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Tuesday, July 10
 
Stiggers' move to SoCal raises questions

By David Benezra and Mark Mayemura
Special to ESPN.com

It doesn't snow in Southern California but Santa still came to town and presented Montclair Prep in Van Nuys the top present on their wish list with the impending transfer of Nick Stiggers, a 6-foot-8 banger formerly of Hillcrest High School in Memphis, Tenn.

Stiggers is already at Montclair Prep. The "impending" refers to his eligibility status, which is being reviewed. If everything goes well, Stiggers would be eligible to play for the Mounties next week.

The head coach at Montclair Prep is Tyrone Fuller, a former player at the University of Southern California. It has been rumored that Stiggers has made an "under the table" commitment to USC, something that has been denied by everybody involved.

But it is interesting to see arguably the top junior (class of 2003) in the state of Tennessee suddenly up and move to the state of California. Whereupon, he emerges in Southern California at a small school in the San Fernando Valley. Where he happens to wind up playing for a Trojan alumnus, in light of all the rumors. In fact, it's absolutely staggering, or, Stiggering, pure Oliver Stone conspiracy theory stuff.

As far as summer goes, look for Stiggers to probably wind up playing for EBO, the Fresno-based club basketball team.

As far as his future college, we would likely bet on Southern California.

Maurice Young has left Virginia and has transferred to St. Bonaventure. St. Bonnie likes to get up and down like Virginia, but the talent level isn't as great and the 6-5 Young figures to be in the mix. Richmond, which may have been a better fit for Young, was also in the mix. Young was generally considered a Top 100 prospect, but did not have the athleticism to groove with Virginia's go-go guys and get major time.

Young would be eligible at the end of the first semester next winter and will be a junior.

Cincinnati received a commitment from 6-4 Tony Bobbitt (College of Southern Idaho). Bobbitt had originally committed to Florida State but was a non-qualifier. While his ability to get an AA degree may go down to the wire, we expect that CSD will get it done and Bobbitt will be eligible at Cincy next year. Bobbitt is a very athletic scorer and a significant recruit for the Bearcats.

Some more big men have been popping up on the radar screens with strong performances recently. Starting in the West, 6-10 senior Rod Benson (Torrey Pines H.S./San Diego) is still a raw talent but has upside and has come a long way since first beginning to learn under head coach John Olive, formerly the head coach at Loyola Marymount and also an assistant at Villanova under Rollie Massimmino. The Ivies, Pepperdine, UC Santa Barbara, San Diego and Davidson -- which has established a recruiting presence in the area -- have been on Benson. Not that many people have really seen Benson, who is now starting to attract interest from various schools in the Pac-10, Mountain West and WAC. Benson carries a 3.2 GPA, and boasts a 1,300 SAT.

In the Midwest, 6-9 Aaron Spears (Dunbar H.S./Chicago) is no secret, but he is starting to play like he really wants it, sporting a more svelte figure these days. Louisville, Connecticut and other big-time programs have been monitoring Spears.

Going South, 6-9 Byron Sanders (Harrison Central/Gulfport, Miss.) is not a great athlete, but does have a good body. Academic question marks hindered his early recruitment, but now that 2002 has arrived, Sanders is getting plenty of looks from high majors, the most prominent being North Carolina.

Looking East, 7-foot Damion Grant (Brewster Academy/Wolfeboro, N.H.) took visits to LaSalle, Massachusetts and Seton Hall in the fall. All the high majors are now looking at Grant, who may be about ready to make a verbal commitment to North Carolina.

We will be talking about sleepers in upcoming articles and one to mention here should actually not be one. The 6-1 Patrick Haddan (Woodbridge H.S./Irvine, Calif.) is the fastest and quickest point guard in the senior class in California. Haddan can guard anything that moves and can really push the ball. He is an outstanding athlete with all the skills necessary to lead a team at the high major level. Haddan is also an excellent student. He has been attracting a lot of interest of late and we expect to see many more schools start to move in on him.

David Benezra and Mark Mayemura cover the national college basketball recruiting scene at their Recruiting USA (www.recruitingusa.com) website. E-mail at: hoopsusa@mindspring.com or call (818) 783-2244 or (818) 783-2212 for subscription information.





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