football

ACC-elerated recruiting

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The commitment floodgates swung open in May, especially in the Atlantic Coast Conference. They came at a frantic pace. Some landed guys on back-to-back days. Some secured the best guards in the country. Others reeled in some national sleepers.
Of the 34 players that verbally committed to high-major programs in May, 15 of the prospects are headed to the ACC. Of the 16 players in the top 150 rankings from the class of 2006 that committed, six are going to the ACC. The Big East and Big 12 both landed three players.
Here is a look at the ACC May commitments:
Clemson - Trevor Booker
Duke - Jon Scheyer, Gerald Henderson, Brian Zoubek
Florida State - Aaron Holmes, Uche Echefu (2005)
Miami - Edwin Rios (2007)
North Carolina - Tywon Lawson, Wayne Ellington
NC State - Dan Werner
Virginia Tech - Nigel Munson, Lewis Witcher, A.D. Vassallo (2005)
Wake Forest - L.D. Williams, Shermaine Dukes (2005)
Boston College, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Virginia did not join the fun during the last three weeks. The Yellow Jackets saw one of their key targets, Josh Lomers, commit to Baylor soon after visiting Atlanta. Point guard Javaris Crittenton remains Tech's top target, but don't be surprised to see Paul Hewitt and staff looking at other options, perhaps D.J. Augustin?
Maryland is already holding pledges from Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne. The Terps will likely play host to Duke Crews for an unofficial visit in the next couple of weeks. The 6-foot-7 forward is one of the hottest prospects in the country after an impressive spring showing.
Virginia, which has a new coaching staff, has yet to secure a verbal commitment from a player in the class of 2006 under Dave Leitao? Good news came for the program over the weekend at the TOC when Derrick Caracter said the Hoos are in his top four. Stefan Welsh, a four-star guard, also said the ACC program is moving up on his list.
Boston College, the newest addition to the ACC, will bring a new dimension to the conference. With strong recruiting roots in California and, of course, the Northeast, the Eagles can recruit from areas that other ACC programs don't. Al Skinner and his staff did show that they can nab a player away from Wake Forest and Maryland when point guard Tyrece Rice pledged to BC in April.
The best haul so far?
The Duke Blue Devils had one of their best recruiting weeks ever when Jon Scheyer, Gerald Henderson and Brian Zoubek all announced in three consecutive days that they'd lace 'em up for Coach K. In fact, it may be one of the greatest recruiting weeks by any program, ever. All three players are top 50 prospects.
Scheyer is not the next J.J. Redick, as some have drummed him up to be, but he is a player that will shine in Duke's offense. The Chicago-area prep star is a player you have to defend on the perimeter, but is a multi-dimensional prospect that can do much more than just shoot the ball, much like outgoing senior Daniel Ewing.
Henderson is one of the top athletes in the country and will perhaps be the most athletic player to play in Cameron Indoor Stadium since Dahntay Jones. Zoubek is a rarity in today's college game. At 7-foot-1, 270-pounds, his size already is unmatched in the ACC and with the multitude of big men already coming to Durham, expect him to be brought along at a perfect pace.
It's no secret that Duke vs. North Carolina is one of college basketball's greatest rivalries. The rivalry grows stronger every year, especially on the recruiting trail. While to Devils are off to a quick start, the Tar Heels are, too.
Tywon Lawson, one of the best point guards in the country, picked the Tar Heels and started the momentum in Chapel Hill. He was on fire at the Nike Memorial Day Classic in New Orleans. A combination of court vision, brute strength and great scoring, Lawson will be an instant impact player for Roy Williams.
Making Lawson's arrival even more intriguing is the addition of Wayne Ellington, perhaps the best shooting guard in the nation. The two form the deadliest duo in the class of 2006. Look for them to strut their stuff at the McDonald's All- American game together next year.
Ironically Ellington and Henderson are teammates at Episcopal Academy in metro Philadelphia.
North Carolina could elevate its class even more with a commitment from Kevin Durant, Lawson's high school and AAU teammate. The 6-foot-9 sweet shooting small forward is looking at the Tar Heels, Texas and Connecticut. Is UNC the team to beat? Some sources say it's not as strong as some think as both the Longhorns and Huskies are very much in the picture.
North Carolina received a verbal commitment from William Graves, a 6-foot-5 forward from Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley. He and future Wake Forest forward Jamie Skeen helped the newly formed Charlotte Minors AAU team win the American division at the adidas Memorial Day Tournament.
Noles nabbing top prospects, too
Duke certainly grabbed the nation's attention with back-to-back-to-back commitments and North Carolina's future backcourt is worthy of every ounce of attention, but don't look over the efforts of Florida State.
Leonard Hamilton and staff reeled in one of the best unsigned class of 2005 prospects in the country in 6-foot-9 forward Uche Echefu. There weren't a lot of people outside of Tallahassee that thought the nation's No. 45 ranked player would go anywhere other than Chapel Hill, but the Seminoles' longevity sold the Montrose Christian prospect.
Aaron Holmes, the No. 65 ranked player in the class of 2006, decided to jump in on the fun a day after Echefu committed. Holmes will be a nice replacement for the ultra-athletic Von Wafer.
The sleeper of the bunch?
Quietly, Seth Greenburg is bringing in a number of high-level players to Blacksburg, Va.
Point guard Nigel Munson is one of the top sleepers in the country. Not a fixture on the AAU summer circuit, the Washington D.C. area floor general spends his spring and summer close to home with his DeMatha teammates and works on his game.
Munson is a pass-first point guard that rarely turns the ball over and his impact will be felt from day one, especially now that the Hokies have Lewis Witcher and A.D. Vassallo (2005) - two solid sleepers of their own right - locked up.
Witcher, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound power forward from Rocky Mount, Va., doesn't have a big national rep, likely because he's overshadowed by a number of his Boo Williams AAU teammates. That's alright with the Hokies. They were first in line with Witcher and that paid off in the end. The big man is a solid rebounder with a nice, soft touch and some ACC coaches have called Witcher a better prospect at this stage of the game than current Hokie Coleman Collins.
Clemson did a nice job of finding one of the best freshman sleepers in the Class of 2004 in Cliff Hammonds. The under-recruited guard from South Georgia came in and made a big impact, averaging 10.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and was the second on the team in assists and steals. Could the staff have found another sleeper like Hammonds in Trevor Booker?
The 6-foot-7 forward is a blue-collar, do-anything-to-win brute that helped his South Carolina Celtics beat the O.J. Mayo-Bill Walker led D-1 Greyhounds at Cameron Indoor Stadium during the recent Tournament of Champions. Booker plays much bigger than his size and has been a constant double-double this spring. He's a great shot blocker to boot.
What's on tap?
The Tournament of Champions always has a bit of an ACC flair to it. With games played at North Carolina, Duke and NC State, players from all over the country have a chance to play in some of the most recognized venues in the country. Often times, players take unofficial visits to the three North Carolina Triangle schools.
Marques Johnson made an unofficial visit to NC State before the Tournament of Champions and announced that the Pack sits atop his favorites list. Illinois point guard Will Walker also was in Raleigh checking out the Pack. 2005 recruit Ben McCauley came to the TOC, too. He'll give Herb Sendek some size down low right away.
Lance Thomas unofficially visited Duke before the TOC.
While the majority of the top players participated in tournaments during the Memorial Day weekend, James Dews was visiting the University of Miami. Frank Haith, the 2004 Rivals.com Recruiter of the Year, knows how to find the gems across the country and Dews certainly fits that mold. An incredible mid-range scorer and dead-eye deep shooter, this Ohio guard can certainly make a splash in the ACC if he were to choose the Hurricanes.
Wake Forest still holds the key to a nationwide domino effect of decisions, with Augustin, Crittenton, Jerry Smith, and Mike Conley all high on the Demon Deacons and vice-versa. Who will pick first and start the next chain of commitments? Only time will tell.
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