Kentucky Basketball: Wildcat Recruiting Watchers Need Patience for 2015 Class

Every Kentucky basketball fan is very proudand justifiably soof the fact that their Wildcats will be suiting up a record-tying nine former McDonald’s All-Americans, as well as a 10th player who’s an expected NBA draft lottery pick.

At the same time, players are sailing off the class of 2015 recruiting board daily, and none of them are elite prospects committing to Kentucky. This can cause no small worry to the casual observer, although few will admit to it.

The intelligent fan, however, knows that these two developments are intimately related, and will smile at the angst they’re causing on other campuses. The knowledgeable recruiting watcher has patience. The rest of Big Blue Nation needs it.

 

Keeping Up With the Joneses?

Arch-rival Louisville was in the running for the mythical recruiting championship once Florida shooting guard Antonio Blakeney committed to become a Cardinal. Mere weeks later, Blakeney threw his recruitment open again under murky circumstances, but the Cards still have a very solid crew coming in and a scholarship to give.

Along with Louisville, UK’s SEC rivals Auburn and Florida stand among the current top 10 on 247 Sports’ team rankings, with Tigers fans especially excited about new coach Bruce Pearl’s early recruiting roll.

Meanwhile, Wildcat coach John Calipari started September as a road warrior, taking visits to several of the truly big fish in next season’s pond.

See, therein lies the rub. When we examine 247′s player rankings, 28 of the top 50 and 67 of the top 100 have already made verbal commitments. Of the top 18, however, 13 are still undecided. Of those 13, how many have trimmed their list and left UK out of the mix?

OneMilwaukee big man Diamond Stone.

That leaves 12 of the nation’s top high school players simply playing the waiting game. And a waiting game is all it is.

 

No Room at the Inn?

With Kentucky’s absurd array of talent, particularly in the frontcourt, no one knows who’s leaving for a professional career seven months from now. Of those 12 elite players still considering UK, seven are forwards or centers.

A couple of weeks ago, I surveyed UK’s top recruiting targets and how confident the BBN should be about landing each.

Of the bunch, only one has expressly indicated any sort of timetable for a decision, that being Kinston, N.C., wing Brandon Ingram. SNY.tv contributor Joseph Duruaku reported that Ingram plans to announce his choice this fall. Of course, the best-laid plans of mice, men and elite teenage basketball players…

Once considered a mortal lock for North Carolina in the 247 Sports Crystal Ball, the analysts now favor Duke above UNC for Ingram’s signature, and no other school is even in the picture.

This leaves top prospects like Cheick Diallo, Ivan Rabb, Jaylen Brown, Carlton Bragg or Stephen Zimmerman gauging who’ll have a spot. Kentucky could have anywhere from six frontcourt openingshey, don’t scoff, it could happento none.

The latter scenario would be doomsday for those who’ve become addicted to bright, shiny new prospects arriving every season. And truthfully, the Chicken Littles may have a point there. If, after all of the hype, all of the big Cats play poorly enough to fall out of the NBA draft’s first round, something has gone drastically wrong.

No matter how UK’s season unfolds, give the 2015 recruits credit. Assuming that a particular number of Wildcats won’t be back next season can easily backfire. If no one leftfrontcourt or backthere wouldn’t even be room for the lone current Cat commit, Chicago guard Charles Matthews.

We’re 99.9 percent sure someone’s playing himself into the NBA lottery, so the doomsday scenario isn’t really even worth entertaining.

Sorry I brought it up.

Still, these new prospects are smart enough to cover themselves against even the most unlikely occurrences.

So when national signing day (Nov. 12, in case it’s not already circled in bright blue ink on your calendar) comes and goes and all remains quiet on the Kentucky front, don’t panic.

Just wait. Something big is still very likely to go down, even if it doesn’t happen until late April.

 

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Michigan State Basketball: Matt McQuaid Keeps MSU’s Recruiting Hot Streak Going

If even momentarily, Matt McQuaid’s commitment to Michigan State’s 2015 class should quiet those doubting coach Tom Izzo’s finesse on the recruiting trail.

While his recent hunts haven’t always been successful, Izzo has found ways to bounce back from missing out on past must-gets by adding McQuaid, a 4-star shooting guard, to a sneaky-good class of Deyonta Davis, a 5-star center, and Kyle Ahrens, an underrated 3-star winger.

According to 247Sports, McQuaid—a 6’4”, 175-pound walking three-pointer—is the No. 67-ranked prospect and No. 19-ranked SG of the next class. Not bad. That’s solid recognition. However, those rankings don’t seem to do him justice. He’s arguably the finest marksman that 2015 has to offer and perhaps one of the biggest “upside” recruits Izzo’s landed in years.

So the recent recruiting spree didn’t yield the likes of Adreian Payne (2010), Branden Dawson (2011) and Gary Harris (2012), who are three of MSU’s most recent high-profilers.

But a group with McQuaid, Davis and Ahrens for 2015 definitely tips the scales like a heavyweight and pushes aside the idea of Izzo completely losing touch with today’s elite recruits. 

 

An All-Around Fit

Rob McQuaid, Matt’s father and AAU/high school coach, recently spoke to Paul Konyndyk of Spartan Mag (subscription required) about his son’s choice, which came down to Michigan State and Creighton. At the end of the day, Rob felt comfortable with Matt pledging to Izzo or Blue Jays coach Greg McDermott, a pair of renowned developers of character and athleticism. 

“You couldn’t ask for better men to have your son play for, not just basketball, but off the floor too,” said Rob McQuaid, who later revealed that East Lansing’s big-time college environment was a factor in his son’s decision. 

Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Gonzaga and, among others, SMU were in line to gain McQuaid, who expressed the desire to branch out from Texas and its surrounding areas. He also has family ties to Michigan. His father is from Midland, and Matt has grandparents in the state, per Konyndyk

So, Izzo gets a kid whose family is in part rooted in the Great Lakes. That’s a win. And he gets a shooter to complement Ahrens and one to make up for the loss of Harris, who jumped to the NBA after his sophomore year. 

There’s another win. 

 

Nice 2015 for the Spartans

With the addition of McQuaid, Michigan State now has the No. 8-ranked class of 2015, per 247Sports. 

What’s not to like about a versatile and agile big man who can play like a forward and see the floor like a guard? Davis knows his way around a court. He has a perimeter shot but is incredibly effective near the basket.

And above it.

He may not be the next Payne. He may end up being better. The 6’8″, 205-pounder out of Muskegon brings a skill set that few his size possess. He appears a few steps ahead of where Payne was at the same period of his career—and Payne’s one of the greatest to play in East Lansing. Davis has the tools be that too. 

At nearly 6’6″ and 200 pounds, Ahrens hails from an area of underrated recruits: Ohio, particularly central Ohio, is pumping out slept-on talent by the minute. Ask Michigan coach John Beilein and Wolverines star Caris LeVert. And next year, ask 2014 Spartans commit Javon Bess; he’s one of them and could offer valuable insight on the topic. 

Other than the ability to shoot from miles away, Ahrens doesn’t have a ton of earth-shattering attributes that put him heads and shoulders above the rest. But he has the “moldable” (not a real word) quality. Give Izzo two years with this one. He may end up as one of the coach’s better inside-outside threats. The potential is certainly there. 

McQuaid is the one who’ll make you think. It’s clear what Davis and Ahrens can do, and what they’ll probably be. But McQuaid is different. He’s not just a long-range shooter. He’ll be one for Izzo, but something about his footage suggests that he could be a real-deal collegiate superstar. 

Want a comparison? Think back to Nik Stauskas, who entered Michigan as a “shooter” but developed into a first-round draft pick in two years. 

Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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Michigan State Basketball Recruiting: Breaking Down Spartans’ 2016 Wish List

Tom Izzo is still working on his 2015 class. But it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at the guys he could have lined up for 2016. 

The veteran Michigan State coach doesn’t have anyone attached to his next, next class, but that’ll probably change soon, as he’s already played host to a few prospects during unofficial visits. 

According to Verbal Commits, the Spartans have five open scholarships for 2016. Izzo has made seven offers, the site says. This slideshow will cover a green-and-white “wish list,” with players appearing based on factors such as fit and interest. 

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Georgia Tech Uses LeBron James Coming Home as a Recruiting Pitch

We’ve seen college athletics programs recruit players in some unorthodox ways recently, but one basketball program is attempting to use a national NBA storyline to tug on the heartstrings of potential recruits. 

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via College Spun), Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory’s pitch to 247Sports‘ No. 2 prospect for 2015, Jaylen Brown, invoked LeBron James’ return to his home state of Ohio to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Brown’s AAU coach, Desmond Eastmond, told the AJC the following:

Coach Gregory expressed to him the importance of staying home, and he talked about how it affected LeBron. 

(Gregory) reminded Jaylen that when LeBron decided to come back to Cleveland, one of the first things he said is that he never should’ve left because the importance of him staying within the community that raised him. He mentioned how LeBron talked about how the support system raised him and meant so much to him.

Brown currently has offers from Kentucky, UCLA, Arizona and Kansas, among others, according to 247Sports.com.

[Atlanta Journal-Constitution, h/t College Spun]

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Michigan Basketball Recruiting: Breaking Down Wolverines’ 2016 Wish List

Michigan coach John Beilein is always on the prowl for talent.

At the moment, he has Jon Teske, a 6’11”, 210-pound center, in his back pocket for 2016. According to Verbal Commits, the Wolverines coach has nine open offers and two slots to fill for his next class.

With that said, Beilein’s almost guaranteed to get his pick of the litter. What’s not to like about the 9-2 ratio?

Now onto the disclaimer: This slideshow will highlight five of the Wolverines’ top targets—or “wish-listers”—based on team need, player fit, overall skill and the almighty popularity factor. 

Almost every coach wants the big-time, headlining 5-star kid. Whether or not said player’s “right” for the team is often overshadowed by “Who cares?! He’s a freak athlete! He’s the next…”

One of those guys will be on this list.

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Adrian Wojnarowski accuses Coach K of needing Team USA as a recruiting tool for Duke

One of the NBA’s most respected reporters writes a scathing criticism of Coach K.

      
 

 

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Michigan Basketball: 3 Burning Questions About Wolverines’ 2015 Recruiting Plans

As the Michigan basketball program enters the 2014-15 season, recruiting may be the farthest thing from the mind of head coach John Beilein. You see, Beilein and company technically have no scholarships to give out this year, per VerbalCommits.com.

Obviously things can change, as they did last year for the Wolverines when they lost Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary early to the NBA. Also, a player or two could transfer, or any other number of situations can unfold to add more players.

So, let’s address three burning questions about the Wolverines’ 2015 recruiting plans.

 

Will transfer Duncan Robinson be the only newcomer to the 2015 class?

In August, the Wolverines roped in Duncan Robinson (which the school just officially announced), a highly touted transfer from Williams College from the Division III level.

Of course, as per NCAA laws, Robinson will have to sit out this year, but he will have three years of eligibility remaining starting in 2015. Noted as a dead-eye shooter, he figures to be a perfect fit in Beilein’s offense. Hopefully his skills can translate to the Big Ten. He did average 17 points and seven rebounds per game last year, and he looks like he’ll be be a major role player going forward.

However, as mentioned before, technically the Wolverines have no open scholarships, and Robinson could conceivably be their only addition, despite the Wolverines’ interest in 2015 recruits such as Eric Davis, Trevor Manuel and Perry Dozier.

One thing that may happen is for Michigan to add no players in the fall signing period. Which leads us to the next point.

 

Who may be available later in the spring in case a scholarship opens?

That is a very fluid question, considering all of the variables involved.

Beilein’s best hope is that some of his 2015 targets postpone their college decisions ’til the spring. Dozier is scheduled to make a visit on September 26, and perhaps Beilein can squeeze him in, or maybe convince him to wait it out, which is unlikely. 

The thing is, the Wolverines have two potential NBA talents in Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin. And just like Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Stauskas and Robinson III before them, LeVert and Irvin could be tempted to leave early too. It’s too early to speculate on this, but Beilein has to have a contingency plan just in case.

There is really no telling who will hold off on their commitments this fall. No doubt Beilein and crew are hoping some of the guys they like hold off ’til the spring when he’ll know for sure what LeVert and Irvin plan to do.

 

How will 2015 recruiting class affect 2016 class?

Also of significance in regards to the class of 2015 is how it relates to the 2016 class.

Obviously, the more 2015 recruits Michigan locks up, the fewer scholarships they can offer to the 2016 class. And by all accounts, the 2016 class is where the Wolverines may strike gold, as they are tied to many top-notch recruits.

Beilein already has a commitment from Jon Teske, a 6’11″ center from Medina, Ohio, who is considered a fringe top-100 recruit (he’s ranked as the No. 105 recruit according to 247Sports). After that, Michigan has approximately two open spots left.

Expect Beilein to go hard after a couple of top-10 point guard prospects in Cassius Winston and Derryck Thornton Jr., with both liking Michigan a lot. With Derrick Walton Jr. expected to be a senior by the time either of these guys would enroll, Beilein will want some depth at point guard. And both Winston and Thornton Jr. are considered can’t-miss prospects.

After that, Michigan may look for the best available players, and they have extended offers to plenty of high-end prospects in V.J. King, Josh Langford and T.J. Leaf (all top-25 recruits according to 247Sports).

With the wealth of talent legitimately considering Michigan in the 2016 class, Beilein may bank all possible scholarships he may have for 2015 and pursue the 2016 class more aggressively.

Nevertheless, the way Beilein approaches the 2015 class will impact how the 2016 class shapes up.

 

Follow me on Twitter @Stacdemon

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Geno Auriemma Accused of Recruiting Violation After Calling Mo’ne Davis

This week in “Narc News,” a recruiting violation complaint has been filed against University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma citing a recent phone call he made to Taney Dragons pitcher Mo’ne Davis.

Hartford Courant reporter John Altavilla (h/t The Big Lead’s Mike Cardillo) brings news of the complaint, which was filed with the American Athletic Conference. 

The complaint alleges that the Huskies coach broke recruiting rules by calling Davis to congratulate her on an impressive performance at the 2014 Little League World Series.

Auriemma told Altavilla that the phone call occurred after representatives of the Philadelphia 76ers reached out and suggested he congratulate the eighth-grader “because she loves basketball.” The Huskies coach said the call lasted all of two minutes.

“The conversation lasted like two minutes and we hung up,” Auriemma told Altavilla. “And then I was told a school turned us in for a recruiting violation because we are not allowed contact of July 1 before her junior year of high school. … That’s the world that we live in.”

Auriemma added that he spoke with the Little League World Series communications office prior to contacting Davis and received permission to relay his message.

To recap: A college basketball coach was narc’d on for calling an eighth-grade baseball player and telling her good job throwing those baseballs.

The school pointing the finger at Auriemma remains unknown, as conference rules allow institutions filing complaints to remain anonymous. 

Clearly, whichever program is taking issue with this correspondence believes Auriemma is trying to snake a recruit from the crib. And why should it not? All the hallmarks of tampering are there. 

Davis, a lifelong Huskies fan with aspirations to play professional women’s basketball, was seen wearing a UConn hoodie during the Little League World Series. She even had the audacity to flaunt her inside connections to the program when meeting Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday. 

Or Davis is a kid who loves a successful basketball program and owns some of its merchandise—you know, like a fan or something.

Auriemma says he hasn’t even seen Davis play basketball.

“Under normal circumstances, I would probably not know anything about her until she was in ninth grade,” Auriemma told Altavilla. “I have no idea if the kid is very good, kind of good, not good at all or a superstar or can even reach the basket. How is that a violation?”

UConn maintains that the correspondence between Auriemma and Davis was not a violation, as NCAA rules dictate that young athletes don’t become prospective student athletes until ninth grade.

In any case, we now live in a society where you can be punished for telling kids “good job” or giving homeless teenagers food. Good times!

 

Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture news.

 

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2 coaches’ sons to play for dads as part of OSU recruiting jackpot

Keeping families together will make for one incredible 2015 recruiting class for the Beavers.

      
 

 

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Kentucky Basketball: 3 Burning Questions About Wildcats’ 2015 Recruiting Plans

Kentucky basketball has been the cream of the crop when it comes to recruiting over the last five years. Since head coach John Calipari took over the program, the Wildcats tend to finish top in the country in recruiting rankings and often draw some of the biggest names coming out of high school.

Despite the last two seasons being vastly different from what Calipari and Kentucky are used to, the recruiting effort has stayed the course. Two years ago, the Wildcats failed to make the NCAA tournament and lost in the first round of the NIT to Robert Morris. However, that didn’t stop Kentucky from getting arguably the best recruiting class under Calipari. 

Last year, Kentucky struggled in the regular season but made a run to the national title game. Despite making the deep run and having a talented roster, only two players decided to leave early, with six players who were in the rotation deciding to return for another year. Again, another top-five recruiting class will be joining them in Lexington.

This slideshow will take a look at the burning questions that Big Blue Nation will have when it comes to Kentucky’s 2015 recruiting plans. 

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