NCB On The Trail: Jalen Adams

Help is on the way for the American 

February, 18, 2015
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videoThe American Athletic Conference is in its second year of existence, and it is coming off a national championship with UConn leading the way. Now, the conference is looking to build on that momentum on the recruiting trail.

Help is on the way for next season as the conference's teams have secured seven ESPN 100 prospects and four top-40 classes.

Most impactful class: Memphis

The Lawson brothers Dedric and K.J. are the stars of this three-man class, which ranks at No. 11. These local prospects will bring both potential and productivity to the Tigers.

They each will bring high-level versatility that will give head coach Josh Pastner options in the press and in the half court. K.J. (No. 44) is the better shooter and rebounder while Dedric (No. 26) is more comfortable inside the arc shooting and finishing. Because of their length, athletic ability and scoring instincts, combined with Pastner's pressing style, expect this pair to make heavy contributions and an immediate impact in their first season.

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When college coaches run out of good options in the senior class, they are forced to get creative.

They can mine the junior-college market, explore immediately-eligible transfers or look for overseas prospects who can make an impact.

Another increasingly popular strategy in recent years has been to look for juniors open to the idea of reclassifying, heading to college a year earlier than planned.

Top prospects such as Andre Drummond, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Noah Vonleh are just a few of the most recent examples.


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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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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The big news of the day didn’t necessarily happen on the court, but was instead a confirmation of Jeff Borzello’s report from last week as both Thon Maker and his guardian Ed Smith acknowledged a move to the class of 2015 was possible, and could potentially become official in the coming weeks.

Kentucky and Kansas are perceived to be the frontrunners for Maker’s services and John Calipari was front and center for Orangville’s (Canada) game. While Duke, UCLA, Missouri, and Indiana could all reportedly be in the mix as well, the potential still exists that Maker could bypass college altogether, moving back to 2015 only as a precursor to a post-graduate year before making an immediate jump to the 2016 NBA Draft.

As for his performance on the floor, Maker racked up 23 points and 11 rebounds but was largely not involved in the offense until the final minutes of the game. While his lack of touches never impacted his motor -- he ran the floor beautifully and rebounded out of his area all game -- he did force some things off the dribble at times, turning it over eight times as a result. Regardless of any inconsistencies in his performance, Maker’s sheer talent is downright staggering and almost immediately apparent even to an untrained eye.


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Prep school basketball -- that is to say legitimate scholastic programs that offer a post-graduate option -- can be specific to certain geographic parts of the country, but its implications are felt throughout all of college basketball and the NBA with recent alumni including the likes of Andre Drummond, Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Nik Stauskas, Shabazz Napier, Steven Adams, Noah Vonleh, Wayne Selden and many more.

New England has long been the hub of the prep school universe, not only because of the number of top programs, but also the number of top events that welcome other strong programs from places such as Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin and Canada.

After scouring those events for the better part of the last six weeks, here’s what we can tell you about this year’s prep school field.

FIVE BEST SIGNEES

1. Jalen Adams, Brewster Academy, signed with UConn

Adams (No. 25 in ESPN 100) has been an undersized scorer for most of his career but is now showing more and more signs of being able to slide over to the lead guard spot at the next level, which should allow him to step right in for Ryan Boatright upon arriving at UConn.


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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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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 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.
ESPN 60 guard Allonzo Trier made Nike EYBL history last weekend, becoming the first player to ever record 30 or more points in each game of a single session.

While the feat has never been accomplished before on the Nike circuit, ironically, Adidas had someone accomplish the very same thing on the same weekend when fellow ESPN 60 guard Jalen Adams finished with 30 or more points in all four of his games.

While Trier and Adams are similar in that they are two of the nation's best scoring guards in the 2015 class, they’re unique in the way they look to attack the defense.


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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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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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#AskCoachB: Future for Kansas

March, 31, 2014
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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.
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.

Roundtable: Future NCAA tourney stars 

March, 18, 2014
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March Madness is in full swing with conference tournaments and selection Sunday giving way to the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament.

With each possession of each game now carrying far greater magnitude, championships are being decided by the players and teams that are able to control their emotions and execute under intensity and pressure.

Coaches go to great lengths to simulate these types of scenarios during the course of the year. Programs such as Kentucky and Connecticut actually monitor their players’ heart rates during games and practices, measuring and ultimately trying to reduce the variance as much as possible, while other coaches dedicate a huge amount of practice time to late-game situations in hopes of relieving the pressure of a potential tense moment, replacing it with a sense of preparedness.

Ultimately though, so much of being able to thrive in high-intensity situations comes down to a player’s DNA, and that is something that can be evaluated during the recruiting process, especially at this time of year, when high schools are going through their own postseason tournament runs.

With that in mind, we again went to our team of experts at Recruiting Nation and asked them which current high school prospects are built for future March Madness success, specifically in the game’s most critical minutes.


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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Day two of the Spalding Hoophall Classic continued to showcase top national talent to a packed house of fans, college coaches and national media alike. Here’s a look at who stood out on Sunday:

Best guard: Jalen Coleman (Indianapolis/La Lumiere)
Every part of Coleman’s performance was impressive on Sunday. He shot the ball extremely well from long range, was low to the ground with his rips and created space in the mid-range area. Defensively he was equally impressive, shutting down Kobe Eubanks, rotating well away from the ball and communicating appropriately. More impressive than his production was the fact almost everything he did on both ends of the floor would have translated into a college game.


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This week wasn’t quite as busy as last week in the Northeast region, but there was still plenty of action. Here’s a look at a few commitments that have gone down in the last seven days:

• Robert Morris landed a commitment from Jamesville-Dewitt (N.Y.) guard Jafar Kinsey, a quick, attacking style guard. A combo guard with a college ready driving game, Kinsey gets wherever he wants on the floor and also has the potential to become a very good defender at the next level.

• Albany added a commitment from Christian Brothers Academy (N.Y.) big man Greg Stire. The local product is tough and rugged, defends the post and has a solid motor. He’ll be solid but unspectacular offensively and able to contribute some both around the rim and facing the basket.

• Fairleigh Dickinson landed a late commitment in the Class of 2013 from Canisius (N.Y.) guard/forward Matt MacDonald. The 6-foot-3 swingman is a master role player who will bring toughness and leadership to the FDU locker room. He’s also a gym rat who has worked his way into a consistent shooter over the years.

And here’s a look at some of the notable offers and visits to come across the wire this week:

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