NCB On The Trail: Howard Washington

Heading into the 2014-15 season, Virginia is being discussed among the top teams in the country (No. 9 in’s Power Rankings), and coach Tony Bennett is regarded as one of the better coaches in the loaded ACC. The momentum has carried over to the recruiting trail, too: Bennett is recruiting to his system, finding players that fit, and landing high-major transfers.

But it didn’t always line up perfectly for Bennett and Virginia. Four members of his six-player 2010 class -- his first full recruiting class with the Cavaliers -- transferred. Three of his first four top-100 recruits left the program.

[+] EnlargeTony Bennett
Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesTony Bennett has made a habit of locking down guys early in the recruiting process.
It took awhile for Bennett to really find his groove in Charlottesville, but he has been very good with unheralded prospects and under-recruited, back-end top-100 players. Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell were both three-star prospects coming out of high school but had terrific four-year careers for the Cavaliers. Justin Anderson and Mike Tobey were top-100 prospects but have bought into their roles in Virginia’s system. Anthony Gill transferred in from South Carolina but had no qualms playing a bench role behind Mitchell and Tobey last season.

Nike Elite One Hundred recap 

June, 16, 2014
ST. LOUIS -- The annual Nike Elite One Hundred provides a rare look at many of the nation’s best underclassmen as top prospects from the classes of 2016 and 2017 were on display this weekend.

Best Player

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With the field expanding from 25 to 60 as the sophomores become juniors, here are 10 things to know about the prospects in the new ESPN 60 for the Class of 2016:

1. Jayson Tatum continues to make his move upward. The talented and skilled 6-foot-7 small forward has great feel and is a high-level playmaker with size and basketball intelligence. The St. Louis Chaminade College Prep standout made another slight jump within the top five, going from No. 4 to No. 3.

2. The rim-protecting dominance of center Udoka Azubuike has continued. A strong and physical low-post presence, the Jacksonville (Fla.) Potter's House Christian standout rebounds, finishes and blocks shots with power and has been rewarded by moving inside the top 10 at No. 6.

[+] EnlargeTerrance Ferguson
Kelly KlineTerrance Ferguson of Prime Prep Academy is a standout shooter in the ESPN 60.
3. There are some big-time wing scorers in the Class of 2016. These bucket-getters attack defenders and are difficult to deal with when they have the ball in their hands. Shooting guards Malik Monk and Josh Langford, small forwards Mario Kegler and V.J. King and SG Tyus Battle lead the top 20 players.

4. Shooting guard Terrance Ferguson has the sweetest shooting stroke in the top 10. Ferguson has a high release and excellent follow-through. He loves the corner jumper from behind the arc and shoots over smaller defenders as if they are invisible.

5. Combination forward Miles Bridges and point guard Dennis Smith are fresh faces in the top 10 because of their consistent production. A few dominant performances this spring on the travel circuit clearly separated them from their peers.

6. Point guard Jaylen Fisher has special court vision. The Arlington (Tenn.) Bolton standout puts the ball on time and on target and attacks the defense with his ability to penetrate. Fisher not only finds the open man but also delivers the ball in position to score on the catch.

7. Harry Giles made his debut this spring after suffering a knee injury that required surgery. The 6-9 Giles, from Winston-Salem (N.C.) Wesleyan Christian, is still rounding into form, but we did see flashes of his game before the injury from this talented power forward. He has all the tools to be a special player with terrific upside.

8. There's a lot of variety and versatility in the 2016 class. Many players can play and excel at two positions, both in the post and on the perimeter. A few examples are Bridges, Omari Spellman, Amir Coffey, Vance Jackson and Kobi Jordan-Simmons.

9. With only 10 true point guards in the ESPN 60, it is definitely a situation of quality over quantity. These point guards may be small in numbers, but all are very good players who will lead and make winning plays for their team. Newcomer Smith leads the way. Lonzo Ball, De'Aaron Fox, Trent Forrest, Derryck Thornton, Devearl Ramsey, Payton Pritchard, Xavier Simpson, Cassius Winston and Howard Washington all have had standout springs.

10. In comparison, the 2016 ESPN 60 will be better than the 2015 ESPN 60.

Event recaps: Eastern elite meet 

September, 30, 2013
It was an unusually busy fall weekend in the northeast region with a series of top events, including the New York State Top 24 in Albany, N.Y., and the New York and Philly All-City Classic in Philadelphia.

NYS Top 24

The “Combine in the Capital” was held at Watervliet High School. The event hosted 25 players for two sessions on Saturday as well as a morning session on Sunday and included instruction from former Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro along with a FIBA 3-on-3 segment that proved to be a valuable evaluation setting. Here’s a look at the top performers from Saturday’s action:

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