Posted on: February 16, 2012 2:28 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 3:19 pm

No. 1 senior Nerlens Noel discusses recruitment

By Jeff Borzello

Nerlens Noel's recruitment has heated up since he reclassified to 2012. (MassLive.com)

Since Nerlens Noel announced a few weeks ago that he was reclassifying to the class of 2012, he’s been the most talked-about recruit in the country.

Noel, a 6-foot-10 Massachusetts native who plays at Tilton (N.H.), immediately moved to the No. 1 ranking in the nation. Moreover, the schools pursuing him have really turned up the heat.

“Recruiting has gone crazy all of a sudden,” Noel told Jeff Goodman on SiriusXM’s Inside College Basketball on Thursday afternoon. “I just need to plan out some visits to get out to all these schools. Keep talking to coaches, build better relationships with them.”

Noel is currently considering Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina, Florida, Georgetown and Connecticut. He later tweeted that Providence was also on his list, but did not mention them during the interview with Goodman.

He visited Syracuse this past weekend for the Orange’s win over Connecticut, and he will trip to Kentucky this coming weekend.

“I’m talking to a few more coaches to get down to their campuses during vacation,” Noel said.

Noel is the best shot-blocker in the country, and would immediately be the best in the college game too. He has tremendous dexterity defensively, able to cover a lot of ground and alter shots with either hand. Noel’s offensive is constantly getting better, and he is developing post moves and is taking defenders off the dribble as well.

He would dominate defensively wherever he ends up.

“Just a good program where I can go and play and be comfortable with the coaching staff, the whole program,” Noel said. “I know I can develop as long as I’m there, as a player and a person.”

Noel maintains that he is wide open among the six schools he mentioned, and he is still a long way from making a decision.

“I don’t really have a timeframe,” Noel said on the show. “I just want to make sure I get in all my visits to these schools. However long that takes.”

Posted on: January 17, 2012 11:06 am

Steven Adams will not be savior for Pitt

By Jeff Borzello

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Of all the top players at the Hoophall Classic over the weekend, the one player everyone wanted to see was Pittsburgh signee Steven Adams.

A 7-footer from New Zealand, Adams had only played basketball on U.S. soil a couple of times – and the reviews were outstanding. Many had him pegged as a top-five player in the class of 2012 and a future lottery pick.

On Sunday night, Adams went against New Hampton Prep and was, well, underwhelming. He only played five minutes in the first half after getting hit in the head, and finished with five points, four rebounds and three blocks in 21 minutes.

“It was a bad setting,” said DraftExpress.com’s Jonathan Givony, who had seen Adams prior to the weekend. “He got off the plane about a week ago, he’s out of shape and he hasn’t really played in six months.”

Adams has dominated at Adidas Nations the past two years and also put up 23 points and 14 rebounds against Nerlens Noel, the No. 2 prospect in 2013, on Saturday. Those sorts of performances only heightened the hype for his arrival at Blake Arena.

“It was nothing I was used to,” Adams told reporters of the crowd and environment. “It was pretty scary.”

“He was very, very nervous,” Givony said. “He’s never played in an atmosphere like this, never played in an organized setting. The best competition he could find was going against 5-foot-11 guys in New Zealand.”

Adams did show flashes of his potential, though. He is very good on the defensive end, with a nose for the ball. Adams was active on the offensive glass, getting two baskets off of putbacks. He moves well and demonstrated some athleticism – although he also seemed stiff on other plays. Moreover, he didn’t seem like he had a ton of post moves in his repertoire, leading Givony to say that Adams needs guards around him who can create shots and open looks around the rim for him.

This is the last thing Pittsburgh fans want to hear, especially after a seven-game losing streak and an 0-6 start in Big East play, but Adams will not be a savior next season.

“People need to temper their expectations of him,” Givony said. “He’ll be a 15-20-minute per game type of player. People expect him to come in and be a Jared Sullinger or an Anthony Davis. That’s not him.”

While Adams still might end up as a top-five pick due to his ceiling, it might be a couple of years before we see that on a consistent basis.

Photo: Adidas

Posted on: November 29, 2011 8:38 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 8:39 pm

No. 12 prospect Britt picks the Heels

By Jeff Borzello

North Carolina is set at the point guard position for the next few years.

Kendall Marshall is running the show this season, four-star floor general Marcus Paige is set to arrive in Chapel Hill next year and now the Tar Heels have picked up one of the best lead guards in the class of 2013.

Nate Britt Jr., ranked No. 12 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100, announced for Roy Williams and North Carolina on Tuesday night.

The Tar Heels were the favorites for Britt, although Maryland, Arizona, Georgetown and Villanova were also involved down the stretch.

Britt, a 6-foot lefty from Gonzaga (D.C.), established himself as one of the better point guards in the junior class with a high-level performance at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June. He’s not explosive, but he’s crafty and knows how to control tempo. He also knocks down shots from the arc and is very effective with his mid-range game and floaters.

It remains to be seen who will be on the Tar Heels' roster in two years, but Britt will fit in perfectly with the myriad weapons he should have at his disposal. His ability to push the ball and make plays in transition should work well with Williams' up-tempo offense.

He joins fellow five-star prospect Isaiah Hicks in North Carolina’s 2013 class.

Photo: Adidas

Posted on: November 19, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 12:55 pm

Garrett on track to enroll soon at St. John's

By Jeff Borzello

NEW HAVEN, CONN. – A lack of depth has hindered St. John’s in its first few games, but help could soon be on the way in the form of Amir Garrett.

Garrett, who originally committed to the Red Storm as part of their monster 2011 recruiting class, is still on track to enroll at St. John’s at the semester break. He is currently at Bridgton Academy, a prep school in Maine. 

"If you ask me, I'd say yes," head coach Whit Lesure said. "He's on track and there's no question about that."

"I just need to finish out this semester and submit my classes," Garrett added. "I should be good."

Garrett was one of three St. John’s signees ruled ineligible by the NCAA prior to the season, along with Norvel Pelle and Jakarr Sampson. Pelle and Sampson have both decommitted from the Red Storm, but Garrett is still solid in his pledge.

"I'm very anxious to get out there," he said. "Me and [St. John's signee] Darrick [Wood] pretend we're St. John's in practice." 

He should fit in well with St. John’s, giving Steve Lavin another perimeter playmaker to provide depth. The Red Storm have used seven players almost exclusively, with each of them averaging between 19.8 and 33.6 minutes per game.

Garrett, a 6-foot-6 lefty swingman, is a tremendous athlete who excels in transition and can play multiple positions on the perimeter. He is aggressive going to the rim and has the ability to find players off penetration.

"He's ultra-competitive," Lesure said. "He's a high-energy guy, and he's going to help with the way they use the full-court, spacing people out. You need people to put the ball in the basket."

Garrett said he won't redshirt when he arrives in Jamaica; he plans to play.

"I can't wait to get out there." 

Photo: SI

Posted on: November 9, 2011 4:39 pm

What's going on in Lawrence, Kansas???

By Jeff Goodman

There's no logical explanation.

Bill Self is regarded as one of the elite recruiters in the country and Kansas is obviously a program that is soaked in tradition.

Self is as likable as just about any coach in the nation and is a fixture on the recruiting trail - whether it's during the season or in the July recruiting period.

Kansas has just about everything to offer a kid - exposure, Phog Allen Fieldhouse and all the bells and whistles that many top-tier recruits yearn for nowadays.

So, why are the Jayhawks struggling mightily to land big-time players?

There is clearly playing time available in Lawrence these days, yet Self and his staff haven't been able to secure any of the big boys.

Sure, they got Perry Ellis.

But he's no program changer - and he's a local kid that may have gone there no matter who was in charge.

Oh yeah, they also got an unranked power forward named Zach Peters.

Kansas is hardly intimidating on paper this season and next year it could be even worse. Tyshawn Taylor will be gone - and Thomas Robinson could well explore the NBA route if has the season many (including me) expect.

The Jayhawks recently swung and missed on 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski, their top target in the Class of 2012. Assistant coach Joe Dooley put in more work with the New Hampshire native than anyone else - but they lost out to Arizona.

More on recruiting
They've also struggled to secure a big-time guard - which is a necessity with the departure of Taylor. Marcus Smart went with Oklahoma State in a package deal with Phil Forte and J-Mychal Reese also paired up, with his father to Texas A&M. Kansas missed on Danuel House, who is headed to Houston, and Ioannis Papapetrou went with Texas over the Jayhawks.

There's still the top-ranked player in the Class of 2012, Shabazz Muhammad, but I'm not sure anyone - even Self - thinks Kansas has any chance over UCLA and Kentucky.

Maybe it's time to re-evaluate Self as one of the elite-level recruiters in the nation.

Or maybe this is just one of those years where all the stars aligned in a way that went against the Jayhawks.

Whatever the case, it's baffling. There's no clear explanation for what's gone on in Lawrence lately, but that wealth and excess of talent that was found at Kansas a couple of years ago?

Those days are gone. At least for now.

Instead, it can be found in other places - like Lexington, Tucson and Chapel Hill.

Photo: Getty Images 
Posted on: November 9, 2011 1:30 pm

Signing Day Senior Superlatives

By Jeff Borzello and Jeff Goodman

The class of 2012 has been an interesting group of players over the last couple of years. Many of the questions people had about the class – Who’s No. 1? Best point guard? How will Andre Drummond shake out? – have been answered. It’s also had plenty of movers and shakers in the rankings, with Mitch McGary becoming a top-five recruit and people like Danuel House, Adam Woodbury and Kris Dunn going from mid-major to top 40.

With so many different personalities and story lines in the class of 2012, we decided to break it down into 15 categories:

Most important commitment:

Goodman: Kyle Anderson to UCLA - Ben Howland and the Bruins were struggling on the recruiting trail and needed a big-time player - especially in the backcourt. Anderson, despite being 6-foot-8, is the best pure passer in the class and just knows how to win and make his teammates better. If Howland can find a way to keep Reeves Nelson and Josh Smith for another year, UCLA could get back to the Final Four with the help of Anderson.

Borzello: Mitch McGary to Michigan – John Beilein has never been known to get five-star prospects, and McGary was being pursued by the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Maryland and many others. He was one of the best players in the country on the AAU circuit in the spring and summer, and will make an immediate impact in Ann Arbor. When Beilein gets supremely talented players to run his system, it’s bad news for everyone else.

Best mid-major recruit:

Goodman: Danuel House to Houston. There's a reason why many have House ranked in the Top 50 - and some even in the Top 20. He's a gifted (especially athletically) wing with size who does a terrific job attacking the basket. If he gets a perimeter shot, he'll be a pro.

Borzello: Danuel House to Houston. House shot up the charts in the late spring AAU period, going from two offers to 35 offers in a two-week span. He’s extremely athletic and is a menace in transition. House is also improving his perimeter game and is tough to stop going to the rim.

Best shooter:

Goodman: Kellen Dunham - It's no shock that I'm going with a kid headed to Butler as my top shooter. Dunham has the size, at 6-5, and can really stroke it from, well, just about anywhere. Just imagine he and Rotnei Clarke on the floor together next year.

Borzello: Fred Thomas – When he gets going, there’s not a more fun shooter to watch in the country. Thomas has the swagger of a stone-cold shooter, capable of knocking down several shots in a row and getting his team on a run. He has great size and deep range.

Best passer:

Goodman: Kyle Anderson - There's no one better in this class - and I haven't seen anyone his size pass it like this in a while.

Borzello: Kyle Anderson – It’s a weak class of point guards, but Anderson would win either way. His size and vision put him head and shoulders above the rest.

Biggest risk:

Goodman: Ricky Ledo - He's got the natural ability, but new Providence coach Ed Cooley is rolling the dice with the Rhode Island native. Teammates don't exactly love to play with him - and he hardly won at all this past summer. He's also bounced around to four different schools. If all that's not a risk, I'm not sure what is.

Borzello: Nino Jackson – Jackson became a household name on the AAU circuit two years ago, when he used his explosiveness to become one of the top guards in the country. However, he didn’t play AAU, he’s nearly impossible to track down and no one has heard from him in months. Might not qualify.

Most underrated:

Goodman: Nik Stauskas - The 6-foot-6 Canadian has been overshadowed by Alex Murphy and Kaleb Tarczewski at St. Mark's, but he's the ideal John Beilein recruit. Obviously, Michigan getting Mitch McGary was huge - but Stauskas passes and shoots the you-know-what out of the ball.

Borzello: Semaj Christon – Chris Mack got an absolute steal with this one. He’s not often mentioned among the top point guards in the country, but there might not be anyone better at getting to the rim than Christon. He will shine this year at Brewster Academy (N.H.) under Jason Smith.

Most overrated:

Goodman: Isaiah Austin - He looks the part, so long and athletic. The 7-footer, who is headed to Baylor and ranked in the Top 5 by just about everyone, just never gets anything done when I've seen him. I don't ever see his production matching his potential.

Borzello: Rodney Purvis – I think Purvis has great scoring ability, but the North Carolina commit tries too hard to be a point guard. He struggles with his left hand and doesn’t initiate offense for others too effectively. Moreover, his personality takes a turn for the worse when he isn’t getting his on the offensive end.

Biggest sleeper: (guy outside of Top 100)

Goodman: Olivier Hanlon - The Canadian was a huge pickup for Boston College. He's a pure point guard who knows how to play and makes his teammates better.

Borzello: Fred Van Vleet – Wichita State did a great job of getting him before the summer period – he was one of the best point guards on the AAU circuit in July.

Best defender:

Goodman: Chris Obekpa - The uncommitted power forward from Our Savior plays hard, runs the court well and gets after it on the glass - and is also a big-time shot-blocker.

Borzello: Marcus Smart – The Oklahoma State commit simply plays harder than nearly everyone else. He can guard four positions on the floor, and physicality and nonstop motor make him a pest.

Most explosive scorer:

Goodman: Shabazz Muhammad - He's the top-ranked player in the country for a reason. He's got an NBA-ready body and can score the ball in a variety of ways. He shoots it from deep, is athletic enough to get into the lane and strong enough to finish around and above the rim.

Borzello: Shabazz Muhammad – Didn’t want to pick the same as Goodman, but it’s impossible to go against Muhammad. The lefty is impossible to stop going to the basket, and his mid-range game is deadly. He’s not afraid to go against bigger players and finish in traffic either.

Best rebounder:

Goodman: Mitch McGary - Think Tyler Hansbrough. McGary, who is headed to Michigan, is relentless. He's also strong and is a monster on the glass.

Borzello: Ricardo Gathers – He might not be as tall as some of the other big-time rebounders, but he’s as strong as they come and has an unparalleled nose for the ball.

Best first recruit: (new coach signee)

Goodman: It would be easy to go with Kris Dunn, who is arguably the top point guard in the country and is headed to Providence. But I'm going with a somewhat-under-the-radar guy with Katin Reinhardt heading to play for Dave Rice at UNLV. Reinhardt has the size and athleticism - and can shoot it, get to the basket and finish.

Borzello: I know I wrote that Rodney Purvis was overrated earlier, but he was still a monster commitment for Mark Gottfried. He’s an in-state kid who had previously committed to Louisville and had interest or offers from Duke, Connecticut, Memphis, Missouri, Ohio State and others. He’s a big-time scorer who can be a go-to-guy.

Best frontcourt:

Goodman: C'mon, this one is just too easy. The only answer for this one can be Arizona - as Sean Miller has somehow managed to land the trio of Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett - and all three could wind up playing in the McDonald's All-American Game.

Borzello: It’s just dumb not to pick Arizona and its trio of five-star frontcourt players. Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski are top-five prospects, and Grant Jerrett is another potential Burger Boy. Sean Miller did a great job getting all three to come to Tucson.

Best backcourt:

Goodman: There's honestly no one that truly stands out, so I'm going to go with N.C. State - even though I think all three of their guys maybe a tad overrated. The bottom line is that Mark Gottfried and his staff have added a trio of Top 100 players: Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis. Honestly, I think I like Lewis more than the other two. He doesn't look the part, but he knows how to play and brings a toughness to the table. Purvis can really score it and Warren can really shoot it. 

Borzello: Only one team has two five-star guards in the fold, and that’s Providence. Ed Cooley picked up the nation’s best point guard in Connecticut native Kris Dunn, and also received a commitment from Ricardo Ledo, who can be the best scoring guard in the country when focused. They can be the backcourt of the future for the Friars, who also nabbed Josh Fortune – a knockdown shooter who will certainly be useful for Cooley during his career at Providence.

Guy I love to watch:

Goodman: Sam Dekker - He's athletic and skilled - and will be a star for Bo Ryan at Wisconsin. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind.

Borzello: Yogi Ferrell – His ability to handle the ball and get into the lane against defenses is impressive. Ferrell will run the show for Tom Crean from the get-go.

Photos: Nike, MaxPreps

Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: November 9, 2011 10:54 am

Survey: Peers pick top recruiter, overrated, etc.

By Jeff Goodman

With the first day of the early signing period here, it's easy to put all your focus on the kids who are inking their names on Letters of Intents today.

But here at CBSSports.com, we take a different look as well - one that had more than 100 high-major Division 1 coaches respond to the following seven questions about their peers and recruiting.

Regardless of affiliation, if you had to pick one head coach to get a prospect, who would it be?

1. John Calipari, Kentucky
2. Sean Miller, Arizona
3. Roy Williams, North Carolina
4. Rick Barnes, Texas
5. Billy Donovan, Florida

Regardless of affiliation, if you had to pick one assistant coach to get a prospect, who would it be?

1. Russell Springmann, Texas
2. Jerrence Howard, Illinois
3. Butch Pierre, Oklahoma State
4. Dalonte Hill, Kansas State
5. Tommy Lloyd, Gonzaga

Who is the most overrated head coach recruiting-wise?

1. Ben Howland, UCLA
2. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State
3. Mark Gottfried, N.C. State
4. Bill Self, Kansas
5. Shaka Smart, VCU

Who is the most underrated head coach recruiting-wise?

1. Lorenzo Romar, Washington
2. Thad Matta, Ohio State
3. Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh
4. Leonard Hamilton, Florida State
5. Sean Miller, Arizona

Who’s the most relentless recruiter in college basketball?

1. Josh Pastner, Memphis
2. Buzz Williams, Marquette
3. Sean Miller, Arizona
4. Kevin O'Neill, USC
5. Scott Drew, Baylor

Which mid-major assistant will make it big-time due to his recruiting ability?

1. Yanni Hufnagel, Harvard
2. Ulric Maligi, Houston
3. Luke Murray, Towson
4. Matt McMahon, Murray State
5. Ashley Howard, Drexel

You can have anyone from the Class of 2012. Who are you taking?

1. Shabazz Muhammad
2. Marcus Smart
3. Mitch McGary
4. Kyle Anderson
5. Gary Harris


Posted on: November 4, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 3:42 pm

Basketball recruiting only getting creepier

By Matt Norlander

I view the recruitment and evaluation of 12-year-old boy basketball players the same way I do giving candy to a high school senior on Halloween. It's wrong, unethical and the parents are surely to blame for it coming to this.

And I have to add the obvious: Organizing national talent-evaluation events/games/trophies for middle schoolers is bleeping creepy. You know it is. You know it is. Sometime in the past decade, that line has been scrubbed away by coaches desperate to keep their jobs, parents desperate to get rich off their children, and middle men disguised as community leaders, working toward an endgame that involves a relationship well after these kids (KIDS) leave college.

Deadspin.com's Emma Carmichael recently attended one of these weekend supercamp events, wherein she saw some of the nation's supposedly best future prospects in hoops. Within the walls of Baruch College's gym, a healthy and naive cluster tweens and teens, who've already been contacted in some way by major programs, played their still-growing hearts out. One player, KeJuan Johnson, perceived by some as the No. 1 prospect in the 2015 class, has already been asked to verbally commit to Kentucky.

That kid can't even verbally commit to brushing his teeth tonight.

But Johnson's already in high school, and I've no real issue with full-blown evaluations of freshmen. There's a nebulous changeover once a kid formally becomes a ninth-grader, but I get it. There are a lot of issues to deal with there, but I get it.

However, the Jim Couch Foundation also held games for boys still dreaming about the goal of taking the next step in education one day. Yep, moving on ... to high school. Middle-schoolers. Oh, it's tawdry, all right.
Today's JCF event also features a middle-school all-star game. While the 13- and 14-year-olds take over the main floor, the freshmen move to the auxiliary gym across the hall for more of their regimen. Over the hollow sucking noise of the air ducts, a team of coaches shouts drill directions. The players jump one-legged from orange cone to orange cone and high-step over mini hurdles. At center court, they stand on a flat-bottomed exercise bubble. Without falling over, they must hold a basketball in triple-threat position while a coach slaps it with boxing pads.

There aren't many people sitting in this gym's narrow stands, but next to me is an older white man in a sweater and loafers, writing notes on a single piece of paper tucked inside a folio. At the top he's written "EVAL," and underlined it. I read the first line: "#11 - white." He's referring to Andrew Fleming, a kid from Tennessee who is white. It is the least debatable assessment I'll encounter all day.

After 45 minutes of drills, a representative from the Knicks' community outreach program hands out blue and white jerseys for the game. Couch says they've been donated by anonymous benefactors. This adds to the vaporous quality of the whole Junior Big-Time operation. All day, the parents of the proto-prospects will say they're not thinking about colleges just yet, and the coaches and organizers and trainers will declare that they're only doing it to help the kids.

Nevermind the fact that nearly every human being in that gym should've probably been doing something more effective with an October weekend in front of them, the insistence that this is for the benefit of the kids will increase in fraudulence as the years go forward.

Those involved in this, particularly the parents and organizers, love to claim it's a grassroots effort to cultivating teamwork and a sense of self for these kids. The process is anything but organic. That kind of development should come the way it did for 50 years: with a kid dominating over other 12-year-olds in gym class, then arriving in high school and letting the process take its natural -- if influenced and flawed -- course from there.

Jerry Love, who owns and operates MiddleSchoolElite.com -- a site whose existence I only offer up for context, not for linking, because I feel like I've hacked into an FBI investigation document upon looking at it -- is quoted in Carmichael's story. He's moved his family, including his son, Jerron, who Jerry ranks among the best prospects for -- God, I don't even want to see what year this is -- 2016, out to California. It's for the purpose of getting Jerron more exposure, and leaving an area where the Love family became alienated over Jerry's ranking practices.

He wants a fresh start, so he's uprooted his maybe-really-talented kid.

Carmichael's kicker is terrific and sad and poignant.

Jerron, who played a consistent but not spectacular game—6 points and 4 assists, one turnover on a failed between-the-legs pass on a fast break—tells me that he likes California, even though "it's a big change" from the Bronx. He's incredibly composed; it's clear that he's had a tape recorder in front of him before.

When I ask him his height, he corrects his posture and stands up straight. He's 5-foot-9, but his doctor has told him he'll be 6-1.

"6-2, hopefully. I haven't balanced out yet. Gotta be careful about what I eat. I'm somewhat careful. But I'm still a kid, you know?"

I know. His father knows. Everyone involved in middle school recruiting knows they're just kids. But where's the evidence that organizers and cultivators care?

Photo via Deadspin, Steven Counts

Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com