NCB On The Trail: Justin Tillman

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Tillman (Redford, Mich./Pershing) was a good find and VCU did a good job of finishing the recruitment off with his pledge. The three-star prospect fits the profile that VCU looks for in its recruits as he is long and athletic and he runs with some skill. He's a big-time finisher in the conversion game and a lob-catcher.

Offensive rebound put-backs are a specialty, as he not only has a strong vertical jump, he is a quick leaper up to the rim.

Tillman owns a soft touch if he stays close to the paint, and his free-throw shooting looks good. He has a chance to excel in VCU's system because he has a chance to improve his skills against a set defense and utilize his length and quickness on every defensive possession.

The state of Michigan is not that strong in the senior class this year, and he has had some big games so he might have a real chance at the Mr. Basketball award. The best player in the state of Michigan is ESPN 25 super sophomore
Josh Jackson (Southfield, Mich./Consortium College Prep), who is a serious candidate for the award.
Conference realignment has had lasting implications on every major conference in college basketball, but the group that might have been affected more than anyone else were the mid-major schools.

Annual powerhouses like Xavier, Memphis, Butler, Temple and several others have now been elevated to “high-major” conferences, leaving a void for other mid-major programs to establish their recruiting superiority at their own level.

So after grading the ACC, American, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac 12, and SEC last week, it’s now time to examine the best of the rest. Grading mid-major classes can be subjective, meaning there’s a little bit of a curve in order to account for the fact that recruiting at this level is tougher than ever before given the unprecedented number of competing programs who can now leverage their high-major conference affiliation.

Smart, VCU sign four players

November, 15, 2013
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Two ESPN 100 prospects highlight VCU’s 2014 recruiting class which was announced on Thursday.

Head coach Shaka Smart and his staff received letters of intent from ESPN 100 SF Terry Larrier (Bronx, N.Y./The Phelps School) and ESPN 100 PF Mike Gilmore (Tallahassee, Fla./Rickards) along with four-star PG Jonathan Williams (Newark, N.J./St. Benedict's) and three-star PF Justin Tillman (Redford, Mich./Pershing).

“We're very excited about this group because all four young men possess the talent, drive and work ethic to be outstanding members of our team," Smart said. "It's a class that can contribute to a great deal of winning at VCU."

Top five undervalued classes 

September, 19, 2013
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Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings landed a commitment from his second four-star prospect in as many weeks over the weekend when Matthew Fisher-Davis (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian) joined Wade Baldwin (Hillsborough, N.J./St. Joseph).

With a pair of four-star prospects now on board in mid-September, Stallings’ class is considered good, but not great, by most national standards.

But the reality is that each school comes into the summer with different needs and priorities, and ultimately those objectives are tied to winning basketball games, not class rankings. Coaches consider fit, style, personnel, and a variety of other variables.

For Vanderbilt, that means looking for high-character guys who fit their system and culture. Given that approach, the Commodores are one of five schools off that couldn't hope to be off to a better start.


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ESPN 100 SF Terry Larrier (Bronx, N.Y./Phelps School) made a verbal commitment to VCU on Monday night following his official visit this weekend. Larrier, ranked No. 59 overall and No. 15 among small forwards, was widely expected to choose between VCU and Connecticut, but was also considering Florida, Florida State, and Miami among others.

The commitment punctuates what was a breakout season on the spring and summer travel circuits, as Larrier came into his AAU season without a single high-major offer but ultimately wound up with his choice of BCS suitors after a strong showing with Team Scan on the EYBL circuit.


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Weekly Commitment Roundup

September, 6, 2013
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American Athletic Conference
Louisville
Jaylen Johnson | PF | Ypsilanti, Mich./Ypsilanti
HT: 6-9 WT: 210
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 15
Stars: 4
ESPN 100: 62

Big Ten Conference
Illinois
Leron Black | PF | Memphis, Tenn./White Station
HT: 6-7 WT: 215
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 6
Stars: 4
ESPN 100: 36

Big 12
Baylor
Mark Vital | SF | Lake Charles, La./Washington-Marion
HT: 6-4 WT 215
Class of 2016
Positional Rank: NA

West Virginia
Jevon Carter | SG | Maywood, Ill./Proviso East
HT: 6-2 WT: 180
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 3

Big East
Marquette
Phillip Flory | SG | Wisconsin Rapids, Wis./Wisconsin Rapids
HT: 6-3
Class of 2017
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Conference USA
East Carolina
Lance Tejada | PG | Hollywood, Fla./Blanche Ely
HT: 6-1 WT: 175
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 22
Stars: 4
ESPN 100: 96

Glenn Bryant | SF | Marietta, Ga./Kell
HT: 6-6 WT: 180
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Southern Miss
Willie Carmichael | PF | Apopka, Fla./Wekiva
HT: 6-7 WT: 195
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 2

ACC
Virginia
Isaiah Wilkins | SF | Norcross, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian
HT: 6-7 WT: 185
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 2

Wake Forest
Isaac Haas | C | Piedmont, Ala./Hokes Bluff
HT: 7-1 WT: 275
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 18
Stars: 4

Pac-12
UCLA
Trevon Bluiett | SF | Indianapolis/Park Tudor
HT: 6-5 WT: 205
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 10
Stars: 4
ESPN 100: 41

Utah
Kyle Kuzma | SF | Burton, Mich./Rise Academy
HT: 6-8 WT: 200
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 27
Stars: 4

Isaiah Wright | PG | Boise, Idaho/Borah
HT: 6-2 WT: 175
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 2

Stanford
Robert Cartwright | PG | Pasadena, Calif./Flintridge Prep
HT: 6-2 WT: 165
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 34
Stars: 3

SEC
Auburn
Sam Logwood | SF | Indianapolis/La Lumiere
HT: 6-7 WT: 205
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 20
Stars: 4
ESPN 100: 78

Jack Purchase | PF | Melbourne, Australia/Carey Baptist Grammar
HT: 6-10 WT: 200
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Vanderbilt
Wade Baldwin | PG | Hillsborough, N.J./St. Joseph
HT: 6-2 WT: 180
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 29
Stars: 4

South Carolina
TeMarcus Blanton | SG | Locust Grove, Ga./Luella
HT: 6-4 WT: 185
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 37
Stars: 3

Atlantic 10
Virginia Commonwealth
Justin Tillman | PF | Redford, Mich./Pershing
HT: 6-8 WT: 175
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 29
Stars: 4

George Washington
Paul Jorgensen | PG | Ramsey, N.J./Don Bosco
HT: 6-3 WT: 185
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 45
Stars: 3

Horizon League
Illinois-Chicago
Tai Odiase | C | Chicago/Homewood-Flossmoor
HT: 6-9 WT: 195
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 2

Ivy League
Pennsylvania
Mike Auger | PF | Hopkinton, Mass./New Hampton
HT: 6-6 WT: 205
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 2

Cornell
Jordan Abdur-Ra'oof | SF | Rockville, Md./Gonzaga College
HT: 6-7 WT: 200
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 2

Yale
Eric Anderson | PF | West Chester, Pa./The Haverford School
HT: 6-6 WT: 200
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 2

Sun Belt
Georgia State
Jeff Thomas | SG | Norwalk, Ohio/Norwalk
HT: 6-5 WT: 185
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Jordan Session | SF | McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing
HT: 6-9 WT: 190
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Colonial Athletic Association
College of Charleston
Evan Bailey | SG | Massillon, Ohio/Jackson
HT: 6-6 WT: 185
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 3

Atlantic Sun
Mercer
Jestin Lewis | SG | Richmond, Va./Wallace State C.C.
HT: 6-2 WT: 170
Class of 2014
JUCO

Jacksonville
Tim Bond | SG | Baltimore/City College H.S.
HT: 6-4
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

MAC
Buffalo
Mory Diane | SG | Detroit/Country Day
HT: 6-3 WT: 170
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 2

WAC
Cal State Bakersfield
Sadiq Inuwa | PF | Houston/La Lumiere
HT: 6-7 WT: 200
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Starting 5: Kuzma grows on Utes 

September, 3, 2013
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Each week, Starting 5 takes you on a tour of the recruiting landscape. It delves into topics, recruiting trends and stories. This edition focuses on the Utah Utes' recent run of commitments, emotional toughness in recruits and tells you what happened on last weekend's commitment spree.

Utah could have one in Kuzma

[+] EnlargeKyle Kuzma
Dave Telep/ESPN Kyle Kuzma grew six inches and became a bigger prospect. Utah noticed early.
The Utah Utes last weekend added a player that isn’t nationally known – yet – but is significant to the future of the program. Small forward Kyle Kuzma (Burton, Mich./Rise Academy) is one of those neat stories that manage to fly under the radar until that first breakout week on the scene in college. Consider yourself warned.

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