NCB On The Trail: Reid Travis

Members of the Class of 2014 have (mostly) made their decisions. Which incoming freshmen should you get to know? Here is a look at the best rebounders -- and one name to know in 2015:

1. Jahlil Okafor, Duke
Okafor is as wide as a door and next to impossible to keep from a rebound that comes off the glass within reach of his suction-cup hands. Okafor is strong and physical and in the best shape I have seen him, and his motor is hitting on all cylinders.

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CHICAGO -- Wednesday marked the 37th Annual McDonald's All-American game featuring the top high school boys basketball players in the country. The game took place at the United Center, home of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.

Best low-post player: Jahlil Okafor


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CHICAGO -- The prestigious McDonald's All American Game annually brings together the best talent in high school basketball, all on one stage. Here are a few game matchups to watch for this year's star-studded event, which can be seen live on ESPN Wednesday night at 9:30 ET.


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Recruit and return: Stanford 

March, 27, 2014
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In order to return to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at Stanford and its chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick reference
2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starting five:
G: Chasson Randle
G: Christian Sanders
G: Anthony Brown
F: Reid Travis
C: Stefan Nastic


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Scout's take: Travis picks Stanford 

November, 8, 2013
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Five-star power forward Reid Travis (Minneapolis/De La Salle) has committed to Stanford over finalist Minnesota and Duke giving coach Johnny Dawkins an immediate impact player at the power forward position and his third ESPN 100 performer.

Travis joins PF/C Michael Humphrey and PG Robert Cartwright in the Cardinal's class of 2014.

How will Travis fit? Here's a look at what his commitment means to the Cardinal:


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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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Class rankings analysis: Nov. 6 

November, 6, 2013
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We are one week away from the national signing period for men’s basketball. Seven of the top 17 recruits in the country are still on the board. Here's the latest on some schools rising and falling in the ESPN class rankings:


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#AskCoachB: Gophers' chances

October, 30, 2013
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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.



The Gophers are working hard on two of the three. Reid Travis (Minneapolis, Minn./De La Salle) just made an official visit, has been there unofficially several times and practically lives next door to the school. With Duke, Gonzaga, Minnesota and Stanford in the mix, Travis has finished his visits and will announce a decision on Nov. 8. Rashad Vaughn (Golden Valley, Minn./Findlay College Prep) is in the process of trying to set up his official visit as he has been there many times for unofficial visits. Minnesota is out with Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley) as he is down to Duke, Kansas and Baylor.

Each situation is independent of the other, but the Gophers have a real shot with Travis and Vaughn. Don't forget Richard Pitino just got the job in April and when he was the head coach at FIU, other coaches and programs were making inroads with both of these guys. He has been playing catch-up on the recruiting trail and now is preparing his team for the season with a brand new staff.

If the Gophers don't land either, it won't be for a lack of effort. It will be because of a lack of time as Pitino and his staff are putting on the full court press.

Class rankings analysis: Oct. 30 

October, 30, 2013
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As we come down to the wire for basketball's early signing period in November, many of the best players in the nation have finished their visits and are ready to make their decisions. Here’s a look at how some of the recruiting classes are shaping up as we get closer to the signing period:

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We’ve been talking a lot about class rankings in recent weeks. North Carolina and Ohio State have both been in the lead at various points this year while strong finishes from Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and even Baylor could put them all in contention for the top spot before it’s all said and done.

With that in mind, we took a speculative look at those six programs, breaking down what they would likely need to get to the top of the mountain.

Duke
Probability of finishing on top: 45 percent

ESPN 100 SG Grayson Allen might be the only prospect currently in Mike Krzyzewski’s incoming recruiting class, but the Blue Devils have as many top prospects left on the board as anyone. They’ll host Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones this weekend, along with Justise Winslow, leading to speculation that they could be on the verge of a massive package deal. They also remain in the mix for Myles Turner, Kevon Looney and Reid Travis. If they land Okafor and Jones, they’ll have a good chance of finishing in front. If they can add Winslow, Looney or Travis, their chances will be even better. If they could ever put Okafor, Turner and Jones in the same group, the rest of the class would be gravy. Suddenly we’d be talking about one of the best recruiting classes ever.


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#AskCoachB: What's the 'plan'?

October, 9, 2013
10/09/13
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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.



I see you are watching Recruiting Nation because you made reference to the "plan", which is how I describe the Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones recruiting situation. There are only three schools who can land Okafor and Jones and they are Baylor, Duke and Kansas, with Duke and Kansas being the favorites. Yes, whoever land this duo would have the best shot at being No. 1 in the class rankings.

Let's look at Kansas first: Today's commitment of ESPN’s No. 10 prospect Kelly Oubre to Kansas puts the Jayhawks in a viable position to land the nation's best class. If they do get Okafor and Jones it would then give the Jayhawks three top-10 players, including the No. 1 player in Okafor. Cliff Alexander was in attendance for “Late Night in the Phog” with Oubre, and the Jayhawks are also pursuing Myles Turner, Rashad Vaughn and JaQuan Lyle. Landing Okafor, Jones and one more of the prospects above would make Kansas No. 1.

As for the Duke Blue Devils, they already have No. 24 Grayson Allen, a sharpshooter from distance who plays with defensive toughness. If they land Okafor and Jones with Justise Winslow, it could make this group the nation's best. All three are visiting Duke on Oct. 25. Kevon Looney and Reid Travis are also still available, and both have shown great interest in Duke.

If Okafor and Jones shock the world and go to Baylor it could make things very interesting as far as the No. 1 class is concerned.

Kentucky is still in play for Okafor and many other top players such as Turner, Stanley Johnson, Winslow, James Blackmon Jr. and Devin Booker. I don't know if the Wildcats will have the No. 1 class when the smoke clears, but I do know it will be another stellar class for John Calipari.

Of course we have to crunch the numbers and use some analytics to determine our class rankings. When the musical chairs of recruiting stops and we actually see who goes where, then we can determine a winner.
On Thursday, we examined the last 10 national champions in order to determine if recruiters put too much emphasis on potential one-and-done prospects.

What we found was that unless those prospects were once-in-a-generation talents like Carmelo Anthony or Anthony Davis, the answer may be yes.

So if college coaches shouldn’t be investing so much time on potential one-and-done prospects, who should they be focused on?

Recent history tells us that NBA-caliber talent should still be put at a premium, but likely the type of talent that needs two, or ideally three years of seasoning in the college ranks first. Experience is especially true in the backcourt where there is a clear correlation between championship caliber teams and experienced ball-handlers/decision makers.

With those findings in mind, we went through the current ESPN 100 and looked to see who could possibly be among the best juniors in the country three years from now:


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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.


Reid Travis had a fantastic spring and summer playing for the Howard Pulley AAU program. I had the opportunity to evaluate him in many different venues and he was not only dominating at times scoring and rebounding, but his effort and level of intensity was consistent. The highlight of the summer was his team winning the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando.

After a strong five months on the circuit his recruiting continues to intensify. He is down to seven schools, and all seven -- Gonzaga, Michigan State, Stanford, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Duke and Minnesota -- did in-home visits.

He visited Gonzaga in August and came away very impressed.

"The atmosphere was great . The school is really behind their program it's easy to see why they are so successful," Travis said.

Last week he went to Duke and had Matt Jones as his host. He spent time with Jabari Parker and was captivated by their setup.

"It has a real family feel to it and I really connected with the coaching staff and the players," Travis said.

His next official visit is planned to Stanford on Oct. 18 and he is still trying to sort out his other visits.

As of today I would say it's Duke, Stanford and Gonzaga unless he sets up some other official campus visits. Keep in mind his AAU teammate Tyus Jones is also looking at Duke so there could be another piece added to the Jahlil Okafor /Jones package that has familiarity to it.

#AskCoachB: Duke's backup plan

September, 13, 2013
9/13/13
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.



Already committed to Duke next year is Grayson Allen, who had a fantastic summer scoring the basketball and showing some defensive toughness. Looking to join him are a few names below who would be difference-makers to say the least.

Aside from courting the package deal of ESPN No. 1 Jahlil Okafor and the No. 1 PG Tyus Jones, the Blue Devils are heavily involved with other high-level players who fit their needs on the floor and their culture off the court. Big man Myles Turner, SF Justise Winslow, PF Kevon Looney, C Goodluck Okonoboh, and now PF Reid Travis are being pursued by Duke. With the departure of seniors Tyler Thornton, and Josh Hairston and the possibility of Jabari Parker or even Rasheed Sulaimon entering the NBA draft, depending on their season and how Duke does as a team, there is plenty of space on the Duke roster.

There is not another point guard in that group, as Quinn Cook will be at the controls in what would be his senior year, so Duke does not have a dire need at that position. Looking ahead, Coach K and staff will be immediately diving into the Class of 2015 for a point guard, which they might have to do even if Jones comes, because he could be a one-and-done player.

No program is tipping its hand as to where it stands, and Okafor and Jones have said they want to finish taking all of their visits and decide together some time in November. That is the plan, but in recruiting it could change at a moment's notice.

If Duke does not get Okafor and Jones, look for the Blue Devils to land a combination of three prospects in the above group and pass on a point guard this year.

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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