For college basketball fans, there are few weekends better than this one. It's Midnight Madness time and programs are quick to get some of their top targets on campus for the festivities. And no one is doing it better than the University of Kansas.
Larger than life list in Lawrence
Apparently the invitations were flying out of Lawrence for this weekend's activities. Bill Self and his staff are hosting quite the crowd for Late at the Phog.
Darrell Arthur and Sherron Collins, two of the top players at their respective positions, are taking official visits to Kansas. For Arthur, it's his third official. He's already been to North Carolina and Indiana. For Collins, this is his first official visit.
Both players have been shielded away from the barrage of media interviews so getting a good feel for how they are feeling going into the weekend is difficult to get a good pulse. But Kansas is in good shape with both players.
The class of 2007 unofficial list is impressive. Cole Aldrich leads the group. This is his second time to attend Kansas's Late Night festivities. Last year, he wore a Paul Pierce KU jersey and that had the Jayhawk nation beaming with excitement for months. Perhaps a Danny Manning jersey this season? Who knows.
Several local prep stars will be on hand. George Goode, Travis Releford and Tyrel Reed are all driving in for the weekend. Goode is a fast-rising wing forward with great size and a nice shooting touch for a 2007 wing forward. Releford is one of the most exciting guards in the class of 2008 and Reed has already drawn comparisons to former KU star Kirk Hinrich.
Coming in from Georgia are AAU teammates Lance Storrs and Gani Lawal. Storrs has long been a 2007 Kansas target but Lawal is a bit of a surprise for the Jayhawks. Storrs was originally attending Midnight Madness with high school teammate Jeremy Price but when he committed to Georgia, Lawal entered the picture instead. Lawal doesn't list Kansas in his top five. Could that change over the weekend?
Also coming to Lawrence is 2009 prospect Xavier Henry. He is the younger brother of C.J. Henry, a 2005 Kansas hoops commit who is now playing for the Yankees minor league baseball system.
Razorbacks, Heels and Gators also hosting key visitors
There is strength in numbers. That is what Arkansas is thinking. The Razorbacks are happy to have all three of their verbal commitments - Michael Washington, Stefan Welsh and Sonny Weems - on campus at the same time as Thaddeus Young, the No. 3 ranked player in the country.
Arkansas is hoping to be the dark horse for Young, who is also considering Memphis, Georgia Tech, Kentucky and North Carolina. If the Razorbacks can land Young, Stan Heath and his crew will be talked about with Ohio State, UNC and UConn.
North Carolina secured commitments from two California big men, Alex Stepheson and Deon Thompson, and said thanks but no thanks to Duke Crews. Now the Heels are focusing all of their attention to Brandan Wright. The five-star big man is attending Late Night with Roy and a decision from the No. 5 ranked player in the country could be right on the horizon.
Florida has a quiet but successful recruiting class so far in 2006. They were able to get a verbal from New York big man Jon Mitchell after he visited Gainesville last weekend. This weekend, Billy Donovan is hoping to score a big one again.
Making a bit of a surprise trip is five-star forward Lance Thomas from New Jersey. The 6-foot-8 prospect has only taken one official visit and that was to Arizona. He's unofficially been to Rutgers and looked to make his second trip to Duke next but instead the Gators get a shot to impress him.
Also on Florida's campus is Doneal Mack of Statesville (N.C.) Christian. Mack is a dead-eye shooter who is one of the more underrated prospects in the country. The Gators are still looking to fill a guard spot and Mack is the highest rated guard still left on their recruiting board.
Huge turnout at Illinois
Illinois is taking full advantage of their first practice and look to have quite the crowd from the class of 2007 on hand. Most notably, five-star guards Eric Gordon and Chicago star Derrick Rose headlining the group. Ironically, the two elite guards will face off against each other on Dec. 17 at Gordon's school in Indianapolis.
Also making it out for the Illini's season kick off are top 100 big men and Illinois natives Mike Tisdale and Bill Cole as well as 2008 prospect Matt Roth.
Looking around the nation
Arizona always throws a great Midnight Madness party and their to see it will be 2006 prized commitment Chase Budinger along with the Wildcats' top target in the class of 2007 Jerryd Bayless. They will be joined by California center Alex Jacobson, who is favoring the Pac-10 school.
Dexter Pittman looks to be in the home stretch of his recruitment. The big fella is making his last official trip this weekend to the University of Texas. He should decide shortly after his time spent in Austin. He'll pick between the Longhorns, Arizona State and Florida State.
After hitting the reset button on his recruitment, Tyler Smith has been listening to all comers since he's enrolled at Hargrave Military Academy. Now the former Tennessee signee is checking out Miami for the weekend along with former Kansas commitment Dwight Lewis.
Kentucky has it's backcourt of the future and now the Wildcats are shifting gears to the frontcourt. Louisiana big man Perry Stevenson, a long time target for UK, is making an official visit to Lexington and will take in the sights and sounds of their version of Midnight Madness.
South Bend, Ind., is the place to be this weekend if you are a football fan. Notre Dame is playing host to USC for one of college football's greatest rivalries. There to see the game is Tom Herzog and 2007 prospects from Indiana Robbie Hummel and Eric Gordon.
Herzog, one of the best shot-blocking centers in the nation, will likely decide between the Irish, Michigan and Michigan State shortly after his visit. Gordon will slide over to South Bend after spending the night before with the University of Illinois. Hummel has been busy checking out schools all over the Midwest already this fall.
Michigan State has two key 2007 targets on their campus. Both Durrell Summers and Kalin Lucas are in for an important unofficial visit.
Georgetown is happy to have all three of their pledges, Vernon Macklin, Dejuan Summers and Jeremiah Rivers, in for the weekend.
Other visitors of note
Derrick Roland could be getting close to making a decision. He'll be in College Station to look around the Texas A&M program. The 6-foot-4 guard has already been to UNLV and Arizona State, his other finalists.
Fellow Texan Xavier Silas will go west from his new Brewster Academy home in New Hampshire all the way to the mountains of Colorado. This is the guard's first official visit.
Canadian big man Devin Brennan-McBride is making his way back to the States to see the Xavier program up close and personal. Texas big man Jeremy Mayfield is looking at the South Florida campus this weekend.
Alabama forwards Demetrius Jemison and Howard Crawford will both hit the visit trail. Jemison is visiting Tennessee Tech and Crawford is looking at UAB. South Carolina small forward Lucas Hargrove will check out Auburn. Alabama will play host to Verice Cloyd.
After a couple of cancelled trips due to logistics and conflicting schedules, Landry Fields is finally visiting Gonzaga. The Zags are riding high right now, too. They just secured a verbal commitment from Canadian big man Robert Sacre.
Cincinnati guard Adrion Graves is visiting Pitt and will likely pick between Xavier, Pitt and Seton Hall later this month. Trevon Willis will be at Memphis's Midnight Madness extravaganza. Tyrone Appleton is the guest of Virginia Tech.
Late emerging center Chas McFarland cancelled his trip to Providence and is heading to Marquette instead this weekend. While there, he'll be joined by 2008 stud Korie Lucious and 2007 prospect Keaton Nankovil.
Raymond Brewer, a D.C. area native now at the Patterson School in N.C., is headed to Manhattan for a look around. Zac Swansey, a talented 6-foot-1 guard from Dunwoody (Ga.) High School is a weekend guest at UMass. The '07 guard has already been to Clemson and Georgia.