- Antonio Williams, Basketball Recruiting
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This week saw ESPN 150 prospects dominate the recruiting headlines. With only four uncommitted prospects in the top 30, the recruiting battles between schools continue to gain momentum with the early signing period on the horizon. With more prospects opting to sign early as opposed to waiting for the spring and some major programs experiencing recruiting setbacks, the competition for the remaining undeclared quality recruits will intensify as teams scramble to prove their worth to these worthy recruits.
New York State of Mind
Indiana recruiting, especially in the New York area, could take a devastating hit with the recent resignation of assistant coach Rob Senderoff, who has strong alliances in the New York City area. Senderoff's resignation will heavily impact New York City prospects in relationship to their interest in the Hoosiers, including top-50 6-8 PF Kevin Jones (Mount Vernon, N.Y.).
Jones, while previously ranking Indiana high on his wish list due in large part to his relationship with Senderoff, stated that while he still has interest in the Hoosiers, he will now re-evaluate his recruitment and preferences for school.
Indiana, after mutually parting ways with 6-4 PG Bud Mackey (arrested on drug charges), received a verbal pledge from 6-1 PG Terrell Holloway (Cincinnati, Ohio). Though not the same talent as Mackey, Holloway will provide Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson with a solid point guard who will meticulously carry out Sampson's orders.
With Jones wavering on his interest in Indiana and cutting ties with Mackey, the Hoosiers will bounce back in a major way if they can beat out in-state rivals Purdue and Notre Dame, as well as North Carolina, for top-10 prospect 6-11 PF Tyler Zeller (Washington, Ind.).
Keeping Cameron from Going Crazy
Duke got their man finally after receiving a verbal commitment from top-20 prospect 6-4 combo guard Elliot Williams (Memphis, Tenn.). The Blue Devils, after receiving a commitment from ESPN 150 recruit Oleg Czyz (Reno, Nev.), lost out on their bid to lure their No. 1 target, Greg Monroe (Georgetown), to Duke.
However, Mike Krzyzewski rebounded in resounding fashion when he nabbed the talented Williams, beating out in-state programs Tennessee and Memphis for Williams' services. With the departure of DeMarcus Nelson in 2008, the Dukies will depend on Williams to provide another scoring option on the wing. Williams, combined with current Blue Devils Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and Gerald Henderson, give the Blue Devils plenty of firepower from the perimeter and scoring options. Securing a commit from Williams dispels the notion that Coach K lost his recruiting fastball.
Rolling out the Burnt Orange Carpet
The Texas Longhorns and coach Rick Barnes will host 6-5 SG Tyreke Evans (Aston, Pa.), the No. 2 prospect in the nation, for an upcoming visit. The supremely-talented Evans will provide the Longhorns with a much-needed wing scoring threat if he chooses to play for Texas.
Big XII Preseason Player of the Year point guard D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams man the backcourt for Barnes, but both have the size of a point guard. Evans would give Barnes an explosive scoring threat with good size to complement both Augustin and Abrams. Barnes faces stiff competition for Evans' services though, with Connecticut, Louisville, Memphis, Seton Hall and Villanova all working diligently to gain a commitment from him.
Storm clouds have gathered over the once clear skies of Baylor recruiting. After building a rather strong recruiting class, Baylor coach Scott Drew has suffered from recruits withdrawing verbal commitments.
First, 6-9 SF Ater Majok, who plays in Australia, withdrew his commitment from Baylor. Earlier this week, top-60 prospect 6-8 PF Storm Warren (Monroe, La.) dropped his verbal pledge to the Bears and decided to reopen his recruiting to open schools. Drew has assembled a group of talented guards and needed the interior depth to balance his roster. With a knack for recruiting outside of the box and gaining quality recruits, he will have to depend on his cunning skills to rebound from these potential losses.
'Noles on a Roll
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton, after landing a solid recruiting class for 2007, keeps luring talent to Tallahassee. 6-10 C Xavier Gibson (Dothan, Ala.) gave Hamilton a verbal commitment, becoming the second member of the ESPN 150 to give a pledge to the Seminoles, joining 6-4 PG Luke Loucks (Clearwater, Fla.).
Gibson and 2007 recruit Solomon Alabi will provide the 'Noles with an imposing shot-blocking duo patrolling the paint for years to come. Hamilton needs to continue to attract this type of quality talent to Florida State to move into the upper echelon of the ACC.
Also, talented prospects will notice the manner in which former Seminole and current Los Angeles Clipper Al Thornton developed under Hamilton's watchful eye, which will only help Florida State gain pledges from talented players in the future.
Chalk It Up
Kansas coach Bill Self quickly regrouped from the temporary setback of losing out on Greg Monroe by gaining a verbal pledge from ESPN 150 6-7 PF Quintrell Thomas (Newark, N.J.) last week.
This week, the Jayhawks struck again when they received commitments from the talented 6-9 PF Morris twins (Cherry Hill, N.J.) Though they did not get Monroe, gaining pledges from three interior players helps Kansas immensely. Self has also now established a pipeline on the East Coast with these three players all haling from that region of the country.
The Jayhawks will lose senior center Sasha Kaun and possibly both Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush to early NBA entry and will rely on Thomas as well as the Morris twins to fill the void left on the frontline. Self has a chance to nab a number of other undeclared ESPN 150 prospects to close out his 2008 recruiting class. After the early hiccups, the Jayhawks continue to build momentum, chalking up recruiting success along the way.
Harvard coach Tommy Amaker has notched another talented recruit, after getting word that 6-10 PF Andrew Van Nest (Northfield, Mass.) will join the Crimson. Van Nest shoots the ball extremely well for his height, with range that extends out to three-point territory. He will fit perfectly in pick-and-pop situations and runs the floor well.
A few weeks ago, ESPN 150 recruit 6-10 C Frank Ben-Eze (Arlington, Va.) committed to Harvard and, along with Van Nest, will provide the Crimson with a tantalizing young duo. Both players run the floor well and can step out on the perimeter to get offense. When they play together, they will mesh seamlessly and interchangeably running the high-low set on offense, while Ben-Eze will do the interior dirty work on defense, which will give Van Nest the ability to roam and rebound without sustaining much pounding. Amaker will have the Crimson surging in no time if keeps recruiting in this way.
Antonio Williams is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc.
Indiana could be losing its N.Y. ties, and Duke bounced back in a big way, writes Antonio Williams in his week in review.