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 (Isaiah J. Downing)
(Isaiah J. Downing)

In the past two weeks, former Iona guard A.J. English was named the MVP of the Portsmouth Invitational, garnered an invitation to the NBA Draft Combine and has begun working out for individual NBA teams.

The 6-foot-4 English worked out for the Utah Jazz (Saturday), the San Antonio Spurs (Tuesday) and the Houston Rockets (Wednesday).

Next week he will be in Chicago for the Combine May 11-15.

After that he has workouts scheduled with Milwaukee, Cleveland and Washington.

English earned his Combine invite with strong play at Portsmouth where he averaged 17.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and a team-high 6.7 assists while shooting 58.1 percent and 64.7 precent (11-for-17) from beyond the arc.

"Nearly every NBA team was in to see A.J. during the year and now he has created a great buzz with his play in Portsmouth," Iona associate head coach Jared Grasso recently told SNY.tv. "He's a 6-4 point guard who can really shoot the ball and is a tenacious competitor. In my mind their is no doubt he is an NBA player."

Iona, which won the MAAC Tournament championship to reach the NCAA Tournament, has put a player into Portsmouth for five straight years, something no other program can say.

"AJ's work ethic became the culture of our program and it is the reason we won a championship this season and is the reason he has turned himself into a pro," Grasso said.

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Tags: A.J. English , Iona , Adam Zagoria

 (Jeffrey Becker)
(Jeffrey Becker)

Kentucky freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe is listed as an alternate for next week's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, but that hasn't stopped him from getting in a few NBA workouts.

The 6-foot-3 former Roselle (N.J.) Catholic star worked out for the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday and will work out Saturday for the Los Angeles Clippers, his father confirmed to SNY.tv. He will also work out for the Lakers on May 16 after the NBA Combine May 11-15.

He has not hired an agent -- "No way," his father said -- and can return to campus if he pulls out of the NBA Draft by May 25. George Briscoe said his son had seven more workouts planned, but no dates set yet.

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com first Tweeted Briscoe's workouts.

Briscoe, who led Roselle Catholic to the New Jersey Tournament of Champions title in 2015, averaged 9.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists this past season at Kentucky.

Meantime, Kentucky junior Marcus Lee was also an alternate for the Combine, but his Tweet on Wednesday indicated he may have gotten a full invitation along with Kentucky teammates Jamal Murray, Skal Labissiere and Tyler Ulis.

An NBA spokesman said the official Combine list has yet to be released.

Tags: Isaiah Briscoe , Kentucky , Adam Zagoria

 ((Charles Fox / Philly.com))
((Charles Fox / Philly.com))

It's been a busy couple of days for Quade Green.

The 6-foot point guard from Neumann-Goretti High School and the PSA Cardinals visited Syracuse over the weekend and then picked up a scholarship offer from Kansas on Tuesday.

"Coach [Bill] Self called me," Green said Wednesday by phone. "He gave me an offer. It's pretty good. I'm enjoying it right now."

He added: "I've heard they let their guards go, they got great alumni."

Green already holds offers from numerous high-major programs, including Syracuse, Miami, Xavier and Temple, while Duke is showing interest and recently had two assistants at Neumann-Goretti.

He visited Syracuse with 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, 2017 recruits Hamidou Diallo and Jordan Tucker and Colorado State transfer John Gillon, who committed to the Orange.

"It went well, they appreciate me out there," Green said of Syracuse. "They want me to come and be the point guard, get everybody involved."

He added: "We just had fun all weekend and just chilled with the team."

Green said he and Diallo spoke about possibly playing together. The 6-6 Diallo recently picked up offers from Duke and Kentucky to go with the many others he has.

"He loved it though," Green said of Diallo.

He has already visited Syracuse, Villanova, Temple, Saint Joe's and Rutgers, and said he wants to visit Louisville, Michigan State, Miami, Arizona and Xavier in the coming months.

"Probably over the summer," he said.

Green is in high demand because he's a pure point guard who is playing on a very high-profile AAU team alongside other Class of 2017 stars like Mohamed Bamba and Brandon Randolph.

"[Green] is a real hard worker so his ceiling is high," Neumann-Goretti coach Carl Arrigale said. "He's really out to show he can run a team. He is a plus shooter and ball-handler with a great deal of poise and no fear. He has a chance to be special."

Terrance "Munch" Williams, the PSA Cardinals director, told SNY.tv that Green will not cut his list before August.

"Hopefully, I commit in September," Green said recently. "That's when I want to."

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Tags: Kansas , Quade Green , Recruiting , Adam Zagoria

TCU has landed former UNLV pledge Jaylen Fisher, a 6-foot-2 point guard from Arlington (TN) Bolton and Team Thad.

Seton Hall, Ohio State, TCU, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Baylor, UConn, Ole Miss, Central Florida, California, Western Kentucky, Indiana, South Carolina, Texas Tech and LSU had all been in contact, his AAU coach Norton Hurd said Monday.

"I chose TCU for four main reasons," he said. "First, because of the close relationship my family and I have built over the last year and a half with Coach Ryan Miller; No. 2, the resumè of Coach Jamie Dixon and his proven track record for developing talent and winning ; No. 3.the emphasis the university has placed on making basketball a priority; and lastly the opportunity to have the ball in my hands from Day 1 in the Big 12. Those were the reasons I chose TCU."

Ranked the No. 10 point guard in 2016 by 247Sports.com, Fisher initially considered Baylor, Indiana, Memphis, Arkansas and LSU before picking UNLV in October 2015.

He decommitted last week.

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 (Anthony Gruppuso)
(Anthony Gruppuso)

Defending NCAA champion Villanova will face Notre Dame and Pittsburgh will meet Penn State in the Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Dec. 10.

Villanova will face Notre Dame at noon on CBS, while Pittsburgh will face Penn State at 2:30 on CBS Sports Network.

All four teams have connections to New Jersey and continue to recruit there.

"We're honored to be a part of the inaugural 2016 Never Forget Tribute Classic," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "To participate in an event that raises scholarship funds for the victims of the September 11 attacks means so much to our program and University. We're also excited to compete against an outstanding Notre Dame program. We enjoyed a lot of great battles with Coach Brey's teams, beginning when we were both in America East, and more recently in the Big East. It should be a great day of basketball."

"Taking on the defending national champion and a program of Villanova's caliber will be a great thrill and challenge for us early in the season," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "We also are honored to participate in an event that will benefit the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund."

 

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Tags: Notre Dame , Penn State , Pittsburgh , Villanova , Adam Zagoria

 (Stephen R. Sylvanie)
(Stephen R. Sylvanie)

UNLV transfer Ben Carter has chosen his new destination.

The 6-foot-9 Carter, who turns 22 in August, will be eligible immediately. He averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds last season for the Rebels.

Carter joins a loaded recruiting class at Michigan State that includes Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Josh Langford and Nick Ward.

"This is not an easy decision, but I truly believe Michigan State is the right decision for me," he told RunRebs.com. "During this process, I've gotten to know and respect Tom Izzo, and playing for one of the most legendary coaches in college basketball history will be one of the greatest experiences of my life. And with everything I've been through in my career, I couldn't pass up the chance to play for a team with real national championship hopes.

"I will always carry Las Vegas in my heart. I appreciate all the support I received from UNLV and from the fans during my time here. When my college career is over and it's time to settle down, I plan to live the rest of my life here. This is and always will be home."

Michigan State still wants uncommited 6-foot-10 power forward Taurean Thompson to visit, Brewster (N.H.) Academy coach Jason Smith told SNY.tv. The Spartans recently offered Thompson, who took a visit to Syracuse last weekend and is also considering Georgetown, UConn, Seton Hall and Providence.

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Tags: College Transfers , Michigan State , Adam Zagoria

Feb 24, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Marquette Golden Eagles head coach Steve Wojciechowski (kneeling) watches action against the Creighton Bluejays in the second half at CenturyLink Center Omaha. Marquette defeated Creighton 66-61. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports (Steven Branscombe)
Feb 24, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Marquette Golden Eagles head coach Steve Wojciechowski (kneeling) watches action against the Creighton Bluejays in the second half at CenturyLink Center Omaha. Marquette defeated Creighton 66-61. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports (Steven Branscombe)

Canadian big man Kalif Young will likely choose between Big East schools Marquette and Providence within the next couple of weeks, his father told SNY.tv on Wednesday.

A 6-foot-9, 250-pound left-handed Class of 2016 power forward from Ontario's Orangeville Prep, Young began an official visit to Marquette on Wednesday with his mother. He is tentatively set to visit Providence the weekend of May 14, and will then likely decide soon after that.

"Essentially right now, he's pretty well down to two schools," Tony Young said by phone from Toronto. "So it's between Marquette and Providence."

Tony said many other BCS schools have called to express interest but it's unlikely Kalif will consider them seriously.

"There's a lot of big schools that have been after him," he said. "We're getting calls from Oklahoma, Purdue, Vanderbilt, all these other schools....He's like, 'Nope, nope, nope.' He's kind of stuck with [what he has]."

Meantime, he began his first official visit to Marquette on Wednesday.

"He's heading to Marquette with my wife this morning," Tony said.

Tony said he's been impressed by Marquette's "level of interest" so far.

"Coach Wojo [Steve "Wojciechowski] has come to Toronto to see him about three times," the elder Young said. "He came to our house to visit. It's just the fact of how he will fit into their program, I think that entices him. Now it's just a matter of getting a real feel on the school and that whole vibe in terms of if that's the fit for him."

The Providence visit will likely happen May 14-15.

"They obviously need big men," Tony said. "Kalif went there for an unofficial visit. I think he felt very comfortable with the connection with [head coach Ed] Cooley and Jeff Battle. I think he likes the fact what they've done in terms of their development with [Kris] Dunn and [Ben] Bentil, I think that impressed him."

After the Providence visit, Young will likely decide.

"Unless something else comes up that he feels he wants to go out and visit, that will be a last minute visit," Tony said. "These are his only two visits. He obviously has five. He still has three other ones if he wants to take them.

"But the idea would be after Providence, he comes home and we regroup, see what he's feeling and then he'd put it out there."

As for his skillset, Orangeville Prep coach Larry Blunt previously told SNY.tv: "Kalif is a very skilled lefty with college strength already. He has incredible feel for the game and can shoot the ball consistently from 17 feet in, and the pick-and-pop 3. You can throw the ball to Kalif on the block and not only can he score, but he is an exceptional passer. He can hedge on ball screens and even switch out on guards in late-shot clock situations. He's a great kid with a great family.

"Kalif will be a household name before the year is out."

Added Tony: "He's quick on his feet for his size. He's a killer on the boards. He can post. He can handle the ball for a big man. Everyone tells me he has a great IQ on the court and he has great passing ability. One person says he passes the basketball like a football."

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 (Anthony Gruppuso)
(Anthony Gruppuso)

Below is the schedule for this year's Gavitt Tipoff Games.

Eight teams in this year's event advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season. The eight NCAA teams are Butler, Villanova, Providence, Seton Hall, Purdue, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Creighton and Ohio State played in the NIT.

The unique series between the two conferences is named to honor the late Dave Gavitt, who founded the BIG EAST and had a profound and lasting influence on the sport of basketball on the collegiate, professional and Olympic levels. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Scheduled through 2022, the Gavitt Tipoff Games will be played on consecutive days in the first full week of the college basketball season. The series will span eight years, with games played at home sites. Each BIG EAST team will participate a minimum of six times, while Big Ten programs will take part a minimum of four times. Teams from both conferences already meet in some traditional rivalry games, and those matchups will continue in the upcoming seasons.

 

The 2016 Gavitt Tipoff Games schedule:

 

Monday, Nov. 14

Villanova at Purdue

 

Tuesday, Nov. 15

Maryland at Georgetown

Wisconsin at Creighton

 

Wednesday, Nov. 16

Northwestern at Butler

 

Thursday, Nov. 17

Seton Hall at Iowa

Providence at Ohio State

Rutgers at DePaul

 

Friday, Nov. 18

St. John's at Minnesota

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 (Mike Dinovo)
(Mike Dinovo)

Josh Jackson has officially signed with Kansas.

He committed on April 11.

The 6-foot-8 Jackson is the second No. 1 rated player to sign with Kansas in the past three seasons. Jackson, No. 1 by Rivals.com and 247Sports, joins current Minnesota Timberwolves standout Andrew Wiggins who played at KU in 2013-14.

Jackson is also the projected No. 4 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com.

"Josh has been a guy that is so respected in all high school circles the last four years," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "He is probably as highly thought of as any recent player to come out of high school because of his competitive nature. He left Detroit to finish his high school career at Prolific Prep in the Napa (California) area. He is very similar to Andrew Wiggins. He's a tall guard that can do a lot of everything. We feel his impact on our program next year will be as much as any freshman will have on any college program. He's extremely athletic but more importantly extremely competitive. We have a very competitive culture at Kansas but I think it just got improved with the signing of Josh. He's a guy that everybody enjoys playing with because he is so unselfish but also a guy that can take a game over."

Jackson earned co-Most Valuable Player honors of the McDonald's All-American game after scoring 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting in leading the West team to a 114-107 victory. He also competed in the 2016 Nike Hoops Summit where the USA team defeated the World Team 101-67 on April 9 in Portland, Oregon.

Jackson grew up in Detroit and has played the past two seasons at Prolific Prep in Napa, California. He averaged 26.9 points, 13.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game at Prolific Prep in 2015-16 for head coach Billy McKnight. In his first season at Prolific Prep, Jackson averaged 31.2 points, 17.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.3 steals in 2014-15. Prior to going to Prolific Prep, Jackson led Detroit Consortium to the Class C state title his sophomore year in 2013-14. Jackson is described as an athletic wing who plays above the rim and is an ultimate competitor.

"I played him at the 1-4 positions this year," McKnight recently told reporters. "Defensively, I adjusted our scheme this year because of Josh. We literally didn't help off other players when Josh was guarding 1-on-1. He guarded 1-5 for us. He's so quick off the ground. His ability to block shots and rebound will make a huge impact."

Jackson has won three gold medals for USA at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Maldonado, Uruguay, the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Heraklion, Greece.

"Josh has a great feel for basketball, in large part, because his mother, Apples Jones, who played college basketball at Allen County Community College in Kansas and UTEP," Self said. "His recruitment was fierce, and deservedly so. Coach (Kurtis) Townsend has done such a good job for a long period of time making sure Josh and Apples were both comfortable and educated on our situation and how Kansas could be a good fit for them."

Jackson joins forward Mitch Lightfoot who signed with Kansas in November 2015. Named the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year for 2015-16, Lightfoot, 6-foot-8, averaged 22.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots this past season in leading Gilbert Christian to a 21-6 record. Lightfoot, who is ranked No. 67 by ESPN100, scored 32 points in the BallisLife All-America game April 30, at Long Beach City College in California.

"Mitch is going to be a guy that nobody can sleep on," Self said. "Give him a little bit of time and he is going to continue to grow and get stronger. He's going to be a guy that will help us win games as a freshman but could be a big contributor as moves forward in his career."

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 (Kevin Jairaj)
(Kevin Jairaj)

Spike Albrecht will finish his college career at Purdue and will be eligible immediately after transferring from Michigan, he announced on Twitter.

The 5-foot-11 guard from Crowne Point, IN, chose Purdue over Syracuse, Indiana, USC, Milwaukee, Wichita State and Texas A&M, according to Scout.com.

"I chose Purdue because I really respect coach Painter and what he's all about," Albrecht told the site. "On my visit the guys welcomed me with open arms so I could tell they have a great culture in place. They also have a great masters program and the fact that Purdue is an hour from home was the icing on the cake."

He averaged 7.5 points and 3.9 assists as a junior with the Wolverines, but had two hip surgeries that limited him to just 1.9 points per game in limited time last season.

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Tags: College Transfers , Purdue , Adam Zagoria

Jordan Tucker took an unofficial visit to Syracuse this past weekend along with several other high-profile recruits.

Tucker is a Class of 2017 wing who plays for White Plains (N.Y.) Archbishop Stepinac and runs with the NY Rens on the Nike circuit. He is ranked the No. 7 small forward in the class by 247Sports.com.

Tucker visited along with 2016 Syracuse target Taurean Thompson, 2017 targets Quade Green and Hamidou Diallo and Colorado State transfer John Gillon, who committed to the Orange.

"It was a great visit and I enjoyed myself a lot," Tucker said. "I'm one of the priorities for them in the Class of 2017 and I would fit perfectly in their system."

Tucker was coming off an unofficial to Indiana last Monday following the Nike EYBL stop there.

He also plans to take a couple more visits this month.

"I'm planning on taking visits to Maryland and Villanova this month," he said.

 

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Tags: Jordan Tucker , Recruiting , Adam Zagoria

 (Ned Dishman)
(Ned Dishman)

Hamidou Diallo enjoyed his weekend unofficial visit to Syracuse with his fellow Class of 2017 targets.

"They Syracuse visit was great," the 6-foot-6 Diallo told SNY.tv. "I went along with [NY Rens] teammate Jordan Tucker and Quade Green [of the PSA Cardinals]."

Along with the three 2017 targets, Class of 2016 forward Taurean Thompson visited, as did Colorado State transfer John Gillon, who committed to the Orange.

"The pitch was how much freedom Coach [Jim Boeheim] gives the guards and he wants me to come and take on that two-guard spot," said Diallo, a rising senior at Putnam Science (CT) Academy. "The main pitch was how much freedom I would have on the court as a freshman I was attend Syracuse."

Boeheim and assistant Gerry McNamara watched Diallo, Tucker and Green at the recent Nike EYBL stop in Brooklyn and are prioritizing all three.

Following that event, Kentucky head coach John Calipari visited Diallo at school and offered him a scholarship, and then Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski also offered.

UConn, St. John's, Kansas, Arizona and many other schools are also targeting Diallo.

"He can play anywhere and he can play for anyone," NY Rens coach Andy Borman said on The 4 Quarters Podcast.

"His upside's through the roof," Borman told SNY.tv.  "He's the most athletic naturally gifted player in the country and maybe not even for his class, maybe just hands down. The kid is 6-6, can do everything and does everything willingly. Plays defense, blocks shots, hustle plays, but the most impressive thing that I've seen is his basketball IQ is through the roof. It's not like he's just a gifted kid but he doesn't know what he's doing. Everything he does has a reason."

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Tags: Hamidou Diallo , Recruiting , Adam Zagoria

Jaylen Fisher, a 6-foot-2 point guard from Arlington (TN) Bolton and Team Thad, has plenty of suitors now that he's decommitted from UNLV.

Seton Hall, Ohio State, TCU, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Baylor, UConn, Ole Miss, Central Florida, California, Western Kentucky, Indiana, South Carolina, Texas Tech and LSU have all been in contact, his AAU coach Norton Hurd said Monday.

Hurd said Fisher had no visits planned and wouldn't be doing any interviews.

Ranked the No. 10 point guard in 2016 by 247Sports.com, Fisher initially considered Baylor, Indiana, Memphis, Arkansas and LSU before picking UNLV in October 2015.

He decommitted last week.

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Taurean Thompson enjoyed his unofficial visit to Syracuse over the weekend and could visit Michigan State next.

"Taurean's visit went well to Syracuse," Brewster (N.H.) Academy coach Jason Smith told SNY.tv. "He enjoyed it very much."

Smith said the 6-foot-10 Thompson has "No other visits scheduled at this point," but that "Michigan State has expressed interest in him taking an official."

The Spartans recently offered Thompson a scholarship.

The Class of 2016 big man is also considering UConn, Georgetown, Seton Hall and Providence, among others. The early signing period ends May 13.

"He has no decision date planned at this time," Smith said. "He will discuss his next step with his mother."

His mother, Sherese Piper, was not immediately available for comment.

Thompson visited Syracuse on a busy weekend in which Class of 2017 targets Hamidou Diallo, Quade Green and Jordan Tucker all visited, and Colorado State transfer John Gillon committed to the Orange.

"I hear from them a lot," he said of Syracuse at the Jordan Brand Classic. "I see myself fitting in well. Coach [Jim Boeheim] tells me where he's going to place me in the offense, just plans for me in the future, how he's going to use me offensively and defensively. And it's all sounding good. So I just have to compare the pros and cons and once I get all of them I'll make my decision."

Asked at the Jordan Brand Classic if he's excited to getting it over with, Thompson said, "Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it....When it feels right and I get all the pros and cons in."

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Tags: Recruiting , Taurean Thompson , Adam Zagoria

 (Brian Spurlock)
(Brian Spurlock)

Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell expects point guard Corey Sanders to return for his sophomore season and is excited about what's ahead.

The 6-foot-2 Sanders opted to test the NBA Draft waters but was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine slated for May 11-15 in Chicago. Sanders officially has until May 25 to send in his paperwork and decide to return to campus for the 2016-17 season.

"He didn't pull his name out yet because he doesn't have to until" late May, Pikiell told SNY.tv on Monday. "I'm just excited. He's been working hard. We have Mike Williams back and we have Nigel Johnson and Corey. They've been working hard and they're finishing up school right now.

"I'm excited with the staff and what we've been able to accomplish in a short period of time."

Sanders averaged 15.9 points, 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds for a Rutgers team that finished 7-25 under former coach Eddie Jordan.

Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead, Syracuse freshman guard Malachi Richardson and Iona senior guard A.J. English all received combine invites, but it appeared unlikely that Sanders would earn one.

Pikiell pointed out that even more accomplished guards like Indiana's Yogi Ferrell and Wichita State's Fred VanVleet weren't invited. (Both are listed as alternates, according to ESPN's Jeff Goodman.)

"Some tremendous guards that have tremendous resumes didn't get invited," he said.

As for Sanders, Pikiell said, "He has to work hard and get better. I think he had a good freshman year."

Meantime, Pikiell looks to continue to build the roster going forward. The team had seven scholarship players to end the season and has since added Roselle Catholic senior guard Matt Bullock and San Jacinto College forward Cândido Sá,who is close with returning big man Shaq Doorson. Pikiell cannot comment on Sá until he signs after his graduation.

Aside from Doorson, Rutgers also returns frontcourt players DeShawn Freeman and Ibrahima Diallo.

Rutgers continues to look to build its roster going forward with the addition of transfers and graduate transfers.

The Daily Orange first reported that Syracuse graduate transfer Chinonso Obokoh will visit Rutgers Tuesday after visiting St. Bonaventure this weekend.

"We'll have a full roster by the time we start," Pikiell said.

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 (Joshua Dahl)
(Joshua Dahl)

Syracuse has landed a pledge from John Gillon, a 6-foot, 175-pound point guard who is transferring from Colorado State and will be eligible immediately. He plans to sign after he graduates.

Gillon, who told SNY.tv he also considered Oklahoma and Texas A&M, averaged 13.2 points and 3.8 assists last season at Colorado State. He will provide depth in the backcourt for a Syracuse team that made the Final Four last season.

They but lose guards Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije but return guard Frank Jackson and bring in combo guard Tyus Battle and wing Matthew Moyer, among others. Freshman guard Malachi Richardson was selected for the NBA Draft Combine and may or may not return to campus.

"I'm a point but I go to the two at times because of my scoring ability," Gillon told SNY.tv. "I can score at all three levels and also get everyone else involved."

Gillon visited on a busy weekend for Syracuse, which also had Moyer, Class of 2016 forward Taurean Thompson and Class of 2017 targets Hamidou Diallo, Quade Green and Jordan Tucker on campus.

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Tags: College Transfers , Adam Zagoria

Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis (3) was one of three Kentucky players invited to the NBA Draft Combine. (Randy Sartin)
Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis (3) was one of three Kentucky players invited to the NBA Draft Combine. (Randy Sartin)

Maryland (4), Kansas (3), Kentucky (3) and North Carolina (3) lead the way in terms of players being invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago May 11-15.

The Maryland quartet of Robert Carter Jr., Diamond Stone, Jake Layman and Melo Trimble are the most from any school.

Stone is projected as the No. 22 pick by DraftExpress.com, with Trimble at No. 36, Layman at 45 and Carter Jr. at 51.

The Kansas trio of Cheick Diallo, Wayne Selden Jr., and Perry Ellis were all invited, while Brannen Greene was not.

Diallo, a one-and-done who got limited playing time at Kansas as a freshman, is projected at No. 33, Selden Jr. at 42 and Ellis at 59.

With the Kentucky guys, Jamal Murray, Skal Labissiere and Tyler Ulis were all invited, sources confirmed to SNY.tv. Isaiah Briscoe, Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress are alternates, Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported.

Murray, the latest Canadian star to follow in the wake of Andrew Wiggins, is projected as the No. 6 pick. Labissiere, the Haitian Sensation who had an uneven freshman season at Kentucky, is projected at No. 10, and Ulis, the 5-foot-9 point guard and reigning SEC Player of the Year, is at No. 19.

North Carolina's Justin Jackson, Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige were all invited. Johnson is the only one projected by DraftExpress.com to be chosen in 2016, at No. 31.

Several other schools had multiple players invited, including Syracuse (Malachi Richardson, Michael Gbinije), Oklahoma (Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins), Gonzaga (Domantas Sabonis, Kyle Wiltjer), Washington (Marquese Chriss, Dejounte Murray), Providence (Kris Dunn, Ben Bentil), Purdue (A.J. Hammons, Caleb Swanigan), Vanderbilt (Damion Jones, Wade Baldwin), St. Joe's (DeAndre' Bembry, Isaiah Miles) and UNLV (Stephen Zimmerman, Pat McCaw).

For more on the New York/New Jersey guys who were invited and who were not invited, click here.

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The NBA Draft Combine runs May 11-15 in Chicago and invitations have begun to go out.

Below is a list of nearly 60 players invited. This will be continually updated and was combined via sources and media reports. The bolded names were confirmed by another source.

The NBA announced Monday that 162 players -- 117 players from colleges/post-graduate institutions and 45 international players - have filed as early entry candidates for the 2016 NBA Draft presented by State Farm.  

Less than half of that total number are expected to be invited to Chicago.

Players wishing to enter the 2016 NBA Draft were required to submit a letter to the NBA to be received no later than Sunday, April 24. Players who have applied for early entry have the right to withdraw their names from consideration for the Draft by notifying the NBA of their decision in writing no later than 5 p.m. ET on Monday, June 13. Under NCAA rules, in order to retain college basketball eligibility, underclassmen that have entered the 2016 Draft must withdraw by Wednesday, May 25.

The NBA Draft will be held Thursday, June 23.

NBA DRAFT COMBINE INVITES

 

Player                                     School                                     Height             Status

Ron Baker                                Wichita State                  6-4                   Senior

Wade Baldwin IV                  Vanderbilt                               6-3                   Sophomore

Anthony "Cat" Barber            North Carolina State               6-2                   Junior

Malik Beasley                         Florida State                           6-5                   Freshman

DeAndre Bembry                   St. Joseph's                             6-6                   Junior

Ben Bentil                               Providence                              6-9                   Sophomore

Joel Bolomboy                   Weber State                             6-9                   Senior

Jaylen Brown                          California                                6-7                   Freshman

Robert Carter Jr.                     Maryland                                 6-9                   Junior

Marquese Chriss                      Washington                             6-9                   Freshman

Elgin Cook                      Oregon                            6-8                   RS-Senior

Isaiah Cousins                       Oklahoma    6-4                   Senior

Deyonta Davis                       Michigan State    6-10                   Freshman

Cheick Diallo                          Kansas                                     6-9                   Freshman

Kris Dunn                               Providence                              6-4                   Junior

Henry Ellenson                       Marquette                                6-11                 Freshman

Perry Ellis                      Kansas                               6-8                 Senior

A.J. English                      Iona                                6-5                 Senior

Kay Felder                              Oakland                                  5-9                   Junior

Dorian Finney-Smith                      Florida                                     6-8                   Senior

Michael Gbinije                             Syracuse                               6-7                   Junior

Daniel Hamilton                      Connecticut                             6-7                   Sophomore

A.J. Hammons                   Purdue                               7-0                 Senior

Josh Hart                                 Villanova                                 6-5                   Junior

Nigel Hayes                            Wisconsin                                6-8                   Junior

Buddy Hield                             Oklahoma                   6-4                   Senior

Brandon Ingram                             Duke                   6-9                   Freshman

Demetrius Jackson                  Notre Dame                            6-1                   Junior

Justin Jackson                         North Carolina                        6-8                   Sophomore

Brice Johnson                        North Carolina                        6-9                   Senior

Damion Jones                         Vanderbilt                        7-0 Junior

Skal Labissiere                        Kentucky                                6-11                 Freshman

Dedric Lawson                       Memphis                                 6-9                   Freshman

Jake Layman                             Maryland                                6-9                   Senior

Caris LeVert                           Michigan                                6-6                   Senior

Thon Maker                             Orangeville Prep/Athlete Institute                  7-0       Post-Graduate

Pat McCaw                             UNLV                  6-7       Sophomore

Isaiah Miles                    St. Joe's                             6-7                   Senior

Dejounte Murray                          Washington                  6-5       Freshman

Jamal Murray                          Kentucky                                6-4                   Freshman

Malik Newman                       Mississippi State                     6-3                   Freshman

Georges Niang                       Iowa State                     6-7 Senior

Chinanu Onuaku                     Louisville                                6-10                 Sophomore

Marcus Paige                        North Carolina                        6-2                   Senior

Gary Payton II                        Oregon State                         6-3                   Senior

Jakob Poeltl                             Utah                                        7-0                   Sophomore

Taurean Prince                             Baylor                                       6-7                   Senior

Malachi Richardson                Syracuse                                  6-6                   Freshman

Domantas Sabonis                  Gonzaga                                  6-11                 Sophomore

Wayne Selden Jr.                    Kansas                                     6-5                   Junior

Pascal Siakam                   New Mexico State                                     6-9                   Sophomore

Ben Simmons                            LSU                                       6-10                   Freshman

Diamond Stone                       Maryland                                 6-11                 Freshman

Caleb Swanigan                      Purdue                                     6-9                   Freshman

Melo Trimble                           Maryland                                 6-3                   Sophomore

Tyler Ulis                                Kentucky                                5-9                   Sophomore

Jarrod Uthoff                          Iowa                                     6-                   Senior

Denzel Valentine                  Michigan State                               6-5                   Senior

Isaiah Whitehead                    Seton Hall                               6-4                   Sophomore

Troy Williams                          Indiana                                    6-7                   Junior

Kyle Wiljter                        Gonzaga                 6-1                  RS-Senior

Stephen Zimmerman               UNLV                                     7-0                   Freshman

 

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 (Anthony Gruppuso)
(Anthony Gruppuso)

Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead, Syracuse freshman guard Malachi Richardson and Iona senior guard A.J. English headlined the list of New York/New Jersey-area players invited to the NBA Draft Combine May 11-15 in Chicago, sources told SNY.tv.

The 6-foot-5 Whitehead won the Haggerty Award given to the best player in the metropolitan area. The 6-6 Richardson helped lead Syracuse to the Final Four. And the 6-5 English was named the MVP of the recent Portsmouth Invitational. English was also set to work out Saturday for the Utah Jazz, a source said.

DraftExpress.com projects the 6-foot-5 Whitehead as a second round pick in 2017, while neither Richardson nor English is projected to be drafted. All three players could help their stock in Chicago.

"I've heard late-first round [this year], early second but if I go into the Combine and wake some people up, hopefully it can go up," Whitehead told SNY.tv last month.

Meantime, former Sports U players Wade Baldwin of Vanderbilt and DeAndre Bembry of St. Joe's were both invited to the Combine, as was Richardson's Syracuse teammate Michael Gbinije. The 6-3 Baldwin is projected as the No. 15 pick by DraftExpress.com, the 6-6 Bembry is projected at No. 30 and the 6-7 is projected at No. 55.

St. Joe's senior guard Isaiah Miles was also invited, the school announced.

Other players with area connections invited include former Mount Vernon High School star of Isaiah Cousins. The 6-4 Oklahoma senior guard helped earn an invite with strong play in the NCAA Tournament en route to the Final Four.

Cheick Diallo, who played at Our Savior New American and chose Kansas over St. John's, was also invited. He is projected as the No. 33 pick but could work his way into the first round with a strong performance.

UConn wing Daniel Hamilton and VIllanova's Josh Hart were also invited, although neither is a projected first-round pick.

Kentucky freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe, who starred at Roselle (N.J.) Catholic, was named an alternate, meaning he could earn an invite if other players withdraw.

Among local players not invited to the Combine were Rutgers freshman guard Corey Sanders, sources told SNY.tv. If the 6-2 point guard returns to campus, he and 6-1 redshirt Nigel Johnson should help give first-year coach Steve Pikiell a strong backcourt.

Moustapha Diagne, a onetime Syracuse commit now at Northwest Florida State, was also not invited.

Underclassmen can test the NBA Draft waters without hiring an agent and opt to return to campus by May 25.

ZAGSBLOG will have live coverage of the Combine beginning May 11 in Chicago.

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Jarrett Allen, one of two uncommitted big men in the Class of 2016 along with Marques Bolden, is now considering Houston, Texas and Kansas, a source confirmed to SNY.tv.

Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com reported Friday that Kentucky and Notre Dame were no longer options for the 6-foot-10, 225-pound Allen out of Austin (TX) St. Stephen's Episcopal.

Allen did not immediately respond to a text message on Saturday for comment.

In a video interview with Evan Daniels of Scout.com from the McDonald's All-American Game in Chicago, Allen said he planned to announce sometime after the Hoop Summit, which was April 9.

"I'm definitely going to start thinking about it after the Hoop Summit game," he told Daniels. "It's going to be a busy time period from now until Hoop Summit, so after that I'm going to start thinking about it a lot."

At that point, Allen had recently met with Texas head coach Shaka Smart.

"We sat down for about an hour or two just talking about how the program would help me and how I would fit into the program," Allen said. "It was good to sit down."

He added: "It's a good school...Coach Smart with Prince Ibeh, he really helped his confidence, so it's a good school."

Kansas-bound big man Udoka Azubuike has also been recruiting Allen to Kansas.

"They're big men, like Perry Ellis in the Tournament, he's been doing excellent," Allen said. "Overall, all their big men have progressed and developed."

Houston is also close to home.

"Coach [Kelvin] Sampson, he's a good coach," he said. "I really like how he plays his freshmen."

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Three days after landing an offer from Duke, Cam Reddish, a 6-7 Class of 2018 small forward from Team Final and the Westtown (Pa.) School), picked one up from Kentucky on Friday.

Reddish previously held offers from Maryland, UConn, Villanova, Seton Hall, Penn State and Auburn.

Bob Reddish, the player's father, spoke with Kentucky head coach John Calipari.

"They were impressed with the way he's playing and see him as a fit for their program," Bob said.

Bob said his son would like to take an unofficial to Kentucky at some point.

"Cam is still so young," Team Final coach Aaron Burt said this week. "It's good to see him playing with so much confidence. He's our fill in the gap guy. If we need a point guard, it's Cam. If we need a shooting guard, it's Cam. If we need a rebound, it's Cam. He's so multi-faceted. He's 6-7 right now, which is scary.

"On June 15 or whenever they can call him [and members of the Class of 2018] I'm sure his phone will be super busy from almost everyone across the country."

According to Ben Roberts of Next Cats, Kentucky has now offered four players in the Class of 2018: Reddish, Marvin Bagley, Romeo Langford and Jaedon LeDee.

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Christian Vital, a 6-foot-2 combo guard from Oakdale (CT) St. Thomas More and the PSA Cardinals AAU program, committed to UConn on Friday, he Tweeted.

A first-team NEPSAC AAA selection who averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds and 2.2 assists last season, Vital took an unofficial to the campus on Monday with his mother following an official visit the week before.

"Basically [Kevin Ollie], he's texted me before 9 every day this week," Vital told Scout.com. "Just letting me know about he Lakers situation and that he loves me and he's staying at UConn. That really means something to me, to have that kind of relationship with the head coach, knowing he has a million things to do."

Ollie has been linked to the Lakers coaching vacancy but told ESPN's Andy Katz it would take something "very special" for him to leave UConn.

Asked what Ollie's message to Vital was, he told SNY.tv: "He wants me. He wants a guy like me who has my versatility. There is a spot for me to earn minutes right away."

UConn lost Daniel Hamilton to the NBA Draft, Sterling Gibbs to graduation and Sam Cassell Jr. to transfer (Iona), but returns guards Jalen Adams and Rodney Purvis and adds incoming floor general Alterique Gilbert and VCU transfer Terry Larrier.

"Christian is a player a coach loves to work with," St. Thomas More head coach Jere Quinn said. "He is the first in the gym and last to leave. He has all the intangibles as a player. His skill set is many. He loves to defend but can score in a many ways. He is a great kid with a bright future."

"CV is a tremendous competitor and a lock-down defender who takes pride in defense," St. Thomas More assistant Pat Quinn told SNY.tv. "He can knock down shots and is go-to in the clutch."

He added: "He will get stronger with a major program's strength and conditioning program. He's a combo guard who will need to get more comfortable at the point."

The Queens Village native decommitted from UNLV following the coaching change and then cut his list to UConn, Louisville and Iowa. He took an official visit to Louisville but never tripped to Iowa.

 

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Marques Bolden has yet to announce his college choice, much to the chagrin of many Kentucky and Duke fans.

But incoming Kentucky point guard De'Aaron Fox made one last pitch for Bolden to join Big Blue Nation via USA Today (and a transcription from Kentucky Sports Radio).

#Kentucky signee @swipathefox gives uncommitted 5-star center Marques Bolden his best sales pitch to join him in #BBN!

A video posted by USA TODAY High School Sports (@usatodayhss) on

"Hey Marques, it's your boy D-Fox. Man, I know your decision is coming up pretty soon, but we already know Kentucky's the best spot for you. You're trying to live out your dreams, you're already know we have the best coaching staff in the country to prepare you for the next level.

"Bam [Adebayo], Malik [Monk], Sacha [Killeya-Jones], Wenyen [Gabriel], Brad [Calipari], and I all want you to join this great freshman class that we're about to have next year. I don't have to tell you how much Big Blue Nation wants you. So, hey, it's your decision, but you already know what the right one is."

Meantime, Duke's Jayson Tatum also made his pitch (in a very dark environment).

Duke signee @jaysontatum22 gives uncommitted 5-star center Marques Bolden his best sales pitch to join him at #Duke! #bluedevils

A video posted by USA TODAY High School Sports (@usatodayhss) on

"Come on, bro, we need you. Come to play for Coach K, the best coach in college basketball, five national championships, a great class coming in. We got Grayson [Allen], Amile [Jefferson], Luke [Kennard], Matt Jones, all those guys coming back. Come on, bro, you the last piece.

"I feel like we can be really special if you come. It's a tough decision, but we gonna support you. Come and be part of the family, bro."

For his part, Bolden says he's still undecided.

"I do most of my thinking about it laying in my bed by myself at night," he told USA Today. "I just don't know what I'm gonna do yet. It's funny, I read what people say on Twitter and they just know that I already know or they just know period. It's at tough decision."

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Aundre Hyatt took an unofficial visit to St. John's on Wednesday, but the 6-foot-6, 205-pound sophomore small forward from White Plains (N.Y.) Archbishop Stepinac still has a long way to go in his recruitment.

"We grabbed a bite to eat and we saw the campus and then we watched the guys work out," Hyatt said of his trip to Queens this week.

Asked what St. John's coach Chris Mullin's message for him was, "Keep doing what I'm doing, I'm on a good track."

Hyatt, who plays with Class of 2017 St. John's target Jordan Tucker at Stepinac and runs with the NY Lightning on the Nike EYBL circuit, now holds offers from St. John's, Yale, South Florida, St. Louis, UMass, La Salle, Iona and Manhattan.

Stanford and Xavier also reached out to express interest.

"They're all working hard," Hyatt said.

With two more years of high school, Hyatt's upside is high.

"I'm a good perimeter shooter," he said. "I can block shots and I rebound well."

Stepinac coach Pat Massaroni believes Hyatt's ceiling is high.

"From the time we met Aundre last summer till now, he just continues to develop his game," Massaroni said. "He can shoot the ball at a really high level and he showed that even at 6-6 he can play with some of the bigger guys, some guys that we played against that were 6-10, 6-11 that we had him guard.

"His upside is through the roof. He's athletic, he can shoot the ball, he can finish. The biggest thing we're working on right now is being able to score off the dribble....Continuing to work extra hard with his back to the basket, not just from 3 feet in, but from 8 feet in. And then one of the biggest things, he's always willing to work. He's there early, he stays extra. As a 15-year-old sophomore, he's got potential through the roof.

"I think right now and in July, there's going to be a lot more offers coming."

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Jordan Nwora is one of the top small forwards in the Class of 2017. The 6-foot-8 Nwora will be contributing periodically to ZAGSBLOG going forward. Here is his first Player Blog.

Hi. My name is Jordan Nwora and I am a 6-foot--8 SG/SF from Amherst, New York.

I'm currently playing on the Nike EYBL circuit with the NY Rens. I'm really thankful for the opportunity to post my brief autobiography on ZAGSBLOG.

I am 17 years old and am finishing my senior year at the Park School of Buffalo. Because my birthday is in the fall, I started school when I was 4. I plan to attend prep school next year for a post-grad year to further develop my basketball and finish growing. My doctor thinks I may have an inch or two still to come. I am presently living at home with my parents, three younger sisters, and two additional boys that my parents have guardianship of. I know that seems like a lot, and at times it really is a lot, but my family is great. The house is always chaotic, but I wouldn't want it any other way. With all these people around, I have certainly learned the importance of teamwork!

My mother is a college professor, so academics have always been really important. Mom has made it very clear throughout my childhood that if my grades were to drop, she would pull me out of sports long before any coach ever told me I couldn't play. I have always kept my grades up, not just because I have to, but also because I don't want to let my parents down. I have also worked to challenge myself academically. I am currently taking Honors Physics and AP Government, along with my other classes.

While my mom handles academics, my father is Head Men's Basketball Coach at Erie Community College. He has spent more hours than I could possibly explain teaching me the game. I can't remember a time when I didn't play basketball. When I was in first grade, my parents signed me up for Players in Progress (PiPs). PiPs worked on ball handling drills and we performed during halftime of the varsity boys basketball games. It seems strange, but I think that the experience of PiPs really advanced my ball handling skills ahead of other kids my age at the time. When I started playing team basketball in 3rd grade, I was ready. I quickly took on the point guard role.

Over time, I started to move through the other positions on the court, and I can say that I have played all 5 positions at one point or another. Because of my size, high school coaches have moved me around from the wing to the post. I'm glad for the experience in all the positions because I have been able to work on improving my skills at both my inside and outside game. My natural position is on the wing. I am most comfortable with the ball in my hands shooting from the perimeter.

I recently made the decision to play for Coach Alex Popp next year at Vermont Academy after building a great relationship with him and the rest of the coaching staff.

Looking toward college, I currently have offers from Auburn, Oklahoma State, USC, Seton Hall, Xavier, Marquette, DePaul, South Florida, Long Beach State, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Fordham. I have really been enjoying the recruiting process so far and am thankful for all the offers.

As far as what I like to do, aside from basketball, I like watching TV and listening to music. I tend to watch basketball/sports on TV, but I haven't missed an episode of the Walking Dead either! I also just got my driver's license, so I'm looking forward to getting out and driving. I'm hoping I didn't bore you all too much with my autobiography. I'm not really used to writing about myself. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to blog again later.

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Deng Gak was stunned when the voice on the other end of the phone belonged to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

"It's pretty surreal when Coach K calls you," the 6-foot-10, 205-pound Gak said.

Coach K called Gak on Thursday to extend a scholarship offer to the forward from Blair (N.J.) Academy and the PSA Cardinals.

"Obviously he is excited about Duke's offer but it only means that they believe in his potential," Blair coach Joe Mantegna said. "Deng needs to still be about the process of daily improvement regardless of who offers."

The Duke head man had called PSA Cardinals director Terrance "Munch" Williams earlier this week to check on Gak, big man Mohamed Bamba and point guard Quade Green. Bamba holds a Duke offer, while Green does not.

"He said he thinks I have a huge upside and that he thinks I fit their system greatly," Gak said of Coach K.

Duke's Jeff Capel, Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith all saw the Cardinals at the recent Nike stop in Brooklyn.

Scheyer also stopped in to Blair last fall to see Gak, who was born in Egypt but lived almost his entire life in Australia.

"Deng is a very skilled and versatile big who proceses the game at a high level and has already at age 17 played on the global stage," Mantegna said this fall. "He is one of the highest-upside guys we have ever had at Blair. As importantly, he is a high-character, good teammate who comes from an academically-oriented family as well. The sky is the limit as he gets stronger, more assertive, and adjusts to the different way the game is played in the U.S."

Mantegna previously coached current Miami Heat and former Duke wing Luol Deng at Blair, and both Deng and Gak are of Dinka descent.

"A contact in Australia brought him to my attention," Mantegna said of Gak. "We connected this summer when Luol and I were in Australia running clinics."

Gak chose Blair in part because of the Deng connection.

"I've spoken to [Luol Deng] heaps about his time at Blair," Gak told Australian writer Olgun Uluc. "It's huge because he's also Sudanese, so he's pretty much been through the same stuff I've been through, and am currently going through. He's definitely somebody I look up to."

Gak played on the Australian U19 team last summer, averaging 4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 0.7 blocks as a starter when the team finished seventh at the FIBA U19 World Championship.

 

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Cândido Sá, a 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward from San Jacinto College, has committed to Rutgers. He will be eligible immediately and has two years to play. 

A 23-year-old native of Lisbon, Portugal, Sá averaged 9.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game while shooting 46 percent from the field for San Jacinto, a community college based in Houston, TX.

Greg "Shoes" Vetrone was the lead recruiter for Sá this past year while he was an assistant coach, and head coach Steve Pikiell has visited Sa at San Jacinto. 

"I chose Rutgers because I have people there that I consider family, Shoes and Shaq [Doorson]," Sá told SNY.tv. "I went to visit two weeks ago and I loved it. I'm really close with Shaq so I have been watching a lot of Rutgers games these past two seasons which helped a lot on the decision. I think I have a chance to contribute right away. I bring versatility and shot blocking ability. I can play and guard multiple positions."

Sá was scheduled to visit Texas this weekend, but after the trip was pushed back, he decided to commit to Rutgers. Pittsburgh and Western Kentucky were also interested.

"He has a big upside because he's long with good athleticism and can step out to the three-point line," San Jacinto head coach Scott Gerander said about Sá. "He also has great hands and didn't miss a game or practice in two years. He can get better in a couple areas but he loves to be in the gym so he'll be ready to work."

With the addition of Sá and Roselle Catholic wing Matt Bullock, Rutgers now has nine scholarship players, thus Sa will add frontcourt depth. They remain in hte mix for 6-9 forward Issa Thiam, who initially committed to former Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan. He is expected to decide soon.

"Everything's in play, transfers, fifth-year guys," Rutgers assistant Jay Young said Thursday. "But they just have to be the right people, the right situation. We want to make sure that we don't just try and do something quickly for the short term. This is a long-term thing and we're always keeping that in mind when we're making those [roster] decisions."

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 (Kelly Kline / Under Armour)
(Kelly Kline / Under Armour)

Before heading to St. John's this summer, Shamorie Ponds is closing out his high school career with a series of high-profile All-Star games.

The 6-foot-1 Brooklyn Thomas Jefferson product will play Thursday night in the Capital Classic at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and will then fly to California for the Ballislife All-American Game on Saturday in Long Beach.

Ponds is coming off a 17-point performance as the West lost to the East in the Jordan Brand Classic on April 15 in his home borough of Brooklyn.

"I just want to continue displaying my talent and cap off my high school career on a good note," Ponds, who led Thomas Jefferson to the New York State Federation Tournament of Champions title, said by phone from D.C.

Some of Ponds' teammates on the U.S. All Stars in the Capital Classic include fellow Brooklyn native Rawle Alkins (Arizona). T.J. Gibbs (Notre Dame), Jagan Mosely (Georgetown) and Lamar Stevens (Penn State).

As for the Ballislife Game, Ponds will be joined by Alkins, Terrance Ferguson (Arizona), Michigan State signee Miles Bridges and UCLA-bound T.J. Leaf and Lonzo Ball, among others.

When Ponds arrives at St. John's after Memorial Day, he will be joined by transfers Justin Simon (Arizona) and Marvin Clark (Michigan State).

"Yeah, I kind of heard about the transfers," Ponds said. "Coach [Chris Mullin] said we got some good leaders coming in that will be great practice players because they have to sit out this year."

Ponds believes that should make practices tougher for him and fellow incoming recruits Bashir Ahmed and Richard Freudenberg, along with the returning core of Federico Mussini, Malik Ellison and Kassoum Yakwe, as well as Marcus LoVett, who sat out last season as a partial qualifier.

"I think the practices are going to be intense," Ponds said. "They're going to be game-like so the games will be easier."

He added: "[Mullin] told me that we have two new transfers who are going to be good leaders for us."

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St. John's hosted Class of 2018 Archbishop Stepinac forward Aundre Hyatt on Wednesday and will host Arkansas State transfer Anthony Livingston on Thursday. The 6-8 Livingston averaged 15.5 points and 9.4 rebounds last season. He would be immediately eligible to play.

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 (Kelly Kline / Under Armour)
(Kelly Kline / Under Armour)

**UPDATE** Rawle Alkins was named the MVP of the 43rd annual Capital Classic after going for 23 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks as the USA All Stars beat the Capital All Stars 118-116 on Thursday at Catholic University.**

 

Rawle Alkins wasn't selected for either the McDonald's All-American Game or the Jordan Brand Classic, but he's excited for the two All-Star games he will compete in this week to close out his high school career.

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Arizona signee will play in the Capital Classic on Thursday night at Catholic University, and will then fly to California for the Ballislife All-American Game on Saturday in Long Beach.

"This is right up there for me," Alkins said Wednesday by phone from D.C. "This is the Capitol Classic, so I look at it as an honor, a great opportunity."

Some of Alkins teammates on the U.S. All Stars in the Capital Classic include Shamorie Ponds (St. John's). T.J. Gibbs (Notre Dame), Jagan Mosely (Georgetown) and Lamar Stevens (Penn State).

As for the Ballislife Game, Alkins will be joined by Ponds, his future Arizona teammate Terrance Ferguson, Michigan State signee Miles Bridges and UCLA-bound T.J. Leaf and Lonzo Ball, among others.

In Washington, D.C., Ponds got in the ear of Alkins, a Brooklyn native, about why he didn't pick St. John's.

"Just a little bit," Ponds said. "I just asked him what was up, why he didn't come. He said he did what was best for him."

Alkins will head to Arizona as part of a loaded recruiting class that includes Ferguson, point guard Kobi Simmons and power forward Lauri Markkanen. The Wildcats also add redshirt small forward Ray Smith.

Just as he knew about Simmons' pledge before it became public, Alkins said he knew Ferguson was coming to the desert, too.

"It wasn't a surprise, I knew he was going to go there," Alkins said of Ferguson's April 13th pledge. "I think I was the only person he told before he committed."

Ferguson was named the MVP of the Nike Hoop Summit after making a record seven three-pointers in the USA's 101-67 win over the World Team.

"Me and him aren't the same type of player," Alkins said. "He's a three-point shooter, he knocks it down from anywhere above halfcourt. He can step in and make a halfcourt shot consistently, so he's a great player, plays great defense."

Alkins said he and his fellow recruits are all tight.

"Yeah, we all cool," he said. "We have a group chat so it's like we're a whole group that's not familiar with each other. We all know each other."

Sources said Alkins will play the one, two and three at Arizona and he said head coach Sean Miller has preached the concept of positionless basketball to his players.

"He's telling us right now the league right now is just a positionless league," Alkins said. "No one really has a position, like what is Draymond Green? And what is LeBron James? They're not really anything, so we're just basketball players. [Miller] said if he had to guess [my position] would be shooting guard."

Much has been made of the fact that Arizona has six or seven guys for three positions -- with Alkins, Simmons, Ferguson, Smith and returning guards Allonzo Trier, Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Kadeem Allen.

But Alkins isn't concerned.

"I can't tell you how it's going to work out now, we would have to wait and see," Alkins said. "From my understanding, I think we're going to be really good. We're going to have a mixture of both experienced guys and guys that are new to this. Everybody is ready to play, I know I am, so I think the best players will always be on the floor."

Alkins can't wait to get to Arizona.

"I want to go as soon as possible, but I'm not sure [when I'm leaving] right now," he said.

The Wildcats were bounced by Wichita State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and Alkins said he and his future teammates can't wait to get redemption.

"That's not an option for us," he said of losing early. "This year they didn't win the Pac-12, so it's a whole different ballgame. That's kind of our expectation as a recruiting class. I'm not going to go out on a ledge and say we guarantee it but I feel very confident that we definitely have what it takes and I feel like we can just shock the country."

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Cal got its second piece of good news this week when Grant Mullins picked the Bears over Syracuse and Michigan.

A 6-foot-3 graduate transfer, Mullins will be immediately eligible in 2016-17 for coach Cuonzo Martin.

Cal's first chunk of good news came when Ivan Rabb, a projected first-round NBA Draft pick, opted to return to campus for his sophomore season. Cal will lose freshman wing Jaylen Brown -- a projected top-5 pick, to the Draft.

A Burlington, Ontario native, Mullins averaged 13.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists for the Lions, who won the CIT championship last month.

He can help offset the loss of graduating point guard Tyrone Wallace.

"I know they lose a few guys to the NBA so I think I can come in and help at the point guard position, as best I can," Mullins told Scout.com. "That's kind of where I think I fit in, right now. I think that's their idea. The coaches have to see me in person -- they've seen film, obviously -- they have to see how my game fits in with what they're trying to do, and however they decide to play me, I'm happy with, and I'll do whatever I can to help the team have success."

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CR45DwxWUAAQ4tm It took new Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell and assistant Brandin Knight to do what the State University of New Jersey should have done a while ago.

Knight called Sports U Team Izod coach Brian Coleman this week to offer scholarships to the Class of 2018 "Fab Five" that Seton Hall first offered as a group last October.

The group consists of 6-foot point guard Jahvon Quinerly, 6-3 shooting guard Luther Muhammad, 6-6 small forward Louis King, 6-3 point guard Atiba Taylor and 6-9 power forward Naz Reid, the most highly recruited of the five.

"Brandin called and offered all five of them scholarships," Coleman said Wednesday by phone.

"They can't speak directly to the kids until June [15] so I just relayed the message to the kids."

Said Quinerly: "We're all excited and humbled to be given another opportunity to play together at the next level."

For what it's worth, I wrote that this was one of the five things Pikiell should do upon getting the job in March.

There's no guarantee that Rutgers will land all -- or any -- of these players, just as there's no guarantee Seton Hall will although the Pirates have at least a year's head start. Reid, for example, holds offers from the likes of Kansas, UConn, Louisivlle, Maryland and St. John's, but Coleman said, "He's wide open right now."

Asked how good the group could all be in college if they stayed together when Seton Hall first offered, Quinerly said: "That would be crazy, that would be pretty crazy. That's some W's."

Is it realistic?

The-Fab-5-documentary"We've talked about it before so I know that there's a possibility that it could happen," Quinerly said. "We just talk about playing together. Me and Luther came to the same high school together. Originally, Louis, Atiba and Nazi were all going to go to Roselle Catholic together, so we paired up with each other. We talk about it all the time."

Quinerly, Muhammad and King are all now at Hudson Catholic, Reid plays for Roselle Catholic and Taylor for Hackensack.

Pikiell and his staff have been busy handing out offers to other young talented area players, including 2017 Christ the King point guard Jose Alvarado, 2018s Jalen Carey and Justin Winston of Immaculate Conception and 2019s Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine of the Ranney School, Al Dawes of The Patrick School and Paul Mulcahy of Gill St. Bernard's.

"I think it says that Pikiell wants to try to aggressively recruit the state and he's being aggressive and proactive at trying to establish relationships with the young guys and give them a chance to try to know him and show them what his plans are going forward for Rutgers basketball," Coleman said.

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Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine are still only freshmen at the Tinton Falls (N.J.) Ranney School, but they are already gaining a national reputation.

Playing this summer for Team Rio on the Under Armour circuit, Lewis, a 6-foot-3 forward, and Antoine, a 6-3 guard, have picked up offers from Maryland, Villanova, Florida, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, Rutgers, St. John's, Colgate and Temple.

St. John's was the first to offer, in February, followed by Seton Hall and Rutgers.

They have also garnered interest from Kansas, Wake Forest, N.C. State, Xavier, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

"Bryan Antoine's skills, athleticism, and IQ are off the charts," said Brian Klatsky of Team Rio. "He also takes his academics seriously at Ranney school. If he continues to work hard and be humble, he can become a player like Ray Allen.

"Scottie Lewis is a freak of nature with his explosiveness and wing span. He has only been playing the game since sixth grade. His skill development grows exponentially week to week with his commitment to training and practice. At Ranney school, he is a leader on and off the court and a hard working student. His body like Bryan Antoine looks like a high school freshman that is still growing and filling out. He can become a player like Dwyane Wade if he continues to work and develop."

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Brandon Randolph continues to pile up high-major offers after a strong start on the Nike EYBL circuit.

The 6-foot-6, 175-pound Class of 2017 shooting guard from the PSA Cardinals picked up offers from North Carolina and Oregon on Tuesday.

That came after he added offers last week from Arizona, Villanova, Syracuse, Kansas, Notre Dame and DePaul.

Randolph, a Yonkers, N.Y., native who plays for the Westtown (Pa.) School, already held offers from UConn, Alabama, Florida State, Louisville, Marquette, Xavier, St. John's, Seton Hall and more.

"They're all working equally hard, and we're just enjoying the processs," his mother, Robin Randolph, told SNY.tv.

 

DUKE OFFERS CAM REDDISH

Cam Reddish, a 6-7 Class of 2018 small forward from Team Final and the Westtown (Pa.) School), added an offer from Duke on Tuesday.

Reddish previously held offers from Maryland, UConn, Villanova, Seton Hall, Penn State and Auburn.

"Cam is still so young," Team Final coach Aaron Burt said on Tuesday. "It's good to see him playing with so much confidence. He's our fill in the gap guy. If we need a point guard, it's Cam. If we need a shooting guard, it's Cam. If we need a rebound, it's Cam. He's so multi-faceted. He's 6-7 right now, which is scary.

"On June 15 or whenever they can call him [and members of the Class of 2018] I'm sure his phone will be super busy from almost everyone across the country."

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 (Derick E. Hingle)
(Derick E. Hingle)

The NBA announced Monday that 162 players -- 117 players from colleges/post-graduate institutions and 45 international players - have filed as early entry candidates for the 2016 NBA Draft presented by State Farm.  

Players wishing to enter the 2016 NBA Draft were required to submit a letter to the NBA to be received no later than Sunday, April 24. Players who have applied for early entry have the right to withdraw their names from consideration for the Draft by notifying the NBA of their decision in writing no later than 5 p.m. ET on Monday, June 13. Under NCAA rules, in order to retain college basketball eligibility, underclassmen that have entered the 2016 Draft must withdraw by Wednesday, May 25.

Following is the list of players from colleges and post-graduate institutions who have applied for early entry into the 2016 NBA Draft, which will be held Thursday, June 23.

EARLY ENTRY CANDIDATES FOR 2016 NBA DRAFT

 

Player                                     School                                     Height             Status

Abdul-Malik Abu                   North Carolina State               6-8                   Sophomore

Rosco Allen                            Stanford                                  6-9                   Junior

Tony Anderson                       Southeast Missouri State        6-9                   Freshman

BeeJay Anya                           North Carolina State               6-9                   Junior

Brandon Austin                      Northwest Florida State         6-6                   Sophomore

Ian Baker                                New Mexico State                  6-0                   Junior

Wade Baldwin IV                  Vanderbilt                               6-3                   Sophomore

Anthony "Cat" Barber            North Carolina State               6-2                   Junior

V.J. Beachem                          Notre Dame                            6-8                   Junior

Malik Beasley                         Florida State                           6-5                   Freshman

DeAndre Bembry                   St. Joseph's                             6-6                   Junior

Ben Bentil                               Providence                              6-9                   Sophomore

James Blackmon Jr.                 Indiana                                    6-4                   Sophomore

Antonio Blakeney                   LSU                                        6-4                   Freshman

Jaron Blossomgame                Clemson                                  6-7                   Junior

Trevon Bluiett                         Xavier                                     6-6                   Sophomore

Amida Brimah                        Connecticut                             7-0                   Junior

Isaiah Briscoe                          Kentucky                                6-3                   Freshman

Dillon Brooks                          Oregon                                    6-7                   Sophomore

Elijah Brown                           New Mexico                           6-4                   Sophomore

Jaylen Brown                          California                                6-7                   Freshman

Lamous Brown                       Utah State U-Eastern (CC)     7-0                   Sophomore

Deonte Burton                        Iowa State                               6-4                   Junior

Antonio Campbell                   Ohio                                        6-10                 Junior

Kareem Canty                         Auburn                                    6-0                   Junior

Robert Carter Jr.                     Maryland                                 6-9                   Junior

Marquese Chriss                      Washington                             6-9                   Freshman

Conor Clifford                        Washington State                    7-0                   Junior

Charles Cooke III                   Dayton                                    6-5                   Junior

Bakari Copeland                     Maryland-Eastern Shore         6-6                   Junior

Deyonta Davis                        Michigan State                        6-10                 Freshman

Moustapha Diagne                  Northwest Florida State         6-9                   Freshman

Cheick Diallo                          Kansas                                     6-9                   Freshman

Tyler Dorsey                           Oregon                                    6-4                   Freshman

D'andre Downey                    Stillman College (AL)             6-9                   Junior

Kris Dunn                               Providence                              6-4                   Junior

Vince Edwards                       Purdue                                     6-8                   Sophomore

Henry Ellenson                       Marquette                                6-11                 Freshman

Kay Felder                              Oakland                                  5-9                   Junior

Brannen Greene                      Kansas                                     6-7                   Junior

Jimmy Hall                              Kent State                               6-8                   Junior

Daniel Hamilton                      Connecticut                             6-7                   Sophomore

Cedric Happi Noube               Virginia Union                        6-7                   Junior

Jordan Hare                             Rhode Island                          6-10                 Junior

Josh Hart                                 Villanova                                 6-5                   Junior

Josh Hawkinson                      Washington State                    6-10                 Junior

Nigel Hayes                            Wisconsin                                6-8                   Junior

Brandon Ingram                      Duke                                       6-9                   Freshman        

Ike Iroegbu                             Washington State                    6-2                   Junior

Demetrius Jackson                  Notre Dame                            6-1                   Junior

Justin Jackson                         North Carolina                        6-8                   Sophomore

Julian Jacobs                           USC                                        6-4                   Junior

Stefan Jankovic                       Hawaii                                     6-11                 Junior

Anthony January                     Cal State-San Bernardino       6-8                   Sophomore

Kris Jenkins                             Villanova                                 6-6                   Junior

Que Johnson                           Washington State                    6-5                   Junior

Peter Jok                                 Iowa                                        6-6                   Junior

Damian Jones                          Vanderbilt                               7-0                   Junior

Derrick Jones Jr.                      UNLV                                     6-7                   Freshman

Nikola Jovanovic                    USC                                        6-11                 Junior

Moses Kingsley                       Arkansas                                 6-10                 Junior

Travion Kirkendoll                  Centenary College (LA)         6-3                   Sophomore

Skal Labissiere                        Kentucky                                6-11                 Freshman

Jermaine Lawrence                 Manhattan                               6-10                 Sophomore

Dedric Lawson                       Memphis                                 6-9                   Freshman

Marcus Lee                             Kentucky                                6-9                   Junior

Thon Maker                             Orangeville Prep/Athlete Institute                  7-0       Post-Graduate

Emmanuel Malou                    Yuba CC (CA)                        6-9                   Sophomore

Makai Mason                          Yale                                         6-1                   Sophomore

Patrick McCaw                       UNLV                                     6-7                   Sophomore

Zak McLaughlin                     Gadsden State CC (AL)         6-9                   Freshman

Jahmal McMurray                   South Florida                          6-0                   Freshman

Kennedy Meeks                      North Carolina                        6-10                 Junior

Dallas Moore                           North Florida                          6-1                   Junior

Jalen Moore                             Utah State                               6-9                   Junior

Dejounte Murray                     Washington                             6-5                   Freshman

Jamal Murray                          Kentucky                                6-4                   Freshman

Mamadou Ndiaye                   UC-Irvine                                7-6                   Junior

Tyrell Nelson                           Gardner-Webb                        6-7                   Junior

Malik Newman                       Mississippi State                     6-3                   Freshman

Marc-Eddy Norelia                 Florida Gulf Coast                  6-8                   Junior

Chris Obekpa                          St. John's                                6-10                 Junior

Goodluck Okonoboh              UNLV                                     6-10                 Sophomore

Cameron Oliver                       Nevada                                    6-8                   Freshman

Chinanu Onuaku                     Louisville                                6-10                 Sophomore

Alec Peters                              Valparaiso                               6-9                   Junior

QJ Peterson                             VMI                                        6-0                   Junior

Jakob Poeltl                             Utah                                        7-0                   Sophomore

Malik Pope                              San Diego State                      6-10                 Sophomore

Rodney Purvis                        Connecticut                             6-4                   Junior

Tim Quarterman                      LSU                                        6-6                   Junior

Jalen Reynolds                        Xavier                                     6-10                 Junior

Malachi Richardson                Syracuse                                  6-6                   Freshman

Domantas Sabonis                  Gonzaga                                  6-11                 Sophomore

Corey Sanders Jr.                    Rutgers                                    6-2                   Freshman

Wayne Selden Jr.                    Kansas                                     6-5                   Junior

Ingrid Sewa                            Arizona Western College (CC)6-9                  Sophomore

Pascal Siakam                         New Mexico State                  6-9                   Sophomore

Ben Simmons                          LSU                                        6-10                 Freshman

Diamond Stone                       Maryland                                 6-11                 Freshman

Caleb Swanigan                      Purdue                                     6-9                   Freshman        

Isaiah Taylor                           Texas                                       6-1                   Junior

Rakish Taylor                          Anderson University (SC)      6-7                   Junior

Ethan Telfair                           Idaho State                             6-0                   Junior

Trevor Thompson                    Ohio State                               6-11                 Sophomore

Melo Trimble                           Maryland                                 6-3                   Sophomore

Tyler Ulis                                Kentucky                                5-9                   Sophomore

Aaron Valdes                          Hawaii                                     6-5                   Junior

Maurice Watson Jr.                 Creighton                                5-10                 Junior

James Webb III                       Boise State                              6-9                   Junior

Andrew White III                   Nebraska                                 6-7                   Junior

Isaiah Whitehead                    Seton Hall                               6-4                   Sophomore     

Devin Williams                       West Virginia                          6-9                   Junior

Troy Williams                          Indiana                                    6-7                   Junior

Alec Wintering                        Portland                                  5-11                 Junior

Zeek Woodley                        Northwestern State                 6-2                   Junior

Stephen Zimmerman               UNLV                                     7-0                   Freshman

 

The following is the list of international players who have applied for early entry into the 2016 NBA Draft:

 

Player                                     Team/Country of Team        Height              Status

Marko Arapovic                      Cedevita (Croatia)                  6-9                   1996 DOB

Ege Arar                                  Galatasaray (Turkey)               6-9                   1996 DOB

Edin Atic                                Spars Sarajevo (Bosnia)          6-7                   1997 DOB

Gracin Bakumanya                 Antibes (France)                     7-0                   1997 DOB

Romaric Belemene                  Clinicas Rincon (Spain)          6-9                   1997 DOB

Dragan Bender                        Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)       7-0                   1997 DOB

Metecan Birsen                       Istanbul BSB (Turkey)            6-9                   1995 DOB

Axel Bouteille                         Chalon (France)                      6-7                   1995 DOB

Isaia Cordinier                        Denain (France)                      6-5                   1996 DOB

Petr Cornelie                           Le Mans (France)                    6-11                 1995 DOB

Ilimane Diop                           Laboral Kutxa (Spain)            6-11                 1995 DOB

Youssoupha Fall                     Le Mans (France)                    7-3                   1995 DOB

Diego Flaccadori                     Trento (Italy)                           6-5                   1996 DOB

Michael Fusek                         Spirou (Belgium)                     7-3                   1995 DOB

Marko Guduric                       Crvena Zvezda (Serbia)          6-6                   1995 DOB

Egemen Guven                       Karsiyaka (Turkey)                 6-10                 1996 DOB

Ludvig Hakanson                   Sevilla (Spain)                         6-3                   1996 DOB

Juancho Hernangomez            Estudiantes (Spain)                 6-9                   1995 DOB

Ognjen Jaramaz                       Mega Leks (Serbia)                 6-4                   1995 DOB

Alpha Kaba                             Mega Leks (Serbia)                 6-10                 1996 DOB

Vincent Kesteloot                   Aalstar (Belgium)                    6-7                   1995 DOB

Furkan Korkmaz                     Efes (Turkey)                          6-7                   1997 DOB

Emircan Kosut                        Efes (Turkey)                          7-1                   1995 DOB     

Mathias Lessort                       Chalon (France)                      6-9                   1995 DOB

Luc Loubaki                            Orleans (France)                      6-3                   1997 DOB

Timoth? Luwawu                    Mega Leks (Serbia)                 6-7                   1995 DOB

Blaz Mesicek                           Union Olimpija (Slovenia)      6-6                   1997 DOB

Aleksej Nikolic                       Brose Baskets (Germany)       6-3                   1995 DOB     

Georgios Papagiannis              Panathinaikos (Greece)           7-2                   1997 DOB

Adam Pechacek                      Koszalin (Poland)                   6-10                 1995 DOB

Petar Rakicevic                       Metalac (Serbia)                      6-9                   1995 DOB

Martynas Sajus                        Zalgiris (Lithuania)                 6-9                   1996 DOB

Jordan Sakho                          Torrelodones (Spain)               6-10                 1997 DOB

Wesley Sena                            Bauru (Brazil)                         6-11                 1996 DOB

Kenan Sipahi                           Karsiyaka (Turkey)                 6-6                   1995 DOB

Nik Slavica                              Cibona (Croatia)                     6-7                   1997 DOB

Rolands Smits                         Fuenlabrada (Spain)                6-10                 1995 DOB

Emir Sulejmanovic                  Barcelona (Spain)                    6-9                   1995 DOB

Berk Ugurlu                            Fenerbahce (Turkey)               6-3                   1996 DOB

Alexander Vezenkov              Barcelona (Spain)                    6-9                   1995 DOB

Guerschon Yabusele               Rouen (France)                       6-7                   1995 DOB

Rade Zagorac                          Mega Leks (Serbia)                 6-10                 1995 DOB

Zhou Qi                                   Xinjiang (China)                     7-2                   1996 DOB

Ante Zizic                               Cibona (Croatia)                     6-11                 1997 DOB

Ivica Zubac                             Mega Leks (Serbia)                 7-0                   1997 DOB

 

 


Jordan Tucker took an unofficial visit to Indiana following the Nike EYBL stop this past weekend in Indianapolis, and will now trip to Syracuse this coming weekend along with several other elite recruits.

"I loved the atmosphere and the resources that were available to the student athletes [at Indiana]," the 6-foot-7 Tucker told SNY.tv Monday evening.

Tucker is a Class of 2017 wing who plays for White Plains (N.Y.) Archbishop Stepinac and runs with the NY Rens on the Nike circuit. He is ranked the No. 7 small forward in the class by 247Sports.com.

Indiana is recruiting him hard along with schools like St. John's and Syracuse.

"Coach [Tom] Crean said that I would fit perfectly in their system because of the shooting ability I have and being able to do other things like handling and passing the ball," Tucker said.

This weekend Tucker heads to Syracuse along with fellow 2017 targets Hamidou Diallo and Quade Green and Class of 2016 commit Matthew Moyer, who is recruiting all of them to Syracuse.

"I'm beyond excited to get up to Syracuse because I have yet to visit the school so I can't wait to see the staff and have a good time up there," Tucker said.

As for Moyer, he added: "I haven't spoken to Matt other than telling him I'll be up there, but I'm sure he will have some tricks up his sleeve."

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Following his recent official visit to UConn, St. Thomas More shooting guard Christian Vital took an unofficial to the campus on Monday with his mother.

"It was real nice," he told SNY.tv. "I wanted my mom to meet Kevin Ollie."

Asked what Ollie's message to Vital was, he said: "He wants me. He wants a guy like me who has my versatility. There is a spot for me to earn minutes right away."

UConn lost Daniel Hamilton to the NBA Draft, Sterling Gibbs to graduation and Sam Cassell Jr. to transfer (Iona), but returns guards Jalen Adams and Rodney Purvis and adds incoming floor general Alterique Gilbert and VCU transfer Terry Larrier.

A 6-foot-2 shooting guard from Queens Village who decommitted from UNLV, Vital also took an offiicial Louisville and is considering taking one to Iowa.

Ollie has been linked to the Lakers coaching vacancy but told ESPN's Andy Katz it would take something "very special" for him to leave UConn.

Vital declined to comment on whether that topic was broached, but said he has no timetable on his decision.

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Adam Zagoria and Josh Newman are back with another edition of The 4 Quarters Podcast. First up, former NBA All-Star Kenny Anderson joins the show to talk about the passing of Pearl Washington, as well as the latest Knicks and Nets news. 

Then, Director of the RENS AAU program Andy Borman calls in to chat about Hamidou Diallo, Jordan Tucker, Mohamed Bamba, and more. Later, Adam and Josh cover the stories that came out of the Jordan Brand Classic and the Sneaker Wars, and then wrap the show with a look at college hoops news and notes from all over the nation.

Rundown:

1st Quarter: Kenny Anderson (01:20)
2nd Quarter: Andy Borman (11:15)
3rd Quarter: Jordan Brand Storylines (21:05)
4th Quarter: College Hoops Storylines (27:40)

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 (Eric Hartline)
(Eric Hartline)

Delaware transfer Kory Holden has found a new home.

The 6-foot-2 Holden chose South Carolina over Baylor and Virginia Tech. He averaged 17.7 points, 4.2 assists and 3.0 rebounds last season at Delaware. He will have two years of eligibilty after sitting out the 2016-17 season.

"Frank Martin was honest and was able to communicate his plan to me," Holden told SNY.tv on Monday. "I heard all good things about him through the process and his vision for me align with my personal goals. I enjoyed the visit and the guys. I feel it's the best fit for me."

The news was first reported by ESPN's Jeff Borzello.

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After watching him the first two weekends of April on the adidas Gauntlet circuit, Duke is the latest to show interest in Class of 2017 point guard Makai Ashton Langford of Mass Rivals.

"[Assistant coach] Nate James called and they're very interested. I'm sure they'll get Coach K out to see him in July and they'll build a relationship until then," Vin Pastore of the Mass Rivals said Monday by phone.

"I don't know what they'll do. Coach K didn't personally see him play yet, but he's clearly good enough to play anywhere."

Duke has also shown interest in fellow 2017 point guards Quade Green of Neumann-Goretti and the PSA Cardinals and Matt Coleman of Oak Hill Academy (VA) and Boo Williams.

The 6-foot-2 point guard from Cushing Academy holds offers from numerous high-majors, including UConn, Providence and Louisville. He is ranked the No. 9 point guard in the Class of 2017 by 247Sports.com.

"UConn and Providence have spent a lot of time and energy on him," Pastore said. "Louisville has said that he's going to be their No. 1 priority. Creighton has put some time in.

"Right now with the movement of Karl Hobbs to Rutgers, they'd love to see him be the guy there for him. And I'm sure in July, he's going to have a lot of coaches coming to see him play."

As for his upside, Pastore said: "I think he defends his position better than anybody in the country. His length and athleticism, his lateral movement, make him the top defender in the country.

"Offensively, he's an explosive athlete with great shiftiness and change of speeds. The best part about him as an offensive player is that he not only gets to the rim but he finishes at the rim in all the ways that great guards do, left-handed, right-handed, up-and-unders, contorting his body and all while being able to maintain balance in the air."

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 (Josh Verlin / COBL)
(Josh Verlin / COBL)

Virginia, Alabama and Florida State are the latest school to offer Lonnie Walker, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Team Final and Reading (Pa.) High, while Kentucky is showing interest now, too.

"[Kentucky assistant] Tony Barbee inquired about him after the weekend [in Indianapolis]," Team Final coach Aaron Burt told SNY.tv on Monday. "I'm sure they have their pick of the litter but we'll see how it goes in the future. He's playing super great so we really don't know yet."

Walker is averaging 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 49 percent from beyond the arc (19-of-39) on the Nike EYBL circuit. He is ranked the No. 5 shooting guard in the Class of 2017 by 247Sports.com.

Villanova, SMU, UCLA, Oregon and Miami have been working the hardest on Walker, Burt said, but he also holds offers from UConn, Syracuse, Indiana, UCLA and Ohio State, among others. Arizona, Virginia and Florida State have recently called to check in, Burt said.

"Villanova's been recruiting him very, very heavy," Burt said. "I'm not sure how he's going to do his process, but Villanova's been recruiting him very heavy. He's wide open. He really doesn't have a favorite at the moment. He's going to just play it out and see what's best for him."

As for his upside, Burt said, "Honestly, I think Lonnie is one of the top two or three two guards in the country. He reminds me of Ray Allen, like a younger Ray Allen when he first got in the NBA. He can handle the ball, he can shoot the ball. He makes spectacular plays. He can see the defense before it happens, drawing double-teams and making the easy pass. He's guarding defensively. He's like a prototypical two guard.

"He's super-athletic, but he reminds me of Ray Allen."

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Duke and Kentucky each placed three recruits in the final ESPN.com recruiting rankings for the Class of 2016.

Duke placed Harry Giles at No. 1, Jayson Tatum at No. 3 and Frank Jackson at No. 10.

Kentucky has Bam Adebayo at No. 5, De'Aaron Fox at No. 6 and Malik Monk at No. 9.

The Wildcats also placed Wenyen Gabriel at No. 14 and Sacha Killeya-Jones at No. 24, giving them five players in the top 24 spots.

Duke's Javin DeLaurier also chimed in at No. 44.

Filling out the Top 10, Kansas' Josh Jackson is at No. 2, UCLA's Lonzo Ball ranks at No. 4, Washington's Markelle Fultz at No. 7 and Michigan State's Miles Bridges at No. 8.

There are six uncommitted players remaining in the Top 100: Jarrett Allen at No. 15, Marques Bolden at 16, Charlie Moore at 61, Taurean Thompson at 75, Deshawn Corprew at 91 and Alpha Diallo at 95.

Among New York/New Jersey area players, Rawle Alkins (Arizona) ranks No. 21, Tyus Battle (Syracuse) ranks 35, Shamorie Ponds (St. John's) 36, Ty Jerome (Virginia) 43, Thompson 75, T.J. Gibbs (Notre Dame) 80, Myles Powell (Seton Hall) 81, Mamadou Diarra (UConn) 93 and Bryce Aiken (Harvard) 99.

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Zion Williamson, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Spartanburg (S.C.) Day High School, has been piling up the high-major offers in recent days.

He has added offers from LSU, Mississippi State, UConn, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Mississippi State, Miami, Virginia and Texas A&M in the last two days. Ryan Falker, Williamson's coach with the adidas-sponsored Game Elite 17U, said Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne has also reached out.

"My phone's been blowing up, doing back flips and falling off the counter because it's buzzing so much," Falker said Monday night by phone.

"I think he's your classic inside-out player. Wherever you put him on the court, he's going to be a high-level player. I think it boils down to his IQ is extremely high. And that's reallys surprisng for a 15-year-old kid. He makes the right basketbal plays when he has the ball."

Williamson is averaging 23.2 points and 12.2 rebounds on the adidas circuit.

"The coaches usually say they like how versatile of a player I am," Williamson told InsideCarolina. "I model my game after LeBron James. I'm about the same height as him. I like how he can handle the ball. When has someone smaller he can post them up. When he has someone bigger, he can drive by them and attack."

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Mike Krzyzewski may be off the road in April as he recovers from knee replacement surgery, but that hasn't stopped him from checking in on some of the top recruits in the Class of 2017.

Coach K called PSA Cardinals director Terrance "Munch" Williams on Monday to say he was "interested in 2017s Mohamed Bamba, Quade Green and Deng Gak. Duke has already offered Bamba, but not yet the other two.

"He's interested in all of them," Williams told SNY.tv.

Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel and assistants Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith have watched the three PSA Cardinals stars the last two weekends at the Nike EYBL stops in Brooklyn and Indianapolis.

The 6-foot-11 Bamba has been especially impressive through the first two stops and is in the mix for the No. ranking in the Class of 2017 -- along with 7-footer DeAndre Ayton of Cal Supreme.

"It's something I've been shooting for for awhile. If I were to tell somebody that I wanted to be the No. 1 player in the country last year, they would have been like, 'ehh, I think there's a couple of guys [ahead of you].' But if I tell them now, they'll take that into serious consideration," Bamba told Bleacher Report. "That's just a goal that I set for myself; just to be the best. I'm not playing basketball just to be one of those guys that's just hanging around. I want to be the best."

Bamba is friendly with fellow 2017 forward Wendell Carter Jr. and told me in Brooklyn the two continue to talk about possibly teaming up in college.

"Nothing too serious but we both know the potential we have as a premier frontcourt," Bamba said.

Bamba also told reporters in Indianapolis that Kentucky coach John Calipari had given him some inspiring words.

"We have a great relationship," Bamba said. "He actually gave me a lot of confidence in myself. When you grow up in Harlem and you tell someone that you want to be a professional basketball player … they're going to look at you and be like, 'I don't think you should shoot for that.' And that's something that's just been hanging over my head my whole entire life.

"And Coach Cal came in and told me, 'If you want to be a pro, freakin' tell somebody that you want to be a pro.' And that's one of the things that helped me change my demeanor."

Bamba is expected to cut his list to 10 sometime in August.

As for the 6-foot Green, two Duke assistants saw the point guard last week at Neumann-Goretti High, and he is slated to visit Syracuse this coming weekend.

He said in Brooklyn that Syracuse, Texas, Xavier, Villanova, Temple, St. Joe's, Providence, Louisville and Michigan State were just some of the schools competing the hardest for his commitment.

He has already visited Syracuse, Villanova, Temple, Saint Joe's and Rutgers, and said he plans to visit Louisville, Miami and Michigan State.

Williams said that Green will not cut his list before August.

As for the 7-foot Gak, who attends Blair (N.J.) Academy, he holds offers from Kansas, UConn, SMU and others. He is close with former Duke and current Miami Heat forward Luol Deng. Both are of Dinka descent.

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 (Steven Branscombe)
(Steven Branscombe)

UConn coach Kevin Ollie is interested in the Lakers' coaching opening, a source close to the situation told SNY.tv.

"Of course he is interested," the source said. "He is from Crenshaw."

Ollie, 43, spent four years at Crenshaw High School in L.A., where he played basketball.

These comments echo an earlier report Monday from InsideSoCal.com which indicates Ollie is "intrigued" by the Lakers' opening.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com initially listed Ollie along with several others as possible candidates to replace Byron Scott. The others include Luke Walton, Jeff Van Gundy and Villanova's Jay Wright, among others.

The source told SNY.tv that Ollie -- who led UConn to the 2014 NCAA championship -- would want at least some involvement in player personnel decisions with the Lakers.

"He's gotta be involved in player personnel decisions," the source said. "Mitch Kupchak has to be willing to involve him in player personnel. He has to have a say-so in that."

As we reported last year, Ollie was linked to the opening with the Oklahoma City Thunder at least in part because of his relationship with Kevin Durant, who becomes a free agent this summer.

"I think he's going to test the waters but at the end of the day, Oklahoma City is something dear to his heart," Ollie told HoopsHype.com of Durant. "So it's going to take a team to really, really do a good job to get him to leave OKC. You try to put yourself in the best position possible, see all the oportunities out there. I know he's going to make a decision with his heart. I know he's gonna do that, choose the best situation for his family, the best position to win a championship. And OKC has a great team, I know he loves Russell Westbrook, I know he loves playing in front of the Thunder fans, so it's going to take a team to do a great recruiting job to get him away from OKC."

The Lakers also are in position for a top-3 pick in the NBA Draft and could land LSU's Ben Simmons or Duke's Brandon Ingram.

Meantime, Ollie told ESPN's Andy Katz on Monday he has had no contact with the Lakers, but would always listen if called, according to the Hartford Courant.

Ollie said it would take something "very special" to lure him away from UConn.

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Villanova coach Jay Wright and UConn coach Kevin Ollie are among those under consideration for the vacant Lakers job, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.

Wright won the NCAA championship in April when Villanova beat North Carolina in Houston, and Ollie led UConn to the NCAA title in 2014.

Shelburne's initial list also included Luke Walton, Ettore Messina, David Blatt and Jeff Van Gundy. Byron Scott was let go on Sunday.

I Tweeted a poll Sunday night with four names -- Walton, Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Mike Woodson -- and with almost 1,000 votes in as of Monday morning, Walton leads Jackson, 54 percent to 24 percent.

Wright was linked to the Phoenix Suns vacancy before Earl Watson was hired.

"When you win a national championship, it gets blown up into you've been offered," he told ESPN's Dana O'Neill. "I have not gotten offered any jobs."

He added that he hopes he can remain at Villanova.

"I can say right now that in my mind I plan to stay at Villanova," "But I also don't want to be a liar. I want to stay. I know I want to stay, but I just say I hope I can stay because I've learned from the past how crazy things can be. I hope I can stay at Villanova because this is where I want to be."

Wright spoke with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2009 after leading Villanova to the Final Four, and it's not too hard to imagine the Sixers coming after him again, perhaps in a year especially if the Wildcats do well again next year.

"When I went through it before, the offers were new and it was shocking," Wright told ESPN. "Now I kind of know what they're going to be, and I'm really comfortable. I want to stay. I really want to stay."

Oliie, meantime, has been linked to numerous NBA jobs, including the Lakers two years ago and the Oklahoma City Thunder a year ago before Florida coach Billy Donovan was hired.

At the time, a source told SNY.tv that Ollie was "listening."

Ollie ultimately withdrew from consideration for the Thunder job.

UConn had no comment on Monday on the Lakers report.

Meantime, Larry Brown, the Hall of Fame coach from SMU, told SNY.tv that Wright, 53, is in a good spot.

"I just think what Jay did and what he's built and what he's about, he's in a perfect place," Brown told SNY.tv at a coaches' clinic at Roselle (N.J.) Catholic. "He's making our game better."

Brown said the same applies to Kentucky coach John Calipari, who has also been linked to numerous NBA jobs and also spoke at the clinic.

"They all talk to me about it," Brown said. "What Cal's built, what Cal's about, he's in a perfect place, he's making our game better. They need guys like them coaching college kids so when they get up to the pros they're prepared to play, that's the problem. The young kids aren't really ready to play...We need coaches who teach kids how to play."

He added: "The Final Four was the greatest because they're all seniors. There's nothing wrong with one-and-done, but generally if you stay four years, or three years, when you do go to the NBA you're going to be prepared to play. And the worst thing I think you can do is go to the NBA and not be prepared."

Brown had a word of advice for any college coach considering making the jump to the NBA.

"I think generally the college coaches get a bad team and then everybody's so impatient," said Brown, the only coach to win an NCAA and an NBA title. "The only way I would go [to the NBA] is if you're in charge. I don't want somebody telling me who to draft, who to play, how to play. If they let a guy be in control of basketball and have people around him who love him and have a feel, it's great."

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Gorjok Gak, a 6-foot-10 center, committed to Florida head coach Mike White. (Kim Klement)
Gorjok Gak, a 6-foot-10 center, committed to Florida head coach Mike White. (Kim Klement)

Florida picked up a commitment Sunday from 6-foot-10 Victory Rock Prep (FL) center Gorjok Gak.

The onetime Oklahoma State signee decommitted after Travis Ford was let go. Gak is rated the No. 26 center in the Class of 2016 by 247Sports.com.

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St. Thomas More's Christian Vital, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard from Queens Village, enjoyed his official visit to Louisville.

"I enjoyed everything from the coaching staff, team, facilities, and the people in the city of Louisville," he told SNY.tv. "It's a great place."

Vital decommitted from UNLV after the coaching change and recently cut his list to three schools, Louisville, UConn and Iowa. He took an official to UConn early last week, along with Brewster (N.H.) Academy big man Taurean Thompson.

"I'm a guy who can play either guard spot so that versatility helps me and the team," Vital said of Louisville. "They are looking for me to help our right away if I was to go next year. They feel that I have developed a lot over the past year and are looking for that to continue if I was to go there."

Vital has yet to decide if he will take an official to Iowa.

"We are still talking to them about setting up a visit," he said.

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DeAndre Ayton is 7 feet tall, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 and the potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

You would think a slew of elite programs would be recruiting him at this point.

But Ayton told reporters at the Nike EYBL stop in Indianapolis that only one school is recruiting him seriously at this point.

 "Right now, it's Kansas. That's it," Ayton told Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal on Friday. "I'm only seeing Kansas right now. I don't know (why). The word is I'm not going to college or something, but I say college is a must."

Ayton's comments echo what he said last week in New York.

Kentucky and Duke, which he had previously mentioned, are not on him. Just Kansas, which has tracked him through the first two EYBL sessions.

"Kentucky, I think right now they're mediocre with me in their interest," he said. "It don't matter to me. Whoever comes, comes. Look into it and figure something out. I really don't care who ain't recruiting me, to be honest. I'm just going to stay on top of my game and try to get better."

Ayton, a native of the Bahamas, said he doesn't plan to skip college for the pros and instead wants to attend college.

"I have to go to college," Ayton said. "My mom wants me to go to college."

Buddy Hield, also a Bahamian, said at the Final Four that Ayton could play in the NBA right now.

"He's special right now," Hield said of Ayton, a big man born in the Bahamas who now plays for Phoenix (AZ) Hillcrest Academy. "I think he's good for the NBA now. His physical talents he can rebound the ball. He's just a talent, man. You just can't teach height."

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Iona Gaels head coach Tim Cluess during the first half of Iowa State vs Iona in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Pepsi Center. (Isaiah J. Downing)
Iona Gaels head coach Tim Cluess during the first half of Iowa State vs Iona in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Pepsi Center. (Isaiah J. Downing)

Tyrell Williams, a transfer from Western Nebraska Community College, has committed to Iona, he told SNY.tv. 

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Williams chose Iona over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Stephen F. Austin, Memphis and UNLV, among others.

Williams said he is excited to join Iona and believes his game and style will only benefit the program. 

"I love the coaches and the team," Williams said to SNY.tv. "I love the style of play of the program and the history of the coaches and Iona over all. I believe my physicality to use my body will bring much success for the team and myself as well. My basketball I.Q is good but I know for a fact it will become better and even great under this coaching staff. My feel for the game is probably one of my best attributes as well." 

A big, physical post player, Williams is a good scorer in the post as well, as he averaged 12 points per game in 31 games last season with Western Nebraska. 

Williams will have three years of eligibility at Iona. 

He joins graduate transfer guards Jon Severe (Fordham) and Sam Cassell Jr. (UConn) among Iona's offseason acquisitions.

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Following an official visit to UConn this past week, Taurean Thompson will take one to Seton Hall on Sunday and Monday.

"I know Coach [Shaheen] Holloway and Coach [Kevin] Willard well," he said last week. "Seton Hall had a great year, they won the Big East Tournament. Coach Willard's real cool, coach Shaheen is cool. I've been there a bunch of times and it's like a family over there."

The 6-foot-10 forward from Brewster (N.H.) Academy went off for 27 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks en route to co-MVP honors as Team New York beat Team East, 148-128, in the Jordan Brand Classic Regional Game on April 15 at Barclays Center.

He's also considering Syracuse, Georgetown and Providence. He's taken officials to Syracuse, Xavier and UConn.

Asked if he's excited to getting it over with, he said, "Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it....When it feels right and I get all the pros and cons in."

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