Top 100 Prospects
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Top 100 Prospects
Recruiting USA's Top:
|Monday, April 23
Updated: May 11, 3:14 PM ET
|Duquesne, 'Nova land top big men|
By David Benezra and Mark Mayemura
Special to ESPN.com
Among the eligible high school big men left on the board, Duquesne got a big boost when 6-foot-11 Simplice N'Joya committed to play for the Dukes.
New head coach Danny Nee hired Charles Cunningham, who had spent the last year as an assistant on the UNLV staff. Cunningham, who was responsible for UNLV signing N'Joya in the first place, was able to land N'Joya (The Master's school/Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.) again after N'Joya received his release from UNLV.
Another big man in demand this spring has been 7-footer Chris Charles (Milford Academy/Milford, Ct.). Charles had verbally committed to Seton Hall, but with head coach Tommy Amaker departing for Michigan, Charles restarted his recruiting.
The senior big man has committed to play for new Villanova head coach Jay Wright. He's long, athletic and can score around the basket, with a game that has some resemblance to Tim Duncan's (remember, we said "some," he's definitely a poor man's Duncan at this point), and has an excellent upside.
In our opinion, Charles could wind up being the top center prospect out of this class -- over more highly-touted prospects such as Jamaal Sampson (California) and David Harrison (Colorado). Jay Wright can coach and he can recruit. Charles will be the cornerstone of a revitalized Wildcat program under the energetic Wright.
Arkansas got an early verbal commitment when 6-5 junior swingman Jonathan Modica (Smackover H.S./Smackover, Ark.) announced his commitment to the Razorbacks yesterday.
Commitment must be something that Arkansas men aren't afraid of as the top two seniors from Clarksville High in Clarksville, Ark., are both expected to announce their college choices this weekend.
Findlay Brashears, a 6-8, 215-pound small forward, is expected to announce his commitment to the Air Force Academy, selecting Colorado Springs over William & Mary, Sanford and Wofford. Brashears had turned down an offer last fall from SMU. His frontcourt mate, 6-7, 235-pound senior Gavin Ludgood, is also expected to announce his choice this weekend. At this stage, it looks like Southern Illinois over Oklahoma State and TCU.
Ludgood averaged 18.9 points, 11 rebounds and 5.5 blocks this season, leading Clarksville to a 34-3 record and a runner-up finish in the state playoffs. Brashears averaged 17.4 points and nine rebounds, while shooting 56.5 percent from 3-point range. Both Clarksville seniors starred this past summer on Steve Sisk's Arkansas Angels club team.
Cincinnati has signed 6-foot, 190-pound guard Taron Barker of Odessa Junior College (Odessa, Tex.) to a national letter-of-intent, fulfilling the void created when Cincy sophomore Kenny Satterfield put his name into the NBA draft. Barker, a native of Racine, Wisconsin, is a true point guard, athletic and with a strong body, who can be a quarterback-type for the Bearcats' offense. Barker averaged 13 points, seven assists and three steals a game this season.
Another school needing guard help received it when 6-1 Marlon Brooks (Lincoln CC, Ill.) committed to DePaul. Brooks, an alum of the basketball powerhouse at Manual High in Peoria, Ill., averaged 17 points, 4.5 assists and two steals a game this season for Lincoln.
Jim Baron, who did a great job in building the program at St. Bonaventure, and just recently was named the new head coach at Rhode Island, hit the ground running when 6-7 power forward Chazz Briggs committed to the Rams fresh off this year's national junior college champions Wabash Valley College, Ill. Briggs, a starter at Wabash, averaged 10.3 ppg and 5.8 rpg this season.
Ian Crosswhite, the starting center for the 19 & Under Australian National Team, has committed to Oregon. At 6-10 and 220-pounds, Crosswhite will man more of a power forward position, being a good high post player offensively. At only 19 years of age, we would not expect to see this Aussie impact, but he will see time for the frontcourt-thin Ducks who are bringing in three other frontcourt prospects.
Speaking of foreign recruits, Providence has received a commitment from Tuukka Koti, a 6-9, 205-pound forward, who played last season for the Salon Sargo Salo club in the Finland Club League. Koti, a native of Forssa, Finland, averaged 15.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.2 apg and 2.0 spg last season while shooting 39 percent behind the 3-point line and 45 percent from the field overall.
Bernard Jackson, a 6-7, 220-pound forward out of Tallahassee Community College, was a full-qualifier out of high school (Pahokee H.S./Pahokee, Fla.), and now has committed to the College of Charleston. Jackson, who averaged 10 points and seven rebounds this season for head coach Mike Gillespie's Golden Eagles, also considered Eastern Kentucky, Idaho and Florida A&M. He'll have three seasons of playing eligibility for Charleston.
Kevin Pinkney attracted a lot of interest as the spring signing period drew near. The 6-8 combo forward with the nice touch out of Colton H.S. in San Bernardino, Calif., became a full qualifier at the very end of the open evaluation period and drew nation-wide interest. That is why Pinkney's commitment to Nevada surprised many. Providence, Pittsburgh, and Texas A&M were just some of the jilted suitors.
Pinkney is slender, but shoots the ball and has the athleticism to block shots. There have been many surprises this spring and Pinkney's commitment is huge for an up-and-coming Nevada program that is getting more competitive under the leadership of former Stanford assistant Trent Johnson.
The Scenic West Conference, which encompasses junior colleges in Utah, Idaho and Oregon, is one of the best JUCO conferences in the country. One of the better players this season was 6-5 sophomore Steve Bonner of North Idaho College and the athletic swingman is headed to George Mason. Under the tutelage of Jim Larranaga, George Mason has quietly become one of those teams that the big boys don't want to schedule. Larranaga has built the program on his ability to evaluate and recruit and Bonner is his latest add.
Massachusetts had three players decide to leave after head coach Bruiser Flint was fired. Of those three, not only is 6-5 Eddie Basden the best, but perhaps one of the more underrated talents in the class of 2001. Basden will apparently resurface at Charlotte.
On the high school recruiting front, 6-11 Sani Ibrahim, who played at Winchendon School in Massachusetts this past year, will attend Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, VA, next year. Ibrahim has a tremendous touch and is one of the nation's premier big men prospects. No doubt the decision by the 7-foot DeSagana Diop to come out for the NBA draft directly out of Oak Hill, weighed in with Ibrahim.
Joining Ibrahim will be another of the nation's current top juniors (Class of 2002), 6-7 perimeter player Carmelo Anthony, who also made a verbal commitment to Syracuse. Anthony attends Towson Catholic High School in Towson, Maryland.
Oh, and not wanting to be left behind, one of the better high school sophomores (Class of 2003), 6-8 Darrien Townes (T.C. Williams/Alexandria, Va.) has given Georgetown a verbal commitment. Townes is a long-armed shot blocking athlete.
Vander Laan lands in Virginia|
Nick Vander Laan, a former starter at California, announced that he's transferring to Virginia. Vander Laan, a rugged 6-10, 250-pound sophomore banger in the paint, selected the Cavaliers over Georgia Tech and SUNY-Albany and received inquiries from over 50 Division I colleges. Wayne Powell, a 6-9 senior postman out of Peabody Magnet High in Alexandria, La., who signed recently with Louisiana Tech, has become a full qualifier and will be eligible to play next season for Keith Richard's Bulldogs. With sophomore point guard Jamaal Gilchrist deciding to leave the program recently, Texas A&M has begun recruiting point guards. The Aggies are looking strongly at 5'9 sophomore Bradley Jackson (College of Southern Idaho JUCO/Twin Falls, Id.), who started as a freshman at San Diego State. Jackson's teammate 6-4 wingman Cardell Butler, who just completed his eligibility at the College of Southern Idaho (Twin Falls, Idaho), has committed to Utah State. Butler will have to sit out the next season, but should impact for the Aggies during the 2002-03 season; he's very talented and knows how to score. Senior power forward Berry Jordan (Arlington Country Day H.S./Jacksonville, Fla.) has committed to Arkansas. Jordan is a very athletic 6-7 live-legged runner/jumper. One of the better post players on the junior college scene, 6-10, 230-pound Michal Ignerski of Eastern Oklahoma Junior College has signed with Mississippi State. The native of Poland had verballed to Georgia State before he began his junior college career. Mississippi State improved their chances with Ignerski when they hired Phil Cunningham, the man responsible for Georgia State's Ignerski verbal, prior to this season. Getting back to the College of Southern Idaho, 6-10, 240-pound freshman postman Benjamin Ndubisi Eze, reportedly, has left school and is turning pro. At least that's what he told CSI teammate Uche Okafor last week, before he departed Twin Falls. Eze, who played in less than 10 games this season before a season ending injury, is, reportedly, headed back to Toronto, his surrogate hometown, to decide his future. With returning wing player Jermaine Lewis suffering a serious ACL injury, UNLV has signed 6-5 combo guard Lamar Bigby (Schoolcraft Junior College/Livonia, Mich.) to a letter of intent. Bigby, who completed his junior college eligibility over a year ago, has been taking classes during the past year to obtain his A.A. degree. He had committed to San Jose State last fall, but has since been released from that commitment. A skilled, athletic guard, Bigby's commitment is insurance on UNLV's part with the recent injury to Lewis. College of Sequoias (Visalia, Calif.) 6-1 shooting guard Brandon Guyton, one of the better shooters in JUCOland, has signed a letter of intent with Cal State Fullerton. Seven-foot center Uche Okafor, one of the country's top junior college players, signed a national letter of intent with Missouri, selecting the Tigers over North Carolina State and Illinois. Okafor, the Nigerian with the 7-foot-7 wingspan, is a major rebounding and shot blocking force. Another 7-footer, Mustafa Diagne of Trinity Valley Community College (Athens, Tex.), has signed with New Mexico. Diagne, whose final three schools included Missouri and Illinois, is more of a defensive presence than a scorer. Getting a jump on 2002
Matt Walsh, a star 6-6 junior at Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Penn.), has announced an early verbal commitment for the University of Florida. Walsh is a live-legged athlete, who draws his share of attention with crowd-pleasing dunks. TCU has received a commitment from 6-1 point guard Junior Blount (Connors Junior College, Okla.), while 6-2 senior point guard Patrick Starks (Muhlenberg North H.S./Greenville, Ky.) has signed a letter of intent with Western Kentucky. Talented 6-1 junior point guard Chris Quinn (Coffman H.S./Dublin, Oh.) has made an early verbal commitment to Notre Dame. Quinn's a heady ballplayer who can really drill the open jumper. Junior point guard Brandon Stockton (5-9) out of Glasgow High in Kentucky has announced an early verbal commitment to the Kentucky Wildcats. North Carolina received its second early verbal from a current junior (Class of 2002) Thursday when 6-foot-3, 195-pound swingman Rashard McCants, a native of Asheville, North Carolina, gave a verbal commitment. McCants, who spent the past school year boarding at New Hampton Prep (New Hampton, New Hampshire), is considered among the 50 juniors in the country. McCants' verbal gives North Carolina coach Matt Doherty a powerful backcourt waiting in the wings for the 2002-2003 season; 6-1 junior point guard Raymond Felton (Latta H.S./Latta, South Carolina), one of the top junior point guards in the country, had given a previous verbal to the Tar Heels. McCants has many attributes. He's very athletic, very strong, possesses a great basketball body for a guard, has skills, is tough and highly competitive. Down the street in Durham, Duke received its third early verbal commitment from a high school junior Thursday when 6-7 small forward Lee Melchionni (Germantown Academy/Fort Washington, Pennsylvana) gave the Blue Devils a commitment. Melchionni is a crafty lefty, with good skills and average athleticism. He's expected to redshirt his freshman season. Melchionni joins fellow juniors, 6-4 shooting guard J.J. Redick (Cave Spring H.S./Roanoke, Virginia) and 6-10, 270-pound center Michael Thompson (Providence H.S./New Lenox, Illinois) in committing very early to the Blue Devils program. Rafael Berumen, a 6-9 post player who began his career at New Mexico, has signed a national letter of intent with Miami (Fla). Berumen is a very skilled big man out of Los Angeles City College who is a scorer with great hands. Berumen has the ability to score with his back to the basket or step out, face-up and shoot the ball with range to the 3-point line. And he's an exceptional passer. Ebi Ere, a 6-5, 220-pound swingman who spent last season at Barton County College in Great Bend, Kan., signed his letter of intent with Oklahoma. For Ere, it's a homecoming on various levels. He's a Tulsa product (McLain H.S.) and he signed with Oklahoma in high school and he was state player of the year for his senior season. "Ebi is an outstanding scorer, an unbelievable athlete who can put the ball on the floor," said Ryan Wolf, head coach at Barton County. "Oklahoma needs a scorer and that's the thing he does best. He should do well for the Sooners. If he keeps developing, he'll have a chance to play in the NBA." Ere, who selected Oklahoma over Michigan State and Illinois (he took an official visit to Champaign last weekend), averaged 26 points and 10.5 rebounds this season. St. John's inked 6-2 slasher supreme Marcus Hatten (Tallahassee Community College/Tallahassee, Florida) to a national letter of intent. Hatten selected the Red Storm over Iowa State and DePaul. Hatten, a native of Baltimore (Mervo Tech), has strong offensive skills, and may step right into the starting lineup for the Red Storm. "Marcus is the best player ever to play at TCC, by far the best overall basketball player," says Mike Gillespie, who in his 10 years as the head coach at Tallahassee (260-60) has had one NBA player (Paul McPherson/Golden State Warriors) and several junior college All-Americans (Kerry Thompson/Florida State; Marvis "Bootsie" Thornton/St. John's; Jason Cipolla/Syracuse and Antwan Jones/Cincinnati). "Marcus is a terrific scorer and an unbelievable defender who broke a 30-year-old state record for career steals (235/3.8 spg)," said Gillespie. "He's a great kid, a terrific young man. He can score in a variety of ways. He's a terrific slasher. And the previous rap on Marcus was his outside shot. Well, he worked hard on it and he's really improved his outside shooting. He had three games this season when he made over seven 3-pointers. And, he can really pass the ball." Hatten, who averaged 24.1 ppg and shot over 40 percent from behind the 3-point arc also visited Houston and South Florida. Expect St. John's to play Hatten (Mergenthaler Vocational Tech HS/Baltimore, Md.) at the shooting guard spot next season. Oregon State has received Jarman Sample's signature on a national letter of intent. The 6-9, 205-pound post player out of Colby Community College in Kansas qualified out of high school (Westside H.S./Macon, Ga.), averaged 11 points, 8 rebounds in 25 minutes of action for Colby. Sample decided about a month ago that he wanted to test the waters by leaving Colby after a year and having three years of playing eligibility at the four-year school level. Sample had also visited Winthrop. "Jarman is a very good prospect. I'm extremely happy for him. He's got an opportunity to play, to compete in the Pac-Ten. We're definitely gonna miss him next year," said Colby head coach Brian Ostermann. Aside from his visits to Oregon State and Winthrop, Sample had interest from Texas A&M, Illinois State, George Washington and La Salle. Sample was visiting Oregon State at the same time this past weekend as the Beavers were entertaining Kevin Pinkney (Colton H.S./Colton, Calif.), the 6-9 high school senior, who became a full-qualifier on Friday. Sample's commitment takes the scholarship which Oregon State was considering Pinkney for, but the newly qualified Pinkney keeps attracting more interest each day. He's already received calls this week from Providence, Pittsburgh, Iona, and Delaware. Pinkney is one of the biggest sleepers in the country. Pinkney is a very athletic big man, who runs the floor extremely well. He plays above the rim, throws down mean dunks and is skilled enough to knock down the 3-pointer. He's a player with considerable upside, a talent who is now eligible to play next season. Troy Wiley (Paris JUCO/Paris, Texas), a very athletic 6-8 power forward, has committed to Rhode Island. Wiley, who runs the floor, has a long body, blocks shots and rebounds, averaged 13 points and 7 rebounds for Paris head coach Bill Foy. He can score some around the bucket and he's a decent shooter. The Wilmington, Del., native selected URI over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Maryland-Eastern Shore and St. Bonaventure. And , as predicted in this column, 6-3 swingman Dustin Hellenga of Winchendon Academy (Winchendon, Mass.) has committed to Rhode Island, following his official visit this weekend. It's down to Missouri, New Mexico and Cincinnati for Mustafa Diagne, the 7-footer from Trinity Valley JUCO (Athens, Texas) with the former leader Cincinnati appearing to have lost ground. At this point, it appears to be a two-horse race between Missouri and New Mexico. Missouri and North Carolina State seem to be the clear leaders for 7-foot Uche Okafor, one of the top junior college big men from the College of Southern Idaho (Twin Falls, Idaho). Illinois is in his top three, but the word is that they've slipped with Okafor. The Nigerian is an excellent shot blocker (utilizing his 7-7 reach), crashes the boards and has the body of an NBA post player. Trevor Harvey, a 6-11 postman out of Marshalltown JUCO in Iowa, visited Florida State this past weekend. He'll be visiting Miami (FL) this weekend. Latest Commitments/Signings
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Recruiting: Top 100