Tyler Davis to Texas A&M: Aggies Land 4-Star Center Prospect

While the focus on College Station might be on the upcoming college football season, Texas A&M’s basketball program has been busy trying to upgrade its roster.

The results paid off in a big way, with center Tyler Davis committing to the school, according to Evan Daniels of ScoutHoops.com:

Davis, a 6-foot-9, 270-pound center, committed to Billy Kennedy and his staff at Texas A&M on Friday, per multiple sources.

Davis had a terrific summer playing with the Texas Titans team. Davis is a massive post prospect that fights and plays with toughness in the paint. He rebounds at a high level and can overpower defenders and score on the block.

Davis is the No. 33 overall prospect and seventh-ranked center in the 2015 recruiting class, according to 247Sports.com. In addition to Texas A&M, the star center also received offers from Kansas, Arizona, Baylor, Purdue, SMU, Texas and Texas Tech. 

The Texas-born Davis had an interesting season last year, to say the least. Matt Jessen-Howard of SNY.tv wrote about Davis in June, noting he wasn’t allowed to play for Plano West by the University Interscholastic League because it felt he transferred from Frisco Liberty “for basketball reasons, even though his family moved.”

Davis spoke to Jessen-Howard about that incident and how it affected him physically and mentally:

It was tough. You never want that to happen. For me, it was real tough to sit out and watch my team play. It hurt my game, but at the same time, I have time now to get back in it.

If you’re willing to work hard, you’ll get right back into the game and pick up where you left off. I’m working on my touch around the basket and all the stuff that I used to have down every game. It’s kind of coming back. This session, I’ve felt really comfortable.

As for what made Davis one of the best prospects in his recruiting class, it’s no secret that every team wants to find size and production in the paint. He played well this summer for the Texas Titans of the Elite Youth Basketball League, averaging 13.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, per Daniels. 

Jerry Meyer of 247Sports.com called Davis “a skilled traditional back to the basket player. A below the rim type player, Davis relies on his size and strength to create space.”

Playing in the SEC, where Kentucky and Florida play a physical style and always have good size in the paint, Davis represents a huge piece of the puzzle for Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy in his quest to get the school back into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011. 

He’s also the first commitment the Aggies have received for the 2015 season, so Kennedy can sell other recruits on the idea of playing with a powerful big man who can create his own shots under the rim. 

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Noah Dickerson to Florida: Gators Land 4-Star PF Prospect

The Florida Gators landed a premier prospect for their 2015 recruiting class, as 4-star power forward Noah Dickerson announced his commitment Sunday to play college basketball in Gainesville.   

Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com reported the news, including a quote from Dickerson regarding his thoughts about the man who will help him grow on and off the court.

“Coach [Billy] Donovan is a great coach,” said Dickerson. “He develops players, and he has great character. That’s one thing I love about him. He’s a great person outside of a coach.”

Dickerson also confirmed his commitment through Twitter:

According to 247Sports’ composite rankings, Dickerson, who hails from Montverde Academy in Florida, is the 52nd-ranked overall recruit in his class, and the No. 10 power forward. The site lists shooting guard KeVaughn Allen and center Kevarrius Hayes as the other members of Florida’s current 2015 class. Both are 4-star prospects, too.

Corey Evans of Hoops Intel compared Dickerson favorably to a current NBA player and past college star:

Borzello discovered that Dickerson had reopened his recruitment as of June 30. Before then, Dickerson had decided on Georgetown before he chose to reconsider his options.

Dickerson’s profile on 247Sports lists him at 6’8″ and 245 pounds, which gives him better bulk than most athletes with his skills have at age 17. His classmate Hayes is 6’9″, 205 pounds, so it should be interesting to see how both players coexist in the paint if they wind up on the floor together.

Several strengths stand out about Dickerson’s game when checking out some of the skills he’s shown at this stage of his development.

Being a crafty tactician with his back to the basket should allow Dickerson to make an immediate impact more quickly at Florida than perhaps other first-year players. Dickerson’s rebounding, energy level and ability to attack the rim and score under duress while altering his shot angle also translate well when making the leap to the collegiate level.

National championship-winning coach Billy Donovan had a squad that was favored to win the most recent NCAA tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, only to lose to Connecticut in the Final Four. That team was loaded with leadership and seniors.

It is vital for the Gators to build a strong foundation to ensure sustained success in the next several years. Donovan is laying the groundwork for that by landing Dickerson and two other strong recruits already for the 2015-16 roster.

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Report: Wolves to land Thaddeus Young after Love trade

It appears the Philadelphia 76ers will indeed be involved in the reported Kevin Love trade — tangentially, at least. The Sixers will trade Thaddeus Young to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for a package will include 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, a source told the Philadelphia Daily News. At the moment, Bennett is still a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday that he, 2014 top pick Andrew Wiggins and a protected first-round pick in 2015 will be sent to the Wolves in a deal for Love. The trade cannot be made official until Aug. 23, when the Cavs’ moratorium on trading Wiggins expires. Young, a 6-foot-8 power forward, has spent his entire seven-year NBA career in Philadelphia but only recently developed into a full-time starter. He saw his rebounding numbers dip slightly last season (6.0 per game) but averaged career highs in points (17.9), assists (2.3) and steals (2.1). He’ll likely be tasked with filling the void left by Love, who a…

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Chase Jeter to Duke: Blue Devils Land 5-Star PF Prospect

Chase Jeter, a 5-star power forward in the 2015 class, announced his verbal commitment to Duke on Monday night to bolster next year’s crop.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported the news following Jeter’s announcement on ESPNU:

Sports Illustrated‘s Seth Davis thinks he’s a great fit in the Duke system:

Jeter posted an Instagram of himself rocking a t-shirt of his new school:

After truly emerging last season, Jeter is now viewed as the No. 10 overall recruit and the No. 5 power forward in the country, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. He received numerous offers from top programs, including Arizona, UCLA, UNLV, Kansas, Louisville and UConn, among others, but ultimately chose to sign with the Blue Devils.

An all-around player, Jeter does nearly everything well on the court. Paul Biancardi of ESPN provides his thoughts on the emerging star, via Derek Volner of ESPNMediaZone.com:

In a class where the big men make it special, Jeter is one of the elite post players. He has the ability to score in the low post with his back to the basket utilizing the jump hook inside, his go to move.  Additionally, he is a very committed and consistent rebounder who runs the floor well resulting in easy baskets on offense and preventing them on defense.

Needless to say, there don’t appear to be many flaws in Jeter’s repertoire. How well that translates to the college game will be crucial to his tenure in Durham.

As an All-State selection for Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School, the 6’11″ big man averaged 14.7 points, 10.6 rebounds and three blocks per game. The right-handed hook shot that Biancardi alludes to makes him special in the paint.

He showed off his latest skills at the Adidas Uprising event:

After bringing in the No. 1 2014 class, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings, coach Mike Krzyzewski has the makings of another great core. Along with Jeter, the Blue Devils already have a commitment from Luke Kennard, a 5-star shooting guard.

Prior to his commitment, Jeter shared his reasoning for holding Duke in such high regard with Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports.

“I have a great relationship with all the coaches,” Jeter said. “Coach [Mike] K[rzyzewski], coach [Jeff] Capel. They have great guys, great history. Overall, just a great program.”

If any of the incoming freshmen hang around after one season, Duke could have a plethora of talented players on the court yet again. A dominant power forward like Jeter could shape a young, dynamic roster.

With Amile Jefferson being the lone true power forward projected to be on the team during the 2015-16 season, Jeter has a chance to get plenty of minutes. If he continues to develop as a senior, Jeter has an opportunity to be a breakout player for the historic Duke program.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Donovan Mitchell to Louisville: Cardinals Land 4-Star Guard Prospect

The Louisville Cardinals’ basketball team is heading to the ACC for the 2014-15 season, and it will take an elite 2015 recruiting class with it.

That No. 5-ranked group, according to 247Sports, got even better Thursday. 

Rick Pitino and company landed guard Donovan Mitchell from Brewster Academy in Connecticut. Mitchell checks in at 6’3” and 180 pounds and is a 4-star prospect per 247Sports’ composite rankings. In fact, he is rated as the No. 83 overall player and No. 28 overall shooting guard in the 2015 class.

He announced his commitment via his Twitter page, and Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports passed the news along:

A number of notable teams recruited Mitchell, including Memphis, Cincinnati and Villanova, but Louisville’s persistence paid off in the long run.

It was no wonder that Mitchell landed on the radar of so many top-notch programs.

He is an offensive sparkplug who gets to the basket with ease thanks to his elite athleticism and speed in the open floor. His explosive first step from the perimeter is enough to blow by almost any defender, and he is strong enough to finish through contact at the rim.

What’s more, Mitchell counts a gradually improving jumper as part of his arsenal, making him a threat to contribute immediately once he arrives at Louisville.

On the defensive side, Mitchell uses that athleticism and lateral quickness to stay in front of opposing guards and capitalizes on his length to dart into passing lanes. The best way to earn early minutes under Pitino is through defense, so it will be worth keeping an eye on his development on that end of the floor.

Speaking with Steve Jones of The Courier-Journal, Mitchell discussed what Louisville’s coaching staff saw in him during the recruiting process:

They see me as a guy who could help them continue being where they are, (which is) just being able to win championships. They’re known for their guards. Russ Smith is a guard from New York. So they’re very appealing to me. Obviously, I’d have to work for playing time, but I’d be able to go out there and play.

Louisville would certainly love it if Mitchell turned out like Russ Smith.

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How Rockets Can Land Melo Without Giving Up James Harden or Chandler Parsons

The Houston Rockets will host free-agent superstar Carmelo Anthony for a visit, where they will hope to convince the high-scoring forward of joining Dwight Howard and James Harden in Texas. Will general manager Daryl Morey be able to keep all of his stars and still add Melo?

Adam Wexler of CSN Houston joins Adam Lefkoe to discuss.

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Gonzaga Basketball: Bulldogs Land Another Impact Transfer in Eric McClellan

Gonzaga basketball picked up yet another impact transfer on Sunday, as it was reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports that former Vanderbilt guard Eric McClellan will commit to playing for the Bulldogs next season.

McClellan is a 6’4” guard who averaged 14.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 12 games for Vanderbilt last season. He is renowned for his athleticism and his ability to score in volumes.

This latest transfer to Gonzaga bolsters what was already an incredibly deep backcourt that featured three-year starters Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., as well as USC transfer Byron Wesley who committed to Gonzaga just a few weeks back.

Unlike the penalty-free transfer of Wesley, though, McClellan and Gonzaga will have some work to do to get the new guard on the court this season due to extenuating circumstances from his earlier dismissal from Vanderbilt this summer.

According to an ESPN Report done in conjunction with The Associated Press, McClellan was suspended from the team during the spring semester for “violating academic policy” and was later dismissed from the team following an arrest for “misdemeanor charge of theft under $500.”

Rothstein writes that in order for McClellan to become academically eligible, he will have to complete “three separate courses over the next seven weeks. Once those courses are completed, McClellan will be eligible to play during the second semester of next season.”

There is, however, a chance that he could apply for a waiver to play immediately.

The value that McClellan could add to this already deep backcourt is almost immeasurable. Just a few weeks ago, Gonzaga’s greatest weakness was the absence of a tall, athletic, scoring wing. 

Now, Gonzaga has two wings in McClellan and Wesley who will contend for serious minutes in Mark Few’s rotation.

With McClellan and Wesley using their athleticism to push the ball in transition and slash through the lane, three-point gunners Pangos and Bell should be freed up to shoot more.

I could go on and on about the possibilities that adding McClellan to this backcourt creates, but there will be plenty of time to discuss that as the season approaches.

I will say, however, that the theme that McClellan’s decision continues for the Zags is that of transfer athletes searching for a winning environment and a place to continue to grow their talents choosing to come play at Gonzaga.

This goes back to Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer, who chose Gonzaga for its winning mentality and its ability to help him add strength to his finesse game, and Byron Wesley, who after three years of playing at USC, decided to come to Spokane because he wanted a chance to play competitive games in March.

Should this Gonzaga team be as successful as some analysts believe it can be, Mark Few may have a greater influx of talented basketball players in the vein of McClellan flocking to play in his system.

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Report: Bulls could be favorites to land Carmelo Anthony

The Chicago Bulls are one of a handful of teams current New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is slated to visit with during his tour around the Association.  The fit is more natural than any other potential destination, as teaming Anthony up with Joakim Noah and oft-injured Derrick Rose could make the Bulls a legit title contender out of the gate in 2014-2015. A new report indicates that Chicago is now the favorites to land the All-Star forward. A number of executives around NBA believe Chicago is the frontrunner to land Carmelo Anthony. We’ll see. A lot can change in coming weeks. — Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 29, 2014 Among the other teams that Anthony has been linked to, the Miami Heat are also an intriguing possibility. With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all opting out of their contracts, there is a chance that Miami could afford Anthony. With that said, it is not one of the teams that he slated to visit with later this week. If Anthony does end up wit…

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NBA Free Agency 2014: Predicting Where Unsigned Stars Will Land

The 2014 NBA free-agency class isn’t deep, but it has something every team in the league wants.

LeBron James.

He, along with Carmelo Anthony, opted out of their contracts to become unrestricted free agents this summer. Their decisions on where to sign are the two biggest stories of the offseason. The teams they choose will almost certainly become championship contenders, if they aren’t already.

Here are predictions for where these unsigned stars will land.

 

SF Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

Prediction: Chicago Bulls

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein reported that in the running with the Knicks for Anthony’s services are the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers. Chicago makes the most sense, and here’s why.

First off, the Lakers make little sense. With a nearly vacant roster, Los Angeles’ greatest selling point is its massive market. If Anthony wants a massive market, he can re-sign in New York for more money.

Neither of those will happen, though, because they don’t have championship-caliber rosters. Neither do the Mavericks, which have the least to offer. Even Dirk Nowitzki called signing Anthony unrealistic, according to ESPN’s Bryan Gutierrez.

Chicago and Houston would instantly become championship contenders upon Anthony’s arrival, and that’s something none of the other three can say. On the Rockets, though, Anthony would need to do more sharing than he’s accustomed to. James Harden and Dwight Howard both averaged at least 26.0 points per game in the playoffs this year.

Houston doesn’t need Anthony for his offense. It finished second in the league in scoring. It just needs him for his talent, which doesn’t make for a flawless fit.

The Bulls are a flawless fit. They finished with the best defense and the worst offense in the league this season. Anthony and the return of Derrick Rose would fix their offense, and they’d still have a defense superior to that of the Rockets.

While Anthony would need to share touches with Harden and Howard in Houston, Rose is the only player in Chicago who needs the ball. Throw in the fact that Chicago boasts a massive market as well and the Bulls couldn’t be a better fit.

 

SF LeBron James, Miami Heat

Prediction: Miami Heat

Obviously there’s no shortage of teams that dream of signing James. ESPN’s Chris Broussard listed the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks and Lakers as teams which have already started to adjust their rosters in order to add him.

It’s just difficult to imagine James, after four straight NBA Finals appearances, signing anywhere that isn’t stacked. Those teams aren’t stacked. Of course, Cleveland has the “hometown” appeal that will continue to connect it to James as a result.

But he isn’t signing with the Cavaliers. James isn’t a moron. No one in their organization is remotely as brilliant as Pat Riley.

Riley has five rings as a head coach and two as an executive. And James wouldn’t trade him for a Cleveland front office that rehired and re-fired Mike Brown in one year, rented Spencer Hawes and Luol Deng to miss the playoffs in one of the worst conferences in professional sports history and managed to draft just one franchise player with four top-four picks in three years. Oh yeah, and this happened:

I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE. You can take it to the bank … I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels. Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there. Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works. 

Sorry, Dan Gilbert, players don’t win you rings after you write character-assassinating open letters about them. That’s simply not how it works.

By opting out, all James is doing is pushing the Heat to retool its roster. James witnessed Riley build a championship roster out of Dwyane Wade and little else in one summer. Rebuilding a championship roster out of NBA Finals runner-ups isn’t nearly as difficult a task.

 

David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.

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Bulls looking like favorite to land Carmelo Anthony?

Carmelo Anthony is exploring the possibility of joining the Chicago Bulls as the deadline approaches for the New York Knicks star to opt out of his contract, league sources told ESPN.com on Sunday. According to the report, Anthony has spoken with a high-profile person living in Chicago about what the city is like. The Bulls have inquired about Anthony as well, as head coach Tom Thibodeau has reportedly contacted some of Anthony’s past coaches to speak with them about the 12-year veteran, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I even told Tom that there may be days that he will want to blow his own head off when it comes to Melo’s defense, but he keeps saying he knows he can make it work,” one of former the coaches said. “It’s not that Carmelo can’t play defense, it’s just how often. And he knows every trick in the book on getting around that.” The New York Daily News reported Saturday that Bulls center Joakim Noah has called Anthony numerous times, though the 2013 NBA scoring champion…

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