NCB On The Trail: Diamond Stone

video ESPN 100 No. 7 overall and McDonald's All-American center Diamond Stone ended his recruitment on Friday by committing to the Maryland Terrapins and coach Mark Turgeon over his home state's Wisconsin, along with Oklahoma State and Connecticut.

A closer look at Diamond Stone 

March, 16, 2015
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video The late signing period for the 2015 class is drawing near. In the coming weeks, we’re going to take a deeper dive into each of the uncommitted players in the top 25 of the ESPN 100. Next up: Diamond Stone 6-foot-10, 250 pounds | Center Milwaukee, Wisconsin | Dominican High School No. 7 overall (No. 2 C) Recruitment so far Potential schools Wisconsin -- Official visit: Oct. 24, 2014 Maryland -- Official visit: Oct. 17, 2014 Oklahoma State -- Official visit: Oct. 10, 2014 UConn -- Official visit: Oct. 31, 2014 Unlike many of the elite players still available, it wasn't always a guarantee that Stone would wait until the spring to choose a school. Shortly before the early signing period, Stone tweeted that he planned on announcing his college decision in November -- but quickly retracted and announced he would be waiting a bit longer. Stone isn't in the information-gathering phase anymore; he's taken official visits to all four schools and doesn't appear to need more trips. Duke was on his final list of five, but the Blue Devils were cut during the fall. Four schools remain for Stone, and while there isn't a true timeline for his decision, Stone has all he needs.

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What do Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Arizona, Michigan State, Connecticut, Syracuse, Michigan, Ohio State, Louisville and North Carolina State have in common?

Yes, they’re all among the most prestigious college basketball programs in the country, but they’re also among the programs battling it out for the 10 remaining prospects left available in the ESPN 100, eight of whom are among the top 12 ranked players in the country.

They’re not alone either as Mississippi State, California, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, UNLV, Iowa State, St. John’s, Arkansas, Missouri, Ole Miss and Memphis are chasing prospects from the very same group.

The supply doesn’t come anywhere close to meeting the demand, and with literally every prospect in the bottom half of the ESPN 100 already off the board, the simple truth is that the programs that miss on these prospects will be left without many good options.

Kentucky is bound to get a couple more, and most likely Kansas too, but for some elite programs, the potential of coming up empty is especially daunting:

North Carolina

The Tar Heels own only one commitment, ESPN 100 power forward Luke Maye (No. 95). He plans to walk on next season and consequently didn’t sign a national letter of intent. Coach Roy Williams is still in the market for both Jaylen Brown (No. 2) and Brandon Ingram (No. 12), and with virtually the entire core of this year’s rotation expected to return, either could push North Carolina among the top programs in the country next year. That’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario isn’t just that they miss out on both, but that their lack of quality contingency plans becomes particularly costly should freshman Justin Jackson opt for a jump to the NBA. Worse yet, should the academic scandal and NCAA investigation motivate Marcus Paige and/or Kennedy Meeks to consider such a move, suddenly things would look very bleak for the Tar Heels.


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videoNow that the rosters are set for the 38th annual McDonald’s All American Game -- featuring the top 24 senior high school basketball players in the country -- let's take a closer look at the East team and a few of the many strengths its players will bring when they take on the West team April 1 at United Center in Chicago (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).


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The player rankings in all three high school classes (ESPN 100, 60 and 25) have been updated. We base our rankings on the four Ps: Performance, production potential and projection, among many other factors. First we analyze and evaluate a prospect's individual performance, his production level now and possibly at the collegiate level, his potential in the college game, and where he could land on a possible professional draft board.

The player rankings also affect a school's class rankings, which have also been updated. Since our last update in September, some of our evaluations have changed or been confirmed. We are midway through the high school season in our rankings and there's still time for more movement, as this is a fluid process.

Here are five things to know about the new rankings.


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Recruiting has quieted down a bit since the end of the early signing period and the start of the high school and college seasons, but there are plenty of teams still looking for players. Where will these schools find them?

Available players

The most obvious route is the remaining uncommitted players in the 2015 class. We’ve gone over the top 100 players countless times, and while there aren’t too many of that caliber still on the board, that’s the straight-forward option for teams still in need. The premier programs in the country are gunning for the Jaylen Browns, Diamond Stones and Ivan Rabbs of the world, but lower-tier high-major programs and mid-major programs have to keep their eyes out. They’re looking outside the top 100 and will also be on the prowl for players set to emerge during their senior seasons.

As those borderline high-major prospects continue to wait to commit to a school, though, they see their recruitment rise significantly. And therein lies the danger for schools: The talent pool among seniors dries out, schools still need players -- and desperation kicks in. That’s when you’ll see programs reaching for players, just to fill a void or get a body on the roster. For new coaches taking over programs, it’s a necessary evil; they simply need guys. But in some cases, it’s better to hold onto a scholarship for next year instead of reaching for a guy who won’t cut it at the high-major or mid-major level and will therefore transfer or take up a scholarship for four years.


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Five observations: National Prep Showcase 

November, 24, 2014
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- One of the unofficial markers to the start of the college basketball season is the National Prep Showcase, which features the best prep schools from the New England area and around the country. While many of the top guys are committed or signed, there were plenty of noteworthy items.

1. A couple of months ago, it was expected that JaQuan Lyle would be playing for Oregon right now. Instead, he's enrolled at IMG Academy (Fla.) after being denied admission to Oregon. Lyle, who was ranked No. 42 in the 2014 class, has reopened his recruitment and is going through the process once again.

"It was real hectic at the beginning, but I've slowed it down a bit," Lyle said. "I want to take a couple more officials, then decide in late January or early February."

He recently took a trip to LSU, the same weekend No. 1 prospect Ben Simmons and five-star Antonio Blakeney (No. 14) were on campus. Ohio State, Xavier, Indiana and Missouri are also in the mix -- along with Oregon (Lyle will be eligible for admission after this school year). The Ducks sent head coach Dana Altman and all three assistants to Lyle's game on Saturday night, when the 6-foot-4 guard scored 35 points.

"I just opened it back up to make sure I made the right decision for myself," Lyle said. "I really love Oregon. I love the facilities, coaching staff, everything about it. They have an advantage right now, but I gotta take it day by day."


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Early signing period winners and losers 

November, 20, 2014
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Over the past few years, college basketball's early signing period has clearly taken precedence over the spring period. Nearly every committed player signs his letter of intent during the fall period, while several available top-100 prospects usually make their decisions within the seven-day stretch.

This season is a bit different. While the wide majority of top-100 players are signed and sealed to their future school, 11 of the 18 five-star prospects are still on the board. As a result, we're going to have far more drama moving forward than we've had in recent years.

Of course, that doesn't mean the early signing period was without interesting storylines. Five ESPN 100 prospects made their decisions, and several schools had to go back to the drawing board to reassess their 2015 classes.

WINNERS

Kentucky


Well, this was easy. The Wildcats went into the early signing period with one commit and a borderline top-40 class and exited with two five-star pledges and the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. With Charles Matthews (No. 44 in the ESPN 100) already in tow, Kentucky went to work, landing Skal Labissiere (No. 11) and Isaiah Briscoe (No. 13) in a 45-minute span last Thursday. Labissiere has perhaps the most pro potential of any prospect in the country, while Briscoe is the best point guard in the 2015 class. As always, the lesson is to never underestimate John Calipari. A month ago, it wasn't a lock that Kentucky was going to get Labissiere or Briscoe -- let alone both of them, back-to-back, on the same day. Calipari closed with both prospects, though, and now the Wildcats are back in a familiar position atop the recruiting rankings.


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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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Roundtable: Analyzing the early signing period 

November, 12, 2014
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College basketball's early signing period begins Wednesday, and while 78 of the ESPN 100's prospects have committed to schools across the country, it's time to put pen to paper. Our RecruitingNation analysts break down what they expect to see before the signing window closes on Nov. 19.


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Five big recruiting questions 

November, 5, 2014
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With the early signing period and the college basketball season around the corner, things are quieting down on the recruiting circuit. With that said, there were several recruiting storylines that developed this offseason. With conference media days taking place around the country, many of these topics came up. Here are five worth keeping an eye on moving forward:


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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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Uncommitted prospects talk recruitment 

September, 18, 2014
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With the early November signing period quickly approaching, it’s time to take a look at the uncommitted prospects in 2015.

These six players spell out when and where they’re visiting, and what they’re looking for in their eventual destination.


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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


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