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Pinkston finally ready to make his choice

The hemming and hawing is over for Jayvaughn Pinkston.

Pinkston (Brownsville, N.Y./Bishop Loughlin), a 6-foot-6 forward who is ranked 100th in the ESPNU 100, will make his decision at a noon ET press conference Thursday. He's deciding between Tennessee, Villanova, Saint John's, Seton Hall and Marquette. Sources close to the situation say Pinkston is leaning toward Villanova, a week after he was apparently headed to Tennessee. Pinkston liked the Vols but when 6-8 Tobias Harris (Dix Hills, N.Y./Half Hollow Hills West), the nation's No. 7 prospect, signed with Tennessee, Pinkston reopened his recruiting.

If Pinkston does commit to Villanova, he'll become the second Bishop Loughlin power forward -- joining 6-7 Curtis Sumpter (Class of 2002) -- to play at the Main Line school this decade.

"He's a fierce competitor; a real warrior," said Kimani Young, who coached Pinkston last summer with New Heights. "He can beat big players with his speed and quickness and he can overpower smaller players."

Pinkston, considered New York City's premier player, has worked extensively on his ball handling and perimeter shot since last season. As a junior he averaged 24.6 points but missed six games for academic reasons. He helped the Lions reach the New York Catholic High School Athletic Association Class AA intersectional semifinals, where he scored 39 points in a season-ending loss to Christ the King (Queens).

"He's a hard worker," Young said. "The kind of kid you'd get in a foxhole with."

Pinkston will sign his binding national letter of intent during the April late signing period.

Welcome To America
The Australian Travellers, a U18 club team, found out Wednesday night why Findlay Prep of Henderson, Nev., is ESPN's top-ranked team.

The Pilots (7-0) fired on all pistons during a 124-62 victory over the Aussies. Seven players struck for double digits, including senior point guard Cory Joseph, sophomore Winston Shepard and junior Jabari Brown who each scored 21 points.

"We came out refocused after not playing well last weekend," Findlay assistant Todd Simon said. "We hit a barrage of threes and had major contributions off the bench."

The Pilots built a 70-30 lead at the break, mainly from beyond the arc. For the game they nailed 11 of 18 3-pointers for 60 percent.

Shepard, a 6-7 forward from Houston, has received offers Texas, Kansas, UNLV, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor and Louisville. Brown, a 6-4 wing guard, has offers from most Pac-10 schools and Wake Forest and Notre Dame.

Heading into the international friendly, Findlay was averaging 102 points, with a margin of victory at 35 points per game.

Last weekend, Findlay won three games at the State Farm Tournament of Champions in Washington, Ill. After opening with lopsided wins over IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) and Brehm Prep (Carbondale, Ill.), the Pilots eked out a 69-63 win over Quality Education Academy (Winston-Salem, N.C.). Joseph scored 34 points, sinking five 3-pointers, and hauled down five rebounds.

For his efforts, Joseph (No. 30 in the ESPNU 100), an unsigned senior guard, was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. He averaged 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals while shooting 60 percent from the floor in three games. Teammates Brown and Texas-bound center Tristan Thompson joined Joseph on the all-tournament team.

The 6-foot-3 Joseph will visit UNLV on Dec. 11 and is also considering Villanova, Minnesota, Texas and Connecticut.

Dialed In
One of the nation's top traveling tournaments is coming to Birmingham, Ala. The National Federation of State High School Associations announced this week the semifinal pairings for the 2009 T-Mobile Invitational from Dec. 29-30 at Samford University's Pete Hanna Center.

The opening round matchups on Dec. 29 feature four teams ranked by ESPN: Yates (Houston)-Kentwood (Covington, Wash.), 3:45 p.m. ET and Butler (Huntsville, Ala.)-Winter Park (Fla.), 7:15 p.m. The final is Dec. 30 at 7:15 p.m., with consolation at 3:45.

"This is our strongest and most balanced field in the four years of this tournament," said Bob Kanaby, NFHS executive director.

The boys' field features two of the top individual players in the country. Kentwood's Joshua Smith (No. 10 in the ESPNU 100) is the nation's No. 1 center. The 6-10 Smith announced last month he's headed to UCLA. Austin Rivers of Winter Park (No. 2 in the ESPNU Super 60) is a 6-3 junior guard who will sign with Florida in November 2010.

All On The Family
The ESPN family of networks, in conjunction with Paragon Marketing Group, will present 14 high school boys' basketball games this season as part of the Old Spice High School Showcase. The series of regular-season games will include teams from 13 different states, including 17 teams currently ranked in the ESPN rankings. Nineteen players from the ESPNU 100, including top-rated Harrison Barnes of Ames (Iowa), will be showcased in the games.

The opening game pits Texas schools Duncanville and No. 40 Lincoln (Dallas) on Dec. 11 (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU).

The remainder of the schedule includes (all times Eastern):

Dec. 17, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)-Northland (Columbus, Ohio), 7 p.m., ESPN; Waukegan (Ill.)-Ames (Iowa), 9 p.m., ESPN; Dec. 23, City of Palms Classic (Fort Myers, Fla.) third-place game, 7:30 and final, 9:30 p.m., ESPNU; Jan. 14, Northland-Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), 4 p.m., ESPN; Jan. 18, Hoophall Classic (Springfield, Mass.), Bishop O'Connell (Arlington, Va.), 11 a.m., Westchester (Los Angeles)-St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.), 1 p.m., Findlay Prep-St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.), 3 p.m., Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)-DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), 5 p.m., all four on ESPNU.

Feb. 2, Jefferson (Portland, Ore.)-Kentwood (Covington, Wash.), 11 p.m., ESPN2; Feb. 5, Montverde (Fla.) Academy-Sagemont School (Weston, Fla.), 5 p.m., ESPNU and Winter Park (Fla.)-Pine Crest (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), 7 p.m., ESPN2; and Feb. 6, Bishop Luers (Fort Wayne, Ind.)-Lawrence North (Indianapolis), 4 p.m., ESPNU.

Paul Biancardi, ESPN Scouts Inc.'s national recruiting director, is the primary analyst and will be joined by announcers Doug Bell and Justin Kutcher. ESPNU will supplement the game schedule with ESPNU Recruiting Insider, which evaluates the top high school basketball recruits and their classes based on research and analysis provided by ESPN's Scouts, Inc. The show will air Wednesdays at 6 p.m. ET.

Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA Today, where he was the head preps writer responsible for national high school rankings in football, baseball and boys and girls basketball. He also worked for Scholastic Coach magazine, where he ran the Gatorade National Player of the Year program for nine years. Lawlor, a New Jersey resident, grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University.