NCB On The Trail: Leron Black

Biancardi's Breakdown: Leron Black 

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
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One-time Baylor commit and current Illinois signee Leron Black (Memphis, Tenn./White Station) has had a very productive senior season. His high school team at White Station plays a national schedule and he recently dropped 25 points in a win against powerful rival Memphis Hamilton in the Penny Hardaway Classic on ESPNU.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the No. 11 power forward and No. 43 overall player in the ESPN 100 and what makes him such an elite prospect.

#AskCoachB: College-ready prospects

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
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When you ask "college ready," I am going to combine that into hysical readiness, skills and an understanding of the game. Also, let's look outside the top 25 to gain a broader perspective.

Here are five who come to mind:

Abdul-Malik Abu (NC State) and Angel Delgado (Seton Hall) are physically ready as they own bodies that can withstand the contact of the game, especially in the painted area. Two outstanding rebounders, and that is a skill that translates well as a player moves up in levels. They keep their bodies in great shape, so the speed of the game shouldn't affect them while being battle-tested on a national level in the paint.

Utah commit Brekkott Chapman is a highly skilled small forward who combines his triple-threat game with an understanding of floor balance and spacing. He competes with poise and displays a savvy for functioning with teammates, which is vital for team chemistry.

Tyler Ulis, the future Kentucky point guard, might be small in size but he is large with toughness and skill. Ulis has a great understanding of his position and the skills to thrive right away.

Keep an eye on Leron Black, who is going to Illinois. He understands the meaning of hard work and will be ready when he steps on campus. He hardly ever disappears as he uses his grown man's body, a solid skill set and great hands to be creative and contribute right away in the painted area.

Scout's Take: Illini score with PG Snider 

September, 12, 2013
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Illinois coach John Groce landed his second ESPN 100 prospect when point guard Quentin Snider (Louisville, Ky./Ballard) picked the Fighting Illini over UCLA on Thursday.

Snider, No. 28 in the ESPN 100 and the No. 7 point guard, decommitted from hometown national champion Louisville back in July and many elite programs, including Michigan State and Connecticut in addition to the Fighting Illini and Bruins, put the full court press on the four star true point guard. When it was all said and done, Groce and his staff earned the commitment from the second best player from the state of Kentucky and the city of Louisville (only Ohio State commit D'Angelo Russell ranks higher).

Why did he pick Illinois and what will he bring to the Fighting Illini? Let's break it down.

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#AskCoachB: Illini still rising?

September, 12, 2013
9/12/13
5:21
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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.

Illinois has been building under Groce and when you first hire a head coach the fruits of his recruiting efforts usually come over time. Last year Groce and his staff put together a five-man group that has both quality and quantity. With two top forwards committed -- ESPn No. 36 Leron Black and Michael Finke and the possibility of No. 28 Quentin Snider (he is deciding Thursday night between UCLA and Illinois ). If that happens it could make things very interesting, because every great big man wants to play with a high-level point guard.

Not sure how Black really affects Alexander because you can always play with two forwards and Black is really good. If Alexander were to attend Illinois it could affect other big men such as Austin Colbert. The fighting Illini have a chance at Alexander and they are clearly in the mix but are in a massive recruiting battle with Michigan State, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis and Arizona. I believe they are a little bit down the line on this list.

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
9/03/13
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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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Starting 5: Top PGs left on the board 

August, 27, 2013
8/27/13
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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 pressure of drawing out your commitment, the Elite 24, Indiana's busy weekend, the five best uncommitted point guards and No. 1 sophomore Harry Giles.

1. The stress of the decision


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Starting 5: Point guard debate 

August, 20, 2013
8/20/13
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Editor's note: Every week in "Starting 5," we'll roll out five stories, themes and nuggets from the basketball recruiting world to set the table with the stories that need to be told and give you a leg up on the watercooler conversations around the office.

This week we look at three point guards using different lenses, what plans KU has for Late Night in the Phog, the recruiting revivals at UConn and Minnesota plus reduced lists from bigs Paul White and Makinde London.


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MILWAUKEE -- The Under Armour Summer Jam presented by NY2LA Sports was one of the must-see July events for college coaches. More than 900 college coaches from all over the country made the trek to Milwaukee for last year’s event and the arena was packed just as packed this time around, as coaches piled in to get a firsthand look at the elite talent.

The event -- in its fifth year and organized by Antonio Curro -- attracted elite travel teams from across the country that competed in pool play and a single-elimination tournament with each squad guaranteed to take the court four times.

This year’s event had significant star power, especially in the frontcourt with top-10 seniors Cliff Alexander (No. 2), Karl Towns Jr. (No. 6), Kevon Looney (No. 9) and Myles Turner (No. 10) facing off in high-level matchups with few -- if any -- empty seats in the gym.

Here’s a breakdown of how the elite bigs and others top prospects performed during the five-day event.

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The first July evaluation period has come and gone, but not before a number of elite prospects made their mark on the court at events like the Nike Peach Jam, adidas Invitational and the LeBron James Skills Academy.

We brought back national recruiting director Paul Biancardi’s #AskCoachB mailbag to answer any questions you may have on the busy month and which recruits and classes are making waves. As a reminder, you can always get Paul’s take on any prospect or find about new recruiting activity anytime on Twitter using the hashtag.

In this week’s mailbag, Paul examines UNC’s possibilities for landing an elite shooting guard in its 2014 class, what Ohio State should add to its second-ranked recruiting class, Ed Cooley turning Providence into a serious player in recruiting and whether Justise Winslow and Florida recruit Brandone Francis are in line for a bump in ranking in the next ESPN 100.

So let’s get rolling with your questions.





He comes home with a gold medal from Prague, and I heard he was a very valuable member of that U-19 team. His ability to pass, defend, handle the ball, combined with his basketball acumen impact without needing to score makes him special. At times, he can even bring the ball up the floor with a point guard’s mentality. He’s part of a small group of guys outside the top 10 who have a strong chance at cracking the top 10 in our next rankings.

On his status in the proposed package deal of Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, I think Winslow would like for it to happen. But after going overseas and playing this summer, he’ll see his decision and future should be more about a school that fits his needs rather than trying to fit his needs with someone else’s. I’m sure all three are trying to make it happen, but the longer it goes the less of a possibility it will happen.





Providence has been a legit team in recruiting from the moment Ed Cooley got hired. That’s how he won at Fairfield and he did a tremendous job evaluating talent as an assistant at Boston College. Now as the leader at Providence, he’s not only doing a great job evaluating talent, he’s bringing those top guys in. When you look at Ricky Ledo (No. 21 in 2012), Kris Dunn (No. 23 in 2012) and Brandon Austin (No. 56 in 2013), that’s three big players he signed, and then add a commit from current ESPN 100 SF Jalen Lindsey, and you can see how big of an impact he’s had in a short time. Providence recruiting was instantly upgraded with his hire and the Friars are in great hands going forward.





I will say I love the Buckeyes class right now as it boasts skill, versatility and two guys who can flat out score in Keita Bates-Diop and D’Angelo Russell. With that said, it’s obvious they still need to add some size to the frontcourt despite earning a pledge from three-star center David Bell.

I can’t say who they will land but some of their biggest targets on their board are top-10 recruits Jahlil Okafor and Myles Turner. Now the Buckeyes are in the running to win the Okafor and Jones sweepstakes, but if they miss out, Turner would be a great consolation prize. Other potential targets are forwards Leron Black and Paul White and center Elbert Robinson, all of whom would be great gets for the No. 2-ranked team in the ESPN Class Rankings.




I see them finishing out the July and August event season and then taking some official visits together in the fall. I would say the earliest we can expect a decision is the early signing period (mid-November). They still need to take some official visits and sort things out before making a pledge.




The Tar Heels are looking for someone who can score and shoot with range. Someone like No. 11 senior prospect Rashad Vaughn would fit that bill. He’s the most dynamic scoring guard in the class and he does it from all three levels: Behind the line, inside the arc and driving to the basket. This guy has a knack for putting the ball in the basket, he just needs to cut down on his attempts and become more efficient. If Vaughn is out the mix, the Heels may go after Georgia scorer Ahmed Hill, the No. 33 overall player and eighth-rated 2-guard.




He’s an intriguing prospect who has had a good summer. I saw him play well at adidas and at the LeBron camp and he had a strong showing at NBA camp. He has a strong body and the ability to score on the perimeter and in the paint or post up to get buckets down low. I like his skill level and IQ and his body. When you factor all those things, he has a chance to move up depending on how strong he finishes the summer. Right now he’s at 34, but he has the ability to crack the top 25.




When most coaches recruit, they think about finding the right fit and need in a prospect. When you talk about fit and need, it usually revolves around a player’s offense, skill level, size at the position and basketball IQ. Some coaches will look at defensive attributes depending on their scheme, but in large part coaches recruit more for offense, IQ and athleticism because they can teach defense later in the process. It’s harder to teach a guy to be more skilled or athletic than it is to teach defense.

I look at scouting through a similar lense when evaluating players for the ESPN 100 rankings. You look for attributes and qualities that will make a good offensive player a strong defender, whether it’s his ability to rebound, stay in front of guys or take charges. For big guys, I have put an emphasis on how they defend ball screens, cover the low post and hedge out as well as skills and IQ.


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- There have been a number of terrific performances at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, but here are quick-hitting scouting impressions on more than 30 players who have caught my eye on a consistent basis outside of P.J. Dozier, Elbert Robinson and Jordan McLaughlin, whom I already did individual blogs on.

2014 PF/C Payton Dastrup: Attacks the rim with great energy and urgency, finishing and competing at a high level. He simply didn't take plays off.

2015 PG Jalen Brunson: He runs the team, distributes the ball, has feel and court vision, and when you back away he can drain the jumper. He might not make the play to win the game, but he won't make the play to lose it either. He’s rock solid and learning on the job.

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ESPN 60 Leron Black back on the market 

January, 2, 2013
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Junior forward Leron Black (Memphis, Tenn./White Station) decommitted from Baylor on Wednesday, ESPN.com has learned.

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