NCB On The Trail: Lourawls Nairn

To return to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at Michigan State and its chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick references:
2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starting five:
G: Travis Trice
G: Gary Harris
F: Branden Dawson
F: Denzel Valentine
C: Matt Costello


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With the departure of senior point guard Keith Appling, the Spartans will need a lot of help at that spot. Lourawls Nairn has the nickname Tum Tum and he brings leadership, quickness and elite speed to the position.

Nairn, the No. 73 prospect in the ESPN 100, is ideal for Tom Izzo because he attempts to execute the game plan and be an extension of the coach on the floor. He will give Izzo what he wants and provide the team what it needs to get the win. I love the way Nairn pushes the ball with speed to help create the fast break and he has the basketball savvy to run the Spartans playbook.

Michigan State also has Travis Trice returning, who stepped in at point guard when Appling was hurt. With Payne, Appling and, in all likelihood, Gary Harris leaving for the NBA draft, Nairn becomes a very important part of next year’s team.

Mustang Madness recap 

January, 13, 2014
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The inaugural Mustang Madness held at the new McCracken County High School in Paducah, Ky., was quite a success. The tournament is run by the same crew that puts together the famous Marshall County Hoopfest.

[+] EnlargeCliff Alexander
AP Photo/Damen Jackson/Triple Play New MediaCliff Alexander is ranked No. 3 in the ESPN 100.
Beast of the East
Cliff Alexander (Chicago/Curie)
2014, PF/C, 6-foot-9, 240 pounds
Signed with: Kansas
The big fella was his normal, dominant self in Curie’s victory over Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph, scoring 25 points. There is no more athletic and productive insider in the country. He has a solid touch and should be able to become an effective face-up player in time. He reminds me of a young Amare Stoudamire.

Best Improvement

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City of Palms Classic recap 

December, 26, 2013
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The City of Palms Classic is, in my opinion, the best high school basketball tournament in the country. The field is always strong, the games are generally highly competitive, and the crowd is involved and boisterous. The 41st edition of the tournament was extremely good and full of high-level talent.

Here were some of the best performances from this year's City of Palms.

Best Player
Isaiah Whitehead (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln)
2014, SG/PG, 6-foot-3, 200 pounds
Signed with Seton Hall
Whitehead is much improved and is one of the best guards in the country. He plays like a man among boys, and his ability to make plays for himself and others really sets him apart. He is more than capable of playing point guard at the next level and beyond. He averaged more than 25 points per game at the City of Palms and rarely forced anything while leading Lincoln to a fifth-place finish.


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The early signing period will officially come to an end in a matter of hours. Before the clock strikes midnight, we look at some of the biggest winners and losers of the past eight days.

Winners

[+] EnlargeJahlil Okafor
Jeff Hinds/adidasDuke is a big winner with the addition of Jahlil Okafor, the nations top-ranked overall prospect,
Duke
When the nation’s top-ranked overall prospect and best point guard coordinate a dual announcement on national TV and flip over your hat, it’s a win. Duke might not officially have the top-ranked recruiting class in the country just yet, but there’s no denying it scored the biggest prize.


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With seven ESPN 100 commitments in as many days, the last week has been incredibly busy on the recruiting wire, but the best could still be yet to come with Reid Travis, Cliff Alexander, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones all likely to make decisions in time to sign during the early signing period, which begins next week.

In case you missed any of last week’s headlines, here’s a rundown: Devin Robinson chose Florida over Indiana on Wednesday; later that night, big man Michael Humphrey picked Stanford over Arizona; Devin Booker started a busy Thursday by picking Kentucky over Missouri; James Blackmon Jr. pulled a surprise by spurning Kentucky to recommit to Indiana; Kevon Looney’s commitment to UCLA was equally surprising, with most predicting Duke, Florida or Tennessee; former UCLA pledge Trevon Bluiett picked Xavier over Butler and Michigan State on Friday; and Trey Lyles chose Kentucky over Louisville on Tuesday.

That flurry of activity, along with the upcoming announcements, has brought more clarity to a lot of top national programs. Here’s a look at some of the implications:


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#AskCoachB: Latest on Bluiett

October, 14, 2013
10/14/13
12:30
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I spoke with Trevon's dad, Reynardo Bluiett, just a few days ago and he mentioned the following schools for his son: Butler, Memphis, Xavier, Michigan State and Purdue.

This past weekend, Bluiett (Indianapolis/Park Tudor) made an official visit to Memphis. A significant factor in the favor of Memphis is assistant coach Jason Gardner, who was Mr. Basketball in Indiana in 1999 and became an All-American at Arizona. Butler also seems to be right in the thick of it, as they are the local school that is now in the Big East. Michigan State is in the hunt to go along with ESPN 100 PG Lourawls Nairn, who we like to distribute the ball. After speaking with his dad, it looks as though there is a good chance Bluiett will make his decision in the early signing period.

#AskCoachB: Nairn fits Spartans

October, 1, 2013
10/01/13
12:30
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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.

Paul Biancardi: Love the fit here as the Spartans love to push the ball on the fastbreak and that's what Lourawls Nairn (Bel Aire, Kan./Sunrise Christian Academy) does best. The ability to create tempo is so important to each team, and Michigan State pushes to score. In the half-court Nairn, who is called by his teammates Tum-Tum, will settle down his team and execute. He is best at getting into the paint, scoring and distributing. Man-to-man defense is one of many things that coach Tom Izzo's teams are known for, and Tum-Tum can really get up on the basketball, pressure and turn the ball-handler with his quickness and speed. As far as the future, Michigan State hopes to land a couple more recruits in the early signing period. Kevon Looney, Devin Booker, James Blackmon Jr. and Cliff Alexander are all on their wish list.

Inside the rankings: ESPN 100 review

September, 27, 2013
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When we analyzed the 2014 ESPN 100, we found upside in the front court as eight of the top 10 players in this class played the center or power forward position.

When we look at the top of those respective positions it’s easy to be impressed. Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young) continues to hold the top spot because he is the best and most polished low post player in this class. Okafor has transformed his body; he is lighter on his feet and now possesses more stamina than ever before. In the lower half of the paint, he has perfected a jump hook over his left shoulder and he is improving his up-and-under move as counter. He demands double teams inside and reads where the help is coming from and has the vision to find the open man.

Other standouts in the class include Cliff Alexander (Chicago/Curie), the No. 3 overall player and No. 1 power forward, who won us over with his high motor and tenacity on the glass and paint scoring. When it comes to putting points on the board, the shooting guard and small forward positions are deep and talented. North Carolina commit Justin Jackson scores the ball at a high level and is lethal from mid-range. Seton Hall commit Isaiah Whitehead (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) has improved his approach to the game and had a breakout performance at the Elite 24.

At this point, the class lacks a true superstar, but it has plenty of talent and potential. Here's a look at players who made the biggest moves in our rankings:

Five who moved up
  • Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Trinity) went from No. 10 to No. 2 because of his play this summer. Turner is the best long-term prospect and the best shot blocker in the high school game. Offensively, he possesses a soft touch and an impressive 3-point shot.
  • Stanley Johnson (Fullerton, Calif./Mater Dei) climbed his way inside the top 10 to No. 9 with his effort and productivity. A power driver with a much improved jumper, Johnson is a consistent rebounder. Summer is a grind but Johnson got stronger as it went on.
  • Kelly Oubre (Fort Bend, Texas/Findlay Prep) made a significant move, shooting up 10 spots to No. 10, because he consistently makes highlight reel-worthy plays. Ourbe is a dynamic blend of athletic ability, skill and versatility.
  • D'angelo Russell (Louisville, Ky./Montverde), the No. 12 overall player, is dangerous with and without the ball. If you leave him alone, the future Buckeye will make you pay.
  • No one made a bigger jump than Devin Robinson (Chesterfield, Va./Christchurch), whose ranking went from No. 74 to No. 28. A good 3-point shooter and a playmaker, he exudes potential.
Five who moved in
  • No. 44 Robert Johnson (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) is a true combination guard who competes and displays poise. The Indiana commit can run the point is good enough from deep to keep you honest.
  • No. 68 a href="http://espn.go.com/college-sports/basketball/recruiting/player/_/id/124498/tadric-jackson">Tadric Jackson (Tifton, Ga./Tift) will bring speed and scoring on the perimeter to Brian Gregory and Georgia Tech. An off-the-charts athlete, he is constantly in attack mode and is talented enough to play the point. Jackson is a perfect fit, as Georgia Tech wants to push the ball and he can lead or finish the fast break.
  • No. 70 Jonah Bolden is a long, athletic forward brings size and skill to the floor. The Australian is more of a finesse player than physically imposing, beating opponents with his long and mid-range shooting and impressive passing ability.
  • No. 72 Lourawls Nairn (Bel Aire, Kan./Sunrise Christian) has the ability to create and push the tempo, which may be unmatched in his class. Nairn loves to go fast -- in fact, the faster the pace the more he thrives.
  • No. 86 Isaac Haas (Piedmont, Ala./Hokes) has a massive body that is made to bang inside, set screens, rebound and be a physical presence in the painted area. The Wake Forest commit runs well for his size.

Weekly Commitment Update

September, 27, 2013
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Big Ten
Indiana
Robert Johnson | SG | Richmond, Va./Benedictine Prep
HT: 6-3 WT: 190
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 10
Stars: 4
ESPN 100: 44

Northwestern
Scott Lindsey | SG | Oak Park, Ill./Fenwick
HT: 6-3 WT: 180
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 42
Stars: 3

Iowa
Brady Ellingson | SG | Menomonie, Wis./Hamilton
HT: 6-3 WT: 170
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 2

Michigan State
Lourawls Nairn | PG | Bel Aire, Kans./Sunrise Christian
HT: 5-10 WT: 170
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 16
Stars: 4
ESPN 100: 72

ACC
Georgia Tech
Ben Lammers | C | San Antonio/Alamo Heights
HT: 6-10 WT: 220
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 28
Stars: 3

Miami
Omar Sherman | C | Dallas/Prime Prep
HT: 6-8 WT: 225
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 14
Stars: 4

Big 12
Oklahoma State
Jeff Newberry | PG | Atlanta/New Mexico Junior College (Juco)
HT: 6-2 WT: 175
Class of 2014

SEC
LSU
Aaron Epps | C | Tioga, La./Tioga
HT: 6-9 WT: 215
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Pac 12
Oregon State
JaQuori McLaughlin | PG | Gig Harbor, Wash./Peninsula
HT: 6-2 WT: 155
Class of 2016
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Conference USA
Marshall
Henry Uwadiae | C | Nigeria/Kirkwood C.C. (Juco)
HT: 6-11 WT: 210
Class of 2014

Shane Hall | PF | Paintsville, Ky./Johnson Central
HT: 6-9 WT: 210
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 40
Stars: 3

North Texas
Jeremy Combs | SF | Dallas/Carter
HT: 6-6 WT: 185
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Old Dominion
Isaiah Maurice | PF | Durham, N.C./Bull City Prep
HT: 6-8
Class of 2015
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big East
Creighton
Leon Gilmore | SF | Manvel, Texas/Manvel
HT: 6-7 WT: 215
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 26
Stars: 4

Xavier
Makinde London | PF | Thompson's Station, Tenn./Montverde Academy
HT: 6-9 WT: 195
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 22
Stars: 4
ESPN 100: 91

Atlantic 10
St. Joseph's
Markell Lodge | PF | Creedmoor, N.C./Christian Faith Center
HT: 6-6 WT: 190
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 3

St. Bonaventure
Jordan Tyson | C | Cincinnati/Fishburne Military Academy (Post Grad)
HT: 6-10
Class of 2014

Virginia Commonwealth
Mike Gilmore | PF | Tallahassee, Fla./Rickards
HT: 6-9 WT: 210
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: 19
Stars: 4
ESPN 100: 76

Duquesne
Eric James | SG | Westerville, Ohio/Westerville
HT: 6-5 WT: 170
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

AAC
Central Florida
Chad Brown | PF | Deltona, Fla./Deltona
HT: 6-8 WT: 210
Class of 2015
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

MVC
Indiana State
Brandon Murphy | PF | Birmingham, Ala./Carver
HT: 6-7
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

America East
Maryland - Baltimore County
Malcolm Brent | SG | Silver Spring, Md./Kimball Union
HT: 6-4
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Ivy League
Columbia
Noah Daoust | C | Montreal/Hotchkiss School
HT: 6-8 WT: 230
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Yale
Sem Kroon | C | Greenwich, Conn./Northfield-Mt. Hermon
HT: 6-10
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

MAC
Toledo
Cuyler Mosley | SG | Orlando, Fla./Timber Creek
HT: 6-3 WT: 170
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Kent State
Devon Andrews | PG | Lorain, Ohio/Lorain
HT: 6-4
Class of 2015
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

West Coast Conference
Loyola Marymount
Elijah Stewart | SF | Los Angeles/Westchester
HT: 6-5 WT: 165
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 2

Ohio Valley Conference
Eastern Kentucky
Daniel Norl | SG | Clarksville, Tenn./Kenwood
HT: 6-2 WT: 185
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big West Conference
Long Beach State
Temidayo Yussuf | SF | Alameda, Calif./St. Joseph Notre Dame
HT: 6-7
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Hawaii
Isaac Fleming | PG | New Castle, Del./Massanutten Military Academy
HT: 6-3 WT: 190
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

CAA
Delaware
Skye Johnson | PF | Lynchburg, Va./Virginia Episcopal School
HT: 6-9 WT: 230
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Northeastern
Devon Begley | SG | Pearland, Texas/Pearland
HT: 6-3
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big South
Winthrop
Joseph Lopez | SF | Miami/South Miami
HT: 6-6 WT: 225
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Southern Conference
Chattanooga
Shaquille Preston | SG | Metairie, La./East Jefferson
HT: 6-3 WT: 175
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Georgia Southern
Shawn O'Connell | SF | Alpharetta, Ga./Milton
HT: 6-8 WT: 190
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Sun Belt
Texas - Arlington
Kevin Hervey | SF | Arlington, Texas/Bowie
HT: 6-6 WT: 180
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Mountain West
Utah State
Julion Pearre | SG | McKinney, Texas/McKinney North
HT: 6-2
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Atlantic Sun
Northern Kentucky
Jordan Garnett | SF | Indianapolis/Warren Central
HT: 6-6 WT: 190
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Summit League
North Dakota State
Evan Wesenberg | PF | Germantown, Wis./Germantown
HT: 6-7 WT: 190
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Patriot League
Navy
Daniel Noe | SF | Alexandria, Va./Bishop Ireton
HT: 6-5 WT: 205
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Colgate
Sean O'Brien | SG | Philadelphia/Penn Charter
HT: 6-2 WT: 170
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending

NEC
Mount St. Mary's
Mo Sallah | PF | Falling Waters, W.Va./Fishburne Military Academy (Post-Grad)
HT: 6-9 WT: 205
Class of 2014

Farleigh-Dickinson
Darian Anderson | PG | Washinton, DC/St. John's
HT: 5-11 WT: 150
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: 2

MAAC
Qunnipiac
Dimitri Floras | SG | Merrimack, N.H./The MacDuffie School
HT: 6-1 WT: 170
Class of 2014
Positional Rank: NA
Stars: Evaluation Pending
One of the fastest point guards in the country, Lourawls Nairn (Bel Aire, Kan./Sunrise Christian Academy) committed to Michigan State on Thursday, choosing the Spartans over Indiana, Minnesota and Oklahoma. He is ranked No. 72 in the ESPN 100, No. 1 in the state of Kansas, and we have him as the nation's No. 16 point guard.


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Notebook: Bruins host big visitor 

September, 20, 2013
9/20/13
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Truth? It’s not a big campus visited weekend. Take a look at the pedestrian football schedule and you’ll see what I mean. However, there are a few stragglers on campus this weekend, some of which are crucial to a few programs this year and next.


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#AskCoachB: Minnesota recruiting

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
12:30
PM ET
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

 

The Gophers have ton of offers on the table, and that's the norm when you have a new head coach. When Richard Pitino was hired in April, there there was not a lot he could accomplish on the recruiting trail for the 2013 class. By that late in the recruiting calendar, many players were already committed and everyone he was trying to get involved with had other programs on them for a long time, so he was playing a major catchup game. Fast forward to the present and as the school year begins, Pitino and his staff have been relentless in evaluating and offering players in the 2014 class. This will be their first full recruiting class, and it will make an impact on the program.

There are several signees who would constitute a win. ESPN 100 power forward Reid Travis lives extremely close to campus, had a fantastic summer and could be the face of the program. Fellow Minnesota native and No. 1 shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, who recently took an unofficial visit to campus before heading out to play his senior season at Findlay Prep (Nev.) would be a go-to guy immediately. They are also making headway on ESPN 100 prospect Isaiah Whitehead, a dynamic scoring guard form New York. Lourawls Nairn and J.P. Macura have also been to campus and have a high interest.

A loss would be if they they strike out early with the guys on their list and then panic and take a player who can't help just to be on the board. Minnesota needs to have a plan, stick to it, and bring in the talent and traits that are needed to move into the upper crust in the Big Ten. Pitino was a terrific recruiter as an assistant coach and brought in some league-winning talent at Florida International. It will happen in time for Gophers fans.

Top 10: Potential risers outside 100 

August, 28, 2013
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After reviewing the July notes, a number of players popped onto the radar. Whether they make any top 100 lists is to be determined, but they are candidates. Frankly, this summer could yield more change than usual in a list of this nature. I’d pay close attention to the next 100 list because I’d bet the ESPN staffers shake it up and you see a host of new faces.

If the new list had PF Michael Humphrey (didn’t see him in July), SG Matthew Fisher-Davis, SG Bryant McIntosh, PF Yante Maten, F Bonzie Colson, PG Lamonte Bearden or SG B.J. Stith, it wouldn’t be met with much resistance as those prospects each put together strong summers; some are better players than prospects and that’s a factor.

Ten Non-100 Potential Risers

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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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