Last weekend was a massively important weekend for recruits and coaches alike because it was the only live evaluation period that coaches can attend until the 3 that are in July. For some players, they were the ones that needed to make an impression and get noticed by a coach. For other players, it was more about a coach making an impression and being noticed in the stands by that player. Unfortunately the timing of the end of the season banquet in Providence kept head coach, Ed Cooley off the road last weekend but his assistants were out in full force spread all across the country. To that end, I’ve added a new feature to this site. You can find the link at on the left side of the top menu. It’s called “Where is Ed Cooley and the staff?” and it has a map of the USA with markers to indicate a coach being on the road somewhere. Check it out and give me your feedback. As for where the assistants were during the only live period of April: Andre LaFleur was out in Sacramento for the EYBL Session #1, Bob Simon was in Dallas for the Adidas Gauntlet and Brian Blaney was in Pittsburgh for the Hoop Group Jamfest. Here is a list of events that will be happening this upcoming weekend even. Even though coaches can’t be there, the media and scouting services still can so there will be plenty of updates next Friday. List courtesy of Jeff Borzello at CBSSports.com:
- Adidas Nations (Miami)
- Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions (Atlanta)
- Spiece Run-N-Slam (Fort Wayne, Ind.)
- Howard Pulley Invitational (Eagan, Minn.)
- 94 Feet of Madness (Columbia, S.C.)
Before I get into last weekend’s AAU action, there is some more immediate recruiting going on for the class of 2014.
- 2014 PG Larry Austin will visit Xavier this weekend but Providence is strongly in the mix and Austin will take an official visit next weekend to Friartown.
- Wednesday, 2014 PG Devonte’ Graham cut his list down to 2 schools, Kansas and NC State. On Friday he committed to Kansas.
- On Thursday, 2014 PG Shelton Mitchell got his release from his NLI with Wake Forest. His former lead recruiter was Jeff Battle who is a good friend of Ed Cooley’s I would expect to see PC mentioned with Mitchell.
- Also on Thursday, it was announced that Kansas PG Naadir Tharpe would be seeking to transfer closer to home because of some medical issues with his daughter.
- Last Friday Jared Terrell getting his release from his NLI with Oklahoma State became official. The 2014 SG is said to want to be closer to home and the 3 schools expected to be involved were Boston College, Providence and URI. Rumors are that Terrell will visit PC and BC next week and make a decision. My guess is Boston College gets him because of Preston Murphy taking an assistant position with the Eagles on new coach, Jim Christian’s staff.
- Scout.com’s Evan Daniels came out with their final ranking of the top 100 in the class of 2014. Click here if you missed my article yesterday.
- 2014 PC commit Jalen Lindsey spoke with me earlier this week for an article I wrote for Scout Friars. It’s free for all to read and can be found here.
Here’s are some updates on the last week of recruiting:
- The EYBL had a lot of high level PC recruits in attendance. This event in Sacremento was arguably the deepest field in terms of talent of all of the events last weekend. For a recap of how some recruits played, check out Craig Leighton’s article on FriarBasketball.com.
- ESPN’s Joel Francisco was in Sacramento last weekend and gave out some superlatives on Monday. Two PC recruits were in his article:
2015, PG, 6-3, 170 pounds
Davis is not the quickest or fastest point guard, but he is always on balance, gets to where he needs to go off the dribble and is very skilled. He can knock down the 3-point shot, facilitate the offense, and he takes care of the ball.
Biggest Motor (Post Player)
2014, C, 6-8, 220 pounds
Diallo still has some improvement to make with his post skill development, but he can knock down the mid-range jump shot and his drop step is potent. On the other hand, there isn’t a more explosive interior player in the class with his kind of motor. Whether it’s contesting shots, sprinting in transition or throwing down rim-rattling dunks, he is a special talent.
- CBS Sports’ Jeff Borzello wrote an article on Tuesday calling PC recruit Antonio Blakeney “among 2015’s best guards”. Blakeney played in the EYBL last weekend and runs with E1T1. That squad also features another PC recruit in 2015, Alex Owens. Blakeney currently holds offers from Florida, Florida State, Kansas, Louisville, LSU, Missouri, Providence, North Carolina and USC. The Florida native has taken unofficial visits to Louisville, Missouri, Florida and Florida State. While the Florida schools have an advantage, Borzello says “Louisville is also considered a frontrunner.” Blakeney is ranked as the #23 player in the class of 2015 by 247Sports Composite rankings.
- Scout.com’s Josh Gershon had some info on Monday on 2015 PC recruit, Jalen Coleman who played in EYBL over the weekend:
Jalen Coleman, SG, All Ohio Red: A strong shooting guard with nice size, Coleman plays hard and can score by attacking the basket, hitting from midrange or knocking down three-pointers off the catch and pull. He rebounds well for the position, uses his strength to help him absorb contact and still finish and he makes some quality passes in the open floor.
- 2015 SF Montaque Gill-Caesar made the decision to stay in the class of 2015 instead of going back to 2014. He told Rivals.com’s Andy Drukarev “I just thought that it was the best decision for me from a development standpoint,” Gill-Caesar said. “I’m comfortable where I’m at, at that school. I don’t feel like I need to rush anything. So I feel like if I went 2014 I’d be kind of rushing my development. So that was the main reason behind it.” He also listed the following schools as the main ones involved in his recruitment: Florida State, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Providence, UCF and West Virginia. Teki said he doesn’t have a leader right now. Rivals lists Jalen Lindsey’s former Huntington Prep teammate as the 22nd best player in the class of 2015.
- 2015 PG Justin Robinson gutted through Boo Williams’ games all weekend despite his ankle being “around 80%.” He picked up an offer from George Mason in the process.
- One other interesting offer that came out of the EYBL was 2015 PF Alex Illikainen. The kid is a prototypical stretch 4 and has interest and offers from a number of high major programs including Minnesota. But the interesting part for PC is that his sister is currently a sophomore on the PC Women’s Hockey team. Illikainen told Rivals’ Andy Drukarev “In my high school season I’m probably the biggest guy so I do a lot of back to the basket, center work,” Illikainen said. “When you get to the EYBL I’m not very tall so I focus on expanding my game inside out, the three, the pull-up jumper, all that kind of stuff. (Also what) I’ve been working on a lot is ball handling. Just being comfortable with the ball.”
- Dallas hosted the Adidas Gauntlet last weekend and a number of PC targets were in attendance. 2016 SF Josh Langford, AAU teammate of Braxton Blackwell, picked up offers from Indiana and Wake Forest over the weekend. ESPN’s Reggie Rankin called Langford the “toughest to defend”.
Toughest to defend
Class of 2016
Shooting Guard, 6-6, 200
Huntsville, Ala./Madison Academy
Travel Team: Atlanta Celtics
Offers: Duke, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Mississippi State, Florida, Providence, Alabama
Langford is a strong and physical wing who has a great knack for scoring and can do it by getting to rim, with mid-range pull-ups and with 3-pointers. He does a great job using his size to back down smaller defenders and shoot over them.
Rivals.com’s Eric Bossi added to Langford’s praise:
After being bitten by the injury bug for much of the last year or so, it was good to see a healthy Langford. The 6-foot-4 guard has tremendous explosion, a solid build and a well-rounded floor game. He looked confident and the production followed. Simmons didn’t have a big day, but you can see he is lengthy with outstanding quickness and he will be a big off-the-dribble threat.
Here are some highlights from Dallas:
- Also playing for the Atlanta Celtics in Dallas last weekend was 2016 SF Braxton Blackwell. Rivals’ Eric Bossi called Blackwell “a bit of a combo forward who passes well and is an efficient scorer between the rim and 17 feet.”
- 2017 PG Makai Ashton-Langford also played in Dallas. He runs with the Mass Rivals and will be at Cushing Academy this fall. Providence was in early and now some other local schools are joining in:
- The final event where PC was represented was the Pittsburgh Jam Fest hosted by Hoop Group. Brian Blaney was front and center for all of Donovan Mitchell’s games. Mitchell is a star on the rise and PC will have to continue to stay on him if they want to get him to Friartown. ESPN’s Adam Finkelstein had this to say about Mitchell: “He’s the clear focal point of his team, and that’s an opportunity that he wasn’t shying away from. He has improved consistently throughout the year and is now both shooting and handling the ball better while continuing to make strong straight-line drives. He’s an outstanding perimeter rebounder. Providence, Boston College, St. John’s and Cincinnati all followed him. ” Adam Zagoria had an article on Monday about Mitchell and Brewster teammate Jarred Reuter. Mitchell said:
“The schools that offered me are the schools that are working the hardest because they’ve offered me and they talk to me the most,” Mitchell said. He said that group included Boston College, Creighton, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Cincinnati, Iowa and Florida. Asked if all those schools are equal, he said, “Yes, they are.” Mitchell did say that he saw a trio of school at all of his games with The City this past weekend, when he averaged 19 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. “The schools that I saw at all my games were BC, St. John’s and Providence,” he said. “It shows that they’re really interested, but their interest has been the same all year.” Mitchell has no visits planned “as of yet,” but hopes to see “a few more schools during the summer.” He may cut his list at the end of the summer. “After the last live period, I will definitely look to cut down my list,” he said.
- Another name from the Pittsburgh Jamfest that is blowing up is 2015 PF Steve Enoch. PC coaches had watched him workout prior to heading to Pittsburgh and the word is now out on Enoch. He is a very talented kid who is just scratching the surface. His AAU coach told me “he displayed his full arsenal” and drew “attention from a variety of coaches from the mid-high major level.” He picked up an offer from Memphis over the weekend. Roundball Rundown Report had a nice story on Enoch and his breakout performance.
- 2015 PG Drew Edwards picked up an offer from Memphis over the weekend in Pittsburgh but he has interest from PC as well.
- 2015 PG Dupree McBrayer was previously part of the class of 2014 and PC had interest but hadn’t pulled the trigger on an offer. McBrayer has decided to do a post grad year and made some good impressions this weekend in Pittsburgh. ESPN’s Adam Finkelstein said of McBrayer, “There might not have been a more productive guard in the field. The lefty scored the ball in a variety of ways, handled the majority of the ball-handling responsibilities for his team and created for others.”
- 2015 C Ernest Aflakpui made a big leap from last year’s Pittsburgh Jamfest to this year’s and City of Basketball Love called him “one of the most improved players” in the Philadelphia area this season. They also said “he’s got a very effective drop step, is a reliable finisher around the rim and is a good rebounder on both ends of the floor.” Aflakpui has offers from La Salle, Saint Joe’s, San Diego State and Temple and has interest from Georgia Tech, Kent State, Manhattan, Providence, Vanderbilt and VCU. He is looking for a school “that will make me a better person,” and basketball-wise, “I’ll go to a school that will help develop me.”
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