
College: Undeclared

Mudiay is a scoring point guard with great size and athletic ability that plays in full-attack mode and can also facilitate. He can take over the game offensively at times and is great at making plays at end-of-clock situations.

NBA Comparison: Tyreke Evans

Chris McCullough
Power Forward
Bronx, N.Y./Brewster Academy
6-9, 210
College: Syracuse

McCullough is a extra-long athletic forward that excels on the break and finishes above the rim on all clear paths. He rebounds and blocks shots to go along with being a capable multiple-position lockdown defender as well with great upside.

NBA Comparison: Taj Gibson

Justin Jackson
Small Forward
Tomball, Texas/Homeschool Christian Youth Association
6-8, 190
College: North Carolina

Jackson is a long and lean wing with a great feel for the game and a sweet shooting stroke and floater that is money from deep in the lane and along the baseline. Capable of scoring big numbers with a scoring package that extends to the arc.

NBA Comparisons: Jeremy Lamb/Tayshaun Prince/Reggie Miller

Myles Turner
Center
Bedford, Texas/Euless Trinity
6-11, 225
College: Undeclared

Turner is a post that is long with a great motor. He has an advanced face-up game with range to the arc. He can also put it on the floor and pass with accuracy in addition to being an elite shot blocker with off-the-charts upside.

NBA Comparisons: Anthony Davis/LaMarcus Aldridge/ Tim Duncan/Theo Ratliff

Rashad Vaughn
Shooting Guard
Golden Valley, Minn./Findlay Prep
6-6, 206
College: Undeclared

Vaughn is an attacking wing that excels on the break and can make scoring plays off the bounce in a variety of ways He is a tough matchup at the shooting guard position because he has range out to the arc and is relentless at attempting to make high-level scoring plays.

NBA Comparisons: Jamal Crawford/Jerry Stackhouse

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Biancardi's Breakdown: Point guards 

August, 12, 2013
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Without question, the most important position in basketball from a coach’s point of view is the point guard, and the success of any team lies with its floor leader.

During my coaching career, I have had the unbelievable good fortune to recruit and coach many outstanding point guards who played in the NBA (such as Howard Eisley at Boston College), as well as standouts in the college game (such as James “Scoonie” Penn at Boston College and Ohio State and DaShaun Wood at Wright State. Eisley had a 12-year NBA career, Penn was the Big East Rookie of the Year and Big Ten Player of the Year, and Wood was the Horizon League Player of the Year.

Below are 10 keys that are vital to being a great point guard, with a look at which prospects from the Class of 2014 best demonstrate each of those traits.

[+] EnlargeTyus Jones
Chris Williams/Icon SMITyus Jones, the nation's top PG, reminds us of Syracuse's Tyler Ennis for a variety of reasons.

1. Eliminate emotional fogs


Why it’s important: The ability to perform and always have your head in the game is the first part of being a floor general. To do what the coach wants and give the team what it needs all game long takes total concentration, but it’s what separates the good from the great point guards.

Who does it best:
Joel Berry: The UNC-bound floor general is battle-tested and tough-minded with a winning approach. His mentality is to always be dialed in, and he reacts to adversity extremely well. He never allows the previous possession to affect the next play, which is rare at such a young age.

Tyus Jones: The nation’s No. 1-ranked point guard is aware and alert to what’s going on throughout the course of a game and does not get caught up in one-on-one battles when defenders make him a priority. Once his attention to detail on the defensive end increases, watch out.

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The best performers of July 

August, 2, 2013
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In basketball recruiting, the July recruiting period is a chance for college coaches to zero in on their top targets. And for us here at RecruitingNation, it is likewise a chance to attend July’s biggest events and watch the nation’s top players.

To wrap up the hottest evaluation time of the year, let’s hand out some superlatives to the biggest standouts from the entire month of July.

Biggest difference-maker: Jahlil Okafor
When you play with and against older, more experienced competition and win a gold medal while being named to the all-tournament team, you make a massive difference. Okafor represented USA Basketball at the U19 World Championships in Prague at the beginning of the month and was one of only two high school prospects on the team (Justise Winslow was the other). Okafor impacts every game because you have to have a plan and then a back-up plan to stop him or at least contain him. He operates in the low post better than anyone in the 2014 class as he works for deep position and knows how to move his feet to gain an advantage. He can score with a jump hook or drop step, and he can and will also throw it back out of the post and reestablish himself for better position. If he’s on your team, the offense should go through him as much as possible.

[+] EnlargeMyles Turner
Courtesy of Kelly Kline/Under ArmourNo. 10 recruit Myles Turner continues to raise his stock and has almost every major program in the country after him.
Hottest prospect: Myles Turner

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MILWAUKEE -- The Under Armour Summer Jam presented by NY2LA Sports was one of the must-see July events for college coaches. More than 900 college coaches from all over the country made the trek to Milwaukee for last year’s event and the arena was packed just as packed this time around, as coaches piled in to get a firsthand look at the elite talent.

The event -- in its fifth year and organized by Antonio Curro -- attracted elite travel teams from across the country that competed in pool play and a single-elimination tournament with each squad guaranteed to take the court four times.

This year’s event had significant star power, especially in the frontcourt with top-10 seniors Cliff Alexander (No. 2), Karl Towns Jr. (No. 6), Kevon Looney (No. 9) and Myles Turner (No. 10) facing off in high-level matchups with few -- if any -- empty seats in the gym.

Here’s a breakdown of how the elite bigs and others top prospects performed during the five-day event.

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Notebook: ESPN 100 recruiting updates 

June, 28, 2013
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This week’s Friday recruiting notebook is chock full of updates on ESPN 100 prospects, including commitments for Florida and Louisville, a visitor for Michigan State, what’s next for North Carolina, who NC State is targeting and why No. 10 recruit Myles Turner continues to improve his stock.

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Florida coach Billy Donovan is halfway around the world right now, but he received some great recruiting news from right in his back yard.

Donovan is in the Czech Republic leading USA Basketball’s U19 team into action in the FIBA U19 World Championships. Play began on Thursday, which just happens to be the same day Donovan landed a commitment from ESPN 100 guard Brandone Francis out of Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, Fla.

[+] EnlargeBrandone Francis
Courtesy of adidasCombo guard Brandone Francis will bring a versatile game to Florida in 2014.
The nation’s No. 34 rising senior, Francis joins ESPN 100 point guard Chris Chiozza (Memphis, Tenn./White Station) in the Gators’ 2014 class, which is now ranked No. 5 in the country. What makes Francis such a highly coveted recruit and productive player is that he is one of the few players in the 2014 class who excels both on and off the ball.

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