November 2, 2007

Fastbreak Friday: Officials winding down





As the basketball season draws nearer, the official recruiting visits decrease and the drama grows at a daily clip as some of the nation's top uncommitted players wind down their recruitments.


In our weekly look around the nation, Fastbreak Friday tackles it all.


Wrapping up the visit period


USC is reaching out to the nation's top players and for the second time this fall. Some impressive young players will be looking around the Galen Center this weekend. Two of the top five players from the class of 2009, Renardo Sidney and Lance Stephenson, are scheduled to make unofficial visits to USC this weekend.


Sidney isn't traveling too far from his Southern California home. Stephenson, however, is making a cross-country trek. The New Yorker will make his first visit to the Pac-10 school.


Philadelphia guard Tyreke Evans will make an official visit to Texas, according to news reports out of the City of Brotherly Love. The five-star guard is the top-rated player still left on the board that is most likely headed to college.


This is the final visit for New York big man Kevin Jones. He will be in Pittsburgh to see Jamie Dixon's program. A decision could shortly follow his trip to the Steel City.


Also on campus this weekend at Pittsburgh is Houston area power forward Dwight Miller. The 6-foot-8 bruiser has already been to a Big East school. He recently tripped to Rutgers.


For the college football world, all eyes will be on Eugene, Ore., for the Ducks game against Arizona State. The Pac-10 powers are facing off in a battle of two teams within the top five in the BCS poll. Georgia wing Teondre Williams will be there to see it all for himself at Autzen Stadium.


Kansas, winner of the Morris twins sweepstakes, is playing host to Canadian shooting guard Devoe Joseph for his official visit to Lawrence.


After landing Ralph Sampson last week, Tubby Smith continues to look for more big men at Minnesota. The Gophers hope to have good luck with Kystopher Faber, a 6-foot-11 big man from Ribet Academy in Los Angeles. Faber is taking an official visit to Minnesota this weekend.


Freddie Riley, star of the Team Nike Florida Exposure camp last month, is penciled in for a visit to Baylor this weekend. The 6-foot-5 guard could be one of the most evaluated players in the nation during the high school season.


Ohio State has had great success with visits so far this fall with the youngsters. This weekend, it is the football program's turn with a class of 2008 standout. Terrelle Pryor, the nation's top overall football prospect, will be in Columbus for Ohio State's game against Wisconsin. Pryor, a four-star prospect in basketball, will probably take a look around the basketball program while he's in town.


Also making their way to Columbus for the weekend are Stephen Van Treese of Indianapolis and Will Reagen, a class of 2011 prospect.


Illinois scoring in-state


There is a common thread between Illinois prep stars Jon Scheyer, Sherron Collins, Shaun Livingston, Julian Wright, Bobby Frasor, Jerel McNeal, Jeremy Pargo, Bryan Mullins and Patrick Beverly. None of them went to the University of Illinois.


Bruce Weber and his staff have long been criticized for not keeping the in-state talent, well, in-state. Those days are quickly changing. The Illini are locking up the borders in 2009 and beyond.


Already with three commitments from in-state prospects D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul and Joseph Bertrand, the Illini could be landing Crandall Head, a talented class of 2010 prospect from Rich South (Ill.) High School. Head is the younger brother of former Illinois star Luther Head.


Richardson, a shooting guard from Peoria (Ill.) High School, is the No. 54 ranked player in the class of 2009. Bertrand, a 6-foot-4 wing from Sterling (Ill.) High School is close behind at No. 60 overall in the junior class. Some Illinois high school basketball mavens have tabbed Paul, a shooting guard from Paul Warren Township in Gurnee, Ill., as the best of the three.


What is the reason for the change now? Sources close to the program say new assistant coach and Peoria native Jerrance Howard. The first year Illini coach played four years (2001-2004) for his current employer. He backed up Head, Dee Brown and Deron Williams in that span.


Howard's efforts, partnered with the groundwork with the rest of the coaching staff, helped lock up the in-state talent. Illinois has always had success with three guard sets, especially during Howard's tenure on the team. Perhaps the class of 2009 is righting the ship.


The fallout from Indiana


Here is a shocker: Indiana basketball is in the headlines again and not because of a game. Assistant coach Rob Senderoff resigned from the Big Ten school after being involved in improper telephone calls to recruits.


Senderoff held the key that opened the door to the Northeast. His efforts helped lead to the Hoosiers success in the New York/New Jersey corridor. On the first day of practice, Kevin Jones, Terrell Holloway, Lance Stephenson and Dexter Strickland all made it to Bloomington for a visit.


Holloway, a Long Island native now at Harmony Community School in Cincinnati, committed on the same day Senderoff resigned.


There have been reports out of New York that Jones may be reconsidering the Hoosiers since the recruiting violations were discovered. Stephenson's father has publicly stated that the violations may change things on their end, too.


On tap


It has been a big week for big commitments.


A number of the top players that remained uncommitted in the class of 2008 made up their minds over the last seven days. It doesn't come as a big surprise considering the early signing period opens Wednesday, Nov. 14.


Duke picked up five-star guard Elliot Williams. The Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, opted for Kansas. Florida State landed big man Xavier Gibson. Marquette secured a pledge from Tyshawn Taylor. Holloway pledged to Indiana. Eshaunte Jones is going west to Oregon State.


A number of other big time players could pop in the next two weeks, too. With Evans headed to Texas this weekend, his calendar could be moved to November instead of April for a signing date. Keep an eye on that one.


Indiana center Tyler Zeller is still looking hard at Indiana, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Purdue. His decision could come any day or he could very well wait until April.


Friday is decision day for J'Mison Morgan. It will be either Alabama, Cincinnati, Kansas, LSU or UCLA.


Chris Singleton will announce his decision on Nov. 14. He will decide Florida State and Kentucky.


Texan J'Covan Brown, Kevin Jones and Rotnei Clarke are also all in the final hour and a decision could come sometime in the next two weeks.


Five of the top 10 players in the class of 2010 are already committed but the Class of 2009 has a completely different landscape. The majority of the class still remains uncommitted. Only four players within the top 50 rankings for the class of 2009 have made a commitment.


Who is on top?


Believe it or not, the high school basketball is about to tip off. Who is the top dog? Student Sports released its top 50 this week. For a full report, click HERE.


Don't forget about us


JucoJunction.com, Rivals.com's junior college basketball site, released its top 200 ranking list today. To access it, click HERE.



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