NCB On The Trail: Omari Spellman

ESPN 60 power forward Omari Spellman made a verbal commitment Friday to Villanova, giving the Wildcats one of the premier power forwards in the 2016 national class.

Why he committed: Spellman has been to Villanova unofficially on multiple occasions, the last of which came two weeks ago when he and his mother attended the Georgetown game. His commitment Friday coincided with his mother's birthday.

Five observations: National Prep Showcase 

November, 24, 2014
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- One of the unofficial markers to the start of the college basketball season is the National Prep Showcase, which features the best prep schools from the New England area and around the country. While many of the top guys are committed or signed, there were plenty of noteworthy items.

1. A couple of months ago, it was expected that JaQuan Lyle would be playing for Oregon right now. Instead, he's enrolled at IMG Academy (Fla.) after being denied admission to Oregon. Lyle, who was ranked No. 42 in the 2014 class, has reopened his recruitment and is going through the process once again.

"It was real hectic at the beginning, but I've slowed it down a bit," Lyle said. "I want to take a couple more officials, then decide in late January or early February."

He recently took a trip to LSU, the same weekend No. 1 prospect Ben Simmons and five-star Antonio Blakeney (No. 14) were on campus. Ohio State, Xavier, Indiana and Missouri are also in the mix -- along with Oregon (Lyle will be eligible for admission after this school year). The Ducks sent head coach Dana Altman and all three assistants to Lyle's game on Saturday night, when the 6-foot-4 guard scored 35 points.

"I just opened it back up to make sure I made the right decision for myself," Lyle said. "I really love Oregon. I love the facilities, coaching staff, everything about it. They have an advantage right now, but I gotta take it day by day."

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LeBron James Skills Academy recap: Day 3 

July, 12, 2014
It was an eventful day at the LeBron James Skills Academy as the night session of games was cancelled due to player fatigue and injuries. Isaiah Briscoe, Malik Newman, Stephen Zimmerman, and Troy Brown are just a few of the casualties that succumbed to the injury bug. However, despite one session of games there was an epic encounter between the most dominant player in camp in Ben Simmons and super junior Jayson Tatum, as well as a number of fine performances from those that you'll read about in this edition.

Best all-around

Jayson Tatum
2016, WF, 6-foot-7, 193 pounds

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If you’ve noticed a sudden rush of recruiting information for 2016 prospects in the last few days, it's no coincidence.

Sunday was the first day that college coaches were permitted to contact prospects in the rising junior class, and for some prospects that literally meant the phone rang when the clock struck midnight.

Often times, those conversations are followed by some sort of offer. Here’s a look at some of the latest news for the Class of 2016:

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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.

Northeast Hoops Festival recap 

April, 14, 2014
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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Recap: Sharette Dixon Memorial Classic 

October, 20, 2013
BRONX, N.Y. -- The fifth annual Sharette Dixon Memorial Classic was held Saturday night at Gauchos Gym, pitting top prospects from the state of New Jersey against their peers from the greater New York City area in both an underclassmen and upperclassmen game.

The collection of talent was a fitting tribute to an inspirational woman who was a wife, mother and educator. Proceeds from the event will support a family education and child care fund established for her three children.

New York City defended its home turf in both games, winning a hard fought battle in the underclassmen game and then running away with the upperclassmen matchup.

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READING, Pa. -- The month of July may be over, but that doesn’t mean the balls have stopped bouncing at Albright College. The Future All-American Camp is the final chapter to a long summer of events for the Hoop Group. And if history is any indication, this last event will continue to live up to its reputation as there was a plethora of top up-and-coming talent in the building.

Although rising sixth- through 10th-graders were in attendance, our focus was strictly on the high school prospects, for whom the focus isn’t yet about their recruitment but rather their potential to reach that level in the coming years.

Here’s a look at who stood out in the 2016 and 2017 classes from the Future All-American Camp.

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When the July evaluation period ended five days ago, the recruiting news was just getting started.

The biggest news of the week in the Northeast region centered around the commitment of Phil Booth to Villanova, planned visits for Isaiah Whitehead, and trimmed lists from both Kaleb Joseph and Ja'Quan Newton. But the news on those ESPN 100 guards was really just the tip of the iceberg because there have been plenty of other commitments, offers and scheduled visits coming across the wires.

Here’s a look at a plethora of basketball recruiting news and notes from the Northeast:

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KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. -- The Hoop Group’s annual Summer Classic East event kicked off the second week of the July evaluation period with a highly selective, invitation-only field of the top teams in the northeast. The loaded event featured a pair of ESPN 100 talents in point guard Kaleb Joseph (No. 51) and Pascal Chukwu (No. 58), No. 38 junior Moustapha Diagne and No. 21 sophomore Kassoum Yakwe, leading to a slew of college head coaches from all levels making sure their presence was noticed.

Here’s how things went down in the Keystone State.

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