NCB On The Trail: Diamond Stone

PHILADELPHIA -- The Reebok Classic Breakout took a backseat to no other event over the past 48 hours as the staff did a tremendous job of putting together a deep and talented roster, which in turn attracted over 200 Division I college coaches including dozens of high-profile head coaches. Here's a look at which players were most impressive throughout the first two days of action:

Best pure point guard: Derryck Thornton

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- There was a major buzz inside the gym of Philadelphia University as the clock struck 5 p.m. and the likes of John Calipari, Rick Pitino, Kevin Ollie, Larry Brown, John Beilein, Bo Ryan, and dozens of other high profile head coaches kicked off the July evaluation period at the Reebok Breakout Camp.

Marquee matchup


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Accusations of academic scandal have hit North Carolina once again. This time it is specific to the men’s basketball program.

While the plot has only thickened since the first “Outside the Lines” report, what many now want to know is whether there will be any tangible impact on the product Roy Williams and UNC will put on the floor.

[+] EnlargeRoy Williams
Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesHow will the accusations of academic fraud impact Roy Williams' ability to recruit his 2015 class? It's probably still too early to tell.
The simple truth is we don’t know yet. Should this spark another investigation or the NCAA deem it necessary to get involved, there could certainly be repercussions. Otherwise, while it’s something that Williams will have to deal with on the recruiting front, it’s likely not an insurmountable obstacle.

You could also make the argument that North Carolina’s 2015 recruiting class is now even more important than ever, as the Tar Heels will look to silence those critics who may be whispering of their demise from the shadows.

On the surface there aren’t many pieces to replace, as Desmond Hubert is the only scholarship player in the senior class. They do have additional scholarships available, however, and that could be important should Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, or incoming freshman Justin Jackson play well enough next season to warrant an early jump to the NBA.

From the looks of its early recruiting, North Carolina appears to be focusing on 10 players with hopes of bringing in a three-man 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.
HOUSTON -- The Under Armour Invitational brings local travel teams together to compete under one roof and create an event loaded with high school talent from around the country.

Let's take a look at a few of the impressive performances that we witnessed.

Best true scoring point guard


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

When you go to a Final Four, your legacy changes as a coach and a player. However, the way you recruit should not change because that philosophy is what got you to a Final Four and that should stay intact. Far too often I have seen coaches change their methods and try to go after higher-profile kids, thinking they can now land bigger fish. In the case of Wisconsin, coach Bo Ryan has a style when recruiting: He goes after skilled players with toughness and solid basketball IQs. He likes to find interchangeable players who can hurt a defense from different spots on the floor (think Nigel Hayes). The staff looks for big men with ball skills who can also produce inside and guards who like to score inside as well as behind the arc.

Making the Final Four won't instantly land Wisconsin better recruits, but the actual benefits come down the road with future classes, especially in 2016 and 2017 because it will be fresh in their minds when they start to think about schools. Going to the Final Four builds recruiting momentum for the upcoming years by opening doors and getting people's attention. When the Badgers want to pursue top 2015 prospects such as Diamond Stone, who is No. 5 in the ESPN 60, or Henry Ellenson, who is No. 47, it will certainly help. Wisconsin was already involved with these two prospects, but now they will get an even better look.

#AskCoachB: Future for Kansas

March, 31, 2014
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Freshman center Joel Embiid has yet to officially announce his NBA draft decision, but it looks like fellow freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins will do so on Monday. The school released a statement that the 6-foot-8 freshman from Canada will make an announcement at 3 p.m. ET. When you have an announcement set up, it usually means you are going somewhere, not staying.

Looking ahead to 2015, Naadir Tharpe will be graduating next year, which makes point guard an absolute need in the 2015 class. Everyone will also be keeping tabs on returning wing Wayne Selden and incoming freshmen Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre next season.

The Jayhawks' needs in 2015 could be many depending on which players declare for the NBA draft next year. Here is an early peek at their wish list in 2015. On the perimeter there's Malik Newman, Jalen Brunson, Jalen Adams, Antonio Blakeney, Montaque Gill-Ceasar and P.J. Dozier. Dozier, who has been sidelined with a knee injury this year, will be back and has already shown the talent to be a high-major prospect.

The main targets for the frontcourt are ESPN 60 No. 1 Ivan Rabb, Diamond Stone, Stephen Zimmerman, Chase Jeter and Carlton Bragg.

This is an early, fluid list of recruits Kansas has targeted. There is a very good chance this list will change after the spring evaluation period.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

Now that the Blue Devils have secured a commitment from ESPN 60 shooting guard Luke Kennard, their focus in the 2015 class will be on landing some size to blend in with their strong perimeter talent.

Jahlil Okafor could certainly be on his way to the NBA draft after next season, and that would just leave Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee in the post for Duke.

Besides Chase Jeter, other top 2015 frontcourt targets include ESPN 60 No. 1 recruit Ivan Rabb, Diamond Stone and Skal Labissiere.

That group of players possesses the size, rebounding, shot blocking and scoring Duke needs inside.

The Blue Devils are also still in the running for ESPN 100 center Myles Turner, the No. 2 prospect in the 2014 class. Turner will make his college decision sometime in the late signing period this spring.

And as we look down the road at the Class of 2016, Duke's priorities are in-state prospect Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum from Missouri.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff are landing some of the nation's premier talent in hopes of keeping Duke in contention in the powerful ACC.

#AskCoachB: Better fit for Wisconsin

February, 20, 2014
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The simple and best answer for the first question is: both. They are each outstanding big men in the Class of 2015.

Henry Ellenson is a strong and skilled post player with excellent shooting range and plenty of upside. The Badgers have been on him and are making him a priority. He was in attendance at the Kohl Center when Wisconsin recently beat Michigan State.

Diamond Stone is in the Badgers' back yard and his name has been on our boards since his freshman season. He is a legit 6-foot-10 post who has the skill to face the basket with post moves. That's rare at such a young age. He still needs to learn how to give maximum effort all the time, however.

Both fit extremely well in Bo Ryan's system because the Wisconsin coach has been successful utilizing big men who face the basket.

I believe Stone has the better chance of staying in state. He has two outstanding options in Marquette and Wisconsin.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.


The Michigan Wolverines are having another strong season on the court this year, despite losing a pair of NBA players in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. They are on top of the Big Ten standings playing without one of their main weapons in Mitch McGary, who had back surgery.

One thing that is evident under John Beilein and staff: They put effort into their evaluations and it pays off because most of their recruits fit their system.

Projecting needs for the 2015 class could vary based on who departs for the NBA, transfers and, of course, graduation. Their class for 2014 is ranked at No. 39. This is not a complete list, but here are some main targets for the Wolverines in the Class of 2015:

Stephen Zimmerman (Las Vegas /Bishop Gorman) Jalen Brunson (Chicago/Stevenson), Luke Kennard (Franklin, Ohio/Franklin) Carlton Bragg (Cleveland/ St. Joseph's), Diamond Stone (Milwaukee/ Dominican), Eric Davis (Saginaw, Mich./ Arthur Hill), Henry Ellenson (Rice Lake, Wis./Rice Lake).

#AskCoachB: Duke's 2015 priorities

February, 12, 2014
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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.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



First of all, that's a great question because the Blue Devils will -- in all likelihood -- lose Jahlil Okafor after one season. I would not get caught up as to who can play the 5-spot. You can win in college basketball with elite power forwards if they do their job by defending and showing the ability to defend bigger players and rebound. It's important they display the skill to score both inside and away from the basket. Duke will need size in 2015.

In addition to ESPN No. 5 Diamond Stone (Milwaukee, Wis./ Dominican) who the Blue Devils have made deep inroads with, Duke is involved with the big man from Texas -- ESPN No. 6 Elijah Thomas (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) and super shot blocker and ESPN No. 8 Skal Labissiere (Memphis, Tenn. Evangelical Christian).

Speaking of elite power forwards, the Blue Devils are in the mix for ESPN No. 10 Carlton Bragg (Cleveland, Ohio/ St. Joseph) and ESPN No. 37 Chase Jeter(Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman), who is an above average post up player and rebounder.

We are a long way from 2015, but for college coaches who are recruiting, the early period is when you begin your evaluations and show attention to the ones you want to get.

Event showcases Wisconsin’s best 

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MEQUON, Wis. -- The seventh annual NY2LA Sports Classic was held on Saturday at Homestead High. The event featured the best teams in Wisconsin and is the top high school event in the state. Here are some of the top performers and performances.


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USA developmental team camp recap 

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The USA Basketball Developmental National Team minicamp featured some of the nation's best high school talent representing the classes of 2014, 2015 and 2016. Head coach Don Showalter and his staff put the players through numerous intense and competitive drills, controlled scrimmages and game situations in this four-workout, two-day minicamp.

Note: ESPN 100 No. 1 overall player Jahlil Okafor didn't play on Day 1 after rolling his ankle during a one-on-one in the post drill.

Here are a few players who were impressive this weekend from the ESPN 100, 60 and 25 rankings.

ESPN 100 Standouts

Best Motor
Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Trinity)
C, 6-foot-11, 225 pounds
Considering: Kansas, Ohio State, Texas, Duke, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisville, Oklahoma State

Turner's talent and shot blocking is well-documented, but his consistent motor also makes the big fella special. Regardless of the outcome of the possession, Turner never stops playing. He runs, jumps and competes at a high level, which makes him stand out.


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