The college basketball season tips off this weekend with a number of Midnight Madness festivities across the country and a number of the top players in the country will be sitting courtside to see all of the action. We break down the country's visitors in this week's version of Fastbreak Friday.
Five-star weekend in Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill is always a hot spot on Midnight Madness night and Roy Williams and staff have a number of big time class of 2008 prospects in town for the festivities. There is a chance that three of the top six players in the junior class will be at North Carolina this weekend.
Five-star studs Delvon Roe and Samardo Samuels are confirmed for their unofficial visits to Chapel Hill while Tyreke Evans, one of the best shooting guards in the country regardless of class, is unconfirmed but has been quoted in the past stating he will be visit UNC this weekend.
North Carolina native Akeem Richmond, one of the top players in the state in the class of 2009, will also be on hand for the night. The combo guard is a Tar Heel target in the sophomore class.
Big parties in Kansas & Kentucky
Bill Self knows how to throw a party at Kansas. This year's Late Night at the Phog is star studded. The nation's top small forward, Kyle Singler, and Kansas commit Cole Aldrich are in Lawrence for an official visit. For Singler, the trip to KU is his last and a decision could shortly follow. In-state recruit Tyrel Reed will be in town for an unofficial visit as well.
The 2008 class will be well represented over the weekend. Stud guards Travis Releford and Anthony Crater will make an unofficial visit. So will big men Tyler Zeller, J'Mison Morgan, Jordan Dumars and Jeff Withey. Also making the trip is 2009 big man Tyler Griffey.
Move over Ashley Judd. There will be a group of teenagers gathering a couple of double takes this weekend. Tubby Smith and the Kentucky Wildcats are hosting three important official visitors from the class of 2007.
Houston point guard Jai Lucas, West Virginia forward Patrick Patterson and Florida forward A.J. Stewart will all see the sights in Lexington. Stewart has made it little secret his affection for the SEC school while Lucas and Patterson's friendship is well documented. It will be interesting to see what happens after the weekend's activities at UK.
Also in town for the Midnight Madness festivities is Scotty Hopson, the top in-state recruit from Kentucky and the No. 10 ranked player overall in the class of 2008.
Rose, Gordon making visits
Memphis is looking for a big weekend. For good reason, too. Chicago native Derrick Rose, the nation's top point guard in the country, will be on campus to see the Tigers up close and personal. Memphis has been one of the top schools on Rose's list for some time now.
John Calipari will also host important targets Elliott Williams, a local stud from the class of 2008, and five-star wing Xavier Henry, one of the top scorers from the class of 2009.
Rose's AAU running mate and good friend Eric Gordon headlines the crew at Indiana this weekend. As has been the case in the ongoing recruitment for the nation's second best player, reports from the Chicago Tribune say Gordon could be ending the long, tug-of-war battle recruitment in the very near future.
Gordon won't be alone this weekend in Bloomington. California native and 2007 IU commitment Eli Holman will make his official visit while fellow 2007 pledge Brandon McGee will make an unofficial visit.
The 2008 class will be well represented at Assembly Hall. Tennessee big man Philip Jurick, the No. 27 ranked player overall in the junior class, makes his way to Indiana. Also there will be rising prospect Bud Mackey from Kentucky, Luke Fabrizius, Julian Mays, Julian Mavunga and five-star in-state prospect from the class of 2009 Stephen Van Treese will be on hand. Van Treese will also visit Michigan State on Saturday for the Spartans football game against Ohio State.
Looking around the nation
Billy Donovan and the National Champions begin their much anticipated return to the hardwood tonight in Gainesville. The Gators will host commitment Adam Allen as well as important target James Anderson, one of the top players left on the recruiting board in the class of 2007.
Illinois is anticipating a big weekend in Champaign. The 2007 commitments, Demitri McCamey, Bill Cole, and Mike Tisdale, are coming to town and will certainly be working hard on their fellow in-state targets from the class of 2008. Josh Crittle, Deandre Liggins and Lewis Jackson will all be in town for the weekend.
Michael Beasley is making a return trip to Manhattan, Kansas for an unofficial visit. He'll be joined by fellow 2007 commitment Jacob Pullen. Together, the two will work hard on Patterson (N.C.) School wing Dominique Sutton. Sutton played with Beasley last summer on the AAU circuit with the D.C. Assault.
Georgetown has a big weekend on hand in the nation's capitol. Recent pledge Chris Wright will join his future backcourt mate Austin Freeman. 2007 target Omar Wattad will also be on hand.
The Hoyas are hoping to make a big impression on 2008 top target Chris Braswell as well as Jason Clark and Ashton Gibbs.
Connecticut is joining the fun with commitments Alex Oriakhi and Jamal Coombs making visits. Also in Storrs is Devin Ebanks, one of the brightest stars in the 2008 class.
It will be uncharacteristically quiet in Tucson, Arizona for Midnight Madness this year as far as recruiting goes. The only visitor, and a very important visitor, will be on hand. Jerryd Bayless, the Wildcats' prize commitment from the 2007 class will see the night's festivities up close and personal.
Duke will also have a quieter season opening practice than usual. But an important piece to their recruiting class will be in Durham as Nolan Smith takes a break away from Oak Hill Academy for his official visit.
Four-star forward Chris Barnes will make his final official visit as he sees the sights at Oklahoma. Louisiana native Chris Grandigo will visit Cincinnati. California native Fred Ellis made a mid-week visit to Baylor.
Georgia has Chris Reynolds, Jerel Stephenson and Toby Veal coming to Athens for the football game against Vandy. Xavier is hosting Scott Saunders. Arkansas is hosting Jeff Brooks.