NCB On The Trail: Shaqquan Aaron

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The Jordan Brand Classic featured much of the nation’s top talent.

Obviously, a number of players operate at the same position. That said, each brings a different aspect at the spot. Let’s take a look at some of the best and break down how they are different and impactful.

HSNT loaded with elite prospects 

March, 31, 2014
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The 2014 Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National Tournament, which features eight of the best teams in the country, as well as marquee players in the ESPN 100 and ESPN 60, takes place Thursday, Friday and Saturday in New York. The semifinals take place at Christ The King High School in Middle Village, while Madison Square Garden plays host to the championship. All games will be televised by the ESPN family of networks; click here for the schedule and other event information.

This year’s field might be the best ever. Let’s take a look at the players to watch:


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Recruit and return: Louisville 

March, 29, 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 the Louisville Cardinals and their chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick references:
2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starting five:

G: Chris Jones
G: Terry Rozier
F: Wayne Blackshear
F: Montrezl Harrell
C: Mangok Mathiang


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One of four remaining ESPN 100 players is now off the board as No. 69 Anas Osama Mahmoud, a 7-foot-1 center, has committed to Louisville. A native of Egypt, he came to the United States in September and it didn’t take long for college coaches to start inquiring.

He took official visits to Louisville, Georgia Tech and Minnesota.

“I was talking to Coach [Rick] Pitino today and I told him I wanted to go to Louisville,” Mahmoud said. He took official visits to Louisville, Georgia Tech and Minnesota as well as unofficial visits to Kentucky, Auburn, Cincinnati and USF. Florida and Kansas were starting to show interest..


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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 Louisville Cardinals have an outstanding class coming in next season -- the Cardinals are No. 5 in our class rankings.

Quentin Snider will be the point guard of the future. He combines quickness with good decision-making abilities, as he navigates well in ball-screen actions. Chinanu Onuaku is an inside physical presence who rebounds, alters shots and scores on put-backs. Jaylen Johnson brings athletic ability and versatility to the front court. Perhaps the most talented in terms of potential is Shaqquan Aaron. He is the Cardinals’ highest-rated prospect No. 33 and is extremely long with excellent ball skills. He desperately needs to get stronger, but can stroke it from deep and create his own shot inside the arc. There is also Norwegian center Matz Stockman.

I expect Aaron to have a strong influence on next year’s team. His ability to score, shoot, and finish with length will make him hard to guard.

Snider and Onuaku are ESPN 100 prospects who should contribute right away. Snider will back up and play alongside current point guard Chris Jones. The Cardinals will need size next year, so Onuaku will have a chance to play right away if he is ready. This group is talented and athletic, with plenty of room for growth.
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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Pitino signs four ESPN 100 prospects

November, 15, 2013
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Louisville coach Rick Pitino announced the signing of four ESPN 100 players on Friday.

Leading the way for the Cardinals is small forward Shaqquan Aaron (Seattle/Rainier Beach) along with point guard Quentin Snider (Louisville, Ky./Ballard), power forward Jaylen Johnson (Ypsilanti, Mich./Ypsilanti) and center Chinanu Onuaku (Upper Marlboro, Md./Riverdale Baptist).

Snider became the fourth recruit on Friday after decommitting from Illinois. He had originally committed to Louisville as a junior.

"This is a tremendous class that is deep, talented and all have great potential to improve," Pitino. "Not only is it a well-balanced group with outstanding basketball players, but they really fit our system. We look for offensive players who can be a triple-threat -- shoot, pass and beat their man off the bounce -- and this group can certainly do that."
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: Oct. 9 

October, 9, 2013
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In the latest edition of the 2014 recruiting class rankings, UNLV moves in, while last year's title-game participants, Michigan and Louisville, move up. Here's a look at the latest moves and trends in the rankings:

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ESPN 100 big man Chinanu Onuaku (Upper Marlboro ,Md./Riverdale Baptist) kept everyone guessing until the end, but eventually he picked national champion Louisville over Georgetown, and Miami. Onuaku, younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans big man Arinze Onuaku, is a promising post player.

Why he committed: The chance to play right away and to play for hall of fame coach Rick Pitino. The development of former Cardinal Gorgui Dieng made a big impression on Onuaku as he was looking for a program and coach that could help him grow and reach his potential.

What he brings: A physically strong and long true center who understands his role. Quietly he improved this summer on the national circuit. His shot-blocking, rebounding and ability to screen and free up teammates are still the strength of his game. When he rebounds the ball it’s with two hands on the defensive glass, and he is well schooled in throwing the outlet pass to start the break. At this stage of his career his defense is ahead of his offense. His physical presence in the paint is impressive. The one aspect of his game that’s under the radar is that he is a good passing big man.

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5-star PG Lyle reopens recruitment

September, 14, 2013
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ESPN 100 point guard JaQuan Lyle (Evansville, Ind./Huntington Prep) decommitted from Louisville on Friday night, according to a report in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Lyle originally chose the Cardinals in June over offers from Tennessee, Florida, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio State, among others.

"I just felt like I needed to make sure I made the right decision for me," he told the paper. "I didn't really think Louisville was the best decision for me."

Lyle is the second point guard to renege on his commitment to the Cardinals in the last two months. ESPN 100 prospect and Louisville native Quentin Snider (Ballard High School) opened up his recruitment in July before committing to Illinois earlier this week.

Head coach Rick Pitino still holds verbal pledges from ESPN 100 forwards Shaqquan Aaron (Seattle/Rainier Beach) and Jaylen Johnson (Ypsilanti, Mich./Ypsilanti).

ESPN 100 PG Snider opens up recruitment

July, 31, 2013
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ESPN 100 point guard Quentin Snider (Louisville, Ky./Ballard) has decided to reopen his recruitment and is no longer committed to Louisville, according to a report in The Courier-Journal.

Snider, ranked No. 28 in the ESPN 100, originally committed to the Cardinals in August of 2011.

"He's been kind of going back and forth this past month," Snider's father, Scott, told the paper. "There's just a lot of guards. Everybody still wants him to go to Louisville. The family does, and we hope Louisville still recruits him. I don't know if they will or not, but he just wants to make sure it's the best fit for him basically."

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino still holds commitments from ESPN 100 point guard JaQuan Lyle (Evansville, Ind./Bosse) and ESPN 100 small forward Shaqquan Aaron (Seattle/Rainier Beach) in the 2014 class. As a result of Snider's decommitment, the Cardinals drop from No. 3 to No. 6 in the class rankings.

Scott Snider told the paper that he and his son have not spoken to any others schools yet. "We're just going to see if anyone's interested in us and go from there," he said.
Rick PitinoStreeter Lecka/Getty ImagesCutting down the nets has proven to be a powerful recruiting tool for Louisville and Rick Pitino.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- There’s the national title and the upcoming Hall of Fame induction ceremony. There’s his horse that earned a spot in the Kentucky Derby, next week’s trip to the White House and the fact that his son became a Big Ten head coach at the tender age of 30.

It’s been a year like no other for Rick Pitino. Louisville’s 60-year-old head coach is on top of the world right now with a smile that won’t fade, a team that could contend for a third consecutive Final Four appearance and a recruiting class that could shake down as one of the nation’s best.

Hardly anyone expected this from Pitino, especially with that “other guy” down the road, Kentucky’s John Calipari, basically handpicking his recruiting class each year.

Eventually, it seemed, Pitino would be thrust into submission, choosing to either retire or leave the state for a job in which he didn’t have to deal with Calipari front and center. It was just a matter of time.

Instead, Pitino is thriving -- in just about every avenue.

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Five-star point guard JaQuan Lyle (Evansville, Ind./Bosse) committed to Louisville Wednesday, joining fellow ESPN 100 players point guard Quentin Snider and small forward Shaqquan Aaron in the Cards' third-ranked 2014 recruiting class. Coach Rick Pitino now has a pair of versatile, playmaking guards and a long athletic wing at his disposal, pledges that could make the defending champs that more dangerous on the perimeter.

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Top performers from NBPA 100 Camp 

June, 17, 2013
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – This year’s NBPA Top 100 Camp was littered with skilled prospects from top to bottom and was overall a very strong and deep collection of talent. Former NBA coach John Lucas served as the director of scouting at the camp, which annually attracts high-level prep prospects from all over the country.

The contests were extremely competitive as the players really took pride in their performances. Making the most noise at the camp were the event’s big men, who stood out due to their length in blocking and altering shots, overall efforts in rebounding and ability to run the floor and finish. Several, like center Stephen Zimmerman and Thon Maker, also displayed advanced passing and ballhandling skills.

Let's take a look at the final impressions from the NBPA 100 Camp.

Best performers

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