Prized recruit Cliff Alexander picks Kansas (Yahoo Sports)

CHICAGO (AP) — Cliff Alexander of Chicago’s Curie High School, one of the nation’s top recruits, says he’s headed to Kansas.

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Kentucky’s Prized Freshman Nerlens Noel Takes Nasty Fall After Slam Dunk Fail

Good job, Kentucky. You almost went and broke Nerlens Noel

With a tremendous gasp from the huge crowd watching, Nerlens Noel began his time with the Kentucky Wildcats by scaring the life out of every last fan watching. 

This video spotted by Yahoo Sports features a freshman who promises to be one of the best collegiate players once the season gets underway. 

But first, will someone please pick him off the ground? 

Noel was playing a spirited game of hoops against some kids as a way of thanking all of the fans who camped out to get tickets to the Big Blue Madness event. 

Little did they know that they were almost witness to something quite tragic. Noel goes up for a two-handed slam dunk and somehow loses his balance. 

He falls back onto his back in a terrifying tumble that is accompanied by a score that sounded like one huge crowd taking a deep breath all at once. 

Rest assured, as Yahoo Sports reports, Noel is doing just fine.

Luckily Noel was uninjured, as was the boy he landed on in the fall.

Oh yeah. It may have taken a few views of this video to see it, but there was a poor boy underneath that giant basketball player. 

Fortunately that unlucky kid was just fine after this tumble. He now deserves an MVP award for breaking the fall of one of the most prized recruits in the nation. 

Follow me on Twitter for more nonsense. 

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NBA Rumors: Atlanta Hawks Sign Prized Free Agent Lou Williams

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst announced on Twitter today that the Atlanta Hawks had agreed to terms for signing free agent Lou Williams. According to SI.com, Williams signed a multi-year contract, but details have yet to be disclosed at this time.

Williams was a prized commodity in the free-agent market this summer. He finished last season leading the Philadelphia 76ers in scoring despite never starting a game and finished second in the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award (per ESPN.com).

Williams’ career got off to a disappointing start when poor pre-draft workouts dropped him into the second round of the 2005 NBA draft. After being sent to the D-League, Williams was called back up to the 76ers to replace Allen Iverson. He soon became a consistent and occasionally explosive scorer (that could also run the point) for Philadelphia.

It’s unclear at this time if the Hawks plan on having Williams and Teague share the point guard position or if Teague has just been converted into trade bait.

One thing that is certain, however, is that the Hawks’ decision to hire Danny Ferry as their GM continues to look like it may be one of the best moves in the franchise’s history. It also seems that Ferry has no intentions of simply “punting” the 2012-2013 season while waiting for next summer’s free-agent market to open.

 

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you’d like to sing my praises or tell me how much I suck more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.

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NBA Draft Projections: What Every Lottery Team Will Do with Prized Picks

Thursday’s NBA Draft will make or ruin some days depending on whether your favorite team makes the decision you think it should make.

Organizations always seem to have their reasons, but those don’t always coincide with the fans’ perspectives. Those decisions could get even more interesting with the likelihood of some draft-day trades shaking up the order.

Besides the chance the Charlotte Bobcats get rid of that No. 2 pick, it appears a two more are generating plenty of interest according to ESPN’s Marc Stein:

Trades or no trades, plenty of mysteries remain.

Here’s a look at what each lottery club is most likely to do when it’s on the clock.

Begin Slideshow

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Amile Jefferson: What Prized Recruit’s Commitment to Duke Blue Devils Means

Amile Jefferson decided where he would play his college basketball today, and the McDonald’s All-American chose Duke.

Jefferson addresses the major need of Duke for an athletic defender and an offensive option who can slash through the lane.

This decision on the day before the regular signing-period ends for college basketball recruits changes the landscape of the ACC and the college basketball world as a whole.

With just two more days left for recruits to decide, we thought we knew how the 2012-13 college basketball season would play out. However, with Jefferson’s commitment we now need to repaint that picture.

 

Scouting Report

Jefferson is a long, lanky combo-forward. He is listed as a power forward, but he is too skinny to bang down low at the next level. However, he is athletic enough to play small forward.

Jefferson is at his best when he is attacking the basket. Despite being small he can still finish through contact, and his long arms help him to adjust his shot in midair. He can also get up and finish over most big men.

On defense Jefferson’s length disrupts opponents, and his athleticism allows him to stick with most small forwards. He also can block shots because of his timing, and he is a superior area-rebounder.

Jefferson needs to add some muscle before he can bang down low, but for now his focus should be on improving his jump shot. He is a jumper away from being a true small forward, and if he wants to play the position in college and the NBA he needs to improve his consistency and range.

 

Recruiting Class

Duke didn’t have much of a recruiting class before Jefferson picked them, with only SG Rasheed Sulaimon coming to Durham next season.

Sulaimon is a great scorer who will be used to drive to the basket and shoot threes, but the team needed a player like Jefferson.

Sulaimon made my list of the top 50 incoming freshmen, as did Jefferson.

Jefferson made the right decision by not picking North Carolina State because he has a bigger role at Duke.

Mark Gottfried would have had to split time between small forwards T.J. Warren and Jefferson since both are among the top 30 recruits in the country, and neither would want to red-shirt. However, at Duke, Jefferson will be used much more than he would with the Wolfpack.

Duke’s recruiting class just got a whole lot better.

Jefferson gives the Blue Devils two recruits in the Top 25 and a very talented tandem. Add in red-shirts Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee, and Duke could have three or four great seniors in three years.

The recruiting class will also enter my class rankings on Thursday morning, probably securing the No. 13 spot on my list.

 

Rankings

Duke was fading from the ACC picture, but the Blue Devils are now back in the mix. Adding Jefferson gives this team multiple scorers and the athletic defender that they needed.

North Carolina State lost out on Jefferson, but the Wolfpack is still to be feared in ACC play. Arch-rival North Carolina loses four starters to the NBA, but the Tar Heels are still dangerous.

These three teams will find themselves atop the ACC standings. The only question is in what order they will be in when all’s said and done.

In terms of the Top 25, Duke was ranked around No. 15 to No. 20 by most analysts. However, the addition of Jefferson addresses a few major needs, which will have the Blue Devils moving up in the standings.

While they are still nowhere near Indiana and Louisville for the No. 1 ranking, the Blue Devils are now around No. 10 in the country, fighting with North Carolina for positioning.

 

Predictions

After coming off one of the worst NCAA tournament losses in school history, Duke will be in position to make a run next season.

I see Duke finishing second in the ACC standings, although they will pass arch-rival North Carolina, which will certainly ease the pain of finishing one spot away from an ACC crown.

Once the team makes it to the NCAA tournament we will see them make a run to the Elite Eight.

Mike Krzyzewski is an excellent coach, and he will have his guys ready. Duke truly lacked an athletic player like Jefferson last year, and Sulaimon will easily replace Austin Rivers. These two will help Duke make a good run in the Big Dance next year.

Overall, it’s been a good day for Duke fans.

 

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Amile Jefferson: What Prized Recruit Will Bring to Table as Freshman

The jury is still out as to where Amile Jefferson will go to school, but not on what he has to offer whichever school he chooses. 

Jefferson is going to be an elite player right away. He will start no matter where he decides to go to school. Scout has him ranked as the 25th best recruit in the nation. 

He is a 6’7″, 190 pound power forward. He is a fluid and natural athlete. Here is a glimpse at the kind of game he will bring to college basketball next season. 

 

Offense

Jefferson is still working on his jump shot; it is inconsistent at best at the moment. When he is draining that shot, he is absolutely unstoppable. That would also allow him to play some minutes at small forward—where he would be a matchup nightmare.  

Either way, he is going to get his points. He has decent handles for someone his size and will be able to take defenders off the dribble. 

Still, it is in the post where he will do most of his damage. He has wonderful touch around the rim, and good footwork to get there.

He can also finish with both hands. Expect Jefferson to average 15-20 points a game next year. 

Jefferson is also a solid offensive rebounder, with good instincts for the ball. 

 

Defense

Jefferson is long and athletic. This makes him an excellent shot blocker. 

To go along with his athletic ability, he has great instincts. This makes him an excellent help defender, and he will help seal off the lane. 

Where he will struggle on defense is in the post against stronger power forwards. He needs to bulk up, as stronger opponents will be able to muscle him in the post. 

He will be able to make up for some of this with his athleticism, but could be a target for isolations against strong, talented big men. 

His lack of bulk will also hurt him on the defensive boards, but he should still be able to pull in between eight or nine rebounds a game. 

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Anthony Bennett: Prized Recruit Would Be Well-Served to Pick Oregon

Anthony Bennett, one of the few top-flight recruits yet to pick a school, will do himself a tremendous favor if he decides to take his talents to the Oregon Ducks.

Bennett is an athletic and strong 6’8″ power forward. He is explosive around the rim and has three-point range on his solid jumper. He has good instincts on the glass and will definitely make an instant impact on the college level. 

Bennett has narrowed his choices to UNLV and Oregon. UNLV has some advantages. He played high school ball last season for Findlay Prep, which is in Nevada, and the Rebels are definitely a program on the rise. 

While this would allow him to delight hometown fans, it is not in his overall best interest. 

 

NBA Prep

Bennett has the athleticism and game that will grab the attention of NBA scouts no matter where he goes to school. 

However, at Oregon, he will have a chance to go head-to-head with other elite freshman looking to be one-and-done players. 

UCLA has had a tremendous recruiting class that includes Shabazz Muhammad. Bennett has a similar body and athleticism to Muhammad. 

Playing at Oregon would give him a chance to go up against Muhammad twice next season, and winning that matchup would go a long way towards securing Bennett a lottery selection in the next year’s NBA draft. 

He also would have two matchups with Arizona and their two top-flight forward recruits Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett. Again, this would be a great chance for him to boost his draft stock. 

 

Bigger Spotlight

Playing in the Pac-12, Bennett will get much more TV time during the season. The conference has been down in recent seasons, but with the infusion of premier freshman talent, they are ready to climb back into the small pack of power conferences. 

There will be a surge of renewed interest in conference games, and the Pac-12 already has a nice TV contract. 

While Oregon has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2008, they were surging at the close of last season. This is a team on the rise. They also have already landed PG Dominic Artis—Scouts’ 62nd recruit in the nation. 

This would give Bennett an excellent ball handler to get him the ball and help him showcase his skills. 

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Kentucky Basketball: NCAA Reportedly Inquired About Prized Commit Nerlens Noel

The NCAA is snooping around one of John Calipari‘s recruits. Again.

According to the New York Times, two members of the NCAA’s enforcement team were in Massachusetts this week investigating potential eligibility issues regarding Nerlens Noel, the No. 1 college basketball recruit in the country and the gem of Kentucky’s incoming class.

Cindi Merrill and Frank Smith, the NCAA representatives involved, went to Everett High School in Boston, where Noel spent his first two years of high school and were hoping to meet with Leo Papile, Noel’s AAU coach with the Boston Amateur Basketball Club.

The report suggests that the investigators are interested in two particular individuals—Chris Driscoll and Errol Randolph.

Driscoll was at one point an assistant coach at Providence College and shared a close relationship with Noel. Driscoll was recently barred from the campus of the Tilton School in New Hampshire, where Noel has been for the last two years and from which he is currently working to graduate. Officials at the school were allegedly worried that Driscoll was attempting to take advantage of Noel.

Randolph has also been counted among Noel’s advisers. A former substitute teacher at Everett High, Randolph came into question when officials discovered a link on his LinkedIn page that led to the website of ASM Sports, a sports agency run by basketball agent Andy Miller. Randolph claims that he is not associated with Miller in any formal capacity, paid or otherwise.

The NCAA is also attempting to find out how Noel managed to pay for unofficial visits to Kentucky and Louisville last year that were not paid for by either university.

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Anthony Bennett: Prized Recruit Must Choose UNLV over Oregon

Anthony Bennett is one of the few top high school basketball recruits who has yet to decide where he is going to take his talents next year. There might be two schools left on his list, but there is only one that makes sense: UNLV. 

According to Adam Zagoria of zagsblogs.com, Bennett has eliminated Kentucky from his list and will decide between the aforementioned Runnin’ Rebels and Oregon.

Trying to predict what Bennett is going to do will make your head spin.

It was thought that the two schools with the best chance to land him were Kentucky and Florida. With them gone, it is clear that Bennett not only wants to play right away, but he wants to be The Man wherever he goes.

Given that neither UNLV or Oregon are loaded with superstar players, it wouldn’t be hard for Bennett to step on campus and be the best player on either team.

So the next question becomes: Does Bennett want to compete for a championship?

Given that every player in college basketball, even if they are one-and-done, wants the thrill and honor of playing in the NCAA tournament. It should be a high priority for Bennett when he makes his decision. 

If that does turn out to be a key factor, UNLV is going to be the obvious leader in the clubhouse. The Runnin’ Rebels were one of the most underrated teams in the country last year, boasting one of the most efficient offenses and a dominant, swarming defense. 

Things fell apart against Colorado in the second round of the NCAA tournament, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a program on the rise and second-year head coach Dave Rice did a great job of implementing his style on this team. 

Bennett’s strengths play right into what UNLV and Rice want to do.

He is a true power forward with strength and versatility. He has range on his shot and the aggressiveness to get to the rim. He is a dominant defender and makes use of his size to be a rebounding machine. 

Oregon is a solid program on the rise, but it is not close to competing for a championship. UNLV is on the cusp of being an elite team. It just needs an elite player to build around. 

Bennett is the perfect player for UNLV, and UNLV is the perfect team for Bennett. When the decision is made, Bennett should tell the world he is taking his talents to Las Vegas. 

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Amile Jefferson: Prized High School Recruit Would Be Perfect Fit for Duke

Amile Jefferson is dragging out his decision of where to play college basketball like LeBron James did when he tried to tell the world that he was taking his talents to South Beach.

But even with so much speculation going on about the prized high school recruit, there is one school that fits him perfectly: Duke. 

While the Blue Devils will feel a nice boost knowing that Mason Plumlee is returning to their backcourt next season, they need a lot of help to get back to an elite level. 

Plumlee is a nice player, but he is more of a complementary piece than a cornerstone. He doesn’t have a great shot, nor does he make the players around him better. He needs someone to be the focal point to succeed. 

Even as we await a decision by Jefferson, which isn’t likely to come anytime soon, it is quite obvious that the best destination for him is Duke. 

The other schools on Jefferson’s list—N.C. State, Kentucky, Ohio State—all have stars at Jefferson’s position who aren’t going to be taken out of the starting lineup. For a highly-touted player, being able to step in right away could play a key role in the decision. 

There might be some sentiment to keep Plumlee as the starter because he has been there for three years and has improved with experience, but the impact of a player like Jefferson would be too great for coach Mike Kryzyzewski to pass up. 

We know that Coach K has no problem handing over the keys to the car to a freshman—Austin Rivers, Kyrie Irving, et al.—he just has to find the right one capable of handling the responsibility. 

Jefferson needs to add more bulk and improve his ball-handling skills, but his aggressive, attacking style is going to be the biggest reason he succeeds in college. 

Duke is in need of a dynamic leader who can carry the team into the 2012 season. Jefferson has a tough decision to make and is taking his time in doing it, but the reward for playing with the Blue Devils should be too great for him to pass up.

 

 

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