Big 12 Notebook

Recruiting notes about some of the Big 12 Conference schools:
We continue to keep an ear to the ground on what is going on with Omar Alston, a 6-8, 285-pound center from Carteret High School in New Jersey. Alston is a player, who if he waits until the spring, is likely to see many more top division one programs get involved with. Omar averaged 18 points and 12.5 rebounds for Carteret last year.
According to Alston's coach at Carteret, David Turco: "Alston has a top three of Colorado, Hofstra, and LaSalle. Hofstra and LaSalle have both offered. Other schools who have shown interest include Ohio State and Virginia Tech." But the Buckeyes are out after taking Aaron Spears. Alston has spoken about visiting Colorado on December 8th. As of the publishing of this story, this date is still yet to be confirmed.
Alston is an interior player who bangs and pushes his way to loose balls and putbacks. But he also has a nice touch from the perimeter as evidenced by his outstanding free throw percentage of 86 percent. The question in this process is whether a local high division one school will get involved and change Alston’s thinking process about the possibility of going away from home. It’s likely we will get a clearer picture by the time the Fall signing period is over in late November.
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Coach Larry Eustacy (right) has to be extremely excited to have in his future the talents of Tim Barnes, a 6-0, 165 pound point guard from Southeastern Illinois C.C. in Harrisburg, Ill. Barnes, who committed to Iowa State over Auburn, is perhaps the top pure point guard in the junior college ranks.
JUCO Junction/ had the chance to catch him in action last November at SICC's Thanksgiving Tournament, and he impressed us thoroughly with his quickness and leadership skills. It’s rare in today’s basketball world that a player like Barnes is available. Barnes has terrific floor vision and looks to get his teammates involved in the flow of the game first. But make no mistake about it – Barnes can score too. As a red-shirt freshman last year, Barnes averaged 15.1 points, 8.6 assists and 2.7 steals per game. "I think he was impressed with everything at Iowa State and felt that he fit in," said his coach Todd Franklin said. "I know that they are extremely high on him, because they've offered. And he's the guy. Heck, Eustachy flew down here to see him."
Though his body is a bit thin, Barnes uses his speed and quickness as an asset, and slices through defends and creates for others with relative ease. He's also a pest on the defensive side of the ball. "He can really shoot the basketball," Franklin said. "So people have to guard him tight, and that makes him a lot quicker. That's the difference that I see between him and a lot of the other guards out there -- the fact that he does not have a lot of B.S. in his game."
The Jayhawks are one of several schools taking a serious look at Shannon Brown, a 6-2, 185-pound shooting guard from Proviso East High School in Illinois. Brown is just a junior but already is feeling a little pressure in the recruiting process. “I am wide open,” Brown told us. “I am not ready to make any kind of a decision.”
It is early. But the internet rumors have already started. One rumor popped up this past weekend that Brown had committed to Illinois after visiting there. After further review of that rumor, it was known that Brown did not visit Illinois that weekend. “I have visited there in the past,” Shannon said. “But I have not committed to anyone.”
Brown said he wants to keep his options open. Many of the big name programs have already offered. It’s the sign of the times. Though just a junior, Brown and many other top players in the 2003 class are considering making a decision by next spring.
Brown has already taken unofficial trips to Marquette and Illinois. He also includes Iowa, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Kansas on his list. "I don't have a leader," Brown stated. "I am still learning about the schools that are interested in me."
Marques Hayden (left), part time politician and full-time inside forward, was one of the fun players to watch this summer. Hayden, 6-6, 205-pounds, always put his hard hat on and battled the big bodies inside for the talent rich Athletes First. Hayden, who attends Putnam City High School in Oklahoma, can overwhelm you with his thoughts off the court and outwork you inside the paint. Hayden has taken visits to Connecticut, Miami of Florida, and Kansas State. He appears to be close to making a decision.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that Kevin Young (right), a massive 6-10, 295 pound center from the Berkshire School in Homestead, Fla., committed to Missouri. Young is one of the more interesting recruits in the class of 2002. He is energetic, constantly trying to improve individual aspects of his game, and has a charm that will cause the Missouri fans to embrace him.
Young is a space-eater deluxe with tremendous hands who catches just about everything thrown in his direction. He is a physical interior player who loves to mix it up in the paint and do the dirty work, yet he has feathery soft touch on his shot. Those facets make him a tough player to defend once he gets the ball in the low post. Sometimes statistics won’t bear out his true value. But that’s okay with Young. “I just want to win,” Kevin said. “And Missouri is a program on the rise and a chance to go far.”
While he's not particularly fast or athletic, Young moves very well and has no problem being a factor on both ends of the court. Young always seems to be in the middle of the action. His great smile and hard-hat style on the court will make him a fan favorite for the Missouri fans.
Nebraska fans should be aware of Wes Wilkinson, a 6-8 Nebraska basketball fall commitment. He is probably the best of the three early Husker commitments. Wilkinson played for the Nebraska Bison Runza program for the past two summers. He has improved his game over the past year. A long and lanky forward, Wilkinson can either play in the low post or facing up to the basket. This balance in his offensive game will make him a threat right away to score points. In the improvement department, Wilkinson is going to need to get stronger. But down the road, Wilkinson should develop into an adequate Big 12 caliber forward and make a contribution to the Nebraska program over the next couple of years.
Oklahoma’s recruiting has been compared to a roller coaster ride at Coney Island. They have received verbal commitments from two of the top offensive players in the 2002 class -- Kelenna Azubuike, a 6-5, 205 small forward/swingman from Victory Christian H.S. in Tulsa, Oklahoma and DeAngelo Alexander (left), a 6-3 guard from Midwest City High School in Oklahoma. Both of these young men can make an impact right away. Both have wavered on their commitment. Both as of publishing this story, have indicated though they are likely to sign with Oklahoma next week.
A terrific slasher who is dangerous attacking from the wing, Azubuike is still working on consistency with his jumper. But he is a potent offensive threat and one of the better scorers in the Class of 2002. Kelenna needs some experience on the college level. Thoughts about jumping to the pros is not in the best interests of the young man. How many guys in the NBA are bigger than 6-5 and play Kelenna’s position? Answer: Many. Kelenna needs to further polish his game before having serious thoughts about hopping to the NBA.
It became very apparent to that Brad Buckman (right), the outstanding 6-9 forward who recently committed to Texas, was one of the best players we had seen during the summer. During the ranking process, we polled many top head coaches, assistant coaches, and high school coaches on who they thought were the best players in the class of 2002. Buckman’s name consistently was near the top. It’s the reason why that Buckman will get our vote for the McDonald’s All American game next March. There are very few forwards who possess his athletic and on the court skills. He is a very productive player at both ends of the court. Texas fans will enjoy watching Buckman play next season.
11898 firmly believes that Antoine Wright (left), a 6-7, 190 pound wing forward from Lawrence Academy, should be seriously considered for the 2002 McDonald’s All American game. The big event will be held in New York City’s Madison Square Garden to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the game. Wright was one of the best performers during the summer AAU sessions. He held his own against the top competition. He has a sweet stroke from the perimeter and can get to the basket strong. Wright is also a very modest type of young man. He is humble. Antoine is the type of kid you root for when he advances to the next level. So hopefully other members of the voting committee will give Wright a vote and properly place him on the 2002 McDonald’s All American team. The voting begins later this month. We will keep you posted on how he is doing.
Oklahoma State:
Oklahoma State has found some good guards via the Division I and JUCO transfer route, and Eddie Sutton's staff is certainly hoping that the trend continues with 6-2 combo guard Nate Johnson of Penn Valley.
Johnson is a high scoring hybrid guard who will be asked next fall to help buffer the loss of current Cowboy guard Maurice Baker. Baker is currently a senior at Oklahoma State.
Johnson is blessed with good strength and athleticism, and has a penchant for making the acrobatic finish at the rim. While he is not a pure point guard, Johnson should form a solid tandem next winter at Oklahoma State alongside his former high school running mate, Victor Williams. Williams is a junior for the Cowboys this winter.